Welcome to the debut edition of the newest feature of The Comeback: Falls Count Anywhere!
Every Tuesday at The Comeback, we’ll zero in on the biggest topics from WWE. I’ll key in a few things I liked, some stuff I didn’t, and some things to look forward to.
But that’s far too simplistic to keep going just on that trail. So be on the lookout: You’ll see some facts be brought out every now and then, and you might see something you never knew. We’ll also go long at times on things, depending on the topic at hand, of course, but it won’t just be bite-sized. Stay on your toes.
Now, let’s start the fun.
“Drew McIntyre and Rhea Ripley shaking hands… What’s the meaning of this?! What does it all mean?!”
WWE Monday Night Raw closed with an image that surely got people talking. Former WWE Champion Drew McIntyre appeared to concede and finally join The Judgment Day’s ranks. McIntyre shook hands with WWE Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley after helping Finn Balor and Money in the Bank holder Damian Priest re-capture the WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championships.
Several weeks back, Ripley approached McIntyre, who’s been ‘going through it’ on the episodic TV show. They had been seen chatting backstage in the background on a later episode, as well. Drew has been unsuccessful in regaining championship gold, a storyline tracing all the way back to his failed attempt to win the Universal Championship from the record-setting Roman Reigns. At WWE Crown Jewel this month, McIntyre failed to defeat World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins for his championship.
Evidently, that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. Last week’s episode was highlighted by a massive brawl that led to the big War Games announcement for WWE Survivor Series. This week’s episode closed with an exciting angle that could mean 4-on-4 shifts to 5-on-5. It’s hard to imagine McIntyre, a pivotal player in this angle now, missing the big event. The Judgment Day has ruled Raw all year, and with Drew around, they will be even more difficult to challenge.
Get in losers! We’re about to go longform with the women!
WWE’s women’s division has recently delivered a string of exciting, must-watch television. The world goes where Becky Lynch goes, as The Man’s cup-of-coffee NXT Women’s Championship reign saw huge gains in ratings and interest. On the weekly, NXT displays a crop of up-and-coming and talented women’s prospects who’ll soon hopefully land on Raw and Smackdown. Raw’s women’s division often features a garden variety of talents also, keeping fans of all kinds invested.
Then there’s Smackdown, which might have one of the most talented and accolade-heavy women’s rosters in recent memory. There are stars everywhere. Last Friday night, the stars were out in a big way.
Damage CTRL, a faction headed by Grand Slam Champion (and friend of the website) Bayley, has had an eventful 15 months. Three months ago, IYO SKY won the WWE Women’s Championship after she cashed in Money in the Bank. Everyone recently has caught on to the game that the faction, which, of course, originally included the injured Dakota Kai, might not be for long.
But last Friday night’s developments led to some fascinating possibilities on the horizon. Kairi Sane made her celebrated return to WWE at Crown Jewel, assisting her former tag team partner SKY in retaining her championship. There’s some bad blood between Sane and Bayley, though. Three years ago, Kairi beat Bayley before she departed the company. Bayley sent Kairi packing, though, beating her up and slamming her head into a garage door.
During the segment that peaked viewership on Friday night, Bayley and her Damage CTRL pals attempted to hash it out. They were interrupted by superstars Asuka, Bianca Belair, and Charlotte Flair. These six have been fighting for a better part of the fall. But things turned exciting: Asuka sprayed blue mist at Bianca’s face. A shocked Bayley watched as Asuka, IYO, and Kairi all celebrated before welcoming Bayley into their jovial arms.
With Dakota shadowing, the quartet proceeded to beat the stuffing out of Belair, Charlotte, and Shotzi, who raced down to the ring to try and help. The closing image of Smackdown was of a “Super” Damage CTRL, with Asuka, Bayley, Dakota, IYO, and Kairi all holding their arms up in unison.
There’s so much that can be said here, but we’ll keep it brief: Straight out of a 1996-97 nWo main event, and in the best way… Bayley’s days of leading Damage CTRL appear in peril… Will she do something to get her power back? And who will be the fourth babyface to wrestle Damage CTRL in War Games presumably?
It seems that while Roman Reigns will be absent for the fall and early Winter, the Smackdown women will take the A block. Given all who’s involved, this could be the start of something extraordinary.
Santos Escobar is a Fraud: The Sequel!
Talk about a guy who can’t prove to be slick ever again! Santos Escobar, who brought the LWO back to Smackdown earlier this year after getting called up from NXT, was involved in the other big angle from last Friday night’s episode of Smackdown.
At Crown Jewel, Escobar came out to appear to aid the legendary Rey Mysterio in retaining his United States Championship against Logan Paul. Escobar, who had grabbed brass knuckles that Paul introduced in the match, pulled them away from Logan… until he decided to drop them right on the apron near where he’d soon be dropkicked. Paul hit the ropes, right where the knucks were, grabbed them, and got hit with the 619. Rey attempted to turn the corner and get the win, but Paul smoked him with the knucks and put the match away.
The show began with Rey blaming himself for the loss and saying he’d want his title back. But then Carlito, who recently made his WWE return, came down and turned the tables. He pointed out that Escobar left the knucks on the apron and didn’t pull them away. After a match between Lashley and Carlito, Escobar stood and watched Carlito get beaten up. Mysterio was flabbergasted, but after some tense moments, punches were thrown. Then, Santos turned on Rey and left him lying.
You might remember that when he was El Hijo Del Fantasma in NXT, Escobar pulled another similar stunt that led to the formation of Legado Del Fantasma, the faction before the LWO. Can’t trust him anymore!
Mysterio also revealed he underwent surgery on a torn meniscus. Santos didn’t have very nice things to say.
Don’t come back. pic.twitter.com/Js6kpc2i2r
— SANTOS ESCOBAR💀🇲🇽 (@EscobarWWE) November 14, 2023
Where will Cody and the faces turn now?
With Drew McIntyre aligning with The Judgment Day, the Monday Night Raw babyfaces have a decision to make.
Cody Rhodes, Jey Uso, Sami Zayn, and Seth Rollins are a ragtag group of people. They all do have a common ground as well. Roman Reigns has taken down all four at some point or another in the last two years. For Rhodes, Rollins, and Zayn, Jey played a significant part in that. Rhodes has received his attempt at reconciling well, but it seems to still be taking a process to gel. That’s to say nothing of the rift between Rollins and Rhodes, which doesn’t take much explaining.
A fifth hero to even the odds may have to come from elsewhere. Rhodes alluded to the fact that he has some friends too. One sought-after name has been Randy Orton. That’s a name that would generate huge excitement, provide for an awesome moment since Orton hasn’t appeared on television in the Triple H Era of WWE Creative, and would make storyline sense. Rhodes and Orton, in Cody’s first run with the company, have a long and dated history. Cody’s first match was against Orton in 2007.
Decision time awaits. You’d imagine it won’t take very long.
Heel Street Profits still need some time to make sense
Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford, better known as The Street Profits, recently underwent a character change. Dawkins and Ford shifted focus and aligned themselves with former WWE Champion Bobby Lashley.
Lately, on Smackdown, Lashley has walked around with Dawkins and Ford doing some of his bidding. The new group has feuded with the LWO, though after this past week’s events, it seems like they might need a new direction there. Nevertheless, the Profits haven’t been embarrassed in the role, and have looked strong at times with their new edge.
A bit is lacking here, at least from my perspective. After they arrived on Raw in 2019, the Profits became one of their era’s most successful WWE tag teams. They held both tag titles available to them for a combined 312 days. They’ve hung out and banged heads with the other best tag teams of their era: The New Day and The Usos. Yet, they suddenly don’t have championship aspirations anymore? We don’t seem to really know why they’re doing Lashley’s bidding or what Lashley is even driven to try and acquire. He hasn’t gone after Reigns or wrestled for the United States Title.
Everything takes time to set. Right now, though, while there’s a lot to like around the scene, this has been one storyline absent a lot of detail that it could really use.
What’s next for LA Knight?
LA Knight has become an overnight sensation in WWE. He’s one of the company’s most popular and ‘over’ wrestlers, and few outdo the crowd reactions that he delivers on the weekly. Knight stepped in the ring with Reigns at Crown Jewel with the Undisputed Championship on the line. Not surprisingly, LA did not leave Saudi Arabia with the title.
So, what’s next? With two weeks of build, and with War Games taking up the spotlight, it’s tough to envision a main-event spot. Maybe Logan Paul needs a challenger? Since Mysterio is reportedly out with his torn meniscus for 6-8 weeks, Paul will need someone to keep him busy. Knight and Paul could certainly do something to tidy everyone over in the winter in the lead-up to the Royal Rumble.
WWE United States Champion LA Knight? YEAH? Perhaps that’s where we’re headed.
What is going on at Chase University?
NXT has been in the news lately for many positive reasons. The television show has seen an uptick in ratings and will move to The CW next Fall.
On the television show? There’s been a lot happening. But things have been looking, um, shaky for Chase U. Tag Team Champion Andre Chase leads the university, but last week they revealed they were “under investigation.” Not coincidentally, Chase and Duke Hudson defend their Tag Team Titles against Tony D’Angelo and Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo.
A lot is on the table, especially when dealing with a university instructor and the mafia.
Pro wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. NXT airs at 8 p.m. Eastern on USA Network.
The NXT spotlight shines down on…
So, each week, I will highlight one NXT wrestler (and one main roster wrestler) to make up each of these counts.
For Volume 1 of Falls Count Anywhere? Let’s give it up for Roxanne Perez.
Having just turned 22 years old over a week ago, Perez has already done and accomplished so much. If her work as a prodigy on the independents wasn’t enough to convince you before, newcomers to her work in NXT since she arrived have no doubt been in awe.
She’s gotten the flow of things and has picked up a lot very quickly. Amid the rise of top prospect Tiffany Stratton, Roxanne has still managed to stand out. Viewers and fans alike have gotten really behind her as she’s played a dynamite babyface role thus far. She’s wrestled nearly everybody in NXT already and has even appeared on the main roster around the greats like Bayley.
If you don’t know, by the time she hits the main roster, you will understand.
The main roster spotlight shines down on…
Let’s give the nod to Tegan Nox for the first go-around.
Nox has had it pretty rough over the past few years. She’s sustained multiple torn ACLs that have taken a huge bite out of her potential career. WWE released Nox in December 2021, and with how things were at the time, many wondered if we’d ever see her again.
After the change at the top last summer, Nox eventually returned back to the WWE Universe. After a few inconsistent months, Nox has really been able to spearhead herself using the time allotted. She’s working with Natalya in a pretty innocuous Women’s Tag Team storyline that could soon result in a championship opportunity. Nox has yet to win gold in WWE of any kind, so that would make for a very fun moment for the fans who’ve followed her. And hopefully, she can make some new ones if she continues on the path.
It’s not reinventing the wheel, but sometimes, you don’t need to. So good luck to her; she’s certainly earned the opportunity to prove herself worthy.
To former WWE superstar Kalisto and longtime NXT instructor and trainer Matt Bloom, formerly known to wrestling fans as Albert.
And that’s a wrap on Vol. 1! We’ll be back next week on the way to Survivor Series.