You may be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, that’s fine. You had a nice season last year (more on that in a bit) and are sitting at 2-1. Fine fine. I don’t mean to besmirch the good name of “America’s Team” and certainly I’m in no position to rub anything in anyone’s face; I’m a fan of the New York Jets, bless my heart.
But—and I’m trying to be as unbiased as possible here—the Dallas Cowboys have a bit of a reputation as “underachievers.” There are some teams that just flat out stink, like the poor poor Browns. Some teams seem destined for perpetual mediocrity, like the Bengals. Others will just always be good, like the Patriots, while others are well-run organizations that are always a threat to be a contender if the pieces fall into place (Steelers).
And then there’s the Cowboys, a team that has, for the most part, had more than enough talent in place to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy, but hasn’t come closer than the play-in game to the Super Bowl since 1995, the last time they won it all.
In the twenty-two years since, the ‘Boys have hired or fired five coaches, with countless more offensive and defensive coordinators and position coaches shuffled in and out. Under head coach Jason Garrett, the Cowboys are in the midst of the most stable run they’ve had since Tom Landry stalked the sideline. Garrett has been the coach for over seven years now, but unlike Landry has yet to win a Super Bowl (Landry won two). Jimmy Johnson won two as well. Barry Switzer won it all doing basically nothing but call the occasional time-out in the greatest non-coaching job I’ve ever seen. Landry was relieved by then-new owner Jerry Jones, who later parted ways with Johnson and Switzer. Garrett is still there, however, despite a .500 record and not even so much as an NFC Championship to his name. The one thing the Cowboys do have, and have maintained throughout the past thirty years of Jerry Jones’ ownership, is talent. Sure there was a stretch there between Aikman and Romo/Prescott where they couldn’t keep a QB on the field to save their life, but the team has consistently fielded good linemen, receivers, linebackers, running backs and of course tight ends. It’s not for lack of on-field ability that theyv’e seen the world championship elude them. By all accounts they had the talent to go all the way last year but couldn’t even make it to the dance. The only thing we can conclude is it’s a “management” problem, from owner to coaches.
Let’s talk about WWE, specifically the unusual disconnect between the PPVs and the weekly shows (the macro) and the disconnect between the weekly matches and the way the stories around them, including the match finishes, are booked (the micro).
I’ve been noticing this phenomenon lately, and comment below if you have too, how I will spend the month leading up to the next PPV mostly hating the product, complaining about the endless rematches, the drain-circling storylines, the 50/50 booking, and the endless-feeling to the weekly three-hour broadcasts. I usually sit down to watch the next PPV expecting the worst, and why shouldn’t I? I’m usually given garbage leading up to the show, why not get garbage on the show.
And then I watch the PPV and I usually love it.
It creates this forced cognitive dissonance in me, where I react with anger to something I actually enjoyed. I’m angry because the matches were fun, sometimes amazing, but one thing here or one thing there will sour the aftertaste and then comes Raw the next night and it’s back to circling the drain and I’m frustrated all over again.
Why is it the WWE can put on a string of good-to-really good PPVs, featuring mostly rematches of matches we see on Raw, while also putting on a Raw product that is mostly criticized and lambasted by the very fans who like the PPVs? How is it possible?
It can’t be blamed on the talent. They go balls-to-the-wall every month on PPV, and do more than enough to entertain my jaded, nearly-two-decade fandom. The talent knows what it's doing, yet I keep disliking the overall product more than I like it. Who is left to blame?
Owner and coaches.
The WWE has the most loaded and talented roster, in terms of pure in-ring ability, perhaps in the history of North American pro wrestling. Maybe WCW in the mid-to-late 90’s could rival it, when you had a who’s who of names being wasted on Nitro every week, but I think the current WWE roster beats it. To compare it to football, the WWE roster looks like an all-pro team.
And it’s being coached by Dave Campo.
Campo was head coach of the Cowboys from 2000-2002. In that time his best season was his first, when he went 5-11. His worst season was his second, where he went 5-11. He ended his tenure in year three with an average year compared to the previous two, going 5-11. Not great Bob.
Who is in charge of the creative direction of the WWE? Who are its writers on staff? Who are the people who sit in their cramped little offices where they’re not allowed to have lunch breaks while Vince McMahon scowls at them over his steak and ketchup “wrap” and demands more of this and changes to that? Who are they? No one knows because at the end of the day nothing they say or do matters. The WWE is an audience of one.
Vince McMahon is a seventy-year-old promoter, who has done nothing but live pro wrestling he barely has any frame of reference to the outside world. He’s been so insulated for so long he thought Scott Hall invented his Scarface ripoff character for Razor Ramon. He didn’t know what Straight Edge was when CM Punk was signed. He had to be sat down and explained that such a thing as “Asian porn” existed.
By JR of all people.
I’m not saying Vince McMahon has “lost it” or that he’s no longer fit to run the WWE. I’m not saying he needs to retire or anything like you hear said on the internet from time to time. I’m just saying a man as old as he is who has been as insulated as he’s been might not have his finger on the pulse of what moves people anymore, especially not now that his chief competitor (WCW) is long gone, and his next closest competitor (TN..GF..Im...) is basically living off of ritz crackers and Dr. Thunder.
I mean look at the company’s one-time infatuation with Tout. I’m convinced that was all Vince (as everything in WWE is) and that he was so blown away by the technology that he assumed everyone else would be too…instead of everyone else shrugging at it and not caring because the technology was passé the moment the app was released.
And why did JR have to be the one to explain Asian porn to Vince?
Don’t look at the roster. Don’t focus on the great matches they can have when given the chance. Focus on the bells and whistles. Look at the storylines, the match finishes, who is being pushed and how, and who is being ignored and why. Are you frustrated by poor creative? Is it getting to the point where you feel inclined to skip Raw and SmackDown and just catch the PPVs since, after all, you can probably take any PPV card and recreate it based solely off the previous’ months matches on Raw or SmackDown?
At some point the finger has to be pointed at the guy pulling the strings. At some point we have to recognize that society has evolved beyond that kind of stories Vince knows how to tell or at least wants to tell. Like a football coach who sticks to an I-formation offense in a spread-formation era, a change has to be made. Unfortunately, in the WWE the owner who would make the change is also the head coach and he calls all the plays.
Now that I think about it…maybe WWE is more like the Raiders under Al Davis.
Eccentric, perhaps mildly-insane owner, who is also a control freak that prefers coaching to owning? Check.
History of signing superstar after superstar with no idea (A) how to use them, (B) where to use them, (C) when to use them, etc? Check.
Baffling, even boneheaded decisions that derail potentially great years and waste said roster talent? Check.
Actually, now that I think about thinking about it…are the Cowboys and the Raiders just bizarro versions of each other? Are they basically the same team except one is glitzy and glamorous and the other is poor and gritty? Who is Vince’s bizzaro version? I mean he would tell you it’s Ted Turner, but Ted hasn’t thought about Vince McMahon more than eight times in his life. Who is the bizzaro, less glamorous version of an eccentric owner, who wasted talent and made bone-headed decisions of a different sort that ended up dooming the roster to mediocrity year after yeholy crap it’s Dixie Carter.
And why was JR the expert on Asian porn in the first place? What was going on where that subject came up and he thought “This is it. Finally. My time to shine.”
Whatever. As always, I’m Matthew Martin: I love WWE but everything sucks and I’m never watching it again.
See you next week.