The latest episode of Last Week Tonight featured host John Oliver discussing how different sports leagues have been addressing the coronavirus pandemic, and at one point the subject of pro wrestling was brought up. Oliver made waves in the wrestling industry back in March 2019 when his show did a deep dive into how WWE treats its employees as independent contractors and doesn't provide health insurance. This time around he addressed how WWE had still been producing episodes of television each week from the WWE Performance Center, bringing up how Florida state officials had deemed pro wrestling as an "essential business" and how an anonymous employee had reached out to local commissioners pleading with them to shut down the tapings.
"There is clearly a desire to restart sporting events," Oliver said seven minutes into the 21-minute segment. "The question though why sports should come back, it's how that can safely happen. Because to do it responsibly would be a mammoth undertaking. To do it irresponsibly however, turns out to be pretty easy."
Oliver also brought up statements Vince McMahon had made during an investor's earnings conference call back in late April.
"It's easy to see why WWE CEO Vince McMahon doesn't mind taking that risk, as he told investors on a recent earnings call, viewers want to see new matches," Oliver said, followed by an audio clip of McMahon from the call. "I would argue that the risks of creating content the way you seem to outweigh the benefits right now."
After some jokes about McMahon's phrasing on the call (and an ongoing Adam Driver joke), Oliver also brought up how All Elite Wrestling had returned to Jacksonville to continue producing weekly episodes of AEW Dynamite and how UFC had restarted its schedule with UFC 249 back on May 9. He then poked fun at Dana White's idea for Fight Island, saying that it should have been called "UF-Sea."
Following WrestleMania 36 and a few changes in their weekly schedule, WWE has adopted a new plan to tape episodes of Raw and SmackDown ahead of time going forward over the next few months. The company has also once again weakened the brand split between Raw and SmackDown by introducing the "brand-to-brand invitation," which allows wrestlers to compete on the other brand up to four times per year. That started last week with Charlotte Flair appearing on SmackDown and will continue this week with Drew McIntyre vs. Baron Corbin on Raw and AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Flair vs. Bayley on SmackDown.
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