Through the Years: NWA Great American Bash Tour 1986


Finally the time is upon me for the Great American Bash Tour! I have been awaiting this point of my reviews for some time. The angles heading in have been great, now I’ll be seeing if the matches are equal. The tour essentially serves the purpose of blowing off every current feud, of which there are many. If there are any current feuds left standing afterward, that will be a major surprise. Some of these matches are clips, but I don’t really care!


– July 1st, 1986, from Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Road Warrior Hawk (w/Paul Ellering) vs. Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship

Pre-Match Thoughts: There’s a lot to go over here. First, let’s go over the story of the first show on the tour. Supposedly the show was nearly shut down during the Wahoo McDaniel vs. Jimmy Garvin match. It was an outdoor show, filled with gimmick matches. On this show, Nikita Koloff won the first match of his Best of 7 Series with Magnum TA.

The video below will cover the build for this match. Hawk coming out to save a jobber, Horsemen taking the Road Warriors out in response, THAT WAS AWESOME. Animal got taken out with a spike piledriver on the floor…damn.


Match Review: Hawk and Flair have a staredown, with David Crockett giving his typically enthusiastic commentary during it He and Tony Schiavone are on commentary for this entire tape. Hawk shoves Flair down to the canvas, so Flair gets up and tries to run into Hawk, which does not work. Flair decides to take a breather, and when he gets back in, he and Hawk refuse to break at all. They trade chops, and Hawk gives Flair a big clothesline only to miss a leg drop. Flair follows with a suplex, and a cover which gets 2 as Hawk powers out. Hawk stomps on Flair in the corner, and gives Flair the BIG PRESS SLAM. Hawk is so physically imposing that people really do buy into the idea of him beating Flair, and it makes the match an event rather than just another match. Hawk then puts a headlock on Flair, which is one of the few things in Flair’s formula that I don’t like (babyface putting Flair in nothing holds). The headlock lasts for some time, until Flair gets press slammed again. Hawk tries to land a flying clothesline from the second rope, but misses and tumbles out of the ring. Flair rams Hawk into the ring and comes back inside of it, then gets some offense of his own with a knee drop. Cover gets 2. Flair gives Hawk a back suplex, and goes for the figure-four, which he shortly locks in and cheats during by grabbing the ropes. This has been a very quick transition to this part of the match, unusual for the typical Flair bout. The hold is shortly broken by Tommy Young, and Flair puts on a sleeper instead. The match has fallen apart for me since the headlock, but Flair tries his best anyway, and gets slammed off the top rope by Hawk. After a third press slam, Hawk lands a fist drop, and a hard clothesline. Cover gets 2. Hawk follows up with a powerslam, and slaps Flair back after that shit with the Horsemen. CONTINUITY. Hawk then accidentally shoulderblocks Tommy Young to the outside, and Hawk deals with Flair by catching him in mid-air and giving him…A HUGE BACKBREAKER. Flair is down for the count, and they do an unbelievable Dusty finish with Tommy Young being tossed into the ring and calling for the bell at 11:43, and Hawk obviously not winning. There was an enormous pop, but Young never counted the cover, and he gives the belt back to Flair. Hawk has been disqualified for accidentally running into the referee.

My Thoughts: This was basically the same stuff Flair did with other wrestlers during the time period, but to much lesser degree because Hawk wasn’t as good as those other wrestlers. The crowd clearly bought him as a champion, and I’m slightly bummed that he never got a big singles run, but it was probably for the best because the Road Warriors were a far bigger act than he could have been on his own. **1/2 for an average match, but I loved the build for it. The finish was absolutely foul, not even one of the better Dusty finishes. Moving on.


– July 5th, 1986, from Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina


Shaska Whatley (w/Paul Jones) vs. Jimmy Valiant in a HAIR VS. HAIR MATCH

Pre-Match Thoughts: I’m a sucker for hair matches. Especially with ones that have such ridiculous causes for a feud as these. That best black athlete line really made Whatley upset! These matches may be out of chronological order, I’ve noticed. David Crockett’s sell before this match of how good the tape is, is unnecessary. People already bought the thing by the time they saw you talking about it!

