Former 11-time WWE Tag Team Champion Xavier Woods recently sat down for an interview with Barstool Sports’ Brandon Walker alongside Omos and Liv Morgan.
During the interview Woods discussed how happy he is that crowds are back for live shows. He notes he was injured with an ACL tear before the pandemic even started, so it was an even longer wait for him to see fans back in the stands.
“For me, it’s a little extra because I tore my Achilles in October when we were in Australia,” recalled Woods. “So, I was out for a few months before lockdown even happened. So, for me, it’s coming back to that visceral energy. And the fact that people are bringing T.V. energy to the live events. That’s where normally it’s – you know, a live event. And it’s fun, it’s great. You can mess around a little bit more, so the crowd is super interactive.
“But when you go to Raw or SmackDown, everyone is losing their minds because of the lights, the cameras, the fireworks. It’s a little more amped up. And it feels like people, having been in their house so long, that they just miss wrestling and they bring that T.V. energy to non-televised shows. And that helps us a lot because we can absorb that and give it back to them. So it’s been really fun being back on the rode with people. It’s been really cool.”
Woods goes on to discuss returning form his Achilles injury, and what his mindset was when he came back during the ThunderDome Era. He admits that there was a bit of an adjustment because of the absence of fans, and that it was something he had to overcome.
“Definitely a big fear [helps drive me],” admits Woods. “I came back during the ThunderDome stuff. So, I didn’t have that actual fan adrenaline to help cover up that fear. [I came back twice] essentially. It was weird for the first month, maybe. Just trying to get around my mental state of babying it, or anything like that. But it’s been, luckily, good since then and it’s been alright. But again, the fans being back definitely erase all of that.”
In the interview Woods is asked who he thinks the greatest tag team of all-time is. He instead counters with his favorite tag team while he was growing up, and he names quite a surprising duo.
“My favorite tag team growing up was Billy and Chuck,” answers Woods. “I loved Billy and Chuck.”
Woods then goes on to discuss how a match between Billy and Chuck vs. The Hardy Boyz helped him realize that he could become a wrestler himself. He realized size did not matter and that he could become talented enough to have matches with anyone on the roster.
“There was this match with the Hardy Boyz at about the time I was figuring out in my head what wrestling really was,” remembers Woods. “And I know I want to do this, but I don’t know how to do it. So, I want to explore those ideas and those thoughts. And I’m watching this match and I remember Jeff Hardy gets tagged in, and Billy Gunn gets tagged in. Billy Gunn, so much bigger and so much larger than Jeff Hardy. And Jeff Hardy is just knocking him around the ring. It’s that part of the match. I’m thinking ‘Man. . .’
“And then I’m watching other matches with certain guys who have a certain size don’t fall down for certain guys who are smaller than them. And it’s just not as exciting. So, that’s the first time I realized ‘Man, these guys are wrestling for the match. They’re wrestling for their team. They’re wrestling for everybody who’s in the ring.’”
Woods says that moment is when he realized what kind of talent and wrestler he wanted to become. Someone who was adaptable, entertaining, and interesting. A mark that he has hit with great success.
“And that’s where things really started to click,” spoke Woods. “That’s when I took a deep dive into Billy and Chuck at that point. And that was kind of my focal point of what do I want to do in wrestling? Because I had always loved tag team wrestling since I was three or four years old. So, they became my idea of ‘This is what I want to be, eventually’. I want to be able to work like this and have matches with everybody on the roster. But still make sure my stuff on the outside of the ring is as highly entertaining so it brings you into wanting to see my matches. So, for me, Billy and Chuck was my big inspiration.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Rasslin’ With Brandon F. Walker with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.