WWE Tribute to the Troops from Jacksonville featured patriotic messages and feel-good moments in a stand-alone show with a premise of honoring United States military personnel. A notable aspect of the show was the sponsorship of Coca-Cola, which is a first for WWE. Coca-Cola was the main sponsor along with USAA, a financial services group serving the US military.
The show opened with a video package encouraging support for the troops. Besides WWE talent, also wishing their best via taped messages to the troops were mainstream A-list celebrities. The celebrity messages were also sprinkled throughout the program as well as during the opening.
JoJo sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a ring adorned with red, white and blue ropes in a throwback look to days of yore when the named ended with “Federation”. On commentary, Michael Cole mentioned his broadcast partner, JBL, was responsible for the idea that eventually evolved into Tribute to the Troops.
Emerging from the crowd, Roman Reigns led Dean Ambrose and the Usos to the ring. This special being taped before he actually won the title, Reigns was without the WWE championship. In fact, no one appeared with any championship belts on the show. Cole on commentary talked about those in the ring that won a Slammy on Raw, meaning they taped an additional commentary track since Monday.
Reigns was about to say the night was for thanking the troops when he was interrupted by the League of Nations. The crowd chanted “USA” and Sheamus mocked them. Sheamus said he admired the United States before insulting the country. Bad News Barrett was next to insult the US. He focused on the country’s food, calling it “complete rubbish.” Barrett also lamented on not being able to find a piece of roasted pork. Barrett said what he really wanted was a portion of spotted dick.
Reigns scolded him and said this was a family show. Barrett said he was talking about pudding. Alberto Del Rio suddenly interjected himself into the debate by trashing American television programming. He brought up futbol. Del Rio basically claimed American football was invented so Americans could be the best at it since nobody else plays the sport. He said not to get him started on country music.
Sheamus said not to get him started on Ireland before he endlessly put his country over. Sheamus listed a number of attributes like Ireland has the most beautiful women and such. Reigns interrupted him.
“You’re forgetting something,” Reigns said. “You also have the smallest tater tots.” The crowd chanted “tater tots” as Sheamus fumed. The tater tot insult strikes again.
Reigns challenged what he called the “League of Idiots” to a fight. The League of Nations marched into the ring to confront Reigns and company. The arena suddenly went dark as the Wyatt Family entered the scene. Everyone seemingly waited patiently as they did their full entrance.
To even the odds, the Dudleys followed by Ryback and Kane came to the ring. Everyone began brawling both in the ring and around it in what Gordon Solie might have described as a “pier six brawl.” This set up a sixteen-man tag team main event for the main event.
Jack Swagger beat Rusev (with Lana) via submission in a boot camp match
Beforehand, Lana and Rusev cut a promo in a foreign language. The entrance of Swagger interrupted them. Military equipment and gear sat around ringside for use in the match. Given the setting, Swagger was over as the crowd chanted “USA” before he applied an ankle lock. Lana handed Rusev an ammunition box and Swagger broke the hold. Rusev hit Swagger repeatedly with the ammo box and proceeded to get heat on him. JBL called it “an old fashioned Cold War beat down.”
Swagger sent Rusev over the ropes and out to the floor where he clotheslined then suplexed Rusev on to a cot before a commercial. After the break, Rusev hit Swagger with a footlocker case and a helmet. Rusev got more heat on Swagger. Rusev waived the Bulgarian flag. He wedged a case between the top and middle ropes in a corner, which would come into play later on.
At ringside, Swagger grabbed Old Glory and waived the flag. The display of patriotism allowed him to hulk up into a comeback as he ran wild on Rusev. He used the Swagger bomb for a nearfall. Rusev avoided the ankle lock and hit a superkick for a two count. Moments later, Swagger applied the ankle lock.
Rusev tried to counter the hold and send Swagger into the case wedged in the ropes. Swagger avoided colliding into the case. Rusev charged in, Swagger sidestepped him and Rusev hit the case. Swagger then applied the ankle lock and Rusev tapped out for the submission.
