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WWE Wants Lesnar OUT of Japan, WWE 
Sends Tajiri BACK to Japan, and LOTS MORE! 
December 9, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Well... Dayton pretty much shut down due to snow yesterday around 4pm, and it still hasn't opened back up.

Which, for you, means that I'm going on about 24 hours with virtually no outside stimulus or social interaction, and no real prospects for anything interesting to happen to me again before a Flyer game on Saturday night.

That's right: when The Rick in in Mr. Boring Mode, that means one thing...

I've got nothing good to pre-ramble about, and I'll just go ahead and pass the savings on to you.

It's actually not so bad; as long as it doesn't happen more than a couple times per winter, being a prisoner in your own house for 48 hours can almost be fun. I got food, booze, guitars, CDs, 400 channels of crap on the TV, and all the internet porn I can handle, baby! I guess I'll make do.

In the name of getting back to those other noble in-house pursuits as quickly as possible, let's me dispatch with the small talk and tend to my wrestling-related duties:

  • It's not a hugely news-worthy weekend, but we'll kick off with a pair of stories that -- while unrelated in every significant way -- both have ties to Japan, and thus, I can probably come up with some kind of writer-y segue to make them fit together nicely here at the top of the column.
    The first item is that WWE has requested a restraining order against Brock Lesnar... it's to keep him from performing in Japan; as the IWGP (New Japan) Champion, Brock had several matches lined up on a late year tour of Japan, culminating in a big TokyoDome show.
    WWE's stance is that their litigation with Brock over his no-compete clause is still on-going, and until a court rules otherwise (or until a final out-of-court settlement is reached), that clause should be enforced. Brock's stance (in so far as I can determine, although keep in mind, I am not a lawyer) is "Neener neener neener, I already wrestled once in Japan and got away with it, so I want to do it again."
    The bottom line on this, as far as I'm concerned, is that Brock made his bed when he negotiated the terms of his split from WWE 20 months ago... he (and his representation) knew exactly the terms they were agreeing to on the no-compete clause. Whether it was a smart deal or not is a whole other issue. And whether it was a legally fair deal or not is for courts to decide. But till somebody with the authority to do so determines that Brock SHOULD be allowed to compete inside a pro wrestling ring before the year 2010, I can't see how you can possibly find a way that Brock's in the right on this one.
    Last couple of times I've talked about Brock and his no-compete, I've gotten e-mails from people who think I'm a hypocrite for taking the "Whether it's right or not, Brock still signed the deal and therefore should be held to it, even if by legal force" stance when another prominent wrestling lawsuit has me arguing a much more subtle and subversive "spirit of the law/reasonable man principle" (that being the WWE vs. WWF case).
    Let me just take this chance to clear that up...
    In the case of the World Wrestling Federation vs. the World Wildlife Fund, you're right: our WWF did sign an agreement in the early 90s limiting their rights to the "WWF" initials, and when the panda-hugging WWF thought our WWF overstepped those limits, they sued, won the case, and now we're stuck with WWE. But it's only the same on the surface... to me, the defining issue that makes the two situations so different is *what* was being agreed to.
    In the case of WWF vs. WWF, there was no real defensible reason for the panda-huggers to make the demands they did of our WWF. Just stop, think, and ask yourself: "Is there even a remote chance that some hypothetical human being could confuse a WWF that promotes wrestling and a WWF that promotes being a filthy hippie?" And the answer is "Of course not." The wildlife people, for whatever reason (quite possibly because this was a period of time when our WWF was under fire, and Vince was pre-occupied and he was leaving day-to-day operations in the hands of borderline-retarded underlings), got a bug up their ass to solve a non-existent problem by getting our WWF to agree to limit the use of those initials, despite the fact that there is absolutely ZERO chance that there would ever be a measurable financial or public relations effect on the panda-huggers if the two WWFs continued to co-exist. There simply was no issue in play that justifies the need for the legal proceedings to begin with.
