Pancakes and Powerslams Podcast with Rod Smart
Host: Chris Featherstone
Interview available at SoundCloud.com
Working with Vince McMahon: “It was great. It was awesome, He is an awesome dude. His energy, his beliefs, he always wants what’s best for the fans. That’s what I like about him, because that’s what it’s all about. At the end of the day, you want the fans to be happy and excited. You entertain them, that’s what it’s all about. It’s entertainment, with everything. Because you wanna have a big fan base, you always wanna have that. If you always have that, you’ll always have a great product. He undertands that. He’s understood that for decades. So, that’s why he’s so successful still, in what he created in the WWE.”
What went wrong with the XFL: “I think it was one of those things that, at the beginning, I guess the way they presented the product, fans were thinking football and wrestling mixed together. But no, it wasn’t that, it was football and entertainment mixed together. A lot of fans didn’t understand that, because of how it was presented with advertisement. So once they saw the product live, they were like, ‘this ain’t what we thought it was.’ Well, it was football. And that’s what it was, but it had entertainment as well. That’s what it was. So if you don’t understand those two products coming together, then you’re gonna be like, oh, well this isn’t what I expected, and you may walk off from it.
“But, I think if they had another year, at the point in time, at least another year, I think people would’ve got more involved, and it would’ve had a bigger following. The thing that kind of spoiled it for everything is TV. You know, TV is big, so if you don’t get certain ratings for a certain time bracket you’re supposed to be shown on, it’s gonna be issues. And the biggest issue at the time was money. You can’t play around with that. Nobody wants to lose millions. So, I think that was the biggest thing that made the company fold. But, I think it was a great product, I think it was perfect for football in the spring. It wasn’t like it went head-on with the NFL. It wasn’t in the fall, it competed with whatever was in the spring, I think it was NFL Europe at the time. I think that was pretty much coming to an end anyway. I think it was perfect… still to this day, I think Vince McMahon is a genius for creating it, him and Dick Ebersol.”
When he found out that the XFL was folding: “We as players weren’t acknowledged ahead of time. I think I found out, me and my roommate [Ben Snell], we were at a bar, maybe a Hooters or something, we were eating and getting some drinks, excited for the next season. And all of a sudden, [the ESPN jingle]. And it comes on that the XFL is folding, and we look at each other like, what? Folded? We just finished the season. I was shocked just as much as anybody else. You know, me being the biggest name in the league, Mr. XFL himself. I was like, wow. I couldn’t believe it, didn’t understand it. But, once you read between the lines and understand the business of things of that magnitude, then you kinda understand why things happen the way they do.”
If he would return if Vince McMahon started another company: “I would never say that I [won’t return]. Because, me and Vince being longtime friends, we will always be willing to work with one another. So, that’s never out of the question. As far as me playing? Man, you can hang those boots up on the power line somewhere, out of reach. My body just won’t allow that.”
On Vince McMahon potentially re-creating a football league: “I don’t look at it as nothing bad at all. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for a number of guys to play some football in the states and be seen by family and friends, where they can travel and be a fan and follow those players. Right now, I have a younger brother playing up in Canada. He would probably love to be in the states playing ball…and you don’t always get the games on television because of it being Canadian football. So, if things work out, it’ll be great to have him back in the states playing, and I would go support him as well. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for a lot of these young guys who are trying to make it in the NFL and just playing football in the U.S. in front of their family and friends.”
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