WWE should include an asterisk after every mention of their upcoming Three Stages of Hell match at Payback, since the scheduled bout may not reach the final fall.
Then again, maybe they shouldn't.
The Three Stages of Hell match—advertised as one of the most unpredictable in WWE—paradoxically establishes the safest bet for WWE programming. The two out of three falls match, with added stipulations for every fall, makes the third fall the unquestioned conclusion.
Of course, the match is going to last the all three falls, especially in the upcoming iteration featuring WWE Champion John Cena and Ryback. After all, the WWE Championship match between these two was booked as an ambulance match a day after the Extreme Rules pay-per-view but was readjusted to be the final fall of the match.
This adjustment by WWE thus made the high-profile stipulation the apex of the larger-scaled match. Scrapping the pay-per-view's pièce de résistance by not reaching the third fall accomplishes nothing, since both Superstars cannot lose cleanly lest they lose any momentum. Having one Superstar win two consecutive falls will make the losing Superstar seem weak and not worthy of competing for the WWE Championship.
Taking the match to the third fall will allow a winner without having a true loser. Much like the no-contest at Extreme Rules, both Superstars can come out on top by showing their almost-superhuman abilities to overcome a gauntlet of extreme stipulations.
While the final stipulation, the ambulance match, is associated with the losing Superstars' frailty, the falls prior to it will diminish its effect, since both Superstars will be pushed to the limit.
And looking back at the history of the Three Stages of Hell matches, every one of them has extended to the final fall. This one will not be the exception.
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