Pat Patterson (wrestler)
|Birth name||Pierre Clermont|
|Born||January 19, 1941|
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Died||December 2, 2020 (aged 79)|
Miami, Florida, U.S.
|Partner||Louie Dondero (1958–1998) (Dondero's death)|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Lord Patrick Patterson|
|Billed height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Billed weight||237 lb (108 kg)|
|Billed from||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Trained by||Loisirs Saint Jean Baptiste|
Pat Patterson (born Pierre Clermont, January 19, 1941 – December 2, 2020) was a Canadian–American professional wrestler and producer, widely known for his long tenure in the professional wrestling promotion WWE, first as a wrestler, then as a creative consultant and producer. He is recognized by the company as their first Intercontinental Champion and creator of the Royal Rumble match. Patterson was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame as part of the class of 1996.
In 2019, Patterson became the oldest person to win a title in WWE history, after winning the WWE 24/7 Championship at age 78. He was described by journalist Dave Meltzer as "Vince McMahon's right-hand man" and "one of the chief architects of the WWE, playing an integral role in helping it become a global phenomenon."
Patterson was born into an impoverished French-speaking family in the Ville-Marie borough of Montreal, Quebec, Canada on January 19, 1941. He began training to wrestle at the age of 14 at Loisirs Saint Jean Baptiste. He was raised Roman Catholic, and was an altar boy. He expressed an interest to a priest in becoming one himself, but was advised it would not have worked, because he was "too adventurous".
Professional wrestling career
Early career (1958–1962)
Big Time Wrestling (1962)
In 1962, Patterson - despite speaking no English - immigrated to the United States to pursue his professional wrestling career. He eventually became a U.S. citizen. Patterson initially worked for Tony Santos's Big Time Wrestling promotion in Boston, Massachusetts. While living and working in Boston, Patterson met his long-term partner, Louie Dondero.
Pacific Northwest Wrestling (1962–1965)
In 1962, Patterson was recruited by Mad Dog Vachon for Don Owen's Portland, Oregon-based Pacific Northwest Wrestling promotion. At the encouragement of PNW promoter Harry Elliot, who was aware of Patterson's homosexuality, Patterson developed the character of "Pretty Boy" Pat Patterson, an effeminate wrestler who wore lipstick, sunglasses, and a beret and carried a cigarette holder. In 1963, Patterson wrestled for promotions in Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma as part of a talent exchange organized by Owen. Patterson returned to Pacific Northwest Wrestling in 1964. He held the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship on two occasions that year. On October 2, 1964, Patterson defeated Pepper Martin for the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship. He held the championship for six weeks before losing to Martin. Patterson won the championship again in 1965 and 1966.
Big Time Wrestling (San Francisco) (1965–1977)
In January 1965, Patterson was hired by Roy Shire for his San Francisco, California-based Big Time Wrestling promotion. At Shire's request, Patterson dyed his hair blond to form a tag team with Ray Stevens, The Blond Bombers. The duo won the NWA World Tag Team Championship in 1965 and again in 1967. The Blonde Bombers were described by Bret Hart as "considered by many to be the best tag team of the 1970s". In 1968, Patterson wrestled for NWA Western States Wrestling in Amarillo, Texas as Lord Patrick Patterson, winning the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship and NWA Brass Knuckles Championship. In the same year, he undertook a six-week tour of Japan, facing Antonio Inoki in a series of bouts.
After Stevens turned face in the late 1960s, he had a feud with the heel Patterson, culminating in a Texas Death match, in which Stevens won the title from Patterson. In 1970 and 1971, Patterson wore a mask during his matches, and would cheat by placing a foreign object under the mask to add power to his headbutts. In 1972, Patterson turned face again, after feuding with Lars Anderson, who was managed by Dr. Ken Ramey. Later that year, he teamed with Rocky Johnson and won the tag team championship. In 1975 and 1981, Patterson won the Cow Palace Battle Royal in San Francisco.
Championship Wrestling from Florida (1977)
In 1977, Patterson wrestled for Eddie Graham's Tampa, Florida-based Championship Wrestling from Florida promotion. During his run, he won the NWA Florida Television Championship and the NWA Florida Tag Team Championship, as well as briefly serving as booker.
