Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made a surprise return to WWE on Friday and in his wake, viewers followed.
According to Wrestlenomics, last Friday’s “SmackDown” was the sixth episode to crack 2,500,000 viewers in 2023, with 2,569,000 tuning in to see The Rock and Pat McAfee return to WWE, after both appeared together on ESPN earlier in the day. It’s a 23 percent rise in overall viewership from last week. 918,000 viewers from the coveted 18-49 demographic tuned in on Friday, representing a 33 percent bump from last week.
The Rock’s appearance, where he dropped a People’s Elbow on perennial punching bag Austin Theory was the highest-rated segment in both the overall viewership and the key demographic, with both demographics bottoming out for the end of Asuka’s match against Bayley, which saw Asuka victorious against the leader of Damage CTRL.
The Rock wasn’t the only special appearance on Friday, as former WWE Champion John Cena also appeared on “SmackDown,” even crossing paths with “The Great One” at one point during the program. Cena has been back in WWE for a number of special appearances and took a turn as a guest on The Grayson Waller Effect during Friday’s episode. Cena was ambushed by Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa to close the show, as tensions have been building between Cena and the former WWE Undisputed Tag Team Champion.
The Rock mentioned earlier in the day that he was set to wrestle a match against Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39, but plans were scuttled. Rock’s return has hung a lampshade on those comments, as Rock pointed out that he’s available for WrestleMania 40 next year in Philadelphia.