William Regal (born Darren Kenneth Matthews on May 10, 1968 in Codsall Wood, Staffordshire, England) is an English professional wrestler working for WWE and 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 legendTerry 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 mighthave heardof 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 in the last several years. 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.
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 brass knuckles, Regal Cutter
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.
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.
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.
In-Universe, he tried to get Christopher Nowinski to focus on wrestling instead of wanting to devirginize Molly Holly.note In WWE's developmental league Memphis Championship Wrestling in 2000, Molly, billed as Lady Ophelia, was Regal's valet.
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.
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.
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...bustywench for Burchill.