It seems Big E = ratings because the episode of SmackDown headlined by his Intercontinental Championship win over Sami Zayn was watched by more people than any other WWE event in 2020.
According to a report in Showbuzz Daily, the episode hit an average of 3.336 million viewers on Fox. The highest rating for any WWE programme since their debut on Fox in October 2019.
Smarty, WWE elected to open the show with the Universal Championship cage match featuring Roman Reigns vs Kevin Owens. This tactic, reminiscent of the way they used to format Saturday Night’s Main Event in the 1980s, was to capitalise on the large audience watching the NFL game on the channel between the New Orleans Saints and The Minnesota Vikings that aired right before SmackDown started.
The move paid off handsomely with an hour one average of 4.097 million. Hour two averaged 2.574 million.
That first hour, which started 8 minutes late due to the NFL game, even outdrew the NBA game between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers on ABC. The corresponding hour for that game drew 3.959 million viewers.
The episode received strong praise as arguably WWE’s best TV show of the year. It will be critical that they maintain this momentum heading towards the Royal Rumble PPV on January 31st 2021.