Royal Rumble (2021)
Promotional poster featuring various WWE wrestlers
|Date||January 31, 2021|
|City||St. Petersburg, Florida|
|Attendance||0 (behind closed doors)[a]|
The Road to WrestleMania Begins!
|WWE Network event chronology|
|Royal Rumble chronology|
The 2021 Royal Rumble is an upcoming professional wrestling pay-per-view and WWE Network event produced by WWE for their Raw and SmackDown brand divisions. It will take place on January 31, 2021, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. It will be the 34th event under the Royal Rumble chronology and will feature WWE's virtual fan viewing experience called ThunderDome.
The Royal Rumble is an annual gimmick pay-per-view, produced every January by WWE since 1988. It is one of the promotion's original four pay-per-views, along with WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series, dubbed the "Big Four". It is named after the Royal Rumble match, a modified battle royal in which the participants enter at timed intervals instead of all beginning in the ring at the same time. Both the men's and women's matches generally feature 30 wrestlers. Traditionally, the winner of the match earns a world championship match at that year's WrestleMania. The 2021 Royal Rumble will be the 34th event in the Royal Rumble chronology and feature wrestlers from the Raw and SmackDown brands.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, WWE had to present the majority of its programming for Raw and SmackDown from a behind closed doors set at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida beginning mid-March 2020, although in late May, the promotion began using Performance Center trainees to serve as the live audience, which was further expanded to friends and family members of the wrestlers in mid-June. On August 17, WWE announced that all future shows and pay-per-views would be held at Orlando's Amway Center for the "foreseeable future," beginning with the August 21 episode of SmackDown. Furthermore, the shows now feature a new fan viewing experience called the "ThunderDome," which utilizes drones, lasers, pyro, smoke, and projections. Approximately 1,000 LED boards were installed to allow fans to virtually attend the events for free and be seen on the rows and rows of LED boards. Arena audio is also mixed with that of the virtual fans so that chants from the fans can be heard. After their contract with the Amway Center expired, WWE relocated the ThunderDome to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, which began with the December 11 episode of SmackDown.
In November 2020, it was reported that WWE were looking to host the 2021 Royal Rumble at a venue that could have live fans in attendance, as the promotion wanted fans for the event, even if it was just for this one show. However, the ongoing pandemic put a stop to those plans, and while dismantling the ThunderDome to have live fans in attendance at Tropicana Field was possible, WWE decided that the massive undertaking to do so was not worth doing for just one night.
The show will include matches that result from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portray heroes, villains, or less distinguishable characters in scripted events that build tension and culminate in a wrestling match or series of matches. Results are predetermined by WWE's writers on the Raw and SmackDown brands, while storylines are produced on WWE's weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown.
On the January 8 episode of SmackDown, Universal Champion Roman Reigns took issue with the recent booking decisions made by WWE official Adam Pearce, including a gauntlet match that Pearce had scheduled for that night to determine Reigns' challenger for his title at the Royal Rumble. Reigns questioned if Pearce booked himself for the match, to which Pearce responded that would have been a conflict of interest. Later, Reigns' special counsel, Paul Heyman, confronted Pearce backstage and stated that he was able to pull some strings and that Pearce would also be competing in the gauntlet match along with Rey Mysterio, Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura, King Corbin, and Daniel Bryan. Nakamura survived the gauntlet to face final entrant Pearce; however, before the final round began, Jey Uso taunted Nakamura, which led to Reigns and Jey attacking both Nakamura and Pearce. Jey placed Pearce on top of Nakamura for the pinfall, thus Pearce won the match. The following week, Heyman had Pearce sign the match contract with the stipulation being a no disqualification match. However, after Heyman gave the signed contract to Reigns, he decided he wanted the stipulation to be a Last Man Standing match. Later in the ring, Pearce and Reigns signed the amended contract, but as Pearce was leaving, he feigned a knee injury, citing that the contract allowed him to choose a replacement for himself in the event of an injury and chose Kevin Owens, Reigns' previous adversary who had come up short in their title matches thanks to interference from Jey. Owens then made his entrance and signed the contract to become Reigns' opponent for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble.
Following Drew McIntyre's successful WWE Championship defense during the special "Legends Night" episode of Raw on January 4, WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg, in his first appearance since WrestleMania 36 in 2020, appeared to confront McIntyre. After Goldberg praised McIntyre's work and abilities, he stated that McIntyre did not have respect, claiming that McIntyre viewed the legends as being "washed up" and that McIntyre felt he was better than any of them when they were in their prime. Goldberg then formally challenged McIntyre for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. McIntyre responded that Goldberg was not the man he used to be and that facing him would be like facing his own dad. Goldberg then taunted and shoved McIntyre, who rose to his feet and stared down Goldberg. The following week, McIntyre refuted Goldberg's claim and said that he actually did have respect, but said he was going to reject Goldberg's challenge until Goldberg pushed him, thus prompting him to accept the challenge and make the match official.
|1||Men's Royal Rumble match||30-man Royal Rumble match for a world championship match at WrestleMania 37|
|2||Women's Royal Rumble match||30-woman Royal Rumble match for a women's championship match at WrestleMania 37|
|3||Roman Reigns (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. Kevin Owens||Last Man Standing match for the WWE Universal Championship|
|4||Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Goldberg||Singles match for the WWE Championship|
Announced competitors in the Men's Royal Rumble match
9 of the 30 entrants have been announced as of January 21, 2021.
|Daniel Bryan||December 25, 2020||Announced on SmackDown|
|Bobby Lashley||December 28, 2020||Announced on Raw|
|AJ Styles||January 4, 2021||Announced on Twitter|
|Randy Orton||Announced on Raw|
|Otis||January 8, 2021||Announced on WWE.com|
|The Miz||January 14, 2021||Announced on TMZ|
|Jey Uso||January 15, 2021||Announced on SmackDown|
|Jeff Hardy||January 18, 2021||Announced on Twitter|
Announced competitors in the Women’s Royal Rumble match
9 of the 30 entrants have been announced as of January 21, 2021.
|Nia Jax||December 28, 2020||Announced on Raw|
|Charlotte Flair||January 4, 2021||Announced on WWE.com|
|Bianca Belair||January 8, 2021||Announced on SmackDown|
|Mandy Rose||January 11, 2021||Announced on Raw|
|Peyton Royce||January 18, 2021||Announced on Twitter|
|Alexa Bliss||Announced on Raw|
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