December 10, 2023

Iconic Kiwi pro wrestler Robert Miller of Bushwhackers dies, aged 78

Bushwhacker Butch Miller (left) with tag-team partner Luke Williams.

Kiwi professional wrestling star Robert ‘Butch’ Miller – one half of the ‘Bushwhackers’ – has died, aged 78.

Alongside Luke Williams, Miller formed one of the most memorable tag teams of the 1980s, as the then-WWF exploded in popularity across the planet.

Williams confirms Miller was hospitalised during the weekend in an Intensive Care Unit, due to a “situation with medication”, after arriving at Los Angeles for WrestleMania.

Known as the ‘Sheepherders’ before joining the WWE in 1988, the Bushwhackers quickly became one of the sports entertainment powerhouse’s most beloved duos, capturing the public imagination with their comical skits and trademark ‘Bushwhacker Walk’.

In 2015, the pair were inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame, recognising their 36 years at the top of the industry.

“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 a bloody redneck he was,” said Williams. “But he was also an all-around good guy and a great friend.

“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!”

Fellow wrestling legend ‘The Iron Sheik’ was among those paying tribute to Miller on social media.

After appearing on Kiwi wrestling show On The Mat in the 1970s, Miller and Williams relocated to the United States.

Wrestling as the ‘New Zealand Kiwis’, before becoming the Sheepherders, they fought in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), where they established a reputation for putting on violent matches.

In 1988, they were signed by Vince McMahon during his aggressive global expansion of the WWE, where they rebranded themselves as loveable country larrikins the Bushwhackers.

Miller is survived by wife Helen, daughters Sharon and Kirsten, and his grandchildren.

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