Former WWE referee Dave Hebner, who was at the center of one of the pro wrestling promotion’s most famous angles, died Friday. He was 73.
Hebner’s nephew, Impact Wrestling referee Brian Hebner, confirmed the longtime referee’s death in a Twitter post.
“Today we lost one of the good ones,” Brian Hebner tweeted. “God got a good one.”
WWE also confirmed Hebner’s death and extended condolences.
“Throughout a storied career, Hebner found himself at the center of some of WWE’s most iconic moments,” WWE said in a statement. “Hebner officiated the classic showdown between Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III, and the clash between Savage and Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania V.”
On Feb. 5, 1988, Hebner and his twin brother, Earl, were part of a controversial match between Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, according to Bleacher Report. Hogan, defending his WWF (later known as WWE) heavyweight title on “The Main Event,” was defeated by Andre when the referee counted to three -- even though Hogan’s shoulders were off the mat.
Another referee ran to the ring and challenged the decision. That was Dave Hebner, who claimed that his brother Earl, who was in the ring, made the controversial pinfall and had been “paid off” to do so.
According to the promotion’s “angle,” Earl Hebner received cash from Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase to throw the match, and Dave Hebner was “detained” in the locker room.
Dave Hebner began working as a referee in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia, during the 1970s, according to SBNation. He joined the then-WWF in the mid-1980s, according to the 2009 book, “WWE Encyclopedia.”
Dave Hebner later worked in the WWE’s front office and was released from his contract in 2005, according to Bleacher Report. Aside from a promotion in TNA later that year, Dave Hebner was rarely involved in wrestling promotions after he left WWE.
“He will always be remembered as one of the best referees of all time, able to handle any match and any number of participants,” according to “WWE Encyclopedia.”
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