It's the first iMPACT of 2013 and we're live!  Sting returns tonight, looking for vengeance against Aces and Eights...and his trademark bat.  He said he's targeting DOC first, so let's see what happens.  Also, the road to Genesis continues.  Will Jeff Hardy have to face two contenders at Genesis in Bobby Roode and Austin Aries?

Show Open:

We get the recap video that highlights the World title feud, Hogan seeing his daughter Brooke with Bully Ray, and Sting's return.

Pyro goes off and the announcers check in.  JB stands next to a trophy in the ring and introduces the nominees for TNA's "Wrestler of the Year" award.  Those nominees are Bully Ray, James Storm, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode and Jeff Hardy.  Each man makes his entrance to the stage.

JB calls for the drumroll, but in the meantime Roode and Aries head for the ring.  They argue among themselves that the other should head back because it is the other man's award.  JB announces the winner, who is Jeff Hardy.  Hardy heads to the ring, Aries and Roode are shocked, and the other men head to the back.

Hardy says the award means as much to him as the World Heavyweight Championship.  Roode jumps in and gets in his face about disrespecting the title.  Roode says he was the longest reigning champion and he should have been the Wrestler of the Year and the fact he isn't is bullshit.

Aries cuts him off and says the voting is rigged.  He puts himself over as the longest reigning X-Division champion.  That should have made him Wrestler of the Year.

Hardy interjects and says it's been decided and announced that he will defend the World Championship in a triple threat match at Genesis.  He says that Aries and Roode need to remember every time they hear the year 2012 that it was the Year of the Enigma.

Aries attacks Hardy and Roode joins in the beatdown.  Roode holds Hardy up for Aries to hit Hardy with the trophy, but Hardy ducks away.  Roode eats the trophy, then Aries gets the Twist of Fate.

A solid talking segment that got to what it intended to.  Hardy did go a bit over the top here in my mind.  Should be a good triple threat match at Genesis.

The announcers hype up Sting's return tonight and Hogan.

Backstage:

HerveyCam catches up with James Storm to ask him about not winning.  Storm goes to answer, but Daniels and Kazarian cut him off.  The do a Storm spoof with their answers.  Daniels was absolutely hilarious here.

Storm laughs then gets serious.  He cuts a promo on them about kicking them in the Twitter and punching them in the Facebook.  He spits in Daniels' appletini and says he's heading to the ring.  He dares them to figure out which one wants their ass kicked.

Home run ball right there.  These three were great in this segment.

After commercial, Storm is in the ring.  Daniels and Kaz come out next and Daniels rips his shirt off.  He acts like he will get in the ring, but Kaz slides in instead and attacks Storm.

Match #1 - James Storm vs. Kazarian (w/Christopher Daniels)

Storm fights back quickly and sends Kaz out to the floor.  Storm dives onto Kaz, but Daniels attacks Storm from behind.  That allows Kaz to take control of the match.

Storm hits Closing Time to turn momentum, but Daniels interferes again.  He hits Closing Time a second time out of nowhere then sets up for Last Call.  Daniels sticks his nose in things again and eats an enzuigiri for his troubles.

After ducking an attack in the corner, Storm hits Last Call for the win.

That was really good.  If you missed it live, be sure to look it up over the next few days if you can.  Good work in four minutes.

Aces and Eights Clubhouse:

Devon is still trying to get Mr. Anderson to join up.  Anderson still stalls, though.  One of the strippers is rubbing Anderson's beer bottle akin to giving it a handjob.  Seriously?  Anderson plays along with it too with his expressions.  Doc demands Anderson's answer.  Anderson says if they did it, they couldn't show Sting any fear.  Devon gets excited, and Anderson hands over the hammer to DOC.

As good as the match preceding was, this was a joke.  Just horrible stuff here.

They recap the Aces storyline in video, with the focus being on Sting.

In-Ring Segment:

DOC comes out and the announce team talks about Kennedy joining in with Aces.  DOC gets in the ring and holds the hammer up.  He calls out Sting in a "sing song" voice..."Stinger, where are you?"  He says it's 1/3/13 and Sting has been telling everyone that DOC is a marked man.

He continues in the sing-song voice and stares at the hammer.  He says it's bullshit and he's tired of Sting wasting their time.  He demands that Sting comes out to get crippled.  A bat falls from the rafters.  DOC freaks out and demands that Sting come out, all the while asserting he isn't scared.

This was a bit campy with the bat and all.  DOC was "okay" though.

Backstage:

HerveyCam catches up to Brooke Hogan and asks if she has talked with her father.  She says no.  He asks when she would talk to him, and she says she will find out on live TV like always.

We get some hype for Kenny King vs Zema Ion next week.

Match #2 - Kid Kash vs. Christian York; X-Division Tournament Match

Kash doesn't get his entrance.  He does, however get a lot of action in.  They trade pin attempts, then Christian hits his neckbreaker finisher (Mood Swing) to get the win.

This was a blur.  Felt like they crammed eight minutes into four.

Backstage:

Chavo and Hernandez cut a promo.  They say they aren't afraid of Matt Morgan or Joey Ryan.  Hernandez does some strange whistle thing that actually made me laugh.  Surely that wasn't the intent.

Match #3 - Hernandez (w/Chavo Guerrero) vs. Joey Ryan (w/Matt Morgan)

Chavo and Hernandez come out, then Ryan and Morgan.  Morgan's arm is in a sling.  He says he's injured and can't compete, but Ryan would take his place.  Ryan wasn't happy, but did it anyhow.

Hernandez hits a shoulder tackle.  Morgan slides in and hits Hernandez with the injured arm for a DQ.

