It’s been a long road for the XFL. The league first popped up in 2001 with a completely different look and feel of the league we saw a couple years back. After one season the original version shuttered its doors.
Fast forward to 2018 when news surfaced that Vince McMahon was bringing the XFL back for another go. This time around there was to be no gimmicks, they were around for “The Love of Football”.
Going into the second iteration, things were definitely a lot better. The teams marketing was professional, the games were good, the players were top-notch; then COVID came. Ultimately, this is what led to the second demise of the XFL. Since then, they’ve been purchased by a new ownership group comprised of Dany Garcia, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and RedBird Capital.
During the latest edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer discussed, what he calls, the real story behind the XFL shutting down in 2020. According to Meltzer, Vince McMahon decided against sticking with his original plan, which was to lose money and wait to negotiate a big TV rights deal.
The ratings started good and they did drop every week, but, you know, they were still higher than, like, AEW numbers and AEW ended up with a TV deal within a few months that paid the money. When Vince was considering folding the league, they went to the TV partners and said, look, you’re getting these numbers from us. We may fold the league unless you pay rights fees, and they said, ‘We got a contract.” And it was a multi-year contract. Of course, AEW also had the multi-year contract and AEW, three months in, they ended up getting paid.
Vince was looking to get paid for the TV after posting the early ratings, even when they signed the multi-year contract and they said, ‘We got a multi-year contract. When it’s up we’ll discuss money,’ and Vince threw in the towel.
With Dwayne, I am certain Dwayne is not… Vince was out there with the idea he was going to lose 200 million dollars and then decided after a couple of weeks between all the headaches, and they were probably losing money quicker than they expected, he threw in the towel. COVID was a good excuse, but the reality is there are a million sports leagues. Like, people are saying, ‘Oh, you know, COVID killed the XFL,’ and it technically did, but I’m pretty sure that Vince had enough money earmarked for the league. The fact is is that there were a million sports leagues that were out there. Many of them shut down. Almost everybody shut down, pretty much everybody shut down with the exception of UFC and pro wrestling for months. But, every single one of them came back except the XFL, because Vince was just looking for a way out. And then Dwayne bought the thing, the rights and everything like that.”
If you ask me, it sounds like a lot of speculation. At the end of the day Dave Meltzer comes from the professional wrestling world of journalism, which is built very similar to the product their covering.
At this moment, it really doesn’t matter anymore as the XFL is now in the hands of a new ownership group. Just yesterday we learned that the XFL and NFL have formed a partnership which could see the new league serve as a testing grounds.
The new XFL is targeting a February 2023 return, and have teased news about team names/cities and broadcast partners is around the corner.
What teams would you like to see return to the XFL in 2023? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.