IMPACT WRESTLING on Pop Tuesdays at 9/8c starting January 5, 2016

Bracing For IMPACT: Personal Justice

By James Guttman

“Never pray for justice, because you might get some.”
― Margaret Atwood

In the world of professional wrestling, there are few events that are more appropriately named than "Hardcore Justice."  The TNA Impact special this Thursday is not just a night of matches.  It's a night of retribution and making things right. No one fights harder than someone who feels they're fighting for what is truly just.

What sets it apart, though, is that the word "Justice" is subjective.  Most will hear it and immediately think of right and wrong as it relates to TNA.  But justice isn't just about the greater good.  Justice is something personal.  Each of us has our own form of justice.  It's about making things right for ourselves.

Take Bully Ray for example.  The former World Heavyweight Champion has long been the foil that TNA's heroes have tried to bring to justice.  But what about his own point of view?  Bully believes himself to be wronged by the new champion, Chris Sabin.  If you ask the Aces and Eights President, he'll be the first to tell you that he loves to cheat.  He does this with full knowledge that the fans will boo him.  He accepts that.  When Bully turned his back on TNA last year, he soaked up the jeers and laughed in our faces. 

But Chris Sabin doesn't.  Chris gets to be cheered by the fans and soak up adulation.  He's the hero of the people.  That's why it angers Bully Ray so much that Sabin used a hammer (one that Ray himself introduced to the match) to win the World Title.  

What right does Sabin have to use this underhanded method and still be adored?  Why did Bully Ray have to forfeit his popularity in order to be an outlaw, but the new champion can do it while still being everyone's idol?

Sure, as fans we can all explain that Sabin was simply fighting fire with fire.  After all, Ray was about to cave Chris's head in with said hammer until the new champion wrestled it away.  But those explanations will fall on deaf ears at an Aces and Eights meeting.  All Bully sees is someone who gets his cake and eats it too.  In Ray's mind, a fan favorite cheating to beat him is injustice…even if the fan favorite was acting in self defense.

And there lies the real danger.  Sure, Chris Sabin is looking for justice.  His take on justice is easy to understand.  He wants to retain his World Title over a bully with no care for the rules.  As Brooke Hogan announced, this will be Ray's last World Heavyweight Championship match if he doesn't win.  To Sabin, ridding the World Title picture of Ray's scowling mug will be another form of justice.  But, Bully's mission is one of justice too.  Yes, it's a bizarre and twisted form of justice, but it's still justice, nonetheless.

The cage they'll both be locked in makes it even more terrifying, but it gets worse when you consider the situation we're in right now.  As mentioned earlier, Bully Ray has never chased the World Heavyweight Championship as a member of Aces and Eights.  He officially joined the group following his first World Title win.  So this is the first time we get to see Bully, in his ruthless outlaw form, fight for the championship he craves.  One can only imagine the level of violence he has planned for Chris Sabin - especially considering how he's convinced himself that his loss was a miscarriage of justice to begin with.

You can apply this thinking to the entire Aces and Eights group.  As the team prepares for their encounter with the Main Event Mafia, with the losing member leaving TNA forever, they have to feel the same way.  Ignoring their own year-long reign of terror, Mr. Anderson and company are convinced that this match at Hardcore Justice is just another anti-Aces & Eights move by TNA.  I t would truly rock the company to its core to lose one of the Main Event Mafia members.  To Aces & Eights, that would be their ultimate justice.

So gather around on Thursday for the live TNA Impact "Hardcore Justice" special.  Make some chicken wings.  Do the wave.  But a message to anyone cheering for "justice" to be done - be careful what you wish for.  Justice is truly in the eye of the beholder.