WWE and MLW have an ongoing legal battle, where MLW alleges that WWE partook in shady business practices, related to their TV deal, and an antitrust lawsuit has not gone away. Now, WWE has presented their options in this battle.
On Monday, WWE submitted its response to the amended lawsuit filed by MLW in the United States District Court, Northern Division of California, San Jose. WWE firmly denied any allegations of wrongdoing on their part.
The amended lawsuit, filed by MLW in March 2023, included additional changes compared to their initial 2022 antitrust lawsuit. WWE’s response, consisting of 25 pages, outlined various potential defenses that the company might present in response to the lawsuit.
“WWE asserts the following affirmative defenses on information and belief. In doing so, WWE does not assume any burden of proof, persuasion, or production on such defenses where such burden would otherwise fall on MLW. Additionally, WWE’s affirmative defenses are asserted in the alternative, and none of them constitute an admission of liability or that MLW is entitled to any relief.
The First Amended Lawsuit (FAC) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
MLW’s claims are barred because MLW lacks antitrust injury or injury in fact.
MLW’s equitable claims are barred, in whole or in part, by the doctrines of unclean hands and in pari delicto.
MLW’s equitable claims are barred, in whole or in part, based on the doctrines of estoppel, laches, and waiver, as MLW’s claims are based, in part, on actions and events spanning decades.
MLW’s claims are barred, in whole or in part, because it does not have standing to raise those claims.
MLW’s claims are barred, in whole or in part, because WWE’s actions were authorized or permitted under state and/or federal law.
If and to the extent that MLW has been damaged, which WWE denies, MLW, by the exercise of reasonable diligence, could have mitigated its damages but did not and is therefore barred from recovery. Alternatively, any damages sustained by MLW, which WWE denies, must be reduced by the amount that such damages would have been reduced had MLW exercised reasonable diligence in mitigating its damages.
MLW’s claims are barred, in whole or in part, because, to the extent that MLW suffered any injury or incurred any damages as alleged in the FAC, which WWE denies, WWE’s alleged conduct was not the actual or proximate cause of any injury or damage to MLW.
MLW’s claims are barred, in whole or in part, because, to the extent that MLW suffered any injury or incurred any damages as alleged in the FAC, which WWE denies, any such injury or damage was caused and brought about by the acts, conduct, or omissions of individuals or entities other than WWE, and, as such, any recovery herein should be precluded or diminished in proportion to the amount of fault attributable to such other individuals or entities.
MLW’s claims are barred, in whole or in part, because, to the extent MLW suffered any injury or incurred any damages as alleged in the FAC, which WWE denies, any such injury or damage was caused and brought about by intervening or superseding events, factors, occurrences, conditions, or acts of others, including forces in the marketplace, and not by the alleged wrongful conduct on the part of WWE.
MLW’s equitable claims are barred, in whole or in part, because any recovery would result in unjust enrichment to MLW.
MLW’s claims for equitable relief are barred because MLW has an adequate remedy at law.
MLW’s claims are barred, in whole or in part, because WWE had legitimate business and/or economic justifications for the conduct at issue.
WWE reserves the right to assert additional affirmative defenses as they become available. WWE has insufficient knowledge or information upon which to form a basis as to whether it may have additional, as yet unstated, separate defenses available. WWE reserves the right to amend this Answer to add, supplement, or modify defenses based on legal theories that may be or will be divulged through clarification, through discovery, or through further factual or legal analysis of MLW’s allegations, contentions, and positions in this litigation.”
This situation has not gone away for WWE, no matter how hard they tried. The initial lawsuit contained claims asserting that WWE violated the Sherman Antitrust Act within the US pro wrestling content market. WWE was accused of attempting to undermine competition in relation to MLW’s efforts to secure media distribution deals, as well as trying to recruit contracted talent away from the company.
MLW contended that WWE’s arrangement with Peacock contributed to its antitrust argument by excluding non-WWE wrestling content, including REELZ, from the service. Interestingly, MLW’s Underground program faced restrictions preventing its airing or promotion on the platform.
Additionally, MLW alleged that WWE, through Paul “Triple H” Levesque, endeavored to obstruct the Ring of Honor G1 Supercard event from taking place at Madison Square Garden in 2018.
We will keep an eye on this story, and everything else going on in the pro wrestling world, right here at Ringside News. As always, a lot of things could be going on in this situation by the time this legal nightmare is over. Leave those comments in the space below to let us know what you think!