Diva Dirt presents the first annual Writers’ Choice Awards, the awards that celebrate the year in women’s wrestling, as decided by the editors and contributors of Diva Dirt. The Diva Dirt team has watched hundreds of episode of wrestling television this year, as well as hundreds of live events on DVD, additionally, we’ve followed a countless number of wrestlers over the year, and reviewed tons of matches. Now, as we come to the end of 2011, we have picked the best of the best to be awarded our Writers’ Choice blue ribbons.
How it works
Based on the nominations for the fan-voted Year-End Awards, each writer was asked to make their pick for a select number of categories. Seven team members took part and the majority vote for each category determined the winners.
The results of the Writers’ Choice Awards will be published in three blocks over the next week.
Please note: The Writers’ Choice Awards are not the results of the fan-voted Year-End Awards. The Year-End Awards voting is still open until December 31st and the results of your vote will be published on January 1st, 2012.
– Part 1: Best Breakthrough, Best Feud, Best Babyface, Best Heel and Most Improved Wrestler
– Part 2: Promotion of the Year, Independent Match of the Year & Televised Match of the Year
TAG TEAM OR GROUP OF THE YEAR
Jessicka Havok, Allysin Kay and Sassy Stephie
While there have been a lot of interesting teams formed in the past year, including WWE’s Divas of Doom/Sisters of Salvation, as well as TNA’s TNT, perhaps no team has made as much of an impact in such a short space of time as WSU’s Midwest Militia, the team of Jessicka Havok, Allysin Kay and Sassy Stephie.
The trio all come from Midwestern Ohio area where they’ve been familiar with each other on the independent scene there and are genuinely friends. This is possibly the reason for their success as a group, as they mesh so well together under the leadership of Havok, and each member brings something to the team.
The powerful and frankly, scary, Jessicka Havok provides the core of the group, giving her teammates their marching orders and going after the heavy hitters such as Mercedes Martinez. Meanwhile, Stephie, the steady hand of the group, has had singles success by winning gold and has proven solid in the ring against the likes of Brittney Savage and more. Finally, Allysin Kay, Havok’s young protege, reminds us almost of Randy Orton’s role in the Evolution group several years ago: the young ingenue on the cusp of breaking out and becoming a star in her own right. Together, the Midwest Militia has been an unstoppable force and in our opinion, the most compelling group in women’s wrestling this year.
Look no further than November’s Breaking Barriers II Internet pay per view, which yesterday we awarded Independent Match of the Year, thanks in part to the Militia. Their ruthlessness and fearless attitudes in that match showed a team in women’s wrestling that can be just as devious and hardcore as male wrestlers. This isn’t a group that relies on the “mean girls” gimmick, making the Midwest Militia a nice change from the norm.
The Midwest Militia has only been together for 4-5 months which means that their potential is boundless. We expect that they will continue their reign in WSU for much, if not all, of 2012. Perhaps the only advice we can offer is that the Militia branch out of WSU too, appearing together at other shows and promotions, spreading fear as only they know how.
The Diva Dirt team unanimously decided that the Midwest Militia has been the tag team or group of the year, with all seven members voting in their favor. Congratulations!
INDEPENDENT STAR OF THE YEAR
You’ve probably heard the name Jessicka Havok a lot this year, and with good reason. Not content with being voted our Best Heel and winning Tag Team or Group of the Year along with the rest of the Midwest Militia, Jessicka Havok has also taken one of our biggest prizes in the Writers’ Choice Awards — Independent Star of the Year. And it truly has been a star-making year.
In 2011, Havok stood out from the crowd in WSU, taking part in big matches and ascending up the proverbial food chain of WSU at rapid speed. Taking out the likes of Nikki Roxx, Rain and Alicia, Havok began making a name for herself and turned heads along the way. It was during the January iPPV, Final Chapter, that Diva Dirt first took notice of Havok and her potential star power as she faced off against Nikki Roxx in a great match that saw them battle all around ringside. Then and there we had Havok pegged as one of our ones to watch.
Continuing her streak, Havok, who has become known for her hardcore, smash-mouth style, defeated Rain before engaging in a long feud with WSU Icon, Alicia. The feud between the pair grew incredibly heated as Alicia’s mother had to throw in the towel for her daughter during their encounter at June’s Uncensored Rumble. In August, they again faced off in a brutal Last Woman Standing match.
In later months, she would win the Spirit Championship, form the Midwest Militia, be announced as Mercedes Martinez‘s challenger for the WSU Championship next March and take part in the steel cage War Games match that cemented her star status.
With her brutal matches and sinister promos, Jessicka Havok is one of the most unique and intriguing characters in female wrestling today.
KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR
In her first full year as an Impact Wrestling Knockout, Mickie James continued to cement herself as one of the most decorated females in wrestling, as well as one of the most popular.
In 2011, Mickie was perhaps the most consistently used Knockout, at the center of most of the key storylines, including a months long feud with Madison Rayne, as well as feuds with Winter and Gail Kim. Those feuds lead to Mickie wrestling in matches on nine out of 12 pay per views this year.
Mickie also became an eight-time champion by winning the Knockouts Championship not once, but twice.
As popular as ever, Mickie proved that despite a change of scenery, she’s still at the top of her game.
DIVA OF THE YEAR
Kim Kardashian wasn’t the only KK living a fairytale this year (well, until she filed for divorce!) — Kelly Kelly was too.
Kelly Kelly lived the wrestling equivalent of a fairytale in 2011 as, after five years of rising through the ranks, gaining popularity and improving in the ring, Kelly finally had her moment in 2011.
Kelly Kelly’s eventful year saw her feuding with LayCool in the early part of the year, which lead to a main event match on SmackDown as she and Edge defended the World Heavyweight Championship against LayCool and Dolph Ziggler. Kelly, against all odds, successfully defended the championship for Edge in a picturesque moment that saw the Divas get an opportunity to be in a main event match, and a match of great importance. However, Kelly was fired right after the match by then GM Vickie Guerrero, but soon returned to action.
Moving to Raw in the WWE Draft, Kelly set her sights on the Divas Title and won the belt in May after winning a fan vote to face then-champion, Brie Bella. Kelly would successfully defend the title against Brie before embarking in a long feud with Beth Phoenix and Natalya. Her series of matches with Beth from August to October showed the progression that Kelly has made in the ring.
No doubt it will be controversial to many, but all of the Diva Dirt team unanimously agreed that Kelly had the best year amongst the Divas.
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
Sara Del Rey
Though we expect nothing less than great matches from the Queen of Wrestling, in 2011, Sara Del Rey‘s body of work in the ring was heads and shoulders above the rest of her competition.
This year, the Diva Dirt team felt that Del Rey’s work in the ring went to the next level, delivering great match after great match in promotions such as CHIKARA and SHIMMER. Not only did Del Rey ply her craft against fellow female wrestlers, but against the men too, and more than held her own.
From stellar matches with Kana in both SHIMMER and CHIKARA, to facing her one time cohort Claudio Castagnoli in the main event of CHIKARA, Del Rey has set the bar incredibly high. In December, Del Rey was one of the headliners for CHIKARA’s JoshiMania extravaganza facing off against Aja Kong and Ayako Hamada, the first being a dream match for many including herself, which further added to her credentials this year.
Perhaps notable is the fact that the close runner-up for this award, Madison Eagles, was recuperating from injuries and wasn’t able to compete as much as Del Rey, however, Sara’s work this year certainly stands on its own merits.
Sara Del Rey is not just one of the most talented and respected female wrestlers in the business, but as proven this year, ranks up there — if not higher — than some of the male wrestlers.
The Queen of Wrestling indeed.