The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

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The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Gomer » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:38 pm

This subject came up briefly in our post-jam discussion this past weekend, so I felt it relevant to bring up here. Apparently the WWE has recently released an episode of their "Monday Night Wars" series on the network that focuses on Bret Hart and what happened in Montreal back in November of '97. Now I haven't watched the episode myself, but the online buzz is that the WWE paints the whole situation in a very whitewashed, revisionist light. A light that paints Hart as unreasonable and unwilling to job, and paints Vince as the noble wrestling promoter who did what he had to do. Apparently over the years this abbreviated version has become the de facto story, especially to younger fans who weren't privy to the goings-on of the business in the late 90s.

The following is an article from a recent version of The Observer by Dave Meltzer. For those not familiar with him, Meltzer is a long time sports journalist who has been covering pro wrestling (among other sports) since the mid-80s. If you want to read about his credentials then head over to his Wikipedia page for some background. The following article is a long read, but super interesting - especially if you never knew (or just plain forgot) many of the finer points of this historic event. Incoming wall of text...
I saw the Monday Night War episode on Bret Hart that aired on 9/16 just because I wanted to see how the thing was portrayed. The funny thing is the real story is far more interesting than the version portrayed. They wanted to portray it simply as Bret Hart was leaving and refused to do the job on the way out, and Vince did what he had to do. In time, that simplistic version has taken over as the reality, since it’s easy to digest and paints McMahon as completely in the right.

I’d seen other episodes and as someone who lived through it and through the entire evolution of the business, the entire narrative of evil Ted vs. undermanned but smarter Vince was annoying just because in a free enterprise world, evil Ted did nothing Vince didn’t do, and really did far less in the 80s. Plus, the overemphasis on Ted Turner, who may have spent five minutes a year thinking about the wrestling business, and underplaying of Eric Bischoff has, if anything, gotten even worse over time. If Turner really wanted to beat Vince McMahon as bad as they said, he could have done so in 1989 by simply raiding every top star Vince had when their deals were up. In reality, WCW was put on a small budget and told to make money.

Every idea, from going live in prime time, or late going head-to-head, were things Jim Herd and Bill Watts wanted to do and were turned down. Their jobs were to balance the budget, and keep in mind, this was a budget where zero revenue was listed for television rights fees, which meant they had to break even on house shows, merch and PPV alone. Watts even came close to pulling it off, but alienated the talent in doing so with all the budget slashing. If they were given in the budget television rights fees of even $8 million a year, Herd would have run a profitable company and Watts would have had an even more profitable company.

Bischoff was given an open checkbook, and the green light to really have a chance to win and all the weapons to do so. He failed because he presented a product that turned off much of his audience, and because he had no understanding that in wrestling, the present doesn’t last forever and playing a pat hand for too long is death. Or at least was in the old business, which didn’t have the guaranteed cushion on television money. Today, the old rules don’t apply.

In addition, every episode has so much repeated material. I can see liking it if you didn’t live through it and were willing to accept a babyface vs. heel portrait of a wrestling war instead of the reality where both sides were trying to cut the others’ throats constantly and one side eventually collapsed because they didn’t prepare for any future and lost complete touch with their fan base, while the other was in touch with theirs.

They attempted to not bury Hart personally, because he’s one of the legends they bring out when needed. But they left out all the details that would give one a perspective of what really happened. They talked about the Michaels’ knee injury and told the story that Hart thought Michaels created the fake knee injury to avoid dropping the title to him. In actuality, Michaels was booked to lose to Sycho Sid on a live TV special in Lowell, MA (which was also the beginning of the Dwayne Johnson backlash when they had him beat HHH for the IC title less than three months after his debut and it was way early and the fans turned on him after being completely behind him as the new young star up to that point), not Hart. He showed up that day, and claimed a career ending knee injury and gave the lost my smile promo and handed Vince the belt and refused to even lose in his “last career match.”

