William Regal

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William Regal
Regal in Belfast for wrestlemania revenge tour in 2008.jpg
Regal in 2008
Birth name Darren Kenneth Matthews
Born (1968-05-10) 10 May 1968 (age 50)[1]
Codsall, Staffordshire, UK[2]
Residence Fayetteville, Georgia, US
Spouse(s)
Christina Beddoes (m. 1986)
Children 3
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Darren Matthews[3]
Hellraiser[3]
King Regal[2][4]
Lord Steven Regal[3]
Roy Regal[3]
Sir William Regal[3]
Steve Jones[3]
Steve Regal[2]
Steven Regal
Steven William Regal[3]
William Regal[5]
Billed height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)[5]
Billed weight 243 lb (110 kg)[5]
Billed from Blackpool, England[5]
Trained by Marty Jones[4]
Debut 1983[4]
Retired 2014

Darren Kenneth Matthews[2] (born 10 May 1968)[1] is an English retired professional wrestler, color commentator and trainer currently signed to WWE on the NXT brand under the ring name William Regal, as the general manager Of NXT . In addition to being the on-air NXT's general manager, WWE refer to Regal as the WWE Director of Talent Development and Head of Global Recruiting.[6]

Matthews is also known for his time in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) under the ring name Steven Regal. Having started his career on a rare surviving carnival booth in Britain, he moved on to wrestle for national-level promotions on the British wrestling circuit and on British television. He then progressed to touring around the world in countries such as Germany and South Africa before being called up to WCW in 1993.

In 2000, Matthews joined the World Wrestling Federation (later World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE), where he became commissioner. More recently, he has been general manager of Raw, the 2008 King of the Ring and the official match coordinator for NXT Redemption in 2011. He is highly respected amongst his peers and fans and has achieved considerable championship success in professional wrestling, although he has never been a world champion. Throughout his career, he has won several titles, including four in WCW and fifteen in WWE. He has overcome multiple drug problems as well as a major heart defect during his career.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early years (1983–1992)[edit]

Matthews was born in Codsall, Staffordshire. He made his ring debut wrestling for promoter Bobby Barron at his wrestling challenge booth at the Horseshoe Showbar at Blackpool Pleasure Beach at the age of fifteen. In time, he graduated to be a shooter at the booth, using brutal submission holds to defend prize money against challenges from members of the public.[7] By this time, he wrestled professionally all over Britain for All Star Wrestling where he regularly teamed with Robbie Brookside as The Golden Boys tag team. Both Regal and Brookside appeared in several televised matches during the final years (1987–1988) of ITV's coverage of British wrestling.[8][9]

Matthews went on to tour worldwide, including Germany and South Africa, before arriving in the United States in 1992 to further pursue his wrestling career. During this early period, he was billed as Steve Regal, a name he saw in an American wrestling magazine (in use by "Mr. Electricity" Steve Regal). There were two exceptions to this; one was when he wrestled in Wales during this period under the name Steve Jones and was billed from Cardiff, Wales teaming with Orig Williams and faced Fit Finlay amongst others.[10] The other was a brief stint for Joint Promotions in 1986 where he wrestled his first two televised matches under the name Roy Regal.[11] Otherwise he stuck with the name Steve Regal up until shortly after his arrival in World Championship Wrestling.

World Championship Wrestling[edit]

World Television Champion (1993–1994)[edit]

Matthews started in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) still as Steve Regal, beginning as a fan favorite character.[7] Regal made his televised debut on the 30 January 1993 episode of Saturday Night and defeated enhancement talent Bob Cook in his in-ring debut on the following week's Saturday Night. Shortly after his debut, Regal entered a tournament for the vacant WCW World Television Championship in which he defeated The Barbarian in the first round before losing to Johnny B. Badd in the quarterfinals.[12]

He became the villain "Lord Steven Regal" on the 12 June episode of Saturday Night, claiming descent from William the Conqueror and Sir William began serving as his manager.[12] At times arrogantly charming in this persona, one of his memorable statements to a post-match interviewer was: "Do you know what my New Year's resolution is going to be? To wake up a half an hour earlier so I can hate you more".[13] His first major win after the character change was against Marcus Alexander Bagwell on the 16 June episode of Clash of the Champions.[14] Regal was scheduled to face Bagwell's partner 2 Cold Scorpio on the 18 August episode of Clash of the Champions, but he was replaced by Bobby Eaton. Regal himself substituted for the injured Brian Pillman to team with Steve Austin in a WCW World Tag Team Championship defense against Arn Anderson and Paul Roma; Regal and Austin lost that match.[15]

