Sunday, September 07, 2008

WWE diva visits Yokota, By Vince Little, Stars and Stripes - 7th September 2008

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — World Wrestling Entertainment diva Victoria visited airmen and families here Friday evening, and it was a homecoming — of sorts.

Her father, Angel E. Sole, a Vietnam veteran, was stationed at Yokota in the late 1960s. He met her mother in Japan and ultimately spent 20 years in the Air Force, retiring as a master sergeant.

Two of Victoria’s older brothers were born on Yokota, she said.

"With my dad being in the Air Force, I feel a connection," she told a large crowd at the Yokota Enlisted Club. "Every time I’m on an Air Force base, I feel at home."

Victoria is in Tokyo to attend a "SummerSlam" viewing party on Sunday with another diva, Maria, who also had been scheduled to visit Yokota but couldn’t make it due to a late arrival in Japan.

At the Enlisted Club, Victoria signed autographs and posed for photos with fans who lined up to meet the 37-year-old star. Earlier, the two-time WWE Women’s Champion made an appearance at the Samurai Cafe dining facility to hang out with airmen.

She even showed off a couple of wrestling moves.

"I love WWE," said Airman 1st Class Mike Cottingham, 23, of the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron. "I watch ‘Raw’ and ‘SmackDown.’ I love it here ’cause you get it all for free, even the pay-per-views.

"This is amazing. I like Victoria. I like all the divas. Whenever I get an opportunity, I’ve got to come meet them."

Victor Madaris, 13, an eighth-grader at Yokota Middle School, wore his WrestleMania XXIV T-shirt to meet Victoria. He said he wanted to meet her "because she’s famous."

"It was cool," he said afterward. "I like seeing all the people wrestle in WWE. I’ve been a big fan."

While storylines are fictitious, the bumps and bruises wrestlers endure are real. Over a nine-year career, Victoria said, she’s broken her nose twice, had a few teeth knocked out and suffered a torn ACL — one of four major ligaments in the knee.

"You feel every move in the ring," she told the audience.

Since 2003, WWE has entertained U.S. servicemembers in either Iraq or Afghanistan during the holidays with its "Tribute to the Troops" shows.

"We have a big fan base in the military," Victoria said. "We try to show our appreciation for their hard work. Our military is the real superheroes, not us.

"We love you, we appreciate you. We just want you to be home and safe someday."

(Credit: Stars and Stripes)

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