Of course, he was back two months later, without having surgery, and as good as ever. What he also missed was WrestleMania, where he was going to lose to Hart, but the title match by that point was Undertaker beating Sid. Ratings were down and Vince at the time blamed it on pushing smaller guys, so he went with the big guys in the title match, and Mania that year did 237,000 buys. Of course, it also started the turnaround since the Hart vs. Austin I Quit match that turned Austin babyface was on that show.

In the discussion of Montreal, not one talking head was balanced. They were all the idea that Hart was going to leave without dropping the title, which was never the case. McMahon portrayed it as if he was doing Hart a favor and actually swerving Bischoff in allowing Hart to go. And McMahon was the catalyst when he told Hart to see if he could get the Bischoff deal. The simple part of the story is Hart was vocally negative about the direction of the company, and Hart and Michaels had gotten toxic.
Hart was also making $1.5 million a year, about double Undertaker and Michaels and even more than that compared to Austin. Times were still tough for WWF, although they were just starting to break even due to a change in PPV philosophy and upping the price. But at the time, McMahon felt that if Hart was around at $1.5 million a year, that Undertaker, Michaels and eventually Austin would want the same guarantee. McMahon also saw that Hart wasn’t the future. Whether at that point he thought the future was Michaels, or Austin, isn’t clear, although when he laid out booking scenarios to Hart if he were to stay, by that point it was clear he felt it was Austin. Hart got a better deal, even though he didn’t want it because he had no faith in WCW. In hindsight, he was right about that.

But they never mentioned that the contract gave Hart the power that in the last 30 days, it was not a boss/employee relationship, but a collaboration, the creative control clause was that both sides had to agree on all booking. This is where the Paul Heyman talking head of “Vince is the boss,” falls apart, because it was in the contract both had to agree. And it’s not like Heyman, in running a company, didn’t constantly have to negotiate finishes to his talent. That’s just how the business was in that era. It had its good and bad points. It was harder to book shows, but the superstars had an easier time staying larger than life because they protected themselves on finishes, particularly, on television.

Vince wanted Hart to lose the title in Montreal to Michaels. Hart wanted to lose to Austin in the U.S. Neither would agree. Lawyers were involved. They came up with one scenario after another to get Hart to lose to Michaels in Montreal, and he said that with the nature of the feud with Michaels, he was not going to go into Montreal without the belt and would lose the belt outside of Canada. He even agreed to lose to Steve Lombardi in Madison Square Garden, which was a week later. The part that Vince Russo in his talking head piece didn’t mention, and Paul Levesque of course didn’t mention, was that Vince came up with a solution, or at least he thought, where Hart would beat Michaels clean in Montreal and then Hart would drop it clean to Michaels at the following PPV. It was only after Michaels refused that scenario (Michaels never talked about it publicly until once, in an interview with Rob Feinstein, the question was thrown at him, he acted stunned, but admitted that it happened and that HHH insisted to him that he was not to lose to Hart).

At that point, Vince was in a bad position because he’d given Hart a scenario he’d agreed to, and then Michaels nixed it. Hart knew that, which only made him more adamant about not losing to Michaels. The compromise, and this was the scenario the night before that McMahon presented in the production meeting, and that Hart had agreed to, was that there would be a non-finish in Montreal, and on the next PPV, there would be a four-way with Michaels, Hart, Undertaker and Ken Shamrock. It would be an elimination match, so Hart would lose cleanly in his last night in, to either Undertaker or Shamrock. Hart had great respect for Undertaker, and Hart personally recruited Shamrock to WWF. The point being is that Hart considered Shamrock almost a protégé, since Shamrock even trained in Calgary for his WWF debut in Hart’s camp under Leo Burke and he’d have had no problems losing to either one on the way out. Given who the two were, that should have been obvious, but tensions were high and I don’t know that anybody was truly thinking straight. Whoever beat Hart for the fall would have then lost the final fall clean to Michaels. Vince gets Michaels as champion, which was important because Michaels was absolutely the best guy to hold the belt to drop it to Austin at Mania the next year, since Austin was surpassing both Hart and Michaels as the top guy by that time.

