Yesterday, Time’s Square in New York City was bristling with excitement as Team USA Wrestling came in to take on The World, and Team USA did not disappoint. The first four bouts, were pretty tame in terms of excitement value (that’s not to say they aren’t worth watching). The problem is how will you watch these matches? The build up to Beat the Streets had fans scheduling time off of work, just to make sure that they would be able to stream the event. How could fans not be excited about Brent Metcalf taking on the #1 ranked wrestler in the world at his weight? 18 year old Kyle Snyder wrestling a former Olympic champion, that just sounds like it was made for television.
Flowrestling, who was supposed to be streaming the event live at 4:30 Central Time, announced very late Wednesday that due to a lot of moving parts, the Beat the Streets event would not be available for streaming. While that was an maddeningly frustrating moment for wrestling fans, they could take solace in knowing that NBC Sports Network would be carrying the event on a five hour tape delay. For die hard wrestling fans waiting five hours to watch an event on delay is a small price to pay to give wrestling actual air time on TV. In my opinion somebody dropped the ball on getting this event put together, at least as far as streaming it to fans, which not to say Flo specifically – just whoever the responsible party is. From the looks of things Time’s Square was rocking and everyone appeared to be having a good time, but nobody got to watch it. For an event who’s goal is to raise the profile of wrestling, while promoting the sport within New York City, by failing to get the live stream to work, and only allowing for about half of the matches (and in that process excluding one of the most exciting ones of the night) leaves the feeling of leading an entire match only to get thrown to your back by a desperation headlock with five seconds left. This event should have been a great way to promote and grow the sport of wrestling, and maybe for the non-wrestling fans it worked, but for even the causal freestyle fan I was unimpressed.
On to the positives, to Flo’s credit, they did get the matches up, behind their paywall, but it’s not like you got to watch the live stream for free, on the site late last night. While they should probably bear some of the blame for the failure of the streaming, I am willing to give them the credit for the effort required to getting the videos up the day of the event. For NBC Sports Network, while they may have excluded the Metcalf match, which was again seemed like a match made for television, they did do a good job of having really good coverage, and they had really good talent working the event. Rulon helping the play-by-play along with Chris Mannix working the sideline interview was great TV.
On to the wrestling.
Brent Metcalf’s match, which let’s be honest is what everyone wants to talk about, was full of excitement and kept fans on the edge of their seat the entire time. To be honest I probably won’t do the match enough justice (because I am not sure anyone can, it’s that good) so if you have FloPro, go watch it here first. For those who don’t have a FloPro account you might have to be a little more patient (UPDATE: Link to USA Wrestling YouTube video). Taking on 2013 World’s bronze medalist Kurbanaliev of Russia, Metcalf had his work cut out for him from the start. Even with his victory over Kurbanaliev last year, this match was going to be no walk in Central Park. Metcalf with his ever so smooth high crotch and a gut wrench was able to take a 4-0 lead early. Metcalf got hit with a four point move and then hit another high crotch of his own to lead 6-4 at the end of first, he was thrown for a four point move by Kurbanaliev, which coach Tom Brands immediately challenged. The call was upheld and Metcalf was trailing 8-6. Metcalf then used a takedown and a gut wrench to bring his lead up to 10-8 followed by a pushout to win 11-8. Flo did get a post match interview of Metcalf that is available for everyone here.
The other matches that took place.
Bulgaria’s Vangelov opened the Senior level competition with a 5-4 victory over Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett. The match was tied up at 4-4 when Vangelov scored a push out in the closing seconds to secure his win. A bit of a heartbreak for Team USA, but the American’s were ready to respond.
Jimmy Kennedy who wrestled his college career at Illinois had his meeting with Bogomoev, a Russian who had previously owned him in the previous three matches Kennedy was able to even the team score to 1-1 with a 2-1 victory.
Jordan Oliver was able to continue his dominance over Novachkov with a win. The 4-1 victory was Oliver’s third win in four matches against the Bulgarian.
