The tenth edition of WWE’s “Tribute to the Troops” special opened with Justin Roberts mid-ring introducing a pre-recorded holiday video message from President Obama thanking the troops for their service.
The show transitioned to a video package highlighting ten years worth of interaction with soldiers, ten years worth of WWE Stars who have been part of the event, and a preview of this year’s edition.
Back in the arena, Michael Cole introduced the show and noted WWE Week continues with the most patriotic show of the year. JBL commented on the significance of the event before Cole plugged tonight’s main event of John Cena vs. U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro.
On-camera, Cole and JBL were shown on-camera. Cole thanked JBL for his idea to start the Troops specials, then Sheamus’s music played to set up the first match of the show. After Sheamus came out, Randy Orton’s music was heard for what seems like the first time in a very long time with all of the WWE TV content that has been produced the past two weeks without Orton involved. Dolph Ziggler was out first for the heel team, followed by Big Show. Before the bell sounded, WWE showed Virginia governor Bob McDonnell ringside.
SHEAMUS & RANDY ORTON vs. World Hvt. champion BIG SHOW & DOLPH ZIGGLER
The announcers noted Orton’s separated shoulder injury to keep consistent with TV storylines with this show taped out of sequence. After two minutes of back and forth, Show and Ziggler decided to bail from the ring. They were counted out.
WINNERS: Sheamus & Orton via count-out
Smackdown GM Booker T walked out and said this match isn’t ending like that. Booker said the match will re-start after the break.
SHEAMUS & RANDY ORTON vs. World Hvt. champion BIG SHOW & DOLPH ZIGGLER
Back from break with the action in progress, the faces were in control of the action. Sheamus and Orton exchanged tags wearing down Ziggler as Show half-hearted extended his hand for a tag. The faces continued to work on Ziggler as the announcers discussed WWE’s past trips overseas for the Troops. Ziggler eventually cheated to take control to bring in Show with the “cannonball-sized head.” Cole said he was just trying to be relevant, to which JBL replied that he should have brought up muskets.
Orton tagged in for Ziggler, then landed right hand strikes to Show’s cannon-ball sized head and suddenly sold a wrist/arm injury. The action came to a halt as the wrestlers appeared to call an audible with Orton injured. The heels allowed Orton to tag in Sheamus, who came in hot on Show. Sheamus then offered a Feat of Strength with White Noise on Show, but Ziggler broke up a pin. Orton then very gingerly RKO’ed Ziggler. Orton followed with a very ginger RKO to Show, who leaned into Orton to help him deliver it. Sheamus then measured Show for a Brogue Kick, and he connected. Show fell over like a tree and Sheamus for the pin and the win.
WINNERS: Sheamus & Orton
Up Next: Flo Rida performs.
Fergie offered a holiday message. Next were four members of the Fab Five gymnastic team from the Olympics. McKayla seemed impressed.
The Muppets interrupted Layla as she was preparing for a match.
Flo Rida performed “Let It Roll.”
Josh Mathews brought in John Cena to reflect on ten years of doing Troops. Cena said it’s always an honor and a privilege to say thank you the best way he knows how: inviting everyone to be part of the WWE Universe for one night. Cena said the Universe is fueled by excitement and this military audience provides freedom. Cena said the show is just getting started.
Ryback vs. Alberto Del Rio
Back from break, Alberto Del Rio was shown rolling up by the entrance ramp honking his horn like a heel in his Car of the Week. Del Rio pumped his fist repeatedly before WWE showed footage of Del Rio greeting soldiers earlier in the week to play him up like a face. In the ring, Del Rio said they pay tribute to the troops today. He said he would also like to acknowledge Ricardo Rodriguez because today is his birthday. He asked the crowd to help the crowd sing to Ricardo. Suddenly, Ryback’s music played ready to be fed birthday cake. WWE showed clips of Ryback interacting with soldiers during Tribute Week before the bell sounded.
