Pat Patterson | Hard to Emulate, Mentor of the Greats

Pat Patterson is credited by Dwayne “The Rock" Johnson, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, John Cena, Kurt Angle, and countless other WWE legends and superstars as being one of the most influential mentors in their lives. He was arguably one of the greatest ever to lace up a pair of boots, and his vital influence behind the scenes as a WWE producer cannot be overstated.

Some of our favorite stories are ones that show respect between one wrestler and another. This piece is no exception.

Pat Patterson and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson backstage.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson considered Pat Patterson as one of his greatest mentors. [Photo: Newsweek]

"Pat Patterson was impossible to duplicate."

In an interview featured on the website An Illustrated History of Professional Wrestling in Northern California (H/T: ‘Wrestling’s Glory Days’ Facebook page), "Superstar" Billy Graham talked of his days teaming with Pat Patterson in the early ’70s and what he learned about ring psychology through being his partner.

"As Pat’s partner, I studied his every move and tried to emulate him. But, the best I could do was to make an attempt at imitating his wrestling style. It was impossible to duplicate it, the man was light-years ahead of me, and I never became the worker that he was. In the ring, Patterson was a flawless heel — vicious and aggressive. Everything he did was believable and was done with perfect timing. Even to this day, I still think he throws the best-mounted punch in the business. Pat would build the heat to a fever pitch. Then, when the babyface started his comeback, this ‘vicious’ heel would cower and start begging off, feeding the babyface with precision — thus avoiding the impending riot."

The reviled team of Billy Graham and Pat Patterson [Photo Copyright - Viktor Berry]
The reviled team of Billy Graham and Pat Patterson [Photo Copyright – Viktor Berry]
"Without a doubt, Patterson took the best headshot to the ring post that I’ve ever seen. Everyone, including me, was convinced that he’d just torn his head off, as there was no question that his forehead had made contact with that post — again, with perfect timing. In 1971, a headshot to the steel ring post meant only one thing — you had to be hurt, you had to be cut — it’s only logical. When flesh meets steel, that equals blood.

 

"And when Patterson got color, it always came from the right side of his forehead over his right eye. The blood flowing down just one side of his face was very impressive to me; it seemed to give the injury a more credible look. And that’s what the San Francisco territory was built on, logic and credibility. No helter-skelter, impromptu, last-minute finishes, or decisions. Every angle, every finish, in every town, was thoroughly thought out and plotted by a brilliant promoter."

Billy Graham and Pat Patterson [Photo Copyright - Viktor Berry]
Billy Graham and Pat Patterson [Photo Copyright – Viktor Berry]
The reviled team of Billy Graham and Pat Patterson would go on to win the NWA World Tag Team titles (San Francisco version) in January of ’71 while engaging in a heated feud with Patterson’s former teammate Ray Stevens and High Chief Peter Maivia.

Pat Patterson Passes Away

WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson passed away on December 2nd, 2020, at the age of 79. According to a post shared by Tony Marinaro on Twitter, Patterson passed away in a Miami hospital after a battle with cancer.

During his time as a wrestler, Patterson was one of the best in the business and he holds the honor of being the first-ever Intercontinental Champion in WWE. He was a long-time WWE producer credited for coming up with the idea of the legendary WWE Royal Rumble match as well as mentoring a who’s who of wrestlers over the years.

In an update on Facebook, “The Rock” Johnson wrote, “Rough phone calls to get this morning to tell me, our dear family member Pat Patterson who was also a father figure and my pro wrestling mentor has passed away. A WWE Hall of Famer, TRUE trailblazer, and one of the most brilliantly creative wrestling minds the industry has ever known. Love you, Pat. And THANK YOU.”

Kurt Angle shared, “Very saddened to hear about the passing of one of my best friends, Pat Patterson. He had an infectious personality where you always wanted to be around him. Pat helped us create an incredible story.”

John Cena poignantly added, “Loss is incredibly difficult. Those we love are only truly gone if we stop caring. Pat Patterson lived life as it should be lived with passion, love and purpose. He helped so many and always entertained with a story or joke. He will live on in my life always. Love you, Patrick.

In 2016, Patterson, alongside Bertrand Hébert, released an autobiography entitled: Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE. You can read our review of his book here.

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JP Zarka
JP Zarka is a teacher, songwriter, executive producer of The Pro Wrestling Stories Podcast, co-host/producer of The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo, and founder and editor-in-chief of ProWrestlingStories.com. Originally from Chicago, he has called London home since 2008. JP can be reached on Twitter @pws_official or by e-mail at admin@prowrestlingstories.com.