It looks like Adam Pearce is the new #1 contender to WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns.

As noted, WWE previously announced that tonight’s SmackDown on FOX would feature a Gauntlet Match to determine Reigns’ opponent for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Participants announced for the Gauntlet were Shinsuke Nakamura, Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, King Baron Corbin, and Rey Mysterio.

WWE ended up doing an angle where Reigns and Paul Heyman “pulled some strings” to get Pearce put into the Gauntlet. This came after an opening segment where Reigns blamed Pearce for what happened to Kevin Owens last week, and made it clear that he was not happy over Pearce booking tonight’s Gauntlet.

The Gauntlet main event came down to Nakamura and Pearce, who was followed to the ring by Reigns, Heyman and Jey Uso. Reigns and Uso entered the ring first and destroyed Nakamura with several moves, including a superkick, a Superman Punch and the Uso Splash. Reigns then talked some trash to Pearce and let him know that SmackDown belongs to The Tribal Chief, and he can do whatever he wants, when he wants. Reigns then aggressively rolled Pearce into the ring. Pearce said a few words to Reigns, but turned around to a superkick from Uso. Reigns then signaled for the timekeeper to ring the bell, and Uso pulled Pearce on top of Nakamura. Both Pearce and Nakamura were laid out, but the referee was ordered to make the count and Pearce got the win. After the match, Reigns stood tall with the Universal Title in the air as Pearce began to recover. SmackDown went off the air with Reigns staring down at Pearce as Michael Cole and Corey Graves wondered if Pearce is really the #1 contender to Reigns for the Royal Rumble.

WWE has not issued an update on Pearce’s status or who will challenge Reigns at The Rumble as of this writing. It’s likely that they will do another angle on an upcoming show to determine the real challenger for Reigns at the pay-per-view, but there’s no word yet on what direction they might take.

Stay tuned for more on Reigns’ Royal Rumble challenger and the Pearce storyline. Below are several shots of tonight’s main event from the ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida: