(born Darren Kenneth Matthews on May 10, 1968 in Codsall Wood, Staffordshire, England) is an English professional wrestler working for WWE
as the general manager of NXT, and is arguably the biggest British wrestling star since the heyday of Davey Boy Smith
. With a career spanning three decades all over the world, he gained the most fame and success initially in WCW
in the mid-1990s as Lord Steven Regal and later WWE
, which he had joined in the last year of the famed Attitude Era
and has been there since, first (and briefly) as Steven Regal the "Real Man's Man", and later (and since then) William Regal. He is currently the most senior member of the full-time talent roster, going by ring experience, having been in the business longer than several prominent WWE Superstars (such as Cody Rhodes
) have been alive
Regal has seen quite possibly everything there is to see about the wrestling business, being one of the few wrestlers active today to have started his career as a legitimate
submission wrestler on the British carnival circuit. He's one of the best in the ring, best on the mic, and knows how to tell a story in the ring. However, he's also seen the darker aspects of the business, particularly an almost crippling drug addiction that's unfortunately common in the wrestling business. He has since cleaned up and is arguably the greatest success story of WWE's Wellness Policy. Due to these facts, he's a favorite of diehard fans and smarks
While William Regal has never been a world champion (saying "has never been" but not "never was" because pro-wrestling's hardcore legend Terry Funk
proved there's no such thing as actual, long-term, permanent retirement
), he has extensively trained several future world champions currently employed by WWE. You might have heard of them
Among his in-ring achievements, he is a 4x WCW World Television Champion
, a 4x WWE European Heavyweight Champion
, a 5x WWE Hardcore Champion
, a 2x WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion
and a 4x WWE World Tag Team Champion
, holding the belts twice w/Lance Storm
, 1x w/Eugene
and 1x w/Yoshihiro Tajiri
- Accidental Misnaming: Mispronounces wrestler names like Youmanga (Umaga) and Triple Haitch (Triple H) - although the latter is actually a common pronunciation of the letter H in parts of the UK. During his feud with The Great Khali, he referred to Khali's translator Runjin Singh alternately, as "Dungeon", "Bunion", and "Onion".
- Might be a bit of Genius Bonus in there with how he pronounces "Umaga." In Samoan, the letter, 'n,' is used for the 'ng' sound. In other words, Regal's pronunciation of "Umaga" was close to how a Samoan-speaker would pronounce that name.
- Actually Pretty Funny: In a match against Daniel Bryan, as a rib, his usual music was switched to his old "A Real Man's Man" music. Regal chuckled good-naturedly about it on his way to the ring.
- Affably Evil: Such as what Matt Striker dubbed his "ruthless roundtable" which was out to give "class" to ECW. Besides the goal itself, he was pretty forgiving of Ezekiel Jackson and willingly stepped aside so he could compete for the ECW Championship after several failed attempts against Christian. Another, he was very encouraging to CM Punk during their feud on Raw.
- A Father to His Men: As the general manager of NXT, he genuinely cares for each and every person he signs onto the roster as he can relate to the ambitious young blood of the newer generation, and it breaks him knowing that some of these men would one day turn out to be some of the most cold, dangerous men to ever step foot in the squared circle, and like how he once was in the past, they would destroy each other's dreams if it meant accomplishing their own. This is highlighted at Takeover R Evolution when he looked visibly shaken after Kevin Owens assaulted the new champion Sami Zayn.
- Alliterative Name: His trio with Ezekiel Jackson and Vladimir Kozlov: Regal's Ruthless Roundtable
- Anti-Hero: Self identifies as a Nominal Hero. Actually a Pragmatic Anti Hero as a face.
- Arch-Enemy: Larry Zbyszko, The Nasty Boys, Fit Finlay, Dustin Rhodes/Goldust, Chris Jericho
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Gave one to Sting during a contract signing segment in WCW around 1995-1996, sometime before Sting became Crow!Sting. (The contract was for the Television Title.) Legitimately stiff, it caused Sting to shout "SON OF A BITCH", which got bleeped out. View it here.
- Ass in Ambassador: Despite being a "Goodwill Ambassador".
- Badass Longrobe: See the page photo. Sometimes when he was teaming with Dave Taylor in WCW, while walking to the ring, he would take the opportunity to ham it up, pulling up on the top of the sleeve to make it look like he had bigger biceps than he actually did.
- Bourgeois Bumpkin: William Regal likes to present himself as an English nobleman, which was part of the motivation for his feud with Jamie Noble, who was proud of the trailer he came from and was trying to court an English Lady, Layla. Those who know the UK know Regal's blue collar roots from the first word they hear him speak though.
