William Regal: Blackpool wrestling favourite in shock WWE exit as Becky Lynch and Edge pay tribute

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Blackpool wrestling favourite William Regal has surprisingly left WWE.

 

Since retiring from the ring in 2013, the real life Darren Matthews, 53, has been credited with help bring through some of the US sports entertainment giant’s top up-and-coming superstars as part of their NXT show.

Regal had been an on-screen ‘General Manager’ for the brand for seven years, only stopping the role recently, while behind the scenes he was the WWE’s Director of Talent Development and Head of Global Recruiting.

His exit on Wednesday was met with shock in the wrestling community, given the success of his work in turning rough diamonds into some of the top stars in the industry.

Irish star Becky Lynch, a current women’s champion on the flagship Raw programme, tweeted: “Eternally grateful that Regal gave me a chance when I was nothing. I owe so much to him.”

Edge, another top superstar, said: “@RealKingRegal is a man I hold the utmost respect for. A dear friend who always, without fail, makes me smile, and what better gift? He also made me a better, tougher performer and pulled me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to new heights. He’s a real man(s) man.”

While born in Staffordshire, Regal is considered an honorary Blackpudlian.

He made his wrestling debut at Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s Horseshoe Show bar aged 15 before going on to achieve worldwide fame across the pond, being announced as hailing from the town.

William Regal's departure from WWE has been met with shock in the wrestling world

William Regal’s departure from WWE has been met with shock in the wrestling world

The ring technician brought the NXT show to Blackpool on more than one occasion and tweeted last month: “6 years ago today @WWENXT did a show at @WGBpl Winter Gardens, Blackpool. It was the greatest night of my 38 year career. The setting, atmosphere, incredible competitors and the indescribably fantastic fans were superb. Thank you all.”

In a 2020 interview with Metro on his love for Blackpool, he said: “‘Everything that is good in my life, has come from this town. And that means the start of my wrestling career at the Pleasure Beach, to meeting my wife when I was 17 – who I’m still with. My two eldest sons were born at Victoria Hospital here.

‘All the entertainers that I knew who lived or worked here, I used to study them. When I wasn’t wrestling, I was always at the circus or at a show watching all these people – “how do they make their stuff work for their audience?” That used to fascinate me as a child.”

Four-time European Champion, two-time Intercontinental champion and four-time World Tag Team champion Regal was one of several people cut from the NXT part of the WWE operation.

Regal working out with boxer-turned-wrestler RP Davies on a visit to Blackpool

Regal working out with boxer-turned-wrestler RP Davies on a visit to Blackpool

A statement read: “With the continued evolution of NXT 2.0, we’ve decided to part ways with some of the staff based in our Performance Centre. We thank them for their many contributions throughout the years and wish them the best.”