The Shakedown: Bradshaw, Farooq make protection their business


Friday, June 30th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


According to the storyline, Bradshaw came up with the idea. He and his Acolytes partner, Faarooq (Ron Simmons), would be business partners in a protection agency. For a fee, they would be bodyguards for other WWF wrestlers. The Acolytes Protection Agency, or APA, would be the name of the business.

The former Abilene Christian All-American football player is a seasoned businessman. He carries the Investor's Business Daily and Barron's on flights. In hotels, he watches the stock ticker and financial news.

While Simmons, whose football jersey is retired alongside Deion Sanders' at Florida State, does fine financially, his next job isn't likely to be alongside Charles Schwab.

So why does this tag team work? Because they need beer money. The Shakedown caught up with both recently.

Q: Bradshaw is the business guy. Faarooq is the stoic one with the deep voice. Where is the common ground?

Ron Simmons: Don't let John fool you with his stocks. He's a wild one just like me. The roles we're in now are perfect for us because that's the way we are. The best characters are those that are extensions of your personality. This one fits us right on. John and I are likely to go to a bar together. We probably aren't going to get in many fights, but The Acolytes do.

John Layfield: We're really into these characters. It seems like we have found our niche and the fans seem to like it. The bar scenes are fun. The one we tore up in Providence was (referee) Timmy White's. Those scenes led to the APA, which Ron and I both are having fun with and we hope the fans are, too.

Q: What has made the APA so great are the commercials. Who comes up with these?

JL: It's funny because Ron and I don't know when we are going to do those. We just show up at the arena and that's when we find out what we're supposed to do. We'll see Vince (McMahon) and he'll let us know what's going on. But until then, we don't know. We aren't told beforehand very often.

Q: The APA has really been the vehicle for you guys to branch out. You were with The Undertaker and his ministry for a while. What has it been like to be on your own?

JL: First of all, Undertaker (Mark Callaway) is one of the best guys in the world. It was great to be with him. But this new role has really been good for us. These are natural characters for us. People can see that. Fans can see when you're comfortable in a character because that comfort and confidence will come across on TV.

RS: Being with Undertaker gave us some stability for a while. In wrestling, one day you're a clown and the next day you're a drag queen. From that standpoint, it was nice to come to work knowing that you were going to be playing the same role. That said, it was nice to move out and do something for ourselves. I think in this business you always want to see what you can do on your own. Like John said, these characters are close to our person. When it's natural like that, you're character will naturally come through.

Q: Both of you have been in the business a while and you both have mentioned various character changes. What do you think have been some of the bigger changes in the business in the last four to five years?

RS: The business has come to have a tremendous following. It's almost a circus-like atmosphere now. The television and money have made it that way. That is a good thing for the guys. It has become much more mainstream. I remember when I first came in, I would tell people I was a wrestler and would get a shrug of the shoulders almost like to say, 'Oh, that's great.' Now, it seems like it's much more acceptable to be a wrestler. You get recognized and, for me anyway, it's much more for being a wrestler than anything I did as a football player.

JL: The business appeals to such a wider pool of people now. We are still attracting the fans who want to see what we do in the ring, but we are also getting a large number of people who tune it for the entertainment element. For example, five, seven years ago, you wouldn't have people tuning it because they wanted to see an APA commercial. The "new fan," so to speak wants the entertainment value, and what goes on in the ring is only a part of that.

Q: Even though the business is moving toward entertainment, it seems the performers are getting more athletic. Both of you guys are former college football players. Do you think the guys are better athletes than in years past?

JL: I don't think there's any question about that. Look at Goldberg (in WCW.) He just shot up the ranks. He is a tremendous superstar. Anybody who comes out of nowhere and makes a name for himself that fast is unbelievable. Part of him being so successful was because he looked the part. He looked like he could come in there and take over. Much of that was because of his athletic background.

RS: Because of the money and the publicity now surrounding the business, you're getting a lot more people involved in wrestling. I said earlier that I get recognized as a wrestler now rather than a former football player. A lot of that is because there is a lot bigger pool of people who are trying to break into the business. As a result of that increase, those who are making it to the WWF or wherever is smaller. I think the business has become somewhat more athletic, but just because you're an athlete doesn't mean that this is for you because it's not for everyone. Someone like Goldberg is the exception. He made it. There are a lot of former athletes, guys who played college football, whatever, who didn't make it.

