When Vince McMahon announced that he’s going to reboot the XFL in 2020, one question was on the fans of pro wrestling and football fans alike: why? The league existed for one season back in 2001 before failing, and was remembered for the better part of 15 years afterward as a laughingstock. But thanks to an ESPN documentary on the football league released last year, revisionist history has taken over and some people have convinced themselves that the XFL might have been a good idea, maybe even ahead of its time. Now, in 2018, the idea of the XFL appears to have traded the raunchier aspects of the WWE Attitude Era for a Trumpian requirement that players be “quality human beings,” code for not kneeling in protest during the National Anthem. It will almost certainly consist mostly of players who couldn’t hack it in the NFL. Why would WWE fans want to see their favorite company crash and burn in a second attempt at launching a football spinoff?
The answer lies in the latest issue of Dave Meltzer‘s Wrestling Observer newsletter.
“Even though Vince McMahon said at the XFL press conference that there would be no changes as far as his role in WWE with the forming of the league, the feeling is that [Triple H] will gain a lot more control just based on the fact he’ll have to because there are only 24 hours a day,” Melter wrote. “He is assembling his team in NXT which is where the Jeremy Borash thing from last week is a lot bigger than just a hire of a guy, and there are other people who have been talked to of late with the idea of being his team and coming up to fill the key positions when he’s in charge, whether that’s next year or the year after. Running NXT to satisfy insider fans is very different than WWE, but there are also good points to it when you look at the presentation of NXT and the booking and long-term plans that don’t change as frequently, and the more organic feel that are a good thing.”
In other words, if Vince McMahon goes off to do the XFL, and it fails, he’ll be right back in WWE, micromanaging the announcers and the wrestlers and the storylines, pushing Roman Reigns at the expense of any other talent, and generally preventing the WWE from making any forward progress in terms of its storytelling ability. But if the XFL succeeds, Vince will be preoccupied, allowing Triple H to take more control and make WWE more like NXT, which most fans agree is better in pretty much every way.
Sure, Triple H isn’t without his own flaws, most notably his own ego and obsession with putting himself over. But in NXT, Triple H has found a new way of going over: by pleasing the fans and taking credit as the creative genius who put the pro wrestling back in sports entertainment. In a way, if Triple H is @#$%ing going over, we’re all going over. Just look at 205 Live, which in the span of two weeks, where it has reportedly been under Triple H’s control instead of Vince’s, has already returned to a presentation style more similar to the Cruiserweight Classic than a character-driven WWE-lite.
So godspeed to the XFL. It’s a terrible idea with even worse motivations, but god help us, if it gets Vince McMahon to back the hell off of WWE’s day-to-day operations, we wish it nothing but success.