Brian Hebner is the son of legendary pro wrestling referee Earl Hebner, who is most known for being one of the central characters in The Montreal Screwjob. A few years after that incident went down, WWE welcomed another Hebner into their officiating fold, Brian Hebner, who was assigned to the WWE Smackdown brand. He quickly took to the WWE system and went on to officiate some top matches in the early to mid-2000s, including classics featuring John Cena, Vince McMahon, The Undertaker, and more.
Unfortunately, in 2005, Brian’s father was released from the company after selling WWE merchandise without the company’s permission. Brian’s uncle, Dave, who was also a WWE referee, was also released for his affiliation with the sale of WWE merchandise. A year later, Brian was let go as well, and in an exclusive Haus of Wrestling interview, he detailed how his release came about.
“Basically, once the things that happened with my dad, my uncle, I knew I was on the clock, I knew I was,” Brian began. “Meaning you can’t be a Hebner and be thinking you’re gonna stay around for a long time. So, I knew it, and visually all that really happened, to be honest with you, and people can say what they want, but I know the truth, and the truth is, and nobody’s ever disputed it, it would be kind of dumb for me to say anything otherwise, really.
“But, it became where I did it to myself. Meaning I would normally catch one of the buses; we had tour buses back then, and it was the production bus that I would catch, and that would be my ride up to the hotel. So I didn’t have to worry about Uber, and back then, they didn’t have Uber; we had taxis and whatnot. I caught the bus, and one of the people on the bus, I don’t remember who, it doesn’t matter, was running late. I actually got to the building late, and once I got to the building, Johnny Ace, they said, wanted to see me.
“He pulled me into the office, and he told me that he has to make a statement, and it can’t be his referees coming into work late and that he was gonna let me go for, I think, thirty or sixty days, or whatever it was, and to call him back. I called him back, and he said he didn’t have anything for me, which floored me because I guess they didn’t have any more matches from that point forward, which is ridiculous. You don’t have any more matches? You don’t have anything for referees? Okay, I got you, bud.
“But anyway, long story short, it was bullshit. Because there were fines that were supposed to be put in place. Your first time being late, you get $500. The second time was $1,000. The third time was, I don’t know, $15 or $200 or $2000, whatever it was, and then a possible suspension or whatever. But none of that happened to me. I was late, and I was let go. So, that’s just the nutshell of it.”
Hebner is not the first talent to raise issues with the way John “Johnny Ace” Laurinitis conducted himself in the role of Head of Talent Relations. For years, WWE Hall of Famer Teddy Long has been one of the most outspoken critics of Laurinitis, openly speaking about how he disrespected talent, including himself, on several occasions. Laurinitis’ bad behavior finally caught up to him last year when he got wrapped up in the Vince McMahon hush-money payment allegations.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that the WWE Board of Directors was investigating a “secret” $3 million hush-money payment to a WWE paralegal McMahon had an affair with. Following the affair, McMahon reportedly handed the paralegal off “like a toy” to Laurinitis. There were also older non-disclosure agreements by former female WWE employees regarding McMahon and Laurinitis’ misconduct, and the former Head of Talent Relations was quietly let go at the beginning of August 2022.
“I’m not saying this was Johnny’s decision,” he continued. “I’m sure somebody higher up, and I’m sure Vince had a hard one for my dad, my uncle, and I’m sure his son being around his company probably didn’t help causes. I mean, your last name is your last name, even if you can’t stand it and you want to get rid of it.
“I don’t know; it is what it is, you know what I mean? It was a blessing. It was a blessing in my life, and I didn’t know so and think so at the time, but it was a blessing in my life. I’m glad the way things worked out. I have no regrets. And I’m very much, in a nutshell, thanking you, WWE, for letting me go.”
My full conversation with Brian Hebner is available on the Haus of Wrestling podcast feed and will premier on the Haus of Wrestling YouTube channel at 1 pm EST.
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