Over the last few days I have showcased WWE releases from absolute icons of the Federation that were, to put it mildly, sub par. William Regal has not exactly been featured at the top of WWE cards over his career. That is not a knock on the man. He is a unique performer, one with a distinctly different in-ring style. His matches generally do not translate on television. But I think I speak for a good majority here when I say he is among the top talents in wrestling over the last 25 years. He delivers a slick promo, has charisma by the boatloads, and, speaking from viewing experience, his house show matches generally steal the show. Add into that his remarkable comic timing, wit, and unparalleled facial expressions, and you have a truly unique talent.
“Walking a Golden Mile” is, by my estimation, one of the finest publications WWE has ever released. It is the story of a man who was, while supremely talented, so damned by the demons of drugs that he should have been dead ten times over by now. I know that seems like a common thread with some of these WWE releases, be it Eddie Guerrero’s or Shawn Michaels. Both of those men “found God.” Regal, however, is a cut above in his abuse. And, while Eddie and Shawn’s books can come off as a bit superficial at times, Regal’s book is a cold slap to the face on the trials and tribulations of a truly great wrestler who was gobsmacked by the tag team of addiction and despair.
Regal’s story is a departure. Darren Matthews, the man behind Regal, comes from a different background, well, different these days. Wrestling has always been derived from the carnivals, but Regal is one of the last to perform in these domains. He started at a very tender age, 14, and wrestled his way up through the carnival toughman contests and shady British promoters. You meet the Crabtree’s once again in this book (from the Dynamite Kid’s book…review is RIGHT THERE…https://marianosaves.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/full-book-review-pure-dynamite-the-price-you-pay-for-wrestling-stardom/). They are still self serving pieces of monkey feces, and Regal learns nothing while there. He also gets the privilege to team with Giant Haystacks (Loch Ness for those in the States). His anecdotes on Haystacks are excellent, and well worth the price of admission.
Regal toiled and troubled through England, Germany, and some other countries for a while before WCW took notice and signed him towards the end of 1992. This was truly during the time when this fan was watching any and all wrestling on TV, so I have memories of ALL this. Regal debuted in WCW in early 1993 as a straightforward no nonsense straight wrestling babyface. And it sucked. That may have worked in England and the Isles, but not in the States. He was taken off TV for a few months, and repackaged into Lord Steven Regal, one of the better characters seen in the US in some years. At least in this scribes opinion. And Regal was a revelation in the ring, holding and defending the TV title (As Arn Anderson deemed it, the Kiss of Death Belt) in 15 minute draws with wrestlers from Brian Pillman to Eric “Scott Keith’s favorite wrestler of all time” Watts. Actually, Regal is quite positive about Watts, just saying he was turfed because of the usual wrestling nepotism displayed by Bill Watts. I beg to differ, having seen Eric Watts. The dude made Greg Gagne look like an amalgamation of Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat. But I digress. At this point, Regal was making great money on American soil, supporting his family. For me, Regal, at this point, was one of the best two or three heel acts in the States at the time.
Regal, however, was miserable. He missed his Blackpool, England roots. It was a total culture shock to the Briton. Never one who was much of a drinker or drugger, although he does admit to steroid use overseas, he soon became the ULTIMATE drinker and drugger. Seriously, this dude had fucking issues. It started with sleeping pills like Ambien and Xanax, and escalated to painkillers and somas. Regal, while professionally at the top of his game, was bottoming out personally. And the man makes no bones about it throughout this book. I will admit, in my not so snow white past, I have had some issues with drugs, namely painkillers. Percosets and Oxycontin. I did a myriad of these drugs for many years, and just two years ago was able to kick them. These book reviews are almost a catharsis for me, my new drug of sorts. This site is the greatest antidrug I could come up with. When I was clean, I wrote for Wrestleline way, WAAAAY back in the day. Back then, it was only weed. Painkillers are a completely different animal, and this guy, me, in his prime, was using anywhere between 8-12 80 milligram Oxycontin’s a day. This will prove a point right here: Regal was using percoset, Nubian (an injectable morphine type drug) and sleeping pills. The man was taking 30 somas, 30 percs, shooting up Nubian, and god knows what else, in addition to heavy drinking. From someone who was heavy into drugs, let me say this about Regal’s abuse: DEAR. GOD. I thought I was bad; this man was on another stratosphere. I have since cleaned out, and blame no one but myself. Mock me all you care to, I deserve it. I considered them performance enhancers, or sorts, and, trust me, they worked. Regal used them outside of the ring as life detractors. He didn’t want to deal with life. Regal ballooned up to 280lbs, and anyone who watched him around 1997-1998 could see there was something terribly wrong. He was fired shortly after an altercation with golden boy Goldberg in ring (This is the one part of the book I don’t believe…I have seen that match, Regal was shooting somewhat).
