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NXT Spotlight: Almas gets fresh start with heel run

(Courtesy of WWE.com)

Andrade “Cien” Almas is one of the top wrestlers that has ever competed over in Mexico. He’s also had his fair share of success in Japan. Problem is, you’d never know that if you were only considering his career in WWE, where he’s been competing in NXT.

In November of last year, it was reported that WWE had surprisingly secured the services of Almas and it didn’t take long before he was introduced to the NXT audience. Initially, he was given the name Manny Andrade, but WWE quickly scrapped that and repackaged him, adding the nickname “Cien.”

Before we get any further into how Almas has been used in NXT, let’s talk a little about his past.

Almas debuted in the professional wrestling in 2003 at the age of only 14 years old. He worked for his family’s promotion, learning the craft and honing his skills for four years. In 2007, he joined CMLL, one of the elite wrestling promotions in Mexico. It didn’t take him long to find success.

Almas began working under the ring name Brillante, a name that his father also worked under. Later, CMLL renamed him La Sombra.. This is the persona most people know Almas for, as his pre-WWE days were full of big victories.

Not long after his CMLL debut, Almas teamed up with Mistico to win the 2007 Torneo Gran Alternativa, an annual tag team tournament that pairs a veteran competitor with a rookie. Almas capped that off by winning the Mexican National Trios Championship along with El Sagrado and Volador Jr.

Almas was well on his way to becoming a household name in Mexico. In late 2007 at just 18 years old, he won the NWA World Welterweight Championship, becoming the youngest man to ever do so. He joined the likes of Gory Guerrero, Ultimo Dragon and Jushin Thunder Liger, to name a few, to win that belt.

In 2010, Almas took his talents to Japan, competing for NJPW, where he had some memorable matches with current NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. In total, Almas won 10 titles between Mexico and Japan. But as is often the case in WWE, the international success doesn’t always translate to the world of WWE. This is why some international competitors are skeptical about ever working for Vince McMahon.

Though Alberto Del Rio found success in WWE, he was also seemingly at odds with the company for much of his time there and has now left the company on two occasions. One has to wonder if WWE is willing to invest the time in this kind of talent.

It sure didn’t seem that way at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn back in August when Almas was soundly defeated by Bobby Roode who was given a huge reaction to his “glorious” entrance while Almas seemed like an also ran while he was in that match. It was evident at that moment that Almas wouldn’t work in the role he was in at that time.

It was the right decision to turn Almas heel, which he did when he attacked Cedirc Alexander following their loss in the first round of the Dusty Rhodes Classic. The reset button needed to be hit, actually it needed to be pounded in the case of Almas. WWE needs to start from scratch with him and try him as a heel, which is a role that he can play.

WWE has a great young talent at their disposal in Almas who is still just 26 years old. Though there may still be a bit of a language barrier between the two sides, WWE needs to get behind this guy and see what they can get, particularly with what is a fairly shallow NXT roster at the moment.

Recently, it’s been reported that Austin Aries is going to miss several months due to injury. Why not work Almas into that spot? Almas should be booked to defeat Alexander in a one-on-one match and then build a winning streak while showing a completely different attitude in the ring and toward the crowd.

Almas is a talented individual, and WWE could do itself and the NXT brand a big favor by pushing him in the direction of success.

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