Royal Rumble preview: By the numbers

With a handshake, John Cena and AJ Styles sealed the deal and set a world title match for the Royal Rumble. Courtesy of the WWE

Sunday is the 30th annual Royal Rumble, the third-longest-running pay-per-view event in WWE history. This is the second time that the Alamodome has hosted the Royal Rumble. In 1997, 60,477 fans packed the stadium to set a Royal Rumble attendance record that still stands today. At that event, San Antonio's own Shawn Michaels successfully defended his WWE Championship against Sycho Sid, and Steve Austin won the Royal Rumble match for the first time.

Here are some key facts to know ahead of Sunday's big event:

  • Only 22 of this year's Royal Rumble match participants have been announced, leaving the opportunity for some surprises. However, only twice has a Royal Rumble been won by a superstar who had not previously been announced as an entrant. In 2008, John Cena made a surprise return from a torn pectoral muscle and won the match from the No. 30 spot. In 2010, Edge made a surprise return from a torn Achilles and won from the No. 29 spot.

  • Traditionally, the winner of the Royal Rumble match earns a world title match at WrestleMania, with last year being an exception due to the fact that the WWE Championship was also on the line in the 2016 Royal Rumble match. Only two of the last nine Royal Rumble winners would go on to win a world title at WrestleMania, including none of the last three.

  • Last year, Triple H became the sixth superstar in WWE history to win multiple Royal Rumble matches, joining Steve Austin (3), Batista (2), Cena (2), Shawn Michaels (2) and Hulk Hogan (2). Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker are among those looking to win their second Royal Rumble this year (Lesnar won in 2003; The Undertaker won in 2007).

  • Big Show will be competing in his 12th Royal Rumble match, tying Michaels for second most in WWE history. Kane is the runaway leader in appearances, with 17 (not counting two additional appearances as Isaac Yankem and "fake" Diesel), followed by Michaels, Big Show, Goldust (11), The Undertaker (10) and Rikishi (10).

  • The Undertaker will be competing in his 11th Royal Rumble match. His lone win came in 2007, which also happened to take place in San Antonio (AT&T Center). The Undertaker looks to become the second WWE superstar to win Royal Rumble matches at least 10 years apart (Triple H won in 2002 and 2016).

  • This will be Goldberg's second career Royal Rumble match. He entered the 2004 match as the No. 30 entrant, but interference from an already-eliminated Lesnar allowed Kurt Angle to eliminate Goldberg. That would set up the WrestleMania XX match between Goldberg and Lesnar.

  • Dean Ambrose was the runner-up in last year's Royal Rumble match. Ambrose could become the second superstar to win a Royal Rumble the year after finishing second. Roman Reigns was the runner-up in 2014 and came back to win in 2015.

  • In 2014, Reigns broke Kane's record for most eliminations in a single Royal Rumble match, with 12; the only other participant to have double-digit eliminations in one Rumble is Austin in 1997 (10). Kane still holds the record for most career eliminations with 42, followed by Michaels (39), Austin (36), The Undertaker (34), Big Show (32), Triple H (31) and Hogan (24).

  • Last year in his Royal Rumble debut, Braun Strowman eliminated five superstars before getting eliminated by Lesnar, tied with Reigns for most eliminations in the match. In the last 10 years, only Reigns (12 in 2014) and the Great Khali (seven in 2007) had more eliminations in their first career Royal Rumble match than Strowman.

  • Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, United States Champion Chris Jericho and Raw Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Sheamus will compete in the Royal Rumble match. Unfortunately for them, only one superstar has ever entered a Royal Rumble match holding a championship and gone on to win. Hogan entered the 1990 Royal Rumble match as WWE champion and won the match from the No. 25 spot.

  • Jericho has spent a total of 3 hours and 56 minutes in his nine career Royal Rumble matches, the second-longest time in WWE history. If he lasts at least 4 minutes in this year's match, he will break Triple H's all-time record of 3 hours, 59 minutes. Jericho lasted more than 45 minutes in each of his last two Royal Rumble appearances (50:47 in 2016; 47:52 in 2013).

  • Rey Mysterio holds the record for longest time spent in a single Royal Rumble match, going wire-to-wire from the No. 2 spot to win the 2006 Royal Rumble.

  • Santino Marella holds the record for shortest appearance, getting eliminated by Kane in less than two seconds in 2009.

  • The No. 27 spot in the Royal Rumble has produced four winners, more than any other slot.

  • While drawing the No. 1 or No. 2 spot and having to start the Royal Rumble match may be a huge disadvantage, four superstars have actually gone wire-to-wire to win: Rey Mysterio (2006), Chris Benoit (2004), Vince McMahon (1999) and Shawn Michaels (1995). That's more winners than the coveted No. 30 spot has produced (three).

  • Baron Corbin, Big Cass, Mojo Rawley and Xavier Woods are competing in their first career Royal Rumble match. Nine of the 30 Royal Rumble winners in WWE history actually won in their Royal Rumble match debut: Alberto Del Rio (2011), Chris Benoit (2004), Brock Lesnar (2003), Vince McMahon (1999), Lex Luger (1994), Yokozuna (1993), Ric Flair (1992), Big John Studd (1989) and Hacksaw Jim Duggan (1988).

  • Corbin has already experienced battle royal success. In his WWE main roster debut, he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32 last year.

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena

  • For the 27th consecutive year, the WWE Championship will be defended at the Royal Rumble. The title changed hands in nine of the previous 26 matches, including last year, when Triple H won the belt by winning the Royal Rumble match. That also includes the 2006 event, when John Cena defeated Edge for the WWE Championship.

  • The Royal Rumble will be the fourth singles match between AJ Styles and Cena at a pay-per-view event. Styles defeated Cena in 1-on-1 matches at both Money in the Bank and SummerSlam in 2016, and he defeated Cena and Dean Ambrose in a triple threat match at No Mercy. He is one of three superstars who holds multiple 1-on-1 pay-per-view victories over Cena without a loss (CM Punk: 2-0-1; Sheamus: 2-0).

  • Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of Styles' WWE debut. Styles was the surprise No. 3 entrant in the 2016 Royal Rumble match, lasting nearly 29 minutes before being eliminated by Kevin Owens.

  • On Sunday, Styles will have been WWE Champion for 140 days. That's already the fifth-longest reign following a superstar's first WWE Championship win in the last 20 years, trailing The Miz (160 days), Seth Rollins (220), John Bradshaw Layfield (280) and Cena (280).

  • Styles has won each of his last five pay-per-view matches. His loss came at Battleground last July, when Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass defeated Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a six-man tag team match.

  • Cena is seeking his 16th world title, which would tie Ric Flair for most in WWE history (including WWE, WCW and NWA titles).

  • Cena's 15th world title reign ended at SummerSlam in 2014, when he lost to Brock Lesnar in convincing fashion. That was more than 29 months ago, the longest that Cena has gone without holding a world championship since he won his first in 2005.

  • Cena has lost a WWE Championship match in each of his last two Royal Rumble appearances. In 2015, Cena lost to Lesnar in a triple threat match also involving Rollins, and he lost to Randy Orton in 2014.

  • This will be Cena's 150th career pay-per-view match. He is the fourth WWE superstar to reach that mark (Kane, The Undertaker and Triple H are the others).

WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns

Chris Jericho will be suspended in a shark cage above the ring.

  • Kevin Owens has received help from his "best friend" Chris Jericho in each of his four title defenses, including his win against Roman Reigns at Roadblock: End of the Line last month.

  • "Monday Night Raw" General Manager Mick Foley announced that in order to prevent outside interference at the Royal Rumble, Jericho will be suspended in a shark cage above the ring during this match. This is not the first time this stipulation has been used:

  • This match will also be a no-disqualification match, the second in Royal Rumble event history. In 2009, Edge defeated Jeff Hardy for the WWE Championship in a no-disqualification match.

  • On Sunday, Owens will have been WWE Universal Champion for 153 days. That's longer than the combined length of Reigns' three world title reigns (118 days).

  • Last year, in his Royal Rumble debut, Owens participated in the Royal Rumble match. He entered 18th and actually eliminated the debuting AJ Styles, but he would later be eliminated by longtime rival Sami Zayn.

  • Reigns may not be over last year's Royal Rumble event. Reigns entered as the WWE Champion but was forced to put the title on the line in the Royal Rumble match and start the match as the No. 1 entrant. Triple H would be the surprise No. 30 entrant and win both the match and Reigns' WWE Championship.

  • Reigns holds a 4-2 all-time record against Owens in 1-on-1 matches. Most recently, on Dec. 26, Reigns pinned Owens in a United States Championship match on "Monday Night Raw."

  • Reigns has lost each of his last two pay-per-view matches. A loss on Sunday would tie the longest pay-per-view losing streak of Reigns' career.

Raw Women's Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Bayley

  • This will be the 10th 1-on-1 meeting between Charlotte Flair and Bayley, but the first to occur at a WWE pay-per-view event.

  • They faced off 1-on-1 five times during their time in NXT. Charlotte won four of the five matches, including her victory at NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way to retain her NXT Women's Championship.

  • However, Bayley owns a 2-1 advantage in their 1-on-1 matches in WWE, all occurring on "Monday Night Raw." Charlotte's lone victory came via an assist from her hand-picked special guest referee Dana Brooke.

  • This will be the ninth time that a women's championship has been defended at the Royal Rumble. A women's title has changed hands four times at this event, most recently when Eve Torres won the Divas Championship in 2011.

