The Montreal Screwjob will live in the minds of WWE fans for as long as they can remember.
It doesn’t matter if you are an old school or a new era fan, this incident has been well documented by WWE and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. The situation involved McMahon, WWE Hall of Famers Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels at the 1997 Survivor Series, which took place at the Molson Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The incident happened when McMahon did a "shoot screwjob" without Hart's knowledge and resulted in Hart. The reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champion lost the title to Michaels in Hart's last match with the WWW before departing for rival promotion World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
The plan was executed when match referee Earl Hebner, on direct order from McMahon, ended the match as Michaels held Hart in the Sharpshooter submission hold even though Hart had not submitted.
Michaels was declared the victor by submission and crowned as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Hart, Michaels, and McMahon came to an agreement where the match would end with a disqualification, which under normal rules would result in Hart retaining the title. Hart would then lose or forfeit the title at a later date. Obviously, this didn’t happen.
Michaels recently spoke with ESPN about the Montreal Screwjob. Here is what he had to say:
“[It was] probably the most uncomfortable day I’ve ever had in the wrestling business,” Michaels said of having to sit with Hart and plot out the match before the show began. “By the time the day comes, the decision has been made. But no one knows how it’s going to get done until Bret and I sit down to start discussing the match — none of this can actually go into play until we do that. And so it was just an uncomfortable day knowing what you know, [how others] assume it’s going to happen, and then you having to be the one to orchestrate it all.”
“It’s one thing to make the decision to do this. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to actually have to be the person to make it happen and not have any idea about how you’re going to go about doing that. And then, even if you are successful, it’s absolutely going to be the worst thing that could ever happen to you,” Michaels said. “From a professional standpoint, reputation standpoint, even though I wasn’t the most lovable guy back then, it was still just an absolute miserable day, [a] very uncomfortable day.”
“You don’t go into something like that not understanding [the consequences],” Michaels said. “You may end up having to fight your way out of the building, or getting in a couple fights, or who knows. But one of the biggest things in the wrestling business is when you go out there with guys, you’re trusting one another with your bodies.
“With all the differences Bret and I had, they never made their way into the ring. And so — believe it or not — that, more than anything, was the thing. Even though you’re asked to do it, being obedient to your boss, it isn’t fun. Pain, or getting in a fight, or getting beat up, that stuff heals eventually.
“It would’ve been a lot easier, honestly, to be able to say, ‘Yeah, I knew and I did it,’ and face whatever happened,” Michaels said. “Because at least then, it’d be out in the open and whatever needed to happen would happen right there and then.”
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