Prior to WWE Raw this week, WWE reported that John Cena suffered an ankle injury during his Fatal Four Way match on Raw last week, and noted Cena later re-aggravated the injury during training, leaving his Royal Rumble status questionable.
Michael Cole then reiterated on Raw that Cena suffered an injury, and as of this writing WWE has yet to make an official announcement regarding Cena’s status for the men’s Royal Rumble match on Sunday.
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio, John Cena’s injury is not legitimate, and is indeed storyline oriented.
Original plans in WWE called for Lars Sullivan to make his debut on Raw and attack Cena, causing an “injury” which would prevent Cena from competing in the Rumble match. The attack angle was supposed to be done to setup John Cena vs Lars Sullivan at WrestleMania 35.
When Sullivan was unable to make his WWE TV debut as a result of a reported anxiety attack, plans for his Royal Rumble angle with Cena were scrapped, and WWE needed to move in another direction. The reality is that Cena is scheduled to begin filming his next movie Playing With Fire on Sunday, and has never been scheduled to appear at the Royal Rumble PPV despite WWE hyping him for the Rumble match.
It’s worth noting there are conflicting reports regarding when Cena is set to begin filming, as PWInsider reports filming is expected to take place from February 4th through April 1st in Vancouver. In any case, it appears WWE did not have plans for Cena to actually work the PPV.
As a result of Cena’s filming commitments, WWE needed another way to write him off the PPV on Sunday, so they went with the Fatal Four Way match injury angle which was announced Monday evening.
As of now, there remains no word as to if and when Lars Sullivan might be returning to WWE, leaving his WrestleMania 35 match plans against Cena currently up in the air.