Former Pitt wrestler Matt Wilps will compete in the first Tour ACW event Sunday at the Hyatt Regency Center in Coraopolis.
By Ken Wunderley Tri-State Sports & News Service
Competitive wrestlers who want to continue their career have few options after graduating from college.
They could pursue an Olympic dream in freestyle or Greco-Roman, but only a choice few are good enough to attain that dream. They also could enter mixed martial arts (MMA) or become a pro wrestler.
Business partners Teague Moore and Kyle Smith would like to give wrestlers who are not interested in those options another outlet to continue wrestling, and win some money while doing so.
With that in mind, Moore and Smith have launched a new venture called Tour ACW.
"The ACW stands for Association of Career Wrestlers," said Moore, a North Allegheny High School and Oklahoma State University graduate who now serves as the wrestling head coach at American University. "Our concept is to provide wrestling veterans an opportunity to continue their career and a chance to win prize money."
Moore and Smith felt Pittsburgh would be the perfect place to launch Tour ACW.
"We decided to start with a single event," said Moore, who hopes to have three more Tour ACW events in 2014. "We chose the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel [in Coraopolis next to Pittsburgh International Airport] because we wanted an intimate venue. We're selling 300 tickets [at $30 each]."
The event is Sunday, with 28 wrestlers who have paid the $250 registration fee with hopes of winning the $12,500 prize for winning each weight class. Doors open at 11 a.m. and competition begins at noon.
"We're attempting to start a new style of wrestling, with new rules that bring together elements of folkstyle and freestyle," Moore said. "The idea is to create a more fan-friendly, action-packed event."
Wrestling fans will find the rules for Tour ACW are different.
"Unlike college wrestling, there won't be a match time limit, and there won't be a set number of periods," Moore said. "There are two ways for a wrestler to win: by pinning his opponent or by being the first to score 10 points. We're referring to our scoring format as 'First2Ten.' "
Moore realizes that most folkstyle and freestyle matches are low-scoring and that reaching a 10-point plateau might take some time.
"When you start a match with two very good wrestlers, it would normally take a while to get to 10 points," Moore said. "So we've opened up opportunities for scoring, incorporating effective scoring techniques from freestyle and folkstyle."
Competitors can score points with a takedown (2 points), reversal (2 points) and escape (1 point), just like folkstyle. But Tour ACW provides new ways for wrestlers to tally more points, including a one-point push out (pushing the opponent out of the wrestling area).
Competitors also can score three points by taking an opponent from his feet to a back exposure, and can score two or three points for a near fall.
"When the wrestlers are on their feet, it's a combination of freestyle and folkstyle," Moore said. "Once the wrestling action is on the mat, it's more like folkstyle."
The inaugural event will feature five weight classes: 135, 155, 170, 205 and 265 pounds. The competition is open to athletes 18 years and up.
"Ideally, we're looking for guys who have completed their college wrestling careers," Moore said. "Current college wrestlers can compete, but it could affect a wrestler's eligibility. Athletes must understand the possible ramifications."
Fans who cannot attend can watch a free live stream broadcast online through Nside Wrestling.
For more information, visit Tour ACW's official website at www.touracw.com.