WWE had their 20th anniversary edition of Tribute to the Troops Saturday afternoon on Fox.
Featuring three wrestling matches, the tape delayed show also had video packages profiling members of the United States military. There was also a retrospective feature that highlighted the annual tradition of WWE honoring the US military.
Much of the wrestling on the show was not focused on current storylines. However, the main event trios match did relate to the current direction in some ways. It was also a banger compared to the other two matches.
A college basketball game on Fox went long, delaying the scheduled start time by almost 25 minutes in some markets. Already airing on a delay, the show was taped last month on Veterans Day at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The show opened with a USA chant from the live audience with many of them waving American flags. The Military Department of Indiana Ceremonial Unit provided the Color Guard and singing “The Star Spangled Banner” was Chief Warrant Officer Dennis White from the US Army. Notably, White attended Tribute to the Troops in 2009 at a military base in Iraq.
After the anthem, a canned intro highlighted the history of Tribute to the Troops. The video package began, drawing inspiration from USO shows with celebrities like Bob Hope, and then featuring WWE footage from their various Tribute shows from over the years.
Michael Cole was on commentary alongside JBL, who is credited with having the initial idea for Tribute to the Troops. Cole called it “the most important show WWE does all year.”
Braun Strowman defeated LA Knight
Knight tried to target a leg during the short match, but the monster was too strong. Strowman hulked up and booted Knight in the gut. Strowman delivered a Monster bomb and stood over Knight with a boot on his chest for the pin.
Despite being taped last month, commentary tried to make the show seem current by briefly mentioning Bray Wyatt during Knight’s entrance. No mention of Uncle Howdy. Probably better off that way.
Inserted into the show was a video package profiling Midshipman 1st Class Morgan Prigmore, who was selected to be brigade commander at the US Naval Academy. She leads 4,400 people within the US Naval Academy Brigade of Midshipmen. Upon graduation, Prigmore plans to join the US Marine Corp.
WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler defeated Tamina & Emma
Baszler submitted Tamina to win the match, with an assist from Rousey.
Piped-in crowd reactions were evident as the live crowd appeared rather indifferent at first. The women in the match still worked hard to win them over. Emma leapt off the top turnbuckle with a flying crossbody to the outside on Rousey and Baszler.
Rousey suplexed Emma when the show returned from the break. Emma fought out of a corner for a hot tag to Tamina, and then Baszler and Tamina traded near falls down the stretch.
Tamina and Baszler fought on the turnbuckles when Baszler was knocked off the ropes. Baszler then distracted the referee while Rousey tripped up Tamina. Baszler slammed Tamina off the turnbuckles, and Baszler applied the Kirifuda Clutch for the tap out.
Next on the show was a feature profiling Medal of Honor recipient Master Sgt. Matthew Williams, a Green Beret in US Army Special Operations. The vignette detailed Williams’ heroics during a 2008 operation in Shok Valley, Afghanistan.
Also airing was a retrospective video package narrated by John Cena. He described going overseas for the first Tribute to the Troops as footage aired showing the WWE talent and Vince McMahon traveling to a war zone for the inaugural Tribute show at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq.
The retrospective feature shifted into a music video as it showed highlights of WWE talent interacting with US military personnel over the years on Tribute shows.
Drew McIntyre, Sheamus & Ricochet defeated Imperium (WWE Intercontinental Champion Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci)
Ricochet scored the winning pinfall after a shooting star press as his renewed push continues. The babyface team all got to hit their finishers in the closing moments of what was arguably the best match on the show.
Despite being taped last month, this match still complimented the current direction as it followed a great title match from Friday night on SmackDown as Gunther retained the Intercontinental Championship in a banger against Ricochet.
On this show that aired the next day, Ricochet got a measure of revenge by scoring a clean pinfall, even if this show was taped out of order.
The heels got heat on Ricochet during the match as they worked him over. He was cut off from making a tag until eventually doing so. Imperium bumped and fed and it is a Gunther match, so there were also lots of chops — stiff looking ones, too.
Sheamus delivered his Brogue kick in the closing moments, followed by McIture delivering a Claymore. Ricochet then leaped off the top rope with a shooting star for the finish.
This was a really good match to end a feel good show.