RYBACK vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO
Ryback quickly press-slammed Del Rio into the air before Ricardo hopped on the ring apron to yell at the ref. This brought over Ryback, who was then blind-sided by Del Rio. Ryback started to mount a comeback, so Ricardo entered the ring to try to hop on Ryback’s back. This caused a DQ, then Ryback cleared Del Rio from the ring. Ricardo ate Shell Shock for his troubles as Cole sang Happy Birthday. Ryback’s music played, but he wasn’t done. Ryback scooped up Del Rio and dropped him with Shell Shock.
WINNER: Ryback via DQ
Leading into break, a spot aired for WWE’s partnership with Slim Jim to make donations to the military. It consisted of male stars and Kaitlyn hanging in parachutes.
Back in the arena, Kid Rock performed “Let’s Ride.”
Backstage: Josh Mathews knocked on Kermit’s locker room door, but Fozzy met him at the door. Fozzy noted Kermy is nervy about appearing on Miz TV, then Muppets critics Statler and Waldorf cracked a joke about Miz TV.
The Miz came out dressed to wrestle. Miz welcomed Kermit the Frog to Miz TV to expose his scandalous lifestyle. Miz then brought out Kermit to stand behind a platform. Miz said he wants to expose Kermit, to which Kermit responded that he’s already naked. Miz demanded to get to the bottom of Kermit’s scandalous lifestyle regarding his on-again, off-again girlfriend. Kermit avoided the question by saying he thought Miz was a good guy now. Miz said he’s not a good guy, nor a bad guy, but Miz.
Miz then welcomed out Miss Piggy to continue this Maury Moment. Piggy walked out on-stage to stand next to Kermit and declare her presence. Miz asked Kermy point-blank if he loves Piggy and wants to marry her. Kermy stammered before calling themselves a simple frog and lovely pig who love each other. Miz said if that’s the case, then Kermit should take Piggy’s hand in marriage. Before anything could go down, Damien Sandow’s music interrupted. “Hallelujah!” Kermit said, then tried to back-track on being excited about Sandow’s interruption.
Sandow said he is outraged by this, then asked what happened to Mr. Mizanin. Sandow said Miz used to inspire people and now he is talking to a frog and a pig. Sandow said he knows for a fact that the troops are not inspired by Piggy. Sandow said if his calculations are correct – and they are – 78 percent of the troops have replaced pictures of them with a picture of him. Sandow said he has no idea why anyone would want to marry Miss Piggy. Well, except for Miz. Sandow said the two of them are obnoxious, over-rated hams. Piggy replied that this “bearded weird-o” is about to get a world of hurt. Miz tried to calm her down, then approached Sandow and dropped him with a left hand. Miz celebrated defending Piggy’s honor to close the segment.
Back live, Cole and Cole reset the show. Suddenly, Miz vs. Sandow was happening in the ring.
THE MIZ vs. DAMIEN SANDOW
JBL offered several pig and frog jokes as Miz and Sandow felt each other out early on. Miz landed ten punches to the head, then dragged Sandow to the outside. Miz dropped Sandow throat-first across the guardrail, then high-fived ringside fans. Back in the ring, Sandow took control of the action. Miz then came back with a flapjack as Kermit and Piggy cheered from the stage. Miz then looked toward the stage and wanted Reality Check, but Sandow blocked and nailed his spinning neckbreaker. But, Miz countered a lazy pin attempt into a crucifix pin for the win.
Still to come: More from Flo Rida.
Video: Miami Heat’s LeBron James, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh offered a message from the NBA Champs to the troops on behalf of WWE. Next was Katie Couric with a message.
Flo Rida performed “Wild Ones” from WrestleMania 28 season. Flo noted he performed the song down in Miami at WM28.
Cole and JBL shared Tribute to the Troops memories. They threw to a video that went back to the very first Troops special featuring Taker, Rock, Michaels, Austin, a new star John Cena, and McMahon. The video transitioned to clips through the years.
Kane and Daniel Bryan were shown staring at each other. Bryan noted they have to pick a tag partner to face 3MB tonight, then Bryan suggested they pick Little Jimmy. R-Truth jumped in and told a story about Little Jimmy before noting that he will fill in tonight. Truth walked off, then Kane blamed Bryan for this. Kane walked off, then Bryan shouted that it’s not his fault. No! No! No! Bryan heard a voice over his shoulder shouting Yes! It was the red Muppet, who engaged him in a Yes! / No! battle. The muppet left, then a puppet dressed as a goat walked in and noted Bryan is his cousin.
