November 9, 1997
Molson Centre, Montreal, QC
As 1997 drew closer to its end, we head in to what will forever be remembered as one of the most controversial PPVs in the history of the WWF. Of course I am talking about the night of the infamous Montreal Screwjob. On this night WWF Champion Bret Hart was set to defend his title against D-Generation X leader, Shawn Michaels. The problem was, Bret's contract was set to expire around this time before heading to WCW, yet at the same time, he was not willing to drop the belt to Shawn Michaels in his home country, due to the bad blood existing between the two on a personal level. I won't get into the whole screwjob backstory, as that's clearly documented all over the place, but there was certainly a feeling of tension in the air headed into this one. With that, lets get right into things. As always, follow me on Twitter at
The opening video package focuses on the highly personal rivalry between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. The two men were unable to stand one another, both on screen and in reality at this point in time. We them head into the arena where our now regular announce team of Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler welcome us to the show. I believe Vince was still announcing in the lead up to this show, but its no surprise he had things to tend to backstage on this night. Oh yeah, we have a French ring announcer tonight which gives the event a unique feeling as well.
Elimination Tag Match: Mosh, Thrasher, Bradshaw & Barry Windham vs Henry Godwinn, Phineas Godwinn, Road Dog & Billy Gunn
Our night kicks off with a showcase of the tag division in a classic elimination tag match. The Godwinns are no longer tag champs here, having lost the belts to a team not in this match that I'll get to later. As far as the face team go, the Headbangers have really had their brief moment in the spotlight coming off their previous title run, whilst the New Blackjacks never really had that moment to begin with. Hey at least the Bangers are still over. The real story here is the new team of Road Dog (formerly Jesse James) and Billy Gunn (Rockabilly) who were thrown together in the past few weeks with their singles careers not going anywhere at the time, when Rockabilly turned on his former mentor by smashing the Honky Tonk Man with his guitar. They don't even have a team name yet, but they would go on to become the face of the tag division over the next year or so. The match is a very weak start to the show though, especially when the Godwinns and Blackjacks are in the ring as the crowd just does not care. Blackjack Bradshaw score the first elimination of the match as he eliminates Henry Godwinn within minutes following a roll up. The Godwinns get a measure of revenge on the Blackjacks a few minutes later though, as Phineas comes in and takes Barry Windham out with a clothesline. Mosh comes in and quickly ends up going at it with Billy Gunn, but Gunn wins that exchange as he counters a bulldog attempt by Mosh into a face plant to eliminate the Headbanger. Thrasher and Phineas now go at it as Lawler asks JR where Vince is. JR replies that he has no idea. Meanwhile Thrasher takes out Phineas with the Stage Dive to even the teams up once more. Road Dog comes in and plays the cowardly heel for a bit as he and Bradshaw get set to face off, but some heel teamwork by the future Outlaws turns the tables on the faces. Billy draws Bradshaw's attention whilst Road Dog comes up from behind and quickly rolls Bradshaw up to score the cheap pin. With the match now two on one, Thrasher does his best to fight off his opponents, but he ends up falling to legdrop off the top from Gunn, which scores the victory at 15:25. The survivors are the new team on the block in Road Dog & Billy Gunn. The match did what it was supposed to do in giving a win to the new pairing that would quickly be pushed to the top of the tag ranks, but overall this was a pretty boring and sloppy start to the show.
Prior to our next match, we quickly cross to Kevin Kelly and Sunny who are on the Superstar line.
Elimination Tag Match:
Crush, Chainz, Skull & 8-Ball vs Jackyl, Sniper, Recon & Interrogator
Ah yes, the next phase of the Gang Wars. Since the Nation had moved on from the wars between the DOA and the Boricuas, of course we needed another group to join in the affray. That group was the Truth Commission, led by the Jackyl, a group comprised of South African soldiers or something of the like. The break out star of the group would be the massive Interrogator, but considering he didn't even go very far that should tell you all you need to know. The DOA are still over, despite not being very exciting, although this is the end for their leader Crush, who would quit the WWF following the events later on in the night. I said that the opener was pretty basic, but this match was even worse. Little under a minute into the match, the Interrogator scores the first elimination of the match as he pins Chainz with a sidewalk slam to put the Commission at the early advantage. Skull comes in and evens things up by eliminating the Jackyl with the exact same move. Jackyl joins the commentary team following his elimination as Recon comes into the match and gets beat up. 8-Ball ends up taking him out with a clothesline shortly after. Sniper is in next and he evens things up by taking out Skull with a bulldog. There have been countless non-tags so far and the announcers are even ripping on the officiating by now. Crush comes in and beats on Sniper a little before tagging 8-Ball back into the match. Interrogator tags himself in and eliminates the other bald twin with a terrible looking sidewalk slam. Crush is now all on his own and he manages to fight off Sniper, eliminating him with a tilt a whirl slam, which again was executed incredibly sloppily. We finally get put out of our misery a few second later as Interrogator disposes of Crush with a sidewalk slam, ending his opponent's WWF run at 9:59. Good god this was bad. Sure, Interrogator was built up as a threat, but his offence looked like a joke for much of this one.
