In the spirit of Bob Hope, the superstars and divas of WWE have brought holiday cheer to the brave men and women serving our country with its annual Tribute to the Troops. Over the last decade the entertainment juggernaut, in partnership with Armed Forces Entertainment, has taken this show of appreciation to the soldiers stationed in the warzones of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In recent years WWE have kept the event in the United States. Its 10th spectacular coming from Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia and Norfolk Station Norfolk, the crown jewel of the United States Navy. They welcomed members of the WWE roster for a weekend of visiting sailors and their families in the Norfolk and Hampton Roads area, culminating with the Tribute to the Troops. It was the first time the show was taped at a U.S. Navy installation.
For superstars like John Cena, who has been a part of 9 out of the 10 events, Tribute to the Troops is bigger than WrestleMania and the company’s most important show of the year.
“The reoccurring theme you see regardless of where you go…all the troops really want to say thank you to us, and to me that’s backwards,” Cena said during a conference call to promote the event to air as a two-hour special 9 p.m. ET Wednesday, Dec. 19 on USA Network and 9 p.m. ET Saturday, Dec. 22 on NBC as a one-hour special.
“We’re there to one, let them know that we completely support them, and we want to say thank you, and two, to give them a weekend of basic downtime. They get to meet and greet us over the weekend, but at the very final day we actually set up and perform for them.
“So the whole weekend is built around thanking them, but literally everyone we meet wants to thank us for supporting them. And that’s just: it’s extremely humbling and flattering and it just goes to show the resolve of the men and women in uniform, they do not under any circumstances put themselves first.”
The Irish-born Sheamus, who is now in his third year participating, agreed. The former world champion called the weekend a humbling experience. He was grateful to have the opportunity to show his gratitude to the service men and women he meets during these trips.
“The thing is I might be from Ireland, but the thing is I reside in the United States of America,” Sheamus said.
“This country has given me the greatest of opportunities. It’s given me a chance to live my dream with WWE and all these men and women protect, make sure my life and home is protected.
“…so anything I can do to give back to them or just to make sure I can go face-to-face and tell them, say thank you for all they do. They sacrifice so much. They’re at sea or at service overseas for great chunks of the year or years on end.
“And their families are home waiting for them…It’s a great opportunity for me to tell them thank you.”
U.S. Rear Admiral Tim Alexander, commander of the U.S. Navy Region Mid-Atlantic saw the impact having the WWE superstars and divas had on those serving.
“The sailors, the marines here in the Hampton Roads area, their families were absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to meet the members of WWE and to be able to show them around the bases …and then to attend the main event downtown at the Norfolk Scope. So it was a real treat for us to be able to host this group of wonderful people, and we look forward to doing it again whenever they’re ready.”
The Tribute to the Troops event will also feature performances by Grammy Award-nominated, international superstars Kid Rock and Flo Rida and appearances by Disney’s The Muppets, The Miami Heat and Katie Couric. Video packages will chronicle the memorable few days for the WWE family interacting with service men and women leading up to the spectacular. This included meet-and-greets, flying in an F18, partaking in a spirited game of dodgeball and going aboard the USS Mitscher warship.
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