The Montreal Screwjob shook up the wrestling business in November 1997 with Vince McMahon screwing Bret Hart out of the WWF Title as he was set to leave for WCW. The moment had a lasting effect on the WWF, Vince, Bret, and the entire Hart family.
While British Bulldog and Jim Neidhart were able to leave WWF and join Bret in WCW shortly after the Screwjob, Owen remained in WWF. But not by his choice.
"It was a really difficult time for Owen. Even though he didn't share the same philosophy as Bret as far as wrestling would go, he knew that was crushing for Bret. He felt bad for his brother, but he was beholden to a contract at the time," Owen's wife Martha told Chris Jericho on Talk Is Jericho. "WWE had just introduced contracts where you were locked in for five-years. Owen was locked into his contract. He requested he be let go when everything happened with Bret and they said no. They weren't going to let him go. The way the contract worked was, if you don't work, you can't work for somebody else. You don't necessarily have to work, but you're not making any money and you can't work somewhere else. It was a very onerous contract where it really benefitted the company, not the wrestler. Owen was in a tough situation and didn't have a choice. You either stay here or go nowhere. Emotionally, it was difficult for him to see his brother upset and betrayed, yet have to stay and fulfill his commitment. He preferred to leave, but they wouldn't let him go. They did [give him a raise] to sweeten the pot. I guess they were worried he would just sit out and say 'forget it.'"
Owen would receive a mini-push following the Screwjob, returning to WWF television in December to attack Shawn Michaels at the end of In Your House: D-Generation X. But his run at the top was short-lived as he was bumped down the midcard in just a couple of short months.
The Owen Hart episode of Dark Side of the Ring premieres Tuesday, May 19 on VICE. You can view the trailer for the episode by clicking here.
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