In what was being dubbed the 'Battle On Broadway', Team USA met Team Russia for the first time in Times Square, New York City, New York in support of the Beat The Streets gala and for the most part it didn't disappoint. USA Chants? Check. Vision Quest reference and Lunatic Fringe sample? Check. Closing out the proceedings with a recording of Frank Sinatra singing 'New York, New York'? Check. Only in America.
The event wasn't without issues though. The MC for the event trying to make the atmosphere more 'Hip' felt out of place, and 'bigging up' Olympic Gold Medalist and legend of the sport Dan Gable quickly between wrestling periods missed the mark completely. By far the worst instance though during the official stream hosted by Flowrestling (and might I add, at no fault of Flowrestling themselves) was cutting to commercial advertising before the Jake Varner (USA) vs. Shamil Akhmedov (Russia) match had started and coming back with just seconds left of the first period with Varner up 5-0. Imagine the uproar if a one sided first round of a televised UFC fight such as in Gray Maynard vs Frankie Edgar at the beginning of the year was missed this way. Hopefully the matches will be edited in fully for the tape delayed broadcast on Fox College Sports this weekend.
Luckily the event was simulcast on TheMat's Ustream who used their one camera to record everything. A little crooked and grainy and not as professional looking, but a small price to pay in comparison.
Olympian Henry Cejudo's return to wrestling couldn't have gone better with a win over Nariman Israpilo for the opening match. Cejudo famously left the sport of wrestling to pursue Boxing but has since returned and plans a 2012 bid at the Olympics in London, England. Cejudo is definitely a talent I'd like to see try his hand at MMA, but with a general lack of a 125lbs Flyweight class among the major promotions I can't see Cejudo settling on a career with Tachi Palace Fights.
Of wrestlers definitely making the jump, Shawn Bunch has made his intentions clear. After losing on points to opponent Rasul Murtazaliev he may be looking to move on sooner depending on his competitive Wrestling commitments.
Brent Metcalf put Team USA ahead again with a decision win over Magomedmurad Gadzhiev in what turned out to be a great match. Metcalf is just rolling at this stage in his career and is another likely Olympic hopeful.
Jordan Burroughs' star continues to soar with a dominant win over Russian opponent Aniuar Geduev. As Flowrestling commented, it's not the shot you have to watch out for but the re-shot after the initial defense. Burroughs speed that took him to an NCAA title this year was present tonight and had the broadcasters calling him the Usain Bolt of Wrestling. It's hard to disagree with them. Burroughs competed tonight at 163lbs, a class 4lbs lighter than he did in his last season of college. It's hard to tell if he were ever to pursue a career in MMA whether he'd be best suited to Welterweight or Lightweight. I think Lightweight would be too low, but he'd have to pack on a bit of muscle so he's not dwarfed by some of the larger 170lb-ers.
Jake Herbert struggled against Andrey Valiev whose use of the Front Headlock to score points with a roll to gain back exposure sealed the deal.
The aforementioned Jake Varner beat Shamil Akhmedov though not without a fight as it went to a 3rd period after winning a period each. Varner scored in the 3rd and wisely remained conservative in the last 20 seconds.
And in the final match at Heavyweight Tervel Dlagnev (USA) beat Barsag Kesaev (Russia) on points after a surprisingly dramatic and energetic bout. The first period ended with neither wrestler scoring, mostly hand fighting and attempting headlock control. Under these Freestyle rules a Wrestler has to pick a ball out of a bag to decide who can attempt a takedown from an artificially setup leg clinch. The American of Bulgarian origin picked a red ball (Team USA's colour) and was able to complete a takedown from leg clinch and get back exposure, netting him a 3 point sudden victory in the first period. In the second period after a scramble Dlagnev managed to grip a high single leg and look for a foot sweep but Kesaev spectacularly used the angle to back flip escape amazing the crowd with his agility especially considering the weight class. Unfortunately for the Russian, Dlagnev soon followed up with a powerful driving double and got back exposure points; Kesaev apparently busting a rib from the takedown, possibly when trying to twist to his front.