John Cena’s return was known about by a few key WWE officials a few weeks before the Royal Rumble. He came to the 07 January Raw taping but left before the show started, since Vince McMahon and Brian Gerwitz originally wanted him on TV to announce his Rumble entry but had their minds changed by Stephane McMahon and Bruce Prichard. At the Royal Rumble itself he did not arrive at Madison Square Garden until well after the show began. His recovery continues to go well and he was reportedly able to bench-press 400 pounds this week. At present the favoured plan for WrestleMania is what Michael Hayes has been calling “HHH/Cena II”, with Triple H favouring a match against Cena rather than Randy Orton and still wanting to turn heel at some point in the near future.
Batista lasted the longest in this year’s Royal Rumble, staying in for 37:42. Triple H had the most eliminations with 6.
Michael Buffer did not make a good impression backstage at the Rumble. He had a reputation for being aloof during his WCW days and reportedly lived up to it.
Bobby Lashley has been sent a release by WWE but has yet to sign it. A number of people are still expecting him to wind up back with WWE due to the lengthy non-compete clause that would come into effect. WWE is also hopeful of negotiating another release clause that would prevent him from discussing his departure in public or disparaging the company. John Laurinaitis has been getting some heat over the Lashley situation, which comes after many other top wrestlers have left the company in a negative manner, with many people noting that Jim Ross never had such problems when he was managing talent relations. Michael Hayes’ name has also been mentioned as a major factor in Lashley’s unhappiness, which is perhaps in relation to supposed ‘racial overtones’ of the planned angle for Lashley’s girlfriend, Kristal Marshall, which would have seen her and Edge become an on-screen couple. Whilst numerous people doubt it would have been an issue, there are still a number of old-school people with old-fashioned opinions about ‘mixed race’ couples and the way they are portrayed. Lashley was also feeling the fatigue of the busy travel schedule, to the extent that he was becoming a difficult person for public relations to handle. He was also unhappy about his WrestleMania 23 pay-off of $250,000, feeling that as the winner of the biggest-drawing match in WrestleMania history he was entitled to more. According to Dave Meltzer, Lashley earned around $1,000,000 in 2007 alone even without selling a lot of merchandise. Additionally, Lashley was good friends with Booker T, who of course became so frustrated with WWE for various reasons, some of which also reportedly involve Michael Hayes, that he quit last summer.
Credit: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, 04 February 2008 (subscribe here)