WWE Network Review – WWE Untold: APA (Faarooq and Bradshaw)

The documentary begins with a behind the scenes look at John Bradshaw Layfield aka JBL and Ron Simmons aka Faarooq setting up for the interview. They talk about the Bar Fights at the Friendly Tap, which was owned by former WWE referee Tim White. We see highlights of the barroom brawl where they destroyed everything after Tim White told them to…since Vince McMahon paid the repairs and replacement. JBL reveals they had one take to complete this since it was a live shot and even remembers putting Bull Buchanan through the wrong wall since they had a fake wall set up for the spot.

Ron Simmons begins speaking about the hardship he experiences growing up in which his mother died when he was eight years old and his father abandoned him. Growing up in Warner Robin, Georgia, Simmons did not live with his siblings after his aunt took them. Instead, he stayed with his grandmother, who was a big fan of professional wrestling and named Bob Armstrong as one of her favorites. JBL spoke about growing up in Sweetwater, Texas where football was huge but watched wrestling with his grandfather, aspiring to be a world champion. Simmons says baseball was his first love but went to football after his coaches saw him being better for that sport. Ron went on to play Florida State University where he was a big star and later on inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. We see a clip of JBL from 2002 talking about his high school football career, making the All-State team, then All American. Simmons spoke about being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round, but his football career not working out. Simmons played in the USFL where one of his teammates was Lex Luger. Seeing Luger have success in the wrestling business, he gave Luger a call which led to a tryout. At the time, there were not many black wrestlers in the industry. Working his way up to the top, he was enthralled to be working with superstars like Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat. His next dream happened in 1992 when Bill Watts decided to have him challenge for the WCW Heavyweight Championship. He wondered about Bill Watts’ decision when the WCW executive said “Why not him?”. We see the clip of Simmons beating Vader for the WCW World Championship and adds that Watts’ words stayed with him because Watts did what other promoters did not and that was to put the World Championship on a black superstar. Simmons would conclude that anyone who says winning the title does not mean anything is lying because the championship means everything.

As for Bradshaw, he hung around pro football for a little, and then the World League before getting cut. Believing he was young enough to be a professional wrestler, Bradshaw started wrestling in Texas, then Japan, and even moved to Europe for a couple of years before finally making it to the WWE in December of 1995. He recalls the first-time meeting Vince to go over the Justin Bradshaw character and adding Hawk to his name just in case he were to be fired and would have to go back to Japan. Bradshaw would explain feeling lost and believing he did not belong in WWE after watching Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 12.

Back to Ron Simmons, because of contractual difficulties, he left WCW and was brought into WWE by Michael Hayes. Simmons was given the Faarooq character by Vince. Simmons described the difficulty of wearing the blue leather helmet and wanting to get out of the character. However, rather than crying about it, Simmons took on the challenge and worked on it until he went into the Nation of Domination. JBL talks about him and Simmons having a lot in common with wrestling and football and traveling together even before becoming tag team partners. Their personalities matched with Simmons believing it could not have been a better match between the two of them.

JBL believes he and Simmons were put together because they were floundering and made their debut on Sunday Night Heat, in which The Jackyl, better known as Don Callis, introduced The Acolytes. JBL was not sure what the Acolytes were from what and talked about drawing Teletubbies on Simmons’ chest just to make him laugh. JBL says Simmons had a presence to him in the ring which helped him a lot. Simmons acknowledged that they worked “stiff” which JBL knew they were going to receive receipts for. They then discuss the Public Enemy incident. They found it disrespectful by Public Enemy to show up late and then refusing to do a table spot finish. Simmons says since Public Enemy did not want to take the table spot, they took the table to them. JBL says he and Simmons never bitched about anything and just wanted to have fun after the match. We see a clip of The Acolytes winning the Tag Team Championship for the first time (on May 25, 1999, episode of Raw), defeating Kane and X-Pac. Simmons explains that winning the tag team title brought them even closer together.

Bradshaw then told the story about a time in Philadelphia when he got messed up for his birthday in which Vince and Shane sent him back to his Red Roof hotel with a limo. Simmons thought they were going to get fired but instead, Vince wanted them to drink on TV because he loved it. They show a segment where the Mean Street Posse pay the Acolytes to protect them which they then became the APA (Acolytes Protection Agency). They told the story behind the door which they were going to build a wall around but Simmons did not want it. They mention top superstars and celebrities in their segment which Bradshaw says were one hundred percent them.

Bradshaw discussed a time when WWE wanted to make their team about racial equality which Simmons refused because he wanted their team to be about two guys. Simmons did not want his team to be about race, only about two friends, and even recalled a time when a TSA agent called them “twins”. Simmons brought up his “DAMN” catchphrase which he would say on the regular. Both men would praise the Dudley Boyz, saying they had a great time working with Bubba and D-Von, who also worked stiff. Bradshaw says he would have been happy being an APA member for life, but Simmons knew nothing lasts forever.

While Ron was getting ready to retire in early 2004, Bradshaw was upset his friend was going to be written off the television. Ron says he had a great 6-7 years with Bradshaw but knew his best friend had a few years left in him as a singles guy. We see the segment when APA split apart after Simmons was fired and with Bradshaw staying behind. Then we see the introduction of the JBL character in March 2004, which Bradshaw says he cannot quantify what Simmons means to him. Bradshaw remembers Simmons telling him he will be world champion one day. Simmons says it was great to see the success of Bradshaw whom he cared about him so much. Bradshaw believes you can learn to be a champion from a lot of people but not too many can teach you how to be a man, which Ron has taught him.

We see Simmons’ WWE Hall of Fame introduction in 2012, which JBL says he knew he was doing something historic. Simmons says being a tag team with Bradshaw is right next to him being World Champion. In his Hall of Fame speech, Simmons says while he did not grow up with brothers, he thanked Bradshaw for filling the void he had. Simmons concludes that he “absolutely loved the partner he was with” whom he called his brother.

Aneil’s Take: Another great WWE Untold, this time, about the APA. It was amazing to see how their journeys led them to become close friends and finding great success as a team. You had Ron Simmons from Georgia who played football, then went to WCW, became the first African American World Champion, and then went to WWE. You had Bradshaw who also played football in Texas, traveled the world to pursue a wrestling career, and then made it to WWE.

From this documentary, you can tell how much respect and genuine love both men have for each other. Bradshaw was the brother Ron Simmons never had while Ron was the mentor Bradshaw needed to help him learn and grow. The one thing I found interesting was both men admitting they were stiff in the ring. While they had the reputation for working stiff they seem to take pride in their physical style. This was a great watch that I would recommend.