Recently, the bossman of Goto.game, Phid, was lucky enough to sit down with WWE superstar and gamer, Xavier Woods about gaming, the release of 2K20 and why NiGHTS Into Dreams was a lifechanging game for a young Xavier.
GTG: We’re here with Xavier Woods, how’s it going?
XW: Fantastic! How are you?
GTG: Good thanks, welcome to Sydney!
XW: Thank you very much, glad to be here.
GTG: You are the host of Up Up Down Down as well as WWE Superstars, how the hell did you convince WWE to allow you to have a gaming channel?
XW: It took a year, lots of meetings and lots of “discussions”, but I think one of the biggest things about the gaming channel that they enjoyed was trying to take the initiative to go into the space where WWE wasn’t necessarily located. They didn’t have a foothold in the streaming space, in the gaming space, in that capacity as far as having a representative that enjoys video games to the level that I do and that will create content like I will. So I think that really showed them, like, “let’s give them a shot!” and luckily people enjoyed it and watched it.
GTG: WWE’s been in the gaming space for a very long time, back in the day one of the first games I ever had was Superstars, so are you seeing them now sort of embrace that gaming space more, not just with your channel, but in general wanting to get more involved in the gaming space?
XW: I think that one of the biggest reasons for that is now they’re able to see a little bit better into that world, now they have an entire YouTube channel which is a hefty chunk of the digital component of the company, I mean YouTube in general, they have a channel that has gone into that space and is a proof of concept, we debuted on the E3 weekend, which we say is our birthday, which doubles as an excuse for me to get off of shows so I can go to E3. But just being there and seeing the kind of responses we get when we are there, when I am able to do collaborations and livestreams with other people in the field, and them knowing that, oh, these numbers, people wouldn’t watch and people wouldn’t know these things about our talent if our talent wasn’t out there and doing things in this space. So seeing the positive influence that guys and girls are having in the gaming space. So like, Kofi, Breeze, even when people see Becky on Up Up Down Down or like, Renee Young, like, anybody like that, they go, ‘oh wow, people are super into this.’ So I think that proof of concept has allowed them the opportunity to say ‘well, OK, this is something that we should, you know, actually take a swing at’, so it helps me personally because now my leash becomes a lot longer and the things that I am able to do, because obviously with such a large company you have to be careful of a lot of things because there’s shareholders and they want this and they want that and so any time something new is beginning, and I think this is just business wide in any large company, is that you have to be more conservative than you would if you were a smaller company. You pivot a lot easier and you can fail and it would be okay, as where with a large company like this trying and failing is sometimes super detrimental you know I think it just tightens the grip a little bit, but i think with everything we’ve been doing we’ve been very, very lucky that we’ve been successful and it’s allowed us to be a little more released from that grip so we can try more and more things.
GTG: Do you think gaming, in general, has had a positive impact on the backstage of the WWE? You hear all the time some of the legends and in interviews, they say the backstage isn’t the same anymore, they’re not backstage drinking and partying and getting into trouble anymore, the guys are a lot quieter and they’re chilling and playing video games. What’s the positive impact that gaming has had?
XW: It’s incredible, I would say that we’re much louder because we are playing games against each other, because two people playing Tekken and one person getting beat seven times in a row doesn’t cause for a quiet experience. So, you know where the locker room is because you can hear the screaming coming from that area and I think that it’s not only been a positive impact in the fact that now you have an outlet you didn’t have otherwise, like, guys used to play cards, and like, cards are fun, or whether you want to read a book, like, all that is fun it’s just different outlets. But I feel like with video games and like, fighting games, in particular, it’s brought a lot of guys off the roster and a lot of girls off the roster a lot closer together than they would be otherwise because now there is this common space we all share, whether you’re good or you’re bad, you’re having a good time being there. There are people that don’t play games that will watch us play games because they want to be in on the screaming and the yelling, and it’s just something that I feel, personally, has helped solidify that bond of brotherhood and sisterhood even more than it used to be.
GTG: While we’re on the discussion of fighting games, the WWE has always sort of ignored its competitors when it comes to every other avenues or media, however with you, they seem to have sort of turned a blind eye to allowing you to create content and stuff with a particular rival that you have in the fighting scene being Kenny Omega, how has that gone down?
