This week on SmackDown saw what will surely already go down as the strangest storyline development of 2021.
WWE producer Adam Pearce was named the number one contender to challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Title at the Royal Rumble.
But just who is Adam Pearce? For many fans watching, they will know Pearce only as the suited, permanently agitated executive that has acted as a quasi-GM on both Raw and SmackDown for the majority of this year.
In fact, before he ever joined WWE in a backstage role, Pierce had an extensive in ring career of his own.
For starters, Pearce has been the NWA World Heavyweight Champion on five separate occasions. Only three men have held that title on more occasions. Ric Flair, Harley Race and Jeff Jarrett.
In addition, he has racked up more days in possession of the belt than all but six men in the 73 year history of the title (Flair, Race, Lou Thesz, Dory Funk Jr., Dan Severn and Gene Kiniski are the only champions ahead of him).
Admittedly, Pearce’s reigns fell outside the glory years of the title but even so, his name sits in the record books in exhaled company.
Pearce’s career began back in 1996 after being trained by Ace Steel (Most well known for training CM Punk and Colt Cabana). Pearce bounced around various independent promotions and worked as enhancement talent for both WWE and WCW in the late 90s.
His first big break as an indie star came in PWG. In 2004 he became their second ever champion with a win over Kazarian.
Over the next couple of years he worked sporadically for NJPW and in Mexico before making his ROH debut in September 2005.
His stint with the company was not an overwhelming success but he had more highs than lows. Chief amongst these was helping ROH win their ‘Cage Of Death’ battle against CZW in July 2006.
In September 2008 it was announced that Pearce would be leaving ROH but the following month he returned as head Booker, replacing Gabe Sapolsky. He remained in this position until he left once more in 2010 citing a ‘difference in ifeology’
Meanwhile, his run as perennial NWA champion was taking off, starting with winning the vacant belt in a tournament in September 2006. Although he lost in the semi-finals to Bryan Danielson, the future Daniel Bryan would pull out of the final with an injury. Pearce took his place and defeated Brent Albright in the final.
With the win, Pearce became the first NWA Champion since TNA Wrestling stopped recognising the title as their own main championship.
Pearce last held the NWA gold in 2012, swapping wins with Colt Cabana in probably his most high profile matches in the organisation.
In 2014,’Scrap Iron’ retired from wrestling ans took up a role as a trainer and producer in NXT, WWE’s then new development territory in Orlando, Florida.
Over the years that followed, Pearce became a trusted part of the NXT team and a promotion soon beckoned to become a producer on the main roster.
In 2020, Pearce’s on screen role in WWE became much more prominent, especially after WWE switched to producing shows without fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start of the year, he has played the foil of a number of superstars on both brands, including Randy Orton on Raw.
Having been given more and more screen time over the last few months, he drew the ire this week of WWE Universal champion. With the help of his cousin Jey Uso and advisor Paul Heyman, Reigns manipulated Pearce into being named his latest challenger.
With that Royal Rumble title shot just on the horizon, Pearce will be looking forward to far and away his most high profile match in his career and his first (and likely only) shot at one of WWE’s top belts incoming.
WWE Royal Rumble will take place on Sunday January 31st. For all the infob you need about the event, visit this page.