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November 22, 1984 (Thanksgiving)
Greensboro, North Carolina
We open up with a recap of the end of Starrcade ‘83 and then cut to Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle, who welcome us to the show. They talk a little about the main event, which pits NWA Champion Ric Flair against Dusty Rhodes with ONE MIIIIIIIIIILION DOLLARS and the NWA Title on the line. In the ring, Tom Miller welcomes us to what he calls the premier wrestling event. The announcement was so nice that he says it twice, in fact.
NWA Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Denny Brown vs. Mike Davis (c)
Hey, it’s referee Earl Hebner! Someone make sure he hasn’t swiped any t-shirts to sell in the parking lot later. We are told that the Junior Heavyweight division is for wrestlers 230 lbs and lower, so I guess we could call it 230 Live although that doesn’t have the same ring to it.
The match started with some promise, with some nice flying head scissors and arm drags, but Brown quickly turned it into an armbar-fest. Brown gets tripped up and takes a very delayed and terrible looking prat fall to the outside. He appeared to have injured his back in the fall and nice guy Mike Davis helps him back into the ring instead of attacking him. Brown does a good job of selling his back throughout the match. He even remembers to sell it while performing moves. The finish comes when Davis hits a bridging belly to back suplex and Hebner counts for 3. However, both men’s shoulders were down and Brown managed to lift an arm at the last second. Earl signals that he saw Brown’s arm by giving it a little slap as he walks over to explain the outcome to the Tom Miller. Apparently, Miller wasn’t listening as he mistakenly says that Davis won despite Hebner handing the belt to Brown. He corrects himself and announces that Brown is the new champion. Davis is pissed, but he ends up hugging Brown anyway.
It was a decent but unremarkable opener. I was expecting more since this was a lighter weight division. I guess that I’m spoiled by the smaller guys nowadays. The ending was the only memorable part of this. It felt like they might be sowing some seeds for a Davis heel turn down the line.
Winner: Denny Brown (New Champion)
Tony Schiavone is in the back and like last year he tells us that he will be giving us a unique look into the dressing room. It’s not really that unique anymore since they seem to be doing it each year. While he talks, Ric Flair paces back and forth behind him.
Brian Adias vs. Mr. Ito
Brian is mistakenly billed as “Brian Adidis” instead of Adias. Perhaps they were angling to get Brian an endorsement deal with Adidas. Mr. Ito is announced as the “Japanese Terror” and I noticed that he is wrestling barefoot. Maybe Brian can hook him up with some sweet shoes. Solie says that Adias is one of the fastest rising stars and then shows us that he’s a poet and he didn’t know it by saying that Brian has the agility and the ability.
The two men start off with a series of holds and reversals. At one point Adias hits a fairly nice looking dropkick and manages to land on his feet, so perhaps Solie’s little poem was correct. Ito keeps taking the advantage through cheating and the two men trade off doing some arm work. Adias hits a great looking reversal to a slam by arm dragging Ito out of it. Sadly, Ito no-sells half of Adias’ offense like he is simply waiting for the next spot. Adias picks up the win after an airplane spin, of all things.
It was a nothing match, but Adias looked good when he was on offense. He definitely has some agility to him. It seemed that if he were with a different opponent the match would have been better. After the match, Solie speculates that Adias might drop some weight and join the Junior Heavyweight division. We then see a replay of Ito no-selling Brian’s chops.
Winner: Brian Adias
NWA Florida Heavyweight Title Match: Jesse Barr (c) vs. Mike Graham
I have to ask did this match draw any dimes? It may or may not, but I can tell you what it did draw from me and that’s laughter. The two men spent most of the match grunting on a level that I have never heard before. It was so frequent that I swore they had invented their own grunting language to call spots in the ring. It was an almost steady stream of “RAH-RAH-RAH-RAH” and “YAH-YAH-YAH-YAH”.
All joking aside, I actually liked this match. It was very mat-based, but their moves had an intensity to them that kept it from ever being dull. There were a lot of aggressive holds and reversals. At one point Graham went for an Indian deathlock and threatened to really wrench back on it while Barr begged and pleaded for him not to do it. Modern WWE wrestlers could learn how to work rest holds from these guys. I think a lot of the problem is that the guys in WWE nowadays put on a rest hold and mostly just sit there. These two, however, looked like they were trying to rip off each other’s limbs. Barr takes control with a couple of nice headbutts and locks in a hold. Hebner accuses him of pulling hair despite him clearly not doing that and Barr responds by saying, “I don’t have to pull hair!” At that point, Bob Caudle draws another laugh from me by saying that Barr has “POWERFUL TENTACLES!”
