One of the most talented and influential talents inside the ring and behind the scenes, Pat Patterson laid the groundwork for several generations of mat stars.
Real Name: Pierre Clermont
Stats: 5′ 10″ 230 lbs.
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
By Steve Slagle
Without question, there are few men who have been as important to the business of professional wrestling than Pat Patterson. In terms of his ringwork, Patterson was clearly one of the premier workers in the sport during his (or any other) time. His sense of timing, realistic bumping and fluidity of moves placed him in an elite class of performer, and his unique, believable style influenced both the wrestlers of his day and those who were yet to come.
However, following his retirement from active competition after a career of more than twenty-five years, Pat Patterson went on to become even more influential as the main creative force for the WWF for more than twenty years (second only to Vince McMahon, Jr. himself) and the man responsible for booking some of the most memorable matches & angles in World Wrestling Federation history…
He was born in Quebec and began his wrestling career while still a teenager, spending his first few years in the business learning, improving and paying his share of dues while he slowly worked his way up the card.
By the mid sixties, the talented young French Canadian had matured into a very capable & respected worker and he eventually began to amass a collection of championship victories. One of his first titles came in the form of the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight championship, which he captured three times; once in 1964, once in 1965 and again in 1966. After dominating the region so thoroughly, Patterson then moved on to Texas, specifically the NWA’s Amarillo territory, which was operated by the reknowned Funk family.
While in Texas during the late sixties, Patterson quickly established himself as a top heel and eventually won the territory’s main belt, the NWA North American title. Additionally, Patterson enjoyed a run as the Texas Brass Knuckles champion, and participated in a lengthy feud against the legendary Dory Funk, Sr. and his (equally legendary) sons Dory, Jr. and Terry.
During the mid-sixties, Pat Patterson had also started what would go on to become a lengthy relationship with San Francisco promoter Roy Shire…
With several years of experience in the business now to his credit, it was during his stay in the San Francisco territory (under the watchful eye of Shire) that the talented Patterson truly came into his own as a top-level competitor.
Whether working as a beloved ‘good guy’ or a hated ‘bad guy’, Patterson excelled at eliciting the desired response from his audience while delivering consistently outstanding matches against a variety of opponents. Indeed, outside of Ray “The Crippler” Stevens, there had never been a more popular babyface or hated heel than Pat Patterson to compete in the popular San Francisco promotion, and he was responsible for countless sell-outs of the territory’s premier venue, the legendary Cow Palace.
Not surprisingly, between 1969-1977, Patterson captured the coveted NWA United States Heavyweight championship (the territory’s top prize) no less than six different times by defeating opponents such as Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson, Mr. Fuji, The Great Mephisto, Bugsy McGraw, Alexis Smirnoff and Angelo “King Kong” Mosca.
In addition to being one of the most successful singles performers of his day, Patterson was also one-half of some truly formidable tag teams, and he won numerous championships with a variety of different partners. Included among his many accomplishments in the tag division are two NWA Pacific Northwest Tag team titles (w/Tony Borne and w/The Hangman, both in 1964), one IWA World Tag Team title (w/Art Nelson in 1967), two AWA (San Francisco version) World Tag Team titles w/Ray Stevens in 1965 & 1967, and the Florida Tag Team title with Ivan Koloff (pictured) in 1977. Along with Stevens, Patterson also won Verne Gagne’s more well-known version of the AWA World Tag Team title in 1978.
Patterson also scored four separate Canadian International Tag Team championships (two w/ Ray Rougeau and two w/Pierre Lefevre) and the NWA North American Tag Team championship w/Johnny Powers in 1973. However, despite this impressive championship resume, Pat Patterson also collected no less than nine NWA World Tag Team championships between 1971 through 1977. He captured his first NWA tag title with Billy Graham (pictured) in 1971, and then another three with Rocky Johnson between 1972-73. From there, he teamed & won the title with Peter Maivia (1973), Moondog Mayne (1975), Pedro Morales (1975), Tony Garea (1976) and Pepper Gomez (1977).
In terms of the singles ranks, Patterson continued to be one of the most prolific champions of the day, despite never winning “the big one” (a.k.a. the NWA World Heavyweight title) and he captured several of the top regional titles as the decade came to a close, including the Florida Heavyweight title in 1977, the NWA Americas championship (L.A. version) and, under the tutelage of the Grand Wizard of Wrestling, the WWF North American title in 1979.
Then, in September of 1979, after the WWF had made the decision to remove the North American title and replace it with a different secondary title, Patterson again made history by becoming the innaugural WWF Intercontinental champion. He went on to hold the new title belt (pictured, left) for over a half-year, and established the championship as a legitimate prize that was second only to the WWF title before eventually losing the I-C belt to former Olympic weightlifter Ken Patera (pictured, right). Along the way, Patterson transformed himself from one of the Federatin’s most hated ring villians to a beloved fan favorite…
After losing the Intercontinental title, and following a twenty-year career in the ring, Patterson slowly made the transition from active competitor to tv color commentator, a position that he maintained for the first few years of the 1980’s.
While serving as lead announcer Vince McMahon’s knowledgeable color commentator, the retired legend still occasionally became involved in the action, most notably during a memorable angle against Sgt. Slaughter. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Patterson’s role as an agent and member of the WWF creative team grew as the the once-regional group underwent its remarkable transformation into a national (and then worldwide) promotion.
Following one of the most consistently successful careers in professional wrestling history, the highly talented Pat Patterson officially retired from the ring in 1984. During his more than twenty-five years as a wrestler, Patterson (along with a few other ahead-of-their-time workers from that era) unquestionably elevated the state of the art through his innovative, precise and realistic-looking ringwork.
Regarded as a master of laying out matches, coming up with exciting, unique finishes and money-making angles, Patterson was a key figure in the WWF’s initial success during the eighties, as well as the promotion’s meteoric rise during the nineties.
By virtue of his limited (and, at times, non-existant) on-air role, a casual viewer would have no clue as to the extent of influence Patterson has had on the WWF over the years. But make no mistake about it; the World Wrestling Federation would be a completely different (and probably far less successful) promotion had Pat Patterson not been such an integral part of the WWF’s creative team for so many years.
A man whose talent in the ring was nearly unrivaled, and whose vision & skill behind the scenes truly helped change the business forever, we at The Ring Chronicle are proud to induct this most important figure from wrestling history, the legendary Pat Patterson, into the T.R.C. Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame……