AEW World Tag Team Champions Anthony Bowens and Max Caster of The Acclaimed will defend their titles against Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland at AEW Full Gear tonight. Before Bowens hit the indies a decade ago, he thought his path in life would involve baseball. He recently spoke with NJ.com’s Jacqueline Carter and talked about the two sports.
After graduating Nutley High School in Jersey, Bowens played left field for Seton Hall University and then right field when he transferred to Montclair State University.
“At that point, I was so drained from it — from the love of the game — to me, almost, if we didn’t win it was like we were nothing,” Bowens recalled. “Like it was for the manager’s win-loss record. That’s what I felt like we were playing for because he took the love of the game from me. And I was just tired of it. I was playing in pain. And ironically, I went into a different career where everything is pain. But I needed something to fill that time. I had been used to all those years, 11 or 12 years, where I was in the baseball field for five, six hours a day.”
Bowens grew up watching pro wrestling on TV and was a fan. His in-ring journey began when he and friends were goofing around while stuck in a house during a hurricane. One friend suggested they make a wrestling video.
“The feedback from that was like, ‘Hey, you look like a wrestler. You should probably think about doing it,’” Bowens said. “And that kind of planted the first seed that maybe I can do it.”
A man at Bowens’ local gym connected him with current AEW Coach and Vice President of Talent Development Pat Buck. While Bowens was used to hours of punishing workouts, he found the new style of training to be brutal.
“It’s much harder,” Bowens said, comparing the two. “With professional wrestling, you’re running up against the ropes. The ropes aren’t soft; they are metal cables, with basically a garden hose around it. So if you run into it more than enough, you’ll end up with scarring and bruises on your back, which I had for weeks.”
Bowens says he recognized that as grueling as the physical demands were, the mental demands can’t be overlooked.
“We’re not just in there doing things on a whim,” Bowens explained. “There are strategies. There’s listening to the audience because you’re simulating a fight, so you have to create a story. There are so many different layers and aspects to it. I’ve been in the batter’s box with people throwing 98 miles an hour, and they say the hardest thing to do is to hit a baseball that fast in sports. It’s very hard, but professional wrestling is much harder.”
Bowens said he sees pro wrestling as a performance, entertainment done by true athletes.
“I just want to keep proving that I am an elite performer and I’m one of the best out there,” he said. “People can turn on the TV and see a spectacular, entertaining performance.”
Stay tuned to WrestlingHeadlines.com for more.