15 years ago this Friday on November 9, 1997 in the main event of the Survivor Series at the Molson Center in the Canadian province of Quebec, World Wrestling Federation owner Vince McMahon backstabbed defending champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart to ensure that “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels would win the belt in a notorious match dubbed “The Montreal Screwjob.”
Roughly a week prior to the authentic incident, a then 40-year-old Hart, a five-time WWF titlist who was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, signed a three-year contract worth $2.5 million annually with rival promotion WCW.
With WWF still struggling financially and attempting to overcome the stigma of a massive steroid controversy, McMahon was determined to prevent Hart from vacating his organization as a champ.
Therefore, McMahon, Michaels, referee Earl Hebner and a host of other underlings conspired to guarantee that Hart would lose and “The Heartbreak Kid” would exit the squared circle as a victorious titleholder.
In their third and final championship contest, a then 32-year-old Michaels placed the 6-foot-1, 234 pound Hart in the Sharpshooter submission hold.
As was secretly planned without Hart’s knowledge, Hebner jumped from the canvas and shouted to the timekeeper “Ring the bell!”
Although “The Hitman” had not submitted, McMahon forcefully elbowed the timekeeper and screamed “Ring the fucking bell!”
With Michaels’ theme music blaring amidst the catcalls of thousands of legitimately enraged Canucks, Hebner and “The Heartbreak Kid” ran like Jamaican sprinters from the ring as small rioting erupted throughout the sports and entertainment complex.
After initially being shocked by the scheming, Hart regained his footing, coldly stared at McMahon, and spat directly in his kisser.
Wisely, McMahon retreated and Hart proceeded to violently destroy cameras, monitors and other ringside equipment.
Still seething, “The Hitman” stopped his rampage and approached the back.
Hart warned McMahon and, after some expletives were exchanged, then knocked the CEO onto Queer Street with a powerful uppercut.
McMahon’s sandbagging ultimately launched the “Attitude Era” and helped the WWF regain its popularity.
Following years of mutual rancor, Hart and McMahon finally reconciled and “The Hitman” was inducted into the company’s Hall of Fame in April 2006.
Somewhat similarly, Hart and Michaels, who absolutely detested each other and physically fought backstage on two separate occasions prior to the fiasco, publicly resolved their host of issues during a live January 2010 edition of Monday Night Raw.
“The Montreal Screwjob” forever altered the course of WWF history and the betrayal remains infamous despite having occurred more than a decade past this week.by