Xavier Woods recently sat down with ESPN to discuss his invitation to the NHL All-Star weekend, the similarities between hockey and wrestling fans, and how he continues to win over new fans every day.
On his NHL All-Star experience and meeting Wayne Gretzky:
When he came up on the big screen, when he was walking out on the ice, I looked up from what I was eating and in my brain I was like, ‘Oh my god, I think that’s Wayne Gretzky.’ And then they announced it and I was like, ‘Oh my god, it is Wayne Gretzky.’ Like, being in the same building as him was amazing. The fact that he was in the suite, and we got to go meet him and take pictures and talk to him and hear him say he was friends with a bunch of pro wrestlers back in the day was so cool. I’m semi-linked to Wayne Gretzky.
I’ve very new to hockey. I’m trying to learn more about hockey. But I know who Wayne Gretzky is because I was big into cartoons when I was younger, and that was my first exposure to who Wayne Gretzky is: “ProStars.” Incredible. And then the video games and then the internet, in seeing so much stuff with Gretzky … to see him in person is weird.
On any crossover between hockey and wrestling fans:
Everybody has some tie to wrestling, either it was their grandpa taking them to matches or their stepmom being really into it. Everyone has some sort of wrestling story, and when they understand what wrestling is, they have a different appreciation for it.
Look, it’s 2020. We get it. Wrestling is what wrestling is. And then we’ll hear people saying they just watch UFC and not the ‘fake stuff.’ Well, the dragons on “Game of Thrones” are not actually dragons. And in shows that are in television, you have months or years to write a script, the actors then get those scripts. They go over their lines. They shoot the scenes 30 times. And then they make their best cuts from all of these, and produce their 12-episode shows. Our show is on 52 weeks a year. We don’t get scripts days in advance; we find out what we’re doing at like 5 p.m., and then go and perform it at 8 p.m. It could change in the ring. It can change during a live shot, in front of a live audience. We have to tell a story through words and through physicality as well.
On his ability to win over new fans:
I’m in a lucky position. I get to come to do stuff like this, and have people come up to me and say, ‘I saw your name on the list. I didn’t think I’d like you’ or, ‘I didn’t know why you were here, but by the end of it I love your energy and I’m going to follow your stuff.’
When I do stuff here, do people’s podcasts … I’ve been doing a lot of Dungeons and Dragons stuff. [Laughs] I try my best to put myself in front of new audiences that I think I vibe with, because we’re interested in the same things, whether I already know about them or I’m learning. I’ve never met an audience yet that’s like, ‘We don’t want you in our place!’ As long as I vibe with them.