2012 Diva of the Year (named by both WWE Magazine and the WWE fans via the Slammy Awards) AJ Lee is about as far away from WWE’s idea of what a Diva should be as you can imagine. Short, quirky, geeky, lacking the body shape that others have had in the past, she comes across as the person you would be more likely to meet over an Xbox Live session of Call Of Duty Black Ops 2 than at an awards ceremony or a fancy bar. She’s your friend, your buddy – she’s not what WWE would perceive to be the ultimate in femininity.
But scratch beneath the surface, and she may be more woman than anyone else on the roster. She’s independent, driven, and has forged a path which she was never meant to go down – and in doing so, forced WWE to take notice.
After all, at the start of this year, she was Daniel Bryan’s put-upon girlfriend – the one who was the foil for him to turn heel, and saw her end up being verbally abused and put in harm’s way. If anything, at the time she was another version of the antithesis of a Diva – meek, helpless and unable to take care of herself. However, when their relationship ended on the post-WrestleMania SmackDown following Bryan’s loss of the World Heavyweight Title – which he blamed on her – she went off at the deep end. It gave her character a chance to have an edge, and she ran with it.
Following several rejections when she attempted to patch things up with her former beau, she mentally lost it, attacking her friend Kaitlyn and then tried to make Bryan jealous by turning to WWE Champion CM Punk, though she also played tonsil hockey with Kane during that period. It also made fans unsure on how to react to her – was she a troubled babyface, was she a tweener, or was she a heel with the biggest smile on her face, manipulating everyone around her to get what she wants? The answer was never clear, but it kept her in the most high-profile segments on TV, and or the bulk of the first half of the year, involved in either the World Heavyweight or WWE Championship picture, even working as guest referee in the title match with Punk and Bryan at Money In The Bank.
Weirdly, around that time, Bryan elected to propose to the woman he had rebuffed and later sought her affections after it was clear she could help him to win the WWE Title – AJ accepted, and the wedding was set to take place on the 1,000th episode of Raw on July 23. But as this is a wrestling wedding, it didn’t go according to plan and it was interrupted by Vince McMahon, who announced that the bride-to-be was to become the new General Manager of Raw. Not bad for a woman who six months previous was only known for getting mown down by the Big Show…
Bryan’s anger at not only being jilted but also having his ex in control of his career saw a turn in who was unstable, with AJ recommending he seek a psychological evaluation and later anger management – setting up the Team Hell No gimmick with Kane in the process – and also saw her raise the ire of former boss lady Vickie Guerrero and a now-heel CM Punk – both of whom wanted her out of power.
Her administration came to an end in late October when Vickie Guerrero claimed that AJ was having an affair with a WWE Superstar – a bit frigging rich coming from a woman who was married to Edge while she was in charge of SmackDown, exposing a gaping plot hole in the process, but there you go – with the accusation that said man was John Cena. The pair denied it, then weirdly tried to prove that there was nothing doing on by making out – which was painful to watch as Cena did his best to avoid kissing her properly – but then commenced a relationship, which finished on Sunday at TLC when AJ cost Cena a chance at winning Dolph Ziggler’s Money In The Bank briefcase.
An explanation on why she did it is something we are still waiting for, as she didn’t get the chance to spill the beans last night on Raw thanks to being interrupted by Guerrero, who was upset at AJ kissed Dolph after winning her second Slammy for Kiss of the Year with Cena – though she was a lock for winning it as the other three nominations all featured her too. Her actions were littered throughout Raw, and she was the parting shot of the show after bringing out Big E Langston to destroy her ex in the main event where she was teamed with Ziggler against Vickie and Cena.
So, after having a hand in Daniel Bryan turning heel and losing the World Heavyweight Title, siding with CM Punk and Kane at certain points, controlling the fate of the WWE Championship while in a referee shirt, almost getting married, becoming the boss of the flagship show, setting up the building blocks for the great dynamic between Bryan and Kane, being involved with John Cena and then screwing him (and not in a good way) out of winning the TLC main event, finally confirming which side of the track she sits after 8 months of ambiguity, there is no doubt that she should be Diva of the Year. While Eve Torres has kept the Divas division afloat when it comes to the in-ring aspect, at no point has she been the primary female focus on the show, as AJ has been that. There is an argument that while AJ has made great career strides in the last 12 months, she has made zero contributions to boosting the profile of the division or the Divas Championship – however, that is not something that you could personally blame her for, as that is a deal with the writers.
Regardless, a lot of credit has to go to how AJ has worked hard to fulfil the demands put on her, and as she has done so, she has been given further opportunities. WWE has a lot tolerance for failure, so she must be doing well to keep being involved in these high profile storylines. Going into 2013, she now has hired muscle in the form of Langston, and has the attention of Ziggler, Guerrero and Cena, so is in a strong position to repeat her Diva of the Year honour next year. If only she was booked to wrestle a bit more…
Earlier today, Yuzuki Aikawa made the announcement that she would be retiring from wrestling next year. The 2011 and 2012 winner of the Tokyo Sports Joshi of the Year award and current Wonder of Stardom Champion said she would bow out at the Ryogoku event on April 29.
Aikawa is coming up to her 30th birthday, which will also mark 10 years in the entertainment industry, be it as a dancer, model or wrestler. In addition, she has received a lot of physical punishment in her matches since her debut on October 30, 2010 – so much so that she has often been left with broken blood vessels, swollen lips and black eyes.
Since her debut, Aikawa has been pushed to the moon in Stardom, winning the Wonder of Stardom belt as well as being one half of the Goddesses of Stardom – only losing the latter title because her partner Yoko Bito suffered a serious neck injury. She is the next challenger to Nanae Takahashi’s World of Stardom Championship, and is set to compete for that belt next Monday.
There had apparently been rumblings of her thinking of getting out of wrestling, but the timing of the announcement could have been slightly better. After all, does her going public with her decision to step away from the ring telegraph the result of next week’s title match? If anything, it makes it seem a little less of a big money prospect, because even if she was to win, Aikawa would still be leaving four months later. There is still the possibility that she could walk out with the title, but we would all still be aware that the clock would be ticking. Could this revelation not have waited for another week, after getting the match out of the way?
Also, Stardom has placed a lot of emphasis on her, and invested a lot of time in getting her over. Similarly, Bull Nakano elected to have Aikawa in the main event of her retirement show against Hikaru Shida, while legends like Aja Kong and Ayako Hamada worked the opening match – that was done because the emphasis was being put on the future of joshi, instead of looking at what it is or was. In the Roundup from January 17 this year, I wrote:
Others seem to see the potential in having Aikawa as a figurehead – or siren – of joshi, as Tokyo Sports named her the Joshi MVP (succeeding Takahashi, who won it in 2010, and joining the likes of Hamada and Emi Sakura, who had also won the award in the past), pulling in the lion’s share of the votes from the journalists who decide the winners. Should she become a massive star, it could benefit all of joshi as a result. Some longtime joshi fans may not be so keen, as she is as far away from names like Bull Nakano and Dump Matsumoto as you can imagine, but times move on, and joshi has to follow. And let’s face it, if Nakano is happy to put Aikawa in the main event of her own retirement show, who are we to argue?
I believe that Yuzuki Aikawa came into wrestling with the best of intentions, but it is a massive disappointment to see someone who has such crossover mainstream value as she, and has been given the star treatment from day one pack up and head off into the sunset after such a short period of time. However, Stardom has other aces in the hole in names like current Goddesses of Stardom Yoshiko and Natsuki*Taiyo, so it’s not like they are out of options. It’s just a shame to see someone depart when they had everything going for them, and could have helped to raise the joshi profile again. I understand the injury and age thing, and I don’t begrudge her for deciding to hang up the tights – I’m just saying that it’s a pity.
Yesterday, we launched our 2012 awards by naming Kimber Lee as the Discovery of the Year. Tomorrow, we announce the Breakout Star of the Year, and finish things off on Friday with revealing the Wrestler of the Year. While we’re keeping the identities secret, we can tell you that we agonised over every category, as each one has some standout names which required attention and scrutiny.
For example, the Discovery category had seven potential names on the list; Breakout Star has fifteen; and the Wrestler of the Year section had fourteen. Narrowing them down to the main contenders and then agreeing on just one for each category was hard, but also proves how many women had great years in the ring. While we probably won’t reveal the full list of potentials, everyone who is on there has a right to be hugely proud of themselves.
We will never satisfy everyone’s expectations, but we feel justified in our choices and hope that you understand why we selected who we did. With that said, tomorrow we announce our choice for who has done more than anyone to break through that glass ceiling and become a player in the world of wrestling.
Elsewhere on the site, we’ve looked at the fortunes of last year’s winners Kay Lee Ray, Jessicka Havok and Hailey Hatred, as well as video of Joyce Grable wrestling men and Savannah Summers v Jessie McKay from last month.
Got any news, results or upcoming events that you want to tell everyone about? Are you a female wrestler looking to tell us about upcoming bookings? Are you a fan who went to a show and saw a match, and would like to tell others about it – what you liked, what you didn’t and would like to encourage others to check it out for themselves? Send us an email!
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The best of the rest
The injury that Eve Torres was dealing with was to her right elbow… The NXT Divas appeared at the Joshua House Christmas event in Clearwater, FL on Saturday, and also popped into the NXT house show, which had a Christmas theme… Naomi won a battle royal on the TLC pre-show to earn a shot at the Divas Championship later that night. Eve Torres defeated her, but the Funkadactyl put in a good showing, which should stand her in good stead for the future… The following night on Raw, Kaitlyn (who was hit by Eve, allowing Naomi the opportunity to eliminate her and win the battle royal the night before) beat Torres in quick fashion, then mocked the champ by posing like Eve does and then draping the Divas title belt over the fallen titleholder. Looks like there will be another title match between the pair.
Velvet Sky made her in-ring return on Impact Wrestling last week, pinning Madison Rayne. She answered fan questions before the show was broadcast… TNA released its annual Knockouts holiday video for ShopTNA.com. Taeler Hendrix is featured in the video, though Sarita and Rosita are not, and Velvet Sky must have missed the time of filming, as she’s not there either.
Amazing Kong has been booked to return at Resistance Pro’s show on January 18 in Merrionette Park, IL. No opponent has been announced, though there is teasing of either a rematch with D’Arcy Dixon or going after Melanie Cruise’s Women’s Championship… Speaking of Kong, she will wrestle Amy Lee at the next Bombshell Ladies Of Wrestling show on February 9. In the tournament semi-finals, it’s Sumie Sakai v Katarina Leigh and Sienna DuVall v Missy Sampson, and Shelly Martinez takes on Amber O’Neal in a Bra and Panties Match… Incidentally, the aforementioned show takes place on the same day and at the same time as the Women Superstars Uncensored event linked with Combat Zone Wrestling, also in New Jersey (albeit about 65 miles away)… At the WSU show, it has been announced that Kimber Lee and Annie Social will get another crack at Allysin Kay and Sassy Stephie. The match was stopped at Full Steam Ahead in October when Kimber Lee suffered a knee injury… Based on the Slammin’ Ladies lineup for January, it’s probably a good guess that Leah Von Dutch and Kimber Lee will all debut on SHINE 6 on January 11. Ivelisse Velez, Nikki Roxx and Mia Yim are on the list, as are Jazz, Jessicka Havok and Made In Sin. You would imagine that Jazz v Mercedes Martinez has to happen next time… Greek Barbie on the Chaotic Wrestling Women’s Championship in a 6-woman battle royal on Friday, turning heel in the process… Mia Yim has had to withdraw from next month’s Crossfire Entertainment tapings – she was due to wrestle Cheerleader Melissa. Yim will be replaced by Jillian Hall… Kimber Lee and Crazy Mary Dobson face each other at Destination 1 Wrestling on February 2… As a result of Veda Scott defeating Pelle Primeau at DREAMS Project on Saturday, she was grated 5 minutes in the ring with Rob Dimension. She made short work of him… SHIMMER put out a message for Davina Rose, saying: “Congrats to Davina Rose as she moves on to the next stage of her career. Best wishes from all of us!” In her first tweet in a few days, Davina said “Thank you all for the sweet and encouraging support. You guys are the best. I’m very excited to start this new chapter of my life”… La Rosa Negra beat Kacee Carlisle in the main event of the Bombshells and Jingle Bells show on Saturday. It was meant to be for the NWA World Women’s Championship but was changed so it would be for Negra’s Battling Bombshells Title instead. Not sure if it was a veto by the NWA – a possibility as NWA Ring Warriors, which was hosting the event, withdrew from the NWA at the end of the show… Nicole Matthews and Kc Spinelli’s match at ECCW on Saturday ended with a double pin, which will likely necessitate a rematch… Congratulations to Rain, who got married on Sunday. Amazing Kong, Daffney, Nikki Roxx, Kristin Astara, April Hunter and Leva Bates were there, while Jetta and Lacey were bridesmaids… Rachel Summerlyn retained the Anarchy Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Championship in a 6-way deathmatch, eliminating Portia Perez last. Perez had the chance to nail the titleholder with her trademark wrench, but hesitated, allowing Summerlyn to take advantage. Elsewhere, Five Star Amanda Fox returned to ACW after an absence of more than a year… The former Bella Twins were part of a signing event in Bethany, CT at the weekend, mere days after the Newtown shootings not far away. They also worked at at Connecticut Wrestling Entertainment show on Saturday, with Nicole in the corner of J-Busta and Brianna siding with Anthony Greene. Greene lost, and Brianna turned heel on him afterwards, siding with her sister.
Ice Ribbon’s Maki Narumiya and Neko Nitta wrestled for DDT at the weekend… Tsukasa Fujimoto and Misaki Ohata made their first defence of the WAVE Tag Team Championship on Sunday, beating Makoto and Moeka Huruhi. Their next opponents are Kyusei Ninja Ranmaru & Apple Miyuki on December 23, with the winners facing Yumi Ohka and Hikaru Shida on January 4.
Carmel Jacob will face the eccentric Mad Man Manson at Preston City Wrestling on January 18… Shanna won a Zumba competition on Sunday even though she arrived 40 minutes after the competition started and had only 20 minutes to prepare… Kay Lee Ray has arrived in Japan to wrestle for Gatoh Move on Friday, and JWP on Monday.
CMLL’s commentators have been talking up the prospect of Amapola challenging Marcela for the XMW Women’s Championship which she won on December 8… Ivelisse Velez is to be a part of Perros del Mal after the promotion teased a mystery woman appearing at its shows.
Australia & New Zealand
Madison Eagles tweeted a picture of herself on Friday at wrestling training – the first time she’s stepped into the ring since last October… Eliza Sway made her first successful defence of the Riot City Wrestling Women’s Championship on Saturday, beating Kellyanne English.
December 9: REINA x World (Tokyo, Japan) – Mini Tomato b Bambi; Aki Kambayashi & Mia Yim b Charlie Simone & Alex Lee; Aoi Ishibashi won a battle royal
December 10: CMLL (Puebla, Mexico) – Dark Angel, Goya Kong & Luna Mágica b La Comandante, La Seductora & Zeuxis
December 11: Desastre Total Ultraviolento (Pachuca, Mexico) – Keira b Lolita, Paloma Rouse, Sherry Diva & Chica Yeye in a 5-way
December 12: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Taeler Hendrix b December
December 13: TNA Impact Wrestling (Orlando, FL) – Velvet Sky b Madison Rayne
December 14: Dramatic Dream Team (Kumamoto, Japan) – Maki Narumiya b Neko Nitta
December 14: WWE SmackDown (Bridgeport, CT) – Kaitlyn b Aksana
December 14: Chaotic Wrestling (Lowell, MA) – Greek Barbie b Alexxis Nevaeh, Veda Scott, Mistress Belmont, Luscious Latasha & Kasey Ray in a battle royal to win the Chaotic Wrestling Women’s Championship
December 14: Maximum Pro Wrestling (Newcastle, England) – Pollyanna b Felix Atros
December 14: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Amapola, Princesa Blanca & Princesa Sugheit b Dark Angel, Estrellita & Silueta
December 15: Dramatic Dream Team (Kagoshima, Japan) – Maki Narumiya b Neko Nitta
December 15: DREAMS Project (Birdsboro, PA) – Veda Scott b Pelle Primeau
December 15: NWA Ring Warriors/Battling Bombshells; Sienna Duvall b Leva Bates; Santana Garrett b La Morena; Su Yung & Amazona b Melissa Coates & Sylvie Silver; DiDi b Sienna Duvall; La Rosa Negra b Kacee Carlisle
December 15: Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (New Westminster, BC, Canada) – Nicole Matthews v Kc Spinelli ended in a double pin
December 15: WWE (Wilkes-Barre, PA) – A.J. Lee & Kaitlyn b Eve Torres & Tamina Snuka
December 15: Riot City Wrestling (Adelaide, Australia) – Eliza Sway b Kellyanne English
December 15: Sendai Girls (Sendai, Japan) – Kyoko Inoue, Sareee & Ray b Manami Toyota, Rabbit Miu & Nana Kawasa; Mayumi Ozaki b Carlos Amano; Eiger b Sakura Hirota; Shinobu Kandori & Ayako Hamada b Miyako Morino & Syuri; DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko b Leon & Tsubasa Kuragaki; Meiko Satomura & Aja Kong b Kagetsu & Yoshiko
December 16: JWP (Tokyo, Japan) – KAZUKI & Nana Kawase b Sachie Abe & Rydeen Hagane; Kayoko Haruyama & Tsubasa Kuragaki b Leon & Manami Katsu; Kaori Yoneyama, Hanako Nakamori & Morley b Command Bolshoi, Arisa Nakajima & Rabbit Mito
December 16: Dramatic Dream Team (Hakata-ku, Japan) – Maki Narumiya b Neko Nitta
