Pat McAfee made his return to WWE on Saturday at WWE Royal Rumble, kicking off the show by making his entrance and joining Corey Graves and Michael Cole at the commentary booth.
McAfee stepped away from his WWE commentary duties in September 2022 to join the ESPN College Gameday team.
Speaking on his show, The Pat McAfee Show, McAfee explained how his return came together and the original plans for his return.
"There was speculation, a lot of people talking about it, a lot of people thought I was going to be in the Royal Rumble, a lot of people thought I was going to be there. That was not figured out until late last week. That came together pretty quick. Not that there was any bad relations, it's just my schedule for the last five months, and everyone's schedule, especially in the WWE, my wife is pregnant, there was no bad beef or anything, it was just, 'I don't want to have to train enough to get into the Royal Rumble,'" said McAfee.
He continued, saying that the original plan was for him to be in the Royal Rumble match, but by the end of the college football season, he realized he wasn't going to be in ring shape.
"They said immediately (after I left), Hunter, Stephanie, and Nick, 'Rumble is like the perfect time to comeback,' because that's when people comeback and it's after college football season. I was like, 'perfect.' I need something to keep me in shape. I get fat and I need something to keep working out for. I tried. Everybody saw me, I was getting after it. By week nine....I think I could have (done a couple minutes in the Rumble), but I don't want to disrespect anybody. There were only 29 guys who came out because where the fuck was Rey Mysterio? Is he okay? There are only so many spots and there is a lot of danger and shit that can happen. I told them, maybe week 13 or 14 of the season, 'Hey, want to let you know, the season has been a grind with Gameday being an extra work day, I'm not going to be able to be in good enough shape for Rumble. I don't want to disrespect Royal Rumble. I'm just letting you know where I'm at right now. I'm not waking up an extra hour or stay up an extra hour to get in shape or whatever is needed.' It's one of those combos. 'We'll chat later, all good.' It was the goal, Royal Rumble was the goal, I wasn't able to keep up with it because Gameday getting dropped in and what that schedule became," he said.
McAfee said it was nice that he was able to keep his return a secret from Michael Cole, and that Kevin Dunn was the one or coordinated McAfee's return, including finding McAfee flights after there was a plane malfunction.
"I landed 28 minutes before I was seen at the Rumble because of the plane delay," he said.
McAfee said he ran into a couple of wrestlers backstage, briefly spoke to Triple H and Kevin Dunn, and then made his way out into the arena.
McAfee was the full-time announcer on WWE SmackDown before stepping away to focus on College Gameday. Wade Barrett replaced him on commentary.
It is unknown if McAfee will be returning to the booth full-time.
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