John Oliver and HBO’s latest report on WWE from Sun., Mar. 31 broke out in the mainstream media this morning, with outlets ranging from Time to Slate to The Hollywood Reporter writing about Last Week Tonight’s expose on how the sports entertainment giant approaches the health and well-being of its wrestlers.
It’s not a story WWE would ever want to blow up, but especially not during WrestleMania week. The build and follow-up to their biggest event is a time when they love to push the narrative that their business is just another wholesome form of entertainment like any other - not one which allegedly uses up its talent for maximum revenue and doesn’t worry about their life after wrestling.
Making matters worse, a number of prominent industry figures have spoken out in support of the HBO show and their piece:
Well, after a complete viewing, this is the absolute most truthful outside media piece I've seen on wrestling in over 40 years:https://t.co/CKsAnqbGUS— Jim Cornette (@TheJimCornette) April 1, 2019
Will trolls call him bitter too? Sometimes you gotta hear it from an outside source. One who is precisely accurate https://t.co/Pun9cIVpgW— Gail Kim-Irvine (@gailkimITSME) April 1, 2019
ESPN contacted me on doing a story about concussions for e60 years ago. I told them that wasn’t the story. The story was on “independent contractors”.— Colt Cabana (@ColtCabana) April 1, 2019
Congrats to @iamjohnoliver & #lastweektonite for their great piece & I hope it gets people taking.
Compare the number of premature deaths to those who died of natural causes. Drug addiction is a lethal mask for PHYSICAL & psychological pain. Their wellness policy is also a sham & a selective "witch hunt" to weed out those who don't "play the game." Don't buy into #Propaganda— London...Paul London (@LondonFu) April 1, 2019
and to clarify, I'm not trying to encourage "this company's bad, this company's good" mud slinging or nit picking. just encouraging folks to support alternatives since the competition for your interest will create positive outcomes for wrestlers across the board.— HANGMAN PAGE (@theAdamPage) April 1, 2019
Thank you @iamjohnoliver for exposing the fraud that is the Independent Contractor status of #WWE talent. Guess what it doesn’t just apply to the wrestlers, but also their announce team.— Alex Del Barrio (@alexdelbarrio) April 1, 2019
I was an “independent contractor” that was required to report to work on certain days
The story was getting so much play WWE couldn’t ignore it, and issued the following to statement to Pro Wrestling Sheet and other outlets:
“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. 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 spokesperson told Pro Wrestling Sheet:
“The show likes to let the segments speak for themselves and will not be available to comment on this.”
While I wouldn’t expect Oliver to attend ‘Mania this Sunday at MetLife Stadium, I also doubt we’ve heard the last of this issue. And going by what many with experience in the WWE system are tweeting, it would probably be a good thing for some of our favorite wrestlers if that ends up being true.