Speed Reads

Johnsplaining

John Oliver wants to force the WWE to treat its wrestlers better. His plan involves fellow wrestling fans.

John Oliver dedicated the bulk of Sunday's Last Week Tonight to "professional wrestling, literally the only good excuse to wear a onesie — and that's right, babies, you're not pulling it off." Specifically, Oliver focused on "the undisputed corporate champion of wrestling, the WWE," and its "incredibly powerful" chairman and CEO, Vince McMahon, who "eliminated or absorbed" regional wrestling competitors throughout the 1980s and '90s to essentially form a wrestling monopoly.

Look, "I like wrestling," Oliver said. "It's objectively entertaining," and the WWE has "delivered numerous ludicrous and genuinely incredible moments," some of which he played. That's why WWE's WrestleMania is the No. 6 most valuable sports brand, just below the World Cup and four slots above the World Series, he said. But the wrestlers themselves die early at a "shockingly high" rate, and many fans "legitimately hate" McMahon "because while the WWE has made him a billionaire, many wrestlers say he's treated them terribly," and he has "shielded himself from responsibility for his wrestlers' welfare" to a "shocking" degree, mostly by ludicrously labeling them "independent contractors."

"When you take all of this together — with wrestlers working as independent contractors in a monopolized industry largely free form meaningful oversight and able to be fired at any time — you wind up with an environment with huge potential for unsafe conduct," Oliver said. Wrestling fans "really care about these wrestlers," even "long after the WWE has abandoned them," but fans shouldn't have to crowdfund their health care and funeral costs.

"Even the NFL, for all its massive faults, now offers players health reimbursement accounts and have 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." He offered a plan for how the WWE's influential fans might force a change at next week's live WrestleMania, laid out in a familiar format. (There is NSFW language.) Watch below. Peter Weber