Whether it's in the squared circle or the realm of YouTube, World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar Xavier Woods is no stranger to success.
As part of the tag team The New Day, Woods held the WWE Tag Team Championship a record-setting 483 days, leaving a trail of unicorn horns, cereal boxes, and trombones in his wake. The fan-favorite team are known for their charming personalities and antics on weekly live television, but Xavier is now dominating another avenue of entertainment.
Woods started the YouTube gaming channel UpUpDownDown in June of 2015, showing himself and fellow WWE Superstars in a variety of videogame-focused content. The original goal for the channel was to reach one million subscribers, which happened last week, cementing Xavier’s place in current gaming culture.
The success of UpUpDownDown and his experience as a performer with WWE has led Woods to SXSW 2017 where he’ll be co-hosting the fourth annual SXSW Gaming Awards with popular Twitch.TV personality OMGitsfirefoxx, to be broadcast live Saturday, March 18, on Twitch at 8 p.m.
For Xavier, the success of UpUpDownDown is all about bringing the two great loves of his life together. “The goal since the start of the channel was convergence of communities. I know, for me, that I love wrestling and I love games, so there was already an overlap there because all of my friends growing up were the same,” said Woods in a phone interview with 512tech.
“Videogames tell stories on good and evil and so does the WWE, so that’s the core of both things. Being able to show people that it’s okay to be excited about boisterous about it brings people together.”
Woods mentions that he’s humbled by not only the response towards his channel, but also the rate at which people subscribed. “The fact that people are into it and positive about the channel makes me feel good, because it’s my little creation. So, it’s nice to see people enjoying it.”
The channel tries to create content four to five weeks ahead of time, according to Woods, supplying a steady stream of shows across all genres of gaming. Recently, he and fellow WWE Superstars Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Kofi Kingston visited Netherrealm Studios in Chicago, Illinois to unveil a new character for the upcoming DC Comics fighting game “Injustice 2,” exclusively on UpUpDownDown.
Xavier muses that one million subscribers is merely the start of something larger. “We were so focused on hitting one million, but we want to start hitting conventions and start some new shows. Now it’s time to continue to deliver and not rest on our laurels.”
While the SXSW Gaming Awards is the largest event Xavier Woods has hosted to date, he’ll also be the host of this year’s WrestleMania in Orlando, Florida on April 2, alongside fellow New Day members Big E and Kofi Kingston. Even with the size difference in events, Woods doesn’t see SXSW as a mere warm up.
“I do think hosted the awards show tonight will help me once it’s time to don the suit for WrestleMania. These two events are different, but also very much the same: They’re used to celebrate people who have done well throughout the year and bring everyone together for that one moment to enjoy each other’s company.”
Xavier voiced excitement for seeing how the best games of 2016 will fare at tonight's awards, but also shared his love of the Nintendo Switch, the famed publisher and game developer’s newest piece of hardware. “Right before we got to Austin I was in Paris then Detroit; London, Ontario and finally Buffalo, so the Switch is perfect to have in the car or on the plane.”
Though UpUpDownDown has left its mark on gaming culture as a whole, Xavier also acknowledged the rise in popularity of their signature, glowing unicorn horn that he and The New Day wear to the ring. The sparkly, wearable horns are a staple of any WWE event and worn by everyone from children to adults.
“It was a world-wide effort,” joked Woods. “I know way too much about unicorn lore from following medieval times and unicorn stuff from when I was a kid. We were lucky enough to jump on it before it became a thing. I’m not sure how it happened, but I love it.”
The SXSW Gaming Awards are at 8 p.m. Saturday night on Twitch.TV: https://www.twitch.tv/sxswgamingawards.
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