Regal won the World Television Championship by defeating Ricky Steamboat at the inaugural Fall Brawl pay-per-view on 18 September with the help of Sir William.[12][16][17][18] Regal enjoyed a lengthy title reign as he retained the title against a flurry of challengers, beginning with his first televised title defense against Arn Anderson on the 9 October episode of Saturday Night which ended in a fifteen-minute time limit draw.[12] He then defended the title against fellow Brit Davey Boy Smith, whom he faced to a fifteen-minute time limit draw at Halloween Havoc.[19] Regal then successfully retained the title against Johnny B. Badd on the 10 November episode of Clash of the Champions[20] and retained the title against Steamboat at Starrcade[21] and Dustin Rhodes on the 27 January 1994 episode of Clash of the Champions,[22] with both matches ending in time limit draws.[12][23] Regal continued his successful title defenses in 1994 by beating Arn Anderson at SuperBrawl IV[24] and fighting a time limit draw against Brian Pillman at Spring Stampede.[25] In the spring of 1994 on WorldWide, Regal challenged Ric Flair to a best-of-five series under Marquess of Queensberry Rules in which Regal lost to Flair with 1 win, 2 losses and 2 draws.

The following month, Regal lost a non-title match to Larry Zbyszko at Slamboree,[26] leading to a title match on the 28 May episode of Saturday Night, in which he dropped the title to Zbyszko. Regal regained the title from Zbyszko on the June 23 episode of Clash of the Champions.[17][27] Regal began a feud with Sting and was booked to defend the title against Sting at Bash at the Beach.[23] However, Sting was injured prior to the event and was replaced by Johnny B. Badd, whom Regal defeated to retain the title at Bash at the Beach.[28] Regal lost to the wrestling legend Antonio Inoki on the 28 August episode of Clash of the Champions.[29] In September, Regal lost the title to Badd at Fall Brawl.[30]

The Blue Bloods (1994–1998)[edit]

Beginning with the 26 November episode of Saturday Night, Regal began scouting fellow aristocrat Jean-Paul Levesque during his matches,[23] which lead to the duo forming a tag team on the 21 January 1995 episode of Pro, when they defeated Brad and Scott Armstrong.[23] Shortly after, Levesque left WCW and he was replaced by Alabama-born Bobby Eaton[7] when Regal and Eaton faced each other in a match on the 18 March episode of Saturday Night. Regal stopped the match and proposed that he and Eaton form a team, which Eaton accepted. Regal formed the team The Blue Bloods with Eaton and was involved in humorous vignettes where he tried to teach Eaton the finer points of dining and the proper usage of the Queen's English. He renamed him "Earl" Robert Eaton. The duo first began teaming on the 8 April episode of Saturday Night. Regal also toured WCW's working partner New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) on 16 April, where he unsuccessfully challenged Shinya Hashimoto for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.[31] Blue Bloods quickly entered the title picture as they initially feuded with The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags), their complete opposites in terms of "sophistication" and presentation. Blue Bloods unsuccessfully challenged Nasty Boys for the WCW World Tag Team Championship at The Great American Bash.[32] On the 24 June episode of WorldWide, Blue Bloods retaliated by costing Nasty Boys, the tag team titles against Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray).[31] Blue Bloods faced Harlem Heat and Nasty Boys for the title in a triangle match at Bash at the Beach, where they failed again.[33] Blue Bloods soon dropped off the title picture and continued to compete as a mid-card tag team. They added "Squire" David Taylor to the team and Jeeves as their lackey by the end of the year.[7] Eaton and Regal received a shot at the WCW World Tag Team Championship against Sting and Lex Luger on the 23 January 23 episode of Clash of the Champions, where they failed to win the championship.[34]

On the 27 January episode of Saturday Night, Regal was attacked by the debuting Belfast Bruiser during a match, thus beginning a feud between the duo as The Belfast Bruiser was a Northern Irishman, who developed an on-screen hatred with Regal due to him being English.[35] In March, Regal faced the Bruiser in a match at Uncensored, but Regal lost the match by disqualification after Eaton and Taylor attacked the Bruiser.[35][36] On the 29 April episode of Monday Nitro, Regal defeated the Bruiser in a Parking Lot Brawl. The duo were scheduled to team in the Lethal Lottery at Slamboree, but the Bruiser suffered an injury and was replaced by Dave Taylor. Regal and Taylor lost to Jim Duggan and VK Wallstreet.[35][37] Regal challenged Sting to a match to gain some attention in the company, leading to a match between the two at The Great American Bash, which Regal lost.[38]

On the 31 August episode of Saturday Night, Regal captured the World Television Championship for the third time by getting an upset victory over Lex Luger after he was attacked by The Outsiders.[17][35] After winning the title, Regal solely began focusing on his title reign and the Blue Bloods became inactive. He held the title for five months and defended the title against the likes of Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Dean Malenko, former partner Bobby Eaton and Psychosis. Regal was scheduled to defend the title against Rey Misterio, Jr. at SuperBrawl VII, but he dropped the title to Prince Iaukea after a distraction by Misterio on the 16 February 1997 episode of Nitro. Six days later, Regal avenged his title loss by costing Misterio, the title shot against Iaukea at SuperBrawl VII.[39] Regal got a rematch against Iaukea for the title at Spring Stampede, which he lost.[40] Regal attacked Iaukea on the 7 April episode of Nitro, which resulted in Iaukea losing the title to Último Dragón later that night.[39]

