WWE SmackDown Ratings Up with Roman Reigns, The Fiend and Payback PPV Hype

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2020

Roman Reigns presents the best coach award at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

Friday night's episode of WWE SmackDown featuring Roman Reigns' shocking move to align with Paul Heyman saw its viewership increase slightly compared to last week's overnight ratings.

According to Showbuzz Daily, SmackDown averaged 2.181 million viewers during its two-hour broadcast on Fox, while last week's show did 2.168 million viewers in the overnight ratings. Friday's SmackDown also topped the night in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic with a 0.6 rating.

SmackDown featured fallout from last Sunday's SummerSlam pay-per-view and served as the go-home show for the Payback pay-per-view this coming Sunday.

There were several newsworthy moments, but none moved the needle more than Heyman's appearance alongside Reigns in the closing segment as The Big Dog signed the contract for his Triple Threat Universal Championship match against "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman at Payback.

WWE Chairman Vince McMahon tasked producer Adam Pearce with getting signatures from Reigns, The Fiend and Strowman on Friday to make their match official, but doing so wasn't easy.

Pearce had to go to the Firefly Funhouse to get Wyatt to sign the contract and then had to grant Strowman a match against Drew Gulak to get The Monster Among Men's autograph. Reigns refused to answer his door throughout the night, but Pearce decided to walk in, which is when the unlikely Reigns-Heyman alliance was revealed.

SmackDown also featured a huge return in the form of Sami Zayn, who hadn't been seen since he retained the Intercontinental Championship against Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 36.

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Zayn took time away because of coronavirus-related concerns, but since he never lost the IC title, he claimed he was still the true champion. Zayn called both AJ Styles and current Intercontinental champion Jeff Hardy frauds, and he laid Hardy out with a Helluva Kick after Hardy had retained the title against Shinsuke Nakamura.

Other significant moments included Matt Riddle making quick work of Shorty G and getting King Corbin to agree to a match at Payback, Cesaro beating Kalisto in a singles match and Alexa Bliss seemingly displaying a split personality that resulted in her breaking a mug she had previously gifted to Nikki Cross.

The main event match before the Reigns and Heyman segment saw Big E and Heavy Machinery beat The Miz, John Morrison and Sheamus in a six-man tag team match after Sheamus walked out on his team.

With Payback set for Sunday, next week's SmackDown should be a significant one as well since it will feature the fallout from the pay-per-view.

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