On the latest episode of AEW Unrestricted, Kris Statlander discussed her road to recovery with Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone. Statlander tore her ACL last summer off a dive, and she recalled her injury and what she felt at the time.
“I don’t know. My theory is that it was the most gentle one that I’ve ever done because if you’ve seen the ones I do before, I just kind of haul ass through it because I’m so long that I’m afraid that my feet are going to hit the rope, so I just go as hard as I can,” Statlander explained. “But the way that it was set up to do it in this match, it was just get in on one side of the ring, run across and go as opposed to get up, hit the ropes and then go. So I think because I didn’t have as much momentum going into it, it was a little bit more gentle, but it wasn’t on the the diving through the ropes part.
“It was the way my foot landed somehow where I think I had tucked my toes under, and I don’t know. It didn’t feel like it was like over tracking forward. It didn’t feel like anything was wrong. It didn’t hurt really. I just felt kind of a [Statlander makes an air sound effect] in my knee. It’s so hard to explain. I didn’t hear a large pop. It really did not hurt. I know everyone that was there kind of watched me walk to the back afterwards, so they were probably like, ‘Oh, it’s probably not so bad,’ but after the MRI, Doc [Sampson] said it was hanging on by a thread, which means in order for it to have been torn that bad, I must have had a pre-existing condition or something, which I’ve never had any problems.
“So I had no idea. So I really don’t know exactly how it happened. It wasn’t like I got hit in the knee. I feel like I didn’t land weird. The angle that we have of it, from the side, you can kind of see the way I land. I’ve seen people land so much worse than the way I did and then have nothing.”
Statlander discussed why her surgery was delayed. She also went into detail on the process she went through for nearly two months.
“So I got injured on June 10. It was a live show,” Statlander recalled. “I did not have surgery until July 28. I didn’t want to wait that long. It was not my choice. They have to wait till the swelling in the knee goes down to be able to see everything and not have any further, complications plus COVID was super bad at that time. There were just a lot of precautions that prevented me from getting it done, and me being the dumb idiot that I am, once it stopped really hurting after a week or two where it wasn’t so stiff anymore because I was just working on mobility and everything, I was just walking around on it a lot wrapped up in an Ace bandage.
“So I kept walking on it because I was like, ‘I don’t need crutches, I hate them.’ They told me that the more you use it and do exercises with your legs, just the bare minimum, leg rehab exercises that you can do, the better you’ll be or the quicker your recovery will be. That was not true. I mean, it was true to a point where I was like, I felt good. I was feeling good quicker probably because I was doing so much before, but it probably also did not help with the swelling, the fact that I was walking around on it a lot before I got the surgery so it took a long time.
“They originally when they scheduled it, were going to have it done August 12, the surgery. That’s over two months after the injury, and I was like, do you have anything sooner because I got to go back to work at some point. This isn’t just free time. I need to be cleared to work and stuff. So it took a very long time to get the surgery, which was not my choice. I did not want to wait that long. That’s just how it happened.”
Statlander later discussed her frustrations in trying to get cleared by her surgeon. She explained why despite her frustrations, she understands why her return was delayed.
“The first time I actually got in the ring and was just trying out some basic, chain, very slow motion, just trying to learn how to run the ropes again was actually the end of December, but then I would take a good amount of time off in between from going in ring just to make sure that I’m not over doing anything with my leg,” Statlander explained. “But I would still have to ask Doc every day, ‘Hey, can I do suplexes today? Can I do body slams today,’ and he would tell me yes or no. So there was still some things that, even up until my surgeon cleared me, Doc was not letting me do just because surgeons have the final word, but at the same time, I think people that don’t know wrestling don’t know or don’t understand that there’s ways that we can cover up having an injury, and there’s ways to work around an injury and that even if I wasn’t cleared, I probably could have done my return Arcade Anarchy match spot.
“I probably could have done that and have been totally fine. It’s just more the precaution of giving your leg the time to heal and really solidify itself. It was frustrating because Doc was seeing everything that I was doing. I was doing very basic but full matches very quick, five minute things, and then we kept trying to convince my surgeons, ‘Hey, she’s doing everything in the ring and probably more than what she should be able to do at this point. She’s good to go.’ And Doc kept talking to him, trying to be like, ‘Hey, it’s okay. She’s doing great,’ but now looking back in retrospect, I don’t mind that they made me wait as long as I did because I probably wouldn’t come back from each match feeling as good as I do if I came back earlier.
“I still aching in my knee from walking around all day. We have long days when where they’re standing on concrete, and I have to tell myself to sit down more because I just got back from knee surgery, but it’s not as bad as it probably would be if I came back earlier than I did. So I’m very happy that they made my stubborn ass sit down and be like, ‘No, don’t do it. Don’t do it.’ It was just frustrating for me because I mentally and physically felt ready, and I was like, it’s been long enough. I had almost two months before the surgery I had to wait. I have these seven and a half – eight months after. I think I’m good to go. Please let me go. It was just more mentally frustrating than anything. I know in my heart that it is better for me to have stayed out as long as I did.”
Statlander also discussed her alien persona. Upon her AEW return, Statlander came back with a new look, and she talked about the reason for that, and she addressed the criticisms people have over her alien character.
“With the new look, because I know there’s a lot of criticism about ‘how is she an alien? All she does is have some dots and lines on her face and stuff like that,'” Statlander recalled. “So I wanted to make it more visual for fans to kind of understand a little bit better. Just because I say I’m an alien or whatever, you can interpret whatever you don’t know however, you want. If that’s how I interpreted it, that’s fine. It’s my take on it, but I feel like this look is so much better and doing it on this side with the purple hair, the whole idea is that this is the alien hair coming out of my head.
“So that’s why the green is on this side, and that’s the real skin. This is the real hair, the contact [and] the real eyeball and so I saw some things on Twitter where people are like, ‘Oh, this reminds me of V,’ which I think it’s short for ‘The Visitors.’ It was some TV show back in like the [’80s] where they had green reptile skin peeled underneath. They peeled away the human skin underneath the reptile skin, and I was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even try that,’ but because there is actually something that it looks similar to, now there’s something that people can actually relate it to, which makes it more believable that it’s a thing.
“But then, again, people still criticize. ‘Oh, the alien thing is dumb and stuff.’ That’s fine. You don’t have to like it. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad wrestler or anything. I don’t even care if people don’t like the character. I always find it funny when people are like, ‘Oh, I think Kris is awesome. She just has a dumb gimmick,’ and it’s like, that’s great. I don’t care. I don’t care if you don’t like the character. It’s what I feel comfortable with portraying myself, but if you think I’m a good wrestler, that’s all I care about. That’s all I need to hear.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.