Candice LeRae

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Candice LeRae
Candice LeRae at Smash Wrestling.jpg
LeRae in November 2014
Birth nameCandice Dawson
Born (1985-09-29) September 29, 1985 (age 33)
Riverside, California, United States
ResidenceOrlando, Florida, United States
Spouse(s)
Johnny Gargano (m. 2016)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Candice LeRae
[1]
Robyn[2]
Billed height5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)[3]
Billed weight110 lb (50 kg)[3]
Billed fromAnaheim, California[3]
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada[1]
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride[4]
Trained byBill Anderson[5]
Jesse Hernandez[3]
T.J. Perkins[6]
WWE Performance Center [7]
Debut2002[6]

Candice Gargano (née Dawson; born September 29, 1985) is an American professional wrestler, better known by her ring name Candice LeRae. She is signed to WWE's developmental territory NXT. She is best known for her work on the American independent circuit, most notably Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG). LeRae is a one-time PWG World Tag Team Champion (as one-half of the World's Cutest Tag Team with Joey Ryan). This makes her the only female title holder in the promotion's history.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career (2002–2008)[edit]

LeRae spent the first two years of her career wrestling for the Empire Wrestling Federation (EWF) and the International Wrestling Council.[8] She appeared as a substitute in a round one match at the ChickFight tournament in 2004, replacing the injured Miss Chevius, but lost in the first round to Princess Sugey.[5][9] During 2005, LeRae was a mainstay in the EWF, facing wrestlers including Hurricane Havana, Kid Omega, and Amazing Kong. She continued competing for the promotion throughout 2006, while also wrestling for All-Pro Wrestling and Ground Zero Wrestling. 2007 saw LeRae branch out to the Midwestern United States, where she competed for Insanity Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor (ROH). LeRae had two matches for ROH in August 2007, losing to Sara Del Rey and Daizee Haze in dark matches on August 10 and 24, respectively.[1]

LeRae began wrestling for the Alternative Wrestling Show (AWS) promotion in December 2007. In May 2009, she participated in a tournament for the AWS Women's Championship; she defeated Kitana Vera and Christina Von Eerie en route to the final, where she defeated Erica D'Erico and Morgan in a three-way match for the vacant championship. She successfully defended the title against Carla Jade, Nikki, and Von Eerie until September 6, when she lost the championship to Von Eerie.[1]

She also appeared for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), and unsuccessfully challenged Amazing Kong for the NWA Women's Championship in 2008.[10]

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (2006–2016)[edit]

LeRae wrestling Human Tornado in February 2008

LeRae debuted in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) in 2006, when she put together a team to face a team managed by Jade Chung in an eight-man tag team match, where her team was victorious. In April 2007, she returned as the valet of Human Tornado. Her first main storyline in the company began later that year in September; Tornado had been abusing LeRae, who stood up for herself and cost Tornado a match at the 2007 Battle of Los Angeles.[1][11] After the match, Tornado began to attack LeRae, who was saved by Chris Hero.[1] As a result, Hero and LeRae united to take on Tornado. In January 2008, Tornado, Claudio Castagnoli, and Eddie Kingston defeated LeRae, Hero, and Necro Butcher in a six-person match, which meant that LeRae was forced to face Tornado in a singles match the following night. LeRae lost the match by disqualification when Hero, who was banned from ringside, came to the ring to aid her.[12] LuFisto entered the feud in March when she teamed with Tornado in a loss to LeRae and Hero. The following night, LeRae defeated LuFisto in a singles match.[1] LeRae continued to be involved in the storyline between Hero and Tornado over the next few months.

