Pat Patterson, a World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Famer and the first Intercontinental champion, has died at the age of 79, the company said Wednesday.
Patterson spent decades in professional wrestling, as an in-ring performer and working behind the scenes. He wrote about his life and career in the 2016 autobiography “Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson called Patterson one of the greatest mentors he had in the business, in a review for the book.
“He has been instrumental in some of the greatest story lines and matches in my entire career, and I am forever grateful for his guidance and knowledge,” Johnson said in the review.
The WWE stated in a news release that Patterson’s career as a performer began in 1958. Highlights included the AWA Tag Team Championship and a rivalry with Sgt. Slaughter, in addition to the being the inaugural Intercontinental title holder.
Patterson also is credited with creating the format for the Royal Rumble match, WWE said.
Many fans became familiar with him in the ’90s as one of Vince McMahon’s “Stooges,” along with fellow former wrestler Gerald Brisco.
He was inducted by Bret Hart into the company’s Hall of Fame in 1996.