John Cena Pulled From Royal Rumble Due to Injury
John Cena recently made his return to WWE television after spending most of 2018 away from wrestling, but fans shouldn't expect to see him at Sunday night's Royal Rumble event.
WWE.com released a statement on Sunday afternoon that the 16-time world champion would not be participating in this year's Men's Royal Rumble match due to the same ankle injury that kept him off Monday Night Raw this past week.
The company's website initially reported that Cena hurt his left ankle during a fatal four-way match involving Baron Corbin, Finn Balor and Drew McIntyre where the Scotsman locked his ankle in an Ankle Lock submission.
"Cena first sustained the left ankle injury during the main event of the Jan. 14 episode of Raw," the site reported.
"In that match, the 16-time World Champion faced Finn Bálor, Baron Corbin and Drew McIntyre for the right to challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the WWE Royal Rumble event."
Cena backed up WWE's initial report by tweeting on Tuesday that he a suffered a "setback."
"Setbacks are a large part of life," Cena wrote. "People often say 'what a bad time to get hurt' or 'I can't believe this happened to me now' ask yourself, is there a good time to get hurt? Or be setback? Setbacks are just another chance to find triumph! Never give up!
But Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer reported a day later that Cena's injury was actually just a storyline, and that Cena was currently busy filming a movie in Vancouver that would keep him out of action.
While blaming Cena's injury on McIntyre does set up a potential one-on-one match for those two down the road, Cena was reportedly lined up to face NXT call-up Lars Sullivan at WrestleMania 35 in April. However Sullivan has yet to make his on-screen debut on the main roster after reportedly suffering an anxiety attack.
Sunday's Royal Rumble event, which will take place at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, will feature a Men's and Women's Royal Rumble match for the second year in a row. Other matches on the card include Balor vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship, Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, Shane McMahon and The Miz vs. Sheamus and Cesaro for the SmackDown tag titles and Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks.
Even with Cena's absence, the Men's rumble match has 20 of its 30 competitors previously announced.