On episode 21 of Confessions Of The Hitman, two-time WWE Hall Of Famer Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart looked back on The Montreal Screwjob. Specifically, Hart talked about who was involved in planning The Screwjob, conspiracy theories on The Screwjob, what WWE Chairman Vince McMahon told Hart about why he should leave for WCW, how Hart knocked out McMahon, and the faulty recollections of the pro wrestlers in the dressing room at the time.
According to Hart, although many people take credit for participating in The Montreal Screwjob, only McMahon, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Gerald Brisco, who was recently released by WWE, were involved in The Screwjob’s planning.
“You know, a lot of people take credit for it. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and tell me that they were involved in it, like, ‘I didn’t want to say anything, but I was in on the whole thing.’ It’s bulls–t.” Hart continued, “I mean, the only guys that were in on it, that I know of, were Vince, Triple H, Shawn of course, and Jerry Brisco. That’s it, period. Earl Hebner got pulled in at the last minute when he walked out, but nobody else knew. Not even the TV guy, the producer, the guy that does all the – Kevin Dunn. Vince’s TV guy didn’t know anything about it until we were in the ring, then I think they told him.”
On the subject of conspiracy theories of Hart himself being involved in The Montreal Screwjob, ‘The Hitman’ claimed to not see any point in doing it.
“I don’t know,” Hart admitted. “I just can’t see the point or the value. I mean, I would stand up for real things, and if you know me, if anybody really knows me, they would know it’s not the kind of thing I would lie about. And there was a lot of real bad blood about it for a real long time. And it’s just an insult to my character that I would be a part of something like that.”
Hart indicated that around the time of The Montreal Screwjob, it became more difficult to believe what McMahon was telling him, even claiming that he wanted Hart to go to WCW because WWE was “a sinking ship”.
“I believe that leading into everything, the integrity of Vince in particular, his integrity started to really wane,” Hart remembered. “There were a lot of things where I’d go, ‘this guy’s not being straight with me.’ And everything from Vince saying he couldn’t pay me, to then Vince saying he would even negotiate my [WCW] contract, that he was giving me all this information so I could leave, so I could be the first one to get out because it was a sinking ship. They were all things – when he told me these things, I’m trying to believe him. I did have a very trusting relationship with Vince, and I’d like to think I was a guy who went to bat for him for a lot of things.
Hart stated that he felt betrayed even before leaving WWE and that he never wanted to take his talents to Atlanta in the first place.
“I trusted Vince but there were things leading up to the Screwjob that I just couldn’t trust. It was just getting very hard to believe anything he said, and again, I tried not to leave. I didn’t want to leave, and I kind of got pushed out, and I kind of felt even before the Screwjob happened that I felt betrayed. Everything I had delivered for him – I really delivered for him and gave him so much, and I really felt that he didn’t come through.” Hart added, “[McMahon’s] integrity was pretty shoddy.”
Apparently, Hart was so committed to staying with WWE, he agreed to earn $1 million less per year than what he was offered from WCW. Additionally, ‘The Excellence Of Execution’ claimed that the founding fathers of DX were “clearly” jealous that Hart was making more money than they were.
“Especially when I won the title, as an example, I had so much pride and respect for what [McMahon] was doing for me, appreciation. And I would have jumped in front of a moving train for Vince McMahon and probably would have up until those last few months.” Hart said, “The truth is, I took a $1.5 million salary over a $2.8 million salary. Oh, I think maybe the first offer was $2.5 [million], but that’s a considerable amount of money. I said, ‘no, I’m going to stay loyal with you.’ And you only have so many years to make whatever I could make, and for them to try and ruin me and tear me down based off of that I cost more or I’m making more money?
“Shawn and Triple H, all I can say about what they did with me was clearly they were offended that I made more money than them. And it’s like, is Triple H offended when Brock Lesnar is making more money than him? Does that give them the right to go screw him too? To mess with somebody else’s [livelihood]? So, you can kind of see the frustration of A) why I would be offended by this and B) why I got so mad when it happened?”
During the interview, Hart shared that there has been some misinformation about ‘The Hitman’ punching out McMahon after the Survivor Series main event. Hart recalled that McMahon never offered up a free shot.
“The Undertaker had a take on it. His take on it a few months ago – and they always say stuff like, ‘Vince probably said before he walked in that he was going to let me take a shot at him.’ I don’t remember that ever happening and I don’t remember Vince saying anything like that to me in my dressing room that he’s going to let me take one shot at him. There was no one shot [offer]. I took my own shot.” Hart added, “I doubt that’s the case. [McMahon] never saw it coming.”
From Hart’s perspective, McMahon sought him out in his dressing room after Survivor Series concluded as an attempt to save face with his performers. Apparently, a lot of performers were against what happened to Hart and could have decided against showing up for RAW the following night. ‘The Best There Is, Was, And Ever Will Be’ suggested that McMahon believed Hart would not hit him.
“I think I knew Vince pretty well, especially at the time. What really was happening, I think, was a case of Vince trying to save face with his talent. I don’t know if he expected there to be such an uproar. There was a real uproar with the wrestlers and the talent where they were probably wondering how many wrestlers were going to show up in the dressing room the next day. That kind of thing. So, it was a grandstand moment for him to confront me in the dressing room and sort of look to my better nature. I’m a pretty easy going guy.” Hart explained, “I think Vince gambled that I was going to take the high road and say a few words to him, and then I would walk out or grab my stuff, and leave the dressing room, and that would be the end of it, and he could say, ‘at least I confronted him.'”
In the alternative, Hart posited that McMahon may have thought he could have provoked a pull apart scenario and not gotten knocked out.
“The other angle I think Vince thought is we’ll get into a pull apart. This is what I believe Vince thought was going to happen. ‘He’ll confront me, he’ll stand up to me, he’ll almost provoke physicality with me and I’ll take him up on it, and we’ll come at each other, and we grab each other, and as soon as we’ – because there is about 10 guys in the dressing room and they’re all waiting, including Owen, including Davey Boy. I mean, I think they’re all going to jump in and sort of pull us apart, grown men fighting,” Hart noted, “I think that’s what Vince thought were the two options.”
Going back to The Undertaker’s misremembering of events, Hart divulged that he knocked out McMahon with an uppercut punch, not an overhead punch.
“The Undertaker said something about – and I love Undertaker, and I don’t expect everybody who was there to remember exactly the way I did, but it was not an overhead punch. It was an uppercut, and I turned in.” Hart said, “And I think it happened so fast that I don’t think anybody might remember it the way I did, but I know how hard I hit Vince.”
Similarly, the late, great Jim Neidhart misremembered the punch as well, as ‘The Anvil’ told people that Hart mounted and hammer fisted McMahon after knocking him to the ground.
“I remember Jim Neidhart talking, one time, to somebody else who was talking about The Screwjob when we were in the room, and Jim’s memory of it, which was the opposite of The Undertaker but similar in the sense that people have these different memories of what happened, Jim was right there in the room, as was The Undertaker.” Hart said, “but I remember Jim telling somebody I got on top of Vince and just wham, wham, I’m beating the crap out of him. And it’s like, I remember going to Jim, like, ‘I didn’t do that! What are you talking about? I hit him one time!’ And Jim was like, ‘really? One time?’ And I was like, ‘yeah, one time!'”
Subscribe to Confessions Of The Hitman to watch this episode. If you use any of the quotations from this article, please credit Confessions Of The Hitman with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.