NASHVILLE, Tenn. >> Two giants in the wrestling world are getting ready to rumble — in a courtroom.
Nashville-based Total Nonstop Action Wrestling has sued World Wrestling Entertainment, accusing WWE of obtaining secret contract information in an attempt to poach TNA’s wrestlers.
TNA’s top wrestling talent includes veteran wrestler and actor Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. The company says in the lawsuit that WWE appears to have already tried to lure Flair and is pursuing TNA’s other wrestlers.
An attorney for WWE denied the allegations. A message left for TNA’s corporate counsel on Friday was not immediately returned.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Nashville this week, claims that a former TNA employee leaked secret information to WWE, which included the terms of the contracts TNA has with its wrestlers.
Armed with the secret contract information, TNA says its Connecticut-based competitor is now in a position to steal its wrestlers by offering better deals.
“The disclosure exposes TNA to potential liability with respect to its contract — WWE knows the details of TNA’s contractual relationships with its wrestling talent, which could allow WWE to place itself in the right place, at the right time, with an offer to TNA’s talent at just the right place,” the lawsuit says.
Jerry McDevitt, WWE’s longtime attorney, said WWE has not tried to lure Flair or any other wrestlers under contract with TNA.
The lawsuit claims that former TNA employee Brian Wittenstein went to work for WWE and then leaked the information.
A message left at a phone number listed for Wittenstein in Nashville was not immediately returned Friday.
He signed a contract with TNA saying he would not disclose any of the company’s confidential information after his employment ended.
McDevitt said that WWE never asked Wittenstein to disclose the information and that the company fired him when he did. Furthermore, WWE told TNA officials about the breach and sent back the information Wittenstein leaked.
“To us, it’s no good deed goes unpunished kind of thing,” McDevitt said. “They sued us for doing the right thing.”
Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle has signed a restraining order barring WWE from using the information to solicit wrestlers from TNA and from interfering with any of its contracts. The order also bars WWE from destroying any of the information.
A hearing on the matter is set for June 11.