This Was The XFL – ESPN Films: 30 for 30

A bold challenge, a fearless experiment, and ultimately, a spectacular failure.


In 2001, sports entertainment titans Dick Ebersol and Vince McMahon launched the XFL. It was hardly the first time a league had tried to compete with the NFL, but the brash audacity of the bid, combined with the personalities and charisma of Ebersol and McMahon, and the marketing behemoths of their respective companies — NBC and WWE — captured headlines and a sense of undeniable anticipation about what was to come.


This Was the XFL, directed by Charlie Ebersol, tells that story in a fascinatingly candid fashion. Bringing together a cast of characters ranging from the boardrooms of GE to the practice fields of Las Vegas, the film is the tale of — yes — all that went wrong, but also, how the XFL ended up redefining the way professional team sports are broadcast today. And at the center of it all – a decades long friendship between one of the most significant television executives in media history, and the one-of-a-kind pro wrestling impresario.


This Was the XFL explores how Ebersol and McMahon brought the XFL to life, and why they ultimately had to let it go.