Heel Roman Reigns is surprisingly not a massive ratings draw for SmackDown.
Friday's airing drew 2.066 viewers and a 0.55 rating in the demo, down from 2.144 million viewers with a 0.6 18-49 rating on last week's go-home show for Payback.
The episode was one of the strongest to date since SmackDown moved to Fox nearly a year ago. Reigns and Paul Heyman opened the show with a stellar promo to set up the Universal champion as the sport's most dominant heel.
Heyman's promo also set up the night's main event, a Fatal 4-Way to determine Reigns' first opponent for the Universal Championship at Clash of Champions. Jey Uso won that match after surprisingly replacing Big E, who was taken out by Sheamus in the opening hour to further their feud.
The result (aside from poor Big E's absence) was positive on a number of levels. Neither Uso has ever gotten a singles push despite being around for a long time, and Jey's victory sets up one of two promising options for Clash of Champions.
Reigns will either destroy his cousin in a vicious attack that cements himself as SmackDown's big bad, or this will all be a giant setup to Uso laying down for Roman and setting up a heel faction around the Universal champion. The latter option isn't nearly as satisfying immediately, but it could be for the betterment of the overall show. The Usos joining Reigns and Heyman as a heel faction would be must-watch and perhaps enliven the SmackDown tag team division.
The other major storyline coming from Friday night should shape the women's division for at least the next couple of months. Bayley's post-match attack on Sasha Banks was a long time coming—we all knew one of them would turn at some point; it was just a matter of who and when.
Bayley being the one to turn is a bit of a surprise, given Banks' best work of her career came as a heel in NXT, but it follows with Vince McMahon's love of the Heel Bayley character. The Banks-Bayley feud will likely be drawn out over months, with Sasha finally unseating Bayley as the face of SmackDown's women's division and (hopefully) finally getting a longer run as a champion.