WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson died at the age of 79 after a battle with cancer. Patterson was the first intercontinental champion of WWE (then WWF), the inventor of the Royal Rumble and one of the most influential creative forces in professional wrestling history.
Patterson was born in Montreal in 1941 as Pierre Clermont. His wrestling career began in 1958 and eventually led him to San Francisco, where he formed The Blond Bomber’s tag team with Ray Stevens. Probably the best tag team in the 1970s, the pair had several governments with NWA world-famous team championships. During his time in San Francisco, he also won the North American Championship NWA.
Patterson made his WWF debut in 1979 and eventually defeated Ted DiBiase to win the promotion North American Championship. It was the title that Patterson would unite with the South American Championship during a tournament in Rio de Janeiro to create the intercontinental championship that is still defended today. (Technically, there was no South American championship, nor was there a tournament in Rio, but the story became canon in the creation of one of the most prestigious championships in wrestling history.)
In 1980, Patterson switched to a role as a commentator before officially retiring from the ring competition in 1984, although he struggled in occasional fights in the following years. He wanted to take on an ever-increasing role behind the scenes with WWF, leading to Vince McMahon’s right hand man and one of the architects of the company’s greatest successes.
“[McMahon] made me stop breaking and working in an office, something I had never wanted, “Patterson said of the transition to a backstage role in a book. … I did not like working in an office – I mean, I quit school so I did not have to work in an office. I became senior vice president and I had no idea what that meant. The only thing I knew was pro wrestling. My vision of wrestling impressed him. He taught me how wrestling should work, how to put a match together and how to create a finish. “
Many who have been through WWE have credited Patterson for their successes, citing him as one of the most creative men in wrestling history.
“He is a wrestling Jedi and the wisest man I have ever met in wrestling,” Chris Jericho wrote of Patterson in his biography “Undisputed.” “He taught me 90 percent of the things I know about how to put together a fight, and when I first approached him, I had no idea how little I really knew about the psychology of business.”
Patterson was known as one of the best “finish men” in wrestling for his ability to create innovative and entertaining ends in fights. In a radio interview, Bret Hart once said that Patterson was “the most creative person in the history of wrestling to put a finish together.”
He was also an innovator of new match ideas. Perhaps Patterson’s most notable contribution to the company is the creation of the Royal Rumble, one of the most iconic matches on WWE’s annual calendar.
“We had this meeting with Dick Ebersol, president of NBC Sports, as we worked on ‘Saturday Night’s Main Event,’ who were watching a three-hour special for the USA Network,” Patterson said of the creation of the upcoming match . of his debut. WWF used it to counter-program Jim Crockett’s Bunkhouse Stampede pay-per-view.
“We needed an idea, so Vince told me, ‘Pat, throw him the cool idea of you!’ Ebersol went crazy for it, so Vince asked me to write it. I put it all alone the first night. I did not come up with the name, even though we had people in the office for it. We did not want it to be the king of battle; they came up with ‘Royal Rumble’ and it was perfect! “
Patterson eventually got a role on screen again during Attitude Era alongside Gerald Brisco as one of McMahon’s “stooges,” a couple of yes-men who helped Mr. The McMahon character in feuds with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and others. During this period, Patterson won the WWF hardcore championship. However, it was not his last title as Patterson actually won the WWE’s 24/7 title in 2019, making him the oldest man to ever have a WWE Championship.
Patterson was openly gay and partnered with Louie Dondero for 40 years before Dondero died in 1998.