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HBO's award-winning Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has long been known for its long and detailed pieces that expose individuals or companies of wrongdoing, and has made plenty of headlines for doing so. Now, the subject of one of its recent pieces is firing back as the WWE has released a statement addressing the show's claims:
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.
As of writing, neither John Oliver or Last Week Tonight have publicly responded to the WWE's invitation to attend Wrestlemania. The company will be doing a lot of publicity for its biggest event of the year in the coming days, so the response (via THR) may have been a way to get out ahead of any questions that might unexpectedly float out to talent as they make their rounds on the media circuit.
As mentioned, Last Week Tonight's segment on the WWE called attention to the massive organization and its contractual relationship with performers. John Oliver positioned the company's head Vince McMahon as a businessman who developed a system that doesn't look out for the well-being of its performers. Oliver additionally referenced departed wrestling legends like Rowdy Roddy Piper, Eddie Guerrero, and Macho Man Randy Savage as folks who died untimely deaths, and suggests McMahon actively shields himself from any responsibility. Take a look!
The video is a long watch, but points out interesting things like the requirement that WWE superstars remain exclusive to the organization while signing contracts that list them as "independent contractors." Last Week Tonight states this arrangement denies talent annual paid leave, pensions, or benefits from health insurance. It also mentions the rampant year-long schedule many performers are subjected to, which encourages them to work through injury to keep getting paid which leads to more health problems down the road.
While the WWE is quite clearly upset about Last Week Tonight's recent piece, there are former faces of the company that have reached out to show their support of the segment. Jim Cornette and Paul London made comments regarding the video on their Twitter accounts, and former WWE champion CM Punk tweeted out a spin on a tweet that was referenced in the video.
There's still a chance for the drama between the two parties to escalate further, as the WWE has upcoming episodes of Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live that will air ahead of Wrestlemania Sunday, April 7. For more on programming that's looking into the less savory parts of wrestling, check out which network will be airing a docuseries on the business in the near future.