In my mind this is going to be done in three parts. First I'm going to post my updated rankings after the Russian, American and Iranian national tournaments. Then, other posters will critique my rankings, given that they are highly subjective and that I'm honestly not that informed. Then I'll update them based on those suggestions. Finally, I'll try to do rankings using only WC contenders once the rosters have been finalized.
Rankings are based roughly equally on recent results and on preformances at last WC. Some guys are hard to rank becasue they don't compete much (ie Sokhiev) or have infinite potential but limited results (ie Burroughs).
1- Lebedev (Russia). The defending world champ was undefeated at the world cup and won the Russian nationals this week. (world gold, world bronze)
2- Mansurov (Uzbekistan). The most accomplished wrestler at this weight but has not competed much recently. Beat Yang at the Asian games. (2x world gold, world bronze)
3- Yang (North Korea). Also hasn't wrestled much that I know of. Has victory over Lebedev last year, and probably the most physically imposing guy at the weight (world gold)
4-Otasultranov (Russia). This dynamic wrestler stuck first behind Kudukhov and now Lebedev. Won euros this year and placed 2nd at nationals.
4- Khineshgashvili (Georgia). The jr. world champ continues to have sucess at sr. level tournaments.
1- Kudukhov (Russia). Still arguably the best pound-for-pound and the defending world champ, just won the nationals over Sat. (3x world gold, world siver, Olympic bronze).
2- Sat (Russia). Like Otasultranov, stuck behind a stud. Won Euros and Yargyin this year.
3- Fedorishin (Ukraine). Very solid wrestler who can't quite get it done at the worlds, but always gives Kuduhov a hard time. (Olympic silver, world gold and bronze).
4- Huseynov (Azerbayjan). Another strong veteran at this great weight class (world silver, bronze)
5- Asgarov (Azerbayjan). This junior star moves up in weight, and I think a wrestle-off between himself and Huseynov would be a very exciting match (world silver).
6- Murtazaliev (Russia)- I think this is their #3 guy now. I can't keep all these Russians straight, there are too many and they are too good.
66 kg- a great weight for the best possible reason. Lots of established stars which, for the most part, wrestling an exciting style. Hope most of the stars show up at worlds. Not ranking Garzon since he's apparently suspended for losing on purpose
1- Kumar (India). The defending world champ has beaten Hasaynov twice. Not a definitive favorite but I'll give him the top ranking until someone beats him. (world gold, Olympic bronze)
2- Hasaynov (Azerbayjan). Last year's consensus #1 wrestler had one wierd loss by fall this season, but won the Europeans. I'm ranking him above more credentialled wrestler based on his sucess over the past two seasons (world bronze).
3- M. Batirov (Russia). On the verge of all-time greatness, he just placed 2nd at the Russian nationals as his first significant achievement at 66, showing he can handle yet another weight jump. I hope he goes to worlds this year. (2x Olympic gold, world gold, bronze).
4- Taghavi (Iran). Beat out his compatriot Hosekhani, who was having a teriffic season, at the Iranian nationals. (world gold)
5- Shahin (Turkey). I hope 2008 olympic champ can deal with his health and weight problems and become a force again, he's a lot of fun to watch. (Oympic gold, world gole)
6- A. Batirov (Russia). Won the Russian nationals this year, but his brother seemed to lose on purpose in the final. Also won the Yarygin.
7- Garcia (Canada). My homer pick needs to fit into the rankings somewhere. Hey, this is still lower than his world championship finish
1- Tsargush (Russia). The Golden Pylon is a clear #1. (sx world gold)
2- Goudrazi (Iran). The clear #2 recently won the Iranian championship. (world silver, bronze)
3- Chamazurlaev (Azerbayjan). The best chance of beating Tsargush IMO, but does anyone know if he is still actually competing at this weight? (world silver, bronze)
4- Farniev (Russia). Finally wins a Russian title at 74 kg. Too small to win consistently at this weight, but a threat to beat anyone on any given day. Also, does he have a health condition? Hard to believe a world class wrestler is as unfit as he is. (world gold, bronze).
5- Burroughs (USA). Not many credentials but very talented and beat the Russian runner-up recently. Hey, he hasn't lost in forever and no one else is winning consistently.
6- Musa Murtazaliev (Armenia?) Placed 2nd at the Europeans, but gets this spot because he cradle-pinned Tsargush a couple of years ago, and becasue I got flak for ranking the Hungarian highly last time. His brother isn't ranked because he got injured at the Russian Nationals; if he ever gets healthy he'll challenge for the top spot IMO.
