Three shows in, and it seems pretty clear that WWE and FOX are already worried about SmackDown's ratings on Friday night.
We've known for a while that FOX was very keen on bringing SmackDown to its network. It didn't pay more than $1 billion for the rights to SmackDown for the next five years for nothing. What we didn't know, but are starting to get an idea of, is what exactly FOX expected in terms of viewership from the blue brand on Friday nights.
Just three shows into FOX and WWE's five-year deal and it already feels as if both parties are manning their respective panic stations. Eric Bischoff has been replaced as the show's Executive Director, and this week's episode of SmackDown is being stacked with well-known talent and big names well ahead of time.
Both Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez will be on the show and take part in a face-to-face. It makes sense since the two will face off for the WWE Championship six days later. Plus, Lesnar is now a SmackDown Superstar. We wonder if anyone from WWE explained to FOX beforehand that Lesnar doesn't appear on the show every single week, even when he is holding the company's top prize?
And that's not all! WWE Hall Of Famers Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair will also be live on the show. Again, it makes sense as they will also be clashing six days later at Crown Jewel. Thankfully, not in the ring. Hogan and Flair each have their respective team of five Superstars who will clash in ten-man tag team action. Chances are Flair's fifth and final spot will be filled this week on SmackDown.
There is good and bad to take from SmackDown's ratings so far. Yes, it has been dropping with each passing week, but it has still beaten Raw three times out of three. We'd hazard to guess FOX thought Team Blue's rating would be closer to the 3.9 million viewers it drew on its debut. However, chances are it will continue to sink and settle around the 2 million mark. That's unless WWE can stack the show every single week.