Lucha Tributes: La Parka/L.A. Park
Other than small changes I've never found myself with an opportunity to update a specific column of mine. Until today that is! Hey, when a childhood hero of yours goes from one wrestling company to the next in the matter of a day (if he was even there to begin with!), opens up a world possibilities and gives one of the most entertaining interviews ever, an update is more than just required. So ladies, gentlemen and yes, even you T.O. (I know you at least caught a glimpse of this) grab your socks and pull; this here is the slightly overhauled Lucha Tribute for a man who now goes by L.A. Park. But you know him by another name. You know him…as La Parka.
What You Already Know
This is a two fold section. For fans in the United States, the original La Parka is best known for his five year run in the 90’s with WCW, where he competed as a member of the cruiserweight division. Though he won zero titles during his run and only competed in a handful of PPV’s, his unique look (who can beat the skeleton costume?), charisma and antics have given him cult status with American wrestling fans, and he’s still considered to be one of the most entertaining luchadors to compete in the States. His most famous quirk was to carry a chair during his entrance, which he would use to air guitar. Basically, the next time you see a man in a skeleton costume playing air guitar with a steel chair, know that it’s La Parka, and that you immediately need to seek out more info on him.
As great as cult status in the US is however, La Parka has reached even greater heights in his native Mexico. Whether it's been as La Parka or more recently L.A. Park, the man has crafted one of the most legendary careers in lucha libre, headlining shows for both CMLL and AAA (including several Triplemania's), winning several titles and pretty much just carrying over everything that made American audiences love him times tenfold. He's also developed a reputation as one of the most outspoken and prideful luchadors in recent memory, which explains a) his AMAZING Arena Mexico promo that got him into trouble just a September ago and b) his lack of recent long term stays for a company. Never say anyone could tie down the great La Parka folks.
What You Didn’t Know
Let’s get some superficial stuff out of the way; yes, La Parka’s entrance music in Mexico is indeed “Thriller” by Michael Jackson (so very fitting), no he didn’t defeat “Macho Man” Randy Savage on an episode of WCW Monday Nitro (that was in fact DDP in disguise) and yes, Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara both nearly ruined him at the tail end of WCW by doing a stupid voiceover gimmick and making La Parka a fan of Skelator. Glad we could clear that up and shake our heads together in unison.
From there, what you need to know is that our hero was in fact a late bloomer of sorts to lucha libre stardom. Though he started wrestling all the way back in 1982 (when he was only 16), La Parka didn’t become a household name in Mexico for another ten years, spending his first decade wrestling under names such as El Gringo, El Minero, Principe Island and even his real name (Adolfo Tapia). This actually isn’t an uncommon practice in lucha libre, as the legendary El Santo himself spent several years under several failed gimmicks before becoming the most famous luchadore of all time. Just goes to show you that patience and hard work paid off in both cases. Needless to say, La Parka hasn’t looked back since, having pretty much wrestled everywhere around the world with the exception of WWE. I shit you not; we've already covered how La Parka has worked every big lucha libre promotion, but he's also worked several Japanese promotions, a match in ECW during the 90s and even a short run in TNA. Yes, La Parka was even in TNA. We’re getting to the point where “who hasn’t” is a legit question for that promotion.
Unfortunately, La Parka’s fame hasn’t come without struggle. The “La Parka” gimmick was in fact not created by the man behind the mask, but by Antonio Pena, the booker and founder of AAA. Due to this (and the very wonky trademark rules of Mexico), Pena and AAA were able to use the gimmick and name after La Parka went to WCW, leading to the creation of a La Parka Jr. (portrayed by, oddly enough, another journeyman luchadore named Jesus Escoboza). Though there were originally no issues between La Parka and AAA, things changed when La Parka signed with CMLL following WCW’s demise. AAA immediately pursued legal action to get the rights to the La Parka name and gimmick, leading to a truckload of lawsuits over the course of several years. The end result was AAA gaining the rights to La Parka (making La Parka Jr the new La Parka), and the original La Parka being forced to change his name to the aforementioned L.A. Park (short for La Autentica ParK), as well as having to modify his costume for a time. While this is certainly not the first time such a controversy has happened in wrestling (or Mexico no less), it’s certainly one of the most noteworthy. I mean hell, can you imagine The Rock having to give up The Rock name because Don Muraco woke up one morning and decided he didn’t like that? That’s basically what happened to La Parka here, and what a damn shame. No disrespect to Escoboza (okay, some disrespect) but he's nowhere near the level of the original, which has led to many (including myself) still labeling Park as the one and only La Parka. Hence why he's still being referred to as Parka moreso than Park in this column!
