TNA Gutcheck: A Look At the Career of Adam Pearce, and Why He Deserves a Contract on the Main Roster


This past Thursday in the Impact Zone, a surprising and familiar face to many fans made his way onto our television screens.  While this familiar face was only on for a minute or two, the commotion that was heard throughout social media was a big enough factor to say how big a deal this man is.

The “Scrapdaddy”, Adam Pearce will fight for a contract with TNA next week on Impact.  Over the last few weeks, he has hinted here and there in regards to this. The continued message of “Open Your Eyes” appearing on his various social media accounts became a trend, however nothing solid left anyone thinking that the former five time NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion would end up on this end of the GutCheck line.

Does he deserve a TNA contract?  It’s hard to dispute when you look at the near seventeen year career of the man known as Adam Pearce.  Perhaps a light stroll through his history and what has shaped him into the man, the character, and above all else, the wrestler, will shed some light on this subject.

nwa3Adam Pearce got his start in this business in May of 1996, competing in various promotions such as IWA Mid-South, the Northern States Wresting Alliance, and Steel Domain Wrestling, which was then known simply as Saint Paul Championship Wrestling, located in his hometown of Chicago.  He began to garner the attention of wrestling magazine publications after a series of matches with Reckless Youth in IWA.  This feud would lead him into gaining his first singles title, the IWA Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship.  At the time, IWA was garnering some attention from publications in major magazines such as PWI and Insider as an Indie Company to be reckoned with.

During a tour with another promotion known as Mid American Wrestling, Pearce found himself wrestling not only in the US, but in Eastern Europe as well, which allowed him to gain some minor international exposure whilst only in the second year of his career.  After his time overseas, Pearce found himself longing for home, and settled in with his old friends Ace Steel and Danny Dominion, going to these men’s wrestling school to get a little more training, before graduating to the level of teacher himself.  Indeed, he would have a small hand in teaching none other than the recent longest reigning WWE Champion of the last twenty-five years, CM Punk, and an enemy that would one day make his career, Colt Cabana.

During his time with their company, the appropriately named Steel Domain wrestling, he would find himself embroiled in yet another break-out feud over the companies television title, which happened to be owned by none other than Danny Dominion.  After a series of wars, Pearce would find the title around his waist, garnering yet another singles title in young career.  After the dust would settle on the feud, Pearce would find himself teaming with the men he had a hand in training, Punk and Cabana, along with Dave Prazak and Chuck E. Smooth, creating a faction known as the “Gold Bond Mafia”.  While short-lived, fans in Chicago still have fond memories of the rather odd collection of wrestlers.

In the meantime, Pearce would find himself taking on the role of the top Babyface in the start-up company known as All-Star Championship Wrestling.  Once again, Adam would make waves  in a bitter feud with Dino Bambino.  The momentum would lead him to a particularly brutal cage match in 1999 against Adrian Lynch, the ACW Champion.  This match would not only score his first Heavyweight tile win, but would also go on to win the Mid-West Match of the year honor.

While also wrestling in companies such as the short-lived Music City wresting promotion, or the Pittsburgh based Steel City wrestling, Adam Pearce would periodically find himself on WWF television as an outside jobber throughout the the Attitude Era.  His combined appearances for the WWF, along with his impressive Independent Wrestling career at that point would garner the attention of one Paul Orndarff, who invited Adam to attend the WCW Powerplant training program.  Pearce would finish the course there, but deny a contract with WCW on the grounds that he felt moving to Atlanta was not an option.  A year later, he would get anther try-out matches for WCW as the company was on its last legs, but he would go on to be quoted that the state of the locker room was “disorganized and chaotic”.

After the WCW Powerplant experience, Pearce opted to take time off from professional wrestling.  However, an eight month leave of absence would end at the behest of “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels, and one Kevin Kelly, and would go to work for “Ultimate Pro Wrestling”.  Perhaps the biggest match during his tenure was against one Diamond Dallas Page at the UPW “Overload” event, a match that he would ultimately lose.  A good portion of his time with UPC would be teaming with a future enemy by the name of Aaron Angilera.

Throughout 2000 and 2001, Adam Pearce would find himself in some major tournament matches, such as the King Of The Indies Tournament, where he would unfortunately go down in the first round to Douglas Williams, and the IWA Mid-South “Sweet Science Sixteen” tournament, where he would defeat Chris Hero and B.J. Whitmer, before facing a losing effort against friend Ace Steel.  Throughout this period, however, his appearances were still rather sporadic, apparently still disenfranchised after seeing the “Big Leagues” in person.

