Anthony Bowens On The Acclaimed, Billy Gunn, "Scissor Me" Catchphrase, Max Caster's Rapping
Anthony Bowens (@bowens_official) is a professional wrestler with All Elite Wrestling and is part of the tag team "The Acclaimed" with Max Caster. He sits down with Chris Van Vliet in Hollywood, CA to talk about signing with AEW, how Tony Khan paired him with Max Caster and created The Acclaimed, what he has learned from working with Billy Gunn, his plan to reunite Billy and Chuck, how he came out as gay to his family and friends, being an LGBTQ role model, what winning the AEW Tag Team Championships meant to him, why he decided to move to Los Angeles, his YouTube channel with his boyfriend called "Michael & Anthony" and much more!
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“It means a lot. It means a whole lot. I mean, Max and I came into the company in October of 2020. And less than two years later, we are at the top of the tag division, we're at the top of the world. It's a moment that I had been working for. Obviously, I didn't know I was going to win the Tag Team titles but winning a championship and a major company with all the hard work and all the sacrifices that went into, you know, becoming a professional wrestler and getting to this level to have that moment. It's awesome. It's cool.”
“I hope that we can be at least like an example for other talent that comes in to see that there's light at the end of the tunnel. Not that there isn't but just like, hey, like, how can I get to the top of this company? How can I really achieve something? So I hope the blueprint that we set is a good example for other homegrown talent.”
“So yeah, I'm grateful to have you know, every time when the siren hit, people lose their minds, because they want to hear what Caster has to say. Because you never know what he's gonna say. That's the beauty of him having a live microphone. We hit on just about everything, which seems to make people upset with certain things. But it's just like, if it's news, like, we don't operate within the realm of we have to live in a bubble of just our company. If it's news, if it's out there, if it happened, it's up for grabs. And you know, obviously, if it's tasteful. But, you know, we will touch on anything. And that's the way it's gonna continue to be. So get used to it.”
“No, no, no, and that's the beauty of it. Because we want authentic reactions, if he says something snippy and you get p*ssed, get that camera shot that makes the match so much better, because it's what he said. So we try to make sure that whoever was listening is not around us. And we don't want them to hear anything.”
“Well, I'll stop you there because I don't think we're characters, I think we are true to, like who we are. Caster’s a rapper, Caster likes to push buttons, whatever you see on television, that's Max Caster. For me, like obviously I don't run around you know, town screaming The Acclaimed have arrived. But there's a part of me, there's all different parts that make up Anthony Bowens, and by nature, I am an introverted person. I'm kind of like the guy leaning on the wall at a party observing as opposed to being the centre of attention. But there is a part of me that is, I guess, crazy. And I unleashed that part of me when we have our entrance and Max is rapping, and they just let loose in and have fun. So I think everything you see is authentically us, which is the reason why it's resonating so well with people.
“I can't. I'm dead serious, I cannot watch it because it was very awkward. And basically that was the same day that we had a meeting with Tony, that was the first time we ever met like Tony face-to-face, and that's when he told us that we were going to be The Acclaimed and that was basically our try out match, it was against Best Friends. And we didn't know what The Acclaimed was. We just knew that Max rapped and Cody told me, the only piece of information I was given was from Cody and he said just whatever dis Caster says, it's the craziest, best thing you've ever heard in your entire life. That was the only thing I got. And I had to figure out who I was under the umbrella of The Acclaimed. But two hours later, after meeting Tony, I had no idea what that was. So we came out and there was no theme music, so everything was just like it's acapella. He did the rap, and I don't know what I'm doing. I'm like that was a good one. Yeah, it was terrible. I will never [watch the entrance]. I'll watch the match, the match was great. I will not watch the entrance.”
"Billy has been a big part of our presentation. And honestly, that whole dynamic we had with him and his kids was the perfect storm to lead to everything that happened. Because I was hurt at the time, and I was hurt. Caster was just having singles matches, we, you know, fluctuate back and forth between TV and Dark. And the same thing was happening with The Gunn Club. And I'll be honest with you, before they ruined everything and they became selfish pieces of sh*t, we were pretty good friends with The Gunn Club. Like we had a good dynamic, we had a good rapport, we would hang out before the show and like laugh about the most ridiculous things. And Caster was the one that said hey, I think we should do something with these guys. I don't know what, because we were having so much fun together. And one day I was sitting on the beach, very relaxed, and I just came up with this way to put us together and I needed a reason to be on television with my injury. And we could do this thing where we all come together, we can do it, you know, on Dark, it doesn't matter. We just want to do something and prove that we are useful to the TV show that we can eventually be on Dynamite every single week. And we started doing it and then the people loved it. And they started picking up on the dynamic between Billy, me and Billy, him pushing me in the wheelchair.”
“One day, it was probably about five minutes before we went out to, I think it was Rampage? I think it was a battle royale on Rampage. And I was sitting in the wheelchair and I was giggling to myself. I was trying to figure out a way to end our entrance, because Max would rap I would get the crowd to yell ass boys, but I didn't have an ending. And I just giggled to myself and I thought I think I'm just gonna say scissor me Daddy Ass. I don't know why that popped into my head, but I started laughing. Literally me like sitting in the wheelchair in gorilla just like laughing at it. And then I didn't tell anybody, I think I had told Billy, I think I'm gonna say scissor me Daddy Ass. He didn't say anything. I just remember he just smiled at me and he walked away. And that was it. Five minutes later, when I screamed it on Rampage, I came back, I looked around, no one said anything to me. I was like, okay, so I guess that was okay. And then it was trending. And then I started to see the signs, that’s when you know. I’ve got to say this every single week.”
“Yes, yes, yes, yes. And I don't like pulling the curtain too far back. But I will say that the Daddy Ass Birthday Bash celebration. I thought it would be a fun idea, and I did put it together. What you saw people enjoyed, but was about maybe 30 or 40% of what I had originally planned. [Chris - Were you going to invite Chuck Palumbo?] He was going to be my birthday gift. I thought the irony of me reuniting Billy and Chuck would be perfect for this birthday bash. But he wasn't available. I don't like putting things out there. But like, I really want people [to know this one].”
“I think I've told the story a couple of times. I haven't really gone too much into detail with that but you know, screw it might as well. So I had a try out with them in 2015 at the Arnold Classic. I did well enough there, they invited myself and Bianca [Belair] to the Performance Centre. We did a full one there. They told me not right now, keep in touch. I kept in touch and then randomly in 2017 I got hit up, hey, you know, we're looking to bring you in 2018. So I started preparing I did you know, the background, I did everything. The only thing I needed was just the contract, and it never came. And I would check in every six months, like hey, this is what you told me to work on, you know, presented to them. Nothing. And then, you know, budget issues. There's no room, like how is there no room, you know, just hired 50 people, there’s clearly room. But they ghosted me really for three years. And then I did Dark, and then right after Dark, they hit me back up. They hit me back up and they asked if I was a free agent, which I said I was. They ended up offering me a contract. I said yes. But then they never sent me a contract. And in that timeframe, Tony had found out and he wanted me to go meet with him. And unbeknownst to me, I guess something similar was happening with Caster. So I felt like well, you know, this is kind of the second time that this has happened, where I haven't gotten, you know, what I needed to so I might as well hear this guy out. I went out, spoke to Tony and I liked our conversation, I liked the opportunity that he was giving us and combine that with, you know, everything I talked about with the locker room. And truthfully, you know, I had a family emergency at the time, and it kind of made me realise that I didn't want to move to Orlando at that point in my life. So everything was just telling me I needed to go to AEW. So once they presented us with a contract, I signed it and I told WWE unfortunately I had to pass on their offer, I was never sent anything. And I trust Tony's vision for us.”
“I knew I would have to kind of talk afterwards. And I didn't know what emotional state I would be in. Like, I thought, if this were to ever happen, I would cry in the ring. Because it was just, I would be so happy. But I just smiled, I couldn't help but just smile, hearing the crowd reaction to it, they exploded. My friends and my family were there, my boyfriend flew in. When we won, the confetti went off, somehow within the sea of how many 1000s of people were there, I look up and I saw my dad cheering, which is like, such a cool moment. And I guess I have to like stop myself, because I’m gonna get teary eyed thinking about like, that's my favourite part of the night, actually. But I knew at some point, I would have to speak and I wanted it to be authentic. And, you know, I just started talking. And that's what came out. And I hope that people, whatever they're struggling with, can use that as an example of overcoming and being having the mental toughness, having the resilience to fight through whatever that they may be going through to come out on the other side, you know, positively and happily, because I do believe if you don't, you know, allow yourself to, like, get consumed by everything and keep fighting that you will come out better than we were.”
“So I don't remember what year it was. I'm not sure [Chris - it was like 2012] I wasn't in wrestling then. But I did keep an eye on it to see, you know, what the response would be? Because you just don’t know, you know. That was a very, very scary time when it comes to, you know, thinking about what you want to do with your life, and then you're harbouring this, this heavy secret that you feel like is going to absolutely destroy your life. So you do kind of keep tabs on, like what's going on. There weren't many people out there that I can relate to that I felt like this person, like, looks like me or this, like I didn't have that kind of representation that I completely relate it to. And, you know, Fred was one of those people for a while. And I don't think it was, the company handled it quite well, in my opinion. And that didn't give me any kind of, you know, hope that hey, like, here's this guy, he came out, he took his brave step and now he's, you know, super successful in the company, just kind of felt like they didn't do anything with them. And that was, I felt horrible for him. And also, for me, it was like I don't, is this what I would have to look forward to if you know, I decided to get into wrestling, I did decide to pursue my dream. And then I did come out. But I thank him for taking that step. Because it was probably very, very, very, very hard to do.”
“Those that are closest to me, my career and everyone that supports us.”