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The Terminator: Larger Than Life Wrestler Who Left Us Too Soon

Brief Profile

Full Name Matthew Wade Osborne
Ring Name The Terminator
Birthdate December 21, 1964
Birthplace Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Death Date July 28, 1993 (age 28)
Billed Height 6‘7"
Billed Weight 315 lbs
Career Highlights 2x WCW World Tag Team Champion, Feuded with top stars like Ron Simmons and Arn Anderson
Social Profiles Twitter, Instagram

The Terminator, born Matthew Wade Osborne, was a famous American professional wrestler who captured the hearts of wrestling fans with his wild in-ring antics and colorful dystopian cyborg persona. During his brief but meteoric career, he became one of the most popular figures in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), winning tag team gold and feuding with the top stars of the era. Though his time in the spotlight was tragically cut short at 28 years old, The Terminator built a cult following and left behind an enduring legacy.

Early Life and Football Career

Long before he became The Terminator, Matthew Osborne grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina where he excelled at football as a standout lineman in high school. After a successful college football career at Coastal Carolina University, Osborne had a short stint playing pro football for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.

However, knee injuries cut his football aspirations short. Looking for a new path, Osborne decided to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a pro wrestler. With his hulking 6‘7" frame, athleticism, and natural charisma, he had all the raw tools to succeed.

Breaking into the Wrestling Business

With no formal training, Osborne relentlessly networked his way into several regional promotions in the southeast, determined to learn the ropes. He paid his dues on the independent circuit from 1985-1987 under his real name and a variety of gimmicks.

It was during these early years that Osborne developed the work ethic, ring skills, and character chops that laid the foundation for his success. He caught the eye of World Wrestling Federation talent scouts, who signed him in 1987.

Finding Fame in the WWF as Big Josh

Rebranded as Big Josh, Osborne debuted in the WWF in 1988 sporting logger suspenders and a backwards baseball cap. As a happy-go-lucky country boy lumberjack, Big Josh connected well with young audiences.

But behind the wholesome gimmick, Osborne was determined to showcase his athleticism and power. He had solid feuds against wrestlers like Barry Darsow and Black Bart, but the character‘s potential was limited.

After a respectable run that included an appearance at WrestleMania VIII, Osborne parted ways with the WWF in 1992 in search of a persona better suited to his skills. His time there gave him valuable national exposure.

The Terminator is Born in WCW

When Osborne signed with the upstart World Championship Wrestling promotion in 1992, he was presented with a golden opportunity to reinvent himself.

Thus, The Terminator was born. Outfitted in black leather, spikes, sci-fi inspired face paint, and ever-present sunglasses, he took on the role of a dystopian cyborg warrior bent on destruction.

Speaking in a chilling robotic monotone and adopting signature mannerisms like a stiff gait and tilted head movements, Osborne fully committed to The Terminator gimmick. Fans were captivated by this colorful new villain.

Tag Team Gold with Unexpected Partner

The Terminator really captured the wrestling world‘s attention when he was paired with Road Warrior Animal in January 1993. Few expected the two intense powerhouses to mesh well as a team. However, their devastating combination of strength and aggression was undeniable.

After months of pursuing the WCW World Tag Team titles, The Terminator and Animal finally defeated The Hollywood Blonds that July. Their unlikely pairing dominated the division, holding the belts for nearly five months before losing them back to the Blonds at Clash of the Champions in December 1993.

Notable Feuds and Rivalries

The Terminator was involved in some high stakes rivalries during his brief WCW tenure. He battled legends like Arn Anderson, Dustin Rhodes, and Barry Windham in brutal matches that showcased his physicality and stamina.

Perhaps his most memorable feud was with Ron Simmons, which spanned throughout 1992 and 1993. Their strap match, which The Terminator lost, is considered one of the most violent and intense of the era. This rivalry elevated both men‘s careers significantly.

The Tragic End of The Terminator

On July 28, 1993, just as The Terminator had established himself as a marquee player in WCW, tragedy struck. He was killed in a motorcycle accident near his Florida home when he crashed his Harley Davidson into a tree. He was only 28 years old.

The Terminator‘s shocking death cut short what was turning into a potential Hall of Fame career. His loss left the wrestling world in mourning, as he connected deeply with fans despite his villainous persona.

Why The Terminator Was So Beloved

In his short time in the national spotlight, The Terminator won over audiences with his larger-than-life presence and commitment to his gimmick:

  • Creative dystopian gimmick – The Terminator took a clever sci-fi concept and turned it into an iconic wrestling persona fans had never seen before.
  • Menacing presence – His size, mannerisms, and gravelly promos made him seem like a truly frightening unstoppable force.
  • Surprising agility – Despite being over 300 pounds, The Terminator executed aerial moves like missile dropkicks with ease.
  • Total immersion – He never broke character, fully becoming The Terminator to tell compelling stories in the ring.
  • Unforgettable look – The leather, spikes, face paint, and sunglasses gave him an instantly recognizable visual brand.
  • Catchy catchphrases – Lines like "I‘ll be back" and "You‘ve been terminated" made him eminently quotable.

The Terminator‘s Legacy and Influence

While The Terminator‘s active career only lasted about a year, his impact on wrestling history was significant in many ways:

  • He set the standard for fully committing to an outlandish gimmick and making it believable.
  • His popularity proved that fans could cheer a villain if compelled by the performance.
  • As one-half of WCW‘s unlikely powerhouse tag team with Animal.
  • His intense style and feuds helped shape WCW‘s gritty, realistic presentation.
  • He pioneered a blend of power wrestling and high flying athleticism.
  • His success inspired future wrestlers to bring more character work and creativity.
  • His untimely passing served as a tragic reminder of the dangers wrestlers face.

Though his time on top was short-lived, The Terminator packed a lifetime of innovation, passion, and entertainment into just a few years. For that, his legacy in pro wrestling will never terminate.