December 16: WAVE (Tokyo, Japan) – Ayako Hamada, Yuu Yamagata & GAMI b Ryo Mizunami, Aya Yuki & Sawako Shimono; Yumi Ohka & Hikaru Shida b Kana & Mio Shirai; Shuu Shibutani b Tomoka Nakagawa; Misaki Ohata & Tsukasa Fujimoto b Moeka Haruhi & Makoto
December 16: WWE TLC (Brooklyn, NY) – Naomi won a battle royal; Eve Torres b Naomi
December 16: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Jessicka Havok, Athena, Jessica James & Christina Von Eerie b Rachel Summerlyn, Portia Perez, Barbi Hayden & Machiko; Barbi Hayden b Jason Silver; Jessicka Havok b Miss Mollie; Jaykus Plisken b Jessicka Havok; Rachel Summerlyn b Jessica James, Christina Von Eerie, Athena, Angel Blue & Portia Perez in a 6-way deathmatch
December 17: WWE Raw (Philadelphia, PA) – Kaitlyn b Eve Torres; John Cena & Vickie Guerrero b Dolph Ziggler & AJ Lee via DQ
December 17: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Kurumi v Fumiko Sato went to a draw; Hikaru Shida won a battle royal; Onryo b Choun Shiryu; Aoi Kizuki & Hamuko Hoshi v Kyoko Kimura & Tsukasa Fujimoto went to a no contest; Kyoko Kimura, Tsukasa Fujimoto & Ken Ohka b Aoi Kizuki, Hamuko Hoshi & Miyako Matsumoto
December 20: Gatoh Move (Itabashi, Japan) – Kaori Yoneyama & Hailey Hatred v Kay Lee Ray & Riho; Emi Sakura v Hiroyo Matsumoto
December 21: Absolute Intense Wrestling (Cleveland, OH) – Veda Scott & Gregory Iron v Josh Piscura & Matt Cross; Allysin Kay v Kobald
December 24: JWP (Tokyo, Japan) – Kayoko Haruyama & Tsubasa Kurigaki v Meiko Satomura & Hailey Hatred; LEON & Kay Lee Ray v DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko; Rabbit Mito v Manami Katsu; Command Bolshoi v Kaori Yoneyama; Emi Sakura v Arisa Nakajima
December 24: Stardom (Tokyo, Japan) – Kellie Skater & Mayu Iwatani v Eri Susa & Miho Wakizawa; Nanae Takahashi v Yuzuki Aikawa
December 27: Wrestling New Classic (Tokyo, Japan) – Syuri v Nagisa Nozaki
December 28: 19 Pro (Saitama, Japan) – Hamuko Hoshi v Sayaka Obihiro
December 28: Italian Championship Wrestling (Lugano, Switzerland) – Laura Wellings v Lady Lory
January 5: Crossfire Entertainment (Nashville, TN) – Cheerleader Melissa v Jillian Hall
January 11: SHINE 6 (Ybor City, FL) – Christina Von Eerie & TBA v Allysin Kay & Taylor Made
January 12: Pro Wrestling Alliance (Toukley, Australia) – Evie v Shazza McKenzie
January 18: Preston City Wrestling (Preston, England) – Carmel Jacob v Mad Man Manson
January 19: Rad Pro Wrestling (South Shields, England) – Frankie Sloan & Nikki Storm v Rubix Roach & Kirsty Love; Jainus Centurion & Kay Lee Ray v Sam Adonis & Rhia O’Reilly
January 26: Zero 1 USA (Mattoon, IL) – Serenity v Angelus Layne
February 2: Pro Wrestling: EVE (Preston, England)
February 2: Destination 1 Wrestling (Charlestown, IN) – Kimber Lee v Crazy Mary Dobson
February 9: Women Superstars Uncensored (Voorhees, NJ) – LuFisto v Mercedes Martinez
February 9: Bombshell Ladies Of Wrestling (Metuchen, NJ) – Sumie Sakai v Katarina Leigh; Sienna Duvall v Missy Sampson; Amazing Kong v Amy Lee; Shelly Martinez v Amber O’Neal; Niki Nitro v Silvie Silver; Tracy Taylor v La Rosa Negra
February 16: Family Wrestling Entertainment (Brooklyn, NY) – Maria Kanellis v Angelina Love; Gail Kim v Katerina Leigh; Ivelisse Velez v Reby Sky
March 30: nCw Femmes Fatales XI (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
April 6: SHIMMER: Women Athletes (Secaucus, NJ) – Sweet Saraya v Cheerleader Melissa; Athena v Ayako Hamada
April 13-14: SHIMMER: Women Athletes (Berwyn, IL)
May 4: ICW: Fierce Females (Glasgow, Scotland)
June 23: Anarchy Championship Wrestling American Joshi Queen of Queens (Austin, TX)
July 6: nCw Femmes Fatales XII (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
– Lee Burton