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Pat McAfee on his TakeOver match, and if he’ll be back

WWE.com

Former NFL All-Pro and current sports talk personality Pat McAfee silenced doubters last Saturday night (Aug. 22) with an impressive performance in his pro wrestling debut against Adam at Cole at TakeOver: XXX.

How did he approach it? Did he consider it a success? Will he be back? McAfee addressed all those topics and more in an interview with ESPN.

On how he felt heading into the match:

“I think for me, it was 20 years in the making ... it was something I’ve always dreamed of being a part of. And that morning when you wake up and say, “OK. Here’s a chance for me to do something I’ve always dreamed of doing.” You can face that in two different ways. You can be nervous about it and be like, “Well, I hope it goes how I always dreamed of it.” Or you can be excited and be like, “Well, I can’t wait to do this because I’ve always wanted to.” I think that was how I attacked the day. I was like, “I just can’t wait to do this. I’m going to enjoy the entire thing and let’s see what the hell happens.” And yeah, I enjoyed the hell out of Saturday a lot, all the way up until losing, obviously.”

On his two big spots, the swanton to the floor...

“Well, it looked like the perfect opportunity to do something I’ve seen people do since the beginning of my wrestling fanhood. Big crowd of humans outside of the ring, seemed to be set up in a perfect fashion for somebody to jump on their heads.”

And the backflip/superplex spot in the ring...

“As the backflip off the top rope is starting, because he pushes me off, kind of off-balance, [I’m thinking,] ‘Here we go. Let me hit a backflip here instead of falling on my back, hopefully.’ I’ve never done that before off the top. Even on my own ring that I have, I’ve always done a moonsault onto a bed, but I had never done a backflip and landed it. So doing it there, attempting it there, it goes very much along the framework that I am such an idiot that I think I can do things. And I think that has been an advantage for me in my life for a lot of different professions that I’ve tried.

“For me, I think that doubt never ever creeped in. ... So, wherever I choose to hit that backflip, in my head while I’m flying through, I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to land this.’ And then the thought is, ‘How can I get back up there as quickly as possible?’ And just jumping up to the top as if I’m Shelton Benjamin just felt like the right move.”

On how he’s evaluating his performance:

“Well, I think overall, I paid respect to the business. I think I very much understood the outrage that came when my match was announced — when Triple H went on Get Up and issued me a challenge, and I accepted it from my honeymoon — the immediate reaction from the wrestling community was a negative one. And I very much understand why, because being a lifelong fan, anytime an outsider comes in [from a wrestler’s perspective], not only are they taking a spot that I dreamed I was a part of, but they’re also taking a spot that somebody else could potentially have. And I very much understood why people were upset about it.

“... I was dead set, since the beginning of my fanhood of wrestling, that if I ever got a chance to get in there, I was going to go. And was going to pay respect to the people who have done this before, because I am such a big fan.

“So watching it back, there were so many things I made mistakes on and messed up. There were so many things I messed up in there, but I think the texts that I’ve gotten from people who are wrestlers now, or wrestled in the past, or DMs, that basically said they appreciated that I went for it in there. And I think for me, that was the biggest part of it all. And I think that’s my biggest takeaway from the entire thing. The people that have been in the ring before, at least people who have messaged me, have reached out and said, “Thank you for your effort.” That was big to me. And that’s all I was really looking for.”

On if he’ll do it again:

“That seems to be a conversation that has been circling me for the last couple of days, and even maybe the last week or so in the buildup to this. And this is going to sound very cliche, but it’s 100% real and it’s how I literally operate with everything. I just focus on literally what’s next in my life. Because I run a business. I’ve got a daily show. I got a merch business. We have a touring company. I mean, there’s a lot of advertising, marketing. There’s a lot of things I do. And I just focus on what’s next for me.

“So for when it came to the match on Saturday, I was only focused on that match. I was only focused on, “OK, how do I go in here, put on a hell of a show, hell of a fight and get a win? And then, we’ll worry about everything after that on Sunday...

“And then I got to Sunday, obviously, and I woke up. Neck was sore, back was sore, foot was sore. I got flipped on my head. To be completely honest, I’m not 100% sure what’s going to happen. I’m not under contract to do anything else with Mr. H. I assume he and I will talk about this at some point because I heard his comments in the press conference afterward*, which were very nice.

“But for me, all I was worried about was that match at NXT TakeOver: XXX and then I’ll let everything else kind of sort itself out. And I think that’s where I’m at right now. I feel good. If I never get in the ring again, I’ll be very thankful for the opportunity and I’ll be proud of it. If something pops up and it’s right and my wife doesn’t mind, because I did miss some of the honeymoon for this whole thing and she’s been incredibly cool. There’s a lot that goes into it. To be honest, I just started thinking about it within the last 24 hours, and have no idea what the future holds.”

It’s a good interview, highlighting McAfee’s ability to be both self-deprecating and cocky, and making it clear how big a wrestling fan he is. Check it out in full here. And if you want the full Pat Mac “gift of gab” experience, he broke down his NXT experience himself on the Monday edition of his radio/streaming show here.

* On his post-TakeOver media call, Triple H said, “He has a lot of other commitments from his podcast to everything else he does. He has a lot of commitments across the board, but he’s very serious about this. We’ll see where it goes. When we first talked about this process, he said to me, ‘Let’s remember this phone call when you do my Hall of Fame speech.’ Pat doesn’t lack confidence...

“He’s a heat magnet and when you add in the incredible athlete on top of that who has a feel for the business...what he wants to do, he can do. I’m here to help him. I look forward to that future. I don’t know what it’ll be. We’re going to have that conversation. I can certainly say that I do not believe at all that this is the last time that you will see Pat McAfee step through those ropes and do what he does. I think he’s silenced a lot of critics tonight, a lot of people in the, ‘Ugh, a celebrity’ camp left with a different opinion.”