One of WWE's most memorable tag teams never actually held WWE gold. They were unorthodox, crude, dirty, and kid friendly.
I'm talking about Luke and Butch, The Bushwhackers.
Luke and Butch were not originally known as The Bushwhackers. In fact, it was not until reaching the WWF in 1989 that they adopted the name.
Luke Williams and Butch Miller were the original, and current, Bushwhackers. They formed their team in New Zealand while working for the NWA promotion there.
They first went by the name The Kiwi Sheepherders.
Their style was very violent and aggressive when they first began. The duo made their way stateside only one year after teaming up. They began in the promotion NWA Hawaii. While there, they honed their craft and became quite popular as a tag team.
Luke and Butch eventually made their way to Canada, and worked for Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling. They were billed as The Kiwis, and they continued to use their aggressive style.
While wrestling in Canada, The Kiwis held the Stampede International Tag Team Titles twice. After losing the titles the second time, to Stan Kowalski and Duke Savage, Luke and Butch headed to Puerto Rico and worked for World Wrestling Council, a promotion that is still around today.
While working there, they were billed as Los Pastores. After a brief time with the company, Luke and Butch won the WWC North American Tag Titles from Invader 1 and Carlos Colon, the legendary father of Carlito, Primo, and WWE developmental wrestler Tito Colon.
Los Pastores held the titles twice before Butch decided he wanted to be closer to home. Butch moved to Australia and Luke kept wrestling.
Luke initially teamed with Jonathan Boyd and continued to use the Sheepherder name.
While teaming together, Luke and Jonathan gained a reputation as the most violent tag team in the business. While wresling in South Eastern Championship Wrestling, the duo feuded with the entire Fuller family, including Robert and Ron Fuller, as well as Jimmy Golden.
Golden was later billed as someone who might sound more familiar. Bunkhouse Buck.
After losing the SECW titles to Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden, The Sheepherders made their way to Memphis, and began wrestling for Continental Wrestling Association.
The promotion was run by Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett at the time.
While there, The Sheepherders feuded with two WWE alums, Jacques Rougeau and Terry Taylor. At the time, Rougeau was billed as Jerry Roberts for some reason.
The teams met in the Mid South Coliseum several times, usually resulting in a Sheepherder victory. It wasn't until the two teams faced off in a "Coal Miners Glove match" that Taylor and Rougeau drove the Sheepherders out of Memphis.
(On a sidenote, if today's wrestling fans think "Gimmick" matches are out of hand today, they should look at some of the ridiculous stuff that happened in the '70s and '80s. I don't even know how a Coal Miner's Glove match works. I assume it involves a glove, though.)
Luke and Jonathan then made their way south and wrestled for AWA south. There, they engaged in a bloody, long, and often winless feud with a team known as the Fabulous Ones.
The two teams had numerous matches, often ending in no contest decisions, when the matches progressed to violent brawls.
The Sheepherders eventually won the AWA Southern Tag Titles from The Fabulous Ones. The teams tossed the titles back and forth four times before the feud ended.
After spending another year in the southern promotions, Butch returned and reformed the original pairing with Luke. The two traveled to Puerto Rico again and rekindled an old feud.
Invader 1 teamed with Invader 3 at the time, and they held the WWC Tag Titles. Luke and Butch defeated the Invaders for the gold twice before losing the titles back to them one final time in 1985.
Back in the US, another team used the Sheepherder name. Jonathan Boyd had continued to use the name after Luke and Butch had reformed and moved to Puerto Rico. Boyd teamed up with Rip Morgan and the two stayed in the southern promotions.
This new version of The Kiwi Sheepherders continued to use a brutal, aggressive style.
They feuded with The Fabulous Ones again and had numerous bloody matches over the SWSC Tag Team Championship.
After beating Morgan and Boyd five times in a row, The Fabulous ones finally sent the Kiwi Sheepherders packing.
Morgan and Boyd enjoyed success while using The Kiwi Sheepherder name, seeing four tag team championships from different promotions.
Luke and Butch made their way back to the US to remind everyone who the original Sheepherders were.
