CM Punk’s Cheap Heat On Paul Bearer – Did WWE Go Too Far?

UndertakerThis week’s WWE Raw just wrapped from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. WWE didn’t follow my proposal to a T but they did honor Paul Bearer in a very similar fashion to open and close the broadcast. The company paid tribute to Bearer throughout the night, airing past footage and featuring Touts from fans. So why the editorial?

Well, if you haven’t seen this week’s show then you missed WWE taking a very real-life event – a death – and incorporating it into the build for CM Punk vs. The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29. To recap, WWE opened the show with their awesome Bearer tribute video then Undertaker came out to pay homage to his former manager. You can watch the Raw opening at this link.

CM PunkFollowing the tribute and Undertaker coming out for a knee, Punk came out and said he wanted to extend his heartfelt condolences and apologies for your [Undertaker] loss… at Wrestlemania. Speaking to Undertaker, Punk said, to Paul Bearer you will always be perfect, you will always be 20-0, but to everybody else, in four weeks, you’re going to be 20-1. He continued and said to Undertaker, the night after Wrestlemania, we won’t be showing heartfelt tributes to Paul Bearer but a new video about me [CM Punk] beating the streak. You can watch the promo at this link.

Punk went on to face Kane in a no disqualification match in the show’s main event. The finish saw Kane hit a chokeslam on Punk after he was surprised by the gong of Undertaker. Kane pinned Punk clean to go over in the match.

Undertaker came out and took a knee on the ramp and as he and his “brother” Kane paid tribute to an image of Paul Bearer on the titantron, CM Punk used the urn (placed at ringside throughout the night) to hit Kane over the head. This brought Undertaker to the ring, only for Punk to retreat and pose with it at the top of the ramp.

The question that will likely be raised over the next 24-48 hours will be – Did WWE go too far?

It’s a question that drew an almost immediate reaction by Nick Wildey here at and already has my phone and email blowing up with readers, friends and business contacts wanting to know my thoughts. Before I divulge, let’s speculate as to why it was done.

Indianapolis, IN is 180 miles from Chicago, IL… the home of CM Punk…  The home where the 434-day WWE Champion possibly surpasses the popularity of President Barack Obama and Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose. I’m sure someone brought it up that it was going to be extremely difficult for Punk, the heel, to get over so close to Chicago. It’s likely the writers were told to brainstorm ways to get Punk booed out of the building.

Even after the opening segment, where Punk “disrespected” Paul Bearer, there were still pro-CM Punk chants. They were simply too hard to completely drown out. Since WWE turned Punk heel, the feeling has always been Punk’s fans are going to be Punk’s fans, regardless if he is working as a babyface or a heel. While I am still amazed at the amount of people Punk has turned against him, this sentiment has mostly held true.

So back to our question – Did WWE go too far?

In Memory Of Paul BearerNot only do I think that WWE did not go too far but I feel by incorporating Paul Bearer’s death into Punk vs. Undertaker, the company enhanced their tribute to the late Bill Moody. Now don’t get me wrong. There are things Punk could have said that would have crossed the line and there are ways this could have left a bad taste in my mouth, but the way it was handled was both classy and respectful.

No one in their right mind is going to watch this week’s WWE Raw and feel that Bill Moody was disrespected. As I reflect on this week’s show, my memory is left with nothing but good memories of the late Paul Bearer. I can’t help but think he would be thrilled WWE thought enough of him not only to honor him throughout the night but to incorporate his character into the build of one of the main event matches of their biggest show of the year.

This was classic good guy vs. bad guy, protagonist vs. antagonist, babyface vs. heel – this is the type of old school philosophies that built this business to what it is today. The most effective gimmicks and storylines are those that blur the line between what is real and what is contrived and some say death is off the table. It usually is… and it usually should be… but not with this.

I’m under the impression that everyone signed off – Punk, Undertaker and Kane. Moody’s children were there so they were likely brought in by WWE to take in the tribute live and in person.

I realize there will be some that will say this did cross the line – that’s part of the reason I’m staying up late to write this. I want those people to know that you don’t have to take the business so serious. This is entertainment and Punk’s work was entertaining. The work wasn’t disrespectful and it wasn’t offensive. Yes, it dealt with a very serious real-life subject in death but it was handled how I would think any pro wrestling legend would want it handled.

Bravo to WWE for advancing a storyline while also acknowledging and paying tribute to one of the best managers of all-time. May Paul Bearer forever rest in peace.

  • diego

    I have to say, I wasn't surprised by Punk interrupting Taker's tribute to Paul Bearer, but since Vince has a habit of incorporating real life situations into storylines, and usually in an offensive way, wasn't sure if this was going to be one of those times. Thankfully, it wasn't. They did a great job making him not only part of the Punk vs. Taker storyline, they made it work as a recurring thing throughout the whole show. Paul would have loved this.

    And as always, great blog Richard.

  • Rich

    not too far by a long shot… if I was moody I would want this character to go down in history this way…it was almost written this way everytime their turn was up…it is only right for it to end the way that "Paul Bearer" personified it…Moody was a big enough fan to want this as well as a performer to grant it so to speak.

  • AreYouSerious?

    Disagree with you completely, Richard. Very disappointed to see you take this stance. It's bewildering to see you rail against cussing, yet defend tastelessness like this; I thought you were better than that. Clearly, I was wrong. Too bad.

