Vince McMahon resurrected the XFL in 2020. The league looked a lot different from its predecessor and focused on football rather than WWE-style theatrics like the OG XFL. Fans appreciated having serious football to watch in the spring.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the XFL was forced to close operations and shut down. The league never returned. McMahon ultimately sold the rights to the league to Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, and Redbird Capital. The Rock plans to resurrect the XFL in 2023.

On the latest Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer discussed the real story behind the XFL shutting down in 2020. The pandemic did play a role. What happened was that Vince McMahon decided against sticking with his original plan, which was to lose money and wait to negotiate a big TV rights deal.

“The ratings started good and they did drop every week, but, you know, they were still higher than, like, AEW numbers and AEW ended up with a TV deal within a few months that paid the money. When Vince was considering folding the league, they went to the TV partners and said, look, you’re getting these numbers from us. We may fold the league unless you pay rights fees, and they said, ‘We got a contract.” And it was a multi-year contract. Of course, AEW also had the multi-year contract and AEW, three months in, they ended up getting paid.


Vince was looking to get paid for the TV after posting the early ratings, even when they signed the multi-year contract and they said, ‘We got a multi-year contract. When it’s up we’ll discuss money,’ and Vince threw in the towel.

With Dwayne, I am certain Dwayne is not… Vince was out there with the idea he was going to lose 200 million dollars and then decided after a couple of weeks between all the headaches, and they were probably losing money quicker than they expected, he threw in the towel. COVID was a good excuse, but the reality is there are a million sports leagues. Like, people are saying, ‘Oh, you know, COVID killed the XFL,’ and it technically did, but I’m pretty sure that Vince had enough money earmarked for the league. The fact is is that there were a million sports leagues that were out there. Many of them shut down. Almost everybody shut down, pretty much everybody shut down with the exception of UFC and pro wrestling for months. But, every single one of them came back except the XFL, because Vince was just looking for a way out. And then Dwayne bought the thing, the rights and everything like that.”

With the USFL kicking off soon, the XFL will have to compete not only for players but against a monster television package. The USFL will reach a ton of homes via Fox, FS1, and NBC. The XFL will have a lot of work to do to become viable in its third iteration.

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Transcription by Thirsty for News

Michael Perry

Michael Perry is a news contributor for Ringside News and Thirsty for News. Michael has an M.A. in Communication Technology from Point Park University in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

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