WF: Hello Luke. First of all: thanks a lot for taking your time for Wrestlingfever.de.
It is an honour for us, and we all hope, you are well.
WF: It was back in 1964, that you started to wrestle. Shortly after you were already working for Stu Harts “Stampede Wrestling“, with your friend Butch at your side.
Which memories do you have, regarding that time in general and about Stu Hart particularly?
Mate, we first came over to North America in 1972 and worked for Grand Prix Office in Montreal which ran 3 shows a night around Quebec, Ontario and Burlington in the US. Mid 1973 we made our way to Calgary and started working for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling. I have many stories to tell from that promotion but this interview would become a Bible as this was the Territory of “RIBS”. And some real notorious ones that are told all over the world. Stu and the Dungeon was also notorious as he would get the boys to get on there hands and knees, then he would apply the hold and tell them to fight out of it. He was a strong salty bastard and Butch and myself loved him. We had many Sunday dinners at his home.
WF: You, being from Australia, were being named “The Kiwis“. Who in the blue hell was so “creative“ to come up with that name?
Mate, We are from New Zealand and the nickname for people from there is “KIWI’S”. Got that mate. It comes from a bird in New Zealand that lays the biggest egg for its size and there is not many of them left. I don’t want to give you a history lesson mate.
WF: In the mid-70´s, you won your first gold in Stampede Wrestling. Something, you never accomplished in WWE. What do you think were the reasons for that? The Fans really loved you, and winning the Tag-Team Titles is something that sure should have been possible during your WWE stint.
Mate, here we go again with history. Before winning the Stampede World Belts in 1973 we had numerous Tag Titles strapped around our waist. New Zealand, Australasian, Singapore, South East Asian and the list goes on. 37 different Tag Titles mate. Now to your question. We were such characters that we didn’t 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.
WF: A little later, about 1989, you finally were to be seen at WWE. This meant an international TV-Spot, and a high level of awareness. How did you guys handle it? Suddenly being famous?
Mate, It was around Sept 1988 that we made the transition from NWA to WWE (then WWF) We had been on Ted Turners Satellite TV, TBS since around 1981 so most of the US who had TBS in there cable package had seen us as the hard core heel team of “THE SHEEPHERDERS“. NWA was a Wrestling Company where as Vince McMahon (WWE) made you into Celebrities. It was a monster change for us as we went from the Bad Guys to the Comical Loved Ones which were seen all over the World. We took advantage of this and created a new gimmick which the fans loved and we moved forward. A lot of the USA fans didn’t recognize us at first as they were used to seeing us as the anti American Bad Guys and couldn’t believe the change in our personalities.
WF: In the 90´s, you were to be found on the midcard. That led to matches that sometimes were more of a comedy act, than actual wrestling. How did you handle that?
Mate, a good card is made up from many different characters. You have a wrestling Title match, A rugged semi hardcore match. Your Xtreme guys who are lighter and do all the high flying matches, an exceptional character match (A gay gimmick or the other extreme, Jim Duggan for example) your Diva’s match and your comical match and that’s was where we came in. A card like this doesn’t bore the fans.
WF: Didn’t you sometimes have the desire to work as a heel?
Mate, heeling is what we did best but Vince wouldn’t change us back to the Bad Guys
WF: Looking back… would you have preferred some more serious matches?
Mate, we had a good run in WWE as what we were doing as they had a lot of serious wrestlers and i wouldn’t be still remembered as well as i am now. The Tag Team that “Marched” around and “Licked” peoples heads and ate Sardines
WF: 1994 was the last time, you worked for WWE. Did you and WWE both agree on that, or have you been fired?
Mate, we were off WWE tv doing promotional pre-tour work Internationally for the Company and then working on these tours. Our last matches for the WWE were in late 1996-7. We came back in 2001 for the Gimmick Battle Royal at Wrestlemania in Houston.
WF: In 2007, The Bushwhackers were back on the TV-Screen, this time, working for TNA. This product now is existing for a couple of years, and we would like to hear your opinion about TNA and your time in that federation.
I worked for TNA in a Christmas Skit as an uncle for Eric Young. I was hoping that when Hulk came aboard TNA, the company would get a shot in the Arse but it just fizzled. WWE has the biggest stage in the world in the wrestling industry and to me and i would say most of the fans out there, it would take a major disaster to knock Vince from the Top spot in this market as there is no one near him on that ladder.
WF: Then, in 2008, you were working for one of the most popular Indy-Promotions, “Ring of Honor“. We saw you in a rumble, from which you have been eliminated by the Necro Butcher. What are your memories about that Event?
Mate, I have worked numerous times in 2008-9 for that company and think they have a great product in there niche. A very exciting company that in time will have the second slot in the USA market. As you can see, most of the top TNA Stars come from ROH and also WWE is taking there talent now. CM Punk, Bryan Danielson and Tyler Black.
As for that Battle Royal, I was topped by their Hard Core Brute, Necro Butcher. Nothing more i can say to that.
WF: Butch had to end his career for health reasons. Are you guys still having contact? How is he, and what is he doing nowadays?
Due to a bad staph infection, the Tag Team of the Bushwhackers ended in mid 2001, Butch retired and went home to New Zealand to be with his daughters and grand children. I try to talk to him every month if not weekly. He’s retired, remarried and living in a beach township just outside of the capital city Wellington where we were both born.
WF: If you look back at your career… is there anything, you would have done differently, if you had the chance, or would you do everything just the way you did?
Mate, as you grow older you grow wiser. I didn’t fully understand the USA wrestling market as I was from a little Island in the southern part of the South Pacific with a population of only 3 million people. Next minute I am living in a country USA with over 3 hundred million people. I made a lot of mistakes down that road. For example, in 1981 leaving NWA office in Charlotte after only being there for 4 or 5 months and we were getting a heavy push, not realizing that we were on National TV, (TBS) which would help us to get a household name, but being green to the promotional side of the business we left to go to Puerto Rico to only work 4 days a week with an 8th of the travel. In NWA we were working 7 and sometimes 8 times a week, doing approx. 3,000 miles a week in a car.
WF: Luke, I guess there were plenty of funny road stories during your time in WWE. Would you mind telling us one or two?
Mate, The Marble Rib which i think started in the Hart’s Territory and this incident happened while i was there. A guy came into the promotion and had a bit of an attitude. One of the Hart Brothers set up a party after one of there shows on the road. We all went back to this house which was plentiful of woman. One of these charming ladies came onto the dude with the attitude and split the party room for a room more intimate (bedroom). The dude thought he was into the ride of his life and she had him down to his birthday suit (nude) when a guy burst into the room with a gun in his hand, claiming the woman to be his wife. The gun went off, whether a blank or real bullet and the dude in the nude high tailed it leaving most of his clothes there. He was never seen again in the promotion.
WF: Finally, I´d like to give you a few names of co-workers, colleagues or friends of yours, and I would like you to give a brief comment on them.
– Roddy Piper:
Great guy as Butch and my self spent a year working against him and his partner and were in many promotions with him.
– Jerry Lawler
Was around him in the Mid South Promotion (Jerry Jarrett) and did some great business with him. Also in WWE where he is the one of the commentators and does a bloody good job. Humorous and a good Artist.
– Mean Gene Okerlund
He is the best at what he does. Interveiws and skits. Very witty and sharp. If you are lost for words, Gene is right there for you.
– Bam Bam Bigelow
Didn’t have much to do with Bammer RIP. He was easy to get along with, a hard worker, one of the boys and had a great match with Football Star Lawrence Taylor at a Wrestlemania in New York City.
– The Moondogs
Mate, only ran against them once as a team in the Memphis Coliseum and that was a Hardcore Battle.
Mate , we were more than brothers as we left New Zealand as a Tag Team in 1969 the first time and i would say spent 25 years or more on the road together. We had our differences a couple of times but were always in the ring working as a team.
WF: Thank you very much for your interview, Luke! Take Care and be safe!