Come on, Caudle. Get the Jimmy Jack Funk out of here. That’s just silly.
Barr does take control a few times by actually pulling the hair, but he is so subtle about it that I wouldn’t have noticed if the commentators didn’t say something. Every time Graham takes control, Barr finds away to take it back. He manages to shove Graham into the ref, but Hebner surprisingly doesn’t stay down for his usual 10 minutes. The end comes when Graham hits an atomic drop and sends Barr into the corner, but Barr catches him with a double leg and pins him with his feet on the ropes for the 3 count.
It was a fun little match. It wasn’t anything outstanding, but the intensity and the grunting put it over the top for me. I was entertained by it.
Winner: Jesse Barr
Next, we have a recap of the Longriders (Tully Blanchard, Black Bart, Ron Bass, & J.J. Dillon) tying Dick Slater up in the ropes while they attack and injure Ricky Steamboat’s back. Solie and Caudle talk about the attack and tell us that Steamboat has put up $10,000 of his own money for a match with Blanchard, later on in the show.
Elimination Tag Match: Assassin #1 & Buzz Tyler vs. The Zambuie Express w/ Paul Jones
It seems that Assassin #1 has turned face since my last review and he gets a pretty good reaction. He is teaming with Buzz Tyler to take on The Zambuie Express (Akeem & Muhammed), who look like a couple of inflated Mr. T clones wearing camoflage. The commentators put over how much #1 and Tyler want to put Paul Jones out of wrestling. Caudle even goes as far as to say that #1 is “aching to get a lick in” (OH MY!).
The match starts off with all four men in the ring and I thought for a moment that it was going to be contested under tornado rules, but the ref simply needed to get control. The faces keep knocking members of the Express out of the ring and the crowd is absolutely hot for this match. There is a lot of fighting to the outside and chasing Paul Jones around the ring. The finish comes when Assassin #1 collides with Muhammed and knocks him out, while Akeem is counted out on the outside. After the match, #1 tries to go after Jones again and almost falls over the top rope. It’s odd to me that they would do both eliminations simultaneously. It sort of defeats the purpose of doing the match elimination style.
This match was simply filler. It was mostly to build upon the “everybody hates Paul Jones” storyline of the night. It wasn’t bad, but it was over quickly and didn’t contain a lot of substance.
Winners: Assassin #1 & Buzz Tyler
We go back to the commentators and Solie says that a record crowd is watching all over the world. He then recaps the matches so far and brings up that Mike Graham has reason to protest over the end of his match.
Tony is backstage with Dusty Rhodes, who is chilling at a table with his jacket draped over himself. Dusty says that his and Flair’s names are etched in stone throughout history (Are they members of the Dungeon of Doom?). He says that they will find out who is the greatest wrestler alive. He says that Flair has been relaxing in his fancy house with his money and diamond rings, but after tonight the million dollars will go into his pocket and Flair will be “yesterday’s newspaper”. Dusty then addresses Smokin’ Joe Frazier, who will be the ref for their match. He tells Frazier not to stick his nose in his business. (I think that is kind of Joe’s job in the match.) He ends the promo by telling us that he has nothing left to say, except he’s the prettiest man alive!
NWA Brass Knuckles Title Match: Manny Fernandez vs. Black Bart (c) w/ J.J. Dillon
Okay, I have to protest. There were clearly no brass knuckles involved in this match! They should have called it the Taped Fist Championship instead. As the participants are announced, Manny takes off his sombrero and tosses it into the crowd. Solie speculates that the hat cost $200. Black Bart looks like a prototype of Bull Dempsey. He’s wearing a singlet that does nothing to cover his chest at all. He is quite immodest!
This match is the very definition of a punch/kick affair. It’s simply worked taped-fist fighting. I could count on one hand the number of wrestling moves done and still have fingers left over. Manny becomes busted open fairly quickly. Solie comments that Fernandez has a reasonable amount of scar tissue on his forehead. What exactly is reasonable? Are we talking on a scale from Flair to Abdullah the Butcher? After Manny begins bleeding, Bart begins to bite at his forehead. I would not want to put my mouth anywhere near a cut. Spots like that make me cringe. The blood seems to give Manny a second wind and he fights back into the match. Bart gets knocked over the top rope with a punch and comes up bleeding as well. We get some cool overhead shots, much like last year, during the match. Sadly, that is about the only interesting thing. The end comes when Bart goes to retrieve a rope from Dillon, but Manny rolls him up from behind for a 3 count.
This was a nothing brawl. It was another filler match. I couldn’t imagine a whole division based around these types of matches. I’m going to guess that this title doesn’t last very long, as I had never even heard of it until this event.
Winner: Manny Fernandez (New Champion)
Gordon Solie says that J.J. Dillon outsmarted himself in that last match. He says that it was a well deserved win for Manny. He then tells us that there will be an intermission and we get some highlights from Starrcade ‘83.
Tony is backstage with Ricky Steamboat. I read that there was some technical difficulties here, but the WWE Network seems to have edited that out of the segment. Tony brings up the Longriders attack and Ricky’s injuries. Steamboat talks about his past frustrations over the U.S. Title, but says he’s moved on to Blanchard. He talks about having to go to the chiropractor for his multiple injuries, but he says that he will block out the pain tonight. He says that you carry on despite the pain and then calls Blanchard a coward. He then talks about how Blanchard can’t run tonight. The promo was fairly bland. Steamboat was never known as a talker, but he does improve from this later in his career.
Back in the booth, Solie talks about how Blanchard can lose his title and his money on a count out or DQ in his match tonight. He then says that Blanchard is known to get into his opponent’s head with a “harangue of language”. I thought that was a type of pie.
Tony is now with Tully Blanchard and J.J. Dillon. He asks what the two men are trying to do to Steamboat, but J.J. plays innocent. J.J. says that he’s still upset about that last match, before turning his attention to Steamboat. J.J. says that Ricky is trying to slander them and accuses people of starting conspiracies about them. He then says that Steamboat knows that Blanchard is the superior athlete. Tully then speaks and says that Steamboat is making excuses. He claims that he carried Steamboat and now Steamboat wants to cry about it. He then says that after he’s done with Ricky he will go after the World Title next. Tony closes the interview by claiming that their attack will give Blanchard an advantage and J.J. gives him a dirty look.
We then go back to the commentators. Solie says that he knows Steamboat’s threshold for pain and then says that Blanchard needs to worry about Steamboat instead of looking past him to the World Title.
Tuxedo Street Fight/Loser Leaves Town Match: Paul Jones vs. Jimmy Valiant
It’s déjà-vu all over again! Valiant has taken off his Charlie Brown mask, but here he is again in another Loser Leaves Town Match. I’m starting to think that people don’t want him around. Paul Jones comes to the ring wearing a snazzy cape. He is accompanied by one of the Zambuie Express, but neither the ring announcer nor the commentators know which one it is. As they approach the ring, a female fan loudly yells “you smell” at them. Jimmy Valiant comes out next with Assassin #1. When Valiant gets into the ring he kisses Tom Miller on the cheek. Valiant is then announced as “The boy from New York City”. Boy?? That is one old looking boy. The commentators say that Valiant wants, more than anything, to get rid of Jones.
The ref has some issues getting the two cornermen out of the ring, but once he does the match starts. Jimmy chokes Jones and then uses a piece of string to tie him to the top rope by the neck. Jones flails around comically while Valiant takes off his jacket to reveal that he’s wearing one of those tuxedo t-shirts underneath. He then proceeds to rip apart Jones’ tuxedo and stuff the lapel flower into his mouth. We see way more of Jones than I wanted to and Solie claims that Valiant is “doing it all to Paul Jones”. No! Please no! For some strange reason the women in the crowd go crazy when Jimmy pulls off Paul’s pants. Somehow, in all of this Jones breaks free, but he’s bleeding. Valiant gets a sleeper, but Zambuie distracts the ref before he can drop the arm a 3rd time. The ref ends up getting bumped, which allows J.J. Dillon to run in and clock Valiant with what looks like a bottle. Jones covers Valiant and gets a 3 count. The heels then hightail it to the back, while the fans scream at them.
This was just weird and unsettling. I hate tuxedo matches and the blood seemed out of place. I know it was supposed to be a street fight as well, but it’s mostly a comedy match. I’m going to take a wild guess that Charlie Brown resurfaced after this match, didn’t he?
Winner: Paul Jones
Back in the commentators box, Solie and Caudle talk about the end of the last match and Gordon accidentally calls Jimmy Valiant “Luscious”, which is his (kayfabe) brother Johnny’s nickname. Sadly, Luscious Johnny Valiant was recently struck by a car and killed, so I would like to take this time to send my condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace, Johnny.
Tony is in the dressing room with Ric Flair. Flair says he has faced the top competition and is still champion. I am guessing that this is a reference to him briefly losing the NWA title to Kerry Von Erich between Starrcade ‘83 and ‘84. He says that he’s been all over the world and whether people like it or not he’s still the champ. He talks about how this match has the largest purse ever. He says he’s gunning for Rhodes and Dusty can be as laid back as he wants to be, but he better be half the man that he says he is. He then finishes by saying that Dusty is jumping on the #1 stud in wrestling (OH MY!).
NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title Match: Ron Bass (c) w/ J.J. Dillon vs. Dick Slater
I don’t know if it was an edit for the WWE Network, but the entrances made it look like both men came out at the same time from opposite ends of the arena. Slater comes to the ring wearing what looks like Evel Knievel’s robe (or perhaps Super Dave Osborne). Solie says that Slater is as handy with his dukes as he is his wrestling. Hold on, let me check with special judge Riskay…yes, I do believe that Slater is still clean Dick Slater, at this point. Bass, on the other hand is still a cowboy and not yet an outlaw.
The match starts with lots of pushing, punching, and chopping. Slater keeps bailing to the outside to chase J.J. Dillon, which frustrates Bass. Slater mimes for Bass to kiss his ass, which the crowd loves. Back in the ring, the two men dare each other to come on. “Come on!” “No! You come on!” “No, you!” Slater uses some of his old heel tactics to gain some advantages, but Bass takes control back when the ref inexplicably stops Slater from putting the boots to Bass. Even Solie is confused by this. Dillon starts taking cheap shots and there’s a fun spot where Slater is caught up in the ropes and keeps rebounding for more punches. Solie refers to them as “percussions”. Slater eventually regains control, but in his frustrations he shoves the ref away and gets disqualified. Afterwards, Slater fights off both men with chops and elbows and they bail to the outside.
It was a decent little storyline match, but it was nothing spectacular. That sadly seems to be the theme tonight. Afterwards, Solie calls Slater the uncrowned champion, but he also says that the ref made the right call.
Winner: Ron Bass (by DQ)
Next, we get the national anthem being played on the trumpet, which gets good cheers and a “USA” chant, from the crowd.
Ivan & Nikita Koloff vs. Ole Anderson & Keith Larson w/ Don Kernodle
There are loud USA chants, as Anderson & Larson approach the ring. Fans, during this time period were always rabid for these USA vs. Russia matches. All you had to do was mention Russia and the fans went nuts. The Koloffs naturally came to the ring to the Russian national anthem, which got major heat. I have to admit I really like their national anthem. It’s one of the better sounding ones.
Before the match, the commentators explain that Larson and Kernodle are brothers. Keith didn’t want to capitalize on his name, so he went under the name Larson instead. It seems to me that the commentators defeated that purpose by telling us. Kernodle is in the corner of his brother and Anderson, but he’s on a crutch and is wearing a neck brace.
The match starts with Anderson & Larson jumping the Russians and ripping off their USSR t-shirts. They use them to choke them two men and then quickly take control on Ivan. This match is a tale of two halves. The first half is endless arm work on Ivan and lots of tags. At one point, Ivan cusses and it is bleeped by the censors. Solie keeps referring to Anderson & Larson as the “Scandinavian Connection”, which is odd since they’re pushing them as All-Americans. Ivan finally gains control through eye rakes and hair pulling and then tags out to Nikita. Now, the second half of the match starts and it’s one endless bear hug. After about 10 minutes of this Ole finally tags out, but the match soon ends. Nikita runs outside and knocks Kernodle over, which distracts the ref. Ivan uses the opportunity to clock Larson with an object that we never see clearly. The Russians then get a 3 count to massive boos. After the match, the Koloffs try to beat down Larson, but Kernodle comes in and fights them off with his crutch. He breaks it over their backs and rips off his neck brace.
I found this match dreadfully boring, personally. The bear hug ground the match to a halt. The fans were hot for it, but they’ve been hot for everything tonight and it was a propaganda match. The post-match stuff was decent, though.
Winners: The Koloffs
Gordon Solie tells us that anything can happen tonight. Who knows, maybe that means we’ll actually get a good match. The commentators say that they are happy that Kernodle is showing signs of recovery. They also claim that the ring announcer never gave us an official word on the winners of the match despite the fact that he did.
NWA TV Title Match: Tully Blanchard (c) vs. Ricky Steamboat
Before the match, the commentators talk about how both men have put $10,000 of their own money on the line. They also tell us that Tully doesn’t have the champion’s advantage tonight. If he attempts to run or is disqualified he will lose both his title and his money.
Tully takes advantage early by working over Steamboat’s ribs. Ricky does an amazing job selling, but it noticeably slows him down in this match. One thing that I noticed is that Blanchard has some great looking working punches, especially his body blows. There is a cool spot at one point where Steamboat doesn’t want to let go of a headlock, so Tully dives over the top rope to the apron to break it. The story of the match is how Tully keeps looking to bail to the outside, but remembers he can’t run. So, instead he tries to bait Steamboat into making a mistake by spitting at him and frustrating him. Steamboat manages to get control and hits a sweet looking powerslam. Then he hits Tully with his own move, the slingshot suplex, but only gets a 2 count. Tully is starting to bleed a bit, but I’m not sure why. He has that Ric Flair condition where a light breeze causes his forehead to split open. The finish comes when Steamboat goes for a sunset flip, but Blanchard punches him in the head with some brass knuckles and gets a 3 count. The odd part is that the ref was right in front of Tully when he did this, but suddenly got serious tunnel vision and didn’t see it.
This was a really good match, but I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed. Steamboat’s selling was great, but it made for a slower match than I was expecting. I guess my expectations were too high based on who was in the match. It was still easily the best match of the night.
Winner: Tully Blanchard
Solie and Caudle attempt to talk about the next match, but end up talking over each other for a moment.
NWA US Title Match: Wahoo McDaniel (c) vs. Superstar Billy Graham
Billy Graham comes to the ring to a song that sounds like it’s straight out of the movie “Shaft”. He looks noticeably slimmer than he would 4 years from this, when he returns to the WWF. I almost didn’t recognize him because he’s thinner and has a normal looking mustache. He gets into the ring and starts waving his arms around in karate poses. I can practically hear him saying “wahhhh” and “ooooohh”. A young X-Pac takes notes.
The match starts off with a test of strength and the commentators talk about Billy’s “pythons” and say that he has the largest arms in the world. I had always heard that Hogan borrowed a lot of his stuff from Graham, but I didn’t realize how much. The match has lots of shoving and chopping. At one point Wahoo claims that Graham is pulling hair, which prompts the commentators to point out that Wahoo can’t return the favor because Graham is bald. (Just pull his mustache!) Billy keeps going to the Full Nelson, but the first time Wahoo makes it to the ropes. The second time, Graham lets go to make a pin attempt, but only gets 2. The end of the match comes out of nowhere when Wahoo hits a tomahawk chop, which Caudle calls “Tommyhawk”, and gets a 3 count. Graham claims that Wahoo pulled his trousers, but the replay shows that to be untrue. Sorry Billy, you just forgot to kick out.
This was a nothing match. When I saw it on the card, I thought it was a special attraction legends match. I wasn’t aware that Graham was still wrestling regularly, at this point.
