WWF: Survivor Series 1997 (or THE ‘MONTREAL SCREWJOB IS A WORK’ DEFENSE)
WWF: Survivor Series
November 9, 1997
The current WWF champs are as follows:
World Champion: Bret Hart (8/3/1997)
Intercontinental Champion: Owen Hart (10/5/1997)
European Champion: Shawn Michaels (9/20/1997)
World Tag Team Champions: The Legion of Doom (10/13/1997)
Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.
- Elimination Match: The Headbangers & The New Blackjacks vs. The Godwinns, Road Dogg & Billy Gunn
Windham and Phineas start the match here. Windham teases a knucklelock only to pop Phineas in the mouth. Tag to Bradshaw, he powerslams Phineas for two. Bradshaw runs into a boot in the corner and Phineas tries to tag out, but only Henry will oblige him. Henry pounds on Bradshaw in the corner, but Bradshaw blocks a turnbuckle smash and delivers a Russian legsweep. Henry reverses a suplex and runs down Bradshaw with a nice clothesline. Bradshaw pulls Henry into an abdominal stretch down on the mat for a pinfall at 3:52. Tag to Windham, he gives Phineas a suplex followed by a gutwrench suplex for nearfalls. A jumping lariat scores Windham a two count as well. Windham runs into an elbow in the corner and gets drilled with a clothesline to even the sides at 5:14. In comes Mosh, he works an armbar on Phineas. Once Phineas breaks loose with a right hand, he tags out to Billy Gunn. The Outlaws are the only team out of these four that gets any attention from the crowd – even if it is completely derogatory. That explains why they will be the most over tag team in all of American wrestling for the next year. Mosh makes a comeback on Gunn and butt splashes him in the corner, but gets caught and driven down on his face for the three-count at 8:41. So it’s now Thrasher and Bradshaw against Phineas and the Outlaws. Thrasher tries to get the crowd going and then works a wristlock. Really? Since the crowd seems bored, they go back to chanting “faggot” at the Outlaws. Flying Senton from Thrasher to Phineas scores a pinfall at 12:39. Road Dogg finally gets inside the ropes. Bradshaw tags in and abuses him with chops and a short lariat. He delivers a gutwrench powerbomb and kicks Road Dogg square in the spine. Gunn picks a fight with Bradshaw, which allows Road Dogg to get a really unstable rollup on Bradshaw for a three count at 13:46. Bradshaw doesn’t seem to notice he’s been pinned and starts cracking skulls again until the zebra shirts get him out of here. Thrasher is a house of fire and has to be since he’s all on his own, but Gunn kicks him in the back from the apron. They try the Pumphandle Slam – it fails the first time. Gunn gets a blind tag. Thrasher reverses the Pumphandle Slam on the second try and lands on top of Road Dogg. Luckily for the Outlaws, Gunn comes off the top and misses by a country mile with the flying legdrop to Thrasher. That gets the win. (15:27) Felt like thirty minutes there. Nevertheless, the Outlaws seem pretty over. After seeing this, I wouldn’t mind it if the Blackjacks and the Outlaws hook up. Survivor(s): Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. *½
- Elimination Match: The Disciples of Apocalypse vs. The Truth Commission
Understandably so, this was the match I was dreading the most. Big brawl to start because it’s GANG RULZ. Anyways, Interrogator NO-SELLS the punches of Chainz and hits the SIDEWALK SLAM to send Chainz to the showers at 1:20. Well, we’re off to a good start. After another fight settles, Recon beats up and slams down 8-Ball for Jackyl to hit a flying knee drop, which 8-Ball NO-SELLS and delivers a Spinning Side Slam for a pinfall at 2:53. Instead of heading to the locker room, Jackyl joins JR and King to add to the commentary. DOA work over Recon for a bit. When one of the twins falls out to the floor, they do a switch (let’s call him 8-Ball) on Recon and clothesline him down to take him out at 5:21. Now Sniper gets in trouble with DOA until Interrogator nails Skull from the apron into a bulldog for the next pinfall at 6:31. Now we have 8-Ball and Crush against Sniper and Interrogator. Sniper goes back to getting his butt kicked until there’s a blind tag to Interrogator. He hits 8-Ball with that SIDEWALK SLAM for the pinfall at 8:52. Interrogator punches down Crush and tags in Sniper. TOUR OF THE ISLANDS on Sniper gets the three-count at 9:48. Interrogator immediately grabs Crush for another SIDEWALK SLAM for the win. (10:01) Jackyl considers this a victory for him. I consider it a victory for me that I actually got through recapping this one without wanting to walk away. Out of protest for the Montreal Screwjob, this would be Crush’s final live appearance in the WWF until he comes back as one half of KroniK in 2001. Survivor(s): The Interrogator and me. ½*
