WWE has filed a response to the amended lawsuit filed by MLW this past March.
The amended lawsuit alleges WWE has violated Sherman Antitrust act as the U.S. market for pro wrestling media content, whereas the original lawsuit focused specifically on the pro wrestling market itself.
Another hearing regarding the amended lawsuit is scheduled for Thursday, June 15.
In the response filed by WWE, the following points were argued (which is courtesy of Fightful):
– MLW contradicted it’s own allegations by admitting they sold media rights to REELZ and referenced AEW and Women of Wrestling selling media rights. The lawsuit states, “As for AEW, far from being a deminimis competitor, it just expanded the sale of its media rights to WarnerBros.-Discovery (“WBD”) for a reported $240 million per year.”
– MLW failed to allege plausible claims against WWE, specifically when it comes to MLW’s definition of their product market.
– “MLW could never allege facts to establish revenues as an appropriate measure of market share. Market share reflects the pieces of the pie for which competitors are competing. WWE’s alleged competitors are not competing for a fixed pool of revenues.”
– MLW has not credibly claimed harm to competition or antitrust standing.
– MLW’s claim that WWE “lock[s] up the intellectual property rights of professional wrestlers” is not true “because it contracts with former WWE talent who retain rights to their intellectual property created prior to joining WWE.”
– “MLW attempted to minimize this success through a reference to unsubstantiated online rumors (rather than its own interactions with Reelz) that WWE’s exclusive contract with NBCU’s Peacock would cause REELZ to cancel MLW programming prematurely. Yet Reelz did not cancel MLW. Instead, it continued to purchase and air MLW content beyond an initial ten-week trial period.”
– “Separately, MLW plead that WWE somehow blocked it from selling its media rights to FITE, a streaming platform, despite the fact that WWE has no alleged contractual relationship with FITE. In actuality, MLW just announced a new, “hugely important” agreement with FITE, and MLW’s weekly program, Fusion, is now available on FITE+, beIN Sports, and YouTube, and MLW entered into yet another agreement with FITE to air its premium live events, similar to how Peacock airs WWE’s premium live events.”
-WWE claimed that since MLW failed to adequately allege a federal cause of action, the Court would have to dismiss the remaining State law claims for lack of subject matter and jurisdiction. WWE is also asking the court to block any attempts by MLW to amend their lawsuit should this version be dismissed.