Bad Matches, Good Memories #5

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Added by December 21, 2011


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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_VkIX1sgC0

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OknYjUQc0ww

(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.

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  • http://www.thinkprogress.com Twilla

    “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.”

    I’m sorry Maffew, you cannot spin something that disgusting “in a good way.” Inferring that people with conditions they cannot help are “bizarre” and “herky-jerky” is beyond bigoted. Shame on you.

    • Desicas

      Maffew didn’t write it, “Goin’ Postal Tally” did.

    • Aubin

      Maffew, please ban this twat?

    • Ed

      Careful, someone’s defending epilepsy in the comments on a wrestling site! THIS WILL BE ON THE FRONT PAGE OF NEWS

    • Allouette

      He didn’t say that people with epilepsy were bizarre and herky jerky, he basically just said that if someone who’s having an epileptic attack moves in a bizarre and herky jerky manner, which is true. You fucking seizure having spaz.

  • MANnY

    La Parka has an interesting history. Great performer and wrestler. It’s funny due to legal issues he had with AAA they gave the La Parka moniker to someone else, he now goes by L.A. Park….

    • SirSnooty

      And his nephew now wrestles here in the states under Mini Park

  • neverAcquiesce

    Was never a Goldberg fan myself, but that crowd shows you how fun it was to a (vindicated) wrestling fan in 1998.

  • JBL

    So now every wannabe tryhard smart ass is gonna pick up on everything maffew says. Get off this website Twilla you assclown.

  • Chris

    Perfect way to describe this match: Victim of the System vs. Product of the System. Also another suggestion for “Bad Matches Good Memories” or maybe Maffew can use it for a Shit match Saturday Goldberg Vs Disco Inferno on Nitro while Disco was TV champ. That is a match that describes WCW in the 90′s perfectly. Oh, and was I the only one that saw the “I miss you Buff” sign?

  • Scott

    And to back Goldberg’s reputation as a bit of a stiff wrestler, he hurt La Parka’s knee in the process of spearing him

  • Some_guy

    I think you’re forgetting that every wrestling match tries to tell a story. This is a really well told story. Think about it, LA Parka bashes Goldberg with a chair trying to get the jump on him, Goldberg no sells, gets pissed, and hits the spear. After that, there’s nothing left to do but finish him off. You have to remember that Goldberg was heavily pushed at this time and LA Parka, as much as I like his work, was nothing more than cruiserweight filler. And this is on Nitro none the less. I mean, could this match have been longer? Yeah sure, but it does a great job of continuing to push Goldberg as a monster and really strengthen his image. Even for a title match, it was good by story standards. Not every title match needs to be an “epic” classic or something. As long as you have a reason behind the length and can positively book the title afterwards, I see no harm in short matches.

    It’s like when you see an ROH match that has 30 high spots and 100 near falls, are they pretty to watch? Yeah, but without no real rhyme or reason for them, it’s just like watching an exhibition match. And those get old. And I’m not bashing ROH, or the indies for that matter. I just think people need to remember that it’s not always a bad thing if your favorite doesn’t win or something you don’t like happens.

    Everyone wants to be a “smark” and think because they watch shoot interviews, read spoilers, and keep up with the inside news, they think they know everything. And no offense, but often times they don’t know the half of it. Proven here.

    In closing, you’re entitled to your opinion, but I see no problem with this match. And I ask this one simple question, if it had gone 12 minutes or so, would you have come back what 13 years later or so and complained that he went 12 minutes with a curtain jerker?

    • Franke Sisto

      Good point. Well said.

      • gaytardo montalbon

        terrible point, poorly said. Every match tells a story? HA. We aren’t comparing this to Savage v Steamboat- its a chairshot, spear, jackhammer, pin. Theres no story there. Goldberg didn’t need to assert his dominance, the had beat almost a hunderd guys (yeah fucking right) and this was just the easiest way to get another tally. Anyone could have been in that ring. Disco, saturn, juvi, van hammer. Maybe having the US champion defne d his title against a contender would have given him credability. nah fuck it, this is wcw, lets just squash some poor sap to make sure nobody will figure out that this guy is actually a terrible wrestler and cant carry a match.

        • gaytardo montalbon

          and don’t use the phrase curtain jerker and act like you’re better than the rest of us smarks.

