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  February 5, 2000



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XFL far from excellent!


By BRET 'THE HITMAN' HART -- Calgary Sun

 Jim Rome: What exactly happened to Owen Hart?

 McMahon: "Some would say the show should have (been stopped), others would say the show must go on. I believe that Owen would have said that "the show must go on."

 Jim Rome: "His brother, in fact, claims that continuing the show was done in 'cold blood.' "

 McMahon: "Don't mention his brother, who has a personal vendetta in this, you have to take what he says with a grain of salt."

 -- Feb. 3 TV interview

 A grain of salt? Here's your salt, Vince, right in your eye.

 Just when I thought I'd heard it all, Vince McMahon announces he's decided to take it upon himself to re-invent the game of football.

 I can see a few of you reading this saying "look at how Bret takes every opportunity to jump on McMahon" and a few have actually said to me in argumentative tones that I wouldn't have gotten as far as I did without Vince, so I should be grateful.

 I am certainly not grateful for the disrespectful way he has handled my brother's death and the lack of integrity with which he dealt with me.

 It's no secret I detest McMahon, but don't misconstrue what I'm about to say as grumblings stemming from my own personal loathing.

 I'm not the only one that thinks his idea to start his own football league is ridiculous. When the announcement was made, WWF stock plummeted 26%.

 This all started last year when CFL prez Jeff Giles offered the Argos to the WWF, and, in typical WWF fashion, things escalated when, instead of wanting to buy the team, WWF wanted to buy the league.

 CFL execs feared the WWF would create its own league with or without a WWF/CFL union and opposed the WWF's brash insistence that the CFL rules be changed to create a more "exciting" game.

 Beyond that, McMahon proposed to create a new "smashmouth" image for the CFL. (Read that, a new image with a new attitude, the same attitude that allows the WWF to rationalize that it's OK to market 'suck it' as a slogan to kids).

 I can just imagine McMahon's XFL cheerleaders in thongs with their tops "accidentally" falling off. How would you like to explain to your kids that you don't want them watching football anymore?

 Hats off to the CFL for not selling out Canadian football, despite being offered what the CFL has described as "astronomical" money.

 As for the NFL, McMahon has already dragged it down to name calling level saying the NFL stands for the "No Fun League".

 While he was at it, Vince said of the NHL: "No one understands it," and he added, "figure skating sucks!" Tell that to Elvis Stojko.

 This isn't a case of McMahon having guts, it's a case of believing his own press.

 And what does that have to do with football? A lot.

 It's the WBF fiasco all over again.

 The World Bodybuilding Federation was McMahon's concept of a health/fitness empire, launched and crashed in '92 . McMahon's vision for the WBF was to present bodybuilding in a more exciting way and take it on the road like the wrestling shows. I think they had one exhibition ... and then WBF was gone.

 Anyone can make a mistake or have a bad idea, but the really big mistake, the really bad idea when it came to the WBF, is something that everyone conveniently forgets about, except for the wrestlers who were in the WWF at that time.

  WWF wrestlers paid for the WBF. It was wrestlers' blood, sweat and broken bodies that put the WWF in the financial position to hire big-name bodybuilders with big contracts.

 Yet, the bodybuilders worked far fewer days than the wrestlers and got guaranteed pay, which, at that time, no wrestler got and they got benefits, which wrestlers still don't get. They were chauffeured around in limousines while wrestlers travelled in a rental car, which we paid for.

 Any wrestler who worked for the WWF at that time knows what I'm talking about. There was tension between the wrestlers and the office because of the way the bodybuilders were treated as compared to the way the wrestlers were treated.

 This brings me to the XFL.

 McMahon has announced "salaries will be second only to the NFL."

 Read that, XFL players will make more than WWF wrestlers and have all the benefits wrestlers don't. They will work a short season while wrestlers continue to have no off-season, no benefits and no union representation.

 They'll have a big meeting backstage, just like they did for the WBF, prepared with a list of "sounds good" reasons to sell the wrestlers on why the XFL will be good for them.

 There aren't many guys in Vince's locker room who were there for the WBF fiasco, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to bring it up. A few would say you should be grateful.

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