In the early months of 2001, sports entertainment magnate Vince McMahon suffered one of his greatest failures in the XFL. Intended as a direct rival to the National Football League, McMahon’s efforts at revolutionizing the pigskin as he did the wrestling ring fell flat before they even began, and it only got worse once the project was actually underway. Ultimately, the XFL was such a massive bomb it cost WWE and NBC a collective $100 million, a solid third of that coming straight out of McMahon’s bank account.
Typically, that sort of introduction doesn’t have a part two, but this is Vince McMahon we’re talking about. Seventeen years after his biggest mistake came and went, on January 25, 2018, McMahon announced he intends to bring it back within the next two years. Unfortunately, as pundits and fans were very quick to point out, it already looks like he’s making all the same mistakes as last time, with a whole bunch of new problems thrown into the mix. Not only that, but this time around, McMahon is flying solo, investing millions of his own money into the enterprise rather than drag down WWE, NBC, or any other organization through association.
Of course, it pretty much had to be this way, because there’s no entity in media crazy enough to try such a brainless endeavor, aside from McMahon himself. The WWE CEO doesn’t know when to call it quits, though; he’s a poster child for going big over going home, and he never passes up an opportunity to prove his critics wrong. For the sake of his bank account, though, maybe he should start. Keep reading for 15 reasons Vince McMahon’s attempt at reviving the XFL is bound to fail…again.
15. He’s Already Blowing Tons Of Money On Advertising
Immediately after Vince McMahon announced he was bringing back the XFL, just about every sporting news organization in the country covered the story with great interest. In fact, many of them started posting speculative stories before the announcement was even made, because McMahon and WWE made sure the rumor mill was in full effect. Thus far, WWE hasn’t needed to spend all that much money on getting the word out aside from the low production costs of McMahon’s announcement video, but it’s already apparent they want to get the word out however they can. After the initial hype/shock/confusion dies down, this is going to mean spending thousands if not millions on advertisements, promotions, and marketing, all of which Vince is now paying for entirely out of his own pocket. Last time, he had NBC’s support and help, but now it’s just him, making the ordeal even more expensive. Even if he realizes what a bad idea this all is before he blows too much, he’s already wasted the advertising money just setting it up.
14. He Clearly Didn’t Learn His Lesson
Reason number one with a bullet why Vince McMahon’s XFL is bound to fail all over again is that everything about the big announcement video implied he’s about to make all the same mistakes for a second time. As this list continues, we’re going to get into the specifics of just how unplanned and uncoordinated this effort is, with McMahon barreling headfirst towards disaster without giving a single second’s thought to preparation or organization. The dumbest part of this process is that it’s exactly what McMahon did last time, so he knows full well how it’s going to destroy him. Not to reduce the whole thing to a meme, but one does not simply create a $100 million industry on hype alone. Granted, if Vince McMahon knows anything, it’s how to hype something that isn’t real, but unfortunately, that doesn’t work in business as well as it does in wrestling.
13. There Are No Players Yet
From this point on, a big part of this list is going to focus on just how unprepared the revival XFL is. Vince plans to bring his football league back in 2020, but in order to do that, he needs a whole lot of resources that it would appear he hasn’t even begun to think about yet. For one thing, a pretty integral requirement to any football league is, well, football players. Thus far, Vince has not signed a single player to his organization, and any legitimate athletes to get asked about it have basically laughed in the reporter’s faces. Something like 99.9% of up and coming stars would choose a respected college team or the NFL over the XFL, and even washed up rejects will probably try moving to Canada to sign with the CFL before slumming with Vince. This same thing happened last time around, and the result was weak players unable to entertain fans who just wanted to watch some decent football.
12. Teams Will All Be Owned By The League
One of the main qualities that have made pro sports so popular over the past century is the spirit of competition. Nine times out of ten, the most famous team in a given area is the one sharing a name with the state, and residents almost uniformly love the feeling of hometown supremacy when they defeat rival cities. For the second time in a row, the XFL is entirely removing this feeling from the picture by making all teams in the league under the same ownership. Naturally, said owner will always be Vince McMahon. Sure, he’ll give his teams gimmicky names based on major cities, like he did with the Los Angeles Xtreme or Orlando Rage, but without an actual connection to those cities, it’s just a superlative fans won’t care about in the slightest. They won’t have anyone to cheer for or care about unless the players are particularly good, and as already noted, they probably won’t be, so Vince is pretty much out of luck.
