The focus this time around is Adam Rose. Let's face it Rosebuds, it just isn't working out. His schtick as a slightly effeminate party animal has not caught on with the general audience. WWE booking has primarily used him as comedic relief instead of someone that is rising up the ranks. Rose has been on the main roster for almost a year now and his main rivalry has been with a nameless bunny. He is on the verge of irrelevance (a la Zack Ryder) and becoming another full-fledged jobber on the roster. To prove I'm no lemon, I have listed the steps it would take to make Adam Rose a respectable, legitimate WWE Superstar.
STEP 1: Ditch the Exotic Express
The first aspect of Rose's character that he needs to ditch is also the most distinct: The Exotic Express. Don't get me wrong, I dig the idea of an entourage of costumed club kids. However, I think he should not have started off with them. Instead, he should have amassed his Rosebuds by proving his party animal reputation.
Each week, WWE could have shown Rose throwing parties that often place a fellow superstar in a hilarious and precarious situation. Imagine a competitor missing out on a title opportunity because they were hung over in the back. Or maybe after a wild shindig, someone wakes up next to a woman who turns out to be Hornswoggle in a wig. There are endless opportunities. These examples can lead to rivalries between Rose and those his antics have scorned. They would naturally blame Rose for their bad fortunes. He in turn would blame them for not being able to "hang" with him outside the ring, provoking them to prove they can "hang" with him inside the ring.
After Rose validates his reputation a few times, we begin to notice some "fans" wearing costumes holding up signs calling themselves Rosebuds. Week by week Rose gains momentum and the "fans" grow in number. After a massive win, these "fans" jump over the barricades and carry Rose on their shoulders in triumph. The Exotic Express is born.
No doubt, viewers would have been more intrigued by this version of Rose. We need to believe in the character. We don't believe in Adam Rose and the Exotic Express. It needs to go. Apparently, it seems WWE's creative team has realized this as well. Rose has shunned the Bunny (after that debacle of a storyline) and has become abusive to his partying cohorts. I agree with this course of action, but only because WWE got it so wrong from the beginning.
STEP 2: Channel His Inner Leo Kruger
One month before his Raw debut in May of last year, WWE began running vignettes of Rose and the Exotic Express. If you're anything like me, your first thought was "what has WWE done with Leo Kruger?" The once virile South African big game hunter has become a bootleg Mick Jagger. If Rose is to become a legitimate superstar, he needs to ditch the mascara for camouflage and military boots.
Before his current stint on the main roster, Raymond Leppan performed in WWE developmental for four years under the name Leo Kruger. His tenacity and bruiser style made him a consistent main eventer in Florida Championship Wrestling and NXT. In the former, he was a two-time heavyweight champion. He first won the title in a Fatal 4-Way match against Husky Harris (Bray Wyatt), Dean Ambrose, and Damien Sandow. Along the way, Kruger battled Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro. Today, it's almost impossible to imagine Adam Rose as a serious threat to any of the aforementioned performers. So why the change in ability? What does Kruger have that Rose doesn't?
To start, Leo Kruger is more of a complete package than Adam Rose. Kruger is a diabolical mercenary. His wrestling style was deliberate; a mix of brunt force and technical holds and locks. Kruger's in-ring work was a perfect reflection of the characters' poacher psyche. If he couldn't win physically, he used deception to knock off his prey. As Adam Rose, he uses some of the same moves, but it doesn't really fit the character. All he's done is incorporate whimsical mannerisms. Tumbling around and willingly jumping into the opponents arm suits his peculiar personality. Whether as Kruger or Rose, Ryan Leppan (real name) is a good performer who knows how to align his characters identity and wrestling style.
One area he hasn't mastered, though, is mic skills. Leo Kruger was not much of a talker, but that was not essential for his character to succeed in NXT. Adam Rose however, is an extrovert party boy. He has to be an effective speaker to get over with the crowd. It would behoove Rose to retreat from being so over the top. He shouldn't beg for fans. Let his actions speak for himself. To progress as a heel, Rose should focus on the mat not the mic.
In all, Kruger came across as a complete character. He was a heel through and through and fans appreciated the overall package. Kruger was never stagnant. He was always in the mix for a title. Rose, on the other hand, seems content. There is no motivation to win and ascend the ranks. The character seems tailor-made to just be an opening act. Again, WWE has begun to recognize the shortcomings of Adam Rose. The past few weeks has seen the character become darker, resenting his role as a clown. Hopefully, this projected heel turn will allow us to see why Leo Kruger's success made him a desirable prospect in the first place.
Step 3: Form an Alliance
If there is one thing that WWE needs in general, it is more alliances. Stables are a great way to groom up and coming talent. Alliances have done wonders for the careers of WWE's biggest superstars. Ask The Rock (Nation of Domination), Triple H (Degeneration-X), and Randy Orton (Evolution) how important a stable has been for their careers. I'm not saying Adam Rose is near the talent level of these guys, but even some mid-tier members of stables had successful runs. Hell, The Rock's stable-mate D-Lo Brown held the European and Intercontinental Championships at the same time! At the very least, Adam Rose deserves the same opportunity to prove himself as D-Lo Brown.
Since Rose is tiring of his jester-like schtick, WWE could pair him up with other performers who are in a similar situation. Imagine Rose partnering up with Fandango (who has also taken a dark turn of late) Bo Dallas, Titus O'Neil, and even an Emma. Each has a legitimate beef with how their careers have been handled thus far. They could attack superstars who they perceive WWE has guided into stardom like Bad News Barrett, Ryback, Sheamus, and Paige. WWE briefly hinted at this sort of storyline with Xavier Woods, Big E, and Kofi Kingston before they ditched it for the current positive persona of the New Day. That was a mistake. They should rectify it by uniting Rose with other stars who feel their careers have been sabotaged by the head office. A story line like this is breath of fresh air in the often predictable overall drama of the show.
Step 4: Form a Tag Team
Coinciding with the stable, Rose should compete in a tag team. Of the proposed members above, Bo Dallas or Fandango would make great choices as a partner. They all have experience working together in FCW and NXT. All have experienced their 15 minutes of fame on the roster and face a Zack Ryder fate. They must avoid it at all costs. A tag team would allow Rose and either of the other two a chance to compete in a slim division. Run-ins with The Usos and Cesaro and Tyson Kidd could make for some entertaining matches. They could easily become a third contender. They would be a hell of a lot better than Los Matadores. Plus, The Ascension are already on the ropes due to weak booking and the Dust brothers are about to feud. As long as they focus on their wrestling, Rose and his partner can have a healthy career in the tag team division.
Step 5: Turn Lemons into Lemonade
Lastly and ultimately, Adam Rose will have to do whatever WWE decides. It's his job. The least he can do is make the most out of whatever opportunity he is given. No matter the curve ball, Rose will have to adjust and try his hardest to earn a run. It's worked for many superstars. Mark Henry was once a sex addict who dated a senior citizen (the legendary Mae Young) who then gave birth to hand. He would later hold the ECW Championship and World Heavyweight Championship. Currently, Damien Sandow is showing what can happen when you make any role your own. Ryan Leppan needs to find himself. If that's Leo Kruger, fine. If it is something else, so be it. As long as he can play to his strengths and have fun in his character, he stands a chance to succeed.
What do you guys think? Will this repackage help Adam Rose get on the right track? Or is it too late for him to hop off the Exotic Express? Please comment below and tell us of your own booking ideas for how to save Adam Rose.