The Acolytes Protection Agency (APA) was a professional wrestling tag team who consisted of Bradshaw (John Layfield) and Faarooq (Ron Simmons). They wrestled for the American promotion World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (WWF/E) between October 1998 and March 2004.
Before forming the APA, Faarooq and Bradshaw were known simply as The Acolytes and went on to become a part of The Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness. As The Acolytes, they won two World Tag Team Championships in 1999, while feuding with X-Pac and Kane and the Hardy Boyz. After renaming themselves the Acolytes Protection Agency in 2000, they apopted the gimmick of bodyguards-for-hire to other wrestlers, and won a third tag team championship in 2001.
In 2002, the brand split also split the duo as the 2002 draft sent Faarooq to SmackDown and Bradshaw to Raw. As a singles competitor, Bradshaw had an extensive hardcore wrestling career, winning the Hardcore Championship on various occasions. The two reunited as a tag team in Ohio Valley Wrestling and then on SmackDown in 2003. The team again split in 2004 when Simmons was on-screen released by WWE; Bradshaw continued his singles career before retiring in 2009, and the group has made sporadic appearances afterwards, mostly in a non-competing capacity.
As single competitors in the World Wrestling Federation, Bradshaw and Faarooq's careers had stalled. WWF management then placed them in a tag team called The Hell's Henchmen managed by The Jackyl. Both men made their first appearance on TV as a team on the November 15, 1998 episode of Sunday Night Heat attacking 8-Ball, Skull and Paul Ellering as the D.O.A. came down to the ring for a match. The following week on Sunday Night Heat, The Jackyl came down to the ring as the duo interrupted a match and proclaimed Bradshaw and Faarooq to be his Acolytes. Both men made their official tag team debut on the November 30, 1998 episode of Raw is War, when they attacked Tiger Ali Singh and his manager, Babu, after Singh's match against Val Venis. The team was notorious for their intense and brutal beatings done during the ensuing matches. Afterwards, they won tag team matches against the team of Venis and The Godfather and the team of The J.O.B. Squad.
When The Jackyl left the WWF, the duo joined The Undertaker's new heel stable, the Ministry of Darkness. They debuted in Undertaker's Ministry on the January 11, 1999 episode of Raw, recruited Dennis Knight into the Ministry, giving him the name Mideon. After Undertaker's Ministry merged with The Corporation to form the Corporate Ministry, the Acolytes began a feud with X-Pac and Kane over the WWF World Tag Team Championship. The feud began on the May 30, 1999 episode of Sunday Night Heat with the Acolytes attacking X-Pac after his match against Big Boss Man. Their attack was to no avail, however, as Kane, X-Pac's tag team partner, came down to the ring to attack the Acolytes. Later that night, the Acolytes challenged X-Pac and Kane for a WWF Tag Team Championship match on the following Raw broadcast. The following night on Raw, X-Pac and Kane accepted the challenge. During the match, however, Shane McMahon, who was also a member of the Corporate Ministry, interfered in the match, causing Kane to chase McMahon to the backstage area. The situation allowed Bradshaw to hit X-Pac with a Clothesline from Hell into a pinfall, allowing the Acolytes to win their first WWF Tag Team Championship.
The Acolytes then began a feud with the Hardy Boyz, who had defeated The Brood at King of the Ring to become the number one contenders to the Acolytes' WWF Tag Team Championship. The feud intensified on the July 3, 1999 episode of Shotgun Saturday Night, when the Acolytes attacked the Hardy Boyz during a segment. On the July 5, 1999 episode of Raw, however, the Acolytes lost the WWF Tag Team Championship to the Hardy Boyz, after Jeff attacked Bradshaw with Michael Hayes's, the Hardy Boyz's manager, cane, and Matt delivered a Tornado DDT on Bradshaw into a pinfall. The Acolytes regained the WWF Tag Team Championship at Fully Loaded in a No Disqualification Handicap match against the Hardy Boyz and Hayes.
After regaining the championship, the Acolytes began another feud with Kane with various partners. On the August 8, 1999 episode of Sunday Night Heat, Kane teamed up with Road Dogg to face the Acolytes for the WWF Tag Team Championship, in a losing effort. The following night on Raw, Kane then teamed up with X-Pac to face the Acolytes in another championship match, in which X-Pac delivered a X-Factor to Faarooq into the pinfall, which meant that the Acolytes lost the title. The following week, they lost a rematch for the WWF Tag Team Championship. After losing their rematch, they won a Tag Team Turmoil match at SummerSlam to become number one contenders for the WWF Tag Team Championship but their title match against The Big Show and The Undertaker ended in a no-contest. After this, they feuded with the Dudley Boyz and defeated them at Unforgiven. The Acolytes then developed a gimmick as card players and beer drinkers, hustling many wrestlers and WWF employees out of their money.
After sporadic feuds, the Acolytes won a tag team battle royal at Armageddon against seven other tag teams to win a WWF Tag Team Championship match. They were unable to win the championship at Royal Rumble, as the New Age Outlaws defeated them, after Billy Gunn performed a Fame-ass-er on Bradshaw, after interference from X-Pac.
On the January 31, 2000 episode of Raw, the Mean Street Posse asked the Acolytes to protect them, which they refused to do, until the Posse offered to pay them. When they did, Bradshaw started the Acolytes Protection Agency (APA). Behind the scenes, the gimmick of the tag team was also created by John Layfield. To further enhance their gimmick, the APA began to appear weekly backstage in an office, dubbed the APA Office. After protecting many WWF superstars, the APA began a feud with Bull Buchanan and Big Bossman.On the April 10, 2000 episode of Raw, the APA protected Kai En Tai during a match, when they were attacked by Buchanan and Bossman. The APA, however, was unsuccessful in winning a tag team match against them at Backlash. On the May 18, 2000 episode of SmackDown, the APA were hired to protect Crash Holly for an hour, to prevent him from losing his WWF Hardcore Championship. After the hour was up, the APA left, allowing Gerald Brisco to pin Holly for the Hardcore Championship. The situation resulted in Holly challenging Bradshaw in a Hardcore match, which Bradshaw won. Later that week on SmackDown, Faarooq defeated Holly in a Hardcore match.
