Football fans who remember the short-lived XFL, the pro football league founded and operated by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) boss Vince McMahon — and even those who don’t remember the XFL — will want to watch an online stream on Thursday of the new entry in the ESPN 30 For 30 documentary series. The film is titled This Was The XFL, and in its 77-minute running time, the film covers the colorful history of the short-lived league from its risky rule changes to its unusual characters, including former wrestler Jesse Ventura who was governor of Minnesota at the time he also served as the lead XFL television commentator.
This Was The XFL is scheduled to premiere on Thursday, February 2, at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 6 p.m. Pacific. Announced encore showings, which will also stream online, will stream at 2 a.m. Eastern on Friday, February 3, which is 11 p.m. Pacific on Thursday, as well as at 9:30 a.m. Eastern — 6:30 a.m. Pacific — on Saturday, February 4.
To find out how to watch This Was The XFL, the fascinating 30 For 30 film about the WWE-backed football league, stream online at the same time that it airs on ESPN or ESPN 2, see the streaming information at the bottom of this article.
The XFL was created by WWE boss McMahon and Dick Ebersol, the legendary TV executive who was then the head of NBC Sports, to be what McMahon described as “the extra fun league,” an alternative to the National Football League that would emphasize entertainment value as much as on-field competition — using the methods McMahon had used to turn professional wrestling into popular, mainstream entertainment.
When McMahon came up with the idea for the XFL, NBC Sports had recently lost the broadcast rights to NFL football games, and Ebersol was hoping to draw football fans back to his network.
This Was The XFL is directed by Ebersol’s son, Charlie Ebersol. Watch the ESPN promotional video below.
The origin of the XFL came out of McMahon’s opinion that the NFL had become stodgy and boring — or so McMahon said.
“Where’s the kind of football that the NFL used to be? Where’s my smash-mouth, wide-open football?” he said in an early promotion for the league. “It’s gone. We will take you places the NFL is afraid to take you, because we’re not afraid of anything.”
While the XFL did introduce a few technological innovations, such as the overhead TV camera on a wire above the field still used in NFL broadcasts today, McMahon packed the league’s broadcasts with pro-wrestling style skits, bizarre promotional stunts (such as seen in the photo at the top of this page, taken at halftime of the league’s 2001 championship game), and of course, scantily clad cheerleaders.
The XFL last for one season only debuting and dying in 2001.
To watch the ESPN 30 For 30 documentary This Was The XFL stream online, use the link provided by WatchESPN, the ESPN online service that carries live streams of all ESPN programming, by clicking here.
Fans who do not have credentials to log in to WatchESPN can watch the game via the Sling TV internet package at this link. The package, which comes with a variety of channels — including ESPN — costs $20 per month and can be accessed on mobile devices with the Sling TV app, as well as on computers and some set-top devices, including the Roku and Amazon Fire. But Sling TV offers an option to watch the game free, with the seven-day introductory trial offered to new subscribers who can choose whether or not to keep the service after they watch the ESPN 30 For 30 documentary This Was The XFL stream online.
[Featured Image by Scott Halleran/Getty Images]