The Montreal Screwjob: The Truth Behind EVERYTHING – 11/10/18
It’s time to close the book on this once and for all, call it The Truth Behind The Truth. This will be uncut so some of the language may not be in good taste, just a heads up.
Back when WCW was negotiating with Bret Hart they offered him at the time the most lucrative contract in Pro-Wrestling history 2.8 Million each year for 3 years, Vince didn’t have the financial resources to match that offer, so they agreed to 1.5 Million a year for over 20 years to stay with the WWF. Well around November ’97, Vince wanted out of the deal, he said he couldn’t afford to pay Bret anymore, he did say he might be able to pay him on the back-end of the deal, which means Bret would get all his money, he just wouldn’t get it on time and get it over a longer period of time and Bret was totally against that. Vince said to keep paying this deal he was selling property to continue to pay Bret. Bret went to his attorneys and started negotiating more with WCW and Vince even gave him the green light to go to WCW. So the question is if business is getting better in ’97 why would Vince say he can’t afford Bret anymore? There might be some truth to that, you’d have to ask Vince.
Ultimately in my opinion I think Shawn wanted to turn heel, I think he wanted to be the top heel & he wanted Bret Hart out of the picture. At the time Shawn & Bret had a real-life fight backstage, basically Shawn insinuated that Sunny and Bret were sleeping together ‘Bret Hart’s having Sunny days’ was the exact line I believe, Shawn accused Bret of being obsessed with the WWF Championship and a lot of stuff was sparking out of control because Bret was accusing Shawn of faking the knee injury, even the DX thing came into play. When Shawn turned heel, you saw the crotch-chopping, he was doing these sexual things with Triple H. Bret had called them degenerates that’s what sparked them being called Degeneration X, there were even people calling Triple H & Shawn Michaels fags, homos etc. They were doing a lot of crazy things that Bret was uncomfortable with and I think Shawn recognized that. That’s one of the things he went to Vince about, if we’re going to take this new direction of attitude and sexualness and violence and all these other things to spark the Attitude Era, Bret can’t be apart of that because Bret doesn’t want to move on.
Which is weird when you say the Attitude Era needed to get rid of Bret Hart for the ratings to take off, but it was really Austin’s face turn & Bret’s heel turn that really switched the momentum and got things rolling in the right directions. So even though Bret wasn’t technically part of the Attitude Era, he really did open a lot doors because of his heel turn in my opinion. I think there was alot of bitterness on Bret’s part because so many people praised Shawn’s reign in ’96, but at the same time Shawn felt alot of pressure because of the ratings. This next quote is from Dave Meltzer and leads us into what was to come next:
“Reality break folks, it goes without saying that in the ring Michaels did a super job in 1996, but however lets not rewrite history and say that Shawn’s reign was Hogan like from a business standpoint, because nothing could be farther from the truth. TV ratings collapsed in June of 1996 on Shawn’s watch, not Bret’s and reached a company all-time low for the rest of the year, and not just Monday Night ratings due to Nitro, ratings across the board. Syndication died, Shawn’s work-ethic in the ring can’t be denied, but buy-rates fell through his reign and it was during Shawn’s reign that for the first time in a decade the WWF in both pay per view & TV ratings fell to number 2 in the United States and when it came to house shows while WWF had a strong year in 1996, its two best months were February & March and who was the WWF Champion at that point Bret Hart was, the summer was good, but there was a serious decline in the fall, at which point Vince threw everything he could to get Bret back, including promising him the belt. Let’s not forget there were numerous cases of Shawn Michaels throwing unprofessional hissy fits throughout his title reign in the ring”
So I think that made Bret feel good, but at the same time things like that in the dirt sheets would be a sign of what was to come in Montreal, so at that time Shawn had said he felt as he won the war with Bret when Shawn & Taker were main eventing at the In Your House pay per views while Bret was in tag matches against The Patriot. Shawn does have a point, but Shawn & Undertaker were two of the biggest stars in the WWF at the time, the Patriot was a new gimmick, he just wasn’t that over, it just wasn’t a great storyline, when you have two superstars as opposed to just one, you’re going to put the two in the main event.
That’s the backstory now we get to Montreal itself.
