Steve Cook recounts the three-fold story of La Parka, one of wrestling’s most beloved personas.
The story of La Parka is a story of three people. One man came up with the character. Another man made it a living, breathing force of nature. Yet another man inherited the character and kept it strong for over two decades.
Antonio Pena: The Creator
Antonio Pena was one of the true geniuses of professional wrestling. Part of a wrestling family, Antonio followed his father & uncle into the ring & worked under a number of creative gimmicks he came up with himself. Pena was full of ideas for characters & storylines and was always helpful backstage. When he retired from the ring, EMLL (the name change to CMLL happened during Pena’s tenure there) hired him to work in their office. He assisted with promoting & booking, and helped lead the company past the UWA in the promotional war of the 1980s.
Ironically enough, he would lead CMLL’s opposition in the promotional war of the 1990s & beyond. Pena’s radical ideas, which involved pushing younger, faster & lighter wrestlers on top, didn’t sit well with the rest of the promotion’s front office that liked things the way they were. They quit listening to him. Pena made a deal with the Televisa network to fund a new wrestling promotion that would provide weekly content, and AAA was born.
Pena took most of CMLL’s top young stars with him to AAA, leaving CMLL with a middle-aged roster bereft of starpower. He was a great scout of talent, which meant he wound up with a pretty good track record of putting the right guys in the right place at the right time in the right persona. One of the prime examples of this was the creation of La Parka.
Adolfo Tapia: The Original
Tapia was a young luchador in Monclova during the 1980s, working his way up through the ranks & showing potential while working in multiple personas. Pena noticed Tapia’s work and signed him to AAA soon after founding the promotion. Pena thought Tapia would be perfect for a character he was developing based off Mexico’s affinity for the Day of the Dead. “La Parca” is Spanish for “The Reaper”. Pena had Tapia wear a full bodysuit & a mask resembling a skeleton, and encouraged him to do what he did best.
As WWF discovered with The Undertaker character, AAA found out that wrestling & death go well together. La Parka started off as a rudo, but his charisma, ability & actions in the ring immediately made him popular with the fans. Parka became one of AAA’s biggest attractions during their hottest period, a period when they were doing huge business in Mexico & doing better business in Los Angeles than any American promotion was.
Parka became a fixture in AAA’s light heavyweight title picture, trading reigns with the likes of Lizmark & Jerry Estrada. This would continue until Parka & other AAA talent followed Konnan to WCW, which was all well and good with AAA until Konnan & Pena had a falling out. Konnan formed his own Mexican-based promotion, Promo Azteca. Parka would follow Konnan there as well, but spent most of his time over the next few years in the US working for WCW.
The loss of La Parka & other talents was a huge blow to AAA. Pena made a decision to try & counteract these losses that would be controversial and had an impact on lucha libre for years to come.
Jesus Alfonso Escoboza Huerta: The Second
Pena’s reasoning made sense from a business perspective. He created the “La Parka” character. As tremendous as Tapia was in his performance, why shouldn’t AAA be able to continue to profit off of Pena’s creation? Pena owned the rights to use the name “La Parka” in Mexico, and Tapia was mostly working in America for WCW, so it seemed logical to debut a new La Parka to satiate the AAA fans’ desire for some dancing skeleton goodness.
He chose a man who had spent two years in AAA under the name “Karis la Momia”. Yep, he was a wrestling mummy. It got over pretty well though, the guy even beat Blue Demon Jr. to win the Mexican National Cruiserweight Championship and won a mask match in the main event of TripleMania IV-C. Pena saw potential in Escoboza, and even though Karis la Momia had to drop his title, he was on his way to the role that would make his career.
La Parka Jr. debuted in early 1997 and was immediately positioned as one of AAA’s top tecnicos. He was part of a group of AAA loyalists that feuded with whoever the top rudos happened to be at the moment. Parka Jr. won the Cruiserweight Championship and in 2001 solidified his status as a main eventer by winning the Rey de Reyes tournament, a feat he would end up accomplishing five times, more than any other luchador. He won TripleMania mask matches against Cibernetico & Muerte Cibernetica, the latter of who would go on to be known as Mesias & Mil Muertes.
