XAVIER Woods is not your typical World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Inc. superstar. Being a Guinness book record holder for most number of subscribers (about 1.7 million on YouTube) for a gaming channel makes him stand out among his fellow wrestlers. Not only is he successful with his gaming channel “UpUpDownDown,” his team New Day is also the longest-reigning tag team champion in WWE history.
The following is a copy of a transcript of an interview by Woods’s publicist given to the BusinessMirror.
Q: With UpUpDownDown, you showed the entire world what WWE superstars are like behind the scenes. How do you feel when people say that “kayfabe” (pro-wrestling stories) is dead?
Kevin Woods (KW): The thing I enjoy about it is being able to do that. It’s 2018: we know what wrestling is. We’re all aware. Having UpUpDownDown is an opportunity to remember that WWE superstars are normal people with lives, with families. That’s all it is. Then, I think it makes you enjoy the characters more when you see them on Raw or SmackDown! or Wrestlemania. You have a more relatable place to look at them from.
Q: How has UpUpDownDown changed the atmosphere behind the scenes?
KW: It’s a complete 180 degrees because video games weren’t allowed. And then once the YouTube channel was generating money for the company, it became okay. When we set up a PlayStation or an X-Box, we call it the Lab, because when we’re in there, we’re cooking. At its height, you might see eight PlayStations going on at one time in the locker room and it’s a rotating thing. We have the shows to worry about and we need a way to relax. Back in the day, it used to be cards.
For us, it’s upped morale by a hundred percent! There are guys who might not have been as close to each other and now, they’ve got a tight-knit battle they’ll want to get to when they get to the arena. So it helps in that respect. And honestly, that boosts everyone up so once we’re in the ring, performing, we’re a lot more comfortable with each other. It’s very healthy for the locker room, I think.
Q: Has it caused any problems?
KW: Even if guys have a problem with each other, it doesn’t get physical. We’re all performers and professionals. If there’s an actual problem between guys and girls, once you’ve passed through the curtain, we’re working and we all have the same goal. But, when stuff does happen in the Lab, that’s when promos occur. And honestly, I feel like everybody’s promo game has been going a little higher just because you have to be able to talk trash while you’re in there!
Q: Do you have creative freedom when producing UpUpDownDown?
KW: WWE has a say, obviously. It’s within the WWE umbrella. It is its own thing, though. So, I would say I have 92 percent creative control. I am lucky enough to now have a team of editors and producers. We’ve gone from me and two other guys to now me and six other people. So, it’s creating jobs within the company. There isn’t much they take out. The biggest thing is just cursing and that’s because people get heated.
If you watch Raw or SmackDown!, obviously those shows are going on TV. So there’s perfect light, perfect sound—it is a pristine product. It is fantastic. I try to make UpUpDownDown the complete opposite because to me, it’s got more of a grassroots feel to it. It’s me doing it.
I bring my studio with me everywhere I go. It’s a briefcase with my laptop, my DSLR, a microphone, my mouse and rechargeable batteries. I could set up right here and film an episode if I wanted to. And that’s how I like to keep it, small and compact, so I can do it anywhere in the world. That lack of production helps me create more content.
Q: What are the realities of being a WWE superstar?
KW: Being a WWE superstar is more than just being in the ring. It’s not always just wrestling. A lot of it is just giving back and being part of the communities we come and do shows in. For me, when I was a kid, all I saw was the fireworks and the traveling: “These guys are famous, I want to do this!” And you start doing it. That part is cool, and then you realize that there’s so much more to it.