William Regal has reflected on his Joker-inspired, darker wrestling persona after winning the King of the Ring that reportedly almost cost Regal his family.
In 2008, William Regal was crowned as the new King of the Ring after defeating CM Punk in the finals. ‘The Man’s Man’ would take on the typical persona of King Regal following this but it wasn’t long before he was written off WWE programming less than a month later after being suspended.
WWE portrayed the situation as Regal having lost to Mr Kennedy in a Loser Leaves WWE encounter, with William Regal being worked back into the company’s storylines as a free agent when he wrestled CM Punk. Prior to this, the former European Champion was reportedly lined up for a big push, as Regal reflected upon on the latest Gentleman Villian podcast.
Speaking of one of the darkest periods of his life, William Regal addressed his willingness to go so far into his darker persona that allegedly nearly cost Regal his family:
“We [Regal and his son Bailey] went down to Orlando for a week, I just went, ‘I’m off for eight weeks, let’s go down for a few days, and I’ll take you through a few parks.’ Within a week of me getting out of that, I thought I’m glad that’s happened. And what I mean by that is that, that King of the Ring thing, once we got there, I have no idea where it was going. But I know I was getting into a dark place because of it.
It was [what] I’ve been slowly building, changing the character to grow in the change, the look. But I was taking this to a completely different realm of where I wanted to go with being a dark character. And I really hadn’t figured out how far yet, and then this thing came along [with] the King of the Ring, but I was acting if you go back and watch it, it was just this sort of very deep, dark character. And at the time, I was studying a lot of the world’s dictators. I was looking for inspiration for what, and it was not nice, right?
And I was bringing that, the last few weeks and I was doing that stuff, the King of the Ring stuff, I was sitting at home and I’m not, again, paying attention to my family as much. Because I’m thinking too much of this job. I have a rule of leaving William Regal at Atlanta airport, and I don’t break that rule even to the wrestling lads. I have to pass Atlanta airport to wrestle [in] any arena in Atlanta. I was bringing [it] home, and I was sitting there. And I was like getting into this deep dark kind of a mindset. Because sometimes to go into those places, and I was willing to go all the way with this.”
William Regal would continue, revealing who, exactly, inspired this particular persona of his:
“And I was formulating this, there was a bit of, let’s backtrack a bit. I took my kids to the pictures once, and on the, I believe it’s the second Batman movie, the Christian Bale one. One of the first things you saw, there was no picture, there was no words on it. It was just a dark silhouette of the Joker. And I saw that image in a cinema, and I thought I don’t know what that is, and I didn’t know what it was at the time. Because there was no, it was just the sort of preview before they started letting you know it was gonna be Batman. I saw that.
And then not long after, I saw Sweeney Todd, or I saw it all before, you know, again, it’s a few years ago, but in the hair and I was growing my hair and it was like, I don’t know what that is, that I wanted to create that and I got the black robe. And it was growing the hair out and it was just, it was something I was trying to create.
But once I was out of it, I thought I’m glad I’m out because [if] I didn’t, until I’m out of it, when I was a week later in Orlando just on holiday thinking I’ve got seven weeks off, the initial few days was not happy because I’m taken out of this biggest role I’ve ever been given.
But then realising that could have been the thing that could have lost me my family because I could have…okay, I’ve heard people say I could have been World Champion. I’ve heard people say that they were going to go, nobody told me anything. I was just going week by week and doing it, but I was creating this dark character.”
A few months after returning to WWE, William Regal would capture the Intercontinental Championship from Santino Marella, which marked his final title victory. Regal maintained a regular schedule with WWE for the following few years, though he ultimately retired from the ring after losing to Antonio Cesaro on an episode of NXT in 2013.
He ultimately took on a range of both on-screen and backstage roles with WWE, being the General Manager for both NXT and 205 Live. His official title at the time of his WWE departure in January 2022 was the Director of Talent Development and Head of Global Recruiting.
The former Lord Steven Regal now resides in All Elite Wrestling as the manager for Blackpool Combat Club. Regal is also listed as a backstage coach for AEW alongside his on-screen duties.
If you use any quotes from this interview please provide a link back and h/t to Inside the Ropes.