WWE's annual Tribute to the Troops special kicked off with a pre-recorded message from two-time United States
Champion President Barack Obama. It was nothing we haven't heard before; your standard face promo, pandering to the pro-military crowd.
Once that's over, the real show begins. All kidding aside, I mean absolutely no disrespect to the president, the troops or anyone's political or philosophical leanings. This is a fantastic thing that WWE does for the people who do the work most other Americans are unwilling to do. This is the 10th year they've done this, and it makes me proud to be a WWE fan.
JBL and Michael Cole are hosting this year's event, which is being held in front of the Navy for the first time ever (but is intended for all of the military, as JBL points out) and being hosted indoors (which I believe is another first, but I could be wrong).
Sheamus & Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler & The Big Show (match length 2:20)
Sheamus received an acceptable pop from the military crowd, but Orton's pop put it to shame. Ziggler got some heat, but Show got an impressive pop that rivaled Orton's. They point out that Orton is here despite his recent "injury" because this show is so important to the WWE Superstars.
The faces are on fire as the match gets under way, and it's only minutes before both Ziggler and Show simply walk away from the match and lose via count out. But they are cut off by Booker T before they even reach the top of the ramp.
He says this is an unacceptable ending and restarts the match.
Sheamus & Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler & The Big Show (televised match length 6:40)
We return from a commercial break and the faces are firmly in control. As Ziggler struggles against Orton and reaches for a tag, Show steps off the apron and pretends to be fixing his boot. Orton and Sheamus continue to dominate the match while Ziggler goes at it on his own.
Once Ziggler manages to get a few shots in and Orton goes down, Show reaches for a tag and Mr. Money In The Bank gets a few minutes to rest while the heels take control.
Sheamus and Show are in the ring as the match begins to wind down. Sheamus lands the White Noise on Show but Ziggler breaks up the pin. Orton comes in and nails Ziggler with the RKO. He then hits Show with the RKO and Sheamus follows up with a Brogue Kick for the win.
After a couple of celebrity endorsements (Fergie and then four members of the Fierce Five) we go backstage where Layla is doing her hair while some of the Muppets check her out.
Flo Rida performed a new song after that, but I didn't watch that part. I don't have a real problem with Flo Rida, but that's not why I'm watching this event. I don't like "watching" music on television. For what it's worth, those in attendance seemed to appreciate it.
Backstage, Josh Mathews interviews John Cena, who gives a heartfelt-yet-predictable speech about what it means to him to be a part of this event.
After a commercial break, we have a rematch from last week's Main Event, ADR vs. Ryback.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Ryback (match length 1:32)
ADR may be in the midst of a face-turn, but he wasn't playing that up at this event. When he gets to the ring, he says he appreciates the troops but that he also appreciates his personal ring announcer, and it just happens to be Ricardo's birthday! He asks the live audience to join him as he sings Happy Birthday (in Spanish). The song is interrupted (to the crowd's delight) by Ryback's intro.
Ryback dominates most of the in-ring action, and as he starts to get pumped up for his explosive clothesline, Ricardo jumps him and ends the match. ADR manages to escape the ring, leaving Ricardo to be the victim of the Shell Shock. For some reason, ADR re-enters the ring and suffers the same fate.
Kid Rock performed next. I skipped this segment since it's no longer the late 90's and I no longer have terrible taste in music. Kid Rock shouldn't have been at WrestleMania 25 and he shouldn't have been at this event, either. No offense to Kid Rock fans, as I'm sure his appreciation for the troops is genuine.
More backstage Muppet action. Kermit is a guest on MizTV, and that segment is next. Miz grills Kermit about his relationship with Miss Piggy. Kermit makes a fairly funny "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" joke and even references Mike's recent face turn.
Eventually, Miss Piggy and Damien Sandow come out to add more comedy to the segment. The whole thing was about as good as such a segment can be, especially worth watching if you're a fan of Miz, Sandow or the Muppets.
They cut to commercial and when we return, Sandow and Miz have already started a match.
The Miz vs. Damien Sandow (televised match length 3:30)
Apparently, Miz has a following within the military, as the "This-Is-Awe-Some" chant was the first audible chant of the night. Kermit provides a small assist with the commentary, and Miz wins after reversing Sandow's pin attempt and getting a three-count of his own.
After another commercial break, we get a couple more celebrity endorsements. This time, it was Bosh, Wade and James of the Miami Heat (who, as a Cavaliers fan, I can't stand) who seemed more happy to brag about their NBA title than to thank the troops (but again, I may not be the most objective observer). Their comment was followed by Katie Couric's.
Then Flo Rida performed again. I skipped it again. It was just another performance of "Wild Ones," which he performed at WrestleMania 28.
After another commercial break and a vignette highlighting WWE's 10 years of T4, Team Hell No are backstage. They are discussing the fact that they were told to find a teammate for a six-man tag against 3MB. Bryan says that since neither of them want another partner, he knows just who to pick: Little Jimmy.
R-Truth interrupts the segment, saying that Little Jimmy is busy trying to get married and that R-Truth will join the tag champs instead. Bryan throws a tantrum and is interrupted by Animal (the Muppet, not the Road Warrior). He is then faced with a goat Muppet who calls him "Cousin Daniel."
Team Hell No & R-Truth vs. 3MB (match length 3:27)
There isn't much to note about this match. The heels struggled through the course of the match, and R-Truth wins the match when he connects with the Little Jimmy finisher on Heath Slater. The interactions between Kane, Bryan and R-Truth are entertaining enough that I could see it continue after this event.
Gonna ask my question for this slide a little early.
Question: Is it racist, or culturally insensitive, that Michael Cole continually says Jinder Mahal plays the "air sitar" when 3MB comes out?
Kid Rock performs again. I skip over it again. I don't know if the military really loves Kid Rock or just the fact that his song was incredibly patriotic, but they were really pumped about the whole ordeal.
Antonio Cesaro is backstage with Josh Mathews. What better venue for giving an anti-American promo? He faces John Cena in the main event, which is up next. But not before some more celebrity endorsements, including some guy from the Twilight movies and the actress most famous for going "commando" in a movie, Sharon Stone.
John Cena vs. Antonio Cesaro (televised match length 5:09)
Cesaro managed to keep it competitive for a few minutes, but this event is put together more like a house show than a pay-per-view, so it didn't last long. Cena hits the Five-Knuckle Shuffle and the Attitude Adjustment to end the match. He then closed the event with a big thank-you speech to the troops.
But then he comes back. There's one thing he forgot. Santa comes out in a sleigh being pulled by WWE Superstars acting as his reindeer.
Obviously, these events are put together very specifically for what the name says: a tribute to our troops. They aren't concerned about whether die-hard WWE fans think it's the greatest show of the year.
There were no major storyline progressions, no Match of the Year candidates, nothing that anyone will likely remember three weeks from now. But it wasn't a bad show by any means. Try to check it out if you haven't already. If you're anything like me, you do virtually nothing to support our troops, especially compared to the sacrifice they are making for us.
As a wrestling fan, this is the least you could do. The absolute least.
Honorable Mention: John Cena received quite a bit of benefit from these programs this week, as if he needed any. He got to beat the most anti-American of heels in front of a military audience, he got to give them two patriotic promos and he brought out Santa for them. Then, he was heavily featured in Superstars' highlights and most of the Raw Recaps.