Anthony Bowens, clad in neon spandex, has become known for shouting the names of the city at the top of his lungs during AEW shows.
Along with partner Max Caster, the duo form The Acclaimed, one of the most popular tag teams in Tony Khan’s upstart wrestling promotion. Caster raps, making sarcastic comments about everything from their opponents to student loans. Bowens, who concedes that he can neither rap nor dance, acts as a hype man.
“The actual wrestling part, when people are chopping you up and punching you in the face, that’s not the most fun,” the 31-year-old New Jersey native told the Daily News.
“But overall, yeah, it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had in pro wrestling. Because you know, it’s the best job in the world. Like, who else can be on national television every week, say what we want to say, have 10,000 people in an arena go absolutely nuts? »
Raised in Nutley, Bowens grew up playing baseball, going to Seton Hall University and then to Montclair University. When that ended, he fell behind in the fight when a silly video he made with friends gained traction online.
Now The Acclaimed draws some of the loudest cheers in every city they stop in.
Bowens loves the cheers, but as one of the few publicly gay male athletes, he also takes responsibility.
“I’m privileged in the sense that sometimes people can look at me without having a clue, while others… can receive a lot more hate than me. And I understand that, but I’ve been through a lot. And I understand what it’s like to be judged, to have hatred against you,” he said.
“I know there are a lot of other athletes out there and just people in general who are going through the same thing as me, so if I can kind of be a beacon of hope that you can beat all this nonsense and ignore the hate and make it all better, i wish i was a shining light for that.
Bowens recognizes that it is a heavy mission. But it is also more than that.
“I’m a skinny kid from Nutley, NJ, and if you saw me in high school, you really wouldn’t think I’d become a larger-than-life international superstar. It’s crazy. So I kind of represent anybody who dreams of people saying maybe ‘no, it’s impossible’ to them because of who they are,” he told The News.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, if you have the work ethic, if you have the passion, if you have the drive, if you are relentless, it can be done.”