Despite the legal stuff, La Parka still remains an active luchadore in the Mexican circuit and my goodness has that activity grown recently. When I first wrote this column Parka had just finished up an all too brief stint with CMLL that ended following one of the most controversial (and in my opinion hilarious) promos of Parka's career, and it looked as though he'd be out of the limelight for awhile. Not so fast my friend! Just this past Tuesday La Parka appeared to be set for another run with AAA, appearing on a poster for a Nuevo Laredo show on April 11th that advertised him against El Mesias, Texano and PENTAGON JR. in a fatal four way match (and yes, the thought of original Parka-Pentagon happening made me mark out more than that Puma, Azteca, Mysterio segment on LU last night. Only a little though). In less than a day that went out the window when La Parka and his son, El Hijo del L.A. Park (also quite good) turned up at a Lucha Libre Elite show and officially announced his return to the promotion (and by default CMLL). In short, Parka turned lucha libre on it's head within the span of a day, now looks poised for a huge run in Elite/CMLL, brawled with Cibernetico and called out everyone from Rush to Dr. Wagner Jr. (longtime frenemey and current AAA employee no less) in yet another entertaining interview. I think it's safe to say the Chairman is back folks!
Without a doubt, this has to be La Parka vs.…La Parka. Yes, both the original and replacement La Parka both came to blows in a dream match back in 2010, the same year AAA and the hero of our story finally agreed to resume business. Even though both men were in their mid forties, the bout was hotly anticipated, thanks to the stipulation that the winner of the match would hold the rights to the La Parka name. And well, the match lived up. It featured a whole lot of “Thriller”, a bloody brawl, torn masks, the Roldan family (Joaquin and Dorian), the debut of Los Perros del Mal and truth be told, one of the most satisfying matches I’ve ever seen; it’s like if you put Rock and Hogan in skeleton costumes, taught them a few high flying moves and then let them kick the shit out of each other. Without a doubt, one of my favorite matches ever, and perhaps the crowning achievement of La Parka’s career. As he would later state himself, the match proved that he was indeed the true La Parka. We’ll just all ignore the fact that the Mexico City Boxing and Wrestling Commission didn’t allow him to take it back. Send your hate mail to them!
It’s not hard to see why La Parka has become a legend in Mexico and a cult favorite in the states. Certainly from an in ring standpoint he was above average, containing one of the best suicide dives ever (which he still hits exceptionally today may I add) and being able to hang with guys who were much smaller than him. What will always stand out the most though is the charisma Adolfo Tapia was able to show through the character. No disrespect to the other La Parka, but there’s just no way he could ever compare to the original incarnation here. That man was and is entertaining in all forms; whether he was the goofy, fun loving, air guitar technico or the goofy, fun loving, air guitar playing, sadistic rudo, La Parka always, ALWAYS seemed to steal the show. I think we’re all going to look back on him years from now and realize he was indeed one of the great legends of lucha libre. And judging from the last few days it's pretty clear there's a lot to add to the legacy. I can't wait to see what Parka does in CMLL/Elite. There's gold mind matches everywhere, be it Parka vs. Caristico, Parka vs. Atlantis (FYI; those two matches have NEVER happened one on one in Arena Mexico), Parka vs. Cibernetico, Parka vs. Volador Jr., Parka vs. Rush or even that mythical Parka-Wagner Jr. mask vs. mask match that everyone wants. Whatever happens, Arena Mexico, CMLL and Elite have gotten a huge jolt of excitement that should carry them all the way to the 83rd Anniversary Show. Paco Alonso did hint the main event would be a huge surprise right? I'm willing to be it involves La Parka, and it'll lead to his biggest, most entertaining moment yet in an already wonderfully gonzo career.
That’ll do it girls and boys. Hope you enjoyed this updated version of an already pretty decent column. I shall return later with...something. It'll probably involve myself and Matt Mortensen geeking out over potential Anniversary Show main events! Till then, a Don Cragen meme for your troubles.
Like this article? Like Lucha Libre? Like me?! Head on over to the cool dudes at LuchaShop.com, enter in the code LTERIC and get some gear! There's like tons of L.A. Park stuff there for you to get! Don't you want to support the Chairman?!
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