PWG Tango & Cash Invitational Night One 1/24/2004

Written by: Arnold Furious

Having crowned a PWG singles champion in August of 2003 PWG decided they’d hold a little tag team tournament the following January over two nights to determine their tag team champions. The tournament boasted a huge array of North American talent including the Havana Pitbulls, Hero & Punk, Samoa Joe & Puma, Super Dragon & American Dragon, Homicide & B-Boy and a load of local stars like the X-Foundation and the Ballards. You’ll notice there are very few established teams competing, which is one weakness of the tournament but there’s still a lot of talent involved.

We’re in Santa Ana, California. The ring announcer is Justin X. Roberts. The version I have is frustratingly devoid of commentary, which is the only reason for watching most of the early bouts. Curses. The crowd is also disappointingly small.

Phoenix Star/Zokre v Quicksilver/Chris Bosh

This is billed as Cheech & Chong’s the Corsican Brothers v Batman & Robin. With the exception of Bosh this is an entirely lucha-esque opener. They try their best to avoid the more convoluted spots and instead go for some countering. Most of it’s ok but as soon as they go to the convoluted stuff it’s abundantly clear that everyone in this match is green as hell. The Zokre-Bosh stuff is even more painful to watch. Lucha is horribly convoluted and awful if you suck at it. And these guys suck at it. Bosh fucks up everything he attempts only compensating with the odd improvisation from a more impressive move he failed to do. Star comes in and now Bosh has given up making anything look believable just standing there waiting for Star to run into him for a rope assisted armdrag. Go to Lucha School. Now. The Dark Knight and his running buddy isolate Star. Quicksilver is more interesting in arguing with a particularly gobby ringside fan. I miss commentary. Bosh decides to do something more in his league by chinlocking Star a bit before hitting a fisherman suplex for 2. Ok, bored now. Star gets his arm worked over some more. He does a couple dozen flips and then Zokre flips in as well. Star is too fucking stupid to tag out and gets caught in a jumping armbreaker. Quicksilver with a lousy standing moonsault. Star tries to come back with some flipping as TEN MINUTES go by. Tag out, you fucking Muppet. Zokre finally gets the hot tag minus the heat. Star promptly stars no selling the huge beating he just took. Yeah, way to waste my time and everyone else’s. Zokre breaks out the HIGH SPOT by moonsaulting to the floor. Bosh takes over on Star with a sloppy urinage for 2. Zokre flips back into the ring and then flips over Bosh for adding flipping. Quicksilver breaks out a SICK bulldog DDT…for 2. WHAT THE FUCK? This is the OPENING FUCKING MATCH. Quicksilver hits a spinebuster for the pin. WHAT? ¼*. Contrived, spotty with no selling or psychology. A fine example of how bad Indy spot-fu wrestling can get especially when the majority of the participants aren’t even any good at their chosen movesets. In this case lucha. Probably the worst match I’ve seen in PWG to date.

