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William Regal

William Regal talks to the fans at WrestleMania XVII. - photo by Greg Oliver

REAL NAME: Darren Matthews
6' 2", 245 pounds
BORN: May 10, 1965 in Blackpool, England
NICKNAMES: Lord Steven Regal

Far from the royal snob that he has portrayed in the ring, William Regal is one of the few that has managed to overcome his demons, come back from injuries, and become a superstar in the wrestling business, respected both for his in-ring ability and his tenacity against life's greatest obstacles.

The future William Regal began his wrestling career in a most unusual manner. At the age of 15, the young man born Darren Matthews answered the challenge of a wrestling exhibition at a local carnival in Pleasure Beach. Trained properly for the ring by Marty Jones, Matthews wrestled for the first two years of his career under his real name before adapting the name, Steven Regal.

After wrestling in Germany, South Africa, France and the Middle East, Regal was given a tryout by WWE in 1991, but was not offered a contract. He would have better luck with World Championship Wrestling later that same year. WCW had been on a tour of England and gave Regal the opportunity to appear on one of their shows. Impressed with what they saw, WCW signed Regal to a contract several months later.

Given the gimmick of a obnoxious British royal (complete with Bill Dundee as his butler, Sir William), Lord Steven Regal would debut in WCW in 1993, taking on Marcus Alexander Bagwell and Eric Watts during his first few months in the organization. At Fall Brawl '93, however, he was pushed up the card, defeating Ricky Steamboat for the WCW Television Championship.

After a series of 15-minute draws against Steamboat, Brian Pillman and Dustin Rhodes, Regal's anti-American sentiments would earn the ire of semi-retired Larry Zbyszko. Zbyszko would revert back to active status and defeat Regal for the TV title at Slamboree '94. Regal recovered and regained the title at the Clash of the Champions XXVII in June. Regal would hold that championship until September 18, 1994, when Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero) defeated him.

Switching from the singles ranks to the tag team scene, Regal would team with Bobby Eaton (or Earl Robert Eaton) and form the Blue Bloods. While the Blue Bloods would find success as a tag team, they could never knock off the Nasty Boys or Harlem Heat to win the WCW Tag Team titles.

By the summer of 1996, Regal had set his sights on regaining the WCW Television title, defeating Lex Luger for the belt on August 20, 1996. Prince Iaukea would upset Regal for the title in February 1997, leading to a short program between the two. Regal would regain the title, but not from Iaukea but from Ultimo Dragon at Slamboree '97 in May.

Regal's fourth and final reign as WCW Television Champion would end with Ultimo Dragon regaining the title on July 22, 1997. Regal would continue to wrestle in both singles and tag team matches (with Squire David Taylor) but was increasingly pushed down the card.

The end of Regal's WCW career came during a February 1998 edition of Nitro. Forced to work a squash match against Goldberg, Regal worked very stiff and went out of his way to make Goldberg look foolish in the ring. He was fired immediately after the bout.

After being hospitalized for pneumonia, Regal was signed by the WWE in April 1998 and debuted in October as a "Man's Man", a lumberjack gimmick. However, the gimmick went nowhere and to make matters worse, Regal entered a drug rehabilitation centre in January 1999. Regal failed at his rehab attempt and was released in April.

Regal headed back to WCW and picked up where he left off with his Lord Steven Regal character, reunited with David Taylor and teamed up with Fit Finlay. However, he was released in February 2000, but within days was re-signed to the WWE and assigned to the Memphis developmental area.

By the fall of 2000, Regal, now known as William Regal, was back in the WWE, still sporting the British snob character he had used for most of his career in North America. Less than a month after his return, on October 16, 2000, he defeated Al Snow to win the WWE European Championship.

He would briefly drop the European title to Crash Holly in England in December 2000, but would regain it two days later. Regal would later defeat Al Snow to become the new WWE Commissioner, later hiring Tajiri to be his aide. As the WCW/ECW Invasion angle began, Regal defected to the Alliance, turning on Tajiri and the rest of the WWE.

After the Survivor Series loss by the Alliance, Regal was forced to literally kiss Vince McMahon's ass in order to get his job back. Regal would remain with the WWE but was forced out of action to undergo nasal surgery. When he returned, he defeated Edge at the 2002 Royal Rumble to win the Intercontinental Championship, but lost the belt to Rob Van Dam at Wrestlemania X-8 in Toronto.

Shortly after regaining the European title (from Diamond Dallas Page), Regal was drafted to the Raw brand. He traded the European title with Spike Dudley in the spring of 2002 before losing it for the final time to Jeff Hardy on July 8, 2002.

Regal would join Lance Storm, Test and Christian as part of the Un-Americans. Although the heel contingent would not last long, Regal would continue to team with Storm, and the team won a pair of WWE Tag Team Championships in early 2003.

However, stricken with a severe stomach virus, Regal was taken off the road. Later it was discovered that he had a heart problem as well, that lead to Regal having to undergo electric shock therapy. Regal would not return to the WWE until April 2004 and even then, he wasn't able to compete in the ring.

Instead, he was hired by Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff to look after his "nephew", Eugene, and try to convince Eugene to quit WWE. Initially skeptical, Regal became quite fond of Eugene, and tried to steer Eugene away from Evolution. Regal and Eugene would eventually team up to win the World Tag Team Championship. The title reign ended on January 16, 2005, when Eugene was injured and Regal and "Coach" Jonathon Coachman (substituting for Eugene) lost the belts to La Resistance at a house show.

But Regal would not be without a title for long. During Raw's broadcast from Japan on February 7th, Regal reunited with Tajiri and the team defeated La Resistance to regain the World Tag Team titles, retaining them until Backlash when they lost the titles in a tag team turmoil match, won by Rosey and the Hurricane.

After the loss of the tag team titles, Tajiri and Regal continued to team, mostly against the Heart Throbs. However, they soon split up, seemingly over Tajiri's role in the then-upcoming ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view. As it turned out, there would be no Tajiri-Regal feud forthcoming, as Regal was part of a huge trade that saw him sent to the Smackdown roster.

After a great match against Chris Benoit, Regal began teaming with newcomer Paul Burchill and the two served in Smackdown's tag team ranks for the latter half of 2005, making several runs at the Tag Team titles. Unfortunately for Regal, the partnership ended in February 2006 when Burchill decided to emulate his pirate forefathers, and instead of teaming with Regal, began to feud with him.

Regal's story is nowhere near finished, but it was chronicled in his autobiography Walking A Golden Mile.

--- compiled by John M. Milner

WILLIAM REGAL STORIES

  • May 20, 2008: WWE suspends William Regal 60 days
  • July 26, 2005: Regal book keeps it British
  • April 1, 2001: Regal fields questions at Axxcess
  • October 27, 1998: Regal ready for action