No one can seem to forget about The Montreal Screwjob. One of the most infamous events in WWE history is often mentioned and brought up by fans all around the world. The story in short is simple to tell; Bret Hart entered the 1997 Survivor Series event as the WWE Champion and took on Shawn Michaels in a one-on-one match for the title. In the middle of the match, Shawn Michaels locked Hart into a Sharpshooter, and referee Earl Hebner demanded that the bell be rung despite Hart not tapping out or submitting.
Vince McMahon sat by the ringside to ensure that the whole thing would go smoothly, but that was clearly not the case. Through the years, many details have come out concerning the chaotic events of that night. With this article, you’ll learn some shocking facts and key details in the case that really shed a light on how much planning went down to make The Montreal Screwjob occur. See how other Superstars like Mick Foley, The Undertaker, and Triple H were all involved in the famous incident. Learning these facts can really shed a lot of light on the incident, the feelings at the time, and reasons why it’s still talked about to this day.
15. Shawn Michaels Helped Plan It
By now, everyone knows that Shawn Michaels knew about the plan to screw Bret over, but many people just assumed that he was a willing participant. In the days and months that followed the event, Michaels denied any knowledge and actually appeared extremely upset as he was handed the championship.
What actually happened is that Michaels was involved in the planning all along. He met with Vince McMahon and other WWE officials, like Pat Patterson, to discuss the match plans and ways to execute the plan. Michaels was told to deny his knowledge, something he did for more than five years after the event took place. This revelation actually made Michaels look a lot worse. He didn’t man up in the situation and let others take a lot of the heat for something that was just as much a cause of his actions.
14. Vince McMahon, The Liar
Prior to the Survivor Series event, Vince McMahon spent a lot of time lying to Bret Hart and tried to convince him of other plans that he would have. Vince McMahon told Bret Hart that he would allow the match to end in a disqualification. After a lot of negotiating with Bret, Vince agreed that Bret could forfeit his championship the next night on WWE Raw.
As the boss and leader of the company, it’s pretty shocking to hear how much Vince lied and manipulated the situation. Not only did he lie and screw Bret over, but he made things even worse by stating that “Bret Screwed Bret” the following night on Raw. He worked very hard to cover the whole incident up and had no problem screwing over his own employees.
13. Shane McMahon’s Involvement
At the time of the 1997 Survivor Series, Shane McMahon was not an on-screen character that fans even knew about. He was merely 27 years old and was being groomed for a big position in the company. Despite not being known to viewing audiences, Shane was a big part of The Montreal Screwjob.
After seeing his own father get punched and knocked out by Bret Hart, Shane tried to calm things down in the locker room. Moments later, it was Bret Hart that would threaten Shane and state that he would knock him out if he didn’t leave as well. In a smart move, Shane left the locker room, preventing two McMahons from hitting the floor. One year later, Shane would be performing a screwjob of his own, as he played special-guest referee at the 1998 Survivor Series and turned on Stone Cold Steve Austin. Thankfully, that segment was all an act.
12. Bret & Shawn Shook Hands
Shawn Michaels put on the performance of a lifetime during the 1997 Survivor Series. Not only was he visibly upset when the bell rang, but he continued his act backstage. As tensions grew in the locker room, both Shawn and Bret eventually met up with each other.
Shawn Michaels was shedding tears, as was Bret. The only problem is that Shawn’s tears were fake. The two Superstars actually shook hands as Shawn continued to tell his lies and deny any involvement with the whole incident. It was only years later that Shawn had been so open about his involvement and willingness to go along with the plan. It was another stab in the back for Hart as his final day in the WWE turned into a huge disaster.
11. Bret Was Willing to Lose
Before the day of the Survivor Series event, there were a lot of creative meetings to decide where to go with the storyline and the championship. Many have stated that Vince screwed Bret because he refused to lose the title, but that is not the case. Bret actually ONLY refused to lose the title to Shawn Michaels.
As written in his own autobiography, Hart stated that he was willing to lose the title to Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, or even someone else, like Ken Shamrock. It was when Shawn Michaels came into the picture that things became more complicated and the ultimate plan was hatched by Vince McMahon. The whole fiasco could have been avoided if Hart just had a different opponent.
10. Mick Foley Walked Out on the Company
Can you imagine what the WWE would be like without Mankind, Dude Love, Cactus Jack or many of the great moments that Mick Foley has provided? That almost came to fruition after The Montreal Screwjob took place. Foley was so upset with McMahon that he walked on the company, not showing up to Raw on the night following the Pay Per View. Foley was ready to completely quit the company until his wife told him about his contract and how he would have been in a lot of trouble if he breached it. With that, Foley decided to return to his company.
If he stayed away, we would have never gotten to meet the infamous Mr. Socko, see him team up with The Rock, or compete in the epic Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker.
9. The Undertaker Forced McMahon Out of His Locker Room
Vince McMahon may have sat at ringside during the whole main event of the 1997 Survivor Series, but it was a completely different story backstage. As soon as the event ended, Vince could see how irate Bret Hart was. Out in the arena, Bret had spit in Vince’s face and he clearly did not want things to get any worse. This is why Vince decided to lock himself in his office.
The Undertaker came to the rescue at this point. Seeing what Vince was doing, The Undertaker came to Vince and demanded that he go talk to Bret Hart. The rest is history as Vince was punched out by Bret just minutes later. If The Undertaker didn’t intervene, things may have ended up being a lot worse and other Superstars could have got involved.