The main reason Hart had the problem with Michaels is that when Vince had first told Hart the long-term plan was to get the title to Michaels, which he didn’t oppose at first, and Hart told Michaels he was fine losing to him, Michaels came back and said he was happy he said it but that he wasn’t willing if asked, to return the favor. It’s hard to believe he said that, but he actually said it on two different occasions. This came shortly after Michaels had gotten the finish of the European title match with Davey Boy Smith changed in a U.K. match, as Smith was going to beat Michaels to retain his title. The office booked it that way largely to prove to the locker room Michaels would lose a big match because so many guys were mad, because Michaels had publicly talked in the locker room about how he doesn’t do jobs. Smith had then dedicated the match on television to his sister, who was dying of cancer. Then, the night of the show, they came to Smith and said that they were switching the title, with the idea of building a huge rematch on a U.K. only PPV early the next year where he’d beat Michaels. This came in the dressing room just before the match and he couldn’t even tell his sister beforehand that he was losing, and she did not take it well. I know this sounds silly today over a “fake” wrestling match but it was a different business then. You want to know how much heat Michaels had. In that period, there were two wrestlers I had to talk out of fighting with Michaels (neither of which was Hart, because he and I weren’t on speaking terms at that time), because I told them it wasn’t worth losing your job over, and both were guys who would have been fired in an instant for it. This was well before Hart was leaving.

Most champions of that era under those circumstances would have outright refused to drop the title to a guy who told them to their face twice that they wouldn’t return the favor if asked. Michaels, on the documentary, did say he crossed the line with the “Sunny Days” comment, which was a catalyst for a lot of problems. It was that comment that led to their backstage fight. Michaels, then single, now married, said if someone would have said that on TV about him, he’d have immediately punched them in the mouth.

Levesque’s comments from a 2007 interview were notable because there were all the outright falsehoods in the narrative, the idea Hart’s contract was to expire in Montreal and that he may have gone on Nitro the next day holding the belt if they didn’t beat him that night. He claimed Hart shouldn’t have just vacated the title. And he was right. Given the circumstances of the time, it was imperative to Vince that Hart lose the title in the ring. Hart and his lawyers suggested various options to do so. Not dropping the belt in the ring was never an issue in real life, only one created after the fact to justify the decision.

However, Hart did suggest not dropping the title in the ring hours before the match with Michaels, claiming so much had gotten out in the media, and just handing it over, as Michaels had done the prior February. McMahon agreed, although by that time he’d have agreed to anything Hart said because he was trying to get him to let his guard down. But the wheels were in motion and plan was in place before Hart made that suggestion. At the point the plan was in place, everyone was under the idea that the title change would be in Springfield. But there was a lot of uneasiness just because they were in a wrestling war and their champion had signed a contract with the opposition. Vince wanted it off him immediately and the pressure had caused everyone, from McMahon to Michaels to Hart, to end up at odds with each other. Hart was under contract for more than three weeks after the Montreal match. It only turned out to be his last match because after being double-crossed, he quit. Even though he didn’t come to his bookings the next three weeks, he got paid in full his last $85,000 or so that was still owed.

Bischoff had agreed to let Hart stay an extra week after his contract expired so Hart could drop the title on the following PPV, in Springfield, MA. There was an outstanding lawsuit and it had been established in one case (when Flair used the WCW belt on WWF television in 1991) and there was a legal action going on over a second case (Madusa throwing the WWF women’s belt in a garbage can) to where it was clear a title belt was the company’s intellectual property. There was no possible way at that point in time, that such a scenario could happen. He had a valid WWF contract and the belt was established in court cases as the intellectual property of the promotion, not the temporary property of the champion. Plus, if Hart was to be on Nitro the next day, why wasn’t he on Nitro the next day? If anything, what happened in Montreal should have made it more likely, not less likely, he’d show up there. Even 17 years later, people still use that story that could not have legally happened because if it could have, you think it wouldn’t have?

