Wednesday night’s NXT was action-packed but perhaps the most jaw-dropping moment of the night came in the show’s closing seconds as former NFL punter-turned-podcaster and NXT analyst, Pat McAfee, viciously punted Adam Cole and then celebrated before escaping the Performance Center.
McAfee was an invited guest on the show to address his beef with Cole, that stemmed from an incident in 2018 and was recently revisited on McAfee’s radio show. The origin of the beef happened in March 2018, as McAfee, a lifelong pro wrestling fan, was announced as the special guest ring announcer for an NXT live event being held in his hometown of Indianapolis. The match involved Undisputed Era taking on Kassius Ohno and the Street Profits, and while McAfee was thrilled for the opportunity to make his ring announcing debut, Cole’s reaction was the opposite. Cole informed McAfee that NXT was his show and said McAfee needed to stay out of his way or stay home.
It might be your show, but it’s my city. I’m your landlord, and if I ever met your mother she’d be begging me to be your step daddy too BayBay.. Just hope Sunday doesn’t turn into the night your chin meets a REAL Super Kick @AdamColePro #Boomstick https://t.co/2dluaGYJIf
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) March 1, 2018
Not taking that lying down, McAfee fired back with a promo-esque tweet telling Cole, “It might be your show, but it’s my city…Just hope Sunday doesn’t turn into the night your chin meets a REAL Super Kick.” The next day on his radio show, McAfee doubled down on his comments, promising to kick Cole all the way from Indy to Ohio.
“There is about 100-percent chance that this right foot of mine that has kicked a football 80 to 90 yards at a time, has been called the strongest leg in the history of earth — I’ve kicked a soccer ball 125 miles an hour, and I’m going to kick his chin from Indianapolis to Columbus, Ohio,” McAfee said.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) March 4, 2018
With the two feuding on Twitter, it was no surprise when WWE turned their beef into an angle, having McAfee cost Cole his match against Aleister Black at the event in Indy. Shortly after, McAfee found himself getting a job with WWE, where he became a pre-show analyst for NXT TakeOvers. McAfee continued feuding with Cole, using his new platform to subtlety throw jabs at the Undisputed Era leader, with Cole occasionally throwing them right back such as insulting McAfee’s jorts. By 2019, with McAfee starting to host live watch-alongs of WWE PPVS, his beef with Cole was largely sidelined. That is until a few weeks ago when McAfee invited Cole to be a guest on his show and Cole accepted.
The interview seemed to be going fine, with McAfee even putting over Cole’s various accolades. But then Cole called himself the King of NXT and McAfee laughed, telling the defensive Cole that his success was mostly due to the Undisputed Era having his back. McAfee didn’t fault Cole for creating the faction, in fact he did quite the opposite, telling the longest-reigning NXT champ that it was smart because “especially for you, you’re kinda small.” Cole took offense to the comment and immediately began verbally assaulting McAfee as well as breaking a microphone and putting his hands on one of McAfee’s producers. Cole made it clear he was sick and tired of McAfee insulting him, and left the set mid-interview.
Things continued to bubble as McAfee tweeted about Cole’s unprofessionalism, which was followed up by Cole tweeting an apology for what he realized was an overreaction. Triple H then appeared on McAfee’s show where he chalked things up to a misunderstanding. McAfee agreed and told Triple H he’d love to get a chance to talk with Cole and straighten things out. Prior to Wednesday’s NXT, McAfee was granted that chance as Triple H invited him to the show.
McAfee joined the NXT commentary team midway through the show. He was on the mic for Undisputed Era’s tag team championship match against Imperium, and used the opportunity to throw barbs at Cole, despite the two seeming to have mended their relationship earlier in the week on social media. Tom Phillips told McAfee that Cole could hear him but the former Indianapolis Colts’ punter didn’t care as he said was wasn’t saying anything the Era’s leader didn’t already know. This led to Cole being distracted for the rest of the match, focusing on McAfee and not his teammates despite Roderick Strong’s urging. Cole attempted to get McAfee to stop but he McAfee taunted him instead, leading to Cole tossing a water bottle at him and prompting the radio host to “do something.”
The distraction allowed Imperium to take up advantage and win the match. Meanwhile, referees, Triple H and Shawn Michaels broke up the impending fight at ringside but as McAfee was being escorted out, he turned back around for one last insult, followed by injury, as he used the leg that helped him be named to two Pro Bowls, to kick Cole square in the face. It was two years later, but McAfee delivered on the promise he made Cole prior to their first-ever meeting, when he said he was “going to kick his chin from Indianapolis, to Columbus, Ohio.” It was a comment he doubled down on last year in an interview with Wrestling Inc. as well, stating, “”[Cole’s] a guy that I would love to see do very well, and whenever that happens, I get a chance to run down and give a swift kick to the face. It would be a good time.”
While some thought that the Cole/McAfee confrontation on his radio show may have been a shoot, all doubts were erased on Wednesday. This is clearly a work and one that very well could set up the first celebrity match in NXT history and WWE’s first such match since Stephen Amell teamed with Neville to wrestle Stardust and King Barrett at SummerSlam in 2015.
How much was I supposed to take from this beta who is a MANIAC?
Blows up on my show, breaks shit, pushes Ty.
Then..I take time out of MY HONEYMOON, so we can hug it out.
Then he LOSES HIS MIND AGAIN.. assaults me w/ a bottle & I’M THE 1 THAT GETS KICKED OUT?
How’s that fair? pic.twitter.com/5jl30e8Pu8
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) August 6, 2020
McAfee, who purchased his own wrestling ring while he was still in the NFL, has reportedly been training to get in ring shape ever since he retired, noting in the Wrestling Inc. interview last year that Rip Rogers would work with him a few times a week. McAfee has also often talked about how his childhood dream was to be a pro wrestler, stating “I have dreams and aspirations of taking a stroll down the ramp at a pay-per-view setting…Everybody has those dreams as a kid and that’d be really cool…”
The former punter may well get that chance as all signs are pointing towards McAfee facing Cole at TakeOver XXX or perhaps even at SummerSlam. For McAfee it would be a dream match come true against one of NXT’s biggest stars, who just so happen to be McAfee’s longtime rival. The former NFL star turned heel on Wednesday night and now we’ll just have to wait and see what WWE has planned for McAfee and Cole going forward.
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