Every year the WWE honours the great superstars of it's past, be it their achievements saw them being a multiple time champions, their in ring skill and ability, or that they captured the imaginations of the WWE Universe with their character. Growing up as a child I remember seeing The Bushwhackers come out and have the crowd in the palm of their hand from the moment their music hit, right up to the end of their match. Best known for their unique style in the ring and their fondness of licking anything or anyone in sight, the Bushwhackers are without doubt one of the most memorable and beloved tag teams in WWE history, and it seems only right that they finally get their chance to take their rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.
So what makes this duo so deserving of a place in the immortalised shrine of the WWE Hall of Fame? Looking back at their success in terms of WWE gold, the Bushwhackers come up empty, having never captured a tag team or singles title during their seven year stint in the WWE. But gold doesn't always matter, and what Luke Williams and Butch Miller lacked in this area they more then made up for in charisma and charm. Whenever their music would hit the arena would immediately explode into a sea of cheers and Bushwhacker walking, and would even see fans face a licking from the crazy duo. It wasn't just fans who faced a licking, as the two would often be seen licking each other, or on occasion their opponents who would face a figurative and literal licking all at once.
But before this dynamic duo joined the ranks of WWE, they would begin their careers in New Zealand, where they would wrestle for NWA New Zealand (later known as All-Star Pro Wrestling) in 1966, which would see them become a regional success very quickly. It wasn't until 1972 that the pair would venture across the pond, where they would feature for Canadian promotions, including Stampede Wrestling, run by the legendary Stu Hart in 1973, where they would be billed under the name of The Kiwis. The duo would eventually being working across North America from 1979 onward, where they would begin to compete under the name of The Sheepherders. The two would go on to capture various tag team championships throughout their time in North America, before Butch decided he wanted to move closer to his family in 1981, and would see the duo split until 1983, when they were reunited.
The duo had built up a reputation over their early careers for their ultra-violent barbed-wire and cage matches, something that many WWE fans may not know about them. Many fans would be forgiven for not even being aware of this though, given that when they joined WWE during it's early expansion, their violent style was not matched to the product which meant the duo would adopt a more comedic style and were renamed the Bushwhackers. For any early 1980's WWE fan, the most iconic memories of the Bushwhackers would see them feature in many comedy vignettes, usually subjecting host 'Mean Gene' Okerlund to their wild and wacky antics. It was this along with their catchy music and their great crowd interaction that helped make them one of WWE's most beloved tag teams.
As a team, the Bushwhackers would see them managed by several memorable characters, most notably by fellow New Zealander, Jamison, who suited their comedy style down to the ground. They were also briefly led to the ring in 1996 by a giant Kangaroo mascot, but the less said about that the better. Some of the teams most memorable feuds and matches came against teams such as the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, Rhythm and Blues, the Nasty Boys, the Natural Disasters, the Beverley Brothers, the Head Shrinkers, and the Blu Twins. While Luke and Butch were never successful in securing tag team gold, they did challenge the Nasty Boys for the titles in April of 1991 against the Nasty Boys on Saturday Nights Main Event, but came up unsuccessful in their attempts to win. The only real notable record set by the Bushwhackers during their WWE run was set by Luke at the 1991 Royal Rumble, where he would be eliminated from the rumble match in 4 seconds, a feat that was eventually ended by Santino Marella in 2009, after he lasted a mere 1.9 seconds in the match. Although the 4 seconds did not eclipse the 2 seconds set by the Warlord in 1989, it is still one of the most played clips in WWE when it comes to Royal Rumble eliminations.
Luke and Butch would eventually end their WWE careers in 1996. They would return to the independent wrestling scene for a number of years where they would resume working under the name of the Sheepherders. The duo would make a brief appearance in the original ECW, amusingly being known as Luke and Butch Dudley, allies with the Dudley Boys. The teams final appearance together in WWE would come at Wrestlemania 17 in 2001, where both would enter the now infamous 'Gimmick Battle Royal', which would go on to be won by the Iron Sheik. Sadly in 2001, Butch would be forced to retire from wrestling due to illness, while Luke would continue to work both behind the scenes in Puerto Rico, and continue to wrestle part-time as a singles wrestler on the independent scene.
Luke and Butch have had storied careers in throughout the world of wrestling. From competing as a barbaric and brutal tag team, to becoming a comedic duo, the Bushwhackers have more than earned their place in the WWE Hall of Fame. I'm not sure how their speeches will go, as anything is possible when it comes to these things, but I am looking forward to hearing them reflect on their time in the wrestling industry. The Bushwhackers were always one of my favourite tag teams growing up as a child, and it is with great pride that I will be watching their long overdue induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.