- Breakup Breakout: He formed a tag team in WCW called the Bluebloods with Dave Taylor. Taylor, who has done little besides be half of the Bluebloods, was talented in the ring but had essentially no charisma. In an odd subversion, bookers would reform the Bluebloods when they didn't have anything for Regal to do in singles wrestling - and then when they did, split the team up and release Taylor again.
- Calvinball: WWE Backlash 2001. Then-commissioner Regal versus Jericho in a "Duchess of Queensbury" match. Jericho tries to pin Regal? Match is divided into two rounds, and round one just ended. Jericho gets a submission? No, submissions aren't allowed. Regal won the match.
- Canon Name: Some fans of him from his prime days in WCW will still call him Steven as opposed to William. It's this rather than the typical Fanon Discontinuity because when WWF re-debuted him in 2000 they first canonized the Regal character's full name as Steven William Regal.
- Card-Carrying Villain: He's completely shameless about his evil reputation, calling himself every low name under the sun on numerous occasions—and even as a face, it's the opposite, being complimented as a good person, that offends him. It's not strange to hear him, as an announcer on NXT, make such claims as "I've never had a drop of integrity, what did it hurt me?" as part of his defense for both faces and heels being questioned for doing what they've gotta do within minutes of each other.
- Combat Pragmatist: One of the best cheaters in the business.
- The Comically Serious: Particularly when trying to maintain his composure dealing with Eugene, Jericho, etc. Has some of the best facial expressions in wrestling.
- Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: Goldberg defeated Regal on the February 9, 1998 WCW Monday Nitro. A particular sequence in the match sparked a persistent online rumor that seemed to be treated as fact which claimed that Regal "shot" (made it "real") on Goldberg and that Regal was fired for it. Regal claimed that he and Goldberg had worked out a particular move sequence before the match, as Regal was attempting to work around the fact that most of Goldberg's matches to that point had been two-minute squashes. Apparently, Goldberg had forgotten part of the sequence and Regal did what he did to remind Goldberg of it. He said that he did not shoot on Goldberg, that he would never shoot on an opponent and that he was fired for his drug/alcohol problems at the time.
- A Day in the Limelight: Every UK tour he was apart of during the last years of his career. Usually he has a match and then cuts a promo acknowledging his impending retirement.
- Demoted to Extra: Is today hardly seen on TV, for a while he appeared on WWE NXT as the "match coordinator" and is now an announcer. He had a brief moment of spotlight when he got in the middle of Sheamus's feud with The Big Show. As of 2013-2014 though, his position as announcer at NXT is fairly formalized, serving as a regular announcer signature to the show in the same way Jim Ross is treated. As of the end of 2014, he's the onscreen General Manager for the NXT 'brand'.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In Regal's case, this stands out: During the time Regal was mentoring Eugene, Triple H took advantage of Eugene's "special" nature to try and regain the World Title, and left him beaten and bloodied when it backfired. A week after Eugene comes back and costs Triple H the belt in a Iron Man match, Regal confronts him, revealing (or reminding us) that he mentored Triple H in WCW and said that if it had been anyone else he manipulated, Regal would've been proud. Eugene, however? That was something that pissed Regal off enough to sneak Eugene into the building and cost Triple H the World Title. It also served for a rare Heel-Face Turn.
- Evil Brit: Arguably the biggest example in pro-wrestling. The trope (at least the wrestling version) could be renamed in favor of him.
- Fan Disservice: At No Mercy 2006, he had a scene in the locker room after he just had a shower, and his towel fell, exposing his privates. WWE immediately apologized for the unscripted accident.
- Finishing Move: Regal Stretch, Power of the Punchnote , Regal Cutter, Knee Trembler
- Foreign Wrestling Heel: Absolutely. In the mid-1990s, likely his only real rival would have been Yokozuna. On the April 21, 1997 WCW Monday Nitro, he called Americans, "xenophobic, miserable little toads."
- Hairstyle Inertia: Maybe not from childhood to adult, but from the mid-1990s to around 2007, he had the same very short, buzzed, slicked-back hairstyle. Later on, he grew it out about several inches or so.
- Human Shield: Used Layla as one, proving he was full of crap when he promised to defend the Intercontinental Championship with "the dignity of an English man".
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Seen in a lot of his matches with Chris Benoit. When caught in the Crossface, Regal will try to block the arm and resist as much as possible, but the moment Benoit has it locked in, Regal taps out to avoid prolonged punishment.
- Literal Ass Kissing: First member of the Vince McMahon "Kiss My Ass" Club.
