The headline says it all. The Three Stages of Hell match between Ryback and John Cena at the first-ever WWE Payback pay-per-view is overkill. And no, I'm not talking about the thrash metal band. In fact, if this match is not booked correctly, it could be a last nail in the coffin for Ryback as a main event wrestler in WWE for quite some time.
First, some background for those of you who aren't watching WWE television week in and week out. Ryback was, up until very recently, a face, or good guy, in WWE. In many ways, he was becoming the most popular WWE Superstar in the company, even more popular than John Cena. Then, at the height of his popularity, Ryback became a heel to challenge John Cena for the WWE Championship.
Last month at WWE Extreme Rules, Ryback faced John Cena in a Last Man Standing match, where the only way to win was to essentially beat your opponent down so bad that he could not stand up before a count of 10. In short, Ryback picked up John Cena and drove him through the stage. Neither man could answer the 10-count, thus the match ended in a draw.
A few weeks ago on Raw, Ryback challenged John Cena to a match to settle their feud. He wanted an ambulance match. Cena responded by accepting the match, but creating new stipulations. The match would now be a Three Stages of Hell match, a best-of-three war beginning with a lumberjack match, then a tables match, and ending in the ambulance match.
Now, back to the present. The match is fast-approaching and the likelihood of a Ryback victory looks slim at this moment. Forget about the idea of "Super Cena" or the criticisms of Ryback's abilities in and out of the ring. This match has the feeling of a blow-off match, a match that will essentially end the feud between the two.
The feeling is that Ryback is only a heel right now to act as a placeholder until CM Punk, who is perhaps John Cena's only Kryptonite (see what I did there?), returns from his hiatus. That return is happening soon, as we, for now, are being led to believe he will face Chris Jericho at Payback later this month.
If that's the case, WWE has essentially wasted Ryback and ruined what was at one time possibly the most popular character in WWE. And for a feud so young (Cena and Ryback have only feuded since mid-April), WWE is staging the blow-off match very soon. Too soon. And that is not good news for Ryback.
If WWE is planning to rekindle the CM Punk vs. John Cena feud, it will make for great TV. No one brings out John Cena's best like Punk, and their matches have been some of the best in Cena's career, not to mention some of the most memorable over the last couple of years. But that again leaves Ryback as the odd man out and essentially kills all the momentum he once had.
Ryback was becoming the biggest face in WWE, challenging Cena's death-grip on the position. When he turned heel, he lost a lot of momentum. Two high-profile losses to Cena, as well as getting stuffed into an ambulance on pay-per-view, would destroy all credibility Ryback has as a monster heel.
If WWE wants Ryback to lose to Cena, they could have him lose, and Ryback could recover. But losing to Cena in an ambulance match is typically the kind of loss that sends a WWE Superstar home for a few months. It's just not necessary at this point in the feud. It's overkill.
Top faces like John Cena just don't lose matches like this. And the expectation of this writer is that we will surely see Ryback getting stuffed into the back of that ambulance and driven away with sirens blaring. At that point, Ryback's position in WWE as a top star will indeed be on life support.
This match is not necessary at this point, and as far as I'm concerned, it can only end in a hard-fought Cena win. The next logical step is to put CM Punk back in a program with Cena. For that to happen, Ryback needs to be out of the picture. A win for Cena only proves Ryback was served up as a hold-over feud, and could be devastating to Ryback's long-term prospects. How many times can he lose big matches and still be taken seriously?
This kind of match is overkill. Cena could win in other ways. It appears someone wants Ryback buried. Who that may be is open to debate. What isn't debatable is that another Ryback loss to Cena will firmly and emphatically end Ryback's short stint at the top of WWE.
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