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Tech. Sgt. Alex Sernarojas (left) with his son Adrian, age 3, get an autograph from World Wrestling Entertainment Champion John Bradshaw Layfield in the Power Zone at Yokota Air Base.

Tech. Sgt. Alex Sernarojas (left) with his son Adrian, age 3, get an autograph from World Wrestling Entertainment Champion John Bradshaw Layfield in the Power Zone at Yokota Air Base. (Jim Schulz / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Three stars from World Wrestling Entertainment’s Smackdown! barrelled their way into Yokota’s base exchange Saturday afternoon for a shortened visit with servicemembers and their families.

Some fans stood in line for nearly three hours to greet WWE champion John Bradshaw Layfield, Jamie Noble, Dawn Marie and referee Earl Hebner. The group signed autographs, posed for photos and shook hands.

The WWE held a pair of shows at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan on Friday and Saturday. The SmackDown! stars last visited Japan a year ago with sold-out events at the Yokohama Arena and Kobe World Hall.

“We knew the Air Force base was close and asked if we could come out and say hi to the guys,” said Layfield.

But reaching Yokota turned out to be tougher than advertised. The wrestlers wanted to drive from Tokyo, Layfield said, but heavy traffic forced them onto the train. The entire trip took more than three hours.

“It was like ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles,’” Layfield quipped. “But this is awesome. The WWE has always been very supportive of the troops, and we always try to stop off at as many bases as we can.”

Senior Airman Martin Capasse of 374th Maintenance Squadron said he’s been an avid WWE fan since the inaugural Wrestlemania in 1985. He and his wife, Brenda, heard about Saturday’s visit and decided to stop by.

“I’ve watched this religiously for years now. I’ve wanted to be a wrestler for a few years, but I’m fit to sit,” Capasse said, adding that he once explored the possibility of entering the profession before a car accident ended those hopes.

“It’s a taste of home to see these guys come out here. That’s watching my life and dream say ‘hi’ to me.”

Layfield said he’s been to the Middle East three times in the last 18 months. Smackdown! staged a card for U.S. troops in Baghdad last Christmas that was broadcast on the American Forces Network.

“The troops always try to tell us thanks,” he said. “They treat us like Mel Gibson, but we think of them as Mel Gibson.

“These guys are heroes. They do a helluva job helping to keep us free. This is our way of supporting them and saying thanks.”


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