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Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review Issue #3

 

 

Welcome everyone to the third edition of Spandex and Suplexes! We have a lot to cover in a week that started with a major controversy at Hell in a Cell, continued with a fun middle of the week with NXT and AEW, and ended with the first half of WWE Draft on Smackdown! Let’s get started.

WWE Hell in a Cell:

My feelings on the main event summed up. Photo copyright owned by Lucasfilm

I was very excited for this PPV despite there only being four matches announced for this show. The reason of course was because of the main event Hell in a Cell match for the Universal Championship between the champion Seth Rollins and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. In the past two issues, I have warned WWE that they should not make what I believed to be a very obvious bad booking decision in not having Wyatt leave as champion. They wouldn’t do something that dumb, would they? They would and they did and it resulted in one of the worst endings to any PPV I have ever seen.

Before we get into the details of the main event, let’s talk about the rest of the card as there were some positive and enjoyable moments on this show. The pre-show had Natalya defeating Lacey Evans by submission in an okay match, though I don’t know why they bothered doing this match when they would have a much better Last Women Standing match on Raw the next night. The official opening match of the show was the Hell in a Cell match for the Raw Women’s Championship between champion Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. This was a barn burner of a match and was the best match of the night. The match ended with Becky retaining by forcing Banks to submit to the Dis-arm-her.

The next match was the tornado tag match between Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan against Erick Rowan and Luke Harper. This was a really fun match that had a lot of fast paced action and big power spots. The match ended with a combo finisher as Bryan hit Harper with the running knee that was followed by Harper being hit by a Superman Punch and a spear by Roman for the pin. The big question going into this match was whether or not Bryan would turn on Roman during the match. With the team of Reigns and Bryan getting the win and shaking hands afterwards, this match solidified Bryan’s return to the side of the light. It will be interesting how his character will be portrayed from here on out.

The PPV continued with four matches that were added the day of the show. The first match featured Randy Orton talking on Ali in a very entertaining match. During the match Ali pulled out a very unique counter to the RKO with Ali catching himself with a handstand like move as Orton tried to pull him down. Lightning would not strike twice though as Ali would fall to a second RKO that gave Orton the win. After the match, as he was leaving, Orton looked back at Ali and nodded his head, indicating a level of respect for the high flyer.

Next up in a surprise result, The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane) defeated Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross for the Women’s Tag Team Championships when Asuka turned heel by spitting green mist into Cross’ eyes (à la The Great Kabuki and The Great Muta) and rolling her up. I was very happy to see Asuka and Sane win the titles as Asuka is my favorite female wrestler of all time and the two Japanese Superstars had been heavily underutilized for a while up to this point. The heel turn was a great twist. Asuka works great as a heel and it will be interesting see how a natural babyface like Sane does on the dark side.

This was followed with Braun Strowman and The Viking Warriors defeating The O.C. by DQ after the referee lost control of the match. The highlight came after the match with Strowman knocking AJ Styles out cold in midair with a massive punch to AJ’s face as Styles attempted a Phenomenal Forearm. Styles sold the punch brilliantly with Gallows and Anderson having to help him to the back and remind him where he was and what day it was in a hilarious moment. Backstage, Tamina rolled up Carmella to win the 24/7 Championship. Later on, during a scuffle by the international announcers’ desks involving Funaki, Carmella would hit a superkick on Tamina from behind and R-Truth would pin Tamina to win the 24/7 Championship for the 20th time.

Chad Gable would also defeat Baron Corbin with a roll up in an okay match. I was happy that Gable won, but WWE immediately took all the momentum from that win by having Corbin jump Gable backstage later on and leaving him laying.

Up next we saw Bailey defend her Smackdown Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair. This was a good match, but I wasn’t a fan of the ending that saw Charlotte force Bailey to submit to the Figure Eight to win her tenth women’s championship. I was not a fan of Charlotte being given yet another title reign. No matter how many times WWE tries to sell it: having ten title reigns in four years is not impressive. It just shows you can’t hold on to your title for very long. The amount of days a wrestler holds a title is far more impressive than how many reigns they have had with it. After the match, Bailey had a small breakdown. As I mentioned, having Charlotte win the championship yet again left a bad taste in my mouth, however I would understand why this had to happen by Smackdown later in the week.

Coming full circle we are back to the main event. The thing about this match is that it was going well up until the finish. Bray Wyatt looked like an unstoppable monster as nothing that Rollins threw at him was affecting him. They then went overboard by having Rollins have a mental breakdown and hit Bray with multiple weapons and then piling the weapons (that included a ladder, a chair, and a tool box) on top of Wyatt after each hit. Rollins then pulled out a sledgehammer. The referee then begged Rollins not to use it out of concern for Bray (why The Fiend needs anyone to have concern for him is beyond me). Rollins then slammed the hammer on top of the weapons that covered Bray and out of nowhere, the referee called for the bell, confusing everyone in the arena (including X-Pac during the watch along backstage). It was later clarified that the official decision was a no contest.

The referee called for a stretcher for Wyatt as the entire audience filled the arena with boos. When Rollins tried to attack The Fiend on the stretcher, Bray grabbed Rollins with the Mandible Claw. With Wyatt up, the fans started chanting “Restart the match!” When it became apparent that the match would not be restarted the fans filled the building with boos and chants of “Bulls**t”, “refund”, and “AEW”. Bray would hit a Sister Abigail on Rollins on the exposed concrete and used the Mandible Claw on Rollins again as blood poured from Seth’s mouth. The footage went to black as the fan’s boos overshadowed the sound of The Fiend’s usual laughter.

This was one of the most tone deaf, idiotic booking decisions in WWE history. Like how could you not see the reaction that finish got coming? On top of that, this stupid result gave their currently biggest competition free advertisement with those AEW chants. I was dumbfounded by the ending of this show. I had hoped they would do something to correct this on Raw the next night, but I would be disappointed once again. Overall, this was a show that started off great before descending right to hell (pun FULLY intended) by the end.

 

WWE Raw:

“Have you seen this man?”,
Photo copyright owned by WWE

Instead of confronting the awful finish to Hell in the Cell the night before, WWE made the cowardly decision to outright ignore it save for a brief recap that didn’t air until near the end of the show. Neither Rollins nor Wyatt appeared on the televised broadcast (though Bray would make an appearance after the show went off the air) and were not even mentioned outside that recap. Sorry WWE, but fan’s memories are not as short as you think, but enough of this, let’s talk about what actually happened on the show.

Raw opened up with an in progress beat down on Rusev by Randy Orton and Baron Corbin in what the announcers said was supposed to be a scheduled match between Orton and Rusev. Rusev managed to get Orton and Corbin out of the ring before being interrupted by Bobby Lashley on the big screen. Lashley said he was in Rusev’s house and taunted him as he and Lana undressed to their undergarments and got into Rusev’s bed in an attempt to humiliate him. Rusev then saw Orton and Corbin laughing at him. This caused Rusev to snap and he absolutely destroyed both Corbin and Orton.

While I mentioned last issue that I am not a fan of these kind of storylines, I do appreciate that they are letting Rusev look like a badass by taking out two guys who have recently been booked high up on the card. As long as this ends with Rusev becoming triumphant over Lashley and Lana, this could end up helping push Rusev up the card, which I would love to see.

Other matches on the card saw The Viking Warriors defeating Raw Tag Team Champions Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler in a non-title match, Aleister Black squashing the Singh Brothers in a handicap match, The O.C. defeating Lucha House Party in six-man tag action, Natalya defeating Lacy Evans in a well done Last Woman Standing match, and Ricochet defeating Apollo Crews. It was announced later on that as a result of their win, The Viking Warriors will take on Roode and Ziggler next week for the Raw Tag Team Championships.

Earlier in the night it was announced that there would be a Champions Showcase with Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and new Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair teaming up to take on the new Women’s Tag Team Champions, The Kabuki Warriors. Before this though, Becky and Charlotte appeared on Miz TV. After trading insults, they were interrupted by The Kabuki Warriors, Asuka and Kairi Sane.

Asuka and Sane talked smack at Becky and Charlotte completely in Japanese before Becky brought up the fact that last time she and Asuka faced off earlier this year at the Royal Rumble, Asuka defeated her and that Lynch wanted to even that out, much to the delight of Asuka. The tag match then took place and ended with Asuka spitting green mist in Becky’s eyes and Sane rolling up Becky for the win. Asuka and Sane then beat down Charlotte before being taken out by the former tag champs, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross.

The show ended with Tyson Fury coming out and demanding an apology from Braun Strowman for what happened on last week’s Smackdown. Strowman came out and of course did not apologize. After a verbal back and forth, the two big men started brawling in the ring. Security hit the ring and tried to keep them apart, but failed as Strowman and Fury took them out. The brawl continued until the locker room emptied out and tried to pull the giants away from each other. Strowman went to the back and gave a quick interview before running back out and continued brawling with Fury as Raw went off the air.

While it was cool to see those two behemoths clashing, I still don’t see this helping Strowman in the end in any way. Strowman, one of WWE’s most popular stars, should be WWE’s priority over an outside celebrity athlete who will be gone as soon as their match-up is over. Later in the week it was announced that Strowman and Fury will face off at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. Overall, this was just a big filler episode of Raw will a couple of cool moments. Ignoring the Wyatt/Rollins controversy was not a good look for them. Hopefully, they find a way to fix this messed up situation.

 

National Wrestling Alliance:

NWA Power Logo,
Photo copyright owned by National Wrestling Alliance

This past Tuesday saw the debut episode of NWA Power (the name being an homage to the original NWA/WCW Power Hour series that ran from 1989 to 1994) on YouTube. I really enjoyed the throwback feel of the show with the 80’s style graphics, music, and sets. NWA’s roster features a number of TNA/Impact alumni including Nick Aldis, James Storm, Eli Drake, Mr. Anderson, Eddie Kingston, Homicide, and others. This is not surprising considering NWA owner Billy Corgan’s former association with Impact Wrestling.

Highlights of the show saw Eddie Kingston and Homicide confront the NWA Tag Team Champions, Thomas Latimer (FKA Bram in Impact Wrestling) and Royce Isaacs, to set up a future title match and Eli Drake defeating Caleb Konley. In the main event, Nick Aldis defeated former champion Tim Storm to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. As a result of losing, Storm can never challenge for the World title ever again. This was a fun hour of wrestling and I recommend it if you are a fan of 80’s style wrestling. I look forward to see where the promotion goes from here.

 

WWE NXT:

Drew Gulak at WWE NXT 10/9/19

I had the pleasure of being able to attend this week’s NXT live at Full Sail University and it was an excellent night of Professional Wrestling that helped lift my spirits after Hell in a Cell and Raw. The showed opened up with an absolutely fantastic match for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship between champion Drew Gulak and Lio Rush. After an amazing series of high flying and technical wrestling, Lio Rush picked up the win to become the new Cruiserweight Champion in a very exciting moment to see live in person.

Drew Gulak has been a long time favorite of mine ever since I got to meet him in person at my very first live indie show back in 2013. I hope he continues to capture championship gold whether it be in NXT or on Raw or Smackdown. I am interested in seeing where the cruiserweight division goes from here now that it is part of NXT. Other matches on the show saw The Forgotten Sons defeat Breezango and Cameron Grimes quickly defeating Boa while trying to escape from Killian Dain (Dain would destroy Boa afterwards).

Roderick Strong would next defeat Isaiah “Swerve” Scott in an excellent matchup. After Strong’s victory, his Undisputed Era teammates joined him in the ring before they were interrupted by Velveteen Dream. Dream announced that he would be getting his rematch for Strong’s NXT North American Championship in two weeks before showing a photo shopped picture of Strong that made it appear that he had a little “rod” (no, I don’t regret this pun).

The interruptions for the UE would not end there as Tommaso Ciampa slowly came out with what has become his signature weapon, a crutch. Ciampa grabbed a steel char before he entered the ring with the UE quickly vacating the ring to the ramp. Ciampa simply sat in the steel chair in the middle of the ring and pointed at Adam Cole’s NXT Championship (the title Ciampa never lost) and simply said: “Goldie, daddy’s home”. It appears that this is going to lead to Cole facing Ciampa for the NXT Championship at NXT TakeOver: Wargames next month and I frankly can’t wait to see that match.

