With Wrestlemania XX coming up in less than a week, I’d like to take a look at one of the men who was there on the very first Wrestlemania, way back in that bygone year of 1985. Matt Borne was probably one of the best workers in the business, but never attained a real level of success due to various monkeys on his back. From his stint in WCW as Big Josh to his time under the grease-paint as the first Doink, no one really got to see the Borne that was a favorite during the mid-80’s, when he was tearing up places like Mid-South and World Class. But his story didn’t end when he was ousted from the Doink gimmick. He had one more shot in the spotlight in, of all places, ECW.
When ECW first started taking off, they tried all kinds of strange, but unique and exciting gimmicks. The angles ECW ran paved the way for the rest of the decade. From the day Shane Douglas threw down the NWA title, ECW was a hotbed of new and unique angles, and many wrestlers once thought of as “has-beens” found a home and a new lease in the sport. Hell, they gave way to Raven and singlehandedly resurrected Terry Funk’s career. One of those early angles took a stab at the “big guys” in the WWF, utilizing a man who was thrown to the curb by them, and a twist on his then infamous and hated gimmick.
Matt Borne, the WWF’s original Doink, was hired by ECW and placed into a now-legendary angle. He first showed up as Doink, and the fans hated him. After all, by this time, the Doink gimmick was considered a low point for the WWF, and signified everything that was, well, circus-like in them. Paul Heyman opted to take Borne and try to use the disdain the fans had towards Doink and build upon it.
At first, Borne did the usual Doink schtick. Dressed as the clown, he received the boos that were expected. The ECW fans saw him as everything they stood against. Everything changed, though, during a match with then-champion Shane Douglas. After Douglas beat Doink, the Franchise picked up a mic and told Borne that he was too talented to be working under such a horrible gimmick. Douglas took Borne under his wing and thus was born…Borne Again!
Now ready to make the world pay for demeaning him, Borne still came out in a version of the Doink get-up. This time, though, he made his opponents the clowns, as he would dress them up in the old Doink suit after beating them. It was his way of avenging the way he was handled in his last national run.
Borne didn’t last long in ECW, as he had personal problems. It’s too bad, as the gimmick was really over, and people were finally seeing the wrestler behind the lame Doink and Big Josh gimmicks. Sadly, Borne never worked a large promotion again, working a few independents here and there before disappearing from the business alltogether. But for a man who once wrestled in the show that is considered the defining moment of wrestling’s emergence into the mainstream, it was a moment that saw him shed the last remnants of what that mainstream finally became in the mid-90s.