If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This mantra couldn’t be anymore relevant than it is to the life of a WWE Superstar. A lot of the WWE’s biggest stars, from The Rock, to John Cena, to Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin, all underwent complete character overhauls before they became the main event caliber draws we all know them as today. In fact, one rarely gets over in the WWE with the gimmick they start off with. Superstars must be willing to adapt and change their personas to remain relevant in order to give themselves the best chance to succeed.
With that being said change isn’t always good (just look at the Dolph Ziggler image shake-up of 2011), and if I’m being honest, I wasn’t optimistic when I heard through the grapevine that Leo Kruger, a character that I really dug the hell out of and though had serious legs, was being repackaged as Adam Rose. I knew that there were several wrestling fans out there that disagreed with me, and thought that the Leo Kruger character was dumb, but I really just thought it was the way it was being presented. I still think the South African big game hunter turned pro-wrestler, coming to the WWE to hunt the world’s most dangerous game, man, was an inspired direction to take a character, and I was truly sad to hear it was going. Then I saw this.
Now I still love the Leo Kruger character, but H@!* S#!+ was I into Adam Rose the second he appeared on my TV screen during last night’s episode of NXT. I immediately scrapped what I was thinking about writing for TJR, and started working on this week’s edition of A Matter Of Character, which will focus on the newly rechristened leader of the Exotic Express, Adam Rose. This piece will include my immediate thought on the new character upon seeing him last night, what I think the strengths and weaknesses of the character change are, and how I see the character change effecting the performer’s future. I’m excited, Let’s Do This!
Physically, nothing has changed about Adam Rose other than the aesthetic appearance. Adam Rose is still the moderately sized, strong worker that he was as Leo Kruger. He’s still in tremendous shape, and can still wrestle, albeit with less primal ferocity (though I’m happy he still shows a rough edge) and more fun-loving enthusiasm. The fact is that all the physical tools he possessed as Leo Kruger, he still possesses as Adam Rose, just with a different wardrobe and more flamboyance.
Aesthetically Adam Rose has gone from vaguely resembling Spiderman villain Kraven The Hunter, to looking like the WWE’s version of Aldous Snow, the character portrayed by Russell Brand in the films Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek. Now if it was just a change in his look, I would say that the transformation was pointless, because the aesthetic of Leo Kruger was more imposing than that of Adam Rose, which I thought was a better impression to make visually. That said, Adam Rose does stand out in a crowd, and while I prefer the imposing look of Leo Kruger, it’s much more than simple aesthetics that make me enjoy the Adam Rose character much more than I’d expected to.
In about five minutes of screen time, Adam Rose displayed more personality than he ever did as Leo Kruger. Part of the reason I liked the Kruger character was the idea of it, but I can admit that I never thought the character was played properly. It just seemed like he couldn’t find that balance between unstable lunatic and supremely focused and thoughtful hunter that I think the optimal version of that character needed to be.
As Adam Rose, he played the character perfectly. From the interview at his “Launch Party” backstage, to the way he interacted with his party goers in that segment and on his way to the ring, he seems to have a better grasp on who this character is, what his quirks are. Adam Rose, in my limited exposure to him, seems like a mix of Aldous Snow and a PG version of 90s “King of the Club Kids” Michael Alig. He’s a free spirit, a fun-loving and flamboyant purveyor of individuality, and someone who needs to feel like he is the life of the party. Avoiding boredom and surrounding himself with people he’s helping to have a good time is of the utmost importance to him and it shows. He’s borderline hedonistic. From the entrance, to the in-ring style, to the way he interacts his partygoers, Adam Rose has this character very much figured out.
Words and Actions
The promo style of Adam Rose is completely different than that of Leo Kruger, and I have to say, I very much enjoyed Adam Rose’s ability to speak during the backstage “Launch Party” segment before his match. His choice of words, the effeminate tone, the cadence with which he spoke all lent to the character perfectly. He also managed to spout off a few great (and marketable) lines during the segment, which were “Don’t be a lemon, be a Rosebud” and “All Aboard The Exotic Express”. The social media and marketing prospects of this character are very exciting, and this first promo genuinely has me optimistic about his future appearances, because the things he says, and the people he has at his parties can get more and more outrageous.