Match Review: Valiant’s gimmick is guilty pleasure shit. It’s SO BAD, but he gets in the ring and Whatley decides he’s going to beat the old white man up. Aw. Running a black heel in the South even at this point in time was a bit risky, it has to be said. Jones hits Valiant with his riding crop for a 2 count in Whatley’s favor, and Whatley tries a pin with his feet on the ropes, which gets spotted and stopped. Valiant starts his corny comeback, only for Jones to hit him in the gut or the head with his riding crop once again. Valiant is busted open now, and gets covered, but it’s only two. This match really sucks. Of course the black guy has a hard head too. Awful. HE’S GONNA HEADBUTT HIM TO DEATH DAVID. Whatley hangs Valiant (I should choose better words next time) over in the corner, and with the referee distracted, Jones chokes the babyface hero. A Valiant small package gets a 2 count, and Valiant is BOOGEYING UP ONCE AGAIN, only to get knocked down. Can this match please end? Whatley bites Valiant, and thwarts another comeback, getting a 2 count from EARL HEBNER. After another pin, Valiant forgets to kick out, which just…wow. WOW. I cannot believe they wouldn’t clip that off the tape. Whatley finally misses an elbow drop, Valiant comes back, and after knocking Jones off the ring apron, Valiant puts a sleeper on Whatley. The referee seems to be distracted, so BARON VON RASCHKE runs into the ring, and breaks up the sleeper. He puts on a LOADED GLOVE, so Manny Fernandez runs in to knock him out of the ring, and Valiant grabs the LOADED GLOVE. He hits Whatley with it, and pins him at 8:53.

A whole bunch of babyfaces then come out hold Whatley, and they SHAVE WHATLEY’S HEAD YES. Valiant calls out Paul Jones after the match, and does his best Goldberg impression. YOU’RE NEXT. Whatley’s reaction to losing his hair was amusing at least.

My Thoughts: What the hell, a babyface in JCP FINALLY WINS an important match. Too bad this important match was absolutely horrible. I’m trying to think of redeeming things about it, and I guess the head shaving was cool, but that wasn’t part of the actual match. -*, going to dip into the negatives here. That failed pin, with Earl Hebner having to stop counting, was BADLY business exposing, and the match was really terrible.


– July 26th, 1986, from Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina


Paul Jones (w/Baron Von Raschke) vs. Jimmy Valiant in a HAIR VS. HAIR MATCH

Pre-Match Thoughts: Hopefully this hair vs. hair match is a better one. I expect that it will be. Whatley’s performance in the last match was brutal, I thought.

Match Review: This is joined in progress, which is a REALLY GOOD THING. It starts with Valiant busted open, and he hits Jones with a spike. YES. That’s revenge, brother. Valiant lands an elbow drop, then Baron gets on the apron with the LOADED GLOVE, and he throws it to Jones. Valiant has one of his own, and hits Jones with it first. The referee doesn’t count, and this time when Manny Fernandez runs in, SHASKA does too, and whacks Valiant with a chair. He puts Jones on top for the count, and Jones wins the match! HAHA.

Fernandez is super pissed, but it doesn’t matter, and it’s time for Valiant to get his head shaved. A few guys come in to try to stop this, and they plead with Hebner about it. Valiant then decides amidst this whining that he’s going to take his HEAD SHAVING LIKE A MAN. I don’t remember the last time I saw a babyface do that, but Whatley’s minstrel dancing on the outside of the ring is fucked up for sure.

My Thoughts: This was much more worth checking out than the other match. The look on Valiant’s face during his hair being shaved off was amazing, like seriously. If he was a better worker, younger, you could make a huge babyface out of that guy. No rating for the match as the clip was nowhere near long enough, but it was a really good angle, and probably the proper payoff. Moving on to another match from the same date…


Ron Garvin (w/Wahoo McDaniel) vs. Tully Blanchard (W/JJ Dillon) in a TAPED FIST MATCH for the NWA National Heavyweight Championship

Pre-Match Thoughts: Great feud with a gimmick match to blow it all off. THAT’S THE NWA WAY BRO. There’s no way this can be as good as their straight up wrestling match, or the angle where Garvin’s hand was broken, but I’m really looking forward to watching this clip. 10 3 minute rounds, apparently. I’m not looking forward to it so much now.

