Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner!
We’ve got a little bit of a different look this week. WWE & AEW have stories that kind of tie into each other and are all about what’s going on here in the United States. We also need to pay tribute to one of the biggest internet wrestling writers from back in the day. So it’s one of those columns that doesn’t have a lot of different stories, but is still jam-packed with the content you’d expect.
I’d like to do something less serious, maybe even a little normal, next week. But I’m realistic.
We all knew it was coming, right?
Last week around this time, the police brutality & racial injustice protests had just begun. Folks were beginning to hop on the bandwagon and recognizing that black lives did, in fact, matter. Even wrestlers you wouldn’t necessarily expect that from were acknowledging the moment.
It was only a matter of time before somebody upset the apple cart. Somebody was going to put themselves out there and be that pro wrestler to tell everybody that they were wrong. Somebody was going to stand up for the folks that don’t believe that excessive police violence towards a certain segment of the population is a bad thing. Surely, somebody would let us know that violently putting down peaceful protesters was the right thing to do. As long as it was ordered by the President, of course.
That somebody was Jaxson Ryker. One of the Forgotten Sons, formerly known as Gunner in TNA & Phil Shatter on the indy circuit. It’s saying something when “Gunner” is your best ring name, but that’s where we’re at here. Ryker took some time on Monday to tweet out how thankful he was for the President. Personally, I couldn’t say I was thankful for that guy without bursting out laughing. I know there are folks that disagree with me. If they want to express that opinion, we do live in America, and at least for now, most of us are allowed to express our opinions.
Unless we’re peacefully protesting somewhere that the President wants to go. Then we get tear gassed and moved out of the way for a publicity stunt designed to appeal to the religious right.
Oftentimes in life it’s not about what you say & do, it’s the moment that you choose to say & do things. Ryker chose the very moment that his President was tear gassing peaceful protesters standing against racial injustice & police brutality so he could walk to a church and hold a Bible upside down as a moment to pump his guy up and ask God to bless America. That’s where Jaxson Ryker’s head is at.
Given that backdrop, you can understand how this led to a lot of negative feedback from fans & his fellow wrestlers. Oh, and of course his previous social media posting were looked through because that always happens in these situations, and of course somebody found Ryker bitching and moaning about how blacks had it good now compared to the movie “12 Years A Slave” and they should all be thankful. Like I said last week about the Clutch Adams situation, I find that aspect of these situations a bit unseemly, but it does make it perfectly clear why Ryker supports his President so much.
Some of you were even calling for Ryker’s firing, which I can only assume means you temporarily forgot who he was working for. Linda McMahon runs a pro-Trump super PAC. The idea that Vince would fire somebody for publicly supporting his good buddy Donald? How does Vince’s theme song go? No chance, no chance in hell? Yeah, that sums that up.
I remember back when writing about politics in a wrestling column was a little bit of a stretch most of the time. Outside of your typical jingoistic storylines to capitalize off of a war, you didn’t see wrestling & politics cross paths too much. Even Jesse Ventura becoming Governor of Minnesota didn’t really meld the two together, though it did make a lot of people realize that the same skillset could make one successful at both.
It all changed the moment Linda McMahon decided she wanted to run for office. That made the WWE company political, no matter how much people wanted to say Linda’s endeavors were different from the rest of the McMahon family business. Linda’s involvement in the Trump Administration & Vince’s funding her cause, not to mention Trump’s previous involvement with WWE, marries the two parties together. WWE can tweet their own black screen with a message like every corporation is doing these days, but we know where their interest is.
Black Lives Matter…as long as WWE can make some money off of them.
To be fair, Vince feels the same way about white lives. If he can’t make some money off of you at some point, he doesn’t care. He does care about many of the people that have worked for him in the past…because they made him money. Money is Vince’s lifeforce. It doesn’t make him especially unique, but it helps you understand how he operates. Supporting the idea of black lives mattering is good for business right now. But so is supporting his buddy Donald, and quite a few of Donald’s followers are wrestling fans.
From where I sit, the most likely endgame is WWE strongly discouraging their independent contractors from making political posts on social media. That won’t make people happy. Ryker might run into some issues the next time he steps into a WWE locker room. There might be some potatos served up the next time he’s in the ring. Honestly, WWE should just go ahead and fire the guy anyway, he usually just stands outside while the two other Sons do the actual wrestling.
Will they? Nah. Trump’s kid put Ryker over on Twitter. Can’t anger the boss. It’s going to be a situation to keep an eye on, for sure.
WWE might be afraid to act against their own talent, but Tony Khan has no fear of acting against people that don’t work for him. After Linda Hogan made some remarks on Twitter about how it was all “afro Americans” involved in the looting that took place during the protests, Khan replied saying that she was joining her (ex) husband on the list of people banned from attending an AEW event. This came as news to most of us, and Khan explained to Dave Meltzer that it was due to the racist comments Hogan made on that infamous sex tape with Mrs. Bubba the Love Sponge.
“What he said on the tape, long before George Floyd, I’ve told people I can’t work with Hulk Hogan…How can I look my Black friends, football players, employees in the face or myself in the mirror after the things he said and has never given an adequate apology for. He can’t blame what he said on tape on the dangers of social media.”
I have zero issue with this. To be honest, if I was starting up a new wrestling company I wouldn’t want Hulk Hogan anywhere near it. Even putting aside the racist remarks and the disgust many wrestling fans feel towards Hogan that reduces his value to a wrestling company to nearly zero…we saw what happened when TNA signed him, right? That got them nowhere except on the long road to financial ruin, which didn’t end until Dixie Carter finally sold the company.
However, it does raise some important questions. A couple of high profile wrestlers working for AEW have tweeted and liked things that have raised some eyebrows. Mike Tyson is affiliated with AEW, and that’s going to be brought up whenever these topics of morality come up, even if Iron Mike did his time and we all love him now. Heck, we saw what happened with Clutch Adams getting booked.
I’m just saying it’s a slippery slope kind of thing. I have no problem with the Hulkster being banned from AEW, but Tony’s going to have to be consistent on this. If he isn’t, we’ll let him know about it. Even if we all love AEW and are obviously on the payroll.
This may be a bad idea.
My original plan for paying tribute to Internet Wrestling Community legend Chris “Hyatte” Gaudreau, who passed away this past Thursday at the age of 50, was to write a nice little tribute at the end of the column. I wrote one up Saturday night. It wasn’t my best work but it probably would have sufficed for the subject matter and filled enough column space to be worthwhile.
Then I came to the following realization: The Chris Hyatte that I read back in the 2000s would have thought that was a load of shit. Flowery tribute articles are definitely appropriate for honorable men like my dear friend Larry Csonka, but not for a degenerate like Hyatte was back in the day.
No, the best way to pay tribute to Hyatte is by ripping his gimmick off lock stock & barrel just like he accused everybody else of doing to him. We’re going to Mop-Up NXT TakeOver: In Your House. And through the course of it, I can talk about what Hyatte meant to the world of Internet wrestling writing and how there hasn’t been anybody like him since.
And, as I may end up proving here, why there shouldn’t be anybody like him now. Oh, God, it would not go well here in 2020.
The NXT TakeOver: In Your House Mop-Up
– Todd Pettengill introduces us to the very first NXT TakeOver: In Your House. Still has the voice for it. The look? Well, let’s just say Todd looks like every washed up announcer out there.
– So expect AEW to steal him away next week.
– We then cut to some band singing some song. Code Orange. “Underneath”. Never heard of it, and I doubt I’ll ever hear it again after tonight.
– Anyway, Hyatte was the first writer I read on 411wrestling.com back in the day. Back in the black & green days! If I had more stroke over there I’d get Ashish to bring it back. Actually, if I had more stroke over there I’d get Ashish to drop me off at 5th & Walnut.
– See, Hyatte never ran out of racial jokes. Me…well, I don’t even know what I was going for there. You’d think I’d be better at that being from Kentucky, right? It was a taxi thing. Do people even take those anymore? Am I dating myself here? HELLO IS THIS ON?
– We hear Mauro Ranallo welcome us to the show. Hyatte had quite the tiff with Tony Schiavone back in the day, and I’m sure Hyatte in his prime riffing on Mauro would send our boy into self-isolation for a few weeks. Hyatte wasn’t shy about picking on people he knew had issues, so it’s a good thing they didn’t cross paths.
– Speaking of people I’d like to cross paths with, here’s Shotzi Blackheart! Shotzi’s teaming with Tegan Nox & Mia Yim to take on Dakota Kai, Candice LeRae & Raquel Gonzalez. Ol’ Chris never seemed to have much time for ladies’ matches back in the day except for talking about how much he wanted to have sex with them.
– To be fair, that could have summed up most of the WWF’s fanbase back in the day.
– And a lot of it now. And it’s not like I have much room to talk considering the whole Hot 100 thing I used to do. Hyatte had an IWF 100 one time, you can guess what IWF stood for.
– Gotta tell you, the students in the crowd starting the “This is Awesome” chant before the first match even starts doesn’t give me a lot of optimism for their reaction to the rest of the show.
– Kai & Nox have some great chemistry together. I’d like to get some chemistry going with Shotzi. Hyatte had a reputation for thirsty comments about Divas, that’s why I’m going on about Shotzi here. Total tribute stuff, nothing to do with my actual thirst.
– OK, I think they believed it.
– Time for a dive section! Nox gets the edge for degree of difficulty, but I think LeRae had the best overall.
– Shotzi gets worked over for awhile by the heels. Not to be confused with the AEW Heels, the North Carolina Tar Heels or the heels Sean Shannon wears on the weekends.
– Does anybody reading this remember that name? Hyatte done broke her.
– Mia gets the hot tag. Tom Phillips’ call of “Soul Food” is more racist in anything I’ve said so far in this tribute to Hyatte. Maybe he was a fan?
– Mia & Candice battle back into the In Your House set, which is a nice change of pace from the set for every other NXT show ever.
– Kai wins with the Shiniest Wizard, which I think is another racial joke. Damn Mauro & Tom stealing my heat. Good match.
– Regal’s voice over for the ice cream commercial is a nice attempt, but you aren’t replacing Lord Al Hayes.
– Sale on wwe.com. BUY YOUR BELTS NERDS!
– I haven’t really been feeling this Finn Balor/Damian Priest feud at all. They were trying to sell me on Balor being better than ever on the pre-show, but much like anything else Sam Roberts says, I wasn’t buying it.
– Hyatte would have had some fun when Balor had the Pride t-shirts a few years back. Probably would have had all types of comments about Balor’s sexuality. Like I said, he was from a different era. An era where making fun of homosexuals was acceptable on places other than right-wing message boards & Fox News. I’m happy we’ve moved on from that aspect of the old days.
– One of Priest’s biggest influences is Scott Hall? Jeez, that won’t end well.
– Priest hits some big blows and a big rest hold. I hit the toilet. Yes, those breaks were mentioned in Mop-Ups too. I’ll spare you the graphic detail some of those had.
– Priest even does the that’s it hand motion Razor used to do and a Razor’s Edge? Starting to remember why I tuned the dude out after awhile.
– Mauro puts over his own pronunciation of Pele. Gonna send me back to the toilet here in a minute.
– Razor’s Edge to the ring apron gets 2 because what else would it get? 1?
– Priest does throw some good kicks though, I’ll give him that.
– He tries to Razor Edge Balor on the ring steps, but Balor slips out and punches Priest onto them. Doesn’t look fun. Two coup de graces end it.
– Tom says Balor showed respect to Priest by hitting him with his finisher twice. Why would Balor show respect to a guy that attacked him from behind? One of those wrestling things I’ll never get.
– Adam Cole tells us what ICOPRO is all about. Greg DeMarco just ran out and bought 8 cases. 4 cases of ICOPRO, 4 cases of Adam Cole’s sweat. It’s kind of weird.
– So are Keith Lee & Mia Yim dating in real life? I try to avoid all of these wrestling relationship rumors and do a pretty good job of it usually. They look like a good couple though.
– Doesn’t surprise me that Johnny Gargano would live in the NXT In Your House set.
– Keith Lee letting us know that Black Lives Matter. I think Hyatte would go along with that due to a fear of Keith Lee.
– OK, the double bell ringing is definitely a thing. People were telling me about this before I turned it on.
– Lee catches a Gargano dive, catches a cannonball, but can’t follow up on either. He finally does get some offense and Gargano wants to go back in the house. Is he waiting for Candice to open the door? Cute but made no sense.
