Following a rating finale in August, that saw some of the highest viewer counts of 2021, the latest WWE SmackDown episode, aired on September 1st, witnessed a sizable 5% drop in its viewer count, according to data sourced from Wrestlenomics. A total of 2,443,000 viewers tuned into this episode, a noticeable drop from 2,581,000 in the week before.
For a more in-depth analysis, the key demographic that is typically eager to watch this show: the 18 to 49 years age group, saw Fridays episode garner a total viewership of 848,000, corresponding to a 0.65 rating. This is an alarming 15% drop-off from the previous week’s 0.76 rating.
It’s pivotal to note that the August 25 episode was noteworthy for the emotional tributes paid to late wrestling marvels Windham Rotunda (popularly known as WWE’s Bray Wyatt) and wrestling’s own renaissance man, Terry Funk.
In the September 1 episode, defined as the Payback go-home show, the renowned John Cena made a surprise return. Cena’s last appearance was back on July 1, at the Money in the Bank live event, where he faced off against Grayson Waller and delivered his iconic Attitude Adjustment move.
In the episode that saw dwindling viewership numbers, Cena took centre stage and confronted contemporary star, Jimmy Uso. The Miz and L.A. Knight, who were preparing for their Payback match, had their own dedicated segment. The climax of this segment was Knight’s triumph with special guest referee Cena ruling in favor.
Other notable highlights in this episode included: Shotzi’s victory over Damage CTRL’s Bayley, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn squaring off against the Latino World Order, and the last bout of the event that saw Solo Sikoa overthrow A.J. Styles.
Diving into the digital traffic, Wrestlenomics found that the most watched YouTube video from that week’s SmackDown was John Cena’s confrontation with Jimmy Uso, which received 768,295 views. Falling behind, was a video raising the question, “Does Jimmy Uso want back in The Bloodline?” raking in 76,300 views. Accompanying these in the top three was the video of L.A. Knight’s verbal spar with The Miz prior to Payback, which amassed an audience of 392,298 viewers.
With this dip in viewership, is WWE facing an unexpected contender in ratings? The wrestling world awaits the results of the next episode with bated breath. In this ring of ratings, the fight goes on till the final bell is tolled.