American Wrestling Association (1978–1983)
In 1978, Patterson joined Verne Gagne's Minneapolis, Minnesota-based American Wrestling Association. He reformed The Blond Bombers with Ray Stevens, with the duo winning the AWA World Tag Team Championship later that year. Patterson performed intermittently for the AWA until 1983.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling (1979)
Lutte Internationale (1980–1983)
Patterson made his professional return to Quebec in 1980, wrestling a number of bouts for the Montreal, Quebec-based Lutte Internationale promotion. He held the Canadian International Tag Team Championship on five occasions between 1980 and 1983.
World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment / WWE (1979–2020)
North American Champion (1979)
In 1979, Patterson debuted in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), working as a heel, under the tutelage of manager The Grand Wizard. As a villain, Patterson's primary feuds were with then WWF North American Champion Ted DiBiase and WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund. During a television taping on June 19 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Patterson defeated DiBiase for the WWF North American Championship by using a pair of brass knuckles to knock out DiBiase. Patterson was unsuccessful, however, in winning the WWF Heavyweight Championship from Backlund.
Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion and retirement (1979–1984)
In September 1979, the WWF would introduce the WWF Intercontinental Championship, a secondary championship for its midcard wrestlers. Patterson was crowned the company's first Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion after an alleged tournament held in Rio de Janeiro. While Patterson's tournament "victory" is widely listed in wrestling title and match histories, the tournament itself never actually took place. Patterson's apocryphal title victory would later become something of an inside joke during Patterson's on-screen tenure as one of Vince McMahon's "stooges". The fictional tournament was also later profiled in-depth on WWE.com as an April Fool's joke. On November 8, Patterson dropped the North American title to Seiji Sakaguchi.
It was during Patterson's reign as champion that he turned face, after a botched attempt by the Grand Wizard to "sell" Patterson's contract to "Captain" Lou Albano for $100,000; Albano's protégés, the Wild Samoans, attacked Patterson after he cut a promo insulting Albano. Patterson held the Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship until April 21, 1980, when he was defeated by Ken Patera in New York City, New York. The match ended in controversial fashion after Patterson placed his right leg on the ropes just before the three count was made. On May 4, 1981, Patterson's feud with Sgt. Slaughter culminated in an alley street fight match in Madison Square Garden. The match was voted Match of the Year by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Sporadic roles (1984–1997)
Patterson began doing color commentary in 1980 with Vince McMahon, calling WWF Championship Wrestling from 1980 to 1984. While Patterson was a face commentator when partnered with Gorilla Monsoon and Vince McMahon, he hosted a heel interview segment for French WWF broadcasts known as "Le Brunch de Pat", where he would politely ask questions in English but furtively mock his face guests in French. Patterson was on commentary with Monsoon when The Iron Sheik defeated Bob Backlund for the world heavyweight championship, as well as for when Hulk Hogan defeated The Iron Sheik about a month later. Patterson was also calling the action when Jimmy Snuka jumped off the steel cage and splashed Don Muraco in Madison Square Garden in 1983.
Patterson retired from wrestling in 1984. Although retired, Patterson continued to occasionally wrestle. On January 26, 1985, he wrestled Nikolai Volkoff in a losing effort in a house show in Cincinnati, Ohio. The following month, he teamed with Andre the Giant at a pair of house shows in Canada and defeated Ken Patera and Big John Studd. He took the spot of Mad Dog Vachon on the WWF skit show Le Brunch on WWF Superstars in Canada until late summer in 1987. Several wrestlers like the Rougeau Brothers and Dino Bravo replaced him, and Frenchie Martin hosted Le Studio as a replacement of Le Brunch. Before that he made another appearance, this time in a battle royal in Montreal on February 24, 1987. He also appeared in a battle royal at a house show in Buffalo, New York on December 27. Patterson made a handful of additional appearances in Montreal in 1987, wrestling as a heel (while remaining a face or neutral backstage official in the United States and elsewhere in Canada). His most notable appearance was a win over the up-and-coming Brutus Beefcake on August 10 His final match would come three weeks later in Montreal as he fell in defeat to Beefcake and subsequently received a haircut.
