Pat McAfee recently spoke with Tim Fiorvanti of ESPN.com to discuss his loss to Adam Cole at Saturday’s WWE NXT “Takeover: XXX” event.
This was the in-ring debut for the former NFL punter, but he managed to impress fans and wrestlers with some of the moves he pulled off during the match. McAfee was asked about the sequence that ended with a superplex to Cole, and what it was like to actually pull off in a match.
“As the backflip off the top rope is starting, because he pushes me off, kind of off-balance, [I’m thinking,] ‘Here we go. Let me hit a backflip here instead of falling on my back, hopefully.’ I’ve never done that before off the top,” McAfee recalled. “Even on my own ring that I have, I’ve always done a moonsault onto a bed, but I had never done a backflip and landed it. So doing it there, attempting it there, it goes very much along the framework that I am such an idiot that I think I can do things.
“And I think that has been an advantage for me in my life for a lot of different professions that I’ve tried. For me, I think that doubt never ever creeped in. … So, wherever I choose to hit that backflip, in my head while I’m flying through, I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to land this.’ And then the thought is, ‘How can I get back up there as quickly as possible?’ And just jumping up to the top as if I’m Shelton Benjamin just felt like the right move.”
McAfee continued and commented on what it was like watching the match back.
“I have this confidence that I can accomplish things,” he continued. “But after watching it for the first time yesterday, I got a chance to watch the match back, it was very interesting to see myself in a ring and something I’ve dreamed about doing for a long time. Getting to watch it for the first time was cool. But as I was watching it, I was like, ‘That could have went wrong so many different ways.’
“And I’m just very thankful that in the moment, I didn’t even have those thoughts. So, maybe me being so new and it being my first time in there benefited me greatly, especially in those particular situations.”
McAfee was also asked how he thinks he did overall with his in-ring debut. He said he thinks he paid respect to the business. He also admitted that he made mistakes and messed up some.
“Well, I think overall, I paid respect to the business,” he said. “I think I very much understood the outrage that came when my match was announced — when Triple H went on Get Up and issued me a challenge, and I accepted it from my honeymoon — the immediate reaction from the wrestling community was a negative one. And I very much understand why, because being a lifelong fan, anytime an outsider comes in [from a wrestler’s perspective], not only are they taking a spot that I dreamed I was a part of, but they’re also taking a spot that somebody else could potentially have. And I very much understood why people were upset about it.
“But I think also it was because in previous outsider matches, it seemed as if the outsider didn’t care to learn the profession. You’re not going to put me in an NBA All-Star game [where] I’m not going to practice at least a couple of jumpers. You just have to at least look as if you know what you’re doing. And a lot of outsiders, they look like they’ve never, ever stepped foot in a ring before. It looked like they did not care. They’re there to get a little pop, a little bit of a shine and keep it moving. And I was dead set, since the beginning of my fanhood of wrestling, that if I ever got a chance to get in there, I was going to go. And was going to pay respect to the people who have done this before, because I am such a big fan.”
He continued, “So watching it back, there were so many things I made mistakes on and messed up. There were so many things I messed up in there, but I think the texts that I’ve gotten from people who are wrestlers now, or wrestled in the past, or DMs, that basically said they appreciated that I went for it in there. And I think for me, that was the biggest part of it all. And I think that’s my biggest takeaway from the entire thing. The people that have been in the ring before, at least people who have messaged me, have reached out and said, ‘Thank you for your effort.’ That was big to me. And that’s all I was really looking for.”
McAfee confirmed that he has had thoughts about possibly getting back in the ring. He was asked if this was it for him, or if he would like to step back in the ring somewhere down the line. He also confirmed that he is not under any contract to WWE.
“That seems to be a conversation that has been circling me for the last couple of days, and even maybe the last week or so in the buildup to this. And this is going to sound very cliche, but it’s 100% real and it’s how I literally operate with everything. I just focus on literally what’s next in my life. Because I run a business. I’ve got a daily show. I got a merch business. We have a touring company. I mean, there’s a lot of advertising, marketing. There’s a lot of things I do. And I just focus on what’s next for me.
So for when it came to the match on Saturday, I was only focused on that match. I was only focused on, ‘OK, how do I go in here, put on a hell of a show, hell of a fight and get a win? And then, we’ll worry about everything after that on Sunday.’ We’ll cross that bridge whenever we get to it. And I’ve heard the conversation start all around me and there was a lot. … Even my mom was asking, “Well, are you going to do this again?” I’m like, ‘Well, let’s worry about that on Sunday.'”
McAfee continued and talked about how he was sore on Sunday morning.
“And then I got to Sunday, obviously, and I woke up. Neck was sore, back was sore, foot was sore,” he said. “I got flipped on my head. To be completely honest, I’m not 100% sure what’s going to happen. I’m not under contract to do anything else with Mr. H. I assume he and I will talk about this at some point because I heard his comments in the press conference afterward, which were very nice.
“But for me, all I was worried about was that match at NXT TakeOver: XXX and then I’ll let everything else kind of sort itself out. And I think that’s where I’m at right now. I feel good. If I never get in the ring again, I’ll be very thankful for the opportunity and I’ll be proud of it. If something pops up and it’s right and my wife doesn’t mind, because I did miss some of the honeymoon for this whole thing and she’s been incredibly cool. There’s a lot that goes into it. To be honest, I just started thinking about it within the last 24 hours, and have no idea what the future holds.”