At Slamboree, Regal defeated Dragon to win the title for a fourth time.[41] He lost the title back to Dragon, two months later on the 22 July episode of Nitro. Regal got another shot at the title against next champion Alex Wright on the 15 September episode of Nitro, but he failed to capture the title.[39] In the fall of 1997, Regal reformed Blue Bloods with Dave Taylor and they unsuccessfully challenged Steiner Brothers for the WCW World Tag Team Championship at World War 3. Later that night, Regal participated in the World War 3 for a future WCW World Heavyweight Championship match, which he failed to win.[42]

On the 9 February 1998 episode of Nitro, Regal faced and lost to Goldberg in which he appeared more aggressive and stiff than expected with the then-rising star. It was later revealed that most of Regal's moves on Goldberg were shoot-style moves, which caught Goldberg off-guard at the time.[43] It was rumored that WCW management was upset with Regal because even though he did job to Goldberg as expected, he was supposed to lose to Goldberg in a short match, like most of Goldberg's other competitors at the time, as opposed to actually keeping the match competitive.[44][45] However, Regal disputes this in his autobiography and has reasserted that he was told to have a competitive match for six minutes by WCW agents during his interview on The Stone Cold Steve Austin Podcast.

World Wrestling Federation (1998−1999)[edit]

Regal's initial appearance in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) was on the 29 June 1998 episode of Raw Is War in which he defeated Droz via submission with the Regal Stretch. After featuring in one more match against Tiger Ali Singh at Penn State in Pennsylvania, Regal was sent to a training camp run by Dory Funk, Jr. in order to get into shape. On his last day, he twisted his ankle in a match against Rhyno and upon returning home aggravated this injury falling in his bathroom, breaking his ankle and leg.

During this time, Regal was suffering from an addiction to Renewtrient, pain medication and valium and was not seen on WWF television until he returned that fall with a "Real Man's Man" builder/lumberjack style looking gimmick created by Vince Russo that was based on the image of The Brawny Man.[7] Vignettes for the character showed him doing "manly" things like chopping wood, shaving with a straight razor and squeezing his own orange juice. After he made his full-time debut in October 1998, he faced X-Pac in the opening round of the tournament for the vacant WWF Championship at Survivor Series,[7] ending in a double countout and thus eliminating both men from the tournament.

Regal then began a feud with The Godfather, but he was taken off television soon after before subsequently checking into rehab in January 1999 and was released from the WWF in April.[4]

Return to WCW (1999−2000)[edit]

After checking out of rehab, Matthews was invited back into the wrestling world, making a somewhat brief return to WCW as "Lord Steven Regal". His official pay-per-view return took place during Bash at the Beach, where he was one of many participants in the first Hardcore Invitational. The following night on Nitro, Regal, accompanied by both Fit Finlay and Dave Taylor, fought Billy Kidman. Despite outside help from Finlay and Taylor, Regal was unable to pick up the win. Two weeks later, he faced Mikey Whipwreck, but Jimmy Hart's First Family came out to challenge The Blue Bloods at Road Wild for the Hardcore Trophy, causing Regal to lose the match. Nothing came of this challenge as neither the First Family or the Blue Bloods were featured on the Road Wild card. Similar to his previous run, much of Regal's performances took place in tag team bouts. Reagal continued his role as a rule breaking villain and had small feuds with teams such as The Filthy Animals. In late February 2000, Regal lost a career vs. career match against Jim Duggan on Saturday Night for the World Television Championship, which was done in order to explain Regal's release from the company.

Return to the WWF/WWE[edit]

Commissioner (2000–2001)[edit]

Regal during his ring entrance wearing his traditional robe

Regal was once again hired by the WWF and sent to the developmental territory Memphis Championship Wrestling (MCW) for a short time. He re-debuted in a match with Chris Benoit at the Third Annual Brian Pillman Memorial Show.[46]

His new character was Steven William Regal (soon shortened to William Regal), a stereotypical English snob, harkening back to his WCW character. As a villain, Regal had much more success, winning the WWF European Championship.[7][47] Regal's most high-profile match during this stage of his career came at WrestleMania X-Seven, where he challenged Chris Jericho for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, but he was defeated. Regal later became the on-screen commissioner and self-proclaimed "Goodwill Ambassador" of the WWF and was given a comedy sidekick in Tajiri. During the WCW/ECW Alliance storyline, Regal became a villain by costing Kurt Angle the WWF Championship and joining The Alliance. He was fired as commissioner by Linda McMahon, but Shane McMahon, who was the owner of WCW, hired him as the Alliance Commissioner.

