It's impossible to sum up exactly what happened (I tried, and it ran longer than the maximum character limit for a node), so I'll first say that if you want the WHOLE scoop in lavish detail, see

It is an interesting read into the true nature of professional wrestling, regardless if you follow the industry at all or not.

Now, to try and summarize this monster in ten sentences or less: Bret Hart was leaving the WWF for WCW, with the slight problem being he was still the WWF Champion. The only Pay-Per-View event left before Bret left was Survivor Series, and it was in Montreal, Canada--Bret's "home" turf. He had built up his character for the past year on having Canadian pride and rejecting American values, and he flat-out refused to lose the belt in Montreal to Shawn Michaels. And, since Hart was allowed "reasonable creative control" of his storylines in his current contract, there wasn't much WWF owner Vince McMahon could do about it.

So, it was agreed that the match at Survivor Series 1997 (November 9th, 1997 to be exact) between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels (who hated each other in real life and only agreed to work together for the sake of the company) for the WWF Championship would end in a screwjob--Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith would run in and cause a disqualification finish, and Bret would drop the title to Shawn a few days later at an untelevised WWF house show.

The match started normaly enough, although you can notice there are an *awful* lot of referees and officials at the ringside area. The following info about the screwjob itself is reprinted from (all spelling errors are left intact, before you /msg me...)

The Double-Cross:Hart climbed the top rope for a double sledge on Michaels. Michaels pulled Hebner in the way and Hart crashed on him. Just as planned. Michaels for a split second looked at McMahon and put Hart in the sharpshooter, just as planned. The next split seconds were the story. Ciota listening to his headpiece for his que to run in heard the backstage director scream to Hebner it was time to get up. Hebner, listening himself, immediately got up. Ciota started screaming that he wasn't supposed to get up. Owen Hart and Smith readying their run in were equally perplexed seeing him get up. Prichard was freaking out backstage saying that wasn't supposed to happen. Bret still not realizing anything was wrong laid in the hold for only a few seconds to build up some heat before the reversal. Michaels cinched down hard on the hold and glanced at Hebner and then looked away which more than one wrestler in the promotion upon viewing the tape saw as proof he was in on it, but than fed Bret his leg for the reversal. Hebner quickly looked at the timekeeper and screamed "ring the bell." At the same moment McMahon sitting next to the timekeeper elbowed him hard and screamed "ring the fucking bell". The bell rang at about the same moment Bret grabbed the leg for the reversal and Michaels fell down on his face on the mat. Michaels music played immediately and was immediately announced as the winner and new champion. Hebner sprinted out of the ring on the other side, into the dressing room through the dressing room and into an awaiting car in the parking lot that already had the motor running and was going to take him to the hotel where he'd be rushed out of town with his ticket home instead of staying to work the two Raw tapings. Michaels and Hart both leaped to their feet looking equally mad, cursing in McMahon's direction and glaring at him. Hart spit right in McMahon's face. The cameras immediately pulled away from Hart and to Michaels. Vince screamed at Michaels to pick the fucking belt up and get the fuck out of there. Michaels still looking mad was ordered to the back by Jerry Brisco who told him to hold the belt up high and get to the back. The show abruptly went off the air about four minutes early.

The Aftermath: The officials left the ring immediatley, McMahon went into his private office in the building with Patterson and a few others and locked the door behind him. Hart in the ring flipped out on the realization of what happened and began smashing the television monitors left behind until Owen, Smith and Neidhart hit the ring to calm him down. The four had an annimated discussion in the ring all looking perturbed. Finally Hart thanked his fans who for the most part left with the air let out of their sails, gave the I love you sign to the fans and finger painted "WCW" to all four corners of the ring, which got a surprisingly big pop, and went back to the dressing room. He first confronted Michaels who swore that he had nothing to do with it. Michaels obviously afraid Hart would punch him out right there told Hart that he gets heat for everything that happened but this time it wasn't his fault and he was as mad as Hart about the finish. He said he didn't want to win the belt that way, was disgusted by what happened and to prove it would refuse to bring the belt out or say anything bad about Hart on Raw the next night. Hart said that Michaels could prove whetherhe was in on it or not by his actions on television the next night. The entire dressing room was furious at McMahon by this point. The feeling was that if Hart having worked for the company for 14 years and not missing shots due to injuries the entire time and then how could any of them trust anything he would say or do? People were saying that how could anyone trust anyone ever again and that it was an unsafe working environment.


