7 ways the Montreal Screwjob changed Pro Wrestling
- 7 ways the "Montreal Screwjob" Changed pro wrestling.
It's been over twenty years since that infamous night in the WWE when Bret Hart was robbed of the WWE championship. We examine the ways this watershed event altered sports entertainment forever.
There are many pivotal moments in pro wrestling history. When Ric Flair defeated Harley Race at Starrcade, a new era of wrestling was ushered in. Likewise, when Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III, it was considered the passing of the torch as the biggest star of the 1970s gave way to the biggest star of the 1980s.
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Of course, when WCW was purchased by WWE is also a moment that changed the business, however. While these events were all quite significant, they all pale in comparison to the reverberations caused by a single match in Montreal Quebec, Canada.
We are, of course, referring to the infamous Montreal Screwjob. For those who are not familiar with the incident, it broke down like this;
Prior to the world title match pitting Shawn Michaels against champion Bret The Hitman Hart, there was great tension in the then-WWF backstage area. Bret Hart had been signed to a fantastic twenty-year contract with the World Wrestling Federation, wherein he would wrestle for several more years and then become a backstage executive and trainer.
However, facing imminent financial disaster due to the poaching of talent by WCW, as well as flagging ratings, Vince McMahon found himself in a position where he could not feasibly fulfil his end of the contract. In a rare move, McMahon actually advised Bret Hart to seek out WCW officials and try to get a contract with the rival company.
Bret agreed to allow McMahon to dissolve the contract, and was almost immediately signed by WCW, who were eager to add yet another wrestling legend to their roster. However, there was a problem; Bret Hart was still the WWE World Champion. While Bret Hart was willing to drop the belt before he left the company, he was not willing to lose it in his home country of Canada.
This posed a problem because Survivor Series took place on November 9, 1997. On Monday November 10, WCW would be allowed to legally claim that Bret Hart was under contract. The thought of his world champion being announced as a member of the WCW roster drove Vince McMahon to take extreme measures, and he conspired to take the big belt off of Bret without the latter's approval or knowledge.
What happened next is wrestling history. During their title match, Bret Hart became trapped in a Sharpshooter applied by Michaels, who began 'feeding' his leg to the Hitman for a reversal.
However, before this could take place Vince McMahon--who was on commentary--suddenly demanded the timekeeper Mark Yeaton ring the bell. Yeaton, who thought the match was supposed to end in a double disqualification, refused.
McMahon then ordered referee Earl Hebner to order for the bell to be rung himself. He instructed ring announcer Howard Finkel to name Shawn Michaels the winner. Bret and Shawn Michaels both appeared confused after the finish, though later Shawn would admit he was actually in on the plot from the beginning.
The result was utter chaos. An infuriated Bret Hart attempted to address the crowd but his mic was cut. The Hitman formed the words WCW with his fingers while the crowd vented their rage on Vince McMahon. Hart would arrive in WCW shortly, and the incident would have consequences that are still felt today.
Here are seven ways that the Montreal Screwjob has affected the pro wrestling industry.