Pat McAfee made his triumphant return to WWE at the Royal Rumble in a commentary role, but he has revealed that wasn’t what was originally discussed.
It was in September 2022 when Pat McAfee left his WWE Smackdown announcing job because he took a job on the panel of the ESPN College GameDay show that covers college football during the fall season.
Since being away from Smackdown, McAfee was replaced by Wade Barett, who was on NXT for a few years before that. McAfee’s full-time job is hosting a popular sports show on YouTube five days a week, which he continued to do while working for WWE.
During Saturday’s Royal Rumble broadcast, McAfee made his WWE return at the start of the show. It was revealed live on the air that WWE’s lead announcer Michael Cole, who is in charge of the commentary team, was told by Pat that he wasn’t going to be there. Cole was surprised that McAfee was there and McAfee said on the broadcast that he lied to Cole about it because he wanted to keep it a secret.
While speaking today on his Pat McAfee Show on YouTube, the former NFL Punter and WrestleMania 38 competitor spoke about how WWE wanted him in the Men’s Royal Rumble match, but he didn’t want to train for it.
“There was speculation, a lot of people talking about it, a lot of people thought I was going to be in the Royal Rumble, a lot of people thought I was going to be there. That was not figured out until late last week. That came together pretty quick.”
“Not that there was any bad relations, it’s just my schedule for the last five months, and everyone’s schedule, especially in the WWE, my wife is pregnant, there was no bad beef or anything, it was just, ‘I don’t want to have to train enough to get into the Royal Rumble.'”
As he continued, Pat spoke about how he didn’t think he was going to be in good enough shape to be in the Royal Rumble
“They said immediately (after I left), Hunter, Stephanie, and Nick, ‘Rumble is like the perfect time to comeback,’ because that’s when people come back and it’s after college football season. I was like, ‘perfect.’ I need something to keep me in shape. I get fat and I need something to keep working out for. I tried. Everybody saw me, I was getting after it. By week nine….I think I could have (done a couple minutes in the Rumble), but I don’t want to disrespect anybody.”
“There were only 29 guys who came out because where the fuck was Rey Mysterio? Is he okay? There are only so many spots and there is a lot of danger and s**t that can happen. I told them, maybe week 13 or 14 of the season, ‘Hey, want to let you know, the season has been a grind with Gameday being an extra work day, I’m not going to be able to be in good enough shape for Rumble. I don’t want to disrespect Royal Rumble.
“I’m just letting you know where I’m at right now. I’m not waking up an extra hour or stay up an extra hour to get in shape or whatever is needed.’ It’s one of those combos. ‘We’ll chat later, all good.’ It was the goal, Royal Rumble was the goal, I wasn’t able to keep up with it because Gameday getting dropped in and what that schedule became.”
Pat McAfee also talked about how the plan he was on to get to San Antonio (he lives in Indianapolis) on Saturday had an issue and he nearly didn’t make it in time.
“The plane we were supposed to take off on malfunctioned. The wing doesn’t work, have to find a new plane. ‘Holy sh*t, now we’re in an ordeal. But if it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t supposed to happen so no big deal.’”
McAfee noted that WWE Executive Producer Kevin Dunn helped him get another plane to make it to the Royal Rumble on time.
“I landed 28 minutes before I was seen at the Rumble because of the plane delay. So literally a plane, car on the runway to the arena, stop at the bus, have water, bang right into a golf cart straight over there.”
During his show today, McAfee also had WWE’s Michael Cole on as a guest and it didn’t sound like Pat is going to return to his regular commentary role on Smackdown although WWE does want to work with him again whenever he’s able to do it.