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Saving Glen Jacobs...
plus Weekend Newsbites
September 5, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


News is a bit on the thin side, so here's what we'll do: a quick dose of weekend news for you, and then a medium-sized OOpinionated rant to give you something to chew on for the next couple days....

Weekend News

  • Last night's SmackDown! was another shining example of how that particular brand is simply more cognizant of what goes into a good pro wrestling story and, even more than that, massively better equipped to put on good pro wrestling matches than RAW.
    The show-closing Lesnar/Gowen segment was everything that they've been trying to do with Kane lately on RAW: a bit over-the-top and slightly awkward in execution, yes, but in the end, also simple and plausible enough that it actually had impact.  You don't need jumper cables or a dumpster set on fire to spectacularly injure a hated foe.  Lesnar showed that last night.  Note: it probably also helps that I have confidence that Gowen won't just show up next week no-selling the trip down a flight of stairs.  I have faith that the folks on the SD! team came up with this idea and executed it only after mapping out the consequences.
    Throw in not one, but two awesome, Match of the Week caliber matches, and you got yourself a show.  Taker/Angle was very well worked and well-presented (from the strategy-based promo done by Taker to the great announce job by Tazz and Cole, it seemed like a major title fight, not just another SD! match)... in fact, it would have been a no-brainer for Match of the Week with a clean finish.  As it is, Lesnar's interference opens the door for a couple of TNA contenders and the Rey/Tajiri match to get legit consideration for that honor.  Limiting ourselves (for now) to SD!, let's just say that Rey/Tajiri was an outstanding contest that had no backstory, but which managed, starting with the opening bell, to tell a fresh story that engrossed the live audience (and me), culminating in a heel turn by Tajiri after he came up just short.
    The show quite clearly had time management issues, and by gawd, color me pleasantly shocked that management made some very wise decisions in terms of what to cut.  Instead of shaving the Rey/Tajiri and Angle/Taker matches (the former of which I thought was sure to be cut down to one segment, but remained at 2), they took the bikini contest down to a 2 minute recap package, and based on one live report, also trimmed just a minute or two of fat from the closing McMahon/Lesner/Gowen bit.  SD!'s not just crafting the better shows, they're making wise decision in post to make sure the best stuff makes it to TV.  Maybe they were inspired by Austin deciding Mark Henry and Rodney Mack didn't need to be on RAW this past Monday?
    [Note: I'm so pleased with the editing decisions that I'm hesitant to even bring up the continuity error that resulted from presenting the Bikini Contest as happening "earlier tonight."  Go ahead and think about it, and see if you can figure it out.  I'm not gonna say anything to rain on this parade, though.]
    Anyway, a third straight superlative week for SD!, and I'll put a few additional thoughts and my rating in with this week's Battle of the Brands (which is being delayed by looming weather concerns in Florida).  You can also get full details from last night in Danny's SD! Recap.
  • Got a few e-mails from irate Canadian readers who watch SD! on "The Score."  Apparently, the network completely edited out the bump down the stairwell last night, cold cutting from a shot of Vince McMahon telling Brock not to do it, to Brock laughing at the top of the stairs after having already done it.
    C'mon Canucks: it's a guy falling down some stairs.  You should be able to use your imagination to piece it together...
  • The overnight rating for SD! came in at a 4.3, putting the show on target to hit its recent mid-3 average once final numbers are out.
  • Going back to Monday... the delayed-by-the-holiday rating for RAW came in at a 4.3.  That's up a nominal one-tenth of a point from the previous week, and the third week in a row that RAW's been over 4.  Depressingly, this might mean WWE thinks it's got good reason to continue with The Suck (which have been the defining moments of each of those past three weeks)...  although if they break it down, I'm sure they will realize the real draw on Monday was the appealing six-man main event which, itself, had been set up in a very good promo segment earlier.  All the 4.3 means is that people didn't quite hate Shane/Kane enough to flip away from the main event match they wanted to see.  Please let that be what it means...
    The 4.3 is also RAW's highest rating since Goldberg's in-ring RAW debut match back in May.  In the past two months, RAW is averaging a 4.1, which is the show's best two month span since April and May of 2002.  [These are observations that I can make since I wound up doing a massive update to my ratings spreadsheet when I added an all new "RAW: After the War" page to the, CHEAP PLUG ALERT!, just-republished OO Monday Night War feature.]
  • Also, I don't know if I ever passed along last week's final rating for SD! (other than in an update to last week's BotB page), but it was an anomalously low 2.6.  SD! was pre-empted in almost a dozen markets for other sporting events (mostly football), and weekend replays of the show were not included in SD!'s rating this week.  Also: MTV's very-highly-rated Video Music Awards probably siphoned off a bit of SD!'s target audience, even in the markets where SD! did air.
  • Gotta say this, too: in addition to Taker/Angle and Rey/Tajiri, the other two matches I'd consider for Match of the Week are from this week's flat-out awesome TNA PPV.  Juventud Guerrera was in both, beating Teddy Hart in one, and losing in the Ultimate X Tourney Finals to Chris Sabin in the other.
