WWE exclusive: Piper Niven on overcoming Bell's Palsy for a title shot at NXT TakeOver


Piper Niven went into TakeOver: Blackpool II knowing that she was about to wrestle in one of the biggest matches of her career. 

She was part of a triple threat for the NXT UK Women's Championship - going head-to-head with Kay Lee Ray and Toni Storm. 

In triple threat matches, the odds are usually stacked against the champion - after all, there's two opponents, rather than one - and therefore, double the chance of losing the title. 

But ahead of TakeOver, it seemed the deck was stacked heavily against Piper - for reasons out of her - and WWE's - control.

Last month, the Scottish wrestler was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, a rare type of facial paralysis that affects just 0.023% of the population. 

Ahead of NXT TakeOver, Niven spoke very openly about how the paralysis has affected her and the journey she's been on to get back to health. 

"Bell’s Palsy is an inflammation of your facial nerve. it flames up, rubs and cuts against a bone in your face to cause paralysis," she told GIVEMESPORT. 

"For most people it’s painless but I was extremely unlucky. I was diagnosed on December 12 and the past few weeks have been cripplingly painful. 

"I’m in agony almost every day, I haven’t been able to eat anything. It felt like I’ve been punched repeatedly."

On average, it takes people nine months to fully recover from Bell's Palsy, but Piper wrestled at NXT TakeOver after less than one. 

There was absolutely no way she was going to miss her match - not even with a 'melted face'. 

Piper Niven in the ring with Toni Storm and Kay Lee Ray

"I’ve had a remarkable turnaround. The doctors think I’m Wolverine! I’ve managed to heal remarkably fast," the NXT UK star continued.

"TakeOver really spurned me on, but it was a mental drain as well as physical. I didn’t know if it would ever go away, a lot of people and even I didn’t think I’d be cleared for this match. 

"But even if I still had a melted face, it wouldn’t stop me. I’d wrestle with an eye patch if I have to."

And wrestle she did. Niven's triple threat match with Toni Storm and Kay Lee Ray was a real highlight of the night. 

Niven played her part in a brilliant match

She wasn't able to win the NXT Women's Championship on Sunday night, but given where Viper was just one month ago, it's testament to her drive and passion that she was even cleared.

After all, some things are bigger than title belts - and Niven was glad to use her public platform to help others who have been affected by the condition. 

"You’d think Bell’s Palsy is a rare thing, but you wouldn’t guess so from my inbox. I seem to have resonated with people," she said. 

"It’s important to be a spokesperson for something if you can. Through speaking up, so many other people have too. 

Piper is glad her experience has helped people

"Hopefully I’ve helped people find something that helps them or just given them more confidence to go about their day."  

Despite being diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, it seems that pulling out of TakeOver never crossed Niven's mind even once. 

Her courage in the face of adversity - as well as the fight she showed to bounce back - must be applauded. 

TakeOver: Blackpool certainly won't be the last time we'll see Piper in a title match, whether that be in NXT or beyond.

But hopefully next time - whenever that might be - preparations will run a little smoother. 

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