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AEW ‘Dynamite’ review: It’s The Acclaimed’s world, and we’re just scissoring in it

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Fans at the Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, D.C., participate in the National Scissoring Day segment on AEW “Dynamite” featuring The Acclaimed. Photo by Crystal Abbe Graham.

The rule in wrestling is you can’t predict what will go over, but when something goes over – see Acclaimed, The: Scissor Gimmick – you roll with it.

What started out as something that Tony Khan didn’t want Max Caster and Anthony Bowens doing on YouTube now has The Acclaimed setting themselves up as AEW’s answer to The New Day.

Caster and Bowens have it all – they’re both sturdy guys (Caster is 6’1”, 230; Bowens is 5’10”, 205), both have great mic skills, and both can get it done in the ring.

A lot of guys, of course, have elements that should get them over with the fans. Credit to Caster and Bowens for honing their craft at the bottom of the card, then taking advantage of being in the right place at the right time.

I was in the arena for Wednesday night’s live AEW “Dynamite” in Washington, D.C., which Khan promoted as “National Scissoring Day,” giving the coveted 9 p.m. ET quarter-hour to The Acclaimed for a lengthy promo that was all about … scissors.

Caster and Bowens, and their manager, “Daddy Ass,” Billy Gunn, were as over with the live crowd as much as any act I’ve seen in years. The best comparison to what I saw Wednesday night with Caster, Bowens and Gunn that I’ve seen live that comes to mind is Miro, back when he was in WWE known as Rusev, at a WWE “Raw” live TV show at the Richmond Coliseum several years ago. Miro, and his wife, Lana, when she was using the Russian accent, praising Vladimir Putin, did a promo during that show that drew so much heat that we couldn’t hear what they were saying, the live crowd was so loud.

The scissors handshake from The Acclaimed started innocently. Caster and Bowens, in their ring entrances on the YouTube shows, would hold their index and middle fingers in the shape of an “A,” signifying The Acclaimed.

On one show, Bowens, throwing out his “A,” was met by Caster’s “A” in an impromptu scissor sort of handshake, which the duo later said was met with disapproval backstage from Khan, for some reason that they didn’t further explain, just saying that they were told not to do it anymore.

They continued doing it anyway, and fans started reaching out to scissor Caster and Bowens when they made their way to the ring, which was unexpected, given that The Acclaimed were booked as underneath heels at the outset of their run in AEW.

Caster also started to get over with fans with his pre-match battle raps, which were originally done to, again, get the duo over as underneath heels, with the raps meant to draw cheap heat by poking fun at local sports teams and players, and current-events news of the day.

All of this was the icing to the cake that was a tag team that can clearly work.

It took Khan a while – a long while, too long – to realize the lightning that he had in a bottle, but he finally gave The Acclaimed a tag title shot at the “All Out” pay-per-view last month, and their match, with then-champs Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland, stole the show, leading to a rematch at the “Dynamite: Grand Slam” show in New York two weeks ago, which The Acclaimed won, to start their first title reign.

Their “Scissor Me, Daddy Ass” T-shirt – Caster and Bowens were linked to Gunn during a program that led to The Acclaimed defeating Gunn’s two sons, Austin and Colten, after which he decided to lend his veteran wrestling expertise to the victors – is the top-selling item in the AEW online store, which, you can’t make this stuff up, folks.

I don’t think it takes much to see The Acclaimed as having the potential to have a run like Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E have had with The New Day, which debuted in 2014 as a babyface act that didn’t get over, then transitioning to heels who trumpeted the “power of positivity.”

Yes, they’ve been at it for eight long years, and there’s no reason to think The New Day gimmick will go on as long as those guys are in the business.

If Tony Khan is smart, he builds around this gimmick with Caster, Bowens and Gunn for years to come.

Chris Graham

I write books, two on UVA basketball, one on pro wrestling, one on politics, which is getting to be like pro wrestling more and more each day. I've finished three marathons, but my maranthoning days are over. I'm also a progressive who voted for Biden, but we need another Democrat in 2024. (Sorry, Joe, and thanks.) Want to reach me? Try [email protected]