– Lee has a bad eye & hand for this match. Johnny begins taking advantage of it eventually because that’s what it takes to make Gargano beating Lee up seem believable.
– While this is going on I’m trying to figure out when to make a Scott Keith joke. Are there no Canadians on this show? Well, that’s racist.
– Lee finally makes a comeback. Gargano fires back though and locks an armbar on a standing Lee. JOINT MANIPULATION.
– Pretty good back & forth match, but I can’t see it playing well with Hyatte’s skill set. He was better at stuff that wasn’t a basic rasslin’ match.
– Now a Pounce through the Plexiglas? That’s pretty cool. Too bad it broke the forcefield around the ring and now everybody will get the corona.
– Candice & Mia come out to CATFIGHT! CATFIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!
– Gargano with the key to the eye and the One Final Beat DDT, but that only gets two. Welp, he’s screwed now.
– They were going for some of that over-acting but the camera couldn’t really pick it up. Probably for the best.
– Keith Lee ends it with the BBC. Well, ya know.
– Johnny Gargano has a worse record at NXT TakeOver than Scooter has with the ladies. HAHAHAHAHA I KNEW I’D GET ONE IN THERE.
– No, I got nothing against SK, that was a Hyatte thing. A Hyatte column without an SK joke or 5 wasn’t really a Hyatte column.
– Look at Shotzi put away that ice cream sammich. Yeah that’ll send my mind places.
– So Cole vs. Dream isn’t going on last? Spoiler Alert: Adam Cole wins.
– It’s a Backlot Brawl. I really don’t see Adam Cole as a truck guy. This thing’s already stretching believability.
– Dream in the Lambo is a little more like it, except NXT guys can’t be making that much.
– Dream thinks he’s Chris Jericho with that leather jacket & baseball bat.
– The Kerry Von Erich backslide & Oklahoma roll don’t end the match, shockingly.
– Cole wants to leave, and shockingly that doesn’t happen. Didn’t Dream attack a car not too long ago, or are we all forgetting about recent transgressions? I KNOW NOBODY’S ASKING TRIPLE H ABOUT THEM IN PRESS CONFERENCES BECAUSE THE IWC IS YELLOW! YELLOW, I TELL YA!
– An Uber driver pulls up.
– Cole disappears for a minute, but re-emerges with a fire extinguisher. Phillips points out it’s shades of Shawn Michaels at a previous In Your House. Dude has those random historical reference sometimes. I respect it.
– Ah, there’s that over-acting I was hoping for.
– Dream dives right into a super kick. I think Shawn did one of those at a previous In Your House event.
– Cole dives right into a super kick because anything Dream does, Cole can do better.
– Dream sets up a elbow drop, but here comes Roddy Strong & Bobby Fish. Doesn’t stop Dream from pushing Cole onto a windshield. Strong & Fish beat Dream down and start throwing chairs into the ring like Terry Funk asked them to.
– Here’s “the tortured artist” Dexter Loomis to hit Strong & Fish with chairs. He sends them into a trunk & drives off. There’s a PornHub video I have no interest in seeing.
– Hyatte might have. I really don’t know.
– Mauro calls the Dream Valley Driver the Panama Sunrise, because he had no idea who was supposed to be getting hurt there, I guess.
-Purple Rainmaker gets a nearfall. Then Dream wants to do the speech, gets low blowed, and there’s the Panama Sunrise on the chairs for the…three count? I was expecting one or two more, but that’s cool.
– No more title shots for Dream. As for Cole, I expect him to be NXT champion whenever they close the thing down.
– Todd hypes the main event & the NXT merchandise. Apparently there isn’t a 1-900 number.
– Shawn, Hunter & Road Dogg are working the AOL chat. None of them look a day under 62.
– Karrion Kross & Tommaso Ciampa are next.
– I assume Hyatte would have found himself a Scarlett impostor at some point. Definitely his type, especially when she’s rocking the blonde hair.
– Speaking of imposters, that Tammy imposter from back in the day has to be more sane than Tammy these days, right? Talk about a piece of work.
– Kross takes the early advantage. Ciampa actually does get some offense. Quite a bit, actually. Until Kross bounces his head and neck off the apron. That didn’t look fun.
– After that it’s complete squash city. Which is what it should have been. Kross is the new star.
