Jake Roberts has sensationally claimed that he once told Vince McMahon to fire Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, adding that The Kilq almost killed the entire industry.
Throughout 1996 and 1997, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were at war both inside and outside of the ring. At the time both men shared very different views on wrestling and were remarkably different personalities.
The feud which occasionally spilled over into physical violence backstage, finally came to a head at Survivor Series in 1997 with the infamous Montreal Screwjob. Desperate not to let Bret Hart head to WCW with the WWF Championship, Vince McMahon concocted a plan which saw Michaels win the title, despite Hart never submitting while trapped in the Sharpshooter.
The real-life tension between Hart and Michaels and McMahon simmered for another decade, before they eventually made peace.
One man who had a front row seat to all of the chaos was Jake Roberts. The WWE Hall of Famer returned to the company in 1996 and worked behind the scenes as well as wrestling, until being released in early 1997.
Speaking during an appearance on the Talk is Jericho podcast, with Chris Jericho, Roberts revealed that he told McMahon to fire both Hart and Michaels as they had become too much trouble.
“I used to have to sit when we were writing television when Shawn and Bret were throwing their pissy fights against each other. We would be trying to write television, and Vince would get on the phone for three hours with those two cats. Trying to get them to wrestle each other,” he said. “I said, ‘Vince, what are you doing? Fire the motherf**kers, man, tell them to hit the f**king road.’”
Roberts added that when he re-signed with the then WWF in 1996, McMahon asked him to cast his eye over the locker room, and report back any issues. ‘Jake The Snake’ said it was simple, The Kilq had too much power.
“When he brought me back in ‘96 he told me, ‘Jake, look around and see where you think the problem is.’ I said, ‘it’s real simple, man, the inmates are running the asylum, The Kliq.’ The Kliq nearly killed the business,” he said. “Everybody says how great they were, well let me tell you something, they drove it to the ground, whatever.”
Shawn Michaels remained with WWE until WrestleMania 14 in March 1998 where he retired following a serious back injury. Although he made sporadic appearances over the coming years, Michaels didn’t return to the ring until the summer of 2002.
Bret Hart wouldn’t appear with WWE again until 2006 when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.