During the week between Christmas and New Years, TNA Wrestling will deliver its own brand of season’s beatings to Canadian fans. For the first time ever, the company makes its way up to the Great White North, holding a series of house shows in Quebec before finishing up their Canadian tour in Oshawa, Ontario. In an exclusive interview with SLAM! Wrestling, TNA star “Cowboy” James Storm revealed why he’s looking forward to the trip.

“I finally get to drink some Canadian beer,” he said, laughing. “I like drinking beer so much, I should have been a Canadian.”

James Storm signs autographs at the Bound For Glory fan fest in October 2007 in Atlanta. Photo by Bob Kapur

In all seriousness, Storm is looking forward to the trip, his first to Canada since September 2005 where he helped Jeff Jarrett defeat Raven for the NWA Heavyweight Championship at a Border City Wrestling show in Windsor. He’s hoping it won’t be the last time he gets the chance, and notes the results of this tour will help TNA management in making that decision.

“They’re talking about doing a lot more house shows next year. If this tour goes well, if it gets a lot of positive feedback, I can see them planning more shows in Canada next year. I guess one show, if it’s not sold out yet, it’s really doing well. Who knows? If it goes really well, maybe they’ll think about doing a pay-per-view up there next year.”

The shows — December 27 at Montreal’s Centre Pierre Charbonneua; December 28 at the Colisée Pepsi in Quebec City; December 29 at the Robert-Guertin Center in Gatineau; and December 30 at the General Motors Centre in Oshawa — will feature many of TNA’s biggest names. Announced for the Gatineau show are Kurt Angle vs. Christian Cage, Jackie Moore vs Gail Kim, and LAX vs A.J. Styles and Tomko. Angle and Cage will have a series of meetings for the TNA Heavyweight Championship, and fittingly given his history of screwing over Canadians, Earl Hebner has been announced as the referee for all of those matches.

Storm will be continuing his ongoing feud with Eric Young, taking on the Canadian at least once over the series of shows. Their storyline has seen them feud for the past month over a Drinking Championship, a prize that rewards the man best able to handle his alcohol. Beer-drinking has been a recurring theme for Storm; he often comes to the ring while drinking a beer, and his last feud revolved around Rhino’s real-life alcohol addiction. Though it was played up for comedy, that feud had the potential of being a very edgy storyline, particularly in today’s environment when wrestling is under a microscope when it comes to substance abuse.

Storm hasn’t felt any backlash, however. “All of the press has been mainly on the steroid issues. Nobody (in the media) has added alcohol into the mix yet, so that’s been pretty good for me. As for being too edgy or whatever, I haven’t felt any heat for it. It’s one of those things that you want to push the envelope, but you don’t want to push it too far. You want to see how far you can go right before you get to the point where you do get the backlash.

James Storm at Slammiversary 2007. Photo by Bob Kapur

Storm also points out that a lot of the segments between he and Young have been deliberately veered towards over-the-top comedy, so might be seen by viewers as being obviously played for laughs. To some, that kind of midcard role may seem like a bad spot to be in, but Storm doesn’t agree.

“I actually think it will help in the long run,” he theorized, “because people will see that I’m entertaining. I kind of look like it like this: before ‘The Rock’ became ‘The Rock’, he was in the midcard as Rocky Maivia and doing the comedy stuff. Once he got into the main event, he kept doing it and keeping people entertained that way, so it really helped him a whole lot. Sure, I want to be in the main event scene some day. In the long run, want to win the TNA championship — that’s something I’ve wanted ever since I started in TNA. But right now, I’m having a lot of fun doing what I’m doing.”

Rumours have circulated that not all of TNA’s younger stars agree with Storm’s optimistic outlook. Reports are that the morale of some of TNA’s younger stars is very low, due to the company’s increased attention towards signing and pushing veteran stars — such as Kevin Nash and Booker T, who have been given high-profile matches at the last two Pay-Per-Views though they were respectively semi-retired and a brand new hire. Reports — unconfirmed by the company — are that the locker room grumblings got to the point that at a recent locker room meeting, TNA President Dixie Carter offered people to quit the company if they felt they were being held back.

“To me,” Storm said, rebuffing any suggestion that he feels that way, “it’s one of those things where you have to improve yourself. They bring these guys over for a reason, because they have name value and they think they will help in the ratings. It’s up to the younger guys, from my point of view, to bring their game up. To prove to these veterans that they bring over from WWE or wherever, how good we really are.”

In fact, Storm is very much looking forward to the opportunity of working with one of those veterans at some point down the road.

“I would like to have a feud with Booker T. I had a match with him at a recent show, and I had actually wrestled him in my time at WCW, so I think we would work good together. I think it would work really good because of (the dynamic), where you have Sharmell on one side and Jackie Moore on the other. I think it would work well.”

In the immediate future, though, Storm is focusing on two things.

The first is his family, with whom he is spending some time before the tour. “It’s really rough (to be away from home between the holidays). I have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and I’d love to be home with her, especially at this time. But this is my job, it’s how I make my living to support her. The travel, the schedule … that all comes with the job. So that’s what I have to do. If you don’t want to do the job, then somebody else will, you know?”

The second: meeting the Canadian fans. “I hope everyone comes out to the Canadian shows. They’re probably going to do some sort of taping and show highlights on Impact! and stuff. So come on out and raise hell. And most of all,” he said boastfully, “come see your fellow Canadians get their butts kicked by an American redneck.”

For more information on TNA Wrestling’s Canadian tour, including ticket information, visit www.tnawrestling.com/content/view/156/84/.