The road to WrestleMania got a little slick Monday night when WWE fans touchingly cried all over. The tears came when the promotion announced Connor Michalek, an 8-year-old super fan who passed away from cancer last year, would be the first fan to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Michalek will receive the inaugural Warrior Award, named after legendary pro wrestler The Ultimate Warrior, who died days after being inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.
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Michalek’s little brother and their dad Steve sat ringside for Monday’s “Raw” in their hometown of Pittsburgh, where the audience gave them a standing ovation. Shortly afterward, “#ConnorTheCrusher,” a hashtag honoring Connor via his pro wrestling nickname, trended on Twitter. WWE also announced the charity fund Connor’s Cure that it set up in honor of Michalek last year had raised roughly $200,000.
“My family is forever grateful for the gift that WWE, its Superstars, Divas and executives gave to Connor,” Steve Michalek said in a WWE press statement. “They made him smile and encouraged him to continue fighting. His visits backstage, and his time in the ring with Daniel Bryan, brought Connor true joy and undoubtedly extended his life, giving us more time with him. Now, with this award and Connor’s Cure, Connor’s legacy will live on.”
“Connor Michalek had a profound impact on so many people,” WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon said. “His spirit and love of life were so strong, you would have never known he was sick. I can think of no better way to honor Connor, than by recognizing him with our highest honor, the first fan to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, as a Warrior.”
The Ultimate Warrior’s widow Dana Warrior and Daniel Bryan will present the award at the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which is set to air on Saturday, March 28 on WWE Network at 8 p.m. EST.