Impact! Wrestling, which aired the past four episodes from its recent United Kingdom tour, saw a surprising jump in viewership on Thursday night, as the show returned to Orlando, Florida.
With the return of the World Heavyweight champion Jeff Hardy and Impact! Wrestling airing live rather than being taped, TNA was able to score one of its highest viewership numbers thus far in 2013 (via TV By the Numbers).
The Thursday, Feb. 28 edition of Impact! Wrestling averaged 1.49 million viewers, which represented an increase from its previous episode. In adults 18-49, Impact! Wrestling scored a 0.5 rating.
History Channel's Swamp People took the No. 1 spot on cable television's Top 50 chart Thursday night with 4.42 million viewers and a 1.6 rating in adults 18-49. Coming in second on the night was FX's Archer.
Why did Impact! Wrestling see a spike in viewership?
With just one more week left to go before TNA waves goodbye to the Impact! Zone, the company could have some strong momentum as it prepares to head on the road permanently. There were some interesting developments on this past edition of Impact! Wrestling that could keep viewers tuned in for its upcoming show.
One development was the potential return of AJ Styles, who could be coming back to TNA as a heel figure by joining Aces and Eights. Styles, who appeared briefly in a video package on Impact! Wrestling, was shown with a full grown beard and riding a motorcycle. TNA did an excellent job having Kurt Angle storm backstage to brawl with Aces and Eights members in their own clubhouse.
Angle, who would take off one of the member's masks, sold complete shock when he saw the person who joined Aces and Eights. However, TNA cameras only featured Angle in disbelief, which was a good cliff hanger ending to a live edition of Impact! Wrestling.
Hardy's return could have also been another reason for TNA's viewership boost on Thursday night, as the World Heavyweight champion has been off television for the past four weeks. TNA will have one more week to build on a strong audience before it heads on the road, beginning Thursday, March 14.