AEW’s The Acclaimed Hitting Opponents Where It Hurts — Before The Bell And In The Ring

The Acclaimed recently spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard about their origins as a team and their growing chemistry. Both Anthony Bowens and Max Caster have similar backgrounds in coming up through the wrestling business and now talk about how they’ve been able to bond as teammates and how fans can follow their journey together through All Elite Wrestling.

Not only are they a formidable team in the ring, but The Acclaimed also sets the stage before they even step through the ropes with a blend of trash talk and fight anthems. Describing himself as a hype man and Caster as the emcee, Bowens explained how the two first met almost eight years ago through the tri-state independent scene. Bowens came from New Jersey’s Create-A-Pro while Caster was a product of their sister school in New York, and they knew each other in passing but ended up becoming a team in All Elite Wrestling by chance.

Bowens: “It’s kind of a crazy story. We both were in a scenario where we found ourselves kind of almost in between two of the biggest wrestling companies in the world without even knowing it. I had come down to Jacksonville to meet with Tony [Khan] and I had gotten on the elevator and Max got on the elevator as well, and I was like, ‘Oh what are you doing here?’ And he was like, ‘I’m going to meet with Tony.’ And I was like, ‘I’m here to meet with Tony.’ And then come to find out that we were having the same meeting together and we met with Tony, he said, ‘I know you guys kind of know each other from the indies. I have this idea for you guys, it’s called The Acclaimed. I’ve always wanted to make a tag team this, and I think that you two would be the perfect people for it.’ And then a couple hours later, we found ourselves wrestling Best Friends and it was kind of thrown [together] like we didn’t know what we were doing.”

“And I think that’s the coolest thing about The Acclaimed is that fans get to see this entire journey from start to finish that you may not be able to have seen other tag teams do. For the most part, when you see tag teams on television, they’ve either spent six months in a warehouse, polishing out the imperfections,” Bowens explained, “or they’ve been wrestling with each other for however many so years. Like Top Flight, they’ve been wrestling, they’re brothers, they’ve been wrestling with each other since they were 13,14 years old. We’ve never tagged before. You can literally go on YouTube, watch our very first match, tagging together where Max is rapping over no music and I’m awkwardly standing there going, ‘What the hell do I do right now? I don’t know what the hell is happening’, to us in our tenth match together main eventing Dynamite for the AEW Tag Team Titles against the Young Bucks. So every time you see us step in the ring, it’s us learning, it’s us developing our chemistry and I think as a fan that’s super cool because you get to watch the entire journey from start to hopefully the next couple years.”

Caster continued, noting that the team’s name struck him as odd at first, but once he repeated it a few times he understood what it meant for them both figuratively and literally.

“That meeting with Tony, when he said the name ‘Acclaimed’, it sounded weird to met at first, and then I started thinking, ‘Well, who are the two more acclaimed wrestlers in the world than Anthony and I?’ Especially on that level at that point, where both of us, whenever we would have a match, people would come up to us and say ‘you guys need to sign a contract. You guys need to be on TV, you guys would be perfect on a nationwide, a worldwide audience’ and that put a chip on my shoulder. I’m sure it put a chip on Anthony’s shoulder, too,” Caster explained, “to where now we’ve somehow merged our paths in this office, in Daily’s Place, in Jacksonville, Florida and it’s like, ‘The Acclaimed? Yeah, we are actually acclaimed. We have a lot of acclaim.’ Anthony, I mean God, look at all the stuff he does. Look at the praise that he gets. Platinum Max, of course, the best wrestler alive and it’s the name that makes sense the most. I’m like okay, we are The Acclaimed.”

Bowens: “And I think you can see our confidence in how much we believe in our characters grow each and every single week. I was just watching Dark last night at some of our older matches,” Bowens said, “I was like oof. But as each match goes on, you can see how the gimmick becomes slowly and slowly more polished and we slowly start to slip into the roles a lot more and get more comfortable on camera and with each other.”

Caster: “We’re two of the best wrestlers in the world right now. And when you pair us together, what’s gonna happen? We’re just gonna continue being two of the best wrestlers in the world. So that’s what’s helped us grow and have as much success as we’ve had so far.

As The Acclaimed continues pushing towards greatness inside of the ring, they’re also working on plying their trade on the mic as well. Catching on in popularity with their rapping skills and disses on opponents, The Acclaimed have also been hard at work on creating a new mixtape. The first track called “Critically Acclaimed” dropped on Tuesday, and the duo say fans have gotten a taste of what they stand for, but this gives them a more personal perspective about what their endgame is.

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