Fox promoted the June 26 episode of SmackDown as a tribute to The Undertaker, but it played like a farewell. Tying into his statements from the final episode of WWE Network’s The Last Ride documentary mini-series, on multiple occasions WrestleMania 36’s Boneyard Match with AJ Styles was referred to as Taker’s last. Videos of the biggest stars in the business talking about The Dead Man’s legendary career played through the show, and Jeff Hardy even emulated his legendary pose to close the show.
The hype delivered the biggest audience the blue show’s had since April 17. The ratings were unchanged from last week across the board, but that was still good enough to win the night for Fox among 18 - 34 year olds.
Here are the fast national numbers for broadcast networks:
And here’s how those numbers look in comparison to every episode since WWE moved to Fridays last fall (all data via Showbuzz Daily):
While the gain was modest, WWE is at a point where they need every tool in Vince McMahon’s toolkit to keep their partners & stakeholders happy - especially with an outbreak of COVID-19 at their Orlando Performance Center keeping a growing number of current Superstars home. Taker’s farewell on The Last Ride included a caveat that he’d come back if McMahon needed him in an emergency.
That emergency seems like it’s coming - if it’s not already here.
For complete results and the live blog for SmackDown this week click here. To read a complete recap & review of all the night’s events click here. For a full playlist of the show click here.