When Paul said there would come a great falling away, do you think it refers to an especially bad falling away immediately before the coming of Christ?
I think it was fulfilled within Paul's own lifetime. Everyone in Asia forsook him. Many of the Hebrew Christians were falling away. John was always battling wrong doctrine in the church. After the apostles died, wrong doctrine soon became entrenched and reached a peak during the Middle Ages. Buddhism started. Then Islam. Even amongst "Christians", eating meat and getting married was forbidden, just like Paul predicted. It took nearly 1,500 years before the true light of the Gospel could again be preached with any sort of freedom. Common people were forbidden from owning Bibles. Sexual immorality and murder were common amongst ecclesiastical leaders.
Are things really so much worse than that in the Church today, like some end-times preachers would have us believe?
The Book of Revelation does not say that we in the 21st century are the Laodicean church. The Laodicean church was a church that literally existed in the first century.
To say the Book of Revelation prophesies a global false religion in the last days is just a theory.
Certainly it is a serious concern that many churches nowadays are going downhill in their doctrines. But it's nothing new. It's happened before - and it wasn't the end of the world. God can send revival, just like He has in the past. It's not necessarily a sign that ours is the last generation.
Wrong doctrine is something that the church always battled, especially after the foundational apostles went to be with the Lord - and it's something the church will probably always have to contend with right up until when Jesus comes.
Whether or not the Bible prophesies a special falling away in the minutes immediately preceding the return of Christ I don't know.