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From the Bowery: WrestleMania VIII

February 24, 2009 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
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From the Bowery: WrestleMania VIII  

From the Bowery: WrestleMania VIII
-Indianapolis, IN
-April 7, 1992

-Ric Flair joined the WWF right before SummerSlam, and the common thought was that this show would be the culmination of a Hogan/Flair feud. It was the dream match of all time, and seemed like a sure money maker. Flair won the vacated WWF Title at the 92 Rumble, and the question became who is the #1 contender? The WWF made a big deal and had a press conference with Jack Tunney to name the man who would get the Mania title shot. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, the Undertaker, and Sid were the 5 men at the press conference, and as expected, Hogan was given the nod. However, Hogan vs. Flair was never the end destination, as Hogan decided he wanted to retire and head to Hollywood to make movies. So, the backup plan was set in motion at that same press conference. Sid figured he would be named the #1 contender and when he wasn’t he became a tweener and soon turned on Hogan to set up that Mania match. It was then built up as Hogan’s retirement match.

-The WWF Title picture was soon cleared up when Ric Flair started making claims that Liz was his before she was with Savage. There were photos in the WWF magazine of Liz with Flair, and just like that we had a title match with a heated story. What made it even greater was that Flair and Perfect promised to show the not safe for work pictures on the big screen at the Hoosier Dome during Mania. Sadly, that never materialized, but it gave Bobby Heenan a lot of material to use during the broadcast.

-The other 2 men that were finalists for the #1 contender spot (Piper and Taker) each got a marquee match on the card. Piper was the IC champ after defeating the Mountie at the Rumble. Bret Hart, who lost the title to the Mountie, became the #1 challenger, and we had a face vs. face match set for Mania.

-Taker turned from heel to face when he stopped Jake Roberts from blasting Liz with a chair (the culmination of the awesome Savage/Roberts feud) and just like that we have another match for Mania.

-Those would be the 4 marquee matches for the show, and it worked ok as the Hoosier Dome made for an interesting atmosphere, even if it wasn’t completely full. It’s still an impressive crowd.

-Reba McIntyre has the honor of singing the National Anthem.

Shawn Michaels (w/ Sherri) vs. Tito Santana

-Tito greets Reba as he leaves and that gives Heenan the chance to call her Tito’s sister, Ariba. Classic! Shawn is fresh off tossing Marty through the barbershop window, and was starting his push as a singles wrestler. Monsoon and Heenan are already putting Shawn over as the next man inline for an IC Title shot. The bell rings way before Shawn is ready and we get 90 seconds before any contact is made. Tito ducks a clothesline and drops Shawn with a cross body. Tito works a side headlock, but Shawn breaks with rights and lefts. Shawn grabs the top rope to keep from taking a shot to the mouth, so Tito clotheslines him over the top and to the floor. Shawn jaws with the crowd, and Tito pulls him back inside with another side headlock. Shawn breaks by backing Tito into the corner and delivering some shoulders to the midsection. They exchange some punches, and it results in Tito going back to the side headlock. That work some near falls off that before Shawn tries to break, but Tito rolls through and keeps the hold. This gives Heenan the chance to tell the story where he made a guy give up during instructions. Have I mentioned that I love Bobby Heenan? Shawn finally finds an effective way of breaking the side headlock: simply tossing Tito over the top rope to the floor. Shawn hits a botched backbreaker and that gets a 2 count. He goes to a reverse chinlock and that kind of gets the crowd behind Tito. He is able to break but runs right into what we be know as Sweet Chin Music today. Shawn doesn’t go for the cover as that wasn’t his finished at the time. Tito fires back with the flying jalapeno and that sends Michaels to the floor. Tito slingshots back into the ring on to Shawn (called the flying burrito by Heenan). Tito hits the extra paste picante (again called by Heenan) and that also sends Shawn to the floor. Tito tries to suplex him back in the ring, but Shawn grabs the top rope and is able to fall back on Tito for the pin at 10:39.