The X Foundation (Joey Ryan/Scott Lost) v M-Dogg 20/Jardi Frantz Babi Slymm

Oh good lord. This isn’t going to get any better. That goofball Joey Fan gets some X-Foundation love. M-Dogg says Jardi is high or something so he’s replaced by Babi Slymm. Well I guess it couldn’t get any worse than Jardi. Crowd is more interesting in seeing M-Dogg break-dance. At least he can do that I suppose. It’s no Donny Dance Off. Immediately this match has a better story than the last one as Babi overpowers Joey on the opening lock up. Ryan thinks he can’t hack it and tags Lost who just bounces off on a shoulderblock. The X-Foundation uses double teams to get Babi over but he’s still got too much power. M-Dogg gets a tag but Lost is ok with speed and AAAARRRRRMdrags him over. They focus the left arm and Joey is all about the Andersons with a Hammerlock Slam. In comes Lost for the Superman Spear in the corner. If these guys are the X-Foundation does that make them mutants? Do they have wiggy special powers like breathing underwater or seeing through walls? Or delivering hammerlock slams? Now that’s a power you can use. Unfortunately they don’t have any superpowers that work against the size of Babi Slymm. Babi starts pounding the lower back to wear Lost down and then he dances to prove his superiority over those X-Bitches. I see Joey is jealous he doesn’t have any mutant dancing ability. Babi is having way too much fun goofing around out there. M-Dogg is bringing the serious with lots of flipping and whatnot. He’s a gymnast though and I find that very frustrating because he can hit these triple flippy moves but he can’t even make the lateral press look convincing afterwards. Babi just about manages a leapfrog legdrop. M-Dogg must be strong to boost him up for that. M-Dogg swats away and misses, I hate that shit it always looks fake, and then Lost misses a forearm by about a foot. Mainly because M-Dogg had already back bumped it. Lost stupidly tries to slam Babi. Oh, Scotty, when will you learn? Joey in and he tries to choke Babi out. Nearly gets him too but he can’t get enough weight behind it. Babi belly to bellies him into the turnbuckles. That’s what you get bitch. Ryan escapes a wind up and tries to slam Babi who falls on top for 2. When will you X-guys learn? You don’t have super strength. Although that would be cool. Just one hand chokeslam everyone. Babi has a match with the ropes on his way up top. If you’re not comfortable getting up there then don’t go! Of course it’s the set up for Ryan to hit a swinging neckbreaker off the top but why not just hit the move on M-Dogg instead? Lost gets a tag and starts throwing crazy kicks on M-Dogg who sells them with flip bumps. Unnecessary. M-Dogg with the Wonderwhirl for 2. Erm, isn’t Jonny Storm on this show? Man, he’ll be pissed off. Yeah, Jonny he just lifted your finisher and it wasn’t even the finish. Joey finally manages to summon enough strength to slam Babi and Lost adds in the Savage Elbow for the winning pinfall. **. It had some reasonable ideas running behind the action but it was WAY too long for what it was. The slam attempts were kinda fun but was there really any need for the long heat segments? This crowd doesn’t want to see heat. It doesn’t react to it.

Hardkore Inc (Hardkore Kid/Al Katrazz w/El Jefe) v Havana Pitbulls (Rocky Romero/Ricky Reyes)

Hardkore Inc are pretty big guys. Well over six feet tall each. Aguilera “shoots” on the PWG bookers calling them “ambiguously gay”. He runs his mouth for ages. Basically all he says are his opponents are midgets. He promises to elevate the Pitbulls to towel boys if they just come out here and forfeit. Reyes throws a lot of early kicks. Katrazz is left beating Romero down, which would be fine if Katrazz wasn’t so bland. The Pitbulls hit him with a Sidewinder. HK back in and Reyes kicks and knees him some more. Reyes with some lame lucha armdrags. Romero flies in with a kick but HK just boots him back down. Sort it out ref. This is officially a clusterfuck. Reyes gets picked off and Katrazz looks worse the more he does. It’s a case of the big muscleman mentality where they want to attempt more beyond flat out power moves and think hitting suplexes and stuff makes them look more rounded. Except it doesn’t. It just undermines people who hit suplexes really well. He can’t bump either, which is ably demonstrated by Reyes clipping him with a spin kick. He falls out of the ring. He tries to come back in with a slingshot shoulderblock but misses by about 4 foot. Reyes dropkicks him but barely connects because he doesn’t come far enough over the ropes. Romero in and he catches HK in an armbar, which is sweet but the ref has lost control so Katrazz just strolls in to break it. Get a grip ref. He just lets all of them hang around in the ring. Reyes & HK fuck up an Irish whip. Another sidewinder, this time for HK, and a move that barely did anything in the opening minute finishes now. *1/4. I’d have been quite happy with just seeing 60 seconds of that. Sometimes clipping DVD releases is acceptable! There hasn’t been anything worth seeing in full so far.

Excalibur/Jonny Storm v Bryan Danielson/Super Dragon

Babyface Excalibur? What happened to continuity? Apparently he’s from England this evening although he has a bizarre Australian accent. The Dragons are representing “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey”. Crowd chants “Double Dragon” instead. Danielson is in full on dick heel mode, which is FANTASTIC news because he’s teaming with the only guy in America who does it better than him. Dragon & Excalibur hug to show where their real allegiances lie. They start out with a technical mat display. Dragon is surprisingly pleasant even considering his friendship with Excalibur. It’s also very pretty because they’re such good buddies away from the ring and they’re both pretty smooth. Excalibur tries for a Tiger Driver but can’t get it so Danielson tags in. Some fan mouths off so Danielson bails to get in his face. Super Dragon bails as well to tell Danielson to punch the fan in the face. HAHA. I love that guy. Danielson takes it out on Excalibur instead with some harsh chops and they must be to sound that loud through the top he’s wearing. Danielson tries to remove the mask, no wait, the nose. My bad. “Jonny, help me”. Danielson wraps Excalibur’s leg over his head then wrenches back on both arms and good fucking God. Excalibur is twisted up like a pretzel. Super Dragon comes in, sympathetic perhaps, NO; KICK TO THE BOLLOCKS! THAT’S the Super Dragon I know and love. Storm finally manages to get a tag. He’s quite popular presumably for his work in CZW. He tries to outwrestle Danielson standing which doesn’t work because Danielson headbutts him. Danielson controls from then on with armlocks as if to say “try and fly now, cocknose”. Storm tries to arm ringer counter so Danielson elbows him in the FACE and mount with punches. They run the headstand spot until Danielson decides he’d much rather SMOTHER Storm. Awesome. Storm is occasionally lifting Johnny Saint stuff in there, which is always fun to watch. Dragon in and he’s more than willing to let Storm fly around as long as he can to, which makes for a crazy 30 seconds or so until Dragon has had enough and slaps the taste out of Storm’s mouth. Tags! That was cool. Excalibur gets slingshot into a pieface and Dragon comes in with a double stomp over the knees for 2. Danielson slaps Excalibur around a bit and Dragon is in. CURB STOMP~~~! That gets 2. Danielson in with a butterfly suplex for 2. Excalibur has taken a thrashing in this one. Storm runs in so Dragon hits the missile dropkick into a senton on the already fallen Excalibur. He ducks the lariat though and pops back up with LARIATOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Damn, he hits a mean lariat. Storm in with a blown sunset flip into a near fall on Danielson. They were ok after the initial fuck up. Danielson tries for the wheelbarrow suplex but gets countered into a DDT for 2. Diving headbutt gets 2 for Danielson. Storm is hitting stuff here as a fluke. WONDERWHIRL! Dragon saves. He tags in and hits the Tiger Suplex for 2. Bridge seemed to collapse. Storm comes back with a Rydien bomb for 2. Excalibur tries to lariat Dragon off the top rope, which doesn’t look right. Storm adds in a SUPER RANA and Dragon doesn’t quite get over HEAD SPIKING IT. And you know Danielson has to save. Double STO from the faces gets 2. Dragon is barely kicking out now after that head drop. Excalibur wants his finish but Dragon sandbags him. Storm hits a HUGE plancha on Danielson to keep him out of it but in the ring Dragon counters the already tired Excalibur into the PSYCHO DRIVER for the hot finish. ***1/2. Great stuff. Very little selling but great impact stuff and stretches. The Double Dragon team has to one of my favourites ever for the SHEER dick heel nature of the team. I’m thrilled they advance. I hope they win.

POST MATCH Danielson invites a few fans into the ring for a fight. Super Dragon gets in the way the fan makes the mistake of swinging at him. “Oh” – the cameraman. Dragon has to be restrained by THREE security guys. Luckily for the fan the one security guy is HUGE. Meanwhile a bunch of younger wrestlers run in and attack Excalibur. Dragon is suitably pissed and gets back in to defend him. It’s all the worthless faggots out of the first match. This is probably revenge for the Excalibur “99 Problems” promo. Don’t know it?

Watch here.

Disco Machine makes the save with what appears to be a shiv. “Lisa, go cut me a switch”.

The Ballard Brothers v Samoa Joe/Puma

The Ballards predictably represent the movie Twins. The other team represent Lilo & Stitch. I suspect Joe is Stitch. Puma is Pinoy Boy who’s a regular without his mask in PWG. Referee here is Jabberjaw. Puma starts with one of the Ballards and fucks up a quebrada or some such springboard move landing at, let’s say Shannon’s, feet. Crowd is totally unresponsive. They desperately want Joe. The crowd is basically dead because of how awesome the last match was and this just won’t be in its league. It’s a common PWG problem. They seem to put out a great match about 4 into the card and whatever follows it has no chance. But they don’t seem to have the common sense to keep whatever match that is short. Joe gets a tag and just kills both Ballards dead. Shane takes the S.T.Joe swiftly follows by the kick, chop and elbow drop. Joe is however in the mood to sell for Shannon, for whatever crazy reason, probably due to Shane being dead. Shannon has to drag him out of the ring. Joe seems content for the time being and let’s Puma come in to fuck around. Sadly he’s picked off for a heat segment that this match just didn’t need. It’s just so boring and predictable and chinlock-heavy. Puma hits a belly to belly and Joe is back in to finish this off. Dragon suplex finishes quickly moments later. ½*. Just a total heatless squash with Joe pretty much single handedly mangling the other far inferior team with ease.

