Heading into WrestleMania weekend, HBO's Last Week Tonight decided to give WWE some attention on its programming. John Oliver used 20+ minutes to talk about how wrestlers are treated by WWE and their status as independent contractors. You can watch the full video above.
Oliver showed a chart going into detail of the expected death rate of the population as a whole and compared it to former NFL players and pro wrestlers. The wrestling aspect was much higher than both categories combined. Wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero, King Kong Bundy, Chyna and Randy Savage were shown as examples. He goes on to say the WWE does not have an offseason to help the wrestlers recover from long schedules.
The host then talks about how Vince McMahon controls the wrestling landscape with WWE being the main entity, with Vince being involved in all aspects of WWE programming. Oliver utilizes the WWE website regarding the definition of independent contractors and how some wrestlers don't have health insurance with the company due to their status. Past interviews with Bret Hart, Jesse Ventura, CM Punk and Roddy Piper were used. Oliver brings up the fact that Ventura at one point tried to unionize pro wrestling, something that has still not happened.
In Piper's case, he talked about the fact there is no "out plan" for wrestlers, stating he wouldn't be alive by the age of 65. Piper died in 2015 at the age of 61. A clip of Jake "The Snake" Roberts' comeback was shown, with fans providing money for a surgery he was going through, and what he may have needed after. When asked years ago about not having anything for the wrestlers, Vince was shown brushing an interviewer off.
In regards to funding for older wrestlers, John Oliver goes on to say the NFL now have these contingency plans, including health reimbursement and a Legacy Fund. Fans are currently helping to pay for medical expenses and funeral costs for wrestlers via donations.
Oliver suggested that fans of the product can utilize their voice as they did for the "#GiveDivasAChance" movement. He stated there is potential for those in attendance at WrestleMania to make signs and chants for long-term healthcare or for the wrestlers to be classified as his actual employees, not independent contractors.
This is not the first time that Oliver has mentioned WWE before; the company's involvement with Saudi Arabia was discussed twice in 2018.
John Soto, damien demento, Peter Bahi, Marc Dykton and Chris Chavis contributed to this article.