Andrade sees the similarities already. Now he wants one more.
The WWE United States champion speaks with reverence about Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. Andrade notes, like them, he began his wrestling career in his early teens in Mexico — him at 13 — and eventually became a star in WWE.
His career took a very similar path to Guerrero’s, going from Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) in Mexico to New Japan Pro-Wrestling and eventually wrestling in the US.
The 30-year-old Andrade, who was born in Mexico, joined WWE’s NXT brand in 2015 and jumped to the main roster in April 2018. He believes he’s in a position now to take things to another level.
“Always Rey Mysterio was the face of Latinos [and] in the past Eddie Guerrero,” Andrade told The Post in a phone interview. “Now is my moment to be the face of the Latinos in WWE. It looks strong to win the title, no? I’m more strong with more opportunities and focused on the next title.”
Andrade won the championship from Mysterio at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 26, and the legendary luchador will get his rematch on this week’s “Monday Night Raw.” In the storyline, Andrade touts himself as the present and the future and Mysterio as the past. WWE has a long history of Latino stars such as Pedro Morales, Tito Santana and Alberto Del Rio.
“This is why I’m preparing and I’m working hard, so maybe in one year no more Rey Mysterio,” said Andrade, who consistently puts on some of the best matches in WWE. “I’m the new face and my legacy starts.”
He is one of four WWE title holders — Intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura and the Kabuki Warriors, Asuka and Kairi Sane, who are the women’s tag team champions — who do not use a lot of English in their promos. Like Zelina Vega for Andrade, Nakamura has a mouthpiece in Sami Zayn, while Asuka and Sane recently ditched manager Paige.
To Andrade, the fact that these other champions are having the success they are is a reminder WWE is in a worldwide company and the superstars can still connect with the audience even if there is a language barrier at times.
“The WWE is a company that’s in the world,” said Andrade, who hopes to have programs with Roman Reigns and Triple H in the future. “There are many languages. There’s India, there’s Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, many languages.”
Andrade is practicing his English whenever he can, noting he works with fiancee Charlotte Flair on “every drive, on the side, when we’re home.” He has begun to mix English and Spanish into his promos more, something other Latino stars did during their careers.
“I am trying to practice for the future [for] great promos in English and a little Spanish, you know the promos before with Rey Mysterio and, in the past, Eddie Guerrero,” Andrade said.
He credits Vega with being a big help to his career even though he said he was a little “confused” when they were first paired in NXT because he “never had a manager, friend or partner in the ring” during his career. Andrade can’t explain how their on-screen chemistry developed, but things don’t feel the same on the rare occasions they are not working together.
“Now it’s part of Andrade,” he said. “Sometimes when Zelina is injured or something, sometimes when I go to the ring and Zelina’s not in my corner, something is confused or like I forgot something. Now Zelina is beside Andrade. Andrade is beside Zelina. Now it’s a team.”
It’s one of the reasons he and Flair won’t be putting their relationship into WWE storyline at the present moment. But they are open to it happening down the road.
“Maybe in the future, but now she’s focused on her work,” Andrade said. “I’m focused on my work. Now Zelina’s in my corner. Maybe in the future, but not for now.”
They do, however, work on their craft together — Flair helping Andrade with his on-screen character and him helping her technically in the ring. The two often post photos on social media of them working out together. Those sessions can become intense no matter how long or short they run.
“It’s so hard. It’s so hard,” Andrade said jokingly. “I like working with her, but it’s so hard because it’s always competition, competition. I want to enjoy my workout, relax because sometimes I’m tired, sometimes try to sleep late.
“Sometimes we have 30 minutes for a workout, so sometimes it’s a little bad. She’s always competition, competition. I say, ‘Relax, you just got here.’ She’s, ‘No, it needs more,’ and she puts more weight and she puts double the weight. Sometimes she’s angry, but it’s great. We always fight for who is better. It’s good for me.”
Andrade said he hasn’t yet picked the brain yet of Flair’s dad, the legendary Ric Flair. The two-time WWE Hall of Famer will often be complimentary of Andrade’s matches, but they usually discuss life and haven’t had a deep wrestling talk yet.
Andrade, however, wants to be the talk of WWE and its next Latino star. Being US champion now gives him a greater platform to keep taking his career to the next level like he watched Mysterio and Guerrero do before him. It’s his moment.
“I have this connection, but I want my story, my legacy, not the same as Eddie Guerrero, not the same as Rey Mysterio, different,” Andrade said. “I’m working for my legacy.”