Connect with us
Montreal Screwjob
Image: WWE

Culture

25 Years of the Montreal Screwjob, the Moment that Changed Everything in Wrestling 

The 1997 Survivor Series and the Montreal Screwjob

Was the Montreal Screwjob the most important moment in the history of professional wrestling? 

One could make the case for, say, Hulk Hogan’s first world title victory, or the first or third Wrestlemania, or maybe even some seminal Attitude Era moments like the first Mick Foley world title win in 1999. But in terms of both shock and historical significance, the night Vince McMahon “screwed” Bret Hart out of the WWE championship beats everything. 

The event known as the Montreal Screwjob took place on November 9, 1997, 25 years ago today. Bret Hart, then the WWF world champion, defended the belt against his longtime rival Shawn Michaels, in what was known heading in as Hart’s final WWF match, prior to his departure to WCW. 

WWE was facing the dilemma of how to get the title off of Hart before his departure, while Hart was refusing to lose the title in his home nation of Canada. The solution? While Hart was in the sharpshooter hold, WWF head Vince McMahon called to “ring the fucking bell,” proclaiming Michaels the winner and new champion. Hart responded by throwing TV monitors, spelling “WCW” with his fingers, and spitting on McMahon; he would later, famously, punch McMahon backstage. 

Montreal Screwjob

This was hugely significant for several reasons. One, it was the end of Hart’s long run in the WWF. Two, this sort of double-crossing, while something that used to happen in indie promotions and overseas, was not something that typically happened in the WWF, much less in a world title match in the main event of a pay-per-view. 

And perhaps most importantly, the Screwjob began a new era of unpredictability and edginess for the soon-to-be-WWE, in what came to be known as the Attitude Era. And a major part of that was the introduction of Vince McMahon as an on-screen villain. Up until that point, WWE had barely acknowledged on the air that McMahon was anything besides an announcer and interviewer; soon after the Screwjob, he was “Mr. McMahon,” the all-powerful villain whose battles with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin became the stuff of wrestling legend. Less than four years after the Screwjob, WCW was out of business and McMahon had a wrestling monopoly. 

Montreal Screwjob

The story of the Screwjob has been told many times, starting with Dave Meltzer’s deeply recorded contemporary account, which may be the best-known piece of journalism in wrestling history. The events were also covered first-hand by Paul Jay’s 1998 documentary Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows, and later by the autobiographies of both Hart and Michaels. An episode in the first season of Dark Side of the Ring revisited the events and had Jim Cornette admitting that he himself had first suggested the double cross. Hart would again address it in his WWE-associated A&E Biography last year.

A quarter-century on, Hart is long-retired, although he did make an unlikely return to the company, wrestling McMahon in a Wrestlemania match, accepting Hall of Fame induction, and otherwise operating in the company’s good graces. Less in its good graces is McMahon, finally pushed out of the company following a myriad of sexual misconduct allegations. 

It’s hard to imagine what direction wrestling would have taken, though, if McMahon hadn’t rang that bell. 

  • Stephen Silver
Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and RogerEbert.com. In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

Exploring the Life and Career of Steve Perry: From Music to Personal Relationships

Celebrity

Jessica Ralston Husband Death: Tracing the Events Surrounding Her Husband’s Demise!

Celebrity

Memphis Anchor Cause of Death Revealed! How Did She Die?

Celebrity

Kim Gravel’s Journey Through Bell’s Palsy and Embracing Self-Acceptance

Celebrity

Who is Vanessa Bryant’s New Husband? The Truth About Her Current Marriage!

Celebrity

Marlena Shaw Husband: What Caused Her Death?

Celebrity

Is Annie Osgood Gay? Unveiling the Reality Behind Her Alleged Sexual Orientation!

Celebrity

Martell Holt Net Worth Martell Holt Net Worth

Martell Holt Net Worth

Culture

Rachel Maddow’s Health Update and Illness Explained

Celebrity

Is Sandra Smith Pregnant? The Latest Updates on Sandra’s Alleged Pregnancy!

Celebrity

Joni Mitchell Announces First Los Angeles Concert In 24 Years

Celebrity

Dexter Romweber Cause of Death: Exploring the Factors Contributing to His Passing!

Celebrity

Is Elisabeth Moss Pregnant? Moss Addresses Speculation About Her Pregnancy!

Celebrity

Exploring the Journey of Yasmine Bleeth: From Stardom to a Quiet Life

Celebrity

Chris and Zoe’s Relationship Update from Love Island Australia

Celebrity

Benzino Drops Another Eminem Diss

Celebrity

Connect