DAR Wrestling: Everyone Loves The Acclaimed

 By True God

Professional wrestling is art. In art, some of the greatest masterpieces in history represented a journey, a path, long hours of stress and work to craft something beautiful. There are moments in professional wrestling that truly captivate and are remembered forever. We can look back on moments where we KNEW a star was born, where we FELT a shifting of the tide, where everything just clicked. That's the beauty of professional wrestling. Some stories catch us off guard, providing us with the emotional attachment that we never knew we needed, or even adding excitement to something we didn't see coming. I think this could sum up the change that occurred at All Out 2022 when The Acclaimed had arguably the match of the night against the tag team champions Swerve In Our Glory. It was mildly unexpected, as the rest of the card stood out to be a bit more endearing to the average eye, but both of these teams put on star making performances that put The Acclaimed in position as the most over team in wrestling while simultaneously setting up the potential breakup of Swerve In Our Glory and a massive heel turn for Swerve Strickland. One match wielding so much power in the paths of these gentlemen is special, but that match was just as much of a culmination as it was a new beginning. When revisiting the All Elite journey of Max Caster and Anthony Bowens, it has been arguably a short one, at least compared to a lot of the teams in the company, as they've only officially been a tag team in AEW for a little under two years. Their debut match as a team took place on AEW Dark at Daily's Place in the middle of the pandemic on October 27, 2020. They would lose soundly to the Best Friends before officially becoming The Acclaimed. They would wrestle on Dark a few more times before finally get their shot on AEW Dynamite. Their AEW Dynamite debut would see them pick up a win over Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, putting them on a path to their biggest match against the Young Bucks the following week on Dynamite for the tag team titles. The Acclaimed would remain mainstays on AEW Dark over the next year and a half, while also becoming prominent on AEW Dynamite and Rampage, though injuries did halter some of their momentum at times. Perhaps that's what makes the journey so much sweeter for Max and Bowens. The setbacks, the falls, the losses, the suspensions (more on that later), the criticisms. They all add to your story, they build the character to your journey. It all leads here. Which brings us back to All Out in Chicago. 

While The Acclaimed had been super popular for a while heading jnto All Out due to the charisma and catchphrases that the two members exhibit, there was no guessing about what was to come at All Out. When the tag title match was announced for All Out, there was a small bit of a mixed reaction, though the match had been discussed and rumored for weeks. For some, FTR being at no. 1 in the rankings and the possible dynamic between them and Swerve In Our Glory seemed more appealing, and while I can't say whether that's right or wrong, I could understand why someone might feel that way. However, AEW had the right idea. It was time for The Acclaimed to get another shot at the tag titles, but the question was, is it time yet for a win? While in hindsight, an Acclaimed win at the PPV would have sent Chicago into a frenzy, the right call was to put Swerve In Our Glory over because in many ways, it gave The Acclaimed the sympathy they hadn't received before. The fans in Chicago were going crazy for every move and false finish, chanting and wishing for the Acclaimed to finally rise above the odds. At that moment, the shift was complete. The result of the match did not matter anymore, the fans had chosen their guys and were going to stick by them. When the near classic bout ended in disappointment for the 12,000 strong in attendance, you knew what was coming next. The time had arrived and the loss solidified it. The Acclaimed not winning that match in Chicago was the shift. The Acclaimed had indeed arrived. 

Before they made their All Elite Wrestling debuts, both Max and Anthony were students of Create A Pro Academy. A former baseball player from childhood to his college years, Bowens would take advice from former WWE wrestler Santino Marella to join the academy and the rest was history. Armed with a great physique and great training, Bowens set out to make things happen for himself in the business, starting in 2013. He would run through various indie promotions, including Independent Wrestling Federation, Five Borough Wrestling, House of Glory, Pennsylvania Premiere Wrestling, Beyond Wrestling and more, before eventually making it to WWE television in December 2016 during an episode of NXT as he and a tag partner lost to The Authors of Pain. Bowens would see moderate success wrestling for Global Force Wrestling (remember that) and IMPACT Wrestling before eventually finding his calling in WrestlePro. Bowens would win multiple championships in WrestlePro, putting himself on the independent wrestling map even more, which likely is what led him to become on AEW's radar. 

