WWE WrestleMania 34: Why Andrade Almas Should Win The ATGMBR


Credit: WWE.Com

Why NXT Champion Andrade Almas should not only debut at WWE WrestleMania 34, but why he should win the ATGMRB.

In November of 2015, the WWE signed a then 25 year-old Mexican superstar known as La Sombra. The Durango, Mexico native had actually begun his in-ring career at the ripe, old age of 14 and by the time he was 17, he was a mainstay on the Consejo Mundial De Lucha Libre (CMLL) roster. Over the next eight years, La Sombra would be largely successful in both Mexico and Japan, winning multiple titles in CMLL as well an IWGP Intercontinental title title in New Japan Pro Wrestling. During this prolific time for the young superstar, he would also begin to establish himself as one of the most exciting in-ring performers in the world. His high flying acumen and death defying leaps were just beginning to define him as a future megastar.

So when he signed with the WWE, much was known about his wrestling abilities. The only thing that really needed to be worked on were his English skills, which at that time were minimal at best. So after working with the team at the WWE Performance Center for just two months, La Sombra, now repackaged as Andrade “Cien” Almas, debuted on NXT.

Starting off his NXT tenure as a baby face, Almas’ struggled to get over with the fans. With not much of an identity, and dressing up like something out of Chippendale’s calendar, Almas’ only real way of proving his potential was to perform well inside the ring, which he did. He did start off pretty successfully when he defeated Tye Dillinger at TakeOver: The End. However, his next three forays on major NXT broadcasts did not go as well as he dropped matches to Bobby Roode, Roderick Strong, and Aleister Black.

His loss to Black occurred in April of last year and after that, Almas took a bit of a hiatus. But just when it seemed like the company had squandered a tremendous talent in Almas, he returned in the summer with manager, Zelina Vega. Now with a perfect heel mouthpiece to do his talking for him while providing assistance during his matches, Almas’ career took off.

He bested Johnny Gargano at TakeOver: Brooklyn III in a match where Vega threw a DIY t-shirt at Gargano, which distracted Johnny long enough that Almas could seal the victory. After that he continued his winning ways until securing an NXT title match with Drew McIntyre at TakeOver: WarGames in November. And to the surprise of many, the undersized Almas cleanly defeated “The Celtic Colossus” to win the title.

Two months later, Almas once again took on Gargano, this time at TakeOver: Philadelphia. In what many are already calling the best match of 2018, the duo put on an instant classic. Almas retained his title that night and was surprisingly rewarded the following night when he was inserted into the Royal Rumble match, entering at number seven. And not only did “Cien” get to make an appearance, he lasted nearly 30 minutes and eliminated veteran Kofi Kingston. Not too bad for a guy who nine months earlier was almost written off as a wasted talent.

More from Daily DDT

On April 7th, Almas will put his title on the line against Black at TakeOver: New Orleans. “The Dutch Destroyer” has been nothing short of brilliant since coming to NXT nearly a year ago, as he’s yet to be defeated in a singles match. Smart money is on Black winning the title in New Orleans but the even smarter money is on this match being yet another NXT classic. And if so, would the WWE again reward Almas with another appearance the following evening on a major show? And if so, why not The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal? Based on his Rumble performance, Almas has made it clear that he can survive in that setting quite well.

The fact of the matter is that if Black becomes champion at TakeOver, he’s going to have a slew of worthy heels ready to challenge him for the NXT belt. Between Adam Cole, Lars Sullivan, Killian Dane, and the recently returning EC3, “The Ominous Man From Amsterdam” will clearly have his hands full. If Almas comes to the main roster and wins the ATGMBR, he will immediately become a contender on whichever brand scoops him up and therefore, a long, protracted program with Black will be unnecessary.

Next: Should Mark Henry Win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal?

At 28 years old, Almas seems ready for big things. And with Zelina Vega at his side to go along with an ever improving game that was already spectacular, the sky may be the limit for “Cien”. And although the ATGMBR hasn’t exactly been a career transformer for its past winners, Almas could and should be the one to break that mold. If his main roster journey does, in fact, begin in this fashion at WrestleMania, watch out. Because a future WWE Champion could very easily be upon us.