November 9th, 1997 – Montreal, Quebec, Canada – Survivor Series 1997 – WWE Heavyweight Championship match, putting Champion Bret “the Hitman” Hart against Challenger “the Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. A feud that started after Shawn Michaels won the Royal Rumble match in 1996.
But going back to what this article is directed towards, let’s go to that cold November night up in Montreal, Quebec, and let’s discuss the main event of that evening, the WWF Championship match with Hart defending the title against Michaels.
I have heard many different stories over the past decade and a fifth since the “Screw Job,” so with the little time I have left of my summer before my fourth year of college, I decided to finish reading Bret Hart’s autobiography about his life and career in professional wrestling, look over my notes when I read Shawn Michaels’ autobiography, re-read that section, and here’s what I have for the whole thing.
The Bret Hart Argument
[adinserter block=”1″]”I’m the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be!” Was the quote that you heard Bret Hart spew out each and every time he had a chance to talk on television or any media for that matter. One of the greatest in-ring performers, arguably, due to his technical skill and his many World Championship reigns, marks Bret Hart as one of the best. I believe when doing a research article about the whole “Montréal Screwing.
Bret Hart can be compared in the WWF as the 1990’s Hulk Hogan. Why the 1990’s Hulkster? He can get the crowd into his match at any time he wanted. And in addition, Hart had the torch passed to him by Hulk Hogan when Hogan left the WWF in 1993 for WCW.
By the time of November of 1997, Bret Hart been with McMahon and the WWF for around thirteen to fourteen years. Hart then was like the Undertaker these days on being respected in the locker room for being the longest reigning wrestler working there.
After reading Hart’s book, Bret tried to make things better with him and Shawn, even going to Shawn in front of the boys and say that he’s willing to do a job for Shawn if he’s willing to do a job for Bret, and HBK didn’t return the favor, and did it with a cocky attitude, which was a slap to Hart’s face.
And in Bret’s contact, he had creative control of the storyline for his last thirty days in the WWF. By all rights, if Bret wanted to drop the title to anyone else, he had the right. If he didn’t want to drop the title to HBK that night, he didn’t have to.
The Shawn Michaels Argument
“I’m the Showstopper, I’m the Icon, I’m the Main Event!” Exclaimed Shawn Michaels during this time of wrestling history. Shawn Michaels was one cocky son-of-a-gun during this time, but looking at his talent and all the accomplishments that he had during this time, one can’t really blame him. He was the first guy to hold the WWF Heavyweight Championship, the Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship, the WWF Tag Team Championship, and the European Championship (which he currently held walking in and out of the Survivor Series 1997 in Montréal, Quebec).
As well as that, in 1994, WrestleMania X, he competed in the first Ladder match against Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental Championship. He won the 1995 Royal Rumble match entering number one. He main evented WrestleMania XI. He also won 1996 Royal Rumble match, then walked into WrestleMania XII and defeated Bret Hart in overtime in a 60-minute Iron Man match.
Shawn Michaels was the 1990’s “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, on captivating people’s attentions and his flashy wrestling style. All the ladies wanted to be with him and all the guys wanted to be him. A great way of getting fans into the sport. Shawn Michaels was also one of the first small guys as World Champion, which opened the door for today’s wrestlers. But enough of making the “Heartbreak Kid” into a ‘wrestling god,’ and let’s get into his side of the story.
Shawn, Triple H, and McMahon had conference calls every week back then, and McMahon was very hesitant on asking Shawn to swerve Bret. HBK had to volunteer, which HBK did. With the volunteering to do the mobbing of Bret Hart, Michaels will take on the heat of screwing him over, and the knowledge that he had to deny it for so many years.
Do I believe that “Bret Screwed Bret?” I do, to be very honest with you all. Bret knew McMahon’s concerns about Bret leaving for WCW with the WWF belt and dropping it into the trash on live television, and with that, it would be very hard to make the WWF Championship into what it was, the top title for the WWF and for McMahon.
[adinserter block=”2″]But if this whole situation didn’t happen, I believe that the wrestling business would be extremely different in the ways that WCW could still be around, that the WWE could have been bought by Turner. WCW could have been bought by Eric Bischoff like originally planned and could have been a real threat to WWF, I don’t know.
But thank you for reading my article. Just to say, this is a very heavily edited version of my original Screw Job article. You can find the long version up on my blog site – http://jericholic2009.blogspot.com/2009/08/later.html
This is Eric Darsie from Minnesota, still thinking of how the wrestling business could be very different if this never happened, goodbye!
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – Survivor Series 1997
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Read more about Bret Hart’s side of the story in his autobiography – Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by clicking here.
Read more about Shawn Michaels’ side of the story and his confession in his autobiography – Heartbreak & Triumph: The Shawn Michaels Story by clicking here.
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