Piper Niven says she went ‘for real, crazy’ during WWE absence


Change is inevitable and there’s been quite a bit of it in WWE ever since Triple H took over as the Chief Content Officer. One of the latest creative tweaks for the Game was bringing Piper Niven back into the fold.

The 31 year-old Scottish powerhouse hadn’t been seen on TV in months, and the last time fans saw her, she was still competing under the nickname given to her by Eva Marie when she made her main roster debut – Doudrop.

Niven recently opened up about her absence from the company, saying she developed a severe case of COVID-19 that had doctors worried about the condition of her heart. Thankfully, after several weeks of taking it extremely easy, Piper was cleared to return to action and plans for her return were put in motion.

Cageside Seats had the pleasure of catching up with Niven at the Royal Rumble Press Junket, about 36 hours before she made her in-ring return.

“It was a long time that I had off. I wanna say the last time I was in a ring was mid-September and I was under strict instruction, like not to do anything. I wasn’t allowed to train, wasn’t allow to go gym, like nothing that raised my heart rate because if there was a problem that could damage it. And so yeah, I had a lot of time off just to sit and think about being off.”

In the days leading up to Royal Rumble, Niven told My San Antonio that when it came to Doudrop, it took her a while to figure out just who she was supposed to be. And just as she started to get a grasp of the character, the WWE creative team threw her a curveball and decided to have her ditch the spirit fingers and turn heel.

Niven’s health scare gave her a chance to really dive into herself and figure out just who she wants to be on camera with Triple H now at the helm. In fact, it gave her more time than she’s ever really had to just sit and think.

“I’ve either had a job or been involved in wrestling since I was really young and I’ve never been injured before. Like, you know, I’ve had maybe low sprains or injuries that only took like a couple weeks to heal. But I have not been off any particular large period of time and I didn’t realize that when performers and athletes get injured, you can go crazy.”

Piper may not have gone full Jack Torrance, but no work and too much free time turned Niven into a dull girl.

“I went crazy, crazy. For real, crazy. And I ended up having to talk to some people and found out some things about my life and I’m using that as like a character development moment. So I’m really hoping that I get to share this other side of the story with you guys through wrestling.”

The first thing to go was the name Doudrop. Alex McCarthy reported last week that the green light was given for the name change a full month before we saw Piper Niven on television.

But who is this version of the former NXT UK standout?

From what we’ve seen so far, Niven seems to be an all business, no nonsense kind of woman. She had a great showing in the Royal Rumble, lasting 28 minutes before being dumped over the top rope by Raquel Rodriguez.

And while she may not have won her way into the Elimination Chamber last night on Raw, she did put Candice LeRae and Mia Yim on notice after the bell. Grabbing a hold of them backstage and giving a stern warning not to get between her and the Raw Women’s Championship again.

It does highlight the depth of the Women’s Division when you have three talents like Niven, LeRae and Yim that didn’t qualify for a No. 1 Contender’s match. Not to mention the fact that Becky Lynch and Bayley are also sitting the Elimination Chamber match out, too preoccupied with each other to remain in the Title hunt — for the time being.

It’s a great problem to have and Niven welcomes the wide array of talent she can compete and tell stories with, both inside and outside of the ring.

“I think the more different dynamics that you have, the more stories you can tell. Like, obviously it’s great doing the David and the Goliath or like whatever kind of stories you wanna tell, but I really think it’s the differences in the characters that help make the stories so enjoyable.”

Of course, it can be hard to tell a good story when the audience’s attention has been taken away from the ring. Even when you’re wrestling the self proclaimed G.O.A.T (and many fans wouldn’t argue with her) Becky Lynch, in the biggest match of your career.

That’s exactly what happened at the 2021 Royal Rumble when Doudrop challenged Big Time Becks for the Raw Women’s Championship. Just as they were getting into the thick of the match, both competitors noticed that something out in the crowd had captured the audience’s attention.

The pyro that was set off following Ronda Rousey’s victory in the 30 Woman Royal Rumble match minutes before caught the WrestleMania sign on fire. An entire section behind the commentator’s desk had to be cleared out, so the sign could be lowered and the fire extinguished.

It was Lynch who figured out what was going on first and understandably, Niven told Cageside Seats she thought she was hearing things when The Man relayed the message.

“So we’re in the match and Becky’s got me in this headlock and she’s cranking away. And like for a second, I can hear some noises going on and then I hear her say, ‘The sign is on fire.’ And I’m like, what!?” Niven said as she began to laugh. “I’m still trying to get out of this headlock and like, I couldn’t have heard that possibly correct at all. And I’m like, what did you say? And she’s like, ‘The sign is on fire!’ And I was like, of course it is. Why would the sign not be on fire?”

So what does someone do in that situation? Well if you’re the wrestlers, the show must go on. Make sure it’s safe to keep going, but keep going until you’re told otherwise. The hard part for Niven and Lynch, was getting the audience’s attention back on them.

We just kind of had to, you know, give it a minute. Like, is this building gonna get back evacuated? We weren’t really sure and then we were like, oh no, okay, everything’s safe. We’re gonna just work extra hard to bring the crowd back into it.”

Make sure to check out our entire conversation with Piper Niven in the video above. You can follow Rick Ucchino on Twitter and subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast Channel for more of his work.

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