Wrestling Culture: A History of Herding and Whacking
An Opus on Luke and Butch
This is a companion piece to the Wrestling Culture podcast retrospective on the careers of Luke and Butch
The Sheepherders were a classic tag team that wrestled all over the world. They were comprised of Bob Miller, more commonly known as Butch Miller, and Brian Wickens, more commonly known as Luke Williams. Miller was born October 21, 1940 and Williams was born January 8, 1947. Miller initially started wrestling as Brute Miller for All-Star Pro Wrestling in New Zealand. The promotion was also known as NWA New Zealand and was promoted by Steve Rickard. The year Miller started wrestling differs depending on the source, with some saying it was 1964, but Luke has written that Butch started in 1967 after having spent time as a rugby player. Luke apparently started teaming with him in 1968. He had been trained at Hobmans Gym in Wellington, New Zealand by Bruno Becker and Al Hobman.
Miller and Williams first travelled for wrestling in 1969 when they went to Singapore, Bangkok and Malaysia as Sweet William and Brute Miller. Rickard also promoted tours in Southeast Asia, including Singapore, so it would appear that these tours for Williams and Miller were for Rickard’s promotion. Andre the Giant came to New Zealand in the late 1960s, before having travelled to North America and teamed with Rickard against the future Sheepherders. Miller and Williams are reported to have travelled to Western Samoa to work for High Chief Peter Maivia around 1968 or 1969. Rickard is listed as having also been the booker for NWA Hawaii so this would be the likely connection for them to work in that area.
Miller and Williams worked as The Kiwis, Gorgeous Ted Williams (Luke) and Bob Miller (Butch), for Jim Barnett’s World Championship Wrestling in Australia. They are listed as having worked there in both 1968 and 1972 but information is inconsistent as to whether they were there both years or one. Luke had worked a Gorgeous George type character for Barnett under the name Sweet William, which Luke described as being his first character. He later took up the name Gorgeous Ted Williams and apparently had bleached blonde hair at the time. I have read that they came to the ring with Butch having Luke on a leash and have also read that it was Luke that had Butch on a leash. This may not have happened until they were in Montreal.
Early 1970s: Coming to North America
The Sheepherders, Sweet William and Nick Carter, first came to North America when they travelled to Montreal to work in Grand Prix Wrestling in either 1971 or 1972. Luke wrote that they ran into Jean Ferre, later known as Andre the Giant, in Montreal. Luke and Butch apparently arrived in the territory six months after Andre. Andre worked against them in the ring but also took care of them outside of it. There is a poster with The Kiwis listed as facing Jean Ferre and Edouard Carpentier on June 30, 1973 at Centre Sportif Ste. Agathe.
On July 14, 1973 Miller and Williams teamed with Sweet Daddy Siki and Bull Gregory in a loss to Domenic Denucci, Tony Parisi, Gino Brito and Dino Bravo at Jarry Park. They lost a tag match to Parisi and Denucci at the same venue on August 11, 1973.
Luke wrote that during their time with Grand Prix Wrestling in Montreal they would travel to wrestle in Manitoba, Ontario and Hudson Bay as well as Burlington, Vermont. Emile Dupre ran the Grand Prix promotion, a spinoff of the Montreal territory, in the Maritime provinces of Canada. The promotion only ran during the summer months. Luke wrote that he and Butch would work in that territory for two weeks, travelling with Butcher Vachon and Maurice Vachon.
1974: Stampeding West
Miller and Williams debuted in Stampede Wrestling out of Calgary, Alberta in late 1973. On January 5, 1974 The Kiwis of Nick Carter (Butch) and Sweet William (Luke) defeated Bill Cody and Bob Pringle (No Class Bobby Bass) for the International Tag Team Titles in Calgary. I’ve also seen this listed as January 6, 1974. The Kiwis travelled back to Montreal for a Montreal Forum show on February 12, 1974 for a loss to Raymond Rougeau and Denis Gauthier.
The Kiwis faced Great Saki and Tokyo Joe in a Texas Tornado match for Stampede on March 15, 1974 in Calgary. The Kiwis lost the tag titles to Saki and Joe and then regained them in 1974 but the dates are unclear. It would appear that the title switches occurred around March 1974 as the team had a number of matches during that time.
On April 12, 1974, Butch lost to Danny Little Bear in what appeared to have been a tournament final for the North American title. The Kiwis defended the tag titles against John Quinn and Archie Gouldie on April 26.
