When the XFL returns in February, it’s going to look quite different then it did in 2020. The 2020 league was founded and funded by WWE’s Vince McMahon as a reboot of his 2001 league, but only played five weeks before shutting down and filing for bankruptcy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dany Garcia, and Redbird Capital then bought the league’s assets for $15 million in August 2020, and they’ve been working on the 2023 relaunch since then.
The XFL announced a collaboration with the NFL on “innovation opportunities” in February, then head coaches in April and team locations in July. Those locations include five carrying over from the 2020 XFL, but the exit of the New York (New Jersey if you’re litigious) Guardians, the Los Angeles (actually Carson) Wildcats, and the Tampa Bay Vipers, and the entrance of teams in San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Orlando.
July then saw the league announce a hub model, where teams will stay and practice in Arlington during each week, but then play home games in their markets. That’s a notable difference from the USFL, where last year saw all games until the playoffs in Birmingham and the playoffs in Canton. That league’s indicated it will only play in a few cities in 2023 as well. (Interestingly, the only overlap between the leagues in city names is in Houston.) On Monday, the XFL revealed its team names and logos:
The wait is finally over! Meet your eight #XFL2023 teams…
Which team are you most excited for? pic.twitter.com/lvUCjoDiY3
— XFL (@XFL2023) October 31, 2022
As mentioned above, there are some city changes here, with the San Antonio Brahmas, Vegas Vipers, and Orlando Guardians as new teams that weren’t in the 2020 XFL. Vegas and Orlando had teams in the 2001 XFL, but those were called the Las Vegas Outlaws and the Orlando Rage. The Vipers was previously the name for the Tampa Bay team, but the Orlando Guardians are actually the continuation of that team, using the name formerly used by the New York team. Meanwhile, San Antonio has not had a XFL team before, but it has had a World League of American Football team (San Antonio Riders, 1991-92), two Arena Football League teams (San Antonio Force, 1992, and San Antonio Talons, 2012-14), a Canadian Football League team (San Antonio Texans, 1995), and an AAF team (San Antonio Commanders, 2019, which was coached by Mike Riley, who had coached the WLAF team in San Antonio). So it’s certainly a city used to alternative football.
As for the other teams, the Renegades used to be the Dallas Renegades, but Arlington fits better considering that they’re actually playing there (and that it’s a league hub). The Seattle Dragons are now the Seattle Sea Dragons, to prevent confusion with any land-based dragons out there (but perhaps increase the already-existing confusion around Seattle’s nautical team names). The Defenders, BattleHawks, and Roughnecks return with names and locations intact from 2020.
This latest version of the XFL will begin play on February 18, 2023. Games will be televised on Disney networks, including ABC and ESPN.