8. Fans Never Got to See the Aftermath
The post-match clips of The Montreal Screwjob are infamous now. Bret Hart destroyed equipment. He mimed the letters for WCW and thanked the fans of his home country. While these clips tell the whole story of the incident, they were never originally shown to fans. Just minutes after the match ended, cameras cut to a shot of the Survivor Series logo and it went off the air.
Imagine if cameras never caught the rest of the incident? This would mean that only fans stories and speculation would tell the tale of what really happened. We would miss Bret Hart’s last moments in the ring and the crazy confrontation that happened. At the time, fans were left confused on the ending and internet wrestling websites could barley provide any information.
7. Vader Warned Bret Hart
Big Van Vader has spent years wrestling all over the world. During this time, he has experienced some screwjobs of his own. Because of what happened to him in Japan, Vader could tell what was going to happen. In the days before Survivor Series, Vader personally told Hart to be careful. He specifically told him that he shouldn’t lay down for any pinfalls or submissions.
It turns out that Vader was completely right, but for some reason Hart did not heed his advice. He entered the match and allowed Michaels to place him in the Sharpshooter. If Hart denied this, who knows how the end of the match would have really gone down. Vader could have been heralded as a hero that helped Hart end his WWE career the way he wanted.
6. Earl Hebner Promised Bret He Wouldn’t
A lot of the pieces of The Montreal Screwjob made sense. Shawn Michaels was bitter enemies with Hart. Vince McMahon had been dealing with contract disputes for several months. One piece of the puzzle that didn’t make much sense was the involvement of referee Earl Hebner. Hebner was actually a really good friend of Bret Hart.
Whether it was pressure or simply wanting to save his job, Hebner went along with the plan, called for the bell, and was a huge part of the whole screwjob. Hebner knew what he did was wrong. After the event, he promptly left the arena and locked himself in his hotel room because he was so upset. It was a long time before anyone heard from him about the whole ordeal. He even promised Bret nothing of the sorts would happen, however, Bret forgave Earl for his involvement.
5. McMahon’s Recorded Conversations
The whole Montreal Screwjob could have been filled with a lot of he said-she said, but a lot of evidence quickly compiled up for the incident. One of the main reasons for this was because Bret Hart was the subject of a documentary feature that happened to be filming around the exact same time. A lot of filming took place and the eventual movie was released with the title of Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows.
Audio was secretly recorded of Vince McMahon where he agreed to the double-disqualification ending. This audio showcases the obvious lies that Vince told Bret and how those lies built up to screw Bret over. It created a lot of mistrust for Hart and took him years to even consider a return to the company.
4. The Montreal Theory
One of the most disturbing parts of The Montreal Screwjob is not about anybody that was actually involved with it. Over the years, something started going around called The Montreal Theory. This theory states that the entire ordeal was actually a work. Everything was planned as a way to increase WWE ratings, make Vince McMahon millions of dollars, and give Bret a send-off that would cement his legacy.
Anyone that believes this theory is completely wrong. Too many things happened, there were too many players involved, and the captured footage can tell the true tale. Nothing about this was faked other than the fake submission that caused the bell to end the match. The theory is way too far-fetched to reach a proper conclusion and ever be taken seriously.
3. Triple H’s Involvement
Triple H is hardly mentioned when it comes to The Montreal Screwjob, but many fans may be surprised to know that he ‘s one of the main people to actually get the ball rolling. As discussions came around about Hart’s unwillingness to lose to Michaels, Triple H decided to put his two cents in. He basically suggested that Hart gets what’s coming to him for not going along with the plans. It was this initial suggestion that would lead to more ideas and the ultimate formation of the screwjob.
Triple H’s attitude towards Hart obviously did some good for him. He’s now one of the heads of the company as he runs NXT and has a lot of creative input with Vince McMahon and his wife Stephanie.
2. Owen Hart Was Stuck in the WWE
A large exodus occurred after Bret Hart quit the WWE and The Montreal Screwjob happened. The British Bulldog quit, Jim Niedhart left, Rick Rude defected from D-Generation X, and Bret already had a contract with WCW. There was one odd duck who was left behind, Bret’s younger brother Owen.
Owen Hart continued his role in the WWE. One of the main reasons for this is because he was stuck in his contact. If Owen was able to get out of the contract, he would have likely jumped ship to WCW with his brother. Even after the incident, Owen remained a popular member on the roster and was climbing the ranks until his untimely death in 1999. He was able to overcome the bad feelings, much like Bret did with his return years later.
1. Vince McMahon Created His Own Character
There were a lot of people that benefited from The Montreal Screwjob, but one person who got the best deal from this was Vince McMahon himself. Honestly, no one got a better deal than Vince. His company made national headlines. Fans were talking about the incident for weeks…and still are. Shawn Michaels became the ultimate heel to face the up-and-coming Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Most of all, Vince benefited from the creation of his own character. After The Montreal Screwjob happened, fans were introduced to “Mr. McMahon.” He was no longer the face announcer that fans knew for years. He was the grumpy boss that loved screwing wrestlers over. Vince has used this character for multiple decades and made it a cornerstone of the company. As Bret Hart left for WCW, Vince McMahon used the momentum to win the Monday Night Wars and got to showcase how powerful he truly was.
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