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