Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
You can get more of the latest news and rumors by listening to this week's Solie's Wrestling Radio report.
OK - so I watched Vengeance last night.
Nobody should be surprised if you came away from the PPV scratching your head; it is supposed to happen that way. There is no more closure to WWF storylines, anymore - they just drag on into infinity. This sense of confusion, best expressed in the phrase, "Why did I order this PPV?", is what you should be feeling. It draws us into the viewing of Raw the next night, which is also practically guaranteed to be flatter than the stretch of highway between Springfield, Ill., and De Moines.
However, a couple good things came out of last night's exercise - HHH did not show up, and Jericho won the Undisputed World Title.
Now, before I talk about what went well, I want to talk about how stupid the WWF is working the Undisputed Title angle. "Undisputed"?? Somebody is a real weenie. How about getting rid of the WWF Title, too? Or, keep the WCW Title, and make the two fed champions the #1 and #2 contenders for the Undisputed Title? Or, call it a real name, like the Unified World Title? Nah, that would give it to much legitimacy, and why should Vince give the Title any of that? That would be too much like (ugh)...Pro Wrestling!
Anyways, let me try and focus on the good things that came out of the PPV.
It was a good thing that Chris Jericho won the "Undis-stupid"? World Title. Rather, it may be a better thing that Rock and Austin were NOT the ones that won it. That would have been too much for the half-educated fans, because it would have been too expected, even for a WWF PPV. Rock wins, and then he has to face Austin, who is a face (bigger than the Rock, in my humble opinion) at the next PPV? Or, Austin wins, and we have the vice versa? Jericho's victory builds up the possible storyline scenarios considerably. Now, it is Austin facing off with Booker T (who NEEDS to get back in the mix, as he has good heat), Rock against Jericho (and this has been a relatively solid feud), and Kurt remaining Vince's flunky and thug. Kurt could even feud with ol' Rocky, and if Kurt doesn't play his "sniveling, little coward"? heel persona, it could be a great program. What I see happening (if Vince is smart, he'll do as I say, and that is a FACT, not an opinion), is that Rock will win that Title as a face, and then he will turn heel, thus setting him up to face Austin at the Wrestlemania PPV, again (heck, I know they have done it several times, but it will still garner the numbers the WWF needs). OR, A Title challenge to a face Rock by a heel Undertaker would be a change, with Austin fighting Jericho, Angle, or a returning HHH (HHH could face the Rock in such a scenario as well, because I bet that HHH comes back as a face).
By the way, like I mentioned before, will they actually combine the belts, or will they keep both the WWF title, and the World Title (the REAL Championship belt, the heir to the NWA belt...just ask Mr. Benaka) separated? Just asking...
Now, about HHH. He didn't need to be there, yet. Sure, the ratings would be aided, and the crowd would have loved it beyond words, but he doesn't need to be in the ring, doing a run in, before he is able to back it up. I think that he could be just as effective doing non contact run-ins, and haunting Chris Jericho, who will get the blame for HHH's injury. HHH's promo ability can be used as well, be it to prop up the face workers or bash Vince. I can smell a "You never came to visit me?" or two on the horizon.
The reason I think this way is simple; the fact that Austin came back too early, and looked horrible. I don't expect HHH to come off as bad as Austin did, but he should get some time in the OVW, or some house shows, to work off ring rust. I think he should be ready to work as soon as he returns full-time to the WWF broadcasts. If he comes back too soon, he will have to leave for a while again to get ring-ready. Not the thing for a ratings weak WWF. In this case, waiting would be best, even though fandom is calling for him to return NOW.
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by Earl Oliver
SmackDown was taped Tuesday at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois and the show opened with a short 6 man tag match pitting the Dudleys and Willy Regal against Edge, the Big Show and Kane. Of course, Regal used his brass knucks to try and win, but it backfired on him. Edge took the win over D-Von.
In the back, Vince McMahon arrived, much to Kurt Angle's relief. Vince claimed that he has a "plan" to thwart his recruitment into the "club". We'll see... In another part of the backstage area, Matt and Jeff Hardey have a less then friendly discussion about their upcoming match on Sunday.
