Moderator: “Welcome one and all to another installment of The Wrestling Council. In today’s installment we have four hard-hitting topics that will cause our panel to reach back into the deep recesses of its mind and deliver a well-thought out response.
Today is special because it is an all Australian panel within the hall. Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!
Now that pleasantries are over, let us begin, shall we?”
1) Here on B/R we constantly see writers give their take on what is the best finisher ever. State your claim for the best finisher ever and why.
James: I think we have to start off first by defining ‘best.’ It is a superlative of good, and means having the most positive qualities. Thus, the best finisher is determined by a number of factors.
It isn’t just the most impressive move, or the best looking move, or the hardest move to pull off or the most influential move. It is the finishing move that scores highest overall. That is how I am looking at it, anyway.
All in all, my personal selection for the best finishing move of all time is the move known variously as the Kudo Driver, the Vertebreaker and more technically, the back-to-back double underhook piledriver.
There are a few versions of this move and I believe the best version, and therefore the best finisher by an individual wrestler of all time, is the innovator’s version.
That is, Megumi Kudo’s Kudome Valentine.
First, some background. It was popularised in North America by Gregory Helms when he was known as ‘Sugar’ Shane Helms as the Vertebreaker. That is the version people are more likely to be familiar with. Cheerleader Melissa uses it under the alternate name, Kudo Driver, and Homicide calls his version the Cop Killer. TNA calls it the Gringo Killer.
Megumi Kudo is a Japanese female professional wrestler who spent most of her career in FMW, Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling, a promotion specialising in deathmatches with psychology, not just spots.
Megumi Kudo was the female ace for the entire time. She was superb at selling and receiving pain. She was rather skilled…not to mention attractive.
She participated in many female deathmatches, as well as standard athletic matches, especially when she participated in AJW’s inter-promotional era. AJW is All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling, the most successful all-women’s promotion in history.
Thus, the Kudome Valentine was used in a extreme environment as well as in standard matches and high-quality standard matches at that.
Now, I believe this version to be the best version because Kudo puts more time into the lifting of the opponent.
It’s more suspenseful and makes for better counters. Her version also lets her make it look like a struggle to pull off the move in a way the other versions cannot because they move past the lifting stage quicker.
Also, I prefer the Kudome Valentine because it looks more devastating than Cheerleader Melissa’s version, Homicide’s version and Gregory Helms version. Kudo has amazing coordination to drop the opponent drop dead straight like an arrow. Nothing distracts from the dumping of the opponent onto the head.
In many versions the wrestler moves around. Kudo doesn’t and it shows greater coordination and strength. It also has more psychological appeal and is especially suited for use in a hardcore environment.
I’ve seen her use the move to dump people on barbed wire and I cannot see the other versions adapting to a hardcore environment as well.
The move in general is extremely difficult to execute. It is as dangerous as any other piledriver, but it is harder to perform this move because unlike most piledrivers, the wrestler on the receiving of this move is not wedged in unseen by the wrestler performing the move.
Also, the receiving wrestler receives no protection from their head being placed inbetween the other wrestler’s legs, which grants protection by softening impact.
Thus, great concentration, strength and coordination is required. The high skill level involved makes this more impressive.
As their arms are restrained for this move, there is also no way the recipient can protect themselves with their hands and they are hard-pressed to force a counter if the move starts off wrong.
Unlike most pro wrestling moves, they are almost totally dependent on the other wrestler to keep them safe. There is no cooperation whatsoever when the move is being performed. All the recipient can do is make sure they stay in position.
This makes this move one of the most legitimate and credible finishers and since it doesn’t look contrived, it adds to the immersive quality and therefore, the impact and the entertainment value.
This move looks devastating. The impact is nearly unparalleled of any move out there. It is one of the most visually impressive moves out there besides aerial moves and aerial moves tend to date.
This move has a timeless appeal, whereas aerial moves lose a considerable portion of their appeal if viewed to often or if more mpressive moves are seen afterwards
This move also has the entertainment value and timeless quality it has because it is not used often. Not many people use this move and so it remains memorable and identifiable with the wrestlers that use it.
The Kudome Valentine, like any great finisher, draws a powerful association with Megumi Kudo for those that see the original version.
The Kudome Valentine is highly entertaining to see. It makes you go “wow” and unlike aerial moves, you can watch any match, any other move performed by any wrestler and it will not detract from the “wow” factor.
The move is in a league of its own. There are moves similar to it, but even those moves fail to get the same impact.
This move cannot be performed from out of nowhere. This detracts from its versatility, but the move has proven to work in a variety of different situations, including meshing perfectly in a deathmatch environment.
