Down in the Mumps: The Plague of Monday Night Raw

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Photo: WWE

Now that the reason for the disappearance of WWE Superstars Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas have been confirmed, more and more reports are emerging that what began as simple quarantine to try and curb the spread may now be an illness poised to radically change the Raw roster’s upcoming storylines. It could prove to be the WWE’s biggest creative challenge in years. It’s already making an impact on the plans for this Sunday’s TLC pay-per-view, with the removal of Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns from the event.

While the reports initially thought it to be viral meningitis when it was broken the Rotunda brothers were being kept from WWE arenas for the past two weeks, it’s now coming to light that the illness members of Raw are being tested for is actually the mumps. Mumps have similar symptoms of meningitis, but symptoms don’t first start appearing until 16-18 days after the date of infection, and well into the time when someone is contagious. A carrier of the virus is contagious approximately seven days prior to showing symptoms and another eight days following. The average lifespan of the virus in a normal person’s system is 12 to 25 days.

Photo: WWE

It appears that Bo Dallas was patient zero, pulled off the road the day after his match on October 1. Presumably, this is when Dallas began to show signs of the illness. The following day, probably the day of Bo’s diagnosis, Bray Wyatt was removed from the road as well. In all likelihood, he was pulled because of his close proximity in hanging out with his brother. With an infection like the mumps, as soon as an employee is tested for it, they are forbidden from attending work until the tests are complete – whether it comes back positive or negative. WWE ring announcer JoJo Offerman was also pulled from last Monday’s Raw, presumably because of her current relationship with Bray, as another precaution.

With today’s huge news that Bray Wyatt has been pulled from the event, it probably signals that Bray’s results came back and he indeed has the same mumps as Bo does. As noted by a few news sites, Bray Wyatt is a frequent driving partner with Roman Reigns, so in all probability, Roman Reigns was removed because he too is being tested as a precaution. Many top wrestling news reporters are claiming that the situation could in fact get even worse, as there may be many more undergoing testing over the weekend or into next week, which could see even more familiar faces being removed from Raw programming and live events in the coming week or two. While the WWE Superstars themselves will be the most noticeable effect of the viral spread, it’s worth noting that this is also most likely going to affect much of the backstage crew as well, from agents and producers to camera people, hair and makeup and more. The mumps is an easy virus to spread, via handshakes, utensils, coughs/sneezes or touching something recently touched by a carrier, like say a chair, ring rope, or clipboard.

Photo: Impact Wrestling

While a quick scour of the past two weeks of Raw live events sees the bulk of the roster still working – which is a good sign – it’s worth noting that Nia Jax‘s recent departure for personal reasons to rest up could also be due to testing. The only other member not working Live Events the past two weeks (who isn’t out with legitimate injuries like Jeff Hardy or Big Show) has been Matt Hardy. Hardy’s last match with the WWE was the October 9th edition of Monday Night Raw. So it’s even possible Hardy is also awaiting test results as well.

Photo: WWE

It’s still early in the WWE breakout, but it will definitely be an interesting next few weeks as the WWE sets out to determine just how far the infection has been spread. And while it’s believed to be exclusive to the Raw crew for now, the addition of Smackdown Live‘s AJ Styles has the potential to bring the virus to the Blue brand as well. AJ Styles missed a show in Argentina the other night due to illness, so his immune system could be vulnerable. Then again, Styles may have already had it (once you have it once, you’re immune for life) which is why he was selected to replace Bray Wyatt in the first place. But don’t be surprised if there’s another change by Sunday.

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