An antitrust lawsuit has been filed against WWE by a competing professional wrestling promotion.
Major League Wrestling issued a press release on Tuesday night announcing that it has filed an antitrust lawsuit against WWE, citing WWE’s “ongoing attempts to undermine competition in and monopolize the professional wrestling market by interfering with MLW’s contracts and business prospects.”
The lawsuit accuses WWE of pressuring third parties to abandon contracts and potential relationships with MLW. A pair of business deals that MLW claims WWE interfered with are mentioned in the lawsuit.
MLW claims that WWE nixed a deal that MLW had signed with streaming platform Tubi that “would have been transformative” for the promotion. Tubi is owned by Fox, which is one of WWE’s television partners. WWE SmackDown airs on Fox every Friday.
It’s also alleged that WWE attempted to derail a relationship between MLW and Vice TV. MLW claims that, after it announced that it was in talks for MLW programming to air on Vice TV, a then-WWE executive “warned Vice TV that WWE owner Vince McMahon was ‘pissed’ that Vice TV was airing MLW programs, and that Vice TV should stop working with MLW.” The Vice TV executive responded by saying that WWE’s conduct was illegal and an antitrust violation, but the WWE executive said they couldn’t control McMahon.
MLW aired a one-hour Fightland special on Vice TV last October. Archival MLW content has also previously aired on the station.
“WWE has been wrongfully depriving its competitors of critical opportunities for many years, but its latest conduct has been even more unconscionable,” said MLW CEO Court Bauer. “I think we speak for the rest of the professional wrestling world when we say that this anti-competitive behavior has to stop.”
WWE issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit: “WWE believes these claims have no merit and intends to vigorously defend itself against them.”
MLW is being represented by Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP.
MLW first existed as an independent wrestling promotion from 2002-2004. It was then revived in 2017, with programming currently airing on YouTube, Fite TV, and beIN Sports.
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