A week after Ryback proposed an ambulance match, John Cena countered with a Three Stages of Hell match, which Ryback accepted.
The first fall will be a lumberjack match, the second a table match and the third an ambulance match.
These types of matches, where Superstars need to pull out all of the stops to win, are booked to be the last match of a feud. However, this is what happens when WWE names a pay-per-view “Extreme Rules.”
Looking back at previous years, Extreme Rules was used to escalate feuds, not start them. In 2010, the Cena and Batista feud began at Elimination Chamber. They fought at WrestleMania 26, which Cena won by submission. They continued the feud with a Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules. The next month, at Over the Limit, the two competed in an I Quit match.
The Miz retained the WWE title against Cena in a singles match at WrestleMania 27. Cena then won the WWE title in a cage match against John Morrison and The Miz at the 2011 Extreme Rules. Cena retained the title the next month in an I Quit match against The Miz.
The placement of the Extreme Rules pay-per-view is wrong. I would have the event in September or October, but that’s a topic for another day.
There were a lot of feuds that ended at this year's Extreme Rules—Brock Lesnar and Triple H, Chris Jericho and Fandango, Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger—with the addition of the stipulation match being the final encounter (for now).
However, the feud between Cena and Ryback began the night after WrestleMania XXIX. Because of the pay-per-view theme, it couldn't be a standard match. The match needed a stipulation, which ended without a decision, so the feud had to continue. But what is more dangerous than a Last Man Standing match?
WWE gave the fans a brutal first match; having a standard singles rematch would be backward booking. This is why the rematch had to be even more dangerous than the first.
These themed pay-per-views have numbed fans to stipulations. There are at least five pay-per-views—Elimination Chamber, Extreme Rules, Money in the Bank, Hell in a Cell and TLC—that guarantee a match with a stipulation.
There have been 10 Hell in a Cell matches in the last four years. There were only 11 from 2000 to 2008.
Listen to the reaction Paul Heyman received when he announced the No Holds Barred match between Lesnar and Triple H for WrestleMania. No Holds Barred matches used to be a big deal back in the day. Now with cages, cells and chambers, a no-disqualification match seems old-fashioned.
Granted, the last Three Stages of Hell match took place in 2009 between Randy Orton and Triple H. Yet, coming off the heels of a Last Man Standing match, it doesn't feel special.
Even if the match remained an ambulance match, the fans wouldn't have cared. It's the same basic rules of a Last Man Standing match: beat your opponent enough to put him on a stretcher. However, we saw one of these matches at Elimination Chamber 2012 between Cena and Kane.
If this feud does continue for another month, what’s the next stipulation? A Buried Alive match? Last Ride match? WWE booked itself into a corner, not only with Ryback but with this feud in general.
When Cena closes the ambulance door, he should close the door on this feud as well because there is nothing else for these two to do.