Even after the contract ended up breached in Montreal, it still didn’t happen, and at that point, you could at least make a legal argument it could have. The reason it didn’t was because he was under WWF contract for several more weeks. Hart didn’t even appear on Nitro until mid-December, even though the quicker he was on Nitro, the better it would have been to capitalize on the Montreal finish. As it played out, it did benefit Hart, except WCW totally dropped the ball on Hart and his value in the Canadian market.

But any study of the Montreal finish that ignores the contract, ignores Michaels refusing to put Hart over, and still pushes the idea that Hart could have showed up with the belt the next night on Nitro is not just showing a WWE bias but being completely dishonest. Vince McMahon was put in a tough situation and as fate would have it, the path he chose benefitted him in the long run, in ways nobody could have ever possibly figured ahead of time. But there were options, and creating the idea that there weren’t any wasn’t true.
Even years later I absolutely love reading about this. It's like the JFK assassination of the pro wrestling world. I've always been a huge Hart fan and felt he got a very raw deal in this scenario. But even Hart himself in recent years has gone on record accepting his share of responsibility for the whole event (not claiming it was entirely his fault, but merely acknowledging how he could've handled things differently). Still, it's refreshing to read about stuff like this from a less biased perspective - especially since the WWE is the only game in town these days and can spin things however they want. After all, "history is written by the victors" is it not?

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Re: The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Metal Lord » Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:08 pm

What I find most entertaining about this whole scenario is what a big deal Vince and Hart make of a "fake" title. Don't get me wrong as I am/was a big wrestling fan (it's still real to me damn it!) but both their egos are so huge that they just couldn't part ways. I know there was some contract stuff there involving creative say but ultimately I kind of side with Vince on this one. Your champ is leaving to another organization and you want him to lose the title before he exits. OK. Do what the boss wants. It is his company. His money on the line. Even if Hart was staying with the WWF, if Vince wants someone else to marque the company I think that is ultimately his choice and Hart should be obligated to "lose" to whomever Vince chooses whenever Vince chooses. Am I missing something here that I am siding with The Man?

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Re: The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Gomer » Wed Nov 12, 2014 5:14 pm

Metal Lord wrote:I know there was some contract stuff there involving creative say but ultimately I kind of side with Vince on this one. Your champ is leaving to another organization and you want him to lose the title before he exits. OK. Do what the boss wants. It is his company. His money on the line. Even if Hart was staying with the WWF, if Vince wants someone else to marque the company I think that is ultimately his choice and Hart should be obligated to "lose" to whomever Vince chooses whenever Vince chooses. Am I missing something here that I am siding with The Man?
I hear you on that. The big problem here is the whole "creative control" thing - I can't think of a single instance when a wrestler had creative control over their character and it ended up being a positive thing. In this scenario Vince is allowing his two biggest stars (who hate each other on a personal level) to call shots on how their matches go. Hart at the very least had it in his contract that he was allowed to do so during his last 30 days - who knows about Michaels.

Perhaps I'm being blinded by my loyalty to Hart here, but there's several reasons why I sympathize with him in this scenario. Note that I don't presume to have any inside knowledge of the situation, I'm simply going off of various sources I've read over the years and am accepting them at face value:

- I would agree with you on the "Your champ is leaving" point, except Hart didn't want to leave the WWF, Vince asked him to pursue a deal with the competition (competition which, at the time, was killing the WWF in ratings/buyrates) because of financial hardship. In fact, Hart had just the year prior turned down a lucrative deal with WCW in favor of a long-term contract with the WWF that would have him working more dates for less money. He had built his career in the WWF and wanted to end it there. It's not like he was selling out to WCW, he was being asked to leave because his current boss couldn't live up to the contract he was under.

