December 20, 2008
Tribute to the Troops produces feel good moments
By MATT BISHOP - SLAM! Wrestling
Tribute to the Troops is always one of the most special nights for members of World Wrestling Entertainment. Tonight, from Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq, WWE presents the sixth edition of its now annual trip to entertain the American troops. On tap is two six-man tag team matches along with clips from WWE's trip to Iraq.
The show is started off with a special message from President George W. Bush, who thanks the WWE for all their hard work in entertaining the troops, as well as thanking the troops themselves for the sacrifice they make. President Bush is here with WWE to honor the greatest fighting force on the face of the planet.
Michael Cole and 2007 WWE Hall of Famer Jerry "The King" Lawler are our hosts from WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Conn.
Match #1 - Jeff Hardy (Cameron, N.C.), CM Punk (Chicago, Ill.) & R-Truth (Charlotte, N.C.) vs. John Morrison (Los Angeles, Calif.), The Miz (Cleveland, Ohio) & John "Bradshaw" Layfield (New York City)
Hilariously, Layfield comes to the ring in a armored vehicle with his cowboy hat on top of a combat helmet and a Kevlar vest on. Of course, he tips the driver and tells him to keep an eye on things around the make-shift arena.
R-Truth splits his way around the ring early, doing the splits to evade moves from both Morrison and JBL. With all three heels on the outside, Hardy, Punk and R-Truth springboard from the ring onto their adversaries and celebrate inside the ring.
We're back and The Miz is in control of CM Punk, who eventually gets a tag to Hardy, who comes in to a big ovation. Hardy hits Miz with a back elbow and a Whisper in the Wind, but Morrison breaks up the fall. He's dispatched by Punk. Miz gets a blind tag to JBL, who breaks up a Twist of Fate attempt with a clothesline.
R-Truth gets involved and takes Miz over the top rope. JBL goes for the Clothesline from Hell, but Hardy ducks and hits a Twist of Fate. He follows that with a Swanton Bomb for the win.
Winners via pinfall: Jeff Hardy, R-Truth & CM Punk
We then go to a video package showing the various trips around Iraq, including Rey Mysterio crowd surfing, CM Punk taking a trip in a helicopter, a female troop meeting Batista, Kelly Kelly giving a smooch to a lucky soldier, a soldier doing Batista's pyro dance and more.
Lillian Garcia says there's usually a Santa Claus sighting but this time there's two of them -- it's Cryme Tyme -- Shad Gaspard and JTG, with JTG wearing a Santa hat over his baseball cap. They ask, "what's a Cryme Tyme Christmas without Santa's helpers?" Of course, here come the WWE Divas with WWE merchandise for the troops. There are kisses aplenty as we head into our next video package.
This one details the lives of the soldiers and letters from American school-children about the troops and their effort.
Our next video package details the relations between the American and Iraqi soldiers and the progress being made in Baghdad.
Match #2 - Big Show (Tampa, Fla.), Chris Jericho (Manhasset, N.Y.) & Randy Orton (St. Louis, MO) vs. Batista (Washington, DC), Rey Mysterio (San Diego, Calif.) & John Cena (West Newbury, Mass.)
Jericho puts the boots to Batista early, but that changes when Batista tags Mysterio in. Mysterio springboards onto Jericho and sets him up for the 619 and appears to be on his way to hitting it when the Big Show, on the outside of the ring, steps in and catches Mysterio in mid-air right as he's about to hit Jericho and slams him to the floor.
We're back and Jericho is working over Mysterio, keeping him from his corner. Mysterio finds his way near Big Show, who headbutts him to the mat. Then Jericho and Show get into an argument about whether Mysterio is fast or not (Jericho says yes, obviously, Show says no). It breaks down from there, as Show enters the ring and chokeslams Jericho and headbutts Orton to the mat and walks out on his team.
Jericho gets to Orton right as Mysterio gets to Cena. He is on fire and sets Orton up for the Five-Knuckle Shuffle, which he hits. Orton gets up and is easy prety for the FU, but Jericho breaks it up. Batista gets involved and eats a backbreaker from Orton, who then stalks Cena for an RKO. Cena pushes Orton off right into Jericho. They bump heads and fall right onto the second rope, where Mysterio hits a double 619.
From there, Batista nails the Batista Bomb on Jericho while Cena FU's Orton. It's academic from there.
Winners via pinfall: John Cena, Batista & Rey Mysterio
We end the show with a nice video package detailing the entire trip from start to finish.
Again, another nice effort from WWE. It's great to see the Superstars and many administrators from WWE head to the Middle East for this show each year and it has become a highlight. The pure joy you see in the video packages from the troops toward WWE is certainly emotional to see. While it was only a one-hour feature this year, the fact that it was broadcast on NBC made up for it. It was a fun show to watch, that is for certain. Everyone who made the trip should be proud.
Matt Bishop is SLAM! Wrestling's ECW reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and hometown. And if you're interested in mixed martial arts, check out Matt's weekly podcast -- Lights Out Radio. Should be a good one!.