John Cena goes up against Ryback in a Three Stages of Hell match at WWE Payback far more experienced in the world of Lumberjack, Tables and Ambulance matches than his opponent.
His past record at each of these hints at how Sunday could turn out.
Cena has a number of wins with lumberjacks surrounding the ring, can't seem to get a victory when tables are involved and has a 1-0 record in Ambulance matches. If history repeats itself, expect Cena to win the first fall to Ryback, lose the second and come out on top by winning the third.
Ryback has incorporated a passion for breaking tables and shoving folks into ambulances over the last few weeks, sending Kofi Kingston through a trio of tables and giving guys like Zack Ryder a free ride to the hospital.
It's Cena, though, who has the significant edge in experience in these gimmick matches. The first stage's stipulation is one where he has compiled the most victories.
Cena's previous Lumberjack matches have mostly been more about the lumberjacks than the wrestlers. They have been excuses for factions to attack and for chaos to erupt.
That will be far from the case at Payback, as the focus will be squarely on the WWE champ and challenger.
On WWE Raw in 2005, Cena took on Snitsky in a Lumberjack match where the lumberjacks were involved in a fight of their own. Big Show, Shelton Benjamin, Viscera and others came down to ringside and attacked the lumberjacks.
The events outside the ring trumped the action inside of it.
Viscera humped a stack of men. Chris Jericho hid behind Lilian Garcia before swinging a chair at Cena's head. The fact that Cena won with the FU (now Attitude Adjustment) seemed like a minor event compared to everything else going on.
Cena's 2006 Lumberjack match against Sabu at Vengeance 2006 had a similar vibe. Beyond being about Cena and Sabu's differences, this contest was a clash between WWE and ECW, as wrestlers from both brands served as lumberjacks who not surprisingly didn't get along.
Sabu tapped out to end it.
Cena's battle with Miz in 2009 was the story of Cena surviving despite all of the lumberjacks being his enemies. Legacy, Chris Masters, Carlito and even Jeremy Piven were against him.
The lumberjacks served as an obstacle for Cena to overcome, a way to stack the odds against him. In his upcoming match with Ryback, this won't be the case, as the lumberjacks don't seem to serve an obvious purpose.
When Cena took on Kane in a Lumberjack match in 2010, Nexus played the part of the lumberjacks. It was only a matter of time before Wade Barrett and company swarmed Cena.
Cena has Lumberjacks wins over Sabu, Snitzky and Miz, and the match against Kane didn't have a proper ending, as Cena left the ring after popping some of the Nexus members in the mouth.
His record in Tables matches is far less impressive.
Cena's kryptonite may indeed be tables.
WWE has no issue with letting Cena lose this type of match. This was the stipulation when Sheamus defeated him for the WWE title at TLC 2009.
In 2010, Cena lost to Randy Orton in a Tables match on WWE Raw thanks to an Attitude Adjustment countered into an RKO.
The tables stipulation allowed Cena to lose without having to get pinned or submit. It’s more of a fluky win and one that can involve multiple interferers, like with the Orton match.
Nexus involved themselves in the Orton and Cena battle, as did Chris Jericho, Edge and Sheamus. With the only way to end a Tables match being to put a man through a table, any man with bad intentions can attack either participant.
Ryback doesn't have any allies who would come down and help him, but he likely won't need the help. Ryback has shown off his ability to put people through tables in recent weeks and should further blemish Cena's record in Tables matches.
In addition to losing to Sheamus and Orton, Cena also has a Tables match loss to R-Truth on his resume. In June 2011, R-Truth won their Raw Roulette battle with help from CM Punk.
Can Cena turn his fortunes around in Tables matches, or is this Ryback's fall to take? Either way, it will be the Ambulance match portion of the match that ultimately decides who walks out of Chicago with the WWE Championship.
Cena has only been in one Ambulance match, winning against Kane at Elimination Chamber 2012.
Cena and Ryback's match should look a lot like this one, with their brawl moving from the ring to backstage to the ambulance itself. Cena fought off the monster that is Kane by using the ambulance as a weapon and by hitting the Attitude Adjustment to his foe from off the top of the vehicle.
Cena's lack of selling the physical toll of this battle took away from the realism and emotional power of the match. His ability and willingness to improve upon that aspect against Ryback will help determine the quality of this match and, to a degree, the success of the pay-per-view.
The smart money is on Cena to go 2-0 in Ambulance matches, retain the title and move on to another challenger for Money in the Bank. Unless WWE has a major surprise stored away, it looks like history will repeat itself, one fall at a time.
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