Through the Years: WWF Matches & Angles from Royal Rumble to WrestleMania VIII

This edition of random WWF matches and angles is going to start with news and only the news. First, Marty Jannetty’s problems with drugs came to a head in a big way, right as he was going to be feuding with his former tag team partner, Shawn Michaels. Marty got arrested for resisting arrest, and possession of cocaine while at a night club with a 19 year old girl. What a guy. There were also steroid raids, and I’ll continue to post updates as we go. Time to focus on the wrestling.

 

– January 31st, 1992, from Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York

 

The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) vs. Bret Hart

Pre-Match Thoughts: This is before the Undertaker’s turn was aired on television. Also, the WWF may have still thought Bret was on his way out, hence having him put an unbeatable guy over like this. It’s a strange house show match otherwise. Finkel’s introduction of the Undertaker was interesting, I thought.

Match Review: Taker attacks Bret after Bret gives away his sunglasses, and throws Bret hard to the buckle. Time for some choking! Bearer is doing some good shtick outside of the ring too. Taker misses a charge to the buckle, so Bret knocks him down with an inverted atomic drop. Some clotheslines follow that, and Bret sends him over the top with a dropkick! Bret follows with a plancha and nearly wrecks himself, and Bearer goes for an urn shot that Bret stops. Still, the attempt allowed Taker to get up and hit Bret in the throat. Taker throws Bret into the steps, and Bearer wants him to go for the finish. Taker chokes Bret instead, picking him up in the air and throwing him to the canvas. Bret tries a sunset flip, which Taker blocks, but Taker misses the punch and Bret has to ram him into the buckles. Taker throws Bret hard to the other side instead, and the fans reacted very strongly to that chest-first bump Bret took. Taker takes Bret to the corner for OLD SCHOOL, which actually pops the fans. A cover gets 2, and Taker hits Bret with the big flying clothesline for another 2 count. Taker goes to a smother hold, which Bret has to fight his way out of. The hope spots here are really nice. Taker takes Bret out with another shot to the throat, and goes for OLD SCHOOL once again. This time, Bret throws him down with an arm drag! Taker sits right up, and Bret goes to work with right hands. An inverted atomic drop follows that, then a clotheslines. Bret gives Taker a Russian leg sweep for 2, getting a big pop on it. Bret follows that with a suplex, which also gets 2. A backbreaker follows, and Bret goes up to the second rope for a flying clothesline! Bret grabs Bearer and tries to knock him off the apron, but Taker knees Bret from behind, knocking the referee down too. Taker goes for some kicks, but Bret catches and trips him, following with THE SHARPSHOOTER. The crowd is popping big here, and Bret basically got a visual fall off that. Bret decides to wake Danny Davis up, but Taker hits him from behind again. An URN SHOT to the head misses, but one to the throat doesn’t. Taker covers, and that gets 3 at 12:27.

My Thoughts: This match was much better than I expected. The crowd was reacting very strongly to Bret, and I can see why there were plans for him. Who knows how long those plans were actually in place. Obviously, this was a match between two guys who were supposed to be the future of the WWF, and it delivered. There’s a perception that the Undertaker was a poor worker who got better as the years went on. He did get better, but I completely disagree with the notion that he was ever poor or anything less than a good worker. People just need to look at the guys he was made to face in this era. The WWF heels from 1993-1995 were not technical wrestlers, they were big slugs. Those are the guys who aren’t good workers. Bret’s comeback in this got the crowd going, and I’d give this **1/2.

 

– Taped to air February 1st, 1992, on Superstars

 

WRESTLEMANIA VIII PRESS CONFERENCE

 

This is one of my favorite WWF moments, I think. Jack Tunney was there to announce the #1 contender for the WWF Championship. Ric Flair made a speech, then it was time for Tunney do his bit. The Undertaker, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, and Sid Justice were the possible choices. Hogan was named #1 contender, and he cut a silly promo. After that, some of the other guys had things to say. My favorite part is right here! Sid’s promo on Hogan is the best thing ever if you ask me. THE MOST BOGUS ACT YOU EVER PULLED OFF, JACK TUNNEY. I love this.

 

– Taped to air February 8th, 1992, on Superstars, from the Oceanfront Center in Daytona Beach, Florida

 

PAPA SHANGO DEBUTS

 

This is…different. The crowd reaction seems extremely edited, and fits what I talked about when it came to Sid turning on Hogan. That kind of stuff would only happen in front of an audience they could control or edit for some time. The commentary of this made no sense at all, and I think Vince didn’t really understand this gimmick. Another debut I’m not going to talk about, was Tatanka’s.

 

– Taped to air February 16th, 1992, on Wrestling Challenge, from the Municipal Coliseum in Lubbock, Texas

 

The Barber Shop with Sid Justice

 

Somebody was tired of this recurring segment, it would seem. They sent the newly heel Sid Justice out to talk with Beefcake, and despite the announcement that guys needed to get off steroids, Sid was looking quite jacked. Sid’s promo in response to Beefcake’s whining was awesome. They always are. I can’t think of many better promo guys. He said he’s rearrange Beefcake’s face, but the Barber was smart to get out of there when Sid started smashing up the Barber Shop set. Thus ends the illustrious Barber Shop.

 

– February 18th, 1992,, from the Auditorium in West Palm Beach, Florida

 

Before this taping, a lot of shit went down. First, they had a title switch go down, with the Legion of Doom dropping those belts to a newly paired Money Inc., featuring Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster. I’ve heard of many worse pairings. Now, in something tangenitally related to that, there was a raid conducted at a house show in St. Louis. The government did not find steroids, because allegedly they were tipped off. On top of that, the WWF suspended and fired some guys. Jimmy Snuka was fired, Greg Valentine left, Hercules was given a release date, Jim Neidhart hit the bricks, and Hawk was suspended. In addition to that, Kerry Von Erich was arrested for forging drug prescriptions.

 

The Mountie and the Nasty Boys (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Bret Hart and the Natural Disasters

Pre-Match Thoughts: I know the latter team doesn’t make sense, but I can help people understand. The Disasters felt like they got screwed out of a tag title shot when DiBiase and IRS won them. So, they chased them out of the ring on TV and were turned babyface. I’m not a big fan of that, but with LOD temporarily out of the picture, the WWF had to do something. They actually thought LOD would be permanently out of it. The Mountie’s “new” music is my favorite thing ever. The Natural Disasters didn’t even slap people’s hands during their walk to the ring, they were terrible babyfaces. All six of these guys were managed by Jimmy Hart at some point.

Match Review: After a LONG period of stalling, and the Disasters chasing the Nasty Boys around the ring and beating them up, the actual match finally starts with Bret and Sags. Bret knocks him back into the corner so the Mountie tags in, and Bret hits him with an elbow to the face. Knobbs tags in, misses a charge to the corner, and in comes Earthquake. They shove each other, with Knobbs going down, and Quake squashes him in the corner. Sags runs in and gets that treatment too, then so does the Mountie. Bret kicks the Mountie in the face, then Knobbs and Sags eat boots too, clearing them from the ring. I liked those spots. The Nasty Boys and Mountie tease that they’re going to leave ringside, but they eventually come back down to the ring. Sags tries to bodyslam Typhoon, but the big guy clotheslines him. Bret tags back in, they do some sloppy brawling, and Bret gets thrown out to the floor. Mountie hits Bret in the gut with a chair, and into the steps Bret goes as well. Sags elbows Bret a few times when he gets back in there, and Knobbs drops some elbows as well for a 2 count. Mountie tags in for a flying back elbow, but Bret blocks a backdrop and makes his way out of there. Typhoon rushes in very slowly, and grabs the Mountie’s neck, until he blocks a sunset flip by sitting on him. Typhoon squashes Mountie in the corner with an avalanche, and follows that with a big splash. Earthquake tags in, signals for the BUTT SPLASH, and the Nasties run in there. After some awful brawling, the heels wind up on the outside, and decide to run to the back at 10:50.

My Thoughts: This was actually quite terrible, and I really regret checking it out. I could have done without watching this. Bret basically played the little buddy to the Disasters, and it sucked. The Disasters never should have been babyfaces, but the WWF didn’t have any choice at all in the matter. Their tag division got destroyed over the following few years. 1/2*.

