Tension. Emotion. Pride. Triumph. The 2017 Greco-Roman World Cup final delivered all of it as Russia held on to defeat Azerbaijan in front of an enthusiastic standing-room crowd at the Kowser Sports Complex in Abadan City, Iran. The action streamed live in the United States on Trackwrestling.com.
With the victory, Russia earns its seventh World Cup title since the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. The country’s lineup this year was one predicated upon revenge. Coming into this year, Iran had won five of the last seven titles, a factor that surely influenced Russia’s roster decisions for the event. In 2016, Russia chose to leave its high-profile stars at home in preparation for the Olympic Games. With that not a concern this time around, all of the heavy artillery necessary was present.
Azerbaijan, winners of the Greco-Roman World Cup just two years ago, fielded a similarly strong cast of characters who provided plenty of fun-filled moments over the two-day dual series. But in order to keep up with Russia, Azerbaijan was going to need big wins and bigger surprises, something that ultimately, proved too tall of a task to accomplish.
59 kg — Semenov too much for Mammadov
Mingiyan Semenov (RUS, world no. 6) is a fast starter and once he gets going, he is extremely difficult to stop, as Taleh Mammadov (AZE) only knows too well. A clean arm throw by the Russian yielded two, but the real damage was done with an exchange at the edge that saw Semenov get underneath Mammadov and lift with a high dive he arched and turned backwards with. The sequence was good for four and Semenov was on his way.
A 7-0 cushion became 7-2 off of a scramble where Semenov locked around Mammadov, who reversed position immediately. It didn’t matter — there was such little breathing room for Mammadov to use his physicality and Semenov was clearly a step ahead in the tie-ups. The second period didn’t deliver much more, as both athletes were on divergent paths. Semenov, looking to end it; Mammadov trying to survive. Two more came Semenov’s way but that would be it, a decisive 9-2 victory for Russia in the opening bout.
66 kg — Surkov blitzes Babayev
If Artem Surkov (RUS, world no. 9) was feeling any butterflies, he sure dealt with them appropriately. After a brief exchange, Surkov tossed Nofal Babyev (AZE) to the mat and instantly ignited his offense, turning the Iranian twice with gutwrenches to put a bow on this one in stunningly quick fashion.
71 kg — Chunayev gets the nod
In his second bout of the Greco-Roman World, Rasul Chunayev had all sorts of problems finding a rhythm against Abuiazid Mantsigov (RUS, world no. 10). Fans might have been looking forward to some sweet high-flying antics and those dynamic throws, but the attempts here were few and far between. That doesn’t mean there was little to latch onto — anticipation filled the arena. There just was a decided lack of meaningful positions where scoring was available. Chunayev worked and worked and was rewarded with a passivity and he’d add to his total in what was an unusually tame 2-1 win for the 2015 World Champion.
75 kg — Vlasov does just enough to get by Mursaliyev
A match-up pitting two-time World and Olympic champ Roman Vlasov (RUS, world no. 1) versus one of the sport’s most game competitors in Elvin Musaliyev (AZE, world no. 7) probably should have been a slugfest. It didn’t turn out that way.
Vlasov did an admirable job of upping his activity against the physical style Mursaliyev offers. He came close on a couple of occasions to finding underhooks he could use to move the Azerbaijani wrestler around, but at the same time, Mursaliyev is just too rough of a customer to set traps for. A passivity in the first provided just a hint of breathing room for Vlasov and another in the second frame was mere window dressing. It all resulted in a 2-0 victory for Vlasov, who is going to have to adjust his attack plan until par terre returns.