Butch had matches with Larry Lane, including a chain match, in May 1974 and the Kiwis then had title matches with Pringle and Malumba (aka The Great Malumba in the maritimes). The Kiwis teamed with Duke Savage against Andre The Giant and Bill Cody on August 2, 1974. The Kiwis ultimately lost the tag titles to Duke Savage and Stan Kowalski but the date is unknown.
1975 to 1977: Japan Tours
The Kiwis travelled to IWE in Japan in September 1974. They lost to IWE Tag team Champions Rusher Kimura and Great Kusatsu on September 16, 1974. They toured with IWE through October 1974 in both singles and tags and shared the ring with Mighty Inoue, Animal Hamaguchi, Isamu Teranishi, Billy Graham, and Baron Von Raschke.
In July 1976 Luke was back in IWE in Japan, teaming with Black Lockheed in matches against Rusher Kimura and Mighty Inoue as well as Kimura and Ryuma Go. These matches took place on July 16 and July 30 and were both 2/3 Falls Matches.
Late 1970s: Here and There
On December 11, 1977 Nick Carter (Butch) and Sweet William (Luke) lost to Jean War Eagle and Pat Ethefier in Verdun, Quebec for International Wrestling.
There is a televised match between Brute Miller and Leo Burke from NWA New Zealand’s “On The Mat” television show. The match occurred in 1978 and the footage that is available aired in a nostalgia clip in 1983. The match ended when Luke did a run-in and he and Miller teamed up on Burke. Luke has written that he and Butch were known as The Dream Team during this era in New Zealand.
1979: Ramping Up For a Banner Year
The Kiwis were in Stampede in April and May of 1979. They faced combinations of Bruce Hart, Bret Hart and Keith Hart and also teamed with Dynamite Kid in six-man matches against the three Hart brothers.
In May and June of 1979 they travelled to All Japan Pro Wrestling as Bob Miller and Sweet Williiam. They had a number of tag matches against Great Kojika and Motoshi Okuma, including a May 31, 1979 match won by Kojika and Okuma for the vacant All-Asia Tag Titles. They also had a number of singles matches. On June 10, 1979 they teamed with Billy Robinson in a 2/3 Falls loss to Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta and Takashi Ishikawa.
They started wrestling in Portland, Oregon in July 1979. On July 21, 1979 Brute Miller and Luke Williams defeated Adrian Adonis and Ron Star for the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Titles. They continued to have matches with opponents such as Dutch Savage, Stan Stasiak, King Parsons, Jesse Ventura, Roddy Piper and Don Leo Jonathan. They had tag team matches with Buddy Rose and Rip Rogers and then started teaming with Rose. They were allied with Dynamite Kid at times in this promotion.
1980: Firing On All Cylinders
Miller and Williams wrestled in Portland into the new decade, working a lot of matches against the team of Roddy Piper and Rick Martel. They teamed with Ron Bass and Buddy Rose in a 4-on-2 Handicap match loss to Piper and Andre The Giant on March 8. They lost the tag titles to Piper and Martel on March 29. Miller and Williams regained the tag titles on May 12.
Throughout the first half of the year they were also working in All-Star Wrestling in Vancouver. On February 11 they won the NWA Canadian Tag Team Titles from Dutch Savage and Stan Stasiak. They lost the Canadian tag titles to Piper and Martel in a steel cage match on May 19 in Vancouver. They worked street fight matches against Piper and Martel on May 26 and June 2. They defeated Ed Wiskoski and Buddy Rose in a Coal Miners Glove match on July 14. They lost a loser leaves town match to Wiskoski and Rose on July 28.
They also worked against Wiskoski and Rose in Portland including in a Coal Miners Glove Match on July 8. They teamed with Jonathan Boyd against Wiskoski, Rose and Fidel Cortez on July 19. They lost to Wiskoski and Rose in a hair vs. hair cage match on July 22.
Miller and Williams started in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling on September 12 with a win over SD Jones and Don Kernodle in Lynchburg, Virginia. They went to a double-disqualification with Matt Borne and Buzz Sawyer the next night in Charlotte, North Carolina. They continued to work with Borne and Sawyer throughout the territory and beat them for the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles on September 28 in Charlotte.
They also had a number of matches with George Wells and Johnny Weaver as well as the team of Borne and Weaver through the fall of 1980. They worked at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on October 19, losing to Borne and Paul Jones. On December 12 they lost the tag titles to Wells and Dewey Robertson in Richmond, Virginia.