He began working backstage as a road agent and right-hand man to WWF promoter Vince McMahon, and is credited with inventing and booking the Royal Rumble match. In the late 1990s, he also worked in the talent-relations department. After his retirement, Patterson also worked as a WWF referee. He was selected as the in-ring referee for the main event at the first WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden on March 31, 1985, as well as the main event of WrestleMania XI. In 1992, Patterson was accused of sexual harassment by former announcer Murray Hodgson. He was briefly released from the company until the charges were dropped, when he was promptly rehired.
In 1997, Patterson, along with Gerald Brisco, became comedy heels as the on-screen stooges of Vince McMahon, assisting their boss in his rivalries with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind and The Rock. Patterson and Brisco were among the founding members of The Corporation. In order to mock Hulk Hogan, they used "Real American" as their entrance music and parodied Hogan's flexing routine as they approached the ring. On the May 18, 1998 episode of Raw, Patterson and Brisco competed in a 2 on 1 Street Fight against Austin that ended in a no contest when Vince McMahon and Dude Love attacked Austin.
Later in 1999, the two became entangled with the McMahon-Helmsley Faction. On the December 16, 1999 episode of SmackDown, Patterson and Brisco helped Test, who had been injured by D-Generation X. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon then forced Patterson and Brisco to compete for the WWF Tag Team Championship against The New Age Outlaws or be fired. Patterson and Brisco lost the match. In 2000, Patterson and Brisco joined Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. On the May 8 episode of Raw, Patterson, Road Dogg and X-Pac faced Rikishi in a 3 on 1 handicap match and were disqualified after Patterson hit Rikishi with a chair. Afterwards, Patterson lowered his drawers to deliver a Stink Face to Rikishi with stained underwear, which commentator Jim Ross described as a "tractor-sized skidmark". On June 12, 2000, when the Faction unmasked Kane, Patterson photographed Kane's "hideously scarred" face, and threatened to "expose him to the world" if he did not comply. Kane was forced to wrestle The Rock (then his ally) in a No Holds Barred match. When Patterson's film did not develop properly, Kane turned on the Faction.
On June 19, 2000, Patterson helped Brisco win the perpetually contested WWF Hardcore Championship from Crash Holly but during the victory celebration turned on his ally, blinding him with champagne and then breaking a second bottle over Brisco's head, and pinning the (kayfabe) unconscious champion. Brisco pursued Patterson into the women's locker room, where Patterson was hiding in drag. Subsequently, Vince McMahon scheduled them to fight over the Hardcore Championship in an Evening Gown match at King of the Ring 2000; in the course of the match, Crash Holly attacked both men and pinned Patterson to become Hardcore Champion.[self-published source?][self-published source?] On the June 21 episode of Raw, Patterson and Brisco's match with Shane and Vince McMahon ended in a no contest when The Mean Street Posse ran in and attacked them.
Backstage roles (2000–2020)
The Intercontinental Championship, unified with the World Heavyweight Championship on October 20, 2002, was resurrected on May 18, 2003, at Judgment Day in a battle royal. Patterson, as the first Intercontinental Champion, was at ringside to present the belt to the victor. Booker T eliminated Christian for the win, but the referee was unconscious. As Patterson attempted to give the championship belt to Booker T, Christian attacked him, stole the Intercontinental Championship belt and used it to knock out Booker T. The referee then recovered and awarded the match to Christian. In October 2004, Patterson retired from World Wrestling Entertainment. Patterson returned to WWE in a limited capacity in May 2005. While retired as a producer for WWE, he still acted as a creative consultant. At Breaking Point, Patterson made an appearance in his hometown of Montreal in an in-ring segment with Dolph Ziggler. Patterson was a regular cast member on the WWE Network original reality show Legends' House.
On July 22, 2019, during the Raw Reunion episode, Patterson won the WWE 24/7 Championship by pinning Drake Maverick backstage. He would lose the title to Gerald Brisco off-screen later that same night. At 78 years old, he became the oldest person ever to win a title in WWE history, beating The Fabulous Moolah's fourth reign with the original WWF Women's Championship at 76 years old. It was also Patterson's first title reign since June 19, 2000, with the similarly introduced WWF Hardcore Championship, which also used the "24/7 rule". He was only the second person ever to win both the 24/7 and Hardcore Championships. He was working backstage as a WWE official from 2005 until his death in 2020.
