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John Oliver's WWE takedown just scored him a free ticket to Wrestlemania

Photo: Left: John Oliver (Ilya S. Savenok); Right: Vince McMahon (Lawrence Lucier (Getty Images)

The WWE smells what John Oliver is cooking, but it won’t sniff it lying down. The wrestling juggernaut has released a statement (via Deadline) in response to Oliver’s fierce, funny takedown on last night’s Last Week Tonight, in which the comedian criticized the WWE for its inhumane treatment of the wrestlers who break their bodies day in and out for the company.

“While the character Vince is an asshole, it’s important to know that the real Vince is also an asshole,” Oliver said, referring to CEO Vince McMahon’s on and offscreen personas. “Many fans legitimately hate him because while the WWE has made him a billionaire, many wrestlers say he’s treated them terribly.”

“John Oliver is clearly a clever and humorous entertainer, however the subject matter covered in his WWE segment is no laughing matter,” the WWE’s statement reads. “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.”

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That’s a pretty weak response to Oliver’s 23-minute segment, which was backed by statistics, wrestler testimonials, and passages from official WWE documentation. They’ve even invited him to “learn more about our company” by attending this weekend’s Wrestlemania. While Oliver would no doubt enjoy the spectacle—if there’s one thing his segment made clear, it’s that he’s a fan of the product—he’s wise enough to know that he’d be eating a steel chair the moment he walked by McMahon’s office. The CEO is likely still smarting from Oliver’s piece about the WWE’s partnership with Saudi Arabia.

In a just world, WWE would heed the words of the late, great Owen Hart: “Enough is enough and it’s time for a change.” Instead, McMahon will likely echo John Cena’s “you can’t see me, scurrying back into the gym until this all blows over. That is, of course, unless fans get more vocal about their desire for better working conditions. You can’t ignore the chants forever.

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.