This weekend held great promise. Saturday night at 8 p.m. the XFL inaugurated its season and made its case to become the next mainstream sport in America. Viceroy of Violence Vince McMahon promised unparalleled mayhem, a revolutionary approach to football and mind-bogglingly gorgeous women. At least, that was the idea.

In reality, the XFL delivered nothing more than watered-down talent both on and off the field. I was expecting absolute carnage on the turf. However, the only carnage I could find was in the New York/New Jersey offense, which couldn’t complete a pass if its metaphorical life depended on it.

But what is different from traditional football? Great, so there are more camera angles. Swell, so everything has a microphone attached to it. Fantastic, so the coin toss has been replaced by a mad sprint for a loose football. And?

I expected something radical, a three man offensive line, no pass interference calls on the defense or a mandated body-slam for a penalty. What I got were marginal former college players trying to relive their high school glory days with random slogans or made-up names on their backs.

My personal favorite was the Las Vegas Outlaws running back who sported the ever-so-apt “He Hate Me” on the back of his jersey. Who is “He?” And why the poor noun-verb agreement?

In case the viewers at home wished to know the actual names of the “athletes,” the players introduced themselves to an on-field camera before the game’s first drive. This five-minute introductory period may have been the most painful experience of my life, as the players read their own names off cue-cards and added a catch phrase either to psyche up the crowd or to announce their blatant stupidity.

“Hello . My name is Lyle Walters and I play left . er right . [player pauses to hold up his hands and extend both index fingers and thumbs] … yeah, left offensive tackle for the Las Vegas Outlaws. And hooked-on-phonics worked for me.”

The XFL provided additional insight into its players’ personalities with short interviews presented with the help of a sultry skank, uh, I mean cheerleader, who informed all of us that “Quarterback Ryan Clement knows how to score.” No innuendo there.

And speaking of the talentless cheerleaders so heralded by the endless pre-season promotions, it hurt to watch them take up camera time as their bodies (which held enough saline to turn Las Vegas into a port city ) spasmed on their little stage. I say “spasmed” because I truly hesitate to say dance. Most of them displayed the rhythm of Jell-O and seemed completely lost as how to move and groove without a pole.

But the sexy strumpets are only a part of the whole package. On the field, we were told to expect bone-jarring hits of proportions you would expect to see at a monster truck rally on Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. There were some hard hits but none that would be particularly brutal by NFL or college-level standards. The only difference was the amount of injuries that prolonged the game by about three hours. I’m pretty confident that the league’s organizers were telling the players to stay down for exaggerated periods of time to make the hits look worse than they actually were. Of course, considering most of these guys haven’t played since high school, haven’t exercised since PE class and/or are over 40 and suffering from osteoperosis, they may really have been injured.

Despite all of this absurdity, the XFL enjoyed enormous ratings in the usually quiet Saturday night slot. And most likely these high ratings will continue throughout the remainder of the season.

So we’ll watch in the off chance something exciting really happens. It’s the same reason we watch Britney Spears perform live or a catfight, in the hope that we’ll get to catch a glimpse of something forbidden that we shouldn’t see.

But, without extreme changes, the XFL will never improve beyond prime-time voyeurism.

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