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Anthony Bowens Is Ready to Scissor His Way to the Top of the Wrestling World

Anthony Bowens Is Ready to Scissor His Way to the Top of the Wrestling World


Anthony Bowens Is Ready to Scissor His Way to the Top of the Wrestling World
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The self-described "Scissor King" and All Elite Wrestling pro talks to Out about the origins of his nickname, being out in the sports world, the future of his career, and more!

Anthony Bowens is “scissoring” his way to the top of the world of wrestling.

Being the first openly gay wrestler at All Elite Wrestling to win a championship and holding the AEW Tag Team Championship title for 140 days (with his partner Max Caster) is no small feat — but this is all just the beginning for him.

A pivotal moment in not only Bowens' career, but in wrestling as a whole, happened earlier this summer, when, during a broadcast segment shared with QTV reporter Harley Cameron, she suggested he was attracted to her. After a few rebuttal exchanges with Cameron, Bowens shared a snarky remark to the announcer before announcing he’s gay to the fans, causing the audience to chant, in support, “He’s gay!”

Even more recently, Bowens picked up another huge victory in August, winning the AEW Trios World Tag Team Championship with Caster and Billy Gunn at AEW’s All In, defeating The House of Black.

Sitting down with Out, Bowens discusses how he became “The Scissor King,” a touching moment with a fan who changed his mindset on the LGBTQIA+ community and why, who his dream match would be, and much more.

Out: You were discovered by Santino Marella, one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) history. What was that meeting like and were you a fan of his before meeting him?

Anthony Bowens: I was in college and I found out a lot of the wrestlers would go to the gym I used to go to in New Jersey. They had a show in the area, so I called in sick to my professors and went to the gym with my buddy, Will, and took pictures with everyone. The last person I met was Santino and he was doing an ab workout. After being there for two hours, my buddy Will convinced me to take a picture with him, saying I wouldn’t meet him again. After we took the photo, he stopped me and asked if I ever thought about becoming a pro wrestler, which I was at the time trying to figure out what to do next with my life. I had a fifth-year eligibility to play baseball and decided to not proceed, so I was trying to figure out how to fill my time creatively. After chatting it up with Santino, he gave me [Pat Buck]’s number, who is the founder of Creative Pro Wrestling Academy in New Jersey and now a producer at AEW. He now produces my matches at AEW. After five minutes at his academy, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Now, 11 or 12 years later, it’s starting to pay off.

What’s training like as a wrestler that’s different from any other training you’ve done?

Well, the training is brutal (laughs). Purposely falling down is not fun and it hurts, especially in a wrestling ring. A pro wrestling ring has four steel posts and it has supports that are all metals, wooden planks over the beams, and a little bit of padding. When you’re falling, you’re falling on wood and steel – it hurts. When I first started, my neck was tight for a couple of months because it was stiff and I had bruises on my back from hitting the ropes. The training is grueling because you need to have a good set of cardio. I would do it three times a week, stay after class, and learn more.

Working at different wrestling companies from Combat, WWE, Impact Wrestling, what was one of the biggest lessons you learned as a competitor while working with these companies?

I learned to not be too married to one specific idea, because in professional wrestling, there are a lot of ups and downs. When you get locked into one thing and it doesn’t happen, it becomes a huge disappointment. My career prior to AEW was a lot of getting the gold ripped from underneath my feet, whether it was booking an indie shot or getting a tryout from WWE. I learned to go with the flow and do it because you love it, and if you’re passionate enough about something, while being persistent, it will come.

Most athletes tend to wait until they leave a company or retire to disclose their sexuality, but Darren Young became the first to publicly come out and still be signed to a major promotion at the WWE. Did that impact or influence you to do the same as you stepped in the ring?

Yes. So it was around 2013 when I think he came out and I had just started wrestling and kept my eye on it because I was curious how it would go for him after publicly disclosing his sexuality while wondering how it would work out for me. Other than Fred Rosser (Darren Young), there weren’t many out professional wrestlers openly thriving. Maybe a few on the independent scene. but I had never heard of them. I didn’t really have anybody to look towards and say, "He’s a World Champion, I want to be like him one day." It was extra motivation for me when I did share my sexuality, to become the person I always wanted to see. It also kept me in the closet because it was a landscape that people hadn’t really navigated.

I wasn’t sure how it would affect my career because unfortunately, they didn’t do much with Darren afterwards. From a company perspective, I think Darren did a great job, but from a company’s perspective with WWE, it wasn’t the most motivating for me to see how they treated him. I wasn’t sure how fans or other wrestlers would react to me. You may get in there and come across someone who may not “agree” with your lifestyle and then you have to defend yourself. Luckily, I never had to deal with something like that and it made my relationships with my co-workers a lot stronger, as well as the fans. I’ve accomplished so much now and to get these warm messages from fans every day thanking me for being myself and inspiring people just by doing something that I love.

