Around the holidays, World Wrestling Entertainment always puts on a show specifically for the troops, WWE Tribute to the Troops. For a time, wrestlers would travel overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan to duke it out, live, in front of the troops. The wrestlers spent a few days hanging out with the deployed troops, interacting with them and sending messages to their families back home before putting on the actual event.
Since 2010, the event has been held domestically on or near military installations. Being stateside has opened the door for more celebrities to join in on the event. This year, the WWE will put on a show at Naval Base San Diego in a two-hour special, airing Thursday, Dec. 14th on the USA network.
In 2013, The Shield was a dominant heel (villain) stable. They arrived in what, to this day, is still one of the most bad-ass entrances in WWE history: The team stepped out of a Stryker and into the ring.
They still lost to the face (hero) team of Rey Mysterio and the Uso Brothers, but still — they arrived in a Stryker!
5. Rey Mysterio defeats Mark Henry — 2007
There’s just something special about rooting for the underdog in a fight. Watching a 5’6″, 175lbs luchador take on a 6’4″ 399lbs power-lifter is akin to watching someone defy gravity. The fact that the match took place during the heights of both of their careers and in front of troops in Tikrit, Iraq made it that much more awesome.
Okay, yeah. People who can’t suspend disbelief enough to enjoy what is essentially a physically demanding theatrical performance can at least enjoy the effort and dedication of the performers.
The only time WWE Championship matches were held during Tribute to the Troops was at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Fairly short in comparison to the rest on this list, the match was fast-paced and packed with many of the superstars’ trademark moves.
Whether you love the guy or hate how he’s booked, Cena is still one of the most patriotic superstars in pop culture.
This match technically counts as three, but the buildup lasted the entire show. Daniel Bryan was fighting Bray Wyatt until the match was disqualified due to the outside interference of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. So, Daniel Bryan brings in friend, CM Punk, to fight the two newcomers. The match is again disqualified when Bray Wyatt shows back up in the ring.
It all culminates in Daniel Bryan joining CM Punk and John Cena to fight off the entire Wyatt Family.
2. Shawn Michaels defeats Triple H in a “Boot Camp” match (No Holds Barred) — 2005
This is the type of match that everyone associates with the WWE.
These former-best friends were both powerhouses in the “Attitude Era” of 90’s wrestling. The chaotic match spilled out of the ring and into a TOC. Since it was technically a “no holds barred” match, they hit each other with whatever they felt like — everything from sandbags to a mop was fair game.
1. John Cena defeats Big Show — 2003
This match is ranked at the top for one reason and one reason only: After the match, we got Stone Cold Steve Austin in Baghdad, Iraq on Christmas Day.
It was one of his final appearances in the ring and the only time we got to see Stone Cold give his finishing move, the Stone Cold Stunner, to John Cena.