A brief introduction here. Basically just wanted to end the college season with a place for people to review this wide array of Adidas shoes we have reviewed to this point. I’ll make some edits and updates to the original reviews, with what I’ve noticed about the makes since I wrote them, but for the most part, it’s all going to be located below. Lastly, don’t forget to head to adidaswrestling.com, and use Promo Code Blood20 to get 20% off your purchases from that site on shoes, apparel, and general merchandise. Enjoy!
The time has finally come. I have had plenty of great fortune in my life, but here I find myself with the honor of reviewing some excellent wrestling shoes for you. If you are reading this, than I trust you are familiar with my passion for the sport of wrestling, and vicariously, the shoes that go with it. I currently own 8 (the number is now 14) pairs of wrestling shoes, and haven't actually coached or trained since 2013 (with the exception of an occasional wrestling practice and clinic). It's a problem, but if that's my vice than I can live with it. Thankfully, I still find time to get to the mats every so often, and therefore get to try these shoes out with some decent frequency. Adidaswrestling.com has provided us the opportunity to use, and review some of their new shoes for plenty to read and enjoy. Don't forget, by going to adidaswrestling.com, and using the promo code BLOOD20, you can get 20% the purchase of any items. All that being said, here is the review.
Adidas Impacts. I remember when I first saw the picture of these before they were released. Adidas was going with a design that was unlike ones I had seen before. The tongue of the shoe starts well into the top of the foot, they used a perforated soft shell over the toes and front of the foot as well. Thirdly, it was very high on the ankles, which some certainly prefer. It provides excellent ankle support, without much limitation in ankle mobility. I also remember that I was very impressed with their design and aesthetics of the shoes. Recently, Ed Ruth even informed us that these are his favorite shoe, largely due to how awesome they look. The first time I saw someone wearing them was Zahid Valencia, the all yellow and black original ones. They have since added the blue, red and gray camo colors, in addition to the brand new Fire and black/steel fractile designs (They have since released several other colors and designs, that are equally as outstanding). Straight up, these are some of the most bad ass looking shoes that you can come across. My concern was that they were going to be too high on the ankles, as I typically like to tie my shoes to right where the foot connects to the ankle to allow for optimum ankle and foot mobility. I can say, those concerns were quickly washed away.
These shoes fit tight to your foot, but still aren't constricting in the ankle, or any other movements. They are also very light weight, and the material that they use certainly helps them to remain breathable. This is the first pair of shoes that I can feel comfortable in lacing all the way up. That being said, you can still lace them lower, and not lose any of the stability in your foot. They went with the full sole grip, similar to the Mat Wizards, or Aggressors, but these are a more narrow fit than both of those shoes as well, and fit more tightly to the foot. They provide excellent grip to the mat, and don't lose much as the mats begin to get slippery. I certainly recommend these shoes for anyone who likes a tight fitting shoe, that rides high on the ankles. They are also surprisingly light weight for a shoe that, at first glance, you'd expect to be heavier than most. Notable wrecking machines to wear these shoes; David Taylor, Zahid Valencia, Justin Oliver, Bryce Meredith, Kevin Jack, Kevin Claunch. Now that I've done a more traditional review, please enjoy my completely over the top review as well.
Do you have dreams of winning Olympic gold medals (yes, plural)? Do you have some weak ass, buster shoes right now (probably)? Do you spend most of your time counting the lights in the top of the gym (Your home gym has 67 lights in it, and you shouldn't know that)? Now is the time that you take life by the horns, and say NEVER AGAIN! Go to adidaswrestling.com and use promo code BLOOD20 to get the new Adidas Impacts for 20% off! The moment you receive these, assuming the mail carrier doesn't become overcome with rage and jealousy that they steal them, your whole life will turn around. No more getting cut in line at lunch. No more being overlooked when you raise your hand to answer a question in class. No more being passed up for a promotion at work because you "show up late to work habitually" or “don’t know how to do your job”. These aren't wrestling shoes, they are a way of life. Do you, and everyone who knows you, a favor. Make a positive Impact today. Get these shoes!!!
Adidas Varner 2.0
Have you ever had an experience where you buy wrestling shoes that were NOTHING like you had hoped they'd be? To be clear, this is not the experience that I had with these Varners, but just telling a story. Personally, I've spent money on a new pair of shoes, without giving it much thought, and been greatly disappointed in the product that arrived. Whether my previous shoes got me used to a specific feel, and the new ones couldn't deliver on that feel, or you are familiar with a level of grip to the mat, that these shoes can't provide. Whatever the circumstances, it's happened to the best of us. Within the last three years, I purchased a pair of shoes because they looked cool. Turns out that they are heavy, provide terrible grip, and do not give me a sense of confidence while I'm on the mat. That's why I'm doing this. To avoid that feeling when you've invested in some shoes. That being said, go to adidaswrestling.com, and use our Promo Code, BLOOD20 to get 20% your purchase of shoes or other merchandise. Now, onto the Adizero Varners 2.0.
