Pat Patterson, the WWE Hall of Famer best known for being the first Intercontinental Champion and the creator of the Royal Rumble match, has died. He was 79.
Patterson’s death was confirmed by the WWE. An exact cause of death has not been officially confirmed, however, Newsweek reports Patterson “…had recently been battling cancer.”
Patterson was also notable as one of the first out WWE superstars. He came out during an episode of the WWE Network original show Legends House in 2014 and release the book Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE in 2016.
Patterson’s full-time in-ring career would span from 1958 to 1984. During that time, he wrestled in a number of major promotions and territories including Pacific Northwest Wrestling, Big Time Wrestling in San Francisco, American Wrestling Association, New Japan Pro Wrestling and, of course, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Patterson would become the first Intercontinental Champion for the then WWF in 1979, a title that is still active to this day.
Patterson would end his full-time in-ring career in 1984 and would work full-time for the WWF/WWE for the next 30 years in a backstage role and was considered Vince McMahon’s right-hand-man. One of his biggest contributions to the WWE was creating the Royal Rumble match, the first of which took place in 1988. The match centered the PPV event of the same name is one of the most popular events in WWE programming every year.