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Author Topic: Montreal Screw Job: Work or Shoot?  (Read 5207 times)
Montague
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« on: January 10, 2011, 07:26:13 AM »

Could the infamous events of 1997’s Survivor Series have been orchestrated as one big work between Vince McMahon Jr. and Bret Hart?
In other words, was it an angle they both came up with and have kayfabed all this time playing everyone for fools?

I first entertained this possibility during my extremely brief indy tenure, at which time I learned all too well just how simplistic, naïve, and downright fukking stupid many wrestling fans still are.
Actually - to be fair - many people in general are this way, so…

Anyway…

In my mind, kayfabe officially died in 1997 - specifically, it died in the weeks following that year’s Survivor Series, during which Bret very openly and publicly complained about how his boss/promoter CHANGED THE AGREED UPON FINISH OF HIS TITLE MATCH.
It’s hard to be any more direct!

As a second-generation wrestler, Bret is an old-school worker, and a descendant of the even older school.
Bret has told the story of how when he & Neidhart were in the same bar as Tom & Davey, the teams would sit on opposite sides of the room to uphold kayfabe; even when they weren't feuding, and this was at a time when wrestlers were becoming rather lax in such practices.
Bret does not strike me as someone who would do what he did the way he did following Montreal, unless…he was supposed to.

Cactus Foley confirmed in his book that the old man had wanted to take his product in a different direction since the early 90’s, but in the midst of several high-profile scandals, had decided to postpone adopting the more mature edge into his programming.

As much as I hate to admit, Jim Hellwig (I still refuse to call a grown man “Warrior”) raised an excellent point: the cameras seemed to be in the perfect place WAY too many times during what transpired.
And another thing about those cameras: the fact that Vince allowed third-party cameras access to literally showcase the backstage operations for Bret’s documentary suggests that the old man wasn’t too concerned with exposure (“Beyond the Mat” would soon follow).

A short time later, Vince delivered this monologue on WWF programming:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HznErMk97B4" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HznErMk97B4</a>


With a lot of the angles he would soon run involving sex, firearms, kidnapping, necrophilia, etc., it seemed almost necessary to issue a disclaimer proclaiming, in no uncertain terms, that wrestling is just a fictional show.
Sure, there would always be simpletons who bought into the storylines, but at least the critics could no longer complain that the industry was trying to con the public into believing it is “real.”
This admission would also remove a lot of the “sting” out of watching wrestling; now it could be cool to watch.

I believe the ‘97 SS was designed as a cool, creative, compelling way for Vince Jr. to come clean and effectively wash his hands of the old guard.
It sure beat the hell out of coming on and saying, “Oh, by the way…you know the last fourteen years? I lied.”


This is just my opinion.
Weigh in with yours.

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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2011, 07:36:18 AM »

It was a shoot, pure and simple.

Vince McMahon simply made the best of a bad situation. The controvery from the Montreal/Survivor Series Screw Job gave him a bump in the ratings. But, he still needed to follow up with it.

The interview with JR, as to what went down, actually helped too. McMahon didn't deny what he did. He simply put it all in context and said that he was responsible for taking care of the wrestlers that work for him, first and foremost.

That, I believe, saved the company. Plus, with Austin's growing popularity and a lack of main-event heels against whom he could pit Austin (Michaels, with a injured back, and Undertaker, who was locked with putting over Kane), the "Mr. McMahon" character was born.

As Triple H said, the company basically dropped the whole angle of Vince, just being a dorky, hyper-active face commentator and simply acknowledged what most already knew: That McMahon owned and ran the WWF.

"Mr. McMahon" would do anything to keep his superstars in line, INCLUDING SCREWING them out of the WWF title (or keeping them from winning it, in the first place).

Now, you had the Austin-McMahon feud, which was GOLDEN and helped WWF overtake WCW, after being dominated by "Billionaire Ted's" company for over a year and a half.