In the two women’s contests that night, Rhea Ripley defeated Aliyah and Bianca Belair defeated Dakota Kai. After both of their matches, both women issued a challenge to Shayna Baszler for her NXT Women’s Championship. I see this leading to a Number One Contender’s Match between Ripley and Belair with the winner facing Baszler at NXT TakeOver: Wargames. I will be rooting for Ripley to be the one to finally end Baszler’s reign of terror as champion.

My match of the week.

In the main event, Walter faced Kushida is a brilliant match. This is my best match of the week and if you have not watched it yet, I highly recommend it. Kushida’s speed was a fantastic match for Walter’s power. They gave each other everything they had before Walter hit Kushida with a Ripcord Lariat for the win. Overall, this was yet another great episode of NXT that was made even more special by getting to watch it live in person. Matches announced for next week are Pete Dunne vs. Damian Priest and the return of Tegan Nox.

 

All Elite Wrestling:

The AEW World Tag Team Championships,
Photo copyright owned by All Elite Wrestling

After last week’s big debut show for AEW Dynamite, AEW had the challenge of continuing to put out the same level of quality each week. This week they delivered. The show opened up with a first round match in the AEW World Tag Team Championship Tournament with Private Party taking on the favorites of the tournament, The Young Bucks. After a great high flying contest between these two talented team, Private Party pulled out the major upset by knocking The Young Bucks out of the tournament in the first round. The Tag Team Championship Tournament first round continues next week with SoCal Uncensored taking on Best Friends and The Lucha Brothers taking on Jurassic Express

In the next segment, AEW World Champion Chris Jericho came down to the ring with his new associates: Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana, and Ortiz. After putting over every one of his new allies, Jericho announced that they are now an official group called The Inner Circle. He then trashed his opponent at Full Gear, Cody Rhodes, while also putting down Cody’s late father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, and Cody’s brother Dustin. This was a great promo from Jericho as usual for him. This is an interesting alliance and The Inner Circle is a cool name for a stable. It will be interesting to see how dominant this group will be in AEW.

The next match saw Darby Allin defeat Jimmy Havoc in a hard hitting match to earn a shot at Chris Jericho’s World Championship next week. I don’t see Allin coming out as the champion, but it should be a fantastic and entertaining match. The following match saw AEW Women’s World Champion Riho and Dr. Britt Baker defeat Bea Priestley and Emi Sakura is a good match that ended with Baker making Sakura tap out for the win. The match continued the growing rivalry between Baker and Priestley. It was announced that next week Riho will defend her Women’s World Championship against Britt Baker.

Up next was Jon Moxley’s return to an AEW ring since Fyter Fest back in June. His opponent was Shawn Spears and after a great back and forth, Moxley hit Spears with the Paradigm Shift to get the victory. As Moxley was walking up the ramp, he was confronted by Kenny Omega who was carrying a barbed wire covered bat and a barb wire covered broom. Omega threw the bat to Moxley and dared him to fight him. Pac then appeared out of nowhere and hit Omega in the back of the head with a steel chair. Moxley looked over the fallen Omega and threw down the bat, seemingly refusing to continue the attack on the fallen Omega. It was later announced that next week we will see Kenny Omega teaming up with Hangman Page to take on Jon Moxley and Pac in tag team action.

The main event of the evening was next as Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara took on Hangman Page and Dustin Rhodes in a fun and energetic match. Rhodes and Page came close to defeating the two member of The Inner Circle, but Jake Hager would be the difference maker. Just as Dustin was about to finish off Jericho, Guevara distracted the referee, allowing Hager to blast Dustin. Jericho followed this up by hitting the Judas Effect on Dustin for the win.