A video package highlighted Batista and Titus O’Neil’s involvement in supporting the troops. In a clip from a speech addressing the military, Titus said, “If you look around you’ll see people from all different backgrounds. This is what life is about to me. When I help the homeless or when I go visit hospitals people don’t look at me just as [a] WWE superstar, they look at me as a human being. That is what I look at each and every one of you as.” He went on to say more inspiration words about being a winner. This is the Titus O’Neil that could be a babyface superstar, not the one dimensional character usually portrayed on WWE programming.
Mark Henry beat Bo Dallas via pinfall
Dressed as Uncle Sam, Bo acted wacky and wrestled with a hat on his head. Henry pummeled him and used the world’s strongest slam for the pin. Henry snatched the hat away from Bo and put it on his own head to celebrate.
Train performed their song “Merry Christmas Everybody”.
Kevin Owens sauntered to the ring while cutting a promo. He said since the night was about paying tribute he wanted to pay tribute to Canada. More specifically, he put over Quebec in saying everything there was better than in the US. He spoke briefly in French. The “Feed Me More” theme and entrance of Ryback interrupted him.
Ryback beat Kevin Owens via countout
Ryback tried to maul Owens at the outset and gave him a delayed vertical suplex. Owens cut him off by snapping his neck on the top rope. With Ryback in a headlock, Owens shouted “O’ Canada” and yelled he was ready to get out this place. Ryback started a comeback and delivered the meathook clothesline. Ryback picked Owens up for the shellshock, but Owens maneuvered to the apron where they simultaneously punched each other. Ryback fell back in the ring and Owens fell to the floor. Owens teased breaking the count before waving his hands to signal he was leaving. Owens was subsequently counted out.
A video package told the story of a US serviceman spending his third wedding anniversary with his wife backstage at the Tribute to the Troops taping. It showed the couple hanging with WWE talent and it also included product placement with Coca-Cola. A live shot showed the couple at ringside drinking bottled Cokes.
Howie Mandel made an appearance before the live crowd. He put over the military and thanked them for their service. He then did a stand-up routine about bathroom attendants. Mandel said he was a fan of WWE and mentioned he wrestled in high school. He showed a yearbook photo of himself in his wrestling gear for comedic effect.
He brought up the presidential election. Mandel asked the crowd what they thought of Donald Trump. The WWE Hall of Famer got a mixed reaction. Mandel made a joke about Trump. He talked about doing kids programming. He concluded by jokingly mocking a fan in the crowd before saying his goodbyes.
Sasha Banks & Naomi & Tamina & Paige beat Charlotte & Becky Lynch & Brie Bella & Alicia Fox
The heels got heat on Brie after she took a wicked-looking clothesline from Tamina. For the hot tag, Becky came in running wild. She was cut off as several women came in to do various spots. For the finish, Sasha executed a backstabber on Alicia and floated over into the bank statement. Alicia tapped out to give Sasha’s team the win via submission.
Another video package highlighted WWE talent supporting the troops set to a song by Tim McGraw.
Train performed their 2001 pop hit “Drops of Jupiter”.
Following a commercial break, the sixteen-man tag team main event was joined in progress.
Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose & Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso & Ryback & Kane & Bubba Ray Dudley & Devon Dudley beat Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio & Bad New Barrett & Rusev & Bray Wyatt & Erick Rown & Luke Harper & Braun Strowman
The match included lots of tags and lots of action. They built to, and the crowd popped for, two monsters colliding when Kane squared off with Strowman. The heels got heat on Kane but he singlehandedly cleaned house before a commercial.
After the break, the heels got heat on an Uso until a hot tag to Ambrose. Dean ran wild in the ring and knocked all the heels off the apron. Ambrose jumped off the top with a flying elbow drop on Harper. When Ambrose went to cover Harper, Rowan broke up the pin and a melee ensued. The Dudley did the wassup spot to Rowan. When they went to get the tables, everyone started brawling.
As everyone brawled, Ambrose did a tope and the Usos also did dives to the outside. They teased a bunch of finishers and the babyfaces all helped in knocking Strowman out of the ring. Ambrose used dirty deeds on Harper to score the deciding pinfall.
Afterwards, the babyfaces celebrated and a gigantic American flag unfurled above the ring for a patriotic closing.