For anyone who is a lifelong pro wrestling fan, there are some names synonymous with the sport. Ric Flair, the greatest of all time. Harley Race. Bruno Sammartino. High Chief Peter Maivia. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, Rocky Johnson. There is another name most fans know. He was the first ever Intercontinental Champion. He had a resurgence as one of Vince McMahon’s ‘stooges’ during the Attitude Era. He even holds the record for oldest champion in WWE, having won the 24/7 Championship briefly last year at age 78. I’m talking, of course, about WWE Hall of Famer and legend, Pat Patterson. Unfortunately, the WWE has announced that Paterson has passed away at the age of 79 after a battle with cancer.
Patterson was born Pierre Clermont in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1941. He launched his wrestling career in 1958, competing as “Killer” Pat Patterson in various wrestling organizations including Big Time Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Vern Gagne’s American Wrestling Association. He would make his way to WWE (then WWF) in 1979, finding a permanent home in the wrestling business as he remained with the company all the way up to his death.
Patterson won the first ever Intercontinental Championship during his first year with WWE. Before winding down his in-ring career in the late 80’s, he had some great feuds with the likes of Sgt. Slaughter, Bob Backlund, and Ted DiBiase. He moved from the ring to the announce table before shifting to an agent role backstage. Known for his creativity, Paterson created such matches as the Royal Rumble, which is now one of WWE’s Big Four PPVs and the kick-off for WrestleMania season.
Patterson detailed his life story as an openly gay man in the sports entertainment industry through his 2016 memoir, “Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE”. Although he was open about it behind the scenes, Patterson publicly came out as gay in 2014 during an episode of the WWE-produced reality TV series Legends House while speaking with other company legends like Gene Okerlund, Jim Duggan, and Roddy Piper.
Pat Patterson made a massive impact on the sport, more so than most fans even realize. He created many memorable matches, recruited some of the greatest superstars to ever step in the squared circle, changed the culture as an openly gay man in the industry and brought laughter to all around him. Now, Patterson looks to enter the big squared circle in the sky. You will be missed, Pat. Rest in peace.
What is your fondest Pat Patterson memory? Let us know I the comments below!