Matt Borne

Matt Borne as Doink The Clown. (WWE Photo)

In February 1991, veteran second-generation star Matt Borne (Osborne) debuted for WCW as “good guy” Big Josh, a lumberjack-type character, coming to the aid of friend Tommy Rich during a televised match. The premise for Josh was that he lacked training as a wrestler. So his working style was crude by design. It had to be a challenge for the ring-wise Borne to alter his customarily approach to suit the gimmick.

Though booked primarily in tag matches, winning titles with several partners, he also competed successfully as a mid-card singles' star through July 1992. According to results derived from the website, he won approximately 70 percent of his solo matches. As a consequence of playing Josh, Borne’s career appeared to be on the rise. But his next move was a major departure from the “mountain man.”

Months after leaving WCW, Borne turned up, unrecognizable under loads of makeup, in the then-WWF as Doink The Clown. The role was as a heel, a mean-spirited prankster. The conniving clown couldn’t be more different than the fighting outdoorsman. And, though perhaps conceived as a novelty act, Doink soon became a hit as an opponent for stars like Mr. Perfect, Crush and Randy Savage.

Given the nature of the part and the toys or props employed as part of the action, Doink’s matches, particularly early on, often didn’t have a clear-cut decision. Roughly 37 percent of Borne’s bouts as Doink ended in a disqualification or countout ( Another facet of the repertoire was to deploy multiple Doinks (with the clone-clowns usually played by Steve Keirn and Ray Apollo) as a tactic to disorient mat rivals, contributing to the non-conclusive finishes.

Borne violated company policy during fall ‘93, eventually leading to a December departure. Apollo and Steve Lombardi replaced him. But neither brought the same sinister edge to the character Borne managed to refine. In fact, the decision was made to make Doink a fan favorite for the duration of the Clown’s tenure. In any event, Big Josh and Doink represented contrasting showcases for Matt Borne’s talent and range in the ring.

Borne passed away June 28, 2013, at the age of 55.

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