Disco Machine/Rising Sun v Strongstyle Thugs (Homicide/B-Boy)

No idea why Disco and Excalibur were split up for the tournament. Justin X. Roberts gets the pleasure of being the guy to hold up Disco’s ball. Rising Sun is a SoCal regular who likes to fly. I saw him do a crazy spotfest against Super Dragon on an XPW show (Scene of the Crime). Disco has taken to wrestling without his mask now. Sun pops off rana’s and blows one in horrible fashion fucking up the jump onto B-Boy’s shoulders and they re-do the spot blowing it the second time just to make it look totally awful. Disco decides to save it by tagging in. Homicide comes in and he means business immediately cutting the ring off. Disco gets evens from the opening exchange though and dropkicks ‘Cide outside before following with a dive. Homicide isn’t impressed with the showboating that follows and kicks Disco in the face. Disco Sun try to pick Homicide off but Sun is way too flippy and his bouncing around is actually a detriment to his team’s approach. Takes the focus away. Homicide gives him a belly to belly and brings in B-Boy to kick at him. Strongstyle DDT connects but B-Boy looks unconcerned by Sun’s total lack of movement. You CAN win by pinfall dumbass? The fans are more entertained by fucking with the ref’s count and shouting out random numbers during his ten count. Homicide sticks his knee in and B-Boy powerbombs Sun over it for 2. Why not just pin when he’s dead from the DDT then? Superplex gets 2. Sun gets messed up with a series of kicks finished by two sets of fashwashes. Yikes. Pin should really be elementary but Sun kicks out because B-Boy is too slow covering. B-Boy breaks out the Border City Stretch. It occurs to me Sun may have looked good on that XPW show because everyone else looked so bad. Sun gets himself spinal tapped and Homicide is just ruthless here. He should really be able to finish. Sun would be prone to any of his finishing holds (Cop Killer, Avalanche Ace Crusher, lariat). Sun instead takes back over and hits a Swanton. Why does Homicide have to wrestle differently depending on the promotion? I never got that. Surely enough people know him. Disco & Sun hit a double team chokeslam/powerbomb for 2. The ref loses all control and just let’s double teaming occur. Sun hits a sloppy Piggyback Stunner but Homicide Yakuza kicks him. Disco slams him but B-Boy is back up for one of his drivers. The mess continues until Homicide dropkicks Disco’s legs away and B-Boy hits the Shining Wizard for the pin. **. Rising Sun looked pretty bad in this one. Plus Homicide’s approach seemed weird. Far less aggression than usual. The Thugs should have gone over with less trouble.

Sara Del Ray/Apollo Khan v Iron Saints (Sal/Vito Thomaselli w/Sir Samurai)

Sara is here for the Intergender action. Vito gets jeered for anything he does against Sara regardless of whether it’s a legitimate move or not. Everything Sara does is cheered. The booing of EVERYTHING Vito does starts to crack me up after a couple of minutes. This is a persistent crowd. Sal comes in with a kick to the ribs, which is a bit harsh but gets the same monotone booing as everything else, which is also funny. The mat wrestling is pretty iffy although it’s Sara who’s actually doing the good reversals and thus proving her worth in there. The action deteriorates when it’s Sal v Apollo. Everything looks so pre-planned. Apollo seems to have more fun manhandling the skinny Vito. This gives Sara her first chance at dominance, which she does pretty well with. “Where’s my pizza” – some wiseass fan channelling ECW. Both of the Thomaselli’s are a little green and need work on various aspects of their game. From the basics up. Vito is too soft looking. Sal has a WWE striking deal going on, which is a similar complaint. It’s rare I complain about wrestlers working too stiff, which is probably just my love of hard hitting action but that’s not doing the wrestlers any favours when I’m pointing those flaws out. Still look at Lance Storm. There’s a guy who worked really soft and looked great (chair shots aside) or Bret Hart or Owen Hart or Shawn Michaels or Jerry Lawler. Sometimes it’s not how stiff you are it’s how stiff you look. But then strikes are the easiest thing to overlook when you’re a wrestler and the thing that exposes you the most. The crowd has given up on booing constantly due to the sheer effort it would require with Sara taking heat. Apollo comes in and GOOD LORD; its babyface basics! In this day and age, sir! Apollo’s snap suplex is pretty tasty. He does it twice in case I missed the first one. Appreciate that. Sara gets thrown into the audience. Vito jumps into the ring and Apollo is outnumbered. Sara gets back just in time to save the day. She hits a nifty package suplex but Sal hits a short piledriver on her for 2. Where’s the kickout Sara? What’s going on Jabberjaw? This match has gone to hell in a handbasket. Sir Samurai sneaks in there to help set up the DOUBLE Van Terminator and poor Sara is pinned. Iron Saints advance. *1/2. Pretty rough around the edges and the novelty of Sara being in there with the Saints wore off pretty quickly.

Why is everything getting time tonight? This show is SO long. It’s painful.

Christopher Daniels/Messiah v Chris Hero/CM Punk

HELLO! This is an interesting collection of talent. I’m actually shocked at how well Daniels & Messiah works. Hero & Punk are probably better known as rivals. Punk now far better known as the ECW champion. Punk and Daniels is good as always. Sometimes I think I’m totally spoiled by Ring of Honor. They’ve put on such good cards over the years that it’s easy to get frustrated and disappointed by other Indies for not being able to replicate that success. Punk and Daniels effortlessly open up with more flair and technical skill the entire rest of the card put together (barring Double Dragon earlier). There’s a lot of armdragging and the fans appreciate the quality. Hero wants in and Messiah follows suit. Although Messiah isn’t in Hero’s league technically he gives a good account of himself using firm basics to counter Hero’s elaborate skills. Hammerlocks and headlocks work against everyone. Hero starts working his way into the cravat and he’s imposing his will with strikes out of that position. It’s like these two are trying to one up the first two guys. Hero controls the arm for a while before tagging out to Punk. He continues the work although is very loose on a hammerlock backbreaker. It was a good idea but the execution wasn’t right. Messiah ended up holding his arm there like a goof. Hero gets slack and Messiah gets a tag but Hero recovers and hip tosses Daniels as he arrives. No sooner is Messiah out of trouble is Daniels into it. They single out the exact same arm so they can keep up their continuity and Hero & Punk have been most impressive and dominant as a team thus far. Messiah gets a blind tag though and the Fake God’s team gets a double team STO/neckbreaker on Hero for 2. Now it’s Daniels & Messiah’s turn to cut the ring off dropping the boom on Hero. Although it would bother me how little Daniels sold between his heat and getting back in there. I guess he’s playing up his superior conditioning. Fuck it, I’ll go with that. Daniels & Messiah make frequent tags keeping Hero isolated. Daniels with a quebrada for 2. Punk makes his second save of the evening. Hero rallies but a Messiah bulldog puts pay to that comeback. Punk makes his third save of the evening. Good job the old saves rule isn’t in use these days. Hero throws Daniels into Messiah and that gives him time and space to make the tag. Now it’s time for Punk’s heat segment? Everyone else got one. Punk cleans house instead and hits a Russian legsweep/DDT combo on the other guys. WELCOME TO CHICAGO, MOTHERFUCKER! Erm, this is California CM. Daniels busts out the Best. MOONSAULT. EVER. For 2. Hero sees him setting for Last Rites and breaks it up. Control ref! Get two guys out of there. Oh, it’s Patrick Hernandez. Forget it. He doesn’t even look at shoulders when counting pins. He also gets in Punk’s way when he’s boot scraping, which make me unhappy. Punk hits a Blockbuster on Messiah for the pin off Hero’s shoulders. A blockbuster? Words fail me. ***1/4. Easily the second best match on the card. The formula was pretty smooth and it made good sense. Messiah was technically out of his depth against Hero and that’s why his team got behind early.