Winner: Wahoo McDaniel
We get another recap of the end of Starrcade ‘83 before going to Tony, who is with special ref Smokin’ Joe Frazier and special judges Duke Keomuka and NASCAR driver Kyle Petty. He says that if the match goes to the time limit the judges will determine the winner. Duke says that they will judge it by watching the abilities of the two great wrestlers. Joe says that everyone knows it’s a championship fight and the rules have to be kept right. He says that he’s a fair guy and will make sure no one gets hurt (Gee, I wonder if that is foreshadowing). He then says that this is no different than boxing (I beg to differ!). Next, Kyle Petty says you have to be aggressive to go for a championship. He then says that he hopes it doesn’t go to the time limit otherwise he might have to mail his decision in if the wrestlers try to get rough.
We go back to the commentators, who say that they wouldn’t want to have to make the judges’ decision. Bob Caudle is then rather confused when pyro goes off too early.
Million Dollar Challenge NWA Title Match: Ric Flair (c) vs. Dusty Rhodes
Dusty Rhodes comes to the ring to some sexy smooth jazz. That has to be edited on the network. Is that really his theme at this time? Flair is out next, but his theme sounds kind of muffled. It seems odd to me that Flair actually has to climb over the guardrail to get to the ring. That’s poor design for the entryway. During the ring announcements, Kyle Petty gets a great reaction. Dusty, on the other hand, gets a surprisingly mixed reaction. The commentators say that Dusty appears to be carrying a little weight for the match, but he looks the same size as ever to me.
The action is back and forth to start, with neither man getting full advantage. Frazier’s first pin count is way too fast. Apparently Flair or Dusty tell him this because he spends the rest of the match being very inconsistent with his cadence. Dusty manages to get a Figure Four off of a missed knee drop by Flair, but Ric gets to the ropes. Dusty starts working on Flair’s legs for awhile. Frazier keeps getting in their way, especially when they fight into the ropes. It’s taking away from the match. Flair regains control, but sells his legs while trying to strut, which is a great spot. Ric gets a sleeper hold, but Dusty flings him to the outside to break it. Dusty gets pulled to the outside, where they trade punches and Flair sends Dusty head-first into the post. Dusty comes up bloody and they get back into the ring. Frazier keeps checking the cut, which draws boos from the crowd. He won’t let Flair attack while he checks on him. Flair punches at the cut once the action resumes, but Frazier wants to check again. This time, he ends the match due to the bleeding. The crowd is rightfully angry at the ending and so is Dusty. He tries to go after Frazier, but he bails out of the ring and heads towards the back. Crockett hands Flair the belt and a check for the winner’s purse of a million dollars. Flair proceeds to kick Crockett in the balls and yell, “THAT’S MY PURSE. I DON’T KNOW YOU!!!” Wait, sorry I was thinking of something else. Crockett simply looks annoyed at the match. Some of Dusty’s friends enter the ring to hold him back and wrap a towel around his bleeding head.
That was an utter disappointment. For the second Starrcade in a row a bad referee job detracted from the main event. At least in ‘83 the match was still good. However, this one was a dud. By the time Frazier stopped the match, Dusty’s cut wasn’t even bleeding that badly anymore.
Winner: Ric Flair
The commentators talk about how Frazier didn’t understand that blood wasn’t as big of a deal in wrestling as it is in boxing.
Tony is with Flair, in the dressing room. Tony says that it’s one of the most unusual matches that he’s seen, which is code for “it was bad”. Flair says that it’s not his business whether Frazier should have ended the match or not. All he cares about is that he got what he came for, which is the belt and the money.
We go back to the commentators and Solie says he’s not sure he wants to hear from Dusty, as he’s probably quite angry. While they talk a fan walks up behind them and mugs for the camera for a moment.
Back in the dressing room, Tony is now with Dusty, who still has a towel wrapped around his head. Manny Fernandez is standing behind him. Dusty says that he’s never had a match stopped for blood before. He says that this is wrestling, not boxing. Stitches in his head don’t mean a damn to him. He tells Frazier to watch his back because he’s coming for him. He says, “Ric Flair, if you call this a victory, you need to go home and kiss your mama!” He tells Flair to spend his money well. He then closes by saying that the American dream still lives and then pushes Tony and tells him to get out of there.
Solie and Caudle thank the fans for watching and then talk about how this show surpassed last year (It did not!). We end with highlights of the show.
This show was a total disappointment. ‘83 was good, but this show was largely forgettable. There was a lot of filler and the main event was a complete let-down. Fortunately, from what I hear, ‘85 is a return to form. So, we shall see.
Thank you again for reading.
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