Former WWE announcer Jonathan Coachman has shared a story from earlier in his career when he believes he was punished for choosing to not go to WWE shows in Afghanistan.
According to Coachman, he had never told this story before a trip to Afghanistan. When WWE did their Tribute to the Troops shows to Afghanistan, they were considered voluntary. If they didn’t want to go, they could stay home. In Coach’s opinion, he thinks that WWE people thought he was joking when he said he didn’t want to go:
“This is a story that I never told, and I’m still a little p*ssed about it, to be honest with you. Here’s what happened. In 2004 or 2005, the years are blurry, but that’s when we were doing our shows in Afghanistan. It was supposed to be if you didn’t want to go, you didn’t have to. It was supposed to be completely up to you because we were going into a war zone, and they couldn’t make you do it. That’s what was told to us.”
“My first child was about to be born six months after that, so my wife at the time, she, and rightfully so, didn’t want me going to the middle of a war zone. So, I told the people who were setting it up at WWE, I said, ‘Listen, I’m not going.’ At that point, I had never said no to Vince once in my career, not for anything, so they thought I was joking.”
“To travel to Afghanistan, you have to put your name on a list with the Pentagon and the military to get clearance. I showed up to the building the day that we were supposed to leave in Charleston, South Carolina. They came out and asked for my bags. I said, ‘I told you I wasn’t going. They said, ‘We thought you were kidding.’ I said, ‘I’m not kidding about that.’ I thought it was cool. You could only take 18 people. That’s why it was so important. You can only take 18, and 12 crew guys, 30 people total.”
After the Afghanistan tour was over, Coach was back at the commentary table when he was told that he had to go in the ring with The Undertaker. Coach believed that choosing to not go to Afghanistan is why he was forced to do that:
“The next week, I was down doing commentary. There’s always been a culture of, I don’t want to use the word hazing because I didn’t get hazed. That wasn’t this. Punishment perhaps? But when the show was over, one of the referees, I can’t remember who it was, Undertaker was ending the show, and he (the referee) came over and said, ‘You have to go hit The Undertaker from behind.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘That’s just what they’re telling me.’ So basically as punishment for not going to Afghanistan, I got beat up by The Undertaker. Then they hit Batista’s music. He came down and he finished the job.”
“As I’m getting my ass kicked, I’m thinking, is this really worth it? I’ve done everything I could possibly do, and I’m still getting my ass handed to me because I refused to go to a war zone for the second time. I went the year before. It was crazy. I was furious about that. The one thing about Vince that I have taken that’s positive is he has this incredible ability to forget what just happened the week before. You can be in a knockdown, drag-out, screaming fight with him, which a lot of people have done, and you think, ‘Oh my goodness. My job’s on the line. They’re not going to keep me. They’re going to fire me’, whatever the case might be. You see him the next week and he’s like, ‘Hey pal. How you doing?’ That’s kind of how he is. I took every finisher they had. I’m proud of the fact that I could take all the finishers, but was it the right thing to do? No, because I always did the right thing without fail.”
During Coachman’s WWE career, he worked as a backstage interview, announcer during matches, a host of segments, a wrestler at times, and a heel authority figure as well. Coach first tenure with WWE ended in 2008 after a run as a Smackdown announcer. His 2018 return failed due to people like Corey Graves not wanting to work with him, according to Coach.