Weight: 243 lb
Hometown: The North Woods
Glory Days: 1991-1992
Fun Fact: Big Josh’s finisher was a prototype version of the Whoopie Cushion which he used as Doink The Clown in the WWF. Basically, it was the Earthquake Splash.
Ah Jim Herd, the former Pizza Hut executive who, somehow, found himself in charge of WCW. This was the guy who wanted to turn Ric Flair into a Roman gladiator, green lit an appearance by RoboCop, introduced us to the likes of Heavy Metal Van Hammer, kid friendly rapper PN News, whatever the Ding Dongs were and our subject today; Big Josh.
Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Josh was presented as somewhat of an outdoorsman or lumberjack sort. He often wore a checked shirt and carried an axe handle, to eradicate any doubt. He made his debut at the inaugural Superbrawl pay per view in May 1991 – it became a February PPV in ’92. He defeated Black Bart in quick order, however his appearance was most memorable because he made his entrance alongside two large, real life, brown bears. Seriously, I am not making this up and no, it does not age well at all. Moving forward and Josh was pushed as a credible mid-card babyface. While he did taste defeat from time to time, his jobs were reserved for main eventers or those in the process of a push themselves. For example, his next big appearance after Superbrawl came at Clash of The Champions XV where he fell to Dan Spivey, who was being pushed as a monster heel at the time. That summer Josh was booked against then WCW Champion Lex Luger on house shows. Away from staring at the lights for the tippy-top guys, Josh tasted success of his own. He captured the World Six-Man Tag Championships along with Dustin Rhodes and Z-Man when they defeated the crappy 90s version of The Fabulous Freebirds in August of ’91. They held the belts for two months (three on television) before dropping them to The York Foundation, who were the last group to hold the belts before they were canned. Josh tasted success in the defunct tag title ranks again when he captured the United States Tag Titles with Ron Simmons in early ’92. They only mustered a few weeks with the belts while Josh proved to be a curse on these titles too because they were also retired not long afterwards.
Something I have not mentioned yet is how Big Josh differed from most of WCW’s other new, colourful, silly gimmicks; he was actually portrayed by a good wrestler. The part of Big Josh was played by Matt ‘original Doink’ Borne. You can find videos on YouTube of him having spirited encounters with Arn Anderson, Rick Rude and Steve Austin. His match with Anderson from May of 1992 is particularly worth a watch. It is a fantastic 30+ minute 2/3 falls match. This bout was actually one of Josh’s last major appearances for WCW. Despite the wrestler behind it producing good matches, the gimmick never got over. Big Josh quietly disappeared from WCW in mid-1992, coincidentally (or not) around the same time Jim Herd also left his role in the company.
Matt Borne’s legacy in wrestling will probably be the stellar job he did as the original Doink The Clown when he re-joined the WWF after leaving WCW. However, the gimmick of Big Josh has a legacy of its own, namely; it’s action figure. Released exclusively to the UK market in 1991, the Big Josh Galoob figure is considered to be a rare find, despite it actually being a fairly well produced figure compared to the other UK exclusives. I suppose the difference is that while a Brian Pillman figure with blue trunks is far rarer, the likes of Pillman, Sting, Luger etc. had various versions of their figure released. There was, however, only ever one variety of Big Josh figure released. Loose, one will set you back around £70 ($90), add a bit more if he has his customary axe handle accessory. A mint on card version will cost a multiple of this. For comparison, if you wanted to own a Matt Borne figure but did not want to splash out for a Big Josh Galoob, a Hasbro Doink The Clown can be easily found for under a tenner.
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