    If you like wrestling, you oughta check out this show... TNA usually has one or two matches per show that provide the change of pace from the rest of Vince Russo's hyper-booked Crash TV.  But on this night, the ringwork took center stage, and the results were perhaps the best wall-to-wall two hours of pure WRESTLING of the year.  Cut out the pointless Crash Holly match to start the show, and there was not one match that'd rate less than "good" on my I-prefer-to-use-adjectives-over-stars rating scale.
    And lucky you, with inDemand's recent shift towards distributing movie titles by Video on Demand instead of on standard PPV channels, TNA is among the event programming that inDemand will feature in heavy replay rotation on its various PPV channels.  I know there's a replay scheduled for tonight (6pm, eastern), and then more on Saturday, and then one or two showings per day next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  I whole-heartedly recommend making the purchase of this week's TNA if you spot a replay at a convenient time in the next few days.
    And if you don't, well, then I encourage you to AT LEAST check out Damian Gonzalez's detailed recap of the show.
  • Sidebar: you know how Tuesday I predicted RAW's cage match on Monday was just an excuse for Kane to keep playing with jumper cables (OOficial prediction: the electrified balls and cage match stip were both done just so Kane can electrify the cage next week against RVD)?  Well, on SD! last night, I got the same "stip being added for storyline purposes" vibe when they made next week's Eddie vs. Cena match a Parking Lot Brawl.
    OOficial Prediction for that one:  Chavo crashes the match, possibly even driving the green low-rider stolen last night.  He tears into the lot and goes after Eddie.  Or maybe a "mystery car" attacks Eddie, and only in later weeks is it revealed as Chavo.  Either way, the parking lot stip has to be there for a reason, and that's OO's guess.
  • Next week's SD, by the way, will only be 90 minutes long.  That is to accommodate a special "sneak peak" episode of "The Mullets," a sitcom for which UPN has high hopes.  My brother, "Studio City" Steve Scaia, assures me that since filming the pilot, this show has jelled nicely and will be really funny.  I, based solely on reading the script he sent me and seeing the commercials, think that "Out-freaking-standing" might have catch-phrase potential, but don't think it's nearly enough to get people to follow the show to Tuesday (I think) nights.  
    That said, the show looks to capitalize on two recent additions to the pop culture argot: the humor factor of the mullet hairstyle, and the MILF phenomenon (Loni Anderson is the Mullet Mom on the show).  Although that's actually bordering on GMIMLF, isn't it? [You figure it out, sickos.]  There are wrestling themes on the show (next week's pilot ends with the family at a wrestling event), too, and UPN hopes to use it's best-performing series (SD!) to get the show off to a strong start, and then, hopefully, retain some of the SD! audience.
    Speaking of wrestling-themes...  originally, I am told "The Mullets" producers had lined up The Rock for a guest starring role slated for November sweeps.  Well, Mr. Big Movie Star pulled out last week...  and he has been replaced (in the role of an obnoxious little league coach/dad) by Roddy Piper.  It's filming next week, I think, and then you can look for it in about 2 months.  
    Strange that WWE wouldn't line up a replacement Superstar themselves...  unless they have no faith in the show and want as little to do with it as possible...
  • Speaking of Piper's acting career: OK, so you know about "Code Black," the Piper/Estrada vehicle being directed by Bill Shatner.  Because I've mentioned it three times, now.  But eagle-eyed OO Entertainment Correspondent "A." has got another New Classic for you: 
    Piper's heading an All Star cast (with another "Star Trek" crossover) in 2004's straight-to-video release "Cyber Meltdown"... alongside Hot Rod are: George "Sulu" Takei, Dawn "Marie Anne" Wells, Linda "Pea Soup" Blair, and Max "Jamie Farr" Klinger.  Can someone tell me why Omar "Dr. Zhivago" Sharif is also listed in this cast?  Click here for the full info.
  • Need a good laugh?  WWE's launched the "Babe of the Year" tourney, and I swear, they've gone all out, baby, to make sure you remember that it's sponsored by Maxim Hair Color for (a Minority of Guys Who Maybe Have a Decent Excuse if They're Trying to Make it in the Entertainment Business or Something but Otherwise for Latently Homosexual) Men.  And I mean that.  I'm not just bitter cuz I shaved my head bald a year and a half ago to deal with a hairline that was about 20 years older than the rest of me. 
    Anyway, to share my mirth, skip the stupid mailing list/registration crap (although it WOULD be funny for them to waste their money sending me Maxim Hair Color samples, come to think of it)....  just do what I did and use this handy direct link sent to me by a helpful OO-ite to get right to the Babe Brackets.
    Then start checking out the bios, which are written with an authentic Maxim voice.  You know:  "Socially Stunted 15-Year-Old."  Just like in the magazine. Oh, wait, you're just looking at their pictures, aren't you?  Anyway,  here's a gem from Sable's bio: "That little place in our hearts (among other things) got a whole lot bigger when she aided Torrie out of the shower."  HA!  Or from Terri's: "As a RAW commentator, we all know that Terri is good with the stick, which is a prerequisite when looking for any babe."  Oh my, can you even SAY that?!?  Or this odd entry regarding Molly: "You're not getting any. Molly is proud to say that she is a virgin."  I guess they didn't want to take the chance that "Molly has a big butt, so vote for Sable" was too subtle to work on the pubescent hornballs who'd vote for this thing?
    So check it out.  They gots some pictures, too, but probably nothing that hasn't been well-circulated already. Note: if you are a pubescent hornball who wants to vote for this thing, I think you actually would have to register; my little tricky link won't work for that.

