Adam Rose

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Adam Rose
Adam Rose WrestleMania 32 Axxess.jpg
Rose in April 2016
Birth name Raymond John Leppan[1]
Born (1979-07-20) 20 July 1979 (age 37)[2]
Johannesburg, South Africa[3]
Residence United States
Spouse(s) Cassandra Leppan
Children 2
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Adam Rose[4]
Aldo Rose
Dameon Duke[2]
Leo Kruger[2]
Z-Max[5]
Billed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Billed weight 220 lb (100 kg)[6]
Billed from Musha Cay, Bahamas[6]
Trained by Florida Championship Wrestling[2]
Paul Lloyd Sr.[2]
Debut 1995[7]

Raymond John "Ray" Leppan[8] (born 20 July 1979) is a South African professional wrestler currently under the ring name Aldo Rose, who is best known for his time in the WWE as Adam Rose.

Early life[edit]

Ray Leppan was born and raised in South Africa. According to his wife, he wanted to wrestle from the age of 10. A school dropout, Leppan ran away from home when he was 14, then spent two years living on the streets and in abandoned buildings. Leppan later described that he had been "spiraling out of control" during that period, which was full of violence and alcohol, and only the thought of becoming a wrestler had helped him escape. Leppan also said that he had rejected being part of a family despite having loving parents. Leppan's mother later successfully managed to entice Leppan to return home to Johannesburg from Durban with the prospect of beginning wrestling classes.[5][7]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

South Africa (1995–2010)[edit]

Leppan made his professional wrestling debut in 1995 at the age of 15[3][7] He eventually wrestled on the South African independent circuit as Z-Max, a character based on The Karate Kid.[5]

He worked in South Philly with Paul Lloyd Jr., known as the tag team Pure Juice. He also wrestled as Dameon Duke in World Wrestling Professionals.[2] While there, he won the WWP World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Tornado in 2007 and lost it to Fury the following year.[9]

World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE[edit]

Florida Championship Wrestling (2010–2012)[edit]

After Leppan's United States work visa cleared, he was able to debut in Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) under his real name on 25 February 2010, in a losing effort against Curt Hawkins.[2] Two weeks later, Leppan was defeated by Eli Cottonwood.[2]

Kruger during an FCW event in February 2011

The following week, Leppan changed his ring name to Leo Kruger, chosen as a tribute to his relative and former President of South Africa Paul Kruger, before losing to Johnny Curtis.[2][3] On 18 March, Kruger picked up his first win since joining FCW by defeating Jacob Novak.[2] At the television tapings on 20 May, Kruger challenged the former Paul Lloyd, Jr. and fellow South African wrestler, Justin Gabriel to a match. At the television tapings on 10 June, Kruger lost to Gabriel, but in a rematch on 1 July, Kruger reversed the result.[10] In mid-2010, Kruger formed a team with Derrick Bateman, known as The Handsome Man Express. The duo challenged Los Aviadores (Hunico and Epico) for the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship on 2 July, but were unsuccessful.[11] On 8 July, Kruger teamed with Tyler Reks to challenge Los Aviadores again for the championship, but was unsuccessful. Kruger then went on a winning streak, defeating Big E Langston, Bateman, Austin Watson, Husky Harris, and Wes Brisco, before finally losing in a mixed tag team match, when he and Kaitlyn lost to Brad Maddox and Jamie Keyes on 9 September. Kruger's final match in 2010 was at the television tapings on 23 September, when he lost to Bo Rotundo.[10] Following the match, Kruger lost feeling in his arm, and it was discovered that he had broken his neck.[12] While recuperating, Kruger became a commentator for the FCW television program.[12]

After Bo Rotundo was injured in September 2011, his FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship was vacated and a tournament set up to determine the new champion.[13] Kruger defeated Percy Watson to make it to the final, a fatal four-way match against Husky Harris, Damien Sandow, and Dean Ambrose.[14] Kruger won the match and the championship, his first in FCW.[15] Kruger then appeared in dark matches prior to the SmackDown television tapings on 20 and 27 September, losing to Trent Barreta and defeating Johnny Curtis respectively.[16][17] Kruger successfully defended the championship against Harris on the 24 October episode of FCW television and on the 14 November episode of FCW television, Kruger defeated Harris and Richie Steamboat in a triple threat match to retain the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship.[18][19] On the 18 December episode of FCW television, Kruger successfully defended the championship against Seth Rollins, after interference from Antonio Cesaro.[20]

In late December 2011, Kruger appeared at several WWE house shows, losing to Alex Riley on 27 and 28 December.[21][22] On 30 December, he teamed with Riley and Mason Ryan to defeat Tyler Reks, Curt Hawkins, and JTG in a six-man tag team match at a Raw brand house show.[23] On 2 February 2012, Kruger lost the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship to Mike Dalton.[24] He regained the championship from Dalton three weeks later on 23 February, but lost it that same night to Seth Rollins.[15]

NXT (2012–2014)[edit]