After the Alliance was defeated at Survivor Series in November 2001, Regal was forced to become the first member of Vince McMahon's "Kiss My Ass" club by kissing McMahon's buttocks so he could keep his job.[7]

The Un-Americans (2002–2003)[edit]

In 2002, after an absence due to surgery on his nose after it was legitimately broken by Edge on the 13 December 13 episode of SmackDown!,[4] Regal returned and feuded with Edge, winning the Intercontinental Championship at the Royal Rumble in January,[48] where he began using a set of brass knuckles in order to win matches. Regal defended the title against Edge again at No Way Out in a brass knuckles on a pole match before losing the title to Rob Van Dam at WrestleMania X8. The same week, he beat fellow WCW alum Diamond Dallas Page for the WWF European Championship on SmackDown!.[47]

In mid-2002, the World Wrestling Federation was renamed World Wrestling Entertainment and the roster was divided into two separate "brands". During this time, he was drafted to the Raw brand by owner Ric Flair. He was defeated by Spike Dudley in a match for the European Championship, but he won it back four weeks later to become a four-time champion.[47] He later lost the title to Jeff Hardy and later held the WWF Hardcore Championship three times.[49] He formed an alliance with Molly Holly before joining The Un-Americans, an anti-American villainous alliance consisting of Canadian wrestlers Lance Storm, Christian and Test.[7]

On the 30 September episode of Raw, every member of The Un-Americans lost their matches, causing the group to separate later in the night and break away into separate groups. Regal began teaming with Lance Storm, Christian formed a tag team with Chris Jericho and Test branched off into single competition. Storm and Regal won the World Tag Team Championship from Booker T and Goldust thanks to Regal's brass knuckles.[50] They lost the championship to The Dudleys (Bubba Ray and D-Von) at the Royal Rumble in January 2003, but they regained the championship twenty four hours later thanks to an impromptu match set up by Chief Morley after Regal and Storm had put Bubba through a table. Regal later gave up his title due to a heart condition.[7]

Championship reigns (2004–2006)[edit]

Eugene was the "mentally challenged" nephew of Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff and was placed in the care of Regal during his return to WWE. Initially dismayed at having to babysit Eugene, Regal eventually grew very fond of him and they became friends, becoming a fan favorite in the process. Regal was ordered by Bischoff to make Eugene lose so that he would be discouraged into leaving WWE, but his friendship with Eugene caused him to try only half-heartedly to cost him his match with Robert Conway. Despite this, Bischoff put Regal back on the active roster. Regal later teamed with Eugene and won the World Tag Team Championship from La Résistance on the 15 November 2004 episode of Raw.[50] Eugene legitimately injured himself at New Year's Revolution after botching a dropkick. This ultimately cost them the World Tag Team Championship as Regal unsuccessfully attempted to defend the titles with announcer Jonathan Coachman as Eugene's stand in. The pair wrestled and lost a match against La Résistance at a house show, crowning them with their third reign. On 4 February 2005, Regal and old ally Tajiri defeated La Résistance to win the World Tag Team Championship on Raw, which was broadcast live from Tajiri's home country Japan.[50]

La Résistance entered in a feud with the champions and repeatedly missed out on the titles during matches, mainly on Sunday Night Heat. During their last shot for the titles, La Résistance thought they had won back the championship, only to have the decision reversed by referee Mike Chioda due to the legal man not being pinned. After winning this match, an open challenge to any tag team was issued by Regal to try to win their championship. On the following Raw, Regal and Tajiri successfully defended the belts against the debuting Romeo and Antonio, known collectively as The Heart Throbs. At Backlash in May, Regal and Tajiri participated in a tag team turmoil match in which four teams competed for the World tag team titles. Regal and Tajiri were eliminated by La Résistance who, in turn, were eliminated by Rosey and The Hurricane, who became the new champions. They lost to Khosrow Daivari and Muhammad Hassan on the 25 April Raw. Shortly after, the team of Regal and Tajiri split and Regal became part of the anti-Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) faction which attempted to disrupt and invade ECW One Night Stand, turning into a villain once again.

Regal is admonished by the referee following a typical villainous action while wrestling Cody Rhodes

On 30 June, Regal was sent to SmackDown as part of an eleven-person trade during the draft.[51] His first match on SmackDown! was on 7 July against Matt Morgan in what was to be Morgan's final WWE match. It was interrupted before Regal was even able to enter the ring by The Mexicools. His first full match as part of the roster was a loss to Chris Benoit in a catch wrestling match on the 16 July episode of Velocity. On 4 August, Regal was scheduled to go one on one with Scotty 2 Hotty, but the Mexicools came in and attacked both men. Two weeks later, they teamed up on SmackDown! against Psicosis and Super Crazy with Juventud in their corner. Halfway through the match, Regal betrayed Scotty by refusing to tag him and walked out of the ring with a smirk on his face, turning into a villain as a result and allowing the Mexicools to pick up the win. Two days later, Regal cut a promo telling the crowd that he had returned to his former self, referring to himself as a "scoundrel" and a "rogue". The promo ended when Scotty ran to the ring and attacked Regal. The following week, a match between the two was cut short when the debuting Paul Burchill interfered to aid his countryman. Regal went on to take Burchill under his wing and tag with him on the hunt for the WWE Tag Team Championship, but the team's biggest exposure was a loss in a handicap match against Bobby Lashley at Armageddon.

