I’m not going to lie — I had a great time covering my main story in this week’s Fort Hood Herald about the taping of World Wrestling Entertainment’s Tribute to the Troops celebration.
It’s been a hot minute (probably a good 20 years) since I avidly followed wrestling, so I wasn’t as up to speed on all the wrestlers as I could have been. But I did have the opportunity to speak with the legendary Ric Flair, who I used to root for back in the day, and watch Ronda Rousey bring on the pain.
And let’s face it — who doesn’t like watching Ronda Rousey fight? My wife and I both always rooted for her as an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter, loved her in “Expendables 3” and got a huge kick out of hearing she had joined WWE.
The soldiers I talked to were excited about meeting their wrestling heroes, all handing each other their phones in order to get a picture with their favorite. I admit it — I had to get a photo with Ric Flair, myself. And the roar of the crowd of hundreds of soldiers and their families chanting, “Ronda! Ronda!” definitely let you know who everyone was rooting for.
With all that, however, I have to say that my hat is off to all of WWE, from the wrestlers and big wigs to the behind-the-scenes production crew. Not only has WWE been doing this tribute for 16 years now, the organization has made sure to go out of the way to show their appreciation of our troops by performing overseas in combat zones as well.
And despite what you think of professional wrestling entertainment, these folks are class-act people.
After Rousey’s match, she got on the microphone to tell the troops how honored she was to perform for them. It’s not often you hear someone you might idolize tell you she was the one who was honored by the opportunity and not the other way around. I could tell that just by looking at the troops’ faces as she was talking.
And in my interview with Flair, he spoke about something that spoke about how humble these entertainers are. He said the wrestlers love performing for the troops because the troops are their heroes, so it makes them feel good when their own heroes make a big fuss about them.
Each person from the WWE team I spoke to said they felt the same way — the real heroes were putting themselves in harms’ way on their behalf. You don’t really hear that from a lot of people in the entertainment industry.
I think I’ll have to get back into watching wrestling. This WWE tribute, for me, was a true display of the character and patriotism of a group of truly fine individuals.
David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and a military journalist for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at email@example.com or 254-501-7554.