We now hear from some fans earlier in the day regarding their thoughts on the main event tonight. Its actually pretty even between Bret and Shawn based on the fans they showed. We then see Austin participating in an online chat backstage. He returns to action tonight.
We now go to team USA in our next elimination tag match, led by Vader. Among others, he's joined by newcomer Steve Blackman, who says that whilst he is nervous, he's ready to defend his country. We then cross over to team Canada, led by the British Bulldog. They rip on America before promising victory tonight.
Elimination Tag Match:
Vader, Steve Blackman, Marc Mero & Goldust w/Sable vs British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas & Phil Lafon
So here we come to what is effectively end of the US vs Canada feud that pretty much started right after Wrestlemania and reached its peak back at Canadian Stampede. We have a few returns to talk about here. First Furnas & Lafon, who have been out of action for the past few months following a car accident. They returned on Raw is War leading into this show, officially turning heel in the process by joining in on a beat down on Vader led by the Hart Foundation. We also see the return of Marc Mero, who has been out of action following an injury in February. He's still a face here, but he's becoming more and more heel like as the weeks go by, not being happy with Sable's rising popularity in the company and becoming jealous of his valet. Speaking of heel turns, Goldust is also on the way there, having recently dumped his long time partner Marlena, claiming that their relationship was stopping him being the man he wanted to be. He would undergo a weird transformation over the next few months, but for now he is set to team with his fellow Americans. As for Blackman, he's basically portrayed as a fan who jumped the rail to come to Vader's aid against the Foundation on a recent episode of Raw. Of course, Team Canada would ordinarily be the heels here, but we are in Montreal so we have the reverse dynamic going on again as far as the crowd is concerned. Team America is using Patriot's theme (or Kurt Angle's theme as it would become). Mero and Bulldog start this one out as we get going. We get a few combinations going at it in the early going, with the newcomer Steve Blackman coming into the match soon enough. JR quickly talks about Blackman not being used to this environment, and that proves to come into play as he ends up getting into a brawl with Furnas and Lafon on the outside, getting counted out in the process to become the first man eliminated in the match. With his team at the disadvantage, Vader comes in and hits the splash on Neidhart to even the score up shortly after. Vader continues to build momentum as he takes out Lafon with the Vaderbomb a few minutes later. Furnas comes in looking for revenge for his partner, but Vader tags Mero in. Furnas and Bulldog go at it with Mero for a bit, but Furnas ends up rolling up Mero to score the elimination. Mero leaves ringside with Sable in tow. Vader comes back in and goes at it some more, with Goldust still not having entered the match at all. Vader goes to tag him in, but the Bizarre One drops off the apron, causing Vader to get beat down some more. The Mastodon eventually has enough and slaps Goldust once he gets back on the apron, which constitutes a tag. Goldust decides to just walk out though, and he leaves Vader alone, getting counted out as JR is all over him for abandoning his partner and his country. Vader fights back and hits the Vaderbomb on Furnas to bring the match down to him and Bulldog. Bulldog immediately hits Vader with the ring bell without the referee seeing it and wins the match via pinfall for Team Canada at 17:05. This was a decent enough match, with the Goldust heel turn being furthered throughout by his lack of participation. This would kickstart a rivalry with Vader heading forward, whilst all the members of the Canadian team would be gone from the company pretty much after the show.
We now see a video package highlighting Kane's path of destruction since arriving on the scene at our last PPV. We then hear from Mankind who vows to give this next match everything he has, even if it takes him out in the process.
Mankind vs Kane w/Paul Bearer So Kane obviously made his first appearance last month at Badd Blood, after months of hype from Paul Bearer. After laying out his brother the Undertaker with a tombstone on that night, Kane has been on a rampage for the past few weeks, interfering in random matches and beating the hell out of anybody that got in his path. This match is basically stemming from a recent attack that saw Kane destroy Dude Love with a chokeslam out of the ring. After spending the last few months in his fun loving persona, Foley reverted back into his Mankind character, looking for revenge here. The match itself is just a glorified squash designed to make Kane look strong. The whole match is wrestled with the red lights from Kane's entrance still shining down on the ring, which was a cool look since they were still just building up the character here. Having said that, getting rid of it in the long run was definitely the right call. This is a quick, stiff brawl, with Kane putting Mankind away with the tombstone piledriver at 9:27. This did what it was supposed to do as Kane's first proper match, establishing him as a dominant monster, so overall you can't really complain too much about this one.
