The Pat McAfee-Adam Cole rivalry had its seeds planted in July when Cole stormed off McAfee's show after the host told Cole he was "kind of small." Things then turned physical between the two on NXT before they finally met in the ring at TakeOver: XXX which was McAfee's debut match.
The former All-Pro punter held his own in the ring although Cole was victorious. McAfee discussed being invited to NXT to make amends with Cole beforehand when he joined Notsam Wrestling.
"I go over there. Obviously, all hell breaks loose. He ends up assaulting me with a bottle of water and I kick him, get kicked out. Triple H kicks me out. The same man who invited me there on my honeymoon is the same man that's pushing me out of there and obviously, the next morning, I get up, he says some very rude things about me before making the challenge with him," said McAfee. "So now, it just goes fast forward and it was all a blur. It was literally all a blur. So much went into it there. I enjoyed the hell out of the entire process except for losing, but the entire process other than that, I enjoyed the hell out of it."
McAfee retired from the NFL after the 2016 season so it had been some time since he had to get physical with somebody. He talked about his training process leading up to the match in order to get into the best shape possible.
"Yea, I have a Stairmaster. I've been on the Stairmaster heavy because Stairmaster shreds you up the best. So, last fall I was up to like 265-270 [pounds] because of my schedule and lack of discipline. I mean, I was 3-4 different cities a week and I was eating pizza everywhere, just terrible," admitted McAfee. "So, I got huge and the wedding was going to happen with my wife and I was like, 'Man, I cannot be just some fat ass for my wedding because these photos are going to last forever. And I'm Irish, so when I get fat, my neck gets big. So, it's just like, 'I'm going to get in shape for my wedding.'
"So, I did some googling on what shreds you the fastest, and I learned it was the Stairmaster. So, I started hitting the Stairmaster. I'm doing 100 floors, 150 floors, 200 floors, 235 floors, I'm dripping in sweat. Weight's coming off me, and I feel like I'm in the best shape I've ever been in my entire life."
McAfee got married on August 1 in Indiana and had his first wrestling match just three weeks later. He said it was a perfect storm of needing to get into shape for his wedding and then just carrying that over to his wrestling debut.
"I'm probably in the best shape I've been in the past 10-15 years. Then the week leading up to the fight, a good friend of ours, Corey Graves, he and I talk a couple of times and Corey's like, 'How many minutes do you think you'll last before you get tired in there?' I'm like, 'I've been on my Stairmaster. I'm in the best shape I've ever been in' and Corey's like, 'You're going to die in there,'" recalled McAfee.
Even with all of the hours McAfee spent on the Stairmaster in addition to biking, Corey Graves was exactly right as McAfee struggled to catch his breath throughout his match. He was asked what the most surprising thing about the match was for him.
"The lack of oxygen for sure. I mean, I wasn't always a guy that was built for a long time; I was built for a good time," stated McAfee. "So, I knew that the cardio could catch me even when I was playing soccer. I was playing soccer all over the world and those were the best cardio athletes on the planet and the thing I was best at was finding a good two minutes in the middle of the game to get full bend over of 'let me catch my breath.' I knew that cardio was going to be a problem, so that wasn't as surprising. As early as it came wasn't surprising. So, I thought I'd maybe wait a little bit, but it came early."
Even though he's an in-ring newbie, McAfee is a historian of wrestling and grew up on the sport. He was asked to compare the moves he used in the ring with some of the moves used by WWE's all-time greats.
"My punches I think were Rock-like. I think people could say my punches were a little Rock-like. Whenever I was stomping, I think you could see a little Stone Cold in there. I assume and I think those two by the way – alongside D-Generation X – those three groups right there, they probably shaped my personality," revealed McAfee. "I think anybody that's ever met me could see a little bit of Stone Cold in me, a little bit of The Rock in me and a lot of D-Generation X in me. I think a lot of my personality was shaped around that Attitude Era wrestling. So, I think naturally when you see me in the ring, that's what you have.
"I have to give a shoutout to Jeff Hardy obviously with a little Swanton out there, a little Shelton Benjamin. By the way Owen Hart – that backflip off the top, that was something that I thought always looked cool and kind of disappeared. So, it was a lot of things I just picked up throughout my fanhood that I thought were cool and see if I can accomplish. That does not make me an original at all by the way, but I think I had to pay a little bit of a tribute somehow and some way."
Before he even stepped into the ring against Cole, McAfee was constantly being asked if this was going to be a one-time thing or if he would have future matches. He weighed in on the discussions regarding his future even before his first match.
"The conversation all around me was happening, 'Is this your only match?' and people start talking if it's going to be a one-off and Triple H starts talking at the press conference. He says he doesn't think it's going to be a one-off because he knows me and he knows how much I want to do this and I was getting asked these questions," said McAfee. "I was like, 'Let's just wait until Sunday... Let me just focus on 100 percent of this. I don't want to worry about anything down the road because let's see how the match goes. All of this does not matter. Let's see how the match goes.' So, the match goes how it goes. I obviously lose but seems like things are pretty well received."
Now that the match is over and McAfee was praised for his performance he was point-blank asked if he will wrestle again.
"I haven't thought of the future until after my show, where I had to do a couple of interviews that was set up by the WWE and the only thing they wanted to know. The only thing anybody wanted to know was, 'Are you going to do this again? Are you going to do this again? What's next? What's next?' And at that point, I was like, I have no idea," admitted McAfee. "I have no idea if I want to. I have no idea if there's anything else available. I am not under contract right now to do anything else. I'm not sure I loved what I was doing there. I wish I would have won, but I love what I'm doing. But now, I'm at the point where if something popped up, I think I would definitely want to see if I can last longer than two minutes without getting dead tired or if I can end it because I lost!
"If I would've won, I would assume you're never seeing me again because why would you? Since I lost, I'm starting to lean towards if an opportunity presents itself and I can get back in there and do something awesome, I think I would do it. But that situation has not been presented and there's been no conversation, but I'm definitely very much open-minded to the thought. I don't know about my wife, but for me, for sure."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Notsam Wrestling with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.