- If Vince really was reeling from financial hardship and needed Hart out, why the hell didn't he take the title off of him before giving him permission to negotiate with WCW? If you take the title out of this picture then a lot of this drama goes away. Not because the people involved hate each other any less, but because the competition can't go on television the next night and say "we signed the WWF champ to our promotion." I think that's what the big stink regarding the title was about for Vince. For Hart, I don't think he cared about being the champ, I think he just didn't want it to go to Michaels, which leads me to my next point:

- For some reason Vince insisted it had to be Shawn in Montreal. Yeah it's kind of silly for Hart to say "I won't lose to so and so in my own home country, I'm a national hero." But I think there's an emotional component here that people often overlook. By many accounts that I've read over the years, at this point in the 90s Shawn Michaels was a notorious douche behind the scenes. He and Hart had huge egos and huge personal issues with one another that were well known thanks to this newfangled technology called "the internet." As this article pointed out, Shawn had used his influence with McMahon to get outcomes to matches switched in his favor in the past. On top of that, he'd flatly told Hart on previous occasions that he wasn't going to put him over at all - who's not doing what's good for business now? So putting myself in Hart's shoes here - I'm being asked to put over a guy I hate on a personal level, who has been a huge asshole to me and others in the locker room behind the scenes, has demonstrated he isn't interested in doing what's good for the business but is only concerned with himself and my contract states I have the power to opt out if I don't like it? You bet your ass I'm gonna opt out, fuck him! I think when people say things like "The boss wanted it done, so you do it" are overlooking this point. It's easy to sit back and say "he should've manned up and done what's best for business" but if you put yourself in the position Hart was in, I think you'd be hard pressed to just roll over and let Michaels win in this scenario.

Certainly Hart isn't without fault here. He didn't want to drop the title before Montreal because he wanted to go into that PPV a hero in his home country - yeah kinda lame. Supposedly he felt this way because that was how the PPV had been hyped up to that point and he didn't want to alienate the fans by changing the main event at the last minute - but meh, I think he could've easily dropped it (to anyone) before then and they could've worked some angle for the PPV that still involved him, just not as the champ. But it's not like he stonewalled and insisted that he keep the title until the bitter end of his run either. He presented McMahon with several different scenarios that he found acceptable (one of which apparently Vince was on board with, but Shawn nixed the idea - now none of them are doing what's good for business) but for whatever reason, Vince insisted it be Shawn in Montreal. There are so many egos at play and emotions running high at this point that I suspect none of the parties involved are thinking straight.

Ultimately, I understand the need to get the title off of Hart and have it be done in the ring (not forfeited or any nonsense like that). I just disagree with the way it was handled. Certainly there was a better alternative than screwing over a loyal employee who had made you and your company millions of dollars over the course of 14 years?

At the end of the day everyone involved was being pretty silly and unreasonable about the whole thing, and everyone else is going to have their own opinion on who was right, who was wrong, etc. I guess it doesn't really matter anymore as all parties involved have long since buried the hatchet and moved on. I just think it's fascinating how it all played out, and how people still talk about it almost 20 years later.

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Re: The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Metal Lord » Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:59 am

Gomer wrote: ....I'm being asked to put over a guy I hate on a personal level, who has been a huge asshole to me and others in the locker room behind the scenes, has demonstrated he isn't interested in doing what's good for the business but is only concerned with himself and my contract states I have the power to opt out if I don't like it? You bet your ass I'm gonna opt out, fuck him! I think when people say things like "The boss wanted it done, so you do it" are overlooking this point. It's easy to sit back and say "he should've manned up and done what's best for business" but if you put yourself in the position Hart was in, I think you'd be hard pressed to just roll over and let Michaels win in this scenario.
Guess I wasn't considering that point much. I guess a contract is a contract so you have to honor it. Vince gave him creative control so set your ego aside Mr. McMahon and let this dude do his thing, You agreed to it.
Gomer wrote: ....Certainly there was a better alternative than screwing over a loyal employee who had made you and your company millions of dollars over the course of 14 years?
This is probably the main point here. Hart was told things would happen a certain way and they didn't hence the screw job. The whole thing is silly but yeah Harts loyalty was put through the ringer. But at the end of the day business is business. Fuck I don't know. The whole this is entertaining anyway.

