No, winning and losing mean absolutely nothing.
Let's take a look at an example.
Now let's look at Comedy Central...oh, sorry, I mean the WWE. How many times in the past 12 months have we seen literally the EXACT same matches week after week, month after month?
Now let's talk about consequences. I'm gonna go to the perfect example of this, John "golden boy" Cena. Do you remember the build up to Wrestlemania 28 when he cut that empty arena promo talking about how he had to win, that it was essential for him to beat the Rock to carve out his legacy for the future and that if he lost, he was a failure, all so that he could build up interest in the feud? Remember what the fallout from that was? Not a solitary fucking thing. Next night, Cena comes out to congratulate Rock, and he's right into a feud with Lesnar. All of that need to win so that he wasn't a failure? Out the window. The feud was over, so why should anyone care? Heaven forbid he grow as a character. Oh and then remember when Edge came out and said that Cena HAD to beat Brock to defend the WWE from invaders who would try to ruin it? Yeah, I think the fallout from that match lasted all of...12 hours, since they mentioned it a whopping one time the next night on Raw before they moved on to other feuds.
My God, Cena even said in his promo in Montreal that "Punk, even if you don't give me a title shot, I'll just get one later on, I'm confident in my abilities."
When a company never follows through on their stipulations or hype for matches, no one can take them seriously when they start spouting that same shit in the future. Why should they believe them, after all? With the title matches, win or lose, it doesn't matter-Cena is gonna be in the title picture. Hell, he lost to Punk at 3 PPVs this year, was slated to take on Punk at a 4th and when he stopped feuding with Punk, he just went right over to Ziggler to try and steal his title shot briefcase. This is coming from a guy who lost all his previous opportunities that year...shouldn't someone else get an opportunity? Del Rio vs Sheamus spanned 5 MONTHS for God's sake, and even though Del Rio kept losing, he still kept getting title shots. Why? Because the Fed couldn't come up with anything better for them to do, so even though Sheamus kept winning and Del Rio kept losing, regardless of the outcomes of the previous matches, ADR just continued to fail upwards.
So now we've established that people succeed if they win, people succeed even if they lose, there are no repercussions or fallout to matches and there are no longer any novel match ups to be done because basically every intriguing idea they have, they run with and do it so often that they kill the idea (seems that they're even going to be breaking their "once in a lifetime" stipulation on Rock/Cena, though I shouldn't be surprised-Vince would sodomize his dead uncle's corpse if it meant making a quick buck). You don't climb the ladder, and you don't even fall down it. There's no real established sense of competition, either-everything is kind of level and ho hum. So tell me...how exactly do you figure that matches today mean something?
Even CM Punk's reign doesn't mean much-the biggest achievement is that its been long. I will name you 100 better reigns than it right now off the top of my head. What makes a great reign is the substance-some reigns are really short but filled with amazing stuff (see any of Mick Foley's reigns). Punk's reign has largely been disappointing and uneventful. The first really noteworthy thing to happen is this feud with Rock, and it will probably culminate with him LOSING. To think...the best part of his reign is when its finally over...kinda sad. All of the other stuff has been average at best-nothing has really felt special or epic on a scale that you'd usually associate with the most important title in the company. Some has been downright bad and has been tainted with all sorts of bullshit and fuckery. So forgive me if I don't share the same sentiments you do on Punk's 'legendary' reign (I use that word loosely).
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I understand you want matches to have consequences, but practically speaking they can't 'move down the ladder.' Rock or Austin never got demoted, nor did Angle/Lesnar/Triple H/Undertaker/Batista. The only punishment should be no title matches for a while. Hence, Cena feuding with Big Show, Laurinitis, Kane, Rock, Dolph Ziggler, but no title matches. And it was huge that he lost to the Rock; we get reminded and everyone remembers anyway. It symbolizes Cena's "year of disappointment," and his 1.5 yrs w/o the belt. Losses shouldn't be constantly pointed out, or else half your roster would be shit.
Almost all feuds take several months. Rock/Triple H, Angle/Lesnar, Batista/Edge, Cena/Orton, Orton/HHH. Austin/Rock was spread out and significant, just like Cena/Punk is significant but not as spread out. Punk has changed a lot in that time: from rebel to dirty, pussy liar. Its not as spread out as Austin/Rock BECAUSE ITS A NATURAL FEUD. Austin/Rock was clash of the titans/icons, like Rock/Cena and Rock/Punk, a big ole cash grab. Cena and Punk are actual rivals who were made to face each other; opposing attitudes, opposing fans. Its far more akin Rock/HHH and Austin/HHH.
For me personally, WWE since Punk's big promo last yr is much better than 2004-2011. Cena/Orton/HHH over and over, Undertaker/Batista/Edge over and over. Their rivalries didn't mean anything. Edge was a cheating pussy over and over, Batista was really likeable (I think he's basically Sheamus), and Undertaker had great matches but no rivalry is different from the previous one. What were Cena and Orton fighting about? Cena's dad or something? Triple H as a face is pretty much conceding that you have no stars anymore. Between Cena/HHH/Orton and Cena/Punk, I'm picking Cena/Punk, Punk gets more evil and dirty every month, and says and does different things. Between Undertaker/Edge/Batista and Sheamus/Ziggler/Orton/Big Show, I'm picking today's group again; I like Sheamus a lot more than Batista, he's more likeable, he's more entertaining in the ring, and being a foreigner makes him unique and like he's fighting for something and not just existing (I like Del Rio, too, but that's wait-and-see). Ziggler will be at least as good as Edge. Between the 'new DX' and Team Hell No, I'm picking Team Hell No vs. Rhodes Scholars (Daniel Bryan and Damien Sandow are very entertaining dudes, and the new DX was just for the sake of it; Orton is as entertaining as a dead giraffe). DX vs. Rated-RKO? This shows that the tag division was as dead then as it is today.
I consider both the current era and 2004-2011 to be better than Raw from 2002-2004, when only Triple H was entertaining, and was the same every week. At least SD had Angle/Lesnar/Undertaker, and Lesnar could never even talk. The only era that I'll say that was definitely better than right now was 1997-2002, when there was just a ridiculous crop of guys, with once-in-a-lifetime stars like Austin/Rock, and Triple H an amazing rival for them (and a RIDICULOUS mid-card of Benoit/Guerrero/Jericho/Angle, aka SmackDown or WCW).
I'm truly excited to see Del Rio try to hold onto the strap against Big Show, to see Ziggler carry the strap, to see Rock/Punk and w/e Punk does win or lose; I'm excited to see the rise of Barrett, Cesaro, and to see where Sheamus and Bryan's careers go. Two yrs ago, I was trying and failing to care about Cena/Miz and Orton/Christian. Then Punk showed up. I like WWE's current trajectory.