Everything Xavier Woods has done in his professional career has led to this moment. For more than a decade, he’s worked diligently to fulfill his dreams as an entertainer, continuing to build on his craft inside the squared circle while leading a crossover into the gaming space. For Woods, aka Austin Creed, that’s what made last week’s announcement that he’ll join G4’s relaunch as a host during the network’s charity fundraiser reunion so meaningful.
“I want to show people that sports entertainers, professional wrestlers, however you want to phrase it, are much more than what you see on screen,” Woods told Uproxx Sports. “We have interests, we are good at multiple things, we are not one dimensional. G4, seeing me, hearing me and accepting me and saying you’re worthy of this title as host, it means the world to me. It means I’ve been moving in the right direction. I’ve said a million times it’s humbling that people who are part of a network with as much history, lore and love, have given me the keys to part of the kingdom.”
For Woods, gaming has always been part of his life. Long before the fame and notoriety that came with hosting his own YouTube channel, Woods remembers loading his jacket with an iPad, PlayStation Vita and Nintendo DS, then stuffing his backpack with a PlayStation and Xbox. As he traveled around the world, wrestling in front of crowds of all sizes, he’d seek out other gamers and connect with folks in locker rooms over the nostalgia that came with those conversations.
“I attribute that to G4,” he said. “There was a time in my life when games weren’t mainstream. I tuned into G4 and saw how important games were to other people and it made me feel not as alone. It gave me the confidence to do the things I’ve done and achieved the things I have in pro wrestling. I was a kid watching this and being inspired by it. Now, I’m a part of the channel and I have a chance to inspire the next generation of kids who feel the same way.”
Inspiring that next-generation started with creating his own YouTube channel, UpUpDownDown, back in 2015. After WWE passed on a travel-style show Woods pitched for the WWE Network, where he’d go to arcade bars in different towns, a serendipitous meeting with someone from the WWE office led to one of the defining moments of his career.
“From the first episode in a basement with Kofi Kingston, my New Day brethren, I didn’t know if it was good. But through trial and error, we got the YouTube channel started,” Woods said. “Since then, people have shown love to it. I’m very appreciative of that. Through the channel, I’ve been able to gain these skills of interviewing people while playing games. And to be able to travel across the world to go to gaming events. It’s really opened up a lot of doors for me. It’s opened the biggest door possible for me to join the G4 family.”
Kingston being there from day one with Woods is no coincidence. Woods, along with Kingston and Big E, has reached the top of the proverbial mountain again and again in WWE over the years while at the same time Woods’ gaming career was taking off. Currently at their peak in popularity, it’s not lost on Woods the importance of representation in professional wrestling and the gaming community alike to millions of children around the world.
“It’s very important that young black kids see our faces in these positions to know they can achieve them as well,” Woods said. “On a wider scale, it’s important for non-kids of color to see this so they don’t get stuck putting kids of color in a box. Representation for everyone, for every race and religion, is beyond important. That way those kids can see they can achieve things if they work hard enough. There’s always an undertone of equality and accepting everyone. It’s something G4 is very privy to and understanding of, doing their absolute best to make sure the game space they’re creating represents reality.”
Woods’ transcendence to G4 could pave a future for other professional wrestling stars. In a way, his move to G4 mirrors the likes of The Rock and Batista opening doors in Hollywood for future wrestlers. As one of the most accomplished tag team wrestlers in WWE history, Woods admits there’s one big accomplishment left on his list before he joins WWE stars of years past in stepping away from the ring.
“I need the crown,” Woods said. “I need to be King of the Ring. The heavyweight championship is cool, IC champion, white leather IC champion would be fantastic, but the crown. I want the crown more than I want most things in life. I need it. If I can get the crown before I retire, I’ll be the happiest pro wrestler who’s ever lived. And I’ll be decked out. I’ve been planning this for years. Now, I’ll have a huge G4 patch somewhere on my robe.”
Despite WWE’s controversial policy on talent operating their own streaming channels, which Woods notes “people are still talking and trying to figure things out,” he’ll continue to lace up his boots, operate his YouTube channel and eventually will begin work at G4. Ahead of his move to the gaming platform, Woods admits he’s a bit anxious to make the crossover, but he’s ready to get to work.
“I always have a hint of insecurity of not knowing if people are going to like what I do. It’s a crossover situation, they know me as WWE superstar Xavier Woods, will people accept me as Austin Creed, the gamer, because they might not know that side,” he said. “It’s scary to jump into the space, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do and dove in head first. G4 is a juggernaut in the space, just to be a part of the family is humbling and incredible. YouTube popping off like it did helped a lot, but it’s time to start the work. Work hard to get to a goal, then the work starts over. I’m ready to work as hard as possible to knock this out of the park.”
As for what Woods will actually be doing as part of the G4 relaunch is yet to be seen. All he’d give away is that he’s joining as a host.
“I’m going to be a host,” Woods said. “As far as what I’m doing, I can’t pull you all the way behind the curtain, then you’ll see all the magic. You’ve got to wait and see, baby.”