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Re: The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Gomer » Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:43 am

Metal Lord wrote:Fuck I don't know. The whole this is entertaining anyway.
Absolutely. I think the moral of this story is that giving creative control to a pro wrestler is poison for the business. Take away creative control from all parties in this scenario and Shawn can't call any shots, Bret can't call any shots, only Vince and his booking team can call shots - this whole situation goes away.

And just look at what happened to WCW a few years after this. Half the top tier roster had "creative control" clauses and/or outright booking power that allowed them to run roughshod over the whole organization. This is the reason why the main event matches almost always sucked and ended in cheesy DQ-finishes, and why the talented mid-card guys always stayed buried. Creative fucking control. Certainly not the only reason WCW imploded, but definitely a contributing factor.

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Re: The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Asshander » Thu Nov 13, 2014 2:06 pm

As a complete aside, am I the only one who had trouble following the actual article? Either it was too early and my brain wasn't working, or Meltzer needed to rewrite it to make things flow better.

Regardless, some interesting tidbits that I've either long since forgot or never knew, such as McMahon pushing Bret to sign with WCW. No clue! (Or, again, forgotten.) And then the 30 days creative control bit was interesting, too.

Also agree that Bischoff didn't know what he was doing and was a big reason why WCW failed. I mean, if nothing else, he brought in Russo who had long since stopped writing good stuff (assuming you believe he was writing good stuff to begin with). Not to say Bischoff didn't improve things or have good ideas, because he certainly did, but he lacked long-term vision and experience in the business. At the very least, I remember Bret coming in and the whole deal not being as over as it should/could have been. Big negative there.

Related to all of this, do you guys remember Jean-Pierre Lafitte? Was a wrestling pirate among other things (Quebecers). He left WWF on bad terms because Diesel was able to get Vince to change the booking and completely change the outcome of a big match for him. Further cementing the idea that letting the talent make decisions--or talk you into them--is a bad thing.

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Re: The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Gomer » Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:32 pm

Asshander wrote:As a complete aside, am I the only one who had trouble following the actual article? Either it was too early and my brain wasn't working, or Meltzer needed to rewrite it to make things flow better.
It did kind of come off as a first draft, or possibly even a post to an online forum. Maybe it wasn't the final draft, I simply copy/pasted from someone else who found it online.
Asshander wrote:Also agree that Bischoff didn't know what he was doing and was a big reason why WCW failed. I mean, if nothing else, he brought in Russo who had long since stopped writing good stuff (assuming you believe he was writing good stuff to begin with). Not to say Bischoff didn't improve things or have good ideas, because he certainly did, but he lacked long-term vision and experience in the business. At the very least, I remember Bret coming in and the whole deal not being as over as it should/could have been. Big negative there.
Dude right off the bat - Hart vs. Hogan in a program together - that's a no brainer! That should've been a feud that was built up over several months and featured as the main event of a marquee PPV. Instead they gave it away for free on a Nitro just to win ratings for a single week, and IIRC it ended with a non-finish DQ ending. Completely unsatisfying.

