Ringbelles usually goes to the trouble of creating physical awards for its year-end honours but things have been a bit strained in the last few months, so there’s no glass trophy for this year’s winner. However, after considering not doing them due to the intention of closing, I’ve decided to write a little bit about the awards which we did want to highlight.
Last year’s victor of the top prize was Mercedes Martinez, who had excelled as NCW Femmes Fatales International Champion and was also a very solid hand in SHINE and SHIMMER, though she decreased her bookings in 2014 and eventually stepped away from the ring after dropping the International belt to Courtney Rush in August.
There are just two awards this year – that’s because the Discovery of the Year honour was going to be dumped anyway. The reason is because there’s a big disparity between when we discover someone and when others do the same. For example, Nikki Storm won last year’s Discovery title even though we’ve been championing her for years, but she made a big splash on US fans with her antics at SHIMMER so we went with it despite it not making the most sense. As a result, the Wrestler of the Year and Breakout Star of the Year will be the ones we’ll look at.
Let’s start with the latter, which was a very competitive category. Sammi Baynz was given consideration for being so great at Bellatrix’s shows in 2014, wrestling Blue Nikita three times and also having another entertaining outing against Liberty. In addition, she made a good impression in her Scottish debut where she took on Viper at Fierce Females’ Mad Maxine show in July and returned in August to team with Liberty against the Owens Twins. Kay Lee Ray also received a lot of thought for turning heel in Fierce Females, and making it to the final three of TNA’s British Boot Camp 2 show. She also held Southside Wrestling’s Speed King title for a lot of the year and won the first Aerial Assault match held in Europe, beating five men to do so. Had she won British Boot Camp, she may have snared the award. Mia Yim also received a look after winning both the SHINE Tag Team and singles championships this year, as well as receiving her first SHIMMER title shot in April, though was unsuccessful in that attempt.
However, the Breakout Star of the Year title goes to Heidi Lovelace, who showed her versatility in matches all across North America. While she showed her comedic and light-hearted side in SHINE alongside Solo Darling, she also decided to work IWA Mid-South’s reprisal of the Queen of the Deathmatches tournament, beating Hudson Envy in a Tacks, Ladders and Canes match before losing to Ludark Shaitan in a Fans Bring The Weapons contest. That also goes along with her well-received work in SHIMMER, impressing in both singles and tag team action.
Heidi has also excelled in intergender competition, making it to the quarter finals of Absolute Intense Wrestling’s JT Lightning Invitational Tournament before losing to Michael Elgin, and also scored the AAW Heritage Title by beating Matt Cage – though her work in Wrestling Is Fun has helped her to break new barriers for women in wrestling. Lovelace fought through two matches – including a six-way elimination match – to make it to the final of the Young Lions Cup tournament, which she won earlier this month by beating Missile Assault Ant in the final, showcased in the pre-show of Chikara’s Tomorrow Never Dies iPPV. In doing so, she became the first female victor of the cup and also solidified her as a well-appreciated performer who has the ability to adapt her style for different types of matches against different opponents. It’s a safe assertion to say that the Punk Rock Rag Doll will climb even higher in 2015.
So, the other award is the Wrestler of the Year honour, which was a pretty tough call. Paige has been winning accolades all over the place this year after winning the WWE Divas Championship on two occasions as well as holding the NXT and Divas belts at the same time. She also racked up quite a few successful defences on PPV before turning heel and really ratcheting up her character work. Elsewhere, LuFisto had one of her best years by winning the Women Superstars Uncensored World Championship by beating Mickie Knuckles, Allysin Kay and Jenny Rose, as well as getting into an angle with WSU owner DJ Hyde and his hand-picked star Sassy Stephie which led to the Wounded Owl Ronin going after Hyde with a knife on a Combat Zone Wrestling show. In addition, she almost wrested the SHIMMER Championship from Cheerleader Melissa at volume 63 in April and undergoing a mild heel turn the following week before reverting back to being a babyface. However, our winner has showed off her wrestling skills at a main event level and has also showed how she can verbalise too.