  • I don't even know how much of that was really news... but hopefully most of it was interesting to you.  And now, we enter Phase 2: The OOpinion!

Glen Jacobs: The Real Corporate Champion

Three weeks ago, I made the fans' case for Eddie Guerrero: the man who, despite being packaged as nothing but a Mid-Card Lifer, has won us over, and who many of us would love to see in main events, contending for (if not WINNING) World Titles.

But that was selfish of me.  Yeah, Eddie's given us a lot, and yeah, we'd like to see him get his due, somehow.  But we're just the fans.  His effort on our behalf is noble, but he's ultimately kissing up to the wrong people.  We pull no strings, we have no stroke.  We're not signing his checks or giving him the outlet to reach millions every week.  How could I have been so naive and self-centered?  How could I not realize that bending over backwards for the fans is not nearly as commendable as bending over backwards for your company?

And when I put myself in the shoes of a WWE official, someone in upper management, I see things a whole lot differently.  I look at the under-appreciated stars on the roster, and Eddie Guerrero's barely a blip on my radar.  

"What's that guy ever done?  Weaseled a big contract out of us by playing us off against WCW back at the height of the Monday Night Wars...  then he turned into a public relations fiasco when he got himself hooked on pills.  We had to fire him.  As far as we're concerned, he's STILL working off his excess baggage after we did him the huge favor of hiring him back even after his conviction on drunk driving charges.  This guy simply doesn't have the track record of a main eventer."

[Please, save the hate mail:  I am in heavy sarcasm mode, here.  I am speaking in the voice of a hypothetic WWE official who, if he actually exists, would be quite deserving of a punch in the eyeball.]


"This company owes Eddie Guerrero nothing...  but you know what?  There is somebody to whom we owe a huge debt.  Somebody who has had Main Event written all over him since Day One, and who has never once raised his voice in dissent to anything the company has asked of him.  Somebody who took his brief visits to the top of the mountain in stride, and then happily accepted his return ticket back down.  Somebody who has been a model employee, and in fact, a model citizen.

"We owe this man.  We owe Glen Jacobs."

Leaving that voice behind, you know what?  It ain't that far off track.  In my estimation, WWE has no more loyal, dedicated, nuisance-free worker than Glen Jacobs on their entire roster.  He's been in the system for about 10 years, and can you once remember anything even bordering on controversy stemming from the man who we now know as "Kane"?

I can't.

Look, I love Eddie, and hope he gets his due.  But for one second, pretend you're a WWE official.  Pretend you want to reward the guy that's worked his ass off for the company and never once been a pain in your own butt.  Who do you pick?

It's gotta be Glen Jacobs.

Take a look at this guy:  He graduates from college in '90-ish with a degree in English and education.  He's not a stupid man.  By '92 he's on the WWF radar.  He is, in fact, working for USWA (Memphis/Lawler), and may or may not have had some kind of tacit arrangement with the then-WWF.  He works for Lawler as "Doomsday" and then in Smokey Mountain Wrestling as "Unabom."  Both are generic heel gimmicks, though the latter included a run with Al Snow as a partner that allowed Snow (then known as little more than Sabu's tackling dummy) to flex his promo muscles and get hired by the WWF.

In fact, put that on the list of Glen's Good Deeds.  He was a good part of the reason that Al Snow got noticed.  I know *I* would have noticed that ECW Arena match against Chris Benoit, but really, who would have taken a flyer on the 6-foot-nothing guy out of Lima, OH, if he hadn't cut the infamous "We're gonna go have some sex, now" promo?  Not the mid-90s WWF, that's for sure.  Even after Snow showed sparks of personality, they STILL thought he belonged under a mask (as "Avatar" and then as "Shinobi").

After the 24-year-old Jacobs did his time as Lawler's monster heel champ-cum-sacrificial-lamb-to-the-King in Memphis and then teamed with Al Snow in SMW, he finally got his first WWF shot.  And it didn't take long for him to do his second selfless act.  He was handed a gimmick that demanded him to be a demented dentist for this old mentor/buddy Lawler.  And did this college graduate with a good head on his shoulders blink an eye?


He donned a blue smock and the prosthetic tooth rot and got on with the procedure.  The "Isaac Yankem" gimmick landed him in a few semi-main events against Bret Hart and some decent tag team situations with Lawler...  but even by 1995 standards, we, as fans, knew this was a completely, utterly, dead-end gimmick.  But Jacobs took it.  Did his best with it.  Reveled in it.

Predictably, it failed.  Jerry Lawler can only do so many feuds predicated on bad mouth hygiene before the get old.  In this case, "so many" means "one."  Lawler -- hear me now, and believe me later -- needed "Yankem" to de-odorize his mouth after a losing "Kiss My Foot Match" effort against Hart.  That was in June of '95.  By SummerSlam of that year, Yankem was played.  He'd already lost to Hart, and was just an oversized guy with bad teeth.  The gimmick was retarded to being with.  Now it was also useless.

So Jacobs wallowed in a few underneath feuds, and then went back to Memphis (I think) for a cup of coffee.  By late '96, the WWF had another job of him.  They wanted him to be the Fake Diesel.  Kevin Nash had jumped to WCW about 6 months previous and was a big hit down there along with Scott Hall.  But the WWF still owned the old "Diesel" and "Razor Ramon" gimmicks used by Nash and Hall, and wanted to use them, dammit.

Did this scholar of literature and generally level-headed-guy raise an iota of dissent at the idea?  Nope.  He just asked where they kept the $4 pairs of sunglasses and black hair-dye.

The fake Diesel and Razor -- led by the real Jim Ross -- had a slightly longer shelf-life than Isaac Yankem, if only because wrestling fans couldn't tell for sure if Vince was serious about the fakes or if it was just a joke.  When Fake Razor and Diesel got pushed into a tag team title feud, it became apparent that the gimmick wasn't a joke or an insider gimmick.  Fans were REALLY supposed to think of these two as the equals of Nash and Hall.

And that just did not fly.

After an early '97 tag title feud, the fakes receded into the woodwork, as the WWF realized the gimmicks were not going to take hold.  To pass the time, Jacobs and his Fake Razor (Rick Bogner) got sent down to Mexico, earning WWF paychecks, but working lucha shows.  In Mexico, their act went over, and so the Fed dumped them there for several months.

But even in 1997, the WWF knew that this Glen Jacobs guy was worth having around, be he a demented dentist or a blatant fake.  And as the year drew to a close, they had a character opening: the mysterious brother of the Undertaker.  Dubbed "Kane" during the summer, Taker's brother would have to be physically the equal of Undertaker, and there were very few 6'10" specimens to pick from.  Jacobs was at the top of the list.  He may well have been the entire list.

Luckily, the character of "Kane" required wearing a mask.  Taker's little brother was, so we were told, horribly burned in a fire, and was, in fact, presumed dead by his family.  Of course, Paul Bearer (the family mortician, or something) had saved Kane, and secretly raised him for all those many years.  And so Kane debuted and attacked Taker at Badd Blood '97 (in October of that year).  Thanks to the mask, only hardcore internet fans knew it was the same poor soul who had been asked to portray Isaac Yankem and the Fake Diesel.  It turned out, however, to not take too long before they'd be able to notice the same tell-tale signs of suck that pockmarked his previous gimmicks.

Yes, the Kane/Taker feud was often inspired, and launched the Kane character to main event standing inside of six months.  But stupidity and inconsistencies lingered on the fringes...  Kane was involved in angles predicated on mysterious pyrotechnics (such as "Inferno Matches" where the flames surrounding the ring somehow rose higher anytime anyone hit an offensive move; not to mention Kane's apparent ability to summon lightning bolts from his hands) and over the course of time, even saw his own physical condition improve with little explanation (originally, Kane was without vocal chords, but inside of 2 years, he could speak clearly).

And it was only fixin' to get worse.  In an attempt to humanize the now-verbose Kane, WWE decided to re-create his backstory.  Instead of the scarred freak nursed to the WWF by Paul Bearer, Young Kane became a party-going bad-driver...  at a kegger in 1992 (approximately) he met a delightful young lady by the name of Katie Vick, and tried to take her home.  Alas, Miss Vick's car was a manual transmission, and Kane (maybe a bit tipsy, but he thought he was OK to drive) didn't know how to operate one of those.  In his attempt to navigate them to Gropesville, TA, he landed the car in a ditch, and Katie Vick died.  Triple H found out about this in 2002 and wove tales of necrophilia that (to paraphrase Shawn Michaels, who was, whether he knew it or not, paraphrasing me) offended me more as a wrestling fan than it offended my sense of morals or anything.  It was just dumb.  Kane's character, built up over the course of 5 years, was presumed as dead as Ms. Vick after that debacle.

A half-year spend tag-teaming with Rob Van Dam rehabilitated Kane back to the point where he was again a contributing part of the upper-mid-card.  Actually, his devolution into a tag team was storyline material: the reason why Steve Austin, Eric Bischoff, and even RVD himself all decided to motivate Kane to get him back to his old, main event, self.  The end result:  by mid-2003, Kane was unmasked, and found his "monster within."

We all know where this has led.  Kane "set Jim Ross on fire."  Then he Tombstoned Linda McMahon.  Then he fell into a flaming dumpster, but walked away with absolutely no injuries.  And then, a few days ago, he thought that hooking up a car battery (via jumper cables) to Shane McMahon's testicles was a good idea.

Now, this is not a rant about this Monday's RAW or the recent direction of Kane.  Nope.  This is a celebration of Glen Jacobs: the man behind the mask.

Clearly, we are not talking about a stupid man.  Indeed, Glen is a college graduate who (had wrestling not immediately grabbed hold of him in the early 90s in the form of the day's version of a WWF developmental contract) would be teaching the kids and be imminently qualified to do so.

Nor is he an untalented man, reliant on the promotional infrastructure of WWE to make him a star.  Glen Jacobs is a near-seven-footer whose skills were and are unparalleled among this generation's crew of super heavyweights.  He could have been a star in any promotion at a time when WCW, ECW, and Japan were all viable options.  Today, he'd still be a massive draw overseas.

And yet, Glen Jacobs has been subjected to the single most heaping pile of Suck in the internet-recorded history of wrestling.  He was told the WWF might be interested in him, and with that promise, went to work in Memphis and SMW.  Along that way, he had a gimmick as "The Christmas Creature" that (reportedly, mind you... this was even before *I* was on the internet full time) was among the worst of all time.  Even by Memphis standards.

