In one of the most brutal matches in recent WWE history, John Cena defeated Ryback in a Three Stages of Hell match. With the win, Cena retains the WWE Championship and most likely puts a temporary end to his rivalry with Ryback.
The question is, what does Cena's win mean moving forward?
Ryback took the first fall, winning a Lumberjack Match to pull within one victory of achieving his goal and becoming WWE champion. Cena bounced back, however, winning a Tables Match and using a brutal Attitude Adjustment atop an ambulance to win the final fall.
An Ambulance Match that put the brutality of this match into perspective.
After the match concluded, however, it became quite clear that both men will be headed in separate directions. Even if they are two of the WWE's top draws, their feud has been built up for months and seems to have concluded at Payback.
The question is, where will they go next?
John Cena's Next Feud
John Cena is the top draw in the professional wrestling world, and the WWE has rewarded him with yet another reign as its champion. After dismantling Ryback at Payback, however, Cena's future is unclear.
Or is it?
One of the most powerful storylines at Payback was the return of CM Punk, who defeated Chris Jericho in front of his hometown crowd. It wasn't an easy match, but instead one in which he proved that he could still go toe-to-toe with the WWE's elite.
Chances are, that will place him directly into the WWE title picture.
Cena and Punk have a longstanding history, and there could be other Superstars deserving of a chance at the crown. With that being said, no Superstar has the momentum necessary to enter the title chase.
No Superstar except Punk.
Punk was magnificent in a loss at WrestleMania and now owns a victory over a strong opponent in Y2J. The only rational step now is to have Cena and Punk clash with the title on the line.
The question is, will it happen?
Ryback Remaining Heel?
After losing to John Cena in a Three Stages of Hell match, Ryback has taken a major step backward. Not only did he challenge Cena for roughly two months, but he did so without coming through and winning the title.
This begs the question—can Ryback remain heel?
There is the possibility for Ryback to go on a mean streak of sorts, rebuilding his character and taking out his frustrations on lesser opponents. While he could feud with another top-tier Superstar and gear up for another title run, this loss makes one thing clear.
The WWE doesn't believe Ryback is ready to become the top champion in the company.
Another option for Ryback is for him to return to the role of a face, thus becoming a valuable commodity as a merchandise-selling draw. While that could be a premature occurrence due to the recent nature of his heel turn, there aren't many ways for Ryback to go from here.
Remaining heel suggests that his ceiling is lower than the WWE Championship from here on out.