How It Started vs How It Ended: Andrade

Hello again everyone, and welcome back to another edition of How it Started vs How It Ended! Today's column will focus on former WWE Superstar Andrade, as well as his manager, Zelina Vega. Check it out!

Humble Beginnings

Andrade “Cien” Almas made his televised in-ring debut at NXT Takeover: The End, on June 8th 2016, wrestling as a fan favorite. After picking up wins at NXT Live events, as well as a dark match before NXT Takeover: Dallas, the luchadore formerly known as La Sombra hit the ring to take on “The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger. Almas put away Dillinger with the running double-knee splash, and followed up by defeating Tye once again, during the following week’s episode of NXT. Andrade continued his winning streak over the course of the next few months, and picked up victory’s over an enhancement talent, as well as Angelo Dawkins, before heading to NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II. “Cien” took on Bobby Roode at the August 20th event, where Almas fell in defeat to Roode, after being put away with the Glorious DDT. Almas began to spiral throughout the next few months, and dropped match’s to Austin Aries, as well as Cedric Alexander, before being left off of NXT television for weeks. “Cien” returned to the ring for the first round of the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, where he and Cedric Alexander lost to The Revival. Andrade and Alexander faced each other for a second time on the November 6th, 2016 edition of NXT, where Almas finally put his losing streak to an end. Andrade looked to capitalize on his victory, and entered a match with an NXT Championship opportunity on the line. After defeating No Way Jose to qualify for a Number One Contender’s Fatal-4-Way match, Andrade took on Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, and Bobby Roode, in a match won by Roode. Almas finished out 2016 by dropping a collision with Oney Lorcan in Japan, and moved on to 2017, where he turned things around in a huge way.

He’s 100

Andrade Almas kicked off 2017 by avenging his loss against Oney Lorcan, on the January 11th episode of NXT. From there, “El Idolo” began to have problems with Roderick Strong, leading to a match between both men, at NXT Takeover: San Antonio. Almas suffered another big loss at the event, and disappeared from NXT television tapings for a month. Andrade re-emerged as a heel during the March 8th edition of the black and gold brand’s television show, picking up an easy victory over HoHo Lun in the process. Andrade went on to score another victory over Oney Lorcan two weeks later, before moving on to NXT Takeover: Orlando, for a clash with Aleister Black. Andrade lost another high profile match at the event, knocking his Takeover record down to one victory, and three losses, causing Almas to become visibly frustrated. Andrade defeated Danny Burch two weeks later, then lost to Drew McIntyre, as well as Kassius Ohno, before being left off of the NXT Takeover: Chicago card. The losing streak continued after a match against Cezar Bononi, leading to Almas being confronted by his new “business partner”, Zelina Vega. Vega slapped sense into Andrade, and the pair set their sites on NXT Championship gold. Almas took time away to straighten out his mentality, and returned to NXT with a win over No Way Jose. Andrade beat Jose down after the match, with assistance from Vega, and the heat was officially on for the pair. Almas and Vega set their sites on NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III, where Andrade finally picked up another major win at the event, after defeating Johnny Gargano. Almas went to work on another win streak over the next few months, picking up victories over Cezar Bononi, Johnny Gargano, and Roderick Strong over the course of several weeks. Meanwhile, Andrade and Vega engaged in a feud with Drew McIntyre, over the NXT Championship, leading to a match for the title at NXT Takeover: War Games. During the closing moments of the match, McIntyre looked to set up for a top rope maneuver, but Almas stopped him on the top rope. Andrade hit a draping Hamerlock DDT on Drew for the victory, earning “tranquillo” his first title reign in WWE. Almas entered 2018 as the NXT Champion, and successfully defended his title twice against Johnny Gargano, on the way to a battle with Aleister Black at NXT Takeover: New Orleans. “Cien” and Black battled in an instant classic match, but Aleister had just enough in the tank to bring Almas’ 141 day reign to a close. Vega and Almas moved on to the April 18th episode of NXT, where Andrade accompanied Zelina to the ring for a match against Candice LeRae, which Candice won. The night marked the final NXT appearance for Vega and Andrade, who would soon move up to the WWE’s main roster.

