By now, we are all aware that Vince McMahon has cashed out a boatload of stock to bankroll his second attempt at the football business. The first iteration of the XFL was, in no uncertain terms, an abject failure. It had one season and then folded up shop. While the effort was not completely wasted (watch the ESPN special, as many technical bits the XFL came up with have made their way into pro football broadcasts), the league was dysfunctional at best. But, time heals all wounds, or in this case, makes Vince think he has found a way to fix the issues that plagued the league the first time. So, how about five reasons the reboot can make it:
1-No more partnerships.
Nothing against NBC, but this time around Vince McMahon is planning (for now) to go it solo. He has declared this will be completely unrelated to WWE, with no crossover. He won’t even be the face of the league (I find this hard to believe, but we shall see). He won’t be tied to any business partner decisions. This freedom is something he didn’t have last time…and while some of the partnerships were great (NBC in particular), times have changed.
2-No need for a TV contract
Wait, what? Yes folks, the XFL probably will not need a TV contract to succeed. It can’t hurt, don’t get me wrong. But look, Vince and WWE have had their own subscription based network for a couple years now, and if you weren’t paying attention, the WWE Network undercut the PPV providers. To me, that was Vince and WWE saying they were fine breaking with the norm. How does that relate to XFL 2.0? Well, Vince said no links to WWE, so I doubt the games will be airing on the WWE Network…but seeing as the business model is there, and they have the technical kinks worked out, there’s nothing preventing the games from airing on a new network. If a new network is overkill (and it may be), there’s still nothing that makes XFL air them via traditional means.
3-The NFL has been struggling
While it is still immensely popular, everyone knows the ratings have been in decline. Now, some could just say that eventually things had to level off and/or come back down to Earth. That is a perfectly fine explanation. Another perspective? Fans are tired of the drama and issues. They aren’t interested in players taking a knee or protesting. They may not be interested in paying ever increasing prices for a watered down product. Whatever the explanation, there is an opening and McMahon saw it. If XFL can push the right buttons, they could be successful in appealing to the jaded NFL fan.
4-Retro is in
Whether it was the ESPN special or something else, I think fans still have a soft spot for the old XFL. While I think with concussions such an issue now, some of the original XFL rules won’t fly anymore (and those rules appealed to fans). But I think enough fans remember it as being almost campy…so bad it was almost good. I mean…anyone who watched it even a little remembers who He Hate Me was, right?
5-Because Vince desperately wants it to
Desperate in the sense he’s not doing this because he’s bored. He believes he can do football better than the NFL can. That may be unlikely, but having tried and failed once, he’s surely learned some lessons. He is going to be willing to do things in order to succeed, that perhaps he could not or would not do in the last run. While I don’t think he’d bring in a controversial figure like Colin Kaepernick, he might give a shot to the likes of Johnny Manziel or Greg Hardy. And I think if there was an NFL free agent who was worth it, McMahon might go nuts and recruit him. Crazy? Perhaps, but just look up what happened with the old USFL. Yes, that league didn’t last long…but it was not afraid to give the players a choice.
WNZ readers, what do you think could happen that will make XFL 2.0 a success?