Gerald Brisco has recounted the conversation he had with referee Earl Hebner before the Montreal Screwjob where he ominously asked Hebner “what’s going to happen to you if you refuse?”
The Montreal Screwjob occurred at Survivor Series 1997 when Bret Hart put his WWF Championship on the line against Shawn Michaels. In one of the most infamous moments in wrestling history, Earl Hebner called for the bell to be rung after Michaels had locked Hart in his own Sharpshooter.
This was far from what Hart thought was to be the end of the match with an impasse about losing occurring due to Michaels telling Hart previously that he wouldn’t lose to The Hitman.
In the intervening two decades, much has been made of the Screwjob, and now long-time right-hand man of Vince McMahon, Gerald Brisco has discussed his own role in the events on Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard [available early and ad-free at AdFreeShows.com].
Brisco recalled taking Earl Hebner aside and laying it out as simply as he could – Hebner’s job was on the line:
“As the match was getting ready to go to the ring, Earl was getting ready to get in there. I grabbed Earl by the arm and I took him just a few steps from the Gorilla position where Bruce (Prichard) was sitting, and Davey Boy and Owen, so I couldn’t talk to him right in front of them because they would alert Bret somehow that Brisco was talking to the referee and to be aware of something.”
“So I took Earl back in a little corner and Earl did not want to do it. Earl was not going to do it. I just started laying it out in black and white to him.”
“I said, ‘Earl, you have a mortgage on your house, right? If Bret takes his title down there (WCW), and like I said, we’re not in the greatest shape financially, we being WWF, is he going to pay your mortgage? Is he going to pay your electric bill? Is he going to feed your family when he takes off and he’s down there making billions of dollars? What’s going to happen to you if you refuse to do this and I have to replace you?’”
“I went to Timmy White and asked Timmy to stand by. I told Timmy, ‘We might have a ref bump so I might need you to stand by.’ That’s how I covered it with Timmy to be on standby to referee the match just in case something happened. Timmy of course being a company man said, ‘Yea, I’ll be glad to.’ He said, ‘I hope nothing happens.’ I said, ‘Well I do too, but I might need you as a standby.’”
“So Timmy was sitting over by Gorilla [position]. Finally, I got down to brass tacks with Earl. I said, ‘Ok Earl. You have to go to the ring. You have to tell me right now. I’ve got Timmy White over there that will take your place. You know if you refuse to do it and you walk out, you’re probably finished here.”
“Now is Bret going to take you to WCW and get you a job down there? I doubt it if he’ll take you down there. You’re going to be out of the business as far as making major money with a major organization.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Brisco, I wouldn’t do it for any other guy but you.’”
“He said, ‘It’s against my judgment.’ I said, ‘It’s against my judgment too, but it’s the only choice that we have at this time. So are you going to do it or not?’ He said, ‘I’ll do it.’ I said, ‘As soon as you do that 1,2,3, I want you to grab the belt, hand it to Shawn, and just get the hell out of there. Get out of that arena as quickly and as fast as you possibly can.’”