Anyone remember SF4's (vanilla) Championship Mode? Where you can only fight people of your exact rank? And had to win 3 straight against people of your rank before you ranked up? That seemed to work wonders. Sure, the starting ranks (E, in comparison) were rough with spamming newbs and lack of depth, but once you broke into C/D you ran into people with skill. I didn't play long enough, but I imagine A rank matches were quite interesting.