Even though many were considering Stieber the favorite in his match against Canada’s Garcia, he was unable to pull out the win for Team USA. . Stieber was tied 2-2 with his opponent when he was hit with a front headlock and turned to fall 6-2.
Both women’s freestylers made their matches look easy with Helen Maroulis, who was never in danger of losing her match, got the pin just before the end of her match at 5:53. Randi Miller was also able to win handily 11-5 over Andrades of Ukraine.
The remaining four matches were just as exciting. David Taylor was able to beat Hansanov by using what had made him deadly as a collegiate wrestler. Taylor was able to ankle pick Hansanov and used his great scrambling ability to pull out a 6-0 victory. Taylor was very aggressive from his feet and showed some great defense. If Taylor is lucky enough to make the World Team Trials finals, it should be another showdown with Burroughs that wrestling fans will be sure not to miss.
Ed Ruth had Spain’s Friev, who was the 5th place finisher at last year’s World’s. Ruth made his match look very easy, putting on a takedown clinic for all of New York to watch as he won his match 10-0 technical fall. Previously I had wondered if Ruth would take some time to transition to high level International wrestling, but he has made it look seamless.
Khadjimurat Gatsalov wrestled USA’s young Kyle Snyder in what ended up being a surprisingly entertaining match. When ever you have an former Olympic and World champion going against a young up and comer, you aren’t really sure if you will get a blow out or a surprisingly competitive match. Snyder provided the latter as in the opening sequence he had his back exposed, but was able to pick a point of his own to go back into a restart down 2-1. Snyder added a takedown in the second, but in the end wasn’t able to overcome Gatsalov and lost 6-3. It was a great showing by the youngster and anyone who wasn’t considering Snyder contending for a national title as a true freshman might have had a change in perspective (I know I did).
USA’s Jordan Burroughs was able to pin his Russian opponent with two seconds left to put the exclamation point on the afternoon. Burroughs didn’t really pull out his patented blast double until the second period and even though he had built himself a nine point lead with short time left in his match, Burroughs still went for the proverbial kill and got the gut wrench to end his match.
In the end it was a fantastic event, and New York City was able to raise $1.6 million for youth wrestling, which at the end of the day is the really important thing. Fans will be able to see Metcalf and Burroughs exciting matches, at some point, and being on television should help raise the profile of wrestling. It may be frustrating that everything didn’t go as planned, but in the end an event like this is a win for wrestling.
BEAT THE STREETS TEAM USA VS THE WORLD DUAL
United States 8, World All-Stars 3
57 kg/125.5 lbs. –George Vangelov (Bulgaria) dec. Nahshon Garrett (USA), 5-4
61 kg/134 lbs. – Jimmy Kennedy (USA) vs. Aleksandr Bogomoev (Russia), 2-1
65 kg/143 lbs. – Jordan Oliver (USA) dec. Boris Novachkov (Bulgaria), 4-1
65 kg/143 lbs. –Haislan Garcia (Canada) dec. Logan Stieber (USA), 6-2
65 kg/143 lbs. – Brent Metcalf (USA) vs. Magomed Kurbanaliev (Russia), 11-8
55 kg/121 lbs. – Helen Maroulis (USA) pin Marcia Andrades (Venezuela), 5: 53
74 kg/163 lbs. – David Taylor (USA) dec Yabrail Hasanov (Azerbaijan), 6-0
86 kg/189 lbs. – Ed Ruth (USA) tech. fall Taymuraz Friev (Spain), 10-0
97 kg/213 lbs. –. Khadjimurat Gatsalov (Russia) dec. Kyle Snyder (USA), 6-3
69 kg/152 lbs. – Randi Miller (USA) dec. Alina Makhinya (Ukraine), 11-5
74 kg/163 lbs. – Jordan Burroughs (USA) pin Atsamaz Sanakoev (Russia), 5:58
(Results from TEAM USA.org)