Anthony Bowens is in a comfort zone and content with his role as a tag team partner with Max Caster. “The Acclaimed” are in the mix of a competitive tag team division with AEW, (All Elite Wrestling) a three-year company founded by Tony Khan that is viewed weekly on the Turner TBS and TNT Networks.
Bowens, 31 years old, born in Nutley New Jersey, is also comfortable and coming out as a proud and open gay man. He will be in his backyard Wednesday evening as AEW on TBS debuts for the first time at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Pro wrestling is entertainment, though AEW takes it to another level and provides fans what they have been looking for. Bowens is under contract with AEW and deals with the travel and hard work of being a competitive AEW superstar.
There have been rigorous matches including a physical one last week on TBS against the rugged Jon Moxley, however, opening up as a gay man in a macho industry such as pro wrestling has been accepted. Guys in the locker room love his presence. Fans at AEW venues have gravitated to his heel character as one part of “The Acclaimed” a gimmick that includes a boom box and rap entrance that mimics opponents.
“Take your time let the decision be yours,” Bowens said to me about being an open gay man in the wrestling industry. “It’s your decision, I struggle sometimes. My first instinct come out, be happy, at the same time I recognize I’m privileged. I felt safe to come out. Some people don’t have that privilege.”
That comfort came from his partner Michael who has been in his corner as the real tag team partner. The two have a successful YouTube channel, “Michael & Anthony” that is growing in popularity and recently chronicled their relocation from New Jersey to the sunshine of Los Angeles, California. The channel has helped his career and Bowens is more comfortable with doing the regular promos on camera that are necessary as a character in the pro wrestling business.
“I had a lot of strengths,” Bowens said. “One of my weaknesses was the camera. It made me comfortable speaking in front of a camera. Even speaking freely or being self conscious of everything.”
Michael does most of the talking and Anthony offers his opinions. They talk about issues, their exploits, and of course Michael can’t ignore seeing another bruise when his partner returns from a rapid trip and rigorous match in the ring.
“Michael is my best friend, Bowens says. “He’s an extension of me to be a cleaner person. He’s an excellent support system for me, with my wrestling and my career goals and passion. I’m insanely lucky. It’s fun to be with him and express ourselves together.”
Though, Bowens says “It’s hard for Michael to watch… He’s always right here.”
At Boardwalk Hall Wednesday night, the AEW tag team division will be highlighted on a live two-hour TBS broadcast of “Dynamite” and a one hour taping of “Rampage” that is viewed on Friday night. Bowens and his tag partner are right in the mix with teams known as “Young Bucks” and “Jurassic Express” the current good guy champions.
Tony Khan will announce the signing of a new free agent and participants of a “Face To The Revolution” ladder match qualifier for the March, AEW “Revolution” Pay-Per-View broadcast. Bowens may or may not be in that match and that speculation with anticipation has also propelled AEW as a major pro wrestling promotion.
“It’s packed with incredible talent everyone from the “Young Bucks” and “Jurassic Express” newcomers, so much experience in the division, one of the best divisions in the world,” Bowens said about the AEW tag team roster. He said Caster, son of the former NY Jets wide receiver, uses his hip hop style persona into his character. On the other hand, Bowens is more progressive and a punk rock type of guy
“Luck to have a tag partner that’s down with everything, creativity. We’re going to be together for a long time,” says Bowens. “I’m just taking little piece of myself and turning heel or up a notch to get the crowd going.”
And the competition has been getting more intense. Prior to his battle with Moxley, Bowens confronted Bryan Danielson, one of the major names that Khan signed who previously was known as Daniel Bryan of the WWE.
Bowens said, AEW is right in line with what he envisioned. Fans have the passion and Tony Khan, a lifelong wrestling fan, has brought that vision that is projected at live events and the telecasts. Friends from areas in New Jersey came to the AEW “Dynamite” event at Prudential Center last month and said they felt that passion and energy.
“It’s fantastic, look forward coming to work every single week,” he said. “Everyone wants to have fun in the process. You feel it when you come to the arena.”
He will see family and friends Wednesday. After another day and night of work and using his finishing hold, “The Arrival”, Bowens packs the bags and heads to the airport for a cross country trip and home to Michael. He puts up with long hours and staying in shape is not an issue with discipline from his parents and playing baseball at Seton Hall University and Montclair State.
He worked hard to get here since 2012 and thanks trainer Pat Buck. Indeed, Anthony Bowens is home and comfortable.
YOU CAN WATCH ANTHONY BOWENS “THE ACCLAIMED” AND AEW SUPERSTARS WEDNESDAY 8PM ET “DYNAMITE” ON TBS AND FRIDAY “AEW RAMPAGE” 10PM ET ON TNT
Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso