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This Day In Wrestling History: (Nov 9): The Montreal Screwjob
Posted By: Divyan Mehta on Nov 09, 2017
In 1997, during the Monday Night Wars, WWE was struggling financially and consistently losing to WCW Monday Nitro in the ratings. WCW was in the midst of an 84-week wining streak over WWE. Ratings and profits were at an incredible low. WWE’s financial situation got so bad that Vince McMahon could no longer honour some of WWE’s current contracts. The WWE Champion, Bret Hart had negotiated a twenty-year contract with WWE for an undisclosed amount of money.
In the summer of 1997, McMahon came to Bret and declared that the company was in “financial peril.” Therefore, he wanted to terminate Bret’s contract. Both men came to an agreement in which it would appear that WCW stole Bret from WWE. In reality, Vince McMahon created the opportunity for Bret to sign a three year deal with WCW in which he would be paid three million dollars per year. With his WCW contract signed, Bret Hart’s last day in WWE was November 9th at the Survivor Series. Creative plans called for him to lose the title to Shawn Michaels in Montreal, Canada.
Pride for his country combined with personal hatred for Shawn Michaels made the request impossible for Hart. Vince McMahon is the owner of WWE and usually he has creative control of all storylines. On this occasion, Vince had a problem. In his last thirty days with WWE, Bret had a creative control clause. This meant that he and Vince had to mutually agree on the outcome of a match or storyline.
Bret however, was not willing to adhere to the creative plans for Survivor Series under any circumstances. Vince’s fear was that Bret would take the title to WCW and allow the company to make a mockery of the prestigious championship. This had happened two years earlier with the Women’s Championship.
Therefore, a plan was concocted where Shawn Michaels, Vince McMahon and Gerald Brisco (one of Vince’s associates) would take the title away from Bret. The three of them came up with a plan for a quick submission victory where Shawn would put the sharpshooter on Bret. The referee would then quickly ring the bell, ending the match prematurely. After it happened, Shawn left ringside with Gerald Brisco. Bret knew exactly what had happened and took his anger out on television equipment. Approximately, an hour after the event had ended, Vince went into the locker room and allowed Bret to strike him in the temple. He then left the arena. It would be twelve years before Bret would step into a WWE ring again.
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