On the 3 February 2006 episode of SmackDown!, Regal and Burchill told the "network representative" Palmer Canon that they no longer wanted to be a tag team so they could go their separate ways. During this discussion, Burchill informed Canon that his family heritage traced back to the pirate Blackbeard and that he wanted to turn this into a pirate gimmick.[7] Burchill, with this heroic persona, started a rivalry with former teammate Regal, who tried to convince Burchill to return to his ruthless ways. Regal lost to Burchill in his first match as a pirate.[52] Regal lost a rematch against Burchill, with the match stipulation that Regal would have to dress like a "buxom wench" if he lost. "Lady Regal", as SmackDown announcers jokingly referred to him, had to dress up like this until Burchill lost a match. This ended after Burchill abandoned him during a tag team loss to The Gymini.

King Booker's Court (2006–2007)[edit]

Regal at No Mercy

Regal continued to wrestle in a lower mid-card status, the highlight of which saw him turning into a fan favorite for one night only as he faced the United States Champion John "Bradshaw" Layfield in a losing effort while in England. Soon after Booker T became King Booker after becoming King of the Ring, Regal joined King Booker's Court by playing the role of a town crier. As a member of the Court, Regal helped Booker in his feud against Bobby Lashley, occasionally teaming up with fellow Court member Finlay in tag team matches. However, during this time he also feuded with Finlay for the United States Championship. Regal was knighted by King Booker and was given the title of "Sir".[7] At No Mercy, Regal lost to a returning Chris Benoit, resulting in him turning his back on the Court afterwards by knocking down King Booker with a punch to the face after Booker slapped him and called him useless. During the broadcast, Regal was involved in a backstage segment with Vito in which he accidentally exposed his penis for a brief second.[53]

Twelve days after No Mercy, Regal stated that while he had once been one of the world's greatest wrestlers, he had since become a doormat for other SmackDown wrestlers. He referred to being dressed as a buxom wench for a pirate, the aforementioned locker room incident with Vito and being knighted by a false king as examples. After announcing he was finished being a whipping boy, he introduced his old tag team partner Dave Taylor and the two went on to easily defeat the team of Scotty 2 Hotty and Funaki. Though the pair reformed their previous tag team, they did not reuse the Blue Bloods gimmick and instead portrayed themselves as sadistic fighters. However, the team was quickly put into jeopardy in their second match together when Taylor suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee, leaving him injured.[54] Taylor took a more relaxed role for a couple of weeks as a corner man for Regal and only wrestled in a few short house show matches. Taylor quickly healed from his injury and the pair feuded with the WWE Tag Team Champions Paul London and Brian Kendrick. After defeating London and Kendrick on several occasions, at Armageddon they took part in a four-way ladder match alongside Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury and The Hardys. London and Kendrick coming out on top after Joey Mercury suffered a serious facial injury.[55]

On the 25 May 2007 episode of SmackDown!, Regal and Taylor competed in a number one contenders match for the WWE Tag Team Championship against London and Kendrick, which they lost after Deuce 'n Domino interfered, making both teams the number one contenders.[56] This interference led to a triple threat match the next week on SmackDown! in which Deuce 'n Domino retained the title.[57]

Raw General Manager and King of the Ring (2007–2009)[edit]

Regal applies a wrist lock to Cody Rhodes

On 17 June, Regal was drafted back to the Raw brand during the supplemental draft,[58] ending his tag team with Dave Taylor. On 2 July, Regal served as Interim general manager of Raw, filling in for Jonathan Coachman. While general manager, Regal introduced the Beat the Clock Sprint to Raw, which was used to determine who would challenge John Cena for the WWE Championship at The Great American Bash.[59]

On the 6 August episode of Raw, Regal became the new general manager after winning an over the top rope battle royal featuring other participants from the Raw roster.[60] He began incorporating game shows into Raw while general manager. On the 3 September episode of Raw, Regal was attacked by WWE Champion John Cena in retaliation for rewarding Randy Orton with a WWE title shot after Orton had kicked John Cena's father in the head the previous week. Regal was missing from Raw programming for one month due to this attack, making his return by siding with Vince McMahon. On New Year's Eve, Triple H was scheduled to face Ric Flair in which Flair's win or retire ultimatum was still active. Regal announced that if Triple H lost the match in any way, he would not participate in the Royal Rumble match at the 2008 Royal Rumble. This was to give Triple H a reason to want to win the match rather than avoid ending the career of his best friend and idol. Regal was scheduled to compete against Hornswoggle that night with Mr. McMahon at ringside.[61] McMahon tossed Regal some brass knuckles during the match and encouraged him to use them on Hornswoggle,[61] but he let Hornswoggle go and left the ring.[61] During the Flair versus Triple H match, Triple H was about to pin Flair for the win when Regal suddenly punched Flair in the face with the brass knuckles. This gave Flair the win by disqualification, ensuring that he could continue to wrestle and that Triple H would not be part of the Royal Rumble.[62]