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Montague
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2011, 07:54:31 AM »

Absolutely.
But, do you believe that the whole "screwjob" was pre-arranged between Bret & Vince?
In other words, Bret knew that his character would get screwed in the storylines, and they would play it out as a shoot?

We know that Vince planned that night's events, but he probably also planned the type of doors it would open and THAT'S WHY HE DID IT.
As for Bret, it brought him plenty of attention, too, and was probably meant to help him out.
Unfortunately, WCW didn't/couldn't do jack with him.

If this was a work between Bret & Vince, I also suspect that the two men planned to do business with it again down the line at some point.
Had it not been for the fallout from Owen's accident, it probably would have happened, too.
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2011, 07:54:59 AM »

I used to think it was a shoot. After reviewing it thoroughly I believe it was a very well played and calculated work. If you watch the movie "Wrestling with Shadows", don't you find it funny how the camara was in the right spot at the right time? And if a 245lb Bret really cracked Vince don't you think his jaw would have shattered not to mention the entourage of lawsuits that would have followed? Think about it. Over the years, many wrestlers who were there pretty much came forward and admitted that it was a work. It was believed then that Bret would come back to the WWE and they would use that work and heat that it drew for a good hot storyline. It would have happened but Bret suffered a bad concussion due to a very poor timed kick by a very green Goldberg. Then he suffered a legitamage stroke and thus retired. IMO, the only people that would take this seriously are the folk who actually believe that wrestling and its storylines are real.
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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2011, 07:59:35 AM »

I used to think it was a shoot. After reviewing it thoroughly I believe it was a very well played and calculated work. If you watch the movie "Wrestling with Shadows", don't you find it funny how the camara was in the right spot at the right time? And if a 245lb Bret really cracked Vince don't you think his jaw would have shattered not to mention the entourage of lawsuits that would have followed? Think about it. Over the years, many wrestlers who were there pretty much came forward and admitted that it was a work. It was believed then that Bret would come back to the WWE and they would use that work and heat that it drew for a good hot storyline. It would have happened but Bret suffered a bad concussion due to a very poor timed kick by a very green Goldberg. Then he suffered a legitamage stroke and thus retired. IMO, the only people that would take this seriously are the folk who actually believe that wrestling and its storylines are real.


Exactly!

And, Vince could have sued over so much of what happened that night: assault, willful destruction of property, recording a conversation without the other party's consent (Bret "wears a wire").
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2011, 08:01:17 AM »


Exactly!

And, Vince could have sued over so much of what happened that night: assault, willful destruction of property, recording a conversation without the other party's consent (Bret "wears a wire").
Yes! The thing that did it for me was the camara being in the right place at the right time and the slew of wrestlers that came forward afterwards (some retired or fed up and moved on) that basically admitted it.
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2011, 08:53:03 AM »

I used to think it was a shoot. After reviewing it thoroughly I believe it was a very well played and calculated work. If you watch the movie "Wrestling with Shadows", don't you find it funny how the camara was in the right spot at the right time? And if a 245lb Bret really cracked Vince don't you think his jaw would have shattered not to mention the entourage of lawsuits that would have followed? Think about it. Over the years, many wrestlers who were there pretty much came forward and admitted that it was a work. It was believed then that Bret would come back to the WWE and they would use that work and heat that it drew for a good hot storyline. It would have happened but Bret suffered a bad concussion due to a very poor timed kick by a very green Goldberg. Then he suffered a legitamage stroke and thus retired. IMO, the only people that would take this seriously are the folk who actually believe that wrestling and its storylines are real.

Vince isn't exactly a midget, you know. One would think he can take a punch. Plus, I thought Bret hit him in the eye, anyway.

This wasn't a work. The other WWF wrestlers clearly stated as much, including Shawn Michaels. Remember the wrestlers that walked out of RAW the next week or two, after the Survivor Series Screwjob went town.

