You are aware that Shawn did not want to drop the belt to Austin and it was only under the threat of physical injury and violence from Undertaker that he was basically forced to do it, right?
It was absolutely HBK and Vince who were the ones at fault here. Anyone saying that Bret screwed Bret is a fucking idiot. Please tell me how it is anyone, ANYONE, can justify international humiliation in front of millions of people by being betrayed by your boss (in an industry that relies HEAVILY on trust) because the man he was scheduled to do business with was already violating said trust by being a dangerous, unprofessional jerk and Bret stood up for himself. Never once did Bret say he wouldn't job to Shawn, he only ever said he wanted to retain in Canada and would gladly lose it on television the next night or week after. However, Vince was terrified of another Alundra Blayze incident occurring and thought Bret would just boogie down to Atlanta with his world title, instead of giving Bret the benefit of the doubt, since they'd been friends and business associates for...15 or so years. So what is the logical decision in this case? Let's conspire with the self centered, highly political, degenerate drug addict to fuck Bret over!
Way to choose sides there, Vinnie.
As far as I'm concerned there is no debate here. Bret absolutely did not deserve what happened to him. Whoever thinks he does, picture this: you're at work and your boss says "take this toothbrush and go clean toilets." You say "no, that's not my job." Your boss says fine. Next thing you know, a video of you doing something extremely embarrassing (use your imagination) airs on TV on all major channels. It turns out it was your boss who had it put on the air and he did it as a way of fucking you over because you wouldn't do what he asked. Now tell me, did you deserve something that humiliating? No, and neither did Bret.
If it so humiliating to Bret, why did he come back, basically squashing the beef with Vince and HBK? That leads me to believe either Bret was more in the wrong than people admit or that it was all a work, with the plan for the 2 to have a rematch down the line but injuries said otherwise.
Losing the title in Canada should have been the least of Bret's worries. I've heard that WWE, upon signing, makes you list the 5 most embarrassing things that could happen in your career and then tells you eventually, they will happen.
Bret refusing to drop the title because HBK saying he wouldn't return favor is the equivalent of me saying "since you ratted me out to the police, I'm telling on you too". Still doesn't make either situation right. And the fact that they were shooting a documentary during the screwjob, the fact that Mr. McMahon was born from it, Owen stayed in WWE and Bret worked with Vince again less than a decade after the incident strongly tells me this was a work. Nobody can keep their story together and because of his reputation, HBK is always going to be the bad guy. And IMO, Bret still wanted his victory back from 1996.
Let me ask you this, lets say you're Vince McMahon. Now, you're known for screwing over talent in the past (Wendi Richter in '85), you've had the rival promotions WHC on your TV show and your competition had one of your titles thrown in the trash, killing that championship for about 3 years. Bret is known to throw temper tantrums, so how are you going to pretend that there is no chance Bret won't throw your title in the trash, especially as, after you said, Vince constantly standing by HBK?
It's only 2 choices for me, Bret couldn't be trusted or the whole thing was a work that backfired.