The new release explores the stories of a man who led the charge of tolerance on the back of his superstardom.
As the first gay superstar in wrestling, Pat Patterson has enjoyed a lengthy career both in the ring and backstage as a defining force in shaping modern pro wrestling. His autobiography — Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE — is an autobiographical look into his storied career and personal life. But what should be the comprehensive account of the legendary Pat Patterson often feels empty. All the pieces are there for a great narrative, but we never really get to know who Pat Patterson really is.
There is little doubt that Pat Patterson is one of the most influential people in professional wrestling. Since coming to the WWE (then WWF) in the late 1970s, Patterson was a cornerstone in developing modern wrestling. His story is one of triumph — coming from very little in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and rising to national prominence in North America and abroad during his in-ring tenure. But Patterson is probably best known for his time in WWE as a producer and one of the defining influencers on the careers of wrestling legends such as The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Triple H and many, many more. He’s helped put together some of the greatest matches in WWE history, invented the Royal Rumble — an annual stable on the WWE PPV calendar (and my personal favorite event), was the first ever WWE Intercontinental Champion, and was a fantastic in-ring competitor and still is a brilliant mind in the wrestling business.
For someone that loves pro wrestling, Pat Patterson’s autobiography was an automatic pre-order. The opportunity to step inside the mind of someone that important to a product that I’ve followed since childhood was like holding the keys to castle. But after reading his autobiography I’m left wanting. It’s not that the stories weren’t good — they are, or that he doesn’t talk about the struggles of changing people’s perceptions because he’s a gay man — he does. It’s that after reading his autobiography I don’t feel as if I know who Pat Patterson is any more than I already did. Which is to say I know him as a performer and a brilliant wrestling mind, but not what makes him tick or he painted these amazing artistic expressions that I grew up watching. The only real insight we get into Pat Patterson the man, is from his love for his friend and life partner, Louie Dondero.
And perhaps that’s all Patterson really wants us to know. He wants us to know how much he loved a man who is no longer there with him to live out the rest of his life and how much he misses him. He knows he’s lived a wonderful life in wrestling and that the stories he has can be told and retold, but that the legend is perhaps more important than the truth. Though he does take a minute to officially squash the supposed way he won the Intercontinental Championship in a tournament in Brazil, as Patterson admits he’s never even been to Brazil, let alone wrestled there. Patterson acknowledges his time on the road was special, before the days of Vince McMahon’s WWE and that his involvement in building WWE is a lasting impact that he’s still a little unsure of how he wound up there. But that for every accomplishment and accolade he’s earned throughout his life, his mind is still turned to his love of Louie.
So maybe by reading Accepted we do find out who Pat Patterson is, but maybe it’s just not the person we thought. And while many wrestling books are filled with ‘inside baseball’ insights, the autobiography of Pat Patterson is simple one of love.
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