A busy day for WWE Developmental continued with the announcement that Candice LeRae has signed with the company and will be starting at the Orlando Performance Center.
(Global Press Club)
LeRae is no stranger to The PC, and not just because husband Johnny Gargano makes it his home base. She was a competitor in the inaugural Mae Young Classic (MYC) last Summer and made several appearances on NXT.
The 32 year old has been wrestling for more than a decade, and is probably most famous for her work in intergender matches – including a run atop PWG’s pairs division with Joey Ryan as The World’s Cutest Tag Team. That, and her history of getting extreme in promotions like CZW, led many to wonder if WWE would bring her in full-time. But the company’s official announcement mentions her history wrestling men like Kevin Owens and Cesaro, so if there were concerns, they’ve been addressed.
With an established presence for WWE Network viewers, expect the 5’ 2” Superstar to quickly enter an increasingly crowded NXT Women’s division. Perhaps by following up her matches in the historic MYC with an appearance in a historic Royal Rumble match?
Rumors were made official Tuesday as WWE signed three of the biggest free agents in professional wrestling — former Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling stars War Machine (Hanson and Raymond Rowe) and independent standout Ricochet.
Ricochet has been a long-awaited addition to the WWE roster. He’s one of the best high-flyers in the world, having taken his exciting style from California to New Japan to Lucha Underground, where he wrestled as Prince Puma. He’s a former Lucha Underground and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla champion and won a slew of titles in New Japan, including being part of the junior tag champs. He also won the Best of the Super Juniors tournament in 2014.
Ricochet was reportedly approached about the WWE Cruiserweight Challenge in 2016, but Lucha Underground would not allow him to participate as long as he was still a character on the show. Season 3 ended in October, allowing him to become a free agent.
It will be fascinating to see how WWE uses Ricochet. He’ll likely go to NXT first, but he might not be there long. His exciting style has drawn comparisons with Rey Mysterio, and he could be used on the main roster soon, whether it’s on RAW, Smackdown or 205 Live.
War Machine have been teaming together for nearly four years now, mainly for Ring of Honor, but also for New Japan, where they won the tag titles in both promotions. Coming in at a combined 550 pounds, they were some of the larger wrestlers in Ring of Honor, yet could hang with the athleticism of the smaller teams they faced. They became known for their hard-hitting brawler style, as well as their unique double-team moves.
If Hanson and Rowe head to NXT, they could not have joined at a better time, as the tag division is starting to thin with the Authors of Pain likely moving up to the main roster. War Machine can slide in as a more polished version of the bruising team.
Particularly with Ricochet, it will be interesting to see exactly how everyone is used. With the exception of AJ Styles and Gallows and Anderson, almost every free agent signed has started in NXT, even if they were polished. But with more experienced wrestlers being signed, how long will that last? With 15-year vets such as Ricochet being signed, and some rumors of TNA stars signing with WWE soon, will that trend continue? It’ll be fascinating to watch the paths of these stars.