In July of 1979, after working in professional wrestling for several years, William Moody decided it was best do what was right for his young family, even though it was with a bit of sadness: he retired Percival Pringle III and went full-time into the funeral home business. He had not been married all that long, and with a brand new child, he made the tough choice to stick with a more consistent industry, to ensure his family’s future.
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 (Ron & Robert) 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. I was also wrestling in Niceville, Florida that evening against Roy Lee Welch (as PP3).

That’s not to say wrestling was no longer a part of his life. William continued to be a rabid fan, and he kept up with all of his friends – his brothers – in the business. In his heart, he knew he would return one day, when the time was right. But that time wasn’t now.

I was never able to get wrestling out of my blood. Believe me, I tried hard. However, while in San Antonio (studying to become a funeral director and embalmer), 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 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. My wife has always known that I have always had three wives: wrestling, mortuary science and her.

Moody eventually moved back to Biloxi, Mississippi, closer to his home of Mobile, Alabama, where he began his mortuary work in earnest. Everybody in the area remember him as that high-spirited troublemaker Percy Pringle who terrorized International Championship Wrestling (ICW) just a few years prior. Wrestling was never going to be just a part of his past, and he knew it. All he was waiting for was the right moment to present itself.

One day, in late 1984, William got a phone call from his old friend Michael Hayes, who broke into professional wrestling with him all those years ago in ICW.

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. “Are you still serious about getting back into the business?,” Hayes asked. “Well, I am booking Florida with Dutch Mantel 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 asked, “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 Mantel 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!

William Moody recalls the first time he met Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) promoter Eddie Graham, known as one of the greatest minds and most influential men in the industry. Moody had already filmed his vignettes to lead up to his arrival in the territory, and Graham was anxious to meet his latest acquisition.
This was going to be my first time meeting Eddie, and to say that I was nervous was an understatement. When we entered Eddie’s upstairs office he wasn’t alone. “The Dean Of Wrestling Announcers,” Gordon Solie, was seated at Eddie’s desk. This was also my first time to meet Gordon. Talk about intimidation! Brother! It didn’t take long for the two wrestling greats to make me feel comfortable, as we sat and watched the videotape. They were very pleased with my work, and I enjoyed hearing a chuckle or two out of both of them as I made my usual contorted facial expressions.

Unfortunately, a little over a week after my arrival into Championship Wrestling from Florida, Eddie Graham met his untimely demise.

The date was Sunday, January 20, 1985. The Miami Dolphins were facing the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XIX.

It was Super Bowl Sunday. We had an afternoon show at the Eddie Graham Sports Complex in Orlando. I was riding with The Freebirds that day, and as we pulled up into Jimmy Garvin’s Tampa driveway, Buddy Roberts’ wife ran out to the car. “I have some bad news guys…” she said. “Eddie shot himself."

Eddie was in critical condition in the hospital. We all felt helpless, because obviously there was nothing that any of us could do. So, we tried to ease the pain by drowning ourselves in a bottle of Jack Daniels, and acting like we were watching the Super Bowl. As a side note, Eddie’s son Mike was actually at the Super Bowl, and they had to page him to give him the horrible news.

As the evening passed, Michael Hayes said that he just had to do something he couldn’t sit around any longer. He said that he was going to the hospital. Buddy and Terry agreed, and they both said they were going too. I did my best to try to talk them out of it, because as I mentioned we did have a cocktail or ten. So The Fabulous Freebirds went to hospital, which was very near where we lived at the time. I understand that The Graham Family were very pleased that they were there.

In the early morning hours of the next day, the legendary Eddie Graham passed away.


Championship Wrestling From Florida bookers Michael Hayes and Dutch Mantel did an excellent job of pre-conditioning the fans for my arrival into the territory. For several weeks, prior to my first appearance, they played the vignettes that I had taped. The PYTs – Pretty Young Things, composed of Koko B. Ware and Norvell Austin, talked about their mysterious “Bossman” coming to town.

