Van Gundy, who has been sporadically playing the Paul Bearer character since the early 1990s, has been limited in his WWE appearances by his obligations as a basketball coach. With Undertaker filling a less active role in the WWE in recent years, Van Gundy will also appear in storylines featuring Kane, Undertaker's half brother.
"It just seemed like the timing was right to play Bearer again," Van Gundy said in a press conference. "My hope is that the WWE superstars will treat me with the respect I was denied by those on my own team this season."
Van Gundy's spherical figure, ghostly tenor and macabre mustache are perfectly suited to play Paul Bearer, who masquerades as a deranged, pallid funeral director. Reminiscent of his real-life relationship with superstar Dwight Howard, Bearer is frequently bullied and overpowered by those he represents, and has been buried alive on multiple occasions.
In his most recent appearance as Bearer, Van Gundy was strapped to a wheelchair and left for dead in a storage freezer by Kane. Van Gundy, however, hopes that things will be more amicable in his return.
"Yeah, I've been victimized a fair bit in the ring, but I'm confident this time around they'll give me a more empowered role," Van Gundy said. "Who knows, maybe they'll even give me a title shot!"
When informed about Van Gundy's return, Kane offered a conflicting outlook:
"I'm going to chokeslam him into the bowels of hell."