Believe it or not, I consider Ron Simmons to be one of the most underrated workers in the WWF today. Simmons, known today as Faarooq, one half of the Acolyte Protection Agency, gives great interviews, can be carried to very watchable matches, and his facial expressions are lots of fun to watch.
But there’s another reason I like Simmons – I respect anyone who could overcome a horrific gimmick like this.
Farooq wasn’t originally a beer drinkin’ bad man, oh no. You see, when he first came to the WWF, he was a gladiator.
Yes, a GLADIATOR.
Sound stupid? Well, of course it was!
Faarooq Asaad, as Simmons was originally known, made a rather big splash during his entrance to the WWF by attacking then Intercontinental Champion (and walking accident) Ahmed Johnson. Farooq beat him like a dog, and quickly aligned himself with Sunny, aka Tammy Sytch.
Had he simply shown up as Ron Simmons, former WCW World Champion, and then demolished Johnson, that would have been fine (in fact, I would have loved it). But the WWF couldn’t leave well enough alone, renaming Simmons, and claiming he he was a warrior from the Roman empire.
As if claiming he was a gladiator wasn’t bad enough, they gave Simmons a goofy blue outfit that made his ass look HUGE (we’re talking Rikishi size, here). Oh yeah, and they covered up his balding dome with a silver helmet that appeared to be purchased at the Nerf Outlet Store.
The character didn’t make much sense. At times, it seemed as if even Simmons himself didn’t quite understand the character, as he mixed his ancient mystique with modern street lingo in goofy interviews like this.
The character pretty much fizzled before his run even began. Ahmed injured himself (now THERE’s a shock), and the big feud Simmons was brought in for was put on hold. Faarooq eventually dropped the “Asaad” surname, and started a gang known as the “Nation of Domination”. This, of course, led to the equally horrifying WWF Gang Wars of 1997.
But that’s a terrible idea for another day.