You may or may not have heard about Connor “The Crusher” Michalek. Long story short: Connor was an absolute die-hard WWE Superfan, who unfortunately passed away on April 25th, 2014 after a five-year battle with brain & spine cancer. Incredibly sad stuff.
Last night: Daniel Bryan was assigned the difficult task of honoring Michalek, and inducting him into the WWE Hall of Fame. Bryan did so with amazing class and poise.
Bryan talked about his inspired-performance at last year’s WrestleMania and what Connor sitting ringside meant to him … a beautiful, but, heartbreaking story:
"“Everything I’ve done in front of you guys…it’s fiction. It’s not real. When you talk about inspiration, I’m talking about something real. And somebody who inspired me was Connor. I wish you could you have seen Connor through my eyes at the end of Wrestlemania last year. Here I was in front of 70,000 people, confetti pouring down and I looked out and there was Connor, who despite being really sick had sat through this four hour show. He had to have been tired and there he was smiling and throwing his arms in the car. And he was in his dad’s arms. It gave me a sense of what was truly important.”"
A beautiful memorial by Bryan, no doubt … but, you’ll notice that there’s another story here. When Daniel dropped the Wrestling is “…Fiction, it’s not real” declaration, there are audible gasps from the crowd as if he just said ‘bomb’ on an airplane. The audience continues to grumble as Bryan alludes to his character’s 2012 “heel turn”, and goes as far as winking at “smart” fans’ suspicion that the company goes out of its way to prevent him from being “the face of WWE.” Whether you think Wrestling is “real”, or not … there are a lot of jabs in here that are essentially verbal subtweets of the WWE corporation, and are worth keeping an eye on if you’re a fan of the sport…
All-in-all, it was a speech for the ages — and if you’re looking for a good cry, here is Connor’s father, Steve Michalek, accepting the Warrior Award on Connor’s behalf last night.
R.I.P. Connor. You may be gone, but, will never forgotten.