The Acute Angle

Welcome to another edition of The Acute Angle.

Before we begin, let me address a few points that have come about from my last column, the concept of the Hitler Youth in reference to Hulkamania. The concepts of the Acute Angle are not de facto truths. These are seeds of ideas that are there to make you, the reader, perhaps expand your vision of professional wrestling.

It is conceptually easy for someone to watch a match, whether it be a Ricky Steamboat/Ric Flair ring classic or “Bee” Brian Blair versus Brooklyn Brawler from an early 90’s MSG taping and rate it in their own way. They might appreciate the technique of Steamboat, or possibly enjoy the work of Steve Lombardi and make their opinions from there. What The Acute Angle is attempting to do is expand your vision when looking at a match, storyline, or character. The ideas of The Hitler Youth vs. Hulkamania are dramatic and extreme, but are similar enough to make you at least feel an emotion towards the concept, be it laughter at it’s percieved obscurity, angry at it’s power to shoot upon a childhood love, or possibly you thought how interesting it was that such disassociated concepts came together.

Either way, I would like to thank those on the forum boards who took the time to read and enjoy and all the rest who have sent me e-mail’s positively or negatively. It at least shows that I have struck a chord within you that will hopefully resound in the months to come.

Now, on to greater things:

The Acute Angle has addressed humanity in Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, and history in ‘Hulkamania’, but there are other avenues of comparison that we have yet to strike. This week I shall address a great piece of classic literature and compare it to one of the more innovative types of matches to come to professional wrestling in the last decade. The match is a combination of ‘Hell In A Cell’ with it’s steel enclosure, ‘Gauntlet’ with it’s multiple participants, and ‘Six-Way Dance’ with it’s elimination style. Brought to the WWE by Eric Bischoff in a hope to woo Vince McMahon, it is ‘The Elimination Chamber


At the beginning of this grueling match, four of the entrants are placed in plexi-glass chambers and made to wait. Frequent shots of those awaiting their time in the ring see them smiling and watching their peers being taken down. Each loss is another boon to them, as it is fewer competitors to defeat for their chance to win. Others have been seen seething at the mouth awaiting their time to cast as much destruction as they possibly can. Finally, a rare third, watch intently and size up their opponents, awaiting their time to seize upon the weakest and stand tall at the end victorious.

When Garcin enters the small hotel room in Jean-Paul Sartre‘s play No Exit it is confusing to see one man alone in a room. Aside from his brief encounter of discussion with the Valet, his entrance into this place could mean anything. Much like the ticking clock in the ‘Chamber’ he is joined by Inez, and we see the first onslaught of hostility commense.

When, in November of 2002, we watched as Rob Van Dam and Triple H enter the ring to begin the first Elimination Chamber match. I can only imagine the audience was processing what was going on in the same way that the first audience processed the coward Garcin and the lesbian Inez. Rob Van Dam, a long time hopeful to be able to stand tall in the main event picture with the likes of the then current champion Triple H, was refreshing to see in the ring. These two men had been feuding with each other for the past few months, and this would be the last time they would see themselves fighting face to face with the World Title on the line.

Garcin: So one has to live with one’s eyes open all the time?

Both in No Exit as in the match must everyone’s eyes remain open. Garcin’s do so out of the structure of it’s creation. He can not blink, and thusly can not sleep, nor can he take a moment to reassess his world. A human being blinks regularly at the end of any given sentence it reads or is presented. It gives that flicker of time for the brain to absorb what it has just ascertained and begin to process whatever it is that comes next. Garcin is left without that ability, and the same could be said by the opening opponents in an Elimination Chamber. It will not be until there is at least one other person in the ring with them, that they might have a moment to recollect themselves and their strategy.

Within the short play, Garcin is a cowardly man who is attempting at all times to be accepted for who he is. In a similar way Rob Van Dam stands as Garcin. He is both weak in position, but has something he is constantly striving for. In the case of the play it is Garcin’s constant need to be superior, or at least feel not as a coward. Rob Van Dam at this point had fought his entire career to reach this pinnacle, to defeat Triple H. How Triple H is percieved as Inez is quite simple. Inez is the constant antagonist. She pulls Garcin away from Estelle (the third entrant into the hotel room) and at any time where one seems to be getting along with another, it is Inez who reminds them that they are dirty people who do dirty things. Triple H at this time was one of the most hated heels in the WWE, and it was only through his constant manuevering that he remained at the top of his game.

The third entrant into the first Chamber match was Chris Jericho. Having recently been fighting on the side of the heels, Jericho was still selectively cheered by fans, but was quite easy to dislike. Seeing him fight with Triple H or against him was just as easy as expecting the same out of Jericho & Rob Van Dam. The stage was set for three men whom have no love lost between them to enter any number of countless juxtaposed rivalries. If we are to view Jericho as Estelle in this instance, he is the vainglorious enemy, worried as much about his face as he is about how he is viewed.

GARCIN: Go if you can. Personally, I ask for nothing better. Unfortunately the door’s locked.

A full comparison of that match as it relates to the Sartre play is near impossible, given there are only three members of the stage production, and six within the match itself. That does not mean that other characters who made their appearance at that night’s Survivor Series do not hold some resemblance to the same three characters.

In the end, one man would be declared winner, that of the final entrant Shawn Michaels. Within No Exit there really is nobody who walks away as a winner, as it is the final sentence of No Exit that truly encompasses the belief of the Elimination Chamber. Hell is other people. To be placed in an enclosure, an unending permutation of battles will come forth. Like in the play, such as in the match, any three men in the ring at anytime can easily take on the roles of Garcin, Inez, and Estelle. One as the man between two warring factions. One as the aggressor. One as the weak, hoping to surpass their station.

Even as a team of two in the Elimination Chamber take their opportunity to remove one, those two must in the end go face to face. When their time together ends, there tends to be a third again who must be dealt with fighting with or against one side or another. A constant revolving door of fighter, aider, and defender that shifts as the enviornment decrees it.

That is No Exit and that is The Elimination Chamber.

Thank you again for reading The Acute Angle.

My name is Ted VanHouten IV, and we’ll see you again in two weeks.

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