Rob Van Dam defended his Hardcore strap against Matt Hardey - with Lita noticeably absent. Almost immediately, Matt fished a ladder out from under the ring and used it. Both guys then left the ring and took the ladder with them up to the platform. The highlight of this match was Hardey climbing the ladder and launching himself into the air with the chair only to have it kicked into his face by a Vandaminator. RVD retained his title, then found himself facing the Undertaker, who did a run in to clobber him.
Scotty and Albert (the "Hip Hop Hippo???) took on Christian and Test in a silly match where Christian distracted Albert so that Test could run a number on his partner and get the pin.
Next up, the Rock and Vince met in the ring to settle their "club" business. Vince went right into a rant claiming that he was going to turn the tables on Maivia until Steve Austin suddenly appeared on the big screen to reveal that he had Kurt Angle at his mercy in the back - so Vince found that he had no back up! Next, Ric Flair decided to make an appearance to put in his two cents. He declared that anyone who tried to interfere in the proceedings would be suspended. Maivia invited Vince to get down on his knees. Vince hesitated, so Rocky stated it as a command. Vince dropped to his knees and Maivia peeled down his warm-up pants - but then he covered it back up. He turned to Vince and told him that his lips, "...aren't good enough for this..." Then he introduced Jim Ross! Maivia told JR to put his hat on Vince's head, then JR started to peel...but the Rock stopped him and sent him to the announce table...and introduced Trish Stratus!! Now Vince looked pretty happy with the situation. Trish turned around and peeled - Vince was licking his lips...but Maivia stopped him again, and sent Trish to the announce table. Now it was time for the real point of all this. The Rock introduced...Rikishi!!! Vince tried to flee the ring but Maivia caught him and and Rock Bottomed him, then held him while Rikishi backed in for the kill. Of course (this is the WWF, after all) they had to go for the fart sounds during the action. The Rock declared the "club" to be closed - pray to GOD that he is correct...
Crash Holly, in his first appearance in months, took on Jacqueline. This match was the result of some words they had on RAW the other night. Crash won by holding her tights, then got his clock cleaned after the match. Backstage, Kurt Angle was on the phone with Vince, who started chewing him out as Angle swore he would make it up to him by "...becoming the undisputed...hello? Hello? Hello?"
Booker T hit Ric Flair up for a job, but Flair said he wasn't hiring tonight... Backstage, just before the break, the Undertaker and Bradshaw got into each others' faces.
After the break they met in the ring. The Undertaker dominated the first exchange, but then Bradshaw came on strong, pummeling the Dead Man in the corner and then dragging him out to the middle of the ring and dropping an elbow on him. The fight went to the floor, where UT regained the advantage - but then they returned to the ring and Bradshaw was back in control. While UT was down, Faarooq came down and stole his bike! Ut was distracted by that for a heartbeat - then he returned to the ring and finished off his opponent. He stalked up the ramp and found his motorcycle parked on the platform. He turned back to the crowd as Rob Van Dam snuck up behind him with a chair in hand. UT got brained.
The main event featured Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho in a tag match against Steve Austin and the Rock. This one didn't really last very long. As the Rock and Jericho battled out on the floor, Angle locked on an ankle lock on Austin in the ring and punished him for almost a minute. Considering the condition of both Austin's legs - this move probably should have taken him out of the match entirely. But moments later he was battling Angle out on the floor as the Rock and Jericho took their turn in the ring. In the end, Jericho tapped out to the Rock's sharpshooter. Angle was so mad, put the Angle slam on his partner before stalking back up the ramp, leaving Maivia and Austin to share a beer moment...
WWF Vengeance came to us live from the San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, California and opened with a montage putting forth the absurd notion that tonight we would see the first ever undisputed World Heavyweight Champion of pro wrestling. Where was Vince McMahon from 1948 until 1952 when Lou Thesz was busy unifying the five known World Titles into the National Wrestling Alliance title - a version of which is on the line tonight? He was a child, of course - but his family was involved in that unification. Speak of the devil, Vince himself came down to the ring at the beginning of the show tonight to relive his crowning moment on Thursday evening, when Vince's puss was shoved into the butt of Rikishi. He actually had the temerity to say, "...and what did you do? You laughed! Like this was some sort of comedy skit..." Yep - that's what it was all right. In the middle of his rant, "Thus Spake Zarathustra" blared forth and Ric Flair appeared to tell Vince to "shut the hell up" (figuratively, of course) and get on with the show.
