What a difference a week makes. Last week as I had my laptop open typing out my tribute to La Parka, news broke out that Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash. Being a huge lifelong Laker fan, I was hit hard. I had a poster of Kobe behind my door in college, and I have since bought all members of my family Kobe jerseys. I myself have a yellow #24, and a white #8 Kobe jersey. So yeah I took the news hard. With that said I can hear Kobe now saying, “It’s time to move forward.” And that’s exactly what I plan on doing.
On October 22, wrestler La Parka was performing in Monterrey, Mexico. In a common spot in modern wrestling, La Parka ran past L.A. Park, dove between the top and bottom rope, and flew to attack his opponent. But something went wrong, terribly wrong. When La Parka jumped out of the ring it looked like he was going to hit his target. Wrestler Rush was in position but then La Parka came up slightly short, landing hard on the concrete floor and crashing his head to the guard rail. This would be the last movement in this legendary wrestler’s life.
The injures that Jesús Alfonso Escoboza Huerta, the man under the mask, suffered would paralyze him. Reports started to say Escoboza was dead, but AAA dropped those rumors right away. I personally remember hearing about La Parka’s injures and it’s sad that my next thought was, “I better start making sure people don’t think it’s WCW La Parka.” Because of AAA’s legal disputes with Adolfo Margarito Tapia Ibarra, there are two La Parka’s, well actually there are a quite a few, but there are two which are the most important. But Escoboza deserves his own story told, and it should not be followed by, “no, not that La Parka.”
La Parka is born
In 1996, WCW had brought up many luchadors from Mexico to fill their cruiserweight division. I think it’s clear listening to Eric Bischoff on 83 Weeks, well he loved the lucha artform, he had no idea who these guys were. One wrestler he had was La Parka, this La Parka being Adolfo Margarito Tapia Ibarra. Tapia had been a long-time veteran in Mexico, wrestling under different mask and playing villains in various promotions. It was Antonio Peña who came up with a grim reaper character, and he felt that Tapia would be perfect. A combination of Tapia’s natural tough guy personality, with his ability to be entertaining created the perfect storm. La Parka (changing the spelling of La Parca or the Ripper) was born.
Fast forward to 1996 and La Parka was in WCW, which took one of Peña’s biggest characters. Looking for a replacement, Peña turned to Escoboza. Like Tapia, Escoboza also had been a journey luchador, changing characters and mask with each location he went. This time he was assuming the role of an established mask as La Parka Jr. Right away it was clear Escoboza was up to the challenge. Sometimes its harder to live up to a standard set by someone else, but Escoboza pushed through. Climbing up the card as a face, Escoboza changed the La Parka character to his own. Whereas Tapia was a natural heel with entertaining moves, Escoboza was a natural crowd pleaser. It wouldn’t be long that Escoboza would be able to run with the mask.
Escoboza becomes La Parka
In 2003, Tapia would break with AAA and join CMLL. To compare, AAA would be more like AEW, the newer brand of wrestling that is looking to change lucha libre; leaving CMLL in the WWE role, the older promotion that is prone to staleness. With Tapia gone, Escoboza was able to fully embrace La Parka. From 2003 on, Tapia became L.A. Park (La Authentica Park), and Escoboza was fully La Parka. This would give us a chance to see what Escoboza could do as La Parka, and he didn’t disappoint. Escoboza was pushed straight to the main event.
For the rest of his career Escoboza would fully become La Parka. This was a more entertaining La Parka, one which connected with the crowd. A promoter’s dream, La Parka would be a reliable performer and could be someone who can put the promotion on his back. It was during the TNA invasion where La Parka truly shined. Escoboza would become the promotions top face as AAA battled the American invasion.
A highlight moment of La Parka’s time as a top face in AAA would be Triplemania XVI. Coming to the ring to battle a group of heels led by Bobby Lashley, La Parka did an amazing Thriller routine which he performed with dancers, not only on the way to the ring but also in the ring as well. La Parka was becoming a full fan favorite. Breaking away from Tapia’s long shadow, Escoboza would capitalize on his role and bring La Parka to new levels.
Two La Parkas Battle
After a bad car accident that left La Parka with an injured arm, he would change his style to a safer style. Much like Austin after his neck injury, La Parka would have a more ground base style. The strength of the La Parka character is he could assume a safer style and still be over.
In true AAA style, eventually La Parka would have to fight mirrors of himself. First in 2010 the obvious rivalry happened with La Parka was matched up against the returning L.A. Park. This would ignite a battle over the name and mask of La Parka. It was said that there was real heat, which if there was the two were able to put that aside and make real money.
Forever La Parka
When L.A. Park returned, it became very clear just how far apart L.A. Park and La Parka took their roles. La Parka had fully embraced the dancing skeleton, he was a fan favorite technico who drew some of the largest crowds of the 2000’s. L.A. Park was the opposite. Unable to have a full skeleton mask due to his lawsuit with AAA, L.A. Park altered the mask to look like Darth Maul, had varied color schemes, and adopted more of a wild brawler rudo heel style. The way which both took the same gimmick and made it their own was striking, and it played out in their matches.
After his feud with L.A. Park, which was won by L.A. Park but through controversial fashion, La Parka would turn heel for the first time. This would make sense, as La Parka was basically turned into Roman Reigns in his L.A. Park feud. A loyal soldier, La Parka blamed AAA for bring in L.A. Park and he’d get mad at the fans for booing him. L.A. Park and La Parka would then form a team which lasted a few months. Still, La Parka was not a heel, and after a short turn, La Parka would go back to his natural face role.
Finally, La Parka would have a rival in La Parka Negra, which saw him team with another former rival Cibernético in many tag matches. Having a “Dark” version of his character might be the ultimate complement on just how far La Parka had taken his role. In the early 2000’s, many AAA owned gimmicks were copied with new people under the old mask. When the WCW luchadors realized they could make more money in other promotions, AAA was left with all their old gimmicks, but they needed new people to play those roles. The La Parka situation might have been the most famous, as that one eventually became a feud. By giving La Parka a dark rival, it established him as the true La Parka.
Please take this moment
Sadly, La Parka left this world a few weeks ago. The injuries suffered from his fall would be too much. Well I had found many websites comparing La Parka to L.A. Park, I think it was L.A. Park himself who said it best. When asked if L.A. Park would get the name La Parka back, L.A. Park said that Escoboza was the true La Parka, and he can never be replaced.
I would like to say that when La Parka died, he died performing for the crowd. La Parka sacrificed his body, and his life for the entertainment of fans. Well it’s understandable that many American fans would be confused over the La Parka, L.A. Park controversy, I do think it’s important to take a moment and appreciate this legendary performer. La Parka was in the middle of many great moments in AAA history. His presents will be missed. Rest in Peace Jesús Alfonso Escoboza Huerta, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family.