When Kris Statlander emerged from an arcade machine attacking Penelope Ford on the March 31th episode of AEW Dynamite it marked her first in-ring action in almost a year.
Prior to her shock reappearance, Statlander had been away from Dynamite since June 2020. During a tag match between Statlander and Hikaru Shida and Nyla Rose and Penelope Ford, the New York native injured her knee performing a fairly routine dive.
Appearing on a recent episode of AEW UNrestricted, Statlander described the moment that the injury occurred.
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 went on to explain that during her wait for surgery, she kept walking on the knee and doing exercises. Although she was following advice, she now admits that the advice was wrong.
“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.”
While Statlander was frustrated before her surgery, her recovery was no more straightforward. The AEW star went on to detail her difficulty in getting cleared by her surgeon, adding that while she was frustrated, she understood.
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 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.”
Elsewhere during the in-depth conversation, Statlander addressed the criticism of her alien character, adding that she felt her new look was working out well.
Since returning from injury, Kris Statlander has gone undefeated in singles competition. Most recently defeating Penelope Ford on AEW Dynamite.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.