A couple of weeks ago on SmackDown, we got a nice little surprise: William Regal wrestling.
The WWE decided to insert Regal smack dab into the middle of the World Heavyweight Championship feud between Big Show and Sheamus, and it resulted in Sheamus and Regal teaming up to take on Show and Wade Barrett in tag team action.
Though Regal has stepped into the ring on shows like NXT and Superstars over the last couple of years, many fans were pleasantly surprised to see him in action on SmackDown for the first time since 2010.
While I’ve read a lot of criticism about Regal’s look—let’s give the guy a break, he’s 44 years old—one thing that everyone seemed to agree upon is that the guy can still go. He looked great in the ring, absolutely thriving as the babyface-in-peril in front of his hometown fans.
That didn’t come as much of a shocker, though. Regal is considered by plenty of fans to be one of the most underrated talents in WWE history, a guy who never quite made it to the level that his in-ring skills should have taken him to.
Now after Regal has created a nice little buzz with his first involvement in a major Raw or SmackDown storyline in a couple of years, many are wondering whether Regal should be given one more run as a wrestler.
I’m a Regal fan, and I also think he’s one of the most underutilized superstars ever. But I’ve got to say that I believe he’s exactly where he belongs: at the commentary table.
Anyone who has watched NXT at all this year has seen that Regal, though relatively inexperienced in the role, has already developed into a fantastic commentator. He’s great at putting over the superstars involved in the matches he’s calling, and perhaps most importantly, he actually knows the names of the moves that the wrestlers are executing.
Regal has excelled so much in his role on commentary that many fans have been begging for him to be “promoted” to either Raw or SmackDown. That seems less likely now with the recent returns of JBL and Jerry Lawler, but even so, Regal has more value as an announcer (and in his backstage role as a producer) than he does as a wrestler at this point.
That’s not a knock on Regal’s wrestling ability at all. It’s just that bringing him back to the ring full-time would likely result in one of two things happening: Regal being pushed over younger stars, or him being used as nothing more than a glorified jobber.
If Regal were to come back and get any type of significant push, the complainers would be out in full force.
“Regal’s too damn old. I can’t believe they’re pushing him instead of Cody Rhodes.”
“Gosh, Regal looks like he’s in horrible shape. They can’t push this guy if it’s going to hurt the company’s future.”
You get the point, and it’s that, quite simply, Regal returning to the ring full-time is going to cause an uproar among fans who think that his return would stifle the pushes of deserving up-and-coming stars. After all, there’s a very real chance that that’s exactly what happens.
Another real possibility is that the buzz surrounding Regal’s in-ring return quickly dies out, and shortly after he comes back full-time, he goes back to being a glorified jobber who loses to midcarders on a consistent basis.
The WWE doesn’t need Regal for that. That’s what guys like Yoshi Tatsu and JTG are still under contract for.
A respected veteran like Regal doesn’t need to be thrown back into the ring only so he can become just another guy on the main roster, nor does he need to return with a substantial push that some up-and-comer might have gotten otherwise.
I like seeing Regal in the ring just as much as the next guy, but having him come back full-time would result in only short-term benefits when the WWE’s long-term future is what’s really important here.
And if we’re talking long-term, Regal is not going to be a wrestler for the next 10 years. He’s likely going to remain an announcer and a backstage producer.
He may be one of the most underrated superstars ever, and that may be why we want to see him back in the ring right now. If this was 2002, I’d be all for it. But it’s 2012, and Regal’s time has come and gone.
The guy should’ve gotten a chance to make it big, but he didn’t. Now, let us let him do what he does best: Commentate.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!