They defeated Ted DiBiase and and Steve Williams for the UWF Tag Titles in 1986, but soon lost to their constant rivals, The Fabulous Ones.
One of the Sheepherders' most memorable series of matches came when the NWA put on the first ever Jim Crockett Memorial Tag Team Cup.
Luke and Butch defeated Hector and Chavo Guerrero in the first round, and The Rock 'n' Roll Express in the second round.
Their old Rivals, The Fabulous Ones, then stood in their way.
In round three, the two teams fought to yet another double DQ decision. The Road Warriors were the tournament's eventual winners.
Throughout the next three years, The Sheepherders fought with many different teams across the country. Luke and Butch held a few more tag titles while wrestling in the NWA/WCW promotion.
In 1989, they were approached by the WWF. Vince McMahon had just begun his national expansion, and the Sheepherders were helpful in making the expansion a success.
Rebranded as The Bushwhackers, Luke and Butch gained more notoriety and exposure than they had ever enjoyed on the independent scene.
The duo began using a more comedic style, which included their signature arm movements and licking each other's, as well as opponents' and fans', heads.
The Bushwhackers became hugely popular with the WWF's kid-heavy audience during the Hulkamania period.
They made their Wrestlemania debut at the fifth annual event and faced off against someone with whom they were quite familiar.
Jacques Rougeau had formed The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers with his real-life brother Raymond.
The Bushwhackers came out on top, but this was not the end of their encounters. The two teams faced off three more times, on WWF Saturday Night, Survivor Series 1989, and the 1990 Royal Rumble.
Luke and Butch then faced Rhythm and Blues, which was comprised of The Honky Tonk man and Greg Valentine.
During a segment at Wrestlemania VI, The Bushwhackers interrupted a segment with R and B and destroyed their guitars.
At the 1994 Royal Rumble, Luke had one of the most memorable, and unfortunately shortest, Rumble appearances.
Luke entered the ring using the trademark Bushwhacker walk, but was grabbed, and thrown over the ropes by Earthquake.
However, he didn't miss a beat and left the arena still swinging his arms up and down. It was the quickest elimination at the time, but ended up being one of the funniest Rumble moments in history.
The Bushwhackers received their first WWF Tag Team Title shot against the Nasty Boys in 1991. They lost the match, but gained popularity through sympathy, since The Nasty Boys won using underhanded tactics.
Over the next couple of years, Luke and Butch saw themselves in matches with some of the WWF's most memorable tag teams. They faced the likes of The Beverly Brothers, The Heavenly Bodies, The Natural Disasters, and The Headshrinkers.
During the 1993 Survivor Series, The Buswhackers teamed with Doink and Men on a Mission to face Bam Bam Bigelow, Bastion Booger, and The Headshrinkers. The match served as more comedic entertainment than anything else.
By 1995, The Bushwhackers had become enhancement talent, being used to put over new WWF tag teams like Well Dunn and The Bodydonnas.
(On another sidenote, The Bodydonnas brought us one of wrestling's most memorable Divas in Sunny, AKA Tammy Sytch. This was my introduction to sexy women in wrestling when I was 12.)
In 1996, the Bushwhackers left the WWF and began touring Puerto Rico again. They faced The Invaders in another match that saw the violent style of the Old Sheepherders return.
After making sporadic appearances for other international promotions, Luke and Butch retired from active wrestling. Their last WWE appearance as wrestlers came at the Wrestlemania XVII Gimmick, Battle Royal.
Butch Miller ended up in MVP's International VIP Lounge when the WWE toured New Zealand on an edition of Smackdown. It was nice to see him again after all those years for many fans who remembered him from his Sheepherding days.
The Bushwhackers also made a special guest appearance in a 1994 episode of Family Matters, where they wrestled Carl Winslow and Steve Urkel. It was hilarious, to say the least.
The Bushwhackers remain one of the WWE's most beloved tag teams of all time. They first made their mark with their brutal style, but left an impression by making kids and adults laugh and enjoy wrestling all around the world.
Having held 23 Tag Team titles throughout their career, they cemented their legacy as one of wrestling's greatest teams.
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