There was enough chatter leading up to Royal Rumble about Pat McAfee returning to the WWE fold that his appearance to call the show-opening men’s Rumble wasn’t a complete surprise.
Unless you’re Michael Cole. But that’s because Pat Mac worked his old (? more on that in a sec) SmackDAHN announce partner earlier in the day on Saturday to convince him he wouldn’t be in San Antonio for the show.
Cole told the story while appearing on The Pat McAfee Show today (Jan. 30):
“I spoke with you a number of times throughout the day on Saturday. In fact, you sent me a couple of pictures of you and the stooge, Boston Connor, sitting in front of the golf simulator. You asked me who the big surprise was for the Rumble, you asked me if Brock was coming, you asked me if it was going to be a great show.
“I text you back, ‘It would be an unbelievable show if you were there.’ And you were like, ‘Yeah, maybe next time or whatever’ and that was it, and then I never heard back from you. The next thing I know, I sit down at the desk and Corey and I do our on-camera to start the show and your music hit.”
Kevin Dunn apparently coordinated McAfee’s appearance at the Rumble so that Cole and Corey Graves wouldn’t be in the loop, including rebooking his flight when plane trouble cancelled his first one. Cole also said that he wasn’t sure if Pat would ever return to WWE given everything he has going on these days:
“I legit didn’t know if we were ever going to see you again in WWE. I know that we talked back in September that you would be back after the football season. A lot in your life has changed since then, a lot in our comapny has changed since then. I legit did not know if you would be back.”
McAfee didn’t provide answers on his future plans, but did say that at one point he was supposed to enter the Rumble. Like Dwayne Johnson however, that busy schedule prevented him from getting in the kind of condition he’d want to be in to take a high profile spot like that:
“A lot of people thought I was going to be in the Royal Rumble, a lot of people thought that I was going to be there. That was not figured out until late last week. I mean, that really came together pretty quick.
“Not that there was any bad relations or anything, it’s just my schedule for the last five months and everybody’s schedule, especially in WWE... My wife’s pregnant, with what the schedule was... There was no bad beef or anything. It was just like ‘I don’t want to have to train enough to go into that Royal [Rumble]’...
“They said immediately, Hunter and everybody and Nick, and Stephanie at the time, were like, ‘You know, Rumble, that’s like a perfect time to come back because that’s when people come back, and it’s after college football season or whatever.’ And I was like ‘perfect, alright’ because I actually need something to keep me in shape. I always get fat. I actually need something to keep working out for and I tried. Everybody saw me, I was getting after it there...
“I think I could have [worked the match] but I don’t want to disrespect anybody. There’s only so many spots and when you’re in there, there’s a lot of danger, there’s a lot shit that can happen. So I told them, I think maybe week 14, week 13 of the season, I’m like, ‘Hey, just want to let you know, this season’s been a grind this year with [ESPN College] GameDay being an extra work day...’
“I told them, ‘Hey, I’m not going to be able to be in good enough shape for Rumble, don’t want to direspect Royal Rumble or anything like that.’ It was the goal, Royal Rumble was the goal, I wasn’t able to keep up because of Gameday getting dropped in and what that schedule became.“