Foley's Friday Mailbag: June 6, 2014

Though Frank Molinaro put a dagger in the heart of the complaints about criteria being "boring," last weekend's World Team Trials did become a showcase for a new complaint about international rules -- the much-maligned and difficult-to-recognize "almost takedown."

Over the past four months I've traveled more than 100k miles across four continents to cover more than a dozen international freestyle wrestling tournaments for FILA. I have never -- literally not once -- seen an "almost takedown" awarded to a wrestler. The only place I've heard it discussed or seen it awarded is in America. Why? I haven't the fuzziest and like you would love to find out.

I don't know if the rule will be reinterpreted to become more widely and uniformly enforced, or eliminated altogether. That is up to the rules and referees commissions. However, I would point to last year's short-lived one-point "go-behind" takedown as an example of these committees making a change based on the experiences (complaints) of the American wrestling community.

The broader realization for wrestling fans needs to be that wrestling as a point-scoring, time-managed sport NEEDS rule changes and adjustments to increase action. As we've seen with the abysmal NCAA rules and the former international rules, this is a tricky process. New strategies and gamesmanship are sure to emerge, which will necessitate small in-season tweaks by the rules and referee commissions to ensure that scoring stays high and action lively. The effort put into ensuring that in wrestling has been, broadly speaking, both positive and effective.

If you want to see what grappling can become without a good rules and referees commission take a peek into the rapidly declining action in sport jiu-jitsu. What was once a submission-first sport for exceedingly tough humans has morphed into an unwatchable ten minutes of pajama-pulling.

Two of the sport's very best practitioners -- Buchecha and Keenan Cornelius -- met last weekend in the semifinals of a world-level tournament. The "fight," as it is called in jiu-jitsu, lasted 10 minutes but produced almost no discernible point-scoring action, much less open-action that casual fans could find entertaining.

We're talking about two guys who, if properly incentivized by the rules, could perform acts of physical skill and flexibility you'd find incredible. However, in a sport with no independent referee commission, a 10-minute clock and little rules creativity we instead get two guys panting hard and tugging on each other's gis.

How can they win if they don't score any points?

The fighters are awarded "advantages" given for, you guessed it, "almost maneuvers."

To your questions ...

Q: What is next for David Taylor after losing to Jordan Burroughs?
-- David E.

Foley: Shoe salesman!

The Magic Man isn't going anywhere. He's the firm No. 2 this year and will get extensive overseas competition and training. Burroughs is the man to beat on the mat and their rivalry will continue until M2 grows out of the weight class, or somehow drops to 70 kilos.

Q: Seeing Tony Ramos down at 125 pounds and David Taylor lose to Jordan Burroughs got me thinking. How hard of a time do you think Taylor would have going down a weight? There's still time for him to make the World Team if he could make the cut.
-- Scott M.

Foley: Like how I webbed this question with the one above? Synergy.

I don't know how tough of a diet he has to keep in making 74 kilos, but I think that he can make the (opens calculator) 8.5-pound drop to 70 kilos for the Trials in late July.

Taylor is a big boy, but at stake is the chance to win his first World title. He would have the same training opportunities as discussed above, but instead of just watching his friends compete and knocking around Europe for some preparation tourneys, M2 could be The Guy. He makes a positive impact on his teammates and I would love to see his energy, and that of his fan base, at the World Championships in Tashkent.

By the way ... I'm not a musical genius and crowd chants aren't my thing, but aren't there lots of opportunities to call Taylor to a mat by singing refrains of popular songs with the word "magic" in them. Let that knock around your heads a bit and get back to me.

Q: Who will have the better beard at the World Championships, Ed Ruth or Jordan Burroughs?
-- Ronald M.

Who will have the better beard at the World Championships? (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
Foley: Oh, please ... Jordan (@alliseeisgold) Burroughs. The three-time World title winner isn't going to lose a beard growing contest to a 23-year-old.

Though sports beards have their place, trendy beard-growing to jock up your look is pathetic, hipster-driven koala dung.

Men, it's time to grow up and buy a razor. Covering your face with hair in an attempt to look more masculine is antithetical to the core ideal of masculinity -- the confidence to be your true self (Read: Capable of living outside of Hipster-driven trends.) A man should never desire to purchase beard care products (waxes and combs) to cover up the fact he doesn't have a superhero jawline, and confuse women into thinking he has a handmade four-post bed made of self-fell sequoias.

You don't look attractive. You look like the broke cousin of the backup banjo player for Mumford and Sons. Go read a book, shoot a squirrel and drink a beer. Be the man your facial hair is working so hard to project to the world.


Your Move, FLIPS

Highlights of the World Team Trials

Brilliant Commentary

Q: With Matt Lindland taking over the Greco program it got me thinking on what could be changed. How much recruitment of guys takes place? Specifically, should Lindland try to convince Andrew Howe to try Greco? I know Howe has seen freestyle success, but he just placed third, so he is behind two guys and lost to Dake last time they wrestled. We have seen crossover success before and his heavy hands could translate well. I would think his popularity would also be a boom to the Greco program. Do you think Howe could have success in Greco and should he give it a try?
-- Dan B.

Foley: The hiring of Matt Lindland signaled USA Wrestling's desire to recruit more freestylers to the Greco-Roman team. I think that's a smart idea and with J.D. Bergman already committing to the jump it's starting to pay off (in depth of talent).

Howe is the big prize for USA Wrestling. He's stuck behind a wall of talent and as he gets older it will be tough for his athleticism to stay in range with the leading triad, never mind the upstart talent that might come through the ranks.

I'm probably not well-suited to give life advice to Andrew Howe, but from the outside there is an opportunity for him to compete and do well on the Greco-Roman team. He won't be a shoe-in to compete (Note: Greco-Roman might not be our best, but our team still has some tough asses in the lineup), but he will raise the level of intensity in the room and improve the depth.

Who knows maybe he refines his talent and makes the Olympic team. Would you be all that surprised?

Winners like to win.

Q: The future of U.S. wrestling clubs looks strong. Would clubs like @tmwc12 benefit from a league like Germany?

-- @theschneid13

Foley: Wonderful little piece of videography. Life is always better when instead of bathing our children, filing taxes or drafting angry emails to airlines we instead are able to watch wrestling videos with dramatic music. Great stuff.

The American wrestling scene is still pretty fractured by geography and the ability to provide substantial financial support to wrestlers outside the top three in their weight class. I'd love to see a league, but I think it's more important for our guys to get overseas and compete more often in high-level and mid-level events. Our freestylers need more looks at the Asian and European talent and that takes big money.

I'm tickled if both can happen, but I don't know if there is enough wrestling money active to support a two-front campaign.

Q: We all know that the Trials were available through premium service on Flowrestling. Someone put both JB vs DT matches on YouTube... it would appear those links now say "David Taylor vs. Jordan Burroughs ... " This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Flocasts. It would appear Flo was on the lookout for it. Your thoughts?
-- Frank C.

Foley: The new-look Flo is making a lot of money through their pay-per-view model and part of monetizing online video is preventing rampant copyright infringement. I can't rattle them for protecting their property. However, when starting down this path it will be vital that they not be infringing on the copyright-protected material of others. The latter will prove to be their bigger challenge.

By Jason E.

