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Writers’ Choice Awards 2015: Knockout of the Year – Taryn Terrell

Diva Dirt presents its fifth annual Writers’ Choice Awards, as decided by the Diva Dirt team. As we come to the end of 2015, we have picked the best of the best to be awarded our Writers’ Choice trophies.

Knockout of the Year: Taryn Terrell

It would take a lot for any woman to unseat Gail Kim. The five-time Knockouts Champion and Writers’ Choice Knockout of the Year for 2012, 2013 and 2014 is an ever-present figure in the Knockouts division, and deservedly so. In fact, the only time Gail didn’t win the award was in 2011, the first year it was issued, when she spent the majority of the year as a WWE Diva.

So, how did Taryn end up with the crown instead? It comes down to this: Knockout of the Year, NXT Diva of the Year, WWE Diva of the Year – any award that singles out one woman to represent a division, really – seeks to find the woman with the most remarkable year in her particular division. For most women, the award would coincide with the most successful year(s) in their careers. In Gail’s case, that’s happened three years in a row. For that to happen a fourth time, Gail’s 2015 would have had to truly outshine every other Knockout’s. She came close, though, because in our opinion, there’s only one woman who stood out more this year: Taryn.

It’s easy to forget the impact Taryn had on the Knockouts division, considering her absence in the latter half of the year. But 2015 kicked off with Taryn on the top of the mountain, having won the Knockouts Title the previous September after giving birth to her first child a mere six months prior. Six successful title defenses brought her to a record-length reign, surpassing Gail’s 210-day reign on April 18th. The milestone wasn’t treated as momentously as Nikki Bella‘s record-breaking moment later that year, but it was a huge accomplishment nonetheless, especially for a first-time titleholder.

Taryn’s title reign wouldn’t fly under the radar for long, though: her seventh title defense brought with it a complete character reinvention that turned the division on its head.

In April, at TNA’s TKO: Night of Knockouts edition of Impact, Taryn put her title on the line against the formidable Awesome Kong in a No DQ match. For much of the match, Taryn played the role of a plucky underdog, fighting hard to overcome the odds and defeat Kong.

Near the end of the match, things didn’t look good for Taryn, but when new Knockouts Jade and Marti Bell arrived at ringside, the tides turned. The pair busted out kendo sticks, beating on Kong and allowing Taryn to slip in and take out Kong with a powerbomb onto a folding table. When she emerged to make the pin, Taryn had transformed, as if by magic. As she climbed atop Kong and the referee made the three count, we got our first glimpse at the new Taryn: an evil, seductive and slightly unhinged woman. After her victory, Taryn announced the formation of her new stable: The Dollhouse.

From the outset, the main goal of the quirky, uniquely unsettling Dollhouse faction was to protect Taryn’s Knockouts Title reign. They accomplished this for three months, helping her first retain the title against Brooke, using copious amounts of interference.

When Gail took up the challenge next, Taryn sought to take her down mentally and physically. Taryn went the extra mile in both regards, targeting Gail’s husband Robert Irvine and, after retaining the title in Six Sides of Steel, viciously breaking Gail’s wedding ring finger.

Next, she turned her attention to Awesome Kong, deftly playing a new kind of mind game. When Taryn stipulated that she’d only defend the title against Kong in a Lingerie Pillow Fight, Kong refused to play along, forfeiting her title shot.

Her last successful title defense saw her beat Awesome Kong and Brooke in a Triple Threat match by the usual dirty means. The segment that followed, however, foreshadowed the manner in which it would all come crashing down: a sudden appearance by Gail Kim.

Taryn’s title reign – and in-ring career – came to an abrupt halt in July, when she lost the title to Brooke. This came as a result of interference by Gail, who returned from injury just in time to wreak havoc and cost Taryn the belt. As it turned out, Taryn poked the wrong bear, and paid dearly for it. She sat on the sidelines for her last match – a Handicap match pitting her, Jade and Marti against Brooke and Kong at Slammiversary – and then eventually disappeared from television altogether after suffering a hand injury at the hands of Gail and Velvet Sky.

From what precious little we saw of her, heel Taryn was a far cry from the woman who turned heads with her gutsiness and unexpected skill in 2013. That dichotomy in itself made this run a fascinating one. Taryn’s ability to transform into a completely different woman and resist the urge to play her as a stock Regina George, “mean girl” type helped the Knockouts division draw eyes away from the WWE’s Divas division for much of the spring and summer.

2015 may have been the year of Knockout reinventions – from Awesome Kong’s return as a babyface and Brooke’s new high-flying, happy-go-lucky persona to Velvet Sky‘s strangely menacing face turn and Gail Kim’s new vigilante identity – but the most entertaining and effective by far was Taryn’s.

Taryn’s TNA future is somewhat up in the air, given her mid-year disappearance and newfound faith, but she’s currently advertised to appear for TNA in the new year, so who knows? Maybe 2016 will see her finally avenge her title loss. Better late than never!

Stay tuned for more Writers’ Choice Award reveals throughout the day.

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