    It's as simple as this: if the WWF vs. WWF case represents the precedent by which all of society much abide, it would suddenly become illegal for -- oh, let's just say, since it's the first example I managed to stumble across on Yahoo -- an avionics engineering firm to have the same name as some online role-playing-game for the socially-awkward. Think it's an absurd or random comparison? You're right, it is. But no more absurd than a Wrestling Company vs. a Non-Profit Nature Group. And it's also the first business name I came across, alphabetically in the "Aviation" section of Yahoo, that I knew would be duplicated in many different business segments, and I'm SURE there are literally thousands of other examples of this same principle at work. Because it turns out we do NOT live in the society that has to abide by the mind-bogglingly-silly precedent set by the WWF vs. WWF case.
    Contrast that with Brock's WWE departure. Because we do live in a society where, if you ask for your employers blessing to renege on a contract you've signed, there are going to be repercussion, and those repercussions are completely reasonable. Your employer sunk a lot of time and money into developing you and your skills, and will not just blithely let you run free to provide those skills to a direct competitor. WWE did not ask Brock to sign away his right to go work for -- oh, let's just say -- a non-profit, nature-loving group. They simply said, "We made you into the professional wrestler you are today. So if you're telling us you no longer want to be a professional wrestler so you can flop massively as an NFL prospect, that's fine. But just to protect our investment, we're gonna ask that you don't just turn around and decide to be a pro wrestler somewhere else."
    Makes sense to me. Seems perfectly fair. Even enforcing that clause half-a-world away in Japan is defensible, given that WWE's raking in a lot more cash (on a per-event basis) on shows in Japan than they do for domestic events. Allowing the wrestler they "made" to compete for what is the most-direct of competition in that market would be foolish if they can prevent it. And per Brock's signed release terms, they CAN prevent it. 
    It's not like the terms of that agreement prevent Brock from having just about any other career in the world that he might want to pursue... and if it turns out that "wrestler" is the only thing Brock's decided he's good enough at to make a living, then the terms of the no-compete do NOT stop him from making a living in that industry. The terms simply compel him to go back to work for the company that has already invested its resources into him, and would be willing to have him back to continue the promotional effort that has already been so effectively begun (and in fact, the company that made every reasonable offer to GET him back just 4 months ago; actually, part of this latest round of legal wranglings reveals that Brock DID agree, verbally, to a WWE return, but then reneged on that when he continued negotiations with New Japan and decided their offer was better, despite the fact that it was an offer he was legally unable to accept; let's just say that my opinion of Brock Lesnar's intellect and decision making skills is in no threat of rebounding anytime soon, no matter how much I loved his in-ring work).
    If there's some aspect of the no-compete clause that I would be willing to grant is dubious, it's the duration of it. WWE asked (and Brock agreed) that the no-compete clause would cover the entire length of Brock's existing contract. He was signed with WWE through early 2010. Thus, his no-compete clause would last until 2010. While I can see the basic logic and reasoning behind picking that length, I can also see that that might be a bit excessive. But if not just asking Brock to honor his "WWE Exclusivity" for the duration of his pre-existing contract, then what becomes the "fair" amount of time? I sure don't have that answer...
    But I do know it's been less than 2 years, and Brock is still trading almost exclusively on what he accomplished in WWE any time he'll step into a wrestling ring, anywhere in the world. And that violates not only the letter of the law when it comes to the no-compete clause, it also violates the spirit behind it.
    I'm unclear as to exactly how rapidly WWE's request could be transformed into an actual Restraining Order issued by a court. I believe the goal was for the decision to be made today, but then things get sticky because Brock's already in Japan for a series of shows that start tonight. (Well, technically, I guess it's tomorrow night, but you know that pesky International Date Line; it's already tomorrow in Japan as I type this.) How you stop Brock from performing becomes a huge problem, unless Brock himself realizes the implications of violating the court order. At the very least, if a restraining order is filed (and as I've exhaustively outlined above, I had to assume one will be), Brock will be heavily fined (which could get steep and easily exceed whatever payment he receives from New Japan) and will also be subject to criminal contempt charges (though realistically, that'd be a comparative slap on the wrist with no likely jail time, versus what WWE could demand in compensatory damages).
