There have been lots of great wrestlers come out of good old Blighty. Sheamus, Barrett, Dave Finlay, The British Bulldog Davey Smith, Doug Williams and many more.
My personal favourite, the ever eloquent – William Regal. Born Darren Matthews he starts his career at the tender age of 15 wrestling at carnivals on Blackpool Pier. He travelled all over England and Europe before taking his talents to the US in the early 90’s. Going to WCW he started his path into the loveable rogue we see today. Claiming decent from William the Conqueror he became the villain, Lord Steven Regal. He was arrogant, nasty and condescending, but still managed to keep that good old British charm. At WCW he won the World Television Championship four times and went on the form The Blue Bloods with fellow aristocrat Jean-Paul Levesque. They came close to winning the Tag Team Championship. After a match with Goldberg on Nitro Regal was fired. It was rumour at the time he was fired because he didn’t job to Goldberg quite enough and put in more offensive moves than planned. I’m sure I read somewhere that Mr Regal discredited this. We will never know!
Onwards and upwards for Regal as he moved to WWF in the late 90’s. After sustaining an injury in a match against Rhyno, Regal became addicted to prescription medicines and would not be seen on WWF for a while. He made his full time debut against X-Pac in 98 and feuded briefly with The Godfather before again needing help to deal with his substance issues. WWF released him.
His return saw him mostly taking part in tag team matches and reinventing his image as the Blighty Villain. After a match with Benoit he was brought up to the main roster. A snobby British Villain, lessons of etiquette and the correct use of the Queens English were a good gimmick, and the man’s man Regal won my heart! He won the European Championship before again, eventually getting fired!
He returned in 2002 to feud with Edge, where he won the IC Championship at the Royal Rumble, a Royal setting for a Regal return! Brass knuckles were his weapon of choice and we saw some great moves. The Regal Stretch being my favourite. He lost the title to RVD at Wrestlemania, but went on the win the European Championship later that year.
Drafted to Raw by Flair, Regal went on to win the Hardcore Championship, and the Tag Team Championship teaming with Storm. Regal would later have to give up his reign as Champion due to a heart condition. Upon his return again, he successfully won and defended the Tag Team Championships with partner Tajiri several times.
2005 saw him drafted to Smackdown. Here he would feud with The Mexicools and later fellow Brit Paul Burchill.
In 2007 Regal became the new Interim General Manager of Raw after winning a battle royal. Here he would feud with Cena, Orton and Triple H. He would later cost Triple H the chance to enter the Royal Rumble.
2008 saw WWE give Regal a massive push. He won King of the Ring after defeating Hornswoggle, Punk and Finlay all by submission. At the crowning ceremony Mr Kennedy would return to feud with Regal and they would take part in a ‘loser gets fired match’ which Regal lost. We later found out that it was due to suspension for violation of the wellness policy. I was so pleased to see Regal getting a push, he is such and underrated, underused wrestler with great talent and charisma, and was gutted when he was subsequently suspended.
NXT would bring a new lease of life and popularity back to this British star. Commentating, mentoring and being made the NXT Official Match Coordinator brought a much needed and wanted break for Regal. His feuds with Young and Reks and Hawkins had me hooked. He is a great match commentator and adds humour and the good old tongue in cheek comments we Brit’s love.
William Regal is one of my favourite wrestlers of all time. I had the great pleasure of seeing him wrestle live again at the Wrestlemania Revenge Tour earlier this year. He teamed with Tyson Kidd to defeat Hunico and Camacho. Chants of ‘you’ve still got it’ and ‘lets go Regal’ filled the arena. He has still got it, he has always had it and he will always be one of the Best of British talents we ever exported to the US!
King Regal – I salute you!
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