After the match, The Inner Circle attacked Dustin and Page in a three on two assault. Page and Hager brawled up the ramp. The light went out and when they came back on, Cody was in the ring and took out Guevara with the Cross Rhodes. Cody stared down Jericho when Santana and Ortiz hit the ring and attacked Cody along with Jericho. MJF ran into the ring with a steel chair. The IC gave MJF the opportunity to attack Cody, but MJF chose to prove his loyalty to Cody and attacked the IC with the chair. MJF got overwhelmed and The Young Bucks made the save as they took out Santana and Ortiz. Jericho tried to walk up the ramp to escape, but Darby Allin rode down the ramp on a skateboard and jumped at Jericho, knocking him down. The IC retreated as the announcers hyped up Allin vs. Jericho for next week as AEW went off the air.

Overall, a great show for the second week in a row. The Wednesday Night Wars between AEW and NXT is putting out some of the best wrestling on TV. In terms of pure wrestling quality, I am going to have to give it to NXT this week based mainly on the quality of Gulak/Rush and Walter/Kushida. This makes my personal score for the WNW to be NXT – 2 and AEW – 0. Both shows are fantastic though.

 

WWE Smackdown:

Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns,
Photo copyright owned by WWE

Here we go as we start the first night on the WWE Draft! I have always enjoyed the Draft concept over the Superstar Shake Up and I was interested in seeing who would end up on which brand. The rules of the draft are as followed:

1. 30 picks will be made on the October 11 SmackDown, while 41 picks will be made on the October 14 Raw.

2. For every 2 draft picks for SmackDown, Raw will receive 3 picks (due to SmackDown being a 2 hour show, while Raw is 3 hours).

3. Tag teams count as one pick unless FOX or USA only want a single member from the team as their pick.

4. Any undrafted wrestlers will immediately be declared free agents and able to sign with the brand of their choosing.

The showed opened with a match between Universal Champion Seth Rollins (representing Raw) and Roman Reigns (representing Smackdown). The winner of the match would earn the first draft pick for their brand. This was a match up that we had not seen in a while and it had some good back and forth action. As Rollins prepared to hit Roman with The Stomp, the lights went out and The Fiend’s familiar music played.

Rollins looked everywhere for Bray Wyatt, but did not see the Fiend emerge from a hole in the ring. Bray dragged Rollins into the hole as if he was taking Seth to Hell itself. After smoke bellowed from the hole, Rollins escaped and gasped for air. Bray stuck his head up from the hole and stared at Rollins like a predator stalking his prey before he disappeared back into the hole as the light went out again. A moment later, the lights flashed and revealed The Fiend standing on the ramp staring at Rollins as they went to commercial break. That was a cool and intense segment that reminded me of the kind of stuff The Undertaker and Kane pulled during The Attitude Era. Will this segment fix the damage to The Fiend that WWE caused at Hell in a Cell? We shall see.

When we returned from commercial break, the announcers revealed that due to Wyatt attacking Rollins, Rollins won his match with Roman by DQ, thus, Raw will get the first draft pick. For some reason they decided to have Stephanie McMahon announce every draft pick throughout the night (as if she doesn’t make herself the center of attention enough). With envelopes in hand, Stephanie revealed the first round of the draft results:

Raw gets: Becky Lynch, The O.C. (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, & Karl Anderson), and Drew McIntyre.

Smackdown gets: Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt.

The Raw picks made sense as does Roman staying on Smackdown, but Wyatt moving to Smackdown raises a lot of questions. How will this affect his feud with Rollins? I guess we will have to wait until Monday to see where Rollins ends up. Drew being this high up in the draft gives me hope that they will get behind him again as he is a great, main event level talent.

My view on Chad Gable’s name change.
Photo copyright owned by Marvel Studios

The next match up was Baron Corbin against Chad Gable. By the way, WWE is now officially referring to Chad Gable as “Shorty Gable”.  To paraphrase Nick Fury: I recognize that they have made this decision, but as it is a stupid decision I have elected to ignore it and will continue to do so in all future references to Gable in this blog. After Gable got an early advantage, Corbin ended up winning with an End of Days. What the hell is wrong with WWE? They were doing so good at elevating Chad Gable and had the chance to make a new star with him, but instead they are not only sticking him with a stupid ring name, they are feeding him to Corbin in meaningless 50-50 booking.