The first match was a meaningless tag battle pitting Scotty-too-Hotty and his big doofus partner against the fairly new tag team of Christian and Test. The best moment of this contest was Albert victimizing Christian with a Giant Swing reminiscent of Don-Leo Johnathan. Otherwise this was a replay of the match between these two teams last Thursday (with an opposite result)...and basically just as forgettable.
Coach interviewed Willy Regal backstage just prior to his challenge of Edge for the Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship. At the opening of the match, almost the first words out of Jim Ross' mouth was a statement that Edge was the "technically sound" wrestler in this one, going up against the "tenacity" of Regal - oh really? Funny...I thought Regal was the scientific wrestler in this one... In fact, Regal was all over the Champion in this one, using his far superior experience and expertise to basically tie his opponent in a knot throughout the match. Edge was finally starting to take the advantage, when he dived off the apron and ran his own shoulder into the ring steps. As the referee tended the fallen champ, Regal was seen to to retrieve a set of brass knuckles before dragging Edge back into the ring. He went for a pin, but Edge got his leg over the rope. Regal hit a powerbomb and went for the pin again - but failed a second time when Edge kicked out. Regal then hit two chickenwing powerbombs in a row, but still couldn't get the pin. Then Edge turned around and speared the challenger for the win before the latter could get his weapon into position to use it.
Backstage, Kurt Angle walked in on Ric Flair, who got off the phone to talk to our Olympic hero. Angle spent the segment bragging on himself then left. In the Hardeys' dressing room, Lita, looking fetching in a bare midriff referee shirt style halter, explained to Matt that she has to call the match between the brothers right down the center. Matt agreed it should be that way and expressed confidence in his eventual victory.
This was followed by a video tribute to the Hardeys culminating in a run down of the falling out between the brothers - then the match itself. Matt started out immediately trying to humiliate his younger brother, a bad sign for their continued partnership. A few minutes into the bout, Matt missed with a leg drop off the top. Jeff almost immediately went for the same move and hit it. Throughout the match, Matt continued to take shortcuts while Lita continued to call the match fairly. Then Jeff appeared to jam his knee as he flipped over the top rope to re-enter the ring. Matt jumped right on the injury, in the best heel tradition. In the end, Jeff - bad wheel and all - pulled off a swanton and got the pin. But there was some controversy because Matt's foot was on the bottom rope after the first count - then Jeff pulled it off as Lita finished the count.
Backstage, Trish Stratus barged into the Rock's dressing room to thank him for helping her out and to wish him good luck in his match tonight. She gave him another peck on the cheek then turned to leave. Maivia called her back and blatantly propositioned her! I wonder what his wife thinks about that..??
The Dudleys (w/Stacy) out their Unified Tag Team Titles on the line against the Big Show and Kane. Show took the first tour and dominated the champs with ease, then all four entered the ring and again the Champs were bested. Kane pulled off a spectacular splash on both Dudleys outside the ring, while inside, the giant grabbed Stacy, pulled her skirt down and gave her a spanking! Moments later, howver, TBS was out on the floor as the Dudleys doubleteamed Kane with a "Whatzup?" maneuver. Their ascendancy was short-lived, however, as the Show re-entered the frey and then things went South for the challengers as the big buy accidentally hit his partner a couple of times - precipitating an argument, distracting them - and ultimately causing their downfall when the Dudleys used a 3D to drop the Big Show onto an exposed turnbuckle.
Next up, the Undertaker taking on Rob Van Dam with the Hardcore Title on the line. This match was apparently just changed to a title match on Heat tonight - funny, I thought it always was one... From the opening bell, Van Dam took the fight right too his challenger, but as soon as the fight left the ring, it was obvious that he was in trouble. As the match went into the crowd, the Undertaker grabbed a Mexican flag from a fan and used it to choke the Champion. Moments later, Van Dam ended up wit his back on the concrete and his face under a downed steel safety railing, which the Undertaker promptly stood on!! Van Dam later regained the advantage by shooting a fire extinguisher in the dead man's face then using the canister to brain him. Leaving UT laying in the entryway, Van Dam climbed into the balcony and hit a big splash on his opponent. Later, van Dam followed UT up to the platform and clobbered him with a trash can lid just before UT recovered and speared Van Dam into one of the side walls. He tried to follow up with the Last Ride, but Van Dam snagged something in the rafters and thwarted the move, then kicked a chair into his face before hitting the Rolling Thunder maneuver. UT was reeling as Van Dam followed that with the Vandaminator - but then went for a second one and missed. UT laid him out with his own chair then chokeslammed him off the platform and through a table out on the floor. UT took the pin and the title.