LeRae spent the rest of the year in intergender competition, facing wrestlers including TJ Perkins and Chuck Taylor.[13][14] In 2009, LeRae entered a feud with Christina Von Eerie when LeRae defeated Von Eerie in the first women's match in PWG in more than a year.[15] Throughout early 2010, they teamed with a variety of male wrestlers to face each other, until LeRae defeated Von Eerie in a match in June to end the feud.[16][17][18] At Kurt RussellReunion 2 in January 2011, LeRae was on the winning side of an eight-person tag team match.[19] At PWG's DDT4 event on April 3, 2011, LeRae won a Joey Ryan invitational gauntlet match to advance to a number one contenders match for the PWG World Championship against Ryan later that same night, which she lost.[20] She wrestled only sporadically in PWG in 2012 and 2013, mainly in six and eight-person tag team matches, which included being on the winning side of an eight-person tag team match at Kurt RussellReunion 3 in January 2012.[1][21]

LeRae began teaming with Joey Ryan in October 2013, with a loss to The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), and in January 2014 they participated in the 2014 Dynamite Duumvirate Tag Team Title Tournament, but were eliminated in the first round by Adam Cole and Kevin Steen.[22][23] On March 28, 2014, at Mystery Vortex 2 LeRae unsuccessfully challenged Adam Cole for the PWG World Championship.[24] On July 27, LeRae and Ryan defeated The Young Bucks in a Guerrilla Warfare match to win the PWG World Tag Team Championship.[25] Known as the World's Cutest Tag Team, LeRae and Ryan made their first title defense on August 29 in a three-way match, defeating The Inner City Machine Guns (Rich Swann and Ricochet) and the team of Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian.[26] The following night, LeRae entered the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles tournament, where she defeated Rich Swann in the first round before losing to Johnny Gargano in the quarter-finals.[27][28] LeRae and Ryan finished out the year with successful title defenses against Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano in October, and Daniels and Kazarian in December.[29][30] LeRae and Ryan lost the championships to Monster Mafia (Ethan Page and Josh Alexander) on May 22, 2015, in the opening round of the 2015 DDT4.[31] LeRae's final PWG match took place at Mystery Vortex IV, where she made a surprise appearance in a losing effort against Trent? on December 16, 2016.

DDT Pro-Wrestling (2016–2017)[edit]

LeRae debuted for Japanese promotion DDT Pro-Wrestling (DDT) on January 3, 2016, teaming with Joey Ryan to defeat Golden Storm Riders (Daisuke Sasaki and Suguru Miyatake).[32] On January 10, LeRae teamed with the Golden Storm Riders in a losing effort against Happy Motel (Antonio Honda, Konosuke Takeshita and Tetsuya Endo).[33] The following day, LeRae teamed with Sasaki once again, this time defeating T2Hii (Kazuki Hirata and Sanshiro Takagi).[34] LeRae once again toured with DDT in March 2016, unsuccessfully challenging Sasaki and Shuji Ishikawa for the KO-D Tag Team Championship along with Joey Ryan on March 26[35] and defeating Makoto Oishi and Danshoku Dino the following day.[36] LeRae returned to DDT in January 2017, losing to Sasaki on January 3,[37] but teaming with Kouki Iwasaki and Kazusada Higuchi to defeat T2Hii (Sanshiro Takagi, Kazuki Hirata and Toru Owashi) on January 9.[38]

LeRae has also competed for DDT's all-female sister promotion Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling (TJP), defeating Yuka Sakazaki in her debut on January 4, 2016[39] and losing to Mil Clown exactly one year later on January 4, 2017.[40]

Other promotions (2011–2018)[edit]

In 2011, LeRae began competing for NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, where she developed a feud with Buggy.[1]

LeRae alongside Joey Ryan as The World's Cutest Tag Team in November 2014

In September 2013, LeRae debuted for Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), teaming with Greg Excellent in a loss to Cherry Bomb and Pepper Parks.[6][41] She returned to CZW in February 2014, losing a singles match to Kimber Lee.[42] At Proving Grounds on May 10, she unsuccessfully challenged Shane Strickland for the CZW Wired Television Championship.[43]

LeRae first began appearing for Family Wrestling Entertainment (FWE) in late 2013 as the mystery tag team partner of Joey Ryan at the Open Weight Grand Prix Final event. On October 3, LeRae and Ryan defeated Ivelisse Vélez and Tommy Dreamer at Refuelled Night One following interference from Drew Galloway. The next night at Refuelled Night Two, LeRae and Ryan defeated Christina Von Eerie and Carlito. Later the same night, LeRae issued a challenge to Ivelisse Vélez, and defeated her to win the FWE Women's Championship for the first time.[44] She successfully defended the title against Veda Scott at No Limits in February 2015.[45] The following month, LeRae and Ryan lost to Scott and Paul London in a mixed tag team match, in which LeRae lost the FWE Women's title to Scott.[46]

