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WWE stars ready for trip to the war zone

Superstar wrestlers pumped to meet 'their heroes' in Afghanistan
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They are superstars in the wrestling ring, with their legions of loyal fans.  But soon, they'll meet the real heroes, U.S. troops fighting the war on terror on the front lines, as the WWE is set to visit troops in Afghanistan this week.

"It's just the biggest thrill we have all year," according to WWE Co-Founder Vince McMahon. "Again, we bring you a little slice of Americana, which is what the WWE is really, when you think about the physicality, and the beautiful women, and the story lines, and the comedy and everything that we do, you know, it's a big slice of Americana.  We're privileged to bring it to Afghanistan this year."

'Live and Direct,' including host Rita Cosby, will accompany 18 wrestlers as they head to Afghanistan to meet our U.S. soldiers.

"I think it's an opportunity for us to give back and to go see the kids that are over there fighting for the very freedoms that I take for granted every day, like the ability to have long hair or whatever I want to do to be an American," said WWE Superstar Triple H. "They're over there and fighting and dying for that, and for us to be able to go over there and say thank you."
Added WWE Diva Ashley: "Those guys go out there and they're risking their lives for us.  And if we can do anything to make them feel at home or feel that-you know, a glimpse of home, you know, while they're stuck out there, you know, then just to make them smile for a day or two or three. ... I got a lot of e-mails from the soldiers.  And hopefully, I'll get to meet some of them in person."

This will be wrestler JBL's fifth trip to Afghanistan. 

"My father served the country for about 22 years in the National Guard and Reserve," he said. "He was called to active duty in the Korean War.  All my uncles served.  It's a big deal for me.  I'm a huge fan of the armed soldier, the American soldier.  And to be able to go over there personally and tell these guys, "Thank you," I think it's great."

The WWE's John Cena said the wrestlers will be pumped once their C-17 arrives in Afghanistan.

When we land, and we go out to the forward-operating bases, or anywhere we're at, we bring the same type of energy," he said. "We're as excited to see those men and women out there as they are to see us."

Before departing overseas, earlier this week, the WWE visited a children's hospital in Charleston, S.C., where mainly cancer patients, requested to see their wrestling idols. 

"A huge part of my job is out of the ring," according to wrestler Shelton Benjamin. "Like I said, it's the most fun.  In the ring, I get smacked around a little bit, and, you know, I can-that I can handle.  That's fun."

Before landing in Afghanistan, the WWE and 'Live and Direct' will visit wounded soldiers at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.  After that, it's on to Afghanistan, for live broadcasts at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.