Another no-brainer feud was Hart vs. Sting. I believe these two did a small program together, but I don't recall it being very memorable. How the hell do you make Hart vs. Sting forgettable? WCW found a way.
Asshander wrote:Related to all of this, do you guys remember Jean-Pierre Lafitte? Was a wrestling pirate among other things (Quebecers). He left WWF on bad terms because Diesel was able to get Vince to change the booking and completely change the outcome of a big match for him. Further cementing the idea that letting the talent make decisions--or talk you into them--is a bad thing.
I recall seeing him in exactly one PPV in the mid-90s (as a pirate, incidentally during a feud with Bret Hart) and the story you tell here sounds vaguely familiar. Sounds like the guy got totally hosed by The Kliq in the mid-90s, along with other guys like Shane Douglas, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Chris Candido. Bottom line - never let the inmates run the asylum.

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Re: The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Gomer » Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:40 pm

In an odd coincidence, Sports Illustrated has released a brand new article this week with Bret Hart discussing the Montreal Screwjob 17 years out:

http://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2014/11 ... l-screwjob

There's not a whole lot of new information in there, but it's still an interesting read. Hart does go into detail about what happened in the locker room immediately following the match - in particular the scuffle involving himself and McMahon. Highly amusing. :lol:

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Re: The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Gomer » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:08 am

Now 21 years later! Time flies.

Think I've mentioned this to a few of you before, but this is a video of Jim Cornette giving his rundown of the Montreal Screwjob. Cornette was on the WWF creative team at the time, so he was privy to a lot of the backstage drama that occurred during this era. This is probably the most unbiased take I've ever heard on the situation from someone in the know, as he basically shits on everyone involved:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0a0LCgL79o

I post this not only because he has a great perspective on this incident and the industry in general, but also because he has this way of telling stories about the business that are thoroughly entertaining. I highly recommend checking out some of his other shoot interviews on YouTube, they're pretty hilarious (and many of them intersect with time periods when we were active fans).

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Re: The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Metal Lord » Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:57 pm

Man that dude can talk and talk and talk. Before I knew it I had listened to 3 episodes and I don't think he ever took a breath. But good WWE history lessons.

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Re: The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Gomer » Thu Feb 20, 2020 2:01 pm

22+ years later! And still a hot topic that many wrestling fans love to discuss.

I've posted before about Jim Cornette and his unique perspective/storytelling style of the wrestling business. The following link is of him giving perhaps the most in depth discussion of the Montreal Screwjob I've ever heard:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVKnkHi3zF4

Fair warning: it is long. Very long. 3 hours long. It's a compilation of several different podcasts he did where he discussed the entire situation in great detail. At one point he has Dave Meltzer on the show and the two of them compare notes on what happened. They cover minute details that led up to the event, who knew what and when, and how the aftermath changed the pro wrestling business forever.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit: Cornette comes clean and reveals that he is the one who came up with the screwjob idea, as well as how to pull it off. His claim is that it was more of a "hypothetical" scenario that he laid out to Vince somewhat sarcastically/in jest after much time had been spent unsuccessfully trying to placate all parties with a finish that was acceptable to everyone. He further claims that he had no clue that Vince would run with the idea, and didn't know what the actual match finish was going to be until he saw the spot unfold live during the PPV.

Of course, this is 100% Cornette's point of view so take it for what it's worth, but I've watched enough shoot interviews of this guy to get the feeling that he's being honest about everything here. Meltzer backs him up on a lot of the information as well, which IMO gives everything that was stated a bit more credibility.

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Metal Lord
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Re: The Montreal Screwjob - 17 years later

Post by Metal Lord » Thu Feb 27, 2020 6:52 pm

Can't believe this was ever such a big thing. I guess it was Brett who made it what it is; crying about it so much. Like he was so wronged. It's wrestling. It's all scripted and you're an actor to the directors' whim. In listening to most of this clip it seems getting screwed over is just part of the business, at least way back in the day. I mean the dude was leaving, so what, just massive egos butting heads. And I think the only reason this persists is the name it got, Montreal Screw Job.

All that being said, this topic is still so much fun to talk about and hear stories about how it unfolded. It's still real to me damn it :lol:

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