PWG title – Frankie Kazarian (c) v Adam Pearce w/C. Edward Vanderpyle

Some guy with a “Crap Iron” sign gets Pearce’s ire on the way out here. Kazarian sneaks in blindside, which isn’t the most babyface of moves. Kaz dropkicks him out of the ring and takes out both Pearce & Vanderpyle with a pescado. Kaz runs a comedy spot where a pulls a Trojan out of Jabberjaw’s back pocket. How did he know it was there? Pearce is all about the stalling, which does set him apart from the rest of the roster. There’s something very uninspiring about the opening minutes as a result. It’s not until Pearce gets more aggressive and hits a swinging neckbreaker that things get going. Another neckbreaker follows. Think he’s setting up the piledriver? You can tell PWG is quite an advanced company in terms of high spots when your bland old school heel hits the Cactus Elbow. Just saying. Pearce does the old school ECW heel thing of moving the crowd out of the way then throwing Kaz back into the ring. Was Steve Corino the first guy to do that? He’s the first guy I saw do it. Believe it or not that marks 10 minutes in this one. To celebrate Pearce goes to a chinlock. Kaz gets out and slaps on the Tazmission out of nowhere. Pearce is a big dude though so he gets out pretty easily. That and he’s absorbed very little in the way of punishment in this match. In fact Pearce has had maybe 90% of the entire bout. This shows no signs of changing. He’s been psychically dominant using his size to his advantage. Kaz finally gets some speed going and dodges a foolhardy charge before superkicking Pearce over the ropes. That was some great bumping. Kazarian hits a suicide dive. His advantage is very much in his ability to take big risks. Slingshot legdrop gets 2. Corner dropkick scores and Kaz has taken over with his high flying. He crossbodies Pearce over the top and there’s a lingering feeling that Kaz is hurting himself with his own offence whereas Pearce was just dishing it out with his. Luckily for Frankie he has great conditioning. Vanderpyle gets in a lot of cheap shots during the match so Kaz turns his attentions to him and lays him out with a punch. That leaves him wide open though and you’d question his approach in this match. He does after his Wave of the Future finisher but Pearce has way too much left in the tank and hits the urinage for 2 as a block. Kaz’s response is to steal Pearce’s piledriver. Of course he’s done no set up work and can’t get Pearce away from the ropes so no fall. Pearce breaks out the Flair corner flip and makes it all the way to the other buckle and dives off but Kaz is waiting; WAVE OF THE FUTURE…for 2. That’s a move that usually never fails but Kazarian really hasn’t hit a lot of his stuff during the match. Pearce then breaks out a surprise rana to block another piledriver and counters to his own piledriver…for 2. OOOOOOHHHH! So that’s both finishers kicked out of. They lie around with the time limit expiring. Pearce wants a sick move off the top to finish this but can’t set it up and time is a ticking. Come on, the time must be expired by now. Back up there and FLUX CAPACITOR! Kaz barely gets a hand over but the time limit expires (sure it does). The match is a draw. They fucked the timing on the finish. Or rather just fucked up the finish twice therefore running over. **1/2. Some of the psychology was great but making a hash of the ending kinda hurt it. Also it was painful for the first 8 minutes or so with Pearce either stalling or just controlling without any kind of fight back.

POST MATCH Kaz gets on the mic saying he despises Adam’s “stupid Old School ass”. Kaz doesn’t like Pearce but he respects him as a competitor. He offers a handshake but Pearce bitchslaps him. You know this feud isn’t over.

Final Thoughts: This wasn’t the best of shows for PWG. It really could have benefited from some clipping. There are several matches that had no business crossing 10 minutes and yet did so. The spot heavy opener being one of the better examples. It’s a total mess littered with mistakes. If you open a show with a bad match it doesn’t send out a good vibe to the other guys and the crowd. The opening match is often the most important one on the show because it gets the crowd going and it sets the bar nice and high providing it’s actually good. Tonight’s was really bad. The rest of the card was very hit and miss. There were really only two matches worth seeing; Hero/Punk v Daniels/Messiah, which was different and Double Dragon’s match. The latter being totally awesome. Honestly someone out there needs to make that a regular tag team and just send it out against every good tag team in the country/world. Danielson is the only guy that comes close to Super Dragon in terms of being the “dick heel”. Seeing them both together was superb. Sadly the bad outweighs the good and I wouldn’t recommend it. Hopefully night two has better Double Dragon action then you can just get that instead.

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