11. The Rules Are Comically Hypocritical
Despite failing to prepare for his own football league in any traditional sense of the word, Vince McMahon did do what we can expect from a man with his ultra controlling nature and set a few hardened rules for his imaginary players. This list will get into the political nature of these rules in a little bit, but for now, let’s just tear them apart on face value alone. First of all, McMahon claimed that no one would be allowed in the league if they had a criminal record. This is the same man who owns WWE, an organization where almost every major superstar from the ‘80s and ‘90s has spent at least a little time in the slammer. Mere weeks prior to the XFL announcement, Vince got Stunned by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin on Raw 25, despite Austin’s record for domestic assault. If McMahon will keep hiring Austin and men like him, why does he suddenly care about football players having similarly questionable backgrounds? He doesn’t, and the lie will crumble the second an ex-con wants to throw a football on his field.
10. He Still Can’t Take On The NFL
One thing every wrestling fan knows about Vince McMahon is that the WWE CEO is not a fan of losing. In many respects, the entire XFL revival merely feels like an effort at righting his greatest wrong; a mulligan, do-over, and make good on his most costly failure. However, it’s not just the fact he failed personally that needs righting. Vince is just as miffed about the fact the NFL beat him, even though everyone with half a mind knew that outcome was basically predetermined. It would seem Vince thinks this is another Ted Turner situation, fully believing that his creation will destroy the billionaire mainstay just like WWE did to WCW and the NWA. There’s a huge difference, though, in how many fans the NFL has compared to all of wrestling. It’s hard to imagine even 10% of the NFL audience caring about the XFL’s existence whatsoever, making it virtually impossible for Vince to catch their interest and get them to “cross over.”
9. The Safety Regulations Are Problematic
According to USA Today, during Vince McMahon’s big XFL revival announcement, he used the words “safe,” safety,” or some variation thereof six times. Theoretically, this means the league will be significantly less dangerous than it was the first time around, when “gritty,” “hard hitting” action was considered a plus, and not a ticket straight to the hospital for brain related injuries. If nothing else, for round two, Vince is aware that the past safety regulation were horrible, and seriously need a boost. Since he’s so gung ho about fighting the NFL, it also can’t be ignored that many players are suffering severe brain and spinal injuries, both earning great controversy that McMahon is no doubt looking to capitalize by being able to say his league will ensure players don’t get hurt. The catch to all of this is that McMahon has absolutely no plan whatsoever in how he’ll make this happen. It’s all well and good to say safety six or sixty times, but what’s he actually doing? Nothing.
8. He’s Still Emphasizing “Sports Entertainment”
In all fairness to Vince McMahon, regardless of what this article says about the man, in his own mind, he appears to believe he’s made the necessary improvements that will make the XFL work this time around. That’s to say he’s not going into this willy nilly, without any thought whatsoever about what did and didn’t work. Vince knows the last XFL failed, he’s just largely oblivious to why. When reintroducing the league, he seemed to believe the problems were all related to the Attitude Era excesses he allowed it to indulge in. Namely, cameras in the cheerleader locker rooms and hard hitting action. Vince promised things won’t be so vulgar this time around, but in the same breath, he also missed the point by saying there would still be a large “sports entertainment” feel to the proceedings. It wasn’t too many cheerleaders making fans tune out last time; it was the belief it was all fake, something that Vince won’t ever shake.
7. It Doesn’t Have A TV Deal Yet
When the first XFL was initially announced, virtually every problem mentioned on this list was present and acknowledged by critics. However, this next one is an entirely new problem, considering that last time around, Vince McMahon and WWE had one of the biggest networks on television, NBC, backing them up. This also meant relatively unlimited use of NBC’s broadcast time, along with all other side networks they owned. Games were broadcast on NBC itself, of course, along with UPN and TNN. This wealth of interested networks is a stark contrast to the landscape available to the new XFL, with NBC unwilling to touch the enterprise with the proverbial 10-foot pole. No other networks are interested either, though McMahon is pretending many are, while also boasting the XFL will be available on various streaming services. What this means is the WWE Network might start airing games, and a few cable networks looking to benefit from the controversy could get duped into broadcasting a couple as well, but that’s about it.
