When FOX bought the rights to air SmackDown, it is thought that the goal was for the show to average around 3 million viewers per episode.
Given that this is around a million more than the show currently gets on the USA Network, it’s a big ask.
Despite this, the company has set its sites very high for this Friday’s FOX debut show, and that is for one very good reason. The Rock is returning.
The Rock is without doubt the biggest draw in wrestling, and given his mainstream appeal, there’s the likelihood that he will bring with him a lot of lapsed or new fans to the product as well.
Writing in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer said:
Whatever number they get, and I know people in the industry using 4.5 million or more as the expectation, it’ll probably end up as the all-time record for the show in its FOX incarnation because I can’t see anything they could do short of airing WrestleMania for free that could do whatever number this will end up doing. The key to Johnson is not only his value, but the value he brings to late promotions and again taking more wind out of the AEW debut sails because with Johnson, Smackdown, which already was the show getting all the media attention, becomes the can’t miss show of the week.
The really interesting thing will be how many of the Rock fans will stick around and watch next week’s show.
You won’t be able to base anything on this Friday’s show given that it’s pretty much a reunion show with PPV level matches, but it’ll be fun anyway.