Meet Andrade Almas, Authors of Pain and WWE's Newest NXT Call-Ups After Shake-Up

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterApril 18, 2018


WWE NXT left its imprint on Raw and SmackDown during the Superstar Shake-up and the post-WrestleMania roster changes, and now both shows are coursing with energy.

Both Monday and Tuesday nights got a lot more interesting thanks to a wave of NXT talent. Andrade "Cien" Almas is ready to strut across the SmackDown stage. The Authors of Pain have already left Raw Superstars writhing in agony. Other call-ups include a former NXT women's champion and a faction that feeds on chaos.

For the diehard WWE fan who follows NXT, there's plenty to get excited about.

For those less familiar with Almas and the rest of the new faces, a getting-to-know-you process is underway. What kind of performers are these call-ups? Which ones wield the most potential?

The following is a look at those questions and an introduction to the fresh blood NXT has injected into Raw and SmackDown.


The Iconics (SmackDown)

After WrestleMania, SmackDown brought in two bullies who will strengthen the women's division.

Peyton Royce and Billie Kay thrived together at NXT as The Iconic Duo (now The Iconics), a pair of gloating, merciless heels with inflated egos. Their character work stood out during their run with the developmental brand. They consistently entertained as they antagonized the opposition in and out of the ring.

Royce, who wrestled in Australia's independent scene beginning in 2009, trained under Lance Storm. Kay was a skilled basketball player before focusing on pro wrestling. 

Their onscreen chemistry isn't surprising considering how long they have known each other. The Iconics both went to the same high school in Sydney, as Kay told Jim Varsallone of the Miami Herald last year.

They promise to be a dependable part of the division and should become two of the most intriguing characters on the show.


The Authors of Pain (Raw)

Akam and Rezar did all the terrorizing they could do at NXT. The jump to Raw was the next logical step.

The two hosses took to the business quickly. Rezar moved to WWE from MMA. Known as The Albanian Psycho, he amassed a 4-2 professional record, per Akam, meanwhile, transitioned from amateur wrestling where he was a medalist in Canada.

Soon after debuting for NXT, they grew from being simply one-dimensional wrecking balls to a compelling team. 

The Authors of Pain's style is built around their strength and size. They club foes in the corner and powerbomb them into each other. The big men's finishing move, The Last Chapter, is a leg sweep and lariat combo where both men come charging at their opponent.

They used these smashmouth methods en route to winning the NXT Tag Team Championship and the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Classic tournament.

Akam and Rezar ditched their Hall of Fame manager Paul Ellering on their first night on Raw. The next stage of their career will now be sans spokesman. We'll soon see if they can progress as talkers as well as they have as in-ring performers.

The Authors of Pain are all but assured a championship reign. They can easily be the tag division's centerpiece.


Sanity (SmackDown)

SmackDown is set to get a dose of unhinged energy. Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe of Sanity are all on their way thanks to the Superstar Shake-up.

Young is the leader. He's the most experienced of the bunch having begun his career back in 1998. The former Impact Wrestling world champ serves as Sanity's mouthpiece, using his gravelly voice to spread the group's message. 

Dain is a big bull from Northern Ireland, a powerhouse with surprising speed. Wolfe is a German bruiser with a frenetic style.

Sanity won the NXT Tag Team Championship last August, taking the titles from The Authors of Pain. They now move to SmackDown, which suddenly has a tag team division bursting with talent.

The faction won't be at full strength, though. There is no mention of Nikki Cross in the Superstar Shake-up results on Cross was the most compelling figure of the bunch, the group's crazed attack dog. Sanity will feel incomplete without her.

Sanity won't overtake The Usos and The New Day in terms of creating intrigue, but their addition gives SmackDown ample creative options.


Ember Moon (Raw)

Moon grabs attention from moment one. She strides to the ring in gladiator-inspired gear. Her red eyes gleam. And once the bell rings, her athleticism pops on the screen.

The Texas native trained under Booker T and has been wrestling since 2007. She wrestled some of the top female talent around, from Candice LeRae to Mia Yim, as she honed her craft.

By the time she went to NXT in late 2015, she was a star in the making.

Moon's in-ring arsenal is a mix of hard kicks, springboard attacks and power moves. She's well-rounded and versatile as fans saw during her feud with Asuka. Her finishing move, The Eclipse, is a sight to behold—a leaping, twisting take on the Stone Cold Stunner.

She held the NXT Women's Championship briefly moving getting the call to join the Raw brand where she is bound to flourish. She's title material at this level, as well.


No Way Jose (Raw)

While not a top-tier star with NXT, No Way Jose has potential to be the next surprisingly successful prospect a la Elias.

The Dominican Republic native is 6'3" and 245 pounds. He boasts impressive natural footwork and is a fun presence in the ring.

There are elements of Adam Rose in Jose. A conga line accompanies him to the ring much like The Rosebuds did with Rose. He also incorporates dancing into his matches and is currently presented as a comedy act.

No Way Jose doesn't have any great matches on his resume. He hasn't had his seminal moment as of yet, either. But it's still early. He debuted in 2013 and signed with NXT two years later. His story is far from fully written.

He's the least sure thing among the 2018 call-ups, though.


Drew McIntyre (Raw)

McIntyre is not your typical call-up. He's already been a member of the main roster, held the Intercontinental Championship and was part of the comedy group 3MB with Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater.

This isn't the same McIntyre fans saw at that point, however.

The Scottish bruiser transformed himself during his time away. A shift occurred during his time at Impact Wrestling, the United Kingdom scene and the independent circuit. He emerged more imposing, more aggressive, a headliner in the making.

His NXT stint showed that he was a sneering, stalking gladiator with a hard-hitting style.

McIntyre captured the NXT Championship before a biceps injury kept him out of action the past few months. He's now healed and poised to be a major force for Raw. He re-debuted on Monday's show as Dolph Ziggler's partner in crime.


Andrade "Cien" Almas and Zelina Vega (SmackDown)

The man who dethroned McIntyre last fall is now a member of the blue brand.

Thanks to 15 years of experience, Almas is one of the most polished prospects to come out of NXT. He was known as La Sombra in Mexico, a masked luchador with a dizzying offense. When he first began his WWE tenure in 2016, he wasn't the same compelling performer.

It took him a long while to find his footing.

When he did, though, Almas looked like a bonafide star. He produced a set of standout matches against Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black, McIntyre and others.

One has to credit Vega in part for Cien's surge. Once the former Impact Wrestling star began to manage him, his character clicked. She is the driving force behind him, the smack-talking, fang-bearing dangerous advocate at his side. 

Together, they have shone. Now after losing the NXT title at TakeOver: New Orleans and moving to SmackDown via the Superstar Shake-up, a whole new audience gets to see their act.


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