This Sunday will see the return of WWE Tribute to the Troops. WWE has been running the special event since 2003, airing on various networks every year except 2019.

WWE announced three matches and a musical guest for the show. WWE Superstar and Marine veteran Lacey Evans recently spoke with DC101 about what Tribute to the Troops means to her.

“Being able to put on a show for our troops, once a year that’s focused on them, and reminding them how thankful we are, and honestly, being with a company that gives a damn about our troops, like WWE does, is incredible,” Evans said. “And it’s just awesome, not only to see it, but because I know firsthand, that they can escape. The families, their kids, their wives, the service member, for one day, can get wrapped up in the excitement and the energy, it’s exciting!”

The Sassy Southern Belle says the event is just as special to the WWE locker room because they know they are providing an escape for the service men and women.

“It’s just makes us feel good, it makes us feel good that we can do that for our families,” Evans said. “That we can be a part of it, and hear it and feel it. I know it’s something special to our troops.”

Before making the squared circle her full-time office, Evans served as a military police officer within the Marine Corps. Evans spent five years in the Marines, where she worked with the Special Reaction Team and even earned a bachelor’s degree while still on active duty. Evans was first introduced to professional wrestling during her Marine tenure, and while she quickly become passionate about it, she noted it was hard to pursue.

“You were locked in seven days a week, 24 hours a day, so it was difficult for me to get to be a part of the backyard wrestling scene,” Evans said.

Despite not having much wrestling experience, Evans still got WWE’s attention. The Sassy Southern Belle revealed her initial WWE tryout came while she was still on active duty.

“I was on WWE’s radar shortly after that and had a tryout opportunity,” Evans said. “I was still active duty and my master guns let me go for three days to Orlando at the WWE Performance Center. One thing lead to another and I guess I showed them that I had at least what it took to learn how to do the job and they offered me a contract.”

Evans attributes her military training as strong factor to how she was able to pick up wrestling so quickly.

“The military, the United States Marines Corps, set me up to have the confidence needed to pretty much learn and overcome and figure anything out,” Evans said. “I went from square one, learning the basics, to getting in front of thousands, and main eventing, in front of more people than you can imagine. But I could do it, the way that I’ve done it, on the drop of a dime, with little to no experience, because that’s the Marine in me.”

Since being called up to the main roster in 2019, Evans has been spotlighted in main event feuds against the likes of Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins. While WWE’s resident lady has already been involved in high-caliber matches, she says her sights are locked on gold in 2021.

“I’m on RAW now, on Monday Night RAW on USA, and I firmly believe that I have and have had everything it takes to be a WWE Champion,” Evans said. “I haven’t yet captured the gold but that’s my goal. Once you become a champion, you have so many different opportunities to not only change the world but also have a voice to use to bring positivity. That’s what I’m most excited for.”

This past week, the wrestling world lost a legend in Pat Patterson. Aside from being the first-ever Intercontinental Champion, Patterson was renowned for being a kind and compassionate backstage personality. Evans reminisced on some of her favorite memories shared with the WWE Hall of Famer, specifically citing the positive impact Pat had on her daughter.

“My daughter and him would just play hide and seek in catering. Every time he saw her he would light up and he would make her laugh so much,” Evans said. “Unfortunately, I don’t have any professional memories, but that man and my kid. He was so kind and gentle and fun with my daughter. She would show up behind the scenes and that’s the first person she’d look for in catering just so they could play their little game. She would climb on his little catering table and it was cute.”