The Rock's WWE return smashes viewing records on SmackDown - after he hit Austin Theory with his trademark People's Elbow... So, WrestleMania 40 next?
- Dwayne Johnson, known as The Rock, made his surprise return on Friday night
- Johnson confronted Austin Theory, with Pat McAfee also involved in the skit
- He has teased a potential match-up with real-life cousin Roman Reigns next year
The Rock's surprise appearance on SmackDown this last Friday led to a huge increase in viewership for the show.
He had appeared on The Pat McAfee show earlier in the day as he teased a WrestleMania 40 match against real-life cousin Roman Reigns, and surprised the crowd as he turned up to WWE programming for the first time since 2019.
Joining McAfee in the ring, he took out Theory before being involved in a backstage segment with former rival John Cena, also posing for pictures with other stars backstage.
According to Post Wrestling, Johnson's appearance led to a mega-increase in ratings for the show, also triggering millions of views online to go with the reception he received in the arena.
The Rock's WWE return on Friday broke social media viewing records and gave the company a huge hike in viewership
The Hollywood star, real name Dwayne Johnson, appeared in WWE for the first time in three years to confront Austin Theory (right) in the ring
Johnson had appeared on The Pat McAfee Shows in Denver earlier on in the day on Friday
The second-largest audience for the programme this year, SmackDown was ranked number on among sports programmes in the United States on Friday evening.
The only episode to have drawn in more viewers was the first show after Bray Wyatt's passing on August 25.
There was a 23 per cent viewership increase on the previous week, while 18-49 male figures jumped from 442,000 to 614,000 and 18-49 females viewers rose from 250,000 to 304,000.
Adults aged 35-49, meanwhile, increased their viewing figures from 446,000 to 590,000, a jump of 32 per cent.
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 fans for the reception at SmackDown on his X account
Johnson took out Theory before hitting his famous 'The People's Elbow move' on the former United States champion
Johnson has teased a match with real-life cousin Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40 next year
On social media, footage of Johnson's return received over 100million views in just one day.
On YouTube, a video of the full segment of the return have received 4,600,000 views, while WWE's video on X has picked up over 8.6million views.
Johnson commented on the stats on X, posting: 'I'll raise a glass to breaking records together.
'Thank you for the unforgettable memory (and insane crowd reaction). No place like home.'