Gerald Brisco has recalled the conversation he had with referee Earl Hebner ahead of the now infamous ‘Montreal Screwjob’, even going as far as to ask if Bret Hart was going to be the person paying his mortgage.
Survivor Series 1997 will always live in wrestling folklore, due to the main event between ‘The Hitman’ and Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship. Bret Hart was due to leave the company that night, however the result did not go as he expected when Hebner called for bell whilst HBK had him in his own sharpshooter.
After the contest Bret Hart spat at Vince McMahon at ringside, as well as clearly drawing the letters WCW directly to the camera and Hart making his way to the company soon after.
Being in a prime position as McMahon’s right hand man, Gerald Brisco has spoken on Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard about the conversation he had with Earl Hebner ahead of the match, including pressuring him in to making sure he was in charge of the contest.
As the match was getting ready to go to the ring, Earl was getting ready to get in there. I grabbed Earl by the arm and I took him just a few steps from the Gorilla position where Bruce (Prichard) was sitting, and Davey Boy and Owen, so I couldn’t talk to him right in front of them because they would alert Bret somehow that Brisco was talking to the referee and to be aware of something.
So I took Earl back in a little corner and Earl did not want to do it. Earl was not going to do it. I just started laying it out in black and white to him.
I said, ‘Earl, you have a mortgage on your house, right? If Bret takes his title down there (WCW), and like I said, we’re not in the greatest shape financially, we being WWF, is he going to pay your mortgage? Is he going to pay your electric bill? Is he going to feed your family when he takes off and he’s down there making billions of dollars? What’s going to happen to you if you refuse to do this and I have to replace you?
Gerald Brisco went on to say that Tim White, one of Hebner’s fellow referees, had been primed to referee the match should he have got cold feet. It wasn’t until Hebner was going through the curtain that it was confirmed he would do it.
I went to Timmy White and asked Timmy to stand by. I told Timmy, ‘We might have a ref bump so I might need you to stand by.’ That’s how I covered it with Timmy to be on standby to referee the match just in case something happened. Timmy of course being a company man said, ‘Yea, I’ll be glad to.’ He said, ‘I hope nothing happens.’ I said, ‘Well I do too, but I might need you as a standby.’
So Timmy was sitting over by Gorilla [position]. Finally, I got down to brass tacks with Earl. I said, ‘Ok Earl. You have to go to the ring. You have to tell me right now. I’ve got Timmy White over there that will take your place. You know if you refuse to do it and you walk out, you’re probably finished here.
Now is Bret going to take you to WCW and get you a job down there? I doubt it if he’ll take you down there. You’re going to be out of the business as far as making major money with a major organization.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Brisco, I wouldn’t do it for any other guy but you.’
He said, ‘It’s against my judgment.’ I said, ‘It’s against my judgment too, but it’s the only choice that we have at this time. So are you going to do it or not?’ He said, ‘I’ll do it.’ I said, ‘As soon as you do that 1,2,3, I want you to grab the belt, hand it to Shawn, and just get the hell out of there. Get out of that arena as quickly and as fast as you possibly can.’
Gerald Brisco has commented a lot about Bret Hart recently, including how he refused to lose a big tournament match.
With thanks to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription.