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Johnny Gargano gives William Regal his flowers, and we should too

As a wrestling fan who is fortunate enough to get paid to write about the business, I don’t generally feel a whole lot when WWE releases someone. Partly that’s because I recognize that everything’s a business, and have been on both sides of the layoffs at various stops in different industries throughout my career. It’s also because there’s so much going on in the wrestling space (and WWE’s cuts happen so often these days), there’s not much time to process anything.

The news today (Jan. 5) that William Regal was among those getting a pink slip at the Performance Center hurts, though.

I didn’t really knoww why. Sure, he’s a versatile, entertaining performer and a hell of a pro wrestler whose work I’ve enjoyed for a long time. He’s the standard by which I will judge any and all kayfabe authority figures for however long I keep watching this weird, wonderful stuff. He gave us the “WARGAMES” meme.

But that’s true of a lot of people who’ve been released over the years. It wasn’t until I saw this tweet from Johnny Gargano that it made sense.

William Regal’s fingerprints are all over an entire era of pro wrestling and sports entertainment. NXT, from Redemption through the black-and-gold era. Those products’ influence on both the independents, where wrestlers took his advice and tried to impress him & his team, to the other televised products in the market right now that exist because a show he helped mold was successful. Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, all Four Horsewomen, and all the men & women he signed, taught & mentored who now appear on Raw and SmackDown every week.

As many have pointed out, Regal won’t be unemployed for long — unless he wants to be. There are few people more knowledgeable, or highly regarded, in this business. Tony Khan may be working on the “William Regal is All Elite” graphic as we speak. The old villain’s former student Bryan Danielson is probably already lobbying for him.

But maybe he’ll opt to ride off into the sunset and leave all this behind. As Gargano says, his legacy is unassailable. So while we have the chance, and with today’s crappy news putting it front of mind...

Thanks, Mr. Regal.