We now head to the back where Michael Cole is standing by with Vince McMahon and Commissioner Slaughter. Slaughter acknowledges the tension surrounding the participants in tonight's main event, and says there is extra security in the building. In a strange moment at the time, Cole asks Vince what is going to happen in the main event. Vince hesitates for a moment before simply responding "I don't know". Of course, by this point it was acknowledged that Vince was the owner of the company, but he was still really just an announcer on screen with Slaughter having all the authority. Interesting to say the least.
Following that we head to the face team in our final elimination tag match of the night. Shamrock and co say that they are ready to go to war with the Nation.
Elimination Tag Match:
Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, Hawk & Animal vs Faarooq, Rocky Maivia, D'Lo Brown & Kama Mustafa First off I should mention the fact that the Legion of Doom are the new WWF Tag Team Champions, having defeated the Godwinns to finally end their long standing rivalry on an episode of Raw is War a few weeks before this show. Ahmed Johnson has turned face again following his brief run in the Nation of Domination and is once again feuding with the faction, because he never does anything else. Shamrock has also recently had issues with the Nation, and would go on to have a lengthy rivalry with Rocky soon enough. This Nation incarnation is far better than the original by the way, as I have said before, as despite Faarooq being the leader, its really here to get Rocky over as an effective heel. We see that push continue as Rocky scores the first elimination in this one within minutes as he hits the Rock Bottom on Hawk to take out on half of the tag champs from the match, putting the faces at the initial disadvantage. Of course Hawk kicked out right after the fall because he can't look too weak despite his best days being long behind him. Speaking of men who have outlived their usefulness, Ahmed comes in next and cleans house. He goes at it with Faarooq and surprisingly takes out the Nation leader with the Pearl River Plunge, eliminating him from the match and effectively ending that feud for good. Johnson goes at it with D'Lo for a bit, but his moment in the spotlight doesn't last too long, as Rocky comes in and eliminates the powerhouse when Faarooq, who is still at ringside, trips him up. Johnson and Faarooq brawl back up the ramp. Hey I guess that feud isn't going to end after all. We now go for a few minutes with different rotations of guys as the crowd start to chant 'Rocky sucks'. Animal and Kama end up fighting in the ring, but D'Lo intervenes and attempts to distract the remaining Road Warrior. Kama gets a kick in, but decides to show off for a bit, which ends up costing him as he falls to an Animal roll-up to be eliminated, evening the score up to 2 on 2. The remaining men continue to fight, as the Nation members use heel tactics behind the referee's back. Animal gets the tag back in but Billy Gunn and Road Dog make their way back out to ringside wearing LOD armour. This results in Animal getting into a fight on the outside, with the future Outlaws throwing dust in his eyes. Unable to see, Animal ends up getting counted out and leaving Shamrock on his own. Rocky and D'Lo work over their opponent, but Shamrock comes back and locks in the ankle lock on Brown, leading to the submission elimination. With Rocky and Shamrock being the only men left the officials are preoccupied with getting D'Lo out of the ring. In true heel fashion, Rocky takes advantage by smashing Shamrock with a chair, but its not enough to keep him down. He builds momentum and eventually applies the ankle lock to cause Rocky to tap out at 20:28. Decent enough match which got enough time and established Shamrock as a legitimate midcard threat to the Nation. He would take over Ahmed's role as the Nation's main rival for the next many months.
We now get a video package highlighting the Austin/Owen rivalry going back to the neck injury at Summerslam.
WWF Intercontinental Championship:
Owen Hart (c) w/British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas & Phil Lafon vs Steve Austin
Of course, Austin defeated Owen back at Summerslam to win this title, but during that match a botched piledriver resulted in Austin suffering a career threatening neck injury, forcing the new champion to relinquish the title. Owen defeated Faarooq last month at Badd Blood to win a tournament to crown the new champion with the unlikely assistance from Austin, who revealed that he ensured that Owen won the title so that he could take it from him on his return. That return comes tonight, as the toughest SOB in the WWF competes in his first match since Summerslam, although you can tell he's been rushed back into things as he's quite limited in his mobility for this one. He gets a nice pop, although since we are in Canada, Owen manages to draw a louder ovation making his way down the aisle with the rest of Team Canada from earlier in the night. Neidhart attempts to jump Austin before the match, but gets a stunner for his efforts. Owen jumps his challenger and we get going. The match is very basic but thats understandable considering Austin's injury was only three months prior. Austin fights back a starts stomping a mudhole in the champion, whilst Owen does his best to get intentionally disqualified to save his title. Austin rakes Owen in the eyes however and follows up with a Stunner on Owen to win the I.C title once more at a short 4:00. Obviously this was more about Austin getting his revenge rather than the actual match, so it served its purpose. Thankfully Austin would adapt to a new style as an excellent brawler that would result in him rising to the top of the wrestling word.
We get a brief video about the new 'Attitude' in the WWF. We're moving into Attitude era territory now. We now get a video package for our upcoming main event. Backstage we see Michaels with DX to some huge crowd heat. After he makes his entrance we also see Bret backstage with his son. Its time for this one.
Bret Hart (c) vs Shawn Michaels Here we go, the match that changed the course of wrestling history. Bret Hart is of course the reigning WWF Champion. Shawn Michaels earned this title shot by virtue of his victory over the Undertaker last month inside Hell in a Cell. They are both heels, but the animosity between both men is well documented at this point, both on screen and backstage. Of course, we are in Montreal so Bret is a face tonight. I won't go too much into the details surrounding the backstage aspect of this match, but basically Bret was set to leave the WWF and head for WCW after dropping the belt to Shawn here. Bret didn't want to do that in Montreal due to his intense dislike for Michaels at the time and had basically put Vince in a situation where something had to be done to get the belt off Bret and not risk his company's championship showing up on Nitro much like Alundra Blayze took the Women's title at the end of 1995. Anyway, as far as the match here goes, Bret comes out with a Canadian flag, which Michaels uses to wipe himself down, getting some huge heat. They certainly wouldn't get away with that these days. Right from the get go, the two start brawling to the outside. Bret is in control and a whole bunch of referees run out to try to regain some order. Slaughter and Vince also head out to ringside as this is going on, and JR mentions the speculation regarding Bret's future. The two men continue to beat the hell out of each other, going up the aisle and all before finally returning to the ring and the match officially gets started. Great pre-match stuff there to convey the personal nature of this rivalry, and I'm sure some of those stiff shots were quite legit given who we have going at it here at this time. As the match gets started, Bret chokes Michaels with the Canadian flag to a huge pop. Michaels retaliates and does the same whilst drawing more and more crowd heat in the process. They go outside again and this can really just be described as a chaotic fight. Its actually very enjoyable as these guys proceed to just destroy each other. Bret locks in his awesome ring post figure spot in there as well. They continue to go at it for a bit and then it happens. Shawn bumps into Earl Hebner and follows up by raking Bret in the eyes. Shawn then proceeds to lock in the Sharpshooter on the downed Hitman. Hebner recovers quite quickly and immediately calls for the bell to be rung, whilst McMahon (still at ringside) also calls for it. The bell rings at 12:11 and the match is awarded to Shawn Michaels, our new WWF Champion. Earl gets the hell out of there as Bret Hart has indeed been screwed and in the process the Mr McMahon character would be born. The Hitman is furious and spits on Vince as DX comes out and quickly escorts Michaels out of the arena. It would be many many years before Bret Hart would be seen in a WWF (then WWE ring again). Obviously this match is more remembered for the controversial ending, but the match itself was pretty good leading up to the Screwjob. The crowd was hot and the match had a lot of intensity. We quickly cut off the air before Bret goes on to trash the arena. He would end up heading to the locker room and decking Vince in anger.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This is a show that is only remembered for the Montreal Screwjob, but to be fair there wasn't much memorable stuff going on elsewhere on the card. Could the situation have been handled better? Sure, but its really a moot point now, especially considering all involved parties have finally reached closure on the ordeal. Ultimately, I think the whole thing comes down on Vince and Bret. There was clearly communication issues and I think if the two had talked things out there would have been a way to get the belt of Bret, but I think refusing to drop the belt in Canada was a bit petty. In hindsight, the Screwjob was probably a good thing in the grand scheme of things indirectly. Bret was starting to look out of place over the past few months, and it was clear Shawn fit more in the Attitudinal direction the company was going. Also, who knows if we ever would have gotten Mr McMahon if not for the insane disdain the company's owner drew from this incident. I'm glad Bret was able to come back on his own terms eventually, although its sad that this was the final memory of his active WWF career. But alas thats the way things go. The next few weeks would see a major crop of talent depart in protest over the Screwjob and the company would have a shaky month or so before coming back stronger than ever. For now, this was a below average show. Not much to get excited about in the undercard, but the main event and the shenanigans around it speak for themselves.
Three Stars of the Night: 1. Bret Hart - his run didn't end on a high note to say the least, but he put on a solid match before being unceremoniously being tossed aside. He'll definitely be missed, but we are about to enter perhaps the hottest run in the history of the company without him.
2. Shawn Michaels - I really enjoyed his work in the main event before the finish. You could tell he hated Bret, but in this instance it added to the chaotic frenzy of a feeling around the match. With Bret gone, he would officially become the number one heel in the promotion, but he's pretty much held that spot since turning anyway.
3. Steve Austin - great to see the Rattlesnake back in action even if he was still pretty out of it ring wise. Its crazy to think just how quickly he came back from his injury.
FINAL GRADE: 4 out of 10
ALL TIME PERFORMANCE: What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1. The list is put together from all the shows I have reviewed thus far. Once again there is no change in the rankings.