– Ciampa got one last flurry. Unlike Mark Madden’s mother, he wouldn’t go down easily.
– Madden’s still a douche. Hyatte was 100% right on that one.
– Ciampa got choked out like Pat Patterson choking on…ok, Pat’s cool, I’m not with Hyatte there.
– Robert Stone looks creepy. Renee Young wearing a Simpsons shirt like it’s a throwback.
– The NXT Women’s Championship goes on last. Hyatte wouldn’t have been able to figure that out, though there would have been enough blonde hair & breasts to keep him interested on some level.
– I will say that Charlotte’s robe game keeps getting better.
– The thing I forgot when telling you who to bet on for this show: WWE loves doing big title changes in triple threats. I have no idea why, but it goes back to at least WrestleMania XX. Hell, if Vince Jr. was booking in ’63 he would have shoehorned Antonio Rocca into Sammartino vs. Rogers.
– Rhea does a forward roll onto the floor and gets tossed into the barricade. That should put her down for awhile so Charlotte & Io can do some stuff.
– Charlotte rocking that Boston Crab on Io. Flexible.
– Rhea looks like a woman possessed with that contact lens. I dig it.
– Yikes, that double spear.
– These ladies brought it here. We’ve seen some disappointing women’s triple threat main events, this wasn’t one of them.
– Although that random strike Charlotte threw at Io while running by wasn’t the best. Throwing Io into the house was cool though.
– Io came back. Climbed to the top of the house & hit a cross-body onto Charlotte & Rhea. Good catch too.
– Rhea almost gets the win over Charlotte with a second-rope Rip Tide, but Io breaks it up. Rhea locks in the Prism Trap and Charlotte breaks it up with a kendo stick. Spear, Figure 4 into a Figure 8, but Io hits the moonsault on Rhea and gets the three count!
– So Charlotte loses the title without getting beat. Hell, she had Rhea in her submission hold still during the pin, which was a legal pin up until two weeks ago when they did basically the same finish in the Cruiserweight Tournament.
-Not the most inventive thing of all time. Still a fun little match though.
– Look at all those streamers! We fade out.
Eh, I dunno. Maybe it was a bad idea. Or maybe it was the best way to prove that there was only one Hyatte and we aren’t replacing him.
Join us next week, when I’ll probably have to write about somebody else dying because 2020 is definitely one of those years.
NXT Minus 6: I Agree With Ciampa
From Ciampa & Thatcher to Kushida, from Joe to… Imperium? This week’s NXT Minus 6 has it all. So read it. And enjoy!
From Ciampa & Thatcher to Kushida, from Joe to… Imperium? This week’s NXT Minus 6 has it all. So read it. And enjoy!
Leave it to Old Man Ciampa to say what we’re all thinking.
6. I’m really hoping Samoa Joe is eventually cleared for an in-ring return. If he isn’t, then teasing matches with everybody from Pete Dunne to Johnny Gargano is cruel and unusual punishment. Don’t get me wrong. His start as William Regal’s enforcer was great, but that’s not why he came back. It’s not Joe Will Threaten You And Make You Leave The Room. Joe…Will…Kill…You.
5. Is anybody else upset that Imperium is stuck in tag team no man’s land? They are such a non-factor right now it feels like they are on the edge of a breakup. That would make me sad. I’m a big fan of Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel. I think they would do fine as individuals, but as a team they still have a lot to accomplish.
4. Dear MSK, I’ve booked your July. You say tag team wrestling is the best division in NXT and the best tag team division anywhere, and you are going to prove it. Each week in July, you put the belts on the line against a different team. But wait…There’s more. After you defeat everybody, those four teams get to compete in a fatal 4-way, winner gets a rematch at Takeover.
3. After Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher put the boots (more on that in a minute) to Grizzled Young Veterans, Ciampa looked at the camera and growled “This was my Takeover.” I agree. That match was my Takeover, too. It was better than anything In Your House. Just a crazy, brutal match that I’m giving 4.7 stars. But it doesn’t stop here. There’s only one way to end this feud…the first ever tag team match in the Fight Pit.
2. Now about those boots. One of my biggest wrestling peeves is when a tag team doesn’t have a proper name. It’s clear that Thatcher & Ciampa are not a passing fad. They deserve a name. None of this half assed Thatcher-Ciampa Connection. I’ve always wanted to name a team The Boots, as in “We are going to put the boots to you boys.” Honorable mention goes to Pit Boss. If you have something better, drop it in the comment section.
