Close examination of a slow-motion replay has revealed that Bret “The Hitman” Hart did not — despite what the win-loss record suggests — actually tap out to the Sharpshooter during a 1997 match in Montreal against Shawn Michaels.
The discovery sent shockwaves through the wrestling world, inspiring many fans to call for an immediate rematch.
Multiple viewings of the replay have led WWE officials to determine that the referee, Earl Hebner, prematurely rang the bell to end the match, even though Hart did not submit to the maneuver.
“After watching the slow-motion replay, we have decided to reverse the decision of the main event of Survivor Series 1997,” said a press release issued today by WWE.
“Clearly the result of that match was due to referee error, not submission.”
Officials who watched the replay noted several strange elements that were not spotted at the time of the match. For example, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon appeared to be shouting something at Hebner while the sharpshooter was applied — a distraction that could have led to Hebner making the incorrect call.
The instant replay also revealed that Bret Hart is quite possibly the most accurate spitter in the world.
After the match, for reasons unknown, Hart used his finger to spell out a word in the air: “WOW.”