Entertaining the Troops

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," December 21, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: Care packages, letters, phone cards, there are lots of ways to put a smile on a soldier's face this holiday season. But let me tell you, a visit by my next guest and his group really got these soldiers going wild as you can see there.

Joining us now is Vince McMahon. He is the chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (search).

And Vince, good to have you with us.


KEENAN: It's kind of becoming an annual tradition for you folks. What was your response — what was the response this year? And it was any different from what you saw last year?

MCMAHON: No, it was really no different than last year. It was just overwhelming enthusiasm. But as I told the troops, quite frankly, I think selfishly we got more out of it than they did, because it was an uplifting experience for all of us.

KEENAN: What do you think they're responding to? The fact that you're taking the risk of coming over there and sacrificing some of your time? Or are they relating to the characters that they so enjoyed watching back home?

MCMAHON: I think it's a little bit of both. I mean, I think that the WWE brings a slice of Americana, unlike any other form of entertainment. And of course, we want to honor those troops and pay respect for, quite frankly, protecting our freedoms back over here. First among them of course, the freedom of expression.

KEENAN: How do you feel when you hear stories like what happened today, the deadly attack, brazen attack on a mess hall at lunchtime, killing at least 19 of our men?

MCMAHON: Obviously it's tragic. When we were over, we had circumstance in one of mess halls, as a matter of fact, with one.

We broke us up in three troops so we could visit as many FOBs, forward operating bases, as possible. And in one of those situations there was a mortar attack that was very close.

But generally speaking, their mortars and their rockets are not very accurate at all. And this was a very unfortunate incident in Mosul earlier today.

KEENAN: Just — just called them men. Of course, there's thousands of servicewomen over there. How do they react to when you guys come over?

MCMAHON: Again, there's — their enthusiasm is just extraordinary, both the men and the women.

I mean, when you think about the demographic, you know, of those that are protecting our freedoms over there, it's, you know, anywhere from 18- to 24-year-old. And that's, of course, one of our primary demographics.

And certainly, through the years, Bob Hope (search) and his troops entertained so many, many times all over the world armed forces. And we're privileged to do that. But I think that we fit the demographic, quite frankly, a little better than most forms of entertainment.

KEENAN: A little more than maybe Wayne Newton, I guess, although he has done a lot to entertain our troops.

MCMAHON: Yes, he has.

KEENAN: You know, you went over there, the whole group of tough guys. But was there any trepidation on the part of some of your WWE wrestlers?

MCMAHON: Of course there was. And justifiably so. I mean, more coming from their families than from them themselves.

This was a voluntary effort. Every WWE superstar that went over volunteered to go over, understanding that there were risks. And many of them going back over for the second time this year. So they understood the risks, but yet the rewards outweighed the risks.

KEENAN: I know your — some of your numbers on Wall Street (search) were a little soft in the latest quarter, revenues down. Do you have some more pay per view events on tap for next year? And how do you think they're going to go?

MCMAHON: Quite frankly, our business is somewhat cyclical, depending upon the nature of young talent that we're progressing with. And we think we have the right mix now. We think that we're poised for a lot of growth.

KEENAN: OK. Well, thanks for joining us, and thanks for sharing all that videotape from Iraq. Happy holidays.

MCMAHON: Thanks, terry. Thank you.

KEENAN: Vince McMahon of WWE.

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