WWE SmackDown drew its highest television ratings of 2021 on Friday night as the build toward a SummerSlam match between John Cena and Roman Reigns continued to take center stage.
Spoiler TV reported SmackDown brought in an average of 2.499 million viewers across the two-hour broadcast on Fox and its 0.6 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic topped all prime-time shows on network TV.
The number of viewers marked the show's highest total since the Christmas night episode last December, which tallied 3.303 million, per Joshua Gagnon of Wrestling Inc.
Friday's telecast kicked off with a lengthy promo showdown between Cena and Reigns that included some personal barbs to help blur the lines between work and reality.
Cena's return from Hollywood to work a SummerSlam program with Reigns, who's emerged as the company's most marketable Superstar since the 16-time WWE champion's departure from a full-time wrestling role, has provided a significant boost to SmackDown.
Reigns discussed the differences between himself and Cena during an appearance Wednesday on the Pat McAfee Show:
Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow
"You see me every Friday night. I have to dull this shit down..<br><br>I come out in sweatpants & some J's. I don't have to throw on the crazy colors, wear wristbands all over my body..<br><br>I don't have to make myself something that I'm not" ~ <a href="https://twitter.com/WWERomanReigns?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWERomanReigns</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PatMcAfeeShowLIVE?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PatMcAfeeShowLIVE</a> <a href="https://t.co/V8CtumCWt0">pic.twitter.com/V8CtumCWt0</a>
Meanwhile, the show also featured a contract signing between SmackDown women's champion Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks, who received some assistance from Carmella and Zelina Vega to attack the titleholder ahead of their SummerSlam matchup.
Other highlights included Shinsuke Nakamura defeating Apollo Crews to win the Intercontinental Championship for a second time and Seth Rollins cutting a promo on Edge as they also gear toward a high-profile clash at next weekend's pay-per-view.
Next Friday's episode of SmackDown will serve as the go-home show before SummerSlam takes place Saturday at Allegiant Stadium, the home of the Las Vegas Raiders.
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