Right now, all of the forces in the world seem to be piling up against Adam Rose. His defense to his 60-day suspension did not receive public acknowledgment by WWE. His arrest, which seems to have been more of an escalated argument than a physical altercation with his wife, got him an “indefinite suspension.” In turn, the I.W.C. is spreading these allegations further — none of which he’s yet been proven guilty of in a court of law — and making him out to be a bad, self-destructive person.
Before I saw the ESPN E:60 special on NXT, I thought of Adam Rose as nothing more than a goofy character. He would come out to the ring acting like Russell Brand alongside a big posse of “party animals” — known as The Exotic Express — work a quick enhancement match, then go back to the Titantron dancing with his posse. It was amusing the first few times, then quickly became one-dimensional and everything that die-hard wrestling fans loathe.
But that opening sequence on the E:60 special showed us Ray Leppan, the man behind Adam Rose. Ray Leppan is the married father of a special needs child. Ray Leppan is a journeyman wrestler from South Africa that came from humble beginnings. Ray Leppan spent at least four years in the WWE developmental system, frequently on the cusp of being released. Even if ESPN’s narrative was intended to tug at one’s heart strings, the key is that this is a guy that worked very hard to get to the main roster of the WWE and would clearly want to stay there.
As alluded to earlier, the Adam Rose character has not had the best creative to work with. At first, he was the leader of the aforementioned Exotic Express, a babyface character intended for fans of all ages. Then he was turned heel without much of an explanation, as he was feuding with the person in the bunny suit (rumored to be Justin Gabriel) within the Exotic Express. Yet there was never a proper blow-off match for that feud. Adam Rose floundered along in the coming months as a heel enhancement wrestler, before winding up in The Social Outcasts, who were supposed to be heels but almost always get cheered. Alas, you have a worker who’s stayed in shape and done everything asked of him, even if it was lacking direction.
However, what bugs me most about Adam Rose’s current predicament is the hypocrisy of WWE’s “zero tolerance” policy. Remember when Kevin Nash was “indefinitely suspended” for fighting with his son on Christmas Eve 2014? Or when Chris Jericho was “indefinitely suspended” — later changed to 30 days — in May 2012 for denigrating the Brazilian flag at a live event? Or when head Smackdown writer Michael Hayes was “indefinitely suspended” for offering alcohol to a talent that had recently completed rehab? Well, those folks are all still under WWE contract. And that’s without mentioning currently-active WWE talent with DUIs, assaults and other legal troubles.
Aside from considering that people are “innocent until proven guilty” in the United States, it’s worth looking into whether WWE’s disciplinary policies are appropriate for an entertainment company. Is the Wellness Policy being administered properly? Are some wrestlers’ exploits being overlooked because they have made the company a lot of money? Are some talent only being punished because a story was picked up by TMZ or another incendiary media outlet, and WWE must save face as a publicly-traded company? Is WWE using policies like these as a cost-saving measure when it comes to contract negotiations and obligated pay-outs?
Answers to questions like those will probably never be known to outsiders like me. However, we fans need to remember that the people portraying these characters are often doing the best they can with what they are given, and sometimes they are at the mercy of both bad creative and unfair governance.
Ultimately, I want to see Ray Leppan continue to get the help he needs, personally and professionally. As a performer, he has proven to be both talented, reliable and believable; the “talent,” I argue is in convincing people that he is the Adam Rose character just months after he had portrayed the Leo Kruger character in NXT and on select WWE house shows. He absolutely stands out from the rest of the roster, and it’s fairly-obvious that the new NXT character known as No Way Jose is using the Adam Rose template to get over. In addition to his uniqueness as a person, Ray Leppan is in rare company as an African on the active roster — Kofi Kingston is billed as being from Ghana, but grew up in Massachusetts — and the WWE prides itself in being an international company with talent from all over the world. In turn, an “indefinite suspension” for Ray Leppan with the WWE would not benefit any of the parties involved for the long-term.
Minimizing domestic violence is not a good look dude
This article misses the target by a mile. Do you understand what an “indefinite suspension” is? Its what they do while they let situations play out, while they figure out the eventual punishment. That’s why “indefinite” suspensions for guys like Jericho and Hall were later defined to a specific time. It didn’t lesson the punishment, it defined it. In other words, “Time out, let’s see what this action warrants.” It doesn’t matter that ESPN edited a great 10 or so minutes to make us understand him, and sure his “character” has been weak, But the policy is what it is and it is there due to public pressure to have such a policy. Dude screwed up….at least a couple of times. Let his place of employment sort it out. There are guys that have not violated the wellness policy (and seriously, the handwritten doctors note about ADHD for a nearly 40 year old dude does not explain or excuse his suspension) nor have a recent arrest for domestic violence that fill the spot vacated due to this suspension. Whoever gets that time deserves it too.