2023 already looks to be a massive year for wrestling. Some big matchups should happen this year and some wrestlers are looking to accomplish big things, which are the best storylines to follow?
The Return Of Mijain Lopez-Nunez
The last time we saw Mijain Lopez-Nunez was at the Tokyo Olympics where he won his historic 4th Olympic gold medal. Since then he has been off the scene for a while, and many were wondering if he would every come back or if this would be the end for the legend.
Abdulrashid Sadulaev made a post on Instagram where he met up with Lopez while in Cuba saying that “Mijain said that he will start preparing from Monday” whether this was serious or a joke there is no doubt that the world would be excited to see the return of “El Terrible”
Can Kyle Dake Get It Done?
Americans know Kyle Dake for his 4 national titles and his 4 world titles. He has been perfect at the world championships in his career winning titles in 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022. The only tournament where there was a “full bracket” was the Tokyo Olympics and many were awaiting the meeting of Dake and Zaurbek Sidakov.
That did not go down however as Dake lost in the quarterfinals to Kadimagomedov of Belarus. Dake has been looking much better recently and this year there is one man to beat for him, and that is Sidakov. Can he get it done or will Sidakov reclaim his weight class?
JB And Sadulaev Add To Their Legacies
Jordan Burroughs and Abdulrashid Sadulaev have solidified themselves in a tier of wrestlers where their legacies are untouchable. 7 world and Olympic gold medals, there are very few wrestlers who have accomplished this.
Some of the wrestlers who have surpassed this are Aleksandr Karelin, Buvaisar Saitiev, and Aleksandr Medved. If either one of these legends were to claim another world title this year in Belgrade they would put their names in a category with only 7 others who have reached 8 gold medals.
Supermatches at 57kg, 61kg, and 70kg
Zavur Uguev vs Zelimkhan Abakarov
Uguev has been the best wrestler at 57kg for a while, since his absence from the scene two world champions have taken over. Thomas Gilman and Zelimkhan Abakarov, in the 2022 world finals Abakarov handedly beat Gilman making him the new man to beat at the weight class.
Abasgadzhi Magomedov vs Rei Higuchi
Magomedov might not even be the rep for Russia which is crazy enough but he was the 2021 world champion at 61kg. The return of Rei Higuchi is something that excited many people, and it did not disappoint as the 2016 Olympic silver medalist was able to win the 2022 61kg world title.
Takuto Otoguro vs Rahman Amouzad
Otoguro came onto the scene back in 2018 where he won a world title at just 19 years old. Since then he was able to win Olympic gold in Tokyo which was the last we have seen from him at major competition. Amouzad is a young phenom himself as he won the 2022 world championships at 20 years old and has defended his top ranking defeating silver medalist Yianni Diakomihalis again at the world cup.
Aleksanyan vs Evloev?
If you follow Greco-Roman wrestling you know who both of these men are. Armenia’s Artur Aleksanyan and Russia’s Musa Evloev have been at the pinnacle of Greco-Roman wrestling.
There was some controversy however at the Tokyo Olympics where Evloev won gold, and a few calls went in favor of the Russian. We will most likely get to see these two beasts renew their rivalry in Belgrade for the top ranking at 97kg.
It is completely understandable that there is not as much hype as there was before around this match being how the last two meetings have went completely in favor of Sadulaev. However we will still get to see two of the greatest wrestlers of all time toe the line on the biggest of stages.
Domestic Rivalries at 57kg and 97kg
Thomas Gilman vs Spencer Lee
Two things that many American fans are looking forward to are the 57kg weight class and if Spencer Lee can take over the spot for the United States. He has yet to make a true international appearance at the senior level and this may be the time as he looks healthier than ever. This task will not be easy as he will need to get through world champion Thomas Gilman to even have a shot at gold.
J’den Cox vs Kyle Snyder
J’den Cox is at the 97kg weight class, whether he will stay at this weight class for the remainder of the 2023 season is not really known. We saw the Snyder vs Cox super match last year where Snyder swept the best of 3 winning 5-5, and 7-1.
With this extra time at the weight class can Cox get it done, and if he can that just makes the Olympics even more interesting for Paris.