Afterward, Chavo goes after Ryan but eats a Carbon Footprint.

Not much to work with here.

Backstage:

Kurt Angle tells Wes Briscoe and Garett Bischoff to stay backstage since tonight's match is a cage match.  They protest, but Samoa Joe tells them to shut up.  Angle calms Joe and says that they were being respectful.  Angle assures the pair that he and Joe will be fine and they leave.  Angle tells Joe he wants to unmask whoever is with Devon.  Joe agrees.

In-Ring Segment

After a recap of the Bully Ray/Brooke/Hulk angle in video, Hulk makes his entrance.  He apologizes for not being there last week, but after seeing Brooke and Bully making out, he needed to take a week off.  Hogan says that since they wanted things to be in public, Hogan's going to deal with them in public.  Hogan calls them out and they come out together.

Hogan tells Ray that he has been asking for respect for months.  But, there is a code for people in the business.  Ray broke that code and Hogan wants to know why.  Ray admits Hogan is right, they were brothers and Ray should have come clean.  Ray admits the heat is on him.

Hogan goes apeshit.  He says Ray doesn't deserve to be in the business.  Hogan goes on to say if this was old school that he and Ray would have been to war, but he will use Ray's rules instead. 

He says that a general manager has to do what he has to do, and Hogan suspends Ray indefinitely without pay.  He tells Brooke that if she wants to be with him, she can go too.  Ray is dumbfounded, but then grabs Brooke's arm and they head out.

That wasn't expected.  Where does this story go next now?  They have a core of a good story but they're not telling it effectively.

They recap the previous segment, then switch to a video of Joseph Park training at OVW.  He keeps improving, complete with the uplifting music.

Match #4 - Gail Kim and Tara (w/Jesse) vs. Mickie James and Brooke Tessmacher

Things break down quickly out of the gate.  The heels end up on the floor.  For some reason, the official blocks Tessmacher from attacking the heels when they get back in the ring.  The heels double up on Mickie with that opening.

Tessmacher gets the hot tag and drives Tara to the corner.  She goes for that booty-pop move but Tara dives out to the floor.  Kim gets an attack from behind that gives the heel team a chance to control Tessmacher.  Tara hits a leg drop that looks a bit nasty because of the leg brace she wears.

Mickie gets a hot tag and clears the heel team.  Things break down again with all four women in the ring.  Jesse pulls Tara out of the action and fans her with a towel.  Tessmacher dives from the top rope and takes the power couple out.

Mickie scores the win with her jumping DDT after Mickie dodges a corner charge from Gail.

This was a good match, but I question the decision to make this go 13 minutes when Storm and Kazarian went only five.  Strange use of time there by TNA.

In the clubhouse, DOC says they need to be sure to keep their masks on tonight, even if Angle was out to get them.

Is it any more obvious that we're going to find out who someone else in Aces is tonight?

Backstage:

ODB says that Eric Young won't be back soon as he's rehabbing.  Eric will walk back into the ring, though.

We get a video package to recap the show opening.  Roode and Aries complain backstage to Hogan.  Hogan says it's decided that it will be an elimination match.  He makes a tag team match for next week between Roode and Aries vs. Hardy and a partner of his choosing.

Match #5 - Aces and Eights vs. Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle

Aces makes their entrance, then Samoa Joe comes to the ring.  Angle comes out last.  As Angle climbs in the ring, DOC runs out and hits Angle with the door.  He pulls Angle from the ring and locks Joe in the ring with Devon and the masked Aces member.

Joe holds his own while DOC continues to beat Angle down outside.  DOC slams Angle on the steel stairs then leaves.  Devon runs a distraction on Joe, which allows the masked Aces member to take control of Joe.  The fans chant for Angle.

Angle tries to climb the cage.  DOC comes back out and interferes, pulling Angle down.  Angle slugs DOC and gets the key to unlock the cage.  Angle gets in the match finally and cleans house.  Angle goes for the mask, but DOC interferes and distracts Angle.  Angle charges DOC, but DOC slams the door on Angle's head.  Angle's bleeding.

Joe slams the door back on DOC, but the two men in the ring attack Joe.  Angle rolls away from a leg drop and Joe gets a kick on the masked guy.  Angle hits a German Suplex on both guys.  Angle and Joe team up to slam Devon into the cage, then Angle hits the Angle Slam to get the win on the masked guy.

Afterward, Angle goes after the mask.  Devon breaks things up and was able to hold off long enough for DOC and the other members of Aces and Eights to come out.  They hold Joe down and choke Angle out.  Here comes the save.

Sting comes out with a bat in hand.  He gets in the ring and clears house, beating up everyone with the bat.  He beats Aces down until they all flee.  The only guy left is the masked man that was in the match.  Sting beats him up again, then Angle pulls the mask.  It's a shaven, shorter-bearded Mike Knox.

Tenay and Taz sell it as Aces retreats to close the show.

I hate to say it, but Sting's return was lame for the amount of hype it got.  Sting just sort of walked calmly to the ring and stuff.  Just felt really flat.  They could have done a "lights out" thing where Sting "appears" in the ring.

Again, Aces loses.  Never have I seen a faction with such little heat that way.  Heck, tonight they could have had the Aces guys win, shut the lights out, Sting appears and delivers his beatdown, then Angle gets his mojo right back by taking the mask off of the Aces member.  But instead...ugh.

Strange booking/decision making tonight for TNA.  All in all, the decision of going live certainly did help them out a lot overall and as evidenced tonight, TNA puts a much better show on when they're live, odd decisions or not.  Thanks for watching along with me tonight.