Ivelisse Velez started off the year by winning the SHINE Championship from Valkyrie cohort Rain but was kicked out of the group because of her victory and turned babyface in the process, which saw her get over huge with the fans. Successful defences over Mercedes Martinez, Saraya Knight, Nevaeh and Madison Eagles all followed, along with an entertaining 60 minute draw against Serena Deeb before dropping the belt to Mia Yim in China last month. In addition, she has been able to display more character development since dropping the belt by getting obsessive over winning it back, shown by her aggression levels in her win over Amanda Rodriguez on the last show and then getting involved in Yim’s defence against Nevaeh which led to the match ending in a DQ win for the challenger. While this is all a good example of how she has evolved her persona, it has also been demonstrated in new ventures.
Velez signed on for Lucha Underground and has proved herself to be an entertaining heel who can irritate on the microphone. Teaming up with Son of Havoc, she has been tormenting Sexy Star, which las led to the pair engaging in a feud, which also saw her debut for AAA in Mexico where the roles were reversed and Sexy was the heel with Ivelisse working as the babyface. When you factor in how much her star has risen in the last 12 months and how much more marketable she was this time a year ago, you can understand why Ivelisse has earned Ringbelles’ Wrestler of the Year award, and also makes you wonder how both WWE and TNA had the chance to have her on their books and both let her slip through their fingers. I don’t understand wrestling sometimes…
Natalya spoke to the Mirror UK about things like Total Divas – where she claimed the tensions between she and husband Tyson Kidd was genuine, as well as the reaction to her being booked to beat Charlotte in less than 3 minutes on Raw earlier this month:
“We don’t control a lot of things in WWE, it’s live TV, you can’t control how long you’re going to get. Sometimes you’re going to get 20 minutes and sometimes you’re going to get 20 seconds, you just have to maximise those minutes and do the best you can.”
She also discussed the difference between the Divas wrestling in NXT and on WWE’s main roster:
“That’s why I go to NXT, any chance I get, I go to NXT. I want to be on Raw, I want to be on SmackDown, and NXT, and Total Divas, and Main Event, and Superstars, and I want to be on the WWE app – because I want to take any moment I can to get TV time and I want to tell stories.
“The girls and the guys in NXT are extremely fortunate because Triple H has taken NXT under his wing. I tell Triple H this, I look around the room and make sure no one’s looking, and I tell him it’s my favourite show. It’s my favourite show because the Superstars and Divas do get time and it’s a cool show because you get to watch these different characters grow and come to life.”
It seems as if there is a lot of love being openly directed towards NXT at the moment without trying to knock the main product as a result. Natalya was very diplomatic with her praise and dodged criticising her bread and butter.
This is the final Ringbelles Roundup before this website departs but I am happy to say that this portion of the site may continue on after our departure. Contributor Ciara Reid has accepted my offer of taking it over and posting it elsewhere, though where that may be is still up for discussion – so if you’re interested in having it, send her a tweet at @ciara92189.
Ciara used to write something similar when she was linked with Angrymarks so she has the ability to cover wrestling from all over the world, and will put her own personal stamp on it. Hopefully this will mean that women’s wrestling fans looking for a weekly fix of what is going on globally will still have somewhere to get it.
Nikki Bella retained her Divas Championship by beating Naomi on Tuesday’s live SmackDown show. It was set up on the Main Event show broadcast earlier. Naomi is currently in a strained relationship with husband Jimmy Uso, which means that when you consider the issues between Natalya and Tyson Kidd, WWE has two rocky marriage angles going on at the same time… Becky Lynch’s heel turn kicked up a notch when she tapped out Bayley on last week’s NXT with her new submission hold, the Four Leaf Clover… It was 1-1 for Emma last week. She lost to Paige on Main Event but beat Summer Rae on Superstars… Alexa Bliss has been beating Carmella & Dana Brooke in 3-way matches on the latest NXT house shows… Speaking of Dana, she will be representing WWE at next year’s Arnold Classic bodybuilding event. She will be competing in the fitness division. She told WWE.com, “My dreams are coming true. It’s like Christmas came early for me. I cannot feel more honored. This just shows how much WWE wants their athletes to succeed. I’m blessed. I will not let the WWE Universe down”… Former developmental talent Shaul “Raquel Diaz” Guerrero is engaged to current NXT talent Aiden English… Developmental Diva Dasha Kuret ring announced NXT’s show in Tampa, FL last Friday… Paige was named Diva of the Year by Rolling Stone magazine… Following in AJ Lee’s footsteps, Emma has launched her own personal website, entitled tenilledashwood.com… Natalya pinned Brie Bella on last night’s Raw before knocking Nikki off the apron, leading her holding the Divas Title belt. Looks like Nattie’s next in line.
Brooke Tessmacher and Robbie E were eliminated from The Amazing Race last week, missing out on the $1m prize.
Jessica James will make her SHINE debut next month as part of SHINE 24. Meanwhile, after what happened at SHINE 23, a 6-woman tag team match has been announced for on January 23. Kimber Lee, Cherry Bomb & Leah Von Dutch will face Legendary members Malia Hosaka, Brandi Wine & Thunderkitty… Speaking of Hosaka, she will be honoured with a Retired Women’s Wrestling Award by the Cauliflower Alley Club next April. Someone at the CAC later noticed the error and removed the “retired” part of the title… Two matches have been announced for Women Superstars Uncensored’s next show on February 21. Hania and Athena face off again, though this time it will be under Tables Ladders and Chairs rules, while Kimber Lee & Annie Social get another shot at Tag Team Championship JT Dunn and David Starr after beating them in individual matches on the last show… Athena challenges Su Yung for the Anarchy Championship Wrestling American Joshi Championship on January 18… Athena also defended her Absolute Intense Wrestling Women’s Championship on Saturday at Metroplex Wrestling’s show in Bedford, TX. She beat Claudia by curb stomping her onto thumbtacks and making her tap out to the Red Wedding… Nevaeh is eyeing up a February return from her knee injury.
Hikaru Shida’s joint Pro Wrestling WAVE Regina di WAVE and Revolution Championship Wrestling title defence against Mio Shirai on Sunday’s WAVE show ended in a 30 minute time limit draw… It’s confirmed: sisters Mio and Io Shirai will wrestle on February 14 on Mio’s self-produced show. It was made official after today’s Stardom show after Io’s match where she teamed with Mayu Iwatani & Masaaki Mochizuki to beat the retiring Miho Wakizawa as well as Manami Toyota & Genki Horiguchi. 35-year old Wakizawa is stepping away after 18 years of competition… Two title changes on Diana’s show earlier today. Keiko Aono defeated Manami Toyota to win the singles title while Jaguar Yokota & Sareee beat KAORU & Mima Shimoda to win the tag straps. The show was topped off with Kyoko Inoue beating Yumiko Hotta in a No Ropes Barbed Wire Current Blast Time Bomb Death Match.
As you would expect, Southside regular Kay Lee Ray has been added to the 4-way to crown the first Queen of Southside. Debuting Saraya Knight is the other person who has been announced.
Lucha Underground is interested in signing Dark Angel, according to the Wrestling Observer. Considering she’s part of CMLL and Lucha Underground has ties with AAA, that could be a difficult ask.
December 16: WWE Main Event (Grand Rapids, MI) – Paige b Emma
December 16: WWE SmackDown (Grand Rapids, MI) – Nikki Bella b Naomi
December 16: CMLL (Guadalajara, Mexico) – Zeuxis b Princesa Sugehit
December 17: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Hamuko Hoshi & Akane Fujita b Miyako Matsumoto & Yuri Kotobuki; Neko Nitta b Maya Yukihi; Maki Narumiya v Meari Naito went to a time limit draw; Arisa Nakajima & Risa Sera b Tsukasa Fujimoto & Hanako Nakamori
December 17: Union Tokyo, Japan) – Cherry & Ladybeard b Riho & Sayaka Obihiro; Mio Shirai b Ryu Gouma
December 17: WWE Tribute to the Troops (Columbus, GA) – Naomi, Emma & Natalya b Paige and Nikki & Brie Bella
December 18: WWE NXT (Orlando, FL) – Becky Lynch b Bayley
December 18: WWE NXT house show (Tampa, FL) – Alexa Bliss b Carmella & Dana Brooke in a 3-way
December 18: WWE Superstars (Detroit, MI) – Emma b Summer Rae
December 18: AAA (Mexico City, Mexico) – Jennifer Blake & La Jarochita b Cinthia Moreno & Sexy Lady
December 19: Diana (Kawasaki, Japan) – Megumi Yabushita b Meiko Tanaka; Keiko Aono & Mask De Sun b Kaho Kobayashi & Koharu Hinata; Kaoru Ito b Tomoko Watanabe; Jaguar Yokota, Kyoko Inoue & Sareee b Yumiko Hotta, KAORU & Mima Shimoda
December 19: WWE NXT house show (Jacksonville, FL) – Alexa Bliss b Carmella & Dana Brooke in a 3-way
December 19: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Dark Angel, La Vaquerita & Marcela b Amapola, Dalys & La Seductora
December 20: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Shu Shibutani & Miyako Matsumoto b 235 & Kyuri; Maki Narumiya b Yuka; Risa Sera v Kurumi went to a time limit draw; Tsukasa Fujimoto & Aoi Kizuki b Hamuko Hoshi & Tsukushi
December 20: Attack Pro Wrestling (Bristol, England) – Pete Dunne & Mark Andrews b Nixon Newell & Chris Brookes
December 20: 4 Front Wrestling (Bristol, England) – Nadia Sapphire b Chardonnay
December 20: WWE house show (Winnipeg, MB, Canada) – Natalya b Paige
December 20: Metroplex Wrestling (Bedford, TX) – Athena b Claudia
December 20: WWE NXT house show (Lakeland, FL) – Alexa Bliss b Carmella & Dana Brooke in a 3-way
December 21: JWP (Tokyo, Japan) – Yako Fujigasaki b Haruka Kato; Eri b Yua Hayashi & Raideen Hagane in a 3-way; Kayoko Haruyama b KAZUKI; Command Bolshoi & Kyoko Kimura b Leon & Hanako Nakamori; Arisa Nakajima & Tsukushi v Tsukasa Fujimoto & Rabbit Miyu went to a time limit draw
December 21: Pro Wrestling WAVE (Osaka, Japan) – Fairy Nipponbashi b Moeka Haruhi; Yuu Yamagata b Hiroe Nagahama; Yumi Ohka b Kaho Kobayashi; Kana b Rina Yamashita; Shu Shibutani b Mika Iida; Misaki Ohata b Sawako Shimono; Hikaru Shida v Mio Shirai went to a time limit
December 21: Stardom (Osaka, Japan) – Kris Wolf b Momo Watanabe; Act Yasukawa & Kellie Skater b Kaori Yoneyama & Hatsuhinode Kamen; Io Shirai b Mystique; Kairi Hojo & Koguma b Reo Hazuki & Takumi Iroha; Nanae Takahashi & Miho Wakizawa b Yoshiko & Mayu Iwatani
December 21: Tidal Championship Wrestling (Leeds, England) – Lana Austin & Ruby Summers b Nixon Newell & Violet O’Hara
December 21: Insane Championship Wrestling (Glasgow, Scotland) – Layla Rose b Sammii Jayne
December 22: WWE Raw (Minneapolis, MN) – Natalya b Brie Bella; Naomi, Alicia Fox & Emma b Paige, Cameron & Summer Rae
December 22: CMLL (Puebla, Mexico) – Amapola, La Comandante & Zeuxis b La Vaquerita, Lluvia & Princesa Sugehit
December 23: JWP (Tokyo, Japan) – Arisa Nakajima, Command Bolshoi & Rabbit Miyu b Leon, Raideen Hagane & Yua Hayashi; Kayoko Harumya b Yako Fujigasaki; Hanako Nakamori won a battle royal
December 23: Diana (Kawasaki, Japan) – Yuiga & Hamuko Hoshi b Kaho Kobayashi & Koharu Hinata; Eiger & Mask De Sun b Arisa Nakajima & Raideen Hagane; Takako Inoue & Cherry b Keiko Aono & Megumi Yabushita; Tomoko Watanabe b Meiko Tanaka; Kaoru Ito b Manami Toyota to win the Diana World Championship; Jaguar Yokota & Sareee b KAORU & Mima Shimoda to win the Diana World Tag Team Championship; Kyoko Inoue b Yumiko Hotta
December 23: Stardom (Tokyo, Japan) – Reo Hazuki b Momo Watanabe; Act Yasukawa b Kris Wolf; Koguma b Kyoko Kimura, Kaori Yoneyama, Hatsuhinode Kamen, Mystique & Kellie Skater; Io Shirai, Mayu Iwatani & Masaaki Mochizuki b Miho Wakizawa, Manami Toyota & Genki Horiguchi; Yoshiko b Saki Akai; Nanae Takahashi & Kairi Hojo b Takumi Iroha & Risa Sera
December 26: Absolute Intense Wrestling (Cleveland, OH) – Tessa Blanchard, Jennifer Blake & Heidi Lovelace v Veda Scott, Alexia Nicole & Jasmin
December 27: Squared Circle Wrestling (Elmira, NY) – Cherry Bomb v Mickie James
December 27: AAW (Berwyn, IL) – Heidi Lovelace v Chris Sabin
December 28: Ice Ribbon Ribbonmania (Tokyo, Japan) – Tsukasa Fujimoto v Arisa Nakajima
December 28: JWP Climax 2014 (Tokyo, Japan) – Arisa Nakajima v Tsukasa Fujimoto
December 28: Beyond Wrestling (Providence, RI) – Kimber Lee v David Starr
January 3: Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (Vancouver, BC, Canada) – Cat Power v Kate Carney
January 4: Scottish Wrestling Alliance (Glasgow, Scotland) – Debbie Sharpe v Viper
January 4: PROGRESS Wrestling (London, England) – Jinny v Pollyanna
January 4: Inspire Pro Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Barbi Hayden v Veda Scott; Jessica James v Kimber Lee
January 11: Fierce Females (Glasgow, Scotland)
January 17: Empress Pro (High Wycombe, England) – Bete Noire & Viper v Addy Starr & Rhia O’Reilly; Ruby Summers v Chardonnay; Nikki Storm v Pollyanna
January 17: Lone Star Wrestling (Cypress, TX) – Barbi Hayden v Tessa Blanchard
January 18: Alpha-1 Wrestling (Hamilton, ON, Canada) – Seleziya Sparx v Allysin Kay
January 18: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Jessica James v Jojo Bravo; Athena v Su Yung
January 23: SHINE 24 (Ybor City, FL) – Malia Hosaka, Brandi Wine & Thunderkitty v Kimber Lee, Cherry Bomb & Leah Von Dutch
January 23: Valkyrie Women’s Wrestling (Woodbury Heights, NJ) – Kacee Carlisle v Mistress Belmont; La Rosa Negra v Aja Perera
January 24: Pure Wrestling Assocation (Kitchener, ON, Canada) – Kc Spinelli v Courtney Rush; Kaitlin Diemond v Beautiful Beaa; Jewells Malone v Alexia Nicole; Holly Madison v Silvie Silver; Ingrid Isley v Skylar Rose
February 7: Family Wrestling Entertainment (Jamaica, NY) – Candice LeRae v Veda Scott; Taeler Hendrix v Katarina Leigh
February 8: Tidal Championship Wrestling (Leeds, England) – Violet O’Hara v Nixon Newell
February 14: Mio Shirai Produce (Tokyo, Japan) – Mio Shirai v Io Shirai
February 21: Women Superstars Uncensored (Voorhees, NJ) – Hania v Athena; Kimber Lee & Annie Social v JT Dunn & David Starr
February 22: Dragon Pro Wrestling (Newport, Wales) – Nixon Newell v Pollyanna
February 22: Bellatrix 12 (Norwich, England)
March 14: Rock N’ Wrassle (Nottingham, England)
April 4: NCW Femmes Fatales (Montreal, QC, Canada) – Courtney Rush v Saraya Knight; Portia Perez v Xandra Bale
April 11/12 – SHIMMER Women Athletes (Berwyn, IL)
– Lee Burton
– Photos by Mercedes Martinez (1), Dave Muscarella (2), WWE (4,5,7), Stardom (6), Youji Kawauchi (8)
– Data collated from (but not limited to) Cagematch, joshifans.com, PuroLove, Dramatic DDT, Luchablog, Lords Of Pain, Wrestling Observer, Open The Puroresu Gate, Ringstars, PWInsider, NHB Girls, North Starz, WrestlingData