Wrestling superstar Pat Patterson, who spent decades working behind the scenes in WWE after his own retirement as a professional wrestler, has sadly passed away. One of the first-ever inductees, Patterson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Bret Hart in 1996 and became a major fixture for the company backstage. According to reports, Patterson died on Wednesday morning in a Miami hospital after a battle with cancer. He was 79 years old.
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 Assocation. He'd wind up in WWE (then WWF) in 1979, finding a permanent home in the wrestling business as he'd remain with the company all the way up to his death.
Within his first year as a pro wrestler in WWE, Patterson was introduced by the company as the first-ever Intercontinental Champion. With 86 total title-holders, the championship is still around in the company and is currently held by fan favorite performer Sami Zayn. During his early WWE years, Patterson would also feud with several big-name wrestlers of the time, including Ted DiBiase, Bob Backlund, and Sgt. Slaughter.
Patterson would wind down his career as a pro wrestler by the mid '80s, though he continued to appear on television as a color commentator. Around this time, he also began to expand his duties behind the scenes at WWE, working as a road agent initially and later becoming a right-hand man to company owner Vince McMahon. Known for his creativity, Patterson got involved in booking matches and would even be the one to create the Royal Rumble, an annual 30-man battle royale.
In 1997, McMahon had begun feuding with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as part of a WWE storyline with the former taking on the role of the vindictive promoter. Patterson and fellow retired wrestler Gerald Brisco would frequently begin appearing on television alongside McMahon as the chairman's "stooges," often assisting their boss in his storyline rivalries. Patterson and Brisco would occasionally wrestle as well, which includes an "Evening Gown" match against each other for the Hardcore Championship at King of the Ring 2000.
Just last year, Patterson returned to action on WWE programming, winning the 24/7 Championship by pinning Drake Maverick in a backstage segment. At the age of 78, this made Patterson the oldest person in WWE history to ever win a title. Fittingly enough, he'd drop the title to Brisco that same night.
In 2016, Patterson detailed his life story as an openly gay man in the wrestling business through his 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.
We would like to extend our condolences to Patterson's family and friends at this time. May he rest in peace. This news comes to us from the official WWE website.