WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson, the first gay wrestling superstar, dies at 79
WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson died Wednesday. He was 79.
Patterson’s career with WWE spanned multiple decades. He made his WWE debut in 1979, and remained with the company in a backstage role until his death. In the ring, Patterson developed feuds with Ted DiBiase, Bob Backlund and Sgt. Slaughter. In 1979, Patterson became the first wrestler to hold the Intercontinental title.
In a statement, WWE said Patterson “left an indelible mark on the industry in the ring, on the microphone and behind the scenes.”
After retiring in 1984, Patterson took a backstage role, where he worked closely with Vince McMahon. Patterson continued to wrestle occasionally, but also served as a referee and commentator. Patterson is credited with coming up with the idea for the Royal Rumble.
In 1990, Patterson resigned from WWE after being accused of sexual harassment by former announcer Murray Hodgson. Those charges were dropped, and Patterson rejoined the company.
Patterson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996. Bret Hart inducted Patterson into the Hall of Fame.
In 2014, Patterson came out as gay during a segment on WWE Legends’ House.
Patterson wrote a book about his experience in 2016 titled “Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE.”
WWE stars react to Pat Patterson’s death
Following Patterson’s death, a number of WWE stars paid tribute to Patterson on social media.
Loss is incredibly difficult. Those we love are only truly gone if we stop caring. Pat Patterson lived life as it should be lived with passion, love and purpose. He helped so many and always entertained with a story or joke. He will live on in my life always. Love you Patrick.
— John Cena (@JohnCena) 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
Very saddened to hear about the passing of one of my best friends..Pat Patterson. He had an infectious personality where you always wanted to be around him. This photo of Pat, @ShawnMichaels and me was from Wrestlemania 21. Pat helped us create an incredible Story. #RIPHOFer pic.twitter.com/APHVs7hRoi
— Kurt Angle (@RealKurtAngle) December 2, 2020
PAT PATTERSON I DONT KNOW WHAT TO SAY OTHER THAN I LOVE YOU. YOU HAVE BEAUTIFUL MIND FOR THIS BUSINESS AND BEAUTIFUL HEART FOR THIS WORLD. MY HEART IS BROKEN. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. THANK YOU FOR YOUR FRIENDSHIP #rip pic.twitter.com/XASbSUG0qO
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) 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
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
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
More from Yahoo Sports: