Ever since Xavier Woods joined forces with G4TV, fans have been eager to see if there would be a collaboration project between WWE and G4TV. Now the time for that project has finally arrived, and it was recently revealed to be the return Arena, but with a modern G4 and WWE spin. The show will be hosted by Woods (aka Austin Creed) and Gina Darling and will have teams playing against each other in battles of trivia and multiplayer mayhem. ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to Woods all about the new project ahead of its big premiere tonight, where he revealed how long it's been in the works and what fans can expect from this new era.
"Multiple versions of this have been in the works since I started UpUpDownDown. I've always felt that there is a similar resonance in the wrestling space if you're a fan, and the gaming space if you're a fan," Woods said." I feel like we all had to fight through certain things, through like our senior years of high school, or through being a junior, and 'Oh, you still watch wrestling,' or 'Oh, you still play video games,' and then when you get on the other side, those nerds went through the same exact fight and now we're adult nerds, and all the stuff is, lo and behold, popular now. I just really enjoy holding up a mirror to the fans so they can see it's pretty much the same kind of vibe, and so I want wrestling fans and video game fans to mash together because then we can become the biggest fandom of fans and pretty much just take everything over, and then everything will be wrestling and video games no matter where you are."
"I've wanted to do something like this for a very long time, and obviously from UpUpDownDown, having the storylines and the rivalries and the Championships and all the crazy back and forths with everybody, it's something that's really been at the forefront of my mind," Woods said. "So to be able to do it now with Arena at G4, it's like a dream come true, honestly, because now we are at the point where we have a full set. We have guests coming in. There are people running cameras, and there's CO2 going off. There's music. It's way more pizazz than I ever thought there would be. It's a full-blown TV show, so it's really cool to be able to be a part of it and be able to do it at G4."
Woods and Darling will lead the show, and as for the teams, they will be made up of a two-person team that combines a streamer with a wrestler, and it should make for quite the combination.
"Right now, as far as hosts, it's myself and Gina Darling, one of the other G4 hosts. She's absolutely fantastic. And as far as the streamers that come on, we'll have two streamers, two people in that space, for instance, someone like QTCinderella or Myth. And then they'll have a wrestler paired with them that will be their teammate and help them talk trash," Woods said. "Because I feel like the one thing that Esports is missing is that charismatic promo element that we have in wrestling, and creating these beefs, as we call them, between two people and then watching them play out. So it's essentially going to be a combination of the video game personality and the wrestling personality, as a team, going against another team of the same, and multiple challenges where you get to really see them interact. So you can really see, 'We're in the same space, guys.' But very Nick Arcade-y, very Double Dare-y. It's got a vibe of your favorite game shows from back in the day, with a couple personalities that I think that people will really be into."
UpUpDownDown has already created some classic moments, including the time when The Miz was playing and also being chewed out by Maryse off camera. Here's hoping we get to see another Miz appearance, and Woods teased who else might be showing up to throw down in some games from Raw and SmackDown.
"There's going to be a random collection of people. For instance, you might see a Kofi Kingston, you might see a Becky Lynch, you might see a Seth Rollins, you might see the Street Profits. It's really, whoever you've seen in the UpUpDownDown universe, and you know who the UpUpDownDown family is, if you watch, it's going to be picking from those people," Woods said. "Because those are people who have been down with me since day one, as I've been hustling and grinding and carrying my PlayStation, which is sitting here next to me on the floor, as I've been carrying it around the world, and this Switch, so I can grind in Monster Hunter and be ready for Sunbreak. Those are the people who really supported me while I was making UpUpDownDown and have helped to make it as successful as it has been. To have them still backing me up and supporting me in this, and now they get to come and have fun on a larger stage, it's really cool to see. And it's really awesome for me to be able to share that not only with my friends, but with everybody who's been supporting UpUpDownDown from the beginning."
Woods and Darling will be not just steering the overall show but will also be in the mix to keep the chatter lively amongst the teams. That said, this is going to be a bit more streamlined than some of G4's other shows.
"It's one of those deals where we will both steer the ship, we'll run the games, we'll make sure that the chatter is at a maximum between the teams, but it's a little more on the rails than some of the other G4 tours that we've done," Woods said. "So it's been interesting for Gina and myself, because obviously in G4 we just kind of go crazy and do what we want. And this being once a month streamlined, or UpUpDownDown streamlined for G4, it seems a little more on the rails, almost like a... I feel like it's got a very Floor is Lava type of vibe, one of those types of game shows, but with the G4 energy on it. So I think it'll be really, really fun. Because the going back and forth, like you said, is something that I very much enjoy. Like let's say I'm at a fighting game tournament and we're watching everybody play, but you hear the commentators commentating on what's going on, essentially sometimes even speaking for the players. Well, we have the wrestlers for that, so there's another added element. There are enough people to go back and forth on this set at all times, so to the point where there's never downtime and there's no dead air. There's no time to breathe because someone's always screaming at somebody."
While the show is in the G4 universe, it crosses over seamlessly with the UpUpDownDown-verse and the WWE universe, and Woods hopes that fans of all three and everything in between will find something to love.
"It's obviously in the G4 universe, as it is a G4 show, but then being paired with WWE, it's obviously a WWE show as well. But UpUpDownDown and G4 have the same energy, and I feel like when you see wrestlers come onto G4, in my head, they're coming from the UpUpDownDown universe, rather than the WWE universe," Woods said. "So definitely a lot of crossover there, but with it being on G4 and UpUpDownDown at the same time, it's one way, I believe, for us to not only cater to our G4 fans that are ready and rearing to go, to see the new version of Arena, but it's also great for UpUpDownDown fans that might not be privy to a lot of the things that G4 is doing."
"So it will bring them to G4 and bring some G4 people to UpUpDownDown, and with that we're, like I said, stretching that Venn diagram to become even larger. The wrestling fan, the gaming fan, I want them to be the same," Woods said. "I want all the gamer nerds to come to the wrestling shows. I want all the wrestling kids to come to the cons, and so that's what I'm hoping this does.
Are you excited for Arena? Let us know in the comments or as always you can talk all things wrestling and gaming with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!