- Elimination Match: Team USA (Vader, Marc Mero, Steve Blackman & Goldust) vs. Team Canada (Davey Boy Smith, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon)
HERE’S SOME TRIVIA FOR YA: six out of the eight men here have worked for WCW at one time or another. Who can name all six of them? JR and Lawler ponder over how unstable this Team USA is. Bulldog absorbs some body blows from Mero and shoulderblocks him down to start. Mero bails to the floor and moves his bride Sable over to another corner to get her away from some boisterous fans. Back inside, Vader gets a tag and clotheslines Davey Boy around. He heads up to the middle rope and gets caught in mid-air with a powerslam. That leads to the always impressive Hourglass Suplex. Tag to LaFon, things get a little awkward now. Back to Mero, he levels LaFon with a knee lift. LaFon fires back with a spinning heel kick that knocks Mero silly as he takes right hands from everybody in the Team Canada corner. Steve Blackman tags in for the first time against LaFon. JR describes him as a martial artist and not a professional wrestler, which is interesting because he does very little in the way of martial arts. He delivers a neck snap and a Buddy Landel elbow drop. LaFon catches him with a DDT, but only gets two. Blackman fights off Team Canada and heads to the floor to get him some more only to be counted out at 5:26. Meanwhile in the ring, Mero avoids a splash from Neidhart and tags in Vader. Goldust continues to sulk in the corner and does nothing to help his team. Neidhart knocks down Vader a few times, but can’t get the pinfall. Vader catches him with a body block, elbow drops the abdomen, and catches Neidhart with a splash for the pinfall at 7:34 to even the sides.
LaFon – in his Bobby Eaton style tights – kicks Vader out to the floor for a ride into the steps. Furnas puts Vader back inside, but then LaFon gets caught with a belly to belly suplex to set up a splash from the second rope to take care of LaFon at 9:09. Moving forward, Mero hits a MEROSAULT on Furnas. It looked like he was supposed to catch Mero, but collapses. Tag to Davey Boy, he smashes Mero’s face off the turnbuckle a bunch. Bulldog looks for the RUNNING POWERSLAM, but Mero shoves him off into the corner. Furnas tags back in and kicks out of a Jack Brisco rollup from Mero into a rollup of his own to send Mero and Sable to the back at 11:59. The crowd is less than pleased with that decision. We’re down to Vader and Goldust against Furnas and Bulldog. After Vader fights off a suplex from Bulldog, he looks for a tag from Goldust. Vader again manages to keep this match going by himself. Once again, Goldust refuses a tag and drops off the apron. Furnas delivers an impressive overhead suplex on Vader for 1-2-NO! Frankensteiner gets another nearfall. Vader looks for a tag for the third time. This time he slaps Goldust across the face, which counts as a legal tag. He flips Goldust into the ring, but it doesn’t matter because Goldust is walking out at 16:58 – just like he did on his wife and daughter. When Vader lands the VADER BOMB on Furnas, Bulldog grabs the ring bell. That gets the pinfall at 17:35. While the ref tends to Furnas, Davey Boy whacks Vader with the ring bell and gets the win. (17:48) I figured it would be an improvement from the previous two matches, but still not enough to really grab my interest. Bulldog (who will be leaving after tonight) and Vader are easily the MVPs with Doug Furnas right behind them. Mero is getting a ton of heat, but it has less to do with his personality and more to do with just depriving the fans of Sable. I really do wonder if the Mero/Sable deal isn’t a rib on Randy Savage. Survivor: Davey Boy Smith. **¼
- Mankind vs. Kane (w/Paul Bearer)
