Television host and comedian John Oliver created quite a stir in the wrestling community on Sunday, as that night’s episode of Last Week Tonight on HBO featured a lengthy commentary on how he feels WWE, through its owner and chairman, Vince McMahon, doesn’t pay much attention to the safety and welfare of its wrestlers. As such, it didn’t take long for wrestling personalities, including a number of former WWE superstars, to respond to Oliver’s piece.
In a report published Monday, WrestlingNews.co listed several Twitter posts from the wrestling community, starting with former WCW and WWE mid-carder Lance Storm, who quipped that Oliver won’t be the celebrity whom the company inducts into its Hall of Fame this year. In reality, it appears that WWE’s Hall of Fame class of 2019 won’t include any celebrity inductions as it had in most previous years, as noted last week in a separate WrestlingNews.co report.
According to a report from The Inquisitr, one of Oliver’s more pointed comments in his piece had him accuse WWE of classifying its wrestlers as independent contractors so that it could avoid paying them certain benefits, including health insurance and paid leaves. Chavo Guerrero, whose lengthy wrestling career included several years in WWE, thanked Oliver on Twitter for bringing this up, adding the hashtags “#keepingupthefight,” “#notindependentcontractors,” and “#union” in his post.
Likewise, independent wrestling standout Colt Cabana, who had a brief WWE stint under the ring name Scotty Goldman, congratulated Oliver and commended him for mentioning the “independent contractor” controversy on his show, tweeting that he hopes his piece “gets people taking [sic]” about such important issues.
Jim Cornette, who was best known in WWE for his on-air work as a manager and commentator in the 1990s, tweeted that Oliver’s remarks were the “absolute most truthful outside media piece” he’s seen on the wrestling business in more than four decades in the industry.
In relation to the above accusations against WWE, John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight piece included a clip of CM Punk’s appearance on Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast in 2014, where he alleged that WWE once gave him so many doses of an antibiotic that he “s**t [his] pants on SmackDown,” as quoted by Wrestling Inc. This prompted Oliver to show a photo of Punk from the purported SmackDown episode where the unfortunate incident happened, as well as a screenshot of a tweet the former WWE Champion sent after the show had aired.
Per Wrestling Inc., Punk used almost the same words he did in the original tweet, as he took to the social media platform to comment on how he was referenced by Oliver.
In a statement issued on Monday to multiple publications, including WhatCulture, WWE responded to Oliver’s accusations, acknowledging the British comedian as a “clever and humorous” entertainer, but also alleging that he “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,” WWE continued. “We invite John Oliver to attend WrestleMania this Sunday to learn more about our company.”