Vince McMahon‘s original XFL was in its death throes by the time he sat down to speak to famed sports broadcaster Bob Costas in 2001. He was famously defensive towards the normally straight man played by Costas. Vince was prodded with questions about the failure of the league and distasteful stunts he’d come up with to try and save it.
As McMahon writhed, visibly squirming in his chair and becoming increasingly aggressive, viewers could tell he was taking Costas’ criticism personally. In a new book, Jim Miller’s “Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers,” McMahon and Costas recollected the interview. Costas said it was television magic.
“It was live, and obviously since it’s HBO, there were no commercials. I knew it was good television in the moment, but I wasn’t trying to hype it. Sometimes things can become sensational, but they start from a legitimate place. And the legitimate place was that the XFL was trying to find a place in mainstream sports, on a mainstream network. It started out with great interest. I think they got a rating of 10 for the first game, but by the end, they were getting the lowest ratings of any program in prime time in the history of network television.”
McMahon talked about how angry he was. He said Costas was being arrogant. If he was a little larger, the WWE boss would’ve assaulted him. He thinks it would’ve been great TV.
“The other problem was that Bob is so freaking pompous. The entire time he acted like he was above me and was just using me to show how great he was. I was sitting there really pissed off and started thinking, I wish he wasn’t 5-feet high and 140 pounds. If he was 6-5 and 295, he would deserve to get the sh*t beat out of him. I could have really given them some great television.”
The XFL ultimately folded after that single season. McMahon brought the league back in the spring of 2020. It was a great improvement, and networks were happy with the ratings. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic came about and the season was cancelled. The Rock purchased the league and is hoping to revive it once again.
Should Vince McMahon have beaten up Bob Costas? Let us know in the comments!