WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson has passed away. https://t.co/SDMTR6skZn— WWE (@WWE) December 2, 2020
Dec. 2 (UPI) -- WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson has died at the age of 79, WWE announced on Wednesday.
The cause of death was not disclosed.
Patterson had a legendary career inside the squared circle, which included becoming WWE's first-ever Intercontinental Champion in 1979 and creating the Royal Rumble match in 1988.
The Intercontinental Championship is still featured on WWE programming to this day, while the Royal Rumble has gone on to become one of WWE's biggest marquee events of the year.
The grappler started his in-ring career in 1958 and joined WWE in 1978 after winning the AWA Tag Team Championships with Ray Stevens. Patterson had a famous rivalry with Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter with the wrestlers competing against each other in a brutal Alley Fight at New York City's Madison Square Garden.
Patterson retired from in-ring competition in 1984 and worked as a color commentator for WWE. He entered into a backstage role, working alongside WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon.
Patterson became an on-screen character in the '90s during the company's lucrative Attitude Era. Patterson portrayed Vince McMahon's on-screen lackey alongside fellow Hall of Famer Gerald Brisco. The pair, known as The Stooges, would do Vince McMahon's bidding but often failed in comedic ways.
Patterson was also one of the first openly gay performers within the world of professional wrestling and came out publicly on WWE Network series Legends' House in 2014.
He released a memoir in 2016 titled Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE.
"#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," WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon said on Twitter.
"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 many reasons...it's never goodbye, it's see ya down the road. Love you, Pat. Abooze," WWE's EVP of global talent strategy and development Triple H tweeted.
Notable deaths of 2020