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    Thursday, December 3, 2020

    Pat Patterson (1941-2020)

    Pat Patterson

    Most—if not all—of us grew up watching Pat Patterson as one of Vince McMahon's "stooges." Alongside Gerald Brisco and Sgt. Slaughter, Patterson represented the "offices" in the Attitude Era: the upstairs folk, the keepers of order, the corporate side of wrestling. Some of us considered Patterson as the oldest of the old guard: a guy whose loyalty to the McMahons was rewarded with a "knighthood" of sorts as a creative force and as the consummate producer of many of the matches and shows we watched regularly back in the day. Still some of us (and rightfully so) understood one of Pat Patterson's indelible places in that Pantheon of pro wrestling greatness: Patterson was one of the first—if not the first—openly gay professional wrestlers in WWE history.

    Patterson's memorable moment in Legend's House was pivotal in that:

    In many ways, Pat Patterson was a man of firsts: he was the first Intercontinental Champion, unifying the North American Championship and the South American Championship in a tournament in Rio de Janiero in 1979 (and as with many things in wrestling, we take this to be real). Patterson was the first referee in WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden in 1985. And Patterson was the first to conceptualize that favorite event of wrestling fans the world over: the Royal Rumble.

    While known mostly for his backstage roles, as a wrestler Patterson was a ring great in his own right. For over 25 years, Patterson made his mark at a time when wrestling was bracing itself to grow into the colossal cultural artifact that it is today. While the Intercontinental Championship—one typically awarded to great in-ring workers these days—was the feather in his cap, Patterson was a wrestler who built his reputation around being one of the best tag team workers in the world. And that was in a time when tag team wrestling was still strong, and a real test in the ability of a pro wrestler not only to work with an opponent, but with a partner as well.

    And what's even more remarkable is that Patterson did all of this being gay: at a time of rampant discrimination and hatred. While Patterson's gender and identity have been referenced many times in the Attitude Era (in ways that would make many of us cringe today), as the years wore on the world has become somewhat kinder and more open: that in more ways than one, Patterson not only survived it all, but he was accepted. And in death, close to revered.

    And for Patterson to have done this for more than 60 years—right to the day of his passing on December 2, at 79 years strong—is nothing short of remarkable.

    Au revoir, Pat.
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    Item Reviewed: Pat Patterson (1941-2020) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Marck Rimorin
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