84 kg- what a wierd weight. Lots of talented guys but they all seem to be retiring, injured, or just plain lazy. Really several guys make a legitimate case for #1.
1- Sokhiev (Uzbekistan), the lazy guy. Doesn't wrestle much and recently lost at the Asian championships, but this aggressively boring wrestler has more world medals than anyone else at the weight. (world gold, silver, 2x bronze).
2- Sanderson (USA), the retired guy. The 2004 Sanderson wins this weight pretty easily IMO, I guess we'll see how the older version, who has apparently learned how to gut-wrench, does. (Olympic gold, world silver).
3- Ganev (Bulgaria), the injured guy. He was stabbed in a bar fight recently and hasn't looked great all season, but I'm giving the benefit of the doubt because it just feels wrong to rank the defending world champ below two guys who have never wrestled in a WC. I hope he is at 100% for the worlds, he is a fun guy to watch (world gold).
4- Saritov (Russia). This is where the rankings get interesting. This guy has never wrestled at worlds, but he just won the nationals over Urishev (my #1 last time) and Ktsoev, and placed 2nd at the Yaygin. Consistenly good wrestler is a legitimate world medal threat.
5- Urishev (Russia). Won the Yarygin and the Euros, but didn't win the nationals- again.
6- Aldatov (Ukraine), the really lazy guy. Arguably the world's most dangerous par terre wrestler looks like an all time great some times, and like he hates nothing worse than exercise at others. Could win this weight or go out in the first round, neither would surprise me. (world gold, silver, bronze).
96 kg- the deepest weight in the world. Too many stars to rank just six, and a lot of head-to-head results to analyze.
1- Gayzumov (Azerbayjan). the world champion is FILA's wrestler of the year last year, and mine as well. Had a close call this year beating Saidov on three clinches, but he is #1 until he loses. He is 1-1 vs Gatsalov in the world finals (Olympic bronze. World gold, silver.)
2- Gatsalov (Russia) the world's greatest active wrestler just won a crazy tough class at the Russian Nationals. Gayzumov, Gogchelidze, and Tigiev all competed for Russia at one point but none of them could take the national team spot from him. He no longer has that "unbeatable" aura IMO, but he is still great. (Olympic gold, 4x world gold, world silver).
3- Gogchelidze (Georgia). A superb wrestler who just can't beat Gataslov at the worlds. Great pinner too.
(Olympic bronze, world gold, world silver, 2x world bronze).
4- Muradov (Russia). The Olympic champion only started competing again this year and lost to Gatsalov on clinches in the Russian nationals. I wonder if the Russian federation will give him a chance to challenge for the spot as he has beaten Gatsalov twice before; he has beaten both Gogchelidze and Gayzumov in the past. (Olympic gold.)
5- Yazdani (Iran). Teriffic season until he lost in the Iranian Nationals in a huge upset. According to Iranian posters he should still be going to the worlds now. A bit undersized but very exciting to watch as well. Lost to Gatsalov by injury default in a competitive bout last year (2x world bronze)
6- Tigiev (Uzbekistan). Known as a dirty wrestler and a grinder, beat Gatsalov before last year's worlds and lost handily to Yazdani at the Asian games. Beat Gogchelidze and lost to Muradov at the Olympics (olympic silver.)
7- Ketoev (Russia). Looked like he was making a comeback, pinning Yazdani at the world cup, but then lost at the nationals again. I know weight classes play a big role with a power wrestler like him, but still hard to believe he was considered one of the best pound-for-pound a few years ago. (Olympic bronze, world gold.)
8- Varner (USA). I think he might be better than this honestly, but he needs to beat one of the accomplished studs first. Beat two top Russians this year and last a close one to Ketoev. Dominated in the US.
1- Makhov (Russia). He hasn't wrestled for a while, but there isn't really anyone to challenge him except Taymazov, whom Makhov beat in last year's "clash of the Titans" world final, (3x world gold).
2- Taymazov (Uzbekistan). The other canditate for "greatest active wrestler" won the Asian games. Still a physical force. (2x Olympic gold, Olympic silver. 2x world gold, 2x world silver, world bronze.)
3- Akhmedov (Russia). After an disastrous European championships, he came back to win the Russian nationals. Also wont he Yarygin. (Olympic silver).
4- Dlagnev (USA). Going to the worlds again after winning the US's deepest weight at the trials (world bronze).
5- Masoumi (Iran). Like I said before, I don't know much about heavyweights This guy has a pretty good resume. Placed 3rd at the Asian games. Got a better candidate? (world silver, bronze).
5- Chaciroglu (Turkey). European champion is an experienced veteran.