So Andrade wants to leave the WWE. A surprise? Not really. Ever since his arrival on the main roster in 2018, it’s safe to say he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype. Admittedly at times, the Mexican superstar hasn’t helped himself – a suspension for a first wellness policy violation in January 2020 undoubtedly a low point. However, all fans will agree Andrade hasn’t been given the push his talents truly merit.

    Having not featured on screen in several months, it’s clear that the relationship between Andrade and WWE has broken down. Why this has happened is less clear. It was only this time last year that Andrade was in the middle of a United States Championship reign and featuring prominently on weekly episodes of Monday Night Raw. However, since dropping the title to Apollo Crews in May last year, Andrade has been largely absent from WWE television. 

    The premature manner in which Andrade dropped the US title to Crews suggested that those behind the scenes weren’t at all impressed with what they were seeing. Despite holding the belt for 151 days, it never truly felt like Andrade established himself as a champion. Of course, the 30 days suspension didn’t help, but ultimately Andrade suffered from horrible booking.

    He was placed in a frankly tedious feud with Humberto Carrillo for the majority of his reign, which saw the two face off repeatedly on the road to Wrestlemania 36. Eventually, this feud did come to an end, but instead of finding a new opponent for Andrade to face on “The Grandest Stage of Them All”, they felt putting him in a tag team with Angel Garza was the sensible option. The two were then booked to face the Street Profits for the Raw Tag Team Championship at Mania. However, Andrade was later replaced by Austin Theory in this match due to an injury that saw him miss the pay-per-view all together.

    Andrade Cien Almas

    Post mania, the trio of Garza, Andrade, and Theory formed a new faction for all of five minutes until the latter was kicked out.  Shortly after this breakup – if you can call it a breakup – Andrade lost the US title to Crews on an episode of Raw. He did get his rematch at Backlash, but fans have watched enough wrestling over the years to realise he was never going to get it back. It was a dismal end to a reign that never truly began from the moment Andrade defeated Rey Mysterio at Madison Square Garden. 

    Following the loss of his only title on the main roster, Andrade once again began teaming with Garza as they once again pursued the Street Profits for Raw Tag Team gold. To the surprise of no one, this pursuit was unsuccessful. The end of his partnership with Garza was the last time we saw Andrade some five months ago. The release of former manager Zelina Vega in November was a worrying sign given how prominent she had been during Andrade’s rise up through the brands. Now it seems all roads have led to Andrade’s desire to leave the company which not only he is a part of, but also his fiance, Charlotte Flair

    But is there a way back? It’s rare that wrestlers in the WWE are able to recover after experiencing booking similar to that which Andrade has experienced. Furthermore, the brief push he experienced was due to the influence of Paul Heyman on Raw, who of course is now a constant on Smackdown each week.

    Despite the odds looking very much against him, there is one thing that Andrade does have in his favour. Talent. There are few superstars who possess the in-ring ability of Andrade “Cien” Almas. He has demonstrated this on countless occasions, perhaps most notably during his time on NXT.

    With Vega alongside him, Andrade enjoyed an exceptional period wrestling on the black and gold brand. He was part of some of the greatest matches to date, including a clash with Johnny Gargano at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia for which the two competitors won the NXT Year-End Award for Match of the Year in 2018. Andrade held the NXT Championship for 139 days across 2017/18 before being defeated by Aleister Black on the eve of his arrival to Smackdown.

    Though he has struggled to shine during his time on the main roster, there have been glimpses of the Andrade seen in NXT. A string of matches with Mysterio in early 2019 stands out in the minds of fans. Even during the dull feud with Carrillo were there moments of wrestling dynamite to enjoy. To add to this, the Hammerlock DDT remains one of the most aesthetically pleasing finishers in the business, and Andrade has done an excellent job of making it his own. It’s a deep shame that over the past year he simply hasn’t been given the opportunity to use it enough.

    Reports suggest that WWE have turned down Andrade’s request to leave. If this is the case then the likelihood is that there are plans to reintroduce him in the future. When and whether these plans will actually take place are of course unclear.

    What is clear is that Andrade still has so much more to give to the company. At the age of 31, he still could be considered in the infancy of his wrestling career given the age many are retiring these days. Getting him back on television is in WWE’s best interests because he provides star power which is desperately missing from Raw in particular. Failure to do this will mean another talented wrestler will slip through their fingers.