Throughout Pride Month this June, we’ll be working on new features to highlight personalities throughout the wrestling industry, from its storied past to its bright future, who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. In this feature, we take a look at NXT UK’s “Megaton Barbie,” Piper Niven!
Across the NXT UK scene, it wouldn’t be controversial to consider Piper Niven a standout. As the “Megaton Barbie,” she is equal parts attractive and powerful, delivering offense that hits hard and moves fast. Throughout her highs and lows, she has tackled every challenge with a “megawatt smile” on her face. Niven is largely known for her work under the World Wrestling Entertainment banner, but her tale extends far and wide in professional wrestling.
The Early Days
Born in Ayrshire, Scotland, Piper Niven grew up as a professional wrestling fan. Having watched it on and off throughout her younger years, Niven decided to pursue it as a career. At eighteen years old, she started training with the Scottish Wrestling Alliance. It was here where worked with future WWE signees including Wolfgang and Nikki Cross. She made her official SWA debut in March of 2009 as Viper. In this match, Viper teamed with Barry Miller in a winning effort against Cross, who was known as Nikki Storm at the time, and Mark Stevens.
During the next few years, Viper continued to wrestle across Scotland. In addition to the SWA, she worked for such promotions as NXT Pro Wrestling – no relation to the current WWE brand – and the World Wide Wrestling League. In October of 2010, Viper had her first title match when she faced Storm for the vacant W3L Women’s Championship; Storm would emerge victorious in this encounter. Though she continued to wrestle in Scotland, it was in late 2011 when Viper began to take her talents abroad.
October of 2011 saw Viper make her debut in England during a tour featuring Pro-Wrestling: EVE and Ice Ribbon talent. She returned to EVE in February of 2012, competing in the promotion’s Queen of the Ring tournament. She bested Kirsty Love and Janey Brittanico in the quarterfinals before falling to Storm in the semifinals. Viper would go on to make sporadic appearances for EVE over the years, facing the likes of Rhia O’Reilly and Jazzy Gabert.
In February of 2013, Viper debuted for Scottish Wrestling Entertainment, defeating Sammii Jayne in singles competition. Later that fall, she won gold for the first time when she defeated Jason Costello for the SWE Future Division Championship. Going into 2014, Viper wrestled primarily in Scotland and England. Other promotions she appeared in included Leicester Championship Wrestling Roses and Insane Championship Wrestling. Victories over names such as Jayne and Kasey Owens, not to mention a W3L Women’s Championship reign, only helped to build her budding stock further.
2015 proved to be another big year in Viper’s career. At Fierce Females‘ Rumble in the Jungle, Viper defeated 20 other participants for the Scottish Women’s Championship; she held it for 1,122 days, the most of any competitor. The following October, Viper became the inaugural Alpha Omega Wrestling Women’s Champion in a gauntlet match. Continuing to make history, Viper added another memorable note in November. At Fear & Loathing VIII, she won a tournament to become the first-ever ICW Women’s Champion. To say 2015 marked success for the Ayrshire native would be an understatement.
Success wouldn’t be limited to Scotland and England, however. In January of 2016, Viper made the move to Japan to wrestle for World Wonder Ring Stardom. She joined the nefarious stable known as Oedo Tai, which was comprised of such individuals as Kaitlin Diemond and Kyoko Kimura. In her first few months in Stardom, Viper contested for championship gold, even challenging Io Shirai for the World of Stardom Championship in February. The summer saw Viper debut for women’s promotions SHINE and SHIMMER, even challenging the latter’s champion, Madison Eagles, in late June. From the United Kingdom to Japan, Viper’s reputation was steadily growing.
Viper started 2017 with another Stardom tour before returning to the United Kingdom. In March, she made her official debut for WhatCulture Pro Wrestling, which would be rechristened Defiant Wrestling by the end of the year. Her biggest exposure, as a wrestler, came during the summer. World Wrestling Entertainment held its first Mae Young Classic, a tournament designed to bring in women’s wrestlers from around the world. This was when she was first known as Piper Niven.
Mae Young Classic
Niven was one of the standout performers in the MYC. She defeated Santana Garrett in the first round and Serena Debb in the second round before ultimately falling to Toni Storm in the quarterfinals. Despite the aforementioned loss, Niven’s involvement in the tournament would be a sign of things to come. In the meantime, she continued her work around the world as Viper. Case and point, in August, she became one-third of the Artist of Stardom Champions alongside Queen’s Quest members Shirai and HZK. She also competed in the 5STAR Grand Prix, racking up 10 points in the B block. Viper’s tournament endeavors continued in November, participating in EVE’s SHE-1, racking up 4 points.
In February of 2018, Viper defeated Martina for her second ICW Women’s Championship. The following month, she defeated Storm in a match where the aforementioned title and the SWA Undisputed World Women’s Championship were on the line. By the spring, the “Megaton Barbie” was swimming in gold. The proverbial pool continued to grow in October when she became the inaugural EVE International Champion. Winning titles left and right, Viper was a force to be reckoned with in Scotland and abroad.
Coming into 2019, it was rumored that she would sign with WWE. In the meantime, her appearances for promotions including Stardom, EVE, and World of Sport Wrestling continued. In March, Piper Niven made her first appearance as a WWE Superstar on the NXT UK brand. She confronted former NXT UK Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley, presenting her with one of her greatest challenges yet. From there, the feud developed, even to the point where they cost one another opportunities for the title. By the summer, their feud came to an end when Niven bested Ripley in singles action.
It was in late September of 2019 when Piper Niven made a personal announcement. During Bi Visibility Day, also known was Bisexual Day, she took to Twitter to come out as bisexual. She received immense praise as a result, from fans to colleagues, including fellow LGBT wrestler Sonya Deville. On this day of celebration, Niven made a proud declaration that instilled pride in others as well.
Despite her appearances for NXT UK, Niven was able to appear for other promotions as well. For example, in May, she won her first EVE Championship, which she dropped to O’Reilly the very same night. Back in NXT UK, she slowly but surely entered the title picture, which involved Storm and NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray. Niven and Storm, who were friendly in the past, were far from allies in this title hunt. This past January saw these three face off in a triple threat for the NXT UK Women’s Championship at TakeOver: Blackpool II. Despite a powerful, hard-hitting performance that Niven had become known for, the opportunistic champion came away with the victory.
Though her first opportunity at the NXT UK Women’s Championship concluded in undesirable fashion, it seems like only a matter of time until Piper Niven is wearing the gold in question. Her story, which started in her home country before being written around the world, can’t be denied. She has faced and bested many of the greatest women’s wrestlers in the game today.
The toughness of Niven can be seen outside of the ring as well. This past December, she revealed she was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. As a form of facial paralysis, Bell’s Palsy affects people in different ways. Much like her Bi Visiblity Day announcement, Niven was showered with support, such as from Jim Ross, who had his own longstanding struggles with Bell’s Palsy.
Despite her condition, she was still about to wrestle at TakeOver: Blackpool II before continuing her road to recovery. However, her journey is far from over. Whether she remains in NXT UK or makes her way to other brands, the “Megaton Barbie” will continue to bring her incomparable assemblage of strength, speed, and charisma with her.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.