25 Feb

Georgia judge declines to dismiss suit alleging sexual assault

This week, a judge in Georgia declined to dismiss the lawsuit against former NBA All-Star Dwight Howard, alleging sexual assault and battery, per ESPN. The lawsuit, filed by Stephen Harper in July 2023, alleges that Howard sexually assaulted him at Harper’s home in July 2021. Howard and his attorneys have argued that the encounter was consensual.

The Gwinnett County judge also made a ruling to seal an exhibit that, according to Howard’s lawyers, included sexually explicit messages.

“My comment, at this time, is that we are glad the court denied Mr. Howard’s motion and look forward to proving our client’s case,” Olga Izmaylova, Harper’s attorney, told ESPN.

“Justice will prevail and we fully trust in our justice system and the process,” Justin Bailey, one of Howard’s attorneys, told ESPN. “This order is a part of the process. We will engage in discovery and will further prove our case, and when the time is right, we will let our future pleadings speak for themselves.”

In December, Howard filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that it was “frivolous” and “nothing more than a classic case of unrequited love.” That filing centered on text messages between the two men. It alleges that some messages were deleted and others in the initial complaint were doctored. Howard’s camp submitted screenshots of text messages that were not previously entered into the record.

“In short, the totality of the text messages between Mr. Howard and Mr. Harper make it abundantly clear that Mr. Harper’s claims are frivolous, that he was a willing participant in the events of July 19, 2021, and the early morning hours of July 20, 2021, and that the touching of his person had been invited by him,” Howard’s lawyers wrote.

“More importantly, the explicit messages not only show consent but also that Mr. Harper was initiating some of the sexual contact. Mr. Harper not only invited the initial experience, but tried to initiate a second encounter because the first was so enjoyable. As it is undisputed that Mr. Harper consented to the touching between him and Mr. Howard, Mr. Harper’s claims necessarily fail, and Mr. Howard is entitled to summary judgment as the clear consent negates the essential element of intent and the claims of Assault, Battery, False Imprisonment, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress fall like a house of cards.”

Harper’s lawyers responded in January 2024, per ESPN, arguing that the case has “nothing to do with unrequited love” and asking the judge for a trial in front of a jury.

In July, Harper – who has agreed to be named publicly – filed a civil suit against Howard alleging assault and battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress relating to a 2021 encounter. Harper initially reported the alleged assault to police in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in July of 2022, but never gave a formal interview to the police, who eventually suspended the case. As a result, there are currently no criminal charges filed against Howard.

According to the lawsuit, Harper says he met Howard on Instagram and agreed to meet at Howard’s home for a sexual encounter. While traveling there, Harper says Howard asked if another man or woman could join, which Harper declined. However, upon arrival, another man, identified only as “Kitty” was there. Howard and “Kitty” allegedly then forced Harper to participate in sexual activity.

Per the lawsuit, “Mr. Harper was trapped in Defendant’s bedroom and believed that he would suffer imminent bodily harm if he resisted Defendant’s sexual advances. Mr. Harper felt extremely violated and humiliated and was in complete shock.”

A response filed by Howard’s lawyer in October stated that the three men all agreed to “engage in consensual sexual activity.” Howard is asking for a summary judgment — a judgment entered by a court without a full trial — and for court costs and attorney fees to be paid by Harper.

One of Howard’s lawyers provided an additional statement to ESPN on Oct. 25:

“What was a private consensual encounter was made public for profit and Mr. Howard looks forward to bringing the truth to light in a court of law. The allegations against Mr. Howard are contested. Mr. Howard intends to present the truth. The truth is Mr. Howard blocked Mr. Harper on social media and then was confronted with two options — pay to protect his reputation or have a fabricated story made public. Despite being an easy target due to the subject matter and his status as a celebrity, Mr. Howard chose to trust in the justice system and will rely on all future court filings to speak for themselves.”

Howard addressed the accusations in an Instagram Live on Oct. 26:

“Stop worrying about it. I ain’t gotta deny it, I don’t gotta talk about none of that crap. This s— didn’t even happen. You worried about the wrong stuff. That’s why it’s called an accusation. Allegedly. Come on, man.”

Howard most recently played in Taiwan. The eight-time NBA All-Star was drafted by the Magic in 2004 and played for seven different organizations over 18 seasons. He was part of the Lakers’ 2019-20 championship squad and he last played in the NBA in 2022 during a third stint with the Lakers.

