The WWE is heading into one of its signature events, the Royal Rumble, so it's a good time to take a look around the wrestling universe and note how serious injuries can be.
While there are still storylines that are built around fake ("kayfabe" in wrestling lingo) injuries, there's no doubt that there are plenty of real issues as well. There are lots of things that are fake or planned, but steel chairs, high-flying stunts, and smashing into 300 pounds of muscle still hurt even the well-trained WWE superstars.
Sometimes, it's difficult to tell which is which, but one of the things that few people—even in the wrestling world—know is that the same doctors that work on NFL and baseball stars end up working on the injured wrestlers.
Triple H tore his quadriceps and damaged his knee, ending up on the Birmingham, AL operating table of Dr. James Andrews, who just repaired Adrian Peterson and Robert Griffin III. Steve Austin had his career saved twice by world-class surgeons who worked on his neck and his knees. Those braces? Real.
Telling the difference between the real injuries and the fake ones could be key to looking like the real wrestling genius at your Royal Rumble party, so let's take a look.
The Rock tweeted out that he had "internal bleeding" after Monday's Raw taping:
This isn't an uncommon injury for wrestlers. They're not aerobic athletes in most cases and The Rock has dealt with both injuries and an uneven schedule. Injuries like this are a risk, especially when taking bumps around the chest and/or ribs.
It can be serious, but in this case, it's taking advantage of a minor injury to improve the ongoing angle.
The Rock won't be at any disadvantage when he takes on CM Punk Saturday and figures to win back the title, setting up a WrestleMania match where The Rock can hand the title back and start filming on Hercules.
Orton has a history of shoulder injuries, so at the six-week mark, Orton is at a point where he's probably not 100 percent, but could be healthy enough to participate in a match where he's not asked to do too much.
He will be at some risk going over the top rope, so don't be surprised if we see Orton go out in a way that sees him "caught" by another eliminated wrestler.
Orton's recent history includes a "wellness" suspension (read: drug test), which cost him 60 days. He'll likely get a break when his movie, 12 Rounds: Reloaded, comes out this summer.
Of course, we do have to worry about Orton's healing ability. I mean, his father, Cowboy Bob Orton, had a broken arm for nearly his entire career!
Could Brock Lesnar return at the Rumble? The WWE has a history of bringing back injured athletes, such as John Cena in 2008, due to the relatively controlled nature of the Rumble format.
Lesnar's continued battles with diverticulitis make booking any long-term storylines with him difficult, but his popularity and physicality make it very tempting. Lesnar, when healthy, matches up with any of the WWE's giants and is athletic enough to stay with the more technical wrestlers.
The former NCAA and UFC champion is not expected back until February, but a late-January appearance at the Rumble could be one of the biggest pops we see in Phoenix.
No, Dolph Ziggler didn't get his jaw broken by Hugh Jackman. I mean, 24601 is kind of a badass when he's in Wolverine mode, but not enough to do this. Ziggler played that angle well, but did have a rumored arm injury that he's wrestled through after being tossed onto Wade Barrett.
That Ziggler's injury came from being tossed through the air doesn't bode well for his success in the Rumble. He does have his Money In The Bank briefcase, but without a valid title shot ready for him, it's unlikely that the WWE would have him double up by headlining WrestleMania.
The WWE always has a place for a hard worker and a guy who can make the crowd laugh. Santino Marella is both of those, which has helped him become a workhorse for the company.
Problem is, workhorses sometimes break and a neck injury will sideline Marella for several months. The Rumble is the type of place where Marella's talents are unlikely to shine in the main event. There's usually some hijinks involved—who can forget Hornswoggle's 2008 Rumble appearance, no matter how hard you try?—but it seldom alters the match.
It's the down-card where Marella's absence will be felt, which could open the door for more NXT wrestlers to get a bit of a push. It could also bring 3MB to the forefront, as it has been getting more screen time lately in what could be a test of crowd reaction.
Tyson Kidd seemed to be gaining some steam in the WWE, with CM Punk stepping up for his friend. Any push is going to have to wait, though, after he tore his ACL during a match. Kidd was able to finish, but he is headed for surgery and a year of rehab before he'll be able to return to the ring.
His style doesn't lend itself to a quick return either, so he will have a lot to prove when he returns. A style change might be in the offing, along with the possibility that he will need assistance to improve his promo skills to get back to where he is now, in the third tier of superstars.