Long Bomb by Brett Forrest
Review / August 30, 2019

This isn’t strictly a wrestling book, but it does detail the biggest financial bloodbath any wrestling promoter has ever suffered. It’s the story of the XFL (perhaps tellingly, the X stood for nothing at all), the joint venture by the WWF and NBC to run a springtime football league. As with so many other challengers to the NFL, it bit the dust, but did so quite spectacularly. Folding after just one season it lost a reported $70 million after taxes, split between the two sides. Indeed, it was such a disaster that Vince McMahon’s company managed to lose money during the financial year when its wrestling business was strongest, averaging a ridiculous 531,000 buys for every pay-per-view show. Long Bomb is an unauthorized account of the XFL’s brief history: though receiving no assistance from WWF or NBC, author Bret Forrest interviewed numerous sources, most notably the players of the Las Vegas Outlaws team. He has an engaging and lively style, but still covers all the bases in telling the story. In particular, the book makes clear that the league was by no means dead on arrival. It’s debut broadcast did a 9.5 rating, double what the league had targeted when selling…