The main reason people are claiming that it's a work is because the way the WWF responded and regained its popularity, eclipsing WCW. That has more to do with McMahon's resolve, coupled with the bungling over at WCW.
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2011, 09:09:43 AM »

Very well done work.

Like you guys have covered the cameras being there was just too convenient.  And if you are VKM, why in the hell would you let the company producing the documentary show that particular part of the backstage stuff?  I have no doubt Vince had 100% control at the end of the day as to what the documentary could and couldn't show.  He is WAY too smart not to.

Another point is that Vince and the WWF have shown no problem taking things to court when needed.  Bret was "jumping ship" to the competitor, so if he had hit McMahon, why not drag him into court and just bury him for a few months? 

It has just never added up over the years.
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2011, 10:05:58 AM »

I think if it was a work, it all would have fell apart when Owen died.
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2011, 10:20:10 AM »

I think if it was a work, it all would have fell apart when Owen died.

I'm not so sure.  there really wasn't anything to be gained if Bret spoke up, if anything he would probably have looked worse in that scenario than VKM, who would probably just said "of course it was a work, it's pro wrestling"  But who knows. 
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2011, 10:30:31 AM »

I'm not so sure.  there really wasn't anything to be gained if Bret spoke up, if anything he would probably have looked worse in that scenario than VKM, who would probably just said "of course it was a work, it's pro wrestling"  But who knows. 
That's true. On the flip side, if it was a work, Bret was probably furious that Owen was made to do a stupid stunt like that in the first place, and then legit bad blood between then came about. Everyone make a lot of good points, but in an industry where almost everyone talks about everything and anybody, I think if it was all a storyline it someone would have let it slip by now.
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2011, 11:38:28 AM »

Owen practiced the stunt the day before the event with Bulldog present and all went well. It was just an unfortunate accident. Owen willingly did it on his own reconisense.

The screwjob was a very well planned out and mastered work that obviously did its job by fooling everyone including myself at first. Wrestling is one giant STORLYLINE and that is it. If you fall for it then the wrestling world did its job. Its all conjured up.

When Bruiser Brody got stabbed to death in Puerto Rico after a show by a fellow wrestler, it was REAL. Lawsuits were involved including the testimony of many around. If Bret at 245lbs cracked Vince in the jaw for real, he would have hospitalized him very, very easily. Vince was pushing 50+ at the time. Don't tell me that he would have taken a punch and walked away with no security escorting him or police arresting Bret for assult and as I said before, the camara was convieniently in the right place ALL the time. What's to say that Vince didn't give both Shawn & Hart 250,000 a peice and say, "hey, go out there and do this and will get 'em good on this story." It opened the door for Bret on a return to the WWE to continue a program with Vince and Michaels but plans changed. Bret suffered a stroke and retired and Michaels mangled his back. It was a complete work, folks. If it wasn't, the impending lawsuits would have been higher than Mount Everest. Common sense. Here's another tidbit....Wrestling With Shadows...did you notice Michaels playing around the ring with Bret's kids prior to the show? Meanwhile they are supposed to have this major heat with eachother (granted they did have some backstage issues but not enough to ruin a show and cost WWE business). I wouldn't be surprised if Vince, Michaels and Hart went fishing a week later.
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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2011, 02:45:07 PM »

Why would A&E be a part of it if it was a work?  They aired it as a true documentary.  I doubt they would have risked being known that way.
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« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2011, 03:19:02 PM »

Why would A&E be a part of it if it was a work?  They aired it as a true documentary.  I doubt they would have risked being known that way.

Maybe they were "worked" too.....VKM is a smart guy and you figure the people doing the documentary probably knew very little about pro wrestling and certainly would probably be duped by that good of a work.   It just makes no sense that VKM would allow the cameras to capture that, no lawsuit and let Bret walk away to WCW.  not how vince seems to operate. 
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2011, 05:06:41 PM »

Maybe Vince felt bad about how it ended with a guy who worked for him for 14 years?  Grin
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« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2011, 06:09:37 PM »

Maybe in 2016, we'll find out Vince has just finished paying out on the $20 million lifetime contract we all heard about.  I tend to think it's a shoot, only because I can't imagine running an angle for 14 years when most feuds today last 6 weeks or less.

