A special edition of UPN’s WWE Friday Night Smackdown following the untimely death of yet another professional wrestler gave the show its biggest audience of the season Nov. 18.
Last Friday’s airing, which featured pro wrestlers paying tribute to Eddie Guerrero, who died at the age of 38 on Nov. 13, drew a season-high 4.9 million viewers.
The show also delivered a 1.9/7 in adults 18-34 from 8-10 p.m., trailing only CBS, while UPN led the networks during that time in men 18-34 with a 2.4/10.
The move to push the show back from Thursday to Friday this season has seemingly worked for UPN, with Friday’s ratings for the network up 96% in households over the corresponding Friday last year (a repeat of America’s Top Model and an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise) and up 55% in adults 18-49. Not surprisingly, the 2.4/10 rating in men 18-34 was up 243% over a year ago Friday night.
Guerrero died of a heart problem, which his family said was a result of past alcohol and drug abuse. UPN had aired a special last year on his troubles entitled "Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story."
According to the WWE website, WWE CEO Vince McMahon announced Monday that within the next several weeks the organization will implement a new drug-testing policy for performance-enhancing drugs, recreational drugs and the abuse of prescription drugs.
WWE also says it will put “emphasis on cardiovascular examinations.”