    If you'd like to read the full legal-ese, a few helpful readers have supplied me with a PDF file of WWE's request for a restraining order, which includes a few interesting tidbits about the on-going Brock/WWE suit. It's only 1 MB (almost exactly), so I'll risk my monthly bandwidth costs on the grounds that I'm expecting the usual Holiday Slowdown in terms of viewers, and host the file myself. You can download it by clicking here
    I know I have my pre-existing tendencies and morals that had me anti-Lesnar enough as it is.... but reading this document should convince even the most whiny-bitch, no-personal-accountability-having, ACLU-supporting douchebag out there. When Brock's own words paint him as willfully disobeying what he acknowledges are the courts orders, he's got no real legal leg to stand on...
  • And while WWE is trying desperately to get Brock to come back from Japan, they're facilitating a return-to-Japan for one of their own. [I *told* you had a seamless, smOOth-as-heel segue in me!]
    Yoshahiro Tajiri has, after months of hemming-and-hawing, finalized his release from WWE, and will be returning home to Japan to spend more time with his family and to pursue other interests outside of wrestling.
    If you remember, going back to late summer and early fall, there were rumors that Tajiri was very close to asking for his release because of the rigors of the road and the separation from his family... then those rumors died down, and it seemed as though Tajiri had determined that the best thing for his family was to re-sign with WWE and make another 3 years worth of good money. Although I can't speak with total certainty on this, there are many who know Tajiri well enough to suggest that Eddie Guerrero's death hit him very hard, not just on a personal level, but on the level of Tajiri being a man with a family who he is separated from to a degree that almost no other man on the WWE roster could sympathize with, and realizing how important it is for him to be with his family after such a loving father and husband was snatched off this earth far too soon. And all that added up to another change of heart for Tajiri in recent weeks.
    WWE.com has confirmed the release, and in this case, the nature of the language and the known-back-story make it clear that they're actually shooting straight when they talk about it being a mutually-arrived-at decision. The split is wholly amicable.
    On those grounds, I can't really muster up any of the anger and rage that I'm sure some of you were expecting. I get pissy about Christy essentially being fired (despite WWE's best attempts to spin it otherwise), but my Man Love for Tajiri results in nothing but understanding and acceptance? What can I say, I'm a weird cat. Mostly, this is just a deal where for me to get upset over the departure of Tajiri would be to get upset over how Tajiri chooses to live his life.... and I'm willing to have strong opinions about the on-screen and in-ring work that makes up our favorite wrestlers CAREERS, but trying to dictate how they live their LIVES is a whole other ball o' wax, and one with which I have no business playing.
    It's even slightly different from the semi-fit I pitched back when Molly Holly got her release, because I still say that a WWE that was doing the right things and focusing on the right things would never have driven Molly to the point where her personal issues would have so totally eclipsed a profession that she has to love (cuz you don't get that good at something without having a passion for it). It's different with Tajiri, when you take into account the sheer massiveness of what a man must feel if he has a spouse and family living half-a-world away, and who he gets to see so rarely... it's hard to put myself in those shoes, but if I try really hard to imagine a responsible, domesticated version of me, I arrive at a place where I think there's no job (no matter how enjoyable; which is NOT to say that Tajiri hadn't lost some of his love for the WWE grind, too) that would keep me 10,000 miles away from my family for 9 months out of the year. At some point, a situation like that is gonna lead to a tough choice.
    Tajiri opted for family, and also already has his sights set on exploring opportunities as a writer in Japan. He'll also have (albeit, probably after a 90-day no-compete clause) the chance to make some quick-and-easy coin working one-shot wrestling shows either at home or back in the states. The nature of his split from WWE will mean that on the groups frequent tours of Japan, he might get called in to be a guest performer. It's not a bad deal for the guy, and it's hard to get upset over his decision.
    Might as well mention this, too: cuz TNA might be an interesting option for Tajiri. As long as TNA keeps on being a TV company (instead of a real wrestling company), Tajiri could book a single long weekend per month to fly to Florida, appear on a PPV and the subsequent TV tapings, and have that be more than sufficient to keep him as a top-line star for TNA. He even owns his own name, since it's the one his mama gave him. The only possible road block: the amicable split from WWE would get a lot less amicable if Tajiri wound up deciding he DID still have aspirations inside American Wrestling Rings, and my understanding is that Tajiri is nothing but appreciative and respectful of what WWE's done for him.
