Wrestling with the XFL

Page 2 columnist

Don't get me wrong -- as a lad, I enjoyed professional wrestling as much as anyone with a 10-year-old's suspension of disbelief. And those were the days of Bobo Brazil and Domenic Denucci, who couldn't hold a candle to the WWF's theater of cruelty, let alone drip wax on the nipples of its dungeon master, Vince McMahon.

How well do you really know the XFL? Take Page 2's XFL IQ Test and find out if you really know your Maniax from your Demons or Rage.

Which brings me to the XFL, a noble premise that's starting to sound more and more like a bad episode of the A-Team. Wait ... were there any good A-Teams? Well, you get my point.

McMahon is a marketing genius, and with players earning less than your average L.A. parking valet, he probably has no choice but to sell the sizzle ... the steak couldn't even make the cut at Purina tryouts.

I'm all for putting the funk back into football, but the closer the XFL gets to kickoff, you get the feeling the man can't control the carny within. Witness his recent soundbites -- promising a Real World version of football, with QBs sleeping with cheerleaders and Dick Butkus as the league's quality control cop, thereby reducing a Hall of Famer to a poor man's Capt. Lou Albano.

Vince needs to draw a bead on a simple fact: Football is a man's game. We watch it to satisfy the vicarious warrior in our soul, not the vicarious stunt man. The vicarious fake. The vicarious drifter on the business end of a triple suplex.

The odds are by Week 6, we're going to see yet another ex-con with peroxide hair and a web of forehead scars telling all the good people in the tri-state area why he deserves the belt.

But what did we expect? The same thing the good people of Minnesota should have expected when they elected Jesse Ventura. All this whining over an elected official moonlighting as an XFL analyst is absurb. You don't change your stripes just because you duped an entire state into electing you. This is the gubernatorial equivalent of the O.J. verdict -- protest over truth.

Mind you, none of this has deflected my initial curiosity about the XFL. I'll go see a game, and I'll be the first to recant and flog myself if I'm wrong. But until proven otherwise, the only way the XFL can braid McMahon's theatrics with the true fabric of the game is to play honest games with good execution, and then execute the losers at midfield.

Humorist Nick Bakay, currently a writer for the CBS sitcom "King of Queens," is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. He has a Web site at http://nickbakay.com.

the carny within 

Bakay: When roasts go bad

Bakay: The two-QB system

Bakay: Reveling in rivalries

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