I came across this article that shed some light on Xavier Woods UpUpDownDown YouTube channel, just days after I stumbled across it myself, and it got me thinking about just how invaluable Woods must be to the company, whether or not they realize it themselves.
The interesting thing about such an assessment is that not a whole lot of it involves Woods’ actual ability to wrestle. As high as I am personally, on Xavier Woods, the fact of the matter is that ultimately, he’s a pretty mediocre wrestler, or as much as the WWE will actually let him do, given their propensity to inhibit guys from cutting loose completely, due to fear of arsenal overlap.
But from what I’ve seen since his main roster debut, even to what he does in the ring now, there’s no denying that Xavier Woods might be an 11 on the microphone, I’d say that his ability in the ring is still somewhere around a 6-7; and that’s mostly on his strong ability to sell, and his general exuberance. There’s a very obvious reason why the vast majority of The New Day matches are handled by Kofi and Big E.
I’d love for him to prove me wrong, and explode with something of a wrestling clinic, against a guy like Neville or Cesaro, but I have a suspicion that the WWE might never let him go nuts in the ring.
However, the point is, although his wrestling ability might be somewhat suspect, Xavier Woods makes up for it in so many other ways, to a degree where the entire package is still something that I’d claim to be the most valuable current asset in the company right now. There is nobody on the current roster that can come close to Woods’ ability on the microphone, and his sheer ability to elicit reactions from the crowd, regardless of where in the United States or on whatever continent they’re on. To such a degree, that I’ll also go out on a limb and basically credit all of the mic-work growth of Kofi and Big E as byproduct of being around and associated with such a silver-tongued wizard like Xavier Woods.
I would even venture to say that already, Xavier Woods could end up on the Mt. Rushmore of all-time great wrestling speakers; Woods brings a level of creativity and combines it with eloquence that hasn’t really been seen since like, Chris Jericho. He really doesn’t even need to wrestle as much as there is a demand that he still appears on the shows, simply to entertain.
And it’s because of the creativity and innovative ways Woods and The New Day bring that pretty much make RAW a continuous must-watch, even to this day. Wrestling is pretty formulaic, and has been for generations now, and there’s a belief that what was once new, can become new again, and the smarkier fans have deemed such a time span to be 3-4 years before a storyline or concept can be recycled. The New Day has been doing things that might actually be new, or at least recycled from times in which I wasn’t even watching wrestling, which is to say a really, really long time.
For example, the conflict between The New Day, Usos and Lucha Dragons for all intents and purposes was finished after having a match at the last PPV. But The New Day brought them back to the ring, feigning injuries and having respect beaten into them, shared a tender moment where they all shook hands, slapped fives, and dapped the mutual respect, but as soon as they left the ring, Woods reveals the ruse, and in no time, The New Day are celebrating obnoxiously and gloating, prompting the good guys to act like bad guys, rush the ring, and beat them up. Just like that, The New Day got faces to act like heels, and set ablaze the ashes that should’ve probably been the end to a feud, into a fire that could easily burn for another PPV.
I mean, I’ve never seen such a double turn like that, not even comparable to the Austin/Bret Hart match at Wrestlemania 12 or 13. And naturally, the crowd was going bonkers when it happened.
Finally, we get to Woods’ crossover appeal, which is another area where very few people can actually come close to matching him. Sure, the WWE has all sorts of ideas and concepts that try to hook people into vested interest in the business, like Steve Austin’s podcast, or Chris Jericho’s podcast, but they’re extremely homogenized, and once Austin’s podcast was used as a vehicle to advance a storyline, understood that they’re very much disingenuine.
Now it’s vague to whether or not UpUpDownDown is WWE sanctioned or not, since the aforementioned link uses a royal “we” to describe the parties involved at the creation of the channel, but this is one of those instances where we can just leave well enough alone and assume the veil to be mostly untouched. But for all intents and purposes, Woods’ channel seems genuine enough, and has the innate ability to appeal not just to wrestling fans who want to see wrestlers in a different light, but because they’re playing video games, and talking about all sorts of non-wrestling nerdy things, it’s just as easily tapping into gamer and/or nerd demographics as well.
Initially, I was skeptical that such a concept might be really dangerous for the concept of kayfabe, but I’m beginning to believe that even the business, is realizing that kayfabe is currently on its way to somewhat of a metaphorical siesta, and in the age of social media, we’re advancing towards times where people don’t really care about the storylines as much as they care about the performers themselves.
Seeing people like Rusev, Heath Slater and Sasha Banks, among others, let their kayfabe guards down while they sit back, shoot the shit with Woods while playing video games is refreshing to watch, and can be enjoyed by people not just into wrestling, but also nerds and gamers. If they come off as interesting as everyone who puts themselves out on the internet hopes they do, then it’s easier to draw people into giving wrestling a shot, and hopefully bringing more people into the ever-expanding WWE Universe.
The thing is, in terms of grading the value of professional athletes in baseball, football, basketball, and other ball-sports, a lot of so-called experts like to use the concept of skills that age. A baseball player’s ability to hit ages faster than their ability to run or field baseballs. A basketball player’s strength and shooting touch will erode with age faster than his foot speed. In terms of wrestling, a wrestler’s ability to wrestle, is ultimately their greatest commodity, but in the world of wanting more than the base goods, wrestlers are also expected to be charismatic, good speakers, and entertaining even outside of the ring; skills that defy the age way beyond in-ring abilities.
And although Woods’ in-ring ability fall a little short compared to everything else he brings to the table, it is the everything else, that once encapsulated into the whole package, that makes Xavier Woods such a valuable commodity. He can entertain and elicit reaction, which when the day is over, all that truly matters when it comes to the business.
With the current rash of injuries that have knocked out mainstays and future stars like Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro and even Randy Orton, the roster is looking a little thin when it comes to guys who need to step things up and keep the crowds entertained.
Last week on RAW, the WWE responded so such by having an extremely rare World Heavyweight championship hand change on television, instead of a PPV. Sure, it’s great for Roman Reigns to have finally made it, but I’m thinking the WWE probably could have kept that in their back pocket a little bit longer; and instead just given the fans at home more Xavier Woods and more The New Day.