1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…KUSHIDA! Specifically, KUSHIDA’s floatover. I’m a big fan of any wrestler who can elevate a basic move into something special. KUSHIDA’s floatover is a helicopter propeller. He looks like he could spin on his opponent’s back until the end of the show. Mastery of the little things turns good to great. That is exactly why KUSHIDA is one of the greats.
WWE Hell In A Cell: The End Of Main Event Bob?
Could WWE Hell In The Cell signify the end of Bobby Lashley’s main event run? Read on to see if the odds are in Bob’s favor.
Could WWE Hell In The Cell signify the end of Bobby Lashley’s main event run?
WWE Hell In A Cell takes place this Sunday on NBC Universal’s Peacock, the former WWE Network (in the US), and on pay-per-view and other outlets all over the globe.
One of the highlighted matches features Bobby Lashley defending his WWE Championship against Drew McIntyre inside the demonic Hell In A Cell structure, keeping Drew within the WWE Championship picture for eighteen straight months now, a fact that isn’t lost on most fans or even Drew himself.
But the looming question in my mind doesn’t deal with Drew, but the reigning titleholder himself, Bobby Lashley.
Bobby Lashley’s ascension to the top of the WWE comes at what is obviously the tail end of a 20-year wrestling career that has seen this phenomenal athlete compete for WWE itself, Impact Wrestling, AAA, even MMA sprints including Bellator, and ultimately WWE once again. His most recent run included feuds with Sami Zayn, Rusev and Lana, and a stint being managed by the now retired Lio Rush that are most remembered for all the wrong reasons. Before WrestleMania 37, where Lashley basically beat Drew McIntyre clean, he was essentially quashed by Finn Balor’s Demon at WrestleMania 35 and lost to the since released Aleister Black at WrestleMania 36 (held in the WWE Performance Center, not the home of the Capitol Wrestling Center).
But at the start of the global pandemic, MVP entered the picture and created The Hurt Business, a vehicle that—at the time—helped the careers of Lashley, Shelton Benjamin, and Cedric Alexander. The Hurt Business was on top of the proverbial world, holding mid-card championships and being involved in high profile storylines. But it wasn’t until the end of the Elimination Chamber build where The Miz “made a deal with the devil” to set Drew McIntyre up for his Money In The Bank cash-in. Months and years of hard work finally paid off—Bobby Lashley was WWE Champion.
After taking the Fastlane pay-per-view off, Lashley was headed to the WrestleMania 37 showdown with the main who carried the WWE back at the start of the pandemic. Drew McIntyre won the title from Brock Lesnar in front of no one at WrestleMania 36, leading many to believe that Drew could emerge victorious in Tampa Bay as a “make good” for his push not culminating in front of a WrestleMania stadium crowd. Many, including myself, were pleasantly surprised when Bobby Lashley left WrestleMania 37 as champion, doing so in relatively clean fashion.
Hell In A Cell is now the blow-off point for McIntyre and Lashley, with the rule that if Bobby Lashley loses, Drew McIntyre cannot challenge Lashley for the WWE Championship again. That begs a bigger question: Is this the end of the road for Bobby Lashley as a top guy in WWE?
According to the odds from SportsBettingDime, Bobby Lashley (-250) is expected to retain his championship in his match against Drew McIntyre. And I personally hope they’re right!
I said it on this week’s Babyface/Heel Podcast, I fully expect the loser of this match to end up on Smackdown after the next WWE Draft and be used as an opponent for Roman Reigns. Drew McIntyre is the most logical choice based on the hero/villain alignment, and him feeling like he has “unfinished business” with Roman after the 2020 Survivor Series.
Personally, I’d be betting on the side of the odds, with Lashley retaining. WWE has two full time brands, and Lashley fits at the top of the card. Despite his age (44) I think Bobby has another 2-3 good years left, and he is peaking as a character in a character driven environment. Raw is the perfect environment for Bobby Lashley to build babyface challengers and still walk out champion. Much like Roman Reigns, the best scenario is for Bobby to walk into WrestleMania 38 the same way he walked into WrestleMania 37—as WWE Champion.
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