In 2001, Vince McMahon’s WWE and NBA launched the inaugural season of the XFL, with its inaugural season also being the last, crowning the Los Angeles Xtreme as champions. In 2020, McMahon was at it again, bringing back the XFL for five-game weeks before it was ceased and put up for auction.
Before the auction could even take place, a consortium of RedBird Capital Partners, Dany Garcia, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson swept in to buy the twice-defunct football league for $15 million, per Sporting News US – the same amount as Tom Brady’s 2020 salary.
The XFL will return for a third shot at stardom in the spring of 2022, with Johnson very much being the face of the league now. So, what was happening the last time that the XFL ran, and why is it such a repeatedly intriguing prospect to potential league owners?
Some titanic efforts to mark the XFL’s last return
A video showcasing the best action of the 2020 XFL.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the Houston Roughnecks were the dominant force of the XFL through five games. Led by quarterback P.J. Walker and wide receiver Cam Phillips – who collected all but one of the five Star of the Week awards – the Roughnecks dominated the Los Angeles Wildcats, Tampa Bay Vipers, Dallas Renegades, and Seattle Dragons in win margins exceeding a touchdown.
The only team that could truly put up a fight against the Roughnecks was the St. Louis BattleHawks. In Week 4, QB Jordan Ta’amu snagged the Star of the Week award, but he was so close to defeating the high-octane offense of Houston by himself in Week 3. Eventually losing 28-24 following a late interception, he put up 32 rushing yards, 284 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and he ran one in for good measure.
Continuing a trend of sports integrating further with entertainment
A promo video for the official Nitro Circus sports entertainment game.
Of course, the WWE is the epitome of sports entertainment, even though all professional sports are essentially entertainment. So, with its altered scoring and game rules to emphasize high-stakes plays, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the XFL is the brainchild of what will soon be two WWE figureheads. Still, we’ve seen sports and entertainment blending a great deal of late.
On Netflix, Drive to Survive documents the Formula One, and on Amazon Prime, the All or Nothing series follows the pursuits of top-class sports teams, from the Arizona Cardinals to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Most recently, we’ve seen Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney pay nearly $3 million to buy a low-league football club in Wales, UK, to stage an FX Entertainment series.
This isn’t anything new for most sports, with the integration into entertainment has taken place for years. On the 888 online casino Canada platform, the sports slot games like Break Away Deluxe, Lucha Legends, Football Glory, and the action sports organization Nitro Circus’ official slot all remain major draws. In fact, with a football slot game missing, the XFL could consider following Nitro Circus to create an official slot for its thrill-seeking fans.
In any case, the XFL certainly aims to capitalize on this natural symbiosis of sports and entertainment, with The Rock’s 2022 edition hopefully seeking to go all-in on the entertainment side to make it stand out from the NFL. After all, his purchase of the league essentially follows in the footsteps of his TV series character in the show Ballers.
Will the XFL prove to be a talent feeder for the WWE?
A music video of Ricky Ortiz’s WWE theme song.
The WWE has a good history of snapping up former or struggling NFL talents and turning them into pro-wrestling superstars. The biggest of them all is, certainly, Goldberg, but others like Mojo Rawley, Lawrence Taylor, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and William Perry have also crossed over.
In fairness, the XFL has only run for one-and-a-half seasons, so there hasn’t been much room for crossover. Yet, one Richard Young (also known as Ricky Ortiz) did shift from the WWE-esque football league to pro-wrestling. He was a part of the Orlando Rage that dominated the Eastern Division in 2001, going 8-2, only to lose by a single point in the semi-finals. Young, a linebacker, played all ten games but didn’t start.
If all goes to plan, the XFL will return with The Rock at its helm, aiming to deliver a more entertainment-centric approach to the football standard set by the NFL.
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