Bad Matches, Good Memories #5
Goldberg vs. La Parka
By Goin’ Postal Tally
We would have loved La Parka if we’d only been given a chance.
He’s still active today, wrestling in Mexico’s AAA. But aside from a cup of coffee with TNA in 2004, he’s only known in the Northern Hemisphere for his work in World Championship Wrestling from 1996-2000. A number of talented luchadores in that organization gained lasting fame (like Eddie Guerrero or Rey Misterio, Jr.), and others were frequently spotlighted and given spots on pay-per-view cards (like Chavo Guerrero or Juventud Guerrera), but poor La Parka languished for years at the very bottom of the card.
But looking back, La Parka had a lot going for him. His in-ring attire (which consisted of a full bodysuit and mask painted to look like a skeleton) certainly set him apart. He had a fantastic gimmick — he was given the appellation “The Chairman of WCW,” as nearly all his matches (win or lose) ended with La Parka walloping his opponent with a folding chair. In fact, he would carry the chair to the ring with him, playing it like a guitar. He even had his own signature walk; after hitting a bit of offense, he’d strut around the ring in a bizarre, herky-jerky motion. He looked like an epileptic Michael Hayes. And I mean that in a good way. In short, he was a tweener before we knew what that word meant.
La Parka also managed to back up those theatrics with quite a bit of skill. Pro Wrestling Illustrated named him #172 on their list of the “500 Best Singles Wrestlers During the PWI Years.” This may not sound particularly impressive, but this placed him ahead of such household names as Jesse Ventura and X-Pac. It seems that at the very least he could have been pushed as a comedic talent; giving him screen time certainly would have been an improvement over one-note joke characters like Disco Inferno, “Screamin’” Norman Smiley, or bland Asian stereotype Sonny Onoo.
Regrettably, WCW chose not to do any of these things, and in 1998 instead served him up as cannon fodder to the ascendant William Scott Goldberg.
Goldberg, as you’re no doubt aware, began his WCW career with a 174-match win streak. At the MCI Center in Washington, DC, on 1 June 1998, La Parka became victim #94 to the then-United States Champion. The match itself was a standard Goldberg-era squash, but in some ways it exemplifies the entire WCW era.
We begin the segment with some Tony Schiavone commentary. He follows his script closely, noting how the fans have been chanting “Goldberg! Goldberg!” throughout the commercial break. The crowd is no-selling him, though — not only are there no audible chants, there’s even a small pop for La Parka as he appears at the ramp. La Parka plays his traditional imaginary riff on his steel chair, prompting Mike Tenay to remark that he was playing a little “Air Chair.” Schiavone and Bobby Heenan ignore his little joke completely, without so much as a courtesy chuckle. Heenan was my favorite color commentator of all time, but at this stage of his WCW career the apathy was coming off the man in thick waves.
By the time La Parka makes it into the ring, beating his chest and pointing at random fans, the Goldberg chants have begun for real. The camera focuses in on one enigmatic sign (“Goldberg vs. Godzilla”) which makes more sense when you realize the poorly received Matthew Broderick Godzilla remake came out in the United States a few weeks prior to this match. As Goldberg’s stunningly generic theme (“Invasion”) builds in the background, the announcers continue to hype his unprecedented career-opening win streak. At one point Schiavone declares Goldberg to be “not only the Rookie of the Year, but the absolute Rookie of a Lifetime.” I hope he received a nice trophy for that.
As you watch Goldberg’s entrance, you can’t help but compare it to WWE’s Gillberg parody:
(My favorite line from Jim Ross: “Well, it’s a real chant, nothing piped in.”
As was contractually obligated by WCW at the time, everyone with a microphone fakes an orgasm as soon as Goldberg emerges from the pyrotechnics. Schiavone goes so far as to declare Goldberg “completely indestructible,” speculating that he would come back even if he were blown up or set on fire. Throughout the entrance, La Parka stands on his folding chair, nonplussed.
When Goldberg finally enters the squared circle, La Parka hops off the chair, folds it in a rather inefficient manner, then threatens to bash Goldberg with it. The referee begins to intercede, but Goldberg waves him off and challenges La Parka to go ahead and hit him. Heenan advises a different tack: “You should pick that chair up and bang yourself over the head with it.” No, you do that when the ref is distracted, Bobby! Then pretend it was the other guy! (See Guerrero v. Anderson, 2005. But watch it on your own time — I’m trying to construct a narrative here.)
La Parka probably should have listened to The Brain, but instead he goes ahead and mashes Goldberg in the skull. Knowing what we know now about the long-term effects of unprotected head shots, this is a bit cringeworthy, but thankfully the blow wasn’t too brutal. In any case, this is the moment when things become a little bit surreal.
First, despite the fact that the chair shot was in plain view of the referee, La Parka is neither disqualified nor even chastised. Instead, the ref immediately signals to start the match. La Parka drops the chair after waffling Goldberg, then begins performing his celebratory seizure/dance while Goldberg hulks up in the corner. Everyone in the arena knows that he’s going to get splatted when he turns around — this was a pretty common spot for La Parka, and I enjoyed it every time.
La Parka’s dance ends with him hopping on one leg as he spins around in a semi-circle to face his opponent. I’ve never been able to tell exactly what happened at the end of that dance… maybe he just doesn’t get planted properly, or maybe Goldberg hits him a moment sooner than he’d expected. But when Goldberg spears La Parka, something goes dreadfully wrong. La Parka immediately grabs his left knee and begins rolling around in obvious pain. It turned out that he’d torn his ACL.
Bill Goldberg doesn’t give a damn about your torn ACL, La Parka. Goldberg picks La Parka up roughly, and as La Parka hops around on his one good leg, Goldberg sets him up for the Jackhammer. La Parka allows himself to stay in the hold for a few seconds before patting Goldberg on the tummy to let him know that he’d like to be put down now, thanks. Goldberg finishes the Jackhammer and hooks the injured leg during the pin for good measure.
So to sum up? We watched 3 minutes, 46 seconds of ring introductions. The match itself lasted 29 seconds with a total of 2 wrestling moves. WCW took one of its underutilized assets and left him not only buried, but legitimately injured in a match wherein the referee apparently made up rules as he went along. Eh, could’ve been worse. At least Barry Darsow wasn’t involved.