On November 9, 1997, the professional wrestling industry changed forever.

In the midst of the hottest days of the Monday Night Wars between World Wrestling Entertainment (then WWF) and World Championship Wrestling, problems with money and contracts led Bret Hart and Vince McMahon to a standstill. McMahon needed to wrest the title from Hart before he left for WCW, and Hart refused to cede the title to Shawn Michaels, his most nemesis, in front of the Montreal pay-per-view crowd, feeling that losing in such a Canadian stronghold would be devastating to his screen persona .

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Ahead of the Survivor Series, several different ideas were proposed as solutions. Hart suggested that he could instead lose to Steve Austin, or possibly lose the title to Michaels at a live event in Detroit the night before. But once it became clear that they couldn’t agree on a solution, the wheels momentarily set in motion that forever changed the two companies, changed countless wrestling careers, and ultimately set WWE on the path to becoming a multi-billion dollar brand.

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Ever since the Montreal Bummer happened, anyone indirectly connected to the industry, as well as millions of fans around the world, have wondered how it all happened. The documentary Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows provided a wealth of information from Hart’s point of view, and Hart, McMahon, and Michaels have given numerous interviews over the years.

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The story changed when it was finally revealed that Michaels, Triple H and a few others were in full agreement with the plan to change the cape and dagger title in front of millions. Over the course of 20 years, details gradually leaked out. Michaels and Hart even reunited in the ring in 2010 and did a two-hour interview with Jim Ross in 2011.

So, 20 years after Montreal Fuck, what comes to mind when Michaels, the man who was supposed to execute the Sniper and the plan to blind Hart, remembers that fateful night?

“I just remember there was a lot of chatter going around up until this point, like, ‘Dan-Dan-Dan – what happens when Bret leaves? Michaels told Sportzshala.com, looking back at the 1997 Survivor Series prep. “And then, of course, there was the infamous phone call between me, Hunter and Vince – I mean, that was just a week before.

“For me, anyway, it wasn’t talked about until that phone call a week before Survivor Series.”

The call, in which the idea of ​​a secret end to the match that would allow Hart to take the title despite him, was the moment when it all became very real for Michaels. By the night before Survivor Series, apart from a complete change in Hart’s outlook, everything was almost ready.

After years of bitter on-screen rivalry and rising backstage tensions, Hart’s unwillingness to lose was as much due to his lack of respect from Michaels as it was to the loss in Montreal. But after everyone, including Hart, ostensibly agreed on the idea of ​​a referee clash, hand-to-hand combat, and either a disqualification or no contest, the question remained of how to organize a real match.

“[It was] probably the most uncomfortable day I’ve ever had in the wrestling business,” Michaels said of having to sit with Hart and plan a match before the show started. “By the time the day comes, the decision has already been made. But no one knows how it will be done until Bret and I sit down and start discussing the match – none of this can be implemented until we do it. And so it was just an uncomfortable day, knowing that you know [how others] suppose that happens, and then you have to be the one who organizes it all.

“From a professional point of view, from a reputation point of view, although I was not the most attractive guy then, it was just a terrible day, [a] very uncomfortable day.

Shawn Michaels

Even in his mood and attitude at that point in his career, which Michaels hastened to admit was unpleasant for others at the time, he understood the burden and blame that would fall on him. shoulders, whatever McMahon ended up saying to the rest of the locker room happened afterwards.

“It’s one thing to decide to do it. And it’s quite another thing to be the one to do it and not have the slightest idea how you’re going to do it. if you succeed, it will be the worst thing that can happen to you,” Michaels said. “From a professional point of view, from a reputation point of view, although I was not the most attractive guy then, it was just a terrible day, [a] very uncomfortable day.

Setting up the match, and then creating a moment of betrayal, became even more difficult when Hart showed up at Montreal’s Molson Center (now the Bell Center) just hours before the start of the Survivor Series.

“Bret came in later than usual, and so the process of figuring out what in the name of all that was supposed to happen or how we were going to do it, dragged on even longer, because [we didn’t know what was] will continue until we sit down with him.

Michaels, Hart, and producer Pat Patterson sat down and set up the match as planned, and then, after McMahon presented the offer, a few select players came up with an actual plan. After referee Earl Hebner was knocked down, Michaels was to slap the sniper, the second referee was to come down and then the Hart family and Generation DX were to follow, followed by a hand-to-hand fight.

Instead, Hebner slowly got to his feet while Michaels used the sniper move, Hart’s signature finishing move, and the moment Michaels caught the move, Hebner called the bell.

But before any of that could happen, there were still more than 10 minutes left for the match to end.

“It’s kind of a surreal moment,” Michaels said. “You have made a decision, everything is ready for you, and there is still a wrestling match ahead. So you’re out there doing your thing, which again is an incredibly athletic, tough performance – fun, getting into character and other things. this nature. And on top of that, in addition to already hiding who you really are just by doing your job, you have to hide from the person you are working with any hint of what might or might not happen.”

The script played out exactly as planned and the title changed hands, but the moment the bell rang, there were a whole host of new issues to deal with. It didn’t take long for Hart to figure out what had happened, and because McMahon wanted it over, Michaels had to play along and act as shocked as everyone else.

McMahon and many WWE executives were in the ring, shortly after being joined by Triple H. As the pay-per-view broadcast quickly ended, the timeline resumes in Fighting Shadows with Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart standing by. Bret in the ring.

Michaels had a brief backstage chat with Hart in which he stated that he “had no idea” what was going to happen next, and then he and Triple H quickly left the building. While McMahon was ultimately the one who took the hit from Hart, Michaels was willing to face the music if Bret, Owen, Neidhart, the British Bulldog or whoever decided he would.

“You won’t go for something like this without understanding [the consequences], Michaels said. “You might have to fight your way out of the building, or you might get into a couple of fights, or who knows. But one of the most important things in the wrestling business is when you go there with guys, you trust each other with your bodies.

“For all the differences that Bret and I had, they never made it to the ring. And so – believe it or not – this is the most important thing. Even if you’re asked to do it while being obedient to your boss, it’s not fun. Pain, or fighting, or beatings, it all heals in the end.

“Honestly, it would be a lot easier to say, ‘Yes, I knew, and I did it,’ and accept whatever happens,” Michaels said. “Because at least then it will be open and everything that needs to happen will happen right here and now.”

Once the adrenaline wore off and he sat down with Triple H, the scale of the moment finally started to get to him.

“Honestly, what I remember most was in the hotel room after that, with Hunter just sitting there and watching,” Michaels recalled. “I have time to finally slow down and accept what really happened. A lot of people say a lot of important things in the wrestling business and 99.9% of them never happen. And it’s good that this doesn’t happen, way.

“But it really happened and I was right in the middle of it,” Michaels continued. “It’s just not the attention and focus that I would like. It’s just not a very pleasant moment to be part of the absolutely most infamous thing in wrestling. holy cow, I can hardly imagine the impact, the free fall and the consequences of what happens tomorrow.”

For Hart, his WWF career was over. He eventually moved on to WCW where he had some success, but his career was ultimately cut short by an injury at the hands of Goldberg. Michaels, on the other hand, had to walk through the curtain the following night in front of the Canadian crowd on “Monday Night Raw” the following night.

“You won’t go for something like this without understanding [the consequences]. You may have to fight your way out of a building or into a couple…