Last week on SmackDown Adam Pearce won the gauntlet match to become the number one contender and Roman Reigns opponent at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in two weeks. Of course Reigns helped Pearce win because it is all part of his plan in getting revenge on Pearce, who as unofficial general manager booked Kevin Owens against Jey Uso the week previous defying the orders of Reigns. Pearce is currently not a wrestler and has been booked solely as an authority figure on both brands who books matches and mediates disputes. Despite this he is still currently booked to face Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble for the Universal Championship but will he actually be the one who faces Reigns?
Pearce has a wrestling history being a former NWA World Champion but his last match was six years ago and like I said before he's been solely an authority figure on RAW and SmackDown. He could face Reigns because Reigns matches have been storyline centric matches that focuses on the story rather than the action. A match between them could actually occur but with plenty of dialogue and interferences to drive the story. Also Pearce was a good wrestler so it could be an actual serious match. I personally do not think Pearce will actually face Reigns and if he does there will be plenty of funny business. There are four people I think could face Reigns at the Rumble instead of Pearce and now I will list them from least likely to most likely.
4. Jimmy Uso
This one is a longshot but last time we saw him he was a face and he was helping Jey Uso in his pursuit for the Universal title before Jey joined Roman Reigns. Jimmy was being tortured by Reigns in order to make Jey quit, since then there has been no trace of him. Jimmy is expected to make his in ring return soon and maybe before he joins his brother and cousin he tries to take it to his cousin Reigns. Jimmy in the story might not be happy about who his brother has become and all that Reigns has done so maybe he will take action and replace Pearce if a loophole is found and Pearce can be replaced. Also a premiere match against Reigns could do for Jimmy what it did for Jey who is now not just a tag team star but a singles star. A mini rivalry between Jimmy and Roman could also be the same way WWE writes Jimmy into the Reigns family faction as his brother was written into it. Jimmy is the least likely because it's more likely he just joins his family instead of starting as a rival to them.
3. Daniel Bryan
Next on the list is Bryan. Now there have been plenty of people to be in the Rumble match and have another match all in the same night but this time I don't see it happening but it could. Jey Uso turned heel and joined Reigns by attacking Bryan for Reigns after Jey beat Bryan in a singles match so Bryan has plenty of reason to go against Reigns. I along with others have Bryan as one of their favorites to win the Rumble and face Reigns at WrestleMania so they probably won't have Bryan face Reigns at the Rumble in place of Pearce. Despite that there is a chance because of the history and it could be a starting point for a WrestleMania rematch between Reigns and Bryan or involving the two of them. Like Jimmy I don't see it being Bryan but it would make sense in relation to all that has happened in Reigns storylines since Reigns has returned and become Universal Champion.
2. Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura was fantastic in the gauntlet match. He eliminated King Corbin and Daniel Bryan and put on a fantastic in-ring performance. Reigns and Jey then attacked him and then attacked Pearce and put Pearce on Nakamura leading to Pearce winning. Reigns screwed Nakamura out of a title opportunity and Nakamura definitely wants revenge. Nakamura is facing Jey tomorrow as part of getting revenge and maybe after he begins his path to getting revenge on Reigns leading to a showdown at Rumble. Maybe Pearce along with others develop a way for Nakamura the man who was wronged out of the match into the match. During the match Nakamura was booked as a face by fighting clean, not having Cesaro out there to help him, and by shaking the hand of Bryan in a gesture of respect. Heel versus heel matches happen but not usually so Reigns opponent will be a face and face Nakamura is a very over character and would be a perfect opponent for Reigns.
1. Kevin Owens
Pearce versus Reigns is all because Pearce got in the middle of the Owens Reigns feud by booking a match between Owens and Jey on SmackDown two weeks ago. Owens was put through a table by Jey and Reigns and that is the last we have seen of him so Owens problems with Reigns are definitely still there. Owens could come back at anytime to get his revenge and Reigns and Owens have already had two fantastic title matches so booking a third would definitely result in another solid match. Pearce helped Owens out so it would make a lot of sense for Owens to return the favor and help Pearce out of the title match and take his place.
Before I finish I want to state my unpopular opinion, I kind of want to see Pearce actually face Reigns. I am a fan of Pearce and it would be cool to see him have a match on a grand stage one last time and storytelling centric matches are what he is good at so I think him and Reigns could put on a surprisingly great match. No matter what happens I trust WWE in this case because Reigns has been booked great since his return and his ppv matches have not disappointed since he's become Universal Champion. (Below is a match of Adam Pearce vs Brent Albright for the NWA World's Heavyweight Championship)