As noted, Michael Cole, Corey Graves and most of the WWE production team were kept in the dark about Pat McAfee’s unadvertised return to the commentary desk at the WWE Royal Rumble 2023 pay-per-view on Saturday.
Because of this, the reactions we heard on the broadcast from Cole and Graves were, for the most part, completely legitimate.
Michael Cole appeared as a surprise guest on The Pat McAfee Show podcast on Monday to talk with his former on-air broadcast partner about the surprise appearance that he made to kick off the first WWE premium live event of the New Year this past weekend at The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Featured below are some of the highlights from the interview where Cole talks about being legitimately surprised by McAfee’s return, as well as how he realized he was being ribbed by Paul “Triple H” Levesque.
On how he was honestly surprised and had no idea that McAfee would be back: “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. 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.”
On how he didn’t realize it was McAfee because his theme song was different: “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.”
On how he realized he got ribbed by Triple H, but was very excited McAfee was back: “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. I text Paul [Triple H] and Kevin (Dunn), ‘You fuckers. I can’t believe that you guys ribbed me.’ They just laughed.”
Check out the complete Michael Cole interview on today’s episode of The Pat McAfee Show podcast via the YouTube player embedded below. H/T to Fightful.com for transcribing the above quotes.