A la TIME’s Person of the Year list, Diva Dirt has compiled a countdown of the women we feel have best embodied the zeitgeist of the year in women’s wrestling. To compile this list, the Diva Dirt team have tracked the headlines here at Diva Dirt over the past 12 months, followed the lively fan debate on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, considered the impact that the women have made within the industry, and taken into account personal achievements as well. More information on the Women of the Year list here.
Woman of the Year
Some consider her a “Diva”, some consider her a “model”, but Kelly Kelly now has a new tag — the Woman of the Year.
When the Diva Dirt writers sat down to discuss who would be our Woman of the Year, we considered many things: Who made the biggest impact in 2011? Who made the headlines? Who was hotly talked about and fiercely debated amongst fans? Who was good for business? And ultimately, who defined the year in women’s wrestling? The woman that ticked all of those boxes was the young WWE Diva from Jacksonville, Florida.
Watching Kelly Kelly in 2011 has been like watching a coming of age story; we’ve seen her grow from a young, naive girl to becoming a young woman and an important part of the WWE both inside and outside of the ring.
Inside the ring, Kelly has blossomed, and as such, this year marked her biggest year in WWE to date, becoming the top Diva in the company and winning her first Divas Championship. Though it’s true to say that the Divas division on the whole has seen a further decline this year due to lack of investment on WWE’s part as well as other factors, Kelly has been a constant presence. In a rocky year of change that has seen big names depart the company, get injured or in one case, become pregnant, Kelly has been the rock that has kept the Divas division together. From the early part of the year right through to the end of the year, Kelly has managed to stay healthy & ready to go in the ring, been seen regularly on TV, and has remained as popular as ever.
In early 2011, Kelly headlined an episode of SmackDown, successfully defending the World Heavyweight Championship as she teamed with Edge against LayCool and Dolph Ziggler, in what the Diva Dirt team considered to be a turning point in her career. Moving to Raw in April, Kelly continued her hot streak, becoming a fixture in the Divas division, and has consistently been seen on television over the past eight months. While she’s not the best wrestler in the world, Kelly has shown growth as a performer, despite what her naysayers may think. In her series of three consecutive pay per view matches with Beth Phoenix from August to October, Kelly held her own and impressed in some of the better Divas matches of the year. While it could certainly be argued that Kelly’s success on WWE TV this year is because of what’s been scripted for her by the writers, one must factor in that WWE considers itself a television show and pushes its most photogenic stars. It’s up to those stars, then, to take the ball and run with it — something that Kelly Kelly has done this year.
Kelly has solidified her place as the face of the WWE Divas division, and given WWE’s global reach, she is also effectively the face of women’s wrestling to the mass majority around the world. And while some will no doubt argue that the spot was “handed” to her, the fact is that professional wrestling/sports entertainment is a business — something hardcore fans tend to forget — and how hard you work outside of the ring is just as, if not more, important as what you do inside of the ring. Kelly Kelly has perhaps one of the biggest workloads on the roster, logging in more promotional hours representing the company than any other Diva in interviews, live appearances, autograph sessions etc. One could argue that she ranks up there with the likes of John Cena and The Miz in the amount of promotional work she does. Given how demanding the job of a WWE Superstar or Diva is without all of that promotional work, Kelly ought to be commended for her work ethic. In fact, Kelly has even brought in publicity to the company by appearing on the cover of Maxim magazine and ranking on their annual Hot 100 list. Considering the fact that the WWE Divas are geared to young male viewers as “eye candy”, Kelly being offered the cover of a magazine that is targeted to a similar audience is lucrative to WWE. Simply put, Kelly Kelly has been an important cog to the WWE machine in 2011.
Of course, it cannot go without mention that Kelly Kelly is certainly a figure that divides fans. She has been the Internet’s most hotly-debated woman in wrestling this year on social networking sites such as Twitter (where she’s trended worldwide several times this year, perhaps more than any other female wrestler), as well as in comments sections of websites such as Diva Dirt. Though some of the criticism lobbied at Kelly, such as the way she runs the ropes, has merit, Kelly has not only be criticized, but she’s been discussed, debated, analyzed, scrutinized and nitpicked. In a similar way to John Cena (albeit on a much smaller scale), Kelly has increasingly become a polarizing figure. While adorned by the majority of WWE viewers, she’s rejected by the hardcore fans who tend to unfairly lambast her as all that is wrong with the Divas division, and categorize her as a “model who can’t wrestle”. Though her looks are one of her greatest assets to the larger demographic, they are seen as a deterrent to the smaller, yet more vocal, demographic. In the end, however, she’s had people talking.
No doubt Diva Dirt’s decision to name Kelly Kelly our Woman of the Year will lead to more controversial debate regarding the Diva, but that would be apropos given the year she has had. Would it have been a safer choice to select an independent wrestler or a name such as Beth Phoenix or Mickie James to alleviate any potential backlash? Perhaps. However, we’re not ones to conform to opinion and play it safe. Kelly was and is our only rightful choice.
Ultimately, when we look back on 2011, it will be seen as the year of Kelly Kelly.
Main eventer. Divas Champion. Maxim covergirl. Woman of the Year.
Congratulations, Kelly Kelly!
- The Women of the Year 2011: Gail Kim (#2)