Earl Hebner’s Perspective: Owen Hart Held No Blame for the Montreal Screwjob

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Owen Hart wasn’t among those blaming Earl Hebner for the Montreal Screwjob, according to the legendary and controversial referee.

The Survivor Series 1997 main event saw Bret Hart screwed out of the WWF Championship after Hebner rang the bell while Bret was in the sharpshooter despite not tapping out.

In a recent interview with Steve Fall of “The Ten Count” podcast, Hebner recalled Owen confronting him after the Montreal Screwjob. He said,

“Owen truthfully came up to me and said, ‘I want you to know something. I’m not mad at you. I have no hard feelings about what happened. We’re still friends. I understand.’ I said, ‘Well, I really appreciate that.’”

Following the Montreal Screwjob, the Hart Foundation was granted releases from the company with the exception of Owen who’d pass away after a tragic accident at Over the Edge 1999.

The Montreal Screwjob is one of the most infamous incidents in professional wrestling history. It took place during the main event of Survivor Series 1997 and involved Bret Hart, Earl Hebner, and Vince McMahon. The controversy surrounding this event has been well-documented, but what often gets overlooked is the reaction of Owen Hart, Bret’s younger brother.

In a recent interview with Steve Fall of “The Ten Count” podcast, Earl Hebner, the referee involved in the Montreal Screwjob, revealed that Owen Hart did not blame him for what happened. Hebner recalled Owen approaching him after the incident and saying, “I want you to know something. I’m not mad at you. I have no hard feelings about what happened. We’re still friends. I understand.” This display of forgiveness and understanding from Owen is a testament to his character and the bond he shared with Hebner.

The Montreal Screwjob occurred when Vince McMahon, the owner of the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE), decided to change the planned outcome of the match without Bret’s knowledge or consent. The original plan was for Bret to retain the WWF Championship against Shawn Michaels, but due to contractual issues and Bret’s impending departure for rival promotion WCW, McMahon felt he had to protect his company’s interests.

During the match, Bret applied his signature submission move, the sharpshooter, on Michaels. However, Hebner rang the bell prematurely, indicating that Bret had submitted and Michaels had won the match and the title. This decision was met with shock and outrage from both Bret and the audience, as it went against the agreed-upon script.

Following the Montreal Screwjob, Bret Hart and several other members of the Hart Foundation were granted releases from their contracts with the WWF. However, Owen Hart was not among them. Tragically, Owen would pass away in May 1999 during a stunt gone wrong at the Over the Edge pay-per-view event.

Owen’s reaction to the Montreal Screwjob speaks volumes about his character. Despite being part of the Hart family, which was deeply affected by the incident, Owen chose not to hold a grudge against Hebner. This shows his ability to separate personal and professional matters and maintain friendships even in difficult circumstances.

The Montreal Screwjob remains a controversial and polarizing moment in wrestling history. It forever changed the landscape of the industry and strained relationships between wrestlers, promoters, and fans. However, Owen Hart’s response serves as a reminder of the importance of forgiveness and understanding, even in the midst of betrayal and controversy.

In conclusion, Owen Hart’s reaction to the Montreal Screwjob was one of forgiveness and understanding. Despite being part of the Hart family, he did not blame Earl Hebner for what happened and maintained their friendship. This display of character highlights Owen’s ability to separate personal and professional matters, even in the face of a deeply controversial incident. The Montreal Screwjob will always be remembered as a pivotal moment in wrestling history, but Owen’s response serves as a reminder of the power of forgiveness.