Welcome to this week's edition of things WWE subtly told us on SmackDown. It wasn't the strongest episode this week, and that perhaps had to do with the lack of overall storytelling and progress barring one story.
It was also flooded with four tag team matches, which, as we've found out, is a lot for a two-hour show. Either way, some progress was made, and here is what WWE subtly told us on the penultimate SmackDown to the 2023 Royal Rumble:
#5. The odd Charlotte Flair-Sonya Deville feud on SmackDown
Out of every superstar who has had a case for a title shot, Sonya Deville's is the worst. She has already lost to Charlotte Flair on SmackDown fair and square, but she keeps insisting on getting a title shot, which is a bit odd.
Everybody keeps pointing out the fact that she doesn't have a case for a title shot, but she keeps asking for one. When Flair offered her one on the spot, she refused, attacking her from behind and walking away.
The match is obviously going to happen at the Royal Rumble, and we expect Deville to get a full burial then.
#4. An interesting tease with Lacey Evans
Lacey Evans teased an alliance with Sgt. Slaughter on Twitter a few months ago. With her latest vignette titled "Operation Cobra Clutch," it seems like she is leaning into the ways of the former WWE Champion.
Don't be surprised to see the 74-year-old legend return for a storyline on SmackDown with Lacey Evans.
#3. Who are the favorites to win the SmackDown Tag Team Tournament?
So far, The Banger Bros, Hit Row, Imperium, and Legado Del Fantasma have qualified for the semi-finals of the SmackDown Tag Title Contender's Tournament. Next week will feature Sheamus & Drew McIntyre facing Hit Row, who they are expected to defeat.
On the other hand, Imperium will face LDF. Don't be surprised to see The Banger Bros go up against Imperium, with GUNTHER's faction members likely to pick up the win as new challengers to The Usos.
However, like others before them, they will fall.
#2. Bray Wyatt's character tease
When Bray Wyatt appeared last week on SmackDown, it was as The Eater Of Worlds - sitting in a rocking chair. This week, he teased returning as The Fiend as we saw the first episode of Firefly Fun House in nearly two years.
This was a potential hint that he could return at the Royal Rumble as one of the three characters, or an infusion of the three. It will be interesting to see how things play out, as fans are still in the dark about the upcoming Pitch Black match.
#1. The on-and-off tease of Sami Zayn and The Bloodline and the possible meaning behind it
Sami Zayn was once again left in the cold by Roman Reigns on SmackDown, who was angry with him last week even though he did nothing wrong. This shouldn't surprise fans as isolating a Bloodline member was exactly what he did to Jey Uso - manipulating him and taking away approval and love at any point in time.
It's great character work, and it's great storytelling. Paul Heyman said that while he isn't a fan of Sami Zayn, he felt it was better to have him on The Bloodline's side. Reigns and Zayn made up, although that itself was a hint that their alliance wouldn't last long.
It was also interesting that Sami Zayn came out after Kevin Owens had taken out Reigns, Solo Sikoa, and The Usos. The end is near for Sami Zayn.
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