When Pat McAfee signed a new, long-term contract to take his eponymous show to ESPN, it left many fans in the professional wrestling world wondering if WWE had seen the last of the do-it-all pundit/commentator/wrestler.
Sure, McAfee's workload has been rather light since he signed on to become a member of ESPN's College Gameday in 2022, leading to Wade Barrett taking his spot on SmackDown after a successful run in NXT, but the former All-Pro Indianapolis Colts punter still found time to return at the Royal Rumble to commentate alongside his best buddy Michael Cole and Corey Graves – who humorously treated McAfee like Seth Rollins treats Logan Paul – and even worked an impromptu match at WrestleMania 39 alongside fellow football player George Kittle against The Miz.
Are all of those shenanigans about to come to an end now that McAfee is set to become a focal point of ESPN's daily sports coverage? Fortunately, fans got an answer to that question on the SI Media Podcast, where McAfee detailed his relationship with The Fed both now and moving forward.
“Myself, Michael Cole, Nick Khan, Kevin Dunn, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Vincent Kennedy McMahon, we are all still very much in contact with each other. Two of those men, Nick Khan and Vince, were people that when I had a question about what was going on during this whole process, very much answered my questions and said, Vince gave me a stern, ‘Do not,’ for one thing that I was thinking about doing because i did not appreciate the way something was laid out by one particular person in a company that I was negotiating with and everything. I sent a question, ‘Am I allowed to say this back?’ It took a couple of hours, and I got a ‘Do not. Now is not the time,’ something like that,” McAfee said via 411 Mania.
“Business-wise, I will listen to everything. Nick is another situation because Nick comes from the sports media world, so he knows all of these humans I was talking to. Nick Khan was like a ghost, ‘this person, what type of person are they?’ He would send me a ‘Boom, boom, boom. Bang, pow, think about this.’ My relationship with WWE is, I don’t want to say stronger than it’s ever been, but actually stronger than it’s ever been, and we are all very much talking about how I get back into the universe because I love it. I love it, I think I’m good at it, I think I’m supposed to be in there. I understand why people are doing things, I think that’s why commentating was a good spot for me alongside Michael Cole, the greatest of all-time. Getting stunned by ‘Stone Cold' Steve Austin. I lived out dream, after dream, after dream over there. I love that place. Our relationship is very strong. We’re working. We’re all trying to figure it out.”
Will the day ever come when McAfee is back to being a full-timer in WWE, either as a commentator, a backstage interviewer, or even just as a pundit for “Premium Live Event” a la Booker T before he got the NXT gig? Probably not, but in this modern sports media landscape, even just getting a few appearances a year would be a massive feather in WWE's cap, as capitalizing on any cross-over potential is positive for the promotion moving forward.
Pat McAfee takes a shot at AEW's Double or Nothing attendance.
Though his show is largely focused on football at the moment, as teams are beginning to gear up for the 2023 NFL season, Pat McAfee did get a chance to sneak in a little wrestling earlier this week, as, while discussing South Florida, he referenced a picture Bryan Alvarez shared of Orange Cassidy after winning the Blackjack Battle Royal at Double or Nothing before closing on the promotion for loading up the crowd to look bigger on the hard-cam.
“Anytime you get a shot away from hard cam, you know what I mean, you can really see a lot of things,” McAfee said. “AEW found out this weekend or whatever at one of their events, it’s like three-quarters of an arena completely empty. They don’t want that photo out anywhere.”
Now granted, as has been pointed out multiple times since, WWE often loads up fans in view of the camera in order to make a show look bigger than it may have appeared in person. Still, WWE fans are going to be sharing that picture of OC for a long time, and Tony Khan and company are not going to be particularly happy about it.
Orange Cassidy won the battle royal last eliminating Swerve, match was incredible live pic.twitter.com/S3drP7BSbb
— Bryan Alvarez (@bryanalvarez) May 29, 2023