2022 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament

10 Must-Watch Final X Era WTT Matches

10 Must-Watch Final X Era WTT Matches

Here are 10 of the best freestyle matches from the Final X era of the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament to get you ready for this weekend.

May 18, 2022 by Kyle Klingman
10 Must-Watch Final X Era WTT Matches

The Final X era of the World Team Trials Challenge tournament has a brief but memorable history. A tournament was held in 2018 and 2019 to determine which wrestlers would face each other for the World team spot in each weight class. The format was scrapped for the 2021 World Team Trials since the Olympics were held the same year due to the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games.

Below are 10 freestyle matches from the 2018 and 2019 tournaments that are reasons you'll want to tune in this weekend. 


2018: Daton Fix over Tony Ramos, 10-3

This series was a rematch of the 2018 US Open where Ramos won, 2-2. Fix hadn't donned an Oklahoma State singlet up to this point but was ready to take on the World when he defeated Ramos who had already won an NCAA title and made two World teams. Fix blew open this match in the first period after taking the first match, 4-1. The current Cowboy star fell to Thomas Gilman for the 57-kg spot at Final X but made the team over Gilman the following year. 

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Daton Fix hadn't won a match as an Oklahoma State wrestler when he defeated Ramos.

2019: Katherine Shai FALL Tiare Ikei, 1:54

Ikei teched Shai during the US Open finals three weeks earlier but it was Shai who got the best of this series with a 10-0 tech and a fall. The 30-year-old mom defeated 2016 Olympian Haley Augelo just to reach the 53-kg finals. 

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Shai dominated this series after losing by technical superiority at the US Open. 

2019: Kayla Miracle tech. Desiree Zavala, 10-0, :34

The Kayla Miracle of 2019 was doing the same things as the 2022 Kayla Miracle: ending matches early. Miracle lost to Mallory Velte at 2018 Final X so she was on a mission to make her first Senior-level World team. She won her first match of this series by fall before earning a 34-second technical superiority in the second. 

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Kayla Miracle didn't spend much time on the mat during her second match against Desiree Zavala.

2018: Tony Nelson over Gable Steveson, 4-4 

Remember when a 17-year-old named Gable Steveson entered the 2018 Senior and Junior World Teams Trials over the same weekend? Steveson had recently won a Minnesota state championship when he faced Tony Nelson — a two-time NCAA champion for Minnesota — in the challenge tournament finals. He made the Junior World team but lost 4-4 to Nelson. 

Watch closely at the 7-minute mark when Steveson scores the final takedown. He looks to the ref and goes back to his feet, which was similar to the closing seconds of his Olympic finals match. The result was different, but it was a foreshadowing of what was to come.

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A 17-year-old Gable Steveson took two-time NCAA champion Tony Nelson to the brink.

2019: Gable Steveson over Tony Nelson, 5-1

What a difference a year makes. Steveson placed third at the 2019 NCAA championships but stormed back to make the best of three finals at the World Team Trials Challenge tournament. He defeated Adam Coon — a returning Greco World silver medalist — 13-3 and 8-1 to reach Final X. Before that, he downed Nelson, 5-1, in the challenge tournament finals to avenge his loss from the previous year. Nick Gwiazdowski defeated Steveson, 3-3 and 4-4, at Final X to make the team. 

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Gable Steveson avenged his loss to Tony Nelson.

2019: Jason Nolf over Isaiah Martinez, 7-5

Nolf and Martinez had history entering this match. Nolf was a freshman at Penn State when he pinned Martinez in a dual. The Illinois sophomore was the returning national champion after a stellar freshman campaign. IMAR came back to win in the 157-pound B10 and NCAA finals, 3-3 TB2 and 6-5, over Nolf.

They faced each other in a best-of-three series at the 2019 World Team Trials for the right to face Jordan Burroughs at Final X for the 74-kg World team spot. Martinez won the first and third matches, 9-4 and 12-2. Nolf won the second match, 7-5, in dramatic fashion. He trailed 5-2 with one second left before scoring four points off of a throw. 

It was Martinez, though, who faced Burroughs at Final X. He won the second match, 6-5, but dropped matches one and three. Burroughs went on to win a bronze medal at the World Championships. 

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Jason Nolf pulled out a dramatic throw to defeat Isaiah Martinez in the second match of their series.

2018: Nahshon Garrett over Seth Gross, 16-12

What do you do for an encore after an 18-13 match at the US Open? How about a 16-12 match during the 61-kg semifinals of the 2018 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament? That's 59 points between two wrestlers over two matches.

Garrett won the challenge tournament and defeated Joe Colon at Final X in three matches after dropping a 20-13 match to Colon at the US Open. Colon ultimately represented the United States and won a bronze medal, though, after Garrett could not compete due to an injury. 

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Garrett and Gross had a 16-12 shootout after an 18-13 slugfest at the US Open. 

2019: Tyler Graff over Cody Brewer, 22-16

This is not a misprint. Tyler Graff and Cody Brewer threw down during the first match of their 61-kg best-of-three series for the right to face Joe Colon at Final X. Graff won in straight matches — 22-16 and 8-5 — before making his first World team several weeks later. 

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This match was tied 16-16 before Graff pulled away for a 22-16 win.

2019: Zain Retherford over Jordan Oliver, 7-6, and Zain Retherford over Jordan Oliver, 7-6

What’s better than one 7-6 match between Zain Retherford and Jordan Oliver? How about two. This best-of-three series lived up to the hype as two college superstars battled it out for the 65-kilogram spot. 

Oliver defeated Retherford, 13-11, in the inaugural American Wrestling League event weeks prior. It looked like more of the same in the first match, with Oliver sprinting out to a 6-1 lead. This time, Retherford came back with six unanswered points to take the first match.

The second match was a seesaw battle with Retherford taking a 7-4 lead with Oliver scoring late for another 7-6 win.

This series set up the Yianni Diakomihalis series at Final X Rutgers which was eventually won in straight matchest by Retherford, but it took three matches to decide the winner. The controversial second match went to arbitration and it was eventually re-wrestled at a later date.

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Zain Retherford defeated Jordan Oliver, 7-6, during the first match of the 2019 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. 


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Although Retherford won 7-6 in the first match, the second match was much different.