For a while, La Parka & La Parka Jr. co-existed. Then Tapia went to CMLL in 2003, and all heck broke loose. Pena filed a lawsuit against Tapia that forbade him from using the La Parka name or wearing the trademark white skeleton suit. Tapia changed his name to L.A. Park, which was intended to reflect his status as “La Autentica (The Original)”. La Parka Jr.’s Jr. was phased out of the name and he was referred to in AAA as simply La Parka. People keeping track of these things began to refer to him as La Parka AAA or La Parka II to try & keep things straightened out.
La Parka was not the only AAA-created persona to have multiple people in the role. The original Psicosis also ran into issues when he returned to Mexico & Pena wouldn’t let him use the name. There have been at least three wrestlers to use the Psicosis gimmick that I know of. After the man known to American fans as Super Crazy left AAA, Pena gave another wrestler the “Histeria” gimmick. There are too many other examples to list here. Two more recent ones were debuted on AAA TV by Parka himself, as he introduced Myzteziz Jr. & another Octagon Jr. to the fans in 2019.
It’s a concept alien to modern American audiences. Whenever a current performer does the slightest thing that reminds us of one of our old favorites, we rebel against the notion. Hell, Kevin Owens can’t even use the Stunner as a finisher without people getting mad.
It took time for Parka to fill that bodysuit. Eventually, AAA fans accepted him. While countless names came & went through the years, Parka stayed. He was a constant presence, and kids that grew up watching AAA over the past two decades recognize him more than they do the original. It’s a crazy thing for those of us that watched WCW and enjoyed the Chairman’s antics to comprehend.
The Parkas Meet
The two Parkas would meet when L.A. Park returned to AAA in 2010. Park’s return to AAA was something that Mexican wrestling fans thought they would never see due to the bad blood after Park left the first time. We all know that you never say never in pro wrestling, and Park defeated Parka at TripleMania XVIII. The two even ended up teaming at an AAA TV taping, which seems like something that should have happened more often. After all, the only thing better than one dancing skeleton is two dancing skeletons.
Unfortunately, their creator did not live to see this happen. Pena passed away in 2006, leaving a void that has taken some time to fill. For years, AAA suffered from the same problems that CMLL went through when Pena was fighting for the younger talent as an assistant booker. Even today, AAA’s top draws are men like Dr. Wagner Jr. & Blue Demon Jr., men that are past the age where they should be relied on to provide quality main event matches.
Both Parkas are the same age, and that age is well past the point of a typical wrestling main eventer. They were both in the main event of La Parka’s last match, which took place at an event in Arena Coliseo Monterrey on October 20. Rush, Monster Clown, L.A. Park & La Parka faced off in a four-way match. Parka decided to do a tope onto Rush, and clipped the middle rope with his thigh, which led to a bad ending. You can find the video if you’d like to see it.
Parka hung on for a couple of months afterwards, but the injuries & complications brought about by them were too much to overcome.
— Lucha Libre AAA (@luchalibreaaa) January 12, 2020
⚫ DESCANSE EN PAZ LA PARKA ⚫
El CMLL se une a la pena que embarga a la familia luchistica por el sensible fallecimiento del luchador La Parka, quien tuvo una destacada trayectoria en la historia de este deporte.
Descanse en paz. pic.twitter.com/qK925xXFhI
— Lucha Libre CMLL (@CMLL_OFICIAL) January 12, 2020
Jesus Alfonso Escoboza Huerta passed away at the age of 54. His lone appearance for an American-based promotion happened when Impact Wrestling ran a TV taping in 2018 in Mexico. He wasn’t the Chairman of WCW. He was the Face of AAA.
His legacy will live on. He has a son that’s starting out in the wrestling business and was one of the reasons he was still hanging on – he wanted to help break his son in. I fully expect to see Parka’s son (or somebody else) don the La Parka costume for AAA in the near future. It probably sounds weird and off-putting to a lot of you. But in lucha libre, it would be business as usual. The show goes on. Most of lucha’s most famous wrestlers had famous fathers, and they tend to do similar stuff. It pleases the audience.
At the end of the day, that’s what pro wrestling is all about. Did you please your audience? Everybody involved in the La Parka character, whether they created it, put it on the map or kept it there, can answer in the affirmative.
Cook: Breaking Down The 2021 NFL Divisional Round
Steve Cook breaks down the NFL Divisional Round Playoffs, getting you ready for one of the best football weekends of the year!
Steve Cook breaks down the NFL Divisional Round Playoffs, getting you ready for one of the best football weekends of the year!
Many experts say that the Divisional Round is the best weekend of the NFL season, and I agree with them. The Wild Card Weekend gets rid of all the riff-raff, and we’re left with teams that deserve to be there. A bitter pill to swallow for me as a Cincinnati Bengals fan whose team can never win one playoff game when they get there, due to the Bo Jackson Curse. I still have to swallow it because it is what it is. The cream rises to the top, and any team that manages to win one playoff game has earned their position on the stage.
I know everybody out there is wondering who will win these games. Fortunately, I’m here to break it down for you, and let you know what’s going to happen. After all, I did win 3 out of the 3 fantasy leagues I was in this season. Just saying, I know what these folks are capable of statistically. Ask anybody here on The Chairshot. I broke them all down and made them humble at some point during the fantasy season. Laid waste to all these folks, who all are intelligent in their own right. No disrespect to anybody I was up against. Their arms were just too short to box with God.
Saturday, 4:35 PM: LA Rams at Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers vs Aaron Donald next week🍿
The two highest-graded players in the NFL (94.5) pic.twitter.com/fJj343RWje
— PFF (@PFF) January 11, 2021
You know it’s a stacked weekend of action when this is the curtain-jerker. We got the best defense in the NFL going against Aaron Rodgers, on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Where there will be 6,000 ticketed fans, along with first responders. Not enough to make a difference like a typical Packers home game.
As good as that Rams defense is, you don’t like them nearly as much when Aaron Donald is off the field. Donald says he’s ready to do, so does Jared Goff, so the Rams are heading into Green Bay with all hands on deck. I went with the Rams at +6.5, largely because they’re looking as healthy as possible heading into this one, and you have to be impressed with what they did in Seattle. That being said, the Packers represent much stiffer competition. And I don’t care if Aaron Rodgers has only won one Super Bowl, I’m still picking his team to win in Green Bay. They don’t have to leave Wisconsin until the Super Bowl, though they might want to leave before then.
Yeah, I know. Kentucky guy talking state smack.
Cook’s Pick: Green Bay Packers
Saturday, 8:15 PM: Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills
Lamar Jackson has an amazing reaction to a reporter named Mike Jones 💀
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 11, 2021
Lamar Jackson finally got that monkey off of his back and won a playoff game. I was in a tough spot seeing Lamar compared to Andy Dalton, a perfectly competent Bengals QB that couldn’t win a postseason game. This is the closest line right now, because Vegas and everybody knows this: Once you let Lamar Jackson out of his cage, he’ll pile the bodies to the sky. One of the most fun athletes to watch of my, or anybody else’s, lifetime. I mean, if you don’t like Lamar, what do you like?
I’m a big fan of the Bills’ story, and I’d like for them to go a long way. Josh Allen is a talented SOB and fun to watch. I’m not sure he’s as fun as Lamar Jackson, but then I’ve seen many more Lamar Jackson games. This will be a big game for the future of both men, and might not be the last time we see them face off in the playoffs. I picked Baltimore at +2.5 largely because of my Lamar Jackson fandom, and the fact that the Ravens are just one of those franchises that excel in the playoffs. You always see them making a deep run. Buffalo? Well, they had four pretty deep runs, and you don’t mention any of those in Buffalo if you want to get out alive.
Cook’s Pick: Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, 3:05 PM: Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs
Kevin Stefanski and the Browns coaching staff after breaking down some Patrick Mahomes filmpic.twitter.com/WGDyAi4xNW
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) January 14, 2021
One of those games that will be closer than it should be for most of the game. Imagine the Browns going into an overly loud Arrowhead Stadium against Patrick Mahomes. It would be ugly. The fact that this stadium won’t be crowded as usual kind of gives Cleveland a chance. The spread is -10. I’d typically take Cleveland on those odds in this environment. Except…man, that offense is pretty awesome and I bet KC wants to put on a show. Pittsburgh couldn’t do it because they’re awful, but Kansas City definitely can.
Browns fans are hoping that the Chiefs overlook them, and the team itself is trying to use Chiefs quotes as bulletin board material, but I just don’t see Kansas City overlooking these guys. The “NOBODY RESPECTS US!” motivational tactic is as old as time and more often than not is based off of nothing. Listen, if you’ve made it to this point of the NFL season, there is somebody out there that respects you. This is the best Browns team since the days of Bernie Kosar. Just don’t ask Cleveland fans of a certain age what happened when they played an AFC West team in the playoffs. Still a touchy subject.
I’m kind of hoping the Browns go away for one simple reason: It’s awkward being a Bengals fan and seeing everybody in love with these guys. Not to be “NOBODY RESPECTS US!” guy, but I sure don’t remember the Bengals getting the same type of good vibes from the people when they were good. What’s up with that?
Cook’s Pick: Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, 6:40 PM: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 15, 2021
We got Tom Brady & Drew Brees up past their bedtime. Nah, we need to get past the old people jokes, as honestly I’m pretty happy to see a game with two quarterbacks older than me playing in it. Makes me feel not quite as old. They still got skill too, both men were in the top 10 QBR rankings for the 2020 regular season. I’m pretty sure QBR gives Brady & Brees 50 points just based off of being Brady & Brees, but they still had impressive seasons. We’re talking about their buddy Ben Roethlisberger possibly retiring, but nobody’s really talking about either of these guys doing it. Unless they just want to go out on top, which with Brees is definitely a possibility.
The Saints won the first two meetings, and we all know the old saying about teams that meet three times. We also know that it’s dang near impossible to beat a Tom Brady-quarterbacked team in the postseason. Dude’s won more postseason games than some teams have won games over the past twenty years. OK, a little exaggeration, but would you be surprised if it’s true? Betting against Tom Brady in the postseason is like betting against Undertaker at WrestleMania. You just don’t do it.
Unless it’s in New Orleans.
See what I did there? I like the Saints because I like their skill position players better. Alvin Kamara looks good and recovered from the rona. Michael Thomas is back in the mix, which can only be a good thing for the Saints’ passing game. They also have a slightly better defense, and we all know that as much as we talk about the shiny quarterbacks, defense wins championships. Saints in a barn burner to end the weekend on a good note.
Cook’s Pick: New Orleans Saints
Thanks for reading! Fun to do the ol’ sports again, maybe I’ll do more of it in the future…
Rob: Is Charlotte Right?
A Twitter inspired topic,; between general grievances of her position in the division and her own responses to articles. Rob takes a look at the perception of Charlotte and who she really is!
What would be wrestling Twitter be if they were not complaining about the WWE, or Vince McMahon, or Roman Reigns, or Charlotte Flair? Probably pretty quiet. Well, the WWE and Vince shots never end and Roman has been relatively left alone compared to say, 2016 so that leaves us with Charlotte. If you’re reading this then you know she came back in December and won the RAW tag team titles with Asuka at TLC in her first match back. And now we are back in our familiar place of people on the internet being upset about how she’s booked, and implying all kinds of nefarious intentions behind it all. All this was encapsulated in a piece on Fansided DDT where they aired all their grievances – that she fits the Vince McMahon mold, that she gets into a title program immediately every time she comes back, etc. Charlotte herself opted to respond to it, which probably wasn’t the best idea because that never ends well, but it’s worth seeing if either their takes or her refutations are right, so I did just that.
Now anyone who knows me knows that I don’t take too kindly to fans saying ‘no, we’re not the problem’ whether the subject is pro wrestling or anything else (Star Wars fans make wrestling fans look like amateurs when it comes to ruining the experience, by the way). This piece leads off with that, so it is a veritable free fire zone for me. First up it says that no, fans aren’t fickle but they don’t like having corporate champions shoved down their throats, and it cites Hulk Hogan, John Cena and Roman Reigns as other examples. It also says that championships are supposed to be awards based on ability and hard work, like achievement awards in other forms of entertainment, and not choices by management……
Oh, you naive child.
I hate to break this to you, but pro wrestling isn’t a shoot. Championships are props used as plot devices to give the characters something to fight for and advance storylines. And unless it’s someone getting a championship send off, which almost never happens, then they are not rewards. You don’t get a championship because you ‘deserve’ it. People get crowned champion because the booker thinks it’s the best way to flesh out a character or move storylines along to make the company money, or because one person singularly is that much of a draw. That’s it. The Honky Tonk Man was Intercontinental Champion for 14 months from 1987 to 1988; at no point was he either one of the best in ring workers in the company (not even top 20) or one of the hardest workers. He ultimately kept the belt that long because of circumstance (Jake Roberts said in an interview that he would have won it from him if his drug problems hadn’t been an issue) and then because whoever ultimately (see what I did there?) did beat him would get a rocket launcher push out of it. Hulk Hogan was never the best in ring worker in the WWF but having him as World Champion for 4 years drew the most money. Ditto for Bruno Sammartino, who held the title for almost 8 years back in the 60s/70s. Story and/or money, that’s it. Becky Lynch was RAW Women’s champion for over a year because she was the biggest star and biggest merch seller in the company; it wasn’t because Rebecca Quin ‘deserved’ it.
Every champion is corporate. Every win and loss, every push, every title change is dictated by the boss. The ones you like and the ones you don’t like. All chosen by the evil old man. They’re all corporate decisions, you didn’t pick anything. Even when you think you did, that person was chosen by the boss to be put in front of you in the first place and there are many who have been stuck in catering without getting that chance (EC3, remember him?). You had as much to do with Becky or Daniel Bryan for that matter reaching their respective spots as you did with Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man. A decision was made to put them in front of you to garner a reaction, you reacted, and then the companies reacted to your reactions. But they never had to make those initial choices in the first place. All three were good at what they did but someone else could have been put there at the initial stage of their careers had the bosses wanted. You did not convince the WWE to sign Bryan Danielson or Rebecca Quin, or to put Daniel Bryan and Becky Lynch in any meaningful angles early on to start them on the road to their crowning moments. You didn’t put Daniel Bryan in Team Hell No and you didn’t put Becky in the match against Sasha Banks that was her first big showcase. And had they never signed either one in the first place I doubt you would be burning up message boards demanding it. The reality is that they saw something in both that none of us predicted, just like Kevin Feige saw the reward in going with a troubled actor like Downey over a safer choice.
Now back to Charlotte. Is what she’s saying false? Well, contrary to what the article says she did not go away because she wasn’t in the title picture. She had surgery twice and her Dad got sick once, like on his deathbed sick. She said it herself but it’s also been well documented so to even imply that she took her ball and went home is bush league. But what about her other point, where she said she spent 18 months looking at the lights to help create a new star? That’s very easily verifiable thanks to cagematch.net, so let’s see. (If my rough counts are off by 1 or 2 here or there, forgive me). In September of 2018 she lost the SmackDown Women’s Title to Lynch. From that point forward in 2018, she lost 13 of 15 one on one matches to Lynch (a DQ win and draw were the other results) and six times in Triple Threat matches to Lynch and Asuka where she got tapped out for the decision. Then there’s 2019, where she won 35 matches and lost 100 in total. Yes, you read that right 35-100. Among those there were:
- 9 losses in 13 matches one on one vs Lynch (4-9)
- 16 losses in 17 one on one matches vs Asuka (1-16)
- 30 losses in 34 one on one matches vs Bayley (4-30)
- 13 in losses in 13 triple threat matches with Becky and Asuka (0-13)
- 3-6 in pay per view matches (after going 4-6 in 2018)
- She also went 0-4 in triple threat matches vs Becky and Asuka in early 2020
That’s a ton of Ls and yes they were to either help make or remake someone, or to protect either Becky or Asuka from taking the fall in a one on one match. (At this time I’ll throw in that she lost a few house show matches to Ember Moon in 2019 as well and took the pin in a Triple Threat match vs Rhea Ripley and Sasha Banks on SmackDown.) Well Becky was already a star, you say? Yes she was popular and well liked, she was almost always on TV and in some kind of storyline title or no title, but she wasn’t being booked at the top of any cards and the last time she was SmackDown Women’s champion people were happy for her but they weren’t too upset when she lost to Alexa Bliss. In 2018 the person she was feuding with during her ascent did make a difference. Same thing with Bayley cashing in the briefcase and getting all those wins over her in 2019. And before you say house shows don’t count…..I bet you’d count them if she won all of those matches.
