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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Survivor Series 1997 (The Montreal Screw Job)

Today is the anniversary of probably the most talked about matches in the history of professional wrestling, the WWF Title match at Survivor Series 1997 (Gang Rulz).
The main event was champion Bret Hart defending against former champion Shawn Michaels.


1997 - Arguably the most talked about match in the history of professional wrestling takes place at the WWF Survivor Series Pay-per-view in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bret Hart, who had already signed with WCW, was double-crossed in the finish of his main event match with Shawn Michaels.

Bret Hart had signed a lucrative 20-year contract with the WWF the year before, but Vince McMahon later told him he would be unable to fulfill the terms of the deal, and for Bret to negotiate a contract with WCW. Bret did, and gave notice to WWF. As part of the agreement, WCW would not mention Hart's signing until after the Survivor Series PPV, as Hart did not want his highly anticipated match with Shawn Michaels ruined. Still, word leaked out leading into the event.

During a meeting on the afternoon of November 9th, McMahon and Hart met to discuss a finish for the Survivor Series match. McMahon wanted the belt off of Hart, fearing WCW would announce the next night on Nitro that they had signed away the WWF Champion. Hart did not want to do the job to Michaels in Montreal for a number of reasons (including personal animosity and Michaels unwillingness to do a job for Bret following Wrestlemania 12, amongst others). Hart was open to losing the belt the next night on Raw, or at Madison Square Garden later that week. McMahon and Hart agreed to a DQ finish, and that Hart would come out on Raw the next night and surrender the title, giving a farewell speech to his WWF fans and putting over the company on his way out.

Hart and Michaels put together their match with Pat Patterson. The planned finish (suggested by Patterson) was for referee Earl Hebner to be knocked out. Michaels would put Hart in a Sharpshooter, but Hart would then reverse it. Michaels would tap out, but the referee would be down and not see it. Hart would release the hold to check on the ref, then Michaels would hit him with Sweet Chin Music. A second referee would come down to count, but Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart would run down and pull the second referee from the ring, eventually leading to a disqualification finish.

Bret Hart was actually warned by Vader prior to the match to watch for a double cross, and not allow himself to be placed in submission holds or positions where he couldn't get his shoulders off the mat. Hart, who personally made sure close friend Earl Hebner was the assigned referee for the match, was not worried about a double cross. Reportedly, Hebner swore to Bret that he would never take part in something like that.

During the match, Hebner was bumped, and Michaels placed Hart in the Sharpshooter. However, Hebner got up, instead of staying "knocked out". Hebner called for the bell, with Vince McMahon (who was at ringside due to a planned earlier portion of the match where McMahon and agents were trying to get the action back into the ring during a brawl on the floor), screamed at the timekeeper to ring the bell. Hart was reversing the hold at the time this happened, and he and Michaels crumbled to the mat, with Michaels (who later admitted to being in on it) acting angry.

Earl Hebner immediately exited the ring, and ran out of the building into a waiting car. He would fly home immediately, and not appear at Raw the next night. Hart spat right in Vince McMahon's face. McMahon screamed at Michaels to take the belt and leave. Michaels, with Gerald Brisco ushering him out, took the belt, and held it up as he left (presumably under orders from Brisco). The PPV went off the air at that point. McMahon, with Pat Patterson and security surrounding him, left ringside. Bret Hart smashed several TV monitors, and Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart (who never got their cue to come in for the finish) came to the ring and calmed him down. Hart then spelled out "WCW" with his fingers to the fans before leaving the ring.

Backstage, McMahon locked himself in his office. Hart confronted Michaels, who insisted he knew nothing about it, and that he wasn't going to keep the belt. Hart gave Michaels the benefit of a doubt, and said Michaels would have his chance to prove himself by not bringing the belt out on Raw the next night. The rest of the locker room was angry, feeling McMahon lied and screwed with someone who had been with the company for over a decade, and did a lot for the WWF.

McMahon would not open his door for anyone, until The Undertaker, after putting together what had happened, pounded on his door and demanded that McMahon speak to him. Reportedly, Undertaker, the recognized leader of the locker room, told McMahon, very adamantly, that he needed to apologize to Bret Hart right then and there. McMahon went to Hart's dressing room with Sgt. Slaughter, Gerald Brisco and several others. Vince attempted to apologize, justifying his actions by saying that he couldn't take the chance of Eric Bischoff announcing the next night that WCW had signed the WWF Champion. Hart said he was going to shower, and if Vince was still there when he got dressed he would "knock him out". Hart called McMahon a liar, and when McMahon said this was the first time he lied to him, Hart rattled off a list of lies from McMahon. After Hart got dressed, he told McMahon twice more to leave, and when he didn't, a scuffle broke out and Hart knocked McMahon to the ground with a punch. Shane McMahon tried to attack Bret, and ended up in a scuffle with Davey Boy Smith, who pulled Shane off of Bret's back. As McMahon was dragged out of the dressing room, Sgt. Slaughter reportedly accidentally stepped on Vince's ankle.

Most in WWE management insisted they knew nothing about a screwjob. Many wrestlers stated they would not go to Raw the next night because of the screwjob, but with the exception of Hart's relatives (Owen, Smith, Neidhart), Mick Foley was the only wrestler to carry through on his protest. The next night on WCW Nitro, the NWO came to the ring waving Canadian flags, and sang "Oh, Canada". Michaels, despite his promise to Bret not to, came to the ring with the WWF Title belt and poked fun at Hart

Apparently the WWE has blocked all non approved video of the final part of the match so the is the best I could find

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