    WWE has announced that Monday's RAW will be the final appearance of Tajiri in a WWE ring... and while the sad truth is that Tajiri's criminal under-utilization is another part of the reason why I just can't muster up too much indignation here (what's the point of wishing for Tajiri to stay around, if all he's gonna do is use his copious and under-rated skills to wrestle on Heat in matches that not even I will care enough to download?), a selfish and naive part of me hopes that WWE acknowledges his departure in some way. Something as simple as a win to go out on would be appreciated.... the mere fact that he'd get a win on a Monday night would be a nice gesture to the guy; it doesn't have to be a big deal, but it DOES have to be something better than beating Matt Striker on Heat.
    Thanks for the memories, Tajiri. You were, without a doubt, the longest running OO "pet project." A wrestler I absolutely loved watching and who I thought excelled in all aspects enough to be a much bigger star (even in terms of charisma, people, admit it: Tajiri displays more personality without saying a single understandable word than Chris F. Masters does by mumbling for 90 seconds), but who I knew would never *really* make it because of the WWE's standing policies regarding that all-important "look." Come to think of it, that's exactly the description that fits Molly, too.... 2005? Not a good year for the Rick's personal favorites and competent utility role players. 
    Do I even *have* any pet projects any more? I dunno... there's a reason why I'm not bothering with the webcasts of Heat and Velocity, and it's because, frankly, all of WWE's underutilized stars are deservedly underutilized. I frankly can't work up an ounce of indignation if Sylvan or Snitsky or Tomko or Conway aren't getting a chance on the main roster.
    I guess maybe Shelton Benjamin is it, now, in terms of OO Personal Favorites Who Are Getting Shafted. Except he actually does have plenty of "the look," which makes his continued underutilization all the more flummoxing. Ah well... this ain't about Shelton or pet projects. It's about Tajiri leaving WWE.
    Which is happening after Monday's show. Hey, Boston, do me a favor. Well, two favors. (1) Obviously, I think it'd be hilarious if you booed your hometown wigger, John Cena. But also (2) give Tajiri a good send-off and let the world know that even if we fans weren't in much of a rush to buy Tajiri t-shirts and action figures, we all knew full well that he was one hell of a talented wrestler. OK? Thanks...
  • WWE's tour of Afghanistan wraps up tomorrow, giving the crew roughly one day to recover before TV tapings in Boston... I'm not clear on the specifics. Again, that pesky international date line.
    For instance: I know the live event that they were going to tape (to air on the 12/19 RAW) was slated to take place on Friday. But it's already well into Saturday morning now in Kabul, so actually, I think that it might be more fair to say that the WWE tour wraps up later today? But then there's still that hellish plane ride, and once safely back in the bosom of the Eastern Standard Time Zone, it'll be well into Sunday.
    Curiously, SD! is running house shows this weekend. So I guess that JBL might be the only guy from SD! who made the trip? I had thought there were gonna be a few more... not a fully-integrated mixed-brand roster, but at least 3-4 SD! guys who'd want to tag along and justify that whole ordeal with having to shuffle the tapings for tonight's SD! to Sunday, instead of doing 'em on Tuesday. We'll just have to see a week from Monday, I guess.... OO is an international phenomenon and all, but I doubt that I have any readers currently stationed on the front lines of the War On Terror who have the time to bother e-mailing in spoilers.
    But I do know for a fact that at least JBL is on the tour... last night, during the beginning of my 48 Hours of Boredom, I remembered that Rita Cosby dealy on MSNBC was gonna be feature stuff from the WWE tour of Afghanistan. After My Pacers had cemented the utter obliteration of whoever-the-hell-they-were-playing on TNT, I flipped over... when Rita Cosby came back from an ad break, she introduced a quartet of wrestlers: JBL, Mick Foley, Carlito, and Chris Masters.
