Three simple words create what is arguably the most controversial moment in wrestling history – the Montreal Screwjob.
Occurring at the 1997 Survivor Series pay-per-view, the conclusion to Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels’ WWF Championship headliner saw ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ apply Hart’s own Sharpshooter on ‘The Hitman’. Moments after it was cinched in, referee Earl Hebner called for the bell, signifying the title change and thus beginning a years-long tension between Bret Hart and WWE management.
He ultimately returned to the promotion, accepting his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, and returned to the ring in 2010. At the time, however, an incident of this magnitude was unthinkable and set the sports entertainment giant en route to the Attitude Era.
Jim Ross Shoots On Backstage Atmosphere Following The Montreal Screwjob
Speaking exclusively to Inside The Ropes’ Kenny McIntosh during a past live event, WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross commented on what the atmosphere was like backstage in the days following the infamous moment. At the time, Ross was serving as WWE’s Head of Talent Relations, leaving the roster with a clear door to leave if they so wished:
“Well, first of all, regarding people wanting to walk out. I knew that would last maybe one pay period and [then] they’ll come back. And I told everybody, ‘You want to go home, go home. Not a problem. No, you won’t be penalised’. Because why would I want them in our lives [or] there in our locker room, raising hell about what happened to Bret at Survivor Series, whether I agree or not agree about the decisions made?
But here’s what I did, Kenny. I used this old adage, I told them all the truth. You tell people the truth, you ain’t got to worry about what you tell them. Ten years is nothing, you got to worry about you tell them [now]. Tell the Goddamn truth. And of course, they’ll […] if you can’t handle the truth, that’s their fault, not yours. Give it to them, you’re clear, you’re clean.
So I tell them. I said, ‘I didn’t know it was gonna happen. it was news to me. No one informed me that this is the plan at all’. And some, mostly because I had not lied to them prior to that, some thought I was taking it too far, I couldn’t be telling the truth. I had to know, but I didn’t know. So that’s what I said, ‘If you guys are so torn up about this, you gotta go home. Let me know when your sensitivities ease and you’re able to come back to work as a wrestler’.”
The Montreal Screwjob has since been replicated on a handful of occasions, including at Survivor Series the very next year. In 1998, it would be Mankind screwed out of winning the WWF Championship as The Rock aligned himself with Vince McMahon.
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