WrestleMania is Sunday! It’s time to crack open a cold one and get ready to sit in front of the television for anywhere from six to nine hours. And it’s also time for the wider public to pay attention to WWE for a week.
Fortunately, the first bit of mainstream WWE coverage is quite good—just not good for WWE and its owner/CEO, Vince McMahon. John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight did a whole segment about wrestler health. If you’re unaware, get this: WWE classifies its wrestlers as independent contractors. It does not offer them health care except for injuries sustained inside the ring. This is, obviously, laughable to everyone except the wrestlers who do not get the full benefits a salaried employee would.
Or, as Oliver puts it: “While the character Vince is an asshole, it’s important to note the real Vince is also an asshole.”
This is not a new thing. Deadspin’s David Bixenspan noted in October that more wrestling fans are caring about the treatment of pro wrestlers and why they’re not unionized. (Jesse Ventura famously attempted to begin unionizing wrestlers before WrestleMania 2, but Hulk Hogan tattled on him to McMahon and the whole thing was scuttled.)
But Oliver gives it more visibility, and also carried with him a suggestion. Oliver says that fans, if they’re upset about that situation, chant about it at WrestleMania. That might be too big an event to organize huge chants around. But there is an event that is famously taken over by the fans: The episode of WWE Raw the night after WrestleMania. Instead of cheering for beach balls or booing Roman Reigns (the fans like him now, anyway), fans now have a push from a comedian to chant about health care instead. Let’s see how it goes.