World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) – Get the Class A Report from World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc around 20 years without major national competition. Yes, there were many secondary and global players with smaller network cable shows, and a few global brands dominating their home countries, but in the United States, WWE had the market to itself.
It’s a position the company has long fought to protect. The company, which has been led by Vince MacMahon since its IPO (although his wife Linda held the CEO title for many years), has always been aggressive when it came to preventing potential competitors from growing.
This included using his vast financial resources to sometimes lock up the best talent available just to keep them away from rivals. It has also used its influence to prevent competing promotions from accessing the prime buildings in markets where WWE hosts live shows.
Now a smaller promotion, Major League Wrestling (MLW), has filed an antitrust lawsuit against WWE, citing WWE’s “continued attempts to undermine and monopolize competition in the professional wrestling market by interfering with MLW’s contracts and business prospects.” intervention”. sports illustrated reports.
Why is MLW suing WWE?
MLW alleges that WWE pressured third parties to give up contracts and not do business with the smaller pro wrestling group. That includes two specific deals, according to SI (which is also published by TheStreet parent company The Arena Group).
- MLW alleges that WWE nullified a deal it signed with streaming platform Tubi that would have been “transformative” for the promotion. Tubi belongs to Fox (FOXA) – Get the Fox Corporation Class A report, which is one of WWE’s major television partners.
Additionally, the company alleges that in early 2021, when MLW was in talks with Vice TV to air programs, a then-WWE exec warned Vice TV that Vince McMahon was “pissed” because Vice was airing MLW programs and that Vice TV should stop working with MLW.
“WWE has unfairly denied its competitors crucial opportunities for many years, but its recent behavior has been even more ruthless,” MLW CEO Court Bauer said in a statement. “I think we speak for the rest of the professional wrestling world when we say this anti-competitive behavior needs to stop.”
WWE faces a rising competitor in AEW
MLW exists on the fringes of the mainstream. It competes to become the number four wrestling brand behind WWE; AEW, owned by the Khan family, who also own the Jacksonville Jaguars; Ring of Honor (ROH) by Sinclair Broadcasting; and Impact, which airs on AXS TV.
However, All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the Khan family promotion, has become a true competitor for WWE. This company has several shows that air on TBS and TNT, both premier AT&T-owned cable stations (T) – Get the AT&T Inc. report WarnerMedia.
WWE also aggressively attempted to thwart AEW’s growth. McMahon’s company welcomed the launch of AEW just over two years ago, signing more talent than the couple might possibly use, and airing its NXT television show Wednesday nights on the USA Network (a Comcast (CMCSA) – Get Comcast Corporation’s Class A report property) so it would air on TNT live with AEW’s “Dynamite”.
That move failed, and AEW is WWE’s first true rival since the collapse of WarnerMedia-owned World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 2001.
Now WWE, which has raked in record profits, faces a real competitor in AEW and emboldened upstarts including MLW, which has sued for a chance to compete.
McMahon’s company has denied MLW’s allegations.
“WWE believes these allegations are unfounded and intends to vigorously defend itself,” the company said in a Statement on wrestlenomics.
McMahon has also downplayed AEW’s place in the business and has denied seeing the company as a competitor.
“Well, it’s certainly not a ‘rising tide’ situation, because that was the timing [WCW owner] Ted Turner was also after us with all the Time Warner assets. That was a different situation. AEW is where they are. I don’t really know what their plans are, I just know what our plans are,” he said Wrestling Inc. “I don’t view them as competition in the way I would view WCW back then, not nearly as much.”