Patterson was openly gay, having come out in the early 1970s. Though Jim Ross made several jokes about Patterson's sexuality on commentary, it was not acknowledged publicly or in WWE storylines until the finale of WWE Legends' House, which aired June 12, 2014. NBC News described Patterson as "the first openly gay pro wrestling star." People magazine described him as the "First Gay Wrestling Star."
In the 1960s, after the end of the main part of the Lavender scare, the Justice Department's Immigration and Naturalization Service spent several years, from the end of 1964 onwards, looking for evidence of "homosexual activity" in order to have Patterson deported back to Canada. Documents disclosed as a result of Freedom of Information Act requests show that, as a part of a Portland Police Bureau Morals Division investigation into the Portland gay community, PPB had reported Patterson's presence at "'gay' parties" and gay bars in the city and that Patterson was known to pick up male prostitutes in Portland. The documents also describe interviewees' suspicions that Louie Dondero was Patterson's romantic partner, as well as his agent, and that they had an open relationship. The same documents reveal that the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations were investigating another wrestler suspected of being gay, with a view to discharging him; this wrestler subsequently denounced Patterson to INS before retracting. In November 1966, the INS initiated deportation proceedings against Patterson, leading to an interview where he was asked about his effeminacy, dyed hair, about whether he was a homosexual and whether "he molested little boys". In December 1966, Patterson was served with a deportation notice, requiring him to leave the United States on or before January 10, possibly as an attempt to dupe Patterson into leaving with an expectation of an easy green card but with the intention of excluding him through psychological exam; however Patterson was fighting again in Arizona 4 days later. After Patterson's application for a green card in 1971, the journalist's dossier of Freedom of Information responses showed nothing further until his successful naturalization in 2002.
Patterson's longtime partner was Louie Dondero. Patterson said on WWE Legends' House he and Dondero were together for 40 years. Dondero died of a heart attack on June 28, 1998, the same night as King of the Ring. In August 2006, Patterson underwent emergency heart surgery to remove a cyst from his coronary artery. In October, Patterson recovered from his operation and was released from the hospital. He legally changed his name to Pat Patterson in 2008.
Patterson died of liver failure caused by a blood clot at a Miami, Florida, hospital on December 2, 2020. He was 79 years old. Many figures in the wrestling world openly paid their respects to Patterson, as both an in-ring performer and as a behind-the-scenes figure.
- Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE (August 9, 2016)
Championships and accomplishments
- American Wrestling Association
- Big Time Wrestling (San Francisco)
- NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (San Francisco version) (5 times)
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) (11 times) – with Ray Stevens (2), Superstar Billy Graham (1), Pedro Morales (1), Pepper Gomez (1), Peter Maivia (1), Moondog Mayne (1), Rocky Johnson (3), and Tony Garea (1)
- Cauliflower Alley Club
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- Lutte Internationale
- New Japan Pro-Wrestling
- NWA Hollywood Wrestling
- NWA Western States Sports
- Pacific Northwest Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
- World Championship Wrestling
- World Wrestling Federation/WWE
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Patterson, Pat (August 1, 2016). Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-77090-864-2.
- Terry Funk; Scott E. Williams (December 13, 2013). Terry Funk: More Than Just Hardcore. Skyhorse Publishing Company, Incorporated. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-61321-308-7.
- "Pat Patterson". Canoe.com. Postmedia Network. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
- "Pat Patterson". WWE.com. WWE. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
- Solomon, Brian (2006). WWE Legends. Pocket Books. pp. 203–208. ISBN 978-0-7434-9033-7.
- "Pat Patterson's profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
- John F. Molinaro; Dave Meltzer; Jeff Marek (December 2002). Top 100 pro wrestlers of all time. Winding Stair Press. pp. 197–198. ISBN 9781553663058.
- Pat Laprade; Bertrand Hebert (February 1, 2013). Mad Dogs, Midgets and Screw Jobs: The Untold Story of How Montreal Shaped the World of Wrestling. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-77090-296-1.
- Brian Solomon (June 15, 2010). WWE Legends. Simon and Schuster. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-4516-0450-4.
- Harris M. Lentz III (January 1, 2003). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling, 2d ed. McFarland. pp. 267–268. ISBN 978-0-7864-1754-4.
- Pepper Martin; Penny Lane (March 31, 2016). Shrapnel of the Soul and Redemption. Page Publishing Inc. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-68289-451-4.
- George Schire (2010). Minnesota's Golden Age of Wrestling: From Verne Gagne to the Road Warriors. Minnesota Historical Society. pp. 239–240. ISBN 978-0-87351-620-4.
- Bret Hart (September 15, 2009). Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling. Ebury Publishing. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-4070-2931-3.
- Greg Oliver (2007). The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels. ECW Press. p. 275. ISBN 978-1-55490-284-2.
- "85". The History of WWE. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
- "87". The History of WWE. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
- Ellison, Lillian (2003). The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle. ReaganBooks. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-06-001258-8.
- Irv Muchnick (2007). Wrestling Babylon: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal. ECW Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-55490-286-6.
- James Dixon; Arnold Furious; Lee Maughan; Bob Dahlstrom; Rick Ashley (April 3, 2014). The Complete WWF Video Guide Volume V. Lulu.com. p. 90. ISBN 978-1-291-81693-8.[self-published source]
- Ben Undelson. Fiction. A Nostalgic Guide to Growing up with the WWF. Lulu.com. p. 371. ISBN 978-1-304-12875-1.[self-published source]
- Brady, Hicks. "2006: The year in wrestling". PWI Presents: 2007 Wrestling Almanak and book of facts. Kappa Publications. p. 27. 2007 Edition.
- "Farewell My Friends". WWE Legends' House. Season 1. Episode 2. June 12, 2014. WWE Network. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021.
- Meltzer, Dave (June 13, 2014). "FRI. UPDATE: Injuries weaken WWE weekend shows, Pat Patterson". The Wrestling Observer. Archived from the original on June 16, 2014. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
- Haynes, Danielle (June 14, 2014). "Pat Patterson, WWE legend, says he's gay". United Press International. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
- Syed, Mohammed; Li, David K. (December 2, 2020). "Pat Patterson, the first openly gay pro wrestling star, has died at 79". NBC News. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
- DeSantis, Rachel (December 2, 2020). "WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson, the First Gay Wrestling Star, Dies at 79: 'A True Trailblazer'". People. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
- Bixenspan, David (October 19, 2021). "The Government's Gay Witch Hunt of Pat Patterson". MEL Magazine. Archived from the original on October 20, 2021. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
- "1965-04-14 Summary of witness interviews (Pat Patterson alien file)". Immigration and Naturalization Service. April 14, 1965. Retrieved October 20, 2021 – via DocumentCloud.
- "1966-11-18 Notice of hearing citing itinerary violation (Pat Patterson alien file)". Immigration and Naturalization Service. November 18, 1966. Retrieved October 20, 2021 – via DocumentCloud.
- "1966-11-29 Summary of deportation hearing (Pat Patterson alien file)". Immigration and Naturalization Service. November 29, 1966. Retrieved October 20, 2021 – via DocumentCloud.
- "1966-12-20 Deportation notice (Pat Patterson alien file)". Immigration and Naturalization Service. December 20, 1966. Retrieved October 20, 2021 – via DocumentCloud.
- Oliver, Greg (2007). The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels. ECW Press. p. 274.
Patterson is proud that he was able to stay on top for so long, and the city was home for many years to him and his life partner, Louis Dondero.
- Lee, Esther (June 13, 2014). "Pat Patterson Comes Out As Gay: WWE Legend Makes Emotional Speech on Reality Show". Us. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
- Ryder, James (December 2, 2020). "Details About Pat Patterson's Health Prior To His Death". Web Is Jericho. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
- "Tony Marinaro on Twitter: "Just got a text from my buddy Rodger Brulotte letting me know that legendary wrestler Pat Patterson of @WWE passed away earlier this morning in a Miami hospital. Patterson, had cancer. He was 79. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. RIP. #WWE"". Twitter. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
- "WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson passes away". WWE. December 2, 2020. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
- Johns, Fred (June 10, 2008). "In awe at my first Cauliflower Alley Club reunion". Slam Wrestling. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pat Patterson (wrestler).|