WWE was the focal point of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver this week just in time for WrestleMania. Needless to say, the HBO news program did not take it easy on Vince McMahon’s company in the slightest.
The company has been the butt of several long-running jokes and John Oliver didn’t waste any time getting to them, but he also had a lot more to talk about. Because Oliver got right to the root of one of the biggest controversies seldom talked about in WWE: how they really treat their Superstars.
Wrestlers dying early was a talking point as they listed Randy Savage, Eddie Guerrero, Chyna, and King Kong Bundy as people who passed away far too soon. Then they shifted to Vince McMahon and how he is “an assh*le.”
WWE Superstars are independent contractors under exclusive deals. They go where the company needs them, they do what WWE tells them to do, and if there is any flack then their job is taken. This sounds everything like an employer, but it is not the case for WWE because they don’t see Superstars as employees.
Oliver brought up how Superstars are exempt from discrimination and occupational safety laws as well as annual leave, pensions, and health insurance. He also pointed out the fact that independent contractors can not claim that a company’s success is dependent on them doing their jobs when WWE points out on their own corporate website that WWE wouldn’t exist without their Superstars.
They also brought up CM Punk’s claims against the company which he made on the Art Of Wrestling podcast. The 2003 interview on Real Sports with Vince McMahon was shown as well where The Chairman took no responsibility whatsoever for any Superstar’s untimely death.
You can argue that Last Week Tonight used thirty years worth of clips and only highlighted the negative parts, but some very strong points were made in the process. You can check out the entire piece below.