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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Montral Screwjob.
Vince McMahon vs Bret Hart
by Larry Watson


Bret Hart was one of the greatest champions to ever grace the squared circle. He was the last true "hero" in the wrestling business. It didn't have to end like this.

Vince McMahon had fallen on hard times. He was struggling to keep his head above water to keep the WWF afloat but he did not want to lose the Hitman. He signed him to a 20 year contract at one million per year. It was an outlandish figure for McMahon to try to live up to at the time but WCW was offering him 3 million per year. Bret did not want to go to WCW, he was loyal to the WWF.

About 6 months into the contract Vince made a phone call to Bret. He asked him if he still thought that he could get the deal with Bischoff and WCW because Vince was having a really rough time keeping his head above water. Bret said that he would see what he could do about getting that contract with WCW. Bret made the deal and off to WCW he was.but there was a problem. He was still the WWF Federation Champion. They had to get the belt off of him before he left for WCW.

He was scheduled to meet Shawn Michaels in Montreal at the Survivor Series for the WWF Title. Vince wanted him to drop the title that night and Bret did not want to. Since Bret had creative control in the last 30 days of his contract he was well within his rights to refuse. He told Vince he would lose the title the next night to Shawn and be off to WCW. The plan was set.

Bret arrived in Montreal with an uneasy feeling. He went to talk with Vince one more time about the finish of the match. This time he was wired with a microphone. He was told that the match would end with Triple H running in and Shawn would be DQ'ed in the match. That was the finish that Bret had wanted and then he would drop the title to Shawn the next night on Raw.

It's Showtime!!

The time of the big match was at hand. Shawn and Bret went out to the ring that night and had a great match. The way that the match was supposed to end was Shawn gets Bret in the Sharpshooter and Bret reverses it and Triple H runs in for the save.

Well Shawn got Bret in the Sharpshooter and Vince, who was conveniently at ringside, yelled at Mark Yeaton to, "Ring the bell, ring the damn bell!!!" Yeaton did as he was told and rang the bell. Both competitors jumped up and gave Vince a look of disbelief and right then and there Bret realized that he had been screwed. Shawn got out of the ring to confront McMahon saying, "No way! No f&*king way I'm taking the title", Vince told him to take the title or else. Shawn left and Bret just glared down at Vince. He then spit on him from the ring and Vince got out of the area. Bret destroyed $20,000 worth of camera equipment and went to the back, enraged.

He searched out Vince and found him in his office. The next time we see Bret his knuckles are swollen. He says that he found McMahon and, "decked him. I hit him as hard as I could". Vince is shown staggering out of his office with his son Shane in tow.

Vince said that Hart didn't do the right thing and that being doing the job to Michaels at Survivor Series. He still maintains to this day that he didn't screw Bret, he says that Bret screwed himself.

Bret went off to WCW and recently announced his retirement from wrestling.
Sebastien Ferland wrote:
During the 1997 Survivor Series, we all saw what happened. We just weren't let in on the secret.

Neither were the Superstars.

At the end of the fight, Shawn Michaels managed to lock Bret Hart in the Sharpshooter. Hart refused to submit and tap out, so he started to reverse the hold. However, a hasty Earl Hebner (head referee) signaled the end of the match, the bell rang, Hebner quickly got out of the ring. Both wrestlers were left wondering what had happened. Vince McMahon, sitting at ringside, got up and was showing Michaels to the belt, but all this without a smile. He knew full well what was happening.

Michaels, looking infuriated, grabbed the belt and proceeded very quickly outside the ring area. But Hart had a blank expression, which turned to anger very quickly. He then snorted and spat in Mr.McMahon's face.He also seemed to point at him, saying some words of hatred.

With cameras off the air, Bret Hart continued his rampage, and proceeded to break several monitors on the announce tables. He later climbed back into the ring, and pointed at the cameras (which were still taping, but not live) and mimicked the letters "W-C-W".

No one knew at the time, but Bret Hart had discussed with Vince McMahon his newly signed contract with World Championship Wrestling, who were in those days the biggest competitor to WWE-then WWF. The Monday Night Wars between Raw and Nitro were ongoing, and for Bret to move to the competition was a hard blow to the WWE, although not one that would make or break it.

The time-honored tradition was that whoever has a title and leaves the company, that person must reliquish the title to someone else, helping in 2 ways: passing the so-called "torch" to a new wrestler who has proven himself, and not giving up huge ratings because that person leaves on a high note to enter a competitor's arena as Champion. Bret Hart wanted to keep the title, win his last match.

Vince, therefore, screwed Bret.

However, what no one knew until recently was that this is EXACTLY what Vince wanted us all to think. In a brilliant move, Vince "screwed" Bret Hart out of his title in his final match in WWE. This was to be his last match anyway, so Vince must have seen this as an opportunity to step on someone else's shoulders to make his way to the top. In this bold move, Vince McMahon became a heel, or villain. In the eyes of everyone, Vince McMahon became the person that everyone wanted to beat up, that everyone wanted to boo, but at the same time, this also boosted WWE ratings tremendously. No one knew, no one except Vince.

After endless weeks of being the underdog in the ratings, Vince found one amazing, ingenious way to pull himself at the top: he made himself the archvillain, the devil himself, in the eyes of every fan. As we all know, you can't have a villain without someone wanting to stop him. Someone with a good heart, a "babyface" in the wrestling language. It was only a matter of time, until someone came along and did what every single one of us dreamed of doing:

Stone Cold Steve Austin gave a Stone Cold Stunner to Vince McMahon.


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