XW: Carefully. very carefully, haha. So since starting the channel, we became buddies just through me knowing that he also enjoyed video games, so legit just slid into his DM’s. I was like ‘hey, I know you enjoy the same kind of stuff I do so I just want to say hey,’ and we started chatting and kind of formulated this idea because we’ve always wrestled at different places.
GTG: Have you guys never been on the same roster anywhere?
XW: no, just legit, We’re like internet buddies.
GTG: Such a gaming conversation that one isn’t it?
XW: Exactly, and that’s one of the things that I enjoy, is using gaming as a conduit to bring opposite ends of the spectrum together because for me, there’s something for everybody, you know? And I want to make sure that everyone understands that just because you might work at a different place than someone who you enjoy, or there’s a rival, there is an avenue for everyone to enjoy themselves and have a good time, much like, the Olympics, for that matter, there might be countries that don’t like each other, despise each other, have been fighting for years but the Olympics is like, “shut up and be friends because we’re playing games”. I want to use that in a video game sense and that’s what it is to me, and so he’s got the same mindset and so that’s something we’ve always just kind of, sometimes more loudly than other times, but we have the same train of thought in that sense, so he’s a good dude.
GTG: The WWE just recently released a video of a tour through your gaming space. What was that experience like, sharing that?
XW: It was cool! But so there’s like, lot’s of things that I’d left untouched because I’m doing a walkthrough on my channel.
GTG: Ah ok, so you make sure the clicks are going through to you?
XW: Exactly, we get enough over here but uh-
GTG: It’s like the teaser
XW: Yeah, yeah exactly, so you get a little bit, you get a little taste, there’s a bunch of stuff down there that I really am happy that I have and stuff that I’ve been saving for since i was like, 14. My parents both worked for the IRS back in the day and so they always told me like, no matter who you are or what you do, 10% of your paycheck, whatever it is, goes in a savings account, don’t touch it. Don’t touch it. It might be a time you need rainy day money, emergency fund, or there might be something in life way later that you know that you just want and you have this money over here that you can use for it without ruining your whole life. So from, like, 14 to 32, save, Save, save, save, save.
GTG: I wish my parents gave me that advice
XW: Dude, the absolute best. so now I’ve got like, a full arcade in my basement, I have a full Sega Saturn, I have a full Dreamcast, and I just got a full Wii U collection. Why? Because I wanted it on my shelves
GTG: As a retro collector myself, I’ve got consoles I have barely touched and I’ve got games that are still in boxes that I just haven’t opened, and I have no intention of ever playing them
XW: So for me it’s like, it’s a deeper thing. I’ve got two kids, one’s two the other one’s just born so for me it’s very important to show them, because once they get older and they’re actually into video games they’re all going to be digital, and I want to show them that, no, hard copies used to be real things
GTG: You used to be able to kick these things around
XW: Yeah! You could open it, there’s an instruction manual, there’s a certain scent when you pull the plastic off, like, this is what you guys don’t have and here. We went to the Last Gamer’s, and I was like, very jealous, I wanted what he had
GTG: Has he not got the most amazing collection?
XW: It’s incredible! And so, like, I don’t have that and I’m aspiring to have something like that there in the states, And so like, I want them mainly because I love Sega Saturn, I love all Sega stuff, I love all the consoles they got. but I want my kids to know that like, ‘oh, you gotta open up the disc drive, you put the CD in, you close it-‘
GTG: In saying that, I’ve probably got a machine you’ve never laid eyes on
XW: What is it?
GTG: I’ve got the Sega SG1000 complete in box
XW: Mmm, I’ve never seen it in person
GTG: What is your top five games, from five to one?
XW: OK, so I believe that it’s Megaman 5, River City Ransom, Mischief Makers, NiGHTS Into Dreams, Mario Kart Double Dash
GTG: Wow! That is a very unique top 5!
XW: It’s a very good top 5
GTG: Yeah, NiGHTS Into Dreams was a very beautiful game but I could never get into it
XW: Really? Did you play it with the 3D controller?
