This week’s WWE Smackdown Live featured a main event triple threat match between then United States Champion Kevin Owens, AJ Styles and Chris Jericho. The match wasn’t advertised before the show. It was set up in an entertaining opening segment that saw Jericho return after being off WWE TV for nearly two months and then they got a lot of time in the main event to have a good match. Styles ended up stealing the pin after an Owens Frog Splash leading to Styles getting back the US Title.
Smackdown drew viewership numbers similar to the last two weeks according to Showbuzz Daily. This week’s show drew 2.535 million viewers, which made it third for the night on cable TV after the Rachel Maddow Show and Tucker Carlson Tonight, both of which air on Fox News. The number is barely below the 2.548 million viewers from last week and a bit of a boost from the 2.465 million viewers from two weeks earlier.
I’m intrigued by what next week’s viewership numbers might be because WWE has advertised a Styles vs. Owens rematch for the US Title. It’s not a new match by any means, but it is two great wrestlers in a title match. In addition to that, WWE has advertised a number one contender’s match that we’ve never seen before.
John Cena is the biggest ratings draw in WWE after 12 years of being a top guy and Shinsuke Nakamura has more hype than any newcomer on the main roster this year. Who wins? Will it be clean? Could Jinder Mahal or Baron Corbin get involved? There are a lot of interesting questions about how WWE books the match and who wins, so I think that should provide a boost in viewership.
I’m sure WWE is intrigued by the number too because giving away Cena vs. Nakamura on free TV might seem like a mistake, but it also may be really smart if it leads to one of the biggest numbers for Smackdown this year.