Kris Statlander appeared on the latest episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast to talk to Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone about her journey from stunt person to standout indie wrestler to the All Elite Wrestling women’s division. She also explained how she ended up in AEW rather than WWE, and it’s a story of timing and flagged tweets.
Statlander explains that she caught WWE’s attention at last year’s WrestleMania weekend with her match against Allysin Kay in Shimmer. She started emailing back and forth with the company and “They were kind of talking about bringing me in for a tryout, but it was more like a formality type thing.” When she couldn’t make a tryout in the U.S., they offered to fly her to the tryout in London, and when she wasn’t sure if she could make that, “It kind of led to just, ‘You know, we kind of just want to hire you, so why don’t we just send you a contract?’ So I didn’t even have to do a tryout.”
She chalks the reason she isn’t in WWE today up to her background check, saying “there’s a lot of things you don’t expect to get flagged.” Some of those things were related to her stunt work, and “There was one time I made a tweet about how my old school got put on lockdown because police thought that a suspicious person was carrying a gun or a weapon at a gas station near my school, so my college went on lockdown, but it was just a guy holding an umbrella. Because I mentioned police in the tweet, it got flagged and stuff like that. It’s very strict.”
Statlander responded to WWE explaining that the flagged things were out of context (“It just highlights words”) and had been deleted just after she submitted her background check anyway. “They were like ‘Okay, we’ll get back to you. It could be a while though,'” Statlander says. “During that ‘while’ period, AEW snuck their way in and were like ‘We want to book you for a Dark match’ and I was like ‘Oh, okay.'”
She was offered a contract with AEW after her Dark match, though like the WWE tryout offers, it was a formality; Edwards told her she was “pretty much hired” when she showed up. After choosing to sign with AEW, Statlander sent an email to WWE saying “‘Unfortunately, I have another offer that works with my overall life schedule a little bit better’ because I’m also a massage therapist and I would still be able to do that, and I had just gotten my license that year, so I was like, ‘I kind of still want to, I don’t want to waste that [license] that I just went to school for two years for.'”
So wrestling fans have massage therapy and a weird background check algorithm to thank for Statlander being in AEW – or blame for her not being in NXT.