Here are five fast facts you should know about SmackDown’s newest Superstar.
5. He’s A Third Generation Wrestler
Andrade “Cien” Almas, born Manuel Alfonso Andrade Oropeza, comes from a large family of Mexican luchadors. His grandfather, Jose Andrade, wrestled as “El Moro,” while his father, Jose Andrade Salas, works as Brillante. Andrade’s uncles all wrestle too: Diamante/Moro III (Sergio Andrade); Zafiro/Pentagoncito (real name unrevealed); Kevin (Juan Andrade); Espanto Jr./Pentagón (Jesus Andrade); Espiritu Magico (Juan Andrade).
If that’s not enough, one of Andrade’s cousins also wrestles as Espanto Jr. (real name unrevealed). In fact, due to the secretive nature of lucha libre, it’s possible that more of Andrade’s siblings or cousins could also be wrestlers and we just don’t know it.
4. He Made His Professional Debut At Age 13
Not only is Andrade’s family full of wrestlers, but they also run a local lucha libre promotion and school in Durango, Mexico. As such, Andrade began training at a young age and made his pro debut as Brillante Jr. on October 3, 2003 – exactly one month before his 14th birthday. He was only allowed to wrestle after his father signed a waiver for the local boxing and wrestling commission to issue him a license.
Not long after, Andrade moved to Mexico City to train in CMLL’s school. He was wrestling in televised matches by age 16.
3. He Became A Triple Champion At Age 19
If you can’t already tell, Andrade was something of a prodigy in Mexico. After changing his name to La Sombra and quickly moving up the ranks in CMLL, Andrade won the Mexican Trios Championship alongside El Sagrado and Volador Jr. on August 13, 2007. He was just 17 years old.
A little over two months later, on November 27, 2007, Andrade defeated Hajima Ohara to win the NWA World Welterweight Championship, becoming the youngest person to do so at age 18. Then, on January 16, 2009, Andrade and Volador Jr. defeated Averno and Mephisto to win the CMLL World Tag Team Championship, making Andrade a triple champion at age 19.
But alas, Andrade was only a triple champion for two weeks, as his team lost the Mexican National Trios Championship on February 3. He subsequently lost the NWA World Welterweight Championship on May 27th. But it should be noted: at six defenses, La Sombra, El Sagrado, and Volador Jr. are tied for most successful defenses of the Mexican National Trios Championship. Furthermore, Andrade held the NWA World Welterweight Championship for 547 days, which at the time was the longest reign since the 1980s.
Did you get all that?
2. He’s The First And Only Mexican To Hold The IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Did you think I was done listing Andrade’s championship accolades? That’s silly.
In 2010, CMLL selected Andrade as their representative for the NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XVII tournament. It was Andrade’s first tour of Japan, and to be quite honest, Japan wasn’t very kind to him. But in 2013, Andrade managed to pull off a major upset over none other than Shinsuke Nakamura.
A Fantastica Mania 2013 in January, Andrade challenged Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. He lost. But four months later, on May 31, 2013, defeated Nakamura in a rematch in Mexico City, becoming the first Mexican to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. He remains the only Mexican to have held that title to this day.
1. He Unmasked Himself Nine Months Before Debuting In NXT
When Andrade began talks with WWE in the fall of 2015, he was aware that they might ask him to wrestle unmasked. But rather than surrender his mask after leaving Mexico, Andrade decided to capitalize on the event.
After months of feuding, La Sombra put his mask on the line in the best two-out-of-three-falls, mask vs. mask match against Atlantis at the CMLL 82nd Anniversary Show on September 18, 2015. La Sombra lost, and he was forced to unmask as his very emotional mother watched from the crowd.
Andrade wrestled a couple more months in Mexico unmasked before reporting to NXT in November 2015.
So there you have it: five “fast” facts about Andrade “Cien” Almas. I have to admit, I learned a ton about him writing this list – and it could have been much, much longer. Like many other NXT fans, I largely overlooked Almas until WWE teamed him up with Zelina Vega, but this guy has some incredible, unbelievable accolades. I thoroughly retract ever writing him off, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to have a long, highly decorated career in WWE.
Did you learn anything new about Andrade “Cien” Almas? What do you hope to see from him in WWE? Share your comments below!