Match Review:

Round #1: Tully tried to attack Garvin at the start, and got backdropped, then knocked out cold. The match had not officially started, though. I think Garvin should have went over right at this point, to be really honest. Garvin attacks Tully a whole bunch more, and they do a stupid boxing style count, each time Garvin knocks Tully down. Wahoo chasing JJ away from the corner near Tully was a nice touch. Tully swung at the official, and got beaten up again. Tully is busted open now, and can hardly even stand up. That’s the end of the round.

Round #2: Tully tried to rush Garvin after that round, but got punched in the face during the rest period. That was funny. Garvin commences a beatdown after that, and doesn’t really care about the rules, which frankly, are stupid. Tully threatens to hit the referee after that, and gets beaten down to the canvas again. Okay I think this match needs for something different to happen. Round over.

Round #3: JJ Dillon is re-taping Tully’s hand over in the corner, and throws water on his charge. Garvin finally makes a mistake, and gets pulled into the turnbuckle. Good! Tully finally has some control of Garvin, and I think this got clipped at some point. Tully opens Garvin up with a few of these shots, and heads up to the top rope…but the two men collide with each other. Garvin and Tully shortly tumble to the outside, where Wahoo gives Tully an ATOMIC DROP INTO GARVIN’S FIST. Big pop for that. End of the round.

Round #4: Tully crawls back into the ring at the beginning of the round, and gets beaten up once more. JJ sneakily throws something in towards Tully after blinding Wahoo with some water, and here comes the SHENANIGANS. Tully punches Garvin with the foreign object, which knocks Garvin out for the big victory at around 11:10.

My Thoughts: This was a good gimmick (taped fist) with poor rules (boxing style rounds). I don’t see why this couldn’t have been a normal wrestling match with both wrestlers having taped fists. So, taking everything into consideration, the guys worked a decent match and did what they could with the rules that hamstrung them. If they wanted to goof it up, they could have done a taped fist + cage type of deal. **, as the blowoff match was less than this amazing feud deserved.


– July 5th, 1986, from Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina


The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering) vs. Nikita & Ivan Koloff in a DOUBLE RUSSIAN CHAIN MATCH

Pre-Match Thoughts: Ah, gimmick match to the maximum! The reason why these two teams are feuding is quite obvious. They’re big, powerful, and over as it gets. They had been attacking each other on and off TV for a long time, and in my last NWA related article, I shared some things about the feud. I don’t understand why these are “Russian chains” though. That doesn’t make any sense!

Match Review: Ivan is tied to Animal via the chain, and Nikita to Hawk. It’s a tornado tag team match, so it may be a bit confusing for me to keep up. Perhaps, due to the nature of the match, it would be more easy for me to give a more brief explanation. The Road Warriors controlled both of the Russians at the start, and I’ve noticed that the two guys given singles chances on the tour are the ones chained together (Nikita and Hawk). After a chain shot from Animal, Ivan gets some color, quite a lot of it in fact. A spot Hawk does where he crotches Nikita with the chain gets a lot of love from the crowd, as does Animal choking Ivan with the chain. Nikita and Hawk decided to brawl on the grass for a bit, but that didn’t last for long as Ivan is asking for help. He gets the help, and Animal gets double teamed for a little bit. Then Hawk does, until he comes back at Nikita with a flying shot from the top rope. We near our finishing bit as Tommy Young takes a spill to the outside along with Hawk, and Nikita gives Animal a big clothesline that should have been for the win, but it didn’t happen. Then, Ivan climbs to the top, and gets pushed off that rope by Paul Ellering, getting crotched on the top rope. Animal nails Nikita somewhere in there, and gets the pinfall win at 5:40 for the Road Warriors.

Of course, the Russians have to get some heat back, and they do so as we notice that Nikita has become unhooked from his chain. He takes out Animal and Ellering, but HAWK THE SINGLES SUPERSTAR MAKES THE SAVE… until he is given a chain clothesline by the two Russians. Animal bounces back to clear the ring, and I guess that’s that.

