It began in December 2003 when World Wrestling Entertainment put their top superstars and wrestling ring, television equipment and anything else used on an episode of Monday Night Raw or Friday Night Smackdown on a plane and flew thousands of miles to Baghdad, Iraq, to bring holiday cheer to service members downrange with Tribute to the Troops.
This year Joint Base Lewis-McChord will host the 11th Annual WWE Tribute to the Troops celebration event Wednesday at 7 p.m. at McChord Field with superstars like Randy Orton, John Cena, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. A pre-show starts at 4:30 p.m. inside Hangar 3 on McChord Field with the live event scheduled for 7 p.m. in Hangar 4.
The broadcast of the one-hour WWE show will be taped to air on NBC Dec. 28 at 6 p.m.
The event will feature several matches with fan favorites and the bad guys from the sports-entertainment world.
In addition to the WWEs talent, Tribute to the Troops will also feature stand-up comedian Jeff Dunham and Access Hollywoods Michelle Beadle, along with celebrity shout-outs from other Hollywood names.
In years past WWE brought several celebrities and musicians with them to military installations, including Kid Rock, Flo Rida and even The Muppets. There will also be several WWE-themed events throughout the entire day Wednesday on the installation.
WWE superstars and Divas will spend the day at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and nearby Naval Base Kitsap, giving back to those who serve and their families including Be A Star anti-bullying rallies, reading celebrations, hospital visits and spending quality time with those stationed at the bases, said Karen Varga-Sinka, director of communications and public relations for WWE, in a press release.
Since 2003 the WWE has brought live matches with current and former superstars who sometimes don the red and white attire of Santa Claus with gifts. The first seven holiday visits took place overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the war on terror.
In 2010, the sports-entertainment promotion made a change by bringing their show stateside to the Soldiers of Fort Hood, Texas. Last years Tribute to the Troops was held outside of base but open to the Sailors of Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.
The release said the WWE worked with Washington state Governor Jay Inslee to bring the annual holiday celebration event to JBLM.
Jaime Smith, a spokesperson for Inslee, said the governor is excited about JBLM hosting this years Tribute to the Troops as a great way to say thanks to all the men and women in Washington who serve our country proudly.
(Inslees) familiar with the WWE and really excited that they chose JBLM, Smith said. He knows that this is a premiere entertainment company with fans all across the world.
Admission is free and tickets for the show are available through unit leadership. Live streams will also be aired at the Warrior Zone on Lewis North and the McChord Club and Community Center.
For more information, visit www.JBLMmwr.com/tributetothetroops.
To see last years event at Naval Station Norvolk, visit www.wwe.com/shows/tributetothetroops.