The Montreal Screwjob is the most famous instance of a match not going to plan. The fallout was the catalyst for the Attitude era. Although it's the one everyone discusses and remembers, this isn't the first time a "screwjob" happened.
Screwjobs have been common since the dawn of wrestling. Some of the most well-known wrestlers from the pre-WWE/WWF era have been involved. Here we explore some of the men and history behind screwjobs you might not know about:
#5 Danno O’Mahoney Vs Dick Shikat an early Montreal Screwjob?
In 1936 the wrestling business would be exposed, but unlike the Montreal Screwjob that helped the industry, this one almost destroyed wrestling inside Madison Square Garden.
Danno O’Mahoney was a huge draw during the 1930s and is also the inventor of the Irish Whip. While not much of a grappler, he was incredibly strong and vivicious, beating his opponents quickly inside the squared circle. Dick Shikat was a legitimate hard man and a very talented wrestler. So how did this match go from a contest of honor to an all out shoot fight?
O’Mahoney was a huge draw for promoters Paul Bowser and Jack Curley, two men who were some of the most ruthless in the business. Shikat was the star attraction for rival promoters Jack Pfeffer and Al Haft. Two years prior Pfeffer had exposed the business to a prominent newspaper. This resulted in the whole industry suffering as ticket sales plummeted during the Great Depression. This was in retaliation for a business relationship going sour with Jack Curley.
On 2nd March 1936, Pfeffer and Haft tried to get one over on Curley. Haft instructed Shikat to shoot on O’Mahoney. Shikat did as he was told, winning the championship and hurting the legitimacy of the Irishman. The Montreal Screwjob might be the most famous, but screwjobs have been around forever.
#4 Jim Londos Vs Joe Savoldi: Another early version of the Montreal Screwjob
A similar event to the Montreal Screwjob happened in 1933. One of the biggest draws of the time, Jim Londos, would be screwed out of his championship. The question is, how did the biggest star of the day end up titleless and why did it happen?
Jim Londos was one of the biggest stars of the 1930s. Despite his status, he was disliked by many New York promoters and made enemies in the territory. They set up a double cross, very much like the Montreal Screwjob, with his challenger Joe Savoldi and referee Bob Managoff.
The match went as planned with Savoldi locking in a submission, but this is when the screwjob came into action. Instead of locking in a worked hold, Savoldi applied actual pressure. This caused Londos to struggle to the ropes. He made it to the ropes but a break never came, with Managoff ignoring his hand on the rope and calling for a submission victory. Joe Savoldi became the new champion, Jim Londos leaving with his tail between his legs an early victim of a moment eerily similar to the Montreal Screwjob.
#3 Frank Gotch & George Hackenschmidt were the original Montreal Screwjob
Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt were the 1910’s version of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels (The participants of the Montreal Screwjob). The two spent most of their careers circling one another and were involved in one of the first screwjobs. It might have been the most devious of all the screwjobs we know of in wrestling, or at least from the early years.
In the rematch of the century, Gotch and Hackenschmidt went head-to-head with a record-breaking gate of $87,000, the equivalent of over $2 million today. Gotch wanted the match to go his way so set about hiring a ‘hooker’ to purposely injure Hackenschmidt’s knee during sparring practice. A hooker in wrestling terms is a person who is a submission expert or bone breaker.
With so much money on the line, the promoters kept the injury a secret and set out to make sure the match still went ahead. Hackenschmidt wanted to pull out altogether but was convinced by Gotch that things would be fine. He even offered to make him look good and promised to give him one of the three falls in their match.
But as with every entry on this list (as well the Montreal Screwjob itself), that was not what happened. Frank Gotch double-crossed Hackenschmidt, going after his injured knee and beating him in two quick falls. The whole bout only lasted 19 minutes with Gotch retaining his World Heavyweight Championship. This would be Hackenschmidt’s last match, leaving the world of wrestling after being humiliated by Frank Gotch. The Montreal Screwjob was devious, but this was downright despicable.
#2 The King of the Screwjob, Ed ‘Strangler’ Lewis
Ed ‘Strangler’ Lewis might just be one of the most influential wrestlers in the early years of the industry, having been a huge draw during the 1920s. He is a four-time World Heavyweight Champion. He helped train the likes of Danny Hodge, Dick Hutton, Gene LeBell and Lou Thesz. He is also known as ''The King of the Screwjob"
Why does he have this moniker? Well, it’s because he has been involved in three different screwjobs during his four-decade career. This first happened in 1925 when he lost his championship to Wayne Munn, a former college footballer. This was planned, and promoter Billy Sandow asked Stanislaus Zbyszko to do the job for Munn to make him seem more credible as a champion.
Instead, Zbyszko would shoot on Munn, resulting in the referee calling the match in his favor to avoid a riot in Philadelphia. Zbyszko didn’t want to lose to someone unskilled, so jumped ship to Joe Stecher and his promotion, being paid a hefty amount to screw Munn.
The next two took place during 1931 with the first involving both Paul Bowser and Billy Sandow. Lewis was set to lose to Bowser’s champion Ed Don George. This didn’t sit well with Sandow and Lewis. The two men threatened to turn it into a shoot fight if George didn’t do the job. Lewis he wouldn’t win in a real fight, and gave into their demands. This allowed for Ed ‘Strangler’ Lewis to become champion once again.
Later in the year Paul Bowser would get payback on Lewis. This was when he faced off against Henri DeGlane in a two out of three falls match. Between the second and third fall, DeGlane would head to the back and bit himself on his arm, drawing blood. As the third fall began, DeGlane would give out a horrific scream revealing his wound and causing the referee to disqualify Lewis. Paul Bowser got his revenge with a masterstroke at Screwjobbery and the championship back off of Lewis.
#1 Don Eagle Vs. Gorgeous George was exactly like the Montreal Screwjob
The moment is exactly like the Montreal Screwjob. Anyone who knows their wrestling history will be well aware of what went down on 26th May, 1950 between Gorgeous George and Don Eagle. For those who don't know, let's delve into what happened that night.
If it wasn’t for Gorgeous George, the wrestling industry wouldn’t be what it is today. He was was incredibly popular in the 1950s, a heel in every sense of the word. He was one of the most recognizable faces in the industry.
Just like with the Montreal Screwjob 47 years later, a referee called Earl would be at the center of the scam. Don Eagle was prepared to defend his world championship in Chicago against Gorgeous George. However, the promoters in the back seemed to have other ideas. Referee Earl Mollohan would double cross Eagle. As George went for a pin attempt, Mollohan would count the champion's shoulders to the mat despite kicking out.
Gorgeous George was now the new champion. Earl Mollohan left not only the ring, but the building quickly. This left an infuriated and shocked Eagle wondering what had just happened.
Q. Do you remember any of these screwjobs?
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