 

– Taped to air February 22nd, 1992, on Superstars

 

THE UNDERTAKER SAVES ELIZABETH

http://www.wwe.com/videos/undertaker-saves-miss-elizabeth-from-a-backstage-attack-superstars-feb-15-1992-26149537

This was a great way to turn the guy face, and they needed to find one for the months after Hulk Hogan. Jake Roberts was at the curtain, READY TO STRIKE. They should have aired this on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Now what happened, was he wanted to take Elizabeth out with a chair. THE UNDERTAKER WAS THERE TO SAVE HER! Savage then clocks Roberts with a chair on the back, as the Undertaker just stands there holding the chair Roberts wanted to use. Very interesting!

 

– February 23rd, 1992, from Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York

 

The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) vs. The British Bulldog

Pre-Match Thoughts: This match was booked before the angle on Superstars aired, so of course, they had to do the match anyway. That’s the power of advertising, and some governments, like Florida’s, had a big problem with wrestling promotions constantly using false advertising. I’ve seen this before, but I don’t remember if it was any good.

Match Review: Taker attacks Davey even with his new babyface status, but misses a charge to the corner and Bulldog clotheslines him over the top. The flip and landing on feet is a great babyface spot for Taker and I’m glad he never dropped it. He snaps Bulldog’s neck on the top rope, and slowly makes his way back into the ring. After more choking from Taker, he puts his head down for a backdrop that gets blocked. Bulldog goes for the delayed vertical suplex, but instead tries a bodyslam when it’s blocked, with Taker falling on top for 2. Taker goes to choking once again, and Bulldog fires up to his feet for a dropkick. Taker throws him hard into the corner, and Davey takes a lesser version of Bret’s turnbuckle bump. Davey carries Taker across the ring and tries to drive him into the corner, but Taker is a complete no-selling machine tonight. Taker does miss an elbow drop, so Bulldog gives him his delayed vertical suplex! Taker sits right up, drops Bulldog with a HOTSHOT, and picks up the victory at 5:19.

My Thoughts: This was a squash, I’m quite surprised. Davey was a bit down the card, however. He only went up in stature because so many people left. Still didn’t expect to see that finish or the domination that Taker put on him. *.

 

20 MAN BATTLE ROYAL

Pre-Match Thoughts: Our participants here are Hercules, Sid Justice, the Undertaker, the British Bulldog, the Berzerker, Jim Brunzell, the Nasty Boys, Chris Walker, the Warlord, Roddy Piper (WWF Intercontinental Champion), Repo Man, the Bushwhackers, Big Boss Man, Skinner, the Berzerker, Kato, Rick Martel, Ric Flair (WWF Champion), and Hulk Hogan. This is actually a pretty good battle royal if I’m remembering right. Everyone got a full entrance to kill time!

Match Review: This thing starts, and I’m already wishing I didn’t review it. Piper and Hogan team up on Flair, as the era of the battle royal comes to an end. Boss Man nearly puts Martel over the top, but we have a lot of endless brawling otherwise. Sid hits Piper with Harvey Wippleman’s bowler hat, as Taker picks up Ric Flair for a choke. Taker and Sid face off in the center of the ring, and Butch gets eliminated by the Nasty Boys at about 2:31. For now, this is boring. Earl Hebner’s in the ring for some reason too. I’m sure that’ll come into play later. I guess I’m wrong, seeing as he left the ring. Hogan eliminates the Berzerker at 5:30, dumping him over the top quite easily. Piper backdrops Skinner out right after that, and Kato goes out too. Seems like we’re about to have a flurry of eliminations. Hercules and Hogan go after each other, and Hercules goes out as a result. Boss Man throws Martel out at 7:18, and it looks like Jim Brunzell was thrown out some time before that. Piper nearly throws the Undertaker out of there, and Flair’s now fighting with Hogan! Sid stops that elimination, and Hogan decides to eliminate Jerry Sags instead. Luke goes out thanks to the Undertaker, and the Warlord backdrops Chris Walker out of there. Sid misses a splash in the corner, and winds up ramming Knobbs into the canvas repeatedly. Shortly after that, Piper eliminates both Flair and Repo Man with a double clothesline at 9:45! Sid dumps Piper out just 21 seconds later, after clotheslining him from behind. Flair and Repo Man then beat Piper up on the outside, bringing some life to the match. Boss Man and Taker do battle by choking each other, and Sid kicks Knobbs to the outside, but not out of the match. That was funny. Hogan tries to backdrop Sid, but Sid kicks him in the face and gets away from the Hulkster. Taker misses a clothesline, so Boss Man dumps him out at 11:42! Bulldog and Sid wind up going at it, which I believe they do a few times in the coming years. Then, Sid tosses Bulldog out of there at 12:32. Hogan hits Knobbs with a big boot to send him out at 13:10, and a clothesline from Hogan gets rid of Warlord at 13:33. Sid backdrops Boss Man out right after that, and we’re down to two! IT’S TIME FOR SID AND THE HULKSTER TO DO BATTLE! Sid kicks Hogan a few times, but misses a splash in the corner! Now Hebner is in the ring again. What the hell? Hogan goes up the turnbuckles for some punches, and Hebner pulls him down. Sid then clotheslines Hebner and Hogan, taking Hebner out. When he gets up, Sid walks over and rams him into the turnbuckle. That’s fantastic. Sid chokes Hogan for a while, but eats a boot on a charge to the corner, and out he goes! However, the referee is down and out. So, Sid hits Hogan with a doctor’s bag, rolls Hogan out to the floor, and when the referee wakes up, he awards the match to Sid after 16:37!

