Ahead of the announcement of the 2012 Ringbelles Awards – which start on Monday – we thought it would be a good idea to see what happened to the three winners in 2011. How has the last 12 months been for them? Well, let’s start with out pick for Discovery of the Year, Kay Lee Ray

We selected the high-flier from Scotland for her strong showings over the course of 2011, which included strong showings against joshi talent Hikaru Shida and Tsukasa Fujimoto (the latter as part of a three-way with Erin Angel) at Pro Wrestling: EVE v Ice Ribbon in October and her thrilling deathmatch against old enemy Carmel Jacob at Insane Championship Wrestling. She ventured outside of the UK to wrestle in Denmark, and we surmised that because of the positive opinions garnered by her work, her profile would go from strength to strength in 2012. That’s exactly what happened, and she’s capping the year off being on the other side of the world…

Coverage about the 20-year old daredevil hit one of the UK’s most famous newspapers when she, Alpha Female and Erin Angel were all profiled as part of the Sun’s Saturday magazine ahead of EVE’s first iPPV venture, where she wrestled three times to make it to the final of the Queen of the Ring tournament, defeating Jacob and April Davids before falling to Nikki Storm at the last hurdle – and wrestled the final with a concussion after picking it up in the match against Davids.

KLR’s strong work continued both in Scotland and England, with Premier British Wrestling and Preston City Wrestling booking matches for her with former and current TNA talent. In September, she took on Mickie James in a PBW match which ended in a no-contest due to interference from Carmel and Nikki – the contest turned into a tag team match with James and Ray beating the heels – and also fell to Angelina Love at PCW in November, but put up a strong showing against the former Knockouts Champion.

Inbetween those matches, KLR headlined the debut ICW: Fierce Females show in a Last Woman Standing match against Jacob which saw her defeated due to an accidental refereeing snafu, but saw her both withstand a huge beating from her longtime rival, but also saw her execute some incredible spots like a dive from the top rope into the crowd and a double stomp onto Carmel while she was holding a chair in the Tree of Woe.

The redhead’s biggest match of the year took place last month when she challenged Emi Sakura for the JWP Openweight Championship at EVE’s Wrestle Fever, in a match which was the first Openweight Title defence in the UK. While she was unsuccessful in wresting the the title from the Ice Ribbon and Gatoh Move founder, she impressed the right people, as the announcement was made a fortnight ago that she would be making her debut in Japan later this month, wrestling alongside Riho against Kaori Yoneyama & Hailey Hatred at Gatoh Move’s show in a week’s time. As part of the trip, she will also team with LEON against DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko at JWP’s Christmas Eve show. The trip is a massive deal, as it will expose her ability to a wealth of new fans, and could see her enjoy more bookings there in 2013.

Looking at her win/loss record in the big matches over the last year, you could surmise that Kay Lee Ray has had a disappointing 2012. However, there is more to consider in wrestling than just victories and defeats, and her matches have been exciting, in many cases emotionally charged, and worth paying your money to see. There is no other way to describe her year other than spectacular – she should be immensely proud of her achievements, and she should be immensely excited as to the prospects ahead of her next year.

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On Monday, we announce the Discovery of the Year for 2012. Who has emerged to become someone who is worth going out of your way to watch? You don’t have long to wait to find out our pick.

– Lee Burton