1981: Fulfilling Pastoral Duties
They started the year in Puerto Rico under the name Los Pastores, which seems to translate as “The Pastors” but might be a term for Sheepherders. I prefer a Pastors gimmick. They appeared in a battle royal on January 6. They worked against different combinations of Victor Rivera, Invader # 1, Carlos Colon and Pierre Martel (Frenchy Martin). On February 28 they won the WWC North American Tag Titles from Colon and Invader # 1. They faced Jack and Jerry Brisco on March 7. They lost the titles to Medico # 1 and Medico # 2 on April 4 before winning the titles back on May 23. They had a number of matches with Jose Rivera and Ciclon Negro through June and then worked with Pierre Martel and Daniel Martel. They lost the North American tag titles to Jack and Jerry Brisco on August 8.
Straying From the Flock
Miller wanted to be closer to home after leaving WWC and as such returned to wrestle in New Zealand and Australia.
Williams started teaming with Jonathan Boyd as The Sheepherders in Championship Wrestling from Florida on August 9, 1981. They worked a series of matches against Gran Apollo and Carlos Colon including a Canadian Lumberjack match on August 16 in Orlando. They frequently faced Sweet Brown Sugar in different matches with Sugar teaming with Colon, Apollo and Cocoa Samoa. The Sheepherders started a series of matches with Jack and Jerry Brisco in September. They teamed with Buzz Sawyer against the Briscos and other partners in elimination matches. Luke also had singles matches with Jack Brisco. The Sheepherders lost a title match for the Briscos’ NWA North American Tag Team Titles on October 22.
Williams and Boyd travelled to Atlanta for Georgia Championship Wrestling in November. They had a series of television matches including a loss to Bob and Brad Armstrong on November 26.
Williams and Boyd travelled to the Southeast Championship Wrestling territory in Alabama for the end of 1981 and are listed as having won the vacant NWA Southeastern Tag Team Titles in December 1981.
1982: Sweet (William’s) Home Alabama
Williams and Boyd were still in Alabama for the beginning of the year. They worked against Robert and Ron Fuller on January 21 and faced Fuller and Jacques Rougeau on January 24. They had a series of matches against Fuller and Jimmy Golden. On February 28 they teamed with Terry Gordy in a Texas Death Match against Fuller, Golden and Michael Hayes. The six men met again on April 12 with The Sheepherders and Gordy winning a loser leaves town match. The stipulation apparently applied to Hayes or Golden as Williams and Boyd faced Ron and Robert Fuller on May 10. Gordy teamed with the Fullers against Williams, Boyd and Jos Leduc on May 15. In June, Williams and Boyd had matches against Robert Fuller with Fuller teaming with partners such as Austin Idol, Dusty Rhodes and Randy Rose.
During their run in Alabama, Williams and Boyd got heat by beating up Jimmy Golden’s supposed father Billy Golden. The program with Golden heated up in August 1982 and Golden teamed with Robert Fuller to win the tag titles from The Sheepherders on September 11. Williams and Boyd went to a double countout in a Southern Street Fight with Golden and Ron Fuller on September 13.
The Sheepherders started in Memphis in October and had matches against Bobby Fulton and Buddy Landel, Fulton and Stan Lane and Spiker Huber and Steve Regal. They had a series with Bill Dundee and Dutch Mantel, going to time limit draws and no contests. They also had matches against Jacques Rougeau and Terry Taylor, including a Coal Miners Glove match on November 15.
Williams and Boyd defeated Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee in Louisville on November 23 and lost a rematch on November 29 at the Mid-South Coliseum. They defeated Lawler and Dundee by disqualification in a lights out match on December 2. They defeated The Fabulous Ones of Stan Lane and Steve Keirn for the AWA Southern Tag Team Titles on December 13. They finished out the year defending the titles in matches against Lane and Keirn.
1983: Welcome Back
Williams and Boyd defeated The Fabulous Ones in a Strap On A Pole match in Memphis on January 2. They had more pole matches and also lost the tag titles to Lane and Keirn on February 6. The Sheepherders regained the titles on February 8 and then started a series with Bill Dundee and Steve O including a Back Alley Brawl on March 7. Williams and Boyd teamed with Adrian Street and Jesse Barr on March 28 and lost a loser leaves town match to Lane, Keirn, Steve O and Dutch Mantel. It appears that they vacated the tag titles which Lane and Keirn won in a match with The Moondogs on April 4.