This is the first match for Kane. While the arena is pitch black, there is a red light that settles on the ring throughout the match. Before the bell rings, there’s a brawl in the aisle that culminates with Mankind getting his head bounced off the steps. In the ring, Kane sets the corners ablaze as the match begins. Mankind fights back and hits the Cactus Clothesline, but then Kane picks up the top half of the steps and heaves them into Mankind’s face. Back inside, Kane lets Mankind wallow in his pain. When he gets up to his feet, Kane just punches him down again. Mankind starts yanking his own hair out (which is like hulking up, I suppose) and comes off the ropes into a big boot. Kane beats up Mankind in the corner and whips him across for a Bossman Slam. Back to the floor, Mankind takes a hard ride into the steps. Kane charges him, but receives a flapjack on the steps, which he NO-SELLS. Mankind finds a chair and whacks Kane in the face while the ref is busy with Paul Bearer. In the ring, Mankind hits the Pull-Up Piledriver and Kane doesn’t immediately sit up. Mankind calls for the MANDIBLE CLAW and gives it to Paul Bearer. Kane makes Mankind pay by shoving him off the apron crashing through the Spanish announce table. They brawl all the way around the ring up the aisle where Mankind gives him a DDT. Cactus Elbow connects as well. He tries to do too much though and gets slammed off the second rope to the floor below. Yikes. Instead of tossing him back inside, Kane stands in the middle of the ring waiting for Mankind to come to him. As Mankind pulls himself up, Kane hoists the big man up for the TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER. He holds Mankind’s arms down in a crucifix-like manner for the three-count. (9:31) Actually not a bad little psychological brawl. Foley was a great guy to begin to get this Kane character over from being just a two-move guy to going bell to bell. Foley took a ton of bumps, but it heavily enforced that this Kane guy is a sadistic monster. ***
We go to the back where Michael Cole is standing by with Vince McMahon and Commissioner Slaughter. There’s extra security backstage in the locker room areas, so nothing will happen back here, says Slaughter. Vince says it is important that the WWF fans see Bret Hart versus Shawn Michaels tonight. It was supposed to happen on several different occasions and it did not for a number of reasons. He hopes none of those reasons will factor into the match tonight and the fans of Montreal and fans from all over the world will get to see this extraordinary match with two of the greatest WWF superstars in history. Cole asks Vince who’s going to win tonight. Vince simply says, “I don’t know.”
- Elimination Match: The Legion of Doom, Ken Shamrock & Ahmed Johnson vs. The Nation of Domination
Just so we’re clear, the Nation of Domination consists of Rocky Maivia, Faarooq, D’Lo Brown, and Kama at this time. As the crowd chants Rocky sucks, he decides not to start this match against Hawk. In comes D’Lo Brown. Hawk NO-SELLS everything D’Lo throws at him – including clotheslines and a piledriver. Hawk snaps off a reverse neckbreaker causing D’Lo to tag in Maivia. Hawk punches Rocky back into the ropes, but Hawk comes off the ropes and gets hit from behind into the ROCK BOTTOM for the pinfall at just 2:16. Ahmed stands up to Rocky and levels him with a back elbow. Tag to Kama, he knocks down Ahmed and turns things over to Faarooq. Ahmed plays face in peril for a few moments, but then he flips out of the DOMINATOR and delivers the PEARL RIVER PLUNGE to Faarooq to take out the boss at 4:40. If you look close, it appears Ahmed is having some muscle spasms REAL bad there. D’Lo comes in and spinning heel kicks Ahmed down for the LO DOWN. Ahmed starts to shake it loose (no pun intended) and hits a sitout gourdbuster on D’Lo. JR and King have no idea what to call that. If Vince were here, it would be WHATTAMANEUVER. Rocky tags in and runs straight into a Spinebuster. Ahmed calls for the PEARL RIVER PLUNGE, but Faarooq is still out here. He trips up Ahmed and holds his legs down right beside ref Jack Doan while Rocky pins Ahmed at 6:19. Well, Johnson and Faarooq brawl back to the locker room. We’re quickly down to Animal and Shamrock against Rocky, Kama, and D’Lo. Next up, Kama gets some time to shine as he beats up on Shamrock and Animal. Animal takes control after a double-KO and hits a back suplex for two. Animal lands the jumping shoulder block, but Kama fires back with the hook kick. When he fist-bumps Rocky, Animal dropkicks Kama into him and rolls up Kama for the three-count at 10:54.
