Pat McAfee recently spoke to DAZN USA to reveal how his last-minute SmackDown commentary gig came together on Friday amid the Saudi Arabia travel issues.
Initial contact from Triple H:
“I get a text from Triple H. ‘You home?’ I had heard the news with what happened with their planes breaking down in Saudi Arabia and all of the talent, commentators, and producers being stuck in the Middle East due to a plane malfunction. I look at it and go, ‘Oh damn. Yes, I am home.’ I get a phone call immediately and he goes, ‘Hey, have you heard about what happened?’ ‘I absolutely have.’ He said, ‘I haven’t pitched this to Vince McMahon yet, but if you were to come in and do some commentary and do your thing, would you be up for it? Can you get to Buffalo?’ I said, ‘ABSOLUTELY!’ He said, ‘I’ll get back to you.'”
Initially unable to get a flight secured:
“I have no way of getting to Buffalo. I have a plane taking me to Memphis, but that plane was in Florida because I last-minute scheduled it to get to Memphis because I didn’t know I was going to be on College Gameday. I text [the plane company] and said, ‘Can you guys get me to Buffalo?’ They go, ‘No way. Plane is in Florida.’ I call another plane company. I looked at commercial flights. Is there any plane that can get me from Indianapolis to Buffalo for SmackDown, Fox debut, lifelong dream event? No.”
Calling in a favor to get to Buffalo:
“I went deep into the playbook and threw a Hail Mary to Pete Ward, the COO of the Indianapolis Colts. I go, ‘Pete, I would never ask for anything.’ I told him the whole story. At this point, I did not know if it was 100% that [I would be calling SmackDown]. I go, ‘Is there any way (Colts owner) Jim Irsay would lend me a plane to get there?’ He calls me back and goes, ‘Jim says pack your bags, brother. You got a plane.’ I get a text from Hunter and he goes, ‘Let’s go.'”
Meeting Brock Lesnar and Vince McMahon:
“I land an hour and 45 minutes before the show starts. Nobody there. Everybody is stuck in transit. I see [Triple H], he’s talking to Brock Lesnar. I go over to Brock, shake his [hand]. I go, ‘Nice to meet you, sir. You’re a legend.’ He goes, ‘You too.’ I talk to Mr. H and go, ‘What’s the plan?’ He goes, ‘We got a good one for you.’ An hour before the show, we go into Vince McMahon’s office. I’m wearing a sleeveless hoodie and jorts. I had a sportcoat and button down, just in case what happened at WrestleMania happens here.”
“I had the time of my life out there. When I say I had a blast, I mean I had a blast! They let me do my thing. Vince McMahon and Stephanie McMahon were in my ear a couple of times. I think I heard them laugh once. It was a success.”
H/T to Fightful for the transcription.