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YMMV / Montreal Screwjob

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  • Americans Hate Tingle: Canadian fans hate Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, and former WWE/TNA referee Earl Hebner because of the screwjob.
  • Arc Fatigue: See Fleeting Demographic Rule on the main page. Fans are really starting to get sick of the constant rehashes, for two reasons: 1. The Montreal Screwjob, while a massively influential part of wrestling history on a grand scope, has had no direct influence or impact on any company's programming for several years aside from a couple of guest spots for the main players, hence why newer fans actually learn about this event from said rehashes; and 2. Speaking of said main players, everyone involved has long since buried the hatchet — the last two to do so were Shawn and Bret themselves, and that was all the way back in 2010, a few months before Shawn's second (and what looks to be final) retirement. Thus, the only reason why the screwjob still has any relevancy is because companies, particularly WWE, keep on insisting that it does.
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  • Broken Base: One of the ultimate ones in Professional Wrestling. If you're a wrestling fan, either you're on Bret's side and see Shawn and/or Triple H and/or Vince as the lowlifes who crossed a line that never should have been crossed and ruined a man's life/career in the process; or you're on Shawn's side and you think that Vince and co. had a legitimate business risk in Bret, who was acting childish in refusing to drop the belt. A third group believes that both sides were just being childish and it should have never have gotten that far in the first place.
  • Epileptic Trees: There is a dedicated group of fans (and a few wrestlers, like Sean Waltman) who insist that the Montreal Screwjob was a work, even though everyone involved, especially Bret, has insisted it was a shoot. This seems to stem in part due to Jerry Lawler's revelation that his equally infamous and influential feud with Andy Kaufman was all staged from the beginning. The theory of a work tends to be based on a few key points:
    • In an era where wrestlers jumping ship were met with vitriol and "you sold out" chants for leaving one company for another, Bret came out looking like a hero.
    • Bret's meltdown and destruction of the ringside area, complete with his writing the letters "WCW" in the air were allowed to air and initially included on the home video release of the event. They were even showed on Raw during the "Bret screwed Bret" promo from Vince McMahon. McMahon is a notorious control freak when it comes to WWF/E programming. Many who have worked with him said that if he didn't want those things to air, they wouldn't have.
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    • Vince allowed the Wrestling With Shadows documentary crew to film backstage throughout the event and after the finish. They were allowed in the locker room up until Vince confronted Bret and they caught footage of Vince limping away after Bret punched him. (It often gets lost that Vince sprained his ankle after Bret punched him.) Again, given Vince's control freak nature, many say he would have cleared out the camera crew to cover up as much of the screwjob as possible.
    • Vince appeared on Raw the next night with his black eye untouched. Those who knew say Vince would have had it covered with makeup unless he wanted it seen. In fact, even if it was a work, most of the theories are predicated on Bret legit punching Vince to sell it.
    • The event led to the creation of the Mr. McMahon character and the hottest period in WWF history. Without the Mr. McMahon character, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin wouldn't have had his greatest foil and might not have been as successful.
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    • It would have created an ideal starting angle for Bret in WCW had they been smart enough to use it. It did make Bret red hot and basically announced his departure from WWE and his impending arrival in WCW. WCW would squander that momentum and not capitalize on Bret Hart or use him correctly in his tenure there. But nobody had any way of knowing that was going to happen. This particular point seems to rely on the fact that both parts in the incident admit that Hart's departure from the WWF was initially actually amicable, and that both McMahon was supportive of Hart's decision to jump ship and Hart did agree to drop the WWF title on his way out; it wasn't until they came down to the specifics to drop the title (to Shawn Michaels and in Canada) that problems arose.
    • It also planted the seeds for Bret to return to WWE further down the road if he wanted to. In theory, Bret and Shawn would have had plenty of years left in the ring when Bret's WCW contract ran out. Bret coming back to feud with Shawn would have been huge. Nobody would have known that Bret and Shawn would suffer career-ending injuries before that happened. (Shawn would recover from his back injury and return to competition in 2002.)
    • Bret was the son of a promoter. If a departing wrestler had come to Stu Hart and refused to drop the title, Bret knows what Stu would have had to do. He knows that the rule is for a wrestler to "go out on his back". In every other instance but this one time, wrestlers who worked with him always talked about Bret's professionalism and respect for tradition, yet suddenly that guy isn't willing to do a job on his way out.
    • In 2019 Earl Hebner himself said on Busted Open Radio that he believes Bret Hart was in on it and it was a work.
    • Jim Cornette finally admitted in June 2019 that he came up with the finish and it was definitively a shoot. He also said that the only people who knew were Vince, referee Earl Hebner, Shawn, Triple H, Gerald Briscoe; adding that he told Dave Meltzer, and his friend Danny Davis about it after the fact.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The left-hand corner of the cover of the November 1997 issue of The Wrestler had a picture of Bret going for the Sharpshooter on Shawn with the words "Message To The WWF: Make Bret And Shawn Wrestle...Or Dump Both!" Gee, thanks.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Just months earlier during the Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin I Quit match, Jerry "The King" Lawler said in an incredulous manner that "Bret Hart could submit to the Sharpshooter". Vince pipes up with "It could happen!"
    • After Vince's "Bret screwed Bret" explanation, Lawler said, "With all the money that Bret Hart is going to be making over there in WCW, all the guys in that whole nWo or whatever that thing is are going to be checking their contracts." Bret would, of course, end up as one of those "guys in that whole nWo." It's also notable as one of the few outright references to the nWo on WWE TV prior to 2002.
    • Earl Hebner was introduced to the WWF in 1988 as the Evil Twin of his real life twin brother Dave Hebner, paid off by Ted DiBiase to screw Hulk Hogan out of the title in favor of Andre the Giant. Life Imitates Art, apparently...
  • Just Here for Godzilla: There were six other matches at Survivor Series '97. Does anyone ever think about them?
  • Like You Would Really Do It: While not directly related to killing off a character, a number of fans still believe that the Montreal Screwjob was one big worked show.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Ring the fucking bell!"
    • "Bret screwed Bret".
  • Never Live It Down:
    • To this day, Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels still receive "You screwed Bret!" chants whenever they appear in Canada. Earl Hebner also received them, until his exit from the company.
    • The Screwjob has also seemingly become the be-all end-all of Bret Hart's career, to the exclusion of everything he'd accomplished to that point.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: It's difficult to believe nowadays, in part due to the burying of kayfabe (a direct result of Montreal) and because screwjobs are fairly common, that a professional wrestling title could cause such bitter dissent between two men as it did with Shawn and Bret. At the time, most champions reigned for multiple months, if not multiple years, and the belt was seen as a clear sign that the individual in question was the top dog in the company. Moreover, Bret constantly retelling the incident in promos and framing his entire career around it (and make no mistake, every single breath he's taken for 20 years has been tied to the subject) makes newcomers to wrestling think there is nothing to this person beyond that one event, and that he is just a bitter old has-been.
  • Shocking Swerve: One of the most shocking swerves ever, in fact.
  • Signature Scene: Earl Hebner ringing the bell is one of the most iconic images in both WWE and wrestling history.


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