Next it was Chris Jericho's turn to burst in on Flair and vow to be the ultimate winner tonight.
Trish Stratus put her Womens' Title up against Jacqueline, whom we saw smack the tar out of a male opponent on Thursday night (Crash Holly). This one was a rout from the get-go, with Jacquie all over her far less experienced opponent. Trish's' first attempt at Stratus-faction saw her tossed off onto the mat. She came back with a backslide and got a surprise pin. The two shook hands after the bout.
There were more useless promos and commercials in this PPV program then any one I remember in the past. Did I really pay $30 to watch this..?
The first of the World Title unification matches followed all this hype. Kurt Angle taking on Steve Austin for the WWF Title. During the introductions for this match, JR ran down some wrestling history, including Karl Gotch's winning of the first recognized World Title by defeating the European Champ George Hackenschmidt - he even mentioned Lou Thesz - but still managed to neglect the true unification series that took place in the late 40's and early 50's. Jerry Lawler added his own contribution that tonight's event was "bigger" then those Olympic Gold Medals that Angle wears - yeah, right... As seems to be his pattern of late, Austin did a lot more wrestling in this match then we are used to seeing from him - and as the match progressed he could be seen to be mostly attacking Angle's left shoulder. About five minutes in, Angle slipped on an ankle lock. Austin struggled to the ropes and escaped, then back dropped his opponent over the top to the floor. The fight went to the outside for a few moments with Austin in charge, then Angle came back and began attacking Austin's bum knees. At one point he grabbed Austin in a figure four wrapped around the corner post - ala Bret Hart (who was not mentioned by either of the announcers in this regard). It looked bad for Austin as the fight returned to the ring. But then Angle threw a perfect moonsault...and missed. Austin made his come back and came close to getting the pin after a spine buster. Austin then surprised us all - and especially Angle - with a series of five German suplexes! Again he almost got the pin. Angle used a low blow to recover the advantage then hit the Angle slam and got a two-count. He then went for a Stunner - but Austin turned out of it then reversed the move and took the win to retain his title and put himself into the finals for the undisputed championship.
Test barged into Trish's dressing room and tried to intimidate her into a smooch. She showed him the door...
The second unification match saw the Rock take on Chris Jericho for the "World Title". In contrast to the match that just took place - this one was a pure brawl from shortly after the opening bell. I notice that Jericho has taken to dying the ends of his hair red lately - a strange affectation. I found myself oddly ambivalent about this contest. For all, of his supposed heelish actions of late, there is something inherently "light weight" about Jericho. His stature just doesn't measure up to the near legendary status of "the Great One". I just can't see him as the "first undisputed Champion of the World". Jericho's most effective move during the match is an extended sleeper that ultimately failed to get the job done (I don't think anyone has actually finished a match with a sleeper since Roddy Piper took out Hulk Hogan at SuperBrawl a few years ago). The match went into see-saw mode with both guys repeatedly attempting, and failing, to get the pin. The fight moved back out to the floor, where Jericho took control, then cleared off the announce table for some attempted Rock Bottom action. But Maivia blocked the move and got a DDT of his own instead. The table was destroyed. The ref started counting them out, but the Rock recovered enough to break it. Jericho appeared out on his feet as Rocky struggled to return him to the ring. Back inside, Maivia went for the Rock Bottom - but this time Jericho blocked it and got a face jam instead. Jericho then decided to ape the People's Elbow - but Maivia was playing possum and grabbed a Sharp Shooter! But Jericho twisted out of it then reversed the move. Maivia struggled to get to the ropes, but was firmly planted in the middle of the ring. he tried again and and made it after a titanic effort. He then came back with a Rock Bottom - but couldn't follow up. Now Vince Mcmahon showed up and was distracting the referee as Maivia went for the pin. Rocky knocked Vince off the apron then hit the Rock Bottom on Jericho. Vince was on the apron again and had to be dealt with. When Maivia turned back to Jericho he was caught in a Rock Bottom and pinned.
Immediately after the win for Jericho - Steve Austin's music played and the man himself came down expecting to start the final match. But the bell didn't ring. Kurt Angle ran in and hit Austin with a chair - then Maivia returned and Rock Bottomed Jericho! The Rock chased Angle out of the arena as both Jericho and Austin laid in the in the ring being counted out. Jericho recovered on the six count and got the early advantage over Austin. That didn't last for long, however. Soon the fight went out to the floor, where Austin peeled back the padding in preperation for...something. Now it was time to destroy the Spanish announce table - which wasn't accomplished immediately as Jericho attempted to put on the Walls of Jericho up there, but was thrown off to the floor. Back in the ring, Austin ran his shoulder into the ring post, then was thrown there a second time by Jericho. Austin managed to come back with a catapult - but Jericho then applied an armbar submission hold, putting pressure on Austin's injured shoulder. A few moves later, he slapped on the Walls of Jericho, but Austin crawled to the ropes and escaped. Shortly thereafter, Jericho was flung across the ring and took out the referee (Earl Hebner). Next Jericho hit a stunner on Austin. With both guys down and out, Vince McMahon showed up with Nick Patrick in tow to replace Hebner. But they were followed closely by Ric Flair, who downed Patrick, then was in turned downed by McMahon. Austin took a moment to dispatch McMahon then returned to the ring where he put the Walls of Jericho on Jericho!! Y2J was tapping out - but there was no referee. Suddenly, Booker T ran in and clobbered Austin - then he split. Jericho recovered and covered Austin for the pin. Chris Jericho is the Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion!!
Raw came to us live from the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California and opened with Roc Flair coming to the ring carrying both "The World Heavyweight" and the WWF Heavyweight Titles and then introduced Chris Jericho. So - any bets about whether he will still be the Champion when this program is over? Jericho's ego was out of control as he oiled his way to the ring, posing and strutting to beat the band. Jericho pulled a paper out of his pocket, claiming that he had so many people to thank that he needed a list. At the top of his list is...Chris Jericho... He thanked himself for being so athletic, etc. Next he thanked his opponents, saying it was an honor to beat the both of them singlehandedly in under 45 minutes. Then he thanked "the little people" - saying that if he hadn't realized what a waste of time it was to try to please the fans - he never would have come so far. Next he thanked Vince McMahon for his help last night. Finally, he thanked Flair for keeping his word and coming out to present the titles to him tonight, then he invited Flair to do just that. Flair placed the belts on his shoulders - then informed him that he would have to defend those titles in a 15 foot steel cage against Steve Austin.
The first match was a throwaway Hardcore Title defense for the Undertaker against...Spike Dudley. Right... Backstage, Vince McMahon arrived with Booker T and a brace of Dobermans in tow and headed up to his "private box".
Kurt Angle came out after the break and challenged Rikishi to a match as payback for what the latter did to Vince the other night. This match was short and not all that sweet. Kurt almost got stink faced and decided to split and allow himself to be counted out. As Rikishi went into is victory dance, Angle ran back in and attacked him. The result - Angle got stinkfaced! Kurt fled again, and Rikishi started his dance again. Then Angloe ran back in and "wore Rikishi out like a government mule" with a chair.
William Regal attacked Edge backstage with his brass knucks then went to the ring and used them to win a match against Kane. This guy is getting tiresome...and he was doing so well there for a while...