Shamrock gets double-teamed by D’Lo and Rocky with a punch to the balls. D’Lo hits his silly legdrop for two. After Shamrock gets some chinlock time, D’Lo completely misses a springboard moonsault. Hot tag to Animal, we see the New Age Outlaws coming out. Road Dogg is wearing the spikes they stole from the LOD while Billy Gunn has his face painted like the Road Warriors circa 1984. Animal heads out to meet them. Road Dogg throws some powder in Animal’s face and causes him to get counted out at 15:02. Shamrock is now all alone with Rocky and D’Lo. He gets beaten up for a bit by Brown. Shamrock blows through a double-team clothesline and takes them both down. Maivia takes a ride out to the floor leaving Brown to get the Belly to Belly Suplex and the ANKLELOCK for the tapout at 17:11. While the refs tend to D’Lo, Maivia cracks a chair over Shamrock’s back for 1-2-NO! From there, Rocky stomps the life out of Shamrock in the corner. Hurricane DDT and the People’s Elbow both score nearfalls. Rocky tries the Hurricane DDT again and gets taken over with a release Northern Lights suplex. Shamrock catches Rocky charging him with a Hurracanrana. SHAMROCK BEGINS TO SNAP! He takes Rocky down in a Fujiwara armbar and floats over to the ANKLELOCK for the tapout. (20:35) After a whole year, Maivia finally appears to show some signs of having chemistry with another worker. Maybe that’s why he and Shamrock would essentially be working together for the next YEAR. A little hokey at times, but this was the most exciting traditional Survivor Series match of the night. Survivor: Ken Shamrock. **½
- WWF Intercontinental Champion Owen Hart (w/Team Canada) vs. Steve Austin
This is Austin’s first match back since SummerSlam three months ago. Being in Montreal, he doesn’t get the love he normally receives from the crowd being an arch-rival of the Hart Foundation. Neidhart tries to jump Austin from behind and gets a STONE COLD STUNNER. Owen immediately pounds Austin down to the mat as crowd chants for Owen to break Austin’s neck. Owen tries a piledriver and the crowd goes NUTS, but Austin backdrops him over. Now Team Canada is leaving. Austin gets his knee wrapped around the post, but then Owen gets pulled forward. Owen decides to leave, but Austin beats him back around ringside for a brawl. Owen chokes Austin with a cord trying to get himself DQ’ed. Back inside, Austin stomps a mudhole in Owen and when the tombstone piledriver spot from SummerSlam doesn’t go right, Austin delivers the STONE COLD STUNNER and pins Owen to regain the IC title. (4:04) Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon run down to get after Austin, but they both eat STONE COLD STUNNERS. Of course while Austin regaining the IC belt was a necessary part of the story, how could he hold onto the workhorse title when he couldn’t be the workhorse that Owen could be? *½
- WWF Champion Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
During his unforgettable entrance, Shawn does all he possibly can to piss off this building and any Canadian watching on PPV. He runs the Canadian flag through his legs, blows his nose on it, gives it a crotch chop, dry humps it, uses it like a towel and whips the ring announcer. In other words, he doesn’t seem to me like a guy worried about taking the heat for a “screwjob”. On the other hand, Bret carries with him a giant Canadian flag and incorporates it into his normal entrance for his fans. To be that kid who just got the shades from Bret on this night. Meanwhile, Shawn is milking this all he can getting the crowd at ringside all riled up. He even jumps Bret from behind to start. Bret fires back and beats Shawn to the floor for a brawl into the crowd. Vince McMahon, agents, and referees all try to get them settled down and into the ring for the match to start, but they are unsuccessful. Shawn takes his turn choking Bret with an American flag and takes Bret into the crowd. He tries a piledriver out there, but Bret backdrops him over the rail. They brawl up the aisle where Bret delivers a suplex on the concrete. When Shawn stands up, he takes a swing at Pat Patterson. Bret punches down ref Jack Doan. That’s when Vince McMahon gets angry and looks Bret in the eye telling him to take this to the ring. Bret considers slugging him too, but goes back to slugging Shawn. On their way to the ring, Bret grabs a flag of Quebec from one of the ringside fans.