GTG: No I didn’t, they were hard to get hold of
XW: See, that’s the problem. That controller, see, it looks ridiculous but it makes that game feel so good, oh my god, it’s incredible. So I really got into NiGHTS, and this is on some childhood stuff, so I was a kid that was not very confident ever, terrified to take any type of risk, talk to any girl, I had no confidence
GTG: Hilarious considering your career now is literally risk taking
XW: Yeah! But, at the same time, that’s like, a facade, it’s a mask I can wear for X amount of hours and then I turn into a pumpkin and I go back into like, my shell, like, I’m so comfortable inside this like, Hobbit hole. So as a kid, not confident in myself at all and so playing NiGHTS actually helped me a lot with that because the two kids in the game have to overcome a fear, like, the boy is scared to play basketball against the older kids because they’re mean to him. The girl doesn’t want to audition because she thinks people are gonna laugh at her and then they use NiGHTS to get over these fears and they get to, you know, achieve their dreams because they face their fears. So for me, I always wanted to be a wrestler but I was nervous because I wasn’t a very physical kid, like, I tried playing football and I quit because it hurt too bad, like, they hit me so hard my helmet broke and I cried to my mum and I quit. So I said, how am I gonna be a wrestler, and so I played NiGHTS Into Dreams and always kept that lesson and then that gave me the courage to start amateur wrestling, which lead to me taking up football again which lead to track which lead to being in show choir, lead to being a cheerleader, lead to me training and wrestling again, lead to me getting into WWE and it’s like, a lot of my life banks off of me playing NiGHTS Into Dreams
GTG: And what is your gaming rig?
XW: It’s upstairs in my room, it’s an Origin PC, i have a Canon ADD DSLR I’ve got a XLR microphone, two PlaSstation controllers and an Xbox controller depending on what I’m playing so I can just film, I can livestream, but I have condensed it down to just being on PC because I can play Xbox games on it and then having Steam, most things that come out on PS4 usually come out on Steam or the rare few that’ll have PC come out later, but for the most part I can play whatever I want. I got all my emulators on there too, so that’s my whole rig for filming, or just playing for pleasure, or whatever, but that’s what I carry with me
GTG: And WWE 2k20 is coming out this week, correct?
GTG: Out tomorrow! Have you had a chance to have a jam on it?
XW: Yeah, so last week in Las Vegas and across the hallway from where the locker room was there was a very nice setup. I heard people screaming and having fun, and I walked in and it’s like, 30 consoles with the game on it, and a bunch of streamers and YouTubers there
GTG: Were they expecting you to walk in?
XW: Haha, no, there were other people that had walked in because they were like, on the schedule to talk and hang out, but I was’t on the schedule because they know that I was just gonna walk in, I guess. I walked in screaming and super excited because I was looking for one of my buddies and we ended up playing $100 money matches. The money went to charity so it’s fine, relax everyone
GTG: So it’s not real gambling
XW: Haha, no! But yeah, so i played for Connor’s Cure, he played for St. Jude, so we did $100 money matches. his name’s Chris Denker, check out his YouTube channel, those videos will be up there AND I’m getting them on my channel, Up Up Down Down, thank you very much
GTG: And so what are your thoughts on the game?
XW: It’s pretty fun! What really got me is in the like… What do you call it, in the compound, you can do certain things like have zombies come up out of the ground and grab their legs and do finishers with it, it’s so cheap. Probably that, is probably like, the coolest thing that i saw– Oh! That’s a complete lie, I completely lied to you and I apologise, the coolest thing that i saw was the New Day arena,
GTG: Oh, wow! You got your own arena?
XW: Yeah, complete surprise to me. I saw a picture of it online and I was like, ‘oh that’s dope! Someone made an arena!’ But then I was like, ‘Oh! This is legit in the game!’, a full New Day arena
GTG: So you guys are in town for the full WWE tour, you’ve been on the roster for a long time and you see some amazing people come through, what’s it like knowing that the greatest wrestler on the current roster at the moment is New Zealander Dakota Kai?
XW: Hmm… Feels good!
GTG: Like, she is legitimately the greatest ever to grace the WWE
XW: I’m just extremely humbled to share company with her at this point. So yeah, shoutout to Dakota Kai!
GTG: Thanks dude!
XW: No problem!