The WWE has announced some big shake-ups since Wrestlemania. Some big names including Samoa Joe, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay were let go, and major changes were made to the Raw commentary team with the addition of Adnan Virk and Corey Graves, who moved over from Smackdown. That last move has left many fans wondering who would join Michael Cole in the announcing chair on Smackdown. Well, we finally have our answer: former NFL kicker, ex-Barstool Sports employee and all around wild man Pat McAfee. The larger than life personality will join the team tonight, and as a wrestling fan, I’m so fired up about it.
Pat McAfee has been teasing that he’s been up to something for awhile now. Many fans were speculating it could be a return to the NFL, another go around with Barstool or an attempt to start playing rugby, while others have been focused on a wrestling angle because of his appearances with WWE development brand NXT. Well, he finally made the big news official this morning with, of course, a hype video that featured clips of himself and AJ Hawk leading into the big reveal by WWE headman Vince McMahon himself. You can watch it below…
We’ll have to wait and see what the long-term on-air dynamic between Cole and McAfee will be, but it seems likely McAfee will play the heel. It’s a role he seems well-suited for, as he’s a big personality with an eye for mischief and a willingness to say inflammatory things, and it’s easy to see him excusing illegal maneuvers and shady tactics, as well as hyping up outrageous storylines. The all-time great heel commentators including the dearly departed Bobby The Brain Heenan, Jerry The King Lawler, Jesse The Body Ventura and more all had a lot of commonalities but were still able to find their own unique voice. I can’t wait to see Pat McAfee find his.
I wouldn’t call WWE’s commentary teams prior to these recent changes a weakness. I think both groups, Tom Phillips, Samoa Joe and Byron Saxton on Raw and Michael Cole and Corey Graves on Smackdown, did their jobs adequately, but there wasn’t really a pop or a ton of added value from a viewer perspective. They did an adequate job and were not a distraction, but the best commentary teams are able to add value and elevate even mediocre matches. Hopefully these recent changes are exactly what’s needed to inject some new excitement into the brands.
Pat McAfee will make his debut alongside Michael Cole tonight on Smackdown, which airs on Fox at 8 PM ET. I won’t say it’s the most excited I’ve been to watch a wrestling event recently since WrestleMania is less than a week old, but I am very hyped to see the new dynamic. I also think the upside here is simply huge. I don’t want to get carried away, but Pat McAfee is a magnetic personality. He’s clever, quick on his feet and has a flamboyant personality that would seem to fit in perfectly in the world of wrestling. I think he’s going to be spectacular, but we’ll just have to wait and see.