Wrestler Lacey Evans on How WWE Is Paying 'Tribute to the Troops'
With coronavirus safety in mind, the 18th annual event emanates from the state-of-the-art WWE “ThunderDome” setup at the Amway Center in Orlando. Servicemen and women from the United States Armed Forces and their families will participate virtually. In addition to matches, these heroes in uniform are celebrated with a performance from country artist HARDY.
We sit down with Evans (born Macey Estrella-Kadlec), a Raw super force and veteran marine, about her career and keeping the patriotic holiday tradition alive even in these uncertain times.
How did the pandemic change this year's Tribute to the Troops?
Lacey Evans: It will definitely be different. I was just excited to be part of the backstage process figuring out ways we can continue giving back to them. Our troops will be front and center. We've done virtual meet-and-greets. I met 11 troop members and their families. A few of us did go to a military base in Miramar, California. [WWE is] still making it work regardless of the Hell the world is going through.
What does meeting these troops, as someone who has served, mean to you?
You never want to let your brothers and sisters down. There is a camaraderie if you have been in the military. We’re expected to be strong emotionally, physically, and mentally. Once you get out, you miss being in the military every day. But at least my job allows me to be surrounded by them on and off because WWE has so many partnerships. They have ones with the USO, Hire Heroes, Tribute to the Troops. I still get to see my brothers and sisters. It’s not climbing through the mud anymore, [but] it keeps me motivated as ever.
You play a “Sassy Southern Belle” character on TV. Any interest in showcasing your military identity more on WWE shows?
I would like that. No matter what, I’m going to entertain. If it were up to me, I’d have a pistol whip holster on my thigh, come in low-crawling, kicking butt, and taking names. I’m excited to have started my career as the “Sassy Southern Belle.” I am Southern. I was born in Georgia. I can bake a pie just as good as I can fire a weapon. I’m sure someone will make me angry enough where I take off the high heels and dress and put my war paint back on, but until that happens, honey, I will continue to entertain from the other side with a good red lip.
You're getting to show a lighter side alongside Peyton Royce. How do you like the dynamic?
I show up on Monday for Raw. I’m one of the first ones there and the last ones to leave. I’m going to continue to hunt for opportunities. That’s what she doesn’t understand [channeling her onscreen character]. She lost her tag team partner. I didn’t do that. The [IIconics] got separated. Peyton gets thrown to Raw. Whoever that was as her partner? I think her name is Billie [Kay], I guess. She is gone to SmackDown. What do you do now? You adapt and overcome. Sometimes it takes two to overcome. She does not realize the opportunities we have if we were to work together. Let’s go behind the scenes and take those opportunities. She is so wrapped up with her ex-partner, she is going to end up missing out. That’s not my problem. I’m sure she is sick of me tagging her on social media. Once again, I don’t care.
You have a more active role this season on Lifetime’s Military Makeover with Montel Williams. How has that been?
It’s another way we give back to our veterans. I actually recently off the road yesterday renovating a new home for an amputee that was in the Army. We do so much for our veterans. I love it.
What can fans expect from this year’s Tribute to the Troops?
We are going to bring the fireworks. We're still going to bring the entertainment with some hard-hitting action. Veterans love that. They love the noises. The impact, the ground, and pound. That’s exactly what they are going to get. We don't stop giving back to our troops. Not now, not ever.
WWE Tribute to the Troops, December 6, Fox, Check Local Listings