As a result of Regal's actions towards Triple H, the following week on Raw Roulette he lost a First Blood match to Triple H after several right hands to Regal's forehead. A few weeks later, Regal made the Raw Elimination Chamber match for No Way Out. He later turned into a fan favorite for one night only while on a European tour by facing Randy Orton in a match to try to teach him some respect. The following week, Regal won the 2008 King of the Ring tournament on a special three-hour Raw, where he defeated Hornswoggle, Finlay and CM Punk all by submission, becoming the first man to make Punk submit.[63] Regal's coronation ceremony the next week was interrupted by the returning Mr. Kennedy. A few weeks later, Regal lost a Loser Gets Fired match to Mr. Kennedy, after which Regal was kayfabe forced to leave WWE. In reality, Regal was suspended on 20 May for sixty days for his second violation of the company's Substance Abuse and Drug Testing Policy.[64] On 28 July, Regal returned from his suspension as a "free agent" during an episode of Raw, where he was defeated by then World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk.[65]

Regal began a mini-feud with Jamie Noble after he took an interest in Noble's romantic interest Layla, prompting him to attack Regal.[66] Both men picked up victories in consecutive weeks,[67][68] before Regal won their third match, departing with Layla at his side.[69] Regal's feud with Noble escalated the subsequent week when Layla declared that Noble was a loser and that she found a man worthy of her in Regal.[70] However, the feud was short lived.

On the 3 November episode of Raw, Regal won an over-the-top battle royal to face Santino Marella for the Intercontinental Championship and the next week in Manchester, Regal defeated Marella in a 40-second squash match to win his second Intercontinental Championship.[71] Later, he entered into a feud for the title with number one contender CM Punk. On the 5 January 2009 episode of Raw, Regal lost to Punk via disqualification after he grabbed the referee's shirt.[72] Due to this, Stephanie McMahon awarded Punk a rematch the following week, with the stipulation that if Regal was disqualified, he would lose the Intercontinental title, but this time Punk was disqualified.[73] McMahon awarded Punk another rematch, this time a no disqualification match on the 19 January episode of Raw, where Regal lost the title.[74] Regal got a rematch, but lost the match. Following the draft, Regal was left alone on the Raw brand as his on-screen manager Layla was drafted to the SmackDown brand. At Extreme Rules, Regal unsuccessfully challenged Kofi Kingston for the United States Championship along with Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) and Matt Hardy, Kofi Kingston retained the United States Championship by pinning Regal.

The Ruthless Roundtable (2009–2010)[edit]

Regal was traded to the ECW brand on 29 June.[75] In his first match on ECW on Syfy the following night, he teamed with Vladimir Kozlov to defeat Tommy Dreamer and Christian.[76]

After winning a tag match on the 6 August episode of Superstars,[77] Regal was named as the number one contender to the ECW Championship.[78] On the 18 August episode of ECW, Regal teamed with Kozlov again to face Ezekiel Jackson and the ECW Champion Christian in which Jackson attacked Christian to ensure Regal's victory,[79] with the trio of Regal, Kozlov and Jackson forming a new alliance which was later dubbed the Ruthless Roundtable.[80] At SummerSlam, Regal challenged Christian for his title, but was defeated in eight seconds.[81] With the Roundtable's help, Regal defeated Christian in a non-title match on the 25 August episode of ECW to earn a title rematch against Christian at Breaking Point,[82] but Christian prevailed again with the rest of the Roundtable banned from ringside.[83] Regal was then denied another chance at number one contender-ship,[84] but The Ruthless Roundtable continued to repeatedly attack Christian to continue the feud.[85][86] As a result, Christian demanded to face Regal,[87] so he received another shot for the ECW Championship on the 10 November episode of ECW in Sheffield, England, but he was once again unsuccessful.[88]

At Survivor Series, Regal participated in a traditional five-on-five Survivor Series elimination match and was eliminated by MVP.[89] Following Survivor Series, dissension was teased within The Ruthless Roundtable,[90] although Jackson seemed poised to leave the group, Regal ultimately sided with Jackson and turned on Kozlov by assisting Jackson in defeating Kozlov to qualify for an ECW Homecoming battle royal to determine the number one contender to the ECW Championship.[91] Jackson won the ECW Homecoming battle royal and was granted a title shot, but Christian defeated him at the Royal Rumble to retain his title.[92][93] Despite the loss, Regal and Jackson continued to assault Christian, who accepted Jackson's title challenge. On the final episode of ECW on 16 February 2010, Regal helped Jackson defeating Christian in an Extreme Rules match to become the final ECW Champion.[94][95][96]

