Tribute to the Troops

December 31, 2007

I watched WWEís Tribute to the Troops special yesterday. I had taken a complete week off over the Holidays and didnít watch a stitch of wrestling, but my DVR recorded the regular weekly shows anyway and I decided to take the time to watch the Tribute to the Troops special, and am I glad I did. This was a really great show, that I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I think what I enjoyed most about it was that it reminded me of what is great about this business. This was a fun show put on to entertain some people who truly deserved to be entertained and rewarded, for the often thankless job they do. It was a great way to close out 2007 and gave me hope for 2008.

2007 was such a crappy year for the wrestling business. There were times during 2007 that I wished I was never a part of this industry and moments when I wanted to completely wash my hands of it. 2007 saw numerous drug and steroid related scandals along with a frightening number of deaths. There were deaths from heart attacks, drug overdoses, murder, and suicide. This was truly a shocking year. I personally knew nine people involved in the business that died this year, all before the age of 50, and I doubt I will ever fully come to terms with the events of the Benoit Tragedy.

2007 was also a year where the industry received more bad press and public scrutiny than ever before. The vast majority of this bad press was well deserved, but the Tribute to the Troops special reminded me that there are a bunch of really great things about this business too, that donít get the favorable publicity they deserve.

WWE has been doing the Tribute to the Troops show for 5 years now and with the exception of the very first year they did it, have gotten virtually no credit for doing so. As much as I hated the defense of ďWe put smiles on peopleís facesĒ that WWE used during all the Benoit media scrutiny, watching the Tribute to the Troops show, it became very clear to me that WWE does in fact put some smiles on peopleís faces, and I think they deserve some positive publicity for doing so.

The last 5 years WWE has packed up the entire show and headed into a war zone, to do a very unselfish thing. WWE doesnít make any money off of this show (to the best of my knowledge), and all the boys volunteer and work for free. Iíve written countless times how bad travel is and how treasured time off is in this industry, so imagine the sacrifice these guys are making every year. They are taking an ungodly long flight, in the back of a military cargo plane, into a war zone to wrestle a match they wonít be getting paid for, instead of having some extra time off over the holidays with their families. These guys and girls are tired, sore, and for the most part completely exhausted from being on the road, yet they volunteer for this trip, and they do so to say thank you to brave men and women who are risking their lives to serve their Country.

These are great people doing a truly great thing, and I think it is this side of the business we need to be reminded of more often. All the drug scandals and early deaths aside, this industry does have a heart and it is often in the right place, yet this business never gets itís due. Itís so easy to criticize this industry, but it is also as easy to praise it, if we only look closely enough to see it. Tribute to the Troops reminded me of the good side of the business and I thank WWE for that. This show didnít just put a smile on the faces of those serving in Iraq, it put a smile on my face as well, and for that Iím grateful.

Have a Happy New Year everyone,
Lance Storm