Moving On Up

On April 17, 2018, Almas and Vega were drafted to Smackdown, as a part of the Superstar-shakeup. Andrade made his in-ring debut on May 15th, picking up a victory over an enhancement talent. “Cien”turned his attention to Sin Cara in the weeks that followed, since his mask seemingly reminded Andrade of his past “La Sombra” moniker. Andrade defeated Sin Cara during the July 10th episode of Smackdown, and again at Extreme Rules, quickly ridding himself of his masked foe. Almas moved on to a non-title match with then WWE Champion AJ Styles during the July 17th edition of Smackdown, where the “Phenomenal One” and “Cien” put on a show. In the closing moments of the match, Almas set up for the Hammerlock DDT to put the Champion away. AJ reversed the move, and locked on the calf-crusher, forcing Andrade to tap out, resulting in his first loss in the main roster. “Cien” and Vega started having issues with Rusev and Lana throughout August, leading to a mixed-tag team match at Summerslam. The match came to an end when Lana took a swing at Andrade, as he stood on the apron, allowing Vega to roll-up Lana from behind, and use the ropes for the dirty pin. “Tranquillo” and Zelina went on to lose the rematch on the following weeks Smackdown, and Andrade finished out 2018 by wrestling mostly in tag team match’s, which he usually lost. Almas moved on to 2019, where he lost his last name, and began wrestling only as Andrade. “El Idolo” and Vega kicked 2019 off with a close loss to John Cena and Becky Lynch, during a mixed tag match on Smackdown. The following week, Andrade teamed up with Samoa Joe, defeating the team of Mustafa Ali and Rey Mysterio. Andrade and Mysterio struck gold together throughout the match, leading to a singles contest between the two the following week. “Tranquillo” picked up the surprising victory over Mysterio on the night, and kicked off a classic modern wrestling rivalry. Andrade and Mysterio made their way down the ramp again two weeks later, and hit the ring for a 2 out of 3 falls match, with Zelina Vega banned from ringside. The match came down to the final fall, where Mysterio evened their overall match score to one win each. Andrade and Mysterio continued to wrestle amongst themselves, and entered a multi-person feud over the United States Championship. Rey and Andrade battled in a triple threat match with R-Truth, ran the ropes through two fatal four way match’s against R-Truth and Samoa Joe, and even grappled in a fatal five way match against Cesaro, Ricochet, and Sami Zayn. Andrade and Mysterio hit the ring for singles collisions on the live event circuit, before both men were drafted over to Raw, as well as Zelina Vega. Andrade and Vega made their first appearance on Monday Night Raw during the October 14th edition of the show, where “El Idolo” put away Mustafa Ali. Andrade followed up with a win over Sin Cara in consecutive weeks, and picked up a third victory over Sin Cara in a mixed-tag team match. Andrade moved on from the very one-sided mini-feud, and scored a win over Cedric Alexander, before taking on Seth Rollins. Rollins Captainship in the traditional Men’s Survivor Series elimination match would be on the line in the match, which Andrade lost via disqualification. “Cien” moved on to defeat Akira Tozawa and Eric Young in the weeks that followed in random matches, while his most formidable foe - Rey Mysterio - won the United States Championship. Mysterio and Andrade went toe-to-toe for the United States Championship inside Madison Square Garden, where Andrade defeated Mysterio, and earned his main roster title run. “El Idolo” and Vega closed the door on a pretty amazing 2019, proving why he and Zelina were one of the best acts in WWE. Unfortunately for the duo, they would soon enter a year of up’s and down’s.

The Rise Before The Fall

The reigning United States Champion kicked off 2020 by defending his title against Rey Mysterio, and both men put together another outstanding match. In the closing moments of the contest, Mysterio accidentally landed on Zelina Vega, who stood at ringside, and Rey became emotional about it, before going to check on Vega. The distraction allowed Andrade to capitalize when Rey stepped back into the ring, and the champ hit the Hammerlock DDT for the win to cement his reign as Champion. Andrade and Rey looked to settle their differences in a Ladder match two weeks later, where “El Idolo” climbed the ladder to retain his title. Andrade briefly moved on from his battle with Mysterio to defeat Humberto Carrillo at the Royal Rumble on January 26th , before being written off television for 30 day, due to a wellness violation. Zelina Vega aligned herself with newcomer Angel Garza during the suspension, leading to an eventual alliance between Vega, Andrade, and Garza. Andrade returned from suspension, and competed at Super Showdown, before defending his title against Carrillo for a second time at the March 8th Elimination Chamber event. Andrade, Garza, and Vega entered the ‘road to WrestleMania’, and took on The Street Profits, along with Humberto Carrillo, in multiple different matchups. Andrade would be forced to the sidelines again, as a result of an injury during this time, causing “El Idolo” to miss Wrestlemania, and be replaced by Austin Theory. Andrade, Garza, and Theory beat down Akira Tozawa when Andrade returned during the April 13th edition of Raw, showing signs of a developing faction, but the groups time together came to a pretty abrupt end. Zelina Vega removed Theory from the group, and focused more on managing the unofficial team of Andrade and Garza, as “tranquillo” continued his Championship run. The 151 day United States Championship reign came to end during the May 25th episode of Raw, where Andrade suffered a loss to Apollo Crews. Andrade failed to regain the title against Crews at Backlash, and began officially teaming with Garza. Both men began feuding with Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins over the Raw Tag Team Championships, and fell in defeat to The Street Profits at Summerslam. Vega, Andrade, and Garza hit a rough patch in the weeks that followed, leading to Vega leaving Garza and Andrade behind. Garza and Andrade began having their own problems between themselves, and hit the ring for a one-on-one match, where Garza hit the Wing Clipper for the win, during the October 12th episode of Raw. Zelina Vega sat at the commentary desk during the match, and reluctantly went to check on her former “business partner" after the match. The lights began to go off one by one, and when they came back on, Alexa Bliss appeared in the corner of the ring, followed by The Fiend. The sinister duo proceeded to destroy Andrade and Vega in the ring, leaving them both laying. The assault would be the final WWE television appearance for “El Idolo” and Vega, leading to her eventual release from the company the following November. Andrade received his release on March 21st, 2021, at his own request.

How It Started

How It Ended

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