The second round of the draft results were next:

Raw gets: Randy Orton, Ricochet, and Bobby Lashley.

Smackdown gets: Sasha Banks and Braun Strowman.

The Raw picks work as Ricochet and Bobby Lashley are currently doing fine on Raw and Orton now has a fresh new start. Smackdown scored in this round by getting two big stars in Banks and Strowman.

Earlier in the day, WWE had a press conference where they announced that Brock Lesnar will defend his WWE Championship against Cain Velasquez at Crown Jewel. Snore. Lesnar and Heyman came out with Heyman saying Brock will overcome his fear and defeat Velasquez and avenge Lesnar’s loss to Cain back in the UFC in 2010. Rey Mysterio and Velasquez came out and Velasquez promised to give Brock a new scar to match the one he gave him back in their UFC match.

I could not care less about this feud and honestly it looks like a lot of people in the audience agreed with me as Velasquez barely got a reaction. I believe most wrestling fans go to shows to see their favorite wrestlers compete, not to see some outside celebrity athlete get a world title match in his first match in the company due to his accomplishments in an outside sport that the fans of WWE more than likely don’t follow. This may get some short term ratings from UFC fans tuning in, but it will do nothing for the wrestlers or the company in the long run.

The New Day then took on The O.C. in six-man tag action. This was a good but rushed match that saw Kofi get the win over Styles. If Kofi ends up drafted to Raw, this could lead to a feud between Kofi and AJ over the U.S. Championship. The third round of the draft results were next:

Raw gets: Alexa Bliss, Kevin Owens, and Natalya.

Smackdown gets: Lacey Evans and The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder).

Kevin Owens being moved to Raw is interesting. Hopefully he will be a feature player. The Revival being moved to Smackdown makes sense as they are the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Bliss and Natalya being on Raw is fine. Lacey Evans making the draft over talent like Cesaro, Chad Gable, and Drew Gulak is a joke.

The fourth round of the draft results were next:

Raw gets: The Viking Warriors (Ivar & Erik), Nikki Cross, and The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford).

Smackdown gets: Lucha House Party (Kalisto, Gran Metalik, & Lince Dorado) and Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker)

These results are fine with the most important result being that The Street Profits are now officially on the main roster.

The main event saw Charlotte Flair defend her Smackdown Women’s Championship against the former champion, Bailey in a rematch from Hell in a Cell. Bailey came out with a new look as she had cut off her ponytail and then she proceeded to murder her Bailey Buddies, signifying her full transition into a heel. The match between these two women was excellent and ended in an unexpected way. After Charlotte hit Bailey with The Natural Selection, Bailey grabbed Charlotte and pulled her into a small package for the three count, winning the match and becoming a two time Smackdown Women’s Champion!

After the match, she denounced all the fans by saying: “Screw all of you!” I am very happy with this result and I love Bailey’s new look and attitude. I now understand that Bailey had to lose the title at Hell in a Cell in order to push her over the edge and fully transform herself into a badass heel. Of course, this means we just had another short and meaningless reign for Charlotte to increase her inflated title reign count, but I feel the ends justify the means in this situation.

In a last note, due to not making the draft on this night, the following wrestlers are now free agents and can join any brand they want: Cesaro, Humberto Carrillo, Akira Tozawa, Sin Cara, Eric Young, EC3, Chad Gable, Heath Slater, Drew Gulak, The B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel), and Tamina.

Overall, a mixed show for me. I was not a fan of Gable being given a stupid new name as well as losing and I have no interest in Cain Velasquez. However, I loved the main event and Bailey’s full transition into her new character.

 

That’s it for this week folks. Thank you for making it all the way to the end! I am looking forward to Monday to see who else gets drafted as well as what NXT and AEW will have for us on Wednesday. Until next time, I’ll see you at ringside!

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Nicholas grew up reading J.R.R. Tolkien's books, watching Disney and Studio Ghibli films, and reading Marvel comics and Japanese manga. The superb storylines and characters ignited his passion for writing. He graduated from Full Sail University in 2015 with a BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment. During his writing career thus far, Nicholas has had numerous short stories and articles published in an array of literary magazines and websites.

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