WWE Puts “SmackDown” on Philly Wine School

Pro wrestling group believes it owns the word “smackdown”

They may not know how to pronounce “sommelier,” but they certainly know how to say “smackdown.”

World Wrestling Entertainment is suing the Wine School of Philadelphia for calling one of its events the Sommelier Smackdown. “Smackdown” is the WWE’s word, the pro wrestling group says.

WWE claims it owns the trademark to the descriptive word because of its program SmackDown, in which men sporting mullets, unitards and kneepads body slam one another while an overly-dramatic host narrates fake feuds.

Lawyers for WWE sent Wine School owner Keith Wallace a cease-and-desist letter in September, according to the National Law Journal. But Wallace is not down for the count.

“I am being picked on by Vince McMahon,” Wallace says on his Web site. “I better start working out. Maybe I should just challenge Vince to a wine tasting cage match. How would that look?”

The Sommelier Smackdown, a wine-tasting series that pits two wine experts against each other in a food-wine pairing contest, has been running since 2007. WWE’s SmackDown has been on-air since 1999. And according to dictionary.com, the etymology of the word “smackdown” dates back to 1990.

WWE’s attorney Jerry McDevitt says that Sommelier Smackdown is a “blatant rip-off” and that the Wine School is using it to get attention at the expense of the wresting group, according to the National Law Journal.

The WWE must be afraid its fans would blindly flock to the Wine School at the word “smackdown,” and then give up their fandom for oenology when they don’t find giant men in speedos and capes among the wine bottles.

We're happy to ease your mind, WWE: Your demographic doesn't seem like the type.

Read this story and more right on your iPhone.
Download the NBCPhiladelphia app NOW!

Contact Us