If you mention the phrases country music and professional wrestling together, you might get a few blank stares. However, the two worlds are a lot more alike than what you might think, and with the partnership between TNA Impact Wrestling, Average Joe's Entertainment and Montgomery Gentry, and, it only figures to get stronger with time.
Ask "Cowboy" James Storm, one of the superstars of the wrestling world. With TNA from the start of his career, he thinks the fans to both mediums are very closely linked.
"I think it's just the fan base," Storm told Billboard. "Country fans are very loyal to their artists, and so are wrestling fans. It's a loyalty thing that goes beyond what anyone can explain, and how passionate they are about what they watch."
That relationship between the two has been strengthened by the work that TNA has done in joining the two together. Storm has just completed a single and video based on his entrance music titled "Longnecks and Rednecks," with the latter featuring Grand Ole Opry members Montgomery Gentry. The song is performed by TNA Knockout Music Vice President Serg Salinas, who co-wrote the track with Dale Oliver for Knockout Music Publishing.
Longtime Nashville executive Jules Wortman, Vice President of Public Relations at TNA, admits the similarities between the two worlds are endless, and makes coming to work each day an adventure.
"I've been an executive in the business for many years, have been a big thinker, and have always had other visions and wanted to do other things. I was presented with this opportunity, and I jumped at it because I love what it stands for. It's so creative, and is so full of extremely talented and athletic people. You've got all the elements of entertainment all rolled up into one - a music division, a merchandise division, original programming we're developing all over the world. It's a great opportunity to take all these athletes and just to have fun with it."
According to Wortman, "Music is a part of everyone's life. Like they say, it's life's soundtrack. It's in every walk of life. The energy that music brings to an event - there's nothing like it. Every talent, every wrestler has their own entrance music. When the fans hear the first chord or whatever, they realize who is about to come out because of their music. They go crazy."
Storm says that "Longnecks and Rednecks" definitely elicits that type of reaction from his fan following. "It's a song that no matter who you are or where you come from in life, everyone can get along over a cold beer," he says. "It gets the whole crowd electrified. They will clap along, and everyone will sing to it. Everybody has learned the words, and it's cool that when I come out, the audience is singing along with it."
When the plan was developed, Wortman didn't have to think long about what artist would be a fit. "Montgomery Gentry was the first group I thought of. I always loved them and their music. I called them, and told them we were going to do a video with James, and we wanted to have them in the video along with Cowboy Troy and Sean Patrick McGraw." TNA has one of the largest production facilities in the Southeast. The video premiered on (TNA Impact Wrestling home) Spike TV, and will be on several channels. They have been on two episodes. Then, we have a big pay-per-view in Nashville on April 15. Just today, Montgomery Gentry has asked if some of our wrestlers could be in our new video. That brings it full circle, and makes it a win - win for everyone."
Tom Baldrica, of Average Joe's Entertainment - Montgomery Gentry's label, liked the plan the minute it was presented to him. "Montgomery Gentry is such a perfect fit for that crowd, and it was an easy sell to me. I have been such a huge pro wrestling fan since I grew up in Minnesota many years ago. I have always been looking for a way to get a country act involved with wrestling," he says, while adding that "Wrestling fans are so loyal to their folks, just like country music and NASCAR fans. It's the perfect fit, and Montgomery Gentry fits smack dab in the middle of all three of those fan bases."
It's also something that the duo's Troy Gentry enjoys, as well. "When we shot the video with James, they asked us if we would like to get a little more involved with it. We jumped at it, flying down to Orlando to tape a couple of shows for them."
Gentry admits that the award-winning duo may even get a little more involved - maybe even getting into the ring? "That would be fun," he admits. "Eddie and I have talked about it after our experience down in Orlando. We told them we would like to get more involved with them."
Does Storm have any advice for the duo if they bring their "Hillbilly Shoes" into the ring?
"I would tell them good luck," he says with a smile. "They did tell me that after I got done with Bobby Roode at Lockdown this past Sunday to leave the cage door open and to let them have the rest of him. I don't know, they're some big ole boys!"