This post originally ran on RingsideRants.com on November 9, 2013 and is being re-posted as part of the lead-up to Survivor Series 2014.
During the main event of Survivor Series 1997, in the WWF Championship match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, referee Earl Hebner signaled for the bell as Michaels had Hart in the Sharpshooter, in what would forever be known as the “Montreal Screwjob.”
Only a few men knew the plan and Bret wasn’t one of them. Despite assurances to the contrary, Vince McMahon screwed Bret Hart that night in Montreal.
Hart was on his way to WCW, after being told by McMahon that WWF wouldn’t be able to follow through on Hart’s 20-year contract due to financial troubles. According to the owner of the WWF, Hart would be doing what was best for everyone by leaving for WCW.
So that’s what Bret Hart did, negotiating a lucrative contract with the enemy, and agreeing to drop the belt the night after Survivor Series. He didn’t want to do business for Shawn Michaels and especially not in Canada. In wrestling, though, when it comes time to do the job, you do the job.
There is so much controversy surrounding the events of the “Screwjob” that a compelling case can be made for a number of arguments. Most say Bret Hart got a raw deal. Some say Bret Hart should have played by the rules and laid down for Michaels. A large number of people think the whole thing was a work.
No matter why and how the whole thing went down, it remains one of the most important moments in wrestling history.
That night Vince McMahon as the heel authority figure was born, which would lead to the Austin-McMahon rivalry and the Attitude Era. It also forced McMahon and the wrestling industry as a whole to pull back the curtain a bit. Depending on your stance, that was good or bad for business.
For two men that hated each other, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels truly had great in-ring chemistry and some of the greatest matches of each wrestler’s career came against one another.