This week's episode of WWE Friday Night Smackdown was the first live show of the new year, 2021. Of course, practically everyone is more than willing to move past the events of 2020 as quickly as possible. The year of the pandemic brought a lot of changes to WWE programming, and it impacted the organization in several ways.
From cinematic matches to record-low television ratings, WWE saw both new highs and lows during 2020. Two of the biggest highlights of the past year, however, have been the emphatic rise of Drew McIntyre as the new face of the company and the emergence of Roman Reigns as the top heel in the organization
While McIntyre has been stealing the spotlight on WWE RAW, Reigns has been brilliant in his "Tribal Chief" gimmick on the blue brand. So it made perfect sense for WWE to have these stars enter the new year as their respective brands' world champions.
Later this month, the majority of the roster will be fighting in the Royal Rumble for an opportunity to main event WWE WrestleMania in a world title match. But the reigning world champions will be defending their titles on the show.
Royal Rumble always features a world title match
Excluding the first three editions, WWE Royal Rumble has always featured at least one world title match, with the world title being on the line in the namesake match itself in 1992 and 2016.
Over the last three decades, many superstars have competed in multiple world title matches at the event. Several of these matches are still regarded as some of the best matches in WWE history.
Before "The Head of the Table" and "The Scottish Psychopath" defend their titles at the end of the month, here are the 10 superstars who have been in the most World Championship matches at WWE Royal Rumble.
#5 (Tied) Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle - 4 world title matches at WWE Royal Rumble
Both Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle have been in four world title matches at WWE Royal Rumble.
As one of the 30 superstars vying for the vacant world title, Shawn Michaels had his first appearance as a singles superstar in 1992. Five years later, he won the WWF Championship against Sycho Sid in 1997.
He defended the title against The Undertaker in 1998 in a Casket Match, where he suffered a horrific back injury that led to his first retirement. Michaels also competed in a violent Last Man Standing match against Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship in 2004.
Joining Michaels is his former rival, Kurt Angle. The Olympian had 3 successful defenses; Twice for the WWE Title and once for the World Heavyweight Title. He defeated Triple H and Chris Benoit in two genuine classic encounters in 2001 and 2003, and got the better of Mark Henry in 2006. Plus, Angle came up short against JBL and The Big Show in a WWE Championship Match at the show in 2005.