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How The Rock Came To Co-Own The XFL

Everyone knows who Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is. The larger-than-life star has graced our screens since his college football days in the early 1990s. Johnson became one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, one of Hollywood’s best-paid actors, and now he is the co-owner of the XFL.

Johnson was born in Hayward, California, on May 2, 1972. His father, Rocky Johnson, was a former professional wrestler who was part of the first black tag team champions in WWE history.

A promising football player, Johnson had a full scholarship from the University of Miami, where he played as a defensive tackle for the Miami Hurricanes. Johnson only started one game in four years but was part of the Hurricanes team that won the 1991 national championship. The Hurricanes were among the favorites for glory, with the sites listed on mytopsportsbooks.com throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, but other college teams are ahead of them these days.

“The Rock” by @therock/Instagram is licensed under CC BY 3.

Wrestling Superstardom

His wrestling career began in 1996, one year after graduating with a Bachelor of General Studies in criminology and physiology. Johnson first wrestled in tryout matches against the Brooklyn Brawler, who he defeated, before losing fights against Chris Candido and Owen Hart. Johnson signed a WWE (then WWF) contract in the summer of 1996 and quickly became a fan favorite.

Johnson made his WWF debut using the name Rocky Maivia and given the nickname “The Blue Chipper,” which is nowhere near as cool as his current moniker, The Rock. He won the Intercontinental Championship in February 1997 before becoming WWF champion in 1998. It was at this point that The Rock rose to superstardom.

His wrestling career lasted until 2004, when his WWE contract expired, leading Johnson into his role as a full-time actor. Johnson has starred in more than 40 movies, been the highest-paid male actor in 2019 and 2020, and has amassed a personal fortune in excess of $400 million.

Vince McMahon Founds XFL Twice

The XFL has not enjoyed much luck since Vince McMahon, the same Vince McMahon of WWF fame founded it in 2001. XFL ran for only one season and was criticized for relying on sports entertainment gimmicks, much like the WWE. Ratings were initially good but nosedived, and the league folded. It is reported McMahon and his business partner, Dick Ebersol, each lost $35 million on the XFL.

McMahon sold $100 million worth of WWE stock to fund the re-founding of the XFL. On January 25, 2018, he announced that the new incarnation of the XFL would run a 10-week inaugural season in early 2020. McMahon was so determined to make the XFL a success that he liquidated an additional $270 million of WWE stock to provide funding for the league.

The new-look XFL season kicked off on February 8, 2020, with the DC Defenders taking on and defeating the Seattle Dragons. The plan was to have a ten-week regular season through April 12, divisional championships on April 18-19, and the XFL Championship on April 26.

That never happened because the world was in the grip of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Teams had only played five games when the league announced it was postponing the remainder of the season. It promised to pay all players their base salary but only a month later announced the XFL was suspending operations and terminating all employees. Three days later, XFL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“XFL player” by USA Today Sports is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Details from the court filings emerged in May 2020. They revealed McMahon agreed not to buy back the XFL and that an auction was scheduled for August 3. Filings suggest XFL valued its assets between $10 million and $50 million.

Johnson To The Rescue

Just one day before the proposed auction, Johnson, his business partner and ex-wife Dany Garcia, and Gerry Cardinale of RedBird Capital Partners purchased the XFL for $15 million. Johnson and Garcia went on record and said XFL will return in spring 2022, although that is now looking unlikely.

March 10, 2021, saw the XFL and Canadian Football League (CFL) enter talks about collaborating to grow the game of football, resulting in the planned 2022 revival of the XFL. Perhaps there will be a merger of the two leagues, and the duo can grow?

Mark is the founder and editor of XFL News Hub. The site was started in January of 2018, within days of the announced return of the XFL. Contact him directly by emailing [email protected]

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