Days before the incident, known as the Montreal Screwjob, Russo was part of a meeting with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and fellow writer Jim Cornette. Hart refused to lose against Michaels in his home country of Canada, so McMahon wanted Cornette and Russo to help him think of a finish.
Speaking to Sportskeeda Wrestling’s Dr. Chris Featherstone, Russo recalled how he casually pitched the idea of Michaels locking Hart in the sharpshooter. Without The Hitman knowing, referee Earl Hebner could then end the match and award the WWE Championship to Michaels:
“Bro, I swear to God, I just blurt out, ‘F*** it, Vince, f*** it. Have Shawn put Bret in the sharpshooter and have the referee call for the bell. Screw it.’ I just wanted to go home. Bro, literally, I just wanted to go home, so I was like, ‘F*** it, have Shawn put Bret in his own move and have the ref call for the bell.’ And then I left,” Russo said.
Russo said his conversation with McMahon took place on the Wednesday or Thursday before Survivor Series, which happened on Sunday the same week. Between the meeting and the pay-per-view, Russo had no contact with McMahon and he did not know if other people pitched the same idea.
Bret Hart rejected 10 WWE Survivor Series ideas
Vince McMahon phoned Bret Hart days before Survivor Series to discuss potential finishes for his match against Shawn Michaels. At the request of McMahon, Vince Russo listened to the phone call but did not say a word.
The former WWE writer explained that The Hitman rejected multiple ideas during the phone call. McMahon ultimately decided to let Hart believe he would retain his title, even though he planned to go ahead with Russo’s idea:
“I can tell everybody first-hand, 10 ideas were pitched to Bret. He said no to every one of them. Bro, Jim Neidhart [Hart’s brother-in-law] was coming up with ideas, and it got to the point where Bret was, ‘No, no, no, no, no.’ I heard it. Every single idea he turned down. Why he did that was, bro, he had such a hatred for Shawn, he was not doing it,” Russo said.
Russo added that even he was unaware of what the finish was going to be until the match happened.
He also clarified that Vince McMahon trusted Bret Hart not to show up on WCW television with the WWE Championship if he retained the title. However, he did not trust WCW President Eric Bischoff, which is why he felt he had to take the title off Hart.
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Q. Did Vince McMahon do the right thing at Survivor Series 1997?
Yes - Bret screwed Bret
No - Vince screwed Bret
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