Winner: Shawn Michaels via pin @ 10:39
-This started slow with all the headlock and chinlock work, but that hit a nice groove towards the end. Sadly, it was cut off just as it got going. Still, this was a good opener, and it was a needed win for Shawn as he made his way up the card. **1/2

-Gene brings out the Legion of Doom and they bring Paul Ellering with them. The crowd was jacked for this, but it didn’t have the desired effect everyone had hoped. Instead LOD went back to their roots and recover a doll they would use for inspiration. Such bad asses, though I wouldn’t be the one to tell Hawk he can’t play with dolls. Good interview from the LOD here though.

The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Jake “the Snake” Roberts

-Jake said in his DVD that he told Vince before the match that he would not go out for this match unless he was given his release. He made sure to state he didn’t pull a Warrior and hold Vince up for money, but he wanted his release so he could go to WCW…where they were going to pay him more money. He did say that he would have gone out no matter what, but Vince didn’t know that. Taker gets a pretty sizeable pop from the crowd. This was seemingly a natural feud, and was also a kind of passing of the torch. Taker stalks Jake early, so he sticks and moves. That has little effect, and it shows on Jake’s face. Taker gets sent over the top, but lands on his feet and he pulls Jake to the floor. He sends Roberts into the post, and they head back into the ring. Jake continues to punch away and it seems to have a little more effect this time. That doesn’t last long and now Jake takes a couple shots. Taker chokes away in the corner, and even the ref won’t make him break. Heenan: “You know how Bearer got that urn? The old fashion way, he earned it.” Classic! Taker continues to choke the life out of Jake, and the ref won’t even try to break things. The diving clothesline gets a good pop and Jake is just taking a beating at this point. He is able to hit a DDT out of nowhere and the crowd is stunned. Jake thinks it is over and so does Heenan, but Taker sits up and Jake shits himself. He regroups and hits the short arm clothesline, but again Taker rises. He hits another DDT and makes the mistake of going after Paul. Taker sits up again, and kills Jake with a tombstone on the floor. Damn! He tosses him back in the ring and gets the easy pin at 6:40. In a fun bit ot trivia, Taker was the only man on this show to win his with a finisher.

Winner: The Undertaker via pin from tombstone on the floor @ 6:40
-Guess this was Vince’s way of saying have fun in WCW. Just a total burial here as Taker even got to basically no sell the DDT…twice. It was a fun squash though, and just another step in putting Taker over as the man in the WWF. *1/4

-Gene interviews Piper and Hart together. Piper is all about having fun out there and reminiscing, while Hart is all business.

Intercontinental Title: Roddy Piper © vs. Bret Hart

-After watching the Piper DVD I have a new appreciation for how Piper thinks about his matches. He stated all his previous always started with him just going like a crazy man because he never had anything to lose. This match he was the champion and he started things slower because he finally had something to lose. The ref goes over the instructions while the two men stare each other down. Piper starts the match slowly and actually uses basic wrestling to get things going. They lock-up for a second time and now Hart sends Piper to the mat with an arm drag. Piper uses some more amateur moves but gets dumped to the floor and now he is pissed. Hart shoves him, so Piper responds by spitting on Hart. A test of strength next and they work counters off that for a bit. Hart won’t let go, so Piper resorts to using the Hitman’s hair. That still isn’t enough though as Hart won’t let go of the arm. A dropkick from Hart, but he hurts his shoulder on the way down. Heenan says he is goldbricking, and before Monsoon can finish telling him there’s no way Bret would do that, Hart snaps right up and gets a small package for two. He is the Brain you know. Piper is seriously pissed and slaps the maple syrup out of Bret’s mouth. Both men hit the floor off a cross body, and Piper actually opens the ropes to let back in. Sure a good sport. Of course he tells Bret his boot is untied and suckers him in the mouth when Bret drops his head. That is so awesome. Piper hits a swank bulldog as Bret is bleeding all over the canvas. Bleeding was a big no-no at the time, so Bret lied and said he was split open legit. Vince bought his lie, but didn’t believe someone else on the card. Hart gets a sunset flip for a two count, but still doesn’t have much in the tank. Piper uses his boxing background to drop Hart, and then both men slug away in the center of the ring. Heenan thinks Piper should hit Hart with the bell. Hmm! Both men are out in the center of the ring, but Piper is first to his feet. For some reason Piper heads to the top, and Hart was suckering him in again. Piper gets dropped face first from the top rope, and we get the 5 Moves of Doom in succession. He goes for the sharpshooter, but Piper is able to block, so the Hitman kills him with an elbow. He tries the second rope elbow, but Piper gets the boot up. They trade punches again, but are swinging from their knees. The ref gets creamed in the melee, and both men hit the floor. Piper sends Hart into the steps and fires him back in the ring. He does grab the bell (as Heenan predicted earlier), and the crowd is freaking out. The old Piper would have blasted Hart and walked away with the title. This is the new pussy Hot Rod, and he has second thoughts. He should take Heenan’s advice: What the hell use the bell! Piper tosses the bell away and locks in the sleeper. Hart walks up the buckles and kicks off to roll onto Piper for the pin @ 13:51. Piper said in his DVD that he was still in control of the hold and the ref should have checked Hart’s arm to see if it would drop three times and then counted his shoulders. I think he was joking, but I’m not sure. Piper helps sell the idea that Bret was split legit by asking for a towel.

