The Montreal Screwjob
The Montreal Screwjob was the real life double-crossing of defending WWF Champion Bret Hart by Vince McMahon, the owner of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), during the main event match of the professional wrestling pay-per-view event Survivor Series held on November 9, 1997 at the Molson Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. A secret change of the match's pre-determined finish (known as a "shoot screwjob" in professional wrestling parlance) was devised by McMahon and discussed with Hart's match opponent, Shawn Michaels. The plan was executed when the match referee, Earl Hebner, under orders from McMahon, called for the bell to ring and ended the match as Michaels held Hart in the Sharpshooter submission hold (Hart's signature finishing move), even though Hart had not submitted. Michaels was declared the victor by submission and crowned as the new WWF Champion.
The reason for this screwjob was rooted in Hart's decision to leave McMahon's company for its chief competitor, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), after McMahon told Hart that financial problems would not allow him to keep Hart on under his recently signed 20 year contract. Hart cited a clause in his contract that granted him "reasonable creative control" and was steadfast in his refusal to lose a match hosted in his home country of Canada, especially against Shawn Michaels, with whom he did not get along. McMahon remained insistent that Hart should lose to Michaels in Montreal, fearing that his company's business would suffer if WCW announced Hart as its latest signing while he still held the WWF World title. Although Hart and McMahon agreed to a compromise on the match ending that allowed Hart to retain the title, McMahon was determined to remove the title from Hart.
The screwjob has garnered a notorious legacy both on-screen and off, and was partly chronicled in the documentary film Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows. The far-reaching impact of the incident led to its adoption as a theme in matches and storylines of the WWF's Attitude Era and the creation of the character, "Mr. McMahon," the evil boss. Hart was ostracized from the WWF, while McMahon and Michaels continued to receive angry responses from audiences for many years. The relationship between Hart and McMahon later healed, however, culminating in Hart's induction on April 1, 2006 into the company's Hall of Fame.