My Thoughts: This match was terrible for the most part and nearly put me to sleep. The finish was very good, though. I thought it was extremely interesting and the easiest way to get Hogan to do any kind of job. Actually, I’m surprised I haven’t seen that before. *3/4 for the finish alone, but the match was totally dull and boring. Hogan’s promo after the bout was pretty funny.

 

– Taped to air February 29th, 1992, on Superstars, from the Civic Center in Amarillo, Texas

 

THE FUNERAL PARLOR WITH JAKE ROBERTS

 

This aired after the Undertaker’s turn, but I’m pretty sure that turn did not air in the arena. Bearer interviewing him about Randy Savage was quite interesting. After Roberts’ comments, the Undertaker’s music came on, only for him to walk out of a coffin instead of from the back. Roberts has a big problem with him because of the chair attack. He asks whose side Taker is on. “NOT YOUUUUURSSS” is the reply, so Roberts grabbed the urn. Bad idea. He puts it in the casket, and slams the coffin on Taker’s hand when he reaches in to grab the urn. Roberts locks the coffin, and gives Bearer THE DDT! Because the casket is locked, Taker can’t get his hand out of the casket. So, Roberts grabs a chair, and starts going to town on the Undertaker with it. Finally someone put Taker out! Taker does get up and drag the casket with him, but he takes more shots with the chair and more big right hands. Taker keeps going, and eventually that causes Roberts to have to run away from Frankenstein. Good confirmation of the turn, there. That was basically the end of the Funeral Parlor, too.

 

– Taped to air March 15th, 1992, on Wrestling Challenge, from the Auditorium in West Palm Beach, Florida

 

Roddy Piper and Bret Hart

 

This is one of my favorite WrestleMania build spots for any WrestleMania. They were working the babyface match thing really strong, and Bret carried a sign up to the interview podium that questioned Piper and Bret’s friendship. Interesting, you know. Piper and Bret then sit at the edge of the platform, and Piper says he doesn’t want to do this match. Piper then tells a store about Hart House, saying that Helen made the wrestlers some sandwhiches, and because of that, and his love for Bret’s mom, he can’t do the match. Bret then said that if Piper doesn’t do the match, the title will be forfeited and the belt will be his. Piper says that Bret doesn’t understand, and that if they have a match, he’s going to hurt him. After that moment, he’s playing for keeps. Bret wants to shake hands with him, and they do. Piper then lifts his title belt in the air and teases hitting Bret from behind with it, then he says he had Bret. Like I said, I really liked this. That being said, it’s no HHH home invasion angle.