25 Feb

2024 NBA picks, Feb. 22 best bets from proven model

The New York Knicks (33-22) and the Philadelphia 76ers (32-22) square off in an Atlantic Division battle on Thursday. This is the second matchup of the season between these organizations, and on Jan. 5, New York beat Philadelphia 128-92. The Knicks are the fourth seed in the East, while the 76ers sit as the fifth seed. OG Anunoby (elbow) and Julius Randle (shoulder) remain out for New York, while Joel Embiid (knee) and De’Anthony Melton (back) are sidelined for Philadelphia.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The 76ers are a 1-point favorite in the latest Knicks vs. 76ers odds, while the over/under for total points scored is 228.5. Before making any 76ers vs. Knicks picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters Week 18 of the 2023-24 NBA season on a sizzling 60-36 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning nearly $2,300. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Knicks vs. 76ers. You can head to SportsLine now to see its picks. Here are several NBA betting lines and trends for 76ers vs. Knicks:

Knicks vs. 76ers spread: Philadelphia -1
Knicks vs. 76ers over/under: 228.5 points
Knicks vs. 76ers money line: Philadelphia -115, New York -105
PHI: The Sixers are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games
NYK: The Knicks are 0-6 ATS in their last six games
Knicks vs. 76ers picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Knicks can cover
Forward Bojan Bogdanovic was recently acquired from the Detroit Pistons, and he brings a knockdown jumper to New York. Additionally, the 34-year-old puts the ball on the deck to attack the rim. He puts up 19.7 points, 2.4 assists, and shoots 41% from downtown. In his last outing, Bogdanovic had 15 points and four boards.

Forward Josh Hart is another energetic force who is a menace on the boards despite being 6-foot-4. He will finish around the rim but can knock down shots on the outside when needed. The 28-year-old averages 7.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest. In the Feb. 12 loss to the Rockets, Hart notched 17 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. See who to back at SportsLine.

Why the 76ers can cover
Guard Tyrese Maxey is now thrust into a larger role with Embiid (knee) sidelined. Maxey uses his quickness to penetrate the paint and owns a soft touch around the rim. The Kentucky product utilizes his reliable jumper to knock down perimeter shots. Maxey logs 25.7 points and a team-high 6.4 assists per contest. On Feb. 14 versus the Heat, he racked up 30 points, six rebounds, and seven assists.

Forward Tobias Harris provides Philadelphia with a calm three-level scorer. Harris can create mismatches. His speed gives power forwards fits and has the post-up game to overpower smaller defenders. The Tennessee product averages 17.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest. In the Feb. 9 matchup against the Hawks, Harris had 21 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. See who to back at SportsLine.

How to make 76ers vs. Knicks picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 234 points. The model also says one side hits in almost 60% of simulations. You can only see the picks at SportsLine.

25 Feb

Back Stephen Curry under 30.5 points

With his ability to stuff the stat sheet, Luka Doncic is a frequent target with NBA prop bets whenever the Mavericks take the court. They’ll do so at home on Thursday against Kevin Durant and the Suns. Doncic has 30 double-doubles across 47 games this season, but Phoenix has done a great job of limiting his effect on the box score in recent matchups. Doncic has just one double-double across his last 11 games versus the Suns but still carries -333 NBA prop odds to log a double-double on Thursday.

Based on recent history, this appears to be an NBA player prop to steer clear of. However, there are lots of other prop bets involving Doncic, Durant, Kyrie Irving and Devin Booker which are much more appealing. With 24 teams in action on Thursday, there is no shortage of favorable NBA prop lines that you could combine into a parlay bet. Before making any NBA prop picks on sites like PrizePicks for Thursday, be sure to check out the NBA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s proven computer model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters Week 18 of the 2023-24 NBA season on a sizzling 60-36 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning nearly $2,300. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

For Thursday’s NBA schedule, the model has locked in its NBA best bets. You can only see the model’s NBA prop picks at SportsLine.

Top NBA prop bet for Thursday
After simulating every game on Thursday’s NBA schedule 10,000 times, the model is picking Under 30.5 points for Warriors guard Stephen Curry at -125 odds. Ever since scoring a season-high of 60 points versus Atlanta on Feb. 3, Curry’s seen a slight downtick in scoring. He’s gone under 30.5 points in five of his seven games since then, averaging 27.4 points over that stretch. Coming off an extended break thanks to All-Star Weekend, it’s also important to note that Curry is averaging 26.8 points this season when he’s coming off at least three days of rest.

The Warriors host the Lakers tonight, and L.A. has ramped up its defensive efforts as of late. It is allowing just 113.9 PPG in February, which puts it in the top 10 of the NBA, compared to 117.6 PPG allowed prior to this month. The Lakers can also lock down on individual high scorers as they didn’t allow an opposing player to reach even 20 points scored in their last two contests before the All-Star break. The model sees value in under 30.5 points (-125) as it projects Curry to finish with 28.2 points. You can see which other NBA picks to back here.

All NBA prop bets for Thursday
See Magic vs. Cavaliers props here
See Pistons vs. Pacers props here
See Knicks vs. 76ers props here
See Nets vs. Raptors props here
See Suns vs. Mavericks props here
See Celtics vs. Bulls props here
See Rockets vs. Pelicans props here
See Clippers vs. Thunder props here
See Wizards vs. Nuggets props here
See Hornets vs. Jazz props here
See Lakers vs. Warriors props here
See Spurs vs. Kings props here

How to make NBA prop picks for Thursday
The model has simulated every NBA game 10,000 times and has some surprising projections for Thursday’s schedule. You can only see the model’s NBA best bets and SGP picks at SportsLine.

24 Jan

Hawks star placed in concussion protocol, out indefinitely

The Atlanta Hawks have placed star point guard Trae Young in the concussion protocol, the team announced on Sunday. Young will be out indefinitely as he begins the NBA’s mandated Return-to-Participation process, which requires players to display symptom-free behavior in order to be cleared for basketball activities.

Young was injured in the team’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 20. Early in the fourth quarter, Young was back in transition defense and stepped in to take a charge on Isaac Okoro. While he was successful in doing so, he took a shot to the face in the process and had to leave the game.

Trae Young is heading to the locker room after taking this charge from Isaac Okoro. pic.twitter.com/Cs8R0syyV1

— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) January 21, 2024
Young, who finished with 15 points and five assists, did not return as the Hawks saw their three-game winning streak snapped. The Hawks are mired in a disappointing 18-24 season, and are clinging to 10th place and the final Play-In Tournament spot in the Eastern Conference. Entering Sunday, they were half a game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets and 2.5 games up on the Toronto Raptors.

Maintaining that spot without Young will be a challenge. The sixth-year guard is 10th in the league in scoring at 26.9 points per game and second overall in assists with a career-high 10.8. Luka Doncic and Devin Booker are the only other players in the league in the top-10 of both categories.

In the final fan voting returns for the 2024 All-Star Game, Young was second among East guards with 1,815,898 votes. Depending on how media and player voting turns out, Young could be named an All-Star starter for the third time in his career. Either way, he will almost certainly be named an All-Star this season.

Whether he’ll be able to participate in Indianapolis next month, however, depends on how he recovers from this concussion. While he has nearly a month to get healthy, there are unfortunately no guarantees when it comes to to head injuries.

With Young sidelined, the Hawks will turn the offense over to Dejounte Murray, who hit back-to-back game-winners earlier this week and has been the subject of near-constant trade rumors. Despite Young’s injury, the Hawks could still move Murray by the Feb. 8 deadline if they receive a suitable offer.

24 Jan

‘Why shouldn’t I be in that?’

Kevin Durant has had a legendary NBA career. He’s an MVP winner, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, a four-time scoring champion and, of course, a two-time NBA champion. There is no doubt that he’s going to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and remembered as one of the greatest players of his generation. But, like most great players, Durant thinks he’s earned an even greater legacy. The Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin asked Durant why he isn’t widely involved in the greatest of all time conversation, and he suggested that there’s only one thing keeping him out of it.

“Because I went to the Warriors,” Durant told Rankin. “Why shouldn’t I be in that? That’s the question you should ask. Why not? What haven’t I done?”

Durant’s decision to join the Warriors in 2016 was among the most controversial free-agent choices ever. The Warriors had already won a championship in 2015, and in 2016 they won an NBA-record 73 regular-season games. When Durant signed with the Warriors, many considered the two championships he won to be an inevitability.

As far as what Durant hasn’t done? To an extent, he’s right. He’s done pretty much everything a greatest of all time candidate should do… but he hasn’t done those things as often as other candidates. Compare Durant to Michael Jordan, for instance. Durant has two titles and Jordan has six. Durant has four scoring titles and Jordan has 10. Durant has one MVP and Jordan has five. When you line those resumes up next to one another, it’s hard to argue that Durant accomplished more in his career than Jordan. Durant’s career is still ongoing, of course, but at 35 years old, it’s hard to imagine him closing those enormous gaps.

None of this takes away from the tremendous career Durant has had, of course. By almost any measure, he is among the best players ever to touch a basketball. He is even capable of things that players like Jordan and LeBron James aren’t. The NBA has never seen his combination of size, shooting and ball-handling. One could even argue that those qualities make Durant the proper choice for the debate surrounding which player you’d want taking the final shot in a big game. Durant’s size makes him harder to defend in that setting.

But he doesn’t have the overall resume that players like Jordan and James do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no shame in being, say, the 14th-best player of all time. Still, no competitor as accomplished as Durant is going to accept anything less than the No. 1 slot. Ultimately, he’s eventually going to retire as one of the greatest basketball players ever. It doesn’t diminish his accomplishments one bit to say that a few guys were a little bit better.

24 Jan

Mavericks have asked about Kyle Kuzma; Raptors demanding high price for Bruce Brown

The 2024 NBA trade deadline is now just a few weeks away, and the action is starting to heat up. Just a few days ago, the Toronto Raptors sent Pascal Siakam to the Indiana Pacers in a three-team deal, and based on the amount of rumors flying around, there will be more moves to come.

Here’s a look at some of the latest buzz around the league:

Raptors want a first-round pick and more for Brown
As part of the blockbuster Siakam trade, the Raptors received Bruce Brown from the Pacers. Before that deal had even been officially announced by all parties, questions about Brown’s future in Toronto were already being raised. The versatile wing is a strong defender on a reasonable contract, and helped the Denver Nuggets win a title last season, so it’s no surprise that contenders are interested.

The Raptors aren’t going to just give him away, though. Toronto is asking for “a future first-round pick and a quality player … at a minimum,” according to Marc Stein in his latest newsletter.

That’s a steep price, but the Raptors hold the leverage in this situation. The two-year, $45 million deal Brown signed with the Pacers last season includes a club option for the 2024-25 season. That means the team trading for him would have control for another year, or the Raptors can just bring him back.

The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are among the teams that Stein mentioned as possible suitors, but there are sure to be others in the mix.

Mavericks asking about Kuzma
The Washington Wizards are one of the worst teams in the league, but they do have a few players that other organizations are interested in. That includes Kyle Kuzma, Tyus Jones and Daniel Gafford. Per Stein, the Wizards are asking for at least a first-round pick for all three, and two firsts for Kuzma.

Whether any team is willing to pay that price remains to be seen, but Dallas has been asking the question. The Mavericks owe their 2024 first to the Knicks and their 2029 first to the Brooklyn Nets, but they do still have multiple firsts to offer in any trade.

Kuzma — a big, versatile wing who can play with or without the ball — is exactly the type of player they need next to Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, and is enjoying a career-season. He’s averaging 21.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, while shooting a solid 34.1% from 3-point land. He also has championship experience from winning it all with the Lakers in 2020.

Blazers uninterested in moving Grant, but likely to deal Brogdon
The Portland Trail Blazers are in the early stages of a rebuild after trading Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks in the summer, and veterans on rebuilding teams are always going to draw interest from contenders. Jerami Grant and Malcolm Brogdon are at the top of that list, though the Blazers are split on their willingness to move those two.

Stein reported that they are uninterested in moving Grant, who signed a five-year, $160 million deal with the Blazers in the offseason and seems content in the Pacific Northwest.

“I’m cool here,” Grant told Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report. “I’m good with what I’m doing. Keep my head down and keep working, keep trying to help the young guys as much as I can. [Trade speculation is] definitely something you see. It’s not something you can do anything about, especially since I just signed a deal. I’m here for as long as they want me.”

Brogdon, however, is expected to be moved, per Stein. The veteran point guard arrived from the Boston Celtics in the Jrue Holiday trade, and has been mentioned in trade rumors ever since. As the deadline approaches, expect his name to start popping up all over the place. The Knicks, who need a back-up point guard, are one team in the mix.