Finally, Hebner calls for the bell for the match to start. He returns the favor to Shawn by choking him with the flag. Bret hits an inverted atomic drop, but then Shawn fires back with the flying forearm. Shawn puts the boots to Bret and chokes him with the Quebecois flag. When some ringside fans get pretty unruly and require extra security, Michaels takes Bret down in front of them and beats him up. Shawn rips up the steps and gives Bret a facebuster on the steps. He then breaks the Canadian flagpole in half and jabs Bret in the throat. Back inside, Shawn delivers a double sledge and grabs a front facelock on the mat. Bret throws Shawn away to escape the hold and begins to dissect the knee, but Shawn goes to the eyes and smashes Bret’s face off the turnbuckle. Flying body press by Shawn, but Bret rolls through for two. Bret starts kicking at the knee again and trips up Shawn for the Ringpost Figure-Four. He proceeds to take Michaels to school and applies the figure-four until Shawn reverses the hold. Bret whips Shawn in for the Ray Stevens corner bump and executes the Russian legsweep for two. Headbutt to the groin and the snap suplex gets two. Bret connects with the backbreaker and heads up top, but Shawn pulls Hebner in front of Bret. Michaels rakes the eyes and applies the SHARPSHOOTER. Hebner staggers up, checks on Bret for like a second, and calls for the bell. (12:20) Hebner gets out of dodge, Gerald Brisco and DX help Shawn grab the WWF title belt and get to the back, and Vince McMahon sticks around for Bret to spit in his eye. For what we got, there was an intense brawl and some good psychology with Bret concentrating on the knee up until the end there. ***½
Final Thoughts: Like this even needs to be said, but the show is historically significant. The traditional Survivor Series matches were nothing to write home about work-wise. I enjoyed the last one the most, but it’s still not a must-see in my eyes. I recommend EVERYONE see the Michaels/Hart match which is on several WWE DVD releases. You probably wouldn’t be reading this recap if you haven’t at least seen bits and pieces of the match. Kane/Mankind is worth a look just to see where Kane has come from. Thumbs up if you care about the historical reasons this show is important, but only a slight thumbs in the middle for Survivor Series 1997 if you’re looking for a great wrestling show to watch.
MONTREAL SCREWJOB IS A WORK:
WELP, if you have been reading my recaps for a while now, and assuming that you have, you might notice I’ve dropped some hints here and there throughout my recaps where I feel there are clues as to why I believe the Montreal Screwjob is a work. I realize I’m in the minority, but to me it’s like believing the JFK assassination and the Warren Commission were all legitimate. Before I go any further and you write me off as one of those people who believes all conspiracy theories, I do not believe that 9/11 was an inside job nor do I think that Randy Orton is reptilian. Both are of equal importance though, AMIRITE?
I’ve thought about going into great detail on this subject for quite some time now, but I’ll keep it pretty short considering how long it could have taken me.
With any great conspiracy, you have to look at everything from 30,000 feet instead of looking at every minor detail through a magnifying glass. This is what the Wrestling Observer did and being as close as Dave Meltzer apparently is with Bret Hart, it makes you wonder if Meltzer wasn’t an integral part of the work. The majority of wrestling fans buy the Montreal Screwjob as a work, but what if you disregard the he-said-she-said backstage shenanigans and simply look at the situation through storyline terms. If people did, they might find themselves at least considering that the shoot might not be all it’s made out to be.
THE PLAYERS: There are four clearly defined players here: Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, and Vince McMahon. Let’s start with Bret.
Bret Hart: He took time off in 1996 and returned to feud to quiet down a very loud challenge laid down by Steve Austin for Survivor Series. Now Bret came out on the winning end of that match, but even still on the 11/25/96 edition of Raw, Vince makes a comment during the final Bret/Owen televised match inferring that maybe Bret’s performance was a little bit less than stellar against someone like Stone Cold. Even a year before Montreal, maybe Vince is already seeing that Bret isn’t exactly the wave of the future and that perhaps Stone Cold Steve Austin is. At In Your House in December 1996, Bret Hart receives a WWF title shot against Psycho Sid and who do you think costs him the match but Stone Cold Steve Austin and ultimately Shawn Michaels. Vince doesn’t do a thing about it and doesn’t grant Bret a WWF title rematch because Shawn already has the WWF title match booked for the Royal Rumble. Bret goes to the Royal Rumble and eliminates Stone Cold Steve Austin behind the backs of the referees. All the same, Austin jumps back in the ring and ends up eliminating Bret to officially win the match. Does Vince reverse the decision and make Bret the 1997 Royal Rumble winner? Nope. Bret does manage however to outlast three other contenders in the Final Four match at the February 1997 In Your House to win a fourth WWF title. The very next night Steve Austin interferes and costs Bret the WWF title back to Psycho Sid. Does Vince or anybody from the WWF reverse the decision? Nope. A month later, Bret Hart gets a rematch against Sid inside a steel cage on Raw. There was plenty of interference in that match as well. Austin tried to help Bret win for once for selfish reasons in the hopes of getting a WWF title shot at WrestleMania 13 when the Undertaker slammed the cage door in Bret’s face so that he would still get a WWF title shot at WrestleMania 13 since he was booked to face Psycho Sid. This was the final straw for Bret as he went on a profanity-laden rant on Vince McMahon concerning how he felt he had been screwed over and over again by the WWF – even going as far as to shove McMahon down at a time when that didn’t happen. In storyline terms, Bret Hart had completely disrespected Vince McMahon, the McMahon family, and their flagship program. Oddly enough when Bret completed his heel turn at WrestleMania 13, Bret stopped talking about being screwed by the WWF and started blaming the American fans instead. If the Montreal Screwjob is a work, wouldn’t they want to cool down the dirty talk and switch the blame around so that the fans would forget about it by Survivor Series? If it is a shoot, why the sudden change in Bret’s motivation for being so pissed off?
Shawn Michaels: Shawn Michaels is just the Lee Harvey Oswald in this situation – a total patsy. While Hebner pulled the trigger, Michaels was holding the gun. Back up to 1996, there was nobody more driven to prove how good they really were more than Shawn Michaels. If there was a better worker in 1996 here in the states than HBK, I don’t know who he is. After Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and the 1-2-3 Kid all left for WCW and Bret went on a much-needed sabbatical, he was left carrying the weight of the WWF on his shoulders. Having to create a bunch of instant feuds with yet unproven main event opponents at least to the WWF audience (Bulldog, Vader, and Sid), Shawn’s boyhood dream title run was never able to draw the big bucks or bring in the big TV ratings that you might imagine his efforts would have generated. The end of his WWF title run seemed to leave him bitter and unsatisfied, so he left the WWF to go find his smile in February 1997 – leaving WrestleMania 13 without a main event. Obviously, this was a problem for Vince McMahon the promoter. Shawn returns to the ring in May and his good guy persona doesn’t seem to quite fit in, so he goes away again after an altercation with Bret in the locker room. Again, more fuel added to the fire to piss off Vince McMahon the promoter. His top draws can’t coexist well enough to even stick around. Shawn returns at SummerSlam to referee the Undertaker’s WWF title defense against Bret Hart. He uses a chair intended for Bret Hart and whacks the Undertaker instead to kickstart their feud that took them to Hell in a Cell. Now after SummerSlam, Shawn is complaining about how everyone is taking this out on him. He then starts hanging out with Hunter Hearst Helmsley and begins to spiral down into the biggest douchebag jerk you ever met. It was like we were seeing the real Shawn Michaels for the first time. He’s on TV making dick jokes and seeing just how far he can push the envelope by refusing to take authority seriously. This again would anger Vince McMahon the promoter. He wants to keep his talent happy, but keep them in line with the philosophies he has set for his promotion.
Steve Austin: Vince McMahon couldn’t possibly ignore the reactions Steve Austin was getting at the beginning of 1997. It was unmistakable and it was everywhere. Austin is certainly not the kind of top guy that Vince has ever used in the past. McMahon had always used smiling babyfaces in the past, and Austin shows no respect to anybody or anything. If the people cheer him, that’s cool. If they don’t, it doesn’t really matter to him. He says what he wants to say no matter how crass and backs it up with his actions. Vince McMahon tolerated Steve Austin’s attitude until Austin began to have a problem with WWF authority. After Owen Hart breaks Austin’s neck at SummerSlam, Austin has to give up both the IC and world tag belts he had earned and wasn’t allowed to wrestle until he was cleared by his doctors or signed a waiver saying that he wouldn’t sue the WWF if he gets permanently paralyzed. Austin obviously was not happy with this news and started giving the hottest finish in the WWF (the Stone Cold Stunner) to authority figures: first to Jim Ross, then to Commissioner Slaughter, and then to Vince McMahon himself at the very first Raw to ever be held in the only arena the McMahon family consider holy ground: Madison Square Garden. If you’re looking at this through kayfabe glasses, that would be SUPER DISRESPECTFUL. Nevertheless, it garnered a huge reaction and clearly moved Austin up a notch. Austin was officially over and could do no wrong in the eyes of the WWF fans. It was on good faith that the WWF finally had their guy that could pull them out of their slump, but he couldn’t wrestle every week against the top challengers of the day. He needed an opponent that he didn’t have to wrestle regularly and who wasn’t interested in WWF titles. He needed an opponent to face who had all the power in the WWF. Austin needed a feud that the fans could get behind and get their friends to watch. It had to feel fresh and new. That one opponent could only be Vince McMahon himself.
