What Ever Happened to: Adam Rose

Posted in The Three Count by - October 15, 2015

I’ve got to tell you honestly, I wouldn’t pay a dime to see… I wouldn’t see that guy with a free ticket.

— Michael “P.S.” Hayes

I don’t think there is enough left in Rey Leppan (Rose) for Adam Rose to be successful

— Bill DeMott

Imagine if you will that you are a man… an honest, hard working man. An average man like me… a man trying to claw your way though life and live out your dream. A man with no discernible talents wandering precariously closer to the edge with every beat of your heart, subsisting only by clinging to the simple idea that a man can dream.

What if the quotes above were the characterization of your fantasies and years of hard work?

Now, imagine you are Adam Rose, perhaps the most technically sound and entertaining wrestler performing at Full Sail University, home of WWE NXT. You’ve pulled your soul from some of the darkest pits of humanity and all you’ve ever wanted to pay homage to the industry that saved your life, and take care of your family.

You, claw and scratch your way to the top, thriving only by chasing the dream you hold so dear. Friends, time, and hobbies fall to the wayside as you hone your craft, making yourself the best you can be. The only thing more deserving of your time and energy, your beautiful wife and son, faithfully encouraging you every step of this journey.

But the suits have other impressions of your hard work and sacrifice. According to Hayes and DeMott, Rose is either too old, too boring or not charismatic enough to make it in the WWE at large. Thankfully Rose did not take these brainiac, yes men at face value and he took NXT by the hand and led them into a new and flashy world of endless partying and a man dancing in a hot dog costume.

The reason Adam Rose was such a success and instant crowd favorite is quite apparent… there was nothing like it ever before in professional wrestling. Rose’s previous character, the big game hunter/Law and Order SVU suspect, Leo Kruger had grown admittedly stale and things certainly needed to change. What set Rose apart from Kruger, and the roster as a whole was the complete commitment to the character.

Through a combination of an entrance that was second to none and the mic skills to back up the character, Adam Rose quickly grew into a man that the NXT audience and the crowd at home were happy to see every Wednesday. While the man himself is first and foremost responsible for creating this epic character, he certainly had some help along the way.

Everyone bought into the gimmick. From the cavalcade of groupies that entered the ring along side Adam, his Rosebuds, to every announcer and commentator, the gimmick quickly became gospel. It was a wonderful change from the Baron Corbins and Blake and Murphys that plagued the Roster.

It was clear that Adam Rose had struck gold with his character. The crowd would roar as though The Rock had just entered the ring, and a chorus would erupt to sing along with his music. In a short few months Rose would bring his awesome presence and energy to the main roster. There, through a combination of creative missteps and obvious disdain for the NXT roster, Rose would be neutered and his character became nearly unrecognizable.

So, this begs the question… in 2015: whatever happened to Adam Rose?

Before digging into the recent history of another mid card talent that has been misused by WWE, its important to examine Rose’s relatively short history on the main roster. Rose would make his in ring debut in a winning effort against frontiersman and former Congressman, Davy Crockett (R-TN).

Rose would eventually make it to the pay per view scene, scoring a victory over Damian Sandow at 2014’s Money in The Bank. Rose would go on to remain relatively strong, going undefeated and unblemished until an early October episode of Money Night Raw would set the winds of change in motion.

In support of raising money for Susan G. Komen’s licensing fees, each October, WWE holds special events and skits in the name of increasing the awareness of breast cancer research. During this particular raw, it would be Rose’s job to escort the night’s guests, Today Show anchors, Hoda Kotb and Kathy Lee Gifford.

For Rose’s part, he did every thing he could so save the skit, one that was doomed from the second ink touched the contract. Opposed to segment to either genuinely bringing to light the plight of breast cancer, or pushing the career of a rising talent, viewers were treated to two women smashing bottles of champagne across each other’s asses. Television at its finest.

The skit was a disaster from the start, and the home town crowd let the WWE know it. Fighting off boos during its entirety, Rose and company would attempt in vain to salvage what was left of a dying segment. The night would end for Rose without incident, however, October 2014 would prove to be the beginning of the downfall for Adam Rose.

Prior to suffering his first loss at the hands of Kane during the 15th anniversary of Smackdown, Rose had formed a pseudo tag team with the marquee member of his clan of Rosebuds. For weeks, The Bunny irritated crowds and tortured viewers as creative’s focus quickly shifted from how cool Adam Rose was, to how much cooler a man in a rabbit costume was than Adam Rose.

Rose and The Bunny would emerge victorious in various tag team competition, however it was clear that the end game wasn’t to get The Bunny over as a competitor, but to effectivly neutrilize the rise of yet another NXT talent. Rose for his part bought in to rascally rabbit, captivating audiences during promos with entertaining antidotes regarding The Bunny’s backstory and upbringing.

Despite Rose’s claim the he saved the bunny from a life of drug abuse and prostitution, a combination of booking The Bunny in losing efforts against the likes of Tyson Kidd and constant ridicule from the likes of John Bradshaw Layfield, Adam Rose would continue on with the Party Hard gimmick. As the months went on though, there was clearly a revolt in progress as even the once loyal Rosebuds now found themselves cheering and partying with the likes of The Bunny.

