Last night on Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver set his sights on WWE and launched into an investigative attack on the company for their use of the “independent contractor” status for their wrestlers.
Oliver admitted in his segment that he likes wrestling and finds it entertaining with incredible moments. He even pointed out things like the Jake Roberts/Randy Savage cobra moments, the Steve Austin beer truck, and the ring collapsing in the Braun Strowman vs. Big Show match.
With that said, John Oliver has a problem with WWE using the independent contractor designation to avoid the laws required of employers when dealing with real employees.
John Oliver’s WWE argument
John Oliver pointed out the tragedy of many wrestlers dying young at a much higher rate than companies like the NFL. He also looked at WWE as a monopoly.
Oliver pointed out some information from Wrestling with Shadows, the documentary about Bret “Hitman” Hart from 1998. In this, Oliver looks at Owen Hart’s death, which was a lapse in judgment since it had not happened yet when that documentary was released.
Oliver pointed out comments made by former WWE superstar Jesse “The Body” Ventura about the company from 2010 where the former Minnesota governor said that the government should not allow WWE to use the independent contractor status for wrestlers who are under contract to the company.
Oliver even spoke about a former WWE doctor suing CM Punk after he made comments on a podcast about the company not treating his injuries seriously and just handing him out Z-Packs. That case was settled between the parties.
John Oliver finished up by saying that fans needed to speak up as they did in the “Give Diva’s a Chance” movement and force WWE to treat their wrestlers like employees and offer insurance and other benefits.
WWE and CM Punk responds to John Oliver
WWE was not happy.
The company released a full statement, calling out John Oliver for “ignoring facts” and went as far as to invite him to WrestleMania 35 this weekend to learn more about the company.
Here is the full statement, via Deadline.
“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.
CM Punk also responded, and he was more lighthearted, basing it on the fact that John Oliver pointed out Punk’s statement that he was so sick in one match, that he said he “s**t my britches” during a match.
— player/coach (@CMPunk) April 1, 2019
There is no word on whether John Oliver will take up WWE’s request to attend WrestleMania 35 this weekend.