On Monday, WWE announced that former Rutgers University football player Eric LeGrand will receive the Hall of Fame’s Warrior Award. LeGrand will receive the award during the Hall of Fame Ceremony. He was a standout defensive end at Rutgers. Unfortunately, he suffered a neck injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down. His documented recovery and his drive and determination to walk again have made him into something of a celebrity.[NickG]
Unfortunately, it seems like the WWE has once again missed the actual point of the Warrior Award.
Just to be clear, this is not at all a knock on LeGrand and the two previous recipients. Eric LeGrand is an amazing person who has done amazing things in the face of unbelievable adversity. The same is true for the previous two Warrior Award recipients, Joan Lunden and Connor “The Crusher” Michalek. They were also unbelievable and inspiring in their respective bouts against cancer.
The knock is on the Warrior Award itself, and the WWE. In 2014, The Ultimate Warrior was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. During his speech, he talked about an award he wanted WWE to present at the Hall of Fame ceremony annually. Named the”Warrior Award”, he wanted it to go to one of the many hard-working backstage members of the WWE staff.
These people are basically an army who work their tails off every week so the WWE superstars can put on a quality show. These people do a number of things. Some set up the arena (which is no small task by any means). Some are the seamstresses who sew and repair ring attire. There are even individuals like Jim Johnston and later the CFO$. They have spent hours creating some of the most iconic entrance themes in pro wrestling history.
WWE super fan Connor “The Crusher” Michalek was announced as the first recipient of the Warrior Award. It was actually pretty awesome to see. Connor was a WWE super fan who didn’t let a brain tumor take away from his love of WWE. Sadly, the tumor eventually took Connor’s life at just eight years old. The WWE was able to establish Connor’s Cure, which has since raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer.
They continued in their own direction the following year. They chose to honor journalist, and breast cancer survivor, Joan Lunden with the Warrior Award. Her struggle and eventual triumph over breast cancer is very inspirational. She is also an avid spokes person for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
All of the accolades of Connor, and Joan Lunden are amazing. But, it was also clear that the WWE missed what Ultimate Warrior was actually going for with the “Warrior Award”. Instead, they took the name of the award and made it what they want it to be. Granted, it’s not a diss towards Warrior, but they took his idea and went in a different direction with it.
Congratulations to Eric LeGrand for being this year’s recipient of the “Warrior Award”. You took a terrible situation and turned it into a huge success story. But to the WWE, try to look around the arena for next year’s “Warrior Award” recipient.
That’s what the Ultimate Warrior would have wanted…