If LeBron James doesn’t bring his talents to South Beach again, that doesn’t mean the party is over in the 305.
WWE superstar Adam Rose will be leading the Exotic Express party train when WWE brings its talent to South Beach for Monday Night Raw on July 21 in Miami at the AmericanAirlines Arena, ironically the home of the three-time champion Miami Heat.
“Big party town Miami, lovely,” Rose said during a phone interview, “and, of course, we’ll be going to South Beach.”
What about Tobacco Road, The Grove, Bayside, Brickell Key, Star Island, Little Havana.
“We’ll be going everywhere, all over Miami,” the life of the party added.
Then at the AmericanAirlines Arena, when the Exotic Express parades through the curtain (Gorilla Position) and onto the platform -- complete with crazy outfits, costumes, painted faces, goofy hats, props, ginormous glasses -- it’s cosplay meets Halloween.
Rose noted: “It’s more than just an express. It’s more than just a party. It’s an experience, an explosion of all your senses, so to speak.”
Once the Exotic Express appears, they dance and then split in two lines to welcome the rock star styling Rose who prances between his ‘rosebuds’ to the ring with the crowd singing his entrance music. Having fun, his entourage -- which includes someone dressed as a bunny -- follow him in celebratory fashion to ringside. He steps onto the ring apron and falls backward into the waiting arms of his groupees who then carry him around ringside.
“Adam Rose is a megastar of Jurassic proportions,” he said, “ and the bunny is Adam Rose’s best friend. Wherever Adam goes, the bunny goes.”
Hailing from South Africa, Adam Rose (with bunny) is a far different persona than his previous character, Leo Kruger. A deranged mercenary with tan camouflage pants (and no bunny), Kruger didn’t make it to Raw or SmackDown, but the charismatic, long-haired, long tights, black booted and red rose wearing Rose sure did, making a spectacular Raw debut on May 5.
“I don’t think there’s much of a difference between Adam Rose and myself,” he said. “I think people around me know that. I think a lot of people who know me and saw Adam Rose for the first time are like, ‘Oh wow, you finally became yourself.’ Just be yourself, basically.”
Many of the best personas are those where the person is an extension of himself.
WWE superstar Chris Jericho, a legit rock star as the frontman for the metal rock group Fozzy, discussed rock star persona Adam Rose and the Exotic Express.
“His entrance is great. It fits the character,” Jericho said. “Wrestling is all about the character. It’s not about the moves or anything. It’s about characters that people can connect with, one way or another, and that ring entrance is one of the best in the business right now. It’s weird. It’s a free-for-all. It’s exactly what matches that character. I enjoy it. I dig it, and the music really fits, too. It’s another hit in the WWE’s column of characters, for sure.”
Rose, 34, had his work cut out reaching WWE superstar status. Not many South African-based pro wrestlers have done it. He started early at age 16. Debuting in 1995, he eventually worked for World Wrestling Professionals , a South African promotion that is internationally-televised and heavily influenced by American mainstream wrestling.
“It’s different obviously [wrestling in South Africa], very different to what I’m doing now,” Rose said. “It’s its only little world in South Africa. It’s culturally very different to the way it is here. For me there was a big change when I came from that to WWE. There was a huge change in what I was going to be. Different. You really can’t compare the two I would say.”
Rose attended a WWE tryout with about 50 others in Florida.
“I was fortunate enough to be selected,” he said. “I wasn’t selected at the end of the tryout, but I was selected a couple of months after. That was the moment where it all began, my adventures with WWE.”
It all began in 2010 in Tampa with FCW, WWE’s development group that later became NXT.
Like all in the WWE developmental program, if he wasn’t wrestling on the card, he worked FCW shows as security, usher, memorabilia vendor, video camera operator, concessionaire, raffle ticket seller, ring crew. A family friendly show, he also signed autographs and posed for photos with fans.
It took about four years to become Adam Rose, leader of the Exotic Express making an exotic ring entrance on WWE TV.
Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque, the Executive Vice President (Talent/Live Events/Creative) for WWE, discussed the ramped up efforts of a WWE superstar’s entrance like Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family, The Shield, Fandango and Adam Rose with his Exotic Express.
