A WWE superstar paid a surprise visit to Morecambe to reminisce about his early years as a wrestler. William Regal took a stroll along the prom, posed with the Eric Morecambe Statue and popped in unannounced to watch a wrestling show at the historic Winter Gardens.
It was an emotional return to Morecambe for Regal, real name Darren Matthews.
Regarded as one of the greatest British wrestlers of all time, the Blackpool-based superstar competed many times in the Lancashire resort during his early years as a pro. Before going over to America to seek fame and fortune in the early 1990s, Regal wrestled at The Morecambe Dome and at the old Pontins Middleton Towers holiday camp near Heysham. Although his career began in challenge matches at Blackpool Pleasure Beach aged 15, Regal regards a bout at Middleton Towers in July 1984 as his “first proper match”.
He went on to become a four-time WCW TV Champion, two-time WWE Intercontinental Champion and four-time World Tag Team champion during a successful stint in the United States. Today Regal is best known as the general manager of WWE developmental brand NXT and also works as a trainer at the WWE Performance Centre in Orlando and as a talent scout.
During his trip to Morecambe, the great man turned up to watch the Alpha Omega Wrestling ‘Vendetta’ show at the Winter Gardens.
Regal said: “This is the first time I’ve got to see a show as a fan because I haven’t had time. There will be a bit of my ‘work head’ turning on, but I’m trying to turn it off and just watch the show.”
His visit came out of the blue for AOW staff and wrestlers, who were delighted to welcome the respected star. Kieran Engelke from Morecambe, AOW promoter, said: “It was a bit nerve wracking knowing that a man whose job it is to judge talent in the biggest and best wrestling company on the planet was in the Winter Gardens watching our show.
“He mentioned that it was the first show he’d got to watch as a fan since taking up the NXT job so that was quite an honour and I’m glad he got to witness our guys and girls put on yet another top quality show, and experience the atmosphere the Morecambe fans bring.”
Regal is also a huge comedy fan and Eric Morecambe is one of his biggest heroes, so he was delighted to visit the Eric statue unveiled by the Queen in 1999. The star was trained by grapple legend Marty Jones who earlier this year was inducted into the Morecambe Wrestling Hall of Fame.
By Tony Knox / The Visitor / 26 July 2016