WWE SmackDown Ratings Increase with AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan IC Title Match

TOKYO,JAPAN - JUNE 28: AJ Styles enters the ring during the WWE Live Tokyo at Ryogoku Kokugikan on June 28, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Friday’s episode of WWE SmackDown on Fox, highlighted by AJ Styles beating Daniel Bryan to win the Intercontinental Championship, saw its ratings increase compared to last week.

According to Showbuzz Daily, SmackDown averaged 2.016 million viewers, which was up 1.6 percent from last week’s 1.984 million. SmackDown also ranked No. 1 on the night with a 0.5 rating in the 18-49-year-old demographic.

Roughly one-third of Friday’s show was dedicated to the final of the IC title tournament between Styles and Bryan. Styles prevailed in the entertaining back-and-forth affair to become intercontinental champion for the first time in his career.

Aside from the match between Styles and Bryan, SmackDown featured a highly controversial segment to open the show involving Jeff Hardy and Sheamus.

What was supposed to be a contract signing devolved into chaos, as Sheamus said WWE had agreed to force Hardy to take a urine test in order to wrestle at Backlash on Sunday. Hardy obliged but closed the segment by throwing his urine in Sheamus’ face.

WWE has played up to Hardy’s past issues with alcohol and drug abuse during his rivalry with Sheamus, and he was even part of a hit-and-run DUI angle a few weeks ago, but it turned out that Hardy was framed. Sheamus was also informed Friday that Hardy had passed his drug test.

The main event of SmackDown was a six-man tag team match pitting Braun Strowman, Otis and Tucker against The Miz, John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler ahead of Strowman’s Universal Championship defense against Miz and Morrison in a handicap match at Backlash.

Strowman, Otis and Tucker won, and there were no shenanigans despite the fact that Otis remains in possession of the Money in the Bank contract.

Other notable moments on SmackDown included Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro beating SmackDown tag team champions The New Day cleanly in a non-title match to set themselves up for a future title shot, and new WWE women’s tag team champions Sasha Banks and Bayley having their celebration interrupted by Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross and The IIconics.

At Backlash on Sunday, Banks and Bayley are set to defend the women’s tag titles against the aforementioned duos in a Triple Threat tag team match.

Next week’s SmackDown on Fox figures to be a newsworthy episode as well since it will feature plenty of fallout from Sunday’s Backlash pay-per-view.

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