On Sunday's episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver took WWE to task for keeping wrestlers as independent contractors.
In the 23-minute segment, Oliver took particular aim at WWE Chairman Vince McMahon for how he's treated his employees for the last three decades.
"While the character Vince is an asshole, it's important to know that the real Vince is also an asshole," Oliver said. "Many fans legitimately hate him because while the WWE has made him a billionaire, many wrestlers say he's treated him terribly."
Oliver went on to say that McMahon has "shielded himself from responsibility for his wrestlers' welfare" by signing them as independent contractors instead of full-time employees, bringing up how many wrestlers die young due to rigors of professional wrestling and the WWE schedule. "He is a billionaire based on the broken backs of his non-employees. The least he can do is show the same dedication to his wrestlers that they have shown to his company."
A big sticking point for Oliver was the death rate among wrestlers. Oliver brought up names like Eddie Guerrero, Randy Savage, and Owen Hart as those who have died young thanks to the demands of professional wrestling. He even showed a graph with the death rate among wrestlers by age. As you would expect, the death rate is much higher for those in wrestling than it is among the population as a whole or even NFL players.
Oliver went on to play a clip of McMahon on a 2003 episode of HBO's Real Sports where McMahon stated, "I would accept no responsibility ever for their untimely deaths. None whatsoever."
Throughout the segment, Oliver played clips from wrestlers such as Bret Hart, Roddy Piper, CM Punk and Jesse Ventura discussing McMahon and how he's treated them and others over the years. Near the end of the segment, Oliver stated, "Even the NFL, for all its massive faults, now offers players health reimbursement accounts and have established a legacy fund for older players who may be dealing with health issues. And when you have lost the moral high ground to the fucking NFL, you are morally subterranean."
Finally, Oliver encouraged fans to show up to WrestleMania with signs -- lots of signs -- and chants encouraging WWE to take better care of their wrestlers.
WWE responded Monday afternoon, sending Fightful the following:
John Oliver is clearly a clever and humorous entertainer, however the subject matter covered in his WWE segment is no laughing matter. Prior to airing, WWE responded to his producers refuting every point in his one-sided presentation. John Oliver simply ignored the facts.
The health and wellness of our performers is the single most important aspect of our business, and we have a comprehensive, longstanding Talent Wellness program.
We invite John Oliver to attend WrestleMania this Sunday to learn more about our company.
You can view the entire segment in the video above.