Pat McAfee kicked off the 2023 Royal Rumble, getting a full entrance before the men's Royal Rumble match started.
McAfee's return caught even his good friend Michael Cole off guard, who was shocked when he saw his former broadcast partner on WWE SmackDown make his entrance. Cole commented that McAfee told him he wouldn't be showing up when he talked to him earlier.
Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show, Cole reflected on McAfee's return.
"Honest to God truth. I usually know everything going on in our world today because of the position that I'm in. This is the first time in probably a decade that I legitimately was surprised at something that happened on the show," he said. "I legit didn't know if we would ever see you again in the WWE. We talked back in September and you'd be back after football season, a lot in your life has changed since then, a lot in our company has changed since then. I legit didn't know if you were ever going to be back. If you notice, I haven't said much to anyone publicly about when you were coming because no one knew. When I sat down that day, Corey (Graves) and I prepared as a two-man booth like we always do, and when the music hit, when I think of Pat McAfee, I think of the White Stripes. When the first couple of bars of the new song hit, I didn't immediately recognize it. Then Hunter [Triple H] was in my ear, 'Are you going to sell it?' I mouthed to him in the spy cam, 'Sell what?' Then I looked up and saw your video board and I'm like, 'You're ribbing me.' The music hit and you came out, I didn't know what to say because I didn't know if you were coming out to be an announcer or to be the number one entry in the Rumble because we were starting with the Rumble match. Then I saw you in your blazer and I was like, 'He's coming out to be an announcer.' I was so excited."
McAfee, who typically enters to "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes, commented that only a handful of people knew about his return.
"I text Paul [Triple H] and Kevin (Dunn), 'You fuckers. I can't believe that you guys ribbed me.' They just laughed," said Cole.
Cole said he didn't feel disrespected that he wasn't clued in because it made for a genuine moment on television.
Elsewhere during McAfee's show, he explained that the original plan was for him to be part of the Royal Rumble match, but he couldn't get in ring shape for the match. You can find his full comments by clicking here.
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