Now we have to speak on your viral moment where fans in unison were chanting, “He’s gay!” in the most positive way. How has the reception been from fans and fellow wrestlers after this moment occurred?

I never said the words, “I’m gay,” on television because my form of activism is to go out every week and exist successfully. I’m visible and I represent people. I don’t like to shoehorn things in there. I want it to be natural, not forced. I never found the right time to implement it and when it was presented to me, I felt this would resonate with a lot of people and we didn’t know what to expect.

To have a full arena standout and give a standing ovation, it’s one of my favorite moments since joining AEW because it was such a cool, genuine moment for everyone in the arena and in the ring too. I turned to Billy and he said this was amazing and incredible. My tag team partner was excited too. Especially on X (formerly Twitter) these days where there’s so much anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric going on, I expected the platform to be bombarded with a ton of negativity, but it was filled with so much positivity.

I had a moment at a meet-and-greet in Detroit... this one random man who wasn’t in line to meet me wanted to chat for a second. I was hesitant at first, but we spoke and he shared a story with me about his brother who had an unfortunate incident and was attacked by someone who identified as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. A couple of years later, that same person took his life. He shared that he held a grudge against people in the community, but changed his mindset after watching that chanting moment I experienced in the ring. It made him realize his anger was directed at one person and had him understand there are a lot of good people out there. He thanked me, looked me in the eyes, and shook my hand.

While there are good fans and people in the world, we still have to deal with some bad apples sometimes. You also experienced an unfortunate side of being out in wrestling, dealing with homophobia as a fan used the F-slur and insulted you during one of your matches back in 2021. How have your dealings with homophobia been with fans, in the business, and how are you choosing to navigate through it?

So I didn’t hear it in that instance, but I happened to be on Twitter and the broadcast audio picked it up. I don’t respond to negativity and I brush it off my shoulders. I figured it was a moment to highlight what athletes like myself go through. When I started my YouTube channel with my boyfriend Michael, the comments we would get, I wouldn’t want to read them out loud because they were so vile and horrible and things you shouldn’t say to a human being. You don’t even know me. If you hung out with me, I think you would have a good time no matter what your politics are. As time went on, I realized these are very unhappy people and I can’t let their negativity outshine my positivity. I can’t let them have power over me.

Late wrestler Chris Kanyon identified as a gay man, but unfortunately struggled with his identity, with wrestling not being as open as it is now with queer wrestlers. For wrestlers who may still feel like they can’t come out or say anything, possibly feeling like how Chris felt, what do you have to say to them?

It’s hard to give advice without knowing the person’s situation because I can say, "Live out loud and be yourself!" I can say that to a person who lives down south and may get hurt for it similar to the incident that occurred with O’Shae Sibley who was voguing in New York City and was having the time of his life and ended up getting killed. It gets very hard for me to give advice because I have to take everything situationally, but what I will say is there are people, like myself and other athletes, trying to pave the way and open doors for you to make sure the future is a lot brighter and have avenues to be whomever you want to be. There are people out there working for you trying to make the world a better place so keep hope and stay positive.

If Chris Kanyon were here, what would you say to him or what do you think he would say as he saw so many members from the queer community loud, proud, and being given opportunities?

I don’t know what I would say to him, but I would hope that he would be proud of all the progress that was made, because I did read some of his book about how much he struggled and heard the stories of his experiences going toward the latter end of his life where he did take his life, which was so heartbreaking to hear. I just wish he was around to see it so he wouldn’t have to go through that pain. He could exist in the space of professional wrestling doing what he loves that I do every single week. It’s horrible that he grew up in that time when he couldn't be or felt like he couldn’t be himself. I hope he’s looking down and smiling.

There were many gimmicks in the past on what queer looked like to the wrestling industry, with Billy and Chuck, Rico, etc. What were your thoughts on those gimmicks and how do you feel the queer story has evolved in wrestling now, especially with wrestlers like you, Sonny, Nyla?

Thankfully we don’t have to exist anymore being stereotypes or being the fodder in the story. We’re presented as credible athletes and champions like myself or [Nyla Rose]. Wrestling has come a long way with the presentation of queer athletes, which is why I’m particularly happy I’m signed to [All Elite Wrestling]. Tony Khan and the company allow us to be us and whatever that may be, whether it’s Sonny Kiss, who is genderfluid, or Nyla Rose, or myself who now has straight people scissoring each other (laughs). I don’t ever have to worry about upper management trying to change me or direct me to be a certain way. Hopefully, wrestling continues to move in that direction. The independent circuit is doing great because now, there are so many LGBTQ+ wrestlers. It’s come a very long way and I’m excited to see where it continues to go.

