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By Mike Johnson on 2022-08-17 17:44:00

Earlier today, I interviewed AEW's Max Caster of the Acclaimed. Elite subscribers can listen to the entire 35 minute conversation right now, but here are some select highlights.  Thanks to Billy Krotchsen.

Forging his bond with Anthony Bownens: "It was really scary at first. And it was really the first day that we kind of bonded because Anthony had a deal on the table from another company. He's told this story. But Tony wanted us to go out and wrestle a match on his show, on Dark. And Anthony was really nervous that if he did that, and let's say we fell on our face in that moment, Tony didn't like it, he would get that other deal pulled. And he was going back and forth all day. And we're about to not go out because he can't commit to doing this match and I look at him and say, "It's going to be fine. Okay, let's go do this match. It's going to be great. You know we're both great. can't screw this up. Let's go out there and prove to everyone why you do deserve this deal with AEW." And in that moment, he said, "Okay, I'll do it." So he went out there. Both of us, no contract in hand from AEW, and we did that match, and it's a solid match. And obviously we didn't know each other in the ring yet, but it was good enough, more than good enough to earn us some contracts. Then when we walked back, past Tony, he looks at someone in the office and says, yeah, these guys are good. And we walked right to the office, get a couple of contracts, and that was it. Other than that, it's just becoming friends, being forced to become business partners, and checking our egos at the door to where, you know, I know what Anthony's good at, I know what I'm good at and we can kind of fill the gaps with each other to make the Acclaimed one whole instead of two separate parts coming together and trying to work together every single week."

His rapping entrances: "Well, there's a lot that goes into it. Honestly, with management, I'm allowed to say whatever I want, and I know what I can't say. Sometimes people reach out to me and say hey, maybe don't mention this, don't mention that, it's a legal situation. Okay, I understand that. But otherwise, I could say what I want, I could reference who I want, it's just how I do it. So with Vince McMahon, right, we have to speak the facts - he did retire. Right? So I could say that, but if I start talking about what he's accused of doing or anything like that with people who you would call victim, then it becomes in poor taste. So you know, now I've learned to check myself,  Anthony is here to check me too. And if you know, anything is really, really dicey. I'll probably ask, but that hasn't happened in so, so long. So it's cool. All I do is say the things that people wouldn't expect me to say. But I have to make sure that it is factual and it is straight down the middle unbiased opinion, rather than, you know, putting myself in a category or labeling myself as anything, having a view on anything. It's just saying the things to get the people to pop for thet surprises he said Donald Trump this week, he said Joe Biden this week, it's really fun. It's a real fun aspect of my job."

The most surprising responses to his raps: "I think anytime I rap against Sonny Kiss is like the most viral thing that I could do. The first one, I think is the one that made John Cena notice me, which was about a year ago, a little bit more than a year ago, when I said booty butt cheeks to Sonny Kiss. And then a week later, it's one of the most viral videos on the internet, especially coming out of AEW. And then this year, I wrestled Sonny again, and I said that Sonny's ass is fake or something like that, and again, that one blew up so I'm always surprised at how much the fans react to anything was Sonny Kiss but I think that's also a testament to how great Sonny is and how loved Sonny by our fan base. And then for the opposite, things that people don't react to, every single time no matter what, if any sort of reference to rap, which is funny as a rapper. I know who I'm rapping for,  fans of hip hop. So, anytime I mentioned Drake's album being bad or, you know, some sort of local reference wherever we are, that never really gets a reaction. So I stopped doing that."

Singles vs. tag teams: "I guess it would be somewhere in the middle. Right. So I am a singles wrestler throughout my whole entire career up until AEW, I love singles wrestling. With tag team wrestling, you're always compromising. So there might be moves that me and Anthony do that I don't like or he doesn't like but we acknowledge that it works with us. There might be decisions made by one or the other that we have to kind of go with. And there's a lot of give and take there. The positive of tag team wrestling is, especially in our case, we're incredibly popular here. So if I wanted to turn around and say "Hey, get me out of this tag team", that would be the dumbest thing I could ever do because we are the most popular tag team in AEW, we are the best homegrown tag team in AEW, we are the winningest tag team in AEW and we've earned all these things from the start. That first match that I talked about when we wrestled Best Friends on Dark, fans hated us. They rejected us for a long time. And we earned our popularity, we earned our spot on the roster now, we've earned our spot in the locker room which is just as important, maybe even more important. I do love being in a tag team, especially here in AEW and I think that's where the success lies for both me and Anthony. Our goal is the Tag Team Titles right now. The AEW tag team titles, specifically and I know there's a lot of titles in AEW but we want the big ones, we want the World Championships.  In terms of singles wrestling, I like it, especially on the independent level because I'm left to my own devices a lot. I can be exactly who I want to be at all times. And it's just a different challenge to keep myself sharp. That's why I do it. You know, aside from loving independent wrestling and a lot of my friends being independent wrestlers, I need to stay sharp. You know we work once a week here at AEW, for me, that's not enough. I like to wrestle two, three, maybe four times a week, and the schedule gets busy, and maybe my body gets beat up but I love professional wrestling more than anything. I think Bryan Danielson said a quote last night, "I want my kids to find something that they love as much as I love pro wrestling." And I feel the same way. I love pro wrestling so much that even though I have a salary, even though I have a spot on TV, I'm a popular television star, I will go out and wrestle in front of, I mean Wrestling Open is 200 people every single week. I do shows with 100 people, 300 people, whatever. That doesn't mean anything to me. I just like to be in the ring wrestling, fighting and showing everybody why I am the best wrestler alive."

Competing for Wrestling Open tomorrow: "So the idea was I had come into Wrestling Open and I tagged with Bryce Donovan and Bobby Orlando, The Shook Crew, my original group in wrestling. They're still my friends today. And I saw what Wrestling Open had been building - all the guys on the roster coming back every single week, the growing attendance every single week and I thought there's something here, there really is and coming from the indies and a lot of my friends being indy wrestlers, I wanted to give those guys a chance to change their lives and you know $10,000, you know, it might not sound like the craziest sum of money but it's a lot of money, especially to an independent wrestler, a guy who has to make car payments, pay tolls, someone who has to incur all these expenses and pay their own way through independent wrestling. That's a tough thing to do. So if they do last 10 minutes with me and win $10,000, then their life is automatically changed for the better. They can buy gear, they can travel more, maybe buy a plane ticket to take a chance on a booking. All these things are possible. It's just that nobody has been able to do it yet. And nobody's been at my level. So that's the sad thing, you know, and I hate to come in there and kind of run through everybody, but that's what's happened so far. And look, I'm not going to give it up easy, this is not a charity case. I'm not going to lay down for someone that I like or someone that's a friend of mine. I'm going to give them what's real and what's real is you are trying to take my money and I'm betting against myself every single week. So I have to go out there and beat these guys. But when, if somebody is ready to beat me, it's going to change their lives and I think that's really the idea behind this. It's being a little bit benevolent and testing these guys and seeing what they can do."

The Dumpster Match vs. The Gunn Club: "Well on Dynamite you're going to see the Ass Boys wrestling the Varsity Blonds, like you said. Both teams we're very familiar with, but that dumpster match, I'll tell you, that was a life changing moment for me jumping off the top of that tunnel. I watch it back periodically and you see the fear in my eyes and when I got back to the locker room a lot of the guys were saying, "Man, that was great, but the camera caught your face and you said f*uck just as you're about to jump." And they all kind of related to me in that moment because they've all been there. And maybe they don't verbalize it and they don't get caught on camera. But you know, it was that fear and overcoming it in that moment and doing that elbow drop, doing what we needed to do to win that match and I watched that back and I'm like, Man, I am invincible. I'm borderline indestructible. Because I walked away from that match, and I'm still banged up, but I walked away from that match the winner. I walked away having done something that I was petrified of - to climb up there alone is scary but to jump off? It's crazy...a real life changing moment that dumpster match and I know that the fans love us even more after it and I love the fans even more because they were with me at the top of that tunnel. I'm like come on guys give me something and they gave me all they had and I felt okay, here we go and I jumped, and that was like you know, just like trust building, some bonding between me and the crowd right there, and Anthony's down there cheering me on. He's like, go do it, do it. I'm like, yeah, I'm going to do it and I did it.... a real, real pivotal moment in my life. I really love that match. I love that moment for me. Not just in my career, but in my life. Crazy, crazy moment."

AEW Dynamite airs tonight on TNT.  Wrestling Open stream tomorrow at IndependentWrestling.TV


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