Williams and Boyd next travelled to Southwest Championship Wrestling based in San Antonio, Texas in April. Williams had singles matches with Tully Blanchard and Al Perez. Williams and Boyd won the Southwest Tag Team Titles from The Grapplers of Len Denton and Tony Anthony on May 7. Williams and Boyd had bribed the Grapplers’ manager Don Carson and he turned on his team.
Jonathan Boyd was in a car accident in which he broke his leg in June 1983. The promotion substituted Bobby Jaggers as Williams’ partner. On July 4 Williams and Jaggers lost a non-title match to Bob Sweetan and Sweet Brown Sugar. Williams turned on Jaggers after the match and the titles were vacated. Butch Miller then returned to North America to team with Williams through the rest of the year.
1984: The Boys are Back in Town
Williams and Miller started 1984 in Southwest working taped fist matches and cage matches against Manny Fernandes and Bobby Jaggers as well as Fernandez and Dick Murdoch. There is one source that lists them as winning the tag titles again on March 4, this time from The Fabulous Ones, but this does not appear to be accurate. They did have a match with Lane and Keirn on May 26. In June they faced Fernandez and Al Perez in Strap On A Pole matches.
Jonathan Boyd formed a stable known as Boyd’s Commonwealth Army during this Southwest run. The stable was comprised of Boyd, Eric Embry, Adrian Street and his valet Linda as well as the Sheepherders. Leo Burke came to Southwest as a member of Joe Blanchard’s army and started feuding with Boyd’s Commonwealth Army. Boyd interrupted an interview with Burke and said that because Burke was from Canada, a British Commonwealth country, he should be part of Boyd’s Commonwealth Army but Burke refused. In a match teaming with babyface Killer Brooks against The Sheepherders, Leo turned on Brooks and it was explained that he`d been a spy for Boyd and the Commonwealth Army.
During 1984, Rip Morgan came to the US to work as the flag bearer for Williams and Miller. Morgan is apparently Miller’s nephew.
The Sheepherders of Williams and Miller then travelled to Puerto Rico for the WWC. At the Anniversary Show on September 15 they lost to Daniel Martel and King Tonga.
1985: Invaders Everywhere
On January 6 Williams and Miller won the WWC North American Tag Team Titles from Invader # 1 and Invader # 3. They lost the titles to Invader # 3 and Super Medico # 3 on March 2 but regained the titles on March 23. Invaders #1 and #3 beat The Sheepherders for the titles on August 25. The two teams then faced off in a barbed wire death match at the Anniversary Show on September 21 with the Invaders on the winning end.
The Sheepherders also made appearances in the Savoldi family’s International Championship Wrestling in Portland, Maine in 1985. They defeated Invader # 1 and # 2 on January 17. They lost to Joe Savoldi and Al Perez on May 6.
During 1985, Rip Morgan and Jonathan Boyd formed a team called The Kiwi Sheepherders for the Continental Wrestling Association in Memphis. They feuded with The Fabulous Ones of Steve Keirn and Stan Lane. The two teams traded the AWA Southern Tag Team Titles. Boyd and Morgan also feuded with The Fantastics of Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers.
1986: Racking Up Miles and Title Belts
The original Sheepherders of Miller and Williams started with Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling in January. They worked matches against Porkchop Cash and Mad Dog Boyd including a Chicago Street Fight on January 31. They also had matches with Hector and Chavo Guerrero. On March 16 The Sheepherders defeated Steve Williams and Ted Dibiase for the UWF Tag Team Titles in Oklahoma City after the promotion’s name had been changed to Universal Wrestling Federation. After rematches with Williams and Dibiase they lost the titles to The Fantastics of Tommy Rogers and Bobby Fulton.
The Sheepherders entered the first Crockett Cup Invitational Tournament for Jim Crockett Promotions. On April 19, they defeated Hector and Chavo Guerrero in the first round. They defeated The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express of Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson in the second round on the same night and then went to a double-disqualification against The Fantastics in the quarter-finals. This match was rated five stars in The Wrestling Observer by Dave Meltzer at the time.
Back in UWF, The Sheepherders continued to work with The Fantastics in a series of title matches. They had New Zealand Boot Camp Matches on June 19 and June 27 and barbed wire cage matches on June 6 and July 13. During this run The Sheepherders took on Jack Victory as a new flag bearer. They had six-man matches teaming with Victory against The Fantastics and Terry Taylor.
