WWE Tribute to the Troops is an annual event held by WWE together with Armed Forces Entertainment in December around Christmas since 2003 as a way of honoring the men and women of the United States armed forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Selected WWE wrestlers and employees travel to the said countries and interact with the members of the US Military for at least three days. The WWE Superstars regularly visit military camps, bases and hospitals, including Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital, during their travels to bolster the morale of the troops.
WWE then holds a special wrestling show in an open field, with the troop members in attendance for free. The show features matches involving selected Superstars and Divas from both Raw and SmackDown. The company then airs the matches, as well as videos highlighting their interaction with the members of the military, in a special televised program of the same title.
JBL interacting with soldiers, the idea of honoring and entertaining the American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is credited to wrestler John "Bradshaw" Layfield, who suggested it to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.
WWE first held the event in December 2003. Select WWE Superstars (including Layfield and McMahon) held a wrestling show at Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq and was aired on Christmas Day as a special episode of WWE Smackdown. The main event of the show saw John Cena defeating The Big Show, with Stone Cold Steve Austin coming out after the match, hitting a Stunner on both men, and finally inviting all the talents and Vince McMahon to the ring to celebrate.
In December 2004, WWE traveled to Camp Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq. The wrestling show, dubbed Christmas in Iraq, aired on December 23 as another special SmackDown episode. Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio defeated Kurt Angle and Luther Reigns in the main event.
Chris Jericho hits an Enzuigiri on Randy Orton during the 2007 Tribute to the Troops]] In 2005, Superstars held the event in Bagram, Afghanistan. The wrestling show taped there on December 9, 2005 was dubbed Tribute to the Troops and was aired on December 19 on WWE Raw. For the main event, Shawn Michaels beat Triple H in a Boot Camp match. In 2006 it was another Raw episode that aired on Christmas Day. The show was taped in Baghdad, Iraq, and had Carlito pin Randy Orton for the win at the main event. A day before the show's taping in Camp Victory, a mortar attack happened near the camp. Michael Cole reported from the scene minutes after the attack, which injured 14 soldiers. In 2007, they returned to Tikrit, Iraq. D-Generation X members Triple H and Shawn Michaels defeated Umaga and Mr. Kennedy in the main event of the wrestling show, which aired on Christmas Eve on WWE Raw.
2008's Tribute to the Troops was not aired on any regular WWE programming. Instead, for the first time, the wrestling show in Camp Liberty, Baghdad, Iraq aired on NBC on December 20 as a one-hour special. In its main event, John Cena, Batista and Rey Mysterio defeated Chris Jericho, The Big Show and Randy Orton in a six-man tag team match.
WWE once again traveled to Iraq in 2009, and hosted its seventh Tribute to the Troops. In the main event, John Cena retained his WWE Championship against Chris Jericho. The event aired on December 19, 2009 on NBC.
WWE previously announced that there would not be a 2010 Tribute to the Troops. However, it was later noted that a 2010 Tribute to the Troops will, in fact, be done and was taped on December 11, at Fort Hood in Texas, USA. It aired on NBC on Saturday, December 18, at 9/8 CT for one hour. WWE also announced on the December 13, 2010 airing of WWE Raw that a 2-hour version of the 2010 Tribute to the Troops would air on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 8/7 CT on USA Network.
Tribute to the Troops dates and venues
|Tribute to the Troops 2003||December 20, 2003||Baghdad, Iraq|
|Tribute to the Troops 2004||December 18, 2004||Tikrit, Iraq|
|Tribute to the Troops 2005||December 9, 2005||Bagram, Afghanistan|
|Tribute to the Troops 2006||December 8, 2006||Iraq|
|Tribute to the Troops 2007||December 7, 2007||Tikrit, Iraq|
|Tribute to the Troops 2008||December 5, 2008||Baghdad, Iraq|
|Tribute to the Troops 2009||December 19, 2009||Balad, Iraq|
|Tribute to the Troops 2010||December 11, 2010||Fort Hood, Texas|
|Tribute to the Troops 2011||December 13, 2011||Fayetteville, North Carolina|
|Tribute to the Troops 2012||December 19, 2012||Norfolk, Virginia|
|Tribute to the Troops 2013||December 28, 2013||Fort Lewis, Washington|
|Tribute to the Troops 2014||December 27, 2014||Columbus, Georgia|
|Tribute to the Troops 2015||December 23, 2015||Jacksonville, Florida|
|Tribute to the Troops 2016||December 13, 2016||Washington, D.C.|
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