In what seemed like a set-up Tag Team Title match, the Rock and Trish Stratus were pitted against the Champions, the Dudleys. Of course, the Rock spent most of the match taking care of business while Trish hovered on the apron. JR was talking about government mules again as Maivia took Bubba ray apart out on the floor - but moments later, back in the ring, the Dudleys regained the advantage and were isolating the Great One. Meanwhile, Trish was over in the corner, pretending like she really wanted to get in there against either of the Dudleys. Before that could happen, Stacy ran around and pulled her off the apron. Moments later, the Rock found himself in the grip of a sleeper at the hands of Bubba Ray. He escaped with a belly-to-back suplex but was just about out of it as he next took on D-Von. As he started to regain his advantage, Bubba rushed in and collided head to head with his brother. All three men were down for a 6 count - then suddenly they were all up and Maivia was on fire. He dispatched Bubba then slapped a Sharpshooter on D-Von. But Bubba returned and broke it up. Bubba was knocked out again and the Rock hit the Elbow - and Bubba broke it up again. Bubba was again knocked to the floor and Trish followed through with the Whazzup! on D-Von!! Stacy started to protest, so she was dragged in and given the same treatment! As it looked like the Tag Titles were about to change hands, Test ran in and attacked the Rock. They battled out to the floor while the Dudleys took Trish out with a 3D. As Maivia returned top the ring, Test followed him back in and caught him by surprise with a boot to the face.
After the break, Vince addressed the crowd from his Sky Box, telling them that his butt kissing club has been officially closed, but now he has opened the Vince McMahon Kick Your A$$ Club. He mentioned some of the charter members, the Rock, Trish Stratus, Steve Austin, etc. He cited the many "big stars" in the audience tonight, then introduced "the biggest star" - Booker T. In a series of backstage scenes, Lance Storm repeatedly approached Ric Flair asking for his job back.
Down in the dressing room, Lita tried to talk sense to Matt, decrying his idea of having a handicap match - Lita and Jeff vs. Matt. he refused to talk to her until she started to walk away - then he told her, "...just like the Hardey Boyz, Lita. We're breaking up." and then he shoved her out the door. Jeff found her there crying in the hallway.
The handicap match was next. Before it started, Lita tried once more to reason with matt, but he shoved her out of the way and then attacked his brother viciously. Jeff responded in kind as Lita stood looking stricken on the apron. The fight went to the floor, then spilled over the railing and into the crowd. Meanwhile, the King was doing his usual juvenile thing, trying to get her attention saying, "Hey, I was dumped too..." After Matt threw Jeff over the top, Lita had had enough and hit a Frankensteiner on him. Jeff was back in and then he was downed in the corner. In her wish to heklp Jeff out, Lita inadvertently tagged herself in and got herself rolled up and pinned.
In the back, Flair finally told Storm he could habve a match tonight, telling him, "If you don't win, I don't want to see you again." Of course, Storm's oppoenent had to be the Big Show (who else?). The match was an extended squash (duh...) but Storm hung in there - managing to take the show down on several occasions. A chokeslam did the little guy in. Jim Ross's final comment, "I think Lance Storm deserves a job in the WWF...but I'm not doing ther hiring..." Who do you think you're fooling JR?
The next, short, segment consisted entirely of Stone Cold running his mouth about getting screwed and how he was going to kick Jericho's butt in the cage tonight...yadda, yadda, yadda...
The cage match was the main event and Austin was already in the cage as we retuned from the final commercial break. Jericho made his usual flamboyant entrance looking decidedly unenthused about the whole thing. He hesitated before entering the ring. The rules here, or so JR told us, is that you have to escape the cage to win, and there will be no referee in the enclosure. Jericho took too long on the outside, so Austin came out and attacked him on the floor, working him over with a chair. Jericho eventually escaped by climbing into the cage - and the match was officially on. The first time Jericho was flung into the corner, he hopped on the ropes and tried to climb out, but Austin caught him and dragged him back. Next the Millennium Bug tried to escape through the door, but Austin was right there to pull him back. When Jericho got a momentary breather, he uncovered one of the buckles. But Austin got the drop on him before he could utilize the weapon. A little later he hit the Lionsault, then tried to climb out again, but failed. Austin treated his opponent to a superplex off the top corner for his trouble. Still later, Jericho hit a Stunner on Austin and almost got out throught the door. But Austin caught him again and ran him into the cage, busting his head open. Jericho was bleeding like a stuck pig as the match continued. Austin started to leave the ring, and could have won - but Jericho flipped him the bird - which brought him back to deliver more punishment. He hit a Stunner on Jericho then headed out the door...only to have Booker T run down and slam the door in his face. Jericho took his opportunity and crawled out of the cage to victory.
Hmmmm...that was strangely any-climactic...almost too predictable...oh wait - it's pro wrestling - what was I thinking..?
At least that's the way I see it...
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