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
27, 1957 June 28, 2013)
The Clown - WWE - Circa 1990
Bourne VS Ricky Steamboat - WrestleMania, Madison
Square Garden, New York - 1985
Osborne passed away on June 28 at the age of 55.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
"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.
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.
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."
and Duggan would later both find mega success in WWE
with more colorful characters. DiBiase as 'The Million
Dollar Man' and Duggan as 'Hacksaw'.
Borne wrestled as 'Maniac' when he faced Ricky Steamboat
at the first-ever WWE WrestleMania at Madison Square
Garden in March 1985.
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.
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.
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.
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.
later ventured into ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling)
with a variation of the Doink gimmick.
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.
a result of the backlash from the fans, Osborne morphed
into a darker version of his clown character.
himself 'Borne Again' he stripped away most of his
facepaint and didn't wear his wig. He looked like
a clown gone insane.
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.
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
career reflected once of struggling to find the balance
between entertainment and sport, seriousness and jokester,
self and gimmick.
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.
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.
writer is the media and communications director of
Media Man, Wrestling News Media and Human Statue Bodyart
- Doink The Clown
Man Int - Matt Osborne
- Matt Osborne
Again - ECW