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The Acclaimed’s Anthony Bowens Interview: AEW All Out

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The Acclaimed, All Elite Wrestling‘s incredibly popular tag team of Anthony Bowens and “Platinum” Max Caster, get their first opportunity at the AEW World Tag Team Championships at AEW All Out on Sunday.

At AEW All Out, The Acclaimed will face reigning tag champs Swerve In Our Glory, consisting of Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee. All Out will also be the first time Bowens and Caster appear together as a tag team on pay-per-view after The Acclaimed’s formation in November 2020.

SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

The event will premiere Sunday, September 4, with Bowens and The Acclaimed participating in one of the fourteen exciting matches of the night. The Acclaimed hope to crown themselves Tag Team Champions, and audiences are eager to see the results.

Related: Billy Gunn Has Tough (But Fair) Advice For AEW Roster

Screen Rant had the pleasure of chatting with Anthony Bowens before the biggest match of The Acclaimed’s careers at AEW All Out. We talked in-depth about how Bowens got started in professional wrestling, the origin of The Acclaimed, as well as their hilarious alliance with Billy Gunn and feud with The Gunn Club. And, of course… scissoring.


Screen Rant: I should start with some congratulations. First. Congrats on your Joe Biden rap making it on MSNBC the other day.

Anthony Bowens: (laughs) Thank you. The Acclaimed take pride of when we have little moments, whether it be in the raps, whether it be in the match, that go mainstream, that go viral, no matter what it is. And that one was a pretty good one.

It proves “Everybody Loves The Acclaimed.”

Anthony Bowens: Oh, of course.

Also second, congrats on your Acclaimed Micro Brawler action figures coming out soon. That’s awesome.

Anthony Bowens: I’m very excited about those, too. We’re still hoping that sometime soon we can get into the full action figure line and start diving into other pieces of merchandise. Because everybody’s been clamoring to get their hands on so many different items that involve The Acclaimed, and we’re fighting every week to get these things done. So, hopefully sooner than later, but we won the first war. We have the Micro Brawlers, which are up for pre-order now for the next two weeks. And they’re the number one selling piece of merchandise on ShopAEW.com. So wake up, people! The Acclaimed are money!

And l want to congratulate you on The Acclaimed getting your first pay-per-view World Tag Team Title shot at All Out. Long-deserved.

Anthony Bowens: Thank you, thank you. And that one I’m the most excited about. This is our first appearance on a pay-per-view [by] Max and I as a tag team. Max has appeared on two. He appeared on one in a ladder match at Revolution, and then we were separate in a Casino Battle Royale, but we weren’t in the ring together. So this is our first tag match. It’s a huge one for the AEW Tag Team Titles against Swerve In Our Glory. And I think we’re gonna bring them home.

I want to ask you a little bit about how you got started in wrestling. Were you a fan growing up?

Anthony Bowens: I was a huge fan. The first thing I saw was these commercials for Starrcade 97 where Sting was facing Hulk Hogan. Huge match. I remember being a kid and seeing Sting in a warehouse, and it was raining, and it was this weird guy with face paint. It was so mysterious. And then, that just hooked me. Ever since then, in ’97, I’ve been a fan.

I played baseball all my life. And then after I stopped playing baseball in college, I transitioned over into professional wrestling thanks to Mr. Santino Marella. And almost 10 years later, we’re at the biggest show of the year in Chicago. So it’s been an exciting journey.

And so, you met Santino and not his sister, Santina. I just want to clarify that.

Anthony Bowens: (laughs) Back in 2012, there was a [wrestling] show in the area, and a bunch of the guys were at the gym that I go to. And the last person at the gym that I was going to take a picture with was Santino. I wasn’t gonna bother him because he was in the middle of a set. But my friends said, “Screw it! You’ll never see him again.” (laughs) “Just take a picture with him.”

I took a pic [and] I started walking away, and he said, “Hey, you’re pretty big. You kind of look like a professional wrestler. Have you ever thought about becoming one?” And at the time, I was searching for wrestling schools because I wanted to get into the business. He pulled out his phone and gave me the number to Pat Buck who owns Wrestl Pro and Create A Pro Wrestling Academy in New Jersey/New York, [he’s] also a current AEW producer her, which is really cool. I called Pat the next week and the rest is history.

You and Max both signed with AEW in November 2020. How did The Acclaimed come about? How did your tag team form?

Anthony Bowens: Max and I were single stars on the independents. So when we were getting our opportunity here, we were pretty confident that we were going to come in as singles guys. At the time I was fielding an offer from the other company. I believe Tony Khan found out about that and flew me down to Jacksonville. I hadn’t gotten anything in my hand yet. So I was like, screw it. Let me hear what Tony has to say. We got down there and the day of I was in the elevator, and there was Max Caster.

I couldn’t call him a friend. I only saw him in passing, through maybe training because he was in Create A Pro New York. I was in Create A Pro New Jersey. We only knew each other from that. And I think we were in like a six-man tag once a few years ago. And I’m like, “Hey, what are you doing here? What’s going on?” He goes, “Well, I’m here to talk to Tony.” And I’m like, “Well, I’m here to talk to Tony too.” And then a few minutes later, we find out that we’re there to talk to Tony together.

Tony brought us in, and he basically said he had this idea for us to be a tag team called The Acclaimed. And we both loved the idea. We didn’t know what it was, we didn’t know what the persona was. We just knew that Tony believed in us. And that was enough to really get us going. We went out, and we wrestled a match against Best Friends, maybe about an hour and a half later. And then, when we got back to the curtain, I saw Tony give the thumbs up and the next day we had contracts.

That’s amazing. And you guys were heels for a while, but now everybody loves The Acclaimed. Honestly, for me, you guys put on a show the second your music hits. You guys have the best entrance going with the rap and the whole spiel. Does Max write the rap or is it a team effort? How does that all work?

Anthony Bowens: Max is the creative for the rap. I have no idea about any of these things, but my job is to present him with current events that have happened over the week. He checks himself, but I’ll be like, “Hey, maybe you can hit this, this, and this.” He’ll go off for hours. I don’t know where he is. And then you’ll come back and goes, “I got it.” (laughs) And then we’ll run through it. Make sure it’s okay. And then we go out there, and we just do it.

But you also have a really important job, because you’ve got to get the name of the city right. Which The Gunn Club never does.

Anthony Bowens: Funny enough, there’s a couple of times where… A lot of what happens when you start traveling to these shows every single week [is] the arenas tend to start blending together. And a couple of times right before we’re going out, I’m like, “Where are we? Oh my god, where are we?” (laughs)

Now the best joke in AEW is “Scissor me!” How did this come about?

Anthony Bowens: I think the cool thing about The Acclaimed is that both Max and I have given so many different pieces to it. It’s such a collaborative effort to the growth of a team. It’s such a collaborative effort. I came up with “Everyone loves The Acclaimed!”, and the hand gesture, and “The Acclaimed have arrived!” And he came up with the “Yo, listen!” and the scissor.

Basically, I was doing the hand gesture during the dark, during the pandemic time. And Caster came up from behind, and he scissored me. (laughs) There’s a very genuine reaction somewhere on YouTube, where I’m kind of like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe you just did that!” And at the time, I guess I took a lot safer of an approach with things back then, because I didn’t want to get fired. (laughs) You know, we were new. I was taking less risks. Meanwhile, Caster, he was pedal to the metal; he was willing to do anything. And I was like, “Oh my god, we’re gonna get fired.”

He did it a couple more times, and then they asked us to stop doing it. And then he did a different gesture, and they said, “Can you not do any of those things?” And then eventually, I forgot what match it was, but I was laying on the floor and happened to look up, and the entire front row had their scissors out, or the fingers out to scissor me. And it was like, we were on to something here. So, we kind of just went for it. Just kept doing it and kept doing it. No one said anything to us. And then all of a sudden, it just exploded.

We start looking at the crowd and people have custom scissors they were making, and they’re scissoring each other there, and [at] meet and greets for hours. Everything. The only thing that people want to do is scissor! It’s insane. Like, regular scissors, double scissors, chain scissors, triple scissors, all kinds of scissors! It’s a new craze in wrestling. We’re trying to figure out ways to help it go beyond the realm of professional wrestling and make it like a mainstream handshake or hand symbol. So we’ve got some work ahead of us, but I think we’re on the right path.

I think it’s gonna happen. There was a time when everybody was doing the Wolfpack sign, and everybody was doing all those things when the nWo was around. This thing is going to take off, it’s already on its way. For a while this year, you were hurt, and The Acclaimed and The Gunn Club were unstable. I’m trying really hard not to say “Ass Boys…”

Anthony Bowens: (laughs) You can say it.

