WWE’s Tribute to the Troops 2022 show has drawn the show’s lowest viewership in its 20-year history.
The company started putting on an annual special show for the men and women of the United States military in 2003, with the first iteration being held at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq. These shows were held at US military bases around the world until 2020, when COVID restrictions forced WWE to host the show behind closed doors.
This year’s Tribute to the Troops show emanated from the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN on December 17. The three-match card saw Braun Strowman defeat LA Knight while SmackDown Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey teamed up with Shayna Baszler to defeat Emma and Tamina. The main event saw Sheamus, Ricochet, and Drew McIntyre defeat Imperium in a six-man tag match.
Wrestlenomics have reported that this year’s Tribute to the Troops, which aired on FOX on a Saturday afternoon, was watched by an average of 612,000 viewers, which is the lowest viewership in the show’s history. The event garnered a 0.17 rating in the key demographic of 18-49 year olds.
Tribute To The Troops 2022 Pulls In Around 612,000 Viewershttps://t.co/Q0kQnwkKug
— BODYSLAM.NET (@BodyslamNet) December 20, 2022
It was also reported that the show’s viewership was one-third compared to last year, which aired on FOX on a Sunday.
The time JBL suggested WWE perform in an active warzone
While today’s version of Tribute to the Troops held in arenas might only be peripherally related to the US Army, the early days in the show’s history were much more exciting in that department.
Following the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003, it’s said that WWE Hall of Famer JBL suggested to then-CEO Vince McMahon that the company should host a show for the armed forces. So, in December of that year, the Stamford-based promotion held the first-ever Tribute to the Troops show at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq. What made the show even more special was that the country was an active warzone at the time.
The wrestlers volunteered to be at the event and were flown to the Middle-Eastern country on military airplanes. The soldiers even helped with setting up the ring.
The 2003 Tribute to the Troops was a four-match card. The show saw The APA (Farooq and Bradshaw) defeat the World’s Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas). Rikishi defeated Rhyno and Eddie Guerrero defeated Chris Benoit in singles bouts. The show’s main event saw John Cena defeat The Big Show, with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin coming out and hitting them both with a Stunner.
— ScottyChrysForever33 (@ScottyStyles33) December 17, 2022
While Tribute to the Troops is still WWE’s way of honoring US service personnel to this day, the excitement of a wrestling event in an actual military camp remains unmatched.