With the Royal Rumble only weeks away, anticipation is building for what is arguably the WWE's second-biggest show of the year.
The strange thing about this year's event is that there seems to be little interest in the Rumble match itself, with most of the attention focused on the mouthwatering WWE Championship match between CM Punk and The Rock.
It seems that most people are expecting John Cena to win and set up a Wrestlemania rematch with 'The Great One,' and besides Cena there are a clear lack of favorites at this stage.
The Royal Rumble is easily one of the most popular matches in the business, with the unpredictability of the contest making it essential viewing for every WWE fan.
The match has a rich and interesting history that has developed over the past 25 years, and this article will take a look at some of the facts and records established in one of wrestling's elite gimmick bouts.
The inaugural Royal Rumble took place on Jan. 24, 1988 as a television special on the USA Network. Jim Duggan was the winner of the match.
It wasn't until 1993 that the Royal Rumble winner was guaranteed a world title match at WrestleMania, and only 12 of a possible 20 winners have gone on to capture gold since the title shot was introduced.
The WWF/E Championship has only been awarded to the Royal Rumble winner once in 1992, when Ric Flair managed to capture the title.
Shelton Benjamin was eliminated from the Rumble by Shawn Michaels in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Bob Backlund holds the record for longest time spent in the Rumble without winning, lasting over 61 minutes in the 1993 contest.
The Undertaker is the only superstar to enter at No. 30 on three separate occasions, becoming the first man to win from that position in 2007.
Capping off one of the greatest debut years in WWE history, Brock Lesnar took only 8 minutes and 59 seconds to win the 2003 Royal Rumble at the age of 25 years and 6 months.
In his first and only appearance in the match, 'The Next Big Thing' entered at No. 29 and sealed victory by throwing The Undertaker over the top rope. The win added to an impressive list of accomplishments in Lesnar's rookie year, during which he also won the 2002 King of the Ring and became the youngest WWE Champion in history at Summerslam.
Lesnar's Royal Rumble victory came a mere 10 months after his debut with the company although that particular record still belongs to Yokozuna, who won the 1993 Rumble only three months after making his first appearance in October 1992.
The Royal Rumble is always a lengthy match, much as you would expect from a 30-man battle royal but the 2002 edition, won by Triple H, was the longest in history and clocked in at 69 minutes and 22 seconds.
Rikishi started the match at No. 1, while The Undertaker and Steve Austin dominated proceedings with six eliminations each. 'The Deadman' was then shockingly eliminated by Tough Enough winner Maven, before he proceeded to beat the rookie to a pulp. However, the story of the night was Mr. Perfect, who returned and put in an impressive effort in making the final three.
Although Triple H's victory could be spotted a mile away due to the huge amount of attention focused on 'The Game' following his return from a serious quadriceps injury, the 2002 Royal Rumble was highly entertaining contest that provided plenty of talking points and fully justified the near 70-minute running time.
Many thought The Warlord's infamous two-second appearance in the 1989 Royal Rumble would never be bettered, and the record stood for 20 years. Until Santino Marella came along.
Santino lasted all of one second in the match before being immediately dumped over the top rope by Kane. Despite his 'hilarious' protests to the ringside officials, 'The Italian Stallion' had now gained the unwanted accolade of shortest Royal Rumble appearance in history.
In what was nothing more that a harmless comedy spot, Santino Marella ensured his place in Royal Rumble history with an incredibly brief performance that will take some beating.
When Rey Mysterio tossed Randy Orton over the top rope to win the 2006 Royal Rumble, it ended an incredible effort that had seen 'The Ultimate Underdog' enter the match at No. 2 and remain in the ring for no less than 62 minutes and 12 seconds.
Beating the longevity record set in 2004 by Chris Benoit, Mysterio upset all the odds by winning the match and eliminated Simon Dean, Psicosis, Super Crazy, Rob Van Dam, Triple H and finally Orton on his way to victory.
'The Master of the 619' would go on to WrestleMania 22 and capture the World Heavyweight Championship to become one of the unlikeliest world champions in company history, and it was his unforgettable Royal Rumble victory that provided the catalyst.
When Edge shockingly returned from a six-month injury hiatus at the 2010 Royal Rumble, it took him only 7 minutes and 19 seconds to guarantee a world title shot at WrestleMania 26.
'The Rated-R Superstar' floored all of the remaining competitors with the Spear, managing to eliminate Chris Jericho and finally John Cena to seal the quickest Rumble win in history, beating the record Cena himself had set in 2008 when he won the match 8 and a half minutes after entering the ring.
Edge appeared in six Royal Rumble matches in total, eliminating 17 other superstars in the process. Before winning the contest, it was a match in which 'The Rated-R Superstar' had had little luck, but he certainly rectified things in lightning-quick fashion in 2010.
The winner of the 2002 match, Triple H has spent more time competing in the Royal Rumble than anyone else, spending a cumulative total of 3 hours, 41 minutes and 12 seconds in the annual battle royal between 1996 and 2010.
'The King of Kings' managed to eliminate a total of 26 superstars in the match over eight appearances, and was runner-up in both 2008 and 2009. An overlooked feat also occurred in 2006 when 'The Cerebral Assassin' became one of only four men in history to spend over an hour in the Rumble match.
One of the most dominant superstars of the last decade, Triple H only enhanced his legendary status with consistently solid showings in the Royal Rumble, and successfully cashed in his title shot following his 2002 victory to defeat Chris Jericho for the Undisputed Championship at WrestleMania 18.
Despite the fact he didn't manage win the match, Hulk Hogan set the record for most consecutive eliminations way back in 1989 when he managed to dispose of eight competitors in a row, a feat which has still never been bettered.
In quick succession, 'The Hulkster' threw Bushwhacker Butch, Koko B. Ware, Bushwhacker Luke, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, The Warlord, Randy Savage and Bad News Brown over the top rope before he was double-teamed and eliminated by Akeem and The Big Boss Man.
Hulk Hogan would recover and claim his place in Royal Rumble history by becoming the first man to win consecutive matches in 1990 and 1991, and in the process totaled a highly impressive 27 eliminations in only four appearances.
In what is quite possibly the single greatest performance in Royal Rumble history, Kane broke Hulk Hogan's 12-year-old record when he eliminated no less than 11 superstars in the 2001 edition of the match.
'The Big Red Machine' spent nearly 54 minutes in the match, and in the process dispatched of Raven, Al Snow, Perry Saturn, Steve Blackman, Grandmaster Sexay, The Honky Tonk Man, Tazz, Albert, Crash Holly, Scotty 2 Hotty (with an assist from The Undertaker) and The Rock. Even more impressive when you consider that six of these eliminations came consecutively.
'The Devil's Favorite Demon' was eventually the last man to be thrown over the top rope by winner Steve Austin. The big man didn't manage to win the match, but this was most definitely Kane's Rumble.
Yep, it's that man Kane again.
The unsung hero of the Royal Rumble match has competed in a record 15 contests, including a single appearance each as both Dr. Isaac Yankem and the fake Diesel.
Making his Rumble debut way back in 1996, 'The Big Red Machine' has racked up a total of 37 eliminations, which puts him second on the all-time list, while he also holds the record for most eliminations in a single Rumble, with 11 men thrown over the top in 2001.
Despite making it to the final four on a record-equaling five occasions, Kane seems destined to go down as the greatest star never to win the Royal Rumble, despite his dominating presence in the match over the last 15 years.
As is befitting of one of the WWE's all-time greats, Shawn Michaels holds the record for most eliminations in Royal Rumble history after throwing an incredible 41 superstars over the top rope during his dozen appearances in the company's flagship battle royal.
'The Heartbreak Kid' is also a two-time winner of the Rumble, becoming the first man to enter the match at No. 1 and win in 1995, before emerging victorious again in 1996 to become only the second man in history to win consecutive Rumbles.
On top of these achievements 'The Showstopper' found himself as one of the final 4 competitors on no less than five occasions, and was runner-up in both 1994 and 2007. Despite being better known as 'Mr. WrestleMania,' the incomparable Shawn Michaels most definitely left his mark on the Royal Rumble.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was the first, and so far only, superstar to win the Royal Rumble on three occasions, a feat he managed in only six appearances in the match.
'The Rattlesnake' won his first Rumble in 1997 by lastly eliminating Bret Hart, the consequences of which would lead to their classic confrontation at WrestleMania 13.
The following year, Austin would lastly throw The Rock over the top rope to guarantee a WWF Championship shot at WrestleMania 14. 'The Bionic Redneck' would win his third and final Royal Rumble in 2001, gaining victory by sending Kane to the floor.
As well as being the only man to win the Rumble three times, 'The Rattlesnake' also made it to the final four in five of his six appearances in the match and in the process eliminated no less than 31 other competitors, including 10 in the 1997 Rumble alone!
Quite simply put; Stone Cold Steve Austin is one of, if not the greatest competitor in Royal Rumble history.
So there it is; a selection of Royal Rumble facts, figures and trivia. Writing this article brought back fond memories of some great moments from Rumble history, and hopefully you agree.
2013 has the potential to be a great year for the company and this year's Rumble (and subsequent winner) will set the tone for the whole WrestleMania season so let's hope it doesn't disappoint.
However, I just can't see past a John Cena victory, although I am curious to see what role (if any) The Shield have to play.
Who do you see as the 2013 Royal Rumble winner?
Will any of these records be broken?
Do you have any more Royal Rumble trivia?
As always, sound off in the comments below!