Another benchmark in the young history of All Elite Wrestling was notched Wednesday night when Anthony Bowens captured the AEW World Tag Team championships with his partner Max Caster. The win makes Bowens the first out LGBTQ man to win an AEW championship.
The Acclaimed took their place at the top of AEW’s tag team division in front of a hometown Queens, NY crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium as part of AEW Dynamite Grand Slam. After falling to then-champions Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland a few weeks prior at AEW’s “All Out” event, the two teams clashed again flanked by hip hop artists Fabolous and DJ Whoo Kid and a crowd chomping at the bit to see Bowens and Caster walk out as champions.
The match was a back-and-forth affair, with Caster appearing to injure his knee and fans showered the ring with chants of “Oh, Scissor Me, Daddy,” harkening to The Acclaimed’s catchphrase. After an assist from “Daddy Ass” Billy Gunn, Bowens and Caster were able to capitalize, hitting their respective finishers before Caster pinned Strickland.
#TheAcclaimed have done it! We have NEW #AEW World Tag Team Champions in @PlatinumMax & @bowens_official, with @realbillygunn!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) September 22, 2022
It’s #AEWDynamite Grand Slam LIVE on @TBSNetwork! pic.twitter.com/W4afBZZGrY
Joy overcame both Bowens and Caster post-match as pink and white confetti fluttered down onto the new champions. The moment also represented a coronation of a tag team whose popularity exploded in recent months after a major setback. Bowens suffered a knee injury earlier this year that kept him out of the ring for several months, but that time on the shelf also coincided with The Acclaimed’s incredible rise in popularity amongst AEW fans.
But the moment means more than just Bowens’ determination to overcome physical obstacles. The win makes Bowens only the second publicly out gay man to hold a championship in a major televised American promotion. Fred Rosser became the first in 2015 when he won the WWE Tag Team titles with Titus O’Neal.
Bowens also becomes the third out LGBTQ champion in AEW’s three-plus year existence, joining former AEW Women’s World champion Nyla Rose and current interim AEW Women’s World champion Toni Storm on that list.
The typically over-the-top and gabby Bowens kept it low-key when celebrating the title win on social media, but not without more of those trademark scissors. The new champion opened up more about the moment Thursday morning. “When my Nana passed in 2015 I promised her I’d be a success. Nana, I made it! AEW’s first gay champion, most tag team wins in AEW, most popular team in wrestling: everyone loves The Acclaimed,” Bowens wrote.
When my Nana passed in 2015 I promised her I’d be a success. Nana, I made it!— Anthony Bowens (@Bowens_Official) September 22, 2022
AEW’s first Gay Champion
Most tag team wins in AEW ♂️
Most popular team in wrestling
EVERYONE LOVES THE ACCLAIMED.. your #ForeverChamps ✂️ ✂️✂️✂️✂️ pic.twitter.com/NUpMlejyS4
Bowens’ boyfriend and YouTube partner Michael Pavano shared kind words for his boyfriend’s accomplishment. “So unbelievably proud of (Bowens) for his win tonight on #AEWDynamite. It was truly a surreal experience and I can’t think of anyone more deserving. I love you so much.”