WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson died on Wednesday, and the entire WWE community is mourning. One of the most notable figures to pay tribute to Patterson is Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who said Patterson was the one that pointed him out to Vince McMahon at the start of his WWE career. Johnson went to Instagram on Wednesday to send Patterson a heartfelt message.
"Rough phone calls to get this morning to tell me, our dear family member, Pat Patterson who was my pro wrestling mentor and father figure has passed away," Johnson wrote in the Instagram post. A [WWE] hall of famer, TRUE trailblazer and one of the most brilliantly creative wrestling minds the industry has ever known. He was also responsible for calling Vince McMahon when I was training to become a pro wrestler (my $7 bucks days) and said, 'Vince you gotta see this kid work in the ring.' Vince flew me to RAW a few weeks later and I had my first match EVER in Corpus Christie, Texas. The rest is history and years later, here I am writing this post."
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Patterson is likely responsible for discovering several former and current WWE Superstars as he worked as a producer for many years. However, he was also known for his in-ring ability, becoming WWE's first Intercontinental Champion in 1979. He's also the one who created the Royal Rumble match, which started in 1989.
"In his 25-plus years in WWE, Patterson was synonymous with making history," WWE said in a statement. "From the Intercontinental Title to the Royal Rumble Match and beyond, his name will forever be revered in WWE lore. This amazing legacy was captured in Patterson's 2016 autobiography, Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE, a moving chronicle about his life both inside and out of the ring."
Patterson started his pro wrestling career in 1958 in Canada. He moved to the U.S. shortly after and had success in smaller promotions. One of his most memorable matches in WWE was the Alley Fight at Madison Square Garden against Sgt. Slaughter. Along with winning the Intercontinental title, Patterson won the North American Heavyweight Championship, the Hardcore Championship and the 24/7 Championship. He's the second person in WWE history to win the Hardcore and 24/7 titles and became the oldest person in WWE history to win a championship (78 years old.)