The man behind the William Regal characterization has time and time again demonstrated the capacity for entertaining on multiple fronts. In his natural state as a conniving heel, Regal could blend the iciness of a James Bond villain with Peter Sellers-esque deadpan silliness. In the instances that Regal was a babyface, Regal displayed a similarly deft touch that could trigger empathy and elation. In non-wrestling roles of either alignment, Regal's verbal command was delivered just as powerfully as even his hardest strikes.
In honour of William Regal's 50th birthday, we here at Cultaholic would like to look back at his finest on-air contributions to the WWE product. Some are humorous, while others are a tribute to his genuine talents as a ring general. It is most fitting that a list commemorating some of William Regal's finest moments could have such diverse range, since the subject of the list is as diverse a talent as there ever has been.
10. Regal, Regal, Yeah Yeah
Leave it to Regal to liven up what was, to be honest, not one of the greatest SummerSlams in the event's chronology. The 2007 SummerSlam took place in the midst of the regrettable Vince McMahon paternity storyline, in which various in-ring talents raised the possibility that perhaps they were the one sired as a result of some lurid McThrusting.
The threading mystery led to a backstage skit at SummerSlam with McMahon in the company of Regal, Jonathan Coachman, and Theodore Long, when Shad and JTG of Cryme Tyme added their names to the 'suspect' list. This led to a rather random dance circle that Regal comically joined in on while wearing JTG's New York Yankees baseball cap. The look of bug-eyed horror on McMahon's face as soon as Regal takes to grinning and shuffling combined to create the highlight of the night.
9. Number One in Flavour
Silly humour in WWE wasn't confined to just the Attitude Era, but the relaxed programming standards in place at the time made grosser gags possible. Take the time that Regal was feuding with Chris Jericho in the run-up to WrestleMania X-Seven - the stuffy, high-brow authority against the irreverent, free-spirited rock star. Talk about your ideal yin and yang.
The highlight of said feud may well have been Jericho relieving his own yang into Regal's tea one night, and an unknowing Commissioner drinking the soiled concoction. While many bodily-excretions gags in WWE have been dulled by their general inanity, this one was carried swiftly over the finish line by Regal's subtly disgusted facial expressions. Regal's subdued nausea and slight confusion amid his sips of the tea was way funnier than it would have been if he'd projectile vomited all over his office.
8. It's Boss Time
When listing off the greatest authority figures in wrestling history, the 1998-2001 version of Vince McMahon is indisputably in the top position. Many have tried, and spectacularly failed, to match the pure sliminess he brought to the role. In his time as commissioner, William Regal carved a much different niche as a conniving boss, and is one of the more underrated authority figures in wrestling's annals.
As Commissioner in 2000-01, Regal could alternate between reprehensibly underhanded and charmingly droll, depending on the scenario. It goes back to the initial summation of this list, of how Regal's versatility added so much to the shows that he was on. Regal even had a solid second act as Raw General Manager in 2007-08, which included some bizarre "game show" segments, and the sadly-forgotten "turn out the lights" run.
7. Voice of Reason
The NXT brand has many different appealing qualities that has made it preferable to the main WWE product in the eyes of many fans. A unifying theme to many of those attributes has been the fact that NXT is just plain different. If you're not fond of WWE's feature presentations, then the developmental brand may suit your tastes. To many starving viewers, it does exactly that.
For two years, William Regal provided colour commentary on NXT broadcasts, and to say that he did it much differently than his main show counterparts would be an understatement. While part of that can be attributed to the alleged micromanagement of announcers on WWE's primary shows, Regal probably would've stood out anyway, through his effortless delivery of move names, explanations of ring psychology, and his sharp banter with others. He and Mauro Ranallo would be a truly-special duo, with Ranallo's frenetic explosiveness contrasting Regal's casual joviality.
6. Highest Velocity
While WWE Velocity was little more than just a supplementary B-show for the SmackDown brand, it produced a handful of gems over its four-year run on late Saturday nights. Among those jewels was a series of bouts between Regal and Chris Benoit between 2005-06, the most notable of which took place in July 2005, shortly before the Great American Bash pay-per-view.
In a match that Dave Meltzer gave a rating of ****1/4, Regal and Benoit warred violently for nearly 20 minutes, exchanging blistering strikes and torturous submissions like the seasoned world-travelled vets that both certainly were. At one juncture, Regal gets busted open after a headbutt duel, and Benoit even sadistically delivers chops to the open wound. If you can handle a Benoit match in this day and age, then track down this match with Regal, as it might just be the latter's best WWE bout ever.