On the June 26, 2000 episode of Raw, the APA won a Tag-Team Battle Royal against seven other teams to earn an opportunity at the WWF Tag Team Championship. During the weeks leading up to Fully Loaded, Edge and Christian avoided defending the Tag Team Championship against the APA by challenging their opponents to one-on-one matches: on the July 10, 2000 episode of Raw, Edge defeated Bradshaw, while on SmackDown later that week, Christian was defeated by Faarooq. At Fully Loaded, the APA defeated Edge and Christian by disqualification but due to WWF rules, Edge and Christian retained the Tag Team Championship.
On the September 7, 2000 episode of SmackDown, the Dudley Boyz and the APA formed an alliance. The following week on Raw, the APA faced Right to Censor (Bull Buchanan and The Goodfather) in a losing effort. Then, on the September 18, 2000 episode of Raw, the APA come out to help the Dudley Boyz against an assault by all the members of the Right to Censor. At Unforgiven, The Dudley Boyz and the APA lost an Eight-man Tag Team match against Right to Censor.
After sporadic feuds through midway 2001, the APA were awarded a WWF Tag Team Championship match against the Dudley Boyz. On the July 9, 2001 episode of Raw, Bradshaw pinned D-Von to win their 3rd WWF Tag Team Championship. The following month on SmackDown, however, the APA lost the WWF Tag Team Championship to Kanyon and Diamond Dallas Page. After losing the Tag Team Championship, Faarooq was briefly absent, while Bradshaw pursued singles championships: on the September 27, 2001 episode of SmackDown, Bradshaw lost an WWF Intercontinental Championship match against Christian. On the October 22, 2001 episode of Raw, Bradshaw defeated The Hurricane to win the WWF European Championship. When Faarooq returned, Bradshaw lost the European Championship to Christian on the November 1, 2001 episode of SmackDown. At No Way Out, the APA won a Tag Team Turmoil match to win a WWF Tag Team Championship match at WrestleMania X8. The APA were unsuccessful in winning the Tag Team Championship on two occasions: on the February 28, 2002 episode of SmackDown and at WrestleMania X8.
On March 25, 2002, the APA were split up when the WWE roster was divided into the Raw and SmackDown brands. Bradshaw was drafted to Raw, while Faarooq was drafted to SmackDown. On the Raw brand, Bradshaw won the WWF Hardcore Championship eighteen times, and went back to his Blackjack Texan gimmick, while Faarooq - now wrestling under his real name - had a brief stint with the SmackDown brand, teaming with Reverend D-Von in a tournament to determine the newly-created WWE Tag Team Champions. In September 2002, Bradshaw was injured and was inactive for six months.
After their brief single careers, Bradshaw and Simmons reunited in WWE's former farm territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling, winning the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship on April 10, 2003. They vacated the OVW title when they returned to WWE television on the June 19, 2003 episode of SmackDown to assist The Undertaker in an ambush from the F.B.I. During their return, they revived their former gimmick of beer drinking and card playing segments in backstage areas. Bradshaw had a new look as he cut off his hair, shaven his goatee and went to his natural hair color. At Vengeance, the APA hosted a Bar Room Brawl, which Bradshaw won. On the September 4, 2003 episode of SmackDown, the APA were booked in a WWE Tag Team Championship match against the defending champions, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, which the APA lost. After sporadic tag team matches, the APA was once again booked in a WWE Tag Team Championship match at WrestleMania XX, in a Fatal-Four way tag team match also involving Haas and Benjamin, Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty, and the Basham Brothers, which Rikishi and Scotty won to retain the Tag Team Championship. On March 18, 2004, the APA angered SmackDown general manager Paul Heyman by mocking his being Stunned by Stone Cold Steve Austin the previous week; Heyman ordered them to face Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty with the APA's jobs on the line. After the APA was defeated, Heyman only fired Faarooq and told Bradshaw to worry about his own career, calling him a valued asset to the company and noting his role as a published author and a Fox financial analyst. While Bradshaw stayed, Faarooq left in disgust. The angle covered Simmons's real-life retirement from professional wrestling.
Three years later in 2006, Layfield also retired from professional wrestling, becoming a commentator for Friday Night SmackDown. Bradshaw returned as an active wrestler in 2008, on the Raw brand, while Simmons began cutting promos with his trademark catchphrase, "Damn!".
Simmons and Layfield reunited for Raw 1000 on July 23, 2012, when they provided protection for Lita during her brief match with Heath Slater. Layfield attacked Slater with a Clothesline from Hell, and after the match, Simmons simply said his trademark catchphrase, "Damn."
The APA again reunited on the January 19, 2015, episode of Raw (dubbed Raw Reunion due to numerous special appearances by various WWE Hall of Famers and Legends), alongside The New Age Outlaws, saving the New World Order (nWo) members from The Ascension, during which Layfield attacked Ascension member Viktor with a Clothesline from Hell.
Championships and accomplishments
- Memphis Championship Wrestling MCW Southern Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- Ohio Valley Wrestling OVW Southern Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment WWF European Championship (1 time) – Bradshaw WWF Tag Team Championship (3 times) WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2012) – Faarooq (as Ron Simmons)