Well, the long day’s journey into night and into the next
day called Wrestlemania is history.
After all the overbooked women’s main event matches, the
questionable racial elements to storyline builds, the RAWs
that seem to last longer than last night/this morning’s
Wrestlemania….what appears by most to be a successful
Wrestlemania has been completed only hours ago.
No screwing around with the finishes many hoped for (except
for a few Bayley and Sasha or Brock Lesnar fans, perhaps).
We got the happy ending with the Kofi Kingston-Daniel Bryan
match that seemed scheduled awfully early in the show.
Perhaps WWE was bound and determined to have the Women’s
Main Event as the go-home feel good finish no matter what,
even if the biggest crowd reaction of the night was for the
Kingston win. There IS that Saudi show (now postponed until
June) to be able to plausibly deny to the mainstream media
by using a women’s main event to “show their commitment to
But that’s to come…because the real life intrusion into
Wrestlemania I thought might come from the Kofi angle or
media finally noticing the Saudi-WWE marriage was alive and
well and ready to produce yet another mega-million payoff
for a blood money show headlined by the
Undertaker…actually came from somewhat out of nowhere
from John Oliver on his Last Week Tonight HBO March 31 show.
In a story that for the first 2 minutes sounded like fanboy
city (Oliver is an admitted fan) Oliver then got dead
serious, first making clear how large a legitimate business
WWE is and it’s corporate worth (and Vince McMahon’s), then
attacking WWE’s independent contractor/ employee fairy tale.
The piece pointed out in involved detail how US law applies
to employees and to independent contractors; and how by any
objective standards, WWE is clearly violating them to avoid
providing them with health insurance (and worse, requiring
talent to have their own health insurance), paid retirement,
Social Security payments, as well as follow discrimination
and occupational health/safety laws.
WWE talent clearly sign full-time exclusive contracts (not
permitted by law) and cannot take outside work (not
permitted by law), are restricted in the types of
endorsements and outside endeavors they can promote (also
not permitted by law). US law states independent contractors
are supposed to work “when and for whom he or she chooses.”
That’s obviously far from the case with WWE (with the
exception of part timers).
Oliver went as far as to say that “…while the character
Vince is an assh%$e, it’s important to know that the real
Vince is also an assh%$e…many fans legitimately hate him,
because while the WWE has made him a billionaire, many
wrestlers say he’s treated them terribly.” He pointed out
that in days past when wrestlers worked for several
different promotions, they could in fact be called
contractors, but not now under the conditions WWE places
upon their talent.
Oliver’s piece then went into the high death toll wrestlers
suffer, citing examples both in and out of WWE as well as
the overall death rate of wrestlers, and made the point that
rate is worse than even the NFL. He went so far as to say:
“Even the NFL, for all its massive faults, now offers
players health reimbursement accounts and has established a
legacy fund for older players who may be dealing with health
issues,” Oliver said. “And when you’ve lost the moral high
ground to the f%$king NFL, you are morally subterranean.”
WWE tried to dismiss Oliver with the following statement in
response: “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. ”
But the points Oliver made are valid. It also isn’t his
first time talking about WWE, with the first piece attacking
WWE going ahead with Crown Jewel despite the murder of
journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
So like I said last week, reality does intrude into the
fantasy world…even the one called Wrestlemania. Count on
it not being the last time either.
Until next time…
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