Laura Rauch/AP Photo
XFL founder Vince McMahon addresses the crowd at the start of the inaugural XFL game in Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2001.
Backed by: World Wrestling Federation (now WWE)
The XFL was wrestling's answer to the NFL in 2001 — designed to be a more extreme, more fan-friendly brand of pro football. In true Vince McMahon style, the innovations of the XFL were well highlighted before any games even kicked off: There would be cameras in the huddle and locker rooms, microphones on players and coaches, near-naked cheerleaders on sidelines and trash-talking announcers at games. Yet McMahon, who was even rumoured to be considering buying the CFL to merge with his new association, quickly found the NFL was not an organization to be messed with. Extremely low TV ratings led to the league's almost immediate downfall following just one season, a forgettable campaign plagued by accusations that the games' outcomes were just like wrestling — rigged.