Former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts opened up today in a tell-all blog post over on Medium, discussing his take on the recent Hall of Fame induction of Connor “The Crusher” Michalek, and how WWE often spins real life into positive PR stories. You’ll recall Roberts was released last year in a round of budget cuts.
It’s a damning piece, less shoot-style but just as damaging in nature. In it, Roberts hightlights a number of issues he has with the way WWE has played up this Connor Michalek “Warrior Award” inductee, including how the company has misconstrued the Warrior’s original intent for the award.
Last year, just days before his unfortunate, sudden death, the legendary Ultimate Warrior suggested during his Hall of Fame induction speech that WWE should honor the hardworking people who work behind the scenes at the company.
…This year, they spliced and spun the Warrior’s speech to make the award about “warriors” outside of the company, because that might make for a better story — and for better publicity.
Roberts goes on to discuss how he’s ultimately okay with them using the award to honor veterans, cancer victims, and other “heroes” of society… especially somebody like Connor Michalek (who Roberts was friends with). But he’s not okay with the way they’ve blurred the reality around the situation.
For starters, Roberts hints that Daniel Bryan was not quite as tight with Connor as recent vignettes would have you believe.
Daniel is a quality person and incredible performer. I feel bad that the company put him in a position where people on the outside might assume they were closer than they were.
Additionally, Roberts points the finger directly at WWE for “distorting” reality for it’s own PR purposes.
When the video came out, I was surprised, maybe more surprised than I should have been, to discover that reality was not a part of the story. The company told the story the way they wanted it to be told. And then I remembered: that’s just what the company does — it tells stories. Maybe I experienced this one too personally to see it distorted, but it was not easy to take.
It should be noted that Roberts was exceptionally close with Connor Michalek – he says he was the first one to bring Connor inside the WWE family after seeing him at ringside, and ultimately responsible for many of the feel-good moments we’d experienced with Connor over the last year (including the Triple H “pinfall,” which Roberts had originally suggested go a different direction).
All in all, Roberts accuses WWE of trying to control the story instead of telling the truth.
This past weekend at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, they told a story. While using real life people and real stories, they did what they do best: they told a story and they didn’t let the facts get in the way.
But most damning is the tweet Roberts linked to at the end of his post. It’s a quote from Stephanie McMahon, posted March 28th, that boils philanthropy down to nothing more than a marketing strategy.
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) March 28, 2015
As always, read with a little caution simply because Roberts is a former WWE employee (something he addresses in the article). However, he comes across less as a guy with an axe to grind here, and more as a concerned fan who doesn’t want to see fellow media misled. Also? Many of the points he makes – especially the “Warrior Award” stuff – are grounded in fact.
Give the whole thing a read here, if only to get a little more insight into the awesome spirit that was Connor “The Crusher” Michalek.