    Of course, Rita went straight for her buddy, JBL... and then as she moved to talk to Mick. BAM! Keith Olbermann's cutting in with news about the plane that skidded off the runway in Chicago. I gave it about 10 minutes to see if they'd go back to Afghanistan, but they didn't. And even though "Plane Skids off Runway in Chicago" is a pretty big news story, I loathe 24 Hour News Channels who've perfected the art of staying on the air and repeating the same Lack Of Actual Information over and over again, instead of just admitting, "Hey, you know what? We don't know what happened here, and frankly, a camera shot of a plane in the middle of an intersection in Chicago might be pretty cool, but 10 minutes is more than enough, so we're just gonna cut this out until we have something real to report; please return to our regularly scheduled programming until that time."
    So 2 nights of Rita Cosby and WWE in Afghanistan, and that's how I managed to see all of 45 seconds of it. They were actually doing the show live, too, which means maybe it wasn't gonna be as totally lame as I'd have guess. Too bad.... but hey, at least if planes are skidding off runways in 6 inches of snow, I don't have to feel like too big a loser for pretty much deciding that's enough to keep me inside for a couple days straight.
  • A correction from Wednesday, when I said many readers had seen an ad for ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" that promised a WWE wrestler would be appearing, but didn't specify which one. And apparently, some of them thought they saw Shawn Michaels, cuz that's what I got in about 3-4 e-mails.
    Well, I said on Wednesday that that story was so silly-sounding it almost had to be false. Score one for The Me! Kind of...
    Because a WWE personality really will be on "Dancing with the Stars," but it is most definitely NOT Shawn Michaels. Instead, it's going to be Stacy Keibler.
    Unless there's something I don't know about "Dancing with the Stars," and there is a category for "dancing on tables in short skirts while cameras shoot up from ground level, a la Nitro circa 1999," this does absolutely nothing to spur my interest.  It's a dumb-ass show that I can't see appealing to WWE's demographic (unless WWE has a much stronger TV-addicted lonely-housewife demo than I'd previously guessed).
    And further, I almost feel for that TV-addicted female demographic who actually do watch crap like "Dancing with the Stars," and who'll see Stacy Keibler and wonder who the hell she is. The title is "with the STARS," dammit, and outside of the wrestling fan bubble, I'm not guessing anybody knows who Stacy is. My sympathy for the viewers stems from the fact that I like poker, and will usually want "Celebrity Poker Showdown," and will not get angrier in a given week than when I discover that the 5-person line-up only contains maybe 2 (or 3) people who meet the necessary qualifications to be on "CELEBRITY Poker Showdown."
  • Christy Hemme offered to fly in to Lousiville, KY, this week to appear on OVW TV tapings and take however many weeks to close out any storylines that Paul Heyman might have had in mind for her. She wound up *not* being asked to come in for this week (as the show had already been booked and she wasn't required)...
    But that said, Christy still appears on this weekend's OVW TV in a pre-taped segment, and may still be asked to come in and close out a few things if she's willing to do so (although she's under no WWE obligation to do so).
    If that happens, you just gotta chalk it up as more evidence for just how baffling her release from WWE is: it indicates that all the second-hand information is true, and that she really is dedicated to doing business right and learning the trade. It's something that I thought was in evidence a couple weeks ago when Spaz had her first passable wrestling match on SD! versus Melina.
    And for the record: there was nothing mutual about the split, people. It pretty much amounted to WWE deciding (for reasons that are still undeterminable) that they didn't want Christy on the roster. Nobody on the RAW or SD! rosters saw it coming, and more tellingly: SPAZ didn't see it coming. As recently as her last pass through Louisville, she was excited about taking the re-assignment as a chance to not just learn more of the in-ring side of things, but also to hone a character hook so that she could make an impact upon returning to WWE TV. It's a return that I believe she honestly thought would come in time for WM22. That's not the behavior of somebody who was anticipating a release or on the cusp of asking for one...
  • I think the last thing we have to talk about today is TNA, which had a special prime-time show on SpikeTV last night, and which has the Turning Point PPV coming up on Sunday.