Adidas was kind enough to supply Tommy and myself with these to use and review for you all. I gave a brief description of the shoe on our latest episode, but lets dive deep into what I like about the shoe. Stability is huge! When you're on the mat, and it's the moment of truth, whether in practice or a match, the last thing you want is to push off and have your footing go out from underneath you. In my experience with these shoes, you will not have that issue. They provide great comfort, physically and mentally, to your foundation. Also, like the Impacts, I feel very comfortable lacing them all the way up. Because they ride so high on the ankle, you can tie them comfortably, so that they aren't strangling your feet, and still know that they won't move, shift, or come off of your feet. You still have the same ankle flexibility that you'd like to get out of a shoe, and lose no mobility. Personally, I tie them one loop lower than the top, but that’s just a personal preference. The big thing here is, that if you are at an all day tournament, you won't find your self lacing and unlacing your shoes over and over due to them being too constricting and uncomfortable.
Functionality though, they broke the full sole grip up into two main sections that ride up the front, sides, and back of the shoe to allow for maximum grip on the mat, regardless of your foot's angle. That said, they also have a piece of suede that dips into the grip on the inside of each shoe. I've had specific instances with other shoes where I've had to adjust my single leg, or dragging my train leg, because the grip on the side was catching the mat. I believe this suede inlet is in place to avoid just that. If not whatever, but I'm reviewing the shoe, and I believe this to be the case. If you enjoy having stability in your shoe, and maximum grip, without sacrificing having a light weight and flexible shoe, then absolutely invest in a pair of these Adizero Varner 2.0's. Also, here's the over the top version of the review.
I think I was 25 when the reality that I was going bald sank in. I had once heard my brother use the phrase "going bald gracefully", so a combination of having that phrase in my vernacular, and not having the money to afford the hair loss prevention stuff at the time, I decided to do just that, and go bald gracefully. To be honest, it doesn't really bother me except when it's really cold out. Thankfully I have a Mat Talk Online winter hat for just such an occasion. Occasionally I'll see Bryce Meredith hair, or Stefan Micic hair, and remember the glory days, but then I remember some of the greats like Cael, Sean Bormet, Casey Cunningham, and Jake Varner are bald... Or so I thought. Recently I attended the Michigan vs Penn State dual, and saw Jake Varner standing there with a full head of hair! How is this possible? I couldn't believe that he was intentionally shaving his head before, and for so long, without it being the result of actual baldness. And yet I'm standing here, looking at Jake Varner, with a full head of hair! All I know is that Jake's hair came back about the exact same time as these shoes were released. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but I doubt it. So for the time being, I'm going to wear these shoes all day everyday, and wait and see what happens. Just know that the next time you see me, you'll probably mistake me for Tom Selleck. To eliminate any ambiguity, I'm saying these shoes cure baldness.
Mat Wizard 4
Let's set the stage. It's early March of 2018, and Tariq Wilson qualifies for the NCAA Tournament. He's one of those guys who you know is more talented than his record (to be clear, this was at the time in 2018), but hasn't been able to remain consistent throughout the year. Cleveland Ohio, there's something different about Tariq. Is it because he's a native of Stubenville Ohio, so he's close to home? No. That's not it. Is it because he is peaking at the right time? Possible, but I don't think that's accurate either. Did he just learn a single leg the night before, and decided to unleash it's fury on the world of D1 College Wrestling? Also, not likely. The big difference was, Tariq had new shoes. You may be saying to yourself, "Kevin, you can't possibly be saying that the only reason Tariq Wilson went from possibly 1-2, to placing 3rd in one of the more difficult weights in the country, is due to the change in shoes can you?" Yes. That's the only tangible evidence I have come up with that would directly relate to the increase in performance.
Similar to the last rendition of the Mat Wizards, these have the same single sole bottom with emphasis on grip. One of my favorite things about these shoes so far is the laces. They lace up very easily, and the lace holes are more open, making it simple to tie the shoes as tight or as loose as you prefer. The shoes themselves sit more shallow on the ankle than the Varners, or the Impacts, but it doesn't affect the ability for them to provide ankle support if you so choose to tie them to the top. These shoes are also more bulky than the Impacts or the Varners, but it helps them to be more comfortable on your feet for longer stretches as well. They grip your foot like a sock, but you don't lose any bit of traction along the way, and because Adidas has stuck with the same general plan for the soles of the shoes, you know what you are getting, which is consistency. Additionally, like the Impacts, these shoes have some slickness on the front of them, which makes it difficult for opponents to grim if they are trying to catch a toe as a last line of defense. Any time your shoe has built in defense systems, you’re immediately at an advantage.
Outside of the performance of the shoe itself, they just look straight up awesome! I am a big fan of both the solid color combinations, and the black and white along with the yellow and black. Since my initial review here, they’ve released the patriotic Red White and Bue, all Black, all Blue, all Red, Black and Red, and another Yellow and Black w black soles. Overall, the shoes fit excellent, are extremely comfortable, they provide tremendous support around the foot and ankle without giving up any comfort, and they remained consistent with their single sole design for maximum grip for the entire foot. Lastly, as it relates to the grip and sole, I really like how the back heel has the extra channel that comes up. I didn't realize how often I push off of that on sweep singles, and digging my foot in on stand ups. Any time you can give yourself the extra edge, you should do that. That's what Tariq Wilson did, so you know it's a good idea.
For as long as I can remember, the Combat Speeds were the shoe that immediately told you that you were in for one hell of a match. If your opponent had them, then they were about to demonstrate some cool new moves on you, that you probably hadn’t even heard of. In 1999-2003, the only Combat Speeds available (at least that I came across) were the black and reds, and the classic, teal, yellow, and pink. These shoes weren’t in production though, and were difficult to come across. I remember trading away a “Team Michigan” singlet to someone at Fargo to get a pair of 12.5 teal, yellow and pinks (I wear size 10). Point being, these were the first shoes that I can remember that distinguished that this wrestler was about to kick your ass. You can imagine how excited I was years later when they brought them back. I also remember seeing the newest variation of these shoes, the Combat Speed 5s. As a wrestling connoisseur, it was a very special day for me.
The Combat Speed’s have always been known as a light weight and flexible shoe. In fact, they’ve been the lightest and most flexible shoe for as long as I can remember. Traditionally, the soles of wrestling shoes weigh more than the rest of the material in the design, but with the Combat Speeds unique split sole design, their entire construction is built around being lighter and faster. Additionally, the breathable mesh on the sides allows them to dry out quickly, but also doesn’t restrict movement. The main difference between the 5s and the rest of the Combat Speeds before it, is that these have more of an emphasis on stability and durability than it’s predecessors. The 5s have a more substantial lace guard than the previous iterations, and have the teeth of the Velcro on the side of the shoe rather than the guard itself. That was an issue in the past because the teeth of the Velcro would rip up the laces or tongue of the shoe. Not anymore!
Where as before, the three stripes (#threestripelife) rested on the outside and inside of the mesh, but these 5s have them embedded in more of the suede outsole, to provide more durability. These shoes have often been described as having a “sock like fit”, however, with more of a durable frame, and a stronger outsole, they feel more like a shoe but with the same narrow and tight fit on the foot. However, as you continue to wear the shoe, it becomes more like a sock fit. They really form to your foot well, and only need a practice or two to form to your feet. As I’ve mentioned with other shoes, the sole of the shoe really depends on your preference. This split sole has great grip on the bottoms of the shoe, and less on the sides. This is great for anyone who drags their feet on the shots, as I tend to do. Grip is great to have, until you want more freedom to navigate your foot across the mat without restrictions. This shoe provides you that freedom, in the most durable and light weight version of the Combat Speeds to date. In addition, the shoe now has SEVERAL color schemes to choose from, so you don’t have to rely on the original black and red or teal, pink, and yellow. We’ve got Blue, Red, White, Black, Grey and Yellow, Red and White, Tan and Gray, including some old school remix colors coming out soon… check em out! One other thing that’s nice about the Combat Speeds, they happen to be one of the less expensive shoes, for the frugal wrestling shoe consumer. Get your own wrestling shoes using promo code Blood20 at Adidaswrestling.com.
Some notable wrestlers who rock the Combat Speeds;
There is a reason that so many college teams, and athletes, choose these shoes. For one, there is the stigma that they make you faster and stronger, which like most rumors are entirely based on fact, and 100% true. The Combat Speeds remind me of a Ford F-150, in the sense that it’s universally known as the best in the brand, and I can picture Dennis Leary reading the words to a Combat Speed commercial. “Chances are that if you need wrestling shoes, you see wrestling as not just a sport, but a way of life. That being said, you probably want to be faster, stronger, better looking, and more charismatic than your competition. Combat Speeds are guaranteed to do all of those things, so get out of the wrestling room or weight room, and get yourself in front of a computer screen and order some shoes.” That' sounds about right. Anyway, not all of that may be direct result of the Combat Speeds, but it also COULD be a direct result of the Combat Speeds. Go buy some and find out.
That’s all I have for now. Make sure you take some time this off season and explore their site, and gear up for Freestyle season, and some upcoming camps. I’m also happy to answer any questions anyone has about the shoes, so you can DM me on Twitter @claunchinator, or you can email me through bloodround.com, and I’ll try to share some additional insight on the shoes. Thanks for reading, and be on the look out for additional reviews from me on new brands to be released this summer of 2019. Rock on.