WASHINGTON — Just days after Alpha Entertainment, LLC, filed for trademark protection for the Xtreme Football League, professional wrestling mogul Vince McMahon has $100 million to invest in its resuscitation.
Here’s what we know, thanks to an ESPN report:
- Alpha Entertainment is a McMahon-backed company founded in September
- On Dec. 16, Alpha filed for five trademarks on the XFL, as well as one on URFL
- McMahon sold 3.34 million shares in World Wrestling Entertainment, worth $100 million
It seems to be an awful lot of smoke with no fire until you consider the note that accompanied the filing: “Primarily to fund a separate entity from the Company, Alpha Entertainment LLC, which Mr. McMahon established to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football.”
That’s a lot of fire.
McMahon originally created the league as a response to the “No Fun League” in 1999 and it played only one season, in 2001. To the NFL purist, the league was quirky at best, allowing players to use nicknames on the backs of jerseys, like “He Hate Me” for Rod Smart. It was also more dangerous, including a 20-yard scrum for the ball, in place of a more traditional coin flip.
But it provided innovation that was later incorporated into NFL broadcasts, including the sky cam, mounted on cables over the field of play.Along the way, it reportedly lost McMahon and NBC, the broadcast partner, $35 million each.
Ever the showman, it’s hard to judge whether McMahon is serious about another bid, or whether he is simply connecting the dots for attention. The NFL is at its weakest point in more than a decade, with falling viewers that precipitates unhappy sponsors and eventually falling revenue.
The NFL recently extended unpopular Commissioner Roger Goodell through a contentious process that actually guarantees relatively little money with high incentives over the next five years. That will get the league through the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, which could be historically contentious as well.
Between the National Anthem protests and fan protests, this could be the type of niche opportunity that McMahon has waited 17 years to try again.