Winner and New IC Champ: Bret Hart via pin @ 13:51
-The greatest match you will ever see from Piper and a damn fine match from Hart too. It was nice to see Piper in a wrestling match for a change, and it showed that when needed he could hang in the ring. This was another step up the rung for Hart. ****

-Heenan introduces (via split screen) the newest member of the WBF, Lex Luger. This was Vince’s World Bodybuilding Federation, and needless to say it didn’t last very long.

-We get promos for the two teams involved in the upcoming 8 man tag. Just more time waster here. Mountie continually screaming “tell ‘em champ” was pretty funny though.

The Nasty Boys, The Repo Man, & The Mountie (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Virgil, The Big Bossman, & Sgt. Slaughter

-All 8 men are already in the ring, and Ray Combs (host of Family Feud) gets to introduce the 8 men. Combs breaks out jokes on the heel team and they chase him off. Not particularly funny, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. All 8 men brawl and it’s just a jumbled mess. The hells bail to the floor, except the Repo Man, who gets killed by Team Duggan. Heenan informs us that Shawn Michaels has left the building. That was always a great touch on his character at the time. Things settle down and Saggs jumps Duggan in mid ho. Hate when that happens to me. Slaughter gets tagged in and Knobbs joins him. There’s just a lot of punching and not much else of note. Slaughter tags in the Bossman and thankfully he has more to offer than punching. Sure, it’s only a big boot, but it’s something. Repo Man gets tagged in and we get the Police Officer vs. the Car Jacker storyline the world has waited for. You can have your Christians vs. the Lions (and this year I would take anyone over the Lions), but give me Bossman vs. Repo any day of the week. Virgil becomes your ex-man servant in peril, and Duggan tries to rally the crowd with a USA chant. Nastyville must be in Panama somewhere. Everyone jumps back in the ring, and soon some brawl on the floor also. Saggs tries to blast Virgil with a belt buckle, but hits Knobbs instead. Virgil gets the cover and pin @ 6:31.

Winners: Team Hacksaw via Virgil pinning Knobbs @ 6:31
-Not sure what the point was and it didn’t even have the added benefit of what huge tag matches have today where it ends with each man firing off finisher after finisher. 1/2*

-Flair and Perfect give a tremendous promo with the center-fold of Liz. Flair promises her one more ride on Space Mountain.

-Gene stands outside Savage’s locker as he is in no mood for talking.

WWF Title: Ric Flair © (w/ Mr. Perfect) vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage

-If you want to listen to some of the most awesome biased announcing in your live, just listen to Heenan during this match. Only thing that has come close to topping this was Heyman during the Main Event of Survivor Series 2001. Savage sprints to the ring, and looks to kill Flair, but he bails. He chases Flair down the aisle and starts rubbing his face into the floor. Perfect grabs Savage by the hair and pulls him back to the ring. They head back into the ring and we got some chops early, but Savage gets a clothesline. He knees Flair into the corner and starts pounding away with some rights. Flair misses an inverted atomic drop, and Savage drops him with another clothesline. Savage takes a huge fucking bump as he is back dropped over the top to the floor. Flair goes out to meet him and rams him back first into the ring apron. For those wondering: the crowd hates Flair. He continues to work the back as they head into the ring. Flair hits a delayed suplex (showing some power), but it only gets a two count. A nice side suplex gets another two count while Heenan screams to see the pictures of the big screen. Savage gets tossed from corner to corner to continue the damage to the back. Flair drops a knee to the head, and sends Savage to the floor. He rams Savage into the apron again as he has focused all his energy on the back at this point. Flair brings Savage back into the ring with another delayed suplex, but again it only gets a two count. Flair argues with the ref and it would have been a nice touch if Hebnar would have shoved him. The crowd is getting restless with the beating Savage is taking, and is just begging for any signs of life from Macho. He responds by firing away with rights and countering a backdrop attempt with a reverse neckbreaker. The rights continue to flow, but a well timed thumb to the eye kills that. Flair heads up top, and you can guess what happens next. Now the crowd is back as Flair begs. Savage is having none of that and drops Flair with numerous clotheslines. Flair takes the flip in the corner, and runs the apron to the top rope. He comes off, but Savage catches him with a clothesline with a hot near fall. The crowd is pissed about that one. Flair hits the floor and Savage comes off the top with the double axe to send Flair into the railing head first. That’s where Flair blades, and Heenan is in tears. This is just so awesome. Savage continues the ass kicking on the floor, and beats Flair into the ring so he can beat on him some more. A double axe from the top gets another hot two count, and the crowd is even more pissed than last time. Savage heads to the top again, and drops the flying elbow. Perfect has the balls to pull Savage out of the ring to break the count. The crowd and Monsoon want to kill Perfect at this point. Perfect slips Flair some brass knux, and Savage gets waffled. He is able to kick out at two, and Flair has lost his mind. He pounds away and then just starts choking the life out of Savage. Perfect shows he can be an even bigger dick as he grabs a chair and blasts Savage in the knee. Liz finally makes her way to the ring, and a rather young Shane McMahon tries to talk her out of it. Savage’s knee is gone and that’s blood in the water for Flair. The crowd has gone insane at this point, and even after seeing this match over a 100 times, I’m still marking out. Flair locks in the figure four, and naturally he gets an assist from Perfect. Those two were made to work together. The officials give up on trying to get Liz to the back and leave her alone. Savage turns the hold, but Perfect even attempts to stop that. In a wink-wink moment to the Savage/Steamboat match, Savage gets a small package off a slam attempt, but Flair is able to kick out at two. Flair takes time to flirt with Liz between chops. That’s a real champ there. Flair crushes Savage’s knee with a knee breaker, but makes the mistake of giving one too many Woo’s to Liz. Out of nowhere Savage blocks a punch and rolls Flair up with a handful of trunks to get the win and title @ 18:03. Heenan bails the announce booth to go be with Flair. Things get even crazier now as Flair confronts Liz and gives her a kiss. She fires back by slapping him, and Savage is all “That’s my Kool-Aid, bitch” and dives on Flair. He is outnumbered though and gets the shit kicked out of him by Flair and Savage. The crowd chants for Hogan, but he’s on the phone negotiating his Mr. Nanny movie deal. Officials finally separate everyone, but Savage (still selling the knee) wants to fight. The Fink finally makes the announcement and he does so in grand style. Savage gets a proper celebration with nobody else in the spotlight (outside of Liz), and it’s a pretty awesome moment.

Winner and New WWF Champion: Randy Savage via roll-up @ 18:03
-This is just an awesome match, and one of my Top 10 Favorite Matches of all time. These two men were made to feud and the story with Liz and the actions of Perfect made this even better. They had some good to great matches in WCW, but nothing came close to this. Again, I don’t need 20 variations of a slam or cartwheels added to elbows to entertain me. ****3/4 Minus the 1/4* because Flair never showed the centerfold on the big screen.

-Flair, Perfect, and Heenan give a fantastic interview where they harp on Savage using a handful of trunks. What’s great is that they don’t even want to hear about the epic cheating done by Perfect throughout the match.

