Inducting The Bushwhackers into the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame is none other than their former flag bearer, Johnny Ace. Ace spent about six months with the duo while they were The Sheepherders in Florida Championship Wrestling. Dusty Rhodes thought that it would be good for the young Ace to learn under the experienced tag team.
It was Ace’s first big break in the business. The flag bearer was a vital part of their New Zealand heel gimmick.
They portrayed themselves as evil foreigners in a way that stoked xenophobia similar to an Iron Sheik or Nikolai Volkoff. Being a flag bearer for the team was a great opportunity for Ace to work as a truly hated heel. Rip Morgan and Jack Victory would also assume the roles of flag bearer for The Sheepherders.
Ace is more known to the current wrestling audience as a recent on-screen authority figure for WWE programming, John Laurinaitis (his real name). His most successful years in-ring were during his time in All Japan Pro Wrestling throughout the 1990s. Currently, he’s a producer and has had many backstage roles over the years.
Throughout most of the 1980s, The Sheepherders had made their names as a violent, hated, and nationalistic tag-team. The pair had gone from territory to territory proudly displaying their home flag of New Zealand while heelishly flushing maps of the United States down toilets.
So when they met with Pat Patterson and Vince McMahon about coming to the WWF as babyfaces they were more than skeptical. Butch Miller got into the face of Vince McMahon and told him, “If you can make these faces babyface, go for it.” Vince McMahon then looked to the fan-favorites of his company at that time to show them that it could be done.
“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and Hulk Hogan all were popular wrestlers who were not blessed with movie-star mugshots. Luke and Butch agreed to McMahon’s vision and signed to his company. Their style then changed from brutal to funny and their names changed from The Sheepherders to The Bushwhackers.
In 1994, The Bushwhackers faced off against the unlikely tag-team of Steve Urkel and Carl Winslow. The match happened on the popular 1990’s show Family Matters as Steve and Carl filled in as the Psycho Twins.
In the episode, the real Psycho Twins accidentally consumed Steve’s “snooze juice” which was designed to help police catch criminals. The Bushwhackers go out of their way to protect their green opponents until they find out that Carl is a cop.
Apparently Luke and Butch hate cops and the match turns real. After being tossed out of the ring onto Waldo and Eddie, Steve informs his pal that the match had turned dangerously real. Waldo, Eddie, and the entire audience poured into the ring as a full-scale riot ensued.
In one of the funniest Royal Rumble appearances in history, Luke made his way to the ring in typical Bushwhacker form for the 1991 event.
Earthquake would eliminate him in a short 3.9 seconds. The funny part about his elimination is he immediately resumed his Bushwhacker walk out of the arena. The crowd loved it. Even though Luke was recognized for years as having the shortest Royal Rumble time, the real record was actually held by The Warlord in the 1989 Royal Rumble.
Hulk Hogan eliminated him in 2 seconds in a record that would stand for around two decades. It’s unclear why WWE ignored the true record (along with two 3-second eliminations of Mo and Owen Hart in 1995).
Regardless of who was the record-holder then, the current and undisputed record now belongs to Santino Marella. His 1.5 second elimination in 2009 by Kane is the shortest time in Rumble history.
Vince McMahon had brought The Bushwhackers in as a comedic babyface team. Not only did their gimmicks change but their body of work did as well.
Dave Meltzer awarded them several times with the pro-wrestling equivalent of Hollywood’s Razzie Awards. In 1992 and 1994 the Wrestling Observer awarded them Worst Tag Team of both years. That award ran from 1994 until 2003 and had several otherl two-time “winners,” including Giant Baba and Andre The Giant (1990, 1991), The Godwinns (1996, 1997), and KroniK (2000, 2001).
Even though they were spared from the 1993 Worst Tag Team award, the Wrestling Observer recognized them in an equally unwanted category, Worst Worked Match of the Year. That match saw Butch and Luke teaming up with Men on a Mission to challenge Bastion Booger, Bam Bam Bigelow, and The Headshrinkers at the Survivor Series.
Originally, Bam Bam Bigelow’s team was advertised to challenge a team comprised of four Doink the Clowns. Instead, Moe, Mabel, Luke, and Butch all wore Doink wigs and facepaint. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x15mKDngU60 These years were a far cry from the violent Sheepherder brawls from a decade prior.
2. They Appeared In An Insane Clown Posse Music Video
http://youtu.be/-yt7UOyl8eM The Insane Clown Posse are no strangers to the wrestling community. They are the founders of the Juggalo movement and have had prominent roles ECW, WCW, and WWE at various points in the Monday Night Wars era. Considering the rap group’s love of wrestling, it should be no surprise that Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope would include The Bushwhackers in their 1998 song, “How Many Times.”
The video was pro-wrestling cameo heavy as The Honky Tonk Man and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine also are spotted in it. While this was a unique appearance for Luke and Butch their involvement in the video was surprisingly simple. They would just be seen in the background doing their trademark Bushwhacker arm movements.
The Bushwhackers had carried many title belts in many different promotions but never in the WWE. Detractors might view this as an argument against their Hall of Fame induction but Butch and Luke never saw it that way. Bushwhacker Luke once offered his opinion on never winning WWE gold, saying, “We were such characters that we didnt need titles to get over with the fans.
Titles go around waists of wrestlers who need them to catch the public eye and also give them that extra push.” The duo already had a well-established body of work prior to entering WWE. Even without a championship push they succeeded in getting over in the biggest wrestling company in the world.