Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the 5’2″ Candice LaRae may look like an unassuming “diva,” but don’t be fooled by her cuteness. LaRae was changing the course of women’s wrestling years before the “revolution” that debuted on Monday nights last summer.
Wrestling professionally since 2002, Candice LaRae’s dance card is filled with the names of this generation’s top female performers – she’s wrestled the likes of current NXT trainer Sara Del Rey, Cheerleader Melissa, Awesome Kong, and Kimber Lee, among others. Beyond that, LaRae has demonstrated time and time again that she can hang with the boys, having squared off with guys like Eddie Kingston, Claudio Castagnoli (now Cesaro), Chuck Taylor, and Necro Butcher. She’s done tours in SHIMMER & Shine, Chikara, Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling, Insanity Pro – the list goes on. Basically, there is no challenge too great for this Canadian Goddess. When opponents hear her arrival signaled by The Darkness’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” over the arena’s PA system, they’d best have brought their A-game.
LaRae’s arsenal of moves is downright insane. From her signature Balls-Plex (more on that later) to her smash mouth high-flying, there’s very little that Candice LaRae doesn’t do. After tiring her opponents with DDTs and suicide dives, LaRae will often bust out a Canadian Destroyer or a springboard reverse rana that will leave the crowd in awe. Utilizing a collection of moonsaults that would make Lita jealous, LaRae also manages to maintain an impressive technical prowess, never hesitant to tie an opponent up in an octopus hold. With her in-ring ability being what it is, it should come as no surprise that she was an immediate fan-favorite upon her 2006 debut in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
When she first showed up in PWG, Candice LaRae served as a valet for the Human Tornado. Her natural charisma and beauty endeared her to audiences right off the bat, before they even got to see what she was capable of in the ring. When her relationship with Tornado took an abusive turn, fans rallied behind LaRae, who eventually revolted against her brutish beau with the help of a steel chair. LaRae would go so far as to cost Tornado the PWG Championship, assisting Chris Hero defeat him in a steel cage match and ensuring the victory of good over evil. With that, LaRae’s managerial days were at their end, and her energies were focused on in-ring competition.
Fresh off of her uprising against the misogynistic Human Tornado, Candice LaRae continued fighting for the honor of women everywhere when she set her sights on the ever-sleazy Joey Ryan. It was during this feud that LaRae first began using the Balls-Plex, a crotch-handled suplex, in response to Ryan’s Boobs-Plex finisher. Ryan and LaRae traded victories in singles and tag team action for the better part of 2012 & 2013 in what was one of the more iconic indy feuds of this decade before finally calling a truce. Once they declared peace with one another, they became not only tag team partners, but best friends. Their friendship between LaRae & Ryan, now known as the World’s Cutest Tag Team, culminated in July 2014 when the unlikely duo defeated the Young Bucks to win the PWG Tag Team Titles. Appropriately, the match ended when LaRae dumped thumb tacks down the pants of the one of the Bucks and performed a devastating Balls-Plex.
While her longstanding rivalry and subsequent pairing with Joey Ryan might be what Candice LeRae is best known for at this point in her career, her list of accomplishments reads like a novel. She’s challenged Adam Cole for the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Championship and she’s wrestled on nationally broadcast pay-per-view, taking on Gail Kim at TNA Turing Point in 2013. In 2014, she entered PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles, becoming the only woman to ever do so. After defeating CWC standout Rich Swann in the opening round, she’d lose in the quarter-finals to her future husband, Johnny Gargano. LeRae and Gargano, who have gone toe-to-toe in the squared circle for years, were just wed last Friday, September 16, in Disneyland. As you might guess, their wedding was a who’s who mixer of independent wrestlers, with no shortage of Glorious Bombs. With an obvious chemistry that spills over to the ring, it may only be a matter of time before we see LaRae and Johnny Wrestling pair up onscreen once more, this time in NXT.