Sunday night marks the 28th annual Royal Rumble, and while the Rumble match itself is the focus, the event is also known for having a robust and entertaining undercard. Every WWE title will be contested and the chances are pretty good that they can change hands.
The New Day vs. The Usos – WWE Tag Team Championship
The current reigning and defending WWE Tag Team Champions defend their titles against the Slammy Award winning tag team of the year. The New Day took the WWE by storm this past year, and some of that ascent is owed to the absence of Jey Uso, one half of The Usos, who was sideline for about 7 months due to a shoulder injury. The Usos have returned at full speed and The New Day have held the titles since Summerslam last August. The New Day have a numbers advantage but The Usos have been taking them on in singles matches and coming away with wins.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto – WWE United States Championship
A feud that is all of a week old but has given fans two quality matches in less than 7 days, it got kick started on the January 18th edition of RAW when Kalisto upset Del Rio for the US Title. Del Rio would regain the US title this past Thursday on SmackDown. Both matches were fantastic, and considering the pedigrees of Kalisto and Del Rio, the quality of the matches should not be surprising to any fan. This is the rubber match and could be the best undercard match on the show depending on how much time they are given.
Charlotte w/Ric Flair vs Becky Lynch – WWE Divas Championship
The self-professed ‘Dirtiest Diva in the Game’ has her stiffest challenge yet since winning the Divas title against a game Becky Lynch. Formerly teammates, Charlotte’s success, along with the aide of her Hall Of Fame father Ric Flair, seem to have left Becky by the wayside, but a non title victory over Charlotte and some strategic goading have gotten Lynch a title match. Both are fantastic performers and this match could take its place among the other fantastic women’s contests that have been happening in NXT and WWE over the past few months.
Dean Ambrose vs Kevin Owens – Last Man Standing Match – WWE Intercontinental Championship
Quite possibly the show stealer of the Royal Rumble. Since his debut on the WWE roster in May 2015, Kevin Owens has seen a meteoric rise, but not without some setbacks. One of those being losing the IC Title to Dean Ambrose at TLC in December. Since then, Owens has been obsessed with reclaiming his title, and various clashes have left one or the other flat on his back and property damaged. The Lunatic Fringe will defend the IC Title against the Prize Fighter in a knock down, drag out Last Man Standing match at the Rumble. For our casual fans out there, a Last Man Standing Match is a no disqualification, no count out affair in which you must incapacitate your opponent to the point where they cannot answer a count of 10. Both of these performers excelled in these types of matches prior to their respective arrivals in the WWE. For fans who followed their earlier careers, this match will not be Kevin Owens vs Dean Ambrose, this will be Kevin Steen vs Jon Moxley.
30 Man Royal Rumble match – WWE World Heavyweight Championship
As noted in this column, the Royal Rumble match is a very unique event and is seen as the official kick off for WrestleMania season. This year is going to be more intriguing than most as the winner of the Royal Rumble match will become the new WWE Champion. This has only happened once before, in 1992, when the vacant WWE Title was put on the line and claimed by Ric Flair in his WWE debut. The current champion, Roman Reigns, is being put into the Rumble by Vince McMahon in an attempt to remove the title from him. Now the storyline seems to lead people to believe that Roman will retain, but considering the amount of talent in this year’s event, it might not be that predictable.
The 2016 Royal Rumble will air on Pay Per View and on the WWE Network, which is available on most streaming platforms.