FOCUS: Surrey’s sisters of the squared circle have mom in their corner

Bambi and Liiza Hall have a strong drive to flourish in the wrestling ring, with mom Raven Lake as support.

Bambi Hall

SURREY — In the end, all four women were in the ring simultaneously. That may go against the official rules of tag-team wrestling, but since when do rules mean anything in wrestling?

Off in one corner, up and coming Bambi flailed away at an obviously distressed Melody Mangler. But the more important action took place in the middle of the ring, where Bambi’s partner Liiza put the finishing touches on Melody’s partner Calamity Kate.

If you were weren’t looking that way, all you heard was a “thump.” If you were, you saw Liiza grab Calamity’s hair and drop to the ground, bringing poor Calamity along for the ride and planting her head firmly into the mat.

It’s a move known as a “facebuster.”

The Oct. 7 match at Cloverdale’s Alice McKay Building was, for all intents and purposes, over. But the ref didn’t know it yet. He was still busy watching the rumble in the corner.

So Liiza, playful as always, shouted across the ring, “Hey ref, look at this!”

He looked over, Liiza pinned Calamity, the three-count was administered, and the bell was rung.

Although it was just the second appearance as a tag team for the victors, there’ll likely be a whole lot more as part of Girls Gone Wrestling action.

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You see, both Bambi and Liiza Hall are Surrey residents – and that counts for something when the organization that employs them, All Star Wrestling, is also based in Surrey.

But that’s not all. Bambi and Liiza are also young and talented sisters, each with a strong drive to learn and flourish in what is typically a male-dominated sport.

And one more thing. Running the Bambi and Liiza show is their mom, Raven Lake. If the name is familiar, as it should be to fans of pro wrestling throughout B.C., it’s because Lake has been a wrestler for the better part of three decades.

Put all three together – mom and two daughters – and you have one heck of a compelling act.

“I started watching wrestling when I was nine,” says Lake, who was born at Surrey Memorial Hospital 42 years ago. “I saw Velvet McIntyre, Sherri Martel, and all these strong independent women, and I thought, this is something I want to try.

“I wasn’t very academic in high school, but I did do a lot of sports and I wrestled on the high school team. And then I met (Canadian wrestling icon) Gorgeous Michelle Starr and he started training me.”

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Lake quickly made a name for herself and was soon an integral part of the regional wrestling scene – not an easy thing to do when you’re also holding down a full time job (she says she’s done everything from waitressing to warehousing) and raising children as a single mom.

“When I was first training when I was 17, I fractured my ribs. So I went to get X-rays and they said, ‘Oh, by the way, you’re pregnant.’ So I took a little time off, had her (Bambi) and came back and started wrestling again.”

A few years later, Liiza was born. And after Liiza, a third daughter, Faith. And all the while, Lake kept wrestling, kept working “normal” jobs and kept on keeping on. But three years ago, the active duty would end.

“I retired almost three years ago,” she said. “I’d taken too many concussions. I had to go to a neurologist and I took months of speech therapy because I’d lost part of my cognitive abilities. That’s why I’m retired. This stuff is no joke.”

Interestingly, Lake’s last few years in the ring were some of her best. And that’s because eldest daughter Bambi, who fell in love with the sport and the lifestyle, just like her mom had done 20 years earlier, had launched her own career.

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“Bambi got it right out of high school,” Lake said. “She started training and then I took her on the road with me. We spent the first three years of her career touring together doing a mother-daughter feud. She came into the business and, in a way, took my spot. And that was the angle. They (the wrestling promoters) worked it like we were feuding about it.

“We had some pretty good battles,” Lake added, laughing.

But those battles almost never happened.

“At first I was leery about either of them getting into wrestling,” Lake said. “I was worried about what can happen. My neck doesn’t (fully) rotate. I have arthritis in my hip. But once I saw them get in there and train and I saw that they had the same love and passion…

“And I thought OK, I don’t want the same thing to happen to them, but how do you tell someone who has that dream and that desire that you can’t go after your dream? So the best thing I can do is to support them and help them train, and just teach them the ropes – teach them everything I know so that they can be even more successful than I was.”

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Bambi’s happy her mom acquiesced.

“I love wrestling,” said the Queen Elizabeth Secondary grad, class of 2010.

“Once I walked into that ring and had my very first practice, I fell in love with it.”

Bambi wasn’t a high-school jock, and for good reason.

“In elementary school I did every sport possible, but throughout high school I was helping a lot at home. So I had a job, I was watching my sisters, making dinner.

“As long as I can remember, my mom was a single mom. Raising three kids, on one income. I got a job in Grade 10, and ever since then I was putting money into the house.

“I give her a lot of props, doing this and going away wrestling on the weekends and still holding a full-time job. ‘Are my kids OK? How are they doing?’ I love that she spent so much effort into her passion, and now I love her sharing that passion with me, and it’s now my passion, and my sister’s, too.”

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Currently, Bambi spends most of her non-wrestling hours managing a Blenz coffee shop in Surrey.

Liiza, 18, graduated from QE Secondary last June and says she already has her own fan club.

“My friends from school like to come to the shows all the time. They love watching. They’re like, ‘Oh wow, how are you moving after that?’”

The idea for tag-teaming with her sister came after the two battled each other in the ring for months.

“We wanted to do a tag-team thing, against other girls,” Liiza said. “We know what each other’s minds are on when we’re in the ring, and that really helps.”

Liiza sees her current situation as a stepping stone to bigger things.

“I love wrestling here. But maybe next year at this time I could be somewhere else, somewhere across the country.”

Her mom likes that idea.

“We’d love to start touring Girls Gone Wrestling,” Lake said. “Maybe we can get across Canada, throughout B.C., wherever we can get it.”

Girls Gone Wrestling, an evening of female-only wrestling, returns to Cloverdale’s Alice McKay Building on Dec. 9, as part of twice-monthly events held there by All Star Wrestling. For more information, visit Allstar-wrestling.com.

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