They say anything can happen in WWE, and SmackDown proved that old cliché to be true as Adam Pearce won himself a major Number One Contender clash in 2021.
The Scrap Daddy is a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion but hasn’t wrestled a match since 2014, but on January 31 he’ll face Roman Reigns for the Universal Title at the Royal Rumble.
You’re probably wondering how we got there – well, at the top of the show Roman Reigns was in his usual incredible form, cutting a promo on Kevin Owens and praising him for the fight he showed recently.
The Tribal Chief blamed Pearce for KO’s injuries after he sanctioned the bout between Kevin and Jey Uso, and putting an injured star in harm’s way.
He also insisted he should be able to pick his next challenger rather than waiting to see who won the main event gauntlet match.
After it was suggested in the opening promo, Pearce’s new assistant Sonya Deville – who made her shocking return last week – wondered if he’d enter himself into the massive bout.
Although he said he wouldn’t, Paul Heyman later appeared and revealed he’d pulled some strings to make it happen – so the stage was set.
Later in the night, Sami Zayn hit all the right notes as he came out with a special camera crew to film a documentary and expose the supposed conspiracy against him.
He stepped into the ring and almost immediately fell to Rey Mysterio, who would then fall to Shinsuke Nakamura.
After making the masked luchador tap to an armbar, the former IC Champion defeated King Corbin – who attacked the Mysterios on his way to the ring – with a Kinshasa.
Up next was Daniel Bryan, but Nakamura – who looked better tonight than he has in a long time – went toe to toe, as they put on a fantastic showing before the latter picked up a huge win.
Pearce was the final reluctant entrant, with Heyman, Jey and Roman walking him down to the ring – before the latter two battered the Artist.
The Universal Champion then attacked Pearce, and draped him over Shinsuke for a huge upset win.
Best of the rest
As with any gauntlet match, they’re time-consuming – but there was still plenty of space on the show for some more brilliant in-ring action.
In the opening bout, Apollo Crews and Big E went to a double pinfall after a superplex, leading to a draw in their Intercontinental Title match.
The former demanded the championship and slapped his friend, convincing the former New Day man to restart the match – which he won with a Big Ending, potentially setting up a heel turn for Crews.
Elsewhere, Bianca Belair and Bayley declared themselves for the Royal Rumble match later this month, while Carmella bragged about her win over Sasha Banks recently.
We were also treated to top level tag team action as Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode beat the Street Profits to win the blue brand’s belts.
Focusing on Montez Ford’s injured leg, the story of this match was clear, and all four men put on a damn fine show here, with a title change for good measure.
Fans also saw more hilarity from Billie Kay, who unsuccessfully tried to convince Riott Squad to expand their ranks beyond a tag team – even with her impressive resume.
It would have been easy for the gauntlet match to turn this into a one-match show, and fans would probably have been satisfied with that after Nakamura’s strong showing.
Props to the SmackDown team though – between the show-opening promo, the IC Title scene heating up, some low-key Rumble build, a stellar tag team match with a title change, backstage skits and then a glorious main event, and they really hit it out of the park to keep the good times rolling as we approach the Road to WrestleMania.
An Adam Pearce championship match in 2021? Sure, why not – this should be fantastic television.
Quickfire SmackDown results and grades
- IC Title: Big E (c) and Apollo Crews ended in a double pinfall before the champ retained the restarted match (B)
- SmackDown Tag Team Titles: Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode defeated The Street Profits (A)
- Number One Contender Gauntlet Match: Adam Pearce won the bout featuring Shinsuke Nakamura, Daniel Bryan, King Corbin, Rey Mysterio and Sami Zayn (A)
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