Matt Osborne aka 'Doink The Clown' aka 'Borne Again' aka 'Big Josh'; The pro wrestler who painted the business with a different artistic brush


Matt Osborne aka 'Doink The Clown' aka ' Borne Again' aka 'Big Josh'; The pro wrestler who painted the business with a different artistic brush, by Greg Tingle

(July 27, 1957 – June 28, 2013)

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WWE ECW Wrestling

Doink The Clown - WWE - Circa 1990

 

Matt Bourne VS Ricky Steamboat - WrestleMania, Madison Square Garden, New York - 1985

 

Matthew Osborne passed away on June 28 at the age of 55.

Mostly known the world over for his portrayal of Doink the Clown with WWE in the early '90s even though he won numerous championships and enjoyed success outside of that role.

WWE.com announced his death with no word on the cause. It was later reported on by numerous wrestling websites that Osborne was "found this morning in Texas, where he had been staying of late, by his girlfriend."

Doink was the gimmick that brought him the most mainstream success of his career, but one that didn't allow him to fully demonstrate his considerable technical wrestling moves as much as his other personas did.

Doink was the face painted pro wrestler fans and critics pointed to showing that WWE was cartoony and just for kids. It was a over-the-top gimmicks to say the least, but he also enjoyed a cult like fan base, who appreciated his artistic expression for what it was - or WWE top brass Vince McMahon's creative genius - whatever the case.

Osborne's success as Doink was not a total shock - the teaming of wrestling pro Osborne and WWE chief Vince McMahon (and his team), is a formidable one. Osborne put his heart and soul into the character, and it showed. A more villainous clown you would never find.

Who was Doink without the face paint and without the attention-grabbing gimmick? He was a talented pro wrestler who didn't gain worldwide attention until putting on the paint and clown suite.

Matt Borne...

In both the Mid-South territory and World Class Championship Wrestling, Osborne wrestled as Matt Borne - a slight variation on his real name, which was and still is somewhat rare.

His "Maniac" stage name was not so much of a gimmick. It was more of a "Stone Cold" Steve Austin type thing - black or dark trunks and boots. Borne was a tough S.O.B.

Borne was physically intimidating. Broad shoulders, solidly built and moved well. He was a powerful man who impressed with his grappling ability. He also had a dark and exciting charisma about him that could be likened to a Nick Nolte or Mickey Rourke type.

This was the most successful period of his career in terms of championships, even if his work as Doink blitzed it in terms of fame and financial success.

Teaming with Jeff Jarrett and the late Buzz Sawyer, Osborne won tag team titles in both Mid-South Wrestling and WCCW. His most well-known partnership was with Ted DiBiase and Jim Duggan, a trio known as the "Ratpack."

DiBiase and Duggan would later both find mega success in WWE with more colorful characters. DiBiase as 'The Million Dollar Man' and Duggan as 'Hacksaw'.

Matt Borne wrestled as 'Maniac' when he faced Ricky Steamboat at the first-ever WWE WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden in March 1985.

Big Josh...

Osborne spent much of his time in WCW (World Championship Wrestling) as Big Josh, a fight-loving lumberjack character. While not as over-the-top as Doink, this was a long way from his days as simply Matt Borne. Osborne wrestled in red flannel, a red ski cap and rolled-up jeans. This helped him stand out to some extent, but 'Big Josh' is not one of the stars that fans immediately think of when they reminisce back to the days of WCW. The distinctness of this character made sense in an era when action figures were beginning. The 'Big Josh' action figure was sure to catch more eyes than a Matt Borne version.

Osborne won US tag titles with Ron Simmons as well as six-man titles with Dustin Rhodes (later to become 'Goldust' in WWF) and 'The Z-Man' (Tom Zenk). He also had a string of pay-per-view matches including a win over Ricky Morton at WrestleWar 92.

The talented pro lasted a year with WCW. The idea of a tough outdoorsman as a wrestler didn't apparently get over enough for him to become a mainstay at WCW, even though he was a better pro wrestler than much of the roster.

The WWE (then World Wrestling Federation) was his next calling and his gimmick became the talk of the wrestling world. The evil clown drew emotion from both casual and hardcore fans alike, as well as a bit of heat in the business for becoming a clown.

Borne Again...

He later ventured into ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) with a variation of the Doink gimmick.

ECW was the place for more serious - hard-core wrestling fans. Blood, adult themes, broken tables and violence were the cornerstone of the promotion. Doink was not welcomed with open arms.

As a result of the backlash from the fans, Osborne morphed into a darker version of his clown character.

Calling himself 'Borne Again' he stripped away most of his facepaint and didn't wear his wig. He looked like a clown gone insane.

In a way, he was symbolically stripping himself of the colorful and child-like elements of his character. He had in fact stripped away the WWE from himself.

This was a gimmick he did only briefly. Osborne followed his short ECW run by appearing sporadically on the indi circuit. He often reverted back to his Matt Borne name.

Osborne's career reflected once of struggling to find the balance between entertainment and sport, seriousness and jokester, self and gimmick.

Matt Borne was a skilled pro wrestler who didn't rise to worldwide fame until becoming 'Doink', but for seasoned wrestling fans, he will also be thought of as a wrestling great who never quite reached his massive potential.

A version of a 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin type - 10 years too soon? We will never know for sure, but no one can doubt that Borne didn't leave a memorable mark on the business.

Rest in peace.

*The writer is the media and communications director of Media Man, Wrestling News Media and Human Statue Bodyart

Websites

WWE - Doink The Clown
www.wwe.com/superstars/doink

Media Man Int - Matt Osborne
www.mediamanint.com/profiles/osborne.html

Wikipedia - Matt Osborne
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Borne

 

Borne Again - ECW