I met Sam Leterna for the first time a while back on one of Mad Man Pondo’s Girl Fight shows. From the moment she walked through the curtain, you could tell there was something different, something new and yet old. Over the last month, I’ve discovered what it is that sets her apart. Sam Leterna is a lady who knows her wrestling history.
As much as some older fans and historians lament the way the business has changed, there are some wrestlers who not only study the past, but keep it alive in the way they do business. Sam was one of the first people to start sharing my social media posts about Black Panther Jim Mitchell in February, so when I had the chance to interview her, I asked what she loved about wrestling history and why she felt it was so important to study the past.
“Everything!” she exclaims. “I feel that anyone actively involved in the industry has to go back at least as far as the 70s and see how different territories operated. There was a simplicity of execution that was so effective back in those days, and I often find myself searching for that ‘lost art’ in today’s product. Too, a big part of wrestling is respect and etiquette i.e. the ever-present hand shake. If you don’t know who someone is because you started watching wrestling in 2002 and have never delved beyond the modern product you are bound to offend someone somewhere down the line. That’s something that is easily avoidable if you actually read about and watch the product from yester year.”
Sam Leterna has steeped herself in the traditions of the past, so much so that even her ring name has roots that run decades deep. “While I was in Calgary training with Lance Storm, I read “Sisterhood of the Squared Circle” back to back in search of character inspiration. At the time I was looking to change my ring name. I stumbled upon a wrestler named Clara Mortensen who called herself ‘the Eternal Woman.’ I loved the moniker so much that I dubbed myself ‘Leterna’ which translated from Spanish means ‘the eternal one.’ It is my homage to the women who made it possible for me to be a part of this business today, their legacies being eternal in my heart.”
You can see a lot of her heroes in the way she performs and the way she draws heart. “I love the Von Erichs, Freddie Blassie, Nick Bockwinkel, Gino Hernandez, Susan Sexton, and Roddy Piper. I’m a sucker for a good heel!”
Leterna first became a fan back in 2002 after stumbling upon wrestling by accident. “My first ever dose of wrestling was the King of the Ring 2002, the year Brock Lesnar was crowned king. At the time, my mom had one of the illegal splice cable boxes and it just so happened that the PPV channel was available. I accidentally tuned in and never looked back!”
At the age of 14, Leterna attended her first live show, the 2008 Royal Rumble at Madison Square Garden. It was there she realized she wanted to be a professional wrestler herself. “The energy when the show went live was emotionally overwhelming and it filled me with this sense of belonging I had never felt towards anything else.”
In 2016 Sam began training with the legendary Johnny Rodz at World of Unpredictable Wrestling in Brooklyn, New York. A year later she made the trek to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to train with Lance Storm at world renowned Storm Wrestling Academy. “It was the single best experience of my life to date. Training five days a week five hours a day really helped me up my game athletically and also have a more fundamental understanding of how to put a match together.”
Sam is a showstopper in the ring, a superb athlete and a despicable heel, but in 2020 she’s pursuing a new venture outside the ring. It’s called Wrestle Tea, and it’s Sam’s way of giving back and supporting others in the wrestling community.
Wrestle Tea is a video content channel for wrestlers by wrestlers,” she says. “I want this to be a platform for wrestlers to get out there and creatively express themselves through different segments along with interview content.”
Sam envisions Wrestle Tea as a place where emerging talent can get over with the fans. “Talent on all echelons of the wrestling totem pole are welcome as everyone has something to contribute that fans can bite their teeth into.”
Sam already has some amazing guests on film including one of my favorite heels, Mr. Darius Carter. And while everyone is welcome, Sam does have a list of dream guests. “I’d love to have Randy Orton, Jordan Devlin, Orange Cassidy, MJF, Lita, and Beth Phoenix. Also a huge fan of NXT UK wrestler Jinny’s work and would love to have her on the show. Kevin Von Erich would also be a dream interview for me as I love everything WCCW.”
One would think Sam would attract more guests with coffee than tea, but that’s just not her cup of… okay, I won’t go there. Nevertheless, Sam has her reasons for choosing tea. “Tea, has two meanings. Of course we all know what the herbal beverage tea is. However, many people use the word ‘tea’ in reference to getting a scoop or a bit of juicy gossip. Thus, Wrestle Tea!”
And just out of curiosity, how does Sam like her tea? “My go to is matcha green tea! As long as it isn’t too cold outside, I serve my Matcha over ice with a bit of coconut milk and honey. Matcha has caffeine for a good mid-day boost but doesn’t cause you to crash later on like coffee because it is rich in antioxidants.”
Sam’s got a love for the business, past and present, that is infectious, and Wrestle Tea promises to be a great opportunity for her and her guests. Wrestle Tea launches March 20th on Youtube. You can subscribe to the Wrestle Tea Youtube channel to catch the show. And be sure to follow her on Instagram and Twitter.