WWE/TUCKER: Ex-Sun Devil wrestler embracing WWE (WMICentral)

Posted on 1/23/121 by Mike Informer



PHOENIX One day he is studying accounting at Arizona
State. The next he is hitting his business partner with a
briefcase.

Welcome to the world of former ASU wrestler Levi Cooper,
better known these days as Tucker, a WWE performer on
Monday Night Raw.

I love ASU and always will, Cooper said. Tempe has a very
big spot in my heart.

It was the place he found success at the collegiate level.
And the springboard for an unlikely career.

After finding success at Oregons North Marion High School
in football, wrestling and track and field, Cooper made
stops at Portland State, which discontinued its wrestling
program, and Cal State Bakersfield before landing at ASU.

He made an immediate impact, securing All-American honors
his first competitive season at 285 pounds and finishing
eighth in the NCAA Championships.

Success continued throughout his senior year and he was
ranked 18th in the nation during the 2012-13 season. He led
the team in dual wins and points and advanced to the NCAA
championship.

ASU assistant wrestling coach Lee Pritts pointed to Coopers
many contributions to the program.

I remember him being a good leader and was a great presence
in the locker room for the whole team, Pritts said. He was
always upbeat and always competed at top level.

Levi Cooper said one of the best lessons he learned as an
Arizona State wrestler was not having my ego attached to
the results. (Photo courtesy Sun Devil Athletics)

ASU was a special place for Cooper. Not only did he succeed
at wrestling, he met his wife, a former ASU athlete, there.

ASU will always be a big part of our lives and we will
represent the Sun Devils forever and there is no taking that
away from us, Cooper said.

One of the biggest lessons he took away from ASU?

Not having my ego attached to the results, he said.

After graduating from the W.P. Carey School of Business with
a degree in accountancy, he seemed destined for a career
with numbers.

But he also had tried out for a spot with WWE, the popular
organization that blends sports with scripted entertainment.
A month later, in July of 2013, the company called and
offered him a contract.I chose WWE because it gave me the best opportunity to
continue my athletic endeavors and I looked at it like a
new, exciting athletic challenge, Cooper said. I enjoy
those kinds of tests where I would have to use my will and
determination to be successful.

He started his journey at the WWE Performance Center in
Orlando, Florida, and soon learned the transition from
college to professional competition is not an easy one.

In wrestling, you are out there by yourself and you want to
go out there to ignite the crowd and put on a show, Pritts
said.

As far as it goes to technique and most other things, there
are not many correlations except the physical pounding you
put your body through in wrestling may prepare you for WWE
as well.

Tucker Knight, Coopers full ring name, made his debut in
2015 against Tye Dillinger and made his television debut
against Baron Corbin.

The following year was a pivotal one as he formed a tag team
with Otis known away from the ring as Nikola Niko
Bogojevic and the pair became Heavy Machinery. The duo
made multiple appearances on the television program WWE
NXT and its where Cooper truly learned the business,
including the jargon of it, he said.

It led to his first televised main roster appearance at the
2018 Greatest Royal Rumble. A few months later, his dream of
appearing as a superstar on the main roster came true when
it was announced Heavy Machinery would appear on the Jan 14,
2019, episode of Raw.

The duo would be part of big matches throughout 2019 and
2020, taking part in multiple Pay Per View and tag team
title matches.

Now he is on a singles run on Monday Night Raw after
splitting with Otis. During the broadcast of Money in the
Bank, he hit his partner with a briefcase to make the
breakup official.

Despite COVID-19 outbreaks that have impacted talent
availability, WWE has not missed any television or pay-per-
view events during the pandemic.

It recently launched the ThunderDome, a virtual experience
with fans appearing on video boards.

The large fan support for WWE has given Cooper a platforum.
Outside of the ring his focus is on spreading messages he
believes strongly in, including making mutual respect a
priority.

Whether you have a R or a D next to your name, you are an
American, Cooper said about political affiliations.
Everybody loves America the same, even if we disagree the
way it should go down. We need to have civilized
conversations.

Whats next for Cooper? It could be motivation speaking.

His wrestling journey, from ASU to WWE, helped him find his
voice.



































































































































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