Max Caster could have been any other up-and-coming professional wrestler. He competed in several independent organizations, just another generic grappler in a sport of larger-than-life personalities.

Anthony Bowens could have been just another up-and-coming professional wrestler. He also competed in several independent programs, and even had a match or two on the WWE’s developmental NXT brand, where he acted as “enhancement talent” and got slaughtered by his opponents.

Both men tried their hand as singles competitors, and in 2020 they were signed to All Elite Wrestling as a combined tag team, to be named The Acclaimed.

The Acclaimed had a very captivating look. The duo would arrive at the ring with Max Caster offering a freestyle rap that would, in equal moments, throw shade at their ring opponents, toss some snark at the news of the day, and even slip in a snide inside joke to those in the know. Then he would turn the mike over to Anthony Bowens, who would scream out the name of their current location, and shout out, “The Acclaimed Have Arrived!” This would be punctuated by the duo finger-scissoring each other in the ring.

As for their wrestling style – they work well together. Bowens, who played several sports in college, acts as the power member of the tag team, while Caster performs more high-flying moves, including a top-turnbuckle elbow smash he calls the “Mic Drop.”

At first, they were just another generic tag team paring on AEW’s YouTube shows, AEW Dark and AEW Elevation. And there were some unfortunate setbacks for the team – one of Caster’s raps referenced some uncomfortable territory and he received an in-house suspension; while Bowens lost some time due to a knee injury.

While The Acclaimed were doing okay when they were in the ring, AEW had hoped for more excitement from other tag teams on the roster – including teams like the Varsity Blondes, or Private Party, or the Dark Order. The Acclaimed ended up as midcard heels, eventually getting beaten up at the end of the night by the victorious good guy “face” tag teams.

Then two things happened to the Acclaimed. During Bowens’ knee injury, Caster teamed up with another tag group, the Gunn Club – Austin and Colten Gunn, led by their father, former WWE star Billy Gunn. The partnership worked well for a while, and it even had the added effect of a new catchphrase from the Acclaimed – Bowens, being transported in a wheelchair by Billy Gunn in the ring, added the phrase, “Scissor me, Daddy Ass” to his intro. (For those who don’t understand pro wrestling parlance, Billy Gunn used to be known as “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn in the WWE; he also used the nickname “Mr. Ass” on occasion; technically, that made the Gunn Club the “Ass Boys,” a nickname they didn’t appreciate).

Eventually the Gunns turned on the Acclaimed, which led to a show-stealing “dumpster” match between the two factions. And what a way to start.

Before long, the Acclaimed were offered a tag team title defense against the current AEW champions, Swerve In Our Glory (a team of former WWE stars Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland) at one of AEW’s major pay-per-view events, All Out.

Let’s put it this way. With a card already stocked to the top with AEW’s top-tier talent – a lineup that included CM Punk, Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson, Chris Jericho, the Young Bucks, Hangman Page, Darby Allin, and more and more and more … The Acclaimed and Swerve In Our Glory stole the show.

Oh, and if you’re a bit confused – yes, they reunited with Billy Gunn (but not the Gunn Club, that’s another story).

The Acclaimed and SIOG told a compelling story in the ring – Strickland and Lee worked over Bowens’ surgically-repaired knee, and Bowens spent most of the match limping through every hold. Caster tried some innovative aerial attacks, only to be caught by the 300+ pound Keith Lee like Caster was a lawn dart. But with every near-fall by both teams, the sold-out crowd in Chicago went absolutely nuts.

That was easily a five-star match. And although Swerve In Our Glory took the win, AEW fans had hoped that the AEW higher-ups would call “an audible” and give the belts to The Acclaimed.

Fast forward to last night. AEW’s big Grand Slam show at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City. The Acclaimed versus Swerve In Our Glory II.

And right off the bat, Caster and Bowens had the crowd in their pockets. I mean, they were the hometown favorites – Caster’s from Long Island, Bowens grew up in New Jersey.

And after another hellacious match between the two of them, The Acclaimed got a little help from Billy Gunn – who hit a “Fame-Ass-Er” on Strickland when the ref’s back was turned (because we all know that NO PROFESSIONAL WRESTING REFEREE HAS EYES IN THE BACK OF THEIR HEAD). Next thing you know, Bowens with a powerslam, Caster with a mic drop … and …

In case you didn’t catch that on the first go-round…

Not only are The Acclaimed the new AEW tag champs, they’re the first AEW tag champs that didn’t get their stat as a team in another company. They were homegrown, home-paired and home-honed. They spent a long time doing pandemic matches in Jacksonville. They fought through injuries and other out-of-ring battles along the way. And look where they are now. Holding tag team gold in a major professional wrestling company.

And just think. I knew them when … and by “when,” I mean last week.

See? This professional wresting stuff is fun.

Trust me on this.