The Sheepherders and The Bushwhackers were the same people, but that's where the similarities end.
The extremely violent Sheepherders team had a storied, full career before ever moving to the World Wrestling Federation. But once they made the jump, the change was stark.
"I’ve always had a different type of walk. Cut a long story short, I was born with pretty screwed up feet. If I’d been a horse, they would’ve shot me. But, luckily I wasn’t a horse and I said, ‘Hey, wait a minute! I’m okay! I can do it!” So, they didn’t shoot me. So, over the years I developed different ways to get around. The arms used to go a bit and everything. If you watch some of the old Sheepherder days, I used to fight back then with the arms swinging. Well, when we went to do the Bushwhacker thing and Vince says, ‘We want to turn you into babyfaces,’ and I said, ‘Wow.’ I hopped up on the bench, put my face about six inches from Vince’s face and I said, ‘Vince, if you can make babyfaces out of these faces and these heads, you go right ahead. We’re ready’ Cousin Luke will tell you the rest."
"Vince turned around and he said, ‘Look at the mugs on my top babyfaces. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan.’ He says, ‘They haven’t got the prettiest mugs.’ That’s what he said. When Butch says, ‘Go for it,’ of course, I had the old trainer’s thought. ‘Cause I had been in the business doing behind the scenes booking at that and right away I said, ‘Bring us in as heels and turn us babyfaces.’ I learned straight away then, you don’t tell Cesar what to do. If he says, ‘You’re coming in and I’m gonna make you babyfaces,’ that’s what he does. So, he brought us in for the next eight months and every week he brought us in for a day.
We cut small vignettes, you know, two minute movies, three minute movies. We cut so many each time we came in and he ran those on all his television. In those days, it was before the scandal in 1992. This was ’88, so it was before the scandal. So, he had about 190 stations like NBC, ABC, CBS and all around the country, plus he had the USA network and that. So, he ran these vignettes. There was no Monday Night RAW then. It was another show on Monday night. He ran these vignettes on all the shows. A lot of people said to us afterwards they didn’t know that it was us. Then the people that did the [wrestling], ‘How can you go from the Sheepherders, bloodiest tag team in North America to being two clowns in the ring?’ All we had to say was, ‘Money.’"
"We were businessmen. We knew this was a new break for us. Tell ‘em, Butch."
"Sean, don’t forget, we were both in our 40s then. I said to Luke, we went out to the ring one time, Vince never told us what he wanted, but he said, ‘I want something different.’ We started going out to the ring and started swinging the arms and even more than I normally do. When I saw that the crowd was reacting to it, huge, big-time, I said to Luke, ‘We’ve gotta swing the arms.’ He says, ‘Mate, I can’t. My shoulders are too sore.’ I said, ‘Listen here you bloody Kiwi bastard, I said ‘Swing your arms!’ You wanna make money? Swing ‘em brother!’
"So, what did Luke do? He started swinging those arms and getting with the rhythm, and we were matching. Well, the people got behind us something so big, that Vince absolutely loved it, Sean. He used to say, ‘You guys are great.’ He said, ‘I don’t need to have tag team belts on you guys. The people love you guys.’ They used to even put us on the last match of the show. No matter if it was in Madison Square Gardens or wherever, just to keep the people happy and send ‘em home happy with us marching around the ring going, ‘Whoa,’ ‘Yay!’ The hands raise, and everybody leaving the arena laughing and joking, going, ‘What a great night that was.’"
"I’m just going to say. Vince did say to us an idea. He says, ‘I want you to be semi-Sheepherders, semi-Moondogs.’ Now, ‘cause Moondogs had been there for five years, though gone, and the Sheepherders, we’d been in the Sheepherders for ten years by then. ‘Cause we were the Kiwis before that, the New Zealand Kiwis. He said, I want you to be a bit of each. Butch said to us, ‘The Moondogs have been on USA Network, the Kiwis have been on Ted Turner’s TBS network off and on for ten years. Let’s create something new.’ That’s how that whole thing came out."
"From day one, Sean, once we got those vignettes all showing after about eight weeks, we started. It was incredible. We’d get stopped in the concourses of the airports when we were rushing from plane to plane or whatever. A guy would stop us and have a conversation, we’d go, you know, you’d think he’d want to take a photo of us with him. There was no cell phones, just a normal camera. Anyway, he would be in a suit, he’d say, ‘Guys, I know you’re in a hurry, I just want to say from our family, ‘Thank you.’ You entertain us every night you’re on. I want to say, ‘Thank you. Keep doing it. You guys are the greatest.’ When you keep hearing that over and over and over again with nothing going on about, ‘Oh, what about this. Oh, what about blood and guts,’ then you realize you’re dealing with a whole different kettle of fish.
A whole different ballgame and, don’t forget, we didn’t have to take many bumps. There was no blood and guts. There was no fighting our way from the arena to the dressing room. There was no coming after our car and seeing our car’s poor tires slashed and the wind screens smashed and everything else. There was none of that. It was a blessing to do it."
You can see our full interview with the Bushwhackers above.