How did that whole thing come about, that angle with the Ass Boys?

Anthony Bowens: So going into 2022, Max and I were trying to figure out something that could really bring us to the next level. And we had to work with people who, I guess, had similar goals. And he had noticed that we had pretty good chemistry with The Gunn Club, as far as just our interactions around the arena. And they’re super funny people. And we thought they would be good people to work with.

And eventually, one day, I was just sitting on the beach, and I was pretty relaxed. And I was hurt. And I was trying to figure out a way to put that on camera because I was injured, but I was able to walk. And people were wondering why I wasn’t wrestling for months. So we needed a reason, to show people that I was hurt.

I came up with the wheelchair thing. And I brought it to the guys, and they loved it. We pitched it, Tony loved it, and we just went for it. And it’s one of those things where we caught lightning in a bottle because all four of us are so entertaining. I mean, I hate them now considering what they did to us. (laughs) But at the time, it was a great pairing. And it just exploded.

The relationship between myself and Billy Gunn, Daddy Ass, the people really started to latch on to [it], which was something that we didn’t expect. It just took on a life of its own. And that’s kind of the beauty of working here is that we’re able to pivot and create stuff each and every week that’s unique to us, as opposed to having it given to us.

That story makes so much sense, a weird amount of sense, that Billy Gunn likes The Acclaimed more than his own sons.

Anthony Bowens: I mean, The Gunn Club, or the Ass Boys, they’re not very likable. So I understand why he switched over.

I want to ask you about your Dumpster Match with the Gun Club. Billy was in the first Dumpster Match back on Raw in ’98. Did you guys consult him on how this thing is done? I’m sure he was a resource.

Anthony Bowens: Billy was it was a resource, but he was pretty adamant that this was our match. This was our time to create our story. At least for The Acclaimed, we like to pay tribute to stuff from the past. That’s why I came out in the Billy Gunn gear. He had the New Age Outlaws gear together. And it was really exciting. It was one of the most fun matches – and most painful matches as well – that I’ve ever been in. And then we got to create a modern-day moment of pushing the dumpster off the stage, which was very, very cool. And I think a cool little video clip that’ll last forever in AEW history.

I think that was the match that really put The Acclaimed on another level. That was one of the most memorable matches of the year. So now, almost two full years together as The Acclaimed, you and Max have the World Tag Team Title shot on pay-per-view. What gives you guys the edge over Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland?

Anthony Bowens: I think what gives us the edge is that we’re now an actual tag team. You know, we were singles guys, but we figured that out. Swerve and Keith, they were they’re both singles guys, and we saw in the past that they’ve had a little bit of weird communication issues. So I don’t know if that’s going to come into play. There’s a lot going on in their heads because they know that we’re gunning for ’em.

So as confident as those two gentlemen may be, I think they should be scared because we have a lot of momentum going right now. Not only are we both confident, we have an entire movement behind us. This entire scissor movement (laughs), if you would say so. Everyone loves The Acclaimed, everyone is going to be rooting for us Sunday at All Out, and I’m really excited to get out there and bring home some gold.

Let me ask you: The Acclaimed walks out All Out as AEW World Tag Team Champions. How do you celebrate?

Anthony Bowens: Well, obviously we got to scissor everybody that we can. And then I think Max and I would both agree that we would go right to Chipotle. (laughs) That’s a really good meal. Some people go to Disney World, The Acclaimed would go to Chipotle.

You heard it here first! Lastly, at Screen Rant, we write all about TV, movies, video games, pop culture. What are you binging right now? What are you into?

Anthony Bowens: Oh, so it’s hard because usually when I come home from the road, I’m with my boyfriend, and we are trying to find things to parody for our YouTube channel. Which means a lot of different reality shows. We’re watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. What was the other show? We just got into a show called Yellowjackets.

Any time I get asked this, I always blank because there’s so many different things. Oh, we just finished the new 90-Day Fiance because a lot of our parodies circle around the couples that we play. So a lot of those kinds of shows. For as far as video games, MLB The Show, I play Fortnite with my friends. My favorite video game franchises are Grand Theft Auto and The Last of Us, which I believe is being made into a movie or a TV show on HBO Max, which is super exciting. And hopefully one day I could be on it, because I’d probably cry. I love The Last of Us. I think it’s a beautiful story.

AEW All Out airs live on Sunday, September 4th @ 7pm ET on pay-per-view, Bleacher Report, and Fite.TV around the world.

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