On the other hand, it did turn VKM into the biggest heel in the industry, and you know he loves being on TV.
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« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2011, 06:18:13 PM »

Maybe in 2016, we'll find out Vince has just finished paying out on the $20 million lifetime contract we all heard about.  I tend to think it's a shoot, only because I can't imagine running an angle for 14 years when most feuds today last 6 weeks or less.

On the other hand, it did turn VKM into the biggest heel in the industry, and you know he loves being on TV.
The other thing is, he loves money. If it was a work, I think him and Bret would have "made up" years ago and cashed in. They only started back together in 2005 when they released his dvd.
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« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2011, 07:25:26 PM »

...in an industry where almost everyone talks about everything and anybody, I think if it was all a storyline it someone would have let it slip by now.


Not if literally no one else was in on it.
This may be the biggest work in history with only three people smart.

Truly a feather in the cap - especially for a guy who's already worth billions.
Really, what's left for him except a huge ego boost?
If this is a work, nobody will ever be able to top it, and Vince has that satisfaction, as well.
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« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2011, 08:09:52 PM »

Maybe they were "worked" too.....VKM is a smart guy and you figure the people doing the documentary probably knew very little about pro wrestling and certainly would probably be duped by that good of a work.   It just makes no sense that VKM would allow the cameras to capture that, no lawsuit and let Bret walk away to WCW.  not how vince seems to operate. 

Working A&E is the only way that is possible.  They would have too much to lose to be involved. 

As someone said earlier, I think if it were a work, word would have leaked by now. 
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« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2011, 05:46:31 AM »


Not if literally no one else was in on it.
This may be the biggest work in history with only three people smart.

Truly a feather in the cap - especially for a guy who's already worth billions.
Really, what's left for him except a huge ego boost?
If this is a work, nobody will ever be able to top it, and Vince has that satisfaction, as well.
Also, in pro wrestling you plant the seed today for the fued tomorrow. For example....with Ultimate Warrior, they hired him in 1987 and already knew that by 1990 he would be the world champ supposedly to carry the torch from Hogan who was looking to take a small sabatical to make a movie. That is how it works. Extreme storylines are kept HUSH. That is the only way it will work.
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« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2011, 06:18:52 AM »

Here....maybe this will help understand the art of "Kayfabe" (staged):

In 1982, Lawler began a notorious feud with comedian Andy Kaufman.[2] At the time, Kaufman wrestled women as part of his skits and had declared himself the Intergender Heavyweight Champion.[2] On April 5, Lawler, who had taken exception to the skits, wrestled Kaufman in Memphis.[2] During the course of the match, Lawler delivered two piledrivers to his opponent, sending him to the hospital.[2] On July 29, Lawler slapped Kaufman in the face on an episode of Late Night with David Letterman.[2][4] Kaufman responded by throwing his coffee on Lawler.[2] Everyone including the high ups in the wrestling world believed that this was a real legitamate shoot when in face its was NOT.Years later, Lawler appeared as himself in the Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon; the movie revealed that Lawler's feud with Kaufman had been kayfabe (staged). Lawler later revealed that not only was his entire feud with Kaufman staged, but the two were actually very good friends.

