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Icemeister

Most Noteworthy / Famous Wrestling Matches Ever in American History

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With the current top headlines / articles on Intermat being "Number 1 recruit Lee suffers first high school loss" and "15 years ago: Cael concludes perfect college career", it got me thinking about what are the most noteworthy or famous wrestling matches ever in American history?  (Not necessarily what were the best or most entertaining matches ever, but what were the most significant in terms of circumstance and outcome?)  Certainly at a high school level, Austin DeSanto's upset of Spencer Lee has to be near the very top; and at the collegiate level, Cael's final match in the 2002 NCAA championships would also have to rank at or near the very top.  No doubt Larry Owing's upset of Dan Gable would be right up there, too.  What about others?  In what order would you rank them?  And what about at the International level?  What matches stand out there as being most noteworthy for what they represented?

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Helen Maroulis defeats 3x Olympic Gold Medalist and 13x World Gold Medalist Saori Yoshida. Helen became the first US wrestler to win an Olympic Gold medal in women's freestyle and she deprived Yoshida of capturing her fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal. IMO this was the greatest upset ever in US Olympic wrestling history and dare I say even surpassed Rulon's fluke win over Karelin back in 2000.

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Helen Maroulis defeats 3x Olympic Gold Medalist and 13x World Gold Medalist Saori Yoshida. Helen became the first US wrestler to win an Olympic Gold medal in women's freestyle and she deprived Yoshida of capturing her fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal. IMO this was the greatest upset ever in US Olympic wrestling history and dare I say even surpassed Rulon's fluke win over Karelin back in 2000.

Yoshida proved to be more beatable during her championship run than Karelin. Maroulis is actually the second American female to beat Yoshida.

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Caldwell vs Metcalf was a big deal

 

Yes!  Although it's interesting how matches are noteworthy before the match (e.g., Cael, Maroulis) vs. being a much bigger deal *after* the match (e.g., Metcalf-Caldwell, Gable). 

 

Another example of the former that comes to mind is how the B1G tournament made the Metcalf - Palmer NCAA finals their senior year a much bigger deal than it otherwise would have been.

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Yoshida proved to be more beatable during her championship run than Karelin. Maroulis is actually the second American female to beat Yoshida.

 

Please.... and Karelin wasn't pumped up with PEDs during his tenure as the unbeatable "Experiment"? Karelin couldn't keep his hands locked around Rulon's girth. The only thing monumental about that victory was Rulon's display of excessive sweating.

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Gable vs. Owings got a little press.

Oops, should have read the post completely!  Another match of note is the 1975 150 lb title match between  Chuck Yagla (4-4, 1-1 SRD) vs. Lee Kemp  of Wisconsin.  Had the referees not awarded Yagla the match on a referee's decision, Lee Kemp would have very, very likely have been our first four time NCAA champ. 

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I think this should be a pretty small list. In no order:

Rulon over Karelin

Cael's 4th title

Maroulis over Yoshida

Owings over Gable

 

These seem to be the matches that resonated outside the wrestling world. Am I missing any obvious ones? The others listed were no doubt big in wrestling, but I'm wondering about matches that a non-serious fan may have heard of.

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I think this should be a pretty small list. In no order:

Rulon over Karelin

Cael's 4th title

Maroulis over Yoshida

Owings over Gable

 

These seem to be the matches that resonated outside the wrestling world. Am I missing any obvious ones? The others listed were no doubt big in wrestling, but I'm wondering about matches that a non-serious fan may have heard of.

I don't think Maroulis over Yoshida resonated outside of wrestling.  I didn't hear a single non-wrestling friend of mine talking about it or asking about it.

  

Now the Japanese woman who celebrated by throwing her coach repeatedly made it onto the facebook feed of many of my non-wrestling friends.  

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I think this should be a pretty small list. In no order:

Rulon over Karelin

Cael's 4th title

Maroulis over Yoshida

Owings over Gable

 

IronChef, I think that's a pretty good list.  

 

We could debate the order and perhaps add a few to that list -- I'm thinking that Blubaugh vs Habibi in the 1960 Olympics and Dake vs Taylor in the 2013 NCAA finals might belong for what they represented at the time, but those four are all pretty huge and I would be hard pressed to come up with another match that represents a more noteworthy or well known match than those.  

 

Given the current relative status of women's wrestling versus men's in this country, it might seem generous to include the Maroulis over Yoshida match, but that one will probably become even more significant in time with the growth of women's wrestling.  It's interesting how time and perspective plays a roll here.  If Spencer Lee goes on to become a multiple-time NCAA and Olympic champion, his match with Austin DeSoto probably makes a future list like this.

 

An interesting factoid regarding your short list of the all time most noteworthy matches...... All three of the (male) winners in those matches (Larry Owings, Cale Sanderson, and Rulon Gardner) share the Mormon faith!  Pretty interesting when you consider that Mormons represent only 2% of the US population.

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I don't think Maroulis over Yoshida resonated outside of wrestling. I didn't hear a single non-wrestling friend of mine talking about it or asking about it.

 

Now the Japanese woman who celebrated by throwing her coach repeatedly made it onto the facebook feed of many of my non-wrestling friends.

I did hear about Maroulis outside of wrestling. Plus Deadspin and Bleacher Report had the story the same day.

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