The Rage has subsided. The Hitmen have retired. The Demons are exorcised.
The XFL’s WWE-linked past is so 2001, as the league’s attempted reboot eschewed identities of the past to reveal eight new brands on Wednesday afternoon. Introductions were made by new league commissioner Oliver Luck, as well as ESPN sideline reporter and host Laura Rutledge and Fox Sports 1 commentator Colin Cowherd. Each team’s new identity was revealed through a stylistic video.
So, for these eight lucky cities, more football awaits. But, of course, we have plenty of other states that will want to partake. How do you pick the right team? The identities, of course! Why else do you think you find so many Oregon Ducks fans on the East Coast? We ranked each of the team names to aid in your quest. Choose wisely, and may the odds be in your favor.
8. Los Angeles Wildcats
Los Angeles is one of two markets retained from the original XFL. Their Xtreme wound up winning the lone Million Dollar Game, after all. It’s understandable why the new league is letting the past die (kill it, if you have to), but you have to better than simply “Wildcats”. There will be enough cats crawling in February as is; basketball squads from Villanova, Kentucky, etc. will be looking to go (Big) dancing. Heck, maybe Cats will be masking an Oscar push? For a city as glitzy as LA, Wildcats simply whimpers.
7. Dallas Renegades
It’s one thing to pay homage to the memory of an NFL squad (we’ll get to that in a minute). But everything about the Renegades seems to be a discount version of the Dallas Desperadoes, a deceased Arena Football League franchise owned by Jerry Jones himself. With the colors, old west imagery, synonymous name, and masked bandit branding, all that’s missing is a subtle reference to the Cowboys. Avoiding wild, wild west themes in Texas sports is hard (Cowboys, Rangers, Mavericks), but drawing major influence from a long-forgotten AFL team seems ill-advised.
6. Seattle Dragons
Winter is literally coming, as the XFL will kick off its first season on February 8. It’s Seattle, so a little bit of green was expected. The Dragons’ moniker isn’t, admittedly, the most original (another extinct AFL franchise from New York likewise bore the name), but kudos to Seattle for capitalizing on a pop culture reference that more than likely won’t go dated. The most recent NBA champions continue to resemble antagonists from the Jurassic Park series, and no one seems to complain.
5. Tampa Bay Vipers
Professional sports nicknames have worked a lot of mileage out of animals (Wildcats, Tigers, Bulldogs, etc). Yet, it appears the snake is criminally underrepresented outside of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The fact such a dangerous animal is representing this Floridan team makes it all the more intimidating. Florida squads often either play into the dangers of their state (Lightning, Gators, Heat) or go with the more whimsical aspects (Magic, Dolphins). Vipers definitely falls into the former.
4. DC Defenders
The Defenders might’ve made their way into the upper echelon of these standings if only for their unique “DC” branding often seen only in soccer. Defenders is also perhaps a perfect name for a football team, especially in our nation’s capital. DC sports have long gotten by thanks to great defensive performances. Modern gridiron greats Sean Taylor, Champ Bailey, and Darrell Green also suited up for the Redskins. Mike Green, Rod Langway, John Carlson, and Scott Stevens have all manned the blueline for the Capitals.
3. New York Guardians
The other former XFL franchise returnees (whacking the previous Hitmen) would’ve easily gotten a spot in the top pair if they went with Gargoyles rather than the more generic Guardians. The team’s introduction video is high on stone gargoyle imagery, which will likely please fans of the 1990’s Disney Afternoon. While not referenced in the video, Guardians could also easily be applied to New York’s heroic first responders of the NYPD and FDNY.
2. St. Louis BattleHawks
There’s always a bit of gray area when it comes to using military imagery it sports nicknames. After, at the end of the day, it’s a game, not war. But the BattleHawks do play decent homage to the midwest’s military history. Illinois’ Scott Air Force Base, for example, is just under a half hour’s drive from the BattleHawks’ new home of The Dome at America’s Center. The new logo, adorned with angel wings and a sword, will get people talking as well.
1. Houston Roughnecks
The Roughnecks’ branding has everything you’re looking for when it comes to a logo, especially when considering this is a brand new team. It evokes a perfect form of local culture, playing upon the area’s oil drilling history. It comes complete with a logo that perfectly toes the line between homage and rip-off, as the oil rig emblem (complete with a hidden “H”) will remind some of the iconic Houston Oilers imagery. Add a unique nickname that’s equally tough and endearing and you have the XFL’s best-branded group.