On the Friday, January 8th edition of WWE SmackDown, Roman Reigns’ newest challenger for the WWE Universal Title was named. In what was an unusual set of circumstances, WWE on-screen Official and behind-the-scenes Producer Adam Pearce defeated Shinsuke Nakamura in a Gauntlet Match to become the top contender for the title. However, while many may wonder who Adam Pearce is or what he could legitimately have done to have earned a shot, readers need to look back before they look forward.
In a career that spanned nearly 20 years, Pearce always faced an uphill battle. He developed Acute Muscular Compartment Syndrome (AMCS) in both of his legs during his high school years. After surgery, he essentially had to learn how to use his legs again. This ended his standout performance in high school athletics, but by 1995 he was introduced to wrestling and the rest, as they say, is history. Over the next four years, he would travel the independent scene in Wisconsin and Michigan. Pearce competed for notable independent promotions such as IWA Mid-South and PWG, but it is his time in Ring of Honor that fans may be most familiar with. During a span of about five years, Pearce engaged in various storylines with the company, such as a feud with rival promotion CZW, which was a brutal affair. His battles against the likes of Chris Hero and Necro Butcher were a key part of the rivalry between these two promotions.
One of Pearce’s most popular feuds was with former IMPACT Wrestling tag team champion Homicide. The feud started after what appeared to be contempt for Jim Cornette turned into an alliance. The feud showed that Pearce was capable of being as ruthless and dastardly as anyone in Ring of Honor at the time. It became apparent that he wasn’t a white meat babyface but a man capable of looking out for his own best interests at the right time and the right place. He would later lead a stable during his time in ROH; The Hangman Three consisted of notable ROH talents BJ Whitmer and Brent Albright (along with Shane Hagodorn).
Pearce would carry a briefcase with him, and the contents of what was inside it were left a mystery. That was until he struck Albright with the briefcase to reveal the National Wrestling Alliance’s World Title. Prior to that, it had not been recognized publicly that Pearce was also the NWA Champion at the time. Throughout his career, Pearce held the NWA World Title five times, the same title held by Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, and Lou Thesz. The fact that Pearce captured it as many times as he did is a testament to his career. He defended the title against top performers like Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) and Nigel McGuinness. During his time with the NWA, he was managed by Horseman Tully Blanchard’s former manager, Baby Doll.
Wrestling for such a historic promotion, he clearly embraced the past while moving things forward towards the future. He would wear long robes in a call back to the champions of the past, such as Flair. However, for all he did for the NWA and ROH in the ring, his contributions outside of the ring were significant too. Pearce toured and competed quite regularly on the independent California circuit. In promotions like Ultimate Pro Wrestling, All Pro Wrestling, EPIC, and Millennium, Pearce earned a name for himself in the industry. The scrappy nature of Pearce’s character was not just a nickname, and his battles with former teammate Brent Albright reflected that, and though he eventually lost the NWA title, what he did in those matches meant so much. Defeat just earned him even greater respect.
Of course I’m not in my wrestling “prime”, I haven’t had a match in 6+ years!
But I didn’t ASK for this.
With no choice but to fight, I’ve got to do whatever I can to make Roman feel EXACTLY like I did at the end of this match many years ago: https://t.co/Ae9h94VLev (1/2)
— Adam Pearce (@ScrapDaddyAP) January 10, 2021
Pearce’s experience goes well beyond his time in California, the National Wrestling Alliance, and Ring of Honor; he competed in Mexico and Japan as well. In Mexico, Pearce was part of matches with Damien 666. Though he didn’t spend an extensive amount of time there, it wasn’t about the length of time but what he learned while he was there. For any wrestler that competes in a different part of the world, it is key for them to learn from the experience and take a bit of it with them to each and every place they go. The Lucha Libre style, while not his normal style, was still key in his learning and development.
His involvement in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Los Angeles Dojo led Pearce to compete for the promotion in the Tokyo Dome. Each match is a new experience and only adds to a performer’s growth.
Pearce has also been a booker, as well as portraying an on-screen authority role in the past, long before taking on that role with WWE. Like former ROH matchmaker Nigel McGuinness, Pearce played an authority figure with that promotion. It takes great skill and foresight (which Pearce has) to look beyond the story. To Pearce’s credit, when he is watching something unfold, he is able to alter this course of action if need be.
While fans today have become familiar with the on-air personality that is Adam Pearce, it should also be noted that he was an enhancement talent for the WWE about thirteen years ago. For many whose dream is to be in the WWE, it doesn’t matter to what extent they are there as long as they are there. For Pearce, he is so capable in front of the camera that he doesn’t miss a beat whatever the role he is given.
— Adam Pearce (@ScrapDaddyAP) January 14, 2021
Having given historical context to Pearce and detailed his accomplishments, why should that matter today? When fans witness someone who has, for some time, been removed from in-ring competition and placed in an ‘office’ role (on-screen at least) suddenly thrust into a position to challenge for the title, it may seem baffling. But whether or not it’s warranted is irrelevant. What is important to note is that Pearce has a wrestling pedigree.
The build to this match may suggest that for all intents and purposes, Pearce is going to be completely wiped out. However, before fans conclude that this match will be the systematic dismantling of Adam Pearce, it is fair to wonder: What if that isn’t the case? What if Pearce shows exactly why he was the Scrap Daddy? With each action and each moment and each strike, Pearce could conceivably earn the respect of those watching. Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman may be simply leading fans to believe one thing when, in fact, we could very well witness something different altogether.
When Roman Reigns steps into the ring with Adam Pearce on Sunday, January 31st, it could be an absolute massacre at the Royal Rumble. We could witness Pearce beaten from pillar to post. But perhaps we will see the fighter that won the NWA World Title on five separate occasions, the man that battled Nigel McGuiness, Chris Hero, and Colt Cabana, and see him bring the fight to Roman Reigns, something no one would have seen coming.
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