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 did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?

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Sexton Hardcastle
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PostSubject: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:50 pm

a pre note. I'm no wrestling historian, I don't pretend to be. But I thought i'd start an article to get peoples wrestling juices flowing in the lead up to WM30.

WWE was at the time losing out to WCW, finances were not brilliant, Vince knew he had to make cut backs. But this would not be enough on it's own. WWE had to shock the world, be the name on everyones lips and ultimately defeat the WCW machine. What better way to do this than the biggest single moment in wrestling history. Hart was looking to leave the WWE previously, but Vince kept him around for big bucks, a potential mistake, until he turned it around to his favour. Let Bret go to WCW, as he wanted, but make his departure an advert for WWE. The world was shocked, a character was born, an era was born. Vince had created the biggest selling point for wrestling, believability. Yet offloaded a ticking time bomb on a multi million dollar deal. The seeds were planted for monday night domination. Nothing sells as well as someone to really hate. I genuinely believe Vince and maybe even Bret knew exactly what they wanted, long term, and knew how to get it.

Hope I sparked a bit of nostalgia, no matter how incorrect I am about anything.
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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:22 pm

I used to be a member on here a long time ago but seemed to over time post less and less but now I am back, and these seemed a good place to start posting.

I was for a long time of the opinion that the screwjob was genuine, but I am starting to think it was a work.

It really did kick off the new era of wwf and helped the wwf grow. It didn't work out so well for Bret but that was down to injuries and poor booking in the wcw. I do think that the screwjob helped cement Bret's legacy in a strange way, I am not sure he would be so fondly remembered without it.

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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:29 pm

I've had the same feelings on the "screwjob" It all fit in so perfectly, with the camera crew following Bret about catching the aftermath.
Also in the last year of Brets role with the WWF he was working on an angle with Vince who was shown as the owner of the WWF, Building the way for the whole mad boss Vince became.
I always had a feeling that the whole thing was set for a Bret return in a couple of years for a feud. But things turned ugly with the death of Owen and then the injury to Bret.
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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:47 pm

Yeah, I think he may have come back but with Owen and the injuries Brett suffered I think would be tough.

I think him coming back in the Invasion angle leading WCW with Shane would have been great. I would like to see him return one day with a new Hart Foundation, I thought it may have happened few years ago but not to be.

I think the Screwjob opened up wrestling to a new group of fans. I think it moved things forward for the WWF which was needed
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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:55 pm

just for anyone that wanted to know what Bret got out of it too (I was about to add this but phone switched off) Bret was allowed to win everything in WCW, they doubled his wages and gave him creative control. If things had worked out he could have himself ended his 3 year deal by setting up his next WWF character without WCW really knowing his intentions. The screwjob also made everyone very sympathetic to Bret beyond gimmicks, just like they hated vince for real.

Vince has since had similar big ideas not work out for non wrestling reasons, I sometimes think people don't give him enough credit for making things stray towards the real, even far fetched ideas have broken through to other media. His death storyline attempts for example. This is why I remain hopeful on Punk being involved in a future Vince plot.


I also don't believe that anyone could say "I'm leaving and not giving up the title to HBK" and get the response "okay Bret" and later work out a way to screw him. he'd have reacted to it badly and changed the match, not had the clarity to plan the screwjob with hbk and earl

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Sexton Hardcastle
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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:04 pm

i'm going to add more too lol. Vince arguably invented sports entertainment (I think he ripped off Andy Kaufman who originally saw wrestlings potential) but Vince ran with it full speed (Mr.T in the HoF highlights the willingness Vince had to go mainstream), his dad didn't rate the mainstream and celebrity influence. It fits his vision perfectly to create an event that shocked everyone and brought him to the forefront. He obviously had acting lessons to become Mr.Mcmahon and worked on his character to get it right, He performed better than most wrestlers and he made his character feel real.

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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:13 pm

I think it was all a work, as the dropping of the title to hbk was an excuse. They also had the history of the woman's title being dropped in the bin on WCW, I think vince used all this.

I think Vince would not have expected things to work as well as they did and I think Brett would have thought things would have gone better then it did in WCW.

To answer your initial question I am not sure it saved the WWE but removing Brett allowed others to come through, it turned Vince into a monster heel, hbk was viewed as a heel which helped DX. Prior to this the wwf was a little stale.

It didn't save it but it made it so much better
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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:22 pm

I cannot see the Montreal Screwjob as a work at all. There's no way Bret or Vince could have kept up the pretence for this number of years without it all coming out...