Miller and Williams had a brief return to Puerto Rico in a year that was all over the map. They defeated The Rock ‘N’ Roll RPMs, Mike Davis and Tommy Lane, on August 3, 1986 to win the WWC World Tag Team Titles. Davis and Lane regained the titles on September 21.
The Sheepherders returned to Championship Wrestling from Florida. They lost to NWA US Tag Team Champions The Fabulous Ones (Lane and Keirn) at Battle of the Belts 3 in Daytona Beach on September 1. They worked with Lane and Keirn through September including chain matches and a coal miner’s glove match. Williams and Miller defeated Lane and Keirn for the US Tag titles on October 7. They continued having matches with Lane and Keirn as well as with Keirn and Ron Simmons. Lane and Keirn regained the titles from Miller and Williams on November 30. Miller and Williams teamed with Sean Royal in an elimination match against Lane, Keirn and Mike Graham on December 10.
1987: Transitioning into Crockett Territory
The Sheepherders returned to Memphis in January and continued to work with The Fabulous Ones. They also worked in Continental in Alabama and wrestled The Nightmares of Ken Wayne and Danny Davis. They faced Lane and Keirn in Mid-South Massacre Matches in Memphis.
In February they had their first and only tour for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Williams had a singles match with Akira Maeda on February 24 and Miller had a singles match with Tatsumi Fujinami. They teamed with Steve Williams against Antonio Inoki, Seiji Sakaguchi and Keiji Muto on February 27. They went to a time limit draw with Nobuhiko Takada and Yoshiaki Fujiwara on March 5. They lost to Inoki and Muto on March 18 and lost their final match to George Takano and Kintaro Hoshino on March 20 at Korakuen Hall.
The Sheepherders returned to Florida in May for CWF which was now controlled by Jim Crockett Promotions. They started out having matches with Bill and Randy Mulkey and also faced Steve Armstrong and Tracy Smothers. On June 23 they won the NWA Florida Tag Team Titles from Steve Keirn and Mike Graham. Crockett Promotions’ Great American Bash tour was at The Orange Bowl in Miami on July 31. The Sheepherders went to a double disqualification in a title match with Jim and Ronnie Garvin on that show. They lost the tag titles to Graham and Keirn on August 29. Graham and Keirn then defeated Miller and Williams in a Loser Leaves Town match on September 22.
The Sheepherders then transitioned into Crockett Promotions and had appearances both in the main Crockett promotion as well as the UWF that was now controlled by Crockett. They faced Shane Douglas and Ron Simmons as well as Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin. They defeated Brad Armstrong and Tim Horner for the UWF Tag Team Titles on October 16 in Kansas City. They continued working with Armstrong and Horner as well as Hayes and Garvin and also faced The Road Warriors of Hawk and Animal. Johnny Ace was now working as the flag bearer for The Sheepherders and at times replaced Miller in tag matches. The UWF Tag Team Titles were discontinued in November 1987 when the UWF was fully absorbed into Crockett Promotions and The Sheepherders were the last champions. They finished out the year working in Bunkhouse Stampede matches which were steel cage battle royals.
1988: Some Slacking, Then Some Whacking
They lost to Sting and Jimmy Garvin at the Bunkhouse Stampede pay per view on January 28 and worked primarily with Horner and Armstrong through the early months of the year. The Fantastics of Fulton and Rogers had also started in the promotion and had matches with Miller and Williams. The Sheepherders were in the third Crockett Cup and beat Gary Royal and George South in the first round on April 22. They beat Armstrong and Horner that same night before losing to The Midnight Express of Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane.
In May they had higher profile matches against Lex Luger and Nikita Koloff, Luger and Sting and The Road Warriors. Johnny Ace was now working as their opponent in a number of matches. Miller and Williams lost to US Tag Team Champions The Fantastics in a number of title matches through May and June. They worked against The Rock N Roll Express of Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson through the month of July and lost a 2/3 falls match to Ron Simmons and Italian Stallion on September 5. They finished up their run in Crockett in the fall of 1988 and lost to The Fantastics on November 6.
On September 10 The Sheepherders worked on the WWC Anniversario show in Puerto Rico. They lost to WWC Tag Team Champions Brad and Bart Batten, also known as The Batten Twins.
