Monday Night RAW is not off to a good start this year. The red show is suffering through two recent key injuries that’ll need a lot of work to get around.
First is the injury to star Samoa Joe, who tore the plantar fascia muscle in his foot in his well-received match with Roman Reigns on the January first episode of RAW. What the company thought was going to need only 3 to 4 months to recover from—possibly still having him be back in time for WrestleMania in April—is now much worse than expected. We still don’t know how much worse it is, and how long he’s going to be away for, but that definitely puts a damper on RAW’s strong upper midcard.
With a RAW Universal Championship scene mainly focused on feature attractions involving champion Brock Lesnar, Intercontinental Champion Roman Reigns really needed a guy like Samoa Joe to hold down what’s essentially the top singles title on the show. (As long as Lesnar is part-timing, his title is never going to be the top title on RAW, even if it is the de facto main event championship.) Fortunately, guys like the Miz and Finn Balor are back and hovering around the scene, waiting for a shot, but Joe would have lent some much-needed credibility and killer instinct in the picture.
It looks like RAW’s going to either need a new callup from NXT or to make some more shrewd moves in this year’s Superstar Shakeup, if another one is in the cards. I can definitely see someone like Drew McIntyre (when he heals from his biceps injury) or Kassius Ohno come up to help shore the upper midcard, but then again, they may not need to as the RAW roster is certainly deep enough to elevate some other guys.
In related news that also happened a couple of weeks ago, Paige got seriously injured at a live event after Sasha Banks gave her a routine dropkick to the back, sending her crashing to the floor. It was reported that Paige couldn’t get up after taking the bump, leading most to speculate that it aggravated her previous neck injuries. In a pretty unfortunate twist, a lot of sources are claiming that Paige’s in-ring career may very well be over after—and because of—this.
You’ll remember that Paige returned late last year with NXT ladies Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville as Absolution, and the only reason she was gone for very long was because she was recovering from the aforementioned neck injury. She was having a hard time getting medical clearance after surgery on her neck, and this development that betrays the condition of her body may be why.
While it’s terrible, I don’t believe Sasha Banks should be to blame for what’s clearly an accident on her part. The move in question didn’t look like it was done with any malicious intent, so it would be uncalled for to say that Banks meant to injure Paige and to call for her firing. This is wrestling, and unfortunately accidents just happen. I’m wishing the best for Paige.
The women’s Royal Rumble
Paige’s injury, however, directly affects the upcoming first-ever women’s Royal Rumble. The rest of Absolution will probably be fine on their own, despite their collective inexperience, but Paige’s absence removes one woman from a rumble match that’s only half-full.
As it stands, there are only 22 women on the main roster, including Paige herself. Remove the two women’s champions in Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair and you’re down to only 19 women, with 11 more spots to fill. Sure, you could get a few from NXT—Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, Nikki Cross, and Ember Moon come to mind—but assuming all four of them are called up for the rumble, you’d still need seven spots to fill. I doubt there would be seven willing former WWE talent who they could round up for the rumble; there’ll be a few, but I’m not sure there would be seven.
That said, it seems that they didn’t think the format of the women’s rumble all the way through, and I could only hope that they would find something substantial to do for all the women they’ve called up recently for this. There’s the issue of bloat, especially on SmackDown where there are only two hours to utilize.
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