Just one week ahead of WrestleMania, John Oliver took to Last Week Tonight to deliver a brutal and scathing rant about WWE. On the show, Oliver makes it clear at the start he has no problem with pro wrestling, and is actually a wrestling fan. After showing some clips of WWE's more colorful moments from the past couple decades, the Last Week Tonight host makes it clear that he finds the product extremely entertaining. However, Oliver has many issues with how things are run at WWE behind the scenes, and opened up about what's seriously wrong with the wrestling business.
Starting with the elephant in the room, Oliver touches on the life expectancy rate for WWE veterans. Dying at an early age is not unusual for professional wrestlers, in addition to lifelong handicaps and other lingering effects caused from a lifetime spent in the ring. Mentioning deceased wrestling legends like Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Eddie Guerrero, Chyna, and King Kong Bundy, Oliver shows the "shockingly high" death rate among WWE stars. As Oliver explains in the segment, wrestlers typically would work through major injuries so as to avoid losing their spot on the roster. This led to addictions to painkillers and other drugs, which in turn leads to more early deaths.
Another major problem John Oliver sees with how WWE does business is the way the wrestlers are treated as independent contractors. By labeling this way instead of considering them employees, WWE gets around requirements to give the performers certain benefits, such as pensions, medical leave, and health insurance. With the help of the words of Jesse "The Body" Ventura in a clip from a Howard Stern interview, Oliver stresses how considering wrestlers independent contractors is ludicrous. For example, according to the United States, independent contractors are supposed to have the freedom to work anywhere they choose, but wrestlers are required to sign exclusive contracts when working with WWE.
Oliver also takes aim at the head of the company, Vince McMahonhimself. The Last Week Tonight host begins by explaining how McMahon often plays a villainous version of himself on WWE television, but his methods of portraying his character are questionable. Clips of him using a racial slur and ordering a female wrestler to bark like a dog demonstrate this point, with Oliver noting how McMahon himself has complete creative control. "While the character Vince McMahon is an asshole," Oliver says, "it's important to know that the real Vince is also an asshole, and many fans legitimately hate him." Many wrestlers feel the same, with Bret Hart explaining how wrestlers "end up with nothing when it's over, and then they sort of take you out back and put a slug in the back of your head and dump you out."
To cap off the WWE segment, Oliver then plays a video meant to inform McMahon of what wrestling fans really want. After speaking about how fans chipped in to pay for the healthcare of Jake "The Snake" Roberts and other wrestlers, proving how much they care, Oliver presented a spoof WWE commercial for McMahon to watch. Against clips of wrestlers being harmed and with the narration of a wrestling announcer, the video demands things like workers comp, retirement accounts, and family/medical leave. Hopefully the WWE takes note. You can watch John Oliver's entire rant in the video below.