Robert Miller, better known as Bushwhacker Butch, has died at the age of 78. Butch arrived in Los Angeles for WrestleMania weekend, but upon his arrival, he ended up in the ICU due to an illness from a medication of his.
Brian Wickens or Bushwhacker Luke let people know of Butch’s illness to Mac Davis at Wrestlecon.
“I’m so excited, I’m waiting for the fans to come in, and pumped up. But there’s a sad part of the story. My partner Butch is in the hospital. He’s in the ICU ward in the local hospital next door over situation with his medication. He flew in from New Zealand on Wednesday. He was all good Friday morning. He was incognito. I ask for some prayers for him out there. Get him out and get him back in action right here in LA.”
Butch’s family launched a GoFundMe in order to help with his medical bills, and were seeking $100, 000. “Please help us help Bushwhacker Butch Miller and his family to cover his medical bills and needs. Everything little amount counts. Let’s all show our love to a face only a mom can love,” the GoFundMe page states.
Butch became a WWE Hall of Famer in 2015, alongside his tag team partner Luke. They started off as The Kiwis, became The Sheepherders and then famously ended their careers as The Bushwhackers. They may very well be the most famous wrestlers to come out of New Zealand.
“Both of them could wrestle. They knew the psychology of the ring, they knew how to get people into the ring over a top wristlock. They didn’t have to chop meat all day long,” said longtime Portland mainstay Dutch Savage.
Luke and Butch famously spent a lot of time in western Canada, where they were known as The Kiwis wrestling for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling. The Sheepherders came to be when they started travelling the world and even spent time in the NWA. It was when they joined the WWF in 1989 that The Bushwhackers were born, and they went from the blood-thirsty men from New Zealand to goofy and loving babyfaces.
In Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams by Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson they wrote, “The Sheepherders began getting more and more of a reputation for bloodbaths and uncontrolled violence in the ring. ‘Wild antics, which led to riots in Boston, are combined with scientific skill and technique to make mutton out of all of the ‘dirty American dogs and slimy wetbacks’ who cross the Sheepherders’ path,’ described George Napolitano in his Pictorial History of Wrestling.”
No matter the gimmick, they won a multitude of titles all over the world and Luke shared a message about the loss of his friend.
Late last night, I lost my friend, brother and tag team partner of over 50 years with the passing of Bob “Butch” Miller. My heart goes out to his wife Helen, his lovely daughters Sharon and Kirsten and all of his grandchildren. From the early-1970s when we were young mates wrestling for John da Silva in New Zealand, my first impression of Bob “The Chest” Miller (as he was called in those days) was that he was a first-class redneck, and what bloody redneck he was! But he was also an all-around good guy and a great friend. By the time we reached our mid-20s, we found ourselves traveling the world together, from New Zealand to Australia to Malaysia, Singapore and Japan, before “invading” the North American territories in Canada and the United States as The Sheepherders. In 1988 we were in our 40s and still at the top of our game when we got a call from the offices in Connecticut with an offer to join the largest and fastest growing wrestling promotion in the world, the WWF/E- The Bushwhackers were born! As The Bushwhackers we appeared in the largest venues in the world, in front the the biggest crowds professional wrestling had ever seen! And we were eventually honored by our fans and peers with our inclusion in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015 and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2020. We did it all, we saw it all, and we accomplished it all together. This past weekend in Los Angeles, Bob flew in from New Zealand to join me for Wrestlemania weekend and the related festivities, neither of us knowing it would be our last days together and his last days of life. If you were to read the story of my life it would say that I am only child, but it would be wrong. In life I had a brother and his name was Bob Miller. I love you, Bob. Until I see you again, WOOOOAHH YEEEEAAHH!
The team did win a lot of titles, but during their six years, in the WWF they did not get a single chance at the tag titles. They left the WWF in 1996, so Butch and Luke could open a restaurant together.
On top of being WWE Hall of Famers, they were also inducted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2020. The Bushwhackers gained a lot of respect over the years and Brian Knobbs looked at them as more then they were portrayed. “You can’t even say a comedy team. Them two, the Bushwackers, are the toughest sons-of-bitches I’ve wrestled. I used to hit Luke and I hit Butch, and there’s a little bit of age difference there, and I’ll tell you one thing, they never complained, they never did anything. They went out there and they did their thing. The people loved them. It was an enjoyable time wrestling them.”
Butch actually came close to death back in 2001 due to a staph infection, but it was his tag team partner Luke saving his life. “THANK GOD FOR LUKE, for wondering why I wasn’t picking up my phone, called into my place on his way home & found me still laying on my bed, swollen like hell, completely dehydrated, sky-high temperature etc. Thanks to my partner, I’m still here to talk about it,” said Butch.
In an interview from 2004 with Dion McCracken, Butch said his time on the road with his tag team partner was the best of his life. He recalled the fun they had and one of his favorite jokes he got to pull on Luke. “I’ve always been a bloody prankster,” Butch said. “I remember this one time, Luke was ready to go out on a big date that he was real excited about. I hid his teeth and put a Vending Machine in front of his door.”
As a jokester, a vicious heel or a fan-favorite Bushwhacker; Butch will go down in wrestling history as one of the most iconic tag team wrestlers of all time.
No further details about the cause of death have been released at this time.
TOP PHOTO: Left, the Kiwis in 1973 in Montreal. Photo Jimmy Caruso. Right, the Bushwackers in a WWE promo photo.
Files from Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson