WWE’s Untold series has almost quietly gone under the radar and become one of the more intriguing documentary series’ the company has on their streaming service. The most recent episode dives into the tag team that arguably best embodied the WWE’s Attitude Era, and that’s Faarooq (Ron Simmons) and Bradshaw (JBL), the APA, or Acolytes Protection Agency. The two men were big, strong, and had a no-nonsense style in the ring, but equally, they were famous for their backstage card games segments and authentic-looking bar fights, which judging from the documentary, were pretty legitimate at times. APA was quite simply a fun element of the Attitude Era, and that’s what this latest WWE Network offering is, fun.
The Untold episode kicks-off wonderfully, both in terms of style and content, as it offers a visual and verbal hook for the audience. Similar to how WWE separated their Icons series, they have their own unique presentation for Untold, which feels very different. Immediately, we’re privy to the film crew setting up while JBL and Simmons take seats in front of the trademark white background, engaging in fun small talk with the film crew. It’s a peek behind the curtain before the two members of the APA share stories that lift the wrestling curtain. Seconds later, we immediately jump into a hilarious story of the APA filming a bar fight at former WWE referee Timmy White’s bar. The duo explained how they legitimately destroyed everything, and the whole bar received a refurbishment courtesy of Vince McMahon. It’s such a fantastic intro as the presentation of Untold sucks you in, and then the action-packed story paints a vivid picture of who the APA were. Also, the humorous nature of the story sets the tone for the rest of the documentary.
There is a surprising, all be it necessary, amount of back-story for Simmons and JBL’s pre-WWE days (particularly Simmons’), and it felt more detailed than the Yokozuna documentary, which is impressive considering this is only thirty-three minutes, whereas Yoko’s story was over an hour. It does a nice job sprinkling all the themes of this story, such as race, brotherhood, and how Simmons and JBL were essentially always identical personalities with their almost parallel upbringings, as both men were amusingly introduced to wrestling by a grandparent, and both had stints as college football players. Ultimately, they both wound up in the WWE, and despite Simmons being highly regarded and the first-ever black World Champion, they were both in need of a new direction for their respective careers in late ‘98. The Acolytes, soon to be known as the APA, were then born.
Originally, the meaning behind The Acolytes was unknown, which Simmons and JBL made clear, as they did not seem certain about the nature of their characters early on. However, after their wild and enjoyable antics outside of the ring became painfully obvious to McMahon, the pair assumed the worst. So while they prepared to make plans for a move to Japan, they instead got the gift of bringing their drinking, card games, and nightlife antics to WWE TV. What follows this particular story is a series of fun snippets of APA accepting money to protect people, them forcing superstars to knock on their office door that had no surrounding walls, and a reminder of how little they wrestled during a portion of the Attitude Era, but in spite of that fact, they got “over” with the fans. It’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane for those that still fantasize about that era in wrestling and also a reminder of how entertaining the pair were amongst a supremely talented roster of superstars.
In documentaries such as this one, particularly WWE’s Untold series, there is more of a reliance on the actual interview footage as opposed to the external footage, so the need for a standout interviewee is critical. For this episode of Untold, that interviewee is none other than Ron Simmons. The WWE Hall of Famer still has a captivating physical presence and a dominating voice, and when he speaks, whether it’s a joke or an emotionally powerful story about APA not needing to be about racial equality, everybody listens.
Simmons’ engaging interviews are also where this documentary falls a little short. At only thirty-three minutes, there is only so much they can dive into various stages of the former WCW Champion’s career, and, of course, this documents the APA’s story and not Simmons’. So one can feel a little unfulfilled, as there is an increasing desire that builds up to learn more about Simmons’ life and career, and also more about his transition from the Nation of Domination to the APA.
Ultimately, even though it’s a little on the short side, it fulfils its purpose of sharing the relatively ‘untold’ tale of the APA. Much like the tag team had a ball on TV, fans will likely have a good time watching this. The thirty-three minutes fly by with plenty of enjoyable tales and a surprisingly emotional conclusion that has Simmons powerfully uttering the words: “I loved the partner I was with.”
WWE Untold: The APA is now available on the WWE Network.