Luke and Butch then travelled to the World Wrestling Federation for the first time in December. Their first matches were wins over The Bolsheviks, Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zukhov. They appeared in vignettes that depicted them as babyfaces. They would become well-known for their spots in which they licked each other’s faces as well as the fans’ faces. They would march around while pumping their arms up and down. They also had a finisher in which Butch would grab Luke in a headlock and use him as a battering ram on their opponent.
Many wrestling fans will point to the drastic change in the characters of Luke and Butch in WWF and say they were much better before going there. I’ve read that they were actually considering winding down their careers before they went to WWF. This is believable given that Luke was 41 and Butch was 48 and the territories were dying out. They had also worked the prior year in Crockett Promotions with little traction and the promotion was sold to Ted Turner around the time they switched. Dynamite Kid wrote that he advocated their hiring to Pat Patterson and when Patterson asked for pictures of them as per WWF practice at the time, Dynamite asked if he really needed that for The Sheepherders. They came into the promotion around the time Dynamite left. When they met with Vince McMahon and he said he wanted them to be babyfaces, Butch apparently got in Vince’s face and said “If you can make these faces good guys then go ahead”. Vince apparently said he wanted them to be something between the Moondogs and the Sheepherders but as faces. Luke said that they developed the characters from there into The Bushwhackers that came to be.
1989: Better Than You Might Remember
They were in the Royal Rumble in January which was the first one to air on pay per view. They started working consistently with Jacques and Raymond Rougeau and defeated them at WrestleMania V. They then worked consistently with Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson from April through July and Williams and Miller were usually the winners. They moved onto matches with Barbarian and Warlord who were known as The Powers of Pain and worked mostly with them through September. Anderson and Blanchard won the WWF Tag Team Titles on July 18 and they had title defenses against The Bushwhackers in August. The two teams went to a double disqualification on October 3.
Both Luke and Butch were in that year’s non-televised King of the Ring tournament. Butch lost to Warlord in the first round. Luke defeated Nikolai Volkoff in the first round and lost to Rick Martel in the second round. They continued to work with Warlord and Barbarian through November. At the Survivor Series pay per view on November 23 they teamed with Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka and lost an elimination match to Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude and The Rougeaus. They worked with the Rougeaus and the Bolsheviks through the rest of the year.
1990: Settled In
In typical WWF booking consistency, The Bushwhackers worked with The Bolsheviks, The Rougeaus and Warlord and Barbarian in a tag team scene that had decreased in size. They did work with Mr. Perfect and The Genius on March 24. At WrestleMania VI on April 1 at Toronto’s Skydome they interrupted a segment with The Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine, known as Rhythm and Blues, and broke guitars over their heads. They worked the Bolsheviks on a WWF tour of New Zealand in April and then worked almost exclusively with Valentine and Honky Tonk Man through to August.
The Orient Express, Tanaka and Sato, had debuted in WWF and started a program with The Bushwhackers at the end of August. They continued through November with Tanaka teaming at times with Mr. Fuji. At the Survivor Series on November 22 the team of Nikolai Volkoff, Jim Duggan and The Bushwhackers defeated Sgt. Slaughter, Boris Zukhov, Tanaka and Sato. The Bushwhackers then had matches with Paul Roma and Hercules, known as Power and Glory, as well as Demolition.
In December they worked in Japan for joint shows between WWF and Super World Sports in December. They defeated Don Arakawa and Ken’ichi Oya on December 6 and lost to The Rougeaus on December 7 in Osaka.
1991: Et Tu, Tugboat?
They worked against Demolition, comprised of Smash and Crush, early in the year as well as the recently debuted team of The Nasty Boys, comprised of Jerry Sags and Brian Knobs. One of the most famous moments of their WWF run occurred at that year’s Royal Rumble when Luke marched into the ring, was thrown over the top rope by Earthquake in four seconds and kept on marching on his way to the back. This was referenced in their 2015 WWE Hall of Fame speech when Butch was joking about getting paid the same to work twenty-five minutes in the same match. The Bushwhackers continued to work with Demolition and The Nasty Boys through WrestleMania season as well as the new Orient Express of Tanaka and Kato (Paul Diamond under a mask).
A debate on the use of instant replay was hyped for WrestleMania VII. The debate was led by Vince McMahon, then portrayed only as a commentator, and took place between NFL analyst Paul Maguire and New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. The debate went downhill quickly and Vince went to an instant replay to decide the debate. Luke and Butch were then shown in the video room struggling with and destroying the video tape leading to the debate being inconclusive. Thankfully this was given a full ten minutes of WrestleMania air-time as compared to the total of eighteen seconds given to matches between Sheamus and Daniel Bryan in later years. They also managed to follow the debate with a five minute intermission.