24 Jan

How Suns fixed their late-game offense vs. Pacers by running the same play over and over again

The Phoenix Suns should have the best fourth-quarter offense in the NBA. When games grind to a halt in the final minutes, they are frequently decided by individual superstars creating and making tough shots coaches would rather avoid at any other point in the game. The Suns have three players capable of making those shots in Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, and they can surround them with as much shooting as the situation requires. Quibble with their overall roster-building approach all you want. Nobody expected the Suns to struggle to generate offense late in games.

Yet if you’ve seen many Suns games this season, you’ll know that their offense, for most of the season, has tended to disappear in the biggest moments. The Suns rank eighth in first-quarter offensive rating, fourth in second-quarter offensive rating, first in third-quarter offensive rating… and dead last in fourth-quarter offensive rating. There are a number of reasons for that ranging from injuries to poor shooting luck to poor lineups to poor design, but regardless of circumstance, it is a problem the Suns needed to solve in the regular season if they hope to have any chance in the postseason.

They’ve taken steps in the right direction lately. Their 22-point fourth-quarter comeback against the Kings came when Frank Vogel decided to embrace his roster’s small-ball destiny and move Kevin Durant to center. They went back to that look again late in their close game against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, and in the process, they took another step toward fixing these fourth-quarter issues. They realized that with a single play, they could all but break most opposing defenses.

Let’s set the stage. The Suns, who have led by as many as 14 points, suddenly find themselves in a bare-knuckle brawl at home against a Pacers team missing Tyrese Haliburton. Neither team scored a single point between the 6:12 and 3:21 marks of the fourth quarter. The Suns turn to their small-ball death lineup of Durant, Booker, Beal, Grayson Allen and Eric Gordon with 3:20 left on the clock. The Suns take a 107-105 lead after a Durant 3-point and a Booker free throw. Indiana ties it back up with two Andrew Nembhard free throws. And then, the Suns found their kill-switch.

It’s an incredibly simple play. Bradley Beal takes the ball up. Grayson Allen screens Pascal Siakam off of him. Beal tortures Buddy Hield one-on-one for the bucket.

Get comfortable, because the Suns are running that same play again. Same setup. Same result. But keep an eye on Siakam as Beal drives. He’s under the basket, theoretically positioned to help… but can’t. Allen and Gordon are too dangerous to leave, so Siakam is stuck in no-man’s land. Hield has no answer for Beal.

Guess what play the Suns run their next time down the floor? Yup, it’s that same Beal-Allen pick-and-roll, only this time, the Pacers aren’t conceding the switch as easily. He sticks with Beal after the first screen, so the Suns adjust. Allen screens for Beal again, but this time, Beal passes it to Allen before Hield can scamper back into position. Allen, like Beal, can beat Hield comfortably.

Good news, Pacers: you don’t have to see the Beal-Allen pick-and-roll for a fourth-straight possession. Instead you get… the exact same play, but with Booker in Beal’s place. Once again, the Pacers refuse to concede the switch, so once again, the Suns hit Allen for a quick pass on the second screen. This time, the help comes, so the Suns put the Pacers in the blender. Allen kicks it to Gordon, who draws Siakam, so he passes it to an open Beal. Obi Toppin has to frantically charge out to the perimeter to challenge Beal, so Beal drives right past him and scores easily at the basket against, you guessed it, Hield. Phoenix pushes its lead to five with 46 seconds left. The game is essentially over from here.

None of this is groundbreaking stuff. It’s a basic switch-hunting concept. The Suns adjusted well when the Pacers decided not to concede those switches. But the way in which the Suns ran it is what separates their offense from other great ones around the league. Remember, they’re not running this through their best player. They’re running it largely through their third-best player. The defense still has to devote the requisite energy to Durant and Booker even when they’re off the ball, but Beal is good enough on it that the Suns lose very little by running their late-game offense through their No. 3 option.

The result here is an unprecedented control over matchups within a switch-hunt. Most teams hunt switches to get to the final matchup, the one in which their star ball-handler is face-to-face with the worst opposing defender. That is ultimately happening here, and Hield is Phoenix’s target, but the quieter impact here is that Phoenix’s three-headed monster also has the capacity to hunt the initial matchup. They don’t just have to think about who is guarding Allen. They can look at who is guarding Beal, Durant and Booker and figure out who they want the second defender in the equation to be as well. They landed on Siakam here. If they would have preferred Andrew Nembhard, Booker would have been the catalyst. Aaron Nesmith has been Indiana’s best perimeter defender this season, and he’s conspicuously kept out of the play.

