For almost 20 years, WWE has traveled overseas to present their annual ‘Tribute to the Troops’ show for members of the United States Armed Forces.
What began as an idea from John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield turned into a yearly event, designed to provide at least a few hours of entertainment to those fighting overseas. By all accounts, this event is held in high-regard by almost everybody who makes the trip each holiday season but, according to Jim Ross, the event means the most to none other than Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
Speaking with Conrad Thompson on his Podcast, ‘Grilling J.R.,’ Ross revealed that while ‘Tribute to the Troops’ was Layfield’s idea, it was McMahon who took the idea and turned it into the annual event that it has become.
“[Tribute to the Troops] was a huge deal,” Ross stated. “I think it was JBL’s idea originally, that Vince [McMahon] borrowed and ran with, just because JBL could not make it happen, but Vince could. Vince took a very vested and emotional interest in this project. Of all the negative things that people have said about Vince, and some are meritous and some aren’t, just like all of us, no one can ever question his patriotism. So Vince made all the trips. He was going over there like a crazy guy, like he was a young kid.”
A lot has been said about Vince McMahon’s respect for our Armed Forces, and JR seems to corroborate that talk with his own observations.
Speaking for himself, Ross said that he “never got to make that trip [for Tribute to the Troops]. That was probably one of my biggest regrets in my WWE run, was not being booked. Quite frankly, space was always limited and it was a payday for some of the talents, and it was just another long trip that I didn’t have to go on. But looking back at it, in hindsight, I really wish that I would have booked myself or leveraged myself on one of those trips if I could have. It’s a great honor and I don’t know anybody that’s gone over there bitching about the food or something like that, something materialistic. But the thought, the emotion, the passion and the good feelings that [the WWE] created for these people, these soldiers, these men and women away from home and defending our country, is amazing. And it touches everybody’s heart. We should try to create more opportunities in our life that can touch our hearts. And this was certainly one of those [opportunities].”
Today, WWE no longer goes overseas for the event, and as of last year, didn't broadcast it, either.
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