Major League Wrestling has filed a lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment.
According to Reuters and The Wrap, MLW Media LLC filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California on 1/11.
The lawsuit alleges WWE and Chief Executive Vince McMahon has threatened content partners for doing business with Major League Wrestling, to protect its share of the U.S professional wrestling broadcast market.
WWE’s allegedly interfered in MLW’s talks with Vice Media after WWE SVP Susan Levinson called Vice to let them know that “Vince McMahon was pissed”. The deal was for Vice to air archival footage of MLW matches.
“WWE’s interference resulted in VICE withdrawing from negotiations over airing new MLW content and in VICE airing only a single MLW program,”
FOX owned Tubi also ended an agreement with MLW the night before an official announcement. The lawsuit alleges WWE threatened to “stop doing business” with FOX if they didn’t cease their agreement with MLW.
MLW believes this caused a 40% decline in ticket sales.
MLW is accusing WWE of coercing talent into breaking exclusive contract, and airing MLW footage without permission. .
WWE has responded stating it believes “MLW’s claims had no merit and that it intended to vigorously defend itself.
MLW issued the following press release
MLW Files Anti-Trust Lawsuit Against WWE
San Francisco, CA – Jan. 11, 2022 – Professional wrestling company Major League Wrestling (MLW) (MLW Media LLC), filed a lawsuit today against World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE). The federal court antitrust lawsuit is based on WWE’s ongoing attempts to undermine competition in and monopolize the professional wrestling market by interfering with MLW’s contracts and business prospects.
As described in the complaint, WWE pressured third parties to abandon contracts and prospective relationships with MLW. WWE’s misconduct included disrupting every level of MLW’s business, including a major streaming deal for MLW which would have been transformative for the company.
MLW also allege in the complaint that in early 2021, after MLW announced that it was in talks with VICE TV to air MLW programs 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 that WWE’s conduct was illegal and an antitrust violation, with the WWE executive responding that she could not control McMahon.
“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’s ongoing misconduct has hurt fans of professional wrestling and competition in the professional wrestling industry. Through this lawsuit, MLW seeks to recover its losses due to WWE’s interference and to enjoin WWE from future interference.
The case is captioned MLW Media LLC v. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. MLW is represented by Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP.