To say that Pat McAfee's performance as a WWE announcer has been more than anyone would have bargained for is an understatement. The promotion took a chance on the former NFL punter-turned-broadcaster, and some snickered at the notion that it would all work out.
There was reason for the skepticism. WWE has tried this in the past with outside personalities and it blew up in their face. Anyone who recalls the time they had Art ("How big is this guy?") Donovan will attest to this. Success in the worlds of entertainment and sports does not always mean an easy transition to the world of sports entertainment.
What people didn't know at the time, however, was that Pat McAfee had been a lifelong fan of pro wrestling and had received prior training in the ring due to his immense interest in the game.
So, just like a fourth-down boot late in the game? McAfee had already warmed up and was ready to pin things down when he entered WWE.
McAfee's charm, humor and enthusiasm has brought a breath of fresh air to the Smackdown broadcast, and he balances well with Michael Cole. The two work well with each other, and McAfee's magnetism seems to have given new life to his broadcasting partner.
Cole has been with the promotion seemingly forever, through several incarnations, but this current pairing is brining out the best in him once again.
Inside the ring, McAfee had the opportunity to make history at WrestleMania 38, when he not only defeated Theory in a one-on-one match, but also received the ultimate honor: going toe-to-toe with the CEO, Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
Everyone knows what happened next. McAfee was defeated through nefarious measures by the WWE owner. He then shared a beer with Steve Austin, who came to clear the ring in classic Austin style.
Now? McAfee will forever be remembered as part of Stone Cold's swan song. They shared a beer and then, like so many others before him, McAfee took a stunner from The Texas Rattlesnake.
McAfee is finding unprecedented success outside of WWE right now, as well
For a long time now, he's been one of the most engaging podcasters in the world of sports, entertainment and pop culture. The Pat McAfee Show has a rabid following, and the star is a cult hero among 'jock talk' listeners.
Part of his appeal is that he's a guy's guy. He drinks booze, wears a tank top on most of his broadcasts and curses like a sailor. There's nothing fake or pretentious about him, and he seems to be very open and honest about his ups and downs, successes and failures, and his true feelings on any topic.
In an era of broadcasting that has featured a lot of plastic-headed robots in stiff suits spouting the same old cliches, McAfee's approach is a breath of fresh air.
Now Pat McAfee is growing as a media mogul as well
Rumors are running rampant that McAfee is in demand pretty much everywhere - as a commentator, a broadcast host, and a personality in general. He's apparently got some big things on the horizon, and his cultural fingerprints just keep getting larger and larger.
If McAfee signs his rumored deal with Amazon, it's not only a huge win for him, but also a victory for WWE. It proves even further that they began with a great broadcaster at the perfect time, and both sides have mutually benefitted from their partnership.
In this case, it's hard to criticize the promotion for crossing over into the mainstream to bring someone from 'the outside' in. This time? They got it right in so many ways.
However, Pat McAfee is no outsider in the world of sports and entertainment. Not anymore. With every step of his success, he has become even more of an insider and a celebrity. That makes him a great ambassador for WWE and pro wrestling in general.
It's clear that no matter what comes next, the eight-year NFL veteran is determined to stay loyal to World Wrestling Entertainment. He's living his dream right now with the premier organization, and you can tell how proud he is to be part of the Smackdown team.
That was evident when he hosted Mr. McMahon himself for a recent interview on his show. McAfee could hardly contain himself when gushing about his experiences with WWE.
Pat McAfee is on a roll right now, establishing himself as a top-notch sports commentator, one of the best announcers in pro wrestling today and a credible performer when he chooses to step into the ring.
He's developed a unique brand of his own, and he's just now hitting his stride in all facets. McAfee is also about to rightfully reap huge financial rewards for his labor.
It's hard to argue that he doesn't deserve all of it. His dedication to a crazy schedule, genuine personality and pure energy have opened doors that he probably never thought would be left ajar.
WWE clearly made a wise decision when they decided to ride with Pat McAfee. As his star shines ever brighter, that ride has gotten better and better. And it doesn't look like this golden journey is ending anytime soon - for McAfee or the sports entertainment company that he represents.
What do you think of Pat McAfee's performance as a broadcaster and a WWE personality? Please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.