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WWE Royal Rumble 2016: The full rundown and why you should care

The Road to WrestleMania starts on Sunday night. Will Roman Reigns be able to survive the Royal Rumble match and keep his WWE World Heavyweight Championship?

Roman Reigns ran afoul of The Authority, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Then he ran further afoul of WWE owner Vince McMahon. Bad move. Now Reigns has to defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the annual Royal Rumble Match on Sunday night. He will enter the Rumble at No. 1 and have to survive against 29 other competitors, who will enter the match at regular intervals.

The Royal Rumble has long served as the first event on the Road to WrestleMania. Now it's taking on added importance, as the most beloved gimmick match of all time could very well crown a new champion. The WWE title has only been at stake in the Rumble once before, when Ric Flair won the 1992 event to claim the vacant championship. That Royal Rumble is unanimously hailed as the greatest of all time. Could we be in for a similar treat on Sunday?

The Royal Rumble pay-per-view begins at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday night, with a Kickoff Show beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Why should you be pumped as hell about the event? Let us count the ways.

Fatal 4-Way Kickoff Match to qualify for the Royal Rumble Match: Darren Young & Damien Sandow vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Ascension vs. Mark Henry & Jack Swagger

What am I looking at here? WWE, for the past decade or so, has made a habit of not announcing all the entrants in the Royal Rumble match ahead of time, to allow for maximum drama. This year, they're using the Kickoff Show to get eight more of their wrestlers a payday and a chance to earn two of the spots in the Rumble.

You've got two established tag teams and two thrown-together tag teams here. The Dudley Boyz are the most decorated pro wrestling tag team in history. They like tables and urban camouflage. The Ascension are vaguely Egyptian/Illuminati/Mad Max-themed bruisers who hang out with Stardust whenever WWE remembers that's a thing.

Mark Henry is the World's Strongest Man and loves America. Jack Swagger also loves America, so that tag team makes sense on at least one level. Darren Young is (formerly? who knows) one half of the Prime Time Players, but his partner Titus O'Neal is probably already in the match. Damien Sandow is a man permanently caught between gimmicks or purposes, so yeah, sure, put him in the match. His appearance here is the pro wrestling booking equivalent of a rounding error.

Why you should care: This might be Mark Henry's last chance to be in a Royal Rumble match before he retires (which ostensibly makes it his last chance at a world title run). It's also nice to see Damien Sandow get back in the ring and on television. Same goes for Darren Young. This should be a fun little romp before we get down to business, with the added bonus of filling out the Royal Rumble field just a bit more.

WWE Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day (c) vs. The Usos

What am I looking at here? The New Day are three metaphorical unicorns within the WWE: unique voices who are endlessly entertaining AND supremely talented. They've used the power of positivity to propel them to the tag titles on two occasions and they plan on keeping those belts, thank you. They're also in mourning for their dear, departed trombone, Francesca. (Don't ask; the pain is still far too real.) The Usos are Rikishi's real-life twin sons. They jump on people a lot, with their bodies.

Why you should care: The New Day are consistently the most entertaining part of WWE television, week in and week out. Their antics should provide enough reason to watch, even though this is approximately the billionth iteration of this match that we've seen over the past couple of years.

WWE United States Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Kalisto

What am I looking at here? Kalisto is one of the most exciting high flyers in the world. He has all the potential to be the Rey Mysterio of a new generation. You may remember him from such hits as HOLY CRAP DON'T BACKFLIP OFF THAT LADDER THROUGH ANOTHER LADDER. Alberto Del Rio is an entitled aristocrat and one-fourth of the League of Nations. He barely wears any clothes at all.

Why you should care: It sure seemed like Kalisto was realizing that "next Rey Mysterio" potential when he beat Del Rio to win the title two weeks ago. Then he lost the title back to Del Rio the next day. Whoops! Here's hoping Kalisto will get another chance to really shine on a much bigger stage at the Rumble and WWE choosing to start his push to superstardom at the Rumble proper, rather than just playing hot potato with the title because it's fun to play god.

WWE Divas Championship Match: Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch

What am I looking at here? Charlotte is the real-life daughter of Ric Flair. She has slowly learned to become the dirtiest player in the women's game. Becky Lynch is Charlotte's former best friend who has been done wrong by Charlotte's chicanery and now seeks some steam-powered revenge.

Why you should care: This is the main event women's feud that fans have been dying to see: a clearly defined good guy gunning for a clearly-defined bad guy's ill-retained title, with logical motivations for both. Oh, also, they're both excellent wrestlers in the natural roles here. Also, Becky has arguably the best theme song in all of wrestling. So crank up your volume when she makes her entrance (and hopefully when she wins).

WWE Intercontinental Championship Last Man Standing Match: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kevin Owens

What am I looking at here? Dean Ambrose is the damp, unhinged current Intercontinental Champion who likes to drop top-rope flying elbows on standing opponents. Kevin Owens is a violent jerk of a prize fighter, who only wants to sock people in the mush because he can make his family a good living by doing so.

Why you should care: Kevin Owens is one of the best wrestlers in the world and has been for some time now. He and Ambrose are perfect enemies and they're going to beat the absolute tar out of each other all over the arena. The last man standing wins the belt. I have no doubt that Ambrose and Owens are setting out to steal the show. They could very well do that. It will be entertaining as hell to watch them try.

WWE Royal Rumble Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

What am I looking at here? As outlined above, this is one of the most perfect and beloved gimmick matches in all of professional wrestling history. This year, it's for all the Tostitos. (Or Chex Mix, which is the actual sponsor). Roman Reigns will enter at No. 1 and try to avoid being thrown over the top rope if he wants to retain his title.

The other announced participants in the match so far: Brock Lesnar, Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Stardust, Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, Big Show and Curtis Axel.

Why you should care: THE DANG WORLD TITLE IS ON THE LINE IN THE DANG ROYAL RUMBLE. You need more incentive than that? Fine. The Rumble match consistently has surprise entrants, so we could see some NXT call-ups, some big nostalgia returns, or (perhaps most likely) the WWE review of the man just voted the Wrestling Observer wrestler of 2015, AJ Styles.

Putting the title at stake in the Rumble adds all sorts of uncertainty. Will Roman Reigns go bell-to-bell with a performance for the ages? Will Triple H return and screw over Reigns (and possibly win the world title again for the first time in nearly seven years)? Will Brock Lesnar win the whole thing and reclaim the title he never actually lost in the first place? Will the four-men-strong Wyatt Family finally prove they're the dominant force in WWE and lead their master Bray Wyatt to victory?

We have no idea. That's what makes the Royal Rumble so thrilling. It's the first truly can't-miss event of the year.

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