WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson passed away at the age of 79 on Wednesday. The inaugural WWF Intercontinental Champion is credited as one of the most influential minds in WWE history, working as a producer backstage for decades while developing such concepts as the Royal Rumble match. His work affected the lives of multiple generations of wrestlers, and shortly after the news broke dozens of them took to social media to pay their respects. That included Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
"Rough phone calls to get this morning to tell me, our dear family member Pat Patterson who was also father figure and my pro wrestling mentor has passed away," Johnson wrote. "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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WWE broke the news on Patterson's death and promptly released a statement.
"WWE is saddened to learn that Pat Patterson has passed away at age 79," the statement partially read. "A true trailblazer of the industry, Patterson was linked to many 'firsts' in sports-entertainment throughout his storied career, including the first-ever Intercontinental Title reign and the creation of the Royal Rumble Match. In a career spanning six decades, the renaissance man left an indelible mark on the industry in the ring, on the microphone and behind the scenes."
"In his 25-plus years in WWE, Patterson was synonymous with making history," the statement concluded. "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. WWE extends its condolences to Patterson's family and friends."