After scoring a pinfall over Slater/Gator during Survivor Series, cracks were finally starting to show in Rose’s patience. The final straw appeared to come during the 2014 Slammy Awards, taking home the Animal of the Year award. Rose would find himself embroiled in a feud with Kane, a feud that he would eventually end up on the losing end… of course.

Rose would eventually split from The Bunny at the end of 2014, attacking him post match and ensuring he would never be seen on television again. Rose would take on a new attitude, appearing less as a party animal and more as a dangerous cult leader, an exciting change for a character WWE Creative seemed hell bent on appearing as less and less of a serious competitor.

Adam Rose’s split from The Bunny and subsequent heel turn takes us into 2015, and quite frankly had you not been previously exposed to Rose’s brand of execution of character and top notch ring work, you’d likely notice little change.

Rose would spend the better part of 2015 along side Fandango cast away, Rosa Mendez. The two would briefly pair as Manager and Client while Rose trudged through the mid card, searching for an identity. As a brief aside, the journey that led Mendez into the waiting arms of Adam Rose is yet another example of WWE Creative’s exceptional shortsightedness and desire to shake up gimmicks and characters that are clearly working in the eyes of the fans. I’m no member of the Fandango Fan Club, but changing his character to a babyface bad dancer into a heel, womanizing bad dancer with a slutty manager is certainly not a way to reinvent one’s persona.

While under the wing of Mendez, Rose entered a lackluster feud with Fandango, however it would be a twitter message posted on the official Adam Rose twitter that effectily spelled the end of the best mid carder on currently on the roster.

While Rose was certainly more than a man with a spectacular entrance and an exceptionally entertaining gimmick, as any pro wrestling vet can tell you, if you don’t click with the crowd, you’re not going to make it in the business. Rose could have been one of the most technically sound wrestlers on the roster (and he was), with some of the most stand out performances of a program (no one on the roster full time can currently do a better spinebuster or snap suplex), but if your gimmick stinks, people stop paying attention.

Adam Rose was far from boring. Despite the opinions of WWE Brass, the raucous crowd and fans singing and dancing in unison to his music would indicate to a sensible fan that Adam Rose was going places in the company. However, likely due to internal politics and his pedigree obtained from NXT, Rose was doomed to the treatment he deserved from the second JBL first laid eyes on the Bunny.

The back half of 2015 certainly hasn’t been kind to Rose either. As creative shuffles his character faster than a senior citizen entering Country Kitchen Buffet, Rose has appeared to us as a bumbling artist, a self described party pooper, and a man clad in simple black boots and singlet… all while still entering to the blaring, pulse pumping Adam Rose anthem.

Internet rumors and twitter messages seemed to indicate that Rose was set to debut with a new gimmick along side fellow forgotten soul, Brad Maddox. Little is currently known about “Beef Mode” or the possible implications of its release on the WWE Universe at large. However, if the best WWE writers can come up with for a possible and deserving holder of the Intercontinental Championship is prancing around with his shirt off and shouting “BEEF MODE!” then perhaps it is time for Rose to take matters into his own hands.

While a return home to NXT may immediately appear to be the best course of action for Adam Rose, this unfortunately isn’t an option thanks to Creative’s treatment of his character. Adam Rose was a character that quickly grew larger than life, and like Blue Pants became an instant fan favorite. While Adam Rose is technically currently a Heel, he is one without any sort of direction, or any semblance of a character. If his only trait is that he’s a negative, snarky asshole… then he needs to get in line behind the bevy of dickheads that fill up the heel side of the roster.

If Rose is to ever come back and be over with the fans, his character must take a dark turn… a very dark turn. For once, WWE creative was right on the money as they began to shift Rose’s demeanor towards a more sinister cult like figure. With Bray Wyatt moving away from the cultish roots of his character and the Wyatt Family as a whole, the window is wide open for Rose to recruit his own stable of blind, possibly drug induced followers of his wild brand of hedonism and reveling.

A darker side of the fun loving Adam Rose would not only return a character from near death, it would inject a high impact and visual heel into a midcard currently clogged with Babyfaces. A sinister, selfish and egomaniaical Adam Rose would prove to be a excellent antagonist for the likes of Ryback, Goldust or even a returning Chris Jericho.

Rose cannot continue as is, this much is true. For Rose to return to the high energy character that we once loved, he must not only embrace change, but also completely reject it. WWE Creative has dealt him a pair of twos against an inside straight draw. To win the pot, Rose must reject the lack of character and urgency WWE is showing with his character and… if he is allowed, reemerge into our lives as a new man, one even more vibrant and colorful than the man we once new… a man I was once proud to call my favorite.

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He is the senior editor at Kulture Shocked. A Nebraska boy born and raised, where he spends most of his time as a writer. When not tearing up Xbox Live, he spends most of his time divided between Magic: The Gathering and his fiancee.
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