In January of 2022, Major League Wrestling filed an anti-trust lawsuit against WWE in Federal Court. Various legal machinations unfolded over the following year, eventually culminating in a judge from the Northern District of California dismissing the case last month. He did give Court Bauer’s company 21 days to refile, which they did yesterday (Mar. 6) — the final day they were able to do so.
The crux of MLW’s claim remains that WWE’s “predatory conduct” is hampering their ability to get their product on television and streaming platforms. WWE’s actions have left MLW “at risk of its business being irreparably destroyed.”
Events of the past week in MLW’s relationship with the REELZ cable network are a key part of the amended filing. After launching MLW Underground on the channel, REELZ signed a deal with Peacock. WWE has an exclusivity clause in their contract with the NBCUniversal-owned streamer, which means all of REELZ linear programming is on the service EXCEPT Underground. A subsequent report claimed MLW’s deal with the network was only for 10 weeks, but REELZ later issued a statement saying they have yet to determine an end date for Underground.
In an effort to provide the court with the additional date they requested, MLW also added:
• A breakdown of the pro wrestling market which claims WWE controls 92% and AEW 6%, effectively leaving 2% for everyone else.
• An anecdote about WWE’s efforts to block Ring of Honor from running Madison Square Garden in 2018: “In a naked attempt to restrain competition through the abuse of its market power, WWE, through Paul Levesque, its then-Executive Vice President, called MSG to insist that MSG cancel the show with ROH and NJPW. Unable to resist the pressure from the industry behemoth, MSG succumbed, and withdrew from the ROH agreement and cancelled the ROH show. While Sinclair threatened to sue MSG over their agreement, and the show was rescheduled, ROH and NJPW were forced to incur significant legal expense to vindicate their legal rights and to defend against WWE’s anti-competitive behavior. A smaller nascent competitor, without the support of Sinclair, may not have been able to resist such pressure and incur the necessary legal expenses to vindicate its rights.”
In full, the filing obtained by PWInsider and Wrestlenomics is 444 pages. We’ll see if it pleases the court. There’s currently no timeframe for their next ruling.