In an interview with the New York Post, WWE’s King of the Ring Xavier Woods talked about the positive reaction to his KOTR victory at WWE Crown Jewel. Many wrestlers from both WWE and outside of WWE have been very supportive of Woods, and he revealed it meant a great deal to him, especially after he was passed over for the KOTR tournament in 2019.

“It’s nice because, obviously, as you know, wrestling is very different from what it used to be 10 years ago, 15, 20 years ago,” Woods said. “With the advent of social media, you can connect with people in positions like I am on television where people like me want to interact with people who are interacting with our product. So it’s cool to be able to talk to those people directly and let them know how I honestly feel about things, and how much things really mean to me. Because I think everyone can relate to things like that. They can relate to somebody who has a goal, who has a dream that they’re trying to achieve. They’re seeing that person work hard just like that are in life, whether that’s to get a new job, whether it’s to get a promotion, whether it’s to get a significant other, to get a new car.

“So I think that people really resonate with the fact that I have unbashfully been screamed at the top of my lungs for King of the Ring to come back ever since I’ve been on the main roster. And I feel like that fact that in 2019 I got passed up for it, I took that hit very personally. Being in the tournament off the rip, I felt incredible. So every time I advanced, that feeling grew, and I think that people felt that with me, because when someone is genuine and they tell you how they really feel, it’s really hard to not roll with that because you can relate in some shape or form.”

Woods has been very vocal about wanting WWE to run a King of the Ring tournament, making his victory all the more poignant. He credited social media and its platform giving him a voice that allowed fans to rally behind him winning the tournament.

“I really think social media gave me that opportunity,” Woods said. “Doing things like UpUpDownDown gave me that opportunity. Being in a gaming space and not a wrestling space gave me that opportunity. There are a bunch of gaming nerds who I relate with and we’re relating on a different level. When I make those kinds of friends and those kind of fans in the gaming space, they go ‘oh you wrestle?’ and they start watching wrestling and they go ‘what’s King of the Ring?’ And then through my social media, I’m able to explain that to them so they can understand it, even if they don’t watch the product yet. When they see that I’m in a match, and I’m excited, and I’m ready to go and this is the most important thing in my career, they tune in because we have that connection. It’s not something that you gain from seeing someone on TV. It’s a personal connection with meeting with them, from conversing with them on Twitter, Instagram, whatever it is. So when these things happen, I think that people really feel it. And that, to me, is the new version of pro wrestling. Everything doesn’t have to be done on screen on the show.

“I think that me winning this crown is an extremely good example of that. While in promos, every once in a while, I would drop hints of the King of the Ring. I think 85 percent of what I did was on social media, or UpUpDownDown or in the gaming space. To see the effects of it, it tells me that what I’ve been doing, being weird and not being the traditional type of guy, not just falling into whatever mold I was given but being myself first and foremost and having people tell me, no you should be tougher, you could be angrier, you should do this, you should do that. I absolutely refused because that stuff sucks to me. I don’t want to do that. It doesn’t suck in general. For some people, that’s fantastic. I don’t want that. I want to use different tools in my tool box to build the same house and show people you don’t have to follow the same path. You can carve a new path for yourself. Just because somebody tells you it’s not gonna work or they don’t believe in it, doesn’t mean you can’t do it and this is a prime example.”

The King of the Ring victory currently represents Woods’ biggest accomplishment as a singles star. It also sets up an interesting next chapter for him going forward.

“The thing that’s interesting about the word hope, is people who hope to do things are not kings,” Woods said. “The people who do do things are kings. I’m going to make sure that I have more opportunities in whatever realm I chose, whether that’s in tag team or single competition. I’ll tell you right now, in whatever sense it happens, I’m gonna pop off. I’m about to pop off hard in a very non-traditional way. Because if you’ve followed my career, it’s something that drives me, and this is what passion is. This crown is a physical representation of all the work that I’ve done and everything that I’ve been attempting to achieve for so long. Now that I have it, people have to see it. People have to recognize it. It feels amazing. I’m going to use that to do literally whatever I want. I hope you’re ready for it because I am.”