  • Charlotte is 18-2 all-time at WWE pay-per-view events, the best record through 20 career pay-per-view matches in WWE history, male or female. That includes a perfect 15-0 record in singles matches, the longest such winning streak in WWE history, besting Cena (11), CM Punk (10) and Sheamus (10).

  • One more pay-per-view victory will move Charlotte past Beth Phoenix (18) for second most by a female superstar in WWE history (Trish Stratus, 23). That is despite the fact that Charlotte has been on the WWE main roster for just 18 months.

  • Last year, in her Royal Rumble debut, Charlotte defeated Becky Lynch to retain the Divas Championship.

  • This will be Bayley's second opportunity at the Raw Women's Championship. At Clash of Champions in September, Bayley lost to Charlotte in a triple threat match that also featured Sasha Banks.

  • While the Royal Rumble will be Bayley's fifth career pay-per-view match, it will be just her second 1-on-1 match at a pay-per-view event. Bayley defeated Dana Brooke at Hell in a Cell in October.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Rich Swann (c) vs. Neville

  • Sunday will be the second 1-on-1 meeting between Rich Swann and Neville. On Dec. 27, on "205 Live," Neville pinned Swann in a non-title match.

  • On Sunday, Swann will have been cruiserweight champion for 61 days. That is already a longer reign than either of the first two superstars that held the title (TJ Perkins, Brian Kendrick). The Royal Rumble will be Swann's third title defense.

  • Swann is 2-0 at WWE pay-per-view events. Swann, Perkins and Noam Dar won a six-man tag team match on the "Survivor Series Kickoff Show," and Swann defeated Perkins in a triple threat match at "Roadblock" to retain his cruiserweight championship.

  • Neville is seeking his first championship on the WWE main roster, and this will be his first title match of any kind in nearly a year. His last championship opportunity was on Jan. 26, 2016, on "SmackDown," when Kalisto pinned him to retain the United States championship.

  • Neville is 3-0 in 1-on-1 pay-per-view matches. However, the Royal Rumble will be Neville's first pay-per-view appearance since "SummerSlam" last August, when he and Sami Zayn defeated the Dudley Boyz in a tag team match.

Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya vs. Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi

  • This will be the first six-woman tag team match in Royal Rumble history.

  • The six women in this match have won a combined 11 women's championships, led by Mickie James' six title reigns. Naomi is the only one who has yet to win a women's title.

  • Sunday will be James' first match at a WWE event since Apr. 23, 2010, when she and Beth Phoenix lost to Lay-Cool in a tag team match on "SmackDown."

  • Becky Lynch has lost six of her last seven pay-per-view matches. The lone win during that span was at Backlash last September, when she became the inaugural SmackDown Women's Champion.

  • Nikki Bella is 2-0 at the Royal Rumble, both of which were also tag team matches.

  • Alexa Bliss and Naomi will be making their Royal Rumble debuts.

Raw Tag Team Championship: Cesaro and Sheamus (c) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

  • This will be the 15th tag team title match in Royal Rumble history. However, the titles have changed hands just four times at this event, most recently in 2014, when the New Age Outlaws defeated Cody Rhodes and Goldust for the belts.

  • This is a rematch from "Monday Night Raw" on Jan. 16, when Gallows & Anderson defeated Cesaro and Sheamus by disqualification. However, titles cannot change hands via DQ.

  • Excluding the Royal Rumble match itself, Cesaro and Sheamus are a combined 3-0 at this event (Cesaro: 2-0; Sheamus: 1-0).

  • Sheamus is one of six superstars in WWE history to have won the WWE World Championship, United States Championship, Royal Rumble match and a Tag Team Championship in his career. The others are Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Steve Austin, John Cena and Roman Reigns. Flair, Hart and Austin are in the WWE Hall of Fame.

  • Gallows and Anderson are both making their Royal Rumble debut.

  • Gallows and Anderson are 2-5 all-time in tag team title matches. However, both of those wins came via disqualification.

  • During their time with New Japan Pro Wrestling, Gallows & Anderson won the IWGP Tag Team Championship on three different occasions. They are looking to become the third tag team in history to win both the IWGP and WWE Tag Team titles (Steiner Brothers, Dudley Boyz).

Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax

  • The first-ever 1-on-1 match between Sasha Banks and Nia Jax will take place on the Kickoff Show. Both Banks and Jax are 1-0 in Kickoff Show matches.

  • While she has struggled at pay-per-view events in title matches against Charlotte Flair, Banks has won each of her last four non-title pay-per-view matches.

  • Jax is 2-0 all-time at WWE pay-per-view events. She defeated Alicia Fox at Clash of Champions last September, and was a part of the winning Raw women's team at Survivor Series in November.