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PRO WRESTLING: Crossing the Florida Georgia Line at WWE Tribute to the Troops

Whether it’s for Monday Night Raw or Tribute to the Troops, country music duo Florida Georgia Line enjoys performing at WWE events. Florida Georgia Line will join WWE Superstars and Divas to honor the United States Armed Forces during the 12th annual WWE holiday special, Tribute to the Troops, which will air on USA Network as a part of “WWE WEEK” at 8-10 p.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 17 and will re-air as a one-hour special on NBC 8-9 p.m. EST Saturday, Dec. 27.
Whether it’s for Monday Night Raw or Tribute to the Troops, country music duo Florida Georgia Line enjoys performing at WWE events. Florida Georgia Line will join WWE Superstars and Divas to honor the United States Armed Forces during the 12th annual WWE holiday special, Tribute to the Troops, which will air on USA Network as a part of “WWE WEEK” at 8-10 p.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 17 and will re-air as a one-hour special on NBC 8-9 p.m. EST Saturday, Dec. 27. Photo Courtesy WWE

“Anything Goes” are two words that can often describe the world of WWE.

It’s also the name of Florida Georgia Line’s sophomore album, which soared to the top of the all-genre Billboard 200 and Billboard Top Country Albums charts. This makes Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley the reigning tag team champions of country music.

The multi-platinum duo was ecstatic to take the stage to play handful of hits for the brave men and women in uniform as part of WWE’s 12th Annual Tribute to the Troops from Fort Benning, just outside Columbus, Ga. Their performance will be featured on the Tribute to the Troops holiday special 8 p.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 17 on USA Network -- with a one-hour version of the show airing 8 p.m. EST Saturday, Dec. 27 on NBC.

Kelley says he and Hubbard were big wrestling fans growing up.

“Even in middle school and some in high school,” he said. “I got to go to a WWE Raw in, I believe, eighth grade in Orlando. I just had an incredible experience. Me and my friends were so into wrestling. I feel like everyone was into it at some point. It really was an amazing experience. So we are proud to be part of WWE in any way we can be. It’s going to be a great night supporting our troops and honoring them. It’s going to be a magical event.”

FGL is no stranger to WWE TV. They performed “Round Here” when Monday Night Raw went country in 2013.

“It went great,” Hubbard recalled. “That’s why we continue to come back. WWE fans are awesome and loud and energetic and passionate. We really enjoyed it. To be honest, everyone that’s involved with WWE is so amazing and friendly. They are very welcoming. It was fun for us. The second time we were there they treated us like family almost. They were excited to see us. It just felt like a good fit. We enjoy what they do and the entertainment factor and how they entertain the world, which is pretty amazing.”

The boys followed the appearance up sitting ringside on commentary a few months ago when Dolph Ziggler met The Miz for the Intercontinental championship at the Night of Champions. Hubbard and Kelley gave Damien Mizdow a shove to the floor after The Miz’s stunt double got in their face.

“It was crazy,” Kelley said. “It’s cool to check your phone and check all the tweets and text messages from friends and family. We had so much support from that night. It’s incredible to see that encouragement. The last time we were there we got to do something outside the ring a little bit, which was absolutely incredible. They kind of interwove us into the storyline for a bit. It does feel like family here. They also have great catering, which is incredible. They got to keep these wrestlers fed. That’s one of the best parts of being a part of the WWE events. The catering is phenomenal. It’s no joke.”

Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze” music video with a WWE intro

If FGL were WWE superstars, they describe their would-be personas as a cross between Hulk Hogan and The Rock.

“If they had a wrestler child somehow,” Kelley said. That’s who I’d be. It would be kind of serious, kind of funny, kind of unpredictable, but still bad ass. That’s who I would want to be.”

At this point the two are going to leave the wrestling up to the professionals. They had fun meeting many WWE superstars and divas on the roster, but one stood out to them.

“John Cena always went out of his way to be real nice to us and take pictures with us,” Hubbard said. “He just seemed like a down-to-earth really cool guy. He seemed really genuine. So in getting to know him, he seemed like a great guy…I think country music is pretty strong in the WWE world. There are many out there who love country music and love what we are doing. It’s cool to feel that encouragement and support from guys that we are fans of. So it’s pretty neat.”

FGL has been on a wild ride paved with country music awards and sold out concerts. Even with all the accomplishments, as an artist there is always a hint of wonder if the follow-up to a debut album would get received as well as the first.

“We came into release day with a lot of confidence, and that’s because of our amazing fans and country radio having our back,” Kelley said. “The crazy times we’ve had the last couple of years, where the fans have blown our minds night after night. So we just took all those good vibes and the success of our lives and the things that were happen in the studio. As a result, that was record two. There was no pressure. It felt like you can take a deep breath when it went up on iTunes.

