Court Bauer Says WWE 'Almost Mortally Wounded' MLW

Court Bauer on MLW's lawsuit against WWE

Court Bauer has spoken further about Major League Wrestling filing an antitrust lawsuit against WWE in January 2022, stating on Talk is Jericho that Vince McMahon's company "almost mortally wounded" MLW. 

"Look at Ring of Honor and New Japan when they ran the Garden. I know AEW's had issues, whether it's contract tampering, whether it's arena issues. This s**t's been going on for 40 years. Just ask the promoters through the decades, and how were they wounded? How were they damaged? For us, we were almost mortally wounded, and it was time to hold them accountable, so that's what I did. I think Vince is the kind of guy that just, WWE as a whole, they want to control, they want to have maximum market share. They want to suffocate the competitors by virtue of, look at how it's happened. Exhibit A through Z, it speaks for itself," Bauer said.

MLW's antitrust lawsuit was dismissed in February but the promotion have since filed an amended suit against WWE with the Northern District of California US District Court. In the amended suit, MLW have continued to assert their claim that WWE are impeding their 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." 

The new REELZ deal with Peacock and MLW's inability to air on the streaming platform because of an exclusivity deal that NBCUniversal has with WWE is also referenced in the amended lawsuit. Recent reports noted the REELZ-MLW deal is set to come to an end in early April after only 10 weeks of MLW Underground being on the air. 

Bauer also discussed the TV deal with REELZ and WWE's alleged interference in a deal that MLW had agreed in 2021 which caused it to be scrapped. 

"Rewinding to 2021, I was talking up like, 'We got this big deal, it's coming, it's coming, it's coming.' Then we have the media embargo, they knew it was going down, the night before the press release was going out, the papers were signed, and then we're told, 'Deal off.' That, long story short, triggered an antitrust lawsuit with WWE. I'd reached the summit, right, it's so hard to get a TV deal. It's not easy. It doesn't matter how much money you have, how good your product is or not. It's just a hard thing to do. Especially now, when the content is king era has kind of toppled and the gig is dead and now it's just a rush to pick up the best deal you can. We got in there right before that s**t hit the fan," Bauer stated. 

"After that streaming deal went south, I basically had to go back out there and start over, like Groundhog Day, and start shopping and pitching and doing it all over again. It's like getting knocked down from the top of the mountain and going through it all over again and just trying to keep the business afloat while you go through that. Two years later, and we had to go through the pandemic and we had to go through all this stuff. By the way too, billionaires just doing what they do in the midst of this, it wasn't easy, and so meeting after meeting, and we got there with REELZ and we signed the contract in December and announced it in January, and we're just so elated to be there.

"REELZ has grown, it's one of the rare stories of being a cable network that is a success story in 2023. Most are in this contracting state or they're losing viewership. It's just the natural progression of cable, and what's happening with REELZ is they're growing. They are now a top 25 network. To give you a comparison, VICE is in the high 70s, AXS TV, which has New Japan and IMPACT, ranked like 98 [or] 99. I think TNT and TBS float anywhere, depending on the week, from number eight or nine to 12. The same for USA in that ballpark. FOX Sports 1 is in the high 50s, MTVs ranked in the 40s. So we're in a top 25 network. They hover between 23 and 26 most weeks, but that's huge," Bauer continued.

"I think for us, we've had guys like Hammerstone and Fatu in the company. Before MJF was in AEW and Tony Schiavone made his comeback, they were in MLW, but our network at the time was ranked like 136, beIN Sports. So for us to leap virtually 110 channels to REELZ, it's like, 'Finally, we got the platform. Finally, people are gonna find out [Hammerstone], Fatu, all these guys in MLW.'"

H/T to Fightful

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Aidan Gibbons

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