World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has once again filed a motion to dismiss the amended antitrust lawsuit brought forth by Major League Wrestling (MLW), according to a recent report by Wrestlenomics. WWE is arguing that MLW has not sufficiently demonstrated antitrust claims for monopolization or attempted monopolization, as required by law.
MLW contends that WWE engaged in "predatory conduct," which prevented MLW from effectively competing or licensing programming in relation to streaming services. MLW's claim primarily revolves around its deal with REELZ, the cable network that airs "MLW Underground." The dispute arises because REELZ is now part of the Peacock streaming platform, and due to WWE's exclusive deal with Peacock, REELZ cannot stream its content on the platform when MLW's programming is scheduled to air.
Furthermore, MLW alleges that WWE actively prevents competitors from accessing wrestling talent and booking arenas, effectively stifling competition in the wrestling industry. In response, WWE asserts that MLW has failed to properly define relevant markets for wrestlers or arenas in their allegations.
MLW Accuses WWE of Poaching
The origins of this legal feud can be traced back to January of the previous year when MLW accused WWE of poaching talent and blacklisting former MLW talents. WWE has vehemently denied these claims, stating in its filing, "MLW is well aware that this assertion is false." WWE further cites the case of Davey Boy Smith Jr., a wrestler who was previously contracted by MLW, then hired by WWE, and ultimately returned to MLW after his WWE tenure.
WWE also notes that it has hired numerous talents who had previously fulfilled their contractual obligations with MLW, including Matt Riddle and Kevin "Karrion Kross" Kesar. In its amended lawsuit, MLW maintains that WWE dominates the market for professional wrestling media rights, claiming that WWE, as the market leader, collects 92 percent of the revenue related to this market.
WWE counters this argument by suggesting that if it were to cease operations, there is no guarantee that other wrestling companies would be able to capture all the revenue lost by WWE. Should the lawsuit not be dismissed as WWE hopes, the case may proceed to trial.
The ongoing legal battle between WWE and MLW highlights the complexities and competitive nature of the professional wrestling industry, as well as the challenges smaller promotions face when trying to secure media rights and talent in a market dominated by a major player like WWE.