The Bushwhackers: A Career Retrospective

Bushwhackers
Craig Wilson

On last night’s episode of Raw, The Bushwhackers were announced as the latest inductees into the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame. In this piece, Craig, a huge fan of tag team wrestling, looks back at the career of the duo.

We recently speculated about Hall of Fame entrants for this year’s ceremony, including a lengthy discussion on tag teams, yet none of us mentioned the pairing of Luke Williams and Butch Miller. That’s not to say their accomplishments are not worth recognising.

Remarkably, the pair started teaming together in 1964 as The Kiwi Sheepherders for NWA New Zealand. Within a year their work drew attention to them and they were quickly brought to America for NWA Hawaii.

Between 1965 and 1981, the pair wrestled across America, into Canada for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling – where they won Stampede International Tag Team Championship – and in Puerto Rica for World Wrestling Council.

In 1981, Miller returned to Australia to wrestle leaving Williams on his own in the states. He was able to achieve some level of success with a number of partners standing in for Miller until he returned to the states in the summer of 1983.

With the pair back together, their focus was on the Southwest Championship Wrestling tag titles and their holders, The Fabulous Ones: Stan Lane and Steve Keirn. The Sheepherders finally dethroned The Fabulous Ones on 4 March, and would hold the gold until the belts were retired by the promotion in September 1984.

Another spell in Puerto Rica followed, as well as stints in Japan and Memphis. In the late 80s the pair also competed in some of the early Clash of the Champions as well in the third Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Tag Team Tournament Cup.

Just as Luke and Butch looked set to face the Fantastics for the US Tag Titles, Vince McMahon swooped in and signed them for the WWF.

Upon arrival, their gimmick was changed significantly. Gone was the more hardcore element to their wrestling and it was replaced by fan friendly personas with over the top arm waving and licking of fans, each other and opponents. Their name was also changed to The Bushwhackers.

In the WWF the pair were an established lower mid card comedy act. They never reached the same levels of success as they did prior to joining Vince McMahon’s company.

There were some solid feuds and matches along the way. Their programme with The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers was entertaining, particularly the bout at the 1990 Royal Rumble, the matches with The Orient Express were unsurprisingly solid and the feud with Rhythm and Blues was fun.

They did challenge the odd time for the tag titles, one such match was a losing affair to The Nasty Boys but their chances at the titles were few and far between.

By 1993, some 39 years after their wrestling debuts, the pair were increasingly used more and more to put over new talent ranging from The Headshrinkers through to Well Dunn and The Heavenly Bodies.

In 1996 they returned to WWF screens in a tag tournament with a revamped look and displaying largely Australian stereotypes in their act. By September of that year, however, they were gone and wouldn’t appear on our screens again, bar the unfortunate Heroes of Wrestling, until the gimmick Battle Royal at Wrestlemania X-seven.

So, are Luke Williams and Butch Miller worthy of a Hall of Fame entry? In any wrestling one, certainly, if not least for the longevity of their career which saw them win 26 tag titles around the globe. The WWE Hall of Fame? Well, there seems to set formula for what is a Hall of Fame worthy career. Any argument against their inclusion can be countered, really, by mentioning Koko B. Ware!

For fans that grew up watching the WWF at the height of its expansion, Luke and Butch were a popular comedic duo that the fans took to quickly.

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5 thoughts on “The Bushwhackers: A Career Retrospective

  1. I’m sure hardcore wrestling fans are baffled by the Bushwhackers being inducted but I actually liked them for the fact that they were quite fun as well as being unique for what they were. I’m for this induction.

    Like

  2. Why now Ivan Koloff? I never like the idea of The Bushwackers, always wanted to see them re appear as the Sheepherders but they became, that hated word again. “Kid friendly”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This article prompted me to do a little research on the origins of the term “bushwacker”. Apparently it’s roots trace back to the American civil war, and was a reference to less than honorable guerrilla war tactics. Bushwacker was a derogatory term used for only the most dishonorable and sneaky of combatants. How this term pertains to a tag team from New Zealand we may never know. Also, there was no mention of any sort of wild arm flailing, grunting or licking. This concludes the history lesson!

    Like

  4. This article prompted me to do some research on the origins of the term ” bushwacker “. Apparently it’s roots trace back to the American civil war, and refers to less than honorable guerrilla war tactics. Bushwacker was a derogatory term used to describe the most dishonorable and sneaky of combatants. How this term pertains to a tag team from New Zealand we may never know. Also there was no mention of any sort of wild arm flailing, grunting or licking. This concludes the history lesson!

    Like

  5. Pingback: This Week in Wrestling 2015 week 9 | Ring the Damn Bell

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