Major League Wrestling (MLW) has filed a federal court antitrust lawsuit against WWE.
The case, captioned MLW Media LLC v. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc, alleges WWE’s “ongoing attempts to undermine competition and monopolize the professional wrestling market by interfering with MLW’s contracts and business prospects,” per a statement released by MLW Public Relations. MLW is represented by Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP.
“WWE has been wrongfully depriving its competitors of critical opportunities for many years, but its latest conduct has been even more unconscionable,” said MLW President and CEO Court Bauer. Bauer is a former member of WWE’s writing staff.
“I think we speak for the rest of the professional wrestling world when we say that this anti-competitive behavior has to stop.”
The complaint, filed in the Northern District of California, also alleges that WWE pressured third parties to abandon contracts and prospective relationships with MLW. MLW feels WWE’s alleged misconduct included “disrupting every level of MLW’s business, including a major streaming deal for which would have been transformative for the company.”
WWE, which currently has a billion-dollar television deal with Fox for the rights to air SmackDown, reportedly caused a MLW’s content deal with Fox-owned Tubi to get nixed. MLW currently has a deal with Vice TV, which is also implicated in the lawsuit.
MLW went on to allege that in early 2021, a then-WWE executive warned Vice TV that WWE owner Vince McMahon was “pissed” that Vice TV was airing MLW programs, and that the budding network should stop working with MLW. Per the complaint, the Vice TV executive responded that WWE’s conduct was “illegal and an antitrust violation.”
WWE has responded to these allegations in an exclusive statement:
“WWE believes these claims have no merit and intends to vigorously defend itself against them.”
The lawsuit seeks to recover its losses due to WWE’s interference and to enjoin WWE from future interference.