There’s no good answer here. Let’s say the defense doesn’t offer help, as it didn’t in that second clip. The Suns can therefore not only dictate what defenders are in the play, but which defenders aren’t as well. They got themselves a 2-on-2 pick-and-roll with the two defenders of their choosing. If they do help as they did in the fourth, Phoenix’s overwhelming shooting and ball-handling is equipped to punish defenses in rotation.

The Suns still have a long way to go when it comes to late-game offense. They are going to develop variations and specific counters as they go. They won’t always be able to afford to go small from a defensive perspective, and most of the defenses they’d expect to see late in the playoffs are going to be better than Indiana’s. But many of the best teams have weaker links. Denver isn’t going to take Jamal Murray off of the floor in crunch time. The Clippers will have James Harden in the game. Minnesota can get to five defenders if it wants to, but that requires offensive sacrifices they aren’t really equipped to make.

This is, in essence, what makes the Suns so dangerous. Their firepower gives them a greater degree of control over the matchups they want to face defensively than a typical elite offense, and they’re starting to figure out how to weaponize that control late in games. They can beat plenty of NBA defenses just by spamming the same play over and over and over again.

21 Jan

Survivor Series date, location, start time, how to watch

Only one premium live event remains on WWE’s calendar for 2022. Survivor Series WarGames gets an upgrade from the traditional format of elimination team matches to a battle of attrition fought inside of a cage. WWE’s final major event of the year takes place at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on Nov. 26.

The Bloodline and Damage CTRL are expected to battle their rivals in men’s and women’s WarGames matches, respectively. WarGames is a team-based match featuring two rings contained within a large cell. The match begins with one representative from each team duking it out. The remaining competitors enter in a staggered format and the contest cannot conclude until all participants are locked in the cage. The winner is determined by pinfall, submission, surrender or knockout.

SmackDown women’s champion Ronda Rousey will defend her crown against Shotzi at Survivor Series. Shotzi was awarded the title shot after defeating Lacey Evans, Liv Morgan, Sonya Deville, Raquel Rodriguez and Xia Li in a Six-Pack Challenge on the Nov. 11 episode of SmackDown.

In order to ensure you stay up to date with all of WWE’s signature events — each of which will be covered right here by CBS Sports — check out the entire 2022 pay-per-view schedule (at least the events we know about at this time) below along with the dates and locations of all key upcoming events.

21 Jan

Sheamus reveals how a visit to Edge’s home sparked the best run of his 20-year career ahead of Survivor Series

A near career-ending concussion and a willingness to open up have led Sheamus to what many consider his best WWE run. Sheamus has already carved out a Hall of Fame career. Oddly, it is the version of Sheamus with 20 years of experience, one in pursuit of a secondary title, that has connected with WWE fans the most.

Sheamus headlines WWE Survivor Series on Saturday, teaming with the Brawling Brutes (Butch and Ridge Holland), Drew McIntyre and Kevin Owens to take on The Bloodline (Roman Reigns, The Usos, Sami Zayn and Solo Sikoa) in a WarGames match. Sheamus’ status at the top of the card is partially a reflection of his renewed passion for the art.

“I love what I do. I’m still very passionate about what I do,” Sheamus — who was promoting his Celtic Warrior Workouts YouTube channel — told CBS Sports. “I’m probably more passionate than I’ve ever been.”

Sheamus suffered a terrible concussion at WrestleMania 35 in 2019, that sidelined him for nearly eight months. It was a visit to Hall of Famer Edge’s house that sparked a yearning to craft an undeniable legacy. There he was confronted with the one roadblock to achieving a career Grand Slam (winning the world, tag team, intercontinental and United States titles).

“When I got the concussion at Mania in New York, I thought my career was going to be over,” Sheamus said. “I kept doing Celtic Warrior Workouts and I was actually at Edge’s house and I saw the titles on the wall. I saw the intercontinental title, and I was like, ‘I can’t give up now. I’m so close to getting that final piece of the puzzle.’ That motivated me to come back in the best shape possible.”

Check out the full interview with Sheamus below.

Sheamus is only the second superstar in WWE history, coincidentally behind Edge, to win the King of the Ring tournament, Money in the Bank ladder match and Royal Rumble. A main roster superstar since 2009, Sheamus won the WWE championship in his third year by defeating John Cena. Labeled a product of the corporate machine, Sheamus often had difficulties winning over fans.

