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William Regal (born Darren Kenneth Matthews on May 10, 1968 in Codsall Wood, Staffordshire, England) is an English professional wrestler working for the 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 the 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. 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.
Tropes associated with William Regal includes:
- Affably Evil
- Anti-Hero: Self identifies as a type one. Actually a type three as a face.
- Ass in Ambassador: Despite being a "Goodwill Ambassador".
- Calvin Ball: WWE Backlash 2001. Duchess of Queensbury match. Regal versus Jericho. 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. Yep, Regal (then as commissioner) tried to change the rules to screw Jericho out of a win. Regal won the match.
- Combat Pragmatist: One of the best cheaters in the business.
- 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, mainly appears on NXT as the "match coordinator" and announcer.
- 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) to 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.
- Follow the Leader: Credited with inventing the Regal-Cutter (arm trap neckbreaker) and the Regal-Plex (bridging leg hook belly-to-back suplex).
- 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 Show the Forehead hairstyle. Later on, he grew it out about several inches or so.
- Literal Ass Kissing: First member of the Vince McMahon "Kiss My Ass" Club.
- 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, 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 honour 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.
- Morality Pet: Eugene.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Mispronounces wrestler names like Youmanga (Umaga) and Triple Haitch (Triple H) - although the latter is actually a common pronunciation of the letter H in the UK.
- 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.
- Power Fist: The brass knuckles.
- Preppy Name
- Quintessential British Gentleman
- Reasonable Authority Figure: On NXT where he's been put in charge by Matt Striker.
- 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.
- He seems to be very happy to oblige them, as shown by his response to Dean Ambrose in FCW.
- Smug Snake
- The Southpaw: A rare but prominent left-handed pro-wrestler on a roster of right-handed ones.
- Stiff Upper Lip
- Testosterone Poisoning: The short lived Real Man's Man gimmick, back around 1998.
- Underwear of Power
- What Could Have Been: William Regal was receiving a major push for the WWE title in 2008. By his own admission, he got self-conscious, started using steroids, got caught, and got suspended. Nowadays, he's barely on TV.
- Zettai Ryouiki: Maybe not in a sexual way, but when he wears his ring gear, his boots and knee pads put him between Grade A and Grade B.