MLW Amends Lawsuit Against WWE, Alleges Triple H Urged MSG To Cancel G1 Supercard

(Image Credit: MLW & WWE)

On Monday, MLW filed an amended lawsuit against WWE in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division.

Because MLW “has not included sufficient facts to plausibly allege a relevant antitrust product market,” Judge Edward J. Davila last month dismissed the initial lawsuit but allowed MLW to revise its claims.

The court records for the case, which PWinsider and Brandon Thurston of WrestleNomics were able to obtain, totaled 444 pages. There was also an additional filing to explain the changes done to the lawsuit’s initial filing in January 2022, which were expanded to take into account MLW’s current relationship with REELZ.

The MLW and REELZ recently agreed to have their MLW Underground show air on Tuesdays at 10pm. In addition, REELZ struck a deal with Peacock to stream the channel live, with the exception of Tuesdays at 10pm, when MLW Underground airs.

The network’s run for MLW is only for ten weeks, Variety reported last week. WWE’s agreement with Peacock, according to MLW, prevents non-WWE wrestling content from appearing on the service, which helps the antitrust case.

“Most recently, WWE’s predatory conduct further impeded MLW in its ability to compete in the licensing of its programming for distribution on streaming services and continues to threaten to deprive MLW of its ability to license its programming for distribution on cable. As a result of WWE’s misconduct, MLW is at risk of its business being irreparably destroyed. In February 2023, MLW’s new media partner — Reelz — announced a distribution deal with streaming service Peacock. But as a direct result of WWE’s exclusivity arrangement with NBCUniversal, which prohibits any other professional wrestling programming on Peacock, MLW’s programming is excluded from this streaming deal, which further suppresses competition in the Relevant Market. MLW also is reportedly at risk of losing its cable deal with Reelz as a result of WWE’s exclusivity with Peacock.”

The Ring of Honor G1 Supercard event was scheduled to take place at Madison Square Garden in 2018, but MLW claimed that WWE was attempting to block that from happening through Paul “Triple H” Levesque:

“WWE has engaged in a continued pattern of blocking its competitors from accessing favorable venues. For example, in the summer of 2018, ROH, a competing professional wrestling promotion owned at the time by Sinclair, booked a major wrestling show in New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden (“MSG”). The show at MSG was to be a joint feature between NJPW and Sinclair’s ROH. MSG has long been considered WWE’s “home turf” and Sinclair intentionally planned the show in MSG as “part of a move to expand the promotion’s events into larger venues.”

“ROH’s MSG show sold out immediately, with wrestling fans excited about a show in this popular and iconic venue. WWE, however, had other plans. WWE had scheduled WrestleMania for the same weekend at the nearby MetLife Stadium, and did not want any ROH MSG show to compete with it.”

“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.”

WWE was accused of possessing marketshare in the original lawsuit. According to the new filing, WWE allegedly holds a 92% market share, followed by AEW with 6% and the remaining promotions with 2%.