WWE tried an interesting quasi-experiment with Smackdown Live this week, and it looks like it paid off. Tuesday’s episode of Smackdown was the “Wild Card Finals,” and while no one is still real sure what that means, it featured the return of John Cena, three big title matches, and was well-received by pretty much everyone who watched it. It felt like a big deal to close out 2016, something that Monday’s Raw … didn’t quite accomplish.
The end result is that, for the first time since the brand split draft kicked off the new age of Smackdown Live, Smackdown trumped Raw in the ratings. ShowBuzz Daily reports that the Wild Card Finals was No. 3 on cable for Tuesday night, and pulled in 2.885 million viewers, which is up from last week’s 2.637. By comparison, Monday’s episode of Raw drew 2.855 million pairs of eyeballs.
There are several factors at play here, of course. Monday was the observed Christmas holiday for most Americans, and the Wild Card Finals were pushed heavily on both last week’s Smackdown and this week’s Raw. Thanks to all of that, one of Smackdown’s biggest shows of the year only managed to pull in about 30,000 more viewers than Raw, so you shouldn’t read too much into this as a shift in the balance of power or anything.
Still, it’s a wonderful little feather in the cap of the Smackdown roster and gives them something to crow about as we head into 2017.