Note: This is my Crunch Time column for the March 16 issue of The Cheney Free Press.
WWE will have their flagship event, Wrestlemania 33, is a few weeks away and I’m excited. For us pro wrestling fans, the event is kind of like the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards.
As part of the festivities, WWE holds its annual Hall of Fame ceremony, honoring performers and managers who have made their mark in the wrestling business. The Hall of Fame also has a celebrity wing that recognizes celebrities, including President Donald Trump, that have made memorable appearances on WWE programming.
In the last few years, the WWE has given out the “Warrior Award” named after WWE Hall of Famer, The Ultimate Warrior.
According to the WWE’s website, the award is given to an individual “who has exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance, and who lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of Ultimate Warrior.”
On March 13, WWE announced that the year’s recipient of the award is former Rutgers football player and motivational speaker, Eric LeGrand. LeGrand was paralyzed after he suffered a spinal cord injury during a game in 2010. During a kickoff, LeGrand collided with the ball carrier. After the tackle, he was on the ground for several minutes before being carted off the field.
During his recovery, he has regained movement in his shoulders and sensation throughout his body.
While I feel LeGrand is a good candidate to receive this award, other wrestling fans are not so enthusiastic.
After WWE made their announcement, fans complained about LeGrand “qualifications,” saying he shouldn’t be considered for the honor because he had no history in the wrestling business. Others viewed it as a slight against the Warrior and his legacy. I had to resist rolling my eyes when I saw people write comments such as “WWE needs to give the award to a company guy, that’s what Warrior would have wanted” or “Warrior is rolling in his grave right now.”
True, Warrior, who passed away in 2014, was vocal about the WWE making a better effort to recognize the employees who work behind the scenes. During his Hall of Fame induction speech, Warrior said WWE should create a special award for employees who help “make the company run.” He singled out Jimmy Miranda, who worked for the company for 21 years and was the head of merchandise sales for all of the WWE’s house show events.
I agree with Warrior in that WWE should recognize the behind the scenes crew and something like the “Jimmy Miranda Award” would be a good start in doing that. However, Warrior didn’t specifically say “Now Vince McMahon, if you and WWE decide to name an award after me, you have to give it to a company guy.”
And if fans looked at LeGrand’s backstory, they might agree that he does embody that “Warrior spirit,” WWE touts for their award.
Despite his injury, LeGrand resumed his college classes, via Skype, and finished with a degree in labor studies and became a broadcaster for the Rutgers Football Radio Network.
To read the rest of the column, follow http://www.cheneyfreepress.com/story/2017/03/16/sports/legrand-is-more-than-deserving-of-wwes-warrior-award/20229.html.