With the Royal Rumble now just a few hours away, WWE has announced that John Cena has been pulled from the event and will not be competing in the 30-man Rumble match.
An article on WWE’s website reads:
As first revealed on WWE Now this afternoon, John Cena will not compete in the Men’s Royal Rumble Match tonight due to his ankle injury.
Cena first sustained the left ankle injury during the main event of the Jan. 14 episode of Raw. 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.
As seen in the video below, the injury occurred when McIntyre trapped Cena in the ankle lock submission hold. Cena then appears to favor his left ankle while leaving the ring after Raw went off the air.
The Cenation Leader was unable to sufficiently recover in time for tonight’s 30-Man Royal Rumble Match, and has been ruled out of the bout as a result.
— WWE (@WWE) January 27, 2019
It has been reported that the injury to Cena is merely a work, and WWE has known for a while that he wouldn’t be able to compete due to filming another movie.
The original plan was for Lars Sullivan to make his main roster debut by attacking Cena, thus writing the latter out of the match. That didn’t happen as Sullivan hasn’t shown up to a main roster show yet after reported panic attacks. If this is the case we’d like to wish Sullivan all the best.
WWE’s backup plan for this was to claim that Cena suffered an ankle injury on Raw two weeks ago during a number one contender’s match to determine who would face Lesnar at the Rumble. The winner was, of course, Finn Bálor.
It has been rumored that due to Sullivan’s recent issues, there is a chance his planned match with Cena at ‘Mania is off, and Big Match John could instead end up facing Drew McIntyre who inflicted Cena’s ‘injury’. However, that is just speculation at this stage as it is believed Vince McMahon is still high on Sullivan.
UPDATE: WWE has now announced that Braun Strowman will be replacing Cena in the Rumble match: