“It just feels so nice to physically hold something, to feel like you deserve it for once...”-Kris Statlander, Road to San Diego, 5/30/23
These words were spoken by a new and teary-eyed TBS Championship following her shocking win over Jade Cargill at 2023’s Double or Nothing. Good lord, what a moment. Time after time she would have the brakes beaten from beneath her, and as a fighter, she would try and try to get back to where she was. Truly an unlucky wrestler, but a wrestler nonetheless who wants to get to where she truly wants to be in this industry, Statlander never lets these multiple injuries stomp the flame that is her quest. That fire is meant to burn bright.
The New Yorker was trained by Pat Buck and Brian Meyers in her home state, becoming the first female graduate from the wrestling academy that is Create-A-Pro, and the accolades would not stop from there.
She’d make good impressions that went a long way in Ring of Honor and an appearance on WWE’s Smackdown Live in a tag match against The IICONICS, and would even face off against Joey Janela in an intergender match for Beyond Wrestling. Needless to say, eyes were on her already.
Soon she was fated to join AEW in late 2019 as an alien from the Andromeda Galaxy and somehow became beloved among the fans. An avid lover of the universe and outer space, Statlander would adorn herself with face paint, act socially awkward, and boop people on the nose while displaying a wholesome rapport with Orange Cassidy. It’s that kind of fondness that would receive love from the children and most indie fans, but in the end, she ultimately decided it wasn’t for her. As time went on, she shed more of that gimmick, with an in-between that felt like a David Bowie tribute as a green bolt was painted across her face, but even that would be gone. She was fully herself, ready to be taken seriously with her hard-hitting style.
Amid her aspirations for championship gold, she would either fall short or would fall to injury. Even joining The Best Friends and NJPW’s Chaos, she would struggle, but would not let it deter her. Twice she has had an injury in her ACL that put her out of action, the first time for the duration of Summer 2020 – Spring 2021 and again in the dawn of 2022’s Summer, this time completely tearing it and her lateral meniscus in her right leg on an episode of AEW Dark. This time, it felt like the former extraterrestrial was destined for a momentous push, only for her to be crippled before the gunshot could pierce the sky to start the race. Not even a chance to reach the finish line.
Kris had the option to sit and stew at home, but instead, she refined herself. She pushed to become stronger, strong enough to overcome that which was not meant to be overcome. Until she was cleared, she was dedicating herself to becoming an absolute machine and to be a wrestler that will give it her all because in the end there’s no telling how much time competitors have left in the ring. Everyone is on borrowed time, and injuries are but a thief to the days needed.
Twice she escaped the Magnum T.A. fate, and with every drop of blood in her body, every drip of sweat from her pores, and every ounce of tears from her eyes – she would make damn sure this next chance would pay off.
Las Vegas. A night that seemed destined for Taya Valkyrie would instead go into the favor of the inconquerable Jade Cargill at Double or Nothing and in gloating in extreme avarice and arrogance, the TBS Champion’s manager and lawyer “Smart” Mark Sterling would proclaim there was no one to defeat Cargill. She’s 60-0, so who could stop her? In this bout of delusional grandeur, she issued an open challenge for an impromptu match as she stood over Taya’s carcass and an answer came.
As her theme “Cauterize” seared through the audience who screamed in bliss, Kris Statlander emerged, ready to fight, fresh out of injury. Had it been any other woman, Jade could have survived in a dominant fashion. Had it been any other woman who hadn’t had the rug pulled from underneath and with nothing to prove, she would have retained.
But she wasn’t. This was a woman who was sick and tired of sitting in the bleachers, from the sidelines. Kris Statlander was stronger, bigger, and hungrier than ever. What’s more is that she had something to prove, and tell me, what in creation is more dangerous, more fearsome, more immovable than someone who has something to prove?
Earlier in this article, at the very top in fact, I pulled a quote from the Long Island native. The notion of holding something in your hands something that you deserve…that’s stuck with me.
My sincere apologies for attaching myself to a wrestler’s journey, but sometimes their stories are what keep us moving, what keeps us pushing forward. We all have something to prove. Her holding the belt in her hands gave me a vision.
I’m a writer. It is my dream to become an author and see something I made become published. I want to hold a book in my hands, knowing my name is on it, my words are on it, and the characters and worlds within belong to me. I want to hold it knowing that for that moment and the years to come, others would hold it in their hands – reading it in coffee shops, libraries, and anywhere you can think of, and attaching themselves to my stories. I want to become immortal through what I’ve done in the now.
Soon, I will hold my own championship as Kris Statlander did in Vegas. My spear will shake that white whale and I will have that bragging right as she does as TBS Women’s Champion.
This is what we do, whether we can stand or not, for we must attempt. That’s what we do, we rise – time and again.