Greeting TJR faithful, and welcome to the much-anticipated return of A Matter of Character! I haven’t done one of these in a while, partially because I’ve had other interesting ideas I wanted to explore and partially because I’ve done so many of these critical analysis pieces and no one on the roster whom I haven’t already delved into was compelling me to take a look at their character.
Of course I’m always watching, and recently on NXT, a superstar returned and reminded me why I’ve always been a fan of his. I’m of course talking about the Athlete sporting the Afro on NXT, Xavier Woods. I’ve been a fan of this charismatic performer dating back to his days as Consequences Creed. Since signing his developmental deal with the WWE, I’ve found that despite his small stature, he has the ability to engage me as a viewer, whether it was on FCW or NXT. There have been a few iterations of the Xavier Woods character, and while the most recent version seems to ring the most true, his natural charisma and ability to connect with the audience on some level, always shone through. I don’t know what his ceiling in the WWE is, as I’ve never viewed him as a main event guy, but I think he’s a valuable and entertaining asset.
If you haven’t put two and two together, this return edition of A Matter of Character is focusing on NXT’s 90s aficionado, Xavier Woods. I will analyze his character and point out his strengths and flaws, as I perceive them, while making suggestions for improvement where I can. So enough wasting time, Let’s Do This!
Xavier Woods is a supremely talented, agile and athletic dynamo. At 5’9 he may be considered diminutive but he has a top-notch physique and when the bell rings he attacks each match like he’s been shot out of a cannon. He works quickly without being sloppy, and never fails to entertain in the ring and inject the audience with energy. He brings personality to his in-ring performance and is an innovator with his often unorthodox offensive style. I can’t say enough about what a fun, adrenaline rush of a worker Xavier Woods has been since signing his developmental deal in 2010. He’s not the next big thing but he’s been a pleasure to watch on FCW/NXT.
Xavier is aided by the fact that he has such a unique look. In a business where standing out is integral in getting over and sticking in the audiences minds, Woods definitely leaves a lasting impression with his large afro, his often colorful ring gear, and his great physique. There are definitely bigger factors in making a lasting impression on the WWE Universe, but aesthetically standing out from your colleagues can only help in the WWE.
If there is one thing that Xavier Woods has in spades, it’s confidence. It’s the first thing that comes across when you see him dancing down the aisle. His supreme confidence is present during every word he utters, every move he performs in the ring and is the most dominant aspect of his personality. That kind of confidence makes him stand out because there are guys on the main roster, who have been there a great deal longer and are much older than Xavier (26) that don’t seem as comfortable and confident as he is. The guy that comes to mind is Brodus Clay, who after a year in this Funkasaurus gimmick still doesn’t look comfortable in it. Every situation they’ve put Xavier Woods in on FCW and now NXT, he attacks with such a high level of confidence and it shows.
It’s a good thing that he’s confident because Xavier Woods is a self-described black nerd, and dabbles in what is often referred to as “geek culture”. In no particular order, Xavier really digs The Power Rangers (particularly Zack Taylor and Hip Hop Kido), Mortal Kombat, Pokemon, Topanga from Boy Meets World, The Ninja Turtles, and a whole slew of other 90s movies, cartoons, sitcoms, videogames and music. He also may or may not be a Brony. He’s not ashamed to admit his love of these out of date and obscure pop culture properties, he embraces them. He’s a goofy guy, with goofy interests, that seems to be all about having fun, when he’s not pursuing his education. That’s right, he’s incredibly smart too. As a black nerd myself, I totally get Xavier Woods. He’s also very high on my list of wrestlers I’d like to hang out with.
Words & Actions
Now after heaping high praise upon Xavier Woods in the first two sections of this analysis, I have to admit that while overflowing with confidence and natural charisma, I have yet to see a promo from him that has even come close to wowing me. He’s good, but the content of his promos are almost always extremely goofy, and ridden with clichés. Maybe that’s the point, but at the end of the day I’d like to say that a guy I am this high on has delivered at least one stand out promo. Content aside, I do think Xavier does a great job of conveying his personality during his promos, and while he may not be dropping pipe-bombs or delivering groundbreaking promos, he comes across as extremely affable every time he touches a microphone. In that sense he’s a master at getting you to feel involved and invested in him on some level.