This move lends itself to a deep use of psychology. Because of the twisting and the lifting, there can be counters from different stages and positions and the lifting can create suspense.
This move is versatile even though it cannot be performed at any time or from anywhere. Actually, that serves to help secure it as a finisher move.
Unlike other finishes throughout time, this move cannot be used as a regular move thrown in matches. It is more special than that.
Considering how difficult the move is to execute, the number of people that use it now show the influence and importance of this move. It has been in many big matches and despite its rarity, many people have heard or seen of it, usually as the Vertebreaker.
Helms’ Vertebreaker has been prominent for fans of WCW and viewers, the move has been prominent when used in the independent circuit and the Kudome Valentine has been in many big matches in Japan. The Kudome Valentine is the most influential version as the original version influences everyone else, directly or indirectly.
This move is not nearly as prominent, important or influential as many otherm oves, but it handles itself well in this regard, especially given how seldom the move appears.
Overall, I consider it to be the best finisher for anyone and the Kudome Valentine to be the best finisher of all time. It is as effective now as it used to be and will be just as effective decades from now.
Scott: For me, the best finisher would have to be Undertaker’s Tombstone Piledriver. It has taken many victims over the years, and once he connects with the move it’s pretty much a guarantee that his opponent is out for the count.
It’s the crown jewel in Undertaker’s arsenal of signature moves. He can hit a big boot, an old school, or even a chokeslam, but ultimately, it all leads to the infamous Tombstone Piledriver.
It’s the knockout punch that ‘Taker can always depend on, and the fans go absolutely nuts when he hits it.
There are a lot of moves that others can claim to be “the best finisher in history.” There’s the Stone Cold Stunner, the RKO, Sweet Chin Music, and many more, but the Tombstone Piledriver beats them all in my opinion.
Krut: As far as the best looking finisher goes, I can’t go past the “Vertebreaker” The move looks devestating!
Alas, a wise man once said that for a finisher to be truly great, you must be able to apply it to any opponent you may face. It is for that reason that I think Mick Foley’s “Mandible Claw” is the best finishing move of all time.
It is a quasi-legitimate hold based on Dr. Sam Sheppard’s “Mandibular Nerve Hold” which means it can be applied to any wrestler, no matter how heavy or tall they are. It wouldn’t even matter how fat their legs are! (R.I.P. Yokozuna)
2) What was, in your estimation, a major feud that had a fantastic build? Explain. What was a major feud that had a horrible build and why?
James: Well, it is a good thing this is not asking for our opinion of the feud with the best build-up, because that would be very difficult to answer. Build-up in feuds continues the whole way through the feud as the matches themselves are used as build-up for the next matches along with what else happens in interviews and storylines.
An excellent example of a major feud with great build-up is the famous feud between Abdullah The Butcher and Carlos Colón.
This was a feud that unfolded in at least a portion of three different decades and is renowned as a feud playing host to great bloodbaths. Colón was battling against his nemesis in a feud that consistently sold out crowds.
Unlike the traditional defending against a bad guy, there were a lot of twists and turns in the storylines which built up the storyline as it progressed.
In fact, as Colón started using the tactics Abdullah The Butcher employed, his character developed as well as that of Abdullah The Butcher.
Each of their many matches added something new to the story and had new meaning. As the characters developed, they added new elements. There was always something new, thanks also due to the well-planned, creative storylines.
This helped build the next match because it wasn’t going to be a repeat of what just happened and the turns kept people interested.
By using the history of each previous match and the events in the storyline as it progressed, each new match was built up with a growing intensity.
This feud gave WWC their biggest gates and even though these feud lasted from the late 70′s to the 1997. In this feud, you had so much happening, including Abdullah attacking Colón’s family and unlike how family is used without good storytelling today, in this feud it worked very well. You also had decimation on both sides.
The feud was never one-sided and never predictable, but neither was it a feud filled with swerves. It was clear-cut, engaging and enjoyable and a great deal of this is attributable to the ongoing build-up.
Though they were continually destroying each other in Barbed Wire Matches, Chain Matches, Steel Cages, Lumberjack Matches, Puerto Rican Death Matches, which were used well and Hardcore Matches which essentially was their Standard Match (this was hardcore before hardcore was recognised as a style), Colón kept getting more determined to defeat his rival and Abdullah The Butcher remained steadfast.
This feud can be likened to a siege. It was about two men going to whatever lengths were necessary to break the other.
Abdullah The Butcher got motivated by violence and Colón got motivated by the emotions caused by the actions of his nemesis. Because of the sheer amount of psychology involved, the hardcore element never got stale.