    • diego

      this guy…

      • Paul

        Im sorry but I really do fail to see how any of it was disrespectful. William Moody will be looking down from heaven with a massive smile on his face, it was all done perfectly and I for one take my hat off to the WWE for a show filled with nothing but love for Paul Bearer. RIP

    • Danny

      I'm not really sure how you see this as "tasteless". Punk didn't do or say anything offensive towards William Moody. Nor did he make light of the fact that the WWE Universe was mourning Moodys passing. WWE characters have done much more offensive and "tasteless" things in the past (Paul Bearer, Undertaker, and Kane may have been apart of some them in the Attitude Era). Bill Moody loved entertaining his fans, and I think he would enjoy knowing that even in death he is still helping entertain .

    • jenny c

      shut up!

  • Don P.

    I am from Chicago and am a huge Punk fan since his early days and his 434 Day title reign. I was watching the opening segment and as soon as I heard that static, I kind of winced. It was one of those things. It was great to see his heel reaction from the crowd, but at the same time, as a fan, I was like, "come on". It was a fitting tribute, at least to see the Undertaker and they still were able to get the moments of that tribute from the Undertaker and Kane in. I still thought it was a great segment to open and close the show, inspite of the "disrespect". It will definitely garner Punk some hatred.

  • Amanda

    Im pretty sure Paul Bearer would love to have been incorporated into the script in this way and would have thoroughly enjoyed it if he could see it. So, if he would have been ok with it (he was a character all about death- c'mon! ) then why does it matter what anyone else thinks?

  • KBunyon

    I thought it was handled wonderfully, and will be writing about it in the RIB tomorrow, but I know not everyone was not as pleased. In fact I spoke with a friend who was disgusted by the way Bearer’s memory was handled. No matter what you do, what you say, what the storyline, there will always be someone unhappy. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but I feel the majority will be pleased with tonight’s show. It wasn’t the traditional tribute show, but Paul Bearer wasnt the traditional character. I do think Moody would be proud.

  • Trisper

    im one of the ones who was disgusted by it but also thought that it could have been way worse than it was

  • jay

    At first I wasn’t too happy about the interruption, but after thinking about it I realized the opening segment did what it was supposed to. It made me hate Punk for interuppting the tribute and set up a main event match that featured one of Paul Bearers “sons” Kane. If Mr. Moody’s children were in the audience, then they knew about the segement and what was being planned and gave their approval. Honestly as long as they are fine with it, no one else shld complain. They are his survivng children after all. Beyond all of that, like most have said, I believe Mr. Moody wld have been happy to see his character have a part of the buildup to WM. SN- the story with Edge when he kindnaps Paul Bearer in the wheelchair will always be one of my favorites. Rest in Peace Mr. Moody and thank you for all the great and scary memories.

  • Richard Gray

    All good comments. The reactions seem to about 80/20 with most agreeing but still a segment of disagreement. I want to know more from the 20. What exactly was offensive to you about the way it was booked and how could WWE have handled it differently?

    I would love to hear the thoughts regarding this.

  • dusty588

    I think that Paul would have loved the way they handled this situation. At first I was pissed, as I'm sure everyone else was, but thats what they were striving for. I think the full tribute video being played, along with several memorable moments from his career being played was a great way of remembering Paul. And of course, there's always the Hall of Fame, where Undertaker has to induct him. I'm not sure if we will see him inducted this year (I really hope so), but I don't see it being too long until he's in.

  • Brad

    It's HOF season for WWE and I fully expect an announcement in the next couple of weeks for the addition of Paul Bearer to the HOF list. R.I.P. Paul and thank you for a lot of great memories.

  • kellon

    This was very much distasteful and inappropriate, Vince McMahon needs to know where to draw the line, he needs to understand that certain real life situations needs to be left alone and out of his "money making business", he took Jerry Lawler's mother's death, his heart attack, Jim Ross's Bel palsy and now Paul's death just to name a few and made a mockery of all of them in the name of entertainment, whats so entertaining about death or near death, wake up Vince, when Vince takes one of his or family members personal issues and turns it to entertainment then and only then i may accept this type of low class behavior.

    • devin.s

      write to


      1241 main street

      stamford ct

      and vent out your anger at vince you ass

      • Robbie Newman

        The comments section as it states 'reply' dumbass

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  • PenguinDeluxe

    If Bearer’s own children were fine with it, who are we to feel offended?

    • kellon

      Who says they were fine with it, what if they didnt know the details of how it was going to happen, what if they were just told that there would be a tribute and left like that.

  • Van Hammer

    I caught myself getting caught up in how distasteful it was and realized.. Punk is a brilliant heel. Undertaker is the best in-ring psychologist since Jake Roberts and WWE Creative are insane in a good way. Im convinced they purposely stay PG just so these moments shock us again.

  • MXP

    Those of you who had a problem, you know William Moody wasn't IN the urn, right?

    I also think it's kind of funny they used Moody's real name but still said he was Kane's father. Does that mean his name is Kane Moody?

  • Craig Harrison

    There would of been no way Taker or Kane would have gone along with this if they thought it was distasteful or disrespectful in anyway.

    I also believe WWE would have contacted Moody’s children who were in attendance last night. Do you not think we would have heard if they had not been happy with events on Monday?

  • Jackson

    I thought it was an appropriate send off for a man who made such a huge impact on the WWE. I'm sure they contacted his family once the plans were finalized and had their approval and also worked everything out with The Undertaker, Kane and C.M. Punk. WWE in Sports Entertainment not an actual televised sporting event; this is why it is televised on USA and not on ESPN. Vince McMahon did not become a billionaire by owning a sport team; he did it by building a company and giving the people the entertainment and selling the product that they want.

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