It was announced yesterday that the upcoming WWE King and Queen of the Ring event set for May 27, 2023 in Saudi Arabia has undergone a name change to Night of Champions.
Nothing else has been revealed as to the purpose of this change, prompting speculation of why WWE felt this was the best course of action.
Is this a pro-NOC move? An anti-KAQOTR move? Are there storyline reasons for it? Political reasons? Booking problems?
Let’s start diving into some of the possible reasons why WWE decided to change this event and some consequences and implications that will come out of it.
Possible Reason #1: Vince McMahon Nixed It
Occam’s Razor. The simplest explanation is usually correct. We know Vince McMahon is more involved now than he’s been in the past few months. Not only are there direct reports of him being around more, but that he’s meddling and micromanaging. We’ve seen it with Becky Lynch saying Lita went to a “local medical facility” instead of “hospital” and such.
Vince hasn’t had the biggest admiration for King of the Ring. He got rid of it a long while ago, brought it back only sporadically, and never really tended to do anything with the person he put the crown on. Clearly, it was a gimmick he didn’t have much reverence for and would just go back to on a whim here and there, then quickly get tired of.
I wouldn’t be shocked at all if this is all happening just because Vince said “Change the pay-per-view. No tournament.” and that’s it. Just a simple refusal.
If that’s the case, that’s sad and not a good sign for the future.
Possible Reason #2: Roman Reigns Hits 1000 Days
The other main reason I think this could be happening is because Roman Reigns hits the 1000 day mark as champion on this date. Maybe WWE has been thinking about putting even more of an emphasis on that and the more they sat around the conference table, the more they started feeling like having the tournament would take away from that.
Someone out there on WWE Creative could have said “Why don’t we call it something like Night of Champions and make it all about Roman?” and since WWE doesn’t necessarily care about anything more than what their biggest focal points are at the moment (ie, tunnel vision influences decisions heavily), the change was easy for them.
If that is the case, I think there’s even less of a chance Reigns drops the title here. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’m worried there’s a chance this is a celebration of Reigns as champion and he might not even defend the title. Picture this (and keep in mind, that this is not at all what I would WANT them to do): What if Brock Lesnar beats Cody Rhodes at Backlash (because “we gotta have Cody lose and people will want to see him win even more! Again and again!”). Then, Lesnar tries to argue that that should get him a title shot. And then, WWE avoids having Roman defend his title for 2+ straight months (because who realistically is worth a title shot now other than Cody?) by having Rhodes vs. Lesnar in a rematch with Reigns ringside, and if Lesnar wins, he gets another shot. Then, Rhodes wins this, gets laid out by Reigns to end the night, and that’s your main event. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have something lame in mind like that.
But if the switch to Night of Champions was to celebrate Reigns, why call it NOC? Why not something more Reigns-specific? Night of Champions is supposed to be “the event where all the titles are defended”, rather than focusing on ONE champion. Strange. We’ll come back to that later in this article.
Possible Reason #3: No KOTR and QOTR Options / Booking Problems
Maybe WWE finally sat down, started trying to plan out the next few months, and realized they had a problem: nobody in mind for winning King of the Ring and Queen of the Ring.
That could very well be the case. I don’t think WWE announced this event with a solid game plan in mind that they would spend the next few months building up a particular man and woman to win this tournament. Realistically, they probably said “that would be a fun thing to do there” and then thought “and we’ll figure out the winners when we get past WrestleMania.”
And now that they’re past Mania, they could be thinking “Crap. We’re screwed. We don’t have anyone that we want to put those crowns on.”
That could explain the random nature of Night of Champions being chosen. If this is the situation, they could have easily gone with any other thing like No Mercy, Fully Loaded, etc. Night of Champions could have been an arbitrary choice.
But what confuses me is why they’d go with Night of Champions, rather than Clash of Champions, if that were the case. They retired NOC in favor of COC in 2016. Why go back? Nothing is adding up!
Unlikely Reasons: Politics / Trademarks
The least likely reasons I can think of for why they would have made this change are that the Saudi Arabia government specifically requested this change, or that WWE ran into a trademark problem.
With the government thing, I just can’t picture that being true. They’ve had Crown Jewel for years, so it’s not as though royal iconography is frowned upon. King of the Ring and Queen’s Crown took place there, so that rules out them being annoyed at a Queen of the Ring. And historically, they love their gimmicks. Greatest Royal Rumble. World Cup tournament. Tuwaiq Trophy. Why wouldn’t they want the KOTR and QOTR tournaments?
But also, why pivot specifically to Night of Champions? Could it be a trademark thing, where they were running out of time to renew that if they hadn’t used it in any meaningful way? If that’s the whole reason, I think that’s insane. They could have just called an episode of Raw or SmackDown “Night of Champions” as a special, or done that with NXT, and fulfilled that. So that theory holds no weight in my book, either.
Consequence: No Tournaments?
Whatever the reason for this, they’ve gone ahead and done it. So what’s next?
Well, one of the main questions I have is whether or not King and Queen of the Ring is going to return later in this year at another date, or if it has been scrapped entirely?
Theoretically, by calling this Night of Champions, they could still have the tournament finals take place. Nothing’s stopping them from doing that, much like how Crown Jewel had it. And maybe they just rename Crown Jewel. But if that’s the case, why bother changing the name?
That makes me think they’ve put this on hold indefinitely. MAYBE they come back to it later in the year. But I wouldn’t hold my breath for it. More than likely, they decided not to do it, and they have it in their back pocket if they want to pull it out later in 2023 or in 2024, but “plans change, move on.”
Implication and Problem: What About Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn?
Night of Champions used to be the event where all the titles were defended, but WWE hasn’t advertised this whatsoever yet. If they say that is carrying over, they’ve booked themselves into an interesting conundrum with the WWE Tag Team Championships.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn don’t go to these events in Saudi Arabia. How are they going to defend their belts?
Option A) They don’t. WWE hopes you don’t notice. If you do, stop whining. Shut up. You’re being a bad fan for not just going with the flow. You’re getting ALMOST all the titles. Well, not the NXT ones. But again, shut up! You’re getting MOST titles! Plus, you’re getting these non-title matches! What do you mean this feels like the same as every other event? Ugh. You’re impossible to please. Next thing you’re going to tell me is that you are annoyed that we’re confiscating your completely unoffensive signs or something!
Option B) They drop the titles ahead of time. The Usos win them back at Backlash or on SmackDown or Raw prior to this show. Jimmy and Jey, or another tag team, defend the titles, and KO and SZ aren’t involved whatsoever.
Option C) They somehow have reached an agreement that KO and SZ will appear on the show. I don’t know what that would be, but it is certainly a possibility.
I’m leaning more toward the first one. Frankly, I don’t even think WWE will bother trying to marketing it as a show with all the belts on the line. I think at this point, with a history of Extreme Rules going from “every match has a gimmick” to “if we have at least one generic No DQ match, we’re good” and TLC having a tables match, ladders match, chairs match (and even stairs match) and a TLC match, to “one TLC match is good enough”, I think Night of Champions is going to be just another show that happens to be named that, because on a random Thursday, Vince decided he liked Night of Champions better than Clash of Champions.
We’ll see if they announce or clarify anything on SmackDown, which is about to start as I am hitting publish on this post.
Why do you think WWE changed this event? Is it a change for the better? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!
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