Little did I know, that when the nurse carefully placed my newborn son in my arms that July 1979 morning, it would mark the beginning of some major decisions in my life.
East Liverpool, Ohio certainly wasn’t Mobile, Alabama and I couldn’t wait to bring my new son back home to the south and baptize him in grits and sausage gravy. We managed to wait until the baby was about two weeks old and ready to fly, then we were “Alabamee Bound”. As long as I live, I will never forget the look on my Mom and Dad’s face as we stepped off the plane in Mobile and I handed them their first grandson.
We ended up moving in with my parents, and as the summer of 1979 started drawing to a close, so did my wrestling career. Actually, my last day working in what I consider the first chapter of The Percy Pringle Story, was on Saturday, August 18, 1979. I worked, yes wrestled, on The Fuller’s TV show in Dothan, Alabama. I was under a mask as The Invader, against Louie Tillet, who was also wearing a hood, as The Gladiator. It was a double shot, also wrestling in Niceville, Florida that evening against Roy Lee Welch, as PP3.
I decided that it was time to return to college and finish my degree, confident that wrestling would always be around. So, I started back to school at The University of South Alabama just taking general courses, because I was aware that I would have to finish my last two years at a college that had a Mortuary Science program. So, I went back dispatching at night for a local ambulance service while hitting the books in my quest to become a Licensed Mortician.
To make a long story short, the days turned into months, and the months into years. As the years went slowly by, in January of 1981, we moved to San Antonio, Texas where I finished my degree and received my Funeral Service Licenses. Followed by another move in 1983, this time it was back closer to home. We ended up in Biloxi, Mississippi, where I worked as a Funeral Director and Embalmer.
Of course, I was never able to get wrestling out of my blood. Believe me, I tried hard. However, while in San Antonio I was able to attend Southwest Championship Wrestling’s matches at the world famous Junction and at The HemisFair Arena. I also went to The WCW and World Class events when they came to town. Every time that I would transport a remains to the airport to be flown out of town, I would hear the planes taking off. I longed to return to the business that I loved so much. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the funeral profession too, and will return to that business again one day. My wife has always known that I have always had three wives, wrestling, mortuary science and her.
I’ll never forget it the day it happened. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in Biloxi at the funeral home, and the phone rang, it was Michael Hayes. “Percy…” Hayes began, “Are you still serious about getting back into the business? Well, I am booking Florida with Dutch Mantell, for Eddie Graham. I think we just might have something for you.” I don’t have to tell you what my answer was. Hayes said that he would get with Eddie Graham, and that he would get back to me.
He called back the following week and told me everything was set. If I wanted to come down, they had a spot for me. They flew me to Tampa, where I taped three vignettes that were shown on three consecutive weeks prior to my start date. The day after I returned from Tampa, I gave the funeral home my two-week notice and began making plans for my rebirth into wrestling.
About two days later I received another call from Hayes, he said “Percy, are you sitting down?” I immediately got a sick feeling in my stomach, because I felt like something was definitely wrong. “Eddie saw the vignettes that we did with you down here.” Michael continued, “Have you gave your notice yet at the mortuary? I am afraid that things are not going to work out.” No…no…no… this can’t be happening to me, I remember thinking. I couldn’t say a word; there was complete silence on the line. Then all of a sudden I could hear Dutch Mantell laughing on another line, followed by Hayes snickering. “You #$% *^ @ %&^^**($#! What a F’n rib!”
I decided to move my family back to Mobile, and I went to Florida by myself. I had been out of the business for several years, so I thought that it would be the best thing for us to do. I arrived in Florida Championship Wrestling on January 15, 1985. Percival Pringle III was back!