St Petersburg, Florida – Tropicana Field
WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, Jey Uso and Paul Heyman come out. Reigns stops on the ramp and raises the title as the pyro goes off. Greg Hamilton does the introductions as they march to the ring while fans boo.
Cole and Graves hype tonight’s Gauntlet Match to determine Reigns’ Royal Rumble opponent with Sami Zayn, Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio, King Baron Corbin, and Shinsuke Nakamura. Reigns takes his time entering the ring and stops in the middle as more pyro goes off. A big “you suck!” chant breaks out before Heyman can speak. He hands the mic to Reigns and the boos continue. Reigns says there’s been a lot of talk about what they did to Kevin Owens last week. Reigns says Owens is a pain in his ass but he likes Owens. He respects someone as ambitious as Owens, one who keeps getting up no matter how often he gets knocked down. He says Owens is like a cockroach. Reigns never wanted anything bad to happen to Owens.
Reigns goes on and says he cares about everyone in the back, cares about their families, and this is why he does what he does. He’s putting food on everyone’s tables. But now Owens doesn’t have that opportunity, he can’t come to work anymore. Reigns says people are trying to blame him but it’s not his fault. Reigns says if you want to blame someone, point the finger in the direction of WWE official Adam Pearce. Fans boo again. Reigns tells Pearce to bring his ass out here. Heyman yells at the ring announcer to get Pearce out here. Pearce finally comes marching down the ramp and into the ring.
Pearce asks Reigns what can he do for him. Reigns tells Pearce to watch this nice clip they had done. A video package plays and shows highlights from two weeks ago, when Reigns retained over Owens in the Steel Cage. We also see how Owens talked Pearce into the match with Uso last week, how Owens defeated Uso, then the post-match attack on Uso that led to Reigns and Uso destroying Owens, ending the show by tossing him off the platform through the table. We come back and Uso is staring Pearce down. Pearce asks Reigns what he wants him to say. Reigns wants Pearce to be a man. Reigns goes on about the feud being done, and them moving on, but Owens went to his friend for another match. Reigns accuses Pearce of not making the right decision for the well-being of his friend. Reigns goes on and he’s not happy about tonight’s Gauntlet to determine his Royal Rumble challenger. Pearce says he’s just trying to put the best challengers in front of Reigns.
Reigns goes on playing mind games with Pearce. Pearce asks Heyman what they’re doing out here. Uso continues to stare Pearce down from behind, looking ready to attack. Reigns accuses Pearce of thinking he’s stupid, which means he’s insulting him and disrespecting him, and disrespecting his family. Reigns says there are consequences to that. He grabs Pearce by the collar and backs him up. Pearce asks Reigns to stop and says he does respect Reigns. Heyman talks Reigns down and gets him to back off Pearce. Reigns nods and says that was his mistake. Maybe no one in this room is stupid, and maybe right now… right now, you’re perfectly safe. Pearce looks confused as Reigns hands the mic back to Heyman, pats Pearce on the arm and then walks out of the ring as his music hits.
Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville are backstage talking strategy when Paul Heyman walks in. Deville dismisses herself. Pearce tells Heyman if this is about the Gauntlet, save it, please. Heyman says he likes Pearce and wants no hostility. Heyman goes on about knowing Pearce’s past and how things could’ve been if he managed “Scrap Daddy” Adam Pearce back then. Heyman says he knows Pearce’s accomplishments and why he was picked for this job, but also knows this wasn’t how Pearce saw his career going. Pearce wanted to be the champion. Heyman says Roman Reigns had him pull some strings and Pearce is now in tonight’s Gauntlet Match. Pearce doesn’t look thrilled. Heyman says Pearce now has the chance to pursue the dream he’s had since he was a baby, and it’s courtesy of his Universal Champion. Heyman says he’s so happy and proud for Pearce, personally and professionally. Heyman grabs Pearce’s hand and shakes it, and says it’s been a pleasure doing business with him. It’s interesting how WWE set this angle up all night as Deville also mentioned in her earlier segment how she wanted to help Pearce tonight, in his match, but he dismissed the idea and said he hasn’t wrestled in 6 or 7 years, and won’t be wrestling any matches any time soon.
Nakamura defeats Daniel Bryan and his last opponent is now Adam Pearce. WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman and Jey Uso appear on stage. Nakamura stares Reigns down. Cole and Graves remind us that there is still one man left in the Gauntlet.
Nakamura is still waiting in the ring while Reigns and his crew look on from the stage. Heyman motions to the back and out comes WWE official Adam Pearce. Pearce looks like he wants no part of this. He walks past Reigns and crew, down the ramp to the ringside area. Reigns, Uso and Heyman follow him. Pearce is wearing a pair of pants, no shirt on and a WWE jacket. Pearce looks like he doesn’t know what to do. Uso enters the ring and gets in Nakamura’s face, talking trash. Uso with a cheap shot to Nakamura in the face. Uso beats Nakamura down and Reigns joins him. They double team Nakamura now as fans boo. Pearce watches from ringside. Heyman watches from the other side, clutching the title.
Uso delivers a big superkick to Nakamura, then Reigns finishes him off with a Superman Punch. Uso goes to the top and delivers the big Uso Splash. Nakamura is laid out. Reigns goes out and tells Pearce that this is his show and he does what he wants to do. Reigns aggressively rolls Pearce into the ring. Pearce says some words to Reigns but turns around to a big superkick from Uso. Pearce goes down. Reigns signals for the timekeeper to ring the bell for Pearce vs. Nakamura.
Fans continue booing as Uso pulls Pearce on top of Nakamura. They are both laid out. The referee gets down and counts the pin for Pearce to win.
Winner and New #1 Contender: Adam Pearce
– After the bell, Reigns’ music hits as he stands tall and raises the title. Pearce starts to recover as the boos get louder. Cole and Graves wonder if this means Pearce will challenge Reigns for the title at the Royal Rumble. Reigns raises the Universal Title in the air and looks down at Pearce as SmackDown goes off the air.