On November 9th, 1997, World Wrestling Federation Champion Bret "The Hitman" Hart was scheduled to face his arch nemesis "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels in what was to be Bret's last match before heading to the rival World Championship Wrestling promotion. Under orders from Vince McMahon, senior referee Earl Hebner called for the bell to ring and had quickly ended the matchup as Shawn Michaels held Bret Hart in his patent submission move, "The Sharpshooter," despite the Hitman not submitting. With Vince McMahon at ringside, Bret Hart spit into the face of the boss that betrayed him, signaling the end of a twenty-plus year relationship, and forever dubbing this evening as the infamous "Montreal Screwjob."
WWE posted an article asking WWE superstars, including Bret Hart himself, on what if the roles were reversed? What if Shawn Michaels had been the one to leave for WCW instead of Bret? Would Bret have done the same thing that Shawn allowed happen to him? Would the Attitude Era still have taken place if the Heartbreak Kid had accepted a lucrative offer to join the rival company? Here are some of the responses:
Bret Hart: "The simple truth is that if someone came to me and said, 'We want you to do this to Shawn Michaels,' I would've said there's a better way than to do that in front of his family-even if I didn't like him. I don't do business like that. I would never have gone in the ring with any underhanded plan. I would rather go up to the person and work out a compromise. I would've talked it out. That's the part of professionalism that Michaels didn't know anything about then. I don't know that I'd still be active in WWE, but I'd still be part of the company. I always envisioned myself as playing an instrumental role in the direction the wrestling business would have taken."
Steve Austin: "What if Shawn got screwed instead of Bret? That's really a tough question, but I don't think anything would've changed. There are so many ramifications that came out of that (night in Montreal). Who knows what would've happened and where we would've been. I do think that Austin 3:16 would've still happened, DX would've still happened. All the big, good things would've still happened. It just would've been another different interesting turn... but still, we know it as it happened."
Someone who knows better than anyone else on the transformation of the World Wrestling Entertainment that evening is current COO and close confidant of Shawn Michaels; Triple H. Triple H was asked the same question, and his response was simple: "That would've never happened. We're not that stupid."
junkyarddogg contributed to this article. Got a news tip or correction? Send it to us by clicking here.