I'm going to get right to it. In researching the World Championships, I learned that I don't know much about wrestlers outside of the USA. I'm a wrestling junkie, and HUGE homer for USA wrestling, so I generally go into the World Championships assuming we are going to win most, if not all, of the weight classes. In researching, and by researching, I mean reading BDI's pieces from USA Wrestling (which are much more in depth and informative than anything you will see here), I learned quite a lot, which I will attempt to break down for you here. Let's roll!
57kgs/125.5lbs - USA Entrant - Thomas Gilman
If you are reading this, I'm going to go ahead and assume you are aware of Thomas Gilman, and his credentials. Let's briefly touch on his World Team Trials though. The man defeated Cruz, Graff, Tomasello, and Tony Ramos to win this spot. He beat the best of the best, rather dominantly, to win this spot. He isn't ranked in the world, but who cares? The seeds, which are a new wrinkle this year, may all not be there. Three of the four have moved up to the next weight class, with the remaining seeded competitor being 2013 World Champ, Hassan Rahimi of Iran. Everyone else will be randomly drawn in. For real though, there is a lot of heavy hitters at this weight who have bulked up, so it's certainly possible for Gilman to come in and win some matches and make his way to the podium. At least that's how I understand it, which is admitedly through rose colored glasses. Side note, Graff is ranked 17th in the world right now, and Gilman smokes him, so there's that. Another point this brings up to me is that there are often world ranked wrestlers from other countries that don't make the tournament because they were beaten domestically. Not sure why I didn't think that was the case before, but it does, and you'll see that as this continues.
61kgs/134lbs - USA Entrant - Logan Stieber
Let's remember right now that Logan is the defending World Champion at this weight class. He had a miraculous tournament last year, coming from behind a number of times to win matches en route to a Gold Medal and immortalization in World Wrestling History. With that being said, this weight class has gotten very tough! The wrestlers from 57kg's that bumped up were 2x World Champ, Vladimer Khinchegashvili, whose name I successfully copied and pasted, as well as the other medalists below him. As redundant as it is to say that winning a world championship is going to be tough, that's what I'm saying. With that being said, Junior Silver Medalist, and returning World Champ Stieber is a top contender, and the second seed in the tournament. Don't be angry if he doesn't repeat, but when he does, lose your mind!
65kgs/143lbs - USA Entrant - Zain Retherford
I did a YouTube deep dive on all of our World Championship Wrestlers. One thing I had forgotten about, was just how badly Zain beat Frank in the finals. By the end of the third match, Frank was bouncing and looked legitimately exhausted. Frank Molinaro is not one who tends to gas out, so the fact that Zain made one of our mentally and physically toughest wrestlers (who didn't have to wrestle any other matches in that tournament mind you) look that exhausted, is a good sign. The USA has not fared well at this weight in the last 10 years, but I believe that Zain will outlast any wrestler he steps on the mat with, assuming they don't tech him first. That's the world's only chance, because if you try to go 6 minutes with Zain, he'll beat you. I see us coming home with a medal here honestly. Other than Zain, Boris Novachkov, of Bulgaria by way of Cal Poly, is seeded first. Franklin Gomez, Puerto Rico by way of Michigan State and the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, is seeded fourth.
70kgs/154lbs - USA Entrant - James Green
James Green has been dominant this last year. He won bronze in 2015, then tried to drop down a weight for the Olympic Trials before eventually getting back to 70kgs for the Worlds where he didn't medal. However, this year he has been outstanding with exception to the lone loss he had during the World Cup to Iran. Also at this weight is the Mongolian who got screwed in the Olympics, causing the greatest melt down in coaching history, as well as his opponent from that match. That bronze medalist, Navruzov of Uzbekistan. is the luckiest man of all time. He wins the BS call against Franklin Gomez in the Olympics, then gets awarded the Bronze Medal because the Mongolian (who was dominating that match) ran for 10-15 seconds. Anyway, should be fun, but Green is the favorite.
74kgs/163lbs - USA Entrant - Jordan Ernest Burroughs
When you are as successful as Jordan, you get the middle name treatment. Do yourself a favor and watch all of his matches on YouTube from the last 6 years. He is truly amazing, and it's nice to have a quick reminder of how amazing he is. Did you remember that he tech'd his opponent in the 2015 Gold medal match? Did you remember that he pinned his opponent in the 2014 Bronze medal match with a torn MCL? Did you remember that he just beat Kyle Dake (possibly the second best 74kg wrestler in the world)? Appreciate greatness while it's here. With that being said, he's my favorite at the weight. Bekzod Abdurakhmanov is seeded second, and you'll remember he beat Burroughs to make it to the bronze medal match in the Olympics. However, that was Burroughs with a broken heart, not Burroughs with a chip on his shoulder and a flame inside burning hotter than a thousand volcanoes. Bekzod recently was destroyed by Dieringer, and Burroughs is better than Dieringer, so that's my argument. Olympic bronze medalists Yabrail Hasanov of Azerbaijan and Soner Demirtas of Turkey are returning favorites as well, especially with the Gold and Silver not being entered in this weight. Although they don't have their own shoes, and JB is on Volume 3 of his. JB.
86kgs/189lbs - USA Entrant - J'Den Cox
Little Yaz of Iran is the favorite here, having won the Olympics at 74kgs last summer in dramatic fashion, and beating everyone in the world not named David Taylor. Cox has looked healthy since the trials, and from everything I have heard, is as close to 100% as anyone is entering the Worlds. He's bigger, stronger, more agile, and now even has the experience to make his way to the finals. The seeded athletes at this weight, or at least the ones who will be there, are all people either ranked below Cox, or whom he has destroyed in the past. Also, Salas of Cuba (multiple time finalist and lost to Cox in the Bronze medal match) has moved up a weight, as well as 3x defending champ at 86kgs, Sadulaev of Russia. As long as Cox and Yaz are separated, I see Cox in the finals, and possibly if they are on the same side of the bracket. Let's all watch with anticipation to see Cox rise to the occasion.
97kgs/213lbs - USA Entrant - Kyle Snyder
All that needs to be said here is Kyle Snyder vs Sadulaev. Captain America vs The Russian Tank. If you are reading this, you probably know that Snyder is the 2x defending Olympic and World Champ at this weight, and that Sadulaev is the 3x defending Olympic/World Champ at 86kgs, bumping up a weight. It's the match up we have all dreamed of since they exchanged some Twitter words 2 years ago. The crazy thing is that Sadulaev isn't seeded, because why would he. If these two are on the same side of the bracket then I'm going to lose my mind and fly to Paris to personally fight whoever was responsible for this colossal screw up. There are some other guys here, but nobody that worries me derailing this finals. The only thing that can screw this up is the system.
125kgs/275lbs - USA Entrant - Nick Gwiazdowski
Gwiz is finally our guy, and projects to be for a little while for sure. He had a strong world trials, and appears to have been sharpening his freestyle skills. Turkey has a dude who is a total monster in Taha Akgul, who has won gold the past three years at the World Championships and Olympic Games. He is certainly the man to beat, and per usual, there is a strong cast of characters returning to battle for the Gold. It'll be fun to see what Gwiz will do. He could end up battling for a medal, which I expect, or he could be knocked out early. I am honestly looking forward to seeing how his attacking style will match up with a lot of these heavyweights. I'd be shocked if there is someone who is a better athlete and quicker than he is, but I wouldn't be shocked to see him out foxed or wrestled by some of these Heavyweight vets. With that being said, good luck Gwiz and make a name for yourself on the big stage.