WWE has been running their annual Tribute to the Troops specials since 2003. They originally took place on military bases overseas, but in 2010 began being held in the United States. For the past several years they’ve been taped before or after SmackDown and aired later (except in 2019, when the show wasn’t televised at all).
In 2023, however, the company is turning a live SmackDown into a Tribute to the Troops edition of the blue brand.
Here’s the press release, which doesn’t explicitly say Tribute to the Troops will serve as the Dec. 8 episode of SmackDown — but the venue is promoting it as “WWE Tribute to the Troops: Smackdown”:
WWE® TRIBUTE TO THE TROOPS SET FOR FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8 ON FOX
Tribute To The Troops To Take Place In Providence, Rhode Island At Amica Mutual Pavilion
STAMFORD, Conn., November 13, 2023 – WWE®, part of TKO Group Holdings (NYSE: TKO), today announced that the 21st annual Tribute to the Troops will air Friday, December 8 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. The event will take place in Providence, R.I. at Amica Mutual Pavilion. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com.
Since its inception in 2003, WWE’s Tribute to the Troops has honored our U.S. service members, veterans and their families for their continued sacrifice and commitment to our country, and is widely considered one of television’s most patriotic and heartwarming shows of the year.
WWE has a multi-decade commitment to the U.S. Armed Forces, which includes visiting nearly 400 military installations throughout the world, offering all U.S. military personnel free tickets to WWE live events, and has partnered with military organizations, such as Hire Heroes USA. WWE currently supports the USO and tells stories of heroism and valor of our nation’s bravest through the company’s partnership with National Medal of Honor Museum to make an impact in the community.
Tribute to the Troops has traditionally been booked like a house show, with babyfaces coming out on top in an angle set-up on the show. It’ll be interesting to see how this live television episode will be put together. It falls during a bit of a lull in WWE’s schedule, two weeks after Survivor Series with Royal Rumble more than a month away.
Charlotte Flair, Rey Mysterio, IYO SKY, LA Knight, Austin Theory, Sheamus, AJ Styles, and Street Profits are currently mentioned in advertising for Dec. 8 in Providence. Based on the latest reports about his schedule, Universal champion Roman Reigns may not be back on television until the build for Royal Rumble starts in January.