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« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2011, 06:49:00 AM »

Here....maybe this will help understand the art of "Kayfabe" (staged):

In 1982, Lawler began a notorious feud with comedian Andy Kaufman.[2] At the time, Kaufman wrestled women as part of his skits and had declared himself the Intergender Heavyweight Champion.[2] On April 5, Lawler, who had taken exception to the skits, wrestled Kaufman in Memphis.[2] During the course of the match, Lawler delivered two piledrivers to his opponent, sending him to the hospital.[2] On July 29, Lawler slapped Kaufman in the face on an episode of Late Night with David Letterman.[2][4] Kaufman responded by throwing his coffee on Lawler.[2] Everyone including the high ups in the wrestling world believed that this was a real legitamate shoot when in face its was NOT.Years later, Lawler appeared as himself in the Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon; the movie revealed that Lawler's feud with Kaufman had been kayfabe (staged). Lawler later revealed that not only was his entire feud with Kaufman staged, but the two were actually very good friends.




That's a great example.
I suspect that many folks today - even the smart ones - don't realize that that whole thing was worked.

I didn't follow MCW, Lawler, or Kaufman at the time.
I have, however, seen plenty of clips in documentaries, etc. over the years.
While the promos & ring work looked staged, I'll admit that the Letterman appearance had an air of authenticism/legitimacy to it and popped nicely.
I can understand people buying it.

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« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2011, 08:04:44 AM »


That's a great example.
I suspect that many folks today - even the smart ones - don't realize that that whole thing was worked.

I didn't follow MCW, Lawler, or Kaufman at the time.
I have, however, seen plenty of clips in documentaries, etc. over the years.
While the promos & ring work looked staged, I'll admit that the Letterman appearance had an air of authenticism/legitimacy to it and popped nicely.
I can understand people buying it.


Problem is people believe everything they hear without realizing that the whole time, it was orchastrated between the wrestlers and the promotor the whole time.
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« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2011, 08:15:19 AM »

Absolutely.
But, do you believe that the whole "screwjob" was pre-arranged between Bret & Vince?
In other words, Bret knew that his character would get screwed in the storylines, and they would play it out as a shoot?

No!

Keep in mind why it was done in the first place: To make sure Bret Hart didn't leave Survivor Series with the title, so that Eric Bischoff couldn't go on Nitro and claim he bought the WWF Champion.



We know that Vince planned that night's events, but he probably also planned the type of doors it would open and THAT'S WHY HE DID IT.
As for Bret, it brought him plenty of attention, too, and was probably meant to help him out.
Unfortunately, WCW didn't/couldn't do jack with him.

This is all hindsight speculation. No one knew that the Mr. McMahon character would take on a life of its own, or that Austin would blow up the way he did. Again, the controversy offered a boost in the ratings. McMahon just went with it. Helmsley has stated, more than once, that McMahon has a tendency of squashing potentially good ideas. But, when they start taking a life of their own, he'll eventually just go with it. That's what he did with DX, which he didn't like initially.


If this was a work between Bret & Vince, I also suspect that the two men planned to do business with it again down the line at some point.
Had it not been for the fallout from Owen's accident, it probably would have happened, too.

Try 12 or 13 years, if you don't count the Hall of Fame ceremony in 2006 (and Hart didn't show up at WrestleMania 22, when they introduced all the HOF entries.



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« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2011, 09:00:00 AM »

No!

Keep in mind why it was done in the first place: To make sure Bret Hart didn't leave Survivor Series with the title, so that Eric Bischoff couldn't go on Nitro and claim he bought the WWF Champion.

This is all hindsight speculation. No one knew that the Mr. McMahon character would take on a life of its own, or that Austin would blow up the way he did. Again, the controversy offered a boost in the ratings. McMahon just went with it. Helmsley has stated, more than once, that McMahon has a tendency of squashing potentially good ideas. But, when they start taking a life of their own, he'll eventually just go with it. That's what he did with DX, which he didn't like initially.

Try 12 or 13 years, if you don't count the Hall of Fame ceremony in 2006 (and Hart didn't show up at WrestleMania 22, when they introduced all the HOF entries.




Re-read your post, champ. You are BELIEVING in the storyline. Its all KAYFABE. Make belief! NOT REAL.

As for your last line, like all other sports / business if the money is right you do it. If not, you don't.
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