On November 9, 1997 there was a moment in history that the fictional world of wrestling became quickly blurred with a slap in the face of reality when Bret Hart lost the WWE Championship to Shawn Michaels without submitting under the instruction of WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon who was conveniently stood at ringside throughout the entire match with a stooge of WWE officials, including Sgt. Slaughter and Tony Garea. When Michaels went to lock Hart in the Sharpshooter, the planned spot was for Hart to reverse it but quickly and suddenly, referee Earl Hebner called for the bell to timekeeper Mark Yeaton who rang the bell under pressure from McMahon. Hart, unknowingly to this went to counter the Sharpshooter when it dawned on him that the match was over. Hebner had disappeared, Michaels appeared confused and McMahon was stood there looking Hart in the face. The sudden realisation of what had occurred to him, he stood up and spat at McMahon straight in the face. Michaels and McMahon disappeared, whilst Hart stood dismayed in the ring and signaled “W-C-W” in the air surrounded by his Hart Family entourage.
After this, Bret wasn’t seen in a WWE production for nearly a decade…he quickly made the transition to WCW to continue his career until his retirement in 2000 from Post-Concussion Syndrome whilst Michaels continued his reign as champion until WrestleMania XIV when he lost the title to Stone Cold Steve Austin and quietly retired due to a back injury. The true, and full circumstances of the Montreal Screwjob will never be fully understood and to be honest, I wonder whether McMahon himself knows the true full story but this was sadly the beginning of the end of Hart’s in-ring career. The reason as it is understood is that McMahon didn’t want his champion defecting to a rival organisation with the championship, despite Hart being exceptionally reluctant in going to WCW and throughout his time in WCW, he was never fully exploited to his full potential and was quite frankly wasted.
Had the Montreal Screwjob never occurred, things could arguably be so much different in the WWE today as this was arguably the moment which spearheaded the start of the Vince McMahon character but what if Bret had never left for WCW, how things could have being different. Whilst Hart has returned to the WWE and continues to work for them periodically to this day since 2010 including a brief albeit entertaining feud with McMahon, he will never get that great final swan song against the likes of Kurt Angle or Daniel Bryan. Here at Wrestling’s Dirty Deeds, we love Bret Hart and thank him for everything he accomplished throughout his career.
So, November 9 1997 is a day in wrestling history which will never be forgotten whether it be for the right of the wrong reasons but it is truly a day that changed the scope of the wrestling world for many years to come.