80 kg — Huseynov toughs out hard-earned win over Ankiev
For Azerbaijan to stay in this, Rafik Huseynov (AZE, world no. 7) was going to have to raise the bar against a wrestler who has proven to be all sorts of trouble against technicians like Husyenov. Adlan Akiev (RUS, world no. 13) commanded the center of the mat like a general, repeatedly disrupting Huseynov’s flow and digging inside for underhooks and drags. Huseynov, perhaps feeling a sense of urgency, understood the setting well enough to know that this was not going to be a fight won in stalemated tie-ups. He lowered in for a high dive or two and began forcing the action by increasing his forward pressure. It was a sound strategy. A passivity point came his way with a minute left in the second frame to give him a criteria edge and a razor-thin victory that provided a little boost for Azerbaijan when they needed it most.
85 kg — Abbasov almost surprises Chakvetadze
Russia’s powderkeg of a superstar, 2016 Olympic Champion Davit Chakvetadze (RUS, world no. 1) got down to business against Islam Abbasov (AZE, world no. 7), taking the center of the mat and immediately searching for those openings that have resulted in countless dramatic throws. Abbasov did a fine job of deflecting any meaningful attempts from doing harm, although Chakvetadze received the first passivity point to take the lead.
Abbasov got on his horse in the latter stages of the first period. He started walking Chakvetadze around the mat, clearly in need of a spark. He got one. While close to the boundary, Abbasov stepped in and around Chakvetadze, whose foot went out to give him a step-out along with the criteria edge.
The action heated up in the second and then some. Chakvetadze hustled right out of the gate looking to get that point back. But Abbasov stayed poised. There were physical exchanges at every corner and Chakvetadze seemed to be close to getting to the body on a couple of them, but it was to no avail. A late passivity call on Abbasov delivered some controversy. He didn’t appear to be blocking and the ties seemed to be mutually ineffective. Even still, Chakvetadze was awarded a point and that proved to be the difference in this 2-1 thriller.
98 kg — Nuriyev outworks Safaryan
Orkhan Nuriyev (AZE) might have had a few dicey moments during the Greco-Roman World Cup, but they didn’t come in the final. On the strength of a hectic but measured pace, Nuriyev had no trouble outworking Maksim Safaryan (AZE, world no. 13) in a 3-0 win. Safaryan fell victim to counter-pressure out of a clinch, his momentum carrying him out of bounds. Nuriyev must have been inspired by the 1-0 advantage because he started taking it to Safaryan at every available opportunity, working him over in the ties and making the Russian carry his weight.
Nuriyev scampered around for a takedown to increase his total to 3-0. Safaryan, as had been the case in his previous matches, didn’t look like he had the tank to make up the difference.
The break in between periods rejuvenated Safaryan enough to wake him up a little but by that point, Nuriyev was too confident, too sure he could set a pace that wouldn’t be matched. Safaryan came forward, doing his best to find any kind of mechanism to coax Nuriyev’s momentary openings to widen. For his part, Nuriyev did not relent. Constant tries for two-on-one’s and underhooks along with some timely hand-checking carried this one for Azerbaijan 3-0.
130 kg — Semenov and Shariati deliver a classic
The 130 kg bout served up two 2016 Rio bronze medalists in Sergey Semenov (RUS, world no. 3) and Sabah Shariati (AZE, world no. 4) and both seemed more than motivated to get this one underway.
It was Shariati who took the initiative, backing Semenov up, never an easy thing to do. It was going to take volume in order for Shariati to make a dent, so he tried to bring just that. Semenov, the more explosive of the two, found his feet stuck in quicksand a little as Shariati moved in off his front foot to pressure inside. He was the beneficiary soon enough of a passivity point, though with the tempo these two monsters set, it certainly looked like that would not be enough.
Semenov, a bear of a man who can strike with the quickness of a wrestler several weight classes below his, capitalized on a mistake by Shariati to take control. After an exchange at the edge, Semenov bulldozed in on Shariati’s hips to knock him out for a point and the lead via criteria. The drama only heightened from there.