In what I consider to be the most classic piece of business that I did during my CWF tenure, was the day that “The Bossman” finally arrived. Believe me, my description cannot give the scene the justice it deserves. Koko and Norvell were waiting at the airport on the tarmac, along with their trusty boom box and a long black limousine. I was scheduled to arrive by Learjet, and they were going to whisk me away to the live TV show at the Tampa Sportatorium. Between every match Gordon Solie would go via satellite to the air center to see if I had arrived. Everyone began getting nervous as the show was almost half over, and my private jet was obviously late.

As Gordon went back to my waiting tag team another time, they were interrupted by an old, noisy, smoking, Cessna propeller airplane that came to a stop right on the spot where “The Bossman” was scheduled to arrive. (By the way, the plane that we used was actually owned by promoter Lester Welch). The PYTs were extremely upset because they wanted everything perfect for my arrival. All of a sudden, Rick Rude appeared out of the co-pilots door. “We’ve got trouble,” the Ravishing One said as he stood on the wing. “The Bossman is mad. They pulled his jet for an overdue inspection and this is all we could get to fly him here.”

All of a sudden you could hear some banging in the background. As the camera panned back to the plane, there I was in the backseat with my ugly face pressed against the window, hitting it with my fist. Rude jumped down off the wing and joined The PYTs on the tarmac as they helped me squeeze out of the baggage door of the plane, with my fat butt being the first thing to appear. I raised holy hell, telling Gordon Solie that we were on our way to the Sportatorium. The Pringle Dynasty had arrived!

The original Pringle Dynasty was composed of Ravishing Rick Rude, The PYTs, and The Missing Link (Dewey Robertson). Eventually Jack Hart (Barry Horowitz), Rip Oliver, The Grappler (Len Denton), Jesse Barr and The Assassin (Jody Hamilton) joined my stable.


I left my family back home in Mobile when I started in the Sunshine State, because I wasn’t really sure how things were going to work out. I managed to go home about every six weeks, but it turned out to be some of the hardest times ever on my family life.

To say that I was in heaven to be back in the business is an understatement. Florida always had the reputation of being a party territory, and the Pringle Dynasty didn’t want to do anything to take away from that tradition. You must remember that I left my family in Mobile, and I was there all by my lonesome. Go figure.

My dear friends, The Freebirds, did everything in their power to make sure that I never had a lonesome feeling for too long. Terry Gordy and his wife had an apartment in North Tampa. However, Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts invited me to move in with them. Jimmy Garvin was working for the AWA at the time, so we all shared his empty house near downtown. Buddy Roberts and his wife lived downstairs, and Michael Hayes, Mike Golden and myself took over the upstairs. This gives you the setting for the most repeated story of my Florida wrestling days: the morning the house caught fire.

There wasn’t any access to the upstairs apartment from the living quarters downstairs. There were stairs on the outside of the house going to our apartment. The backyard was surrounded by a high privacy fence, and included a swimming pool. There was also a deck with a set of French doors that opened into the master bedroom where Buddy and his wife slept.

This particular morning a strange smell woke me up, and I immediately noticed that my bedroom was filled with smoke. I tried to wake Mike Golden up, to no avail. I couldn’t find Hayes, and figured he hadn’t made it in yet, as it was just daybreak. I frantically went through the apartment looking for the source of the smoke, finally locating it coming up through the area under the sink in the bathroom. It didn’t take a genius to figure that the downstairs must be on fire!

I ran downstairs around by the pool, and saw that the French doors were open. There on the bed, with smoke pouring out of the bedroom, sat Buddy Roberts and his wife. “What the hell, Buddy?,” I screamed. “Don’t get excited,” Buddy answered. I knew that I wasn’t going to get any answers out of him. So I ran around to the side of the house, and as I stepped into the front yard there stood the late Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy. I’ll never forget this picture as long as I live.

Terry was wobbling, garden hose in hand, spraying water onto a smoking chair from the living room. As soon as he saw me he said calmly, “Awww, Percy... I think the house is on fire.” Later we determined that “Bam Bam” fell asleep in the chair with a lit cigarette, and set the chair and carpeting on fire. You just had to be there to appreciate it.


