Pity me, reader. Soft-hearted wretch that I am, I shed a quiet tear on Monday night as William Regal and his (adorable) protege Bryan Danielson aka Daniel Bryan shared another tender moment.
The pair opened the card at the Smackdown house show in Birmingham. Bryan galloped out first, Money in the Bank briefcase in hand; Regal’s music hit and I fervently waved my REGAL OR RIOT! sign in the air.
And what a fantastic match it was. Regal had his compatriots firmly behind him, giving Bryan the chance to play heel, which he clearly loved, mocking Regal’s gracious wave and inciting further booing. And wily old Regal got to play the face, and a face in peril at that for much of the match, but brilliantly dodging some of Bryan’s trademark moves with a knowing grin and a headshake – “I taught you everything you know, but I didn’t teach you everything I know.”
After an exchange of submission moves, Bryan tapped out to his old mentor. Yet rather than milk the applause and ovation, Regal took the mic and paid handsome tribute to a young man he is clearly very fond of, telling him that he is proud of him; and then he hailed his old tag partner (and trainer of Wade Barrett and Sheamus) Robbie Brookside, there at the arena.
Then, after declaring Bryan “the future of the WWE”, Regal left the ring, leaving his tutee there to lift his briefcase and acknowledge the crowd. It was a gallant move.
Regal promised that this is not his retirement tour. We all hope to see him again in the ring, in the UK, very soon. Perhaps challenging Bryan for the World Heavyweight Title after Wrestlemania 28.