    I'm not so sure the prime-time show did a whole lot in terms of driving interest for the PPV, sadly... Christian's TNA debut match against A Team Canada Guy was good, and featured the right level of interference from Monty Brown so as to remind of of that PPV match. But I thought just about everything else on the show was either a total wash (or even slightly counter-productive) in terms of building interest in the PPV.
    What did I think was counter-productive? Well, I'd explain here, except that Jason Longshore took a comment I made to him to heart last night, and I don't want to steal his thunder. Just look for the part of the Turning Point PPV Preview where you see my words emanating from JL's keyboard, and you'll know exactly the part of Impact that had me rolling my eyeballs and shaking my head.
    For the most part, TNA is in EXACTLY the same place as they were with me 3 weeks ago. I still look at the Turning Point PPV, and I have interest in two matches: Christian/Monty, and Dudleys/AMW. I know the internet-jack-off workrate-loving indie wanker in me should be fired up for Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles, but that's just not happening with me... then Rhino/Jarrett? Not only is there no real reason to believe Jarrett will lose, but I'm not a big fan of the Rhino vignettes (the first one of which cast him as a Tazz-like bad-ass, but the latter two of which have just made him out to be a whiny little drama queen, and do not enhance my fandom of his chracter). Raven's little drama? I love him verbally depantsing Zbyzsko (which he did a GREAT job of on Impact), but the simple fact is that as long as Zbyszko is his foil, he's basically in a one-sided storyline since Zybszko is just awful and lacks any sense of gravitas to go with his figurehead position. An obscure baseball coach (and former KISS Demon) on the card? No thanks, even if they have Bobby Heenan promised to do guest commentary for that match.
    What am I forgetting? Anything good? Oh, well, Abyss/Sabu, but again, I'll restrain myself on that issue for now.... point is that I thought TNA came out SO strong 3 weeks ago with an episode that was top-to-bottom tight and really put some sizzle behind two of their PPV matches. But now, on the eve of the PPV, I still only have that same level of excitement and only really for those same 2 matches. That's not really how you take care of bidness.
    Then again, 2 very intriguing matches means this is the closest I've been to thinking about checking out a TNA PPV since the $10 Wednesday night jobbies I'd periodically check out if it was gonna be a big enough show... so maybe we still congratulate TNA on baby steps, even if I thought the potential was there to make the past 3 weeks a LOT more interesting.
    For a much more expert and detailed look at how the past 3 weeks will be paid off on Sunday's PPV, I turn you over today to Jason Longshore and his OO Forums Posse of Actual TNA Fans. They know the product inside and out, and their appreciation of it means that their Team Effort makes this the only TNA Turning Point PPV Preview you need to read. Check it out.
  • And then I'll see you all again on Monday, folks. Remember: the OO Pledge Drive is trying to muster together some semblance of fiscal solvency for OO in the year 2006. A series of unfortunate events means that the Pledge Drive has been shoved all the way to the end of the year, up against your Holiday Spending... but I'd hope that those of you who can, and who appreciate the OO product, will drop a few bucks in the basket.
    Amazon, PayPal, and cash/check/money-order are all options, and you can get more information on the hows and whys of the Pledge Drive by clicking here.
    Thanks in advance all. As a reward, here's a special Bonus Suggestion: check out the new episode of "South Park" that I'm sure will be repeated frequently over the weekend. Fucking hilarious. The show's been a bit hit-and-miss this season, but three ENORMOUS hits they've had with me have followed a simple formula: pick two seemingly-unrelated things that are mind-numbingly retarded and deserve to be mocked, then cleverly tie those two things together into one storyline, and then mock away. The "Day After Tomorrow"/Katrinia-Response one and the "Trapped in the Closet"/Scientology ones were both fricking awesome.
    I think you'll find the same results if you check out the new "Alcoholics Anonymous"/Church-Sanctioned-Miracles one. Those of you readers on the east coast who might be facing your own 48 hours of boredom, expanding into Sunday night since it took an extra day for the shit to hit you, could do a lot worse than keeping an eye out for that.
    That is all. See you Monday. 

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
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PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



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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