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This touching WWE tribute to a terminally ill fan will change the way you see pro wrestling

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The plot lines in professional wrestling are unequivocally staged. But as anyone who has ever stepped inside the squared circle will attest, everything else—the emotion, pain, frailty, and moments of triumph—takes a real toll.

For any lingering doubters, set aside five minutes and watch WWE’s poignant tribute to Connor Michalek, a 9-year-old fan whose life was cut far too short from brain cancer.

In it, Michalek gets his own private Wrestlemania, getting inside the ring and facing off against Triple H on the biggest night in sports entertainment. He interacts with Stephanie McMahon and walks out with superstar Daniel Bryan.

It’s incredible to see the impact these larger-than-life performers had on Michalek and his father.

“I truly believe that the whole experience extended Connor’s time with me. There’s no great gift that I could ever get, and there’s no way I could ever repay them for that."

But what’s even more impressive is the lasting effect that Michalek had on the wrestlers themselves. After winning his headlining match at Wrestlemania, Bryan sought out Michalek in the crowd and went straight to him.

“Connor, you mean a lot to me,” he said. “You give me a lot of strength. You helped me earn this. Please keep on fighting.”

H/T Uproxx | Screengrab via YouTube