Little boy with big dreams gets final wish

PROVIDED Connor "The Crusher" Michalek applies the "Yes Lock" on his hero Daniel Bryan.

Some stories are worth repeating.

Over and over and over.

One such story made the rounds last week.

Too often pro wrestling gets a bad rap. Like sports in general, it's the darker side of the profession that always seems to generate the big headlines.

Overpaid, overindulged and overly worshipped athletes and entertainers are rampant. Their sense of privilege and purpose is hopelessly out of whack.

And then comes along a guy like WWE's John Cena, who has granted more than 400 wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, more than anyone in the history of the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Cena, incidentally, granted many of those wishes while battling through a list of injuries, resulting from the grind that comes with a 300 day-a-year travel schedule and a lot of time spent inside the ring.

Cena, though, is just one of many in the World Wrestling Entertainment juggernaut who devote considerable time and resources to those who need a helping hand.

Or something as innocent as a wish granted.

Not all stories end with a happy ending. But wishes can come true.

This is one of them.

Connor Michalek of Shaler Township, Penn., was 7 years old when he made a YouTube video in 2012 requesting to meet his favorite WWE performer.

The video went viral, and a fan sent WWE superstar Daniel Bryan the video via his Twitter account. A social media campaign was launched.

It was Bryan's first Make-A-Wish request.

Connor, though, wasn't your average 7-year-old. He had been diagnosed in 2009, at the age of 3, with medulloblastoma, cancer of the brain and spine. After his diagnosis, Connor underwent brain surgery, several other intensive surgeries, nine full rounds of chemotherapy and six full weeks of spine and brain radiation.

Doctors gave the child less than a one percent chance of surviving.

WWE's immediate answer to Connor reflected Bryan's own catch phrase: a resounding "Yes! Yes!" Yes!"

And when WWE came to Pittsburgh, Connor was backstage, meeting his larger-than-life heroes.

Decked out in Daniel Bryan garb - from T-shirt to wristbands to a replica title belt - Connor informed Bryan that he had his own mat moniker: "Stone Crusher."

Bryan gave the youngster T-shirts and other memorabilia, and even tapped out when Connor applied Bryan's own version of the "Yes Lock" on the wrestler.

"It's unbelievable. I'm so touched," Michalek's mom, Brittany, told a local station.

Just as touched was the WWE crew that had assembled to greet Connor "The Crusher."

The brave little boy who captured the hearts of WWE's biggest stars got the chance to meet all of his favorite wrestlers and leave a lasting impact on them.

"It brings a tear to my eye, a little bit, that somebody as awesome as Connor wants to meet somebody like me," Bryan said at the time.

"It's actually a very humbling experience as far as all of the struggles he's going through, and for him to want to meet me, I mean, I'm just a small town guy from Washington," Bryan added. "Anything you can do for someone like Connor, oh my gosh, I'm equally as thrilled to meet him."

It wasn't the last time Michalek would get to hang out with Bryan. The week before Wrestlemania 30 this April, WWE invited Connor to Monday Night Raw in Washington, D.C.

Before the show started, Connor got to walk down the ramp with Bryan as WWE superstars chanted his name. Connor even got to spend a little time in the ring where he "took out" WWE executive vice president Paul Levesque aka Triple H with one punch and pinned him.

No novice, Connor even knew to hook the leg.

Making this story even more special, Connor got to see his hero, Daniel Bryan, fulfill his own childhood dream by winning the WWE world heavyweight championship a week later in front of 75,000 fans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Then Bryan celebrated his big win with his biggest fan.

WWE made sure he had the best seats in the house. Connor was at ringside, with his father, and was the first person Bryan embraced after his win.

"Connor, you mean a lot to me and you give me a lot of strength. You helped me earn this. Please keep on fighting," Bryan told the youngster.

Later that month, on April 25, Connor lost his battle with cancer. He was only 8 years old.

Connor's father, Steve Michalek, believes the chance to see his hero at Wrestlemania extended his son's life.

"The best part of Wrestlemania for me was that it was the first time in, I'd say four years, where I actually forgot that Connor was sick," said his dad. "I truly believe that the whole experience extended Connor's time with me.

"There's no greater gift I could get, and there's no way I could ever repay them for that. As a father, that's all I can ask for is more time ... especially the time I got was so great. He was himself, and it was like having my little boy back."

Connor's bravery touched the entire WWE crew.

"Connor was special for a million reasons ... his smile, he was so quick-witted, and he was nice to everybody," said Bryan.

"Connor was an old soul ... he just had a magic about him," said WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, choking back tears. "He had a light, and anybody around him could feel it and is the better for it."

WWE recently released a touching tribute to Connor and his fighting spirit. The video can be seen on YouTube.

Old School Championship Wrestling returns to the Hanahan Rec Center on May 18.

Main event pits Brandon Paradise against Lodi. Also featured on the bill: John Skyler vs. Jaxon James; Brady Pierce vs. Hammer; Nick Kismet vs. BJ Hancock for the OSCW title; and a five-corner match for the IC title.

Bell time is 5 p.m. Doors open at 4:30.

Adult admission is $10; kids 12 and under $5.

For more information, call (843) 743-4800 or visit

Big Time Wrestling comes to the Charleston Area Convention Center on May 31 with a show highlighted by appearances from 16-time world champion Ric Flair and former WWE and TNA champ Jeff Hardy.

The show also will feature Jimmy Valiant, The Barbarian, The Patriot (Tom Brandi), BTW heavyweight champion Flex Armstrong and BTW divas Reby Sky (Mrs. Matt Hardy) and Sojo Bolt.

Bell time is 7 p.m. Flair and The Hardy Boyz will headline a special meet-and-greet before the show beginning at 5 p.m. Fans will have the opportunity to meet the stars up close and personal, get autographs and pictures with all of the stars of the evening's event.

Admission to the meet and greet is included with all event tickets, although additional charges apply for autographs and/or photograph packages.

Tickets for the event start at $15 (plus venue fees) and are available at the Convention Center box office, all Publix supermarkets, and

For more information, call 877-649-3599.

Wednesday marks the 25th year of this wrestling column, which has been in continuous publication longer than any other in the country, and I'll be a guest on Southern Sports Central to discuss the milestone and other sports news. The show airs from 6-8 a.m. at

Reach Mike Mooneyham at 843-937-5517 or, or follow him on Twitter @ByMike Mooneyham and on Facebook at