Candice Dawson Gargano is a 37-year-old professional wrestler from Riverside California. Gargano currently wrestles for WWE’s RAW brand under the ring name, Candice LeRae.
Gargano started her wrestling career for the promotion, Empire Wrestling Federation (EWF), in 2002. She wrestled for EWF throughout 2006. During this time, she also wrestled for All-Pro Wrestling and Ground Zero Wrestling. She then began branching out into the Midwestern United States in 2007. She wrestled for promotions like Insanity Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, and DDT Pro-Wrestling.
In 2011, Gargano began wrestling for NWA Championship Wrestling in Hollywood. Two years later, she wrestled for Combat Zone Wrestling and Family Wrestling Entertainment. While wrestling for Family Wrestling Entertainment, she won the FWE Women’s Championship after defeating Ivelisse Vélez. She lost the title a month later.
Candice’s WWE NXT Debut
In May 2017, Candice made her NXT debut. She competed in a Battle Royal to determine the number one contender for Asuka’s NXT Women’s Championship. She was unsuccessful in winning the match as she was eliminated by Billie Kay.
In July 2017, Candice competed in the Mae Young Class tournament. In the first round, she defeated Renee Michelle and beat Nicole Savoy in the second. Candice made it to the quarterfinals but lost to Shayna Baszler.
Candice Signs WWE Contract
In January 2018, Candice officially signed a contract with WWE. She was then assigned to the company’s NXT brand. In July, she competed against Kairi Sane (who won) and Nikki Cross in a triple-threat number one contender’s match.
LeRae competed in her first women’s Royal Rumble match at the Royal Rumble on January 27, 2019, entering at number 17 and she lasted just under 10 minutes before being eliminated by Ruby Riott.
At the WrestleMania 35 pre-show, Candice competed in the second Women’s Battle Royal. She was eliminated by Asuka. The following week, Candice returned to in-ring action on NXT and defeated Aliyah. In September 2019, she competed in a fatal four-way match to determine the number one contender for Shayna Baszler’s NXT Women’s Championship, which she went on to win. Candice received her title match in October but lost.
In January 2020, Candice competed in the Royal Rumble and entered the match at number 9. She was eliminated by Bianca Belair. At the end of April, she debuted a new look and entrance theme as she defeated Kacy Catanzaro on NXT. At NXT TakeOver: In Your House, she teamed with Dakota Kai and Raquel González and defeated Mia Yim, Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart.
Candice LeRae & Johnny Gargano Band Together
On the May 6th episode of NXT, LeRae accompanied Johnny Gargano to the ring where he defeated Dominik Dijakovic. The real life couple began appearing as a “power couple” on NXT. They started feuding with Mia Yim and Keith Lee. At NXT TakeOver: In Your House, LeRae teamed with Dakota Kai and Raquel González. They were defeated by Mia Yim, Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart.
On July 8 at NXT: The Great American Bash, LeRae defeated Yim in a street fight. Candice competed in a battle royal in September to determine the number one contender for Io Shirai’s NXT Women’s Championship. LeRae won by eliminating Blackheart. She then teamed up with Gargano the following week in a “Champions vs. Challengers” tag team match against Shirai and Damian Priest. At NXT TakeOver 31, LeRae was unsuccessful in capturing the title.
Candice LeRae was successful again in gaining another NXT Women’s Championship match at NXT: Halloween Havoc. She won another match against Shotzi Blackheart at the event.
Facing off against champion Io Shirai in a renamed Tables, Ladders and Chairs match, LeRae was unsuccessful in capturing the title. She was enraged that Blackheart cost her the Women’s Championship, so she swore revenge. Candice stole and destroyed Blackheart’s toy tank in front of her. As a result, Blackheart was an emotional wreck and this kicked off a feud between the two superstars.
Candice LeRae Joins Faction The Way
In November, it was announced that LeRae would lead one of the two women’s teams (Team Candice) against Team Shotzi in the second-ever women’s WarGames match at NXT TakeOver: WarGames. LeRae’s team was victorious. The following week, Candice LeRae, Johnny Gargano, Indi Hartwell and Austin Theory appeared in a segment together. They began referring to themselves as “The Way.”
At the Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament in January 2021, LeRae and Indi Hartwell defeated Cora Jade and Gigi Dolin in the quarterfinals. In the next round, LeRae and Hartwell lost to Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon. A few months later, on the May 4th episode of NXT, LeRae and Hartwell defeated Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart in a street fight to win the NXT Women’s Tag Team titles.
Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell lost the titles at NXT’s Great American Bash 2021 Io Shirai and Zoey Stark. Candice LeRae announced on her Instagram on August 13, 2021, that she and husband Johnny Gargano were expecting their first child. LeRae remained under contract with WWE while on maternity leave until May 6, 2022, when her contract expired after deciding not to renew.
Candice LeRae Returns to WWE
On the September 26th episode of Monday Night RAW, Candice LeRae returned to WWE and defeated Nikki A.S.H.SHOW LESS
Candice LeRae Photos
Career Championships and Accomplishments
- Alternative Wrestling Show
- AWS Women’s World Championship (2 times, inaugural)
- 3rd Annual Women’s Tournament (2013)
- DDT Pro-Wrestling
- Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship (1 time)
- Dreamwave Wrestling
- Dreamwave Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- Family Wrestling Entertainment
- FWE Women’s Championship (1 time)
- Fighting Spirit Pro Wrestling
- FSP Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
- PWG World Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- Smash Wrestling
- Gold Tournament (2015)
- World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
- NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship (1 time)