“It was a lot of hard work, and we put everything we had into it. Our fans have been asking for such a long time. There was a lot of hype about it and anticipation. I think we answered a lot of questions with record two. We spent a lot of time on it and really, really dug. If you want to know Tyler and I on a better level, then all you have to do is listen to record two.”

The opening minute for the album’s second single “Sun Daze” shows a scene from FGL’s appearance at Night of Champions on a computer screen. Hubbard says it was both their idea to infuse a little WWE into the video.

“The screen went blank for a while,” he said. “We were trying to decide what to put up on the screen that will be different. That was the first thing we came up with. We thought it would be different and cool and went with it.”

The country stars will perform across the country and internationally as part of their “Anything Goes” tour. Over their travels they have made numerous stops in South Florida. Among the most memorable for FGL was taking the stage at Kiss Country’s 2013 Chili Cook Off at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines, FL.

“We are still talking about it,” Kelley said. “The cool thing about the Chili Cook Off is there were so many people that day. I remember waking up hurting a little bit, but the fans were incredible that day. It was just a sea of people. We were blown away because I know we played earlier that day. To have that many people show up, it gave us confidence.

“Every time we go back to Florida it gets better and better. The fan base down there feels like home because it is. It’s real special down there. I remember after that show we raced to the studio and recorded a song with Nelly for his album. So that was a special day. We got to play a show and record a song in South Florida was a first for us. It was incredible.”

Fans will be able to see FGL in another unique setting when Tribute to the Troops hits the airwaves.

“We are happy to be there to support the troops,” Kelley said. “Any time we can be part of a Tribute to the Troops show, we always try to jump on that. We love and support them for what they do for our freedom and this country. Any time we can give back to the troops, it’s amazing. Everybody that’s involved with those tribute shows is just so passionate and loyal. It’s just a good energy. There is no negative vibes. It’s always cool.”

- Florida Georgia Line’s album “Anything Goes” is available now. Multi-platinum recording artists and two-time CMA Vocal Duo of the Year winners, Florida Georgia Line will join WWE Superstars and Divas to honor the United States Armed Forces with the 12th annual WWE holiday special, Tribute to the Troops, which will air on USA Network as a part of “WWE WEEK” 8-10 p.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 17 and will re-air as a one-hour special on NBC 8-9 p.m. EST Saturday, Dec. 27.

In the tradition of legendary entertainer Bob Hope, WWE brings together the best of entertainment and pop culture with celebrity appearances and performances for the servicemen and women to celebrate their dedication and commitment to America with a holiday program that is considered one of television’s most patriotic and heartwarming shows.

- NBCUniversal joins WWE in saluting the troops with special messages from some of their networks’ biggest names such as TODAY anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Natalie Morales, and Al Roker; Seth Meyers; The Kardashians; Andy Cohen; Giuliana Rancic; Katherine Heigl; Lester Holt; Padma Lakshmi; Mark Feuerstein; Debra Messing; Tom Brokaw; Rachel Maddow; and Carson Daly, as well as the coaches of The Voice (Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton).

- “For 12 consecutive years, WWE has been entertaining American military personnel both overseas and domestically as a way to thank them for their commitment to our country,” WWE Chairman & CEO, Vince McMahon said in a release. “Our servicemen and women work tirelessly for our freedom and we are proud to continue our Tribute to the Troops tradition.”

WWE Tribute to the Troops will chronicle WWE’s visit to United States Army post Fort Benning, where WWE Superstars and Divas will spend two days giving back to those who serve and their families with hospital visits and Be a STAR anti-bullying rallies. Fort Benning supports more than 120,000 active-duty military, family members, reserve soldiers, retirees, and civilian employees and has been the home of the Infantry division since 1918. The television special will also highlight WWE’s annual goodwill visit to our troops who are fighting for our freedom overseas.

- WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, WWE Superstars Big Show and R-Truth and WWE Divas Summer Rae and Alicia Fox will travel abroad to spread some holiday cheer to the men and women serving America far from home during the holiday season. WWE’s dedication to the military is a long-standing tradition that continues year-round, through programs that boost morale for soldiers, offer free tickets for active servicemen and women, and provide workforce assistance for veterans through a partnership with Hire Heroes USA.

- Follow Florida Georgia Line on Twitter @FLAGALine.

Follow FGL’s Tyler Hubbard on Twitter @THubbmusic.

Follow FGL’s Brian Kelley on Twitter @PlayBKPlay.

- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.

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