Getting heat was an easy job in the 1990s – unless you were William Regal trying to pull down an American flag.
William Regal, although a comedic babyface at the best of times, was a sublime heel of the 1990s, portraying his obnoxious Lord Steven Regal character to sheer perfection. He knew exactly how to gain heat – he just didn’t always get the chance to execute his plan.
As told on his Gentleman Villain podcast, William Regal’s attempts to pull down an American flag following a victory didn’t quite go to plan:
“I wrestled Larry Zbyszko at the old Coliseum in Jacksonville, Florida one night when I was doing the thing with him in ’94. And [I was] maybe only 26, just turned 26 and all about getting heat. You used to go up onto a stage, like up some steps onto a stage, and then off the side of the stage into the dressing rooms. On the wall at the back of the stage there is a huge American flag. Me, I’ve just beat Larry Zbyszko, people are booing and booing and booing and it’s all that in the days when it was easy to [get heat], it was ‘USA, USA.’
Me, not thinking and not knowing any better really because I’m 26 and I really, you know, I’ve been travelling the world before for four years and not really noticed anything that was going on in the world, never knowing American history, I wasn’t taught American history at school, I was taught English history. Right? I grabbed and was about to pull this, I don’t know how big it was, but it was huge, big American flag off [the] thing.
I’m looking at the crowd, to my right. As I turned to the left, I just felt a tap in my forehead. From the side of the stage, there was a Jacksonville police officer stood, and as I turned my head, there was a gun in my forehead. And he said, ‘I suggest you don’t do that, sir.’ And I went, ‘I think you’re right, officer.’ And I just walked off the other side, and completely went out of character. I was just like, ‘Oof, a gun pointing in my forehead.’ This isn’t the first time I’ve told this. So I’m not making this up, right?”
William Regal continued, explaining how shaken up he was by the ordeal:
“Luckily, there was two lots of steps. I hadn’t got to [the dressing room] I went, ‘Oof.’ And I had that in the head, the gun was pointing in my head, and he said, ‘I suggest you don’t do that, sir.’ And I walked off the stage and went down the steps. And, again, people think I’m a tough guy, this thing, and people have seen me do things at certain times when we can tell stories about that. I went down the stairs, found a quiet spot, and I was shaking. Because I’ve seen a lot of things in my time, but I’d never had a revolver stuck right in my head, and a cocked revolver.”
The incident came in the middle of William Regal’s feud vs. Larry Zbyszko. The two traded the WCW World Television Championship back and forth, with Regal regaining the title from ‘The Living Legend’ at the 27th Clash of the Champions event.
Regal remained championship until that September’s Fall Brawl pay-per-view, being usurped as champion by Johnny B. Badd.