AEW President & CEO Tony Khan says he felt pressured by WWE to sign Anthony Bowens and Max Caster.
Bowens and Caster are now known as The Acclaimed in AEW. Khan spoke with Mike Johnson of PWInsider this week and revealed that WWE wanted to sign both Caster and Bowens, as they were singles wrestlers from the popular Create A Pro wrestling school. He also named Red Velvet and Powerhouse Hobbs as AEW success stories.
“There’s also a lot of big success stories in AEW. Red Velvet and Will Hobbs and a number of other wrestlers, including a team that I put together, The Acclaimed,” Khan said. “The Acclaimed were singles wrestlers. They both went to the same school, Create A Pro, but they’d never teamed. And I saw them both on Dark and they were, frankly, the WWE put a little pressure on me with both of them. I think they were both people the WWE wanted, and I really wanted to use both of them.
“And then I thought about it and I had this thought about The Acclaimed and I brought them together. And there’s a lot of teams that have gotten, I think, the benefit of Dark and Elevation as platforms that are kind of teams that I’ve kind of put together. The same, The Acclaimed got the amazing reaction at Double or Nothing. Particularly in the beginning of the Battle Royale when Max rapped. Anthony is an actor, such a versatile wrestler. Max Caster and Anthony Bowens a tremendous pair and they’ve gotten to develop and they really became an act and got over on Dark and Elevation with the fans and then got integrated into the regular programming on Dynamite. I wanted to keep using them and keep featuring them in special ways. And they’ve really delivered time after time.”
Khan continued about being proud of The Acclaimed, and how Dark and Elevation serves as a developmental system for the company. He also commented on how the AEW TV presentation will change once they go back on the road, and once Rampage premieres on Friday, August 13.
“So I’m really proud of what The Acclaimed have done and that again, came from Dark and Elevation. It’s a developmental system in many ways for us,” he said. “And it also gives us a chance for the stars to get some reps in and work with the young talent. But it’s not our bread and butter platform, frankly. AEW Dynamite and soon, Rampage will be the ‘A’ shows, so to speak, in many ways. But look, if you love wrestling, what Elevation and Dark bring on Monday and Tuesday is a chance to see some of the best wrestlers in the world for free for everybody in the world, no matter where they are. And I think that’s pretty cool and I try to make it fun.
“So it will change the presentation, when we start going back on the road, particularly when we start… when Rampage begins. It’s going to change. And there’ll be weeks where it’s different. There’ll be more content in the live arena some weeks, maybe when Rampage is live and we’ll film more stuff. And there’s other weeks where I’m going to rely on the studios. But I have a plan for it and I try to be really organized and meticulous in the booking. As far as going forward and what we’re going to do with the live events, I think I’ve got it pretty well organized, but I’m glad you asked because nobody’s really asked much about it. And I think it’s going to be great in many ways. There’s a lot of pros.”
Bowens made his AEW debut on a September 2020 episode of Dark, teaming with Lee Johnson for a loss to Chaos Project. Bowens’ next match came on Dark in October 2020, teaming with Caster for a loss to The Best Friends. Caster had previously debuted on AEW Dark in June 2020, teaming with Chaos Project for a loss to Jurassic Express. He then lost a few singles matches until being paired with Bowens.
The Acclaimed got their first win on AEW Dark in late October 2020, defeating Aaron Solow and Angel Fashion, which was their second match together. They then debuted on Dynamite during the December 16, 2020 show, with a win over SCU. That next week is when The Acclaimed challenged The Young Bucks for the AEW World Tag Team Titles, coming up short on the Holiday Bash edition of Dynamite.
Stay tuned for more. You can click here for Khan’s recent comments on plans for the AEW Rampage show and future TV tapings, and how he is looking to secure a venue to tape AEW content from, including Dark.