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It's a Shoot: The only gamers I watch are wrestlers

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Jason 3:16 says I just don't watch streamers often

I was never a big fan of streaming. Don't get me wrong, I see no problem with people playing games and having others watch them as they complete levels -- but the activity never truly piqued my interest. I guess I am more of the 'I would rather play video games than watch people playing video games' type of guy.

Still, when I do watch someone playing games, it's the personalities I idolized. It's kind of like why Conan's antics as a Clueless Gamer have often made me laugh. It shows celebrities having fun while playing video games. And isn't that what gaming should be about first and foremost? People having fun?

That's how I ended up becoming an avid viewer of UpUpDownDown, a YouTube channel started in 2015 by WWE wrestler Xavier Woods. It features a cast of WWE superstars (with their own wacky nicknames) playing video games, having tournaments, and some challenges and punishments thrown in for good measure.

And yes - they are having fun, Maggle!

See, growing up, I've been a fan of both gaming and wrestling, but the two never intertwined outside the old wrestling games. In the old days of the territories, and even as recently as the '90s and pre-2010's, the WWE locker room was filled with macho tough guys and larger-than-life personalities. The primary form of entertainment before shows, or as wrestlers moved to and fro North America had been playing cards, smoking cigars, and visiting strip joints -- and there might have been a lot of booze and drugs along the way.

If I wanted to read about "Macho Man" Randy Savage's thoughts, or what I'm gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild, I'd probably need to buy the dirt sheets (pro wrestling magazines) or watch interviews that were mostly "in kayfabe" (or presented as the wrestler in-character).

As much as I screamed and hollered when The Rock or Stone Cold came out, or mercilessly booed Nikolai Volkoff and Iraqi-sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter, or argued with friends which New World Order faction was cooler (Wolfpac, baby), there was no connection between me and the superstars other than 'fan' and 'performer.' Unless you can find archival footage of Andre the Giant and The Undertaker playing Dig Dug, there really was no fathomable way I could feel they were "one of us."

On the off-chance a wrestler did offer his or her insights about the locker room or the industry, it was via a "shoot interview" where they'd just rant and rave or sling mud about the terrible people they've encountered. And hey, while anger-laden shoots can be entertaining, it does become tiresome later on.

With UpUpDownDown, there's a bridge overlaying that connection - as a gamer and as a wrestling fan - given how the wrestlers themselves are gamers at heart.

For instance, did you know that Cody Rhodes' fondest memory the Zelda franchise was from its least popular game, Zelda II? He's definitely "all in" for that. How about a legit badass like Samoa Joe having his own Twitch channel? Kane mentioning he's on Xbox Live? John Cena sharing his thoughts on Command and Conquer: Red Alert?

I never truly found out how some wrestlers were huge gamers due to how much of the industry's image was protected decades ago, and how rarely wrestlers presented that side of them in public.

It helps that today's WWE locker room is more grounded, professional, and even-handed compared to the rock-and-roll days of bygone eras. Just as well, many of them grew up playing games before they ended up lacing on a pair of boots. And hey, even some of them have held jobs in the gaming industry such as Asuka who was a former games journalist for Xbox 360 Magazine.

The channel is Woods's love-letter to gaming, given how video games have allowed him to acclimate socially when he was younger and boosted his confidence. Video games were Woods's outlet to make new friends, just like myself when I was younger and the neighborhood was packed with kids playing Pokémon on their Game Boy or arguing whether Mario or Sonic was better.

Speaking with ESPN last 2016, Woods noted that:

"Without video games, I don't think I'd be where I am today with anything else in life."

That's fairly telling indeed, and even more profound if you look into the interactions wrestlers have nowadays. Do you want to watch Seth Rollins talk about his love of Madden, or AJ Styles ragequit after a loss? Xavier's got you fam!

How about Cesaro marking out after getting a legendary in Clash Royale, and sharing some of his plays? Or Rusev showing how much humor and character he has while playing FIFA '17? Maybe you want to see wrestlers getting their OJO Projectors for the Nintendo Switch? There's even Sasha Banks and Bayley facing off in Mortal Kombat.

And because gaming has become a major hobby for many wrestlers, you'd even have Woods and fellow New Day members Kofi Kingston and Big E cosplaying as Dragonball characters for Wrestlemania.

Speaking of cosplays...

UpUpDownDown provides a glimpse into the lives of wrestlers outside of the ring, and how gaming has become a major driving force for socialization and healthy competition among them. Unlike previous decades when dirt sheets were rife with rumors, WWE Livewire segments were too kayfabe, or shoot interviews were too grating - UpUpDownDown instead provides you with wrestlers just playing video games to pass the time and enjoy each other's company.

Everything is just plain fun.

Personally, I would say that the best episode I've watched was The Big Show complaining about Titans in Destiny because of how the Sunbreaker subclass had hammers that tracked people before exploding. I've enjoyed the Destiny franchise despite also being aware of its flaws, but there's nothing like knowing a WWE wrestler also enjoys it and shares thoughts that would make me chuckle.

I found it quite hilarious that "the largest athlete in the world" mains a skinny Hunter and considers big, bulky Titans as the class "for noobs". There's a connection between the fan and the performer, and gaming and UpUpDownDown, provide that.

Currently, the channel has 1.5 million subscribers which is a shame as there ought to be more -- I mean, where else can you find TV personalities and athletes regularly playing video games, right? So do yourself a favor and check it out.

And as Xavier Woods would say, don't forget to "Keep it tight."

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J Jason Rodriguez
J Jason RodriguezContributor   gamer profile

A level-headed gamer. Gamer dad and gamer dude in his mid-30's. Is pretty clueless about social media. Tends to write introspectively, and becoming analytical to the point of boring you to tears.... more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #Destructoid Originals #Feature #Heel Turn #Streaming #Twitch #Wrestling #WWE #YouTube

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