Q: Speaking of football, the WWF-backed XFL is starting up after next year's Super Bowl. Any chance of seeing you two involved?

JL: We'd like to be involved somehow. Obviously, we're not going to be players, but we would like to have a commentator's role or something like that. Ron and I have actually played in the last two (non-NFL) football leagues. He was in the USFL and I played in the World League. I think it would be great.

Q: If you get the XFL jobs, that would mean you would spend even more time together. Do you ever get tired of each other?

JL: Heck, yeah, I get tired of Ron. I travel with him, eat with him. I see more of him than I do my wife.

RS: Believe me, there are times you don't want to travel with John, especially when he's driving.

Q: When you guys are together on the road, what dominates the conversation? Does Ron beat you down with Florida State talk?

JL: Of course he does. Especially last year when they were on their way to winning the national title. I rooted for them, but, man, Ron talks about them a lot.

RS: That's because they win national titles. Those are my boys down there. I'm still close to Coach (Bobby) Bowden. He was like a second father to me. I still talk to him. So, naturally, I'm going to talk them up whenever I can.

RAW MOVING TO TNN

A Delaware judge ruled this week that USA Networks did not match Viacom's offer for WWF programming, paving the way for RAW and other WWF television shows to move to another network.

Effective in September, Sunday Night Heat will move to MTV, and RAW and the rest of the WWF's programming will move to The Nashville Network. RAW is expected to be the centerpiece of a planned re-launch of TNN this fall.

In addition to receiving $500,000 per RAW episode, Viacom will promote the WWF in its theme parks, on its radio shows and billboards and has plans for a drama series the WWF will produce. Viacom also received a 3-percent equity share in WWF Entertainment.

REAL-LIFE HARDCORE

So maybe Bob Holly really is hardcore. According to WWF.com, the former Hardcore Champion broke his arm at the Smackdown tapings Tuesday but continued until the finish of his match with Kurt Angle. Angle caught Holly with a knee in the upper left forearm. Holly said he knew the bone was broken but the adrenaline rush made him continue. The Big Shot had surgery Thursday to insert a plate and screws, which will be taken out in a year. He could be out as long as 10 weeks.

ON THE STONE COLD TRAIL

Stone Cold Steve Austin was at WWF headquarters in Stamford, Conn. this week, but he wasn't there to talk about his return to the ring. Austin was there to shoot a commercial in Jim Ross' kitchen for the WWF Cookbook, which is expected to be released later this year.

IN BOX

Q: I've heard a lot about "The Clique" and something about a curtain call at Madison Square Garden. Can you fill me in on how this is connected to HHH and Shawn Michaels?

- Dr. Apollon A. Constantinides Jr., Atlanta

A: The "Clique Incident" probably changed wrestling. It happened in early 1996, shortly before Scott Hall and Kevin Nash went to WCW. The two had announced they were leaving, and it was a real blow to X-Pac (Sean Waltman), Shawn Michaels and HHH (Paul Levesque), who were close friends and made up The Clique. With X-Pac out of town, Nash, then known as Diesel, and Michaels had planned to break character and hug after a match that ended a house show at Madison Square Garden. Vince McMahon warned that whoever did so would be fired.

After the match, Michaels and Hall hugged and HHH and Nash came out and hugged. Furthermore, Michaels and HHH wished The Outsiders well in Atlanta. McMahon was furious. It was the first time character had ever been broken in a public setting. Wrestling's inner workings were supposed to be a secret among those on the inside, but this group had brought it to the forefront. McMahon vowed that serious repercussions would follow.

The problem was that McMahon had few options. He couldn't fire Hall or Nash because they were leaving. He couldn't do anything to X-Pac because he wasn't at the show. Michaels was carrying the company, so he certainly wasn't going to be fired. HHH took the brunt of McMahon's anger and, though not fired, was buried on the card. That year he was scheduled to win the King of the Ring Tournament. Because of the incident, the push was delayed a year. Until his recent rise to the top, many feel HHH stayed at the bottom of the pile because of the incident.

Although HHH now admits his involvement may have been a mistake, The Madison Square Garden Incident, as it came to be known, created the spectacle of "sports entertainment" that wrestling has become. The inner workings are no longer a secret and promoters, including McMahon, are publicly open about things behind the scenes.

SIGN OF THE WEEK

NOTE: The Shakedown wants pictures of your best signs. E-mail pictures in jpeg format to The Shakedown and check in to see if your sign wins "Sign of the Week."

This week's winner appears at every WWF event. Usually it isn't quite this dramatic. Fans halfway up the lower section at Monday's RAW in Worcester, Mass. had a sign displaying their loyalties to The Rock. It read "The People's Section" and it took up almost the entire section. The sign was at least 25 feet long and almost 5 feet tall.

LINE OF THE WEEK

Winners here are ones that catch the audience off guard. Jim Ross' one-man commentary during the Jerry Lawler-Dean Malenko match on RAW certainly fits that category. As Lawler, Ross' broadcast partner, was performing in the ring, Ross let loose with several Lawler lines while making comments on the ladies "standing" at the top of the entrance ramp.

PINPOINTS

The WWF's move to TNN immediately affects ECW, which has a Friday night slot on the network. ECW has wanted out of its contract since early spring. Owner Paul Heyman has already had some discussions with USA executives. ECW's future could be decided in mid-July. ... Goldberg reinjured his right arm wrestling. He missed Tuesday's Thunder tapings and may miss Monday's Nitro. ... The WWF has begun broadcasting Tuesday's regular Smackdown tapings at its WWF New York complex. ... Ric Flair's father, Dr. Richard Fliehr died Sunday in Charlotte, N.C. ... The Rock will begin work late this year on another movie. He is expected to have the lead role in a science-fiction film Vince McMahon is helping produce ... The Undertaker will be getting married later this summer. ... For the last quarter, the WWF reported net earnings of $116.4 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $19.4 million. "It was a little better than expected," CEO Linda McMahon said. "But some of the earnings were offset by our investment in the XFL startup and legal fees associated with several other projects and an outstanding lawsuit."... Although WCW is going through significant changes on its business and production side, writer Vince Russo is still part of the company and could be back as early as the July 10 Nitro. He has been on a leave of absence. ... On Nitro on Monday, announcer Scott Hudson referenced Jim Duggan's football days at SMU. Duggan was an offensive lineman for the Mustangs from 1973-76 and team captain in '76. ... The Great Muta will be in Atlanta for at least six months and could be on Nitro on Monday.

MONK'S TOP 10

Rankings based on charisma, fan appeal and in-ring ability.

1. The Rock - WWF: Anyone else notice The Rock has strange infatuations?
2.
3. HHH - WWF: Please put him in program with Jericho.

3. Chris Jericho- WWF: About to see a star born.

4. Kurt Angle- WWF: A king with charisma and gold medals. It's true, it's true.

5. Chris Benoit - WWF: Heel attitude beginning to set in with fans.


6. Eddie Guerrero- WWF: Most underrated performer in the business.

7. Goldberg- WCW: Injury has some questioning dedication.


8. Rikishi Phatu- WWF: Venis feud bringing out hardcore personality.

9. Jeff Jarrett- WCW: Ah, yeah, WCW champ has belt for longer than a month.


10. Scott Steiner- WCW: Yelled at Terry Taylor Tuesday. Not exactly a team player.

Dropped Out: None

MONK'S BOTTOM 5

Ranking based on charisma, fan appeal and in-ring ability...or lack thereof.

1. 3 Count- WCW: Can't grab the remote fast enough

2. The Cat:- WCW: Can anyone understand what he's saying?


3. Big Bossman- WWF: Slowly beginning to be phased out.

4. Juventud Guerrera- WCW: Style is fine. Rock references make company look bad.

5. The Stooges - WWF: Stay one more week because of King of the Ring match.

Dropped out: Lex Luger (3)

MONK'S TOP 5 TAG TEAMS

Ranking based on charisma, fan appeal and in-ring ability

1. Edge and Christian- WWF: Already legendary heels ... in their own minds.

2. The Acolytes- WWF: Beer drinking duo moves to No. 1 contender.


3. The Dudleys- WWF: Feud with DX does nothing for them.

4. Too Cool- WWF: Still hilarious to watch.

5. Kronic- WCW: Butt kickers making waves in WCW.

Dropped out: The Hardys (5)

Cody Monk, the CEO of HiTEX! Enterprises, is the webmaster of www.mustangmaniacs.com and www.footballwriters.com. You can e-mail Monk at cmonk@dallasnews.com