Following her successful WWE NXT Women’s Championship defense over Mieko Satomura at Roadblock, Roxanne Perez collapsed to the mat and was dramatically taken out of the arena by medics. The wild scene included her mentor, Booker T, standing over her collapsed body, distraught as he gazed down over his lifeless protégé. Fans were left worried for Perez’s well-being but it didn’t take long for Dave Meltzer to spill the beans on Wrestling Observer Radio that The Prodigy was actually fine and back to training at the Performance Center.
Off-screen, thankfully, it was good to know Perez was fine but on-screen, WWE appeared to be writing Perez off NXT TV for some reason. In the wake of Perez’s collapse, WWE executive Shawn Michaels confirmed Perez’s kayfabe injury and declared that since her health was in doubt, a triple-threat ladder match will take place at NXT Stand & Deliver in LA to possibly crown a new champion.
I say “possibly crown a new champion” because, as of this writing, only two of the competitors for the ladder match have been announced: Gigi Dolin and Zoey Stark. Until the final competitor for the match has been announced, it’s always possible that Perez gets “medically cleared” and defends her title in the ladder match but it feels like so much more could be bubbling beneath the surface.
Does WWE really want Perez to return to NXT? Or, were they looking for a way to take the title off her without losing it cleanly so she could make a big splash at WWE WrestleMania 39? I’m hoping for the latter and, with that in mind, allow me to speculate wildly about what that could look like.
Roxanne Perez Should Break Everyone’s Hearts
Yes, I know, Perez is the quintessential bubble-gum babyface at the moment but that’s what would make a heel turn all the more impactful. And when it comes to female NXT babyfaces turning heel, there’s arguably no better example than Bayley. The former ponytailed WWE NXT Women’s Champion infamously stabbed her Bayley Buddies in the back, told off her fans, and never looked back. While successfully finding her groove as a singles wrestler, she has since moved on to leading her own stable, Damage CTRL, featuring former NXT stars Dakota Kai and IO SKY.
The imposing three-woman faction made their debut at last year’s SummerSlam in a surprise move by Paul “Triple H” Levesque, who had just taken WWE’s creative reigns following Vince McMahon’s resignation amidst a variety of sexual allegations. Since their debut, the faction has gone on to hold the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships, competed in WarGames, and, most recently, has been at odds with Becky Lynch, who picked up a Steel Cage match victory over Bayley after getting help from WWE Hall of Famer Lita.
Lita was not the last WWE Hall of Famer to take the side of Becky Lynch against Damage CTRL, Trish Stratus helped the two defeat Kai and SKY on Raw to become the new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions just weeks ago. That victory ultimately set the stage for the big six-woman tag match that fans will get to see at WrestleMania 39 but does that stage may have room for one more player?
If anyone could get through to Perez that pushing herself too hard to be what everyone wants her to be, it’s Bayley. Let’s not forget, the reason Perez likely collapsed, in the storyline, is that she was desperate to gain the approval of hard-nosed veteran Satomura. What did that get her? A trip to the hospital.
A conniving Bayley could take advantage of this situation and use it as an opportunity to lure Perez to the dark side. Why should Perez stick around NXT trying to make everyone happy? Why not align with one of her heroes, Bayley, and make a statement on the grandest stage of them all?
Imagine Kai and SKY laid out on the outside of the ring alongside Lita and Stratus after some insane spot. The ref is down and Lynch and Bayley are left in the ring getting to their feet. There’s one chair in the middle of the ring and it looks like Bayley is going to get to it first. Out of nowhere the plucky, young Perez runs down the massive WrestleMania ramp to seemingly stop Bayley from doing her worst to Lynch. She gets to the ring first, grabs the chair, and finds herself face-to-face with Bayley who is now on her feet.
Perez stands there, the crowd going wild, and seems ready to swing at Bayley before turning around to lay out Lynch, who was just getting to her feet. Perez and Bayley share a laugh, AND A HUG, before Perez rolls the ref over, scraps the chair, leaves the ring, and sets up Damage CTRL’s first WrestleMania 39 victory.
I like this scenario for a variety of reasons but mostly because it establishes Damage CTRL as a faction always looking to the NXT women’s division. Every so often Bayley could court, or attempt to court, young talent to join her stable to varying degrees of success. It sets up players leaving or feuding from within, like The Bloodline, and could even lead to Bayley herself being turned on by the group when the time is right, kinda like Edge with The Judgment Day.
UPDATE: Roxanne Perez has tweeted the following since the writing of this editorial. Let your imaginations run wild! I want to believe!