 

– March 23rd, 1992, from Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York

 

Ric Flair (WWF Champion) and Sid Justice (w/Harvey Wippleman) vs. Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper (WWF Intercontinental Champion)

Pre-Match Thoughts: This was the last televised MSG house show card for years. Couldn’t have finished it with a better match, if you ask me. I mean, this is a king sized tag team match. Somehow, only 9,000 tickets were sold. It was also Hogan’s last MSG match for years. Basically, I think it was time for him to go. Before the match, we are informed that SHAWN MICHAELS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING! The weirdest thing about this is that none of these four men would be wrestling full-time anywhere at this point in 1993. Harvey Wippleman introduced Sid and did a good job. It’s so weird seeing Piper enter to Hogan’s music given how I started doing these reviews. Given their rivalry too, and how it launched the WWF to the next level. End of an era. Also, given Flair and Sid being Horsemen, this is like a WCW vs. WWF match.

Match Review: Flair and Sid stall to get some major heat on this match, and in the end, Piper and Flair will begin the match. They lock up and tumble into the corner, with a clean break and a WOOO going into Piper’s face. It happens again, and this time Piper slaps Flair! Piper shoulderblocks Flair to the outside, and Flair gets back in the ring just in time. Flair knees Piper in the gut and starts chopping him, but Piper comes back with punches to knock Flair down! Piper goes up the turnbuckles for some punches, and when Flair carries him out of the corner, Piper pokes him in the eye. Piper continues to assault Flair, putting him down with a backdrop. Piper follows with a knee lift, so Flair runs into the wrong corner, and Hogan takes a pop at him. Flair goes to the eyes again, tries a hip toss, and Piper reverses to a backslide that gets 2. Flair then goes upside down in the corner, and runs into Hogan’s boot on the apron! Crowd popped big for that spot. Hogan puts Flair back in the ring, and makes his tag in. Flair begs for forgiveness, and Sid wants in there. HERE WE GO. They talk trash to each other, until Sid knees Hogan in the gut. Sid keeps working him over, and puts Hogan down with a bodyslam. After more punishment, Hogan blocks a turnbuckle shot, and sends Sid into the buckles. Hogan clotheslines Sid in the corner, but gets hit with a big boot and knocked down. Hogan makes a blind tag out, and Piper provides a distraction for Hogan to slam Sid. Piper goes to work on the big guy, hitting him all over his body only to get no count on a cover. Sid then boots Piper, and takes him down with a headlock. Piper reverses to a head-scissors, so Sid kips up and clotheslines him. Sid gives Piper a backbreaker, and in comes Flair, who chokes Piper with the tag rope. Sid gets to do that too, then Flair covers Piper for 2 after a snap mare. Flair throws Piper to the floor, where Sid hits Piper with a chair! Piper gets in and trades bombs with Flair, then he hits Flair with a clothesline. Sid cuts Piper off from the tag, and slams him face-first into the mat. Sid gives Piper a neckbreaker, and heads up to the second rope only for Piper to hit him on the way down. Sid drives Piper back to the corner and tags out, with Flair giving Piper an inverted atomic drop. Flair decides to head up top, and Piper gets up to slam him down. Piper does a comical bit to make the tag, and there’s Hogan!

Hogan hits Flair with the big three punches, and follows with a backdrop. After some clotheslines, Hogan goes to hit Sid. Hogan hits Flair with a big boot and DROPS THE LEG, but Sid has the doctor’s bag and Wippleman is distracting the referee. Sid hits Hogan with it, puts Flair on top, and after some time, Hogan kicks out at 2. It’s no-selling time for the Hulkster. Hogan gives Flair an atomic drop, then Sid and Piper run in there. We have a brawl as Sid throws Hogan out of the ring, and Wippleman’s right there. Hogan doesn’t chase him, but he winds up in the ring with Flair, who isn’t paying any attention. Hogan clotheslines him, covers, and that’s it at 18:02.

My Thoughts: This wasn’t as good as I was hoping for, but I had fun watching it. The match had a lot of heat, and that carried it through the standard work on display. For Sid to be so big and have such weak looking moves seems very silly. Flair did most of the work here, as did Piper, and that’s about what you’d expect. **1/4, and it would have been nice if they’d kept televising these cards. There are lots of main events from them that sound like they were worth seeing.

