WWE: CFO Frank Riddick Leaving After This Month, MLW Lawsuit Update, WWE/UFC Merger Update

WWE CFO Frank Riddick Departing from Company at End of This September

WWE Chief Financial Officer & Chief Administrative Officer and longtime executive Frank Riddick reportedly will be leaving the company after the end of this month, according to PWInsider.

Mike Johnson reported that his sources stated that WWE CEO Nick Khan had sent an internal memo to employees earlier today informing them of Riddick upcoming departure from the company.

Fightful Select reported that their sources confirmed PWInsider’s report and provided details regarding the internal memo sent by Khan.

This internal memo reportedly stated:

“After over thirteen years on our Board of Directors and almost two years after joining WWE full time as our CFO and serving as President/CFO, Frank Riddick will be leaving WWE post the TKO close at the end of this month.

Frank is a highly respected colleague, and it has been a pleasure to work alongside him. We are grateful for his counsel, support and dedicated years of service and wish him only continued success moving forward.

Nick Khan”

MLW Antitrust Lawsuit Agianst WWE Update

As noted before, Major League Wrestling’s original antitrust lawsuit against WWE was dismissed this past February and had filed a new amended lawsuit this past March.

PWInsider’s Mike Johnson reported that WWE filed an official response to MLW’s motion to strike down their lawsuit defenses claims on September 8th to the United States District Court California Northern District (San Jose).

In their filing, WWE claims that MLW’s motion should have never been filed and requested for it to be denied by the court. WWE is also claiming that MLW’s motion lacks them mentioning the issues raised by them and is counter-productive over MLW’s own claims that the purpose of their motion is “to avoid the expenditure of time and money that will arise from litigating spurious issues.” WWE is claiming that MLW’s motion actually does the opposite and ” wastes the Court’s time and resources by litigating issues that could have, and should have, been resolved between the parties.”

Johnson reported that MLW has until September 15th to officially respond to WWE’s response to their motion request.

Portion of WWE’s official response filing:

“The U.S. District CPlaintiff MLW Media LLC’s (“MLW”) motion to strike (“Mot.”) never should have been filed, and should be denied. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (“WWE”) served its Answer to MLW’s Amended Complaint on August 14, 2023.

Eleven days later, MLW filed this motion without ever so much as mentioning the issues raised in it to WWE, much less asking WWE to amend or withdraw any of its Affirmative Defenses, before filing.

As MLW acknowledges, the purpose of motions to strike under Rule 12(f) is “to avoid the expenditure of time and money that will arise from litigating spurious issues.”  But MLW’s motion does the opposite. It wastes the Court’s time and resources by litigating issues that could have, and should have, been resolved between the parties.

WWE’s August 14 pleading is entirely proper, and meets the relevant pleading standards established by the Ninth Circuit. All that Rule 8 requires of WWE is to “affirmatively state” its affirmative defenses. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(c). The key question is whether WWE has provided MLW “fair notice” of the bases of those defenses. And the Ninth Circuit has held that such “fair notice” only requires describing such defenses in “general terms.” Kohler v. Flava Enters., Inc., 779 F.3d 1016, 1019 (9th Cir. 2015).

While it is true that some courts in this District have applied Twombly and Iqbal’s plausibility standards to affirmative defenses (as MLW argues) notwithstanding Kohler, MLW ignores that courts are split on this question and that the predominant approach in the Ninth Circuit applies the more forgiving “fair notice” standard. WWE has met this “fair notice” standard by pleading self-evident and well-recognized affirmative defenses of the type that are routinely pleaded in similar terms in district courts across this Circuit. Moreover, motions to strike are heavily disfavored in this Circuit. Courts have described the movant’s burden as “heavy,” “demanding,” and “formidable,” and regularly deny such motions in the absence of a showing of prejudice to the moving party.

MLW has not even attempted to make any such showing of prejudice here. Nor could it. MLW does not explain how the supposed insufficiency of WWE’s pleading renders it unable to adequately pursue discovery, nor how any of WWE’s affirmative defenses as pleaded will create additional, burdensome discovery. In fact, WWE has already provided information about one of the key defenses that MLW seeks to strike, in response to MLW’s interrogatories.

For these reasons, MLW’s motion should be denied. Nevertheless, to avoid more needless litigation over these issues, WWE requests, in the alternative, that MLW’s motion be denied as moot and submits herewith (as Exhibit A, with a redline against the prior Answer attached as Exhibit B) a proposed amended Answer that addresses several of the objections that MLW has raised by withdrawing certain Affirmative Defenses and adding detailed allegations that eliminate any possible doubt as to the sufficiency of the remaining Affirmative Defenses.

For these reasons, and as set out below, WWE respectfully requests that the Court either deny MLW’s motion in its entirety as legally unfounded, or, in the alternative, accept WWE’s proposed amended answer and deny the motion as moot.”

Internal Memo Issued to WWE Staff Following WWE’s Merger with UFC, No Talent Meeting Held

As noted before, Endeavor officially closed their purchase of WWE and merger of WWE and UFC into a new company called TKO Group on Tuesday.

PWInsider’s Mike Johnson reported that his sources stated that WWE CEO Nick Khan sent an internal memo to WWE staff on Tuesday morning thanking them for their hard work and briefly discussed WWE and UFC’s official merger into a new company going forward.

This internal memo reportedly stated:

“This morning, we announced that WWE and the UFC have officially come together to form TKO Group Holdings, creating a new premium sports and entertainment company. TKO will begin trading today on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “TKO.”

A big thank you to all of you for the hard work and commitment that helped us achieve this milestone. As we now begin this transition, we will be in touch with more details.

In the interim, we will be communicating with each of you regarding new policies and procedures. HR will also be available to answer any and all questions you may have.

We know when companies undergo change it can feel like uncertain times. The special culture that WWE has cultivated over its long history is what has allowed our business to flourish and we will be preserving that as WWE and UFC both continue to grow together as part of TKO.

As always, we’ll continue to focus on the work throughout this transition and make sure to communicate with all of you throughout the process.

Thank you,

Nick Khan 

In a separate report, Johnson reported that his sources stated that WWE officials did not hold any meeting with talent at this past Monday’s RAW tapings in Norfolk, Virginia. Besides the lack of a meeting, Johnson reported that WWE officials also did not make any announcement or acknowledged the upcoming closure of the company’s sale nor Monday being the final RAW show under the McMahon family ownership to talent backstage as well.