At 3pm EST, Vince McMahon went live across various social media platforms to announce that, through his new company named Alpha Entertainment LLC., he was relaunching the XFL.
An American Football league that ran for only one season in 2001, the XFL was considered a complete flop at the time of its initial demise. Very few men have bigger egos than Vince McMahon, however, and when rumours began at the end of 2017 that he was bringing back the football league, it made absolute sense given we know that McMahon the man would still hate to have a failure on his record, even one that occurred 17 years ago. Of course he was bringing it back.
As a British person, I couldn’t possibly comment on the politics within the NFL that have drawn it negative press, and declining viewership. I watch the Superbowl each year, but various attempts to watch the sport on a regular basis have failed due mostly in part to a lack of time. I simply don’t know enough about what is happening within the NFL that is causing such controversy, but I do understand that this is the perfect time for a strongly backed competitor to enter the market. Or in the XFL‘s case, re-enter.
As the press conference went on air, I found myself thinking back to the impressive show that announced the arrival of the WWE Network. That whole presentation had been so impressive, so well-thought out, that I remember being thoroughly impressed and excited at the end of it. Given it was also Vince McMahon behind this latest blockbuster announcement, I’d envisioned more of the same, particularly given McMahon would clearly have to win over any doubters who would point to the leagues original failure as a reason not to back this new attempt. Surprisingly, McMahon came to the table [quite literally] with very little.
We had a logo, a launch date, a brief mention of team numbers (eight, to begin with) and a confirmation that all players would have to stand for the national anthem (although it was a non-committal confirmation, in many ways). The league would also not employ players who had any kind of criminal charges to their name, McMahon told us. Beyond that, we would quickly find out that McMahon and his partners have not made any decisions about XFL.
They do not have locations decided for teams. They do not have a television or streaming deal (although digital will play a key role, McMahon stated). They do not have a rule set. They do not know how they will deliver the “quicker paced game” (paraphrasing), but promise they will deliver it. They do not know how they will make the sport safer, either, but promise it will be safer and more health-conscious. All of these, perhaps the pieces of information that would actually wow the media and public, were missing from McMahon’s presentation. In fact, beyond a video package, there was no presentation at all.
Not to be overly down on the announcement, but it was truly stunning that no real attempt was made to reassure people that this incarnation of the XFL would be any better than the previous. Yes, there are two years until launch, which means that they have plenty of time to answer the above questions and more, but simple saying “we’ll ask the experts and fans what they want” felt like nothing more than glossing over the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any plan currently.
I don’t doubt that XFL will look gorgeous, whenever it comes to screen. It will be glossy, polished, have great soundtracks, and likely have a great streaming service of some sort behind it. I know all of this based on what McMahon has done with his wrestling company. But, what of the people who don’t really know McMahon beyond the headlines that are now being written about the wrestling promotor who is trying to relaunch his failed football league? This was the chance to get those people to take notice, and I feel the boat was missed on that one.
This website will always exist purely to cover professional wrestling, so don’t expect to see match reports from American Football games any time soon (or ever!), but sheer curiosity means I will be watching this whole situation unfold. It certainly has my attention, at least.