Pat Patterson, the first Intercontinental Champion, and WWE Hall-of-Famer has passed away, the company confirmed on Twitter on Wednesday morning. Patterson, who was the first openly gay pro wrestling star, had a career that spanned seven decades, having started wrestling in the 1950's and winning the WWE 24/7 Championship in July of 2019, which made him the oldest person to ever win a WWE championship. He was 79-years-old when he passed away from cancer on December 2nd, 2020.
Patterson retired from in-ring competition in 1984 and became a producer backstage in WWE. He was well-known for booking and producing Royal Rumble matches, a match he created. Patterson was accused of sexual harassment in his role as a WWE official and in 1992, Patterson was fired after being named in a sexual harassment by announcer Murray Hodgson. However, Patterson was rehired when the lawsuit was dismissed. Patterson returned to a prominent on-screen role, including in-ring performances, alongside Gerald Brisco as Vince McMahon's "stooges" during the Attitude Era in the late 1990s.
As the news of Patterson's passing spread, the wrestling world reacted to the news, including Stephanie McMahon, who tweeted, "#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," and Shane McMahon, who said, "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." Hall-of-Fame announcer Jim Ross said, "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."