This weekend marks an exciting one for WWE fans, as the annual Royal Rumble event takes place.
Starting us off on the “Road to WrestleMania”, the Rumble is seen as the first step on the path towards the biggest wrestling show of the year, which usually takes place in early April.
This year’s Rumble takes place on Sunday 26th April at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, a baseball stadium that has a seating capacity of more than 40,000.
But how does it all work?
Here’s everything you need to know about it, including how and when to watch the event live in the UK:
What is the Royal Rumble match?
Usually, the rules of wrestling matches are fairly simple.
Two competitors enter the ring and slog it out until one is incapacitated enough to be pinned to the mat by the other for a count of three.
But the Royal Rumble match is a bit more of a spectacle, and has some special rules.
Instead of just two competitors, a total of 30 will enter the Royal Rumble match (there have been as many as 40 or even 50 entrants in previous such matches.
Two start off at the beginning, just as they would any other wrestling match, but after an interval of five minutes, more wrestlers get added to the bout, one every 90 seconds.
There are no pinfall or submission eliminations; the only way to have someone removed from the match is to throw them over the top rope, with both of their feet touching the floor outside.
This goes on until just one competitor is left standing – they are then declared the winner.
Why is it such a big deal?
Winning the match holds such importance to the victor, because it allows them to challenge a current champion of their choosing just a couple of months later in the main event match at WrestleMania.
The match is made all the more exciting by the fact that – alongside the grand prize at the end of it all – not all of the entrants are announced by WWE beforehand.
That opens the door for exciting surprise entrants, which in the past have ranged from old favourites who haven’t been seen for years, to fresh new stars making their debut in front of WWE fans for the first time.
That means established superstars like John Cena have taken on relative unknowns from WWE’s NXT ranks in Royal Rumble matches, and surprise debutantes like AJ Styles have been welcomed with rapturous cheers.
Then there’s the fact that with the staggered entrants every 90 seconds, the match is guaranteed to last at least around 45 minutes.
Every year, wrestling fans strap themselves in for an epic, and there’s two of them, seeing as both the men’s and women’s rosters get their own Rumble matches.
What else is on the card?
Aside from the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches, the event features a full undercard of match ups to keep you entertained before the main event.
This year, Danial Bryan takes on champion Bray Wyatt (competing under his supernatural “The Fiend” persona) in a Strap Match for the biggest prize in the WWE today: the Universal Championship.
The ‘Strap Match’ stipulation means they’ll be tethered together, so there’s really no escape. Plus, whatever they’re tethered together with can become a dangerous weapon in the right hands.
The RAW Women’s Championship will be defended by fan favourite Becky Lynch against Asuka, who’ll have back-up from Japanese compatriot Kairi Sane being in her corner.
Roman Reigns takes on Baron “King” Corbin in a Fall Count Anywhere match, which means the three-count pin format of a traditional wrestling match is in place, but that pin doesn’t have to take place inside the ring…
Chad Gable takes on the returning Sheamus in a match that’s happening for reasons far to boring to go into here, and the SmackDown Women’s Championship is represented by Bayley.
She’ll be defending her titles against southern belle Lacey Evans, while Humberto Carillo takes on newly minted United States Champions Andrade in a match that’s sure to be full of Lucha Libre-style, high-flying action.
What time does Royal Rumble 2020 start in the UK?
As usual, it will be a pretty late night for anybody who wants to stay up to watch the Royal Rumble live.
Royal Rumble’s ‘Kick Off’ pre-show begins at 10pm on Sunday 26 January, and will be free to view through WWE’s YouTube channel.
It will run for two hours, showcasing a handful of lower-card matches live, and running through the backstories of the matches scheduled for the main show.
Royal Rumble 2020 ‘properly’ kicks off at 12am on Monday 27 January. Previous versions of the annual event have been known to run for longer than four hours, so make sure you’re well prepared for a late one.
How do I watch it?
You can actually watch the whole thing for free if you’re a new subscriber to the WWE Network.
The show will be broadcast live on the company’s own streaming service, which costs £9.99 a month or is free for the first month if you’re a new sign-up.
And if you don’t fancy staying up until the wee hours, you can watch the show on demand at a more convenient hour.
You can sign up to the Network by clicking here.
Once you’re in, you’ll be able to watch it through a wide variety of devices including apps on your Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Kindle Fire, Apple TV, iOS and Android.
Fans can purchase Royal Rumble on BT Sport Box Office for a one-off fee.