WWE is reportedly ready to anoint Roman Reigns unwilling to give up on CM Punk.
The latest rumors culled from backstage reports point at a bright future for Reigns. For Punk, the latest word is that WWE isn't ready to officially announce his exit.
Even the most trusted sources offer only partial insight into what is going on with Layla El. It appears that we'll see "Mr. Monday Night" and "The Hulkster" back on WWE TV long before the former Divas champ returns to action.
The following look at the newest WWE rumors offers clarity in some cases and added questions in others. Let's begin with Punk and how Vince McMahon reportedly feels about the situation with "The Best in the World."
WWE Still Mum About CM Punk
For now, one has to depend on rumors and backstage reports to find out what's going on with Punk. Fans have heard little from the Superstar himself since his departure from the company.
WWE hasn't opened its mouth much, either.
He has yet to get the "we wish you luck on your future endeavors" treatment, and announcers haven't addressed the issue on the air. PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com's Marc Middleton, has some insight into why the company has been so quiet:
WWE officials have began to de-emphasize CM Punk internally, and they have the impression that he's not coming back anytime soon. One reason the company is not burying Punk publicly yet is because Vince McMahon really does like Punk personally. As noted, Vince still hopes the two sides can work everything out.
Another reason is they have a lot of time and money invested in Punk, they have the CM Punk name out in stores and other places and they want to protect that at best they can as long as it's associated with WWE.
It sounds as if McMahon doesn't want to move on from Punk until he's certain he has to.
WrestleMania XXX can use all the star power and in-ring excellence WWE can gather. Either McMahon is being overly optimistic about Punk being a part of that event or simply knows the situation well enough to think that Punk's exit isn't permanent.
This will remain a hot topic until the situation becomes far more clear.
A statement from Punk would certainly accomplish that, either crushing Punk fans' dreams or restoring hope that he'll be back at some point.
Diva's Career Over?
As little as we have to go on about Punk quitting, there is far less information to sort through regarding Layla's unexplained absence.
She hasn't been in the ring for months, and little has been said about it.
At the end of 2013, reports came out speculating that she'd been injured, per WrestleZone.com's Josh Isenberg, later stating that "Layla is not injured, but there's no word yet on where she's been," per F4WOnline, via WrestlingInc.com's Middleton.
The newest report doesn't help explain what may be wrong with her, but it does shed light on where her career may be heading.
PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com's Middleton, reports that "the belief among some within WWE is that she will not be returning to the ring."
If this was something as simple as an injury, there would be no reason not to just make a public statement. Instead, there appears to be something else at work; perhaps issues with her personal life.
The Divas division would benefit from her presence should she return. Should this be the way that her career winds down, it will rank among the quietest retirements of all time.
Returns and Appearances
WrestleMania season brings out big names from the past and part-timers gearing up for the main event. That appears to be true in a big way in 2014, according to recent reports.
Rob Van Dam is reportedly close to coming back to the ring. PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com's Middleton, writes the following:
As noted before, Rob Van Dam was backstage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles before last night's RAW. Word is that he was just there to say hello to the crew and have a brief meeting with Triple H, presumably about his return to the company.
RVD is expected back at any point, but he still has to go through the physical testing again before going back on the road with WWE.
Fans eager to see when the run will start will be happy to hear of Triple H and Van Dam meeting up. Even if it is for casual, friendly purposes, the topic of his next contract was sure to come up.
WWE can certainly use Van Dam to boost the WrestleMania card. A pair of former world champs are reportedly set to join him.
According to PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com's Middleton, Hulk Hogan and Undertaker will appear on the Feb. 24 edition of Raw. The report also notes "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart will be a part of the episode.
That will be one day after the Elimination Chamber and the day that the WWE Network launches.
Add Brock Lesnar and the company's regular stars to the mix, and Raw looks to be of the can't-miss variety. The road to WrestleMania may have begun at the Royal Rumble, but it will begin to get mighty interesting at this point if all these returns actually occur.
Big Plans for Roman Reigns
How high does WWE think Reigns can soar? The answer appears to be to the very tip of the company's mountaintop.
F4WOnline, via WrestlingInc.com's Middleton, reports the following:
There's no surprise WWE plans to push Reigns, as he just broke Kane's record for most eliminations at a single Royal Rumble, just a few months after tying the record for most eliminations in a traditional Survivor Series match. Hearing his name as a possible replacement for Cena takes one aback, though.
It's not that Reigns isn't talented and brimming with the "it factor," but Cena holding on to WWE's top spot has been so vise-like that it's hard to imagine him every letting it go.
Many would argue that Daniel Bryan would be better suited for that role, but Reigns' size and good looks make him a viable candidate. Will Reigns be able to create the kind of connection with the crowd that Bryan has, though? Will he be able to sustain his recent run of success?
Should Reigns face Triple H at WrestleMania XXX, as Wrestling Observer (via WrestleZone.com's Nick Paglino) reports is a possibility, a win over "The Game" would be a huge step for him.
Whether or not the reported plans for Reigns work out, it's wise of WWE to attempt to push a new guy as its top star. Cena can't stay king forever; his body will eventually betray him, and WWE will need a wrestler, be it Reigns or someone else, to take his place.