The reason that it was such a big deal for Bret to not want to drop the title, was because they were Montreal, they were in Canada. Bret felt that as a hero for Canadians, he couldn’t let Shawn Michaels who had taken the Canadian flag stuck it up his nose, bashed Canadians, even on his way out to the ring at Survivor Series he had fornicated & wiped his ass with the Canadian flag, Bret knowing that, felt like the Hitman character would be done if he came up short and dropped the belt to Shawn Michaels in Canada. Bret didn’t have a problem dropping the belt to anybody, he would’ve done it for even Shawn Michaels on Raw the next night, however the problem was Bret Hart had called Eric Bischoff and gotten his WCW deal back, the same deal he had negotiated back in 1996 2.8 Million each year for 3 years. So he got his deal back, the problem was Vince didn’t want Bret to bring the belt to WCW basically that was the big fear, even though Bischoff had stated to Bret, even if you take the belt with you we can’t put it on tv, it just can’t happen because we could get sued. So Bischoff was afraid of getting sued so bringing the WWF title on television wasn’t an issue, but Vince know that, it was still too much of a risk, and I agree with Vince at that time.
I blame Vince for getting to this point, for even putting the title back on Bret. If you don’t want Bret under contract, then why are you going to make him the champion again, that’s my main issue, but at the time if I’m running a multi-million dollar corporation that’s competing with Ted Turner you got to do what you’ve got to do at that time, so I don’t blame him for taking the belt off of Bret, I just think he should have done it in a more standup way. Why didn’t he say to Bret if you go out there, I’m going to have to screw you, listen you’ve given me no choice you have to drop the belt to Shawn, if you don’t do it I’m going to screw you. So didn’t Vince say that? I think Vince was afraid of getting sued, because Bret had creative control and that’s another thing Bret had so much creative control in his contract and Bret had never had a contract like that where he had creative control. It was one of the rare occasions where the wrestler had more power then the promoter, so there’s alot to do with that.
Vince gave the line to Bret that it would be a big schmoz and while Bret was in the Sharpshooter on everyone would come down to the ring & it would end in a disqualification, the funny thing about it is Bret Hart is the one that tells Shawn how to put the Sharpshooter on, so Bret’s the one helping Shawn put the hold on him this is what make me think it could be a work, they negotiated this behind the scenes, but I don’t think its a work. If it is a work then Vince, Shawn, Bret & everyone involved deserves an academy award, they deserve oscars for making this seem so legit over the years, for the past almost 20 years now. It hasn’t came out that it was a work, I just don’t think it was, because Vince & Slaughter were at ringside telling Bret to get back in the ring. For the whole year of 1997 Vince & Bret were feuding, Bret shoved Vince down after he lost the title to Sid in the cage match. While it is a possibility, I just seriously doubt it after everything we’ve heard, such a big deal has been made about this.
The funny thing is it was Triple H, who got no heat at all when this went down, it wasn’t until about 2007 on the Heartbreak and Triumph dvd when it was revealed that Triple H was the one when he said “Fuck him. If he doesn’t want to do business then we do business for him.” Triple H and Bret Hart have never got along over that and some light has been shed on that and Bret has forgiven Vince and even forgiven Shawn to a degree, when the reality is it was Triple H who proposed the idea to him, but they were at such a war at the time, they felt they had no choice but to take the belt off of Bret.
If I had to pick one I’m more sympathetic to Bret of what happened, it was just wrong place, wrong time, did they have to be in Montreal at the time. I totally understand Bret’s point and I understand Vince for doing it. It was too much of a risk. I think it was too much of a risk to wait until the next night on Raw to drop the title. Who knows if they were in Florida or in the United States would things have been different, possibly. Bret just felt if he had came up short it would have alienated both fan bases, Bret never wanted to turn heel, he felt that all he had left was his Canadian fans & foreign fans and there’s no way he could go back to being loved by the Americans, and if he lost that match then you kill everybody, you kill both fan bases. That was his mentality and to a degree I do understand it. Bret Hart was just being hit with the perfect storm, the business was moving in a new direction, and I really think it was Shawn Michaels that forced Bret out.
It’s well documented Shawn had said to Vince that we can’t stay in the same company. Shawn even threatened to go to WCW, he said send me to WCW, because I can’t work with Bret anymore. Shawn had even taken a couple of weeks off saying it was an unsafe working environment, because Bret Hart felt like Shawn embarrassed him in front of his family with the Sunny Days comment, so Bret even said to him “You’re not just fucking with me, you’re fucking with my family. So why are you fucking with my family” then he took his hair and ripped it out and Shawn threw a hissy fit & wouldn’t come into work and said to Vince if you don’t get rid of Bret I’m going to WCW and he wasn’t paying the other guys what he was paying Bret, so it would save alot financially to get rid of Bret. I don’t think Vince’s pockets were hurting that much.
I think the reason he let Bret go was to move on with the new direction of the company and for Shawn Michaels to stay.
So that’s my in-depth look at the Montreal Screwjob.