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Pat Patterson, Creative Genius Behind Wwe Reservation, Dead At 79

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Pat Patterson, the ground-breaking professional wrestler who served as Vince McMahon’s right-hand man for nearly 20 years, has died at the age of 79. He had recently been battling cancer.

Born Pierre Clermont in Quebec, Canada, he adopted the name Pat Patterson upon his wrestling debut in 1958. Despite the anglicized name, he never shook his natural accent and his Francophone pronunciation was much mimicked among wrestling fans and performers themselves.

He joined what was then the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in 1979, and became the company’s first Intercontinental champion. He was awarded the title after a kayfabe (fictitious) tournament in Rio De Janeiro.

The choice of location was a backstage joke—Patterson was an open homosexual at a time when wrestling was still considered a traditional, conservative field of entertainment.

In a tweet on Wednesday, the WWE paid tribute to the late wrestling star, saying it was “saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson has passed away.”

Former WWE commentator Jim Ross and WWE minority owner Shane McMahon also paid tribute to Patterson.

“[A] True legend of the pro wrestling business,” Ross tweeted.

“A wonderful mentor who taught me so much.”

McMahon added: “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.”

Feuding with the likes of Sergeant Slaughter, Patterson won Match of the Year in the 1981 Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards. Retiring from the ring in 1984, he began work as a commentator for WWF’s French-language broadcasts, before transferring to a backstage role where he was arguably the most influential producer in wrestling history.

He was the referee for the first WrestleMania main event, where Hulk Hogan and Mr. T teamed together, and was both the creator and creative mind behind the Royal Rumble—wrestling’s most beloved gimmick match.

His work as an agent was highly regarded, with his laying out of the Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior match at WrestleMania VI being often seen as an example of how he could book main events between two limited performers.

He continued to make appearances on-screen in his later years, as one of McMahon’s “stooges” in the Attitude Era, and last year he even became the oldest ever male champion in WWE history, winning the 24/7 title in a backstage skit.

In 1992, Patterson was released by the WWF after being accused of sexual harassment by former announcer Murray Hodgson. However, he was swiftly re-hired after a short hiatus once the charges against him were dropped.

Over a decade later, in 2004, Patterson retired from WWE again only to return less than a year later as he continued to work for the company, albeit in a limited capacity.

In July last year, aged 78, Patterson became the oldest person ever to win a title in WWE history, when he claimed the WWE 24/7 Championship by pinning Drake Maverick backstage.

The title also marked Patterson’s first title reign in almost two decades.

Pat Patterson [L] wrestling Rudolph “Sgt. Slaughter” Remus. Patterson died on Wednesday at the age of 79.
Wally McNamee/Corbis/Getty

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