Majority stake of the Xtreme Football League (XFL) has been bought by another wrestling legend, but this time it isn’t World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) CEO Vince McMahon. An investment group including former WWE star Dwayne Johnson, businesswoman Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital Partners combined their efforts to purchase the spring football league which filed for bankruptcy in April.
The group acquired the XFL assets handled by its parent company, Alpha Entertainment, for $15 million, days before the league was scheduled for a bankruptcy auction.
“For Dwayne, Gerry and myself, this property represents an incredible opportunity,” Garcia said in a press release. “Melding our expertise combined with our commitment to deliver exciting and inspiring unique content has us all focused on developing the XFL brand into a multi-media experience.”
The XFL was founded in 1999 by Johnson’s former boss, McMahon, as a testing ground for aspiring National Football League (NFL) athletes and provided faster action for fans through its altered rules. For instance, teams have two timeouts per half, compared to the regular three in the NFL. Players also only need one foot in bounds for a pass completion, making it easier for referees to determine catches. Even with these adjustments, the league folded one year after its introduction, and McMahon spent $200 million to revive the league in 2018. The sports shutdown brought on by COVID-19 led to the XFL ceasing operations for its second time, for economic reasons.
Johnson’s interest in football stems from playing the sport competitively in his youth as a defensive tackle in the 1991 University of Miami national championship team and his time on the roster of the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders. His love for the spotlight and providing opportunities to overlooked talent was one of the reasons why he decided to purchase the XFL.
“I think Dwayne Johnson buying the league is a great thing for the XFL,” senior Troy Javier said. “The first season when McMahon ran it showed an alternative football league has potential if advertised and televised correctly, since it would be going strong if not for COVID-19.”
Several exceptional players in the XFL have been drafted into the NFL, including Colin Thompson to the Carolina Panthers and Donald Parham to the Los Angeles Chargers. The league MVP PJ Walker got farther in roster status than any other XFL player, transitioning from the Houston Roughnecks to a $1.565 million, two-year deal with the Carolina Panthers to learn quarterbacking under the NFL’s brightest stars.
Although Johnson and his team are up for the challenge, the unprecedented circumstances presented by COVID-19 make it difficult to set any definitive plans for the future of the XFL. However, with the league under new leadership, the future of the league appears bright.