        • Jeff

          You’re an idiot. Why the hell was Goldberg a draw?? Because they were building him as a monster, an immovable object, a Hogan for the modern era.

          This had never been done to Goldberg to this point; a chair shot, which usually ends matches, was used TO OPEN the match and IT DIDN’T AFFECT HIM! It didn’t hurt him at all! That builds the character as an indestructible force and makes the fan think, how can anybody beat him??

          This is a match, it did tell part of the story of the character, and was in fact, a very important build for the character.

          • Scott

            I’m with Jeff and Some_guy on that. Not every story has to be told like Savage-Steamboat, or Austin-Hart. This was just as important. Steel Chair + Someone’s Head usually equaled match over… it was match over… for La Parka. This just continued Goldberg’s build as a unstoppable monster.

    • Jeff

      I agree with you about your stance on every match telling a story, and more than a story, this match as a chapter. It left you wanting more of Goldberg, and had you tuning in the following week to see what he would do next.

      I think why this story is vindicated is that a hard working, talented wrestler was severely injured in a 2 minute match.

      Good memories, thinking about the Goldberg era, whether marks want to believe it, it was a lot of fun and must watch television; but a bad match because of the injury.

      Especially an injury that was avoidable. You always have to make eye contact before performing a stiff move, and I know LA Parka is wearing a mask, but establish eye contact before hitting the hell out of him.

      What harm would it have done Goldberg to stand there for 2 more seconds flexing his traps, yelling and spitting? NONE, actually he probably would have gotten a bigger pop and LA Parka wouldn’t have to go through surgery and over 6 months of rehab.

    • http://youtube.com/user/hitmonchan107 Hitmonchan

      Man, if only all CM Punk fans read this.

      • Jeff

        If only CM Punk would read this, maybe he would learn how to build his character more. He had the best storyline going for him IN YEARS and blew it.

        He wants to bitch and moan about how great he is and he’s sick of getting passed over for other guys, but if you can’t draw money, ratings, or people to the venue; you are not the best in the World, nor should you be a top guy.

        Send him back down to the mid-card where he belongs

        • durstand

          I’d say Punk is drawing pretty damn good money right now, considering I’m wearing the white t-shirt that a growing majority of WWE audience members are wearing to the shows as I type this. And I’d hardly be one to talk about how Punk needs to build his character while simultaneously defending Bill Goldberg.

          While his rants may consist heavily of “bitching and moaning,” CM Punk is also saying what everybody’s thinking but is too afraid to say. The man made it to the top of the heap because he has balls and a real, three-dimensional talent. Goldberg only made it to the top because WCW forced him to the top, which they could only accomplish by having him bury the entire damn roster.

          I get the “story” concept, and the “chapter” concept, and I love both of them, but when every chapter is the exact same, it’s easy to see how crappy your story is.

          • durstand

            Also, just a side-note, Goldberg no-selling the chair shot was almost unbearable to watch; it was almost worse than Hogan no-selling the Tombstone. I understand suspension of disbelief, especially in wrestling, but that’s just silly.

          • Jeff

            I’m not saying that Goldberg was fantastic; you’re absolutely right that the system was behind him and forced him into the limelight, but how many people have had the machine behind them and flopped?? Quite a few my friend.

            Goldberg did the best with what he had and was one of the biggest stars to come up in the 90s regardless of what anyone wants to say about him, they can’t deny that fact. Was it the system? Was it him? Probably both, but he made the Monday Night Wars, a WAR again.

            WWE will make some money off of CM Punk, but it won’t last. He has been fun to watch, but recently, he’s getting boring and his antics are getting old quick. I don’t think he will be able to be a true superstar, one that constantly transcends and continues to generate excitement and watch-ability. Just my opinion, but I think you know I’m right.

          • durstand

            You’ve got a good point about Goldberg, and I agree that he was one of the biggest names of his time and he certainly made everyone in the WWF step up their game big time. But the thing is that, looking back, his performances were essentially one-dimensional and meaningless, which is why he’ll never make it into the HOF and he’ll never be considered one of the “all-time greats” like some of his contemporaries, despite his massive success and popularity.

            Which brings me fairly well into the point I was initially trying to make about CM Punk. Audiences nowadays want a wrestler who can transcend media AND deliver in the ring. Goldberg would never get over with today’s audiences. I think we both know that only time will tell if CM Punk’s time at the top is going to last (and I totally agree; his shit lately has become a little flat, but I think anything would after what he did over the summer). But I think WWE now knows that they have a long-term, marketable talent with Punk, but they haven’t exactly found his niche in the PG “Entertainment” environment right now, which is a damn shame in my mind.

          • Jeff

            I like you durstand, you are smart to the business. Haha, yeah, Goldberg would never make it in the HOF! He was a flash in the pan; a star but nonetheless a flash in a pan. Warrior and Goldberg are synonomous.

            You can see the CM Punk/Rock influence over WWE right now, where they are starting to teeter the line of PG.

            It would fit characters better if they have a second coming of an Attitude type Era, but not their niche market.

            The whole reason for the PG change is that a majority of fans were now watching MMA, which IS wrestling without the pre-determined endings. High production value, characters, promos, except its really someone getting the hell knocked out of them.

            If they made a transition out of PG, they would lose a lot of money. It would fit CM better, but the company on a whole would suffer.

            Also, for fun, ask yourself this question:

            Would CM Punk have been a champion OR EVEN BOOKED in the Attitude Era??

          • http://youtube.com/user/hitmonchan107 Hitmonchan

            He’s only a draw for the smarks considering only they are the ones who know who CM Punk was during his appearance as Cena’s gangsta companion @WM22. I didn’t even know this guy existed until I bought SvR2008 (I never watched wwECW. can you blame me for that?).

            “While his rants may consist of heavy moaning and bitching…”:
            Dude, he ALWAYS bitches and whines. For a guy who claims to be a “professional wrestler” he takes the easy way for success by actually breaking the 4th wall and sending shoutouts to his boyfriend Colt Cabana and making references to other promotions.

            “CM Punk is also saying what everybody’s thinking but is too afraid to say”.
            He’s nothing but a repeat of what wrestling fans have been saying for 6 years, the same length CM Punk has been in the WWE. One reason why he became so big is because he cut a promo that was already said by Paul Heyman 10 years ago. Everybody seemed to jump on Punk’s bandwagon because he called Cena, Rock and Hogan asskissers and all three men aren’t exactly liked by the IWC and indie circus fans. In Rock’s case, I like how most smarks ejaculated with joy at the sight of seeing him insult Cena but later on side with Punk when some guy uploaded photos of him wearing Cena’s “Via Satellite” shirt and for his shoot interview about him, moaning about Rock not deserving the main event slot at Wrestlemania.

            Also, Rock wasn’t the only one cutting a promo on Cena and the company’s direction. What about Miz, or HHH, or Edge or even Jericho? Why should Punk be hailed with this “ballsy” attitude when others have done it before him without having to break kayfabe?

            “The man made it to the top of the heap because he has balls and a real, three-dimensional talent.”
            He’s an average wrestler at best. The reason why he’s on top of the roster is because there’s no talent that is on par with guys greater than Punk. The ones that can give Punk a run for his money are either buried or paired with Punk (DB, Bourne, ect). Also, you might want to call him one-dimensional seeing him mirror Cena’s comeback abilities during TLC. I wouldn’t be surprised if you lot turn against Punk by labeling him as a corporate sellout.

    • Gene Gene The Super Strong Machine

      I think you’re missing the point of the article. Yes, this was a chapter in the Goldberg saga, he squashes another opponent, count along at home, yadda yadda yadda. However this should be seen as a metaphor for WCW itself. On one side you have a guy who has gotten over of his own accord, which is no mean feat for a guy who’s face is totally covered up and doesn’t speak English, who WCW could have done something with that would have been good for business. Instead, they throw him to the wolves and let him rot in the undercard. Meanwhile, they push this new guy to the moon, who they intended to push from day one, and have every single thing revolve around him. A classic case of the proverbial eggs in one basket. They based their entire future on one guy. A guy who knew more ways to growl than he did wrestling moves. So when this golden boy decides to punch out the window of a limo that wasn’t rigged, now what? Out of the 290,873 wrestlers on the roster, this was the only guy WCW tried to push as a threat against the very stale nWo.

      It’s not a bad match, but a visual example of a bad business model. Push one guy, ignore the rest. And yes, I will concede that Goldberg was hot at the time. You bet. Absolutely. But so was Limp Bizkit, and how many copies of Gold Cobra did they sell?