I was working in the Florida territory during the mid-80s managing The Pretty Young Things, Koko B. Ware and Norvell Austin. We were in the Miami Beach Convention Center, I just can’t recall who we were working against at the time. At this point we had a barricade around the ring. One gentleman’s alcohol consumption got the best of him and he decided to make his way into the ring. Bad decision. Koko and Norvell began to give him a wrestling lesson, one boot at a time. The guy’s girlfriend saw that her man needed some help so she jumped the barrier too. However, all Koko and Norvell saw was another troublemaker. By the time she got up on the apron, my boys knocked her right back down.

This was too much for the local police and they entered the ring, but put the handcuffs on Norvell and Koko! When the fans saw that, they started towards me. Not one or two, the entire ringside! I remembered a lesson an old timer taught me. He said anytime you get into trouble with the fans, have your opponents start beating the hell out of you. So that’s exactly what I did. I told the “baby faces” to start beating me all the way back to the dressing room. It worked, thank God! The fans just parted like the Red Sea as we headed up the aisle to safety.


It was hot on July 8, 1985, and we were working in Punta Gorda, Florida. Rude was involved in an angle with Billy Jack Haynes. Billy Jack has quite a history in our industry, and was known to “go off” at the drop of a hat. We were doing basically the same match in every house show around the state and this night was no different.

When it was time to finish the match, Rick would take the referee, I would jump up on the apron and draw Billy Jack’s attention. Billy was supposed to slingshot me over the top rope, back me into a corner and threaten to hit me. However, he never threatened, he always punched me a few times, which was really no big deal. Except it happened night after night. Needless to say, his “hits” were pretty stiff to say the least.

When the match was over and we were back in the dressing room, Rick asked me how things went. I guess it was a bad night for me, and I remember being really homesick and in a foul mood. I said, “The same old s**t! Billy beat the hell out of me again.”

About that time, I heard Billy’s voice coming from behind. “Beat the hell out of you?!,” screamed Billy. “I’ll show you ‘Beat the hell out of you.’” SLAP! I felt his right hand hit my face, knocking my glasses across the dressing room. SLAP! I felt his left hand hit the other side. Then… SLAP! The third and final blow caught me.

I was more shocked than hurt because it happened so quickly, and it caught all the wrestlers off guard as well. He was in and out of our dressing room in seconds, and that was that. I really couldn’t believe it happened. Wahoo McDaniel, who was booking at the time, wasn’t very happy about it either. The next day, Wahoo called to see if I was okay, and asked me to come to the office where I met with him and Billy Jack. Billy did his best to apologize, and he gave me $100 to buy a new pair of glasses. I gladly accepted both the apology and the cash. We had a number of matches after that, but I have to say Billy Jack never jacked me again, thank God!


After a few months the Freebirds left Florida and returned to World Class in Dallas, Texas. I found a cheap hotel in northeast Tampa near the Sun Dome for about $90 a week, with just a bed, bathroom and kitchenette. I picked that area on purpose because many of the boys lived near there and I could hook up easily with rides to the towns. Most of the time I rode with The Missing Link, Dewey Robertson, and his wife Gail (who worked as the Link’s valet Sheena). Fortunately, Florida was a very fan friendly territory, and I never had a problem hitching another ride if I didn’t go with the Link.

I remember January 16, 1985 vividly. It was my first day working with Championship Wrestling From Florida, and my first encounter with Dewey Robertson, "The Missing Link." To say that Dewey is one of the most unique individuals that I have experienced in my 30-plus years in sports entertainment is definitely an understatement. The lessons I learned as his manager while traveling countless miles around the country in one of his old classic green Cadillacs will never be forgotten.

Dewey was a nudist, and naturally they lived in a nudist park. Lord, where do I begin? What an experience for this Alabama country boy! The first time that Rick Rude and myself were invited to a barbecue there will never be forgotten. Nope... I'm not going to tell that one. LOL Forget it, sorry, use your imaginations. I will tell you I didn't take my drawers off, and "Simply Ravishing" Rick Rude didn't either.

