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The Women of the Year 2011: Beth Phoenix (#11)

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.

Pin-Up Prowess

In 2011, Beth Phoenix helped define the WWE Divas division and started a new phrase, “pin-up strong”… oh, and did we mention that she became the Divas Champion too?

After bouncing around in the background for the first half of the year, Beth finally came to the forefront in August when she turned heel and began a months-long feud with Kelly Kelly. Beth implemented the “pin-up strong movement” in WWE and for the first time, the company acknowledged the constant fan debate about former models wrestling in WWE, incorporating it into the storyline between Beth and Kelly. Beth also aligned herself with Natalya, becoming the new power tandem in the Divas division like LayCool before them.

Since August, Beth has appeared in every pay per view match, facing off against Kelly Kelly in three matches in a row, including one in her hometown of Buffalo, New York, where she received a huge reaction. That match at Night of Champions perhaps had the most fan participation of any match all year. Beth would also face off against Eve Torres on pay per view in a highly praised match at Vengeance, and then deliver an “OMG” moment at November’s Survivor Series in November when she hit a top rope Glam Slam on Eve.

Though great to see Beth atop the division and as champion, perhaps the biggest detractor for placing Beth higher on our Women of the Year list is the fact that Beth and Natalya almost have one hand tied behind their backs. While the “pin-up strong” sentiment behind these characters is admirable, and the war against the models could make for a very gripping storyline, in execution, WWE’s handling of Beth and the rest of the Divas has left a lot to be desired. Instead of being the ruthless predators they could be, Beth and Natalya have been booked in roles similar to LayCool by mocking their opponents in a juvenile manner, when we feel they should be more serious characters. Meanwhile, the “models vs wrestlers” storyline hasn’t had enough week-to-week progression and for many viewers, has lost a lot of its initial sizzle.

However, Beth has certainly delivered in the ring in her pay per view matches against the likes of Eve and Kelly, while her character change-up this year from “Glamazon” to “pin-up strong” has been interesting and gotten fans talking.

One can only hope that WWE will provide Beth Phoenix (and Natalya) meatier characters in 2012, as well as storylines of more substance.

The Women of the Year 2011: Winter (#12)

Click here for the full Women of the Year countdown

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