Candice LeRae signed with WWE in 2017.
It was a bit of a surprise, given that her claim to fame for a decade on the independents was wrestling with and against men. WWE does a few intergender spots here and there, but matches are rare - and nothing like what LeRae was doing with top male stars in places like PWG and NWA Hollywood. The future Mrs. Johnny Gargano’d worked with lots of women too, though, and her talent clearly transcended strictly intergender or hardcore matches.
Despite being a featured act on NXT from most of her four-plus years with the company, a 2 - 0 record in WarGames, being a surviving member of a winning Survivor Series team, and two Royal Rumble match appearances... Candice Wrestling had never won a title in WWE.
Until this past Tuesday night, when she and her The Way partner/protege Indi Hartwell beat Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon in a thrilling Street Fight to claim the NXT Women’s Tag titles.
It earned them the perfunctory (but still cool) Papa Haitch moment. But you could tell by the responses to Triple H’s tweet that this was a little different for those who’ve worked with LeRae over the years.
candice has deserved this point for far too long— Cathy Kelley (@catherinekelley) May 5, 2021
we love to see it
Of course the hubby’s going to have great things to say, but Gargano’s sentiments were echoes by others:
DAMN RIGHT!!!!!! This is a special one to me for so many reasons. Congratulations @CandiceLeRae and @indi_hartwell https://t.co/KQDRORTtT5— Bayley (@itsBayleyWWE) May 5, 2021
Congrats‼︎ @CandiceLeRae ❤️ #WWENXT https://t.co/8A48AfCXdg pic.twitter.com/6icofA3udQ— KAIRI SANE (@KairiSaneWWE) May 5, 2021
Congrats @CandiceLeRae and @indi_hartwell !!!! #wwenxt #andnew— The HBIC (@MiaYim) May 5, 2021
https://t.co/my1TZow4aH pic.twitter.com/9IP5c5P0i4— RheaRipley_WWE (@RheaRipley_WWE) May 5, 2021
And Hartwell’s latest expression of gratitude toward her mentor really made it clear what the Pint-Sized/Poison Pixie means to modern wrestling.
I don’t know what I did to deserve this, but I’m eternally thankful that she is in my life, as a friend/sister/mother (it’s complicated)— Indi Wrestling (@indi_hartwell) May 6, 2021
Candice, you have busted your ass for almost two decades. No one deserves this more than you.
Still not convinced? Here’s LeRae herself reflecting on the achievement and the reaction, in a way that makes it perfectly clear why she’s so loved.
I’m of the opinion “you deserve it” chants should be saved for moments that really, well, deserve them.
Candice LeRae getting her flowers deserves it.