Anthony Bowens hopes to make history on AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam.
On Wednesday, Bowens and Max Caster, collectively known as The Acclaimed, will challenge Swerve in our Glory (Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland) for the AEW World Tag Team Championship. With a win, Bowens would become AEW’s first gay champion. The feat would be remarkable in the wrestling world itself, as few other openly gay wrestlers have won gold with major promotions. Fred Rosser, formerly known as Darren Young in WWE, was the first to do so in 2015.
Speaking with the Asbury Park Press, Bowens previewed the match and noted that a title win would be a historic moment.
“If Max and I can get the job done, I have the opportunity at becoming the first gay AEW champion, which would mean a lot to me,,” Bowens said. “It would mean a lot to other LGBT athletes, the entire community in general. It’s a responsibility that I feel is super important, and hopefully we can get the job done.”
Bowens also noted that the presence and acceptance of fellow LGBTQ talent, like Sonny Kiss and Nyla Rose, was a factor in his decision to sign with AEW in the first place. He stated that the inclusive environment remains one of his favorite things about coming to work.
“When I got there as an extra before I had a contract, I would see people like Sonny Kiss and Nyla Rose walking around openly without feeling any judgment and people celebrating them and supporting them,” Bowens said. “I struggled with my self-acceptance and identity, and that was always a huge fear. ‘Will the locker rooms accept me? Will national audiences on television accept a successful gay man as a professional wrestler?’ Those were all very scary things to think about because at the time there wasn’t very much of any representation other than Darren Young, and even he had somewhat of a downward trend after he came out. So it was very worrisome.
“But as time went on, the business started changing. We still have a ways to go, but AEW has an extremely inclusive roster in the sense that I never have to worry about that all. As a matter of fact, if it ever does come up, it’s in a very positive, supportive way. And that’s one of my favorite things coming to work, that I don’t have to worry about that.”
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