Vince McMahon: His kayfabe motive was obvious: Vince had completely lost control over his talent in 1997 and the Montreal Screwjob was his way of reigning them back in and showing the boys that they should not cross the boss. It was the biggest power play of them all. The Montreal Screwjob was Vince’s way of telling us that if you pin him in a corner, he will fight his way out. Am I saying that McMahon knew that a feud between he and Austin would prove to be the success that it became? No, but you can certainly believe if they kept pushing Austin in the direction they did and continued to let him be Stone Cold Steve Austin, something would have to give. The reactions for Austin during the latter part of 1997 were just too great and too consistent and happening in every town for it to not to turn to ratings gold if they kept doing what they were doing.
LOGIC HOLES: By Survivor Series, everybody in the company had to have known Bret was leaving to go to WCW for more money. They always say Vince was concerned that Bret would show up with the WWF title on WCW Monday Nitro is the main reason he “screwed” Bret. If they were really concerned about the belt, couldn’t they have just grabbed the WWF title belt while Bret was in the shower and never booked him again for TV until his contract ran out? Being a promoter’s son and totally entrenched in the wrestling business his entire life, wouldn’t he have seen this coming a mile away? If you are on your way out of one company you are completely identified with and you are heading to the competitor in the entertainment business, you want people TALKING. You want your image to be as interesting and noticeable and buzz-worthy as possible. The last thing you want is for people to go, “Hey what happened to Bret Hart? He’s not on Monday Night Raw anymore.” What message does a screwjob of this magnitude send to the rest of the locker room in a period of wrestling history where there were plenty of other places to work? If you seriously did protest the WWF and walk out, what brought the Undertaker and Mick Foley return who clearly had enough clought to where they could work anywhere they wanted? What about the Sharpshooter? Why did they call the match during Shawn’s Sharpshooter? If the Montreal Screwjob was a true shoot, you could have called for the bell for any number of submission holds that Shawn applied during that match. Having Bret literally let Shawn turn him over for his own hold only to get screwed out of the WWF title belt is storybook irony on a level that couldn’t be more perfect! It’s almost too perfect. And let’s not even get into why the Wrestling with Shadows documentary crew was ALLOWED to be filming where they were.
CONCLUSION: Everybody won out in the end. Bret Hart gets his three-year big money contract with WCW and saves face for being called a sell-out by the WWF fans by getting “screwed”, Steve Austin now has a wide open space for him at the top of the WWF, Vince McMahon gets to play the role he was born to play, and Shawn Michaels ultimately got what he had coming to him for being a dick backstage for all those years. On the plus side though for Shawn, he took four years off and got his life on track before coming back for another eight years where he was one of my favorite guys to watch. Considering Bret’s contract with WCW was up in November 2000 and had Bret still been healthy, sometimes I wonder if the players here didn’t have Bret Hart in mind for future matches after his contract was up in the hopes that the WWF would be in better financial shape by then. Anything is possible because that comeback match writes itself against McMahon or Michaels (if he was still healthy as well) and would be easy money.
You can believe what you want to believe just as I do. I certainly believe there are bigger questions in life than whether or not the Montreal Screwjob was a work. I do like to question everything though and I feel like most internet wrestling writers don’t – especially in this case.
Posted on June 2, 2015, in WWE and tagged 8-Ball, Ahmed Johnson, Barry Windham, Big Van Vader, Billy Gunn, Bradshaw, Bret Hart, Chainz, Crush, D'Lo Brown, Davey Boy Smith, Disciples of Apocalypse, Doug Furnas, Faarooq, Godwinns, Goldust, Headbanger Mosh, Headbanger Thrasher, Headbangers, Henry O. Godwinn, Jackyl, Jim Neidhart, Kama, Kane, Ken Shamrock, Kurrgan, Legion of Doom, Mankind, Marc Mero, Owen Hart, Paul Bearer, Phil LaFon, Phineas I. Godwinn, Recon, Road Dogg, Road Warrior Animal, Road Warrior Hawk, Sable, Sgt. Slaughter, Shawn Michaels, Skull, Sniper, Steve Austin, Steve Blackman, Survivor Series, The Blackjacks, The Rock, Truth Commission, Vince McMahon. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.