When WWE rebranded its developmental territory, FCW, into NXT Wrestling,[25] Kruger's NXT television debut took place on the 27 June 2012 episode of the rebooted WWE NXT taped at Full Sail University, where he defeated Aiden English.[26] On the 1 August episode of NXT, Kruger was inserted into the Gold Rush Tournament to crown the first NXT Champion, where he was defeated by Richie Steamboat in the quarter-finals.[27] In September, Kruger's character was tweaked into that of a deranged hunter and mercenary.[28][29] In December, Kruger formed an alliance with Kassius Ohno;[30] Kruger and Ohno defeated Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel on the 2 January 2013 episode of NXT.[31] On the 16 January episode of NXT, Kruger defeated Trent Baretta.[32] On the 30 January episode of NXT, Ohno and Kruger entered the NXT Tag Team Championship Tournament to crown the inaugural champions and defeated Alex Riley and Derrick Bateman in the first round.[33] On the 6 February episode of NXT, Kruger and Ohno were defeated by Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey in the semi-finals.[34] Kruger then moved on to feud with Justin Gabriel when he attempted to attack Gabriel's injured partner, Tyson Kidd;[35] Kruger won the series of matches 2–1.[29][36][37] Kruger next set his sights on Bo Dallas's NXT Championship.[38] On 18 July NXT, Kruger won a triple threat match against Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro to become number one contender.[39] On 7 August, Kruger fought Dallas for NXT Championship, but lost.[40] Kruger eventually feuded with Zayn with the feud culminated in Zayn winning a two-out-of-three falls match on 1 January 2014 NXT.[41]

Rose (top) being caught by the Rosebuds during his ring entrance in May 2014

Leppan was then removed from television, and began wrestling at house shows as a new character called Adam Rose.[42] As Rose, he returned to television on the 6 March 2014 episode of NXT, with his new character being an organizer of parties with various colorful costumed party-goers, who accompany him during his ring entrance.[43][44] Rose's supporters are called Rosebuds.[45] The Rose character is loosely based on comedian Russell Brand.[46]

In August 2014, within NXT, Rose and Sami Zayn participated in a tournament for an opportunity at the NXT Tag Team Championship, defeating Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd in the first round,[47] but they lost in the second round to The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara), with the Adam Rose character being pinned for the first time.[48] On the 4 September episode of NXT, Rose suffered his first singles loss at the hands of Tyson Kidd.[49]

The Exotic Express (2014–2015)[edit]

From the post-WrestleMania Raw on 7 April, WWE aired introductory vignettes for Rose.[50] Rose made his main roster debut on the 5 May episode of Raw, interrupting Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger.[51] Rose continued to distract Swagger during his matches, leading to Swagger losing. Rose wrestled his first Raw match on the 26 May episode of Raw in a winning effort against Damien Sandow. During the match Swagger and Colter interfered, holding one of Rose's party members hostage. Rose saved his friend after winning the match despite the distraction. Rose defeated Swagger on the 30 May episode of SmackDown and the 2 June episode of Raw.[52][53] Rose made his first pay-per-view appearance at Money in the Bank where he defeated Damien Sandow.[54] On the Battleground pre-show, Rose defeated Fandango. After over a month of inactivity, Rose returned on the 1 September episode of Raw, where he defeated Titus O'Neil.

On the 22 September episode of Raw, Rose teamed with his popular Rosebud, The Bunny (a 'highly athletic individual' in a rabbit suit) for the first time, as they defeated Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil.[55] On the 15th Anniversary episode of SmackDown for 10 October, Rose suffered his first main roster loss at the hands of Kane.[56]

Adam Rose in September 2014

"... they have made him a cheesy party boy made uncool from the beginning by Michael Cole's dorky commentary and dancing".

Shawn Valentino of the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter[57]

On the 31 October episode of SmackDown, WWE teased dissension between Rose and The Bunny when R-Truth hinted that The Bunny was upstaging Rose.[58] After The Bunny cost Rose a match, The Bunny was assaulted and abandoned by Rose, but continued supporting Rose for his next match and often started causing Rose to lose some matches after the attempts to help him out backfired. In response, Rose allowed The Bunny to submit to Tyson Kidd during an "inter-species" match, rather than saving him when Kidd placed him in the sharpshooter. The Bunny teamed up with Rose at Survivor Series to take on Slater Gator (Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil) in a tag team match. The Bunny won the match but Rose was clearly displeased. The Bunny and Rose then failed to win a tag team turmoil match, which granted the winners a shot at the WWE Tag Team Championship. In December 2014, the Bunny won a Slammy Award; Rose later explained in a podcast how he had found him in Times Square and hired him.[59]

Rose feuded with Kane, with Kane defeating him and The Bunny sustaining a neck injury from receiving a tombstone piledriver when he was just helping out Rose.[60] On the 22 December episode of Raw, Rose snapped after a quick loss to R-Truth and viciously attacked The Bunny, turning heel in the process; this beat down marked The Bunny's last appearance.[61] As part of his heel turn, Rose started to push around his Rosebuds, behaving like a bully. He next feuded with the returning Zack Ryder, with the pair exchanging victories and using Twitter to insult one another, with even William Shatner (whom Rose called "Dad") joining in. Rose was one of the participants in the Second Annual André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31.[62] Rose however did not win the match.

