William Regal was at the forefront of NXT becoming the third brand for WWE, not only as the on-screen General Manager for the brand, but behind the scenes as a scout and producer.
Regal was released by WWE in January, ending his time with the promotion as the company shifted away from focusing on Independent wrestlers and began recruiting more athletes. The revamp began in the summer of 2021 and came to fruition in September 2021 with the launch of NXT 2.0.
Speaking to Renee Paquette on The Sessions, Regal discussed the changes made to NXT.
"I was expecting it, to be honest. It makes perfect business sense as well. You can't have somebody else come in when everybody there is still coming up to me and asking me what they should be doing," Regal said about his time in WWE ending.
He continued, taking fans back a couple of years before COVID hit.
"That [change to NXT 2.0] were happening from last summer and it was the perfect storm and then Paul got ill. I was all on board for the changes. We did Portland NXT in 2020 and we all came out after that night, didn't matter what was going on, everyone has a different story. 2019, after the initial thing of another show starting, it was, if you want to think about trying to beat this, I'm not. There are 100 other people thinking about what's going on somewhere else. It's wasted headspace for me. I'm going to work on the people that work with us and try to help them get better. That's just me. It's just another day at work and everybody else that wants to gossip, it's something for them to do and I'm just working for the company that I'm working for, I'm going to do the best job I can, and I get on with it. We came out of Portland, there's all this other stuff going on," he said before telling the story of how he was given 24 hours to live. Fans can read the full story behind him giving 24 hours to live by clicking here.
He continued by saying, 'When I came back in 2019, there's a lot more stuff going on, AEW is going on, I don't have time for all that. I need to make NXT...I work here, let's do this. 2020, we go into Portland and we come out and all the top fellas were coming up to me and going, 'We've done this style to death.' There were people trying to figure out, how can we change a bit of something because it's going to be more of the same. There were a few little discussion like that going on and we were starting to think about that. Then, COVID hit and it was 'never mind that, let's just survive.' The first five months, they wouldn't let me go down there because I had this pericardiectomy.
Regal explained that a pericardiectomy is done to remove a fibrous sac around the heart.
"They didn't know, because COVID was new, they didn't know that if I got it, if it would go directly to my heart. I had to sit at home and do everything (on the computer). Not to sit idle, we had a crew in the UK and that was great because six hours a day, five days a week, we were doing loads and loads of British matches with the UK crew in different groups and we did 15 matches over six weeks that we broke down and I kept myself constantly busy in that five months and then the doctor said it was okay for me to come down here (to Florida)," he said.
Regal then discussed the changes that started to be implemented in the summer of 2021 and how the WWE Performance Center does work if talent is willing to put the work in.
"Last summer, when we wanted to revamp, I'm like, 'Great.' When I heard what Mr. McMahon wanted, I was all for that, but when it comes to athletes. The PC is, at the end of the day, people have all these nonsense ideas about what it is. It's the biggest wrestling school in the world and it is an incredible wrestling school. The PC works if you put your time in. If you come in there, turn up and do your class once a day and you go home, it's not going to work unless you are the one, the magic one, that can do everything. You have to put your time in. I know this personally, sometimes the talent that are getting paid, that aren't doing well, perhaps they need to look themselves in the mirror and realize, instead of spending time on their phone, perhaps they should be in the ring trying to get better. From last November, I was in meetings where it was myself, Hideki Suzuki, Tim Thatcher, and Danny Burch in an open ring, which means anybody can come and get in our ring. We were training with each other. I watched this several times, two classes do their class, not really paying attention to the people in the ring or the trainer telling them anything, get in the ring, do their five minutes, get out, walk straight to their phones, pick it up, and walk out the building. Not one person comes to our ring. It's our fault that you're not going home and practicing your promos and your own time. You just do it when it's promo day. That's not going to get you anywhere unless you are the one. Robbie Brookside, they go to his class, you cannot get much more experience because he's so good at that and he's so good at being the opening coach. They go to his class, 'Oh, it's just basics,' he teaches them, they can't wait to leave and they never go back. I ask people, 'Do you ever go back to Robbie's class and actually learn or keep doing?' 'I don't need that.' 'Yes, you do.' I can have a match with just a headlock and wristlock. I don't need any more than that. I'll make it last for an hour if I need to, because I know enough stuff to make it look good and put emotions between," he said.
"Johnny Gargano told me something before I left, 'You can make wrestlers, but you can't make them love it.' At the end of the day, it's the biggest wrestling school in the world. People are going to come and go or people have their run," Regal said, noting that some guys have longer runs but the cycle always continues.
"There were all these things happening and I was all for that fact, 'Okay, if the boss doesn't want independent fellas, now we have to get massive numbers,' because you're only going to get one out of every 50 or 100 that actually really wants to put the time in and love this and work and be there all day long, every day, trying to hone their craft. A lot of people talk a good game, but they don't actually put the time in. There were a lot of things that I thought need a kick up the backside because people are not paying attention and nobody had to tell me to go up to better wrestlers when I was younger and try to pick their brains. nobody had to tell me to work on everything that I could work on, that's where I got to," he said. "I was all for the change, but I also get that if you're trying to make a complete change, you might not think that...I don't think anybody knew, but I was very open to the fact that I wanted to be a big part of that, and I was because I was very hands on with the Creed Brothers and Bron Breakker. I had an incredible run on the main roster and I had the absolute greatest run possible in NXT. If nothing else, the time came when it was time to go now, so it didn't become something I didn't like and move on. That's the way I look at it."
Regal now helps a new (and old) group of talent as he's aligned with longtime colleagues and friends Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley along with new trainee Wheeler Yuta in the Blackpool Combat Club.
Regal also praised Yuta and Daniel Garcia for getting themselves over during the pandemic era.
Fightful has live coverage of NXT 2.0 every Tuesday beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit the original source with a h/t and link back to Fightful for the transcription.