As far as his actions are concerned, at his Launch Party, Rose showed his distaste with anything that he deemed boring, or negative (as evident when he scolded the sourpuss partygoer and told her “Would You Cheer Up!”). It seems as though the parties need to get more and more outrageous over time in hi attempt to amp up the euphoria, which opens up dozens of opportunities to do more things that we aren’t used to seeing in WWE produced programming. What he’ll do and what he’ll say next are very intriguing, and that’s what you want as a performer.
Now I liked the motivation of the Leo Kruger (or at least what I perceived his motivation to be). The idea of a big game hunter coming to the WWE to hunt the world’s most dangerous game was a unique and honestly exciting motivation for a WWE superstar to have. Alas, I don’t believe that anybody at NXT, including Leo Kruger ever truly tapped into that motivation. Adam Rose on the other hand, his motivation seems to be pretty clear. Adam Rose wants to have fun, he wants to be entertaining and entertained, and he abhors anything and anyone that tries to mellow his euphoria. His parties are intoxicating to him and he doesn’t want to be reminded of the doldrums of ordinary life. He’s quite literally the embodiment of hedonism.
I actually think the pursuit of constant pleasure is an interesting motivation for somebody whose career requires that he dole out pain. It’s an interesting dynamic that can certainly be expanded upon and explored. It is disappointing because Adam Rose’s motivation isn’t as rich and interesting as Leo Kruger’s, but it is solid and again, the trappings that come along with the Adam Rose character are what have me anticipating his next appearance.
This character has so many opportunities for conflict, it’s almost making me giddy. From seeing how he deals with party guests who are a) killing the vibe b) unwanted or c) stealing his thunder to seeing what would happen if he were to have his hard partying, hedonistic lifestyle impeded, there is just simply so much that can happen to and with this character. He showed in his match last night that he does have a violent streak, and exploring that will be great, because of how much it clashes with his pursuit of excitement and fun.
So am I ready to declare after one night that Adam Rose is ready for the main roster? I’m not. While he made a lasting first impression, I need to see this character in action for a good while longer on NXT before I can confidently say that the persona will translate to the main roster (I do think that entrance will be one that crowds get into on the main roster though).
So what is next for Rose? I want to see his parties, and it’s guests get more outrageous. The NXT creative staff should borrow some ideas from SNL’s Stefon character, as to what kind of things we will see at future Adam Rose parties. I want to see that wet blanket that Rose scolded and demanded to cheer up become a permanent fixture in the character’s life. Maybe she’s his assistant, or his cousin that he feels like he needs to keep inviting to his concerts, or maybe she’s a scorned lover who just keeps finding a way into his soirées. There’s several viable explanations, so they would just need to choose one and run with it. The parties themselves are a breeding ground for a few funny recurring characters. We also need to see Tyler Breeze attend one of these parties and eventually either team with or feud with Adam Rose. The prospect is actually pretty exciting, because it is possibly the closest we will ever come to seeing Aldous Snow and Zoolander interact.
I guess in summary, I’m saying that Adam Rose is an excuse to be as absurd and creative as you possibly can, and with that in mind, I’m very high on the character. I think he will continue to be a fan favorite character, if not only for the brilliant entrance, but more likely because he has basically every aspect of the character clicking right now. I’ll go out on a limb and say that you’ll see Adam Rose on Raw and Smackdown one day.
There you have it, but as always I want to know what do you think! What are your initial Adam Rose thoughts? Are you a lemon or a Rosebud? What would you say is his ceiling as a character in the WWE? His floor? What kind of crazy images would you like to see in the crowd at one of his parties? And are you as into a potential future feud with Tyler Breeze as I am?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying congratulations to all the winners at the Oscars last week. Everybody was great, and every winner was very deserving. I look forward to the WWE ripping off that Ellen selfie moment on a Raw weeks after it’s relevant anymore. Also I'm happy to announce that I'll be a contributor at WhatCulture.com going forward, so if you enjoy my pieces here, please go over to WhatCulture.com and check out those columns as well. I'll be linking to them on my twitter feed so follow me @MJDP_GSE. Have a great weekend everybody!