Curtis Hughes cut an imposing build at 6’6, 300lbs, likely a contributing factor to regular and large-stage employment for the ex-American footballer, even if admittedly he was not all that great. That said, he was of good value, especially when cutting a menacing figure with his constant frown and eyes covered with dark shades.
Hughes’ biggest run was in ECW. Here, “The Ruffneck” was the bodyguard of Shane Douglas during “The Franchise”’s first and second ECW World Heavyweight title reign. This meant Hughes had a run in which he was a high-calibre player in the promotion, acting as the muscle defence for Douglas whilst also managed by Jason. This spot got him matches with everyone from Terry Funk to Road Warrior Hawk to Sabu.
This role was not dissimilar to his WCW run. In the Atlanta-based organisation, Hughes played a bodyguard to Lex Luger, working alongside Harley Race to ensure “The Total Package” would retain his NWA World Heavyweight title. Hughes’ in-ring career largely saw him in house show action although he did compete on some Pay-Per-Views. Hughes also worked in tag action with Vader, Cactus Jack, and Junkyard Dog.
In the WWF, Hughes had limited success. He reached the first round of the King Of The Ring but was eliminated by Curt Hennig in a match that should have been billed as a “Battle Of The Misters” match as Hughes fought Perfect. Hughes also stole The Undertaker’s urn amidst a feud that never really went anywhere before, as the WWE Encyclopedia puts it: “Surprisingly…made a quick exit…in the summer of 1993.” He briefly returned in 1999 as Chris Jericho’s bodyguard which was rather unnecessary.
At WrestleMania I, traditional ‘80s-looking blonde-haired and dark-bearded grappler Matt Borne locked horns with Ricky Steamboat. Few could have guessed that in a few years he would become Doink, the evil clown. Doink was a great character for the short time it lasted, a deliberately malicious and deceitful clown who played dark and harsh pranks on unsuspecting bystanders. It was a strong character but ended abruptly when Borne left before replacement by a watered-down face Doink played by Ray Apollo.
Under the name Borne Again, Matt landed in ECW. Here, it was criticised that a talented performer should be put under the strain of a comic gimmick. Borne appeared with a face half-painted, an unshaven face, and frazzle-haired mess who suffered from some personality disorder, driven to insanity by his time as Doink. Even dressing up fallen opponents in his clown attire, the concept was performed brilliantly by Borne and had legs but Borne did not stick around for too long due to personal demons plaguing his real life.
As Monty Python would say “And now for something completely different” as Borne’s WCW run saw him play Big Josh. A stereotypical lumberjack, Borne wrestled in jeans and plaid jacket, carried an axe handle, and – even for one occasion at SuperBrawl I in 1991 – brought two real bears down to the ring with him. He won both the WCW United States tag belts with Ron Simmons and the World Six-Man titles with Dustin Rhodes and Tom Zenk. His finisher even here was the Whoopie Cushion albeit a rope rebound rather than diving seated senton.