Sunday 9 September 2012

Live on Raw, WWE Hall of Famer Bret “Hit Man” Hart returns to Montreal, Canada, the setting of Survivor Series 1997. This marks the first time in 15 years that The Excellence of Execution will stand inside a WWE ring in the very same locale that put a startling exclamation point not only on his fifth WWE Championship reign, but on his legendary career as a WWE Superstar.

Bret’s opponent that fateful night on Nov. 9, 1997, was Shawn Michaels, a competitor with whom The Excellence of Execution had a variety of issues with both inside and outside the ring. The pair had memorably clashed in the first-ever 60-Minute Iron Man Match at WrestleMania XII, which resulted in a WWE Title victory for “The Heartbreak Kid” after the bout went into overtime. That match was, and still is, regarded as one of the most thrilling in WWE history, and the WWE Universe eagerly anticipated yet another classic WWE Championship clash between these heated rivals at Survivor Series, waged in front of The “Hit Man’s” countrymen at Montreal’s Molson Centre (since renamed the Bell Centre). As talked about as this encounter was, there was even more chatter about the future of Hart’s in-ring career and his impending departure from WWE for the seemingly greener pastures of Ted Turner’s WCW.

Wary of the reigning WWE Champion potentially exiting the organization with its most coveted prize around his waist, Mr. McMahon concocted a plan to ensure that Hart would not leave Montreal with the title. In a plot worthy of Machiavelli, The Chairman ordered the referee to call for the bell while HBK had Hart locked in the defending titleholder’s signature Sharpshooter – despite the fact that The “Hit Man” never tapped out.

As the new WWE Champion fled up the entrance ramp, a furious Hart spit in Mr. McMahon’s face, destroyed television equipment at ringside and, later on in the locker room area, punched The Chairman in the face. Years after the fact, Hart admits to having difficulty describing what was going through his mind in the tumultuous moments following the incident.

“When that happened, I felt they might as well have just cut my heart out in the middle of the ring and just thrown it out into the crowd,” The “Hit Man” explained in the DVD, “Greatest Rivalries: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart.” “There was so much surrealism to it.”

But the surreality didn’t end that night in Montreal ...


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