WWE is known for being patriotic and showing their love for the United States of America. WWE is also notorious for going on the air no matter what. Those two factors came to a head in the week following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
WWE was in Texas for Raw and Smackdown. Initially, the plan was to cancel the Smackdown tapings. But Vince and the government had other ideas. Here’s the story from the official oral history of that day from WWE’s perspective.
BOOKER: SmackDown was actually canceled or postponed, and then the big decision was made to go on, and I think it was one of the best decisions WWE ever made. It gave not just us performers a chance to escape for a minute but also the fans.
DeMOTT: If I understand the story right, it was brought to Vince McMahon and WWE that [government officials] thought the best thing for the country was to take their mind off it.
MICHAEL HAYES: I think Vince made the decision later that Tuesday night. He got with Lee Brown, who was the mayor of Houston at the time. It was a huge decision for Vince — a lot of responsibility on that.
In a week that saw MLB and the NFL cancel their games, WWF at the time decided to move forward.
BROOKLYN BRAWLER: Having the show on just after 9/11 showed [the terrorists] that they could knock us down, but we’re going to get up again.
JBL: We were the first live gathering of any size after 9/11. We had no idea what was gonna happen. Security was astronomical. Took forever for them to scan the building to make sure there were no bombs or anything they suspected that was out of the ordinary.
HAYES: Did we have concerns and apprehensions? Yes, but by God, we were so mad, so angry, we were gonna get back to business. While everybody was nervous backstage, hoping nothing catastrophic would happen, the feeling of unity and patriotism was overwhelming.
What followed was one of the most memorable and commendable nights in WWE history. WWE helped a nation heal and come together in a time of tragedy and pain. Watch Vince’s speech to the crowd in Houston, Texas on September 13th at the taping of Smackdown.
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