5. Bad Teacher Goes Good
There have been "simpleton" characters throughout wrestling history, but Nick Dinsmore's portrayal of Eugene was a little more on the nose. That's not to say that fans weren't charmed by Eugene's innocent enthusiasm, because they were. When Regal was assigned to basically act as Eugene's on-camera guardian, WWE stumbled upon an unlikely partnership that brought the best in some very talented performers.
Initially annoyed by Eugene, Regal later grew to respect him as a friend, and most importantly as an equal. At first, Regal tried to drive Eugene out through what was to be a gruelling training session, only for Eugene to counter-wrestle him at every turn, demonstrating the savant-like ability to absorb Wrestling 101 from his years of watching. Regal went from gritting his teeth in Eugene's presence, to finding it hard to stomach Evolution's nefarious plans for a man he'd grown to admire. Some of the most masterful acting ever seen in WWE came during Regal's alliance with Eugene.
4. "You've Made an Enemy Out of Me!"
When Regal finally accepted Eugene, proudly embracing the role of brother's keeper, he turned an angry eye toward Triple H and Evolution. Some people are better heels than they are babyfaces, and most would agree that Regal is one of them. In this moment, however, Regal gave us a brief glimpse of his potential as a fiery hero, delivering what could be his greatest promo ever.
Two weeks before SummerSlam 2004, when a livid Triple H called out Eugene, he got Regal instead. Calmly, Regal spoke of how he and Triple H had much in common, owed to their devious natures. But then he noted that when Helmsley tried to take advantage of trusting Eugene, that's when he earned Regal's ire. Regal's voice rose with hellish fury as he called Triple H out for a match, and the crowd was hanging off of every word of the verbal inferno. Description cannot do justice what Regal managed to accomplish in just two minutes with just words and emotion.
3. Passing The Villain's Torch
NXT gets the glory, but its Florida Championship Wrestling predecessor deserves plenty of love for its own quality content. The crown jewel of FCW's run was the feud Regal had with a piss-and-vinegar-filled Dean Ambrose. The psychological layers to the entire feud would take more than just a few blurbs to spell out, as the entire feud had an ocean's depth. After losing the first battle, Ambrose constantly hounded a disinterested Regal for a rematch, goading him by, among other things, co-opting some of Regal's trademark moves.
Their blowoff fight took place on the final FCW episode on July 15 2012, and was another multi-faceted piece of their fascinating puzzle. After a wild 15-minute skirmish, the match was stopped as Regal was bleeding violently from the ear, after an earlier shot against an exposed turnbuckle. As the dust was settling, Regal, calm as a stream, knelt down and allowed Ambrose to finish him off with a wicked Knee Trembler. It was an uneasy end to a feud that challenged the viewer's emotions more than most modern wrestling rivalries.
2. Fighting His Way Back
By the late-nineties, Regal found himself greatly hampered by addictions to painkillers, in addition to struggles with excessive drinking. A short-lived WWE run ended in the spring of 1999 while Regal was attempting to get clean in rehab. A forgettable WCW stint followed, which ended in February 2000. It had been close to three years since Regal had a meaningful role in either major promotion.
His fortunes changed in May 2000, when Regal performed at the annual Brian Pillman Memorial Show against then-Intercontinental Champion Chris Benoit. The two worked a pure scientific exhibition, a match that was reportedly screened for WWE developmental pick-ups as required viewing (and even made Benoit's 2004 DVD release). The match is what's believed to have gotten Regal rehired by WWE, becoming William Regal when he re-debuted on television four months later.
1. A True Survivor
While Regal's early 2000's comeback from his personal demons was a testament to the man's will power and determination, he would later win another battle against an even more formidable foe. In early 2003, Regal (then a Tag Team champion on Raw) disappeared from television, and would not be seen by WWE viewers for more than one year. The reason: a heart defect attributed to a tour of India WWE had gone on months earlier. Regal had been unable to shake ill-feeling for some time afterward, continuing to wrestle until his lower body began to swell.
Due to an irregular heartbeat, doctors had to temporarily stop Regal's heart, and restart it so that it would beat properly. Regal would also have to endure months of anti-clotting treatments, during which time his weight ballooned to almost 280 pounds. It wouldn't be until April 2004 that Regal returned to the WWE fold, but the comeback in and of itself was simply incredible, seeing just how scary the entire situation was. That he was able to wrestle again (especially at a high level) speaks to his genuine toughness and resolve, and might just be the greatest achievement of William Regal's colorful career in the world of wrestling.