Inside The Bushwhackers’ Wild Early Struggles

Many fans remember The Bushwhackers as a comedic tag team who licked faces and swung their arms around wildly as they marched to and from the ring.

Before those days, however, Luke Williams and the late Butch Miller were a violent nationalistic tag team who introduced fans to a hardcore wrestling style long before it became popularized through companies like ECW in the ’90s.

In stark contrast to the loveable babyfaces they would later become, they were involved in fights, received regular death threats, and were lucky to make it out of many situations with their lives!

Butch and Luke of The Bushwhackers, then known as The Sheepherders.
Butch and Luke of The Bushwhackers, then known as The Sheepherders.

The Bushwhackers: “We were very lucky to get out of a lot of situations with our lives. Very lucky indeed!”

Before joining the WWF, Butch and Luke had a successful career spanning over twenty years as The Kiwis, The New Zealand Sheepherders, and The Kiwi Sheepherders, where they amassed dozens of tag titles and even wrestled a 5-star match! Despite their success in the ring during this time in their career, fans despised them.

In an interview with Title Match Wrestling, Luke and Butch discussed how lucky they were to survive their early days.


“We were very lucky to get out of a lot of situations with our lives. Very lucky indeed!

When you’re young, you don’t think about it so much, but when you look back on it now, we’ve had so many close shaves over the years. Coming out [after a match] and our tires would be slit, the windshield would be broken. It was pretty miserable in some ways, actually.”


“We were heavy heels.

One time in Ponce, Puerto Rico, we were wrestling The Invaders.

This night, we knocked them out with a flag pole and wrapped them up with barbed wire and rolled them, and blood was squirting out. The people were in the stands, and they started ripping the banks of seats out and throwing them.”


“We’d always try and work the crowd to that stage, but there was a fine line.

Obviously, being professional and wanting the best house, wanting people to come back, you had them on that line, but sometimes you didn’t really know where that line was, and it would just take a little snap and BANG! Over the top they went. We’d have to fight for our lives.

They couldn’t break the [dressing room] door down ‘cos we had it bolted – so they were going to BURN the door down. They were gonna get us no matter what.

But one thing they did have in Ponce was a special riot squad that they brought in. They all had sub-machine guns with rubber bullets. They saved our butt there.

Over in Singapore and Bangkok and those areas in Malaysia, it was more dangerous. In Puerto Rico, they had soldiers protecting us, [but] in the Far East, once [the crowd] started to come, the security would just vanish.”


“In the Far East, they’d break chairs up in the stadium, and furniture would come down on you.”


“Very dangerous. You didn’t have to do much. If there was just a fraction of blood or something, that was it. You were just mobbed.”

“I can’t remember the finish, but at the end of the match- they came. I’m talking a ballpark of 20,000 people.”


The police would come in the building and put us in their cars and take the outskirts of the area to meet the other boys at the mini-bus or whatever to get back to the hotel.

One time in Trinidad, we were working against the Mighty Igor and the local guy there, the champion from all the Islands.

They had to build a makeshift ring on a cricket pitch. For me and Butch, they made us a prefab dressing room away from everyone because people would throw things.

This night, I can’t remember the finish, but at the end of the match- they came.

I’m talking a ballpark of 20,000 people.

They came and knocked down the dressing room they’d built for us – they beat down the door and everything.

The [promoter] put a pickup truck into the back of it there, and we jumped in.

They started firing bricks and anything they could find. The truck driver had his foot down – a brick came through the back window where Butch was sitting, into the back of his head.

That was a close call.

I remember that night we sat in the hotel room for about an hour picking glass out of his head with tweezers.

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Matt Pender is an old-school wrestling fan who currently lives in New Zealand. He is also a musical performer with his band OdESSA who can be investigated at the link above.