Thursday, May 8, 2014

Beat the Streets: Bringing Wrestling to Times Square and the Masses


Every day, millions of tourists flock to Times Square like moths to a flickering neon flame, attracted to the never-ending activity, the ebbing and flowing tides of strangers, and the countless costumed cartoon characters flaunting copyright laws. But yesterday, those who visited the center of the New York City universe were treated to something spectacular. That's right, I'm talking about Beat the Streets, which for years has been assembling teams of top-level American freestyle wrestlers and pitting them against a field comprised of the international elite.

This year's installment featured 11 matches, with Olympic gold medalist and superstar du jour Jordan Burroughs nestled comfortably in the main event. For the ardent fans of freestyle wrestling who knew the intricacies of the rules, as well as those who could just appreciate a good scramble when they saw one, it was an event tailor-made for excitement, and to a man (or woman, as the case was), everyone on the mat delivered.

Meanwhile, sitting matside was UFC president Dana White.
"Yeah, I came all the way here for this," said White when The MMA Journalist asked if this was what brought him here from Las Vegas. "We have a very good relationship with wrestling. A very good relationship." White went on to say that that wasn't always the case, but after he and Lorenzo Fertitta helped support the effort to keep wrestling in the Olympics, a lot of goodwill was fostered.

And of course, given his seat beside the mat, White was able to congratulate every winning wrestler who walked past, which left one to ponder on where the careers of stud wrestlers may veer off into the realm of fighting.

One such wrestler was David Taylor, whose offensive style looked like it might translate well to fights within a cage.

"I'm not a fighter," said Taylor when asked if he'd consider MMA in the future. "I know I've never been in a fight, never punched a guy, never been punched in my life. It's not something I really want to do. Who knows, down the road."

Unlike Taylor, Ed Ruth seemed more amenable to the idea.
"Definitely. I'm not really a violent person, like, when you talk to me. But I can be aggressive. I feel like if I can get into the cage, I can make some noise. But right now it has to take a backseat to Olympics and freestyle and all that. If it's down the line, I'll probably hop into it and see what I can do."

As for Burroughs, who came away from his match victorious, well, we already know how he feels about mixed martial arts. Still, it's hard not to watch him compete and imagine what could be.

In terms of "cool factor" alone, wrestling amidst the hustle and bustle of Times Square is something to behold. That the matches themselves were exciting was just the icing on the cake.

Kudos to Beat the Streets for making it all happen.

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