The reaction of Corey Graves and Michael Cole to the return of Pat McAfee at the Royal Rumble was reportedly a hundred-percent genuine.
McAfee Return Kept Under Wraps
Usually, when one thinks about the Royal Rumble, you cannot help but think about ‘surprise entrants.’ Over the long and prestigious history of the Royal Rumble, surprise entrants have become an intrinsic part of the Rumble’s identity. Surprise entrants provide a window of opportunity to debutants, NXT call-ups, wrestlers returning from injuries or time-off TV and WWE legends. But the 2023 Royal Rumble had a surprise even before the match officially kicked off.
Corey Graves and Michael Cole were supposed to be the English commentators for the Royal Rumble. While the commentator duo was giving a warm welcome to those watching from home and going over the match card for the night, Pat McAfee’s music hit. Initially, Graves and Cole didn’t even realise that something was happening in the background. But after a few seconds, Cole audibly became elated as he realized what was slowly unfolding.
The first surprise of the night wasn’t a Royal Rumble match entrant. It was Pat McAfee.
It has since been reported that Corey Graves, Michael Cole and members of the WWE production team weren’t informed about McAfee’s return beforehand. The production team was also seen scrambling to get McAfee a chair and commentary headphones. Hence, the surprised reactions you saw on television were absolutely genuine.
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Pat McAfee and Michael Cole Slowly Became Fan Favourites
Pat McAfee and Michael Cole were one of the highlights of SmackDown during the Thunderdome Era. They seemed like a perfect fit at the commentary table and resumed their duties even when fans returned to the arena post-pandemic. On numerous occasions, they carried matches through their eccentric commentary. The duo slowly became a fan favourite as their chemistry was off the charts. McAfee, initially an outside to the WWE, assimilated into the WWE and seemed a perfect fit.
McAfee re-ignited that spark within veteran co-commentator Cole. Cole previously touched upon McAfee’s influence.
“Pat helped reinvigorate my love for our business. I’ve been sitting in that front row seat for 25 years calling live sports entertainment every week. I have missed two TV shows during that period. As you can imagine, that number of repetitions can get tedious over time. Pat changed all that and each week became a new adventure and a new chapter in my career… Pat also gave me the confidence to open up and have fun… One of the highlights of my career was narrating Pat’s match at WrestleMania. He deserves all his success.”
MacAfee left the SmackDown commentary team to join ESPN’s College GameDay. He remains a member of the WWE after signing a multi-year extension in July, last year.
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