My Thoughts: This was nothing spectacular, and certainly not befitting of the feud. However, the apparent clip of the match was a good thing, as it was truncated to the length that it really needed to be, and no further. No complaints here. *1/2.


– July 26th, 1986, from Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina


The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Arn Anderson: NWA TV Champion) vs. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express

Pre-Match Thoughts: Unfortunately before this match, a HORRENDOUS video is shown of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express either singing or not singing, I can’t really tell. This HAS TO BE good. Ole and Arn look so grizzled, so imposing, and so much more experienced than Morton and Gibson. In reality, their opponents have been in the business for longer than Arn, and are both older than Arn!

Match Review: Ole and Gibson will start things off, and struggle over who will get control of who. Arn tags in after that little bit, and takes down Gibson with a hard shoulderblock. Then he shouts at Morton, and gets dropkicked by Gibson. Ole comes in and eats one too, and the Express beats them both up to clear the ring to big cheers. Arn really wants Morton to get in the ring, so he does, and Arn is making fun of Morton’s formerly busted nose. After all that, Morton ducks under Arn and trips him, then gives him a DDT. Arn takes a breather in the very spacious ringside area, and comes back in only to tag out. Morton quickly slams both Andersons, only to get taken out from behind as Ole Anderson tends to do. He stomps directly on Morton’s nose, and Arn drags Morton to the outside to punch him in the nose. Ole follows with a PALM TO THE FACE, and continually cross-faces Morton up against the ropes. Arn tags in and lands some punches, then tosses Morton over the ropes while the referee isn’t looking. That’s how you thwart these NWA RULES. Ole wraps the neck strap of a camera around Morton’s nose while the referee is distracted, then tosses Morton back into the ring. Ole tags in and lands a knee to Morton’s shoulder from the top rope, and the announcer says that three minutes remain. Well, a lot got clipped here, clearly. Still great stuff so far. Morton tries to break free from Ole’s armbar, but gets tripped while trying to make the tag. Arn tags in, and slams Morton, then lands a knee drop. Cover gets 2. Arn throws Morton to the outside, but Morton comes back in and rams his head into the turnbuckle. Up top Morton goes, down he comes with a bodypress, but it only gets 2 on Arn. Arn tries to corner Morton, but Morton fights his way out, and Arn misses a charge to the corner. At around the 30 second point, Morton makes the tag, and Gibson goes crazy. Too little, too late, though. Gibson tries to put a sleeper on Arn, but the bell rings to signal the end of the match due to a 20 minute time limit draw. The Andersons continue to beat up Morton, but Gibson runs in, and clocks the Andersons with a chair, forcing them to leave.

My Thoughts: This was a brilliant match, possibly even better if not clipped. The match was apparently supposed to name #1 contenders for the Midnight Express and their tag team championship. However, that did not happen. Still, fun to watch, between two teams who had great chemistry with one another. ***, because it was clipped, unfortunately.


Magnum TA vs. Nikita Koloff (w/Ivan Koloff) in Match #4 of a Best of 7 Series for the NWA United States Championship

Pre-Match Thoughts: The story background is in my previous article, but that does not cover any of the series. Heading into Greensboro, Nikita is ahead 3-0, and nobody thinks that he can be beaten. This is an extremely well booked series, as we all know, but unfortunately not all of it was taped for television or video tape to my knowledge. I would love for the WWE Network people to find it all and upload it all. Magnum is over huge, perhaps bigger than Dusty.

Match Review: The two men do a staredown before the match, and it helps get the crowd into things straight away. Tension is high, because Magnum has to win. He just has to, doesn’t he? Magnum comes off the ropes with a hard forearm to Nikita’s jaw, and Nikita replies a minute or so later by putting Magnum in a hairlock after a sly hair pull. Magnum tried to change things into a wristlock, but Nikita got the better of that of course. His strength has to be exhibited. Magnum reverses into a hammerlock, but Nikita drives him into the corner and charges his shoulder in multiple times. Nikita follows by dropping Magnum throat-first onto the top rope, and with a back elbow.

