Update on MLW/WWE Anti-trust Lawsuit

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A few days ago it was announced that MLW filed an anti-trust lawsuit against WWE in federal court. TheMLW lawsuit was based on an allegation of WWE’s “ongoing attempts to undermine competition in and monopolize the professional wrestling market by interfering with MLW’s contracts and business prospects.”

MLW Lawsuit Update – Full Filing Rundown

Now the full lawsuit filing is available online which sheds more light on the whole case. Susan Levison is identified as a “then-WWE executive’ that according to MLW claims warned VICE TV in early 2021 not to conduct business with MLW because Vince McMahon was pissed at the service for airing MLW programming.

Levison was let go by WWE back in May 2021. She had been with the company since late March 2019 and is credited with producing several series, such as the WWE Biography documentaries on A&E and the Quibi mini-series titled ‘Fight Like a Girl’.

MLW is seeking a jury trial and the promotion demand compensatory, treble, and exemplary damages and an injunction that would disallow WWE to  “inflicting further irreparable harm through its anticompetitive and tortious conduct,’ and return of any legal costs. 

Preliminary Statement

In the Preliminary Statement, we can read that MLW filed a lawsuit because of WWE’s efforts to destroy the rival promotion and keep its dominance of the U.S. broadcasting market by unlawfully interfering in MLW’s access to media markets and wrestling talent

In the latter part, we can read that WWE dominated the U.S. market for wrestling broadcasting content since 2001, a year when the acquisition of its biggest competitor, World Championship Wrestling took place. WWE is accused of maintaining dominance by unfair business practices such as poaching talent and cutting off access to the viewing audiences of their competitors.

As an example of WWE ‘s alleged conduct targeted toward MLW, there is a mention of airing MLW wrestling footage without authority and encouraging MLW wrestlers to breach their contract with the promotion by disclosing confidential information. 

MLW claims that it has suffered and still will suffer “monetary damages and irreparable harm, resulting from, among other things, continued loss of brand recognition and valuable talent, posing a serious risk that its business will be destroyed.”

Background check

The lawsuit documents also providea Background information on the wrestling business, describing WWE’s dominance in particular. The most interesting part is about WWE’s relationship with every major venue in the U.S. and a claim that they take advantage of said relationships to keep its’ competitors out of these buildings. This has a critical effect on wrestling promotions’ ability to produce their programming. As an example, it is alleged that WWE has blocked AEW from hosting its’ event in two arenas located in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

WWE initial response

WWE attorney, Jerry McDevitt issued a response to Dave Meltzer concerning the anti-trust lawsuit from MLW.:

“I have not seen the full lawsuit since WWE has not been served. If Tubi breached, then sue Tubi. As to Vice, WWE has no commercial relationship with them or for that matter any of the other dozens of content distribution entities with whom MLW could do a deal with if they had a commercially viable product. They put a show on Vice, if my memory serves me correctly after one of the Dark Side shows and lost most of the audience. I think I read they got 40,000 viewers. No wonder Vice did no further deal.”