That would end, however, when he would sign up to help a just starting company by the name of EPIC.  While EPIC would fail shortly thereafter, it would lead him to a company of some prominence today known as Pro Wrestling Guerilla in California, his new base of operations.  Throughout the early days of PWG, Pearce, the ever sleazy Joey Ryan, the future TNA World Tag Team Champion of the World Frankie Kazarian, and Pearce’s old friend Aaron Aguilera would be the major driving points of the main event scene in the rising company.  While Kazarian would be PWG’s first World Champion, Adam Pearce would find himself in the hunt for Frankie’s PWG World Heavyweight title, eventually winning it at PWG’s “Taste the Radness” event on February 22, 2004, becoming the companies first heel champion.  An enraged Kazarian would chase him for months, leading to a “Loser Leaves PWG Steel Cage Match”, in which Frankie would win and rid the company of Pearce.

Not long after, Bart Kapitzke, the innovator of California’s “Alternative Wrestling Show” craze, which was hot in the mid-2000’s, would invite Pearce into the promotion.  Pearce is credited by the “SoCal” industry of wrestlers as a major contributing factor to the upswing in ticket sales and attendance during that period of time, even though they didn’t have a major “main stream” draw back in those days.  Pearce would go on to win the AWS title under the guise of “The Masked Spymaster II”.  Fans of MTV’s short-lived “Wrestling Society X” would recognize the mask as the same one gifted to Colt Cabana.  Pearce’s time spent in the company would also see the return of the WCW “WarGames” match, which he would compete against in with his old friend and part-time rival Aguilera.

During his time AWS, Pearce spent a lot of time in both Mexico and Japan, training in the New Japan Dojo, and teaming with various wrestlers, including Tora Yano in the aptly named “Beer and Sake Connection”.

His time in Mexico was much more prevalent, consisting of feuds with the likes of Venuum Black, Extreme Tiger, Nicho El Millionario, Rey Misterio Sr., Damien 666, and Halloween.  He was known at that time for his ability to cut a fluent promo in Spanish, and his Dusty Rhodes-esque style gimmick at that time.   All this time Adam made trips back to the United States not only for AWS, but also for tours with NWA Pro.

DeliriousPearceIn 2005, Adam Pearce used a known scouting promotion by the name of Full Impact Pro to gain a spot on the Ring Of Honor roster, however he wouldn’t find a major angle that he would be intertwined with until 2006, during Ring Of Honor’s war with hardcore promotion Combat Zone Wrestling.  After a brutal attack on CZW veteran the Necro Butcher, Jim Cornette would take notice of the little used Adam Pearce, and give him the position of “Lieutenant Commissioner of Ring Of Honor”, which basically meant that he was now the voice of Jim Cornette.  This would allow him to take a more prominent role in the war against CZW, eventually landing Pearce a spot on Ring Of Honor’s One Hundreth Show, with team ROH.  The team would originally consist of Pearce, B.J. Whitmer, Samoa Joe, Ace Steel, and Bryan Danielson.  competing for team CZW would have the turncoat Chris Hero, Claudio Costagnoli before he was known as Antonio Cessaro, Necro Butcher, Nate Webb, and Eddie Kingston in the ever famous “Cage Of Death 8″.

As fate would have it, Bryan Danielson would in his own small way effect the outcome of Pearce’s future with Ring Of Honor in his brutal attack on Ring Of Honor World Champion Samoa Joe.  His actions would lead him to leave, and to be replaced by none other than Homicide, a known CZW competitor, now teaming with Ring Of Honor.  While ROH would win the match, Pearce and Jim Cornette lackey JJ Dillon attacked Homicide, handcuffed him to the cage, so as to alow Cornette to get in a few free shots.  Homicide would enter a feud with Pearce as a result, which would lead Adam to abandoned long time friend B.J. Whitmer to curry favor with his new friend, none other than Steve Corino. The team would ultimately be defeated by Homicide and Samoa Joe at Suffication that year, but Pearce, unsatisfied, would go on to attempt to screw Homicide not long after at The Chicago Spectacular in hs ROH title match against Bryan Danielson, in an ultimatley vain effort.

