The Acolytes Protection Agency (APA), was a professional wrestling tag team that consisted of John "Bradshaw" Layfield and Ron "Faarooq" 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 as the Hell's Henchmen and were later a part of The Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness as The Acolytes. As The Acolytes they won two World Tag Team Championships in 1999 while feuding with Kane and the Hardy Boyz. After renaming themselves the Acolytes Protection Agency in 2000, they functioned as bodyguards to other wrestlers, and won a third tag team championship in 2001.
In 2002, the duo was split during the brand extension, where Simmons went to SmackDown!, as Bradshaw went 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 released by WWE; Layfield continued his singles career.
Hell's Henchmen (1998)
As single competitors in World Wrestling Federation, Layfield's (under the name of Bradshaw) and Simmons' (under the name Faarooq) careers had stalled. WWF management then placed Bradshaw and Faarooq in a tag team called 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. Both men would make their official tag team debut on the November 30, 1998 edition of Raw, where they attacked Tiger Ali Singh and his manager, Babu, after Singh's match against Val Venis. Afterwards, they won tag team matches against the team of Venis and The Godfather and the team of the J.O.B. Squad.
The Acolytes (1999–2000)
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 edition of Raw, where they recruited Dennis Knight into the Ministry, giving him the name Mideon. After Undertaker's Ministry merged with the The Corporation to form the Corporate Ministry, the Acolytes began a feud with X-Pac and Kane over the WWF Tag Team Championship. The feud began on the May 30, 1999 edition of Sunday Night Heat, where the Acolytes attacked X-Pac after his match against The 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, which began at King of the Ring where the Hardy Boyz defeated The Brood to become the number one contenders to the Acolytes' WWF Tag Team Championship. The feud intensified on the July 3, 1999 edition of Shotgun Saturday Night, where the Acolytes attacked the Hardy Boyz during a segment. On the July 5, 1999 edition 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 edition 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, where 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 number one contendership for the WWF Tag Team Championship at SummerSlam, where they won a Tag Team Turmoil match. They were unable to regain the WWF Tag Team Championship, as their match against The Big Show and The Undertaker went to a no-contest. After this, they began a feud with the Dudley Boyz, which ended at Unforgiven where they defeated the Dudley Boyz. After their feud with the Dudley Boyz, the Acolytes began a gimmick as card players and beer drinkers, where they hustled many WWF superstars/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, where the New Age Outlaws defeated them, after Billy Gunn performed a Fame-ass-er on Bradshaw, after interference from X-Pac.
Acolytes Protection Agency (2000–2002)
On the January 31, 2000 edition 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). In reality, the gimmick of the tag team was created by Bradshaw. 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 The Big Bossman. The feud began on the April 10, 2000 edition of Raw, where Buchanan and Bossman attacked the APA during a match, where they protected Kaientai. The APA, however, was unsuccessful in winning a tag team match against them at Backlash. On the May 18, 2000 edition 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 edition of Raw, the APA won a Tag-Team Battle Royal against seven other teams to win a WWF Tag Team Championship match. During the weeks leading up to Fully Loaded, Edge and Christian avoided defending the Tag Team Championship against the APA. On July 10, 2000, the APA were scheduled to face Edge and Christian for the Tag Team Championship, but Edge announced that he would face Bradshaw one-on-one in a match, which Bradshaw lost. Later that week on SmackDown!, Edge and Christian were scheduled to defend their Tag Team Championship against the APA, but they again made a one-on-one match, where Christian was defeated by Faarooq. At Fully Loaded, the APA won the Tag Team match by disqualification; due to WWF rules, Edge and Christian retained the Tag Team Championship. On the September 7, 2000 edition 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 edition of Raw, the Dudley Boyz also lost to Buchanan and The Goodfather. After the match, all the members of the Right to Censor (Buchanan, The Goodfather, Steven Richards, and Val Venis) attacked the Dudley Boyz, which resulted in the APA coming out to help the Dudley Boyz, as a part of their alliance.The Dudley Boyz and the APA were then booked in an Eight-man Tag Team match against Right to Censor at Unforgiven, which Right to Censor won via pinfall.
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 edition of Raw, where Bradshaw pinned D-Von to win the 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 their loss of the Tag Team Championship, Faarooq was briefly absent, while Bradshaw began to pursue singles championships, like on the September 27, 2001 edition of SmackDown!, where Bradshaw lost an WWF Intercontinental Championship match against Christian. On the October 22, 2001 edition 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 edition 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 edition of SmackDown! and at WrestleMania X8.
Initial separation (2002)
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, while Faarooq had a brief stint with the SmackDown! brand, teaming with Reverend Devon in a tournament to determine the newly created WWE Tag Team Championship.
Return to SmackDown! (2003–2004)
After their brief single careers, Bradshaw and Faarooq reunited in WWE's former farm territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling, winning the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship on April 10, 2003. They vacated the Tag Team Championship when they returned to WWE television on the June 19, 2003 edition of SmackDown!, where they assisted 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. At Vengeance, the APA hosted a Bar Room Brawl, which Bradshaw won. On the September 4, 2003 edition 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 Hotty won to retain the Tag Team Championship. On March 18, 2004, SmackDown! general manager Paul Heyman forced the APA to face Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty after they mocked his being Stunned by Stone Cold Steve Austin the previous week, with the added stipulation that "If you lose, you will be fired". After they were defeated, Heyman clarified that he would only be firing Simmons, not both men as he implied. He then told Bradshaw to worry about his own career, claiming that as a published author and a Fox financial analyst he was a valued asset to the company. Bradshaw opted to stay, and Faarooq left in disgust. In reality, Simmons retired from professional wrestling, which was covered up in the storyline as an on-screen firing. Three years later in 2006, Layfield retired from professional wrestling, becoming a commentator for Friday Night SmackDown!. Layfield returned as an active wrestler in 2008, on the Raw brand, while Simmons began cutting promos with his trademark catchphrase, "Damn".
Sporadic reunions (2007 & 2012)
The APA also had a brief return on the 1000th episode of Monday Night RAW when they would help Lita in her match against Heath Slater.
- Finishing tag team moves
- Signature tag team moves
- Bradshaw's finishing moves
- Faarooq's finishing moves
- "Protection" by Jim Johnston
Championships and accomplishments
- World Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Entertainment