Last week’s Bad News Allen interview was conducted in Vancouver at the debut show of Pro Wrestling Canada. Allen was there as the new company’s General Manager. He was a class act all the way, very sharply dressed, and a pleasure to interview.
“Cobra” Singh, the promoter, was kind enough to set me up for interviews with Bad News and Great Gama Singh.
Maniac Matt Borne, who fought Gama in the main event, was also willing to give me a few minutes of his time before the show. Borne looked to be in great shape. He was soft-spoken and thoughtful, but he gave off a very intense energy. We stood out in the back alley while he smoked a cigarette.
I find the story of Borne’s career to be utterly compelling.
He is a second-generation wrestler, who literally grew up in the business as he travelled with his father Tony from arena to arena throughout North America. He picked up his habits of pulling pranks and partying heavily by imitating the wrestlers, like Moondog Mayne, that he met in the dressing rooms. Throughout the 80s and into the early 90s, Borne wrestled in Japan, Australia, Egypt, and most of the major American territories. Roddy Piper, another legendary partier, took the young Borne under is wing in Portland. In the Mid-South he was part of a group called The Rat Pack ,along with Ted DiBiase and Jim Duggan. Borne fought Ricky Steamboat several times in the Mid-Atlantic territory, and they went on to face each other at the first WrestleMania. Borne’s first shot at the national spotlight, in WCW in 1991 as Big Josh, was derailed by his personal demons. He received a second shot at glory courtesy of Vince McMahon, and had a solid run as a popular WWF mid-carder with the unlikely gimmick of Doink the Clown. At the height of his career, Borne was pulling down $10,000 a week. In 1993, he was fired by McMahon because of his inability to control his substance abuse problems. Specifically, Borne had developed a very bad cocaine habit.
Where are you living now?
Right outside of Pittsburgh.
So what brought you all the way out here?
(Cobra) called me up and asked me if I wanted to fight Gama Singh again. I said, “Sure.”
How often do you wrestle now?
Usually 2, 3, 4 times a month.
I’ve got a couple of questions to ask, if you don’t feel like answering them just tell me.
Are you keeping your nose clean?
You’ve got that under control now?
Yeah, I just, you know, it comes with age. I just grew up.
I’m glad to hear that, and I’m sure a lot of your fans will be glad to hear that, too. Second thing is, how do you feel that most people, the general public, remember you as Doink rather than for anything lese you’ve done?
That was probably my biggest success was with Doink. It was a great thing, you know, but I just didn’t handle it properly. With the big success I had I just kind of went off the deep end there for a while. I always did things in excess, you know. Whatever I did, I always went all the way with it. But, I survived it, so it made me a better man.
I know a lot of people who live excessively, but most of them lack the means to get that deeply into it.
Right. Right. That’s just it, I mean, I got deep into it.
How’d you get out?
I went to rehab. I was tired of it. I was tired of the vicious cycle, and just waking up sometimes and not liking who I was. I knew I was a good man, and my children had a lot to do with it. I’ve got two young children that I’ve got to set an example for. Got a boy, little Matthew is four, and my daughter Teagan is seven. I pretty much live for them now.
I’m really happy to hear that.
So am I. So am I.
Do you stay in touch with Roddy Piper?
I talk to him maybe once or twice a year. Him and I became real good friends when I first started and yeah, he’s a wild one. He’ll probably die that way. His health just comes and goes on him, and I’m healthy and I just want to stay that way. I just wish I could have had this frame of mind fifteen years ago, but then again I probably wouldn’t be here.
I’ve always believed that if you’re happy where you are then you don’t need to regret anything that took you there.
The 380 people who attended the Pro Wrestling Canada debut show were treated to a terrific main event match courtesy of Bourne and Singh. Twice, Borne took body slams outside the ring that shook the parquet floor of the Royale Banquet Hall, and he busted out a top-turnbuckle Whoopie Cushion. There is no question; the man can still go in the ring.
After the show, as I was talking to former All Star Wrestling colleagues Eddie Watts and Verne Seibert, Borne came over and put his elbow on my shoulder. It was all I could do to maintain my cool and keep myself from screaming, You are the MAN! Borne has a big grin plastered across his face, and it was apparent that he knew that the match had gone well. The man known for much of his career as Maniac Matt Borne seemed to be at peace with himself and with the world.
Check out this line-up of great wrestling columns:
Blatt on how he became a lifelong fan.
Hevia on the week in wrestling.
Campbell’s news report.
Shaffer’s lost column.
Fantasy Game advice.
Ditch’s awesome Puro column.
Goforth’s excellent look at possible new storyline archetypes.
If we’re lucky, Grut should have his column up today, too.
I’m honoured to be a part of that awesome line-up.
Don’t forget to check out my Monday music column, too.