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CANDICE LERAE DISCUSSES FANS FINALLY SEEING THE CANDICE SHE WANTS THEM TO SEE, WHAT TOOK SO LONG, NXT ON THE USA NETWORK, JOHNNY GARGANO AND MORE

By Mike Johnson on 2019-10-09 11:00:00

This interview was conducted the morning of 10/2 at the WWE Performance Center, prior to LeRae vs. Shayna Baszler that evening.

Mike Johnson: All right. We're standing here with Candice LeRae inside The WWE Performance Center.

Candice LeRae: Yeah.



Mike Johnson: You're challenging for the NXT Women's Championship tonight.

Candice LeRae: Yes. (laughing)

Mike Johnson: No pressure.

Candice LeRae: No pressure. [Laughs.]

Mike Johnson: Live TV.

Candice LeRae: I feel like every single one of these I do it builds more pressure. (laughter)

Mike Johnson: Well, we'll try and alleviate that.

Candice LeRae: Okay.

Mike Johnson: So, your husband's also wrestling tonight.

Candice LeRae: Yes.

Mike Johnson: Do you get the chance in the moment to enjoy his matches when you have one... 

Candice LeRae: Oh my gosh.

Mike Johnson: ... of your own on a big show like this.

Candice LeRae: It's really hard sometimes for us to kind of be able to focus on each other. The only downer, because I've been telling everybody how great it is to be here with my husband and how awesome it is. We get to travel together, we get to wake up and come into this cool Disneyland of wrestling on Earth here.

Mike Johnson: That's a great description for this place, by the way.

Candice LeRae: It is, it really is. This building is wrestling Disneyland and we get to do all this together. Our childhood dreams are a reality for both of us together. And then the bummer of it all is that you want so badly to be supportive, and he's probably better at it than I am, because I always put a pressure on myself that nobody else is doing. But I want to not disappoint the fans and I want to give my all and if they expect a certain thing from me, I'm going to give them that, and then some if I can.  There's so much pressure that I put on myself that I think it makes it hard for me to focus and watch him. But maybe I just also have a confidence in him. I'm like, "He's going to do well. He's great, he's great, he's always going to do well." So, I can kind of catch glimpses here and there. Takeovers are great if I'm earlier, if I'm not even on and then I'm like, "Okay, watch him." I prefer to be on, but when we're back to back, it's even trickier. So...

Mike Johnson: I want to find the one wrestler who's like, "No, I don't want to be on."

Candice LeRae:Oh, yeah. [Laughing.]

Mike Johnson: I want to see who that person is.

Candice LeRae: The one wrestler?

Mike Johnson:  Who would that person be?  It's probably some bitter veteran who's like, "Ah, I don't want to do this tonight, kid."

Candice LeRae: Yeah. (laughing)

Mike Johnson: So huge graduation from the days of crossing the world as part of the...

Candice LeRae: Yeah.

Mike Johnson: ... World's cutest tag team, traveling all over the world, live two hours on the USA Network.

Candice LeRae:Yeah. What a different world. [Laughter.]

Mike Johnson: When did it hit you? And is it nervous energy, is it excitement?

Candice LeRae: It's funny, it hit me when we were in the gorilla position and the girls were all there, and there's a little video that plays before any WWE television, pay-per-view, anything. And we hadn't experienced that before because we'd not been live, it's always the pre-taped.

Mike Johnson: True.

Candice LeRae:And so we were standing back there and the monitors up there and I heard the sound and that first... 

Mike Johnson: The [Then, Now] Forever video...

Candice LeRae:.. Like boom. Yeah. And I was like, Oh my gosh, this is happening. This is all... this is actually happening. And I think that that moment was like, I don't think anything is real here ever. It's hard to believe any of it because it's just you don't actually get to live your childhood dreams usually. If I wanted to be a princess when I was little, I'm not going to grow up and be a princess unless I marry a prince. I mean I did... . marry a prince...well, I did marry a prince. [Laughing.]

Mike Johnson: You might've married a prince but Meghan Markle beat you to an actual Prince.

