The latest episode of HBO's Last Week Tonight saw comedian John Oliver do a deep dive into the business practices of the WWE. While the 23-minute segment bounced around a number of subjects, Oliver's biggest talking point was regarding how the WWE classifies their wrestlers as independent contractors rather than employees. He also went in-depth on how the company takes care of their wrestlers' health both during and after their time as in-ring competitors, citing situations like CM Punk's accusations, Owen Hart's death and the alarmingly high number of early deaths of WWE wrestlers compared to other professional athletes.
"The shocking thing about (Vince) McMahon and his company is the extent to which he's shielded himself from responsibility for his wrestlers' welfare," Oliver said. "And the way that he's done this is actually pretty simple, because while you might reasonably think that the wrestlers employed by him are his employees, they're actually not. They're merely independent contractors."
After citing numerous examples, Oliver then offered a call to action to the WWE fans for WrestleMania 35 — chant for the WWE to classify the wrestlers as employees.
"Here is where the potential opportunity is," Oliver said. "Because remember WrestleMania, the biggest event in the WWE's calendar, is next Sunday. And if fans in that arena want McMahon to pay for wrestlers' long-term health care or just to call them employees, they could say, choose to make up chants about that. The event is live, the crowd is mic'd, they won't be able to cut the chants out."
The WWE gave an official response to Oliver's segment to Pro Wrestling Sheet on Monday morning, titled "John Oliver Ignores Facts."
"John Oliver is clearly a clever and humorous entertainer, however the subject matter covered in his WWE segment is no laughing matter," the statement read. "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."
An HBO rep then gave Ryan Satin a response to WWE's statement, writing "The show likes to let the segments speak for themselves and will not be available to comment on this."
WrestleMania 35 takes place on April 7 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.