With WWE 2K17 a little over a month away from hitting shelves so much has been revealed about the game already. We have Goldberg as a playable character if you pre-ordered and there's even an NXT edition to the game that will have three playable NXT characters. It's looking to be the perfect wrestling game.
But will it be the greatest wrestling video game?
Almost twenty years ago, WCW and the then-WWF were competing for not just television rating supremacy, but also merchandise sells which included video games. Games that the WWF put out like Attitude, War Zone, WrestleMania 2000, No Mercy, went head to head with WCW vs nWo: World Tour, WCW/nWo Revenge, Mayhem, and WCW vs. The World. Each company had their own hits and misses, with the most memorable being Revenge, WrestleMania 2000, and No Mercy. The cool thing for fans was that these were released right on top of one another and they were never short of options over the span of four years. Eventually, WWE expanded their video game offerings with their SmackDown! line up, which evolved into their SmackDown vs Raw games.
WWE's Xavier Woods, who also goes by Austin Creed, prides himself as one of the best video game players in the company and even hosts his own YouTube channel UpUpDownDown where he talks and plays video games with various guest stars.
ComicBook caught up with the World Tag Team Champion at Atlanta's DragonCon this past week and we talked about the games of the past and what he hopes for in the wrestling games of the future.
CB: So, Xavier, before we start, congratulations on your year-long reign as WWE World Tag Team Champions. This is a huge deal for the division.
Xavier Woods: Thank you very much.
So WWE 2K17 comes out next month. Have you had a chance to play it yet?
I haven't had a chance to play it. I went to the party to do interviews about my YouTube Channel UpUpDownDown, please subscribe if you haven't already. We're up to 700,000 subscribers. So I think it'll be cool. It's one of the games that I kinda keep myself away from until it launches unless I absolutely have to cover things for it. I know a lot of people like to get information about the beforehand. Like, I'm excited about the Final Fantasy VII and when that's coming out, but I want it to be a clean experience. Almost like seeing a movie without seeing the commercials for it. From what everybody says it's going to be cool with new features. Obviously new people on the roster that haven't been in the game before, so that's cool too.
I saw the New Day entrance and it's funny because if you enjoy wrestling, you might remember a guy by the name of Trent Baretta. He texted me and goes "I'm sorry." I go "for what?". Turns out he was doing the [motion capture] for the game and did my entrance. "I watched it a hundred times and tried to do my best, but I can't move like you so I hope you like it. I'm sorry". I'm like, I'm sure you did fine, but then watched it and yep, that's Trent [laughs]. That's definitely Trent dancing.
We're both of the same age where we had a ton of wrestling games come out at the same time. We had Revenge, War Zone, No Mercy, WrestleMania 2000...
War Zone was not good [laughs].
Absolutely not [laughs]. Though it did have the very first Create-A-Wrestler which is like the standard feature now. Then they released WrestleMania 2000 after that.
WrestleMania 2000 is amazing.
Right! Those came out one after the other and there were so many options. Did you have a favorite of that bunch?
I mean, I have all of those games still!
You should! They're fantastic!
I'll say this. WrestleMania 2000 is my favorite one.
What makes that better than No Mercy?
I don't know if you can do this in No Mercy, but in WrestleMania 2000, you can have four different costumes. You push right or left C and you can change your costumes.
You can definitely do that on No Mercy.
Okay, there's a reason WrestleMania 2000 is my favorite and it's hard to pinpoint why. Maybe it's the cover. I haven't played No Mercy is a long while, but I will say the best game isn't one you listed. It's the first SmackDown! and I'll tell you why. You could name all your moves and when you did them they would pop up on screen. When you did Season Mode you would get ranked by how many moves you did and how you got the audience worked up with their cameras. If you did the same move a hundred times, they would get bored with the match. Just like real wrestling.
Next SmackDown! game, Know Your Role, the Season Mode was endless. There were about fifty different archetypes for storylines and they mixed and matched and you rarely got the same ones unless you played for like a hundred years. Now, the big downside was when you started "the show", it would have two character icons pop up and have life bars. It would go back and forth. Oh, this person is going down, now this person is going down. No, this guy lost. I don't need that. If that wasn't in there, it would be the greatest wrestling game of all time.