6. No Arenas Have Been Booked
Aside from players and teams, perhaps the most integral piece of putting on a football match is having a place to do so. Football fields are pretty large, after all, and only a limited number exist in the world. Naturally, Vince McMahon announced his plans to recreate an entire football league without consulting with a single entity that owns one of these fields. In all fairness, this is less of a problem than the others, because it doesn’t take all that long to book and prepare for a show. However, it does take a while to advertise them locally, and the longer Vince waits to actually book an arena, the less opportunity the owners will have to get fans into the building. Then again, it’s not like they’d even be able to tell fans what to expect at said event, without any teams or players to put on the posters.
5. He Turned It Into A One-Man Operation
Throughout his entire career, Vince McMahon has been a control freak and an egomaniac. Negative though those words are, one has to admit these qualities have worked rather well for the guy, with his practice of running a borderline dictatorship playing a pretty big role in his success. However, no man is an island, especially when building an entire organization from the ground up. Chances are Vince has more help in this one than he’s let on thus far, but even if he’s hired a few XFL executive employees, it’s probably not enough to handle the size of operation he’s planning. Think about it—Vince couldn’t even make the XFL work with the boundless resources of NBC and his entire WWE Universe behind him, and now he’s trying to do it all by himself. Ego is one thing, but it’s downright crazy to think he can singlehandedly do what an entertainment empire could not.
4. No One Wanted This To Happen
Considering how many remakes and sequels movie audiences have seen in recent decades, not to mention the fact this trend is seeping into television, it’s obvious that mainstream America still loves a throwback. The catch is that people needed to like and enjoy a given entertainment the first time around before anyone calls for it to make a comeback. Absolutely no one liked the original XFL, so why the hell does Vince McMahon think millions of fans would be excited for him to try his biggest failure all over again? Actually, scratch what we just said—there was one person who loved the XFL, and he’s mighty excited about the comeback, too. Unfortunately, this person is obviously Vince himself, who as usual assumes he’s the center of the universe and everyone shares his emotions. The reality, though, is that anyone who remembers the old XFL would never bother with the new one, and younger fans are unlikely to get swindled by his hype machine.
3. He Won’t Be Able To Focus This Time, Either
When Vince McMahon announced his first attempt at creating a football league way back in 1999, he was still the relatively young age of 54. For this second effort, he’s a much riper 72, and despite his better efforts, this means he has significantly less energy than he once did. It also needs to be said that many people Vince’s age start losing their mental capacity, at least to some degree, making it harder for them to multitask and focus on separate, vastly different enterprises. Of course, the man himself refuses to acknowledge any of this, and fully intends upon running his WWE Universe simultaneously as he rebuilds the XFL from the ground up no matter how old he gets. Considering he wasn’t able to juggle these responsibilities as a younger, more capable McMahon, it’s highly unlikely becoming a senior citizen has unlocked the secret.
2. It Already Feels Weirdly Political
A supreme irony about the people who say they wish football and politics would remain separate is that many of them don’t realize that statement is in and of itself extremely political. Given his family track record with politics, there’s little surprise Vince McMahon has made this mistake, repeatedly mentioning his league would be free from political statements, while at the same time making a political statement and saying his players would always stand for the national anthem. As already mentioned, McMahon has already spoken out about not letting ex-cons in the league, another decision made with blatantly political motives. While it is true that a significant portion of football fans feel the same way as McMahon, including some amateur politicians with tiny hands, a more relevant issue is that a large majority of the NFL audience either feels the exact opposite or just doesn’t care. This means all of McMahon’s veiled politics are for naught, merely exposing the whole league as an attempt to capitalize on a divided nation.
1. The Definition Of Insanity
At this point, it isn’t clear who first defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” However, just about everyone in the world has heard those words, and men like Vince McMahon prove them as true again and again in their every business decision. With the XFL, Vince is ascending from mere insanity to bats— crazy proportions, making a mistake so severe most of the rational world instantly named him a laughing stock for it. McMahon’s recent career trajectory of late has been defying his fans interests and doing whatever the hell he wants, as seen with the never ending push of Roman Reigns or the refusal to accept Daniel Bryan as a star. There’s eventually going to be a point when this practice of denying audiences what they want will cause everyone to reject him and stop watching. That may not happen in wrestling, but it will definitely happen when his football league doesn’t provide audiences with anything new. Hell, it already happened the second he had the idea to make the XFL…again.
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