Preview for the May 23, 2013 episode of TNA Impact: Patched In

Totally not Abyss. Maybe. - via TNAWrestling on YouTube

The last live show before 'Slammiversary'! Read on for the latest on the World championship featuring Bully Ray and Sting - plus the Joseph Park/Abyss mystery, Kurt Angle, AJ Styles and the ongoing menace of Aces & Eights!

Previously on Impact Wrestling

General Manager Hulk Hogan opened with the show with exposition. The CliffsNotes version: AJ Styles vs Kurt Angle at Slammiversary and Joseph Park got D-Lo Brown on Impact with a shot at Devon at the pay-per-view (PPV) if he won.

Hogan seemed to be indicating that he thought there was something fishy about the Park brothers, but the lawyer still seemed shocked that his brother had returned the week before.

Angle - acting more heelish than most WWE babyfaces - called out Styles, but got Aces & Eights wild card Anderson instead. Mr. says that AJ is joining the club next week, and there's nothing anyone in TNA can do about it. When the cyborg gets physical with the biker, the phenomenal one makes his way out to the ring. When Kurt gets in his face, Styles takes him down with an enziguri.

Knockouts champion Velvet Sky defeated Gail Kim, who then added her to her Hall of Strained Knee Ligaments (doesn't quite have the same ring to it as Mark Henry's catchphrase) with a post-match ring post figure four.

Kenny King retained his X-Division crown when he pinned Petey Williams in a triple threat match. Unfortunately, he's feuding with Chris Sabin, so there's still a lot to be decided here.

James Storm continued to interject himself into the issues between tag champs Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez and The Dirty Heels (Austin Aries & Bobby Roode) and Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian). He interfered in two singles matches featuring the pairs, as well as announcing that he and an unnamed partner would face all three teams in a four way duel for the belts.

Brown made the mistake of busting Park open in the last match of the night, allowing the big barrister to channel his inner monster for a victory.

The show-closing contract signing managed a minimum of physicality, but a few punches were thrown. Hey - whaddayagonnado? Bully Ray agreed to the title tilt being no holds barred; in exchange Sting agreed to never contend for the TNA world championship again if he loses.


Live from Tampa, FL!

The Aces & Eights have announced that they will be holding a "patching in" ceremony for AJ Styles. Has the TNA original really decided to throw in with the group that has been bedeviling the company with which he's synonymous?

In other club business, Mr. Anderson will be the latest member to try and get Kurt Angle off their backs and out of their business. These two have a history dating back well before this current storyline, and many of the Green Bay native's best performances have come against the Olympic gold medalist.

Mickie James gets a title shot at her "friend" Velvet Sky. Will hardcore country be able to do whatever it takes to reclaim the Knockouts championship?

The GutCheck tournament to determine which newcomer gets into the Bound for Glory tournament (I love tournaments, but...) continues when Sam Shaw battles Alex Silva. Were all of these guys really on Impact before? I have no recollection of either of these dudes.

Hulk Hogan, Sting and Bully Ray are all scheduled to appear and will no doubt be addressing the build to Slammiversary, the PPV that's just a little over a week away.

And, masked X-Division veteran Suicide returns! Who's in this get-up this time?

Expect to pop for:

Mickie James. Did you guys know that chicks can wrestle? It's hard to tell when workrate machines like Kaitlyn and VelVel are holding the straps for the two nationally televised promotions, but it's true. And I'm hoping that tonight, TNA gets their belt back onto one of the best female workers in recent history, Ms Mickie James.

Nothing against Sky, who has been loyal to the company and definitely has a fan base. Her brand of porn star chic has never been my cuppa, but I understand the appeal. But she's always been very limited in the ring. I don't expect the Knockouts to return to their peak of a few years back, but having James as champ will net better matches out of feuds with, at least, Gail Kim or Tara. Mickie's seminal work was as a heel in her feud with Trish Stratus in WWE, so if defeating Velvet means a turn to the dark side, I'm okay with that, too.

Mister Anderson. Hear me out now. He's recognizable, and he's always gotten a he's probably gonna be employed somewhere for the next few years. What better role for him than the loose cannon of TNA's villainous faction? He doesn't have to carry the load, so his schtick won't grate as easily. Much like they're masking their 50 something #1 contender's deficiencies with the no holds barred stip at Slammiversary, this is a smart way for Dixie Carter and company to use a name without hindering their brand.

Now, if they had some "future stars" that were under 35 years old, they might really be on to something...

The heat is on:

James Storm. Frankly, I've always found him to be an okay worker with a tired character. Take away the cool sign-off and there's not much to him beyond a more redneck-y Stone Cold clone. But even I'm surprised at the fall from the title scene to trying to shoehorn himself back into the tag division. Now, even that's in jeopardy due to his ridiculous guest referee-ing injury.

Maybe tagging is where it's at for the cowboy now, though. It could get some of the direction-less stink off of him, and might even allow him to earn a PPV check if he's healthy enough to throw a few punches and stay out of the way during a four-way dance. America's Most Wanted reunion anyone? What's fake Sting Braden Walker Chris Harris weigh doing these days?

The X-Division. Hopefully, the return of Suicide means that someone else is getting work (I'm thinking Amazing Red) as opposed to just that Daniels or Kaz will be pulling double duty again. While the triple threat gimmick makes for some exciting matches on television every week, it's proving a real hindrance to momentum in programs between a champ and a challenger. And with the elimination of Destination X from the PPV schedule, does being X-Division champ mean much any more? Or was that angle just to get Aries over? We all assumed that GutCheck guys would stock the division, but they seem to be doing their own thing with Bound for they may have a quicker route to a title shot than the title holder of the class that used to define the company.

I like Kenny King, but his challengers are kind of old. The future doesn't look super bright for the high fliers.

TNA is rolling along delivering okay but unexceptional product right now. Is that enough? It may be for Viacom, but probably not for wrestling fans.

How's Spike TV's wrestling show treating you these days? Chat about it below and join the live blog crew tonight at 8PM EDT for Impact Wrestling!

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