Last week, "Underrated and Under Appreciated" took a look at someone whose career was sunk by a terrible gimmick. This week, we are going to take a look at a man who overcame the risk of his gimmick to excel: Matt Borne aka Doink the Clown.
Matt Borne got his start in the wrestling business working in Mid-South Wrestling and World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) with the likes of Ted DiBiase, Iron Sheik, and Buzz Sawyer. During his initial run through the territories he would get a spot on the first ever Wrestlemania as enhancement talent for Ricky the Dragon Steamboat. Borne's first big break came with WCW in 1991, but after a largely unremarkable run he would jump ship to WWF in late 1992.
It was in WWF that Borne would excel and his talents would flourish. Upon entering WWF, Borne was given the challenge of working as a clown named Doink. He took this Vince McMahon coal and turned it into a diamond. Borne took the gimmick and brought to life the greatest nightmares of those who fear those laffy, daffy clowns. The psyche that pervaded Borne's portrayal of Doink was easily the best character work being done in WWF at the time. He took a gimmick and material that could have easily ended up in the lore of wrestling as a great error and turned it into work that was at the top of the game.
In addition to being the greatest character going for WWF, he was one of its top workers. The only man working for WWF at the time that could lay claim to being a better worker than Borne was one Bret the Hitman Hart. Even with his clown get up, Borne routinely went to the ring and put on great match after great match.
Unfortunately, like many others in this business, Borne's demons would get the best of him. In late 1993, Matt was fired from WWF due to his drug abuse. Following his departure from WWF, Borne would have a short run with ECW before entering into retirement. Since that time, he has gotten clean and makes the occasional appearance on Raw or for an independent promotion.
So why is Matt Borne underrated and under appreciated?
He was a star that burnt brightly, but burnt quickly. His work was outstanding, but his short-lived success was not enough to leave an indelible mark on the minds of wrestling fans. Not helping matters, was Vince McMahon. McMahon, upset at Borne, continued to pass on the Doink gimmick to other wrestlers in order to turn it into a comedic side show. If you were to mention Doink to most fans, it is the buffoonery and terrible work of his successors that springs to mind. The brilliant and psychological work of Borne's Doink is often forgotten.
Matches of Matt Borne: