21 years ago today, in a Canadian town called Montreal, the game changed forever.
On Nov. 9, 1997, the then WWF held their 11th annual Survivor Series pay-per-view (PPV). WCW was winning the war with Vince McMahon’s federation at that point, and he couldn’t afford to keep his champion, Bret Hart. Hart was leaving to go work for Ted Turner and Eric Bischoff before the end of the year, and needed to drop the belt. Shawn Michaels was sticking around, and was slated to be the one to win the belt from his long-time rival.
That much, everyone agrees on. Stories of how exactly what fans saw in the Molson Centre and on television came to pass vary (watch it on the award-winning WWE Network here... free to new subscribers, and then only $9.99 per month!). With Hart now back in the WWE fold and reconciled with both McMahon & Michaels, the official version is pretty much set in stone:
It’s much more interesting than that, of course. What really happened and why, when it was decided, who advocated for what approach, and other questions form the basis for much of what it is to be a wrestling fan in the 21st century. Dirt sheets and “work or shoot?” existed before what everyone now knows as The Montreal Screwjob (or Le Coup Tordu de Montréal, as the Steens call it). But they hit the mainstream when Hart spit at Vince and flipped off everyone in gorilla on this day 21 years ago.
I know my fandom changed. I highly recommend checking out Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows in addition to the WWE-sanctioned story, and there are no shortage of written versions of the tale.
So, yeah, Happy Screwjob Day!
Celebrate by sharing your experience - were you a fan in ‘97, or when did you first see it? Team Vince, or Team Bret? Do you wish we could turn back the clock and live in a pre-Screwjob world?