When COVID-19 put an abrupt end to Vince McMahon’s second attempt at starting the XFL, most people thought it would be the end of the league. Another ambitious but failed attempt by a pro football league to cut into the NFL market.
The league was set to be auctioned off as part of bankruptcy proceedings but never made it to the block as wrestling and movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, in partnership with Dany Garcia and investment firm RedBird Capital, purchased the XFL from WWE for a reported $15M, according to a report from Sportico.
The Rock’s close relationship with the Godfather of professional wrestling undoubtedly played a part in the purchase. This doesn’t mean that The Rock is planning to take over the league and relaunch it. The move could be an asset acquirement, which Johnson plans on flipping into something else related to his multi-tired universe of sports, movies, and entertainment.
But if the former University of Miami football player and son of wrestling legend Rocky Johnson does decide to take a crack at rebranding the XFL in his image, it would be understandable. With all he’s accomplished, returning to his first love in some ownership or executive capacity — in real life and not just on the screen — would be a dream come true.
“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things – my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” said Johnson. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”
The XFL couldn’t be happier.
“We are grateful for today’s outcome,” said Jeffrey Pollack, XFL President and COO. “This is a Hollywood ending to our sale process and it is an exciting new chapter for the league. Dwayne, Dany and Gerry are a dream team ownership group and the XFL is in the best possible hands going forward.”
According to sbnation.com, RedBird has made numerous sports-related purchases in recent years, including buying part of the Yankees’ YES network, French soccer team Toulouse, as well as investments in NFL properties. However, the XFL purchase is gold and has the most potential.
“Not only is this now the third attempt to do something with the XFL name, but involving The Rock will undoubtedly produce more interest in the league in whatever capacity it returns.”