The Montreal Screwjob remains one of the most infamous incidents in wrestling history, and a night that changed the lives of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels who were at the centre of the controversy.
Heading into Survivor Series 1997 Bret Hart agreed a deal to join WCW but he was still WWF Champion. This obviously meant that Hart needed to lose the championship before departing. However, The Hitman was less than impressed at the idea of losing the title in front of his countrymen in Montreal Canada to long-time rival Shawn Michaels.
By this stage the relationship between Hart and Michaels was completely broken down with the pair being openly hostile towards one another.
This led Vince McMahon to take matters into his own hands, and via a small number of his associates the ‘screwjob was born. In the Survivor Series main event, referee Earl Hebner called for the bell with Hart locked in a Sharpshooter from Michaels, despite the Hitman never tapping out. The incident sparked a near riot at ringside with an irate Hart spitting at McMahon. Backstage, Hart ended up punching his boss in the face.
Shawn Michaels – “It Was Hard On Both Of Us”
In the aftermath of the incident Hart didn’t speak to McMahon or Michaels for a number of years, although bridges were later mended.
Speaking during an interview with Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour, Michaels stated that he has nothing in common with the man that he was in 1997.
“When everything is said and done, that was hard on both of us,” Michaels said. “It’s like an out of body experience. I have nothing in common with the person that I was then. … Bret and I always talk about it – there was a friendship there before. There really was. And to have damaged that … and to have wanted to mend it for so many years, … we could never get it done.”
Michaels continued by reflecting on a meeting between the pair at WrestleMania.
“I always appreciate it, … he always looks at me and goes ‘We’re good. We’re good, Shawn,'” Michaels continued. “And that means a lot, because I know it’s genuine. Bret doesn’t say stuff just to say it.”
Since retiring from in-ring competition Shawn Michaels moved into a number of backstage mentoring roles, before heading up NXT where he holds the title of Senior Vice President, Talent Development Creative.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.