Sections taken from the forward written by William Moody in Dewey Robertson & Meredith Renwick’s Bang Your Head: The Real Story of The Missing Link


Other than a hotel room, there are two other places where wrestlers spend more time than in the ring itself. Those locations are either in an automobile or in an airplane. Old timers like myself have many road stories, and most of them revolve around traveling. Early in my career, almost all of my travel was by car. Later on, air travel became important because of the longer distances I had to go, and the little time that was available for me to get there and back.

Growing up in a traditional NWA territory along the Gulf Coast, I was always a heel fan, and Bobby Shane was forever at the top of my favorites list. His legendary feud with the late Gulf Coast promoter Lee Fields (who, by the way, was Lester Welch’s nephew) was one of the reasons why I fell in love with this industry.

On February 22, 1975, Bobby Shane’s body was pulled from the wreckage of a small plane that was flying four wrestlers back to Tampa from Miami. The three others, pilot Buddy Colt, Gary Hart, and Mike McCord (Austin Idol), managed to swim 300 yards to safety. Needless to say, Bobby Shane’s tragic death had a major impact on my formative years in the business.

Never once while I was working in Florida did I fly in or out of Tampa without thinking of that horrible plane crash. Even when I fly over Tampa Bay today, I find my thoughts drifting back to the day we lost Bobby Shane.

Those very memories were in my mind the morning of August 3, 1985, when Lester Welch’s old plane took to the Florida skies at 6:15 a.m. I was sitting in the co-pilots seat, joined by Wahoo McDaniel, Rick Rude, Jack Hart (Barry Horowitz), and Billy Jack Haynes in the passenger compartment. We were en route to Atlanta, to do the WTBS Channel 17, Georgia Championship Wrestling show. At the time, we were using a lot of TBS talent in Florida, and they wanted Florida’s top talent to be seen on The Super Station to enhance our image. (By the way, that was my one and only appearance on TBS in my career.)

It was going to be a double shot for us that day. Immediately after wrestling on TBS, we were scheduled to jump back into the plane and work our house show in Jacksonville that evening, on our way back to Tampa.

Although I make Lester’s plane seem a bit scary, it really wasn’t as bad as it sounds. If it wasn’t safe, believe me, Chief Wahoo would have never allowed us to use it in the first place. We used the plane many times in the past, traveling to bi-weekly shots in the Bahamas, and back and forth to Miami as well. I had developed a friendship with the pilot, and that’s why I usually joined him in the cockpit.

We were about halfway to Atlanta, flying over the heavily wooded area of South Georgia. The boys in the back were asleep, as I was in the middle of one of my famous funeral home conversations with the pilot. All of a sudden, the right engine started making a horrible noise. It was enough to awaken my slumbering friends in the rear. I remember Wahoo shouting, “Percy what the hell are you messing with up there?” I assured him that for once I wasn’t playing around, and he realized from the tone of my voice that we were indeed having serious problems.

In a matter of seconds, the right propeller died completely. Followed by the second engine, stuttering and languishing. Moments later, the left side stopped too.

Seconds seemed like hours, and you could hear a pin drop in the back. I sat in silence as I watched every move our pilot made. He scanned all the controls. Checked every knob and lever. Then finally, just as we were beginning to lose altitude, I saw a smile come across his face. He reached down beside his seat and flipped a switch. With his fingers crossed on his left hand, he reached up with his right and hit a button. The right engine started back up. He hit another button. The left engine began to hum. We were saved! I was going to be able to make my cable television debut after all, thank the Good Lord.

Not being a pilot myself, I understood that there was something wrong with one of the fuel gauges. It showed full, when in fact it wasn’t. So when the engines died, we were running on an empty tank. The pilot simply switched over to the secondary tank, started the engines, and everything was hunky-dory.

I am thinking of all our brothers that we have lost in the air and on the road. May they rest in peace.