McMahon’s new XFL a good joke, but a bad business deal

First it was Gov. Jesse Ventura making the leap from the fake side of life to reality. He stunned millions in 1998 by winning Minnesota’s vacant governor seat after a lack-luster career of professional wrestling and low-budget movies.
Now it’s his former employer — the World Wrestling Federation — that is about to embark on a foolish endeavor.
In an effort to relieve the offseason blues for diehard NFL football fans, WWF’s Vince McMahon unveiled the plans for a new batch of football last week: The XFL.
“Some people have suggested the NFL is the ‘no fun league,'” McMahon said at a press conference for the XFL. “The XFL will be the “extremely fun league.'”
In context, the “X” stands for exciting and exhilarating. Games will be televised — though no television contract has been worked out, pay-per-view comes to mind — complete with helmet cameras and adapted rules for faster play.
Maybe we should consider the “X” to stand for “extra stupid,” as well.
McMahon claims all XFL games will be legit; no faking or predetermined winners like the WWF admittedly does. Teams will consist of actual football players, not wrestlers. And they will be ready for some good ol’ hard-nosed football, with maybe a twist or two.
Imagine the games played in big, sprawled-out stadiums live on pay-per-view at $49.50 a shot. Special box seats for managers Mr. Fugi and the fabulous Miss Elizabeth are right above the 50-yard line.
Off in the distance, underneath one of the end-zone tunnels, high-profile owner Millionaire Man Ted Dibiase will be handing out Benjamin’s by the handful. And somewhere you just know that Andre the Giant is going to be looking down like the ghost of Lombardi.
Anyone who believes the XFL is going to work should snap into a Slim Jim and get with it. Like Gov. Ventura, no one will take this new league seriously. It is only a matter of time before the “bad boy” image of the WWF catches up with the XFL. Soon, team owners will show up to press conferences in pink boas and criticize the advertisers and fans in Playboy.
However, following suit with the WWF, merchandising is the one thing that could save this league.
The WWF is flooded with advertising and apparel dollars. Everything from cookie ice cream bars with wrestlers’ likenesses on them to Saturday morning cartoons have been put out by the WWF for money. Speaking of which, did Rowdy Roddy Piper’s evil hoodlums ever come out on top of Hulk Hogan’s gang? Answer: Yes, once. But the Hulkster got the better of Roddy in the next episode.
The XFL will throw in a football twist to that genre.
Football fans are known for their foam “We’re number one!” puffy hands. The XFL will probably have those too. Only its version will be of a more coarse taste, shall we say. Imagine a different finger extended upwards.
In recent years, the Lambeau Leap has become popular. The XFL will coin the Hogan Hoist in which a linebacker or tight end lifts the player who scored the touchdown and tosses him into the crowd. And no longer will sporting your favorite team’s jersey be all the rage, get ready to step into your XFL football singlet.
In a way, McMahon is trying to follow in the path of our beloved Gov. Ventura. He’s trying to take wrestling mainstream.
The XFL. Extra fun, maybe. But successful, no. Look for this league to follow in the bushwhacked path as the defunct WFL and USFL.
Not that the USFL didn’t have a few glory days mixed in. Eventual NFL stars such as Jim Kelly and Reggie White started out in the USFL. But with the NFL dangling its multimillion dollar contracts to top college athletes now, the players that do decide on the XFL will be of minimal talent, or washed up NFL players.
And that, brother, you can bet on.

Brian Stensaas covers swimming and diving and welcomes comments at [email protected]