The Nasty Boys won the WWF Tag Team Titles from The Hart Foundation at WrestleMania on March 24. They defended against The Bushwhackers on house shows including on a New Zealand tour in April and on the April 27 episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event. Luke and Butch also worked matches against Blake and Beau Beverly and Sgt. Slaughter & Col. Mustafa.
On May 28, The Bushwhackers teamed with Tugboat against The Nasty Boys and Earthquake. Tugboat turned on Luke and Butch in the match, renamed himself Typhoon and formed The Natural Disasters with Earthquake. This lead to the biggest grudge match of the Bushwhackers’ WWF run when they faced the Natural Disasters at Summerslam 1991 on August 26. Andre The Giant accompanied Luke and Butch to the ring as Earthquake had attacked his knee earlier in the year. Earthquake and Typhoon squashed Luke and Butch in the match but it allowed the heel team to start a program with new tag champs The Legion of Doom, Hawk and Animal, who saved Andre after the match.
Luke and Butch moved onto a program with The Beverly Brothers for the rest of the year. They teamed with The Rockers, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, in an elimination match at the Survivor Series on November 27 and lost to The Nasty Boys and The Beverly Brothers. The Genius Lanny Poffo was managing The Beverlys. In order to counteract his interference, The Bushwhackers brought in uber-nerd Jamison as their manager. Jamison was played by actor John DiGiacomo and he had appeared on The Bobby Heenan Show in 1989.
1992: Jamison is the Anti-Heenan
The Beverly Brothers defeated The Bushwhackers at the 1992 Royal Rumble. This match and program gave a lot of attention to Jamison and is not remembered fondly, especially by me. Luke and Butch started teaming with Bret Hart in a series of six-man matches against The Mountie and The Nasty Boys. The Bushwhackers defeated The Beverly Brothers in a dark match at WrestleMania VIII on April 5. In April they did get title matches against tag Champs Money Inc., comprised of Ted Dibiase and Irwin R. Schyster.
Luke and Butch actually had a match in IWCCW on June 6 when they defeated Jimmy Deo and Mondo Kleen (Damien Demento). Back in the WWF, they worked matches in June with Val Puccio and Tony Puccio, who had worked as The Undertakers in IWCCW prior to the debut of The Undertaker in WWF.
The Bushwhackers worked a dark match at SummerSlam at Wembley Stadium on August 29 when they teamed with Jim Duggan to defeat The Mountie and The Nasty Boys. Luke and Butch worked in USWA in Memphis in September and had matches against The Moondogs. They continued with the usual opponents in the WWF until finishing out the year teaming with Tiger Jackson against The Beverly Brothers and partners of a similar height as Jackson.
1993 to 1995: Go-To Guys
The Bushwhackers seem to have been firmly entrenched in a position of helping to establish new teams by this time. In 1993, they did a house show program with The Headshrinkers, Samu and Fatu, who had recently debuted in WWF. Luke and Butch continued to work The Beverly Brothers, including in matches with Tiger Jackson and others, and also had title matches with Money Inc. Their WWF schedule slowed down but they still had matches with The Quebecers as well as Timothy Well and Steven Dunn. They returned to Puerto Rico for WWC in August and worked matches against The Warlord and Mr. Hughes. They did make an appearance at Survivor Series teaming with Men on a Misson, with all four men dressing as Doink The Clown, against Bam Bigelow, Bastion Booger and The Headshrinkers.
They worked a pretty full schedule for WWF in 1994 against The Headshrinkers, Timothy Well and Steven Dunn and The Heavenly Bodies, Tom Prichard and Jimmy Del Ray. They lost a dark match to Prichard and Del Ray at WrestleMania X on March 20. They also worked title matches in April with The Quebecers who were the tag champs at the time. In May and June they worked a series with Kwang and Adam Bomb. They continued through the year and lost to Prichard and Del Ray in November in a tournament for the vacant tag titles. They also did some indy matches in 1994 for PWF in North Carolina and WWA in New Jersey.
The Bushwhackers had an appearance on television sitcom Family Matters in 1994. They were the tag team opponents of characters Carl Winslow and Steve Urkel.
In 1995, The Bushwhackers were still working a couple times a month in the WWF in matches with Well and Dunn, Prichard and Del Ray and Jacob and Eli Blu, better known as Ron and Don Harris. They interspersed indy dates and also had title matches against WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart and Yokozuna in June.