PACandPearceWhile all this was happening, Pearce was also touring the United States in the “Wrestling Summit Series”, which saw the National Wrestling Alliance attempting to regain its former glory after parting from TNA.  Pearce would find himself embroiled in a long feud with none other than Sean “X-PAC” Waltman over the NWA Heritage Championship, the top prize in the company at that particular time.  Both men would trade this title back and forth throughout the tour in a series of excellent matches that made Adam Pearce a major name in the NWA, and perhaps the heir apparent if the NWA World’s Heavyweight Title were to ever be reintroduced.

Ring Of Honor, however, was a much different story.  After a minor run with Pearce and his “Hangman’s Three”, a reuniting B.J. Whitmer, Shane Hagadorn, and most notably, Brent Albright, the group would be purchased by “Sweet N’ Sour” Larry Sweeney and added to his stable. Both Whitmer and Albright would disagree this these action, leading to Whitmer being brutally beaten down, and Albright becoming Pearce’s main adversary throughout the next year.

Indeed, this wasn’t just in Ring Of Honor.  A tournament was set forth by the NWA dully named the “Reclaiming The Glory” Tournament, where Pearce would advance to the Semi-Finals, to lose to Bryan Danielson.  However, the future “Goat Faced” WWE Superstar would be forced to leave the tournament, sending Pearce into the finals against none other than his former partner, Brent Albright.  In Puerto Rico at the “International Wrestling Association”, the finals would be decided, and Pearce would walk away with the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship.

PearceROHPearce would spend that year wrestling thirty and hour-long matches against tough competition from multiple nations, such as Sidelico Jr. and Damien Wayne, before the inevitable night would occur when Albright would find himself in Adam Pearce’s way once again.

That would happen, believe it or not, at Ring Of Honor’s “Respect Is Earned II” event, where Adam teamed up with Chris Hero and Eddie Edwards in a losing effort to Delirious, Primeau, and none other than Brent Albright.  After the match, Adam would pull the NWA’s World Heavyweight Championship out of a suitcase and viciously attack Albright with it, marking the first time that Ring Of Honor credited Pearce with owning the title.

This would also lead to the controversial meeting of the Ring Of Honor World Champion Nigel McGuiness and the NWA’s World’s Heavyweight Champion Adam Pearce, a meeting with both titles on the line.  While McGuiness would pin Pearce, the NWA board would overthrow the decision, reenacting an ancient clause known as the “Over The Top Rope” rule, which caused a disqualification and allowed both men to retain.  Ring Of Honor historians still count this as one of the most controversial rulings inhe companies history, and is a topic of disgust by most fans.

Not long after, Pearce would team up with a new member of his faction by the name of Go Shiozaki to face Albright, with a new tag team partner in the form of Roderick Strong.  This match would be ruled a disqualification after Albright refused to stop attacking his long time Rival.  After he was pulled off of Pearce, he would be leveled with a vicious fireball to his face, once again upping the ante in this long and dangerous feud.

Live on Ring Of Honor television, Adam Pearce would not only gain a new belt, now with red leather, but learn that Albright would be contending for said belt.  In a repeat of when Jack Brisco would lose the title to Harley Race after being awarded a red leather belt, Pearce would go on to lose the title to Albright not long after.  Pearce, however, would have the last say, regaining it at Glory by Dishonor VII.

Not long after that final stage of the feud, Pearce would be released from Ring Of Honor, but for only a few short months.  As it would turn out, a much bigger responsibility would be given to him oon October 26, 2008 as head of booking for Ring Of Honor.  Pearce would hold this job until August 15, 2010, when Jim Cornette would take over after Adam Pearce resigned due to a “difference of ideology”.

Over the next two years, Adam would continue to be a driving force for the National Wrestling Alliance, and while he would lose the belt for over a year to Blue Demon Jr., he would continue to be a driving force for the NWA not only on-screen, but off as well, taking on the responsibility of head booker for NWA in Hollywood for a portion of time.  In this time, Pearce would also have a decent title run with the NWA British Commonwealth Heavyweight Championship, which he won off of Dru Onyx in Quebec.  It would be long, however, before Pearce would regain the ten pounds of gold.  The belt would return to him after winning a three-way dance against the Demon and Phil Shatter and NWA New Beginnings.  Not log after that, Pearce would once again prove his detractors wrong, defending the belt successfully against the man many fans felt was the rightful NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion, Bryan Danielson, who missed his chance at becoming the first new NWA Champion of the modern Era to Pearce do to that injury years before.  He would even right an old wrong, attacking Shane Douglas backstage the same night in a very late retaliation to him dropping the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship in the trash, and beginning the era of Extreme, so many years before.

