- Dwayne Johnson, known as The Rock, made his surprise return Friday night
- Johnson confronted Austin Theory, with Pat McAfee also involved in the skit
- He discussed a possible showdown with his real cousin Roman Reigns next year.
The Rock’s surprise appearance on SmackDown last Friday led to a huge increase in viewership for the show.
Dwayne Johnson, made famous as The Rock in WWE before his jump to Hollywood, showed up in Denver to a rousing ovation as he took on Austin Theory in the ring.
He had appeared on the Pat McAfee show earlier in the day as he teased a WrestleMania 40 match against his real cousin Roman Reigns, and surprised the crowd by showing up on WWE programming for the first time since 2019.
Joining McAfee in the ring, he eliminated Theory before participating in a backstage segment with his old rival John Cena, also posing for photos with other stars backstage.
According to After the fightJohnson’s appearance led to a mega-surge in the show’s ratings, also triggering millions of views online to accompany the reception he received in the arena.
The Rock’s return to WWE on Friday broke social media viewership records and allowed the company to significantly increase its viewership.
The Hollywood star, real name Dwayne Johnson, appeared in WWE for the first time in three years to take on Austin Theory (right) in the ring.
Johnson had appeared on the Pat McAfee shows in Denver earlier in the day Friday.
The program’s second-largest audience this year, SmackDown was ranked number one among sports programs in the United States on Friday night.
The only episode to attract more viewers was the first show after Bray Wyatt’s death on August 25.
Viewership increased 23 percent from the previous week, while the number of men aged 18 to 49 increased from 442,000 to 614,000 and women aged 18 to 49 increased from 250,000 to 304 000.
At the same time, adults aged 35 to 49 saw their audience numbers increase from 446,000 to 590,000, a jump of 32 percent.
The first 30 minutes of the show, which featured The Rock’s appearance, averaged 2,795,000 viewers.
He received a huge ovation from the crowd and later thanked the fans for welcoming SmackDown on his X account.
Johnson knocked out Theory before unleashing his famous “People’s Elbow Move” on the former United States Champion.
Johnson teased a match with his real cousin Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40 next year
On social media, images of Johnson’s return were viewed more than 100 million times in a single day.
On YouTube, a video of the full return segment has been viewed 4,600,000 times, while WWE’s video on X has garnered over 8.6 million views.
Johnson commented on the stats on X, posting: “I’ll raise a glass to breaking records together.”
“Thank you for this unforgettable memory (and the insane crowd reaction). There’s nothing better than being at home.’