Summer of 2020 was filled with wrestling events like Rumble on the Rooftop, FloWrestling 1: Dake vs. Chamizo, and NLWC #1. In the year of COVID-19, these events were game changers for the sport as they taught wrestling platforms and teams how to adapt in a changing environment. Because no cards have been announced yet for summer 2021, I decided to find the best men’s freestyle matchups that fans actually want to watch.
A Look at the Field – Who Will and Won’t Wrestle
Wrestling fans would all love to see members of Team USA square off in a freestyle card; however, that’s likely not going to happen. Why? Those wrestlers are not going to risk getting injured for a quick payday when their Olympic dreams are so close to being fulfilled.
So, who is in the realistic field of competitors? To narrow down the field from just “any available wrestler who knows freestyle,” I looked at placers at the Last Chance Qualifier, Senior Nationals, Olympic Team Trials, and other recent freestyle tournaments. The following matchups are some of the best in the field based upon history, accolades, and entertainment value.
Nick Suriano vs. Daton Fix (57kg)
Most fans expected Nick Suriano and Daton Fix to face off in the Olympic Team Trials until Suriano had his Olympic dream dashed by a nasal swab and Fix forfeited out after a loss to Vito Arujau in the semifinals. While fans did not get the match at the Trials, maybe the two could face off in a wrestling card. Back in the 2019 collegiate folkstyle season these two exchanged a win and loss to each other, including when Suriano won the NCAA finals. Who doesn’t want to see another rematch between these two?
Jaydin Eierman vs. Joey McKenna (65kg)
Eierman did not wrestle at the Olympic Trials, but he did show off his freestyle prowess a few weeks later when he won the 2021 UWW Senior Nationals. McKenna did wrestle at the Olympic Trials and made the 65kg finals by beating Zain Retherford and James Green. If you’re asking why McKenna is included on this list even though he is on the Senior National team, it is because USA won’t have a 65kg wrestler at the Olympics so he may as well take advantage of a card. Although McKenna already teched Eierman at the 2020 Senior Nationals, I’m willing to bet the outcome would be a bit closer if they wrestled again this summer.
Chance Marsteller vs. Hayden Hidlay (74kg)
If you want to look at two successful freestyle stories of 2021, look to Chance Marsteller and Hayden Hidlay. Chance made big waves at the Last Chance Qualifier by winning the bracket with wins over Josh Shields, Alec Pantaleo, and Vincenzo Joseph. His Trials run was cut short when Evan Wick defeated him. On the other side of this matchup, Hidlay bumped up to 74kg for the UWW Senior Nationals and won the loaded bracket. Since Hayden is going from 157 lbs. to 174 lbs. next season, he may as well get used to bigger guys like Marstellar. This is a PA match fans never thought they would get to see, so someone make it happen!
Four Other Matches Should Happen
Wondering which other freestyle matches should definitely happen this summer? Head over to Rokfin to get more matchup ideas for this summer’s freestyle events — you may be shocked at some of the matchups included on the list.
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