The Montreal Screwjob is arguably the most controversial moment in professional wrestling history – but just how difficult of a position was that for a referee to be put in?
Speaking with Inside The Ropes‘ Lead Writer Gary Cassidy, courtesy of AdFreeShows, legendary referee Mike Chioda – who was meant to play his own role in the match – would open up about the incident, and the events that led up to the shocking title change.
In being asked what he would do if in the same situation as the referee of the match, Earl Hebner, before detailing what went down that day.
“Yeah, that’s an excellent question. I really don’t know, to be honest with you. At that time, you know, I felt I was very good friends with Bret. I had a run down in that match. I was supposed to be running down on that match, but it never got to that point.
“At somewhere… I’ll tell you, like probably in the beginning of that day, Bret had came up to me – and me and Joey Marella were very good friends, and he was very good friends with Bret. We used to travel with Bret once in a while on the road too, me and Joey. And me and Joey always had a thing like, hey, you know, when you swore on your mother, you were telling the truth. You know, like people swear on their kids. So, I mean, Bret came up to me that day because he knew I had a run in a match. So he was very concerned. He knew something was going to go down. He knew something was going down and he felt it, but he didn’t think they might do it in Montreal because he was in Montreal, in Canada. And Bret’s always been a stand up guy, good family man and here comes Shawn Michaels, he was on the rise. And they seen that Shawn Michaels was going to be the top of this, you know, but Shawn didn’t want to drop strap to him at a certain point to before this.”
Chioda revealed how Bret Hart would ask him throughout the day if he had been told – or asked to do anything – which The Hitman didn’t know about, before disclosing that he knew something was amiss.
“So Bret came up to me that day and he said to me, he said, ‘Hey, Mike,’ he said, ‘Coyote,’ he goes, ‘They ask you to do anything? Did they ask you, the office, anybody, ask you to do anything during this match that I’m not aware of?’ And I said, ‘Bret, I swear on my mother, nobody’s asked me anything.’ You know, I said, ‘I feel like something’s going down because nobody’s talking to me about a lot of stuff normally, they would talk to you about a match.’ And I did see like Gerry Brisco over on the side with Earl Hebner having their little chit-chats far away in a corner somewhere, trying to just, you know, secret little meetings at times during the day – and I definitely seen that little meeting before the match went out there. So I knew something was going down.”
The long-tenured referee would reiterate how he promised Hart he knew nothing – but revealed how Hebner said the same thing.
“And then and I know Bret asked Earl Hebner the same thing, too. And Earl said, ‘I swear on my kids.’ He didn’t say anything, you know? And Bret told me he had asked Earl and he said he swore his kids. I said, ‘Well, I’m swearing on my mother.’ I said, ‘They haven’t said anything to me.’ And it’s a good thing… I don’t know what I would have done.”
Chioda would conclude with the story of what he had been told was going to happen – and what actually happened from his point of view – right alongside Owen Hart backstage.
“I was supposed to go out, run down, count a false finish, at least count to one – and behind me was Owen Hart, and he was supposed to slide in, grab me by my shirt and my back of my belt and throw me right through the second, third rope. Well, we never got to that point, and then I think, right after that, after Owen throws me out, Shawn superkicks Owen to get him out of the picture. So I come in, count, ‘One, two,’ and boom, Owen’s right behind me. S**tcans me out of the ring, turns right into Shawn Michaels superkick – and it never got to that point.
“The only thing I did is I heard a bell and I’m looking through the curtain, Owen’s behind me going, ‘What the f***? What just happened? What just happened?’ I’m kind of like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’ And then I’m looking, like, I’m looking in. Earl’s like running right out to the vom, right out of the arena, right through the crowd. He’s going right out the vom. There was a car waiting for him to take him out.
Check out the Monday Mailbag with Mike Chioda, and watch back the Hulk Hogan vs The Rock WrestleMania X8 watchalong with Mike via Patreon.com/AdFreeShows