There has only been three in the history of the WWE. The flesh-tearing, oftentimes gory scenery of the Three Stages of Hell match is primarily the reason why the tally of matches is so low. WWE will bring back the match at the next pay-per-view, Payback.
This time, it will involve WWE champion John Cena and Ryback.
Ryback initially announced an Ambulance Match, one day after he rammed Cena through the LED board. The following week, Cena one-upped Ryback by reintroducing this match.
Neither of them have ever been in this match, so in that regard, it should be a level playing field. Conversely, one person who does know about this match is Triple H, as he has participated in all three of the Three Stages of Hell matches.
Here is the history of this intense match.
It all started at No Way Out 2001. To set the stage, Steve Austin was run down by Rikishi. The storyline revealed that Triple H paid Rikishi to perform this heinous act, for the sake of warding away Austin from the world title picture. Austin returned and began a feud with Triple H, which led to their match at Survivor Series 2000 and No Way Out.
The first match was a regular wrestling match, the second was a street fight and the third was a steel cage match. The finish was well-booked and showed that both wrestlers were completely exhausted.
Interestingly enough, the next PPV, WrestleMania 17, Austin turned on the Rock and aligned himself with Vince McMahon. The following Raw, Triple H joined the alliance, and the Two Man Power Trip was formed.
After a four-year absence, Shawn Michaels recovered from his nagging back condition and subsequent surgery to be included in the first ever Elimination Chamber match at the 2002 Survivor Series event. In what was mildly considered shocking, Michaels left the match victorious, capturing his first and only World Heavyweight Championship.
This led to a hateful feud between Michaels and Triple H, which culminated in the second-ever Three Stages of Hell match the next month at Armageddon.
The first match was a street fight, the second match took place in a steel cage and the third was a ladder match. Triple H prevailed in the ladder match after both split the previous falls, winning back World Heavyweight Championship and improving his record to 2-0 in Three Stages of Hell matches.
Nearly seven years later, the third installment of Three Stages of Hell occurred at The Bash pay-per-view in the summer of 2009. This match pitted WWE Champion Randy Orton against one of his biggest rivals, Triple H.
This match was booked shortly after Batista won the title at Extreme Rules but was forced to relinquish it due to a storyline attack by Orton (Batista was actually suffering from a legitimate bicep tear). This led to a four-way match on an episode of Raw in which Orton won and reclaimed the title.
Triple H won a No. 1 contender battle royal to become Orton's opponent, and the stage was set.
The three falls that were included in this version were a regular singles match, a falls count anywhere match and a stretcher match. Due to interference by the Orton-led Legacy faction, he was able to retain the title, giving Triple H his first loss in this type of match.
Prior to the upcoming pay-per-view Payback, John Cena challenged No. 1 contender Ryback to a Three Stages of Hell match, the fourth in the history of the WWE. Cena's stipulations are a lumberjack match, a tables match, in addition to Ryback's ambulance match choice; all three stipulations are new to this kind of match.
This match is unique based on its duration and the physical limits it pushes its combatants. Therefore, John Cena and Ryback may not have what it takes to give the match its proper due based on the previous bouts. With the right opponent—whether you like him or not—Cena has proven in his 11 years with the company that he can put on a memorable match.
Ryback, on the other hand, hasn't proved much of anything.
It will definitely be intriguing to see how good (or bad) this match will be come the PPV. Hopefully the WWE Universe will be surprised and the two will give up a match beyond our expectations.
What was your favorite Three Stages of Hell match? Sound off below.
Check out the latest Pancakes and Powerslams episode, where we discussed the Chris Jericho/CM Punk match at Payback, the Randy Orton/Sheamus team and the infamous Jim Herd days of WCW.