R-Truth was on his way to the ring for a six-man tag match. Kane and Daniel Bryan then came out to join Truth for the match. 3MB was out next, leading to JBL unloading about their musical claims.
R-TRUTH & WWE tag champions KANE & DANIEL BRYAN vs. 3MB (HEATH SLATER & DREW MCINTYRE & JINDER MAHAL) — six-man tag match
Mahal controlled Bryan early on JBL and Cole traded barbs about dancing and music. Kane then took a key tag for Bryan and dropped Mahal with a chokeslam. Truth tagged in, surprising Kane, and nailed Little Jimmy on Slater for the win. Kane acted stunned, then Truth asked Kane to do his pyro celebration. Kane obliged, then Truth jumped up and down. JBL quipped that he has more heat than Cole. He then noted this is ridiculous; would John Madden ever have to analyze Brett Favre’s imaginary friend?
WINNERS: Team Truth
Up next: Kid Rock performs again.
Video package: Hire Heroes. Good program to help soldiers trying to return to normal civilian life after most went straight from high school to the military.
Kid Rock thanked the soldiers and their families in the crowd, then WWE for the Tributes show. Rock then performed “Born Free.”
Josh Mathews brought in U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro for an interview. Mathews asked him about facing Cena in the main event tonight. Cesaro instead said this show should be held in his home country where they are neutral. Cesaro said every country, including this one, wishes they could be Switzerland. Just like every Superstar, including Cena, wishes they could be him.
Cena was shown marching down the hallway. He stopped, turned, saluted someone (or some thing) off-camera, then walked off. WWE revealed Cena saluting Sam the Eagle from the Muppets leading to the final break.
Kellan Lutz from Twilight provided a Troops message. Sharon Stone was next.
Antonio Cesaro was already in the ring back from break. Cole said Cesaro does not plan to be neutral tonight, but superior. JBL then digged Mathews by asking which Muppet interviewed him. Before the main event, the Muppets came back to the Miz TV set to introduce John Cena for the main event.
JOHN CENA vs. U.S. champion ANTONIO CESARO — non-title match
Cena ripped off his shirt and tossed it to the crowd to wild cheers, prompting JBL to quip that he used to get a similar reaction when he teamed with Ron Simmons. The fight quickly moved to the entrance ramp, but Cena dragged Cesaro back into the ring. Cena ate a boot to the chest, though, giving Cesaro control of the match. The announcers discussed Cena’s current storyline having issues with A.J. Lee and Dolph Ziggler as Cesaro worked over WWE’s top star.
The show went into an over-run period at this point. Cesaro then tried to bang Cena into the announce table, but Cena blocked. But, Cena ate the ring steps moments later. Cesaro sneered into the crowd, then yanked Cena back into the ring to cover him for a two count. Cesaro followed with a sidewinder slam to continue the attack. Cena made his comeback moments later, did You Can’t See Me, dropped the Five Knuckle Shuffle, and measured Cesaro for the end. Cena nailed the Attitude Adjustment, then pinned Cesaro for the win.
WINNER: Cena at 5:10. Relatively significant spotlight for Cesaro mixing it up with Cena in a TV main event.
The stars and Divas came out on-stage to thank the troops as Cena led the group from inside the ring. Cena saluted the crowd, looked toward the stage, and took a mic. In the ring, Cena called it a great night. Cena thanked the Muppets, Kid Rock, and Flo Rida. He then thanked an important group of people tonight – the men and women and husbands and wives and children that make up the foundation of America. Cena said they all want to thank them. He asked the entire crowd to stand and be recognized.
The Troops music played and WWE showed various soldiers in the crowd. The music stopped, then Cena noted there’s one more thing tonight. Mid-card wrestlers dressed as reindeers led Santa Claus out on-stage. Is this the bridge to promote next Monday’s Raw? As Santa made his way out on a sleigh, the wrestlers spilled down from the stage to pose with troops and families. Cena was shown throwing t-shirts into the crowd as Cole signed off eight minutes the past of the top hour.