Update on Injured WWE Stars: Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, Big Cass and Dean Ambrose

As the Grand Daddy of Them All fast approaches, there have been a number of injury updates this past week on the Road to WrestleMania coming off of Daniel Bryan’s long road to a WWE on Smackdown. (If you missed the details, John has you covered with the news and his Smackdown Review here.)

Mike Johnson of PWInsider confirmed that Big Cass was backstage this past Monday at Raw. Though he was not dressed to wrestle, the update was that he was in the final stages of recovery from his torn ACL that he suffered on the 8/21/2017 edition of Raw in a Brooklyn Street Fight against his former partner Enzo Amore and awaiting clearance to return to action.

Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass - Brooklyn Street Fight: Raw, Aug. 21, 2017

Though original reports of the 6-to-9 month standard recovery time had placed his target return date in May, according to a later report from Dave Scherer at PWInsider, Cass appears to have beaten the prognosis:

“To follow up on what Mike reported earlier, Big Cass was telling people backstage at Raw last night that he has been cleared from his leg injury.”

According to another report from Mike Johnson, Samoa Joe was also backstage this week on Dallas, TX at Raw. The last time Samoa Joe was seen on WWE television was when he announced he would be entering the Royal Rumble and targeting John Cena on the 1/8/2018 edition of Raw, before being pulled from the event and his Mixed Match Challenge fan-vote partnership with Bayley and being replaced by the runner-up, fellow Raw brand member Elias. This past Monday was the first time since the Royal Rumble event that Samoa Joe had been backstage.

Rhyno vs. Samoa Joe: Raw, Jan. 8, 2018

There were even rumors last month following Eliminations Chamber of a chance for Joe to be added to the Intercontinental Championship: though with only two episodes remaining for Monday Night Raw before WrestleMania, Samoa Joe might be unfortunately missing out on another debut WrestleMania.

With the recent Jeff Hardy updates, the rumors of his involvement in Monday’s Ultimate Deletion match were up-in-the-air until airtime this week. Following his cameo on Raw (John’s got you covered where Hulu doesn’t), it was confirmed by Mike Johnson that Jeff Hardy was participating in in-ring workouts at the WWE Performance Center that same day preparing for his return to action.

It appears that despite his recent arrest, plans are on track for a return to the ring sooner-than-later. Last week, he completed his rehabilitation from a torn rotator cuff suffered on the 8/28/2017 edition of Raw.

Dean Ambrose also made the news lately, as his scheduled appearances this past weekend for World of Wheels in Omaha, Nebraska were canceled. Mike Johnson reported that Dean Ambrose was spotted in Birmingham, Alabama on 3/16 for a scheduled appointment regarding his triceps tear suffered prior to the new year, which would have been the first of his three day World of Wheels engagement.

Samoa Joe, Sheamus and Cesaro brutalize Dean Ambrose in the trainer's room: Raw, Dec. 18, 2017

Despite WWE’s announcement of up to a 9-month recovery time, rumors have been abound that WWE has exaggerated the recovery time and he could be back any day now.

Tommy’s Thoughts: Let’s start with an unpopular opinion and pre-emptively wish Jeff Hardy a welcome return to the ring. You don’t have to agree with his choices outside of the squared circle. All I’m saying is we are used to him being a daredevil. That instinct never turns off, whether it’s a 16-year-old wrestling on primetime on Monday nights from lying about his age, a former MTV property losing in the Sunday Night Heat main event more often than not, or the stuntmen of Jackass. If he’s used to diving off structures 30+ feet at a time on weekly basis on television, then even the most reasonable stuntman stars who crave that attention are going to have trouble adjusting from thousands in attendance to being off the radar.

Not trying to make excuses, but the fact is there have been countless accusations of falling back in the same trap for him. It’s an unfortunate situation that could’ve been handled better, but considering that prior circumstances and situations involving Jeff have been much more public in the past, he does deserve credit for bouncing back so quickly.

While there’s no excuse, the fact is that speaking (unfortunately) from my own DWI convictions, they usually don’t let you out within an hour for a serious conviction up in WWE territory, though things might be different in Hardy country. There’s still a chance he even has to face outpatient rehabilitation sessions after the comeback for the charges he is facing, especially considering his license being suspended on scene for being 3 times the limit: my personal experience was double, and they didn’t even take that extra step of revoking the license on the scene.

Now, to less controversial updates…

As much as the circumstances behind Enzo’s exit were unfortunate, I’m very much looking forward to Big (C)ass’s return to the main roster to own the show by himself.

Without the specter of Enzo Amore hanging overhead (not to mention Carmella weighing him down, R.I.P. “Carss”), Cass has a new lease on life. Hell, I feel like Total Divas painted him as the sad face and Carmella as the road-worn heel for their real-life split.

…Damnit: I just admitted to following the Total Divas timeline, didn’t I?

At least Cass made it to Mania. If Joe misses another one, whether it’s an Andre Battle Royal appearance or being Braun Strowman’s partner (if it isn’t Elias, Joe, or Bray: they dropped the ball), he won’t be making his debut at WrestleMania until FORTY-YEARS-OLD, arguably topping AJ Styles 38-year-old debut at WrestleMania 32 as the oldest major debut at WrestleMania. I should add that Sting in his 50s in 2015 was considerably older, but Sting was not a full-timer.

I would be more upset about this travesty if it weren’t for the fact that Joe could pull this same gimmick off until he’s 60. If you put Jimmy Snuka through the gritty reboot beef jerky machine minus the splash, you get Samoa Joe.

When it comes to Dean Ambrose, while I don’t foresee him back at WrestleMania like many were saying January (“IT’S A SWERVE, BRO!!”), I also don’t see him turning on the Shield and becoming a heel for years to come.

Yes, we agree his early days were at his best when playing up the nefarious parts of his character. However, if it weren’t for his telegraphing “Dean’s a HEEEEEL!!” (shout-out to Jim Cornette as my favorite announcer above J.R., despite announcing only a few RAW’s and barely being on SuNDAY NiGHT HeAT from Summer 1998 until… Winter 1998?) so blatantly that the tide turned, the WWE Universe wouldn’t have screwed the entire original plan.

According to the Lunatic Fringe, on the Table for 3 Shield Reunion:

“I had no idea what to do… I was definitely not prepared to try to make people like me. And I didn’t think they would. And I was always, throughout the whole thing, I was always trying to … get like… ‘I’m kinda the asshole here,’ everybody knows, that like… one day, everyone’s gonna know he’s the asshole. I was always trying to plant those little seeds.”

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the biggest heel ended up being the most natural face of the group, while the prototype #1 guy becomes their most hated since Cena, huh? Either way: here’s hoping Dean stays face when he returns.