They say any publicity is good publicity, especially to a company as hungry for mainstream recognition as WWE, but Vince McMahon cannot be happy with last night’s episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
WWE was the focus of Last Week Tonight’s "main story," which typically takes up around two thirds of the 30 minute show, and blasted the company for its treatment of its performers, especially their designation as "independent contractors" despite being signed to exclusive contracts. Oliver, who noted at the beginning of the piece he is a fan of wrestling, also called Vince McMahon "an assh*le in real life" and encouraged fans to bring signs and start chants next Sunday at WrestleMania to elicit change.
WWE’s astonishing treatment of its wrestlers is one of the industry’s worst kept secrets, and something that everybody is just sort of used to by now. As the Last Week Tonight segment points out, it is in no way legal to sign workers to exclusive contracts while at the same time designating them "independent contractors" and deny them health care or even waive liability in case of death, even if it was due to negligence of WWE itself.
Unfortunately, WWE is currently the only major player in the industry and holds a monopolistic stranglehold over it, so wrestlers who want to compete on the biggest stage and make the most money possible have to play by their rules. This is one of the many reasons why wrestling fans are placing a lot of hope in All Elite Wrestling’s attempt to become a viable alternative.
Watch the piece above.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver airs Sunday nights at 11pm ET on HBO.