Roman Reigns Smackdown Apr 2, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns during Wrestlemania Night 2 at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Friday Night Smackdown scored its biggest viewership numbers of 2023 last week. As the show celebrated that Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns reached 1,000 days in his memorable reign, WWE gained a massive audience for its premier show. The show’s June 2, 2023, edition netted an average of 2,563,000 viewers and a 0.73 rating in the Adults 18-49 demographic, according to ShowBuzzDaily and Wrestlenomics.

The 0.73 rating in the 18-49 demo led comfortably across both local primetime and cable networks on Friday.

WWE also dominated social media, something they have notably been able to do with ease lately. A clip featuring Reigns, the Usos, and Solo in the ring topped over 40 million views on social media platforms, according to Sports Business Journal. Solo had blasted Jimmy Uso with a Samoan Spike, igniting a firm separation.

Smackdown has sat comfortably on Friday nights for the past few months. In April, the show averaged around 2.34 million, followed by an average of 2.124 million in May. Throughout the year, they’ve never scored lower than an average of 2,059,000; their 2.563 mark is their highest average since a mark of 2,629,000 on December 30, 2022. 16-time World Champion John Cena appeared on that December 30 edition of Smackdown.

The headline attraction on Friday night’s episode of Smackdown was the Roman Reigns celebration. Reigns’ lengthy title run reached 1,000 days at Night of Champions last Saturday in Saudi Arabia. Reigns and the tumultuous Bloodline storyline have gotten wide critical acclaim seemingly every week and for every segment. The angle had a huge moment at Night of Champions occur, as Jimmy Uso superkicked Reigns, sparking conflict between him, his brother Jey Uso, Reigns, and Solo, the youngest face in the group. Quarrel has emerged, and the two sides appear destined to collide soon.

Fans on Twitter expressed a lot of unhappiness and unrest after WrestleMania 39 in April. Reigns defended his championship against Royal Rumble winner Cody Rhodes. Rhodes was a challenger who many predicted would unseat The Tribal Chief and end his record-long reign. That didn’t happen. The embattled Reigns instead successfully defended his title for the third consecutive WrestleMania. Rhodes did not win the title and is still on the hunt. But now he’s distracted by Brock Lesnar, so Roman and his family have once again taken center stage.

It serves as a reminder that there are a lot of avenues for storylines to go. Perhaps thinking the worst isn’t always suitable. It also proves to be a reminder of one very big component: People like Roman Reigns. A lot. They always have, and now that he’s in the tippy-top spot, nobody has really moved off the wagon for both Smackdown and Raw, whose numbers have stayed level this year too. Sometimes, things in life are just that simple.

Based on their TV numbers on Smackdown – which have hardly fluctuated at all in 2023 – there isn’t any apparent fatigue yet for this angle. WWE viewership recently turned on a dime, and they’ve caught fire and consistency. That’s been bad news for its competition because through 2023 so far, the WWE TV audience has been almost immovable. That all trickles down from the top. Not only are fans still interested in the Roman Reigns – Bloodline saga on Smackdown, but interest may also have been gained.


About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022