Later career (2010–2013)[edit]

After ECW was cancelled to be replaced by NXT, Regal returned to the Raw brand,[97] but he also became the Pro to Rookie Skip Sheffield on the first season of NXT. Regal made his debut on the 2 March episode of NXT, teaming with Sheffield in a losing effort against Matt Hardy and Justin Gabriel.[98] On the 13 April episode of NXT, Regal won his first match on the show, defeating former pupil Daniel Bryan.[99] On the 10 May episode of NXT, Sheffield was eliminated from the competition.[100]

Regal was mostly involved in lower-card feuds after returning to wrestle on Raw and also regularly appeared on NXT and Superstars. In 2010, he regularly lost tag team matches against Santino Marella while trading wins with Goldust. Regal defeated Darren Young in three matches on Superstars in October and November.[101]

In March 2011, Regal became the color commentator for the fifth season of NXT.[102] On 26 April, Regal was drafted to SmackDown as part of the 2011 WWE supplemental draft.[103] On NXT, Regal began a feud with rookie Jacob Novak after Novak taunted him as old and washed up.[104] On the 3 May episode of NXT, Regal was set to face Novak, but Novak's Pro JTG stepped in to replace Novak. While Regal had the match won, Novak interfered, attacking Regal and causing a disqualification.[105] This attack turned Regal into a fan favorite. On the 10 May episode of NXT, Regal defeated Novak by submission to end the feud[106] as Novak was eliminated on the next episode.[107]

After Regal came to the aid of NXT host Matt Striker, saving him from an assault by Darren Young, Young challenged Regal to a match on the 6 September episode of NXT and Regal duly defeated Young.[108] On the 13 September episode of NXT, Regal teamed with Striker against JTG and Darren Young in a losing effort.[109] On the 10 November episode of Superstars held in England, Regal was pranked when his old "Real Man's Man" theme song was played, then lost to protégé Daniel Bryan, but both wrestlers showed respect after the match.[110][111] On the 15 February 2011 episode of NXT Redemption, Regal temporarily took charge as NXT host from Matt Striker to set up matches on the show,[112] which led to him being made NXT's official match coordinator two weeks later.[113] After being appointed as an authority figure, Regal had issues with NXT's perennial troublemakers, Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks while Maxine attempted to influence him to get her off NXT.[114]

In 2011, Regal also acted as a color commentator for Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) matches and it was during this time he began a feud with Dean Ambrose after an unprovoked attack by Ambrose on Regal, setting up a match between the two on the 6 November episode of FCW, where Regal viciously attacked Ambrose's left arm and pinned Ambrose.[115][116] Following the loss to Regal, Ambrose became obsessed about wanting a rematch and regularly taunted Regal by using Regal's finishing moves to win matches.[117] A rematch was scheduled as the main event for the final episode of FCW on 15 July. The match began with Regal viciously attacking Ambrose's injured left arm, but Ambrose rammed Regal into the ring post to badly disorientate him. Then Ambrose ruthlessly kneed Regal's head into an exposed turnbuckle, causing Regal to bleed from the ear and the match was then ruled a no contest. After the match, Regal stared down Ambrose, then applauded him and turned his head to allow Ambrose to deliver the Knee Trembler. Afterwards, the FCW locker room stormed the ring to separate Ambrose from a fallen Regal while commentators questioned whether Regal would ever be able to wrestle again.[118] He continued to work as a color commentator for NXT after FCW was rebranded as NXT.[119][120]

In 2012, Regal wrestled multiple live event dates wrestling against the likes of Santino Marella and Wade Barrett. Regal ended up on both the winning and losing side. At Over the Limit, Regal participated in a 20-man battle royal, but he was ultimately unsuccessful. In late 2012, Regal played the role of Sheamus' friend in Sheamus' rivalry against Big Show, where he was repeatedly attacked by Show.[121] Regal was featured on the 6 November episode of SmackDown in Birmingham, England in which Regal teamed with Sheamus in a loss to Big Show and Wade Barrett[122] and later on the 12 November episode of Raw he lost to Big Show.[123]

Regal wrestled for the WWE during the April tour of the United Kingdom losing to Antonio Cesaro on Raw and losing to Wade Barrett on SmackDown. On 1 December, Regal defeated Ace Steel in a match for World League Wrestling in Eldon, Missouri.[124][125] Regal would later make a surprise appearance on the June 17 2013 episode of Raw where he challenged Cesaro to a match in which he was defeated.

