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.
Shortly afterward, WWE revealed via Cathy Kelley that Braun Strowman will replace Cena in the Men’s Royal Rumble Match.
— WWE (@WWE) January 27, 2019
In response to the news, Strowman tweeted the following:
— Braun Strowman (@BraunStrowman) January 27, 2019
According to WWE, Cena sustained the left ankle injury during the main event of the January 14 episode of Raw. In that match, the 16-time World Champion faced Finn Balor, 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.
Dasha Fuentes stated in the video that Cena aggravated the injury while training at the gym last Monday, thus leaving his status for the Men’s Royal Rumble Match in question.
WWE.com adds, “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.”
Dave Meltzer wrote about Cena’s status for the Men’s Royal Rumble Match in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter last week: “The story going around is that Cena was never to be in the Rumble in the first place, but with a stadium to fill, they advertised Cena, similar to advertising Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman, another match never actually planned, to help sell tickets. As the story goes, Cena was scheduled to be injured by Lars Sullivan at Raw last week, but that all changed because Sullivan is out on leave.”
Cena is taking time off to film a family comedy movie in Vancouver, British Columbia called “Playing with Fire.” He stars as “the leader of a rugged crew of wildfire fighters who meet their match when they attempt to rescue three rambunctious kids.” Production begins on February 4.