WWE: 10 Non-Wrestling Projects Vince McMahon Poured Money Into
5. The XFL
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f45h11D0Wwk In early 2000, Vince McMahon seemed to have the Midas touch WWE's finances were going through the roof while primary competition WCW hemorrhaged money, and McMahon's top stars (especially The Rock) were becoming crossover celebrities. When he announced the intended formation of a new football league, co-owned by NBC, stock prices soared. The premise behind this league called the XFL was that Vince McMahon would do for football what he allegedly did for wrestling: make it fun, give it attitude, and turn it against its crusty establishment. Several changes to the NFL style of play were hyped, including players and coaches wired with microphones, fewer penalties, and perhaps most infamously, no fair catches. The always-audacious McMahon referred to the NFL as the "No Fun League," and promised to bring "smash-mouth" football back to the masses. The first game aired on Saturday, February 3, 2001 six days after Super Bowl XXXV and it was a hit. Despite barbs and criticism from the media, the ratings were greater than those of the NFL Pro Bowl that would air the following day. Truly, Vince McMahon was a mogul, an impresario of all things entertainment in the new millennium. Then the ratings plummeted. The Saturday night broadcast seen as the XFL's premier game each week suffered more than a 50% drop from week one to two. The novelty associated with the league's first game faded quickly, with criticisms taking its place the most frequently heard of which was that the quality of play was simply sub-par. Additionally, the New York/New Jersey Hitmen, hoped to be the league's most successful team due to their placement in such a potentially lucrative market, finished the season with a 4-6 record, leaving New York largely untapped. The final Saturday night broadcast was, at the time, the lowest rated first-run primetime sports broadcast in U.S. network television history. The championship game came and went, and NBC soon announced that they would no longer broadcast XFL games. McMahon vowed to find another network to air the league, but when he was unable, he announced the closure of the XFL. Football was not Vince McMahon's game. Final Tally: $35 million loss ($70 million total, split with NBC)
Scott Fried is a Slammy Award-winning* writer living and working in New York City. He has been following/writing about professional wrestling for many years and is a graduate of Lance Storm's Storm Wrestling Academy. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/scottfried.
*Best Crowd of the Year, 2013