WWE has issued a response after a scathing story on ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’ criticized the organization for athlete treatment and boorish business practices.
The segment aired on Sunday night as Oliver took aim at WWE for several issues including athlete related deaths and flat out calling WWE CEO Vince McMahon ‘an a—hole’.
Oliver took particular aim at the WWE’s practice of signing athletes to lengthy, exclusive contracts yet calling them independent contractors, which prevents the promotion from having to provide basic health insurance, pensions or long-term medical care for injuries suffered on the job.
“Maybe when wrestlers might work years ago for multiple, different [wrestling] organizations, it made sense to call them contractors,” Oliver said. “But now that WWE has a choke hold on this industry, it makes just as much sense to call them that as it does to call Jimmy Carter a ‘panty-dropping f–k machine.’ It’s just clearly not true, anymore.”
On Monday, WWE issued a response to Oliver’s segment while stating that they responded to his producers putting the segment together and then invited the popular host to attend WrestleMania 35 this weekend in New Jersey.
“John Oliver is clearly a clever and humorous entertainer, however, the subject matter covered in his WWE segment is no laughing matter,” WWE officials said in a statement. “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.”
Oliver has won several Emmy Awards and been praised for the meticulous research that goes into the pieces that air on the show each Sunday night on HBO.
Obviously many of the criticisms that Oliver had about WWE are well known issues within the professional wrestling industry but those specific problems were not addressed in the response to the show’s story.
Oliver has taken aim at the WWE in the past, particulary when the company planned — and cashed in — on a lavish show in Saudi Arabia just after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
While Oliver doesn’t typically get into a back and forth with subject matters he covers on his show, he will often times do a follow up and it’s entirely possible he addresses WWE again on his latest episode that will air in direct competition to WrestleMania on Sunday night.