Xavier Woods: NXT’s most captivating man
Xavier Woods is easily one of the more interesting competitors on the NXT roster. As the self-described “Life of the Party,” Woods carries a load of unmatched energy every time he steps foot inside the NXT Arena. With a playful look at life, a penchant for everything ’90s and even a Ph.D. on the way, Woods sits down with WWE.com to discuss his plethora of experiences.
WWE.com: How would you describe yourself?
Woods: I would describe Xavier Woods as the most athletic nerd on the planet. I am a guy with an obsession for all things from the 1990s, but none of that means I won't kick somebody right in the mouth.
WWE.com: Tell us how you got your start inside the ring.
Woods: I started wrestling school right after I graduated from high school. I worked at a daycare to pay my way and I did this all through college in South Carolina. I had class Monday through Friday and then I’d drive down to Georgia immediately after class on Friday. I would wrestle Friday, Saturday and sometimes two shows on Sundays. When I found more people in South Carolina to work with, I added Tuesday and Thursday nights to my wrestling schedule on top of school.
WWE.com: Speaking of school, you are currently pursuing your Ph.D. in psychology. Why have you undertaken such a challenge?
Woods: It’s not really a choice to me. This is something that I just have to do. When I was coming up, my parents instilled in me the notion that no one can ever take your mind from you. They can kick you, they can call you names, but if you have your education, they can never ever take that from you. Knowledge is the greatest weapon of all.
Also I honestly believe that people sometimes have a skewed perspective of what they believe wrestling and wrestlers to be. I am attempting to change this with my contribution of eventually being the first wrestler to ever have a Ph.D.
WWE.com: What are the challenges of pursuing your Ph.D. with a full-time in-ring schedule?
Woods: What we do is already hard enough from the voluntary trauma on our bodies, the traveling, the sleepless nights and the hectic schedule. Adding a Ph.D. dissertation on top of all that makes life a constant obstacle course. The hardest part is making sure that I’m advancing at a good pace in both arenas. I have to always be on point in the ring and with a microphone, but I also have to be mentally crisp with the ability to make sense of the most complex psychological issues. It’s hard but it’s something that I have to do, so you won’t hear any complaints from me. The funny part is, once I’m done with school, I don't know what I will do with all that extra free time!
WWE.com: Prior to making your professional debut, we understand you had a run-in with Cody Rhodes during your amateur wrestling days.
Woods: I went to high school in Marietta, Ga., and Cody was a member of our rival school’s wrestling team. At the time, I was two weight classes below Cody and had to go through three guys on my team just to get my coach to allow me to wrestle in Cody’s weight class. Cody's dad, WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, would come to the tournaments, and I thought that if I beat Cody then Dusty would see that and he would want to train me to be a professional wrestler.
Once the match started I was literally embarrassing him in front of everyone in the gym. I was ducking and dodging him and scoring points left and right. But as I was beating him into the ground, I looked over and saw Dusty and he was so sad. I don’t think that I had ever seen a grown man feel so bad for his son, who was getting absolutely crushed. Because of this, I took it upon myself to be the bigger man and out of respect to Dusty Rhodes, I allowed Cody to catch up in points and beat me by one point. You’re welcome, Rhodes Family.
WWE.com: In addition to your schooling and amateur experience, you’ve developed a reputation in the NXT locker room for your video editing skills.
Woods: I’ve only been learning how to film and edit videos in the past few years. These are music videos or just little funny characters that my friends and I do. From time to time, I will make a short film and participate in film festivals as well. I think that the more things that you know how to do, then the better off you will be. Most of the knowledge with the videos has come from trial and error. But luckily since we have been filming NXT at Full Sail University, I have been able to network with the professors there and they’ve been extremely helpful with teaching me things about film that I would have never learned otherwise.
WWE.com: Your ring gear always tends to be among the flashiest on NXT. What inspires your designs?
Woods: I just really love sweet outfits! Bootsy Collins is a huge inspiration for me when it comes to my style. As for the actual pieces of the look, it’s extremely influenced by the things that I loved from my ’90s childhood. I always have "OVER 9000" on my tights because it is a reference from one of my favorite cartoons: “Dragon Ball Z.” My current set of gear was influenced by Sega and Sonic the Hedgehog. For my nerds out there that know the game extensively, there are seven chaos emeralds placed strategically through the gear. So pretty much video games and cartoons influence my wrestling gear. A hint for what’s coming up next: four brothers, four colors. ...
WWE.com: You can often be heard shouting “It’s Morphin’ Time” during your matches — an ode to the popular ’90s children’s television show, “Power Rangers.” Please explain.
Woods: Well, I hail from Angel Grove, Calif., which is the city that the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers so bravely defended on a daily basis. They were able to fight OK without tapping into their true strength, but eventually when things became too much for them to handle, they had to yell "It’s Morphin’ Time" to tap into that strength in order to prevail over evil. So when I yell it, that’s me tapping into that true strength and then absolutely obliterating whoever is across the ring from me with my patented "Honor Roll.”
WWE.com: Describe your in-ring style.
Woods: I have a very unique in-ring style because I rely a lot on my expressions and voice as much as I do my body and the way that I move. I talk a lot while I'm wrestling, and some people believe that means a person is not taking things seriously, but I am the complete opposite. The more serious the moment, then the louder and more ridiculous I’m going to be because it helps me focus on the main goal: winning
WWE.com: You were recently selected as one of the keynote speakers for the grand opening of the WWE Performance Center in Florida. What did that mean to you?
Woods: That was a great experience. When they told me that I was going to do it, I was so excited. To know that I was handpicked by WWE COO Triple H to stand in front of a number of media outlets and represent the company in that capacity really meant a lot to me. My parents were really proud of me, and honestly that was the best part of it —being able to show them that my ridiculous childhood dreams are paying off and that their son is really starting to make something of himself.
WWE.com: What kind of standard do you hope to set on NXT and beyond?
Woods: I want to be the smartest and most entertaining wrestler to ever come through WWE. Yes, that is a huge task, but if you make lame goals then you’ll achieve lame results. Also, I want to get King of the Ring back up and running so I can win it. That was always my favorite WWE event when I was younger. So to put all that together, my goal is to be Dr. Xavier Woods, “The King of WWE.”
For those who watch me, I want them to know that the most important thing in life is to do something that makes you smile. If you're smiling and not hurting anyone else in the process, then you're on the right track.
Follow Xavier Woods on Twitter: @XavierWoodsPhD
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