We are missing the boat. I mean missing it big time. To give you an analogy if we were playing the old Milton Bradley battleship game our fleet would have been sunk in four moves. My 5-year-old son and I were watching cartoons this past Saturday. In that time, there must have been a zillion commercials. Many of which featured sports being played by kids. Tony the Tiger was kicking a soccer ball, a famous football player was encouraging kids to eat right, a professional wrestler was having kids eat Fruity Pebbles. At no time did I see amateur wrestling in those commercials. Are we hated that much (can't be we are ranked as the sixth most popular sport by the NFHS yearly participation survey)? Are we too proud or too serious to make our sport "kid friendly?" Kids are going to do what they think is important. "Hey kids, buy Fruity Yummy Coca Poofs cause this wildly radical character said so." They are going to buy it. "Hey kids, watch these teenagers have fun and smile in the commercial after kicking a goal." OK soccer is cool! "Hey mom, when is registration?" Bottom line this kind of propaganda works. If you don't believe me look at the NFL. Or Alabama football where I'm from. Kids will chew candy made of broken glass if their favorite Crimson Tide guy tells them to. Is it because football is inherently awesome? No, it's because from the time they can click the "on" button they are beat over the head with that damned Crimson A. Why are we as a community of fans, or even better USA wrestling not getting on Saturday Morning/Cartoon Network/Disney XD. Just think about it, how many kids probably joined wrestling because of AC Slater (oh yes I did, just use a Saved by the Bell reference). Somebody crowd source this idea, tweet Ashton Kutcher and let's get some wrestling in the next kids commercial, or a funny kids cartoon where the main antagonist is a wrestler, a 15-second highlight spot run every 30 minutes on cartoon network. (Just as long as those production values don't mirror the ones from the 90s, think the World Cup on ESPN2, I can hear the music now). I'd even settle for a banner on the side of websites like Animal Jam, or the aforementioned TV stations. Sorry, USA Wrestling, but kids aren't going to download podcasts, Facebook has been dead for years, and they are too young to tweet. Once we get this ball rolling, then maybe we can get the adult coaches to calm down at practice so kids don't want to jump off a cliff instead of hit the mats, but one problem at a time I guess.


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DannyClarke (2) about 4 years ago
Solid rant by Jason. Also Foley... the beard hate is unjust. What if they really just like their beard? No one critiques you on your haircut... YOU WOULDNT TALK THAT SMACK TO THE LATE, GREAT, DAVE SCHULTZ!
Lode (2) about 4 years ago
Sounds to me like someone can't grow a decent beard... "benvy", beard envy. We mock and hate what we don't understand. Work outside in the winter a bit in the North and tell me how stupid beards are. I like drinking beer and shooting squirrels and listening to MnS. I just wish I could read.

To each his own... judge not less ye be judged.
leeperryan (1) about 4 years ago
HaHa! That's what I was thinking after reading that rant! Not being able to grow a beard doesn't make you less of a man, but talking crap about other people having beards does. Foley, I challenge you to lose the "trendy/hipster" hairstyle and grow your best Jordan Burroughs "man" beard and post it for us! :)
Nick M (1) about 4 years ago
The late Mike McCready sported a beard and mustache.
violet (1) about 4 years ago
I'd like to see a senior-level league, but in American Folkstyle, not freestyle. People can deny it, but in reality there are a heck of a lot more folkstyle wrestlers and fans in this country than there are the other styles. It's not even close. For instance, at the WTT, a whole 8 guys were entered at 65 kilos.

I'd like to see a an AMERICAN FOLKSTYLE WRESTLING DUAL MEET LEAGUE created starting with the same cities as baseball's Triple-A leagues:




Oklahoma Ciry
Colorado Springs
New Orleans
Round Rock
Las Vegas
El Paso
Salt Lake

Each division would round-robin (home & away), and there'd be a crossover championship at the end of the year, along with an all-star tourney for the top wrestlers/individual championships. THAT would be awesome.
Jaroslav Hasek (1) about 4 years ago
that would be cool to have - but you already have team folkstyle competition taken care of by the NCAA. i wouldn't go with the team model for the professionals.

i would love to see a legit pro circuit of freestyle wrestling. keep it an individual sport and incorporate the best eliminates of Sumo and tennis' ATP (the competition structure and schedule, NOT the rules, of course).

TourACW looked promising and AGON offers a glimmer of professional competition but i think the sport is at least a little ways off from a thriving professional league. need to generate more eyeballs to create a bigger purse.
TLS62PA (1) about 4 years ago
Sorry TR, Burroughs already got rid of the beard. Pretty recent on twitter.
ohioslayer (1) about 4 years ago
Just because Burroughs got rid of the beard doesn't mean he can't grow it back for the World Championships. Hendricks shaves his beard after every fight, and then starts growing it again when his next fight is announced.
TLS62PA (1) about 4 years ago
The original question was comparing Ruth and Burroughs' beards for Worlds. Just wanted to point out Burroughs is back to square one.
nbeattie (1) about 4 years ago
"Yeah, and Grizzly Adams had a beard..."
"Grizzly Adams did have a beard."
lclark2 (1) about 4 years ago
Did David Taylor get a huge tattoo on his back?