Samantha Hall is sitting backstage at Cloverdale’s All-Star Wrestling show on a Friday night (March 2), a black Bob Ross t-shirt and breathable gym shorts covering her sparkly leotard.
Fellow wrestlers, mostly men in metallic speedos, come into the back room — surprised that the 25-year-old is sitting with a reporter. She is at ease, laughing at the people she would describe as family.
But it wasn’t always that way for women, Hall said. She has only been wrestling professionally for the last six years, but her mother was a professional wrestler for Hall’s whole life.
“You hear stories of days before … where it wasn’t really a scene for the women, it was more of a guy’s locker room,” Hall said. “Just like, they used to be pretty vile towards women.
“Whereas now, a lot more women are showing interest, and people are really respectful of us now. No one puts anyone down, no one talks bad about us.”
Hall’s interest in wrestling came from her mother, the indomitable Theresa Hall (known as Raven Lake in the wrestling world), who has fought in 13 different promotions over 20 years. Her mother’s career also inspired Hall’s younger sister, Stacie (known in the wrestling world as Liiza Hall), to take up the sport.
“When [Stacie] first started it was super weird wrestling her, actually making contact and forcing her to do something,” Hall said. “But now we can just get in there, and we feel more comfortable wrestling each other than we do other people sometimes.
“Because you have that sister instinct. You just know each other,” she continued. “You feel that you can just go harder because — you’re going to get hurt sometimes, that’s fine, but no matter what happens you know that we didn’t mean to hurt each other. [It’s] really cool because I think we bring another level out of each other.”
On March 2, Hall was on stage as wrestling villain Bambi Hall alongside Malia Hosaka, taking on her sister Liiza Hall and Izzy McQueen in a tag team match.
Although the match was action-packed, and ultimately culminated in the announcement of a singles match between good-girl Liiza and rebel Bambi, Hall said it can get monotonous wrestling the same women over and over.
“Around here there’ve been only been like four or five women at a time, and you get kind of bored of wrestling each other all the time,” Hall said.
Sometimes, women do wrestle men — like 31-year-old Nicole Matthews, who took on Matt Xstatic in the match before Hall’s.
“We can wrestle as good as the guys, some of us,” Hall said. “And they know that.” But for the most part, female wrestlers take on other female wrestlers in the ring.
Recently, though, Hall has been seeing more and more women get involved in the traditionally male sport.
“In the past three years, there have been so many women who have just been really interested,” she said. “I’d say six years ago there was only one all-girls promotion probably, and now there’s twenty. There’s so many around.
“It’s crazy how much it’s grown and people are grasping on to it for sure.”
Editor’s note: This story is second in a series on Women in Cloverdale, a special series on Cloverdale businesswomen, athletes, historical figures and politicians.