Earl Hebner Recalls Backstage Decision Making Ahead Of Montreal Screwjob

The Montreal Screwjob will forever be remembered as one of the most momentous events in wrestling history. WWF Champion Bret Hart was leaving for WCW, and while he had agreed to lose the championship before his departure, he didn't want to do it in his native Canada, host of Survivor Series 1997. Vince McMahon, fearing Hart was planning to take the title belt with him when he left, came up with a plan. He ordered referee Earl Hebner to ring the bell as soon as Hart got put in a submission hold during the match, signaling that Hart had lost even though he never tapped out.


"Well, from 1-10, I'm going to double it; 20," Hebner said, describing his nervousness during a virtual sign-it-live with K & S WrestleFest. "When I was walking to the ring, and if it was 100 feet, it felt like 10 miles walking to that ring for that match. Never been so tensed and stressed in my whole life. In all the matches I've been in, that was the toughest one of my life."

Hebner believes there would have been a good chance he would have been fired if he hadn't agreed, but also notes he wasn't McMahon's first choice. "There was no other referee that would really stand up to do it," he said. "Tim White was asked to do it and he wouldn't do it, and I don't think the rest of them would've done it."


Hebner also revealed that McMahon told him to wait 10 seconds before ringing the bell, but contrary to these instructions, he called for the bell very quickly.

"That's how nervous I was," he said.