Regal was still in denial. He graduated to GHB, renutrient. Ladies and gentleman, may I introduce you to the all time biggest heel in pro wrestling history. GHB is the worst drug ever formulated. And it was LEGAL. Available at GNC. Essentially, it is the date rape drug. Take it, feel high for a half hour, black out, and perform unspeakably awful acts. GHB, along with Soma and steroids, are the triple threat of bad wrestling behavior. GHB being the worst. Regal got hopelessly addicted, much like Eddie Guerrero, to GHB. Taken in proper term, the drug was supposed to allow you to sleep four hours a night, make it feel like 10 hours of sleep, and burn excess fat while building muscle. And I am Pope Francis. I have found in my lifetime that anything that seems too good to be true is just that. Its hogwash. And my oh my did Regal learn that. It took many, many rehabs and relapses for Regal to figure it out. He would rehab for weeks, get out, and a voice in the back of his head (its there for all of us addicts) would say, “You know what you need? That renutrient. Helps you sleep it does. Does wonderful things for your body.” Regal would be out on a weekend pass of sobriety and have these thoughts, drive to GNC and buy vats of this toxic shit. If you read this book, you will be absolutely amazed at the amount of times Regal relapses when all seems to be wine and roses for his sobriety. It is a, pardon the saying, sobering reminder of that fact.
Regal’s relapse stories are just ridiculous. He always seems like he has reached rock bottom, only to reach a new chasm. It is unbelievable reading. Case in point: he is arrested in late 1997 for blacking out on a plane towards Atlanta and pissing on a stewardess. This was one of the first things I read on a “smart” website when I was a senior in high school. Wrestling websites were just starting to form at that point, most of them run by the RSPWFAQ group, but, much like today, you had to weed out the legitimate ones from the ones littered with absolute bullshit. I know this book rant is a bit profane, but the subject matter is close to home, and close to my experience following this sport of kings for as long as I have. Regal was probably the biggest mess of a wrestler who has not deceased. Pillman. Eddie. Benoit. Barr. Spicolli. Only HBK may be considered. Its a miracle Scott Hall and Jake Roberts live (GO DDP!). Watching wrestling in the late 1990’s was a truly morbid proposition. Regal fought through.
Regal, at the zenith of his drug issues, was given the gimmick in WWF of the “Real Man’s Man.” It is a favorite of mine, because of its sheer awfulness. His entrance theme is the thing of legend. Regal was not ready for it, and needed another round of rehab. It stuck this time, and seemingly has since.
Regal was reintroduced as “The Goodwill Ambassador” of the WWF. It was ingenious. Regal makes anything work. And that role was pitch perfect. Regal, off booze, off drugs, carried that character far beyond where it should have gone. It was basically “EVIL” Lord Alfred Hayes for the 21’st century. But Regal is a cut above, especially with his facial expressions. There is no one, and the Cucch means NO ONE, who can carry out an angle through facial expressions quite like Regal. He is a savant. Just amazing.
Regal’s other claim to fame is being a great friend to the current COO, a Mr. H’s. Regal gave him some advice when Paul Levesque was a young pup, and it worked for him. I do not agree with Regal’s assessment that the kid was all wine and roses, a total diamond in the rough. He did end up alright, that HHH character. But, for parity, I used to have a game with friends watching HHH matches from 1997-99. Everytime he used his knee in a move, you drank a shot. Suffice to say, we would be pretty loaded after ten minutes.
The rest of Regal’s book, after the drug lust, focuses on some of his medical matters. And they were damn serious. Regal is not a fan of most doctors, which I, MYSELF, am not a fan of. He had a heart problem and was looking for the correct doc to clear him to wrestle. And Regal makes quite clear he does not trust docs. My old man is a Doctor. I go to him for any malady I may be experiencing. And he is generally right. Regal? He is going to WWE hired docs to get the diagnosis he wants. For that fact, I always fear for Regal. I sympathize. He mentions a time where he and Chris Benoit, in their matches, used to see who could win a headbutt contest. In light of the Benoit tragedy, I wonder about the sanity of that, and the sanity and brain function of Regal.
All in all, “Walking a Golden Mile”, while not the best WWF book released, is among the top three. And, if not for the Foley books, it would be the top WWE release. My highest recommendation to this book.