Anthony Bowens and Max Caster win big at AEW Dynamite. (Brian Myers/Twitter)
Anthony Bowens has become the first openly gay male professional wrestler to become champion in All Elite Wrestling (AEW) after he won its tag-team championships.
He partnered in the ring with Max Caster against rival team Swerve in Our Glory, made up of Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland, on AEW Grand Slam.
In a nail-bitingly tense finish, Bowens and Caster, known together as The Acclaimed, managed to subdue the former champs long enough for Caster to pull off a top-rope elbow drop and a three-count pin for the hard-fought victory.
This is Bowens’ first title win at AEW since he was signed in 2020 and the fourth championship win in his entire career.
#TheAcclaimed have done it! We have NEW #AEW World Tag Team Champions in @PlatinumMax & @bowens_official, with @realbillygunn!
It’s #AEWDynamite Grand Slam LIVE on @TBSNetwork! pic.twitter.com/W4afBZZGrY
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) September 22, 2022
The victory was as significant for the fans as it was for Bowens, with social media users showering support on the 31-year-old superstar.
“Max Caster and Anthony Bowens built their way to this moment through the dark days of the pandemic,” one fan said. “They’ve earned every bit of this title win.”
Another wrote: “Anthony Bowens being a Black gay man, winning a championship on live television. Amazing.”
His partner Michael Pavano also shared his praise on Twitter, saying: “So unbelievably proud of Anthony Bowens for his win tonight on AEW Dynamite. It was a truly surreal experience and I can’t think of anyone more deserving. I love you so much.”
In a surprise twist of cross-promotion commendation, WWE referee Shawn Bennett congratulated Bowens, saying “good things happen to good people”.
Good things happen to good people. Sometimes it takes a while, sometimes it isn’t what you first expected, but the work does pay off if you don’t stop and believe in yourself. @Bowens_Official @PlatinumMax
— Shawn Bennett (@BennettWWE) September 22, 2022
Fellow AEW wrestlers, of course, came together to congratulate the tag team, with star Alex Reynolds saying: “I’ve known Max Caster and Anthony Bowens since they started wrestling. I couldn’t be prouder of them right now.”
Additionally, Dante Martin – one half of the tag team Top Flight – simply expressed his celebratory praise towards the group by tweeting: “THE ACCLAIMED!!”
It was clear that the pair were ready to bag the win from the get-go, with an adrenaline-filled Bowens posting on social media just before the match saying the two were going to “climb Everest and bring HOME those titles”.
New York City! Bring your signs, bring your scissors, and go crazy because tonight @PlatinumMax and I are gonna climb “Everest” and bring HOME those titles. ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️
— Anthony Bowens (@Bowens_Official) September 21, 2022
His win has become a huge beacon of hope for LGBTQ+ wrestling fans and athletes in an industry that hasn’t always been welcoming to queer stars and still struggles with anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.
But Bowens has said things are changing in the locker room, especially in AEW – arguably one of the fastest growing wrestling organisations in the business. In an interview with PinkNews, he explained the changes he’d seen.
“Wrestling is in such a better place now in terms of representation. Especially with the AEW roster where we have myself, Sonny Kiss, Nyla Rose…
“The representation is ever-growing, and we’re all prominently featured on television too. Nyla Rose was the first trans woman to be a champion on television and I’m in the main event of Dynamite.
“We’re not afraid at AEW to let our performers go out there and be themselves.”