WWE Exec Explained Why Doink The Clown Gimmick Was 'Perfect' For First Wrestler To Use It

Matt Borne's Doink The Clown on WWE Monday Night Raw
(Image credit: WWE)

Looking back across the history of pro wrestling’s kookiest gimmicks can be nearly as exhausting as getting in the ring itself, given how many unique shots at stardom have been made. But for all the ideas that thud gracelessly — looking at you, Kevin Nash’s Oz — relatively few stand the test of time, from Austin 3:16 to The Rock to Sting and beyond. Speaking of memorable gimmicks involving full face makeup, one wrestler who falls somewhere between those two poles of success is ‘90s mainstay Doink the Clown. Though several athletes donned the facepaint and wig to portray Doink over the years, WWE exec Bruce Prichard reflected on why the colorful heel was such a perfect match for its originator, the late Matt Borne.

During an episode of the podcast Something to Wrestle that was largely dedicated to the 1992 Survivor Series pay per view, Prichard and co-host Conrad Thompson talked about Matt Borne’s wild early days as Doink, which involved him just randomly being placed in the crowd during tapings of Superstars and other smaller house shows. When asked if he and others knew Borne was going to be a winner with his new clown role, Prichard pointed out the fit was natural enough that it didn’t even feel like a part he was playing. In the words of the former Brother Love:

I mean, it wasn’t really a role. It was just Matt with paint on, and a wig. If there was ever a perfect gimmick for someone, this was it for Matt Bourne. He embodied it. He was the perfect evil clown. He legitimately hated — [laughs] — going out there and having to entertain the kids. He hated that. So you had that really miserable, nasty clown.

For what it’s worth, at no point did it ever seem like Matt Bourne wanted to spray kids in the face with acid-filled spritzer bottles, or electrocute them with souped-up hand buzzers. He wasn’t a full-on Batman villain, as cool as that would have been. But the character of Doink did evolve from broad and pranky to something a bit more vile and evil over time, even if still far from anything on the same level as Pennywise. There’s just something about a clown that visibly and verbally can’t stand children that speaks to me. In part because it’s hardly the most illogical gimmick from the wide world of ‘90s decision-making. (Still looking at you, Oz.)

Bruce Prichard did share a story that may have played a role in why Borne wasn’t a fan of younger crowds. There was one point when he was out and about in the stands, and was walking up and down the stairs, when some kids apparently surrounded and tripped Doink, knocking him over. This led to former superstar and then-road agent Rene Goulet, whose French-Canadian accent was thicker than syrup, yelling out over the walkie-talkies:

The clown is down! The clown is down! Hey! Hey! The clown is down!

This apparently became an inside joke with Prichard and others, though it wasn’t made clear whether or not Doink was part of the joke. It also wasn’t made clear whether or not all of the kids who pushed Doink down made it home safely that night, but we’ll assume that’s the case. 

Wrestling fans who aim to spend the holiday season binge-watching classic matches can do so with a Peacock subscription, and be sure to stay up to date with all the casting news for the Von Erich family biopic The Iron Claw, which stars a buffed-up Zac Efron and more.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.