  • Franke Sisto

    Interesting. I can’t believe how over Goldberg was. Today, we see a guy in three squash matches in a row and we get sick of him.

    In Goldberg’s defense, maybe he thought La Parka was just selling the Spear. That’s what I thought before you pointed it out.

    • Jeff

      They built EVERYTHING around this guy. They hyped the streak, the shirts, the catchprase, the music, the pyro, the intro, the intensity, THE CHANTS. When you have everything behind you, and you are a psychology major with charisma, people will get behind you.

      They don’t build kids into squash matches today. The just see if they can get over

    • Jeff

      And why would he sell a spear to the leg? Come on

  • choke_er_face

    “Goldberg’s generically AWESOME music,” is what I think you meant to say there

    • Larry_J

      That music wasn’t so awesome when it was Pat Tanaka’s entrance music.

  • http://fearofaghostplanet.com Paul Arrand Rodgers

    Of all the one note, horrible joke characters WCW had, you choose to pick on Norman Smiley? He was the man, man, and one of the company’s more profifient technical wrestlers. It isn’t quite his fault that people dug the big wiggle and his screaming so much that he was booked in “hardcore” matches. Check out his PPV encounter with Chavo Guerrero, or any of his Mexican stuff as Black Magic.

  • SUCKDUCK

    I feel like Maffew a little too snarky at times. This is one of them.

    • Dylan

      I feel like you can’t read.

  • Peter Siddorn

    Goldberg career can be summed up perfectly by ex wrestling writer Buck Woodward. If Sean O’Haire or any big muscle guy walks into before Goldberg then you never heard of Bill Goldberg.

  • Paul

    WWF/E really dropped the ball on Gillburg, he should have gone 0-174, then win one match and retire, saying he left on top.

  • Lamp Basket

    Say what you want about CM Punk’s character but I’ll bet quite a few people took notice of his speech about Vince McMahon’s “idiot daughter and his doofus son-in-law”. Furthermore, it got us all talking as wrestling fans again.

    Didn’t particularly enjoy it when Raven ended up getting squashed by Goldberg (and losing the U.S Title) just shy of a complete day.

    Difference between him and La Parka is that Raven (just like CM Punk) had excellent mic and promo skills. But unless you’re a hulking monster (like Batista for example) sometimes it accounts to nothing.

    The bigger you are, the further you go (or so it seems). Look at Mark Henry!.

  • Sandy Cervix

    Man, I forgot how much I loved watching guys like La Parka and Psicosis wrestle in the glory days of the WCW. While all my friends were allying themselves with nWo Face or nWo Heel, I’d be psyched about Ultimo Dragon vs. Dean Malenko at the start of the card.

    Lamp Basket is right in saying the normal, double digit IQ “wurasslin’” fan loves seeing a steroid freak go super saiyan and hit a vanilla finisher that used to be in a cruiserweight’s mid match repertoire. Hell, I’d be lying if i said i wasn’t cheering my pre-teen lungs out when Luger beat Hogan on Nitro (also, Lex was never the same after huffing the paint thinner fumes trying to clean the nWo spray paint off the belt). But looking back at it, the WCW cards were front-loaded with talent.

    The White vs. Red vs. WCW feud was a transcendent time in wrestling, so much so that it overshadowed some of the best technical wrestlers in their prime.

    Mr. Kennedy owes every dime he has made in WWE to “Monday Night Jericho”

  • Jim Cornette

    *BEEP* This company!

  • MrCharm69

    LaParka: “I used to wrestle matches in WCW, then I took a spear to the knee.”

  • cagevon

    seriously though, wrestling fucking owned then. just close it up. god bless you cena, but you’ve taken professional wrestling 5+ years past it’s expiration date. get your money, get out, and leave with no life-threatening injuries.

  • Mikey

    First time I’ve checked out one of these reviews done on the site.. And holy shit why was everyone arguing?

  • TheFrankman

    MINUS FIVE STARS!

  • yep

    posted by someone who probably loved goldberg as a kid but now that he’s all “grown up” and “smart” he wants to criticize him.

  • http://twitter.com/foolmesoftly frrrrrank

    It’s clear to me that you can hit someone before the bell rings (?). Randy Orton tagged Angle with the belt at WM XX.

    • http://twitter.com/foolmesoftly frrrrrank

      This was great though. People sometimes overlook the little things with that era.