One of the greatest compliments I could give Xavier Woods is that in many ways he reminds me just a little bit of The Rock, and no I’m not being hyperbolic. Sure his promo content and ability isn’t on par with The Rock, and obviously neither is his physical stature. That being said, I believe that both superstars possess a natural charisma that draws the audience in. Xavier goes out of the way to make the people feel involved when he’s performing. Instead of just watching, the audience feels somewhat connected to the action because of how he performs. The Rock was great at that, and there are only a handful of guys that can do that on the roster right now (Daniel Bryan primarily). While I doubt that Xavier will ever be as big as The Rock is in the landscape of the WWE (mainly because I’ve never seen him play a serious character even for a second), Woods does possess a charm and charisma that will hopefully help him overachieve once he’s called up to the main roster.
Xavier Woods is a tricky character to pin point a clear motivation for if you ask me. The fact is he’s so confident in his own ability, and comfortable in his own skin that it’s hard to figure out what would make him an active character in the WWE locker room. What does he have to prove? Why does he want/need to be successful in the WWE?
I’d say that if you were to peel back the confidence Xavier exudes, you’d see a young man that as comfortable with all the odd aspects of his personality as he is, does feel disconnected from other people. Sure there are people who like him because he’s a genuinely likable guy, but very few people would be able to truly connect with such a uniquely and unabashedly dorky individual. Succeeding in the WWE is a way for him to feel like he’s accomplished/become well versed in something that allows him to build more genuine relationships with those that surround him. The WWE and success within its ranks allows for him to be understood by many, in a way that very few individuals probably do. Simply put, he’s a lot like Abed on NBC’s Community; he doesn’t need acceptance nor does he lack confidence, but he does desire a way to more easily connect with others.
As always, a character is always more interesting when they not only face turmoil caused by the characters and forces around them, but also confront their own inner demons, doubts, and hardships. Xavier Woods’ inner conflict would mostly derive from the fact that he could probably go farther in the business and foster better relationships with the people who help determine how much success he can attain by simply not being an open book and acting how the rest of the world thinks he should. His inner struggle will be staying true to himself, even when not doing so would make his life easier.
When it comes to calling guys up to the main roster, I always try to think of the most outside the box and interesting way to introduce them to the WWE Universe. Sitting and thinking about the Xavier Woods character, and his geeky love for 90s pop culture, I found that that particular iteration of his character would be a tough sell for the WWE Universe. Then it hit me, the character would pop (pop!) so much more if he was the WWE’s version of Abed from NBC’s Community. Basically he’s a Superstar on the main roster that believes that his life is a 90s Action Sitcom.
Leading up to his debut you could show vignettes of him in classic 90s sitcom situations, like throwing a party and trying to clean up the house before his parents get home from a trip, losing his sister at a park, all of which end with his “parents” catching him and saying “If you think you’re debuting in the WWE next week you have another thing coming!” and he can respond “Rats!” until the final vignette ends positively for his character and he’s allowed to debut. These promos if done correctly can be a fun and interesting new way to promote a new character joining the main roster. In addition to the vignettes, I’d also do quick pop up promos on the bottom right corner of the screen at a random point of the night. Something simple like his name and an animation of him turning around, shrugging and smiling for the camera before fading away. I don’t think the WWE’s ever done something like that and it would drive home that this guy believes that he’s a sitcom.
Once he debuts, he can approach life in the WWE like it’s a sitcom. Every week before his entrance, there’s a quick “previously on” recap that goes over his antics the week prior, and he can find himself in classic 90s sitcom tropes, including the obligatory serious episode every 90s sitcom had (think Carlton getting shot on The Fresh Prince or ). This character could be a fun, albeit very different addition to Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown. It’s not a main event gimmick, but I think it would flourish in the mid-card and people would get behind the funny and charismatic Xavier Woods. It also gives an interesting context to his love of 90s Cartoons, Videogames, Music, and Movies, and provides WWE Creative with a wealth of material (90s sitcoms like Fresh Prince, Boy Meets World and Family Matters) to borrow from to shape his narrative.
There you have it, but as always I want to know what you think! What are your thoughts on the 90s geek Xavier Woods? Do you see the natural charisma that I do? Do you think a character modeled after Community’s Abed could work in the WWE? How would you introduce the WWE Universe to Xavier Woods and what do you think his ceiling is? And wouldn’t it be nice to have a dancing character that can actually dance for once?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying that the episode of Fresh Prince where Will’s dad abandons him again, gets me every time. Have a great week everybody!