So over the summer during this covid-19 pandemic, I’ve read a few wrestling books to do more research and learning about the controversial wrestling incident that went on between Bret The Hitman Hart vs. Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 1997 ppv. One book I’ve read was Bret Hart’s “Hitman – My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling” and the other book I’ve read was “The Death of WCW” by R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez. Both of those books were really good and they both talked about the “Montreal Screwjob” a little bit.
To those of you who don’t know anything about the Montreal Screwjob, well let me break it down to you to tell you what it’s all about. The controversy revolves around Bret The Hitman Hart, Shawn Michaels and WWE owner Vince McMahon. Bret and Shawn Michaels not only had an on screen TV feud for years, they also hate each other in real life as well. They had both an on-screen and off-screen feud. Bret won the WWE/WWF title at Summerslam 1997 and Bret signed a contract to WCW and was about to jump ship to there. This got Vince all worried and didn’t want Bret to bring the WWE title to WCW and Bret said he wasn’t gonna do that, it wasn’t his plan. Hart was set to defend the title against Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 1997. McMahon originally wanted Bret to lose the title to Shawn at Survivor Series 1997 but Bret wasn’t going for it since he didn’t want to lose in his home country which makes sense. In a meeting… Bret, Shawn and Vince agreed that Bret would retain the title at Survivor Series 1997 by disqualification and Bret would lose the title or forfeit later on.
When it came to Survivor Series 1997 night where the match was taken place, Bret vs. Shawn match started. A little later in the match Shawn put Bret in his well-known finisher the Sharpshooter which is a submissive finisher. All of a sudden, Vince comes out to the ring and orders Earl Hebner to ring the bell which causes HBK Shawn Michaels to win the WWE title by submission.
It is called a “screwjob” ’cause Bret got screwed by McMahon. Vince promised Bret that he would retain the title by disqualification but Vince decided that HBK Shawn Michaels would win the WWE title on the last minute.
After that, this angered Bret so much… spitting Vince in the face at ring side and then Bret started destroying things. Bret even punched Vince in the face and knocked him out backstage. Vince and Bret feuded in the media for a long while but later on, they ended up burying the hatchet for good. Bret wanted to bury the hatchet with Vince ’cause he didn’t WWE burying his legacy and Bret wanted to be remembered. Bret got into the WWE Hall of Fame finally in 2006 and WWE made a DVD for him.
In the aftermath of the Screwjob incident, this lead to Vince’s iconic feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin and forced Vince to perform on television as this evil owner bad guy. This is what brought Mike Tyson in to feud with Stone Cold, though.
The Montreal Screwjob incident is the most talked about controversy in wrestling and is still being talked about even after all these years. I can see why Bret is so brutally honest when it comes to the wrestling business ’cause after that, he didn’t want to be screwed over ever again like that. He didn’t want to lose in his hometown of Canada and Vince forced him to lose. After reading Bret’s book (which is very good and definitely one of the best wrestling books I’ve ever read), I’m totally on his side.
People are saying it was a work but I don’t think it was. If it was then it would have been the greatest work of all time and it would be so hard to plan. Kevin Nash said it was a work but watch Bret Hart’s response in the video here:
It was a real incident that angered Bret for many years. Later in the years though since Vince and Bret buried the hatchet, they continued the “Screwjob” incident on WWE TV so they can have a closure which they did real good.
This makes me want to watch “The Wrestling With Shadows” documentary which is about Bret Hart but I didn’t know where to watch. I found out you can watch the documentary in it’s entirety on youtube so I’ll watch it on youtube this weekend.
Bret was always very protective of his career and his legacy and after the Montreal Screwjob incident, I can understand why. Bret may have buried the hatchet with McMahon but I don’t think he’ll ever bury the hatchet with Shawn. Bret will always have pure hatred for Shawn since Shawn himself was in on the whole “screwjob” thing. I think Shawn just wanted that WWE title and got what he wanted.
Bret is definitely one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, though. He is one of my top 10 favorites.