Quite obviously the tape is clipped, because Magnum is bleeding now. I don’t know how either. Nikita slams him for 2, and tosses Magnum to the outside. Magnum crawls back in, only to be thrown out once again, right near Ivan Koloff. Looks like somebody’s going to get beaten up. In and then out Magnum goes, and it looks like he got wiped out on the bump he took. He struggles back up to the ring apron, and tries a sunset-flip. Nikita holds the ropes to keep Magnum from getting that to work, but Tommy Young steps in and kicks Nikita’s hands off the ropes, so Magnum gets the win after his sunset-flip at 7:28 shown! HE’S BACK IN THE SERIES, TONY. Crowd went completely insane for that pinfall.

My Thoughts: What a perfectly booked finish. I can’t think of any better in this company as of yet. Magnum went over clean, but not too strong to keep himself established as the distinct underdog. That was necessary. It also kept Nikita super strong because Magnum was not able to do anything to him in the match. ** for what was shown, I would like to see more in this series, and certainly I will.


– July 5th, 1986, from Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina


The Midnight Express & Jim Cornette (w/Big Bubba Rogers) vs. Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, & Baby Doll in a STEEL CAGE MATCH

Pre-Match Thoughts: This is another match that has to be entertaining at the very least. I’m a little worried that some heavy violence against women type stuff will trickle in here. Hopefully not, but I’m ready for it and expect it. That’s most likely what will happen, after all. This is the type of star studded gimmick match that the Great American Bash Tour was made for. I wonder how much the participants in this match were paid for what they were about to do. I bet Baby Doll wasn’t getting a big paycheck.

Match Review: Cornette wants to fight with Baby Doll at the start, but instead Baby Doll gives Eaton an arm drag. Eaton then takes a great bump into the cage, and Cornette teases climbing out of the cage. Eaton and Magnum will fight I suppose, as the other participants are over in a corner. So, no tornado stuff. Eaton slaps Magnum a few times, only to be powerslammed. Magnum does the same to Condrey, and the heel team decides to huddle up for a moment.

Obviously the tape is clipped to Cornette missing an elbow drop and Magnum making a tag to Dusty, but Magnum tags in again very quickly. Eaton rams him into the cage, and Magnum has been opened up. Eaton heads up to the top of the cage, and comes down with a punch to Magnum’s head. Condrey covers for 2, and into the cage the bloody Magnum goes again. Magnum is taking a real beating in the middle of the ring, but when Eaton heads to the top of the cage this time, he misses his punch and gets clocked in the face. Magnum tries a sunset-flip, but it gets broken up by Dusty. Baby Doll rushes across the cage to beat up Cornette, and Baby Doll punches him in the face. Then she pins him, and wins, at 6:30. HAHAHAHA.

The Midnight Express no-sell their loss and leave the cage ASAP, which is pretty cool. But it turns out Big Bubba has a plan of his own and wants to fight Dusty. Dusty heads to the outside for that fight, and the Midnight Express attack from behind. IT WAS A PLAN ALL ALONG. Cornette locks Magnum and Baby Doll in the ring while Big Bubba kicks Dusty’s ass, then the heels get beer and stuff rained down on them. Magnum breaks out of the cage, but it’s too late. Aw.

My Thoughts: Great post-match, which got Big Bubba over, well, big. And he’s so green, but nobody could possibly know! This wasn’t a spectacular match or anything, but it gave the fans the payoff they wanted. Nobody can complain about that. * for Magnum’s bleeding, but this didn’t resemble much of a wrestling match. It was basically nothing at all.


– July 26th, 1986, from Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina


Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair in a STEEL CAGE MATCH for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship

Pre-Match Thoughts: Well, these people in Greensboro are certainly getting a dandy of a card. I mean, how could it get any better? A strap match, a hair match, a taped fist match, two cage matches, part of a best of 7, and oh yeah, the Express vs. the Wrecking Crew. It really could not get better. The feud speaks for itself and does not really need further discussion. It is the biggest feud that the promotion ever had. As with all NWA cage matches, it is pinfall rules.