- Master-Apprentice Chain: Regal to Chris Hero to Claudio Castagnoli, though WWE decided not to do much with it when it managed to get all three on one show.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Known for being one of the friendliest wrestlers in fan circles, having an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to autograph signings: Everyone gets one or no one does (he finds it rude to only look at one or two kids in a group of dozens), and he happily gives advice to younger wrestlers and those looking to become wrestlers.
- Meaningful Rename: When he returned to the WWF in 2000, he went from Steven Regal to William Regal to honor his recently passed grandfather, who helped him get into the business.
- The Mentor: While he hasn't trained that many wrestlers, those he has trained have gone on to have excellent careers, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe and Chris Hero being the top of the heap.
- In-Universe, he tried to get Christopher Nowinski to focus on wrestling instead of wanting to devirginize Molly Holly.note
- Morality Pet: Eugene.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Listen to JBL on commentary here. It shows how even an insignificant defensive move such as blocking a chop can be an indicator of how savvy Regal is in the ring.
- Obfuscating Stupidity
- Regal's character is a stereotypical British gentleman with a mean streak, but William Regal was one of the best wrestlers in the world in his prime.
- Using his Lord Steven Regal gimmick in WCW, he came across like an Upper-Class Twit much of the time, which caused his actual in ring ability to be underestimated.
- Obsolete Mentor: Played straight and subverted with Eugene. As far as wrestling went, Eugene showed he was practically on par with Regal in the first couple of weeks under his tutelage. However, Eugene's "special" qualities would often get him in trouble with some of the other superstars and Regal, a veteran of the locker room, often ended up playing a medium between Eugene and the rest of the wrestlers.
- Odd Friendship
- With Sheamus. Yup, the face Irish guy and the tweener/heel Brit. Apparently William is a mentor of sorts to Sheamus.
- With Eugene as well. Regal only saw Eugene as a hazard to his health and sanity at first, but the "special" boy eventually worked his way into Regal's heart.
- Power Fist: The so called power of the punch (hit them with brass knuckles while the referee is not looking)
- Power Stable:
- Power Trio: Regal's Ruthless Roundtable with Ezekiel Jackson and Vladimir Kozlov. The latter two had been having a contest to outdo each other on WWECW that was bound to end in violence until William Regal somehow convinced them to work for him instead. He later attempted to sell their services out to Chris Jericho, who was on the Raw brand at the time, before ECW general manager Tiffany put an end to it.
- Preppy Name: When Christian called him "Bill", William went on a tirade about how he was not be called that common person's name. So, Christian preceded to refer to him as "Bill" for the rest of his ECW run.
- Quintessential British Gentleman: While in WCW, he even had a valet/manager named Jeeves.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: On NXT where was put in charge by Matt Striker.
- Red Baron: Has had a few over the years, the most recent (and definitive) one being "the Gentleman Villain".
- Retired Badass: He seems to be trying to get out of the wrestling game, and stick to announcing, but jackass young punks keep challenging him to fights. And he seems to be very happy to oblige them, as shown by his response to both Jacob Novak and Kassius Ohno on WWE NXT, and Dean Ambrose in FCW.
- The Southpaw: A rare but prominent left-handed pro-wrestler on a roster of right-handed ones.
- Stiff Upper Lip: Yeah no. He claims to have one naturally, along with lot of other stereotypically "positive" English traits, but then shows that a lot of things really get to him.
- Student and Master Team: With Eugene. They even won the tag team titles together in late 2004.
- Testosterone Poisoning: The short lived Real Man's Man gimmick, back around 1998.
- Underestimating Badassery: Made the mistake of doing this in 2006 when Paul Burchill introduced his "Pirate" gimmick. Cue getting beaten by Burchill for a number of weeks, including a match which losing it meant Regal had to dress up as a...busty wench for Burchill.
- Underwear of Power: If he's not wearing them, it is a good bet he will not be wrestling that night.
- Ur Example: Credited with inventing the Regal-Cutter (arm trap neckbreaker) and the Regal-Plex (bridging leg hook belly-to-back suplex).
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With the Burchills Paul and Katie Lea, the vitriol being around Paul's pirate gimmick.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: An an unamerican, he wore the stars and stripes upside down.
- Wicked Cultured: See Red Baron.
- Worthy Opponent/Always Someone Better: Chris Benoit may have gotten the upper hand in their prolonged rivalry, but it could always be guaranteed that Regal would match him in physicality and brutality, which made their matches all the more thrilling and cringe-inducing.
- Wrestling Doesn't Pay: His "A Real Man's Man" gimmick appeared to be that of a wrestling construction worker, at least based on the vignettes.