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Five reasons the Royal Rumble is the most exciting match in WWE history

By Scott Fishman

Since 1988 the Royal Rumble has brought the concept of the battle royal and taken it to another level.

A year after its debut, the match became an event. Between the mysterious entrances, the close calls and the unpredictability, fans fell in love with the over-the-top rope free-for-all.

Then WWE added the idea the winner of the Royal Rumble match became number one contender for top championship in the main event of WrestleMania, the stakes got even higher. It became a must-see and would become the official starting line for the road to WWE's biggest annual event.

Here are five reasons why the Royal Rumble is WWE's most exciting match of the year.

SURPRISES: The Royal Rumble has been known to bring its share of surprises. Nostalgic returns and others come out who we would never have guessed being in the match. John Cena blew the roof off of the arena in 2008 when he came back unexpectedly ahead of schedule. Comedian and TV show host Drew Carey became a WWE Hall of Famer after entering the 2001 Royal Rumble. Booker T., Diesel, Chyna, Kharma, Chris Jericho, Mick Foley and many others have gotten huge reactions when their music hit after the countdown clock hit zero. Who knows what 2014 will bring out from the past?

NUMBERS: Whether it's 20, 30 or 40, the fact there are so many superstars a part of one match makes it fun to watch. It also gives fans a chance to see those who may not compete against each other normally face off. The WWE Universe also enjoys watching who gets lucky or not when it comes to the drawing their numbers. Ted DiBiase bought the slot of number 30 in 1989 because of how important placement is. Of course, history would show those who have drawn number one or two like Shawn Michaels and Rey Mysterio have won the Royal Rumble.

Shocking Eliminations: The WWE Universe has seen some of the most shocking eliminations in the Royal Rumble match in past decades. Whoever could get rid of the big guys like Yokozuna always got a reaction from the capacity crowds. In 1999, Vince McMahon shocked the world winning the Royal Rumble and getting one up on his hated rival "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. However, the most shocking of all eliminations in WWE history has to be when Maven of "Tough Enough" sent The Undertaker over the top rope.

Star-Making Performances: The Rumble has become a prime opportunity for the WWE superstars to impress. You can trace Goldust's unbelievable comeback back to the Royal Rumble, where he impressed fans and showed he was capable of competing at a high level. Lasting in the event can be almost as important as winning the whole thing. Bob Backlund lasted more than an hour in 1993. The Miz went more than 45 in 2012, as did Dolph Ziggler last year. Rick Martel opened a lot of eyes when the Model went more than 52 minutes.

Careers have been solidified by Royal Rumble matches. Rey Mysterio won in 2006 lasting more than an hour and two minutes. Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and others have added to their legends with defining moments at the Rumble.

Close-Calls: Both feet have to hit the floor to get eliminated from the Royal Rumble. This can create some moments to keep the WWE Universe on the edge of their seat. Shawn Michaels perfected the close call when he skinned the cat with only one foot touching the floor. In 1995, the British Bulldog thought he won after this happened and Michaels came back in the ring to win the match. Recently Kofi Kingston has been one to watch, escaping near-elimination by using furniture, his flexibility and athletic prowess to stay in the match.

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