I saw a comment the other day suggesting that wrestling has been the favoured tool to overcome superior opposition through the ages. For the life of me I can't remember the post I saw it in, but when I saw a guy mock that idea, as if wrestling was never an important part of armed combat... Well, someone was wrong on the Internet and I could lurk no more.
Wrestling has always been important in European martial arts, and this is especially evident in the manuscripts of German masters. Aside from learning how to wrestle against an unarmed opponent, fighters also learned to wrestle while armed and even while on horseback. The latter can be found in a few pages of the master Hans Talhoffer's fechtbuch. (enter 258 for the page to see what I mean)
Many other German masters also knew the importance of wrestling, and a lot of them drew upon the teachings of a wrestling master known as Ott. If you can get through the archaic language, it's quite clear that many of the principles of current sportive wrestling are near identical to those of the combative wrestling of the past.
It wasn't just German masters that placed a premium on wrestling, but they were quite enthusiastic about it. I could go on, but the point I'm trying to make is that wrestling has always been there (at least throughout Europe) to shut down strikers - even when the strikers are using weapons.
Collegiate wrestling certainly wouldn't have been a good idea, but the nature of wrestling has obviously changed to suit new purposes, just as the striking arts have. Skilled wrestlers (well, grapplers) have always been feared for their ability to render other fighting skills useless, and it's just wrong to suggest otherwise. The old fighters may not have been shooting in for a double leg, but they were using similar wrestling principles to those taught today in order to take down and overcome even armoured opponents.
That was... far too long and ranty, but that's what you get from saving up nerd rage for a day. First post, let me know what you think. I'll talk about more relevant modern stuff next time, I promise.