Both wrestled for Joint Promotions in England and were featured Heavyweights when “the wrestling” was broadcast on ITV as part of the “World of Sport” broadcast.
The pair became stars in the United Kingdom and travelled all across the globe, honing their craft and becoming fantastic wrestlers in their field. Years of battling landed both men jobs in the United States, with William Regal signing for WCW in 1993 and Finlay following in 1996.
They both later joined WWE, becoming featured characters for the promotion and enjoying varying levels of success. Finlay did not join WWE until his late 40s, yet still managed a United States Championship reign, as well as some hit storylines alongside his “son” Hornswoggle.
Meanwhile. William Regal enjoyed greater success than Finlay, winning a host of Championships including the 2008 King of the Ring. Click here to read about how Regal threw away a WWE Championship opportunity during his time as King of the Ring.
Before their fame and fortune, the pair came up together in British wrestling, with Finlay in particular battling the stereotypes of the day, using some of them to his advantage in a creative way.
William Regal on Finlay
On his podcast Gentleman Villain, William Regal talked about Finlay (known as “Fit Finlay” at the time) during their time together wrestling for Joint Promotion’s in England.
He revealed that during The Troubles, a time when tensions between Britain and Ireland were at an all-time high, Finlay steered into the discrimination suffered by Irish and Northern Irish people in Britain.
He freely wore shamrocks on his gear, playing into his Irish roots and stoking tensions which were running high at the time.
This was during a time where the IRA were planting bombs in the UK, and British troops murdered 26 civilians in Northern Ireland during protests. Both sides committed violence against each other and an effective war was on.
William Regal said Finlay was “spat on” by “normal people in Britain” when he or his wife would simply visit the shops in his home town. He played into the hate and carved out a niche as a top heel by playing into his Northern Irish heritage, which great success.
William Regal said about Fit Finlay;
“Fit Finlay was, when he was on his game, when he was on TV in Britain in the 80s, this is a fellow. When there was a war going on between Britain and the IRA. From Belfast, where in shamrocks, right? And there’s there’s there’s a war going on, that’s a big statement.”
“I cannot tell you how much. Times and you’ll see if you ever see any of these things, whether it was it’s in people that were trying to put the ring on him or his or his then ex-wife Paula, it was his manager. Every time people left, right and centre, Paula is telling me that she told me many times that she’d go to the local supermarket where they lived in Manchester, and there was wrestling fans there and they’d be spitting at.”
“In the streets, people spit, and they used to have to go out and be watching everywhere because people bought into it so much, but on top of not only just being a wrestler but play, you know, the media said that the what was going on nothing to do with normal people in Britain.”
“It’s a problem with the British government and in Ireland, it’s got nothing to do with the normal people, but the normal people are fed whatever the newspapers are feeding them. So there was this. Terrible stuff going on and the people you’re going out on TV and being. I mean, he was having to fight a lot.”
William Regal and Finlay are some of the best British wrestlers of all time and will certainly be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame one day, due to their contributions to wrestling.
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.