For those not in the know, on a recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the tv host and self-proclaimed wrestling fan revealed that the independent clauses wrestlers “sign up for” to work for WWE is nothing but unconscionable. Performing 200+ nights a year away from their families and traveling the world, their wrestlers work so tirelessly they barely have a life to save up for when they're not in the ring. Contracted as practically self-employed, wrestlers perform exclusively for WWE facing no annual leave, no pension plan, responsibility for their own expenses for company-initiated appearances, and possible termination if an injury prevents them from working for more than six weeks. In 2016, fifty-three lawsuit former wrestlers who sustained life-threatening injuries filed that WWE wrongly mishired them as independent contractors instead of employees, leaving them to miss the benefits of important employment laws. On an equally a heavily substantial note, Oliver connected the dots between McMahon's monopoly of the industry to wrestlers heightened death rate in comparison to the general population as well as other sports industries including NFL.
As briskly in-depth as Oliver’s editorial was for a half-hour show, he missed key details about WWE's other practices to help wrestlers. From booking to payment, their contracts for talent are much more in-depth than a few highlights to cherrypick and read. In terms of working with talent, their WWE Sponsored Rehab Program assists wrestlers into facilities, provides coverage for in-ring injuries, and the company reimburses talent for educational purposes. Despite Oliver's call for stronger healthcare within wrestling, there's controversy over how the insurance would work for wrestlers and if the talent wants a collective union (as obvious as it may sound).
Additionally, Oliver also misconstrues reporting deaths caused outside of an organization's control versus the result of a wrestling injury. As recent as June 2018, wrestlerdeaths.com recorded that deaths stemming heart-related issues and cancer was 27.9% and 19.06%, respectively, while in-ring related injuries leading to death was 8.52%. Despite the statistics, medical experts still believe professional wrestlers suffer a higher mortality rate via cardiovascular disease due to non-stop physical activity and lifestyle habits such as substance abuse.