In late April, Fandango split away from Rosa Mendes and Adam Rose was seen talking to her. A week later, Rosa cost Fandango a match with Rose, and became Rose's valet instead after a kiss. On 14 May Rose informed his Rosebuds that the party was "officially over", at this point completely ending with his "Party animal" gimmick.

The Party Pooper; Rose Bush (2015–2016)[edit]

On the 22 June episode of Raw, Rose's gimmick was slightly tweaked to a pompous artiste, exclaiming that the WWE Universe had no idea of true art or passion, hyping up the reveal of his "masterpiece" in the process.[63] The storyline was never resolved. Rose re-emerged on the 29 August episode of Main Event, sporting generic black boots and tights, a plain gray shirt, glasses, and a tweaked gimmick again. Though he eventually submitted to Jack Swagger, he declared in a pre-match promo his intentions to "poop on everybody's party". On the 5 October episode of Raw, Rose shared a "cryptic message", saying, "All I wanted to do was put smiles on little children's faces. Well, poop." The camera then tilted down onto what seemed to be the Bunny's mascot head.[64] On the 3 November edition of Main Event, during and after defeating Fandango, this mystery bunny person was seen at ringside leaving Rose surprised.[65]

Rose formed a tag team with Brad Maddox.[66] However, the team would be short-lived as Maddox was released from his contract on 25 November.[67]

Following Maddox being released from the company, on the 30 November 2015 edition of Raw, Rose debuted a Hollywood Minute-inspired segment entitled The Rose Bush, in which he start talking about all the "dirt" in WWE.[68]

The Social Outcasts and departure (2016)[edit]

The Social Outcasts in April 2016

On the 4 January episode of Raw, Rose, along with Heath Slater, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas, debuted as a new stable and went on to assist Slater in defeating Dolph Ziggler.[69] On the 11 January episode of Raw, now billed as The Social Outcasts, the group would face The Wyatt Family to a no contest when Ryback interfered.[70] On the 24 January 2016 SmackDown, the four defeated the team of Goldust, Damien Sandow, Jack Swagger and Zack Ryder in an eight-man tag match. On the 8 February episode of Raw, Rose defeated Titus O'Neil. At WrestleMania 32, Rose competed in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but was eliminated by the eventual winner Baron Corbin.[71]

On 16 April, Leppan was suspended for 60 days after his second violation of the company's Wellness Program.[1] On 20 April, Leppan publicly addressed his suspension as "not right", saying "I did not do anything knowingly wrong and was taking prescribed medication that my [doctor] and I followed all the correct protocol on."[72] On 3 May, Leppan posted a doctor's handwritten note on his Twitter feed, indicating that he had been prescribing Leppan Adderall XR to treat ADHD. Leppan wrote that WWE had known he had the prescription for over a year.[73] On 11 May, Leppan was arrested in Hillsborough County, Florida for domestic violence and tampering with a witness.[74] Later that day, WWE announced that as a result, Leppan had been suspended indefinitely.[75][76] On 23 May, Leppan parted ways with WWE, with WWE saying that he had requested for his release.[77]

On 14 June, Leppan's domestic violence case was dropped due to him proving that he was getting professional help for his marital issues.

Independent circuit (2016-present)[edit]

After his release, Leppan announced his new ring name as Aldo Rose, maintaining the party host gimmick, but as an edgier character.

Other media[edit]

Rose is included as downloadable content for the video game WWE 2K15, as a part of the NXT Arrival pack, made available in March 2015 before WrestleMania 31.[78] The Bunny character is included in Rose's entrance in WWE 2K15 with other Rosebuds, but is otherwise not playable. Different versions have an alternate look for The Bunny. Rose is also playable in WWE 2K16.

For the 2014–15 season, the Ottawa Senators of the NHL along with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League utilized Rose's entrance theme as part of the team's goal horn.

In May 2015, a documentary by E:60 entitled "Behind the Curtain", aired on ESPN, focusing on Leppan, Austin Watson (Xavier Woods), Matthew Polinsky (Corey Graves), and their time in WWE's developmental system, NXT.[79]

Personal life[edit]

Leppan is married to an American woman named Cassandra, whom he met after he arrived in the United States in 2010 to wrestle. They have two sons, Maverick and Levi. Maverick was born on 18 October 2011 with an omphalocele (a rare abdominal wall defect), and needed immediate surgery after being born to correct the defect. By the age of three, Maverick had outlived his prognosis, had four operations, and needed to be fed through a tube linked to his stomach. Levi was born in February 2014.[5]

In 2016, Leppan revealed that his sister had died from complications arising from heroin usage.[72]

On 11 May 2016, Leppan was arrested in Lutz, Florida by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for tampering with a witness (domestic) and battery domestic assault. The incident took place at 1:30am ET. The following day at 4:10pm ET, Leppan was released from custody on a bond of $1,000.[80] WWE officials suspended Leppan indefinitely, citing their "Zero Tolerance" policy for domestic abuse, and would later grant him his request for a release. On 14 June 2016, it was announced by his lawyers that all charges against Leppan were dropped.

Leppan is a Christian.[81]

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

References[edit]

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