WWE Legend Pat Patterson – the man who created the “Royal Rumble” – has died, the organization confirmed. He was 79 years old.
“WWE offers its condolences to Patterson’s family and friends,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.
Patterson – who considered himself wrestling’s “first gay superstar” – was a key part of WWE for decades, widely known as Vince McMahonis the right arm.
He started wrestling in the 1950s – and eventually joined WWE in the late 1970s, where he embarked on a series of impressive matches with Sgt. Slaughter. Pat became the company’s first Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion in 1979.
Patterson later became a commentator of color for WWE – and continued to work in the ring and in the booth until his retirement in 1984.
At this point, Patterson joined McMahon as Director of WWE – and in 1988 he pitched the idea for the Royal Rumble.
In his book – “Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE” – Patterson explained how the Rumble was born.
« The first Royal Rumble took place on January 24, 1988 in Hamilton, Ontario. The difference between the WWE Royal Rumble and a traditional tug-of-war battle royale is that participants enter the match at two-minute intervals – not all at the same time at the start of the match. I wanted to create something special. »
Pat turned gay on an episode of “WWE Legends House” in 2014 … opening up to guys like Roddy Piper and Jimmy Hart. It was a strong moment.
Patterson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996.
Tributes are already pouring in …
Triple H – “No words can describe what he gave us. His body as a performer in the ring, his storytelling spirit, and his spirit as a beloved member of our great WWE family. I will miss him for many reasons. .. it’s never goodbye, see you soon. I love you, Pat. Abooze. “ Shane McMahon– “I can’t express how crushed I feel right now by the loss of Pat Patterson.” A true member of my family, mentor and dear friend. I love you Pat. God speed. Jim Ross – I just learned of the death this morning of the great, Pat Patterson. True legend in the world of professional wrestling. A wonderful mentor who taught me so much. RIP old friend. “ Stephanie McMahon – “I am deeply grateful to have grown up with the WWE Hall of Famer, the very first Intercontinental Champion, the father of #RoyalRumble and the first openly gay wrestler of his generation. Thank you for teaching me not to take it all so seriously. Abooze. “