WWE's Matt Osborne, Who Once Brilliantly Portrayed a Sick Clown, Dies at 55

Alfred KonuwaFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2013

From WWE.com
From WWE.com

History has bastardized Doink the Clown as the harmless, expendable comedy act he seemed to be at face value. 

The last time Doink made an appearance for WWE Raw, he was trotted out as a venerable, fun-loving legend as he shared a lighthearted segment with Heath Slater. 

Just look at the colorful clown with green hair and face paint.  Such a flamboyant portrait of the contemporary male athlete.  The kids are going to go crazy for those Doink masks.

That seemed like a safe bet for the thought process behind the clown wrestler who debuted in the WWE in 1992. 

Portrayed by Matt Osborne, Doink was a deeper, darker portrait of a man than the average circus act. 

Clowns are a common fear among children.  A study by the University of Sheffield revealed that clowns are universally disliked by children given a familiar body type paired with an unfamiliar face. 

Coulrophobia, or fear of clowns, is a logical fear.  The scattered combination of primary colors, lipstick and that haircut being donned by an adult is unsettling.   

Osborne's rendition of Doink the Clown preyed upon these fears.  Closer to Heath Ledger's Joker than Larry Harmon's Bozo, he was a sick clown with an intent to maim. 

Like Heath Ledger, Matt Osborne struggled with substance abuse while playing an evil clown, adding another dark—albeit unintentional—layer to the character of Doink the Clown. 

After weeks of ringside tricks that made it seem like Doink would indeed be short-term midcard comedy, he eventually made his mark by bludgeoning Brian "Crush" Adams with a prosthetic arm.  If children weren't afraid of clowns before, assault and battery on a 300-plus-pound athlete will do the trick.

After a WrestleMania IX match against Crush, Doink would go on to feud with WWE legends like Bret Hart and Randy Savage.  Coulrophobia was running wild in the WWE, but the same substance abuse that seemed to add a measure of evil to the character would be its downfall. 

Osborne was fired from the WWE at the end of 1993 due to recurring drug-abuse issues.  The fate of the Doink character was even worse.  After being portrayed by impostors like Ray Apollo and Steve Keirn, the Doink the Clown gimmick became just that, a gimmick. 

Fans were soon introduced to Dink the Clown, a dwarf clown sidekick whose dwarf army teamed with Doink to feud with Jerry Lawler at Survivor Series in 1994.  This match upset Dave Meltzer greatly. 

Doink became every bit of the stereotypical sideshow clown that Matt Osborne brilliantly avoided.  The only layers to this age of the Doink character were the multiple layers of clothing included in his ring gear. 

Osborne found sobriety following a once-promising career in the WWE. As details continue to surface regarding his death, per NBCDFW.com, the wrestling world is reminded of the brilliant legacy of Doink the Clown that could have been.  

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