Connor “The Crusher” Michalek died in late April after a battle with cancer in his brain and spine. He was eight years old.
In December of 2012, Michalek was able to live out his dream. He tapped out his pro wrestling hero, Daniel Bryan, backstage at a WWE Raw event after grabbing the company’s attention with a viral video campaign. But that was just the beginning.
Michalek left a big mark on the wrestlers and executives he met with his vibrant personality and infectious optimism. Upon learning he had little time left, WWE set him up with the ultimate fan experience.
The company wanted to give Michalek “something to hang on for,” as chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon put it.
Fast forward to 2014. A week before WrestleMania XXX, before another episode of Raw, Michalek got a chance to perform in the ring. He entered the stage area with Bryan to the wrestler’s music. Surrounded by WWE stars, all of whom were cheering him on, Michalek delivered a ‘knock-out’ blow to Triple H (who sold it pretty well) and pinned the wrestler for a three-count.
What’s more, Michalek and his dad were given front-row seats to WrestleMania XXX. After the main event, which featured Bryan, the boy got a hug from his hero.
Just over two weeks later, Michalek succumbed to his afflictions.
WWE’s tribute video detailing his story made its way onto YouTube this week.