The Rock returns to WWE Smackdown Credit: WWE YouTube

Finally, The Rock has come back to WWE Friday Night SmackDown.

And so has Pat McAfee.

Hours after they made headlines with their interview on The Pat McAfee Show in Boulder, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and McAfee made the trip down the road to Denver, where WWE is hosting its nationally televised primetime show. The episode started with McAfee — who has dabbled in both wrestling and announcing in WWE in recent years — making a surprise entrance, before being interrupted by Austin Theory.

Theory threatened to extract revenge on McAfee, who beat him in a match at Wrestlemania 38 in Arlington, Texas, last year. McAfee, however, informed Theory that wasn’t going to happen, noting that SmackDown was “the people’s show,” just as The Rock’s unmistakable theme music played.

The Rock and Theory proceeded to engage in a war of words before Theory threw a series of punches at “The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment.” The Rock, however, proceeded to hit Theory with a spinebuster and a “people’s elbow,” with McAfee adding one of his own for good measure.

The appearance came on the same day that Johnson revealed to McAfee that he was “locked” to face WWE Universal Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 39 earlier this year and that he was “open” to such a match taking place at Wrestlemania 40 in Philadelphia next year. It also marked The Rock’s first appearance in WWE since 2019, which came during the debut episode of Friday Night Smackdown on Fox.

Ironically, McAfee and Johnson will both be appearing on ESPN College GameDay on Saturday morning, which will be competing against Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff with both shows emanating from Boulder. But if ever there was a world where it’s OK — if not preferred — to blur the lines, it’s professional wrestling.


About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.