Doudrop will step into the brightest spotlight of her career this Saturday at the Royal Rumble when she enters the ring to wrestle Becky Lynch in a match for the Raw women’s title.
Lynch is one of the most popular stars in pro wrestling. A pioneer in the industry, she became the first woman to have her hand raised in the main event of a WrestleMania. She has become synonymous with WWE, adding a blaze of excitement whenever she appears on-screen.
Across the ring from Lynch at the Rumble will be the largely unknown Doudrop. That should no longer be the case after the match is finished, as Doudrop—despite the eccentric name—is one of wrestling’s most underrated performers.
Possessing an extraordinary combination of power, agility and charisma, Doudrop is Scotland-born Kimberly Benson. Before WWE, she worked across the globe—paving a trail for women in Scotland’s ICW, Japan’s Stardom and Great Britain’s Pro Wrestling: EVE.
Working a diverse array of matches, Benson mastered British technical wrestling, Japanese strong style and even lucha libre. She harnessed her plethora of in-ring abilities, sharpening her skills and building a foundation that few share.
And she continues to reach new heights by embracing the qualities that make her unique.
“For the longest time, I thought I was an anomaly,” the 30-year-old Benson says. “I spent so much of my teenage years wishing I was someone else. I hated so much of myself—I hated my hair; I hated being big. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t get any smaller. I didn’t want to be the big girl.
“But wrestling changed everything for me. Wrestling taught me what makes me different is what makes me special. It took a long time to learn that, but I’m lucky to have had wrestling. People should love themselves, and I want to be here to share that message.”
Her time in Stardom represents a pivotal time in her career. That included training with Io Shirai, helping transform her into the seasoned professional who now performs in WWE.
“I loved Japan, but it was hard,” Benson says. “I looked so different and sounded so different. I was so young at the time, so it was a lot to deal with, but it 100% set me up for life now. It made me strong and resilient and proud.
“A lot of the girls had a preconceived idea about me. But I won them over. I went training every week with Io. I had everything the class did, including the springboards. They were bottom-rope springboards, but they were still springboards, damnit.
Another part of Benson’s wrestling persona that immediately stands out is her name. Previously known as Piper Niven and Viper, the name Doudrop is not necessarily one that is on par with “Stone Cold” or “The Boss.” Yet she plans on becoming a star with that name, capitalizing on a life-changing opportunity to create masterpieces on the WWE canvas.
“I personally don’t mind the name,” Benson says. “But I love when people doubt me. I love to prove people wrong. So when the name came about, people thought we blew a tire before we came out of the gate. But it’s not the circumstance you’re put in; it’s what you do with it. It is a harder obstacle, but it’s going to make for an even sweeter reward.”
A turning point for Doudrop has occurred over the past two months, where her bright and bubbly personality has been replaced by a darker, edgier identity. Benson is showing real range in the depth of her emotions, which has been evident in her promos with Lynch, especially as she laid out why she was deserving of the title on the Jan. 10 edition on Raw.
“That was my actual first in-ring live promo,” Benson says. “I’d never done one in front of the crowd before. I’m so glad it got to be with Becky. We came from the same type of place. She wrestled and was trained way back in Ireland. She’s now one of the biggest stars in the company, but we share so much in common and walked the same path.”
With a genuinely authentic feel to her work, Benson is ready to bring Doudrop to the next level. Sharing the ring with Lynch at the Royal Rumble, she has the chance to show the wrestling world why Doudrop is a star unlike any other.
“I’m as agile as they come,” she says. “The other only wrestler my size that can move better than me is Keith Lee. My style is going to work particularly well with Becky’s style. This is my chance to let out my full potential, and I’m excited to make the most of this opportunity.”
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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.