When you consider how long John Cena has been in the WWE it should come as no surprise how many stipulation matches he's been in. In many ways it was from 2006 onwards that John Cena found himself in many stipulation matches to try and freshen up stale feuds.
It worked quite well for a while though. His TLC match against Edge, while flawed, was an entertaining match, while his Last Man Standing match a couple of months later at Royal Rumble 2007 proved to be one of the finest matches of the year.
As the years went on though, or to be more precise, from 2008 onwards, the big, extreme matches he's been pitted in have been nothing short of awful. After a very poor Parking Lot Brawl against JBL at The Bash, stipulation matches became even more outrageous and even more difficult for John Cena to perform in.
John Cena's Last Man Standing match last month is evidence of that. While he competed in a very good one in 2007, this one was more over-the-top, and also against a weak opponent in Ryback. The moment where Ryback rammed Cena through the that curtain with lights on it was an 'extreme' spot that WWE have been doing for years. While it may not be completely the same as other moments, it follows the same idea of doing something relatively safe, but making it look a lot more dangerous than it already is.
And listen, I get that. Of course spots should be safe than they lead on. But these type of spots are so safe that it looks bad. It's quite simply phoney looking. The way sparks came out of nowhere when Cena went through the curtain (or whatever it was) is something that has been done a lot.
At Bragging Rights 2009 he saw the same kind of deal. Sparks were used from Randy Orton to cover up both men's inability to put on an engaging 60 minute Iron Man match. The same kind of thing happened between Big Show and Cena in 2009 as well. An 'extreme' match consisting of some of the fakest stunts you'll see in wrestling.
And its not just sparks either. Wade Barrett had tons of chairs laid on top of him, but only after he was completely covered by a table. Batista was FU'd off a car onto what was probably a heap load of padding. And even some stipulation matches he worked before became even more tame, with Cena using by using duct tape. Duct tape in a match whereby wrestlers are given the chance to beat the crap out of their opponent.
At WWE's next PPV Payback, Cena will once again be put in a stipulation match that will showcase his flaws, as well as the flaws of putting on such matches in a PG heavy environment. In a few weeks time we'll see Cena go through a 3 Stages of Hell match, a barbaric match which saw pitted Triple H against the likes of Stone Cold and Shawn Michaels in blood filled contests. But, this one is of course different. A Lumberjack match is as safe as you can get, a Tables match probably the second safest, and an Ambulance match which probably won't be too much different than last years travesty.
What used to be very violent matches, are now tame storyline fillers, and somehow John Cena always seems to end up them.