LeRae appeared for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) at Turning Point in November 2013, in a losing effort to TNA Knockouts Champion Gail Kim.[47]

On May 10, 2014, LeRae and Joey Ryan competed in the 2014 Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU) Queen and King of the Ring tournament, defeating the teams of Drew Gulak and Kimber Lee, and JT Dunn and Shelly Martinez to advance to the final, before being defeated by Matt Tremont and Mickie Knuckles.[48] The following month, on June 7, 2014, she won Dream Wave Wrestling's Tag Team Championship with Ryan, but they lost the title the next day.[1]

LeRae competed at Shimmer Women Athletes' Volume 62 taping in April 2014, losing to Athena.[49] She returned to Shimmer in October, losing to Nikki Storm and Kay Lee Ray in singles matches on Volume 68 and Volume 70, respectively.[50][51]

LeRae appeared for Full Impact Pro (FIP) on June 22, 2014, teaming with Ivelisse Vélez to unsuccessfully challenge The Lucha Sisters (Mia Yim and Leva Bates) for the Shine Tag Team Championship.[52] She then made her debut for Shine Wrestling at Shine 20 on June 27, defeating Neveah.[53]

LeRae made her first appearance on the December 14, 2016 episode of Ring of Honor Wrestling, in a losing effort against Deonna Purrazzo.[54]

WWE (2017–present)[edit]

LeRae and Johnny Gargano celebrating at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans in April 2018

On May 3, 2017, LeRae made her televised in–ring debut for WWE, participating in a number one contender's battle royal for Asuka's NXT Women's Championship, however, she was unsuccessful in winning the match as she was eliminated by Billie Kay.[55] In July, she was announced as one of the participants for the Mae Young Classic tournament.[56] She defeated Renee Michelle in the first round and Nicole Savoy in the second round, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Shayna Baszler.[57][58][59]

On January 16, 2018, WWE announced LeRae had signed a contract with the company.[7] Shortly after, LeRae was inserted into her husband Johnny Gargano's feud with then–NXT Champion Andrade "Cien" Almas and his manager Zelina Vega as an equaliser from Vega's interferences and attacks during their matches.[60][61][62] This led to a match between the two on the April 18 episode of NXT, where LeRae scored her first victory as part of the brand.[63] Two weeks later, now working as an active competitor, LeRae suffered her first loss as she was unable to defeat Bianca Belair.[64]

In July, LeRae competed against Kairi Sane and Nikki Cross in a triple–threat match number one contender's match which was eventually won by Sane.[65] After a few months of investigation, in November it was revealed that Gargano was the mystery attacker of Aleister Black, a storyline in which Nikki Cross was the witness.[66][67][68] This sparked a match between LeRae and Cross, where LeRae was defeated.[69] After a short hiatus, in what was her first appearance on the main roster, LeRae competed in her first women's Royal Rumble match at the Royal Rumble on January 27, 2019, entering at number 17 and lasting 09:35 minutes, before being eliminated by Ruby Riott.[70] Few months later on April 7, LeRae made her WrestleMania debut as she competed in the second WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal during the WrestleMania 35 pre–show, where she was eliminated by Asuka.[71][72] On the April 11 episode of NXT, that was taped on NXT TakeOver: New York, LeRae returned to NXT as she defeated Aliyah in her first match back.[73]

Other media[edit]

LeRae and her former tag team partner Joey Ryan produced a weekly YouTube show titled The Candice & Joey Show, which highlighted various aspects of their careers. The series ran for 130 episodes from October 24, 2013 to March 9, 2016.

She made her video game debut as a downloadable character in WWE 2K19.[74]

Personal life[edit]

LeRae married fellow professional wrestler Johnny Gargano at Disneyland on September 16, 2016.[75] They have been featured in a short-documentary on their dynamics as a wrestling couple.[76] She is an avid fan of Disney and the Anaheim Ducks.[6]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]