-Savage with Liz and still selling the knee give their equally awesome interview with Gene. Savage only got a piece, and still wants more of the Nature Boy. The Title was nice and all, but Flair kissed Liz and now Savage is doubly pissed, which is saying something. This interview basically shows meet that Randy Savage is God!

”The Model” Rick Martel vs. Tatanka

-Monsoon wastes no time in rubbing the loss into Heenan’s face. The crowd is pretty much burnt out after that last match, and I feel sorry for these two. Again, fashion model vs. Native American seems like such a natural feud. Should have made billions off this feud alone. Martel works Tatanka over in the corner, but eats a few slams and decided to bail to the floor. Heenan and Monsoon are absolutely awesome as they ignore the match for the first few minutes. Heenan actually challenges Monsoon to a fight, which Gorilla naturally laughs off. Heenan regroups though and starts with the Native American jokes. Martel controls with a choke, and sends Tatanka over the top rope to the floor. Monsoon keeps calling Rick Martel, Ric Flair. The crowd just doesn’t care about this match, and Heenan uses a joke that eventually ended up on the Simpsons. And no, I am not saying they stole it off him. Martel gets dropped on his balls and Tatanka takes control. He uses various stereo typical Native American wrestling holds (chops, and more chops), but Martel is able to regain the advantage. Things end rather quickly when Tatanka ducks a clothesline and gets a cross body for the pin @ 4:30.

Winner: Tatanka via pin from cross body @ 4:30
-Nothing match, and just something to follow the awesomeness of Flair/Savage. 1/2*

-Interviews from Money Inc. and the Natural Disasters.

WWF Tag Titles: Money Inc. (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Natural Disasters

-For those who don’t know Money Inc. would be Dibiase and I.R.S. and the Disasters would be Earthquake and Typhoon. I sense a contrast in styles here. The story is that Hart managed the Disasters, but turned on them at a show and cost them the tag titles against Money Inc. Now the Disasters are pissed and not only want their titles back, but also want to kill Jimmy. Heenan calls a lady in the front row with a Natural Disasters sign a bimbo and I nearly choke on my dinner. Things start out with Quake and Dibiase, and again, it’s a contrast in styles. Ted gets tossed around a bunch, and for some reason keeps trying to lock up with the big man. He tries a hammerlock, but that doesn’t go very well. He talks things over with IRS, and must have been useful because he buries a knee in Quake’s fat gut. Things don’t last long as Quake drops both of them, and Typhoon joins in to send the heels bailing to the floor. I.R.S. works an arm wringer, but it gets quickly reversed and Typhoon gets the tag. He powers IRS down, and then bounces his head of the buckle for a count of ten. A blind charge misses, and Dibiase tags in to take advantage. He throws some chops, but it doesn’t last long. Ted finally gets an advantage when Typhoon gets dumped over the top rope to the floor. I.R.S. rams his head into the stairs and now Typhoon is your fat man in peril. The double team the bag man and the crowd is pretty apathetic. Except for the lone female screaming, “Come on Tugboat.” Dibiase and Typhoon clothesline each other, and the tags are made to each of their partners. Quake is a house of fire as it were, and all 4 men enter the ring. Dibiase gets clothesline to the floor and I.R.S eats a splash from Typhoon. Quake starts the tremors, but Jimmy pulls him out of ring before the splash. The champs have had enough and decide to talk a walk with their titles. The Disasters get the count-out win, but no titles @ 8:41.

Winners: The Natural Disasters via count-out @ 8:41
-Not good at all, and a pretty crappy ending. The crowd was still burnt out from Flair/Savage, and only heat generated from this was for the screwjob ending. 1/4*

Owen Hart vs. Skinner

-Skinner gets the jobber entrance that so, so many got at WrestleMania VII. He spits his chewing tobacco in Owen’s face, and hits a slop drop (scorpion death drop) for a two count. Owen skins the cat, and rolls up Skinner for the pin @ 1:09. Owen drop kicks him out of the ring after the match.

Winner: Owen Hart via pin from roll-up @ 1:09
-They must have been running short on time and better take it from this match instead of Hogan/Sid. The Scorpion Death Drop gets the rating. 1/2*

-Gene interviews Sid and he guarantees that this will be Hogan’s last match. We see video footage of Vince asking Hogan if this is his last match. Hogan says he just doesn’t know until he comes out of the ring. Sid curses Hogan and every Hulk-a-maniac. Wonder where he can find a guy that’s in to voodoo on such short notice?

