The Bushwhackers Are Bringing Action, Intensity And Fond Memories Back With Their Reunion Tour
The Bushwackers are getting back together.
Luke and Butch, collectively known as The Bushwhackers, recently announced they were officially reuniting and plan on touring the world to give back to their fans. The Bushwhackers (also known as The Sheepherders and Los Pastores) have only made three total appearances together in 20 years, one of which was at their WWE Hall of Fame induction in 2015.
The duo first teamed up in 1966 in their native New Zealand and wrestled together for 35 years. Butch was forced to retire as an in-ring competitor in 2001 after a neck injury and moved back to New Zealand while Luke is still an active wrestler today. The duo recently spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard about what finally brought them back together and how Butch got healthy again after going through a near-death experience.
Butch: “I was out of it for many years. Luke saved me on my deathbed. He was on the road, I rang him up, I said I can’t make it. It was just after 9/11 and the planes had just started flying again. And I said, ‘I feel really bad’ and he [asked] why? And I told him, I said ‘I don’t know, I can’t move my joints properly.’ Anyway he went, and very rarely would Luke and I ever miss going on the road together so he knew that obviously, I was in a real bad way if I said that I was sick. Not just injured, but sick.
“And he went away and luckily, he kept trying to ring my phone, I was living alone at the time. And I was unconscious for a couple of days. Luke kept on trying to get me, no answer. So I’m the end, thank goodness and thank God he decided I’ve got to go, and he told the promoter, ‘Sorry mate, I’ve got to drop this, something’s wrong with Butch, I got to go down there and check.’ So he flew down, he dropped everything, he flew down to Tampa, and he looked in the windows, there I was, he could see me on the bed, unconscious. He kept on banging, next minute he smashed his way into the house, thank goodness. Took one look, called the ambulance, they all came, and they said to Luke that this doesn’t look good. By the time they got me in the ambulance, I’d already gone once. On the way to the hospital, I’d gone again. And they brought me back each time.”
Butch went on to explain that his health issues were a result of his body being poisoned, explaining that his joints were in bad shape and his organs weren’t operating correctly because they were filled with pus. He said it took several years to get them working properly, and since then he moved back to New Zealand and got married. Soon enough, Butch fell ill again due to what doctors believed was residual from the first bout with the illness. He says he died in the ambulance and hospital again, but they brought him back “against all odds” and he’s years later, he’s finally in good health and spirits.
Butch: “All the fans gave beautiful notes wishing me well, sending me love, sending my prayers, it was unbelievable. And it was their encouragement that started to get me motivated and I could not get them out of my mind. Some of them had never met me and yet they were talking about me like I was their brother or sister or mother or father, and it was just an unbelievable time.”
“I felt that blood boil over, Bushwacker blood coming back through the veins, and I felt the arms starting to jiggle a little, the legs started to move a little and I thought, ‘Wow, we may be getting into something here.’ And with Luke’s encouragement, away we went. And then I said to Luke, ‘Mate, we’ve got to get this thing going again. We’ve gotta show the people what we really are about, give them back some love after this horrible year or so that we’ve had through this virus, everybody losing people left and right and center.’ And so we got back and now we’re not only prepared to show the world what the Bushwackers look like, but a lot of them have never heard of the Sheepherders. Never seen the Sheepherders, so now we don’t have any ties [to WWE]. We can be the Bushwackers, we can be the Sheepherders, we can be the Bushherders, we can be the Sheepwackers, we can be it all, Los Pastores! And so we’re ready to go round and say thank you guys for all that love and encouragement, and here we are and here you are. Let’s get along, baby. Woo!”
One of the things some fans might be surprised to find out, especially ones that only grew up on the WWF product, The Bushwhackers were at one time known as one of the most violent teams in the world. Luke said that it’s not only something fans might question, given their silly antics and fun personalities, but some wrestlers even questioned how they were able to make a successful career transition like they did.
Luke: “A lot of the wrestlers said to us, ‘how can you go from being one of the most violent teams to doing what you’re doing now?’, and of course we’ve been in the business so long and professionals, we said the money.” [laughs] “We went from being a ‘wrestler’ to a ‘personality’. Now mate, when the media put on Facebook and Instagram and all the media platforms that The Bushwackers are going in the hall of fame, we got knocked down to pieces. We got shot down. Those two clowns, they’d done nothing except come into WWE and be clowns.”
“Little did they know that we had wrestled Peter Maivia, who is The Rock’s grandfather. Butch even went to Samoa in  to wrestle against Peter for the 10th anniversary of their independence. We both wrestled him in Australia and New Zealand and of course, we wrestled the Rock’s father all over the world, Rocky Johnson. We wrestled a name of Stu Hart, Bret’s dad. We wrestled him in the early 70s. We wrestled a guy who sold out Madison Square Garden in the ’60s and ’70s and who trained the [Chyna] and Triple H, Killer Kowalski. [We wrestled] Sweet Daddy Siki, who’s got a documentary out at the moment. There’s names who I could go through that we wrestled that people had never heard of but in that era, they were on top of the mountain.”
Despite receiving some criticism about whether they’re “worthy” of the WWE Hall Of Fame, Luke and Butch were also memorable characters that brought passion and vigor to WWF TV. Luke noted that Vince McMahon himself praised them for being able to entertain in a new way. He explained it as “action all the time” with Butch adding they brought the intensity as well.
Any promoters looking to book Luke and Butch can contact them via [email protected]; they will only be available just for 2021.