But what about the titles and stuff she won along the way?
Let’s talk about those. She won the SmackDown title from Asuka in March of 2019 on what was a whim from the boss, held it for a few weeks, and then lost it at WrestleMania to Lynch in the main event. Becky walked out double champ and they sold a bunch of Becky 2 Belts t-shirts, which doesn’t happen if Charlotte walks into the match with no title. While like you I didn’t think that was fair to Asuka the end result was them making more money off the shirts, which is the whole point of being in business in the first place. She win that title back from Becky at Money in the Bank and lost it literally two minutes later when Bayley cashed in the briefcase on her, cementing Bayley’s jump start on the roster at a time when things on the surface were looking bleak. The she won it at Hell in a Cell, and lost it five days later on SmackDown when Bayley revealed her new look and full character change. Each of those wins had a purpose to ultimately benefit someone else almost immediately after. Feel free to come up with a different way to reach those three outcomes but the won loss record is what it is. Unless you expect her to lose every time out in perpetuity, which isn’t going to happen, then she’s going to win sometimes and they’re not going to all be over people lower on the card than her or people who you don’t care about.
What about 2020?
What about it? Yes, she won the Royal Rumble in 2020. Well, she was originally going to win it in 2019 but Vince called an audible at the last minute and went with Becky. If you think she was going to go her whole career and never win one sorry dude, you’re delusional. Rumble matches are almost entirely won by people who are already in the top tier or someone who is already being sent that way. They’re not used for upset wins to give an underdog a rub. So if it wasn’t her then who exactly? Shayna Baszler? Vince wasn’t sold on her at the time as being more than a one off Mania challenger for Becky, and neither was a lot of the non-Twitter audience. Sasha Banks wasn’t in the match and wasn’t on the card at all because she was injured. Becky, Bayley, and Asuka all had other matches on the card. Again, use realistic booking logic and not Cinderella fantasy booking that had zero chance of happening. Beth Phoenix wasn’t winning, ok?
But what about Rhea Ripley?
Again, what about it? In kayfabe a 24 years old NXT wrestler stepping to a then 10-time singles champion isn’t a guaranteed win in any book, even if it’s the NXT champion. Out of kayfabe, if one loss at WrestleMania to a 10 time champion who was in the main event at the previous WrestleMania ruins your career, then just how promising were you? All of the Horsewomen have at times taken losses along the way and are still thought of as winners and champions. So has Asuka, so has Alexa Bliss. And as I mentioned before she took a pin from Ripley in 2019. If that’s burying Ripley then it’s because you’re the one holding the shovel. If you can’t rebound from one loss at WrestleMania, then you aren’t as good as people think. Daniel Bryan got squashed in 18 seconds by Sheamus at WrestleMania 28. HHH got squashed by the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 12. I think they both did ok afterwards, and if Ripley is that big of a prospect then she should be able to make it back from losing an exponentially more competitive match than either of those at WrestleMania 36.
Let’s get down to brass tacks here, You don’t like that she’s in the spot that she’s in, or that she’s in it so frequently. And that’s fine! You don’t have to like everyone who’s in a high position. And let’s be honest, if one of your favorites got the same booking treatment you wouldn’t have a problem with it. I don’t recall any fans of Lynch or Bayley saying ‘ok, they’ve been champ long enough, time to give someone else a turn’ during their recent reigns. Had Lynch not gotten pregnant she might still be RAW Women’s champion right now, and it would absolutely be the right call! And if it’s really about taking a spot from someone else, then why were so many of y’all so down on Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, Lana, Peyton Royce, and Lacey Evans getting so much TV time in October and November? Are there people who have gotten wrongfully shortchanged? Well yeah….cough, Naomi, but she’s gotten equally shortchanged whether she’s on the same show with Charlotte or not. That’s a whole other matter, which I have spelled out myself here , here, and here. But at the end of the day, and this piece, let me just that perception is not reality, not one bit. The facts tell a much different story and opinions are just that, opinions.
Until next time……
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