An ongoing lawsuit between two wrestling promotions will be allowed to continue following a defeated motion to dismiss.
Major League Wrestling (MLW) and parent company MLW Media has been in an ongoing courtroom battle with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
WWE recently attempted to have an amended complaint by MLW legal counsel Kasowitz Benson Torres dismissed.
This isn’t the first time that the top sports entertainment company tried to dismiss the lawsuit or impede its progress. Attempts in late 2022 by WWE to kill off the case altogether were quashed in December, allowing the case to continue.
Specifics on the amended complaint by MLW, full background on suit
The amended complaint includes assertations of federal antitrust and state law unfair competition claims against WWE. MLW is suing WWE for monopolizing and attempting to monopolize the market for the sale or licensing of media rights to professional wrestling events in the United States.
The lawsuit, which was initially filed in January 2022, accuses WWE Chairman Vince McMahon of intimidating Viceland (aka Vice TV) out of airing more content from the promotion. MLW had an existing programming deal prior to WWE’s alleged meddling.
“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 in a statement at the time. “I think we speak for the rest of the professional wrestling world when we say that this anti-competitive behavior has to stop.”
The lawsuit also references WWE interfering in what would have been a lucrative deal between MLW and ad-supported streaming service Tubi. Tubi is owned by Fox Corporation, whose FOX Television Network currently carries WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown program.
The suit also alleges that WWE “threatened” Fox that if they didn’t cancel its deal with MLW, they would “cease doing business” with Fox. However, that would have resulted in millions of dollars in early termination fees as well as legal fees relating to a breach of contract.
Furthermore, the suit also references that MLW suffered “substantial losses” as a result of the cancellation of the Tubi deal.
MLW case against WWE continues to discovery
U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Davila denied the motion in San Jose, holding that MLW had sufficiently proven all allegations relating to all four elements of its antitrust claims. The four specific elements were relevant market, market power, anticompetitive conduct, and antitrust injury.
In addition, Davila declined WWE’s motion to dismiss claims relating to state law unfair competition. All of MLW’s claims will now proceed to the discovery phase.
“We are pleased with Judge Davila’s well-reasoned opinion,” said MLW lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz. “[We] look forward to recovering the substantial damages that MLW has suffered as a result of WWE’s many years of egregious anticompetitive behavior.”
MLW is represented in court by Kasowitz, as well as Christine Montenegro, Nicholas Rendino, and Jason Takenouchi.
WWE is represented by long-time legal counsel and McMahon’s personal attorney, Jerry McDevitt. However, with Endeavor’s purchase of WWE in April and the expected merger with the UFC and spinoff into its own sports entertainment division, it is unknown whether Endeavor will be requesting changes to legal counsel in this matter.
No comments at this time from MLW or WWE
WWE refused to comment on this development at the pleading of McDevitt.
Requests for comment from Bauer or COO Jared St. Laurent were not immediately responded to prior to publication.
This is a developing story.