Throughout the history of pro wrestling bookers and promoters have always tried to come up with new, creative and innovative ideas to generate interest in their product. Some ideas have not only succeeded…but flourished. Others were DOA from the get go. Then there are those ideas which initially were innovative…but for various reasons….faded away. Those are the focus of this latest series of posts titled ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’.
After a short, but extremely memorable yet tumultuous run in the WWF as Doink the Clown…Matt Borne found himself unemployed. Despite getting an evil clown wrestler gimmick over with fans…Borne was fired from the WWF for continued drug abuse violations. It was then, that Paul Heyman and ECW came calling in 1994.
At the time, ECW was just emerging as a red hot promotion for its hardcore, straight ahead and in your face style of pro wrestling. With that said, here comes Matt Borne into ECW as what else…..Doink the wrestling clown. Not exactly what the hardcore, rabid fans of Philadelphia wanted to see…but Paul Heyman had something else up his sleeve.
With the ECW’s version of Doink getting real heat (Not the good kind either) he was served up to the much more acceptable and popular wrestlers of the time Shane Douglas and 911. That’s when Borne’s new gimmick started to form.
Matt Borne’s character began having a mental breakdown after his time in the WWF as a clown and not getting taken seriously in ECW. Enter Shane Douglas who decided to take Borne under his wing and channel Borne’s madness into a positive.
He became known as ‘Borne Again’…a wrestler suffering from some sort of split personality. One half of his face was still painted in Doink makeup, while the other half was his real face. Borne Again became the underling to the ECW champion Shane Douglas. When Borne Again defeated an opponent, he would dress up that wrestler as his Doink persona.
It was a gimmick that seemed to fit perfectly with Matt Borne’s real life personality and skill set. Matt could play a psychotic better than almost anybody at the time. It was he who got the Doink gimmick over as well as it did in the World Wrestling Federation. As the character was continuing to grow and develop…Matt Borne vanished from ECW. What happened?
It all depends on who you believe more. According to Matt Borne himself, he was offered big money to do a tour of Europe and simply couldn’t pass it up. He was let go from ECW with the blessings of Paul Heyman himself. Borne went on to say that after the one month tour was concluded…he was promised back his spot in ECW. The thing is…according to Matt Borne…he called Paul Heyman several times and Heyman never returned his calls. Thus putting an abrupt end to the Borne Again character.
Others say it was a little bit or a lot different from Borne’s take on the situation. Some have claimed that Matt’s drug addiction was spiraling out of control and was becoming somewhat of a headache to deal with at that time. Remember, Matt was fired from the WWF for a similar situation. He became less and less reliable in the WWF and after repeated chances to get clean and sober…Vince McMahon finally pulled the plug on Matt Borne’s WWF tenure and gave the gimmick to Steve Lombardi and Ray Apollo respectively.
Was that the case in this particular situation? Only Matt Borne and Paul Heyman know for sure. What we do know is, a potentially great character in ECW was cut way too short. Sadly, Matt Borne passed away in 2013 from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.