By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
Santino Marella © vs William Regal 11/10/08
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
After spending the majority of his time in WCW fighting over the Television Title, William Regal found himself primarily the recipient of shots at the European Title in his early tenure with the WWF/E. Outside of a run with the Intercontinental belt in 20002, Regal’s other titles of note included several brief runs with the Hardcore Title during its 24/7 phase of operation and four World Tag Title wins with three different partners (Lance Storm, Eugene and Tajiri). However, it had been three years since any gold had been around Regal’s waist when the WWE came to the UK on tour.
As a character, Regal often didn’t need the gold. He was value at playing the comedic foil and was hugely over with crowds already. Still, all this notwithstanding, Regal had been kicking his heels somewhat over that time period. Whilst it was unlikely that WWE would ever put their faith in him as a World champion, the occasional reminder that Regal was not only one of the best wrestlers on the roster but one of the best wrestling brains was necessary. The King of the Ring victory was the start of what felt like a rejuvenation of the WWE’s interest in Regal as a legitimate contender (sadly, the level to which it may have risen will never be known due to a Wellness Policy violation shortly afterwards).
What this match did see was the death of the Honk-A-Perfect-Mountie-Meter.
This was Santino’s upgrade to his Honk-A-Meter, an on screen graphic that aimed to show how close Marella was to overtaking the Honky Tonk Man’s longest reigning Intercontinental champion record. With the addition of the Mountie and Mr Perfect on this night, the target was 123 weeks; Santino was sitting at thirteen.
It was a gimmick that was popular, so it felt strange that it would be effectively dropped just as it was getting over. The idea that Marella was getting rid of the Honk-A-Meter in the pre-match interview was roundly booed, even though the crowd knew Regal was due to be his opponent – Regal had won a battle royal the previous week for the privilege. The unveiling of his new meter earned him a ‘Santino’ chant for his efforts, but Marella was quick to proclaim Italy as the best country in Europe for the cheap heel heat.
Layla and Beth Phoenix were at ringside with Regal and Marella respectively, to add an additional layer of intrigue. Even with some gurning and snarling from the King of the Ring, everything he did was greeted with raucous cheers. Marella’s reaction, with Regal now opposite him in the ring, was a lot more mixed.
After all of the pre-match ceremony, Santino’s reign would end with a thirty second defeat in which he had no offense on the challenger. Regal charged him back into the corner, meeting him with several forearms to the jaw. A modified Northern Lights suplex then set Marella up for a running knee to the head which would be enough for Regal to regain the Intercontinental Title after a seven year absence. That Marella’s pretentions to dethrone the Honky Tonk Man would end with such a whimper was a shame, but it further added to the no nonsense character that the WWE had sought to move towards with Regal.
In a heartfelt interview with Michael Cole in the ring, Regal thanked the fans and told them he was proud to be their Intercontinental champion. He would retain that position in the WWE hierarchy for seventy days, before losing the title to CM Punk. In a career that had seen Regal richly decorated with secondary titles across two different promotions, this would be the last belt that he would win. It also signalled a time where, just for a moment, Regal was once again allowed to show what a top class wrestler, character and legend he was and still remains to this day.