Credit: WWE.com

If Daniel Bryan emerges on Tuesday's WWE SmackDown, he will do so while limping and carrying surging rage in his chest.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn welcomed the SmackDown general manager back last week by thrashing him. Bryan had only just been medically cleared to compete and he soon found himself crashing into the ring apron spine first. He had to be wheeled away from ringside afterward.

When the blue brand travels to Pittsburgh, fans will see the aftershocks of that assault play out.

The rest of the show will surely focus on building toward WrestleMania 34. A number of warm-up matches for The Showcase of the Immortals are set. Randy Orton will join forces with one of his rivals, Charlotte Flair will clash with a longtime foe and Shinsuke Nakamura will look to ground a high-flyer.

News updates, the SmackDown preview on WWE.com and storyline projections help paint a picture of how the latest episode will unfold starting at 8 p.m. ET on USA Network.

News, Rumors

AJ Styles isn't 100 percent. WWE hasn't disclosed the nature of his injury, but the company has provided an update on the WWE champ's situation.

"AJ is working diligently on rehabbing his injuries and getting himself in tip-top shape for WrestleMania," Triple H told Catch-Newz. "Right now, he says he's feeling a lot better and will be ready to go. Obviously, we'll get him doctors to make sure that he is ready to go and get him medical clearance if that's possible." 

The word on Shane McMahon, on the other hand, isn't nearly as positive. It looks as if the SmackDown commissioner will be out of action for some time.

McMahon was hospitalized due "currently recovering from acute diverticulitis and an umbilical hernia," WWE.com reported. And Josh Nason noted for Figure Four Online: "This is legitimate and not part of the storyline."

Meanwhile, there continue to be whispers of a potential Hulk Hogan return.

The company confirmed that it has been speaking with The Hulkster about him coming back. A WWE statement (h/t Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet) shed some light on the situation: "We have had discussions with Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan) about how he can help others learn from his mistakes, however, he is not under any contract with WWE."

SmackDown Streaks

Rusev served as Nakamura's latest stepping stone last week.

Nakamura bested The Lion of Bulgaria to extend a growing streak. The King of Strong Style has won six consecutive matches including a victory in the Royal Rumble, per CageMatch.net

He's not likely to lose again ahead of his WrestleMania match with Styles. WWE is going to want him stepping into that showdown red hot.

Rusev is receiving far different treatment. He has suffered four straight losses, is 2-8 in 2018 and has just one win on SmackDown so far this year, per CageMatch.net.

Despite how much fans chant for him, WWE hasn't seized the opportunity to make him a top SmackDown star.

Preview

Bobby Roode and United States champion Orton will collide at WrestleMania as enemies. On Tuesday night, though, they will be teammates.

Roode and Orton will take on Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh in tag team action in Pittsburgh.

Credit: WWE.com

There promises to be some tension between the Roode-Orton duo. The two men have been trading attacks on each other of late. Should they focus their animosity toward the opposition, however, they can both gain momentum ahead of the Triple Threat Match for the U.S. title also involving Mahal.

Nakamura will look to continue his recent run of success when he steps into the ring with Shelton Benjamin.

The former NXT champion has taken out Rusev, Aiden English and Baron Corbin in recent weeks. He'll look to add Benjamin to his list of victims in what should be an excellent match.

Pittsburgh fans will also see a Flair vs. Natalya rematch. Last week, Flair lost to Natalya thanks to a distraction from Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella.

The Queen will be looking to get back on track as she continues to prep for his SmackDown Women's Championship defense against Asuka. 

The SmackDown Tag Team Championship, meanwhile, is the only title that isn't represented on the WrestleMania 34 card yet. A battle set for Tuesday's show should help determine who ends up facing The Usos at that marquee event.

The New Day and The Bludgeon Brothers will go head to head in PPG Paints Arena.

The bout is sure to be personal. Harper and Rowan laid out The New Day at Fastlane to interrupt their SmackDown title match. It's now The New Day's chance to take their pound of flesh from The Bludgeon Brothers and cement themselves as the No. 1 contenders.

The night's big story will again be Owens and Zayn-centered.

Last week, Bryan fired them for attacking McMahon. The heels responded to the news violently, welcoming the GM back by leaving him in need of a stretcher.

Owens and Zayn are sure to face repercussions for their latest dastardly deed. Bryan will surely play a hand in that and it's bound to unfold at WrestleMania, but there are a number of questions yet to answer including who Bryan will team up with to take them down.

Tuesday's episode is poised to start answering them.

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