Adam Rose will take his party to WWE's midcard, but it won't last long.
A history of similar characters and his shtick holding him back in the ring will counteract the enjoyment of his gimmick. His new persona got him out of WWE developmental after several years of being on the cusp of a call-up, but it will also be the glass ceiling on which he keeps hitting his head.
Rose has yet to compete on the main roster, only flashing the fans a few looks at his never-ending mobile party.
It's a party that will get him noticed and create some fun moments. How high Rose gets with WWE will depend on how much his antics catch on.
It's Party Time All the Time
The party-loving, lollipop-sucking newbie's act is fun. There's an infectious energy to his entrances and the random collection of people in his entourage. It's hard not to smile when grown men don bunny suits or dress like a giant lemon.
He already has a good store of catchphrases as well.
His is a distinct, attention-grabbing character. That's going to be both the anchor tied to his ankle and the reason he takes off.
Wrestling fans want to be entertained, whether it be by way of violence, drama or goofiness, as in Rose's case. Too Cool wasn't an incredibly talented team, but they got over with the crowd with silly dances and ridiculous outfits.
Fandango created some buzz when fans began to sing along to his entrance music.
This will be Rose's key to success as well. When he arrived at Full Sail University, it looked as if he would catch fire. Electricity flowed through the crowd as he bounced his way to and from the ring with a flock of odd folks in tow.
The energy of that didn't translate perfectly when it moved from the more intimate settings that NXT offers to the large arenas that host Raw.
Still, Rose is unique and interesting enough to pull in fans. He is rocking the new persona, immersing himself in the role. That's going to get people talking and develop a solid fanbase.
The wrestling part of the equation is going to be a difficult road, though.
The problem is not that Rose can't deliver in the ring but that he will struggle to do so as his current character.
When he was known as Leo Kruger he leaned on nastiness and aggression to tell stories in his matches. He was a bruiser much the way Bad News Barrett and Sheamus are. That will be forced to change with his new role.
Alley-fighting techniques don't go with the Rose gimmick.
As fans have seen in his bouts as Rose so far, he has to play around and prance in the ring. Wrestlers can be merciless, vicious and gutsy once the bell rings; being carefree and the life of the party is harder to make work between the ropes.
Compare his ring work as Rose to what he did as Kruger.
Against Danny Burch on April 10, Rose was tricky and sly, a perfect fit for his Russel Brand-type character. It was amusing, but this isn't the kind of shtick that can be extended to longer matches.
As Kruger, he gave Cesaro a fight to remember, the South African's in-ring career peak thus far.
Of that bout, ProWrestling.net's Zack Zimmerman wrote, "Kruger showed great heart, and there's reason to look forward to a rematch. Well done." That kind of praise will be harder to come by as Rose. His matches are more likely to be comedy filler a la Santino Marella and Fandango.
The History of Goofy Men
Digging through WWE's title history reveals that funnymen don't often wear gold.
Santino Marella won the Intercontinental and United States Championships but arguably during those belts' least prestigious periods. Goldust, an odd duck like Rose, won the IC title and tag belts as well.
One could argue that The Honky Tonk Man is in the same category as Rose. He held the IC title longer than anyone in company history.
Beyond that, the champs have mostly been more serious characters. The world titles haven't gone to men of Rose's ilk at all.
Men with similar gimmicks to Rose's have generally been midcard acts.
He belongs in the same category as Adrian Adonis, Rick "The Model" Martel, Rico and Fandango. Those men each had gimmicks that overshadowed their wrestling abilities and were hard to take seriously as contenders.
Adonis' run with his "Adorable" gimmick saw him last just two years with WWE. He did challenge Hulk Hogan for the WWE title a number of times, but at WrestleMania time he was pushed down the card. Adonis wrestled Uncle Elmer in a throwaway match at WrestleMania II and lost a fun Hair vs. Hair match to Roddy Piper at WrestleMania III.
That isn't exactly a dream WrestleMania resume for a Superstar.
Martel had a memorable feud against Jake Roberts but didn't have the type of success he had before adopting the self-serving model gimmick. Fandango is a much more recent example of the limitations of a character like Rose's.
Steve Austin predicted that the ballroom dancer would win the IC belt last year:
Instead, Fandango hasn't had a feud that's given him any traction. He worked with The Great Khali for what seemed like years and has been taking on Santino on a regular basis in matches seemingly designed to offer folks a snack break.
Rose has to hope that he avoids a parallel fate.
History is against him, though. He can realistically hope for a run that includes a sustained stay on the midcard, being involved in a few notable feuds and maybe being a goofy champ like Santino. Anything beyond is out of his reach without changing his gimmick.
Fans cheer for and chuckle at men like Rose, but eventually the appeal of the act fades.