Tag Team Appreciation Month

THE BUSHWHACKERS

Luke Williams & Butch Miller

1966-2002

WWE Hall of Fame

 

Written by Adam Zimmerman

Luke Williams and Butch Miller started out as a team known as The Kiwis for NWA New Zealand in 1966. After working their home territory for awhile, the team was first booked in North America in Grand Prix which was a Canadian wrestling promotion owned by the Vachons and Edward Carpentier. They also had their first title reign by winning the Stampede International Tag Team Championships by defeating Bon Pringle and Bill Cody. They went back to their home country for a few years but in 1979 they returned again to North America, more or less to stay. 

 

After a stop in Hawaii, they made their way into Don Owens' Pacific Northwest Wrestling territory based out of Portland, Oregon. Here they started using the name of The New Zealand Sheepherders (later shortened to The Sheepherders) and had a year long fued with Roddy Piper and Rick Martel. Afterwards, they did a stint in Carlos Colon's WWC promotion in Puerto Rico where they were known as Los Pastores. While in the WWC, The Sheepherders started using the hardcore style that they would bring back with them to the mainland.

Throughout the early to mid 1980's, The Sheepherders became known as one of the most violent and feared tag teams that were around at the time. They mostly toured the Southeastern United States and went back and forth to Peurto Rico participating in barbed wire matches, ambulance matches, cage matches and the like.

 

They had vicious blood feuds with teams like the Fabulous Ones in Memphis and the Fantastics in the UWF and in Jim Crockett Promotions. They were always my personal favorite opponents of the Fantastics. The matches were always exciting, usually bloody and really brought out the best of all four competitors.

 

The Sheepherders were still embattled in the middle of their feud with the Fantastics when they got called up to the WWF. Here, they were rebranded as "The Bushwhackers" -- a family friendly, comedic tag team. It was a different take on basically the same characters they'd been portraying for years. Now they were "crazy-goofy" as opposed to "crazy-violent". 

 

Their first feud in the WWF was against The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers which took up most of the end of 1989. They became hugely popular with fans (especially children) and they went on to feud with the likes of Rhythm & Blues and The Orient Express. At the 1991 Royal Rumble; Luke Williams set the dubious record for "least amount of time in the match" at just 4 seconds. 

 

The Bushwhackers went on to compete in the WWF until 1996 after which they chose to go back on the independent circut. It was around this time that I personally got to see them wrestle live against The Rock & Roll Express at a small indy show at an outdoor "convention center" named "Expoland". It amazes me sometimes how a wrestlers life can take them from New Zealand to the heights of the WWF to wrestling in front of (if memory serves correct) probably 150-200 people in a place called "Expoland" in Fishersville, Virginia. It's got to be an amazing journey.

In 2001, The Bushwhackers competed once more in the WWE, in one of their last appearances competing together as a team, in the "Gimmick Battle Royal" at WrestleMania X-Seven. 

 

On March 28, 2015 they were much deservedly inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame which provided a great send off to their years together as a tag team.

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