BANGOR, Wash. - Several World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstars visited Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor submarine force sailors Dec. 11 as part of WWE's 11th annual "Tribute to the Troops."
Wrestlers AJ Lee, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, CM Punk and Zack Ryder met with sailors and signed autographs at the Bangor submarine force Off-Crew Administration Building (OCAB) and on board the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Alabama (SSBN 731).
For the wrestlers, this was their first visit to meet Pacific Northwest submarine sailors and to a ballistic missile submarine. During their visit to the OCAB, the wrestlers signed autographs and witnessed the re-enlistment of an Alabama Gold Crew sailor. It was fitting the larger-than life Ryder presented him with an oversized re-enlistment check.
While on board Alabama, the wrestlers toured the submarine and talked with sailors along the way eventually making their way to the crew's mess to sign autographs.
"This is really cool! It's pretty exclusive - a lot of people don't get to do this," said Kingston of meeting sailors on an SSBN. "We're definitely pretty grateful that we get to come here and we appreciate you guys sharing it with us. This whole 'Tribute to the Troops' experience is one of your favorite things to do to show our appreciation on a personal level to all of the troops and all of your sacrifices."
For the sailors on board Alabama it was a unique opportunity to meet the WWE wrestlers, but for some, it was a dream come true.
"I'm super excited!" said Chief Culinary Specialist Joey Marcello, of Alabama Blue Crew. "I've been a wresting fan since I was 10. I go to all of the shows, and I haven't missed one since I moved here. I've been enjoying it since 'Wrestlemania 1.'"
"This shows that they really care," said Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Shane Edwards, also of Alabama Blue Crew. "For them to take the time to come down here to sign autographs and shake hands, it shows that they actually really do support us. We thank them for the entertainment they provide, and now they're thanking us back."
The visiting wrestlers were just a small part of the entire WWE superstars group visiting the Pacific Northwest. Other groups visited service members at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
"We have 'Wrestlemania,' but this is one our biggest days of the year," said Ryder. "Just to give back and say thank you for all of your sacrifice and hard work. It's amazing."
The one-hour "WWE Tribute to the Troops" holiday special will air on NBC on Dec. 28 at 8 p.m.