WWE have acknowledged the success of AEW in a new court motion to dismiss a recent lawsuit filed by MLW.
In January 2022, MLW filed an anti-trust lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment. In a statement released at the time, the company said that the action was based on “WWE’s ongoing attempts to undermine competition in and monopolize the professional wrestling market by interfering with the company’s contracts and business prospects.”
The company claimed that WWE had interfered with their broadcast deals, Major League Wrestling CEO and former WWE writer Court Bauer said:
“WWE has been wrongfully depriving its competitors of critical opportunities for many years, but its latest conduct has been even more unconscionable. I think we speak for the rest of the professional wrestling world when we say that this anti-competitive behavior has to stop.”
World Wrestling Entertainment have now filed their own 35-page response to dismiss the lawsuit. In a scathing document, the company hit back at suggestions that MLW was at the cutting edge of professional wrestling, pointing to the fact they haven’t had a major television rights deal since 2017.
The document then goes on to state that despite MLW’s struggles, AEW was created in 2019 and quickly secured a deal with WarnerMedia.
“AEW’s success further undercuts MLW’s unsupported assertion that substantial barriers to entry exist. The complaint alleges that WWE’s popularity has “declined” over the last five years. It goes on to say that, during the same period, AEW entered the proposed market and successfully sold broadcast rights to WarnerMedia. Subsequently, AEW managed to capture an average 2020 rating of 0.344 compared to WWE Raw’s 0.5075 in the key 18-to-49 demographic. This successful entry and expansion refutes the existence of substantial barriers to entry. “
MLW has until April 22nd to respond to the motion. WWE will then have until May 16th to respond at which point the court will make a ruling.
The court ordered a hearing on September 29th to hear arguments into the matter.