imagesCAWO279EPearce would hold onto the gold until March of 2011, where a man who was once his student rose up to contend for his title, none other than Colt “Boom Boom” Cabana.  Even though Cabana would not have a long title run, and Pearce would regain it and hold it for nearly nine months, that wrong was not righted in Pearce’s eyes, especially after he lost the belt once again in April of 2012.

This turn of events would spark the war that would once again gain national coverage for both wrestlers.   As series of matches to determine who would be the better man once and for all, a series known as “Seven Levels Of Hate”.

Cabana And Pearce would go on the wrestle a brutal best of seven series, where the stakes were indeed high.  Pearce put forth the challenge, and swore an oath that if he did not win the series, he would leave the NWA forever.  The topic of Seven Levels Of Hate has been covered in full on this site not long ago, and it was indeed a war.  Adam Pearce would lose three straight matches to his former protegé before finally tearing the title away from him in the fourth match of the series.  The two would meet in Australia, with three wins a piece, and while Adam would lose this match, he would not lose the title.

The NWA board, it seemed, did not trust Cabana with the ten pounds of gold, and refused to give this historic feud, which got a runner-up position as “Feud Of The Year” from PWI, a proper finish.  Not only would Colt Cabana walk out on the Alliance that night, but Pearce would willingly vacate the title and leave as well.  While his time away from the National Wrestling Alliance would not be long, it would leave a lasting effect on the company as a whole.  Indeed, Pearce is still competing for the company as he embarks on a new venture in life.

In May, Adam Pearce will have been competing as a professional wrestler actively for seventeen years, and one can hardly argue that he is perhaps the most successful independent wrestler since the loss of the territories.  Even Pearce has admitted that there isn’t much he has not done in his storied career.  Perhaps the biggest omission would be the Ring Of Honor World Title, but even that would just be a small check on his stay as an independent wrestler.  His success, and even failures, have gained him national exposure and actual headlines in the world of pro wrestling.  But he has yet to make a major impact on a truly well-known national stage.

Pearce’s GutCheck opportunity gives him that chance.  An amazingly technical wrestler, a master of the art of delivering a promo, and a truly recognized name, Adam Pearce is almost above the need for such a system as “GutCheck”, as one would assume anywhere he would go he would be used to his fullest.  While his opponent for GutCheck, one Magno, can certainly find a home in the X-Division, Adam Pearce is a main event talent that should be used to his fullest potential.

In either case, Pearce sees what needs to be done, addressing his fan base via this twitlonger on his official twitter page after his appearance on Impact.

Been a whirlwind 48 hours. Thanks to @IMPACTWRESTLING for leaving the door open a crack. My job to kick it in. Your support has been incredible and I can’t put into words what it has meant to me and my family.

People often ask why I haven’t looked to a higher profile place in wrestling. The simple truth is that it has never been the right time for me. I’ve been able to forge a lasting career on the strength of my work and reputation for 17 years around the world without the benefit of national television exposure. I am extremely proud of that. I owe each and every one of you a debt of gratitude for that. Please know how much I appreciate it.

That said, I feel like now is the right time and TNA is the right place to take another step. I am hopeful that I will prove that to be fact in the eyes of @TNADixie and everyone associated.

I don’t ask anything more from you – the fans – than what you’ve already given me. Your support. Please tune in to @SpikeTV next Thursday and watch me face the talented Magno in the GutCheck. Then, if you wish, let your voice be heard.

Now is the time. Open your eyes.

Thank you to everyone that already has…

One way or another, Adam Pearce recognizes he has begun a journey into the next leg of his career.  Now, the challenge must be posed to TNA, given the history of these GutCheck contestants.

Do you want to send a sure-fire Main Event talent down to OVW to stew and suffer for months on end, or do you want to take full advantage of the biggest signing the company has made since Austin Aries two years ago.

The bottom line on all of this:  Do you want to sit on your hands and wait, or release a bright new talent into the deep end, and allow him to impress.  The ball is in your hands, TNA.

As Adam Pearce says, “Open Your Eyes.”