The Impact Of One Second
June 19, 2007 by Andrew Rudd
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'It only takes a second'- this is the phrase that accompanies many great moments in wrestling's history, and it works too for Sean Waltman's debut in the WWF, the moment Chris Jericho became an Undisputed Champion and the Montreal Screwjob. However, compared to the rest, the impact of the Montreal Screwjob is so great, some feel we'll never know the true impact.
A good place to start when examining the impact of the Montreal Screwjob is how the major three figures and two companies involved were like pre-Montreal. Bret 'Hitman' Hart was a multi-time champion who had all the respect in the world for Vince McMahon. Shawn 'Heartbreak Kid' Michaels was a cute, inspirational underdog who had done nothing wrong in the fan's eyes and Vince McMahon was the behind-the-scenes genius who created Hulkamania, the Attitude era and made kayfabe cool. Even the WWF and WCW had different reputations, pre-Montreal, with the WWF so cool, you had to like it to even be considered cool and WCW was simply an alternative to WWF with a different style of wrestling. Then 'The Hitman' moved to WCW, cue: Montreal Screwjob, and everything changed.
Suddenly Bret Hart's success was a thing of the past, Shawn Michaels was controversial, and the number one heel, while the ego of Mr. McMahon had just begun. Even the WWF was seen as a money-grabbing company, who would do anything to get the fans. While WCW was not even just an alternative any more, with fans switching to WCW for many reasons, including sympathy and the impact of the Screwjob on Bret Hart's career.
The after-effect of the Screwjob left a shadow in every involved figures career. With his move to WCW haunted by the Screwjob, 'The Hitman' would never be the same. He would struggle to receive the same respect and attention, compared to WCW's other big stars, would depend on a tournament to win another World Championship, and even would end up having a rotten 1999 and 2000, involving forced retirement and the death of his younger brother, Owen Hart, on live WWF television. His already-strained relationship with HBK would never recover, resulting in Michaels even recording some damaging comments on the proposed 'Screwed' DVD. Hart even has avoided public contact, as much as possible, with any appearance, these days, a moment to treasure. Shawn Michaels, meanwhile, would use D-X as a chance to improve on the heat that the Montreal Screwjob had generated. He has never been liked in Canada since, straining relationships between the American and Canadian fans. Mr McMahon and WWE, benefited from the Screwjob with increased publicity and an ego that to this day, depends on the Screwjob. With WCW suffering from the day of the Screwjob to the day Vince bought it in 2001.
Even the incident itself, to this day, raises many questions. These vary from 'Who screwed who?' to 'What if the Montreal Incident had never taken place?', but at the end of the day, 'The Hitman' and WCW suffered the most. The incident even has provoked comments in interviews and created feuds on its own. However, the incident has had such an impact, that Starrcade 1999, Survivor Series 1998 and No Way Out 2003 have all seen similar finish to matches.
Even Bret Hart's induction into the Hall of Fame, in 2006, was clouded by Montreal's hanging shadow. Hart even saying that if Michaels was in the front of the audience, he would walk out and Michaels would be doing his induction speech. Hart did give his speech, but would not show at Wrestlemania 22.
It was only one second, but in one second, the image of all the companies and figures involved was damaged. In fact, fans swear that the Montreal Screwjob changed wrestling forever, with their claim not being hard to believe. After all, since Montreal, there have been more references to the incident than any other moment in wrestling. Bret Hart was a respected wrestler, with success and popularity galore, then Montreal happened and 'The Hitman' lost his respect, his confidence and his good luck. Oh, pity the impact of one second.
by Andrew Rudd (View/Submit your feedback here)..
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