When Pat McAfee made his surprise return to at the 2023 Royal Rumble, it generated a major pop from his best friend Michael Cole and the rest of the WWE Universe. Fans were excited to see the punter-turned-media personality-turned-wrestler return to the commentary booth, where he's proven himself a natural hype generator despite having a less then ideal grasp of things like move names or historical references, and in the end, he was ultimately a net positive as the third man in a commentary team that also featured Cole and Corey Graves, even if he, apparently, didn't get the memo that calling Drew McIntyre and Sheamus “The Banger Bros” was a big no-no on the mic.
Though McAfee has been absent from WWE television since and didn't ultimately make the trip up to Canada to call the Elimination Chamber alongside Cole and Graves in Montreal, there was at least some optimism to see if McAfee would pop up once more at WrestleMania 39, where he famously wrestled Austin Theory and Vince McMahon the previous year.
Well, as it turns out, the answer to that question is a definitive no, as, according to WWE's Co-CEO Nick Khan, McAfee isn't reportedly in the cards – or on the card – for “The Showcase of the Immortals,” as he detailed to Andrew Marchand and John Ourand on the Marchand & Ourand Sports Media Podcast for the New York Post and the Sports Business Journal.
“We have no plans to have him there this weekend,” Khan said via Fightful. “The world is his oyster. He's 36 years old. Look at his relevancy factor when you talk to young children. I have two young children, when I talk to them, it's often, ‘McAfee, McAfee, McAfee.' That's what's in the wheelhouse for them. If you look at any of the traditional buyers, what do they want? They want a young, diverse audience. What does McAfee bring? A young, diverse audience. He doesn't get political to the extreme either way. He has Aaron Rodgers on, respectfully develops that relationship, and becomes the go-to home for Aaron Rodgers. You see that with more athletes and Pat. He's not looking to annihilate anybody or crucify them. He's looking to have good content, and his content has been terrific. He'll determine, ultimately, where he wants his home to be. Our hope is that he does more with us.”
Now granted, could Khan be swerving Marchand and Ourand in order to keep McAfee's return a surprise? You bet; it would be pretty lame to give away McAfee's return and ruin the surprise, especially on a sports media podcast that probably doesn't count too many regular wrestling marks among their core fanbase. Still, it's probably for the best to keep expectations low, as opposed to keeping that flame burning bright only to be disappointed.
Nick Khan is marching fast toward a WWE sale.
While Khan has been doing the media rounds getting folks excited for WrestleMania 39, even if he's doing so from more of a business side of things, that hasn't kept folks from discussing his goings-on, including the reported sale of WWE that has been heating up ever since Vince McMahon announced his return to The Fed in order to help usher in a new media deal and a potential sale.
Discussing the prospects of a potential WWE sale on Squawk on the Street, CNBC journalist David Faber detailed where sales talks are right now and which outside parties have an interest in the company.
“What I'm hearing, at least from people familiar with the situation, is, it's shaping up to be a pretty good sale process. Some people saying, ‘pretty hot and heavy,'” Faber noted via Fightful. “Those who were even somewhat doubtful, in fact, that you'd get to a sale in the end, seem less so. Does that mean something gets done here? Unclear.
“Who is participating? We can all take our various guesses. As reported previously, is there interest from Endeavor, for example, in pursuing what would be a complex transaction in terms of reverse Morris trust where they would spin off UFC into [a new company] and control that company, which would be merged with WWE. Sure, they would like to explore that concept. Is there private equity interest in the part of some? Perhaps in partnership with well-known names in the sport. That's a possibility. Does Liberty (media) have an interest in taking a look? Sure. The Saudis moved heavily into golf, took a look at Formula 1. Would the [Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund] have interest? Yes, that's a possibility. There may be others. Something has led, at least to a number of people close to this, to indicate to me that it is not just live, but it's going quite well. It is expected to conclude in the not-too-distant future. A key here, though, remains McMahon's real willingness to sell. Comcast, my understanding, not part of this sale process.”
Could WWE have a new owner by Monday Night RAW? Or will this storyline continue out into the future with no definitive end date on the books? Either way, it's interesting to see an outside perspective's view on WWE's future, especially with all of the wrestling lore removed from the equation.
It’s a battle royal! @davidfaber reports multiple parties are in the ring for a potential sale of $WWE pic.twitter.com/LuoqfLIHpH
— Squawk on the Street (@SquawkStreet) March 28, 2023