With apologies to Hogan and Cena, it’s safe to say that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will go down as Vince McMahon’s greatest creation, having pivoted his WWE stardom into an A-list career as an actor, TV host, and producer. Now, it appears Johnson is returning the favor to his former boss by offering new life to what seems to be an unkillable franchise: the XFL.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Johnson, producer Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital have acquired XFL parent company Alpha Entertainment for $15 million. The deal comes just days before the fledging football league, which saw its revival season canceled earlier this year due to COVID-19, was set to go to a bankruptcy auction, where it no doubt would’ve been scooped up by “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, the bastard. (As Deadline notes, the transaction is subject to bankruptcy court approval, but it’s likely the acquisition will close later this month.)
Johnson and Garcia, Johnson’s Seven Bucks Companies co-founder, have big plans for the XFL, which launched its first ill-fated season back in 2000. According to Deadline, they’ve secured “the ability to option live entertainment intellectual property for further expansion across sports, live events, and original entertainment programming.”
Garcia said in a statement that they plan on “developing the XFL brand into a multimedia experience that our athletes, partners and fans will proudly embrace and love.”
“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,” Johnson added. “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.”
XFL’s efforts to offer an edgier alternative to the NFL have so far been a catastrophic failure; ratings were dropping on this year’s season even before the coronavirus derailed its future. But if anyone can turn it into a marketable brand it’s Johnson, the man whose career really took off once he proved himself a saver of fading franchises. Roger Goodell might not be quaking in his cleats just yet, but we’re guessing he’d at least like a sniff of what The Rock is cooking.