WrestleMania is due back at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on Sunday, April 7. Before then, John Oliver took the opportunity to give World Wrestling Entertainment a good walloping over its treatment of wrestlers.
In Sunday’s 23-minute segment on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver, a self-described fan of such wrestling, said that while the company generated $930 million in revenue last year, it is not caring for its most precious commodity — its stars. He cited the long string of WWE wrestlers and former wrestlers who have died at young ages, pointing to data that shows the wrestlers die at a faster rate than professional football players and the general population.
Oliver zeroes in on WWE CEO Vince McMahon and the company’s treatment of wrestlers as independent contractors, meaning the company doesn’t provide health insurance (apart from medical treatment for issues that transpire in the ring) or pensions, despite the fact that they sign exclusive contracts with WWE, disallowing them from wrestling for other companies. The very fact that WWE “has a chokehold on this industry,” Oliver said, makes the independent contractor notion ridiculous and exploitative.
Caution: Video contains some explicit and offensive language.