Pat Patterson, wrestling icon and inaugural WWF Intercontinental Champion, has died at the age of 79.
Born Pierre Clemont, Patterson started his career in the late ’50s and is famed for being the first openly gay WWF star. His career spanned more than six decades, most recently winning WWE’s 24/7 Championship in 2019.
As part of Vince McMahon’s most trusted circle throughout his wrestling career, Patterson is credited with the creation and format of the famed Royal Rumble match, a fan-favorite and staple of WWE’s yearly programming for more than 30 years.
Alongside Gerald Brisco, Patterson regained fame during the WWF “Attitude Era” as one of McMahon’s villainous on-screen henchmen, often playing into nefarious schemes and storylines to help prop up the evil McMahon. He’s often credited with helping boost McMahon’s character into another stratosphere.
Long heralded for his ability to spot and cultivate talent and his influential mind for the business, Patterson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996 and is widely considered one of the greatest minds in wrestling history. Serving as wrestler, commentator, on-screen crony and behind-the-scenes mastermind, Patterson touched all four posts in wrestling.
“In a career spanning six decades, the renaissance man left an indelible mark on the industry in the ring, on the microphone and behind the scenes,” WWE said in a statement.
The wrestling world mourned the loss of the iconic Patterson:
So sad to hear Pat Patterson has passed away at 79. WWE’s first openly gay star, Pat was a trailblazer. The first IC champ, the inventor of the Royal Rumble, a big part of the Mr. McMahon character success in the 90s, and a masterful wrestling mind for talents backstage #RIPPat pic.twitter.com/uj0tjY6vAm
— Gorilla Position (@WWEGP) December 2, 2020
RIP to Pat Patterson the most influential figure not named McMahon to the WWE and the maybe Pro Wrestling in general.
— SoDuTw (@SoDuTw) December 2, 2020
Just heard of the passing this morning if the great, Pat Patterson.
True legend of the pro wrestling business.
A wonderful mentor who taught me so much.
RIP old friend. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/t61R9yCze1
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) December 2, 2020
Pat Patterson, RIP. A great performer& a trailblazer. One of the best wrestling minds ever.
— Mark Madden (@MarkMaddenX) December 2, 2020
One of the most influential men in #WWE history and the business in general. The master at putting together matches and finishes. And don’t forget about his own legendary career. The first Intercontinental champion. He did it his way.
RIP Pat Patterson pic.twitter.com/5J0OiZCHqA
— Scott Fishman (@smFISHMAN) December 2, 2020
So sad to hear of the passing of @wwe legend Pat Patterson. One of the greatest minds in the business and just an all around great guy. I will miss him and his karaoke! RIP my friend. You are a hero to many! pic.twitter.com/WXFwJ1fjkO
— Charles Robinson (@WWERobinson) December 2, 2020
I can not express how crushed I feel right now with the loss of Pat Patterson. A true member of my family, mentor and dear friend.
I love you Pat.
God speed. pic.twitter.com/FdaAFnsw8m
— Shane McMahon (@shanemcmahon) December 2, 2020
No words can describe what he gave to us. His body as an in-ring performer, his mind as a storyteller, and his spirit as a beloved member of our large @WWE family. I will miss him for so many reasons… it’s never goodbye, it’s see ya down the road. Love you, Pat. Abooze
— Triple H (@TripleH) December 2, 2020
#RIPPatPatterson I’m deeply grateful to have grown up with @wwe Hall of Famer, the first-ever Intercontinental Champion, the father of the #RoyalRumble and the first openly gay wrestler of his generation. Thank you for teaching me how to not take it all so seriously. Abooze ❤️
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) December 2, 2020
We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of wrestling legend Pat Patterson. We offer our condolences to his friends and family.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) December 2, 2020