Match Review: Flair struts around the ring for some time, until Dusty starts doing it, which gets him upset. Dusty fights his way out of the corner, and Flair wants to bail, but he cannot. Dusty and Flair exchange holds, and when a woman shouts something from the crowd at Flair, he shouts right back. Dusty takes Flair down with a wristlock, then Dusty turns it into an armbar. Very slow beginning. Dusty takes Flair down with a shoulderblock, and a hip-toss for good measure. Flair bumps off a chop, and retreats to the corner as per his usual. Unfortunately for him, after being whipped into the corner, Dusty gives him a press slam. Dusty puts Flair in a sleeper, but Flair reaches the ropes. No surprise there. Dusty drags him to the middle of the ring, and drops an elbow for 2. I don’t think anyone in the crowd believes that Dusty can actually win. Flair catches Dusty in the gut, finally getting in some offense, and sends Dusty into the cage. After another one, Dusty is bleeding. You know, despite the scars on his face, I haven’t seen Dusty in a ton of matches where he bleeds. Maybe I’m too young. Anyway, Flair drops a knee for 2, and starts grinding Dusty’s face into the steel fence. Flair starts working on Dusty’s leg now, the left one in fact. Nice double stomp there. Flair goes for the figure-four now, and LOCKS IT IN. Kinda early in the match, no? Only 10 minutes gone. Dusty hilariously reverses it, and things wind up in the ropes. By hilariously, I mean with his hand movements and stuff. I can’t stop laughing, but Flair rakes Dusty’s bloody eye across the top rope. I’m glad this match isn’t extremely high paced because it’s allowing me to enjoy it more. Flair lands some hard chops, and tries to line Dusty up for a shot, but Dusty gives him a clothesline for 2. Flair tries to climb out of the cage which makes no sense in the context of the match, but Dusty rams Flair into the top of the fence. Flair runs away again, and like I said, this doesn’t really make sense, but Dusty rams Flair into the cage now. That made sense! Flair uses the blade extremely liberally there, and he’s busted open. That was kinda obvious! Into the cage Flair goes again, and Dusty starts working on Flair’s leg. That’s a change. Flair tries to climb out, which now makes sense, but Dusty pulls him back in by his trunks. Dusty now knocks Flair down onto the top rope, which crotches him, and the crowd is going a bit crazy now. Dusty tries to punch Flair, but misses and punches the cage. Speaking as somebody who broke their finger punching a fence on accident…that hurts. Flair heads up to the top now, and Dusty slams him off the top rope. Dusty locks in the FIGURE-FOUR, but Flair makes the rope and screams. Good selling. Dusty follows with some MACHINE GUN CHOPS, and Flair tries a backslide, but Dusty gets it first. It got a 2 count. Dusty lands another big clothesline and drops an elbow, for 2. Fans are starting to believe, but they’ve been burned many times before. Flair tries to climb out of the cage yet again, and jumps off the top rope with a bodypress, and it gets 2. Dusty then rams Flair into the fence and follows with a roll-up for 2. Dusty lands a back elbow now, and tries another elbow drop, but he misses. Good stuff here. Flair now goes for a slam, and Dusty cradles him…TO WIN THE TITLE at 21:04! The crowd went insane, and he’s REALLY the champion after all this time.

A host of babyface wrestlers, all his buddies go into the ring to celebrate, and that’s the end of the tape!

My Thoughts: This was the best match between the two that I’ve seen. It was well paced, and while it did have some bits of psychology that didn’t make sense to me, it was a really good bout. Obviously title changes of this kind were very rare in JCP, but this one was real, and there was no screwy finish at all. Finally the chase was over…but as we know that didn’t last for an extremely long time. Dusty would not want that. Still, an excellent capper to what looked like a great tour. ***1/4, recommended.


So, what a tape! It captured the angles of the time perfectly, and didn’t cut down the matches to nothingness. I bet there were many more great matches on this tour, but there’s only so much tape to put it on. I’m not rating the cards or tour, but rather the tape. There’s no way I could know everything from the tour. Next up, I’ll be reviewing WWF Matches from June through August, and then the Big Event! Anything from this tour which was not on the tape, I will review as part of my next NWA related article if possible.

Best: Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair. Good title change, nothing special due to some lapses in psychology, but worth checking out.

Worst: Jimmy Valiant vs. Shaska Whatley. Awful match.

Tape Rating: 10/10. Find me a better, officially released comp tape from the 80’s. That may be very difficult!


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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