Longtime referee Brian Hebner had the opportunity to be John Cena’s on-screen manager.
There was a period of time during the early 2000s that referee Brian Hebner beatboxed during John Cena’s freestyle segments.
Brian’s beatboxing was liked by those backstage in addition to John Cena and Stephanie McMahon enjoying it. The idea was presented to Brian to be John Cena’s on-screen manager and hype man. Brian recounted this story on his ‘Refin’ It Up’ podcast and the episode was centered around The Undertaker’s career.
Hebner told Undertaker about the idea he was presented with and Undertaker talked him out of it. Hebner was told that refereeing is what he does best and if he thinks he’ll transition back into being a ref once Cena’s character faded out, take a look at Danny Davis’ career.
I want to say to everyone that Taker, Mark, whatever you wanna call him, probably saved my career. I’m gonna give you a story and this is pretty interesting but, some of you will know this and some of you won’t. But there was a little gimmick that the WWE had me doing for a while where I was beatboxing and I’m not gonna get into the beatboxing thing because I think that’s later another podcast that you guys will enjoy to hear. But, this is about The Undertaker so this has to do with The Undertaker. So, I’m doing my gimmick with the beatbox thing and it’s really, really getting over with the fans, with the backstage, with John Cena, with Stephanie McMahon at the time. Really, really getting over and management came to me one day and said, ‘We would like you to hang up the stripes for a little bit and we would like you to be the manager and the entrance guy for John Cena, so he comes down with no music. It’s just you, him. So we have a white boy rapping, white boy making music. What better way to get heat than that? And we think you’d be awesome.’ Now when I’m hearing this, I’m very excited because I’m seeing a couple different things which Undertaker will tell you in a minute why the things I was seeing was absolutely f*cking stupid. So, I go to him and tell him. I was like, ‘Taker, Taker,’ like really excited. ‘You have to understand. Let me explain to you what was just offered to me.’ So I give him the offer, lay it out there and I’m like, ‘There’s gonna be more money for me, it’s gonna make me a bigger star. This is gonna be a huge, huge option for me and give me just all kinds of things’ and he says, ‘Do me a favor.’ I said, ‘What’s that?’ He goes, ‘Shut the f*ck up for a minute.’ I said, ‘Yes sir,’ and he says, ‘You know what I feel about longevity?’ And I said, ‘I do sir. I do.’ He says, ‘Those stripes that you wear are what you do the best. That’s what’s gonna keep you in the game the longest because I’m gonna ask you one question: When this John Cena gimmick goes up, because it’s gonna go up because everything has a time. When that thing goes up, what happens to you?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know. I’ll just become a referee again.’ He goes, ‘You think it’s that easy? Go ask Danny Davis’ and I said, ‘Okay, I understand. I get it.’ He goes, ‘Go put your f*cking referee shirt on, get out of here’ and I was floored and hindsight’s 20/20 as most people can say and I’ll tell you right now, he would have probably been very, very right. He would have been very, very right and I would’ve probably been stuck doing no idea in the wrestling business. That’s the kind of guy he was.
Hebner shared another story involving Undertaker and it had to do with fellow referee Mike Chioda. He explained that he and Chioda were competitive and that competitiveness led to them having issues with one another.
Undertaker and Hebner had a conversation about what had been going on and Undertaker was able to get Chioda moved to Raw. It was decided that the SmackDown crew wanted Hebner there. Brian added that he and Chioda are on good terms present day.
I was having some issues with Mike Chioda, all right? Nothing bad. I think now that the years have gone and all that, it was about the competitive portion of it, wanting to be better, both of us. So pushing each other, striving to be better than the other. So it was friendly competition that just turned into whatever, ‘You’re a piece of sh*t.’ ‘No, you’re a piece of sh*t’ kind of thing and then it came down to where there was some rumblings with him with some other people or whatever. So long story short, I come to Taker and I mentioned the issues and the problems that we were having and the next day, the next day, it was all fixed, all squashed. There were a couple guys that came and it doesn’t matter. Again, me and Chioda are fine. I really respect him and everything he’s done so I never want people to think I’m talking bad on him. I really would actually love to see him again some day and just give him a brother hug and tell him the competition was great because he actually pushed me to be better, the better referee that I am now. But, so what we ended up doing was Taker said that I was gonna be the lead man on SmackDown and they moved Chioda to Raw and that’s what Taker did on his own. There were quite a few guys that stepped up on my behalf which I was honored and privileged and this is what the team wanted. So, that’s the stuff that he would do and it could go the other way. You could come to him with a stupid problem, the problem would be you and then that’s not good, you know what I mean? For you. So, I just wanted to nip it in the bud because I was tired of the back and forth. I would get a match, he’d be mad. He’d get a match, I’d be mad, that kind of stuff.
Brian is currently working with IMPACT Wrestling as a referee and in several weeks, the company is going to present their Slammiversary pay-per-view from Nashville, Tennessee.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Refin’ It Up with Brian Hebner with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.