The Bushwhackers were a professional wrestling tag team that competed first as the New Zealand Kiwis and then as The Sheepherders during their career that spanned an unprecedented 36 years as a tag team. They wrestled in the World Wrestling Federation and Jim Crockett Promotions as well as a nearly 40-year run on the independent territorial wrestling circuits. The Bushwhackers consisted of Luke Williams and Butch Miller, while the Sheepherders also included Jonathan Boyd and Rip Morgan as members at times.
The Bushwhackers made their WWF in-ring debut on 3 January 1989 at a WWF Superstars of Wrestling taping. The team’s name was changed to The Bushwhackers, and they changed their violent style to a comedic style which was an instant hit with WWF fans. Still able to wrestle and still providing some comedy that involved licking each other, fans, and even their opponents, exaggerated arm movements, and more.
Only a few days into their run with the WWF, the Bushwhackers had their first match with The Bolsheviks (Boris Zhukov & Nikolai Volkoff), a team they would wrestle frequently. In February the Bushwhackers began a feud with The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, the first feud to really feature the Bushwhackers on WWF television. The two teams would take their conflict to WrestleMania V which saw the Bushwhackers victorious in their WWF Pay Per View debut as a team. The WrestleMania match was not the end of the Bushwhackers/Rougeau feud as the teams clashed again on the October 14th edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event where The Bushwackers were once again victorious. The Bushwhackers and the Rougeaus would clash twice more, first at the 1989 Survivor Series and again at the 1990 Royal Rumble both times with the Bushwhackers getting the best of the Rougeau brothers. This push, along with the comedy aspect, brought The Bushwackers previously unknown fame and recognition amongst the fans.
During this time the Bushwhackers began to feature in a long series of comedic vignettes, usually subjecting ”Mean” Gene Okerlund to their wild and wacky ways (and sardine eating antics). These vignettes were often featured on Coliseum Home Video releases where they served as the “link” between matches.
The Bushwhackers quickly became one of the most popular duos among the viewers, chiefly due to the wildly comedic nature of their antics (including their trademark “Bushwhacker Walk”), their catchy pastoral musical theme, and the high level of their friendly interaction with the audience. By 1990 the Bushwhackers were established as a solid mid-card comedy act feuding with the newly establish heel team known as Rhythm and Blues (The Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine). The Bushwhackers’ WrestleMania VI appearance came at the expense of Rhythm and Blues as they showed up during a segment, attacked Honky Tonk Man and Valentine and then broke R & B’s guitars to the delight of the crowd. Later on the team would be used to help establish newcomers The Orient Express (Pat Tanaka and Akio Sato). The feud with the Orient Express culminated at Survivor Series 1990 where Williams and Miller teamed up with Nikolai Volkoff and Tito Santana to form “The Alliance” and take on Sgt. Slaughter, Boris Zhukov and the Orient Express team dubbed “The Mercenaries”. The Bushwhackers eliminated the Orient Express but were eliminated themselves as well.
At the 1991 Royal Rumble, Williams set a rather unfortunate record as he lasted a total of 4 seconds. Using the trademark arm-swing walk, he climbed into the ring, was immediately grabbed by Earthquake, dragged across the ring in a straight line and thrown over the top rope, and proceeded to leave the arena—without missing a beat—using the trademark arm-swing walk. The Bushwhackers received a shot at the WWF World Tag Team Title on the April 27th episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event against The Nasty Boys, but on that night Williams and Miller were not able to gain a pin fall. In a televised 6 man tag-team match the Bushwhackers teamed with Tugboat against Earthquake and the Nasty Boys, Tugboat turned on his partners after a few minutes of action and joined Earthquake in laying the two New Zealanders out cold. After the heel turn Tugboat changed his name to Typhoon and together they became known as “The Natural Disasters” one of the heaviest tag-teams in the world. The Bushwhackers demanded a chance to get even with the big team but were easily defeated at the 1991 SummerSlam PPV. After destroying the Bushwhackers the Disasters targeted André the Giant who was at ringside on crutches due to an earlier attack from Earthquake. The assault was stopped by the Legion of Doom who ran off the Natural Disasters
After the Natural Disasters began feuding with the Legion of Doom the Bushwhackers came across a team that was the total opposite of what they were. Williams and Miller the fun loving, “working class” guys started a feud with the rich, snobby bratty Beverly Brothers (Blake and Beau). The two teams first clashed at the 1991 Survivor Series where they were on opposite sides in a 4 on 4 elimination match. On the night the Beverly Brothers got the upper hand and eliminated both Williams and Miller. The Beverly Brothers’ manager The Genius kept interfering in the matches so the Bushwhackers brought in a manager of their own, the nerdy Jamison. Despite the addition of Jamison, the Beverly Brothers defeated the Bushwhackers at Royal Rumble 1992. The Bushwhackers did gain some small measure of revenge on the Beverly Brothers when they defeated the team in a “dark match” at WrestleMania VIII. The Bushwhackers’ next PPV was at Summer Slam 1992 where they teamed up with Jim Duggan to defeat “The Mountie” Jacques Rougeau and the Nasty Boys in a dark match.
The Bushwackers would spend the next few years in various feuds and matches, usually putting over new talent and being used a comedic relief and mid-card matches.
In March 1996, the Bushwhackers returned to the WWF after a 6 month hiatus to participate in a tournament to crown new tag team champions. The Bushwhackers were beaten in the first round by eventual winners The Bodydonnas (Skip and Zip). When the Bushwhackers returned in 1996 it was a slightly revamped version that ignored the fact that both members were from New Zealand as they displayed traditional Australian Stereotypes, including being accompanied to the ring by a giant kangaroo mascot. On September 14, 1996 the Bushwhackers made their last appearance while under contract with the WWF.
On February 23, 2015 it was announced that The Buschwackers would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2015.
Full Throwback Thursday 2015 Hall of Fame Preview:
Tags: Andre the Giant, Beverly Brothers, Bodydonnas, The Bushwackers, the Natural Disasters, the Orient Express, Throwback Thursday, WWE Hall of Fame 2015, WWE Hall of Fame Inductee