For almost two decades, William Regal has been a staple of WWE programming. Debuting with the company in 2000 after a successful in WCW, Regal quickly became known as an intense British grappler who could put on a fantastic match with just about anybody. Regal’s hard-hitting, no-nonsense style allowed him to stand out amongst WWE’s mid-carders and eventually led him to capturing the Intercontinental and European titles several times.
Although Regal’s talents didn’t stop inside the ring, he was also a prominent backstage figure, best known for his run as WWE’s on-screen commissioner in 2001. Regal could make us cringe, laugh and cringe some more when he’d lock his subordinates in the Regal Stretch. William Regal would later go on to win the 2008 King of the Ring tournament, capping off an impressive career with one last run before establishing NXT as one of the most exciting products in wrestling today.
Looking back over his career in WWE, it’s hard not to appreciate the conniving gentleman from Blackpool. Whether it be as an imposing singles catch wrestler, as part of a comedy duo or as a backstage figure, William Regal is undoubtedly a legend of the industry. In this list, we’re going to put the spotlight on Regal’s 5 best matches. If you’re a fan of the British style of wrestling, then make sure you’re settled in for a masterclass.
5. William Regal vs Christian (Breaking Point 2009)
It’s easy to find the occasional gem amongst the mostly ignored history of WWE’s ECW. Throughout the summer of 2009, William Regal was the brand’s top heel as he feuded with then ECW Champion Christian. Having lost in a very convincing fashion at SummerSlam, Regal was out to prove that he was still worthy of the championship scene in this extremely hard-hitting affair.
This match alone is a fantastic example of how incredible Regal still was, even towards the end of his WWE tenure. The two battled for over 20 minutes in a contest that has since gone down as one of the most underrated from that year. Regal showed throughout the match that he could still compete at a top level, displaying technical prowess as well as his ability to string together a marathon of wrestling psychology.
The WWE’s version of ECW will never be given much credit to its name, but if anything, it should at least be recognised for producing a great feud for William Regal to re-establish himself with. Props to Christian as well for starting a very successful chapter on his WWE career with this match. Both veterans of the ring deserve so much credit for their work here.
4. William Regal vs Kassius Ohno (NXT 10/4/13)
During NXT’s early days, William Regal took a very active approach towards teaching the developmental stars how to perform the WWE style. A little known feud that took place in 2013 was between the wily veteran and his then brightest star – Kassius Ohno. Ohno wanted to prove himself to the Full Sail crowd by besting the twilight grappler in the ring. Their rivalry became very bitter, very quickly, as Ohno spat on the legacy of his mentor by calling him nothing more than a joke.
The match itself was exactly what you’d want from these two. Fans of Ohno’s earlier work on the indies will enjoy seeing his tussle with Regal, as he matched his stiff shots and technical mastery to a tee. Surprisingly, Regal went over in this match, but that shouldn’t be a comment on Regal’s everlasting humility in the ring and willingness to put over future stars. It’s unfortunate that Ohno couldn’t use this momentum to go on to have a successful run as the face of pre-popular NXT, but getting to compete in one of Regal’s greatest matches is a credit to his name.
3. William Regal & Dave Taylor vs The Hardyz vs Paul London & Brian Kendrick vs MNM (Armageddon 2006)
William Regal has found himself partnered with an interesting variety of superstars: Tajiri, Eugene and Drew McIntyre all found themselves featured alongside the villainous Brit. But never did they have as much chemistry as he had with Dave Taylor in 2006. Taylor was an extension of Regal himself, a rough and tough brawler who could out-wrestle a bear. The duo found themselves competing for the WWE Tag Team Championships at the Armageddon 2006 pay-per-view. What was originally scheduled to be a standard two-on-two match soon exploded into a four-way ladders match, courtesy of Teddy Long.
If you enjoy the destructive nature of a multi-man ladder match, then you should feel right at home with this match, which is best known for the gruesome injury sustained by Joey Mercury half-way through. Regal & Taylor collectively held this match together, bringing the action back down to Earth with a more grounded style. Regal even managed to fit in a bit of a his comedic side, which goes to show just how diverse he could be.
If you’re more into your high-octane drama, then this is probably going to be your favourite William Regal match.
2. William Regal vs Cesaro (NXT 25/12/13)
Regal’s final match of his career came on the Christmas Day broadcast of NXT TV against Cesaro. Another one that’s easily hidden away in the early days of our favourite developmental brand, Regal battled with the Swiss Superman in a match of the year contender. Regal and Cesaro left everything in the ring, performing for over 20 minutes in a contest that I’m sure Regal was proud to leave on.
This style of match was incredibly similar to Regal’s work in WCW, bringing a very slow, methodical style of wrestling to an audience that’s used to the more flashy and formulaic WWE structure. As the match went on, the story was clearly Regal’s battle against a younger, more well-rounded superstar. It was a testament to how amazing Cesaro is, something that Regal made sure was on display throughout the match.
Regal was supposedly set to return for his retirement match against Tyler Breeze at NXT Takeover: London, but due to progressing injuries, Regal had to leave us with this match as our everlasting memory of his in-ring career. I couldn’t think of a better example of his most modern work.
1. William Regal vs Chris Benoit (Velocity 10/05)
William Regal and Chris Benoit competed a number of times throughout his WWE career. It’s hard to choose just one match to use as an example of just how amazing these two were when matched against one another. Their chemistry was impeccable, bringing together a fluent understanding of catch wrestling and a ruthless, physical style that made us forget for a minute that they weren’t going to hug it out backstage after the match. The style that these two wrestled would go on to inspire many of today’s top superstars – Daniel Bryan, Pete Dunne, Kassius Ohno, all wrestlers with a style based on the work of Regal and Benoit.
It was extremely rare for a title match to take place on the C-show of the WWE, much like how today we’d never see an Intercontinental title match on Main Event. But for some reason, WWE decided to book a United States Championship match between Regal and Benoit a mere five days out from a pay-per-view. Benoit walked out with the victory and a successful title defence, leaving behind one of my favourite US title matches of all time.
This match was a huge revival for William Regal’s career, which was recovering from issues of substance abuse. Regal showed the world that he could still put on a timeless classic in spite of his setbacks, whilst also giving fans a reason to tune into Velocity for a week.
Also see: Benoit/Regal from No Mercy 2006, Brian Pillman Memorial Show and Raw 2001.
Have I missed out on any classics? Make sure you leave your favourite Regal memories in the comments below.