Wins, Losses And Titles Don’t Matter In WWE? I Beg To Differ by Ron Pasceri

There are a few personality traits that really get under my skin. Passive-aggressiveness, hypocrisy, pretentiousness and arrogance are pretty much the Mount Rushmore of that list for me. A few weeks ago Brian James, aka “Road Dogg” hit all four on the barrel of the bat. I’m sure most of you saw his comments that wins and losses don’t matter in WWE. All that matters is the characters. Here are some of his tweets from earlier this month.

I fully understand that he is employed in a powerful position within the company and he doesn’t have much choice but to defend it. What bothers me is the way he went about it. He completely dismisses some pretty basic principles of pro wrestling. He goes on to tout that WWE had its most profitable year on record and that it’s ultimately just another TV show that you watch solely to be entertained, so who cares, right? Wrong.

Right off the bat it isn’t really of that much consequence to us as fans how much profit WWE is making. In fact, neither are TV ratings, PPV buys, WWE Network subscriptions or merchandise sales. I don’t enjoy a show any more or less based on how many other people tuned in. I don’t feel better about the creative direction of Raw or SmackDown! because WWE pocketed more advertising dollars or acquired a new sponsor. I assume that is also the case for anyone reading this. Those things don’t matter to us, Brian, they matter to YOU.

On another note, I agree that characters do matter. Characters don’t matter to the exclusion of everything else, but they do matter. But, in saying that characters matter and if, in fact, that is ALL that matters, why doesn’t WWE have more good characters? Why aren’t enough of the characters doing things of consequence or even things that at least make sense? I know I’m not the first person to make this point, but if The Authority is so opposed to Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, why exactly were they put in position to challenge for a spot in the main event of WrestleMania?

If character matters, why haven’t I seen Damien Sandow on my TV months after he garnered so much fan support? If character matters, why does Roman Reigns, the guy that’s supposed to be your biggest star, lack anything resembling a character? If character matters, why has WWE’s Divas division been comprised almost completely of heels since the “Divas Revolution” started? Why has Lana devolved from an empowered woman to just another valet? Why is a talent like Dolph Ziggler boring and inconsequential? I’m sorry, but that argument just doesn’t ring true based on the current direction of WWE programming.

Titles don’t matter in WWE because they aren’t really “won” they are awarded. We keep being told this story, but it is a work of fiction. WWE may continue to spout these talking points to deflect criticism for a subpar product, but they contradict themselves at every turn. Every time John Cena comes out to the ring they talk about his 15 World Title reigns. JBL refers to his record in big matches ad nauseam. Triple H has been touted for years as a 13-time champion, now 14, as he himself is holding a title that supposedly doesn’t matter. Recently, commentary is constantly discussing Chris Jericho as a 6-time World Champion and 9-time Intercontinental Champion to make defeating him seem more important for the development of AJ Styles. One of the biggest events of the year, the Royal Rumble, was marketed around the idea that for the first time ever the WWE World Heavyweight Champion would defend his title in the Royal Rumble match. If titles don’t matter, then these aren’t really selling points.

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They tell us that wins, losses and titles don’t matter, yet the main event at Fastlane had the WINNER getting a TITLE SHOT at the main event at WrestleMania. So wins do matter. Titles do matter, otherwise a championship match wouldn’t consistently be the main event of the year’s biggest show. Speaking of the year’s biggest show, the biggest story in wrestling for years was The Undertaker’s legendary WrestleMania winning streak. For years the most sought after accomplishment of the biggest names in the history of the business was to be the one to end his streak. When Brock Lesnar finally did it, it sent shockwaves through the industry that are still felt today. It turned Lesnar into the most formidable Superstar in recent memory. So again, wins do matter.

I know this is from a different era, but look at the Montreal Screwjob. That incident alone shows the importance of wins, losses and titles. It mattered so much that a match was stopped in real life to keep someone leaving the company from retaining the title. Not only that, but it launched the Mr. McMahon character that would become the canvas for Stone Cold Steve Austin’s masterpiece.

So Brian, wins and losses do matter to us, they just don’t matter to YOU. The record profits WWE is seeing is in spite of the product, not because of it. It is because for generations people have loved pro wrestling and WWE happens to be pretty much the only big game left in town.

WWE currently has five hours of programming time to fill on TV. Many fans will say Raw is too long at three hours itself and that is true. It is a real commitment to tune in for that amount of time every Monday. But WWE fans do it and they deserve better than to be told what to like, what not to like, what matters and what doesn’t. At a certain point it is WWE’s duty to listen to their fans and put on a show that will satisfy viewers instead of themselves or their own misguided agenda. And in three hours, with a stable of Hollywood writers, there is no reason WWE can’t tell good stories that appeal to a mass audience, create characters that resonate and stay true to what has always worked in pro wrestling. Actually, it’s inexcusable that they seem incapable of doing these things.

In closing, Brian James, I will give you credit for SmackDown! improving by leaps and bounds since the jump to USA Network. It’s actually been more enjoyable than Raw over the last month or so. I will also cede to you that wins and losses aren’t the ONLY thing that matters as well as the idea that character matters. But, wins and losses are a big part of the puzzle, as are titles. WWE may continue to make money hand over fist, but it will still come up short creatively if the storytellers can’t figure out how to tell stories. In your words I guess we can agree to disagree. Oh, and Roman Reigns won the WrestleMania title shot last night, so I guess WWE will be acting like that matters.