If one act summed up WWF wrestling in the early 1990’s, it was Luke and Butch. With infectious toe-tapping entrance music and unique characters and personalities, The Bushwhackers certainly were one of a kind.
To be inducted by: John Laurinitis
It wasn’t always the comedic antics, face-licking and Bushwhacker Walking to the ring though, as any observers of Luke Williams and Butch Miller pre-WWF will attest to. Barbed wire cage matches and blood-soaked battles were a staple of the rivalries that they contested across America in the 1980s, such as the 37 – yep, 37 – barbed wire cage matches they had during their time in the UWF.
But it was when they signed with the WWF that they finally achieved worldwide attention. Things would need to change though…
So out went the bloodletting and brutality and in came the babyface antics that they would go to be famous for. At the time of their debut, Vince McMahon had begun the national expansion of the WWF and needed colourful and unique characters who would appeal to different markets; Luke and Butch certainly filled the quota. Match quality was not essential, the crowds were not coming to the arenas for five-star matches, they were coming to be entertained. And the Bushwhackers did that.
It did not take long for them to become a solid, mid-card tag-team, making their WrestleMania debut several months after their debut, defeating The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, and regularly appearing on WWF TV. Much of the ‘Whackers first year was spent feuding with The Bolsheviks and the Rougeaus, while also being used to establish the newly-signed Orient Express.
1991 saw a more consistent use of Luke and Butch in the WWF storylines, being involved in the match that saw the formation of the Natural Disasters. They also started what would end up being a near 18-month on/off rivalry with the Beverly Brothers, which saw the two teams clash on TV and PPV. This would be the last real feud that the team had however, with appearances becoming more infrequent going into 1992, with dark match spots becoming the closest they got to PPV. From 1993 onwards, they became the go-to guys to put other teams over, though still remaining popular at the live events.
After a six-month absence in late ’95/early ’96, the Bushwhackers returned to WWF TV for the final time, losing early on in a tournament to crown new Tag-Team champions. And on September 14, the Whacker Era was over as they made their last WWF appearance.
They were never going to be pushed to the top of the tag-team division and given the titles; they rarely found themselves in championship matches to even have a chance. But they were dependable and over with the crowds enough that when they were put on duty to make another team look good, they achieved what they went out to do. They did their jobs.
Yes, the Bushwhackers won’t go down in history as one of the great tag-teams. But in a character-driven era, they held their own unique place and entertained the market that the company was targeting. After an unprecedented 36 years together as a tag-team, they deserve their plaudits and they will get the ultimate honour when they take their place alongside the greats in the WWE Hall of Fame.