William Regal left AEW at the end of December, 2022, after less than a year in the company. He left to return to the WWE, initially claiming he wanted to work with his son in NXT, but it was clear that it was not the case.
Regal debuted in AEW in February 2022, running in at the end of the Jon Moxley vs Bryan Danielson match at Revolution 2022. He didn’t wrestle any matches in AEW, but led the pair in a new faction – The Blackpool Combat Club – that has become one of the most impressive groups in wrestling history.
William Regal now works behind-the-scenes in the WWE, as Triple H’s right-hand man. However, his exit was controversial and potentially illegal, if Tony Khan’s claims of contract tampering are to be believed. It has put a real dampener on Regal’s run in AEW, which was one of the best sub-year runs from a manager in wrestling history.
Why Did William Regal Leave AEW?
William Regal announced his departure from AEW on December 30th, 2022, in a Tweet praising his time in AEW. He thanked Tony Khan, AEW’s head of legal and the “hardworking crew” in the company, as well as all the wrestlers in the company, especially his “Blackpool Combat Club” members.
His series of Tweets simply announced that William Regal was leaving AEW. It did not contain any information about why he left, nor gave any indication of where he was going next. However, the latter part was obvious.
Regal’s long-time friend and NXT colleague Triple H had just taken over as the head of WWE, following the retirement (enforced due to some horrendous actions) of Vince McMahon, and he began his reign by bringing back all the talent McMahon had fired in the past.
Stars like Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Bronson Reed and Tegan Nox were all rehired to WWE deals, with The Game looking to build his show around a host of NXT prospects. Having been good friends with Regal since their days together in WCW, he sought to bring the Englishman back into the fold, to help him run the WWE machine.
It was clear that this was the reason why William Regal wanted to go back to WWE, although that isn’t quite what he told Tony Khan. Regal reportedly spoke to Tony Khan while Khan was at the hospital, while his mother was in a life-threatening condition. He told Tony that he wanted to go back to the WWE to work with his son (NXT’s Charlie Dempsey), playing on the emotion of the situation to have his release granted.
Tony Khan granted William Regal’s exit from AEW, and the former King of the Ring was quickly rehired as Triple H’s right-hand man in the WWE. At the time, Charlie Dempsey was wrestling in the UK for “NXT UK”, and has since been transferred to NXT. In his role, he has very little to zero contact with his father, making Regal’s reasons for leaving less than a year into his AEW contract very disingenuous.
Tony Khan Complained About Contract Tampering Surrounding William Regal’s Exit
William Regal’s exit from AEW came after Full Gear 2022, when he turned on Jon Moxley and helped MJF to win his first AEW Championship. Regal had been the manager of Moxley, as well as Bryan Danielson and rest of the Blackpool Combat Club, since his debut in AEW, so abandoning them for MJF came as a real shock.
However, the real shock came the next week on Dynamite. MJF turned on Regal, beating him down and sending him packing from the company. His final appearance was in a pre-taped appearance on December 7th, 2022, before William Regal announced his departure on December 30th, 2022 in order to go back to work with Triple H in the WWE.
His return to WWE has been successful behind the scenes. The company has had a record year in 2023, making more money than ever before and increasing their TV ratings while every other TV show on earth has stagnated, or dropped. They have sold thousands of tickets for PLE’s, including some iconic shows in Puerto Rico (Backlash 2023) and London (Money in the Bank 2023).
Despite being used exclusively in front of the camera in AEW, William Regal has kept himself out of the limelight in WWE. He has worked alongside Triple H in a management role, keeping himself away from the camera. William Regal isn’t an on-screen character like he was in the Blackpool Combat Club, and it seems to be a role he prefers at his age.
However, there have been some less-than-proper ways that the WWE has signed some of the AEW talents, William Regal included. Tony Khan, after going head-to-head with NXT with his AEW Dynamite: Title Tuesday episode, accused the WWE of tampering with some of his stars contract, attempting to get them to illegally break their deals, so they could return to the WWE.
In a Tweet praising the Mayo Clinic for saving his mother’s life last year, Tony Khan took a shot at the WWE for trying to get AEW wrestlers to break their contracts during this time, in a bid to re-sign them to wrestler for Triple H in the WWE.
This weekend marks 1 year since @MayoClinic saved my mom’s life. During her ordeal many AEW talent came to me alleging WWE tampering, inducing them to break their contracts. I’ll never forget these phone calls at her side in the hospital; it’s when business became personal for me.
While Khan didn’t mention which wrestlers were targeted in this contract tampering operation, Fightful Select has given some insight into the wrestlers who were asked by WWE to leave their AEW deals (illegally, I might add).
Speaking on their podcast, Sean Ross Sapp confirmed that both Swerve Strickland and William Regal were targeted by the WWE for big returns. Triple H wanted Regal to work alongside him at the top of WWE, while he wanted Swerve to return for a reunion of the failed faction “Hit Row” on Raw.
“I can tell you the two situations that Khan took it personally. One of which was Swerve Strickland, who signed a multi-year deal on pay-per-view, for a Hit Row reunion. He, I believe, referred WWE or WWE’s talent relations person to his lawyer.”
“Then there was the other instance, when Tony Khan’s mother was in the hospital, and while his mother was in the hospital it became abundantly clear that WWE had tampered and spoken to William Regal. They offered him a new role that they already had prepared, so that’s why he took it personal for those.”
While it was likely that the WWE did not know that Tony Khan’s mother was fighting for her life at this time, their actions were at best immoral, and at worst wildly illegal. With the company currently locked in an antitrust lawsuit with MLW. they will not want to be embroiled in another scandal that could bring the billion-dollar company to its knees.
Another man who has been said to have been part of this contract tampering operation is Andrade El Idolo. His backstage fight with Sammy Guevara came just after Triple H took over the WWE, and with his wife (Charlotte Flair) working for the WWE, he seemed primed to make a big return to the company.
The Mexican star was always a favorite of Triple H in NXT, so it seems likely that he would want to be the first pickup for The Game when he took over as the head of creative in the WWE. Sensibly, Tony Khan did not fire him from his contract after the fight, not wanting to set a precedent for other talent wanting a way out of the company.
Only a few men have been actually fired from AEW. Jimmy Havoc, CM Punk and Ace Steel are the only wrestlers to have been fired by AEW (as opposed to released at the end of their contract), and they were all for justifiable reasons that Tony Khan gave all the benefit of the doubt for, but had no choice but to let them go.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.