Kris Statlander is on the All Elite Wrestling injured list, but she is still finding a way to positively impact the wrestling world as a panelist on the new IWTV series The Masked Wrestler.
Statlander tore her ACL in June, halting her rise to stardom in AEW. She is now focused on highlighting eight masked wrestlers in this new series, which sees each losing wrestler unmask.
The show offers an entertaining introduction to a future crop of high-profile wrestlers. Wednesday night’s second episode saw the reveal of emerging indie star KTB, who also had a match this week on AEW Dark. The winner of the tournament will get a shot at IWTV independent champion Warhorse. A product of the indies and a former IWTV independent wrestling champion, Statlander is a perfect fit on the show.
Statlander spoke with Sports Illustrated about her injury recovery, as well as her role on The Masked Wrestler.
You were delivering your best work, showcasing an altogether new dimension to the AEW women’s division before the ACL injury stifled your momentum. What’s been the hardest part of the recovery?
I’ve had injuries before, but nothing this major that’s taken me out for such an extensive period of time. It’s been pretty devastating.
Those who watched you on the indies know your talent, but you were in the process of introducing yourself to a much wider audience in AEW.
That’s the hardest part. There is so much I haven’t got the chance to show yet. Anyone that’s seen my independents knows I can do gimmick matches or hardcore matches. It sucks that I had that taken away from me so early on in AEW. It’s not going to be forever, and I’m going to rebuild everything I started.
It’s never ideal to get injured or have surgery, but there is so much else going on in the world. I’m just focusing on staying home and getting better.
Is there any chance you’ll be back in 2020? Or more likely 2021?
It’s really difficult to tell. It’s a big injury. I had surgery at the end of July, but I’m doing everything I can to get back as soon as I can. Right now, it’s too early to tell.
Your time away from the ring has allowed for a new opportunity as a panelist on The Masked Wrestler. What does it mean to you that AEW gave you the green light for an independent project?
It means so much, especially because I’ve worked so much in the past with IWTV. They gave me the platform to begin to show the world what I could do. There were safety precautions and standards while filming The Masked Wrestler, so we made sure it was a very safe environment. This gives me a chance to still be seen and be who I am.
This project is incredibly unique to pro wrestling. The concept is so much fun, the production values are high and this is now a new platform for indie wrestlers to make a wider impact. What do you think makes this such a great contribution to the wrestling scene?
The people with IWTV are so talented. Their production is great. This is such a fun concept, and it will be even better once you see the wrestlers a few times. They definitely do a few things to try to trick the viewer so we won’t know who they are, trying to make it even more challenging to figure out who is under the mask. If you don’t have a great knowledge of the independent wrestling scene, you will after getting to know the wrestlers under the masks.
Even with the high production values, this show stuck to its fundamental indie wrestling roots. It wasn’t overproduced, nor did it lose the charm of grassroots indie wrestling.
The only people you know are the panelists and the broadcasters, and we’re all learning about the masked wrestlers at the same time as you are. That’s the exciting part. And there are definitely going to be some wrestlers who people recognize. It’s also giving fans a chance to meet some new wrestlers. You’re going to see these wrestlers in a new light.
We’re learning about the wrestlers, but this is also a chance for viewers to get to know you. Is part of your goal to show a different side of your personality?
This is me. Whether I’m in my whole alien zone or not, this is how I act. If I had all my face paint on and I was aliened up, the same exact words would be coming out of my mouth. It’s not a character; it’s really who I am. So it’s a chance to be me. Sometimes people get so caught up on the alien thing that they don’t realize this is just me being myself.
If you’re a wrestling fan, this is a wonderful opportunity to meet some new talent.
It’s just so different from anything else in wrestling. We’re finding out their identity with you, which is super fun. It’s openly available for anyone that wants to tune in. You don’t have to watch it live, and it’s only like 23 minutes long. I think it’s a great way to present wrestling. And I hope this makes people even more excited to see me when I’m back in AEW. It’s a triple win: You get great wrestling, you get new wrestlers introduced and you get me. How could you want anything more?