Undertaker was furious, pounding on this locked door and when he cam out to talk with him Undertaker told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to apologize to Hart. he went to Hart's dressing room where Hart had just come out of the shower. Smith answered the door and Hart said he didn't want to see him. Vince and son Shane McMahon came in with Sgt. Slaughter and Brisco anyway. Vince started to apologize saying that he had to do it because he couldn't take the chance of Hart going to WCW without giving back the belt and he couldn't let Bishoff go on television the next night and announce Hart was coming while he was still his champion and said how it would kill his business. Hart shot back that he had no problem losing the belt and told McMahon that he was going to dry off and get his clothes on and told McMahon "If you're still here I'm going to punch you out." Hart called McMahon a liar and an piece of shit and talked about having worked for him for 14 years only missing 2 shots the entire time and being a role model for the company and the industry and this was his payback, McMahon tried to say that in 14 years this was the first time he'd ever lied to him and Hart rattled off 15 lies over the last year alone without even thinking about it. Those in the dressing room watching were stunned listening to Hart rattle those off and McMahon not offering a comeback. Hart got dressed and twice told McMahon to get out. Hart got up and a scuffle started with them locking up like in a wrestling match, Hart breaking free and throwing a punch to the jaw that would have knocked down a rhino. One punch Ko in 40 seconds. McMahon growled like he was going to get up but he had no legs. Shane McMahon jumped on Harts back and Smith jumped on Shane's back pulling him off. Not realizing there would be trouble Smith had already taken off his knee brace and hyperextened his knee in the process of pulling Shane off. Hart nearly broke his hand from the punch. McMahon's jaw was thought to be fractured or broken. Hart asked Vince if he was now going to screw him on all the money he owed him and a groggy Vince said "No". He told Shane and Brisco to get that "piece of shit" out of here and glaring at both of them told them if they tried anything they'd suffer the same results. In dragging McMahon out someone accidentally stepped on his ankle injuring it as well.

And later: Hebner, at the hotel and on his way out of town was confronted by one of the wrestlers who asked how he could do that to one of his best friends. Hebner claimed ignorance and swore that he knew nothing about it and was so mad about it he was going to quit. Jack Lanza likely as part of another facade was begging him not to. Patterson, Michaels and Prichard all denied any knowledge to the boys. Everyone denied it, but it was clear everyone had to know from the production truck to go of the air several minutes early, to the director to get the shot perfect of the sharpshooter where you couldn't see Bret's face not quit, to Hebner in particular to the ring announcer to get the announcement so quickly to the man handling the music to have Michaels music all cued up to the agents who were surrounding the ring knowing the possibility of something unpredictable happening. when Hart got back to his hotel room in a total daze he was furious at McMahon because he knew he was screaming at the timekeeper to ring the bell but almost recognizing it as a reality of the business that he should have known better than anyone. But when he had a tape of the finish played to him he clearly heard that it was Hebners voice screaming "ring the bell" and at that point was personally crushed. Phone lines were ringing off the hook around wrestling land that night. People closest to the inside of the business were thinking double-cross, althought the big question was whether Michaels, since he looked so pissed at the finish, was in on it. Some more skeptical types, remembering Brian Pillman and Kevin Sullivan, thought it because of the prominence of the match and the interest, that it had to be a very well acted work. Virtually all the wrestlers back stage thought it was a double-cross, but a few not wanting to be marks were weary of fully committing to the idea. Some people who were close to inside thought it was the greatest worked finish in the history of wrestling because it got everyone talking. Others particularly people who had casual fans watching with them or those attending the show live saw how the finish to a casual fan came off looking so badly thought it was either a poorly conceived angle that was well acted by a company trying to hard to fool smart fans or maybe a double-cross. But by the morning the true story had become obvious.

To this day, no one is *exactly* sure what happened that night. A few even maintain that Bret Hart was in on it all along, which would make it the greatest staged event in professional wrestling history. In any case, it remains the most infamous finish to any professional wrestling match in the modern era.

Since the infamous Montreal screwjob, this angle has been rehashed many many times since, most recently as last night (5/29/01 for those who are reading after the fact) on WWF War Zone with Stone Cold Steve Austin getting the win in his WWF Championship defense against Chris Benoit by making him "submit" to his own hold. The circumstances that make this particular rehash stand out is that it was done, in Canada (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), right in front of the Hart family who were sitting at ringside. If there was any indication that Vince McMahon still has a grudge against Bret Hart and relishes in humiliating him and his family every chance he gets, this would definitely be it.

Then again, it could be a grand work on the part of McMahon and Bret on all the internet wrestling columnists. That would feed truth to the rumor that the whole Montreal incident was all a work, and if so, $$$! That means big money!

As stated above, this incident is constantly rehashed within the WWE, both by the company and its fans.

Vince McMahon stated on television the night after the event that "he didn't screw Bret Hart, Bret Hart screwed Bret Hart." This line has been endlessly paraphrased in promos by various wrestlers and managers ("Mick Foley screwed Mick Foley", etc.)

Earl Hebner was the referee for that match, and who was supposedly aware of the screwjob. Whenever he appears anywhere in Canada (let alone Montreal), the fans chat "You screwed Bret!" at him. In Montreal, these chants are especially deafening.

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