Anthony Bowens of The Acclaimed was on the lastest episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast with Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone where he discussed his baseball career and his pro wrestling journey. Bowens and tag team partner Max Caster were signed in Nov. of last year. Bowens recalled the times where he almost made his debut in AEW.
“So coming to AEW was a bit of a journey, and it took a little bit longer because of the pandemic,” Bowens noted. “Once the company opened up, I kind of switched my focus to trying to get here, and around I think it was February of 2020, Shawn Spears was having the the perfect partner search. I sent in a promo, and it made, I guess, the top three, and I was very excited about it because ‘Blood & Guts’ was coming up in North New Jersey, which is about 10 minutes away from my house.
“Found that I was booked for the show so I figured hey, this might be my opportunity to show the world show AEW what I can do and unfortunately, 30 minutes after I got that phone call, they canceled every single show due to the pandemic, which obviously there’s more important things going on in the world, but I was extremely bummed. Then I was supposed to come down in June, and then the cases started rising again, so that trip got canceled.
“And then it got to the point where I was like, you know what, I just have to take a chance and I need to get down there. I ended up texting QT Marshall, and I was like, ‘I know you keep booking me and everything keeps going wrong. I need to get down there. If there’s any opportunity for me to come in October, please, I’d love to be there,’ and I made it work. I came down, and the rest is history.”
Bowens revealed what happened after he worked AEW Dark. He confirmed a story that Tony Khan had told before about his motivation to sign The Acclaimed.
“So I never really went into specifics about what technically happened. I did the Dark match, and the next day, I was approached by NXT about coming down there, after they ghosted me for three years,” Bowens revealed. “I didn’t hear anything back from AEW directly after the match because sometimes Dark airs about a week or two afterwards, or at least in the pandemic world, and I just said yes and somehow that trickled back to Tony Khan. Tony found out about it, and then brought me down there the week later.
“I had a long conversation with him and my tag team partner, and the next thing you know, I’m with AEW, which is where I wanted to be in the first place. There’s a ton of life happenings in there that made the decision a lot easier, but there was a very anxiety filled two weeks. Honestly, being in a great situation, I guess, where every wrestler wants to be in but it was one of the most anxiety induced two weeks I’ve ever had in my life, but I made the right decision, and I’m so excited to be in AEW.”
Bowens had done some work with WWE before. He recalled a scary moment while working a match on NXT.
“I’ve done a few projects with them and the typical extra work,” Bowens said. “Are you referencing the Authors of Pain match? That didn’t go so well. There ended up being a big, I don’t want to call it a botch, it was a botch. They powerbombed me, and another dude got powerbombed on top of me, which ended up landing on my face and knocked me out. From the video, it kind of looked like I had a small seizure in there.
“It was a very scary moment and went from ‘hey, this is my opportunity’ to ‘I hope I’m alive the next day.’ So that was one of my only opportunities I had in ring with them. I did a bunch of other work in terms of commercial stuff, and then I had two tryouts with them. I had one at the Arnold Classic in 2015 and another one at the Performance Center, and that’s what kind of led to that whole situation I explained before where they said that I was in line for an opportunity to be signed in 2017, and then I didn’t hear from them for three years and then eventually I did right after I worked with AEW but nothing too really extensive with them.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.