Regal was determined to make Bryan a star (Picture: AEW)
William Regal has revealed how one of his toughest matches helped Vince McMahon see Bryan Danielson as a main event talent.
The All Elite Wrestling (AEW) star – who fronts Blackpool Combat Club, which has Danielson, Jon Moxley and Wheeler Yuta in its ranks – has reflected on a match he and Bryan had on WWE Superstars in 2011.
Speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, he recalled: ‘We’d been wrestling on the European tour, me and him having a great time. The night before in Brimingham I tore my MCL. I had to be helped in the building that day, they told me I couldn’t wrestle.
‘I insisted on wrestling because I wanted it to at least be on film that if this is my last match – because I thought it might be – I wanted to make sure I put Daniel Bryan over because I believe in him so much.’
After the match, McMahon greeted the two performers to shake their hand, and then had a quiet word with Regal about the bout and the future.
‘He met us at the bottom of the steps and shook our hands. As Bryan walked way he went, “Thanks for that. It was a great old style match, but he’s gonna make a good villain, isn’t he?” And I went, “Yeah,”‘ the veteran said.
‘So my job was done then. He was already in the company, but I made Mr. McMahon see him in a different light.’
The two battled in the ring 11 years ago (Picture: WWE)
Regal shrugged off the suggestion McMahon ‘tried to hold [Bryan] back’ in WWE before his crowning glory at WrestleMania 30 when he beat Triple H in the opening match before defeating Randy Orton and Batista in the main event to become world champion.
‘If you wanna believe the story everyone seems to wanna believe that Mr. McMahon tried to hold him back – no. He just doesn’t want you to know the story,’ Regal said bluntly.
‘If he didn’t want him to be in the main event at WrestleMania, he wouldn’t be in the main event of WrestleMania. You can buy into that nonsense all you want – Mr. McMahon is not gonna let anybody in on the fact.
‘I know Vince, I know that he knew what he wanted out of Bryan. Whether Bryan give it to him or not as a different thing – he did give it to him, and he give him the platform.’
When it comes to his and Bryan’s 2010 match, the British wrestling legend described it as a ‘masterclass’ from the American Dragon, after Regal needed help walking into the building on the day of the match.
Regal is working with Moxley and Danielson every week on AEW (Picture: AEW)
The bout has become known for a hilarious moment before the bell rang, which saw the crew prank Regal by playing his own Real Man’s Man entrance music instead of his more intimidating theme.
‘I didn’t know they were gonna do that thing with me with the music. I’m glad they did, because I was limping badly, dragging my leg – my robe covered it – down the ramp,’ he said, noting the rib actually gave him a moment to pause.
‘I laughed it off, but I thought, “I’m not gonna be able to walk this entire way to this ring”.
‘Thankfully he’d set that up without me knowing, and it gave me a minute to stand there and laugh anyway, and sort out, underneath my robe, I’m trying to get some feeling back in my knee so I can get in the ring to do the match.’
The match was a hit with fans, but Regal refused to take any credit for its success as he was battling a litany of health woes at the time.
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‘It looks like I’m doing a lot. I was withered away, my arms are withered, I haven’t got great circulation. There’s a lot of things. I just get through it. Bryan does a masterful job of wrestling all around me, making me look like I’m doing stuff,’ he explained.
‘If you actually watch it, I’m doing nothing ’cause I could barely – I was dragging my leg.’
Giving fans a rare peek behind the curtain, Regal noted Bryan knew what to do to help Regal through the match.
‘There’s tricks to this that sometimes you don’t see. I’m telling you that I could barely walk to that ring that day,’ he smiled. ‘He wrapped my leg around the post – and I hate giving tricks away, but without wrapping it round the post. He wrestled and did stuff on my leg – it was unbelievable, that’s how good he is.’
AEW Double Or Nothing airs May 29 at 1am on Fite TV.
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