It isn’t about displaying one’s skills, re-engaging the thrill that comes with competition, or serving as an ambassador for the sport. When G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist, world #7, 5PM #1) takes the mat against Alan Vera (87 kg, NYAC, 5PM #1) as part of FLOWrestling’s Burroughs vs. Valencia card, he is only interested in one thing: total destruction.
Hancock, 23, admires and respects Vera,. They first met each other several years ago, and in the time since have shared mat space on more than a few occasions as training partners, including this past summer. None of that matters to Hancock, it would seem.
Whereas most wrestlers — especially those who have made appearances on any of the recent stateside pay-per-view events in the absence of tournaments — tend to shower the opposition with platitudes and verbalize how important these opportunities are in terms of wrestling’s general health, the Colorado native is taking a different approach (even when acknowledging his counterpart’s ability).
Hancock doesn’t want to merely win his match with Vera, he wants to win big. And perhaps unsurprisingly, he anticipates doing exactly that. There is no shyness or pretense in his voice when explaining what the goal looks like. Nice talk for the sake of nice talk just isn’t cutting it at the moment.
How Hancock plans to neutralize Vera’s dynamic skill-set and go on the attack himself is by and large being kept secret, though it doesn’t take an MIT engineer to decipher what that might entail. The three-time US World Team member is widely-recognized for his patient yet punishing pummel work, swift transitions which bely his size, and flowery bodylocks that have a habit of piling on points. Cuban defector Vera is a sleek, technical thoroughbred in his own right whose length and strength are rather considerable for 87 kilograms. On paper, this should be an entertaining clash of weaponry. But again, Hancock doesn’t see it that way. His objective is clear, and what’s more, he wants everyone to know it.
G’Angelo Hancock — 97 kg, Sunkist
5PM: Throughout the summer we have seen this, the handful of streaming pay-per-view cards. Greco has only been included thus far in one of them. Now you get to participate in one yourself. What was the main attraction for you become involved with something like this, aside from the fact that you’re a top athlete?
G’Angelo Hancock: 100%, I think it is good for the fans, but also, athletes need some compensation. It is nice that we are able to put on a show. The #1 reason why I enjoy Greco is because you get to become a performer, an entertainer through your moves. These moves are eye-catching. I think it is important that we are able to show up. It’s strange how this is happening, because of the COVID situation. But actually being able to get paid for it when these shows are exclusive demonstrate how viable wrestling is.
5PM: You’re a student of the sport, you pay attention to what goes on and how people digest it. Why do you think this model works as far as being a card of matches, similar to boxing or MMA?
GH: Especially during COVID right now, it is easily acceptable. Everyone is at their homes, people can watch, it is easy to tune in. I guess that kind of reels into the first question, because it’s the livelihoods of the athletes, as well. We are being seen as entertainment. Our true value is being displayed. Now we are being presented in ways that are truly beneficial to the sport.
5PM: I’ll add that I think it is easier for people as opposed to watching an entire tournament or have to wait for the finals. They get to see matches right away.
GH: Definitely, definitely. I think they are trying to find highlight matches, they are trying to find intriguing matches involving athletes who have a following. And athletes who have a following therefore get more people engaged in these cards. Which, in the long run, may be smart because people aren’t necessarily big fans of the cards. They might just be tuning in to see that one athlete but then they see others and become more interested.
5PM: Alan Vera is a very interesting opponent given the timing. He is coming right off of a National title win over a two-time World Team member and the guy who qualified the weight class in Joe Rau. In that sense, do you think he is a perfect opponent just because there is a buzz around him?
G’Angelo Hancock: You know, I think Alan is a unique opponent. But the buzz or hype around him doesn’t alarm me. I don’t even believe it, I guess. It doesn’t matter that I have some weight on him, but at the same time, there is a big difference between 87 and 97 kilos.
5PM: What about his experience, his attributes? You’ve banged around with him in practice and at camps. What about his arsenal do you find to be the most formidable?
GH: For Alan, he has a Cuban background. He grew up with that slick, sneaky style. I’m sure you have noticed that he is kind of laid back, relaxed, and then boom, he is explosive out of nowhere. He is a great counter-wrestler, which makes him dangerous. He has all that explosiveness like a Kamal Bey but he reserves it for specific moments.
It is probably that Cuban style. Cuban guys are very lackadaisical and out of nowhere they explode. That is something to keep in my mind. Also, the dude is very long. His arms are long. He can probably gutwrench anyone, even Robby Smith. He also has some long fingers. He has the longest fingers of anyone I have ever wrestled. For real. He can grab anyone’s wrists and touch his own fingers.
5PM: We flip it around. What is about your skill-set, your style? What do you bring to the table for him stylistically and tactically that will be a problem for him?
GH: I embrace the action. I’m not afraid to engage, I’m not afraid to force a reaction, and I’m not afraid to be in the action. 100%, that is one thing about me. He is a talented wrestler, so I know I have to be prepared for chain-wrestling. That is something I like to thrive on, chain-wrestling — move after move after move leading to a final takedown. That is something he is going to struggle with because I create different angles. I am coming with different angles, that’s for sure.
5PM: What is your prediction for the outcome? How do you see your result on November 14?
G’Angelo Hancock: Tech. Period.