The competition hall is Makuhari Messe, a very large convention hall similar to the ones used for USA Wrestling events held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The test event isn't meant to simulate the look of the Olympic Games, but it does help staff run through the specifics of the operation. It's a debugging process.
The catch with Makuhari Messe is that its 18 miles (read: very, very far) from downtown Tokyo. A train this week from downtown to the event space took me two hours. The outbound was a little better at 90 minutes, but overall its far away from the postcard images of Tokyo many fans might be used to seeing. That's OK, but it also means that housing is extremely limited. The hotels and Airbnb's within walking distance are already booked, with those directly adjacent taken by the local organizing committee (no chance of opening up).
The train station is close to the arena, so if you plan to attend I'd suggest looking for an Airbnb or hotel along the Kieyo Line in the direction of downtown Tokyo. However, be aware that those hotels are also close to Tokyo Disneyland and it'll be August. Need a bed? Availability is already looking grim and/or expensive.
Overall, if you are planning a trip to Tokyo then the clock is ticking on finding a place to stay! Get busy booking or else be prepares to suffer extensive subway rides sweating in the hot conditions.
To your questions …
Kyle Dake coaching at the NCAAs (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Q: It seems like Kyle Dake is passionate about coaching and will probably be a coveted coach after he's done competing. Do you think Dake is done competing at 2020? Or do you think he will go through another cycle and compete until the age of 33? Maybe he has already discussed it, but I guess I hadn't heard.
-- Mike C.
Foley: Dake is going to be 33 in 2024? Which means he's 28 now? Good gravy, I'm getting long in the tooth.
Jordan Burroughs is a good example of what might be possible later in the career. He's won world championships, Olympic gold and still has horsepower at 31. But, he's Jordan. Will that be the same for Kyle? He was very injury prone earlier in his international career and while he seems to have reversed course a bit (minus heavyweights falling on his leg) there must be some concern that he'd lose a step with age.
The real question is what will happen in 2020?! Will Burroughs and Dake both stay healthy? Will Dake be more injury prone after long weight cuts? Will Dake compete at 74 kilograms prior to the Trials? Will Burroughs go to a Ranking Series tournament?
As for coaching, yes Dake is smart, tactical and will be a successful coach.
Q: I was watching the World Track & Field Championships and saw the 4x400 mixed relay. It was exciting race and I noticed it's going to be an Olympic event in 2020. With the proper adjustments do you think wrestling could do an alternating dual meet format in freestyle where the men and women could alternate matches (men's match, women's match) and compete as one nation?
Note: For reader those who might get triggered and think this is "liberal propaganda" this is not a proposal of men and women wrestling against each other competition. It's an idea to see men & women represent their countries in a dual format and compete in partnership for their respective countries.
-- Marcus R.
Foley: Judo does this too! There are a number of positives to a mixed gender dual meet team (NYC Public Schools does this too) but at the moment there are still some significant hurdles for wrestling. The most pressing is that the best men's wrestling nations don't consistently have top women's programs. Japan, USA, Ukraine and Russia would all field teams, but they would be a little challenged.
Then there is the issue of packaging the matches. I'd guess that 12 weights would be a little much for fans. If not, it would also bring A LOT of attention to there not being a women's equivalent to Greco-Roman. United World Wrestling mostly treats the styles as three independent styles rather than draw attention to the issue of Greco-Roman equivalency. With Agenda 2020 focused on creating a total 50/50 gender equal Olympic Games it might be tough to do a mixed gender team without a solution for Greco-Roman.
But yes, this is a wonderful idea and one that I hope to see in international wrestling very soon! Wrestling already has a number of new events coming to fans in the next few years and the addition of a mixed gender team should absolutely be considered.
Q: Do you think Mark Hall will make a run at the 2020 Olympics? Great freestyle wrestler. If so, what weight class? Seems like he's kind of in between the Olympic weight classes.
-- Mike C.
Foley: Why not try out for the 2020 Olympic Team? I'm sure that he will have modest expectations, especially if he is struggling in the room against wrestlers on the ladder, but as you note he's a very good freestyle wrestler with a room full of trophies.
The other option is to compete at the U23 World Championships or to look at a non-Olympic weight category should the World Championships for those categories find a host in 2020.
Behind the scenes look at 53 kilograms at the World Championships
Q: You think the NWCA All-Star Classic is officially dead? Or is a one-year hiatus real? Usually not a good sign when these things happen.
-- Don C.
Foley: Bad sign, for sure. The issue the NWCA faced was creating a viable product using college athletes who had nothing real to gain but some notoriety but who could lose a mental edge on an opponent. Oddly, I think this is a combination of coaches eschewing the risk and the athletes recognizing that their participation has actual value and not wanting to hand it over to the NWCA. Kids today are smart.
I'd be interested to hear what ideas they have for future events. Maybe they could continue to make it a blended event with women. However, it should be noted that the NWCA is looking to make women's wrestlers compete in folkstyle, which absolutely nobody wants and helps absolutely nobody. More on this in a future mailbag.
Again, I'm skeptical that the event has enough of a tradition to drive a lot of investment in a similar but reimagined event. Would like to be proven wrong because they had a nice platform to reach a variety of fans, and I like the idea of a kickoff event for the sport of wrestling.
Q: I see Pat Downey is taking on grappler Nick Rodriguez at Who's Number One in a match with revised freestyle rules. What do you make of this? Waste a of time? Interesting? Somewhere in between?
-- Mike C.
Foley: The success of the Askren-Burroughs match and the high visibility and marketability of Nicky-Downey a pretty easy sell inside FloSports. The goal is to get more eyeballs and this matchup will accomplish that goal.
As for the competitiveness, I imagine Nicky can score a point or two, but I'm more concerned that the match will be professionalized -- as in WWE-comes-to-wrestling. In some ways this matchup is a digital media version of what happened in the early 20th century when promoters wanted to guarantee fans a good show. To do so they took the ethnicities and intricacies of wrestlers and put them in the marquee as nicknames. The next step was outfits and choreographed outcomes. The familiarity of the two and the desire to create a fan-friendly product leaves me somewhat cynical about what we will see on the mats. Maybe there won't be nicknames and capes, but with them being teammates and competing in an altered rule set sends off my alarm bells.
By the way, Nicky is a good wrestler and is about 20 pounds heavier than Pat. Maybe that matters, maybe it's part of the schtick, but it at least evens out what would otherwise be a lopsided contest.
I was going to even offer that they could add some submissions, but I realize now that I would be taking part in a history-repeats-itself moment and would essentially be proposing Catch-as-Catch-Can as an alternative to the more WWE stylings I'm worried we'll see.
History always repeats itself.