Whalley’s Lions Gate Dojo was a cold, dark and nearly deserted place on a Thursday afternoon when a newspaper reporter showed up to ask Surrey’s Hall sisters some questions about their lives in professional wrestling.
Bambi and Liiza, as they’re known in the ring, graciously arrived an hour early, before the night’s training began with a few fellow wrestlers.
This week, despite their sisterly love, the Halls are preparing for a match against one another during one of two Nation Extreme Wrestling (NEW) events Saturday, Feb. 25 at Granville Island’s Performance Works venue in Vancouver.
“We’ve wrestled each other a lot over the years,” recalled 30-year-old Bambi, born Samantha.
“I like tagging better, and have fun doing it,” added the 25-year-old Liiza, born Stacie. “I like singles wrestling, but when I do tagging with her (Bambi), I have a lot of fun, we do silly stuff and just get to hang out.”
Wrestling is certainly in the blood of these sisters, whose mother entered the ring as Raven Lake for nearly two decades, starting in the mid-1990s. She’s now retired from the one-ring circus.
“Mom tells stories of me in a car seat, in the dressing room while she was out in the ring doing her thing, and the boys (male wrestlers) would watch over me,” Bambi recalled.
“She stopped wrestling when she got pregnant with me,” Liiza added, “and came back in 2007 or 2008, so that’s when I remember watching her for the first time.”
NEW: Imagine walking home from work on a cold day, bumping into your own sister who is having some car troubles… and NOT HELPING HER!
We got a feeling this match on Saturday, February 25th could get a little personal. @liiza_hall @BambiHall
TICKETS: https://t.co/pCigYKe212 pic.twitter.com/XRM9LpgoJ2
— Nation Extreme Wrestling (@NEWWrestlingInc) February 2, 2023
We've seen the frustration growing between these two for the past several shows and now we've reached a boiling point! On Saturday, February 25th, we FINALLY get Bambi Hall vs. Liiza Hall one-on-one in a NEW ring. #NEW11
TICKETS: https://t.co/U8wbHyucc6 pic.twitter.com/EvlDJkIROZ
— Nation Extreme Wrestling (@NEWWrestlingInc) January 6, 2023
The sisters first learned the ropes of pro wrestling at the All-Star events held in Cloverdale and elsewhere, when Lake was still active.
Promoter/wrestler Mark Vellios (aka Gorgeous Michelle Starr, now retired) knows the Halls as second-generation wrestlers who have worked hard for everything they’ve achieved.
“They never gave up in training and were always the ones who wanted to learn the most in class,” Vellios said. “They would put in the extra effort and train on their own on non-class days, always the first to show up at the venue and the last to leave, and have earned every bit of respect they so much deserve.
“I feel like they are undiscovered talent just waiting to breakout whether it be tag-team or singles competition.”
Told of Vellios’ comments, the sisters smiled and blushed a little.
“He pushed me and taught me things,” Bambi remembered about those early days, “then I’d ask him for the keys to the school and work on my own or with another person.”
Today, the Halls are mid-level wrestlers — not the most experienced but not newbies, either.
“We used to wear tassels and have confetti guns, that kind of thing,” Liiza said, “but we’ve grown into ourselves more. I love technical wrestling and just going for it, where when I first started it was more just having fun, having a good time wrestling. I definitely got a lot more serious about it.”
When COVID shut down the wrestling world, and pretty much everything else, Bambi focused on at-home workouts and Liiza had just finished studying sports sciences at Douglas College. They have other jobs, too, but wrestling keeps them busy in Canada, the States and elsewhere.
“Right now I’m more focused on wrestling than anything,” Liiza elaborated. “Last year I went to Mexico for two months, which was really cool. I lived in a house full of wrestlers and there was training at multiple different gyms any day of the week, so you could choose the classes and do eight hours with different teachers.
“The culture, it’s completely different with the fans and also the wrestlers,” she continued. “Shows here, you get to the hall two or three hours before to get ready, but there, (wrestlers) show up a half hour before and are good to go. The crowds, they’re very into it and not quiet at all. If they love the match, they’ll throw money into the ring. All the wrestlers wear masks expect the whiteys like me,” Liiza added with a laugh.
NEW’s president, Rob Fai, raves about the Halls and their “excellence and approachability” as pro wrestlers.
“They are an extraordinary combination when you consider their physical skill in the ring and blend it with an elite wrestling IQ,” Fai told the Now-Leader. “You can tell they grew up around it because of the passion and respect they seem to have for wrestling. I have been fortunate to see them behind the scenes and they are both as kind, and funny to be around as any athletes I have encountered, be it in baseball or any of the other sports I have covered in B.C.”
At the NEW event Feb. 25, the Halls will wrestling each other during the 7 p.m. show, tickets for which are $22 each. They’re also involved in a kid-friendly matinee event starting at 3 p.m. For details, visit nationextremewrestling.com.