The XFL will begin play on its second incarnation in February, and Wednesday marked a major milestone in its re-launch — nicknames and logos.

Now is when each team will begin building a brand outside of the league and its owner Vince McMahon, and what a brand it will be.

As a verified, self-proclaimed expert in the nickname space, striking the right tone in for an upstart professional league is among the most challenging aspects of starting the league. All the best nicknames are taken, obviously, but beyond that it’s hard to be unique without being silly.

So, as we move forward to evaluating all eight team’s brand-spanking-new identities, ask yourself: is this the name of a professional football team or a 12U select softball team?

Tampa Bay Vipers

DC Defenders

Los Angeles Wildcats

Seattle Dragons

New York Guardians

St. Louis BattleHawks

Houston Roughnecks

Dallas Renegades

Here’s a shot of each team’s logo.

Each nickname has come with its own inspiration, straight from the XFL press release:

  • DC Defenders: On the shoulders of giants, they stand tall. Unconquerable. Unyielding. Marching ever forward. A force united. One quest. One purpose. One resolve. Seeking glory through grit. Victory through valor. The DC Defenders. Taking their stand.
  • Dallas Renegades: Deep in the heart of Texas, beats a different kind of pulse. A spirit untamed. A swagger that can’t be denied. Where big meets bold meets badass. This is outlaw country, inside the lines. This is hell on wheels, between hash marks. This is their home on the range. The Dallas Renegades. Raising Hell.
  • Houston Roughnecks: Resolute. Rippling with heat. Railing against fatigue. Unceasing and often unseen, they labor deep in the trenches. Mercenaries in the muck. Brawlers in blackened dirt. Not just for three hours. Not just when the lights are bright. These are the scratching, grinding, never-bending few. The Houston Roughnecks. Going to work for you.
  • Los Angeles Wildcats: In the land of bright lights. Far from the flash and fame. They’ve already begun to prowl. Enter their den and be dominated. Run away and be ripped apart. This is prime time meets primal instinct. This is showtime with a snarl. This is our time to roar. The L.A. Wildcats. Unleashed.
  • New York Guardians: Sentries carved of stone. Watchdogs over the metropolis. A prehistoric predator. A beast evolves, turned loose in a new kind of jungle. All teeth and talons, eyes unblinking. They know fear because they feed off it. They are your first line of defense, and there is no need for a second. The New York Guardians. On duty.
  • St. Louis BattleHawks: Winged warriors. Preparing for flight. Preparing to fight. They await their orders. Then attack as one. Diving, dodging, swooping, striking. Their mission: create chaos. Their mandate: win at all costs. The St. Louis BattleHawks. Cleared to engage.
  • Seattle Dragons: Rising from the turbulent sea. Beneath the darkening skies of their weather-hardened home. Relentless, ruthless, ravenous. Not of mythology, but of muscle and might. Not of folklore, but of football. This is your darkest fantasy, in cleats. The Seattle Dragons. Breathing fire.
  • Tampa Bay Vipers: In the shadows they wait. Demons, born in darkness. Hunters by instinct. Cold-blooded by nature. Their bite, unavoidable. Their grip, inescapable. They slither and stalk their competition. Luring all who challenge them, into the jaws of defeat. The Tampa Bay Vipers. Ready to strike.

“The XFL is about football and fun, and our team identities are intended to signify just that,” XFL President and COO Jeffrey Pollack said. “Now it’s up to our fans and players to help write the story. What happens on the field and in the community, in the years ahead, will determine the true spirit of each team.”

So, which one is the best? In my view it’s definitely the Houston Roughnecks, which is absolutely the name the Houston Texans should have chosen instead. The worst? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…. but St. Louis BattleHawks sounds like an AFL 2 nickname and there’s definitely a 12U girls’ soccer team in the Washington metro area also called the DC Defenders.

As I said above, it’s a real challenge for a brand new entity to be original but not silly, since all the best names and designs are already taken. As some have been happy to point out.

Your thoughts?

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National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.