It’s back, baby! (Well, almost.) The violence! The sleaze! The kayfabe! The cheerleaders who twerk like they’re in between shifts at the Seventh Veil! More concussions! More convicts! More folding chairs slammed on backstage backs!
Yes, the XFL—the wacky, tacky, controversial, ultimately catastrophic failure of an NFL alternative—is gearing up for a 2020 reboot and L.A. will again be home to one its eight teams. You’ll remember—you remember, right?—the L.A. Xtreme were the champs of the league’s lone, sad 2001 season.
Formerly operated as a partnership between NBC and World Wrestling Entertainment, the league is now fully in the hands of Vince McMahon, the tanned, craggy-faced, trash-talking founder of the wrestling enterprise, so surely it’ll be raunchier and more vulgar than ever!
The XFL is indeed back, but this time, having learned the lessons that resulted in the league being sacked for a $70 million loss the first time around, it’s billing itself as far more staid than smashmouth. There will be no cheerleaders, scantily clad or otherwise. Convicts, who popped up on rosters of the Original Eight teams like down markers, are not welcome—or so says, McMahon—which could exclude potential marquis names like bad-boy quarterback Johnny Manziel (who, incidentally, goes by John, now), he of the misdemeanor assault arrest for allegedly hitting his his then-girlfriend and highly publicized struggles with drugs.
Another example is the newly minted coach and general manager of L.A.’s as-yet-unnamed team, former Green Bay Packers associate coach, Winston Moss. The former Los Angeles Raiders linebacker-turned lineback coach for Green Bay was fired shortly after a tweet regarding the December canning of head coach Mike McCarthy. The tweet was perceived as a shot at star quarterback Aaron Rogers (“Ponder this. What Championship teams have are great leadership! Period! It’s not the offensive guru trend, it’s not the safe trend. Find somebody that is going to hold #12 and everybody in this building to a #lombardistandard Period! #losingsucks!”)
But Moss carries on his resume (and on his ring finger) a Super Bowl championship for the Packers’ 2011 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Having played for the Raiders, the 53-year-old also boast local ties.
The original XFL traded on its renegade reputation, airing commercials featuring cheerleaders in revealing outfits (cheerleaders who were encouraged to date players, unlike the NFL, where any fraternization is prohibited), kayfabe—presenting staged or pretend moments as real—and a rule book that tossed out roughing infractions. The play itself was authentic, but breaks showed camp pro-wrestling scenes in the stadium tunnel hallways. The league debuted to big television ratings, but the numbers quickly plummeted after a variety of controversies, including complaints over the commercials and about the team names, many of which (Enforcers, Hitmen, Outlaws) were associated with criminality.
The L.A. team will begin its ten-game regular season on February 8, 2020. Home games will be played at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.
The post Remember the XFL? It’s Coming Back—but You Might Not Recognize It appeared first on Los Angeles Magazine.