With the result of our first annual Year-End Awards just two days away, the Diva Dirt team had our own chance to air our opinions on how we would have voted in each of the categories. Who would we have voted as Diva of the Year? What about the Match of the Year? Read below for our “blogger’s choice”…
Please note, that the below is not the results of the awards. The results will go online on New Year’s Day!
Diva of the Year
Erin: Michelle McCool. She seriously came into her own this year, not only becoming the first Divas Champion, but also developing her move-set and personality in ways I never expected. She had one hell of a year, and it’s the unexpectedness of it that puts her over the edge.
Melanie: I’m with Erin on this one, Michelle McCool for me too. She has had a fantastic year, I don’t really need to go into detail…
Knockout of the Year
Erin: The Beautiful People. Kong may be dominating the division, but Velvet and Angelina have made TNA more entertaining than anyone else with their “paper bag” routine. They’re the Mean Girls of TNA, and even in a world of jealousy-fueled feuds, they seem ironically unique.
Melanie: My vote goes to Awesome Kong, she may have gotten stale but she’s still the best thing about the Knockouts division.
Match of the Year
Erin: Beth vs. Melina (I Quit). I’ve always wanted to see a Diva “I Quit” match, as I’ve always loved seeing the girls compete in more male-oriented gimmick matches, and Beth and Melina definitely delivered. There’s always a risk that the Divas could be cheated for time or be ill prepared for such big matches, but they met all expectations and performed in one of the year’s most memorable matches in all of the WWE.
Melanie: Again, the “I Quit” match from One Night Stand. Easily the best Divas match of the year. Beth and Melina got a good amount of ring time, had some great chemistry, had a strong storyline going into this match. Just an amazing match, technical and made me very proud to be Diva fan.
Brand of the Year
Erin: Smackdown. They sucessfully added a new Diva’s title and managed to put on fresher and more exciting matches and feuds than their “flagship brand” counterparts. Smackdown always seems to play second fiddle, but in this case, they most certainly deserve to be on top.
Melanie: With Erin once again, SmackDown has been consistently entertaining in 2008. The group of Divas they have seem to work really well together. The writing has been far better than Raw and they’ve had some great matches too. All the Divas on this brand have something to do and all appear on a regular basis, which is what I love.
Erin: Beth Phoenix. She took on all comers and was in the forefront of the division for the vast majority of the year. Her feuds were consistently entertaining, and now with the hilarious Santino by her side, both the Championship and her character have been given a major boost.
Melanie: This one goes to Michelle McCool for me, she’s the first ever Divas Champion and has been such an integral part of SmackDown as the champion.
Best Diva in Training
Erin: The Bella Twins. The Bellas win by default, since they have more exposure than any of the other nominees. They look to be well-developed in the ring and their unique angle (being twins, after all) puts them heads and shoulders above the rest. And hey, two heads are better than one.
Melanie: Alicia Fox. Watching her matches she is by far the most advanced girl down in FCW and it’s a real shame that neither of her two call-ups in 2008 have been in a wrestling role. She’s great in the ring, has a strong look, good entrance and has a good persona, she’d fit right in on SmackDown or Raw.
Most Improved Wrestler
Erin: Maryse. I’ve said this again and again, but I nevveerrr expected to be as impressed by Maryse as I have this year. She’s truly a full-fledged wrestler now, not to metion Smackdown’s top heel Diva. From stumbling through cheesy Smackdown video intros to putting on showstopping matches? That’s one hell up a leap, and by far the biggest one made this year.
Melanie: This is a tough one, there’s been a lot of improved Divas in ’08, I can’t pinpoint one down since it’s not fair to the others. This one, for me, is between Kelly Kelly, Maryse and Michelle McCool.
Most Skilled Wrestler
Erin: Natalya. She’s criminally underutitlzed, but still puts on great matches. Her connection to the Hart family is tough to miss, as she’s a fantastic mat wrestler, not too showy, but able to work the crowds with her manic screaming. I’d love to see her propelled into a storyline worthy of her skills. Too many people have overlooked her, but I suppose it’s better to be underrated than overrated.
Melanie: This one is fairly clear-cut for me: Natalya. I don’t care what anyone says, just because she hasn’t been in WWE for that long doesn’t mean she’s not better than all the other Divas. Natalya is the most gifted, talented female wrestler on the WWE roster. From mat technician to brute force powerhouse, Natalya can do it all. She brings psychology into her matches also and I would say that she is far better than most of the men too.
Erin: Maryse. I love Natalya, but with her being underused, it’s tough to put her above Maryse, who has been given a great opportunity and has come into her own in a big way. She’s one of the major players on SmackDown, and though she’s still relatively new, it feels like she’s been here for years.
Melanie: Natalya. Where have you been all my life? My only regret for Nat is that she debuted in 2008. I think she’d fit right into the golden age of 2002-2004, against the likes of Trish, Lita, Victoria, Jazz, Molly and Gail.
Erin: Michelle’s “Wings of Love”. It’s been banned, apparently, but it was mighty impressive when she used it. I guess that’s the sign of a truly badass finisher – being barredÂ from using it! I love to see Divas pull off moves not typically done by females – the more strength oriented ones or the ones more difficult to perform. The Wings of Love definitely fell into that category, and I’ll sure miss it.