On 5 December, Regal started a feud with his former disciple Kassius Ohno when he saved Tyson Kidd from an assault by Ohno and Leo Kruger.[126] When Regal later saved Derrick Bateman from Ohno's post-match attack, Ohno confronted Regal, who punched Ohno. The next week, Regal apologised to Ohno. In reply, Ohno stated that he had followed in Regal's footsteps to arrive in WWE, but that Regal's whole career had no legacy, leading to Regal punching Ohno again.[127] After both men continued to attack each other,[128][129] the rivalry culminated in a match on the 10 April 2013 episode of NXT, which Regal won.[130] Ohno later apologised to Regal.[131] On the 26 June episode of NXT, Regal tried to help Ohno, Adrian Neville and Corey Graves from a joint assault by The Wyatt Family, Garrett Dylan and Scott Dawson, but was overwhelmed.[132] Two weeks later, Graves, Neville and Regal faced The Wyatt Family with Bray Wyatt pinning Regal.[133] Regal's final feud on NXT was against Antonio Cesaro due to Regal saving Byron Saxton from Cesaro's bullying,[134] which culminated with Cesaro defeating Regal on the 25 December episode of NXT.[135]

NXT General Manager (2014−present)[edit]

In July 2014, Regal was revealed as the new General Manager of NXT. Dave Meltzer later wrote that Regal was "moved from the commentary booth to the figurehead commissioner role, since the decision was made that NXT should be about grooming announcers for the future in WWE, and they simply don't think of Regal for that role".[136]

In both late 2014 and early 2015, WWE executive Triple H described Regal as playing a key role in recruiting wrestlers to NXT (and thus WWE), whether from the independent or international wrestling circuit, or from other sports.[137][138] He also became a trainer at the WWE Performance Center after the passing of Dusty Rhodes.

Regal made regular appearances on NXT television throughout 2015 and 2016 and was storyline responsible for the signing of Bobby Roode to NXT in August 2016. Regal appeared during the Cruiserweight Classic semi-finals handing TJ Perkins his medallion for defeating Kota Ibushi.

On 22 January 2018, Regal made a brief appearance on stage during the 25th Anniversary episode of Raw.[139]

In February 2018, WWE.com referred to Regal as the WWE Director of Talent Development and Head of Global Recruiting.[140]

Personal life[edit]

He has been married to Christina Beddoes since November 1986. They have three sons: Daniel,[141] Bailey[142] and Dane.[143] His actual accent (broad Lancashire) is very different from the one he uses on television, which is closer to Received Pronunciation. He has a tattoo on his left leg which says "Made in England" and a rose with his wife's name on his left arm. He participated in an episode of The Weakest Link, winning two of the first three rounds and eventually finishing third.[144] His pets include two snakes, eight lizards, a tortoise, three cats and two dogs. He once quipped that he owns so many pets because "humans disgust me".[145]

In 2003, Matthews was misdiagnosed with what was in fact a heart defect, which meant the right side of his heart was beating out of sequence with the left. This allowed large volumes of fluid to build in his body.[146] After undergoing specialist treatment which involved stopping his heart and months of anti-blood clot treatments, he returned to wrestling in April 2004.[4] During his illness and recovery he put on and then lost 40 pounds of fat.[44]

His book, Walking a Golden Mile, was released on 1 May 2005. While in WCW, Matthews was arrested during a flight from Japan to the United States when he got drunk and urinated on a stewardess. By Matthews' account in his book, he claims that he was so drunk that he could not remember the incident and woke up in a cell in Anchorage, Alaska.[147] On 30 August 2007, Sports Illustrated named Matthews, along with nine other superstars, found to be given steroids not in compliance with the WWE Talent Wellness program. He received stanozolol, somatropin, genotropin and anastrozole between November 2004 and November 2006.[148][149]

He has said that he grew up admiring wrestlers Terry Rudge and Jon Cortez, calling them "wrestler's wrestlers".

Matthews has an almost father-son relationship with former WWE champion Bryan Danielson, known as Daniel Bryan. Danielson's ring name was came up with by Matthews. Danielson has sited Matthews as one of his insperations. In WWE storylines it is said wrestler Shawn Michaels trained Danielson. Though it is true that he was part of Shawn Michaels wrestling school, his main trainer was really Matthews.[150]

Professional wrestling style and persona[edit]

Regal’s style is a hybrid mix of brawling and submission grappling, often utilising a combination of stiff forearm and knee strikes, along with multiple suplex variations to ground an opponent, before locking in any number of brutal submissions.[151][152][153][154]

While often claiming to be an English gentleman and goodwill ambassador, Regal frequently broke the rules any opportunity he could, be this choking his opponent while the referee was distracted, attacking opponents in the ropes and even using a punch with brass knuckles.[4]

Regal’s usual methods of finishing matches would come from either his "Knee Trembler" a Running knee lift to a bent over opponent[155][156] or his "Regal Stretch" an Arm trap cross-legged STF.[4][5][7]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Regal as Intercontinental Champion accompanied by Layla

Bibliography[edit]

  • Matthews, Darren and Chandler, Neil (2005) Walking a Golden Mile, Pocket Books (ISBN 0-7434-7634-4)

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