WWE star Xavier Woods is set to host a weekly video game competition series premiering this fall.
G4, which calls itself “the next-generation network for gamers, by gamers,” has partnered with WWE for the series, and casting Woods is a magnificent fit. Along with his role in making The New Day one of WWE’s most successful tag teams of all time, Woods is also an intensely passionate gamer, which is evident on the UpUpDownDown YouTube channel that he built from scratch and developed into appointment-viewing for wrestlers, wrestling fans and gamers.
“This legitimately is a dream job for me,” Woods says. “It shows that if there is stuff in life you want to do, but people say your passions don’t match up, you can say, ‘Nah, forget that.’ Do the things that make you happy. As long as it’s not hurting anyone else, continue on and don’t let other people sway you from the path. And hosting G4, this means the world to me.”
The G4 network, which was originally on air from 2002–14, is set to relaunch this summer, and Woods was signed as the first cast member. While the name of the show has yet to be announced, there is no question that G4 has found the right person to be the face of its program.
“An opportunity like this is what I’ve been pushing for, really, throughout my whole career,” Woods says, who is 34-year-old Austin Watson. “It feels incredible to have this job in this space, especially with an organization as incredible as G4. I’m tied so emotionally to this from my childhood. It was a safe space where I could nerd out and be myself, and where I found out there were other people like me.
“It’s cool they’re taking a chance on me. This isn’t me jumping to the next money grab; this is my life. I’m a hardcore gamer, and I have always wanted to mesh wrestling and games together, especially with eSports. This opportunity with G4 is going to give me the ability to do that on such a grand stage in the gaming world. I’m still losing my mind over it, and it feels so surreal. I’m working with such a great crew of people, and this opportunity is a dream come true.”
Woods’s show will be a competition series, featuring a number of the most elite gamers in the world. His background in pro wrestling, a forum where one performer is constantly enhancing their opponent, has set him up perfectly to host this show. He is eager to highlight elite talent from the gaming world, as well as introduce them to viewers around the globe.
“My goal is to smash these two worlds together,” Woods says. “There are things eSports can teach wrestling, and wrestling can teach eSports. On the wrestling side, we sell confrontation, good versus evil. I’ve always wanted to infuse that aspect of wrestling into eSports to make it even more entertaining. The goal is to draw more people into video games by emotionally investing them. So we’re going to have content creators go up against each other, and we’ll have some pro wrestling promo aspects to heighten the mood, too.
“I’m teaming up with a titan in G4. I think wrestling fans are going to love the vibe, and it’s the perfect storm for wrestling fans and gamers. There is so much excitement for me to get in front of new people, in hopes that they enjoy it like the people who’ve enjoyed it before them.”
As host, participant and promoter, Woods transformed UpUpDownDown into a platform where people could be genuine and lose themselves in the spirit of competition. The channel began in 2015 and now has over two million subscribers. If it serves as the blueprint for his new G4 show, then viewers are in for a blend of creativity and fun.
“D-Von Dudley has served as a mentor and pointed me in the right direction to do work I enjoy,” Woods says. “It evolved into this creative plain with UpUpDownDown, a blueprint for excitement.”
More than just highlighting the competition among its performers, UpUpDownDown has served as a vehicle to bring people together and introduce a whole new side of its personality.
“The WWE roster is incredible, just so talented,” Woods says. “You see that on Raw and SmackDown, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The people in pro wrestling can do anything, and I’m hoping people also see a piece of that here.
“Having the UpUpDownDown YouTube channel, and having the incredible team behind that that I do, from editors to producers to the talent on the roster who are fine with me calling them at 3 a.m. asking them to play in a Pokémon tournament the next day, I’m very grateful. This new opportunity is a testament to how strong our roster is and the bond we have together, and how we are so willing to help each other ascend to that next level in whatever we do. I am so grateful to the wrestlers for being on my show, and that’s also helped show me how to carry myself as a host.”
But which members of the WWE roster are the most talented when it comes to video games?
“I’m begrudgingly saying this because I can’t stand him, but Tyler Breeze was the UpUpDownDown champion for over 500 days,” Woods says, paying respect to his longtime rival. “He defended the title in random games, and he ran through opponents, so I’ll have to say Breeze. And even though he hasn’t been champion, I’ll also say Adam Cole. I would throw Cesaro in there, but he’s focused on very specific games, and he is very talented at those.”
Woods has become an indispensable member of the WWE roster. He will forever be associated with New Day partners Kofi Kingston and Big E, and he played an integral role in the KofiMania story line that saw Kingston capture the WWE championship from Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 35. And although he is not clairvoyant, he looks forward to watching when the inevitable inevitably occurs and the talented Big E has his chance to hoist the world title.
“The prophecy has already been told; E’s going to win the title,” Woods says. “I’ll go on to win King of the Ring, and we’ll be three kings. That’s the way New Day actually works. We say things, make the right moves and they happen. Fingers crossed, it all happens.”
The possibilities for Woods are limitless. His ethos has been centered around pushing the industry forward and he now has the chance to bring joy to the world of G4.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity to host my own show for the first time ever,” Woods says. “Wrestling nerds and video game nerds, we’re the same kind of nerds. We just need to all come together and no one can stop us.”