I love playing through a season. The fact that the 2K games have a career mode that ends is cool for some people and it's a cool feature that lets you have some intricate moments throughout wrestling history. For me, I want to be able to create my own storylines and you can upload them onto the game so it's everlasting. I think that's something they should bring back.
Now you mention your YouTube Channel, but you also love competing against your friends. A while back, you went up against New Japan's Kenny Omega. What was that like?
We went best of five. He beat me two to five, but he also plays with the best Street Fighter players from Japan constantly. So he has a little bit of an edge on me considering how much I travel. I don't usually have great wifi in hotels. So I play against the computer or Kofi.
When people are surprised I can do things is always fun. Just because I have muscles, doesn't mean I don't play video games. I love playing games, so just wait for the rematch!
Also, what I don't see is Kenny Omega cosplaying as Alex. I don't know if you saw, but I cosplayed as Birdie [during the con], but yeah, Kenny is an awesome dude though and a great human being.
He just won the G1 Tournament. First North-American to do so, right?
Yeah, congrats to him! He's one of my favorite guys to watch in the ring and him and the [Young Bucks] are cool. It's always cool to go on Twitter and have a little interaction with them since we can't actually have it in person. For me, there are so many art forms in wrestling. There's the Ring of Honor art, the New Japan art, so whatever you enjoy, there's a facet of wrestling out there for you to watch. It's cool for me to respect guys out there across the board. I love it. It's something I've loved since I was a kid and always great when I find other guys in my profession who love the same games as me. So finding Kenny was fantastic.
We had a lot of mutual friends and I remember it was almost like a cold call. It was like "hey, are you...cool...with video games?". Luckily our friendship blossomed from there. So it's great when I can meet people in this job that love the same games.
Well, he is sort of a walking video game reference. I mean his finishing move is called the One-Winged Angel after all.
Did you ever get around to playing the Fire Pro Wrestling series?
Oh yeah, loved Fire Pro Returns! It took me about three weeks to learn how to play it, but when I did, I played it a lot. When I lived in Orlando, I lived in a house with Tyler Breeze and [Viktor], my other Canadian brethren. I'm drawn to Canadian people for some reason.
So what I did one day was create a whole bunch of our friends. I made me, Breeze, Viktor, Luke Harper, so it was just a bunch of the gang of our guys. It was cool to play as ourselves with our moves and definitely a very fun game.
What do you look forward to in a new wrestling game? I'm a Create-A-Wrestler guy myself and so I think it's sort of surreal that my fantasy rosters mimic the actual WWE roster right now with guys like AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Austin Aries.
Yeah, it's very weird. I remember the first year I was included and didn't have to create myself it was sort of whoa, so what do I do? Because I would [laugh] write off the game because I used the Create-A-Wrestler to make my gear. I would take a picture and send it to my guy who makes my gear. It's still very cool to be in the game, but I still want to make a guy. So I would just take my body and change his gear up. It's just all very surreal.
So for the last one, right before it came out, we had new gear and the next day somebody tweeted at us that they had already drawn it in the game. I don't know how people do it so quickly. They're just awesome.
With fighting games, players sometimes have their top guy to play. Did you have a wrestler that you simply mastered and couldn't be touched with?
I never really played as the characters in the game as I pretty much just played as myself. Very rarely would play as characters in the game. When we did battle royales, yeah, but otherwise, not so much. There was sort of this pride that I wanted to beat the game as myself.
Lastly, if there was one feature in wrestling games you wished the publisher would put in the game that you think would add to the overall experience?
Oh! Well, I would love to see how much we travel and how much it sucks on your body. So I don't know how you would assimilate how you would feel after a match, but it sucks. Then afterward and you're on a cramped plane and you're already hurting and how much little personal time we have in our actual lives, yeah, that would be the thing to add.
WWE 2K17 hits stores October 11th.