It might have taken Mike Rapada up until he was 27 years old to break into the wrestling business, but after he got there, he stayed. You can still find him inside of the ring. Today, the 53-year-old wrestler who bears the nick-name The Colorado Kid can be found soon on the independent scene in Southern California after wrestling for the last eight years in both the southern and central areas of the United States.
“Today, wrestling is about me entertaining myself. It’s not like I’m trying to get anywhere because I’ve already done all that,” Mike Rapada explains. “I’m trying to help out the younger kids and get them where they want to go.”
If the younger kids that are breaking into wrestling are willing to listen to the Colorado Kid, they just might have a chance to go somewhere in the sport. When Rapada was coming up the ranks, he was determined to be a successful wrestler and his accomplishments credited to his name have proven he has done just that. He has wrestled with the WWE, WCW, the NWA, and all over the rest of the world.
“Back in the day, I didn’t feel comfortable having drinks and stuff like that. Everybody thought I was stuck up,” Rapada tells. “I just wanted to protect what I had worked so hard for. Now, I will have some drinks with the boys and they think that I’m pretty cool, but I was cool back then too.”
Many wrestlers dream of winning the NWA World Heavyweight Title, but few ever get the chance to wear the precious 10 pounds of gold around their waist. Rapada has held that championship on two different occasions. His first title reign started on September 19, 2000, when he won the prestigious belt in a tournament over Jerry Flynn. That tenure lasted only 56 days when Rapada was defeated by Sabu in Tampa, Florida.
On December 22nd of that same year, Rapada faced Sabu once more, and the two battled themselves into a bloody mess in Nashville, Tennessee. To say this match was a classic example of technical wrestling would be the furthest thing from the truth. It was an all-out war! In the end, the Colorado Kid persevered and won the title back.
“Sabu is a crazy wrestler and he’s just going to come at you. You have to just grit your teeth and hope he hurts himself more than he hurts you,” Rapada said. “He cut his arm so severely on a piece of metal from a table that he had to duct tape his arm to prevent blood loss so he could finish the match.”
On this occasion, he held the championship for four months before losing it to Steve Corino on April 21, 2001. Sharing space on the same historic list with such notable wrestlers like Lou Thesz, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Dan Severn, and Kerry Von Erich, is special for Rapada, but there’s something else that might mean more to him than being recognized as the National Wrestling Alliance’s top man.
Not every NWA World Champion can say they held the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship also. Rapada has held that belt on five different occasions, between 1998 and 2000. On his last reign as the North American Champ, he didn’t lose the belt, it was vacated due to him winning NWA’s elite prize.
“Being the North American Heavyweight Champion showed me more good times. There were more good memories attached to that than the World belt had,” Rapada mentioned. “When I got the world belt, it was almost like the beginning of the end. I found out that there’s more to wrestling than just making it all the way to the top.”
Another very special moment in Mike’s career came in 2003 when the NWA was invited to put on a wrestling event in China. Rapada was one of the first Americans to ever wrestle in that country. It was a thrill for him to wake up the next morning and see himself on the front of the sports page drop kicking his opponent.
“I was speaking with a diplomat from the Chinese government and he had an interpreter,” Rapada said. “I’m from a little bitty small town and someone was paying money to listen to what I had to say. I’ve seen stuff that a whole lot of people don’t get to see.”
In the beginning, Mike was extremely fortunate to have good trainers that saw potential in him and thought that he could make a career out of it. Guys like Eddie Marlin and Jerry and Jeff Jarrett taught him the fundamentals that would ultimately hone the skills that he still utilizes today. It was Kenny Wayne however, who really helped Rapada shape his character.
“He told me how to carry myself and how I needed to act. He also told me to keep my nose clean, do not let the other guys block my path, and not to fall prey to being stupid,” Rapada said. “I didn’t expect all of the things to happen to me regarding my career, but when they did, I went back to what Kenny taught me and I knew how to act. I knew how to wrestle, but Kenny taught me how to be a wrestler.”
Throughout the years of his career, Mike continued to listen to the veterans of the business, and because they saw that he was willing to stay loyal to their philosophy, they were willing to help the Colorado Kid become the best wrestler he could be.
“I was wrestling with some guys that were a lot younger than me, and they would say “I’m not doing that just because they told me to,” Rapada explained. “All I had to do was what the old-timers were telling me to do, and because no one else was willing to do it, it made my job that much easier.”
Wrestling is not just something that Mike Rapada does, it’s something that he’s a part of, and it’s a part of him. He believes that when wrestling is exceptionally performed, it can be a masterpiece. Mike is the artist painting the picture and telling the story. Over the course of his career, he has seen his share of good days and bad days, and when he can’t take care of himself, the 16 by 16 ring does that for him.
In his 26 years as a professional wrestler, he’s found out that not everyone gets into wrestling for the same reasons, or for the right reasons. Some people just want to fight, some just want to win, and some just want to kiss the girls and hug the babies. Rapada has come across many people in the sport who are apathetic as far as what happens on the mat. The one thing you can’t change Mike’s mind about is that wrestling is about wrestling.
“I hope that the fans feel like I did things the right way, and I hope they didn’t feel like they were left out. I hope that I gave everybody a ride,” said Rapada. “I realize that I couldn’t have done it without my fans, my friends, my family, and the people that supported me.”
Favorite wrestler: Randy Savage
Career highlight: Wrestling in China in 2003.
Favorite band: Bon Jovi
Favorite sports team: L.A. Chargers
Hobbies: Bike riding and playing golf.
Dog person or cat person: Dog person, cat person, and a bird person.
A state that you’ve never been to: Alaska and Hawaii
Favorite food: Authentic Mexican food
Movie I’ve seen multiple times: Jaws
Favorite actor: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Favorite color: Orange
My dream match would be against: The Rock
WCW Theme for Mike Rapada
The Colorado Kid vs The Bonecrusher
The Colorado Kid vs Trailer Park Trash
The Colorado Kid vs Jerry Lawler
Mike Rapada vs Chris Harris 10-14-2000