A Softer, Wiser XFL?

Vincent Kennedy McMahon has always aspired to take good ol’ “rasslin” and diffuse it into popular culture. Thinks of all the guest stars he has brought into the fold. He has always desired his product to be more than just a regional wrestling promotion and he always wanted to be bigger than just a wrestling promoter.

He’s by and large done that, as World Wrestling Entertainment is now a global media entity and brand. He succeeded largely from his aggressive and larger-than-life or win-at-all costs personality. Yet, when the company became publicly traded and accountable to its shareholders, even the Chairman of the Board had to tone down his sizeable personality.

Since then, the company has conquered its domestic competition, ventured into the movie business, partnered with philanthropic interests, and has cleaned up its image for the most part as it is now responsible to answering to its shareholders.

Yet, despite all of its successes, McMahon has never lived down what some consider his greatest failure, the XFL.

Image Credit: https://www.musclesportmag.com/2016/10/01/the-blueprint-matt-morgan-joins-musclesport-magazine/

Yes, that XFL. The same upstart football league that was fresh when N’Sync still had Justin Timberlake. A cauldron of gimmicks, sex, incompetency and a cemented place in sports infamy, the 2000s version of the XFL was daring and spit in the face of tradition, just like McMahon and his competitive and entrepreneurial spirit.

It flamed out so spectacularly that ESPN even did a documentary on it. The former XFL has sat in the pit of McMahon’s stomach like a piece of hard chewing gum through the years, undigested and uncomfortable.

Now, with the recent announcement that McMahon will resurrect the XFL in time for the 2020 season, eyebrows around the sporting world are raised either with a “This is interesting” look or “No, not again” mindset. This world has changed drastically since McMahon’s neophyte football league was launched, and thus, the 2020 version will have the following changes:

  • Players with criminal records are not be eligible
  • Players are required to stand for the national anthem
  • There will be eight teams operating under the single banner of the XFL or Alpha Entertainment

It’s an obvious attempt by McMahon to:

  • Distance himself from the previous incarnation
  • Appeal to a more conservative fanbase in light of the NFL’s protests for social justice

Many still fear the fledgling league will use a lot of the gimmicks associated with the WWE. McMahon made his mark and eliminated nearly all his competition at the turn of the century by using the “Attitude Era,” a period of programming when gratuitous violence and sex encased an edgy series of plotlines. With declining ratings from the NFL, an older, more gentle McMahon is attempting a less edgier approach to a once failed attempt that ended in ridicule and failure.

Let’s hope McMahon has learned from his mistakes and makes this not about him, but what the fans want.

Header Image Credit: http://www.businessinsider.com/vince-mcmahon-role-new-xfl-2018-1


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