Long-time WWE referee Mike Chioda has recalled the scary incident when he says rocket launchers were aimed at WWE Superstars during an event.
Tribute To The Troops began in 2003 with WWE Superstars travelling to Iraq to entertain and compete in front of US military personnel stationed there. The idea of WWE entertaining the troops has long been credited to WWE Hall Of Famer John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield.
Mike Chioda discussed one of these events during an episode of Monday Mailbag [available via AdFreeShows.com]. Chioda was asked by a fan what went into setting up one of these events and if there had ever been a scare during these shows in hostile regions.
Chioda responded, referencing the company’s show in Afghanistan in 2005:
“There was never like a scare. I remember like a couple – this was in Afghanistan in ’05 I believe at Bagram Air Force Base. We did have a couple of rocket launchers come over but they were like far away, kinda like they were off track. But they were meant to hit the show I think, they were trying to hit the show. It was probably just rocket launchers off the shoulder or something like that. Then I remember they said it was kinda far off but we kinda paused. They had the perimeter really surrounded anyway and the mountains and the hills as well. They had all these Black Hawks surveilling the outside of the perimeter for the show.”
“I mean, we were never scared but you had to watch where you walked. You had to watch where you go because there were so many mines, so much stuff laid in Afghanistan. So when the Russians left they buried every bit of mines and you could believe all kinds of weapons buried into the ground so it would eventually either blow up in their face.”
Chioda then explained how the reality of the situation in the country hit home when he was told about a contractor working in the country before WWE arrived.
“I think we were there a week before in ’05 in Bagram a contractor got his leg blown off because he went to go see a Russian tank and a Russian Mig out somewhere. I did the same thing. You walk out and he just paid no attention to the yellow tape. He didn’t think there were mines there or something like that. But he stepped on a mine that’s been laid there since the eighties. There was a lot of people over the years you’d hear getting hurt or killed from mines that were laid there for many years.”
Chioda then recalled how well after WWE was by the military. The referee also described how everyone made their way to the Middle East on cargo planes.
“It was great, they took care of us, what an experience. The military would take us in the Black Hawks and show us around and shoot off 50 calibres. Great times with the military and stuff. It’s unbelievable and I’m grateful for what they do for this country.”
“We knew we were ok unless they hit the targets like on point but they didn’t have really the equipment to hit the targets from a distance. But it was just kinda like ‘Oh shoot, is another one coming’ but they had us taken care of. If anything they protected us so much. Security was off the charts. When we were in Bagram you had all the Allied Forces there at the time too.”
“We brought everything in a C-17 cargo plane. Including the crew, Vince and everybody. We’d fl all with the cargo stuff and everything leaving out North Carolina, South Carolina in certain places. Then we’d go to Germany first to Rammstein then Rammstein over to Iraq or to Afghanistan. A great experience.”
Mike Chioda has also recently named the one match that he never got to referee that he wishes he could have.