Sid Justice (w/ Dr Harvey Wippleman) vs. Hulk Hogan

-Sid gets a decent reaction from the crowd. Sure he may suck as a wrestler at times, but he does carry a bad ass presence when he enters an arena. The dude just looks fucking scary, and obviously that can take you a long way in the world of pro-wrestling. The crowd still loves Hogan, and this is the first real noise they’ve made since the Flair/Savage match. Sid attacks Hogan, but he fights back while Real American continues to play, and sends him to the floor. A clothesline sends Justice back to the floor and Hogan finally tears off the shirt. He poses to the crowd, and the bell finally rings. The talk trash center ring, and Sid buries a knee in Hogan’s midsection. Sid pounds Hogan with fists and boots to drop Hogan to his knees. A loud Hogan chant rings out from the Hoosier Dome, and he responds by hammering Sid with rights. Sid talks a walk to kill the Hogan momentum. He walks over to Mark Eaton (the time keeper) and says something to him. No word if he said “ring the fucking bell.” Both men play to the crowd, and we get the test of strength. Hogan/Warrior this is not, but the crowd is still pretty pumped for it. Sid powers Hogan to his knees, and that’s about it really. The crowd brings Hogan back to his feet, but Sid is having none of that and powers him right back to his knees. Gorilla, bless his heart, tries to sell the move by stating that Hogan’s fingers are turning white. Hogan gets back to his feet, but Sid just powers him into the corner, and drives some knees. Hogan reverses a whip and clothesline Sid in the corner. Wippleman grabs Hogan’s leg and that gives Sid the chance to break out a chokeslam. That was pretty damn awesome, and it gets a monster reaction from the crowd. Sid takes time to tell the camera, “Do it to the man as the man would do it to you, but do it first.” For some reason I always remembered that saying as a kid. Sid uses Wippleman’s doctor’s bag to work the back of Hogan. He immediately forgets the back and locks in a Vulcan (go Cal!) nerve grip. That just gives both men a chance to rest once again, but again, the crowd doesn’t seem to really care about the lack of action. Hebnar checks the arm and shockingly it stays up on the third try. Sid doesn’t sweat it though and kills Hogan with a sidewalk slam. He gives Hogan his last rites, and powerbombs him in the center of the ring. Hogan kicks out at two, and now we get the Hulk-up. The usual follows, but something interesting happens: After the slam, Hogan drops the leg, and Sid kicks out at two. Wippleman covers for a late arriving Papa Shango by interfering and that draws the [email protected] 12:28. Shango finally arrives and they tie Hogan in the ropes. Sid grabs a chair and then it happens. The Warrior’s music hits and he sprints to the ring to make the save. The crowd just loses it’s fucking mind at this point, and our heroes pose to close the show.

Winner: Hulk Hogan by DQ @ 12:28
-The WWF booked themselves in a corner because they didn’t want Sid to look weak, and they didn’t want Hogan losing in what may have been his final match. Its reasons like this we have the DQ, and to make sure the crowd went home happy we get one of the biggest surprises in WrestleMania history. The match was pretty damn crappy, and was basically Sid just beating the piss out of Hogan. Seeing Hogan get tossed around by Sid was pretty damn impressive though. *

Top 5 WrestleMania Matches (at this point)

1) IC Title: Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat *****
2) Career vs Career: Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior *****
3) WWF Title: Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage ****3/4
3) WWF Title: Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan ****1/2
4) WWF Title vs IC Title: Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior ****1/4
5) IC Title: Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart ****

The 411: This is one of my personal favorite WrestleManias. I know there is a lot of filler, and some crappy matches between the main matches, but the good far outweigh the bad. The WWF and IC Title matches were classics, and the Main Event was interesting to watch Sid throw Hogan all around the ring. The return of the Warrior only added to things, and the atmosphere with massive crowd and Hoosier dome made this feel like a big time show. Only WM III would rank higher up to this point.
Final Score:  7.5   [ Good ]  legend

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Robert Leighty Jr.

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