“It didn’t matter what I did, the crowd had turned against me because they felt the machine was behind me and it just didn’t matter how hard I beat up my body,” Sheamus said. “I just wasn’t going to win them over.”

There were pockets of fan enthusiasm here and there, but nothing holds a candle to the appreciation Sheamus, now 44, experienced after his universally acclaimed match against intercontinental champion GUNTHER at Clash at the Castle.

“Every time I get in that ring, it’s a blessing,” Sheamus said. “It’s an opportunity to show everybody what I could do because that literally could be my last time in the ring. I don’t want to go out that way. I don’t want to do it in a way where it’s so lackluster. So my mentality is to treat every match… like a WrestleMania moment. I can’t go out there and half-ass anything. It’s just not in my DNA. I want to go out there and want to put on banger-after-banger and I want to raise everybody.

“The biggest thing is the weight off my shoulders. I’m not so concerned about everything and paranoid about everything and every nitty-gritty little thing. I’m just going out there totally relaxed and totally worry-free.”

Sheamus had trouble pinpointing exactly why the fan sentiment towards him has changed so much. His friend pointed out a simple and very personal truth.

“I’m finally letting the crowd in,” Sheamus said. “I’m not pretending anymore. I’m not trying to be something I’m not. I’m just me and I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve.

“I’m more aware of that now and I love bringing them in. I love bringing them in for those moments. Involving them and just feeding off their energy. It’s great for me. I guess before… I was a little bit reluctant.”

Sheamus and nine other participants will duke it out in a physically demanding WarGames match. His delight in dishing out and absorbing punishment should be amplified by the energy of the Irish faithful at the TD Arena in Boston.

“I love it,” Sheamus said. “I’m just having the most fun I’ve ever had.”

21 Jan

How Mia Yim went from contemplating retirement after WWE release to a marquee match at Survivor Series

Mia Yim hit the ground running when returning to WWE in November. In less than 30 days, Yim has aligned with The O.C. in their ongoing feud with Judgement Day and linked up with Raw women’s champion Bianca Belair for Survivor Series WarGames.

It is a complete reversal of fortunes for Yim who, one year prior, was released by WWE. Yim had a promising run on the NXT developmental brand before graduating to the main roster as Reckoning in the terribly maligned Retribution stable. The group was an immediate dud, due in great part to a lack of direction and a silly presentation. Yim and her husband, current AEW star Keith Lee, were handed their walking papers on Nov. 4, 2021, as part of a larger round of releases.

“When I originally got released, I honestly knew it was coming so it wasn’t that much of a surprise,” Yim told CBS Sports ahead of Survivor Series. “I was more surprised with my husband getting released.

“We were getting ready to get married in a month or two. Real life outside of wrestling was really starting to pick up and the momentum was going. It was the first time in my life where it was a rearrangement of my priorities because wrestling has been my life since I turned 18 and started training.”

Check out the full interview with Mia Yim below.

For the first time in nearly 15 years, Yim questioned if her time in the sport was up. A concoction of new priorities, self-doubt and a dwindling passion tempted Yim down a different path.

“Wrestling took a backseat and it made me realize that wrestling isn’t everything, life still goes on and to focus on the people you love,” Yim said. “I really had to evaluate if I wanted to continue to wrestle because I wasn’t sure that I did.

“Not only was I not sure if I wanted to do it, but I felt like maybe my time was up. Maybe I’m not as good as I was five or 10 years ago, so maybe it was just time to hang it up. I just needed to find myself and see if I could still go with all these new talents.”

Motivated by her friends, Yim returned to her old stomping grounds of Impact Wrestling in May. She measured herself against up-and-comers and legends. She hadn’t lost a step. Yim got the call six months later to return to a very different WWE than she exited. A meandering role in the Retribution stable of Vince McMahon’s regime had been replaced with an invitation to The O.C. under Triple H’s creative lead.

“Coming back, it was like ‘Let’s go!'” Yim said. “I have such high respect for Triple H and what he’s done with NXT.

The O.C. is compromised of A.J. Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. It is a spiritual successor to Bullet Club, a faction that originated in New Japan Pro Wrestling and is arguably the most renowned stable since NWO took over the wrestling world in WCW in the ’90s.

“I never thought I’d be part of that group just because they are so notable and memorable and they mean so much in the wrestling world,” Yim said. “When I was invited, it was an honor for me. I’ve known the boys for a while.”