Friday's episode of WWE SmackDown, which featured Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley and a pair of Intercontinental Championship tournament matches, saw its viewership remain virtually the same compared to last week.
According to Showbuzz Daily, an average of 2.040 million viewers tuned in to Fox to watch the two-hour show. That was barely down from last week's 2.043 million. SmackDown also ranked first on the night in the 18-49-year-old demographic with a 0.6 rating.
After NXT women's champion Charlotte confronted SmackDown women's champion Bayley as part of the brand-to-brand invitational last week, a champion vs. champion match was booked for SmackDown this week. Sasha Banks was conspicuous by her absence, though, as Bayley asked her not to be at ringside.
Bayley managed to prove the naysayers wrong by beating Flair, although she cheated to do so by grabbing the ropes to gain leverage during a pinning combination.
SmackDown also featured the continuation of the IC title tournament with the final two first-round matches taking place. In the main event of the show, Jeff Hardy beat Sheamus with a roll-up, which infuriated The Celtic Warrior.
Prior to the other tourney match between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura, it was announced that Styles had officially been traded to SmackDown for future considerations. The Phenomenal One went on to beat Nakamura and advance to the semifinals.
Hardy will face Daniel Bryan, and Styles will face Elias in the semis, which suggests Bryan and Styles could be on a collision course for the finals.
SmackDown opened with an edition of The Dirt Sheet featuring The Miz and John Morrison. After talking some trash about universal champion Braun Strowman, The Monster Among Men came to the ring to confront them, which led to a match between Braun and Miz.
After Strowman won the match, Morrison challenged him to a two-on-one handicap match with the universal title on the line at Backlash. Strowman accepted, meaning he will have to defend the championship against Miz and Morrison at the same time.
The only other bout on Friday's SmackDown was a mixed tag team match pitting Dolph Ziggler and Sonya Deville against Otis and Mandy Rose. Deville picked up the win for her team when she hit Mandy with a devastating knee.
Friday's SmackDown did well to set the stage for next week, as both IC title tournament semifinal matches will take place and the build toward Backlash will continue.
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