Bruce Prichard recently commented on John Bradshaw Layfield’s involvement in WWE Tribute To The Troops, stating it was Layfield’s idea to hold the inaugural event.
Speaking on this weeks episode of ‘Something To Wrestle’ alongside host Conrad Thompson, Prichard recalled the 2005 Tribute To The Troops event, stating many of the top stars of the time were in favour of the show:
“It’s something that WWE definitely believed in, and the talent definitely believed in. You look at guys like John Cena and John Layfield, two of the biggest proponents of Tribute To the Troops. There would be no Tribute To The Troops if it were not for John Layfield. It was his idea and it was something that he got started. And so, it’s often overlooked I think, the good that we do, because most people like to dwell on the negative.”
Appearing on this weeks episode of WWE’s ‘The Bump’, John Layfield recalled how the idea for Tribute To The Troops came around:
“I grew up watching the Bob Hope U.S.O specials, that Bob Hope used to do from South Korea or wherever the troops were. I always thought that would be really cool to do something like that. And so just on this long bus ride with Ron [Simmons] I came up with the idea of ‘Wouldnt it be great to come over and do something for the soldiers’ and actually put on an entire event in one of these places, Afghanistan, Iraq or wherever our troops were.”
Although Layfield would become widely credited for creating the concept of the show, he credits Vince McMahon for bringing the event to life:
“I don’t know if I emailed or called Vince, whatever it was, told him about it and immediately he’s coming up with this idea of Tribute To The Troops. He said ‘We’re going to take over a plane, we’ll get a military plane. We’ll take over tonnes of video games, tonnes of DVD’s, give them to the soldiers, make it a big Christmas event.
We’re not going to stay in the green zone, we’re going to go to the forward operating bases, the “fobs”. Actually stay with the soldiers, eat with the soldiers, live with the soldiers. Split up in groups of 3 and 4 and go all over the country. Go places that civilians have never been before and see soldiers that never got to see somebody that’s not in uniform, or somebody that could be an enemy if they’re seeing somebody.’
Vince right away came up kind of with this whole idea, he and Kevin Dunn together, when I kind of gave the spark to it. I get a lot of credit, especially in the media because Vince is a very giving person and he wants his talent to get the recognition for stuff like this, but this was an idea that WWE formulated and made. I was the spark, that part is true but what they put together was unbelievable.”
Tribute To The Troops originated in 2003, after JBL suggested creating a WWE live event for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to Vince McMahon. The first show aired on Christmas Day of that year, taking place at Camp Victory on Baghdad, Iraq. The main event saw John Cena defeat The Big Show, before both men fell victim to the Stone Cold Stunner in a run in from ‘The Texas Rattlesnake’. The event would go on to become an annual event for WWE.
Tribute To The Troops 2020 will take place on December 6th at the WWE Thunderdome in a dual-branded event, with the match card yet to be announced.