Pat McAfee vs. Happy Corbin
It would not be an exaggeration to call a tonight’s SummerSlam match between Pat McAfee and Happy (or as I prefer, Bum Ass) Corbin to be the one I’m looking forward to the most. Some of that may be due to the fact that this card overall feels weaker than it should for one of their biggest shows of the year. But a lot of it is due to Pat McAfee and how damn good he is at this.
Which got me thinking. What’s Pat McAfee’s ceiling in this current role, specifically as a featured wrestler?
It seems like when it comes to wrestling, WWE plans to use Pat like they use many part time stars: Save him for the big shows. Then the rest of the year, he’ll continue commentary alongside Michael Cole on SmackDown.
That makes perfect sense for the former Indianapolis Colt. WWE is only a part time gig for him, spending most of the week on his very popular, and lucrative, radio show. But when it comes to Pat as an in-ring attraction, how long can they keep going the way they are?
There are two types of featured (part time) wrestlers. There’s the past legend who has put in their time years back and now are returning riding the coattails of their own former success to become a special attraction. These are wrestlers like Goldberg, John Cena, and even the likes of Shane McMahon.
Then there are special celebrity attractions - people from outside wrestling that come in to hopefully exceed the fans likely lower expectations and ride off into the sunset on a high note. Think Johnny Knoxville, Bad Bunny, and Logan Paul.
As a special attraction, Pat clearly fits into the celebrity category more. He doesn’t have any past wrestling glory. He gets in the ring, performs well above expectation, and heads back to commentary. However, that may eventually yield diminishing returns.
McAfee is a natural at the wrestling business. He can cut a promo that is heads above half the roster. He’s very gifted in the ring for someone so new to all of this. If he wanted to be a full time wrestler, dedicating this as his sole focus, the sky would be the limit.
But as a part timer, there’s only so far they can go before it may lose its luster. There are only so many times you can be surprised with how good McAfee is for a newcomer until it gets to a point it’s not special any more. Pat may be still be rather impressive in the ring. But it won’t be a surprise any more.
They can make sure they keep giving him feuds that have meat to it to help offset that. This feud with Corbin is a good example of that. You can trace it back to Baron’s Bum Ass days where Pat would really needle him on commentary. Add in their real life history and this is a feud that makes perfect sense. Can they construct something that is different each time to keep it fresh? It will need to be more McAfee/Corbin than McAfee/Theory.
If this does lose its shine, it won’t be because Pat isn’t good at this. He’s very good at this. But with the limitation of the amount of matches (and therefore a ceiling on how strong his in-ring performances are going to be) and no former glory to fall back on, there is a possibility that the special attraction starts feeling less special.
This isn’t a problem for this match. Or his next one. Or probably even the one after that. But eventually, the same formula won’t work any more. Then it will start becoming more challenging to present this as the special attraction they want it to be. If there’s anyone up to that challenge, though, it’s Pat McAfee.
Pat McAfee will face off against Happy Corbin tonight at SummerSlam, which starts tonight at 8 PM ET on Peacock in the US and WWE Network everywhere else. And keep it here to CagesideSeats.com for all of your SummerSlam coverage.
Who will win this match?
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