Olympic medalist Tracy Hancock talks transition from wrestling mat to WWE ring

Gable Steveson isn’t the only Olympic wrestler to put pen to paper with WWE this past year.

G’Angelo Tracy Hancock, who spent five years on the United States’ wrestling team from 2016 to 2021 and competed at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, also joined the WWE ranks at the end of the summer.

He joins an elite list of Olympic athletes to compete in the company that also includes Steveson, Chad Gable and WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle. The Colorado native also earned a bronze medal at the 2021 World Wrestling Championships.

Speaking to Daily DDT, Hancock noted that he’s grateful for the blessing and is honored to represent one of the best promotions in the entertainment industry.

“I’ve always considered myself to be a performer, an entertainer every time I’m out there for a wrestling match,” he said. “My favorite wrestling matches are the ones that were nitty, gritty and came down to the last 30 seconds. One of the greatest parts of that was not only being in those matches but the crowd and the atmosphere. In that moment, people are so dialed in to what’s happening.”

Despite the straightforward nature of amateur wrestling where showing emotion is typically frowned upon, Hancock has always excelled in entertaining, comparing it to how gladiators fought while also playing to a crowd.

Although he didn’t grow up watching wrestling religiously, he was well aware of the product and enjoyed it occasionally with family and friends. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock and Booker T were the legends that specifically stuck out to him, and the fact that Booker T now serving as a color commentator for NXT TV (where he hopes to end up one day) is not lost on him.

“I never looked at the TV growing up, saw an Olympian and said, ‘I want to be an Olympian,'” Hancock explained. “A lot of times, the greatest opportunities happen when you’re not looking. Your dreams can only be so large, as large as the capacity of your imagination at the time… [Being at WWE] is a dream I never even considered.

“It’s so cool to see [amateur] wrestlers branching out into this industry,” he continued. “Wrestlers are a species and it’s awesome to be one and now transfer my style because it’s very similar. It’s a lot of adapting and that’s what I’ve always been good at.”

Hancock mentioned that seeing Steveson seamlessly make the transition to WWE and crossing paths with him at the Performance Center in recent months has made his own transition that much easier.

At this current point, he’s focused on respecting the process and paying his dues, while also honing his skills as an aspiring Superstar every chance he gets.

CHIBA, JAPAN – AUGUST 02: Tracy Gangelo Hancock of Team United States looks on in his fight against Tadeusz Michalik of Team Poland during the Men’s Greco-Roman 97kg 1/4 Final on day ten of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on August 02, 2021 in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

As far as the “character” side of his development is concerned, he feels that has come naturally to him as well. He’s stayed true to himself and is an admitted “goof,” having fun with whatever he’s doing and entertaining everyone else around him.

Coming from Colorado, relocating to Florida and getting used to the warm weather has been his been his biggest adjustment.

“The wrestling itself hasn’t been as much of an adjustment as I thought,” Hancock said. “There’s definitely different aspects of it, but I’ve been happy with how it’s been going.”

The Performance Center has provided him with an opportunity to learn from some of the very best in the business from Shawn Michaels to Steve Corino. Thus, he hasn’t taken this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for granted in the slightest.

“I’m a sponge, taking in everything a coach has told me,” Hancock said. “Some of the greatest coaches in the world are in there and I’m realizing that every single day when I learn stories and find new matches. These guys went with the greats. Everything I can absorb, I am.”

He compared a typical day at the PC to an 8-to-5 job, waking up early in the morning and starting his gym training soon after. Recruits then report to ring training, take a long break that tends to involve more gym training, and then return the ring before getting done in the evening.

“You’re at the PC 24/7 learning what you can,” Hancock said. “If you’re not, you’re training, doing weightlifting and cardio. It’s always about learning there and you’re always getting better. If you’re injured, you’re doing some type of training mentally. It’s a safe heaven, they’ve got everything you need there.”

Hancock, a representative of GOAT Management, has made a living out of slamming people and his burgeoning career at WWE will be no different. Although he isn’t quite sure whether he’ll be able to keep his name once he eventually debuts on NXT TV and is still in the process of working with the Creative team on that front, he has worked as an extra on the show since his arrival in the form of a security guard.

“Having fun is the number one thing for me, Hancock said about his goals at WWE. “Even when I was amateur wrestling, if I wasn’t having fun with it, I should be done. That’s what I’ve always said. I’m having a whole lot of fun with this right now and I just want to continue to do so. I think if I have fun, any place where I do that long enough, that’s a place I deserve and I want to be.”