WWE Superstar Ember Moon Describes 'Tribute to the Troops' as a Humbling Experience
WWE continues its longstanding tradition of celebrating the United States military with Tribute to the Troops. The 16th annual patriotic special, airing Thursday on USA Network, is about more than just the matches in the ring — superstars also spent the day giving back to service members and their families at Fort Hood, Texas.
They hosted a Be a STAR bullying prevention rally, visited hospitals and participated in military outreach initiatives across the base. The company will also make a financial contribution to Celebration of Love, a local nonprofit organization. Adding to the event itself is an appearance from Jon Stewart and a performance by country star Morgan Wallen.
The primetime programming lineup during WWE Holiday Week 2018 also not only includes the usual Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, but New Day’s WWE 2018 Pancake Powered Year End Super Spectacular December 19 at 10/9c. Closing out the week is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s film San Andreas December 21 at 6/5c.
This year's Tribute to the Troops was especially meaningful for Ember Moon, because it’s her first Tribute to the Troops as a member of Raw. The proud Texan was happy to return home for what she describes as a humbling experience.
“Just to see all the men and women who work so hard to protect us and our families, it’s awesome to go and be able to share in their day,” Moon, whose uncle is a Vietnam vet, said.
Moon's Tribute to the Troops day started at 6am, when she joined Cesaro, Sheamus, Chad Gable and Bobby Roode as they ventured to a facility to surprise troops doing physical therapy.
“It was awesome to come into the room and see everyone light up,” she said.
“I also attempted to do a Ninja Warrior-style course, which was really hard. We got to do a rock-climb course. I watched Cesaro just scale a wall…We got to meet the dog troops and [see] how skilled and trained they are. I watched two dogs take down Cesaro. It was cool to see how much care goes into their training as much as our human troops.”
One of the highlights for the "War Goddess" was meeting a 19-year-old who enlisted, working in water sanitation engineering. The interaction got her considering what she was thinking about at that age.
“I remember myself at 19. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the world, other than I was training at that point in time to be a wrestler,” she said.
“I was also in college, where I changed my major every six, seven months. So, to talk to a 19-year-old kid — he knew what he wanted to do and was good at his job and was so amped to tell us about it. That is very admirable, and I wish I had that type of guts at 19. He has the world in front of him. It’s inspiring to see how much passion he had to put into water sanitation and engineering.”
Along with Tribute to the Troops, Christmastime for Moon means spending time with family, including new husband and fellow wrestler Matthew Palmer. The two got married on their 9-year anniversary together.
“I like to tell people I’ve been married for quite a long time,” Moon said. "The only difference for me is that it’s actually official in that sense. He is so supportive and amazing that I couldn’t ask for a better husband.”
Considering every WWE superstar is a road warrior, it’s rare to get too many days off. However, the former NXT women’s champ is thankful to partake in seasonal festivities with loved ones.
“For the past three years, and being in Florida, it has been hard, because Christmas is really the only time I have to see everyone,” Moon said. “Normally, it’s like a couple of days, and with my husband’s family too, we’re making 20 stops across the board. This year is the first year I’m actually going to be home.
“And the one thing I love to do — and I’ve done it every year since the movie came out — is watch Jingle All the Way. We make Christmas cookies, the Pillsbury ones with the Christmas trees on them. It’s going to be awesome, because I get to start new traditions as a newly married woman.”
As the year wraps up, Moon thinks about everything she accomplished in 2018: Standing atop the NXT women’s division, participating in the first women’s Rumble, debuting on Raw and everything in between and after. It’s hard for the athlete to narrow down one true highlight.
“I think one of my favorite things is being in Money in the Bank this year. I didn’t win, but it was always something I’ve wanted to do,” she said.
“It was awesome, because it was my first Pay-Per-View being on Raw. I feel like there are so many more things I want to do here and more people I want to wrestle. I got to team with Ronda Rousey. I got to work with Alexa Bliss … It’s been a long ride, but I feel it has gone by way too fast. There are too many moments. I can sit here and talk about them forever.”
Another milestone for Moon was getting to contribute on the first-ever all women’s Pay-Per-View Evolution. She saw it as not only a culmination, but a statement from all the female members of the roster.
“When I finally decided to attempt to go to WWE the last time, it was because things were changing. The women started stealing the show with every opportunity they can,” Moon said. “To be a part of that upward swing of momentum for women taking advantage every time we get in the ring. I hope it’s inspiring to other people.
“There are a lot of women out there on the independent scene who have been wrestling forever. Mia Yim just got signed because of how hard she has worked. People like me, who were told we would never be here. It’s amazing; I hope this never stops.
“It was absolutely phenomenal. I’m getting goosebumps talking about it because it’s such an amazing time to be a woman in wrestling…We had a ladies’ night at Evolution and told all the guys to follow that. Going from that and TLC and knowing we are going into another Royal Rumble, it’s all about baby steps getting to that first women’s main event at WrestleMania.”
WWE Tribute to the Troops, Thursday, December 20, 9/8c, USA Network