Then, his first actual shot with the WWF came.  A "demented dentist."  Did Jacobs flinch?  No way, Potsie.  The wrestling business had yet to boom, and he was probably just happy to be cashing a check.  So he was Isaac Yankem, and he played the role to the hilt no matter how stupid it was.

By '96, wrestling was heating up, but were Jacob's job prospects?  Apparently not, because instead of going to the then-hot WCW or waiting for a better gimmick with the WWF, he gladly returned to the Fed as the Fake Diesel.  No a whit of dissent was heard.

Fake Diesel faded away, and Jacobs had no problem accepting re-assignment to Mexico.  Maybe he and the WWF knew what was coming, knew that a huge role for a physical anomaly like Jacobs was opening up down the line when they introduced Kane;  I honestly don't know...  but it was over half-a-year of exile in Mexico before Jacobs was re-invented as "Kane," Younger Brother of the Undertaker.  Then again, as sweet as "Undertaker's Little Brother" may have sounded at the time, maybe Jacobs would have balked as the Mexican Detention if he'd known how utterly and completely the character would be destroyed over time.  

The mysterious physical healings, the power over pyro, the rewritten backstory and inability to drive a stick, the whole mess in the present day (unmasking to reveal... NO SCARS... the belief that burning an announcer will accomplish anything... the testicular defribulation attempt on Shane)... all of this sends wrestling fans groping for the first available live internet connection so that we can bitch.  But I guess it also sends Glen Jacobs to the bank.

Surely, in Glen Jacobs, we have one of the most well-adjusted, good-natured wrestling stars ever.  In a day and age when every main event talent (and a good number of those working lower on the card) have either campaigned to change his storyline or convinced the office to hire his buddies or threatened to defect to the top bidder or tried to put a smidge of himself into his own on-screen gimmick, "Kane" remains the loyal tool of the writing staff.  He's taken whatever shitty gimmicks and shitty storylines creative comes up with and then done what he was told, dammit.

And again, this is a smart guy we're talking about.  I have to think that he knows when he's being handed lemons.  And yet, he's taken them, smiled, and squeezed the hell out of them, with very lemonade forthcoming.

Is it possible that Glen Jacobs, the man, felt vulnerable as long as he was underneath the Kane mask?  That he could be replaced by another, cheaper, more docile star?  Maybe...  but I hope not.  There are not (and trust me cuz I see a decent amount of tape) many 6'10" prospects out there who move like Jacobs does.  Even the densest fan would know if Nathan Jones, for instance, had taken over the gimmick.  But now that Kane has lost the mask, now that Jacobs IS Kane, I really hope the guy decides that there is a constructive level of disobedience.

Jacobs is a smart guy, and he deserves massive credit for being one of the most loyal foot soldiers of the entire WWF/WCW war (and beyond).  It's actually heartening, in a way, to see how the company has continued to stand behind, continued to try to re-invent him and get him over...  they may have made gross missteps in their attempts, but the effort shows that they appreciate the way Jacobs has comported himself since being hired.

But effort and good intentions are not the things superstars are made of...   so the next time somebody hands you jumper cables, by god, Glen, use your head, brother!  Just say no, and do whatever it takes to turn this iteration of Kane into the one that we, the fans, can finally believe in.  The creative team's done you no favors for the past few years, but you can still save this.  You ARE Kane, now...  you're within your rights to go to the creative team and insist that you sit down, decide exactly "Who is Kane?", and what powers he has, and what he's capable of doing.  Get this guy pegged down to the point where he doesn't have to be re-invented every two years.  There's no more mask to hide behind...

Glen Jacobs is certainly WWE's most trouble-free main event superstar... the one most deserving of some kind of institutional reward (like a sudden push to the world title, for instance).  Certainly a commendable trait.  But it's also a bit like winning "Miss Congeniality" in a beauty pageant: a consolation prize handed out to the well-meaning also-ran.  After 8 years of silence, I honestly believe we have reached a point where a little bit of civil disobedience would help Jacobs' career, help the Kane character, and in the final analysis, be a boon to WWE.  

Just My Own Damn Opinion, of course...  


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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