“There’s all these pieces to the puzzle. Your entrance. Your music. Your presentation. What you’re wearing,” Levesque said. “All those things are components to making a star. If you’re writing the movie, ‘Rocky,’ a big part of that movie is Apollo Creed coming to the ring dressed as Uncle Sam and throwing the money. It’s part of the pageantry. You’re writing a TV show and a movie, and that’s how you create characters.
“In the past, we’d give a guy some music, and he goes to the ring. ‘What are you going to do when you come out? I don’t know. I’ll wave to the crowd and go up in the corner and put my hands up.’ That was just what you did. You just figure it out over time.
“Now, with the beauty of the [WWE] Performance Center [the state-of-the-art all-purpose training ground for WWE hopefuls], we can step back prior to all that stuff and try to get these guys to a place where a lot of those kinks and things are worked out, so we’re not waiting six months to see that this guy now has a pretty cool entrance. It’s coming out the shoot when he first appears on Raw or SmackDown. He’s already got something really cool. Now, how can we make it even cooler. How can we make it more epic and more big main stage, and how can we make that more worthy of Raw or SmackDown. That’s all part of the process.”
Rose said: “There’s been a lot of people involved in the evolution of Adam Rose. He’s got many little quirks to him, and that’s what makes him such an interesting character, compared to the average WWE superstar.”
One of those quirks. Rose enjoys a good lollipop while entering the ring for his spot.
“Strawberry is my favorite,” he said. “The lollipops, funny enough, was quite accidental,” as it sometimes is, but it worked, and it has him in the biggest pro wrestling/sports entertainment company in the world.
“[To make it to WWE] was the goal from the onset,” Rose said. “I never wanted to work for any other company. I never wanted to do anything else. This is what I wanted to do. I knew South Africa was a stepping stone and a learning curve to get where I needed to be which was to perform at this level on this stage.”
It wasn’t easy.
“[Coming from South Africa] there’s a lot of things I’ve overcome, compared to people domestically,” he said. “Just getting here [United States] can be a battle and just getting an opportunity a huge battle. For me, that was a massive battle that lasted many years, figuring out how to get here and how to get in front of the right eyes and then how to stay here and how to get to perform here. There’s a lot of battles for foreign superstars to get here that domestic superstars don’t have to think about.”
Foreign or domestic, creating a successful catch phrase is a battle they all share.
For Rose, “Don’t be a Lemon; Be a Rosebud” won the battle.
“That was something I came up with,” he said. “I feel like there’s two types of people in the world.
“There’s people who don’t enjoy Adam and don’t want to fun and don’t want to have a party, and I’m basically describing them as lemons, because they’re bitter.
“And then there’s people who want to have fun, who want to feel fulfilled, who what to be happy and who want to party with Adam, and they’re blooming. So I thought what better to call them than rosebuds.
“It’s a perfect explanation of the two types of people in the world. You get lemons who want to be bitter and unhappy, and then you get rosebuds who are willing to [promote] happiness and join Adam on his adventure.”
Rose continued, “Generally, the average person wants to be happy and wants to have fun. I think when you present them something that is fun and happy, and it’s something they can be a part of and participate in, I think very few people would turn that down, unless they were lemons, and they don’t want to have any fun, and then that’s their problem really.”
In Miami, will the Exotic Express be wearing the bikinis, swim trunks, body paint, sandals and sunglasses and bringing the beach balls, frisbees, pails and shovels, volleyballs and surf boards?
“Anything is possible,” Rose said. “I can guarantee that anything could happen...and the bunny will be there.”
Be a part of the fun as Adam Rose and his Exotic Express will be at Monday Night RAW when WWE returns to Miami on July 21 at 7:30 p.m. EST at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Raw will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. EST on the USA Network.
Tickets are on sale. Prices range from $23-$115. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.
Tickets can also be purchased at the AmericanAirlines Arena Ticket Office Window on the north side of the arena between Gates 3 and 4. Box office hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and four hours prior to show time on event days. Times may vary.
Tickets can be purchased at The Miami HEAT Store, too, at Miami International Airport. The store is on the second floor at Terminal D32.