How UpUpDownDown Is Revolutionizing WWE Programming

Xavier Woods’s esports show has become a Goliath. Who else will follow?

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In the past decade, gaming has become the fastest-growing category in media. It’s also emerged as a burgeoning market in terms of audience—global esports revenues are projected to reach $1.1 billion by the end of 2019. Mediums such as Twitch and YouTube are generating massive viewership numbers, and through those channels the world of gaming and esports is growing.

World Wrestling Entertainment would not seem like the ideal gaming space, but it has found a niche market with WWE Superstar Xavier Woods (who has also wrestled under the name Austin Creed) and his gaming channel, UpUpDownDown. Known as an avid gamer, Woods started UUDD with the WWE in 2015.

Woods uses his Austin Creed alias for the gaming channel. Though he goes by a different name in the squared circle, his wrestling personality isn’t too different from his gaming personality. Woods is a member of the trio the New Day, a rollicking group that features WWE champion Kofi Kingston and Big E.

The group has become a favorite of WWE fans with their high jinks. Whether they’re tossing pancakes into the crowd, competing in rap battles or singing, the New Day has found a way to connect with WWE fans in a unique way. The ability to generate new ideas every week on television has spilled over to Woods’s YouTube channel.

The show posts new episodes nearly daily and features various forms of video content. A popular franchise on the channel is Superstar Savepoint. For that series, Woods has a WWE Superstar join him and play one of their favorite games while he takes on the role of interviewer, asking questions ranging from how they grew up playing video games to what road life is like for a WWE Superstar. Guests have included Randy Orton, Seth Rollins and Stephanie McMahon.

The channel has been a success for Woods and the WWE. Woods made the Guinness Book of World Records for the most subscribed to celebrity video gaming channel. UUDD has 1.87 million subscribers on YouTube, 568,000 followers on Instagram and 157,000 followers on Twitter. Woods has proved there’s a massive crossover audience for what he’s doing.

The success of the channel—and the demand for more programming from it—has spawned several other formatted shows under the UUDD umbrella. Wrestlers compete against one another in tournaments for bragging rights. They also battle in games like Mortal Kombat over a UUDD championship that is defended 24/7. Think of the old WWF Hardcore Championship in the early 2000s that was defended everywhere. WWE champion and stablemate Kofi Kingston also has a show where he reviews sneakers.

The show has connected across different demographics. Gamers who have no interest in wrestling can connect with Woods’sebullience for gaming, even if they don’t care about the title he’s playing. Also, Woods’s presence has broken the stereotype of the YouTube gamer as white and unathletic. Woods is able to connect gaming with wrestling in a unique way that could connect a viewer who might not have any interest in wrestling. That viewer might be interested in gaming, esports or just some riffing about the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

The show shines a different light on wrestlers. WWE Superstars show what they’re like when the mask of their gimmick or on-air personality is off. Some examples include how A.J. Styles became a gaming historian due to his parents' incredible vintage game collection and how former Superstars Edge and Christian physically fought over a game of NHL 95.

The world of wrestling can feel imaginary at times. Superstars with planet-sized egos and personalities reign supreme. The more outlandish the personality, the more interesting the character. A chance to hear those wrestlers in a more stripped-down setting without all of the pyrotechnics and stadiums filled with screaming fans is an interesting concept that hasn’t really been explored in the way that Woods’s channel does.

The WWE has had a successful run in programming with the WWE Network. The network had 1.58 million subscribers as of the first quarter of 2019. A show like UUDD penetrates a different market with a different audience. Besides the fact that the host of the show is a WWE Superstar and a high percentage of the guests are WWE personnel, it’s like any other YouTube show that follows the basic format of a host interviewing a guest.

That opens up an opportunity for the WWE to reach an audience that might not consume wrestling either by choice or by proxy. Sports like basketball have found ways of reaching casual consumers through developing the off-court brands of players. It only makes sense for the WWE to continue down this path with other shows considering how successful UUDD has been for Woods. 

Recently, ONE37pm covered rising stars Orange Cassidy and Kofi Kingston.

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