For Max, after joining Create A Pro Academy, he would also take to the indies and see a fair bit of success, eventually finding his way to WWE television as well, but in a different role than Bowens. Max would be dressed up as one of Bobby Lashley's "sisters" during a segment on WWE RAW, probably not the ideal segment for a wrestler on the rise, but one that Max did and added to the resume. Since 2015, Max has been working on his craft, making appearances in multiple indie promotions, including National Wrestling League and the well known Combat Zone Wrestling before finally finding his way to AEW in June 2020. What made Max begin to stand out instantly however when he got to AEW wasn't his wrestling talent oddly enough, it was his ability to rap against his opponents. While wrestling has seen wrestling rappers before, Max somehow put his own spin on it to make it work better than expected. He would come out, rap over their theme and make lines about their opponents and usual current events that people would identify with or catch the reference to. It was a bit of genius in a way, as it instantly gave the crowd a reason to invest in what he was doing, whether they liked his raps or not. As time went on, Max would end up getting over with his raps to the point that it would become a talking point during the Dark and Dynamite appearances. Unfortunately, with that limelight comes a microscope and Max learned quickly that some of his raps can get him in trouble. This was made evident by him serving a suspension for raps that were not well received during the Summer of 2021. For some, that could kill a career, but that was not the case here. In fact, the suspension allowed The Acclaimed to receive MORE attention and what they did with this attention led them to where they are now. The Acclaimed stayed on course and it has paid off. 

Through the last year, we've seen the Acclaimed support each other through injuries, singles matches, losing streaks, and more. Anthony Bowens got a chance to show his talent in singles matches against the likes of Darby Allin, Bryan Danielson and more, while Max Caster had quite possibly the biggest singles match of his career against CM Punk through this time. All of those singles matches helped shape them even more as performers and while they would not be victorious in those singles matches, it kept the fans intrigued for when they were back 100% as a tag team. When they were back as a tag team and fully healthy, something changed. There's not a particular moment that would reign as paramount to the change for the duo, but I would say it had to be around the time that The Gunn Club and The Acclaimed began to team up. While The Gunn Club had been getting called "The Ass Boys" by Danhausen, it seemed The Acclaimed decided to embrace it as well, giving both teams a bit more of a crowd pleasing feel when they would come out. Having a legend like Billy Gunn by your side doesn't hurt either and perhaps his presence is what helped tip the scales for Bowens and Caster. When the eventual expected breakup between The Gunn Club and The Acclaimed happened, it set the stage for The Acclaimed to make a full fledged face turn. By then, the Ass Boys jokes and the now iconic "Scissor Me, Daddy Ass" were starting to take off and the subsequent feud with The Gunn Club only seemed to make fans love the duo THAT much more. Once the Gunn Club feud wrapped up, it seemed as if The Acclaimed were left with no clear direction honestly. 

Then... The Gunn Club turned on their father. Once The Gunn Club joined up with Stokely Hathaway and turned on their dad, the stage was now set for The Acclaimed to help save the day, solidifying their face turn even more and reuniting with the man that Bowens calls "Daddy Ass" (which is now extremely over). With Daddy Ass now in tow, The Acclaimed set forth to chase those elusive tag team titles, which brings us full circle back to Chicago. In front of a hot sold out crowd, The Acclaimed arrived to a rousing ovation with Daddy Ass proudly walking them to the ring. It felt like a special moment watching it live, although I did not expect The Acclaimed to win the title match. The reality is, they shouldn't have won. While the now infamous Media Scrum after the All Out match asked the question of whether or not they should have called an audible (ridiculous), the truth is, The Acclaimed gained more in that loss than maybe even they themselves could have imagined. With the loss, they gained a bit of trust and sympathy from the AEW fanbase that we had not seen them receive before and it was clear the next step in the process. The Acclaimed were now on a deadset path to becoming AEW Tag Team Champions and that match at All Out solidified the end goal. There has to be much credit given to both Swerve In Our Glory and The Acclaimed for putting on such an amazing spectacle and giving us a true display in storytelling. With All Out in the rearview, the rematch was set for AEW Grand Slam and everyone could sense what was next. It was time. 

14,000 strong packed The Arthur Ashe Stadium to watch one of the most stacked cards in AEW Dynamite history. Bryan Danielson vs Jon Moxley, PAC vs Orange Cassidy, Chris Jericho winning the ROH Title, there were so many great matches and moments to watch for the packed house and yet the biggest pop of the night? The Acclaimed winning the titles. While The Grand Slam contest wasn't quite as good as the All Out encounter, the Grand Slam bout gave fans the happy ending they truly wanted. The Acclaimed had truly arrived. All of the setbacks, the injuries, the suspensions, the issues.... it all led them here. They were the most popular tag team in the AEW landscape at that very moment and quite possibly the most over act in the entire company. With a high selling T-Shirt, extremely loud reactions, fans attempting to scissor (you know what I mean) in the crowd and now the tag team titles, the sky is truly the limit for The Acclaimed, but it gets tougher from here. You made it to the mountain top, now can you stay there? That question will be answered as time goes on, but for now, The Acclaimed can celebrate a long journey that has culminated in championship gold and perhaps more importantly, near universal love. Because EVERYBODY LOVES THE ACCLAIMED. 



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