Melanie: I agree with Erin, the “Wings of Love” for me too. Just a great move.
Face of the Year
Erin: Mickie James. She’s the workhorse of the division, filling in whenever a babyface is needed. It’s easy to see why – the crowds love her. She’s got a charming personality and is extremely talented. The only thing wrong with the scenario is that she never gets the chance to truly shine – she’s too busy making everyone else look good.
Melanie: Mickie James, the ultimate fan favourite.
Heel of the Year
Erin: Beth Phoenix. Everyone used to complain about her blandness – she wasn’t too great on the microphone, and she seemed to seriously lack a personality. But along comes Santino, and with him comes a hillarious side of Beth we’ve never seen before. She’s a great “straight man” to Santino’s goof, and her promo skills and acting have improved by leaps and bounds. And when it comes down to it, she has the role of an intimidating bitchy heel down to a science. And hell, as the heel Women’s Champion constantly fighting off the resilient babyfaces, she pretty much doesn’t have a chance to change her attitude.
Melanie: Maryse. Just watching her, you’d think she’s been in the industry for decades. She has every aspect of being a heel down: the mannerisms, the facial expressions, the cocky arrogance. She is the female Randy Orton.
Storyline of the Year
Erin: Beth Phoenix and Melina’s friendship implodes and Melina turns face. I’m always wary of face turns, as faces are usually much blander thatn their heel counterparts, but Melina managed to make the good girl turn interesting. Her knock down, drag out fights with Beth were outstanding – you really felt the hate they had for each other. Their matches were incredible, and they put a new spin on the usual “jealousy-centered” Diva feuds. If the feud wasn’t cut short by Melina’s injury they could have continued throughout the summer, not skipping a beat and leading up to a big blow-up match at Summerslam.
Melanie: I’m not sure on this one to be honest. I quite liked the Beth-Melina angle but I also liked Glamarella.
News Story of the Year
Erin: . Nothing else was as entertaining or as eye-catching as Ashley’s numerous encounters with the headlines. Being featured in Rolling Stone magazine seems like a great thing at first glance, but being outed as a high-class escort? Not only was it salacious, but it provided for endless speculation and branched off into numerous mini-scandals, lovingly referred to by Diva Dirt as “Ashleygate”.
Melanie: This one’s easy for me: Gail Kim leaving TNA and signing with WWE. I loved Gail’s work in TNA but damn, was I happy to hear she was on her way back to WWE. I love Gail, I admire Gail and now I can love and admire Gail on a show that I actually watch. That said, Torrie Wilson retiring was also a very personal news story for me.
Erin: Beth Phoenix. Just call me a sucker for Glamorella, but I love watching her and Santino’s antics. When they first paired up, I wasn’t so sure, but Santino brought the best out of Beth, and vice-versa. I was thinking of voting for the Bellas, but their act has already grown stale after a few weeks, and that’s not a good sign. Beth and Santino have been at it for a while now, and they’re still not half as stale as Smackdown’s Wonder Twins.
Melanie: Beth Phoenix also. The whole Glamazon shtick really upped it’s game in ’08, I thought it was very passe in 2007 but this year? I’m sold. She does her gimmick very well.
Erin: Maryse in “True Blue”. It’s weird to say, but this photoshoot practically put me over the edge into liking Maryse. I wasn’t so sure about her for quite a while, but her spectacular photoshoots, paired with her stellar advancements in the ring made me gain a great deal of respect for her. This photoshoot is stunning, and in it she shows her true strength – looking sexy without trying too hard, which we all know is a common sin amongst WWE Divas. The poses, setting, and gorgeous dress all add up to a fantastic shoot. Blue is definitely her color, by the way.
Melanie: There were a lot of beautiful photoshoots this year particularly from Maryse and Layla, but I had to go for Melina’s “Breaking Light”, it was just gorgeous and took my breath away. Her hair and make up was amazing, her lingerie wasn’t too slutty, it felt really classy and sexy.
Erin: Layla. She got the most style-related love on Diva Dirt, so she’s an obvious choice. But amongst a sea of pink leopard-print wearing and bra-exposing, Layla actually put together competent ensembles that were both fashionable and practical. No trailer trash here, folks! She rarely made a misstep, and had far more memorable hits than anyone else this year. It’s Layla, hands down!
Melanie: Obviously Layla. Layla is easily the most beautiful and stylish Diva that WWE has ever had. She knows how to put an outfit together and I just really, really admire her style *gushes*
One to Watch in 2009
Erin: Maryse. I know, I love me some Maryse, but with how things are looking to pan out for her, she’ll be ending 2008 on top. If 2009 continues on this path, there’s no doubt that by this time next year, Maryse will be at the top of Smackdown’s division and possibly the entire company. I could certainly see her being one of the faces (not as in babyface, of course) of the company, ala Trish, Lita, Torrie and Stacy before her. 2009 should be a monumental year for Maryse.
Melanie: Natalya. I’m optimistic, what can I say? I just can’t bear to think that WWE could employ this amazingly talented Diva, a Hart no less and not utilise her fully. I think the best is yet to come for Natalya, we haven’t even begun to see her true potential. I really think she could be a future Hall of Famer, WWE just needs to let her do what she does best: wrestle.
Remember, the results of the Year-End Awards will be revealed on Thursday (New Year’s Day)!