Vince McMahon has made headlines over the past year for good, bad, and sometimes terrible reasons. Notably, last year at this time, McMahon was embroiled in allegations about hush-money payments to former female WWE employees alleging bad behavior by the billionaire and his friend, former WWE Head of Talent Relations John Laurinitis. Shortly after that news began to break, along with questions about how the millions in payments should have been handled with the SEC, McMahon chose to retire from the company, leaving Nick Khan, Stephanie McMahon, and Paul “Triple H” Levesque in charge.
Nearly a year later, things have radically changed. WWE is on the verge of closing its transaction with Endeavor, which will see it merge with UFC to form a new publicly traded company called TKO Group Holdings. Along with the sale, McMahon was coaxed out of retirement by Ari Emanual, Endeavor’s CEO, and will sit as the Executive Chairman for TKO. He has since returned to the WWE creative mix as well, reportedly causing chaos with his initial presence backstage and subsequently pivoting to sending his creative notes remotely.
In a Haus of Wrestling exclusive interview, I spoke with former WWE referee Brian Hebner, who worked for the promotion from 2000 until 2006, about what his personal relationship was like with McMahon.
“We really didn’t have one,” he said. “There were conversations, but, in all honesty, I’m not gonna lie to you; I do say some things about Vince here and there, and I mean them; I’m not taking them back. I think that there’s a sort of a devil in that body. A demon of sorts. The wizard, would you say? The bad wizard, of course.
“But I had an overseas trip experience with him, and it kind of opened my eyes up a little bit better with Vince where he was more down to Earth and not the Vince McMahon that’s backstage running a company. He was very relaxed. We made a landing in Germany, and they treated all the boys, and we went to this big bowling alley they had for us, and we had all the food. Me and him got to sit and pow-wow.”
“We had breakfast the next morning; he actually gave me one of his tokens that one of the troops gave him, one that you earn. So he did show a softer side to me that I probably should talk about that I never do; it’s always the other side. But that’s the only real moment that I have with him as far as that goes. As far as being with him and really talking.
“Once again, we had to talk. Obviously, I did the Vince McMahon – Hogan match at WrestleMania. I’ve done the Vince McMahon and Zach Gowan match, and I’ve done many of his matches. So, obviously, I talked in that aspect, but that was just strictly business. So, on a personal level, relationship-wise, Vince was Vince, he was my boss, and that was it.”
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