The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to drop wrestling from the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. This decision could have far reaching repercussions for both amateur and professional wrestlers, and wrestling fans.
In a move that is equal parts completely shocking and utter stupidity, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to drop amateur wrestling from the 2020 Olympics set to take place in either Istanbul, Turkey, Madrid, Spain, or Tokyo, Japan.
Although, there is still a chance wrestling could re-apply and regain its standing, it will have to compete with the likes of baseball, softball, and "roller sports."
Because when you think of ancient Greeks, you think of Brink.
It's mind boggling that the IOC can act like WWE Creative, trashing the most famous and exciting event from the Games. This is wrong on so many levels it's impossible to even grasp the stupidity of this decision.
But a potential consequence of the IOC's action is how it may affect WWE, TNA, and all of pro wrestling.
Kurt Angle is easily the best known crossover star. He won gold in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia -- with a broken freakin' neck, mind you -- along with being a four time WWE Champion, winner of King of the Ring 2000, and five time TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Angle has flipped his amateur background into sports entertainment super-stardom, becoming one of the best in the business.
None of which would be possible, without the Olympic Gold hanging around his neck.
Although Angle is the only Olympic hero, promotions have always plucked stars out of the collegiate ranks. Brock Lesnar is a Division 1 NCAA Heavyweight Champion, a three time WWE Champion, and UFC Heavyweight Champion. The man is a freak of an athlete, raw talent oozing from his every pore. His run at the top of WWE was a thing of pure beauty.
Again, none of his professional career would have happened without him starting in amateur wrestling.
Pro wrestling cards have always had a place for amateur wrestlers. Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Shelton Benjamin, Bobby Lashley, even past greats such as Rick Steiner and Gorilla Monsoon had stellar college careers. As much as people want to deny it, pro and amateur wrestling's history is forever intertwined.
With Olympic wrestling in jeopardy, though, professional wrestling may lose this pipeline.
The Olympics are the highest standard in most amateur sports, including wrestling. Athletes spend their entire careers wishing to achieve that single moment of greatness. To say that they are truly the greatest talent in their field. To have the entire world look up at your utter brilliance.
Now that may be forever taken away.
It's true that most collegiate wrestlers will never even make it to the Summer Games, let alone have a chance at winning. But wrestling without the Olympics is like baseball without the World Series, or football without the Super Bowl. This is the signature event in the sport.
If there isn't a place for someone to shine, they may move onto other things.
I'm not saying that without the Olympics, all of college wrestling would be barren. But the top stars go to where they can shine the greatest. If Angle didn't have a chance to strive for gold, he might not have gone into collegiate wrestling. He may have gone into another sport such as football, which would have been great for whatever college that picked him up. Who knows, Angle could have had a solid pro career.
However, that would have come at the expense of his WWE run.
Pro wrestling takes talent from every available avenue. Bodybuilders, former football players, lifetime pro wrestlers, etcetera. But the promotion has had great success with amateur wrestlers turned pro. The skills picked up in college gymnasiums can directly translate into success in jam packed arenas.
There have been missteps, of course. But they haven't been as bad as some of the other talent that gets pushed.
It is also important for pro wrestling to have an audience to present itself to. As with most Olympic sports, wrestling doesn't get much coverage outside of the Leap Years. When people see wrestling in the Olympics, their thoughts tend to turn to the professional variety. Is it any coincidence that most of the highest grossing WrestleManias took place before the Summer Olympics?
Yes, it is entirely coincidental. But lets not let facts get in the way of a good argument.
Will kids keep going to college to be wrestlers without the sport in the Olympics? Yes, of course. Will WWE keep pulling collegiate stars into its roster? Absolutely. Could I be freaking out over nothing?
It's entirely possible.
It's also possible that the IOC's decision could have far reaching repercussions into professional wrestling. TNA has recognized the impact -- pun intended -- of the IOC's decision in a recent press release:
"The news from the IOC is very disheartening to all of us at TNA, as well as the tens of millions around the world who either participate in amateur wrestling or enjoy watching it in its entertainment form," stated TNA President Dixie Carter. "We need to join together right now. We encourage our own IMPACT WRESTLING community, WWE and wrestling organizations worldwide, as well as competitive amateur coaches and athletes to have a unified voice to make sure wrestling will be an Olympic sport in 2020."
As someone who loves the sport and entertainment that wrestling offers, I want to see it grow in every way possible. Removing wrestling from the Olympic Games could seriously hurt the amateur ranks. Talent may not be drawn towards it, fans may not tune in, and the sport that has been synonymous with the Ancient Greeks is under siege by those who have sworn to protect it.
This is a scary time for fans of amateur wrestling, and we in the pro wrestling community should worry about the potential fallout.