What’s a goal you have while in AEW?

As much as I hope The Acclaimed, the tag team I’m a part of, stays forever, I would love to become AEW’s first gay World Champion. I got the Tag Team titles checked off the list, but there hasn’t been a gay World Champion. I would also like to be a Grand Slam champion, too, which is where you win every title once.

You were recently featured in a very sexy campaign for Savage X Fenty for their Pride collection. Did you speak to Rihanna? How did this deal go down and what was the experience like?

My wonderful manager Julian set that up for me, but I didn’t get to meet Rihanna. It was a very fun shoot in Downtown Los Angeles. I put on some Savage X Fenty and had some fun in front of the camera. My boyfriend and I moved out here to start setting a foundation for acting, which is poor timing considering the strike. I’d like to dip my toes in every avenue of entertainment. I’ve done commercials, I have three magazine covers, a YouTube channel, and I’m on television. We have a little bit of everything.

If you could share the screen with any wrestler-turned-actor, who would it be?

The Rock. I've never had the opportunity to meet him and he’s been an influence to me since I was a kid. I have his action figure in my house back when he was Rocky Maivia. It was the only action figure that matched my skin tone (laughs). I always said how that would be me one day. I would love to share the screen with him soon. I have my action figure coming out in a few months, so I’ll put my right next to him.

The pro wrestler who actually got me into wrestling was Sting. I saw his commercial for Starrcade 97’ and it was him going against Hulk Hogan. I was six years old. I ended up watching the match and fell in love with wrestling. Full circle moment, I had a match on one of AEW’s Dynamite against Sting in the same city I first saw him in during that match in Washington D.C. I would credit him for making me get into wrestling.

So many Black wrestlers in the past carved out a space for us, like The Rock, Booker T, Jazz, D’Lo Brown, Mark Henry, Jacqueline, to name a few. But unfortunately, they weren't always used to their fullest potential or reached the success they should’ve. How do you think the Black wrestler is viewed in the modern era?

AEW does a good job of having a diverse roster. Jade Cargill was the TBS Champion. Will Hobbs was the TNT Champion. We’re Black and we’re dominating. I think we’ve been presenting well and we’ll get to a point where we can have a Black World Champion. Hopefully, I could be that person to represent the Black community and the LGBTQIA+ community.

It’s not many Black World Champions in the history of wrestling, and some will say we’ve been regulated to tag team factions, managers, or some mid-card success. What do you think the solution would be or the best way to push for Black wrestlers to be seen as faces of the company and given the same world championship success like our counterparts?

I don’t think there’s one specific solution, but I would say inserting somebody into a fantastic storyline. all you need is one strong storyline to get the crowd behind you and you’re good to go. Look at Kofi Kingston when he won the WWE Championship and everyone was behind him. Doesn’t matter the color of your skin or your race, you’ll get inserted into a storyline and gain this ground support from fans to now standing on top in pro wrestling.

What would your dream match be?

I will stick with choosing a Tag Team match, because I’m with The Acclaimed. A lot of tag teams I love like The Hardy Boyz, who are on the roster and could potentially get in our way of tag team gold. Matt and Jeff were big influences for me, too, because I was a shy, introverted child and their jumping off ladders while being larger than life. It would be cool to share the ring with them and beat them up (laughs).

So "The Scissor King." Share with me how that nickname came about?

It started off as a joke and it’s on-camera somewhere in AEW Dark. I threw up The Acclaimed symbol and Max came up from behind and he scissored me. I gasped and was confused about what he was doing and he had a good laugh about it. He kept doing it, but at one point, someone in the company shared that while they allowed us to do what we need to do, they didn’t want to get the network angry and asked if we should not do that (laughs). We stopped doing it for a bit, but for whatever reason, we kinda started being rebellious and doing it again. I was laying on the ground during one of the matches and in the first row, the fans all had their fingers out and were screaming, “Scissor me!” I figured we were on to something, so we leaned into it during our entrances and I started doing the motorboat with my face. We began teaming up with [Billy Gunn] and his sons and I was in a wheelchair. I wanted to find a way to cap off our entrance where Max would taunt our opponents while I get the crowd to taunt Billy's kids and it would awkwardly end. One day, five minutes before going on national television, I was sitting in the wheelchair, giggling to myself because back in the day, Billy Gunn’s name was Mr. Ass and I said to myself, “I think I’m gonna say scissor me Daddy Ass,” since scissoring was catching on. I briefly told Billy and he smiled and said alright.

We went out there, I screamed it, and nobody in the back said a word about it. We were trending on Twitter and the next week, I started seeing signs with the saying on it. I lose my voice every week screaming, “Scissor me Daddy Ass!” and it took off. I scissor people everywhere now. Airports, the men’s bathroom (laughs), everywhere I go. People say it’s really fun.

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