Fifteen years ago this month history was made and an entire pro wrestling industry changed forever. Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart at WWE Survivor Series 1997 in the most controversial finish of our generation in what is now known as the Montreal Screwjob.
Some people thought that Vince McMahon and the WWE were finished after seeing the way Bret Hart was screwed live on pay per view. Yet ironically a finish as simple as a sharpshooter submission was the catalyst for arguably the biggest boom in WWE and pro wrestling history.
Screwjob finishes weren’t so rare in the early days of pro wrestling. Pro wrestling champions were often picked on their ability to shoot in the ring or handle themselves in these kinds of predicaments. It wasn’t out of character for a territory promoter to go rogue and have their local wrestler attempt to beat the champion and go against the script. What made this one so legendary were the people involved, the soap opera leading up to the match, and the fact that millions of people have been able to watch it.
The issues between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were legendary in and out of the ring at the time. I worked for ECW as a ring announcer at the time and it was pretty common to hear some of the boys who had worked for the WWE (or WWF) talk about Bret vs. Shawn and choose sides. More often than not it was Bret Hart who had the support of his fellow wrestling brothers and sisters. Yet nobody had any idea that the biggest villain in this entire mess was the puppet master himself.
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels have both talked about their issues publicly for years. The best perspective came in 2011 when both sat down together for a ..read more