The Keep Olympic wrestling movement seems to be picking up more momentum as the weeks go on. Dana White and UFC are no on board, along with BellatorMMA which is owned by Viacom. This comes at the perfect time, as Bill Scherr the Chairman of CPOW (Committee for the preservation of Olympic Wrestling) wrote a piece about lessons that wrestling can learn from UFC. It appears that there is some Hollywood star power about to get behind the cause, and also some Wall Street money guys are working to put give the effort a much needed influx of Cash.
As I read this succession of articles this week, I started brain storming ideas for how USA Wrestling, and the wrestling community as a whole can improve the sport. Everything should be on the table in these discussion, and I'm just putting out some of my ideas..
1. Find a broadcast outlet for the finals of the US Open, and World Championships. NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Big 10 Network, FoxSports 1 or 2, ESPN 1, 2 or 3... AXS... Pretty much anything, but they need to find a way to get these events on TV or at least distributed.
2. Jordan Burroughs is undefeated since graduating college with a world Championship, and Olympic Gold medal... every sports fan in the country should know who he is. He should be the face of the sport, and getting as many interviews as he is willing to do.
3. Sell the hell out of Ed Ruth, Logan Stieber, and Tony Nelson. All three will be going for their 3rd National title next season, and are projecting as potential Olympians in 2016. With Nelson, America loves heavyweights, and I'd also be selling that he is following in the line of great Minnesota HWs like Brock Lesnar, and Cole Konrad.
4. Taylor vs. Howe... Ok, this came into my mind, and then I saw that Howe may compete at 174lbs next year... The point is that the wrestling community should focus on the biggest rivalry in the sport next season and hype it up. It worked with Taylor and Dake this season.
5. Why doesn't the University of Texas have a Division 1 wrestling program? They have their own sports TV network just for the University. Are you telling me that between November and March they wouldn't love to have matches with their natural rivals Oklahoma, and Oklahoma St. to show. They have a wrestling club... but seriously. Somebody get down there and fund that program. They show every football practice during the season, and then provide a breakdown of what they are looking at... that sounds like they need some more programming.
6. Should NCAA wrestling be under the international Freestyle rules? Might that be an item that the IOC would wrap it's hands around and look at as a major step forward.
7. Made for TV events - BIG10 Alumni who are competing regularly in International compeition (Iowa, Penn St., Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio St.) vs. BIG12 (OK St, Iowa St, OK) Alumni meets find a way to keep their fan bases interested, and another reminder that besides MMA there is life after College Wrestling. BIG10 Network would be a nice place to show something like this. PAC 12 also has it's own network, and might be willing to show an event like this.
8. More Beat the Streets - It is cool to watch it in Time Square... but how about Chicago, LA, Houston
9. Work with UFC to get a wrestling event into the UFC fan expo. Get guys like Jordan Burroughs, Kyle Dake, Coleman Scott, Tervel Dlagnev, and Jake Varner in front of UFC fans. Why does it just have to be grappler's quest competitions?
10. If Dana White really is on board... ask if they can use the FOX, FX, or at Least PPV platform to get a few minutes to sell the cause. Let Dan Henderson, and Daniel Cormier have a spot to talk. How about a free sponsorship spot on the mat for one of the save wrestling websites, and USA Wrestling
11. Propose using the MMA weight classes (Men: 125, 135, 145, 155, 170, 185, 205, 265; Women: 95, 105, 115, 125, 135, 145, 155, 170).. Work to develop a "combat sport standard." Gender equality is also a buzz of the day... Wrestling needs to get an equal number of female to male weight classes.
12. People will get hung up on the word "belt"... but establishing a ranking system, so that wrestling becomes more of a lifetime sport. I've been training in BJJ for a little while now, and would feel comfortable going to a BJJ tourney, because I know I can enter in the "White Belt" division... I haven't wrestled much since high school, so I would not feel comfortable entering a tourney where I could be matched up with a 23 y/o who just wrestled for four years in college... Someone like that would be at least the equivalent of participating in the Purple, or Brown Belt divisions. More opportunities to attend a wrestling class exist now than ever before thanks to the many MMA gyms that offer them. We see Ben Henderson working on his BJJ game, showing up in a Gi to a Brown Belt competition... we never see Dan Hardy, Pat Barry, Carlos Condit, Brian Stann, or Michael Bisping rolling into a "White Belt" wrestling tourney on a Saturday morning to work on their game (haha, no they don't need to wear a singlet... rash guard and shorts fully acceptable). These guys would be more comfortable knowing that they are going against White or Blue belt level wrestlers. It would be good publicity for the sport, and also give many wrestlers the opportunity to be in competitive matches after they leave high school. And, no it doesn't have to be an actual belt.
13. Jake Butler helped himself by finding EvolveMMA and fitting their need. How many other international teams could use a NCAA all American in their camp? Sound out some recent college grads, and see if they are interested in helping an MMA camp in India, Britain, China, Philippines, Australia, Ireland, France, Italy etc? This is something that UFC, and Bellator could really help take the lead on, and possibly fund part of a salary for the coach.
So many MMA athletes have a background in wrestling, some all the way to the Olympics, so just High School ... They are all potential assets for the cause of improving wrestling as a sport, and keeping it in the Olympics.. Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin, Daniel Cormier, Steve Mocco, Jared Rosholt, Jon Jones, Phil Davis, Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Ryan Bader, Matt Hamill, Anthony Johnson, Mo Lawal, Brandon Vera, Rampage Jackson, Ilir Latifi, Chris Honeycutt, Jake Rosholt, Chris Weidman, Mark Munoz, Tim Boetsch, CB Dolloway, Clifford Starks, Karlos Vemola, Stanislav Nedkov, Mario Miranda, Johny Hendricks, Ben Askren, Jake Shields, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Sean Pierson, Jake Ellenberger, Mike Pierce, Rick Story, Kenny Robertson, Jay Hieron, Court McGee, Ben Henderson, Gilbert Melendez, Gray Maynard, Michael Chandler, Eddie Alvarez, Jim Miller, Jacob Volkmann, Tony Ferguson, Danny Castillo, Tim Means, Michael Johnson, Myles Jury, Melvin Guillard, Justin Salas, Frank Edgar, Pat Curran, Chad Mendes, Clay Guida, Ricardo Lamas, Daniel Straus, Dennis Bermudez, Matt Grice, Mike Brown, Darren Elkins, Lance Palmer, Bubba Jenkins, Darrien Caldwell, Dominick Cruz, Urijah Faber, Scott Jorgensen, TJ Dillashaw, Joe Warren, Jens Pulver, Shawn Bunch, Joe Benavidez, Demetrious Johnson, Kid Yamamoto, Henry Cejudo, Sarah McMann, Miesha Tate, Randi Miller... and I know I missed plenty.
Hell... sell Brock Lesnar, Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Rio, and Kurt Angle... guys with legit wrestling backgrounds who are making a ton of money in the "entertainment industry"... or Ray Lewis, and Roddy White who are very successful Football players who wrestled.
Just some of my ideas, would love to hear others.