Adam Pearce was a shocking choice for Roman Reigns' opponent at the Royal Rumble when Reigns, Paul Heyman and Jey Uso orchestrated Pearce's winning a No. 1 contender gauntlet match. On Friday night, it was Pearce who made the big move, signing the official contract for the match before throwing the universal champion a curveball.
Pearce was "injured" while walking up the entrance ramp moments after signing the deal, leaving the need for a replacement opponent. What followed was Reigns being confronted with an old rival who he has not been able to get out of his hair for months.
CBS Sports was with you all night, bringing you results and highlights of all the action. Read on for everything you need to know coming out of a solid edition of SmackDown.
Adam Pearce and Kevin Owens outsmart Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns opened the show backstage, seemingly upset that he had just been given the match contract for his Royal Rumble match with Adam Pearce. Paul Heyman told Reigns that it was a standard bout agreement, but then told Reigns that he felt there should be a stipulation added to the match, taking the contract to go find Pearce. Later in the show, Heyman approached Pearce and Sonya Deville with a new agreement with no disqualification rules. Pearce called it ridiculous, but signed the contract anyway. Heyman brought the contract back to Reigns, who was with Apollo Crews. Reigns told Heyman that he wouldn't sign the contract because he wanted a Last Man Standing match instead, and said it would be signed later in the night in the ring.
The show ended with Reigns, Uso, Heyman and Pearce all in the ring, sitting at a table to sign the contract. Pierce reluctantly signed his name before sliding the contract to Reigns, who also signed. Pearce then said, "I've waited all night for you to do that." He then smirked, grabbed the contract and left the ring, suddenly starting to limp as Reings looked confused. Pearce said his knee has been hurting all day from an old injury that snuck up on him. Pearce said not to worry because as with all contracts, cards are subject to change and he would find a suitable replacement for the match before introducing Kevin Owens. Owens closed the show by signing the contract to set up the match at the Rumble.
It was always unlikely that Pearce would actually face Reigns, especially at the second biggest WWE show of the year. That said, it's hard not to feel a little bit disappointed that an old veteran who never got a run in the ring under the brightest of lights isn't actually getting an opportunity. That said, Owens and Reigns have proven to be a good pairing and the new stipulation could make for an even better match than their two recent meetings. The execution of the entire angle was also very good and Reigns getting outplayed for one night helps to strengthen his character more than hurt it as there is guaranteed to be some big fallout from the situation. Grade: A-
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
- Shinsuke Nakamura def. Jey Uso via pinfall after a Kinshasa. Before the match, Uso declared for the Royal Rumble, saying his plan was to continue the family takeover and go to Raw and capture the WWE title after winning the Rumble. Cesaro was on commentary for the match and also announced he would enter the Rumble. Uso nearly won with a pin with his foot on the ropes, but his cheating was caught, setting up Nakamura to hit a Kinshasa for the win.
- The Street Profits were interviewed backstage. The team promised to get revenge on Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler after losing their titles last week.
- Natalya def. Liv Morgan via pinfall with a schoolboy pin. Billie Kay was out with the Riott Squad as an "unofficial official" member, dressed in a punk outfit. Tamina made her way to the ring to support Natalya and also chased Kay, who ran into the ring, causing a distraction that allowed Natalya to score a roll-up and win the match.
- King Corbin def. Rey Mysterio via pinfall after hitting End of Days. Corbin attacked Dominick Mysterio during the match, leading to Dominick trying to get involved. Corbin shoved Rey into Dominick, setting up the finish. Rey lectured Dominick backstage that you have to have a plan facing a guy like Corbin and said he knows just the guy to talk to.
- Bayley hosted Bianca Belair on the new "Ding Dong, Hello" talk show. After some back-and-forth, Bayley challenged Belair to an obstacle course next week to determine which woman is more athletic.
- Cesaro def. Daniel Byran via pinfall after a Neutralizer. This was, as expected, an outstanding match with both men coming out of it looking good before Cesaro picked up a clean win, backing up some trash talk from earlier in the show.
- Sasha Banks interrupted a Carmella interview backstage. Banks shoved Carmella and said that she would give her a title match, but only if she could wrestle Reginald one-on-one first.
- Apollo Crews def. Sami Zayn via pinfall with a roll-up pin while holding the tights. Zayn was caught trying to use a handful of tights, leading to the referee breaking the pin. Moments later, Crews scored the pin by grabbing the tights himself, this time where the ref couldn't see. Crews briefly started an argument with Big E, who was on commentary, before walking off.