With wrestlers basically coming into the company, usually getting start and stop pushes, until someone catches fire and people really only staying on TV if they're marketable, does "Pay Your Dues" have any meaning?
It used to mean something like, "You gotta work your way to the top" or something but it's been used vaguely to answer questions like, "Why is Wrestler X not getting pushed" to "Why is Batista carrying D-Von's bag?"
Nowadays, they just throw a guy out there, have him win about 3-5 matches and if Vince thinks he's marketable, he'll stay at some position Vince thinks fits. Otherwise, he's DOA or left to play the Midcard Shuffle. Where does "Pay Your Dues" fit in?
I think it's actually the stop-and-start push now that has replaced "paying your dues." The idea now is that you get pushed to a certain level, and then they make you lose all the time to see how you react. If you survive without throwing hissy fits or retiring from the business in frustration, you get re-pushed, ostensibly for real this time. Kind of like Daniel Bryan, although Shawn Michaels did an interview recently where he not-very-cryptically talked about meeting with Vince and learning that Vince doesn't particularly think that Mr. Bryan can draw money. Could be part of the storyline, I dunno, but RAW kind of bombed on Monday and it doesn't portend well for all involved. Personally I think the short-term losses are worth the long-term benefits of putting the belt on him and making a bigger star in the process, but they are running a business and I get why this sort of thing might make people gun-shy.