As the second period unfolded, Shariati was beginning to find success with his left overhook, nearly hipping Semenov over numerous times. The problem? He couldn’t stop hooking with his leg. Whether or not he would have been able to score without doing so is immaterial — clean attempts at the rate in which he was making them might have been enough to net another passivity and therefore, the win. However, that is not what happened. Despite several close calls at the edge where Shariati seemed to almost usher Semenov out for the match-ending points, it wasn’t to be. Semenov held on for the 1-1 victory as the Russian supporters in the building celebrated.
2017 Greco-Roman Wrestling World Cup Final Results
RUSSIA — 5 AZERBAIJAN — 3
59 kg: Mingiyan Semenov (RUS) def. Taleh Mammadov (AZE) 9-2
66 kg: Artem Surkov (RUS) def. Nofal Babayev 8-0, TF
71 kg: Rasul Chunayev (AZE) def. Abuiazid Mantsigov (RUS) 2-1
75 kg: Roman Vlasov (RUS) def. Elvin Mursaliyev (AZE) 2-0
80 kg: Rafik Husyenov (AZE) def. Adlan Akiev (RUS) 1-1 (criteria)
85 kg: David Chakvetadze (RUS) def. Islam Abbasov (AZE) 2-1
98 kg: Orkhan Nuriyev (AZE) def. Maksim Safaryan (RUS) 3-0
130 kg: Sergey Semenov (RUS) def. Sabah Shariati (AZE) 1-1 (criteria)
IRAN — 7 TURKEY — 1
59 kg: Saman Abdouli (IRI) def. Hammet Rustem 9-0, TF
66 kg: Mehdi Zeidvand (IRI) def. Atakan Yuksel (TUR) 4-0
71 kg: Mohammadali Geraei (IRI) def. Ilker Sonmez (TUR) 9-0, TF
75 kg: Emrah Kus (TUR) def. Rasoul Garmsiri (IRI) 2-1
80 kg: Yousef Ghaderian (IRI) def. Aslan Atem (TUR) 2-1
85 kg: Mahdi Fallahhamidabadi (IRI) def. Methan Basar (TUR) 2-1
98 kg: Mahdi Aliyarifeizabadi (IRI) def. Cenk Ildem (TUR) 7-1
130 kg: Benham Aryatapeh (IRI) def. Riza Kayaalp (TUR) 2-1
GERMANY 5 — UKRAINE — 3
59 kg: Zhora Abovian (UKR) def. Christoph Kraemer (GER) 3-2
66 kg: Parviz Nasibov (UKR) def. Erik Weiss (GER) 2-1
71 kg: Maximilian Schwabe (GER) def. Ruslan Israfilov (UKR) via fall
75 kg: Florian Neumaier (GER) def. Mykola Daragan (UKR) 2-0
80 kg: Pascal Eisele (GER) def. Dmytro Pyshkov (UKR) 7-3
85 kg: Ramsin Azizsir (GER) def. Iurii Shkruiba (UKR) 2-0
98 kg: Peter Oehler (GER) def. Volodymyr Vasilyev (UKR) 7-0
130 kg: Oleksandr Cherneyskyy (UKR) def. Christian John (GER) 8-0, TF
KAZAKHSTAN — 6 BELARUS — 2
59 kg: Zhanserik Sarsenbiyev (KAZ) def. Maksim Kazharski (BLR) 7-3
66 kg: Daniyar Kalenov (KAZ) won via forfeit
71 kg: Pavel Liakh (BLR) def. Demeu Zhadrayev (KAZ) 4-2
75 kg: Radzik Kuliyeu (BLR) def. Maxat Yerezhepov (KAZ) 9-1, TF
80 kg: Daulet Zhaxylykov (KAZ) def. Radzik Kuliyeu (BLR) 6-1
85 kg: Azamat Kustubayev (KAZ) def. Mikalai Stadub (BLR) 4-1
98 kg: Alimkhan Syzdykov (KAZ) def. Yahor Yaskavets (BLR) via fall
130 kg: Damir Kuzembayev (KAZ) def. Heorhi Chuashvili (BLR) via fall