WWE Hall of Famer JBL was the latest guest on WWE’s The Bump to discuss the Tribute With The Troops show, and how he came up with the idea after a trip to Afghanistan. Highlights can be found below.
Says he came up with the idea for Tribute To The Troops after traveling to Afghanistan:
“I had gone to Afghanistan – I think it was the first civilian group to go after the invasion And after that, the next year, they said, ‘How about you go back with some WWE stars. I kind of went with the APHIS tour, with Sgt. Major Jack Tilly, the 12th Sgt. Major of the Army. And with Darryl Worley, some country singers, some movie actresses. And the next year, they said, ‘Why don’t you go back with Ron [Simmons], I think Terry Runnels, and Ivory went with us. WWE kind of put a group together. We were mainly in Southern Iraq in the summer. It was unbelievably hot. And I remember riding on one of these buses, and I grew up watching the Bob Hope USO specials. You know, Bob Hope used to do from South Korea or wherever our troops were. And I always thought that it would be cool to do something like that. And so just on this long bus ride with Ron, I came up with the idea of, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to come over and do something for the soldiers and actually put on an entire event in one of these places.’”
Says Vince McMahon was in love with the idea:
“He absolutely loved it … I don’t know if I emailed or called Vince, whatever it was. Told him about it, and immediately he started coming up with this idea of Tribute To The Troops. He said, ‘We’re gonna take over a plane. We’ll get a military plane, we’ll take over tons of video games, tons of DVDs. Give ’em to the soldiers, make it a big Christmas event. We’re not gonna stay in the Green Zone, we’re gonna go to all the foward-operating bases. Actually stay with the soldiers, eat with the soldiers, live with the soldiers. And split up in groups of three and four, and go all over the country, go places that civilians have never been before, to see soldiers that never got to see somebody that’s not in uniform.’
“And Vince right away came up kind of with this whole idea, him and Kevin Dunn together when I kind of gave the spark to it. So I get a lot of credit, especially in 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 WWE formulated and made. I was the spark. That part is true, but the fact that what they put together was just unbelievable. And it was done in a really quick fashion.”
Check out the full edition of The Bump below. (H/T and transcribed by 411 Mania)