At WWE’s Payback pay-per-view, John Cena and Ryback will face off in a Three Stages of Hell match. The first stage will be a Lumberjack bout, the second a Tables match and the third—if it’s needed, which of course it will be—an Ambulance match.
The pay-per-view scrap was originally meant to be simply an Ambulance match. Per a F4Wonline report (via WrestlingInc), the change came out after Vince McMahon decided he wanted to do something “memorable” at the show.
Well, the match may certainly be that, but it's possible it will be for entirely the wrong reasons.
It goes without saying that the bout will probably be one of the longer pay-per-view main events in years. While many wrestlers—like Chris Jericho or Randy Orton—could easily pull this off, it remains to be seen if Cena and Ryback can.
While Cena has had some outstanding matches over the past few years, he usually needs the right opponent—a CM Punk or Dolph Ziggler—to help cover up his weaknesses (he’s always been rather clumsy and un-coordinated in the ring). Otherwise, he tends to struggle if asked to go in there for long periods of time.
And despite his recent improvements, Ryback is definitely not that opponent.
Sure, he’s had the occasional flashes of greatness—his work as part of the classic six-man tag match at December’s TLC show was stellar—but his in-ring work has still been rather patchy.
The most notable example may have been at this year’s WrestleMania, when he and Mark Henry churned out a sloppy, plodding scrap that was easily the worst bout on the show.
Granted, his Payback bout with Cena should be better than that, but why risk it? There is nothing a Three Stages of Hell match would provide that the (original) Ambulance bout wouldn’t have accomplished.
There are also the other matches on Payback to consider. With the bout essentially being three matches in one, it is surely to going to take up a huge amount of time, essentially short-changing the other wrestlers.
CM Punk is currently scheduled to face Chris Jericho at the event—will they be deprived of time?
What about The Shield and Team Hell No, who will no doubt make appearances? Is it really fair to them to cut their time for a lengthy and ultimately unnecessary Cena/Ryback match?
Of course, it’s possible we’re being unfair. Hey, both men have surprised us before and maybe they will again. The Three Stages of Hell match could end up being the highlight of the pay-per-view.
But, on paper at least, the match change looks to be a very bad idea. It simply doesn't play to either man's strengths and only serves to highlight their weaknesses.