L.A Park vs. La Parka
There’s a sad, sad alternate universe out there where lucha fans have only had the privilege to see one luchador known as La Parka. Thankfully, in this great world, we’ve got two. Yes, since the 1990s, lucha libre has given us two La Parkas, one who has electrified wrestling fans both in Mexico and the United States on route to having one of the greatest careers in wrestling history, and one who carried on the original’s legacy after leaving Mexico to become one of AAA’s top stars. But the question remains; which Parka is the greatest Parka? That’s why we are here tonight. Using the same formula that helped decide that the N64 was better than the Dreamcast (boooo!), Coke was better than Pepsi (boooo!) and that the Game Boy was better than the Game Gear (BOOOOOOO!) I present to you a column that will hopefully (but probably not) settle the debate once and for all. Tonight we find out who the definitive La Parka is; L.A. Park or La Parka II. Grab a folding chair to air guitar with and put on “Thriller”; it’s time to party.
This is a close one. The second La Parka has made a career even to this day on his larger than life charisma, continuing to entertain with his antics even as he’s toned down his in ring style. The problem; his predecessor is the guy who used a chair as a guitar, did one of the most famous dances in Monday Night War history and was so colorful that there are people who never or hardly watched WCW that still talk about him. Hell, there’s a British dude named Oliver reading this column now that marks out just at the mere mention of L.A. Park’s name. In the end, the strut and the chair guitaring will beat out regular antics every time. Well, unless it involves Alex Wright and Disco Inferno; then Alex takes the cake every time. Somewhere Konnan is shaking his head over my Alex Wright markdom. Advantage: L.A. Park.
In Ring Ability
If Parka had trouble competing in the first category, wait till you see the uphill battle he has here. I’ve been known to be rough on Parka at times, but during his peak, the guy was capable of having solid matches. The problem is just that though; his matches were never better than solid and frequently had to involve more shenanigans than Hot Shots! And Hot Shots! Part Deux combined! That’s fine when you’re competing against say Blue Demon Jr.; it’s not when you’re going against a guy like Park who had numerous classics in both 1990s AAA, his WCW run and even to this day in Elite against Rush. Parka has been good; Park is the stuff that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is made of. Major Advantage: L.A. Park.
Big Time Matches
This is perhaps the only place Parka firmly has Park beat. When I say big time matches I’m not talking about quality; I’m talking about how many times these two have headlined the biggest shows for their respective companies. It’s here that Parka comes out looking great. Since the first Triplemania in 1993 La Parka has headlined six of AAA’s biggest event, second only to Cibernetico (who has headlined seven) and four more times than Park has. That doesn’t even include all the other AAA events he’s headlined or the record five Rey de Reyes titles he’s won. Poor Park meanwhile has only two Triplemania main events, a few co-headlining matches at a few CMLL Anniversary Shows and his WCW run. That’s pretty good; it’s just not quite headlining Triplemania six times good. Holy crap Cthulhu is about to strike me down for what I’m about to do. Advantage: La Parka.
US Crossover Appeal
And this is where the tide turns back. Parka’s only crossover appeal comes from the people who mistaken him for Park and think he’s the original. In short, he’s got no chance. When it comes to luchadors who are popular in the US, there’s Rey, there’s Konnan, there’s Eddie, there’s Santo (just because he’s Santo) and there’s L.A. Park. This is what happens when you look like a ninja skeleton and dance around with a chair. It’s the quickest way to make friends I tell you. Major Advantage: L.A. Park.
We have no reached the part where La Parka fans will stare out long and hard into the abyss, contemplating the meaning of life. Why do I say this? Because they have no chance here. It’s more likely that Ryan Lochte is telling the truth about his Brazil escapades than La Parka taking this category from L.A. Park.
Why do I say that? Simple folks. Both L.A. Park and La Parka are now in their 50s, long after the point where you’re supposed to be delivering high quality work in and out of the ring. And yet that’s exactly what is happening with Park. Not only has the Chairman remained one of the most popular lucha stars well into the 21st Century, but he’s also somehow gotten better in ring as he’s gotten older. Once an incredibly athlete capable of equaling any luchador with incredible dives (despite being one of the bigger luchadors), Park has changed his style up over the years to adapt into one of the best brawlers in North America, all while remaining capable of busting out a dive here and there. By contrast Parka has…well he’s kind of rested on his laurels, mostly relying on his shtick and whatever remaining skill he used to have to get by. It’s been enough to protect his position within AAA. But compared to Park, a man who multiple times this year has taken the lucha libre world by the throat and reminded everyone why he’s still beloved by millions? The only way La Parka is competing with that is if CM Punk is under that skeleton mask. Spoiler alert; he’s not. Impossible to Overcome Advantage: L.A. Park.
Head to Head Combat
Now here’s the most fun part. Many times when there are two guys who have similar gimmicks or even the same gimmick we unfortunately never get to see them tangle. Not in this case; L.A. Park and La Parka have fought TWICE during their long careers, both in 2010. The first match, and one of the most memorable of the past decade, was the Triplemania XVIII main event which saw the La Parka name put on the line and the debut of the legendary Los Perros del Mal stable to help Park secure victory. The second match took place a month later on a lower scale show where Parka got his revenge and defeated Park. With both men 1-1 against each other common sense would dictate this a tie right? NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! In reality the Triplemania match is so much bigger than their second match and thus counts just a smidge more, which yes gives the advantage to Park yet again. I suppose you could make the argument that the match is so memorable and so great (it's one of my favorite matches of all time) that you could give points to both guys, not to mention that Park got a huge assist from Perros del Mal in winning the match, a factor that led to the match result later being thrown out. In the end the point still goes to Park; this may be Parka’s best match and considering his background that says a lot more about just how good Park is and just how much emotion the stipulation carried going in. Poor Parka; even when he looks great it doesn’t quite measure up. (note; there's apparently a rumor out there that Park and Parka once ran into each other at a gas station, leading to a brawl that Park handily won. True story? Who knows? Either way it doesn't help poor Parka!) Advantage: L.A. Park.
Well we’ve reached the end of a one-sided beat down so great that it’s a surprise we didn’t call this for running up the score. Truthfully (and yes, I can hear you all groaning at me now) I’ve probably been a tad unfair to the original La Parka here. I and many others will never understand just how hard it must’ve been for this man to not just don the La Parka character but follow in the footsteps of such an amazing performer like Adolfo Tapia. That’s a tall hill to climb, and in the end as much as I rag on Parka and refer to him as a poser, there’s no question in my mind that he did a ton of good things for AAA and lucha libre and overall did the absolute best he could. Current day Pierroth Jr. he is not.
But whether it’s fair or not, Parka also is not anywhere in the league of L.A. Park and frankly never could be. For many of us, both lucha fans and not lucha fans, we grew up watching L.A. Park and were instantly captivated by a man dressed as a skeleton that danced, played air guitar, used a chair and flew around all within the same match. As we grew up and continued to follow him we became captivated by his larger than life personality that instantly grabbed your attention, as well the ability to adapt and grow in the ring to become an even better all around performer. In the end no matter what La Parka did he could just never compare. It’s why he is in my eyes and many others the imposter La Parka, while the true La Parka and the only La Parka will forever be L.A. Park. Blame the chairs, blame the dance, blame the charisma, blame it all; it’s still the damn truth. The True La Parka: L.A. Park.
We’re done here folks. Feel free to vote in the poll and leave a comment if you happen to disagree.