Die-hard wrestling fans surely remember this guy, Doink The Clown. Never really a top dog, Doink was a solid wrestler, and most of all – really entertaining.
How else would you explain the fact that the Doink character has remained in the WWE from early 90’s up until 2012?
It needs to be noted however, that Doink has changed. He was portrayed by 5 wrestlers during his wrestling time. The original Doink was Matt Osborne.
The character was also portrayed by Steve Keirn, Steve Lombardi, Dusty Wolfe (NWA), and Ray Appolo.
So, why did the original Doink the Clown (portrayed at the time by Matt Osborne) left World Wrestling Federation? For the same reason Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) left WWF. Drug problems.
The history has it like this: Matt Osborne was still in WCW in 1991, but couldn’t stay there due to his personal demons.
Shortly after leaving WCW, Vince McMahon hired him to play Doink The Clown, and despite the scorn of the industry and his peers, it worked for Borne, who has recalled it years later.
“The most success I ever had in the business was Doink,” Borne said. “When I started it, the only two people in the entire industry that believed in it was Vince and myself. I had a lot guys make a joke about it, nobody took it seriously. But I knew in my heart that if I could make it work with Vince, Vince was going to give it a push.”
“Vince McMahon just has a knack for bringing out characters in people that they maybe have a little piece of inside. He’s very creative with that, like he’s done with Steve Austin … it’s just a part of his personality exploited.”
He never doubted that he could pull off the Doink character, making it believable.
“It was kind of a fine line to walk. Nothing like that had ever been done in this business before, and that’s why it was looked down upon by so many.”
“Even those two guys who I looked up to, I always had them on a pedastal, even their negative outlook on what I was doing as Doink, that even didn’t deter me. I’d get off the phone with them and say ‘they just don’t know.'”
Eventually, Matt Borne was unable to control his drug problems, and the “original Doink” was fired from WWF at the end of 1993 for his re-occurring drug abuses.
“I had a very bad cocaine problem and then when Vince fired me at the end of ’93, I really went off the deep end for about a year and a half. That’s when I really tried to run from it. It kept coming back to me, it kept coming back to me,” Borne recalled.
McMahon fired Borne, but kept the Doink character alive, since he knew what the public wanted. Borne admits that he was hurt that McMahon wouldn’t bring him back as Doink, even after cleaning up his act.
Seeing other people, like Keirn, Steve Lombardi and Ray Apollo portray Doink The Clown was also incredibly frustrating for Borne. Plus there were all the other independent promotions doing evil clown knock-offs.
Doink was great for his career, a peak that he scaled only to fall off the other side.
“Win or lose, I had a lot of success with Doink and I feel grateful for getting that opportunity,” Borne said.
The Doink character has been around for quite some time. Last time Doink was seen in 2012 at a Monday Night Raw show.
On July 2, 2012, Doink (this time portrayed by longtime WWE veteran Steve Lombardi) made a surprise return and had a losing effort against Heath Slater in a match on Monday Night RAW.
He then reappeared on the actual 1,000th episode on July 23 with other WWE Legends to again take down Slater.