Candice LeRae: [Laughs] Yeah. So now that I'm living my dream, none of it seems real. Even when I came in, they're like, "Hey, do you want to work here?" I'm like, "Yeah, are you sure you mean to be talking to me? Are you sure?" And now just hearing that sound because that day everything was such a blur and seemed so like this can't be, this can't be happening. And then the second that happened I was like, Oh my gosh, this is real. Because it felt like a more hectic normal TV tapings day. But soon as that sound happened, I was like, we are here and this is all actually happening.



Mike Johnson: So you have been in the midst of a feud with Io Shirai.

Candice LeRae: Yes.

Mike Johnson: And you tweeted something to the effect of no matter what you're glad people got to see the Candice LeRae that you want to be.

Candice LeRae: Yeah.

Mike Johnson: Talk about it.  Was there a frustration there or was it just like 'we'd been waiting for that door to open to kind of show that side that fans were used to if they had had seen Candice LeRae in the world prior to WWE?

Candice LeRae: Yeah. I think I just kind of put myself in a corner. I kind of dug myself in a hole because when you get here you're like a new kid on campus or like you just moved to this school and they're already halfway through the year so everybody knows everybody. And I came in thinking like, Oh no, I want to act a certain way. I want to do what they tell me to do and I don't want to step out of line. And so I kind of... because I'm not a super confident person to begin with. I'm very insecure. So I just kind of questioned everything I did when I first got here. And then it's like, okay well I can do this Johnny's wife stuff because it's pretty easy. And I mean it's our real life and if something was wrong, I'm going to be concerned of course.  And we love being able to have our relationship out there. So I kind of built this different version of myself here that I was like, but this isn't me. And every time I'm doing a backstage segment, I'm doing this, I'm doing that. I'm like, God, this isn't me and I'm getting in these matches and then I feel like I'm limiting myself but I'm limiting myself because they're not telling me, no, you can't do that. I'm choosing for some reason within myself not to do it. And so then when they came and they said, okay, well now you and Io are going to wrestle at takeover. And it's like we don't do two singles women's matches on a card. So it's a special occasion and I was like, man, I have to deliver and I can't be anything less than the best and so I started to think about what got me here?   I mean, what really got me here? And I was like, I was that .. I just wasn't scared of being who I was. I was me and I did what I knew how to do and I've thought with my passion and I perform with my passion. And now going in there with somebody like Io, I'm like, I have to be at least on par with her, at least. If I can be, I want to be at least on par with her. And I brought what I knew that I could do to the table. I said, look, this is what I actually know how to do and went from there. So I just felt the most like myself since being here. And it's just, even in that four way, I felt the most like myself. I'm like, look, I'm here to take a beating because I can and I'm going to endure it and I'm going to get to the end. That's what I'm here to do.

Mike Johnson: So all that said, (laughing) Shayna Baszler tonight...

Candice LeRae: Yes.

Mike Johnson: ... Big face down on the first episode of NXT on the USA network.

Candice LeRae: Yes.

Mike Johnson: What are your expectations and how do you approach this differently in comparison to a TakeOver because obviously it might be commercial breaks involved and things like that. How do you approach that in terms of mental preparation?

Candice LeRae: I am trying to not worry about the commercial breaks. I'm trying to focus on my goal of bringing my best and giving the fans my all. So going into this, it's been... I've honestly been looking at it like I'm going into a takeover. I feel like it's just as big, it's just as important if not one of the most important times for this brand. And I'm like, I have to give my all, I have to just give my best. And now that I've done me and I've been myself... and I mean we had a commercial break last time, but all four of us women in the ring and the referee gave it our all even throughout it. So I'm just looking at it like I have wrestled live for 17 years now. I'm not going to change. I know that changing me was bad, so I'm just being me doing what I do. (laughing).

Mike Johnson: All right. Well, they're wrapping us up.

Candice LeRae: Yep.

Mike Johnson... I want to wish you nothing but continued success and..

Candice LeRae: Thank you.

Mike Johnson: ... any quick messages for everybody who's going to be watching you on such a grand scale.

Candice LeRae:Oh my gosh. I just appreciate everybody supporting us and watching us and loving the thing that I've loved my whole life. So keep watching us. (laughing).

Mike Johnson: All right. Take care Candice. Thank you.

Candice LeRae: Thank you.

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