WWE comments on MLW suit

Jan 11, 2022 - by Marc Middleton

WWE has issued a statement on the federal anti-trust lawsuit filed by MLW earlier today.

As noted, MLW announced this evening that an anti-trust lawsuit against WWE was filed earlier today in a federal court. The 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.”

In an update, WWE provided the following statement in response to MLW’s lawsuit:

“WWE believes these claims have no merit and intends to vigorously defend itself against them.”

MLW’s announcement on the lawsuit included the following allegations against WWE, noting that WWE has pressured third parties to abandon contracts and prospective relationships with MLW, including a major streaming deal. It was also alleged that in early 2021, a then-WWE executive warned Vice TV that WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon was “pissed” that Vice was airing MLW programming, and that Vice should stop working with the promotion.

“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.”

Regarding the nixed streaming deal, Chuck Carroll of CBS Sports noted the lawsuit alleges that WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon managed to end MLW’s deal with the Tubi streaming service last year. Tubi is owned by FOX. McMahon allegedly threatened that FOX “could lose WWE’s business or preferred content if Tubi did not acquiesce to WWE’s demand.” MLW received a letter that the deal was terminated the night before they planned to announce it publicly “as a result of WWE’s pressure and interference.”

MLW CEO Court Bauer noted in the press release issued to us earlier tonight, “WWE has been wrongfully depriving its competitors of critical opportunities for many years, but its latest conduct has been even more unconscionable. I think we speak for the rest of the professional wrestling world when we say that this anti-competitive behavior has to stop.”

MLW added, “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.”

Stay tuned for updates.

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