Pat McAfee Reveals What Surprised Him The Most About John Cena's Return

By Jason Hall

July 19, 2021

Photo: Getty Images

Friday Night SmackDown color commentator Pat McAfee revealed he was unaware that John Cena's WWE return was going to take place ahead of time.

During his daily radio and YouTube program, The Pat McAfee Show, the former NFL All-Pro punter said he was just as surprised as fans while calling Cena's appearance during the Money in the Bank pay-per-view live broadcast Sunday (July 18) night.

McAfee said he heard rumblings of a big appearance -- as numerous reports indicated -- but was kept out of the loop, adding that "allegedly, all day there was a lot tighter lips around every situation" and that there were "like maybe four people that knew what was happening."

The lifelong wrestling fan said he's purposely kept out of production meetings prior to calling events as it helps him display a more genuine excitement during live broadcasts, as shown through his call of Cena's return.

"I rarely know what potentially is gonna happen in the grand scheme, like I know next to nothing going in there and that's by design, by the way. I don't think I'm good enough to know what's going to happen and also have a genuine reaction, cause I think that's a tough balance," McAfee said.

McAfee added that veteran play-by-play man Michael Cole and WWE executive Paul 'Triple H' Levesque both expect him to provide a fan's perspective to the broadcast and keep him "out of the loop for almost everything."

The former punter said he was aware of reports that Cena -- among several other big name superstars -- was expected to return, but hearing the F9 star's theme song was the first indication that he knew it was happening.

McAfee also acknowledged his on-air reference of Cena's "you can't see me" line both after Sunday's live broadcast and during his radio show Monday, excitedly and confusingly shouting, "where" after Cole screamed "Cena's here" as the wrestler clearly stood front and center of the live shot.

Cena made a surprise appearance at the end of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view following WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns' victory over WWE Hall of Famer Edge in the show's main event.

Cena, who has typically gotten a mixed reaction from WWE crowds during the past decade, returned to thunderous cheers when his music hit the speakers at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, as the live broadcast went off-air.

WWE shared footage of Cena addressing the Fort Worth crowd and acknowledging its uncharacteristic excitement after its broadcast concluded.

"It's so weird because I'm used to you guys telling me how much I suck, man this feels pretty good," Cena said, smiling as the crowd responded with more cheers. "I see this dude's sign over here, it says, 'If Cena shows up, we cheer,' is this like Bizarro World? What's going on?"

Cena was expected to return in the coming days to build up an angle with Reigns for a main event match at SummerSlam next month, according to multiple reports.

"Tonight I just wanted to come out here and let Roman Reigns know that I was back and I certainly wanted to come out here to let all of you that I'm back," Cena told the crowd. "And I promise you this is not a one night only, but what's special to me is that this is the first night. As always, I want to thank all the WWE superstars for putting their lives and their bodies on the line to entertain all of you, but most importantly, I missed you guys.

"I really...I really really missed you guys, so as much as I'm thankful and grateful for them, man, I love you guys and I really really missed you and thank you so much for being here tonight and making this moment special to me and special to everybody in here."

Cena also announced he would be kicking off Monday's episode of RAW to tell his "motivation" for returning in a video shared on WWE's official Twitter account.

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