Under the direction of Charlie Ebersol, sports fans had the opportunity to relive the debacle of the Xtreme Football League (XFL) as “This Was the XFL” commemorated the peaks, valleys, and extinction of the league. Founded 16 years ago, the XFL was geared to create an alternative to the National Football League (NFL) and present a more entertaining form of pigskin play. The new league announced the XFL launch after the 2001 NFL Super Bowl, and the games were played while the NFL was in their offseason. Always willing to take a risk, Vince McMahon was bold enough to engage in a project that he had never done before. Unfortunately, due to a very poor quality of football and a lack of interest from avid football enthusiasts as the weeks progressed, the XFL only lasted one season.
At the end of the ESPN documentary, McMahon and his XFL business partner, former NBC Sports president Dick Ebersol, had dinner to discuss the XFL years after it folded. During the conversation, McMahon strongly expressed his interest in partnering with Ebersol again for another sports project. Only this time, as Ebersol pointed out, it would have to be from their own money.
Dick Ebersol’s son, Charlie, was the mind behind the documentary project. Speaking to Variety, he stated that while his father is completely retired, Vince McMahon was not fully joking.
“[Vince is] a madman. If Vince has put enough thought into it, I never question the validity, because you never know when he’s going to walk into the press room and announce that he’s doing it.”
Although this was his first football project, the XFL was not the first venture that McMahon did outside of wrestling. In 1990, he launched the World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF), acquiring 13 bodybuilders to compete against each other. It officially began in the summer of 1991, with Vince McMahon, Bobby Heenan, and Regis Philbin assuming the broadcasting duties. The names who participated in the WBF included Mike Christian, Aaron Baker, Vince Comerford, Berry DeMey, David Dearth, Johnnie Morant, Danny Padilla, Tony Pearson, Jim Quinn, Mike Quinn, Eddie Robinson, Troy Zuccolotto, and Gary Strydom. Unfortunately, the league only lasted two years before dissolving in 1992.
Peter McGough of Muscular Development stated that the WBF attracted no interest from hardcore bodybuilding fans and was looked at as a joke to many. He added that the WBF stood for “We Bore Fans” for much of the audience and was a catalog of misfires. This was significantly on display by the acquisition of bodybuilding legend Lou Ferrigno, “who became a now you see him, now you don’t farce.”
McGough explained why the WBF ultimately dissolved.
“Shortly after the 1992 extravaganza McMahon pulled the plug on the whole WBF project. But in reality the factor that put the nail in the WBF’s coffin was that the WWE had become embroiled in a drug scandal where it became mainstream news that a doctor on staff was administering drugs to headline grapplers and the whole episode escalated to the point that McMahon had been forced to admit to his own “experimental” use of anabolic steroids.”
The Richest also exposed his failed hockey project back in 1981. Purchasing the Cape Cod Buccaneers for the Atlantic Coast Hockey League, a lack of cash flow made McMahon fold his business venture – and the team – after just one season.
“Due to McMahon folding the league was forced into an emergency meeting, where they later decided to begin the post-season immediately with four teams. As you can imagine, McMahon has stayed away from hockey ever since.”
On the “This Was the XFL” 30 for 30 special, McMahon explained his mentality when it comes to business, stating that if there was a pile of poop underneath a tree, his optimistic lens looks at that from the perspective of at least there has to be a pony nearby. He also stated Dick Ebersol had to convince him that there was no forward moment in the XFL, and the company had to dissolve. However, McMahon stated that he would have resumed the company if it was up to him.
With the declining ratings of WWE over the years, perhaps the primary objective for McMahon, before endeavoring in other ventures, is to produce a professional wrestling product that will attract the audience who have stopped watching. Although names such as Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, and The Undertaker have the ability to spike ratings due to former viewers returning, it is only for a small window of time as the current main event stars do not have enough star power to attract new spectators.
[Featured Image By WWE]