The free agent rumor mill continues, as The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer reported that current All Elite Wrestling star, Andrade El Idolo might depart the company. While Meltzer didn’t specify a timetable, he mentioned that Andrade’s AEW contract is expiring soon, and he was recently announced for a CMLL event, implying that he’d have a run in Mexico before he signs another deal with a major promotion in the United States. Obviously, the lucha star has a decision to make, but in some ways, has the decision already been made for him?
As we know, he’s a member of a wrestling family and made a new for himself in CMLL earlier in his career, as well as New Japan before he inked a WWE developmental deal in late-2015. He started with the NXT brand in 2016 and the nearly two and a half years that he spent there was the best run of his career in terms of exposure and presentation as a top talent, which saw him win the NXT championship. Granted, he was absolutely a star in his native Mexico, but the WWE platform was a global stage, even if it was under the smaller banner of NXT at the time.
Similar to many talents, Andrade was brought to the main roster in mid-2018 and management didn’t seem to know what to do with him there. More than anything, it looked to be a situation where the office needed something fresh for the draft rather than that they had specific plans for him when he was added to the Smackdown roster. He had a run with the US title and always had solid matches, but there didn’t seem to be a place for him in the grand scheme of things, which was underscored when he was paired with Garza in 2020. Basically, he was teamed with Garza because the writing team didn’t have anything else for them to do and when the duo dissolved in late-2020, Andrade disappeared from WWE television.
For a company that has looked for its next top Hispanic star for several years, it was puzzling that the writing team more or less didn’t have anything for Andrade so he requested his release from the organization in March 2021. He signed a deal with All Elite Wrestling in June of that year, and just like the vast majority of AEW’s new talent, he had the spotlight for a few weeks until he was more or less lost in the shuffle. It’s ironic that similar to his main roster run on Smackdown, Andrade had decent matches in AEW, but there wasn’t really anything booked for him that put him in the position to be a top draw or a main event talent in the organization.
In October of last year, he was involved in a backstage fight with Sammy Guevara and was sent home before a torn pec that required surgery put him on the sidelines for several months. He resurfaced on Collision this past June and is currently involved in the Continental Classic tournament, but there’s no indication that he’s on the path to a high profile spot in the promotion.
All things considered, this is probably a situation where Andrade was frustrated with his stagnant status in WWE and wanted to test the waters elsewhere. He knew when he asked for a release that Tony Khan is from a billionaire family so he’d get a good offer and more than he’d make working full-time in Mexico. If I had to guess, I’d say that this next CMLL run is a way make bigger money in Mexico working select dates between full-time contracts in the United States since its a way to leverage the American television exposure for a better payoff.
At 34, Andrade is still in the prime of his career and probably expected a bigger opportunity in All Elite than what was provided to him. Keep in mind, the perception of AEW now is much different than it was two years ago. As far as what he does next, considering that there was speculation that he was actually trying to get fired when he punched Guevara backstage, it’s very doubtful that he will re-sign with AEW.
In some ways, this is comparable to the Sasha Banks scenario, as she left when the company was under the direction of Vince McMahon and she thought that she was being underutilized. Triple H is now in control of the creative direction of the company, and similar to Banks, Andrade had his biggest success in WWE under the guidance of Triple H in NXT. Vince was in control when the Mexican star asked for his release, and Triple H as the head of creative now could give him some assurance that he will be a more featured performer on WWE TV if he opts to return to the organization.
His wife, Charlotte Flair works for the company and perhaps that’d also be an incentive for him to return since it’s well-known that the travel demands of pro wrestling can be tough on family life. From strictly a business stand point, there might already be a solid place for Andrade to fit into the WWE landscape. The LWO had a spotlight in recent months, with the stellar Dragon Lee being featured as potentially the next top Latino baby face, while Santos Escobar works the heel role. Andrade could be a great addition to the overall equation and there would be many different options for him as far as those he could work with on the main roster. Andrade making the return to save the LWO from Escobar gives him a baby face direction, and at the same time, he could always turn heel to work an extended program with Dragon Lee.
Granted, I’m not sure the main event of Wrestlemania will be in his future plans if he re-signs with the company, but the bottom line is, his run in All Elite is basically flat, and right or wrong, the structure of All Elite Wrestling doesn’t seem to cater to his strengths as a performer. He hasn’t truly done anything of significant value in the promotion, not because he doesn’t have the talent, but rather that he hasn’t had the opportunity to be a difference maker there. There are several luchadors already on the roster, if Tony Khan simply wants a high quality lucha match on the card, there are other options besides Andrade for that spot, and perhaps, that’s why he was lost in the shuffle at various points of his AEW tenure.
It remains to be seen where Andrade goes next, but given his past television exposure and his in-ring ability, it’s very doubtful he would be content working in Mexico full-time when there’s bigger money to be made in the United States. Taking into account that his All Elite tenure is rocky, I’d guess that he will make a comeback to WWE, with Triple H being the determine factor. That might be the biggest takeaway from this entire scenario, Triple H built a level of trust with many of the stars that originally worked in NXT and since he’s the head of creative, it might make the decision to return to the WWE easier than it would’ve been if Vince McMahon still make the decisions for the company.
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Until next week
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