Tonight is one of the few nights that can take pride in being a wrestling fan. If you missed it, World Wrestling Entertainment (yeah, used to be the World Wrestling Federation, but they lost a lawsuit to the World Wildlife Fund over using WWF initials so they changed their name) did a tour of Afghanistan, visiting the troops, shaking hands, taking pictures with soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines (and yes, Marines is always capitalized). And a bonus - the WWE superstars got to shoot big guns and blow shit up.
I tell ya, I would have been a fanboy too if they'd have showed up. My only celebrity bonus I ever got for being military was to meet Triumph in 1986 in Indianapolis. And that shit was cool because they were a kick-ass rock and roll band.
I can't imagine someone larger than life like a WWE superstar - or a whole transport of them.
And I have to say I once again applaud Vince McMahon, the brains behind WWE, for taking the risk to his life (he went on the trip) and his business (he took the best of the business over there. Wait, lemme rephrase that – the trip was voluntary. The best of the best went on their own) by going into an active war zone and a country that has approximately 16 million land mines.
And this is the third year McMahon and his wrestlers, and the T&A Divas, have made the trip to visit US troops overseas at Christmas. Each of the previous two years were visits to Iraq.
And watching the wrestlers interact with the troops, and watching these wrestlers realize what a sacrifice these brave men and women in uniform are making, was amazing. One of the newer WWE guys, who was there on his first visit, said the wrestlers feel like they should be getting autographs from the troops. Not the other way around. Other comments from wrestlers are here.
They slept with the troops, they ate with the troops, rode with them in armored cars, Humvees, helicopters and transport buses. And they visited the wounded on their way through Germany;and they do countless other military support visits back in the states, and allover the world, that don't get any media support.
And they gladly went, on their dime, and walked around, shaking hands, smiling for about a billion pictures, brought a piece of home to a bunch of brave young men and women a fucking long way away from home.
It's a 25-hour flight from NYC to Afghanistan. It's 33 hours back. And we're not talking first class. We're talking an Air Force cargo plane where the seats are modular. They're not comfortable. I've been in the C-17 ... it's slightly more comfortable than riding in the back of a pickup truck on a bumpy road. And these are guys used to first class, chartered jets and comfortable hotel rooms.
Now you might be sitting there saying, "Man, wrestling's so fake," ... but what's real on TV? Friends? Raymond? Survivor? Please. Everything on TV's scripted; your reality shows are manipulated for shock value. At least WWE admits it's entertainment. And it's dangerous entertainment, too. They do hit the floor hard, they do hit each other hard; bones are broken sometimes, they're amazing athletes who are not only perfectionists in their sport but amazing entertainers, too.
And by taking the risk to put themselves into an active war zone, voluntarily, when they should be home resting and recovering from 50 weeks of travel, to me, is worth noting. I think I'll leave it to Vince to sum it up:
“We’re here to say thank you. And we’re here to tell you America damn well supports you.”
Bagram Air Force Base, Afghanistan.