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“Pat is one of the greatest mentors I’ve ever had in the world of sports-entertainment.” — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
When Pat Patterson was 17 years old, he was asked to leave his home after telling his parents he was in love . . . with a man. Moving from Montreal to the United States in the 1960s, barely knowing a word of English, he was determined to succeed in the squared circle. Back when homophobia was widespread, Pat lived in the super-macho world of pro wrestling.
In this fascinating and revealing memoir of revolutionary talent, pioneer, and creative savant Patterson recalls the trials and tribulations of climbing to the upper ranks of sports-entertainment — as a performer and, later, as a backstage creative force.
Many in the WWE Universe know Pat Patterson as a ring legend, the prestigious first holder of WWE’s Intercontinental Championship, a WWE Hall of Famer, and one of Vince McMahon’s “stooges” during the Attitude Era. But Patterson is no stooge. He has long been one of Vince McMahon’s trusted advisors. His impact and importance to the nascent stages of WWE are nearly comparable to that of the Chairman himself. Still active in WWE today, Pat delivers his no-holds-barred story of going from unknown to WWE luminary.
Two stories are at work in this memoir from Patterson, one of the greatest performers and creative minds in the history of professional wrestling. One story is the tale of a young French-Canadian man growing up in Montreal in the 1950s, struggling with his sexuality. He meets the love of his life in Boston and finds acceptance for their romance in both the broader society and his macho, closed-to-outsiders industry. "Being gay turned out to not be an issue at all," he writes. "As long as I took five- and ten-dollar wrestling payoffs without complaining." That story line is surprisingly wistful, tender, and accessible to all readers. The second, however, is a behind-the-scenes look into the wrestling world that will lose all but the most fervent fans. Many names from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) are referenced without context. Others are purposefully not named. Major events are mentioned without details that might help newcomers grasp the situation. This inside-wrestling aspect may narrow the book's readership. But Patterson is a very good storyteller, and his tales from the road about well-known personalities such as the fun-seeking Andre the Giant and the forever-young-at-heart Ray Stevens are wonderfully told, and many of the wrestlers' time-killing pranks are laugh-out-loud funny.