The Road to WrestleMania will get underway Sunday, when the highly anticipated 2021 Royal Rumble takes place at the WWE ThunderDome.
This year's Rumble will be different, though, since no fans will be in attendance because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it still promises to be a widely watched event with a ton of WrestleMania 37 implications.
For the fourth year in a row, WWE will hold Royal Rumble matches for both its male and female Superstars, meaning one performer in each division will earn a title match on The Grandest Stage of Them All in Tampa, Florida, on April 10-11.
There will also be a pair of world title matches on Sunday's card, with Drew McIntyre defending the WWE Championship against Goldberg and Roman Reigns putting the Universal Championship on the line against Kevin Owens.
Here is all the information you need to enjoy the 34th edition of the Royal Rumble.
Where: Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida
When: Sunday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. ET (Kickoff Show starts at 6 p.m. ET)
Watch: WWE Network
2021 Royal Rumble Match Card
- Men's Royal Rumble match
- Women's Royal Rumble match
- WWE Championship match: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Goldberg
- Universal Championship Last Man Standing match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens
- WWE Women's Tag Team Championship match: Asuka and Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax
- WWE SmackDown Women's Championship match: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Carmella
Top Matches to Watch
Men's Royal Rumble Match
The men's Royal Rumble match has been an annual highlight in WWE for more than three decades, and this year's edition figures to continue that legacy.
There are still several spots in the Rumble yet to be announced, which leaves the door open for some surprises, but most of those who have declared are big-time Superstars. Among them are Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Edge, Big E, Jeff Hardy and Shinsuke Nakamura.
While Bryan is a favorite to win on Sunday, his triumph is far from a lock. An argument can be made for multiple Superstars in this year's men's contest, and the possibility of a megastar surprise entrant such as Brock Lesnar showing up and winning remains in play.
Last year, the men's match was won by McIntyre, and it played a huge role in launching him as one of the biggest stars in the company.
If someone who hasn't been to the top of the mountain wins again this year, a similar situation could play out; if not, a veteran could revitalize their career with a victory.
The anything-can-happen nature of Rumble matches is one of the things that makes them so special, and this year's men's match has that in abundance.
Women's Royal Rumble Match
Like the men's event, the women's Royal Rumble match promises to be a star-studded affair with plenty of prospective winners in the fray.
Some of the biggest names announced include Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss, Bayley, Bianca Belair, Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax.
While Bryan is one of several names favored to win the men's Rumble, it is even tougher to pick a favorite among the women. It may be Belair, but Bliss and Bayley are also strong candidates. And a Charlotte repeat can't be ruled out.
The possibility of Rhea Ripley entering and winning also exists since she has seemingly finished with NXT and already has a big WrestleMania match on her resume after facing Charlotte for the NXT Women's Championship last year.
Women's wrestling has come a long way in WWE in recent years, and the introduction of a women's Royal Rumble in 2018 has gone a long way toward putting the division in main event positions.
When Becky Lynch won the Royal Rumble two years ago, it catapulted her to the top of the card and led to her main-eventing WrestleMania 35 against Flair and Ronda Rousey, marking the first time a women's match headlined the WWE's biggest show.
It isn't outside the realm of possibility that female wrestlers headline WrestleMania again this year, and if that happens, the winner of the Rumble will likely be part of that equation.
The women's Royal Rumble match is already a beloved WWE staple, and it promises to be a good one again this year.
Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
Aside from the Rumble matches, the bout on Sunday's card with the best chance to steal the show is the Last Man Standing contest between universal champion Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens.
The two have already faced each other during what has been a deeply personal feud, and while those matches have been very good, the ante is being upped with the Last Man Standing stipulation.
The storyline surrounding the event has been compelling as well, much like essentially everything Reigns has done since he returned to action at SummerSlam.
The Tribal Chief tried to flex his muscles by forcing Adam Pearce into a match with him at the Royal Rumble, but the WWE official got one over on Reigns by finding a way to sub Owens into the match to give him one last opportunity to conquer the titleholder.
Both Owens and Reigns have a penchant for thriving in a hardcore environment, which makes a Last Man Standing match the perfect stage on which to perform. The champion's brutal and unforgiving heel character should shine in a big way, but it also lends some credence to hopes of KO pulling off the upset as the beloved underdog.
While Reigns figures to win and then enter WrestleMania as the universal champion, all signs point toward him and Owens putting on an incredible show.
Listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot wrestling topics. Catch the latest episode in the player below (warning: some language NSFW).