Basically, Vince knew Bret for almost 15, 20 years. He knew him like a son, and knew exactly how to play him. Bret has always had a hugely inflated sense of his own importance, and took wrestling far too seriously. All Vince had to do was play on the rivalry between Shawn and Bret, knew that HBK would screw him in a heartbeat (it had to be Shawn, I can't see someone like Taker doing it). As for the rest? Those lovely wrestling Gods who like a good coincidence - the film crew had barely been backstage until that night, Vince probably forgot all about them. Montreal had been booked months in advance (and let's be honest, if it had been in New York or LA, Bret wouldn't have had the 'I can't lose in Canada!' excuse) and it gave Bret a whole new reason to moan about everything.

One final point, that I think also bears mentioning here:

Montreal did do one thing beyond establishing Vince as an awesome character: it completely and utterly devalued Bret. In his book, Bret even admits that Vince told him that WCW wouldn't know how to book a Hitman. Bret got creative control? All the WCW big names had creative control. The pure wrestlers in WCW were all buried in the midcard, your Jerichos, Guerreros, Misterios. All Bret could work with to justify his enormous salary were the broken down part-timers, and Goldberg. None of those could work with a pure wrestler like Bret. It speaks volumes that Bret ended up as the United States Champion - by the time WCW were done with him, he was a very, very well paid midcarder.

But back to the question - did it save the WWF? Possibly. Austin was already on his way to greatness, Rock had debuted and was finding his feet. All it did was give McMahon the greatest character ever, and an awesome heel for Austin to play off. However, if HBK hadn't destroyed his back, who's to say that he wouldn't have been the heel for Austin to work with? he's shown he's the ultimate company guy for the rebel employee to face.

Personally, I've always thought it was Shawn Michaels' back injury and missing the Attitude era that saved the WWF.

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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:30 pm

I personally don't think it saved the wwf - but it certainly helped. People wanted to tune in to see why Vince screwed bret. It could of went two ways. People could of starting boycotting wwf because of it. I think it's a bit blown out of proportion because it was on a Canadian in Canada.

Also for it being a work? Not a chance. Bret , as well as Vince, have too big of an ego not to let it slip 15 years later. When bret returned to give shawn a hug on raw, that was real or some great acting.
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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:11 pm

I don't doubt he hated Shawn. I always hated him. He just looks like a complete dick and was/still is. Even more so when he found God. Only people who have been complete dicks need to find god like that. Maybe it wasn't as perfect as Bret knowing either, but I think Vince knew as soon as bret wanted to leave originally, that he'd get the best of it, somehow. I enjoyed Jim Cornette on westle talk, but it does sound like he's cutting a promo on how it was legit. But, I agree with him that there's no chance Vince Russo was behind it, which Russo claimed and that HBK WAS a dick.

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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:17 pm

and as for it saving, the ratings will have spiked, Vince was brilliant for business, WCW was paying guaranteed mega wages to even more talent with signing Bret and with a shift in ratings Vince knew that would be hard to keep up. And when you are ahead in the ratings you make more money, which Wwe needed. Plus the freed up millions from Bret's contract
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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:34 pm

But WWE wasn't ahead in the ratings when Montreal happened. WWE only hit the front ratings-wise, when they teased an Austin vs Vince match on Raw a long time later. It took a while for all the pieces to fall into place.

basically, Vince pretty much had to pick between Shawn and Bret. Their relationship had been shattered, and they couldn't work together, not without splitting the entire dressing room - you'd have HBK, Trips, Chyna and others on one side, Bret, Owen and others on the other. Vince picked Shawn, got rid of Bret, went more adult with new stars, and WCW couldn't cope.

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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:16 pm

What was the relationship between the Harts and the McMahons? I no stu played hard ball with Vince and didn't want to sell. Could that also be a reason? Probably not but Italy's you wonder if Vince was getting his own back.
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PostSubject: Re: did the Montreal screwjob save the wwe?   Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:27 pm

exactly, they weren't ahead, so something had to be done with real shattering impact. The things it lead to all involved the Mcmahon character, and because people really genuinely hated him they tuned in to see him eventually fall.

It wasn't just the ratings too, they were losing money. Vince and Bischoff both would have known the eventual loser of the Wars would go out of business. There could never be two top companies sharing one time slot for the long term. Vince targetted the right audience perfectly.
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