He is best known for playing the character of Paul Bearer in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Pringle entered the professional wrestling business in his teenage years as a ringside photographer. After high school, he enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving four years on active duty; during this time, he occasionally wrestled for Gulf Coast independent promotions during off-duty hours. In 1978, he began managing as Percy Pringle (or, alternately, Percival Pringle, III) in southeastern independent promotions. He married his wife Dianna the same year, and the couple had two sons Michael and Daniel, born in 1979 and 1987. Immediately after his oldest son's birth, he cut back his involvement in the wrestling business in order to obtain a degree in mortuary science and earn certification as a funeral director and embalmer. Pringle has maintained his licenses ever since.
In 1984, he resumed full-time involvement in the wrestling business, using his Pringle character in Florida Championship Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas, and the United States Wrestling Association (a successor to WCCW). During this time, he served as manager for numerous wrestlers and notably was manager for Lex Luger, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Undertaker in their first professional matches of their careers. As Percy Pringle, he was also associated with the careers of "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Eric Embry, and The Ultimate Warrior.
Pringle joined the WWF in December 1990, after being mentioned to WWF chairman and owner Vince McMahon by Rick Rude. McMahon used Pringle's real-life involvement in the funeral industry to create the character of Paul Bearer (a pun on pallbearer), the manager of the Undertaker. Paul Bearer made his first appearance in January 1991, and Pringle played the character for over thirteen years. As Undertaker's manager, as a heel and later a face, for over five years, he was a mentor, friend, and keeper of the urn from which Undertaker drew strength but turned heel again by betraying his long-time friend at SummerSlam 1996 to align himself with Undertaker's enemy, Mankind. Paul Bearer also went on to bring Undertaker's "half-brother" Kane (who was eventually billed as Bearer's illegitimate son through Undertaker's mother) to the WWF, which led to a bitter rivalry. During that time he changed his looks. Paul and Undertaker became a team once again as heels towards the end of 1998 until Undertaker's departure from the WWF in September 1999 as a result of an injury. In early 2000, Bearer who turned face once more briefly returned to WWF TV as then babyface, Kane's manager, but he retired from on-screen performing shortly after WrestleMania 2000.
Later that year, Pringle went backstage to serve as a WWF road agent, stage manager, and talent scout. His contract with WWE ended in October 2002; he spent the next year working with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. In October 2003, he signed a new three-year contract with WWE. At that time, Pringle was suffering from health problems and depression related to his morbid obesity and underwent gastric bypass surgery in November 2003. As a signing bonus, WWE agreed to help pay for the surgery. After recovering, he reappeared as Paul Bearer in March 2004 at WrestleMania XX, alongside Undertaker coincidentally enough, Kane.
In a spring 2004 storyline, Paul Bearer was kidnapped by The Dudley Boyz under the direction of Paul Heyman. This was set up in order to temporarily write Bearer out of WWE storylines because Pringle had to undergo emergency gallbladder surgery after suddenly developing gallstones (a frequent side effect of gastric bypass surgery).
For the June 27, 2004 PPV The Great American Bash, a match pitting Undertaker against both of the Dudley Boyz was booked. Paul Bearer would be encased in a glass crypt backstage, covered up to his chest in cement. In the storyline, Heyman demanded that Undertaker throw the match or else see Bearer suffocated in cement. By the time of the PPV, Pringle had recovered from his latest operation and would appear on-screen.
Undertaker won the match but proceeded afterwards to pull the lever that sent cement into the crypt, completely burying Paul Bearer and, in kayfabe terms, suffocating him. (Pringle was in the crypt throughout the event but was replaced with a stunt double for the burial.) This shot ended the PPV and caused numerous complaints toward WWE, as in essence they had shown a (kayfabe) murder. However, the live audience saw an extended ending in which Bearer surfaced for air and was carried from the arena on a stretcher. On the following week's SmackDown!, Bearer was acknowledged to be alive, although gravely injured, for kayfabe purposes. The Paul Bearer character is not expected to reappear. However, having two years remaining on his contract, Pringle's WWE career wasn't over; he was used as a booker for the company up until WWE decided to terminate his contract, giving him ninety days notice on April 11, 2005.
On June 10, Pringle announced that he had signed a new deal with WWE which would allow WWE to market his persona and which would involve him attending autograph sessions and making promotional appearances.
Pringle's health has greatly improved since his surgery. His official site has a page featuring pictures of him, one taken the night before his bypass surgery and a second taken on the first anniversary of the operation. One year later, he admitted in an entry on his blog (see November 2005 archives) that he had weighed 525 pounds (238 kg) before the operation but is now under 300 pounds (136 kg).
Pringle has started his own independent promotion, known as Gulf South Wrestling. He has also released two shoot interviews that he did for the promotion Ring of Honor, one featuring longtime manager Jim Cornette.