 

– Taped to air March 29th, 1992, on March to WrestleMania, from Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi

 

Shawn Michaels (w/Sensational Sherri) vs. Roddy Piper (WWF Intercontinental Champion)

Pre-Match Thoughts: This was a tribute show to Hulk Hogan, who certainly made it sound like he was leaving the WWF during the events of the show. I assume the WWF wanted to make sure they had these two face each other before Piper left. Pairing Sherri with Michaels was as smart as it gets, it was a perfect match. This edition of Shawn’s music, with Sherri singing it, is the best version. Undoubtedly. Heenan whistling the music is quite funny. Also, before I forget, this is a non-title match.

Match Review: Sherri tries to seduce Piper for some reason, checking under his kilt. Then she nearly falls down laughing. Piper slaps her ass, and they get down to brass tacks. Not really. Shawn and Piper shove each other and start arguing, I dig this. Michaels and Piper lock up, and Piper winds up spitting in his opponent’s face. After another lock up, they push each other around, and Michaels slaps Piper. Piper returns the favor, and they resort to punches. Michaels takes Piper down with a cross body, but Piper reverses for 2. Michaels rolls through an atomic drop with a cradle that gets 2, then Piper catapults him into the post for 2! Great start. Sherri gets on the apron to slap Piper, and he kisses her as we head to a commercial!

Michaels clotheslines Piper over the top when we come back, then sends him into the steps. Michaels then leaps off the apron with a double axehandle onto him, and they start brawling! Michaels puts Piper into the rail, then sends him back inside for who knows what. Michaels covers for 2, and goes to a chinlock. Michaels hits Piper with a superkick when he gets out of it, and when Michaels goes for the his side suplex, Piper punches him in the eye. The guys then trade chops, and Piper sets Michaels up to crotch him on the top rope after three punts to the gut. Fantastic spot. Piper goes for a bulldog, but Michaels shoves him into the referee and follows with a clothesline. Sherri then takes her boot off, and Michaels wallops Piper with it. He covers, but the referee is down and out. Here comes Bret Hart! He runs down to the ring, and decides to give Piper Sherri’s boot! The referee wakes up, and he disqualifies Piper at 8:00, even though Piper didn’t hit Michaels with the boot. Piper then knocks Michaels over the top, and Piper is very angry at Bret. Bret was just trying to help him! Piper berates Bret, so Bret decides to take Piper’s belt and throw it at him.

My Thoughts: Despite the brevity, I thought this was pretty good. The start was hot as it gets, with the crowd buying into each near fall. At the end, with the Bret feud coming into play, I thought that was perfect. For Shawn to get this much offense against Piper was nice to see, and it was very obvious that he was going to be fantastic as a singles performer. ***, I loved it.

 

In addition to everything bad that had been going on, this is the time when Pat Patterson, Mel Phillips, and Terry Garvin got released over a sexual misconduct scandal. Honestly, it makes me sick to even think or talk about this. The allegations were made by ring attendants that were underage. One of the charges was settled and the ring attendant was given his job back, including back pay. Big companies always win. Patterson also played a joke on Billy Jack Haynes, and made him think he had a tryout with the WWF when he didn’t. Then Haynes went to the media and started airing all kinds of dirty laundry. Vince McMahon also went on Larry King Live with Bruno Sammartino and Barry Orton to talk about this stuff. I think the way business turned downward really says it all. Dave Meltzer’s story about the Phil Donahue show is a must read, by the way.

This being the WrestleMania build and all, I should list the original intended matches. One was Jim Duggan and Sgt. Slaughter challenging Money Inc. for their titles. Another one was Legion of Doom facing the Natural Disasters in a street fight. Marty Jannetty vs. Shawn Michaels also didn’t go down. Also, business before WrstleMania was great, even though things certainly didn’t stay great due to all the negative publicity. Lou Ferrigno was also rumored to be officiating the Hogan/Sid match. Imagine that. There was also the angle where Ric Flair claimed he had pictures of Elizabeth that he’d release at WrestleMania, but I couldn’t find anything pertaining to this. Next up, it’s time for SuperBrawl 2, with WCW somehow being a company that evaded all this scrutiny, in part because nobody cared about WCW.

Best: The WrestleMania press conference. Whoever thought of that did a great job.

Worst: That Bret Hart and the Disasters vs. Nasty Boys and Mountie match. Ugh.

Written by Sage Cortez

Sage is a boisterous Los Angeles sports fan. Unsurprisingly, like many other loudmouth LA fans, he also likes the Raiders and a range of combat sports.

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