Bret Hart took his exit from WWF in what has become an iconic moment in professional wrestling history. On the night of Survivor Series in 1997 while in Montreal, Vince McMahon cost Hart the WWF World Heavyweight Championship on Hart’s last day with the company. This moment has become known as the Montreal Screwjob.
Many wrestling fans are familiar with what transpired at ringside during the Montreal Screwjob, but one aspect that played out backstage is significantly less known. When Hart and McMahon got to the back, a heated confrontation ensued. This resulted in Hart punching McMahon before walking out.
During an appearance on the In This Corner podcast, Hart revealed the entire wider incident to be the defining moment of his expansive career.
“In some ways, I’m not so proud of that moment but in a lot of ways, I think it was the single defining moment of my lifetime. You know I often second guess a lot of what I did that day punching Vince and you know I think it made me feel good a few months ago when Chris Jericho was on a podcast and he was talking about Bret Hart should have done this or Bret Hart should have done that, but all these people who are talking about me they don’t know my circumstance. They don’t know what rights I had in my contract that gave me legal precedent. I had creative control for my last sixty days right there I was legally in the right to do the things I stood up for.”
“It kinda stings when I think of how much I gave to WWF and how they just wanted to stab me in the back that day and sweep me out the back door and have nobody ever hear from me again. All that I did meant nothing, all those years taping up injuries and working sick and I’d worked for WWF for at least three hundred days a year for at least sixteen years and it meant nothing to them in the end.”
Throughout his life, Hart has had to deal with numerous struggles. From the Screwjob to his brother Owen being killed to even having prostate cancer, he has been through it all.
“You get past it when you go through other struggles in your life. When I deal with my brother Owen getting killed, and Bulldog, so many other wrestling friends of mine that have passed away. You know to having a stroke and almost dying from a stroke years ago and having my brush with prostate cancer two years ago. It’s like I don’t have time to worry about what happened with Shawn Michaels or Vince McMahon almost thirty years ago.
“If I had to do it again I would have probably done the exact same thing again. I have no regrets on my behavior. I look at it myself in some ways as my crowning moment. My moment to stand up and say I’m a businessman and I’m gonna protect myself and you don’t have the right to destroy me. You might have a contract that employes me as a wrestler but you don’t have the right to destroy me, rape me. When I look at what I did, what I stood up for I believe I stood up for all the boys in wrestling.”
Finally, Hart believes CM Punk to be someone very similar to himself. Punk stood up for himself, just like Hart did. “The Hitman” almost had charges brought against him for punching McMahon after the Screwjob.
“I think the same could have been said about CM Punk as an example. You know his standing up and saying, ‘hey I’m doing all the work around here, you’re gonna give Batista and Brock Lesnar and Triple H all these guys who are part-timers who are home every day, they’re getting all the main event matches at WrestleMania and I’m the one pulling the wagon around here and I wanna be in the main event.’ They tried to smooth it over and sugarcoat it and offer him everything but a main event spot so he quit like he held them up on that.
“I heard some guys talking bad about CM Punk in the car about he wasn’t one of the boys or something like that. I’m thinking, ‘he gave up so much to prove a point for the wrestlers.’ You know that the wrestlers are doing the work, put the wrestlers in the main event spot. He stood on those principals and he lost his job, gave up a lot to make that point but he was right and he took a bullet for the industry. I’m glad he won that case a few weeks ago because I’m sure that there was a lot of pressure on him to wear him down and break him in that case.”
Do you believe the Montreal Screwjob to be the defining moment of Hart’s career? Do you agree with Hart’s assessment about Punk? Sound off in the comments below.
(H/T to Wrestling Inc for the above quotes)