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WWE called out for mishandling of wrestlers

by Matthew Lauster - Staff Writer
Thu, Apr 11th 2019 04:00 pm
Lack of care  Recently,  John Oliver (above) attacked the WWE for its decision making and its handling of wrestlers. Wrestlers like John Cena (below) have endured multiple injuries throughout their career.
Lack of care Recently, John Oliver (above) attacked the WWE for its decision making and its handling of wrestlers. Wrestlers like John Cena (below) have endured multiple injuries throughout their career.

From Hulk Hogan body slamming Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III to Jeff Hardy finally achieving his World Championship dreams, professional wrestling has provided unforgettable moments for fans all around the world. 

However, behind all the fanfare, there is a dark truth when it comes to the company that monopolizes the industry, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and how it treats the members on its roster.

CEO of WWE, Vince McMahon has received criticism for decades when it comes to the treatment of current and former professional wrestlers.

The most recent person to shed light on the issue was John Oliver on his highly acclaimed talk show on HBO. When discussing WWE, Oliver was critical, using both factual evidence and former wrestlers’ experiences, ranging from greats like Jesse “The Body” Ventura to more recent superstars like CM Punk to prove his point. 

Oliver added that McMahon has done a terrible job of making sure that the health of wrestlers, both former and current, is taken care of. This could not have come at a worse time for both McMahon and his company, as their biggest annual event, “WrestleMania” is exactly one week after Oliver’s broadcast aired on Sunday, March 31. 

One of Oliver’s biggest points for his argument was the WWE's loophole uses in hiring every wrestler as a “private contractor” rather than a full time employee. There is an irony that comes with that, since according to superstars like Ventura, wrestlers who sign with WWE are not allowed to appear on other wrestling programs. McMahon gets out of having to deal with unions for pro wrestlers, as well as not having to worry about paying for health benefits. 

This leads to trouble and untimely ends for these former heroes of the squared circle according to Oliver, who pulled up research from Fivethirtyeight, an ABC News affiliate, that cites how wrestlers from WWF era (1980s-1990s) died at a rate double to triple the actual rate from ages 35 through 60. Comparing that statistic to the other four major sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL), the only league that came close to those same numbers was the NFL which was on point with the actual death of certain early ages. 

It does not take a lot of research to notice the short lives that it seems many professional wrestlers have. Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Rowdy Rowdy Piper and King Kong Bundy are the biggest names linked to these tragedies where drugs came into play. 

Reporters and other members of the media besides Oliver have also highlighted this issue. In the video that has gone viral, Oliver highlights how doctors from the WWE would give pro wrestlers painkillers or the wrestlers would take drugs themselves in fear of being injured and losing their spot on the roster. A former wrestler who has been really outspoken about this is CM Punk who, in the video on Oliver’s show, talks about the time he was given pain killers by WWE doctors to treat a concussion which led to him vomiting back stage and defecating himself on a live episode of one of WWE’s cable shows “SmackDown.”

According to a report in Newsweek, in reaction to Oliver’s hot take on the WWE, the company has offered an invitation to Oliver to attend the upcoming event, "WrestleMania." Also, in a statement from the WWE addressing what Oliver had to say, the company stated how even though Oliver is “clever and humorous,” he “ignored the facts.” 

 When it comes to members of the WWE, the reaction to what Oliver had to say has been mixed. In an interview with TMZ, pro wrestler The Big Show supported the company he has been a part of for decades, citing how he is 47 years old and how the WWE has changed for the better.

“I’ve had a long career, I’ve had a lot of injuries,” Big Show told TMZ. “I knew from day one stepping through those ropes that it was not an easy job. I took the paychecks, I took the fame, I took the torture and those are the risks that happen, and the industries changed. It has done everything it can to protect the athlete.” 

The problem with WWE's treatment of its employees is that they put their bodies through immense pain. WWE, like many other big corporations, care more about constantly producing content than the health of their wrestlers.

Even though some would rush to defend the industry, John Oliver is right. These athletes, which have provided so many fantastic memories for people everywhere, including myself, deserve proper treatment both physically and mentally through proper benefits and paid leave. 

Even though it has been a long time since I have watched a match, I do not want to hear how some of my favorite childhood idols have to beg in order to receive necessary medical treatment.