1996 to 2001: Winding down
They took time off and then returned to WWF in March 1996 when they lost to The Bodydonnas, Skip (Chris Candido) and Zip (Tom Prichard), in a tournament for the vacant tag titles. The Bodydonnas won the title tournament and defended against Luke and Butch in several title matches on a WWF tour of Germany in April. The Bushwhackers also worked a WWF tour of Kuwait in May and then worked in the US in a house show program with The New Rockers, Marty Jannetty and Leif Cassidy. They teamed against Justin Hawk Bradshaw (JBL) and Uncle Zebekiah (Dutch Mantel) in August and September.
They worked a couple of US indy dates in 1997. They did a number of dates for WWC in Puerto Rico between April and September wrestling as The Sheepherders. They wrestled opponents such as Invader #1 and Invader # 2, Chris and Mark Youngblood, Carlos Colon, Ricky Santana, Skull Von Krush (Vito Lograsso) and Sean Morley. On August 14 they teamed with Abdullah The Butcher and Tom Brandi to defeat Invaders #1 and #2, Ricky Santana and Ray Gonzales in a War Games match. At the Anniversary Show on they went to a no contest in a Barbed Wire Tornado match with Invader #1 and #2 and then lost to Santana and Invader #1 in a barbed wire match on August 16. Luke and Butch worked on Terry Funk’s WrestleFest show in Amarillo, Texas on September 11. They lost to Chris and Mark Youngblood.
In April 1998 they worked dates for ECW as Luke Dudley and Butch Dudley. They worked matches in Florida against Tommy Dreamer and Sandman and against Chris Chetti and Jerry Lynn. They worked in Afa the Wild Samoan’s WXW promotion in Allentown, Pennsylvania on July 12 in a loss to Samu and LA Smooth.
The Bushwhackers worked for New Jersey indy promotion ISPW in 1999. They won the ISPW Tag Team Titles from Derek Domino and Ryan Wing in a July 15 four-way match that also involved Don Montoya and Flash Wheeler and Samu and LA Smooth. They lost the titles back to Domino and Wing on July 29. They worked the ill-fated Heroes of Wrestling pay-per-view from St. Louis on October 10 and defeated Nikolai Volkoff and Iron Sheik. They also worked All-Pro Wrestling on October 29 and defeated Shane and Shannon Ballard. They worked for ECCW in Vancouver in November and December. They were in a three-way match for the ECCW Tag Team Titles on November 26 involving Michelle Starr and Johnny Canuck and Steve Rizzono and Chance Beckett.
Their next major appearance was in the WWF gimmick battle royal at WrestleMania 17. The battle royal was won by The Iron Sheik. They worked a match against The Moondogs at the Mid-South Coliseum on June 15 on a card called Clash of the Legends. This might have bene Butch’s last match. In September 2001 he was rushed to hospital after a neck injury and he did suffer from septicemia in hospital. Butch retired and moved back to New Zealand.
2002 and Beyond: Giving Back
Luke transitioned into a behind-the-scenes role. He worked as the talent coordinator for IWA in Puerto Rico. The promotion had been started by Victor Quinones and at one point was a WWF developmental territory. They had a number of hot years in the between 2002 and 2007 but eventually declined.
Luke left the promotion in 2007. He and Butch appeared on TNA Impact Wrestling December 2007 as the supposed family of Eric Young on a Christmas episode. Luke started working with Ring of Honor and appeared at their final shows of 2007. He eventually hosted a podcast interviewing the promotion’s wrestlers. On July 26, 2008 he participated in the Honor Rumble match in Detroit, Michigan and was eliminated by Necro Butcher. I was there live for this and remember it being fun to see him in the ring. During these years in ROH, I remember taping him to say hi by the concessions stand and he said “Hey, mate”.
Luke continues to work indies both in the ring and behind the scenes. He has been involved in promoting the UCW promotion in the Maritimes and I’m sure a number of other groups as well. He lives in Florida. Butch has also been involved in promotions in New Zealand and has acted as commissioner for both Kiwi Pro Wrestling and NZWPW.
In 2015, The Bushwhackers were inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame. Butch appeared with crutches but was in good cheer. The two were highly entertaining and it really brought into perspective what a great career they had.
- “Pure Dynamite” by Tom ‘Dynamite Kid’ Billington