By Ryan K. Boman, Editor in Chief & Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
In his 15 years with Impact, the monster Abyss has been the company’s franchise big man, while also establishing himself as a creative force behind the scenes….
When Abyss initially emerged from the darkness – in a place fittingly known as The Asylum – Chris Parks was 30 years old and already a seven-year veteran of the industry. Suddenly, he was standing at the cusp of his first, big career move.
It was 2003, and Parks had just wrapped up a stretch in IWA Puerto Rico with a whole new look and attitude. At the time, Total Non-Stop Action had been surviving as a weekly pay-per-view entity, and their concept was begging for new characters to establish its identity. For both Abyss and Parks, the man behind the gimmick, it was a chance to take the next step.
“My whole adult life has really been this business” Parks told TheGorillaPosition.com in a recent interview. “I started when I was in my mid-20’s. I have a master’s degree from Ohio University, that’s just kind of been sitting in my back pocket. I’ve never really used it. And, I never wanted to use it, really; This business is just in my blood.”
That blood has been spilled in Impact rings for 15 years now, and Abyss has established himself as the most dominant big man in the company’s history. Today, he doubles as a valuable member of Impact Wrestling’s creative team. His education, along with a baptism in the business, is now paying dividends as he makes the transition from performer to producer.
“I’m on the creative team right now with Impact, as well as a producer and still a wrestler” he said. “So, it’s a good mix for me to learn more and to help even more. We’re a very young company right now. We’re in the process of building young stars.”
“That’s what our focus is on, and where the majority of my focus is at right now. To work with these young guys and young girls, and get them to where we need them to be,” he added. “And, I think the last three to five months, we’ve really been able to lay a foundation, and put some concrete on it.”
“We’re in a re-building phase, and I think this next year, the biggest thing is character development.”
Now, his massive contributions behind the scenes match his tremendous stature in the ring. Despite being able to literally throw his weight around, the big man has stressed patience as the company continues to develop its up-and-coming roster.
“Depending on the situation, I can be outspoken when it calls for it, especially if it’s about something that’s not good for the business or for the etiquette of the business” he admitted. “But, really, I’m more the type of a guy who will pull a person to the side and say… let’s just talk about it. I’m a big believer in open communication that way, and not just one-sided. I feel like you get the best results when it’s a collaborative effort.”
Along with his ever-expanding office duties, Abyss can also be considered Impact’s first, homegrown. “special attraction”. He’s able to leave, reinvent himself, and come back fresher than before. Because of the nature of his character, different shades and aspects can come into play. Therefore, like a series of monster movies, there’s always a fresh beast to battle.
“Very few people have been fortunate enough to get what I’ve gotten in this business,” he said. “I’m thankful that I’ve been able to be at this level for so long.”
“The equity in that character, as well as the equity in the company, is the most important thing. Because of that, I’ve been able to go away for six months, come back, and be fresh as a daisy. I appreciate that the fans respect the character like that, and that they respect the longevity.”
“I also think the character is a great example to our younger talent that you can always change things up. Don’t be so much of a cookie cutter, and find different ways to re-invent yourself. So, I’m very proud of that.”
Sometimes, that beast is more like a mouse. When he switches to the character of his ‘brother’, attorney Joseph Park. it gives him an opportunity to expand his role even further.
“Joseph Park really just allows me to show the range,” he said. “Abyss is pretty set in his ways. His character is a hard-edged brawler, a hardcore specialist. Joseph Parks showed that I could do other things and had other options”.
“I think the mix of the two of them together has been good for me and good for the company. It’s opened up a lot of possibilities as far as storylines.”
Over the course of the next few years, he will begin to wind down a successful – but brutal – career. It’s been marked with enormous physical abuse but rewarding accomplishments in the ring, with a list of opponents that includes hardcore legends like Mick Foley and Raven. On the other side of things, he’s also had a role in the careers of current WWE Superstars AJ Styles and Samoa Joe.
During that time, he may have endured more punishment than anyone in the industry,
“I’d say that I have to definitely be up there,” he laughed. “That’s not to take away from any of the other guys out there. But I would have to say, at least, that I don’t think anyone else has gone through more pain.”
Like fellow TNA Original-turned-executive Sonjay Dutt, Abyss can remember those formative days. Now together, they are part of the booking team. In many ways, they are a bridge between the Asylum Era and today’s modern version of Impact Wrestling.
“Those old Tennessee crowds, in the Asylum, they liked that southern style of wrestling, and the fast pacing like that. I think we were able to take advantage of that, and build off the atmosphere in that building.”
Parks has turned down several offers during his career, including from WWE, in order to remain loyal to the promotion where he established the Abyss character. He wears that relationship as a badge of honor, and now, he wants to cement his legacy. It’s one that will almost certainly end as an Impact Hall of Famer.
Parks says that when it’s all over, he wants to be remembered for giving everything he had to Impact.
“It’s very important,” he said of the reputation he wants to leave behind. “I had other opportunities over the years to go other places and I turned them all down. I’m proud of that. I don’t regret any of it.”
“To have the longevity I’ve had with Impact, going back to its TNA roots, I’ve been with the company since 2003. That’s 15 years, going on 16, that I’ve been there and been a big part of it. And, that’s the part of that’s really most important. I was part of that original crew that really helped to establish the company and get it off the ground, with Jeff, AJ, and Sting and Joe… guys like that”
“That’s the legacy I want to leave behind. That I stuck with this company through the good, and through the bad. It’s definitely been more good than bad, but we’ve had our hurdles to overcome. Still, for me to maintain that longevity with the company, and for the company to be that loyal back… That’s something I cherish.”
His company, Impact Wrestling will host Redemption from Orlando on Sunday night. Chris Park will be there, as he is at every Impact event. And he reminds people, as long as he is in the building, Abyss is always lurking.
“I’m excited about the match-ups. People can expect to see a well put together show” he said.. “I think people will see some huge things come can expect to see action in Impact like they haven’t seen in a long time. I think our roster is really starting to come together, so people.
So, can the fans expect to see Abyss making a monstrous appearance at Redemption?
“Who knows?” He said. “That’s the great thing about Impact… You never know who’s going to show up.”
photo credits: impactwrestling.com
“THE MONSTER’S PLAYPEN” – PRODUCED BY EXECUTIVE EDITOR MICHAEL MELCHOR
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