You could keep watching these matches and not get bored, because the pyschology led to new directions and continually renewed interest in the matches and in the feud in general. Thus, the feud was pure gold, which is especially difficult for hardcore feuds, which can get bogged down in spots.
In the middle of this feud, on three separate occasions, a truce was called and a deal was made to combat mutual foes. This also helped to keep the feud fresh but when they made a deal, they stuck by it. During the times of truce, the feud continued to be built up.
They truly put aside their differences, which is more meaningful than simply one turning on the other and jumping straight back into the feud as what usually happens nowadays and is overused.
After each deal ran its course, they went back to focusing on each other. The feud was not a simple battle of the good guy and the bad guy and that elevated this feud.
The feud ended in 1997 after a massive Loser Leaves Town match, which Colón won. Two years later, Colón was embroiled in a feud where he was forced to turn to Abdullah The Butcher for assistance.
Colón traveled to Abdullah The Butcher’s restaurant to talk to him and work a deal. Even here, they used continuity which worked wonders for the feud over so many years.
Like a family feud, they never forgot, though they would later forgive. Due to this continuity, the intensity kept building up and the feud had more and more emotions invested in it as time went on. It drew a big reaction and a lot of money as the result. The build-up never let down over the long period it occurred.
There are so many feuds that have a bad build-up out there. One feud that comes to mind is JBL vs. Shawn Michaels, from December 2008 to February 2009.
Now, Shawn Michaels is one of those special wrestlers that are very rare and JBL is effective in his various roles, but this feud was let down by bad buildup and bad storyline.
Build-up is what occurs to build from the base that is the premise of a storyline and the matchup itself. The storyline is the plot as it unfolds.
The build-up is making the plot interesting through building up the feud using matches, promos and details of the story that are unnecessary for the plot.
The pairing of these two wrestlers is not a bad thing on paper. The build-up on the premise was. Why would Shawn Michaels, a wrestler who has earned a substantial amount of money, with a close friend who has been recognised on TV to be Stephanie McMahon’s husband, go bankrupt?
It was not explained by saying anything like Shawn is a huge gambler or he has an extravagant lifestyle or something and making it credible.
This is the sort of thing where long-term booking would have been helpful. In promos in other feuds, HBK could have mentioned partying like he used to or buying this or that, doing something that eases into this storyline.
Also, he could potentially have gradually been moving lower and lower in the card (also serving to give someone else airtime and a spot to get pushed) prior to this feud, which would also buildup the feud because when there is such long-term booking, the premise would be more credible.
In addition, such long-term building would make JBL’s threats be perceived as having a greater chance of getting followed through on.
If someone always comes out victorious in a feud, no matter how much they lose the matches prior to the feud ending, why should this time be different? People get more emotionally invested when the threat appears very real.
In the absence of any plausible explanation that properly builds up and fleshes out the feud, ridicule can arise in people’s minds, or a distraction from the storyline and the possible matchup.
Even if this build-up on the initial premise does not negatively impact the viewer, neither can it positively impact the viewer. When build-up fails to actually build-up the feud, it has failed and is therefore, bad. It is worse when the build-up actually detracts from the match-up.
Realism creates an immersing experience which allows emotions to be brought out, which in turn leads to entertainment and interest. Any magician knows that.
The illusion can cause curiosity, wonder, even surprise and amazement and it is these emotions that allows magicians to be entertaining. You know it is an illusion, but you are still taken in.
Any producer on a television show should know the value of realism toas well. If say, you did a medical drama and you used the wrong terms or used the wrong procedures, some people won’t be able to enjoy it as much because when an error is known and present, it draws attention, which prevents the formation of interest and emotional investment in a story.
This redirection of attention prevents what is happening in the promos, etc. from being focused on and thus it is harder for people to concentrate on and get interested in the build-up of a storyline, as in this case.
In this particular feud, since the initial premise was so flawed, the subsequent build-up in the promos lost some of its charm.
As good as their oratorial skills are, one can paint a vase with holes in it and make it look better, but that paint of coat doesn’t change the fact that there are holes in it, which people are bound to look at.
Yes, it looks better, but until the holes are filled, people cannot appreciate the paint, or the promos, as much as they otherwise would.
When JBL was offering Shawn Michaels a job, there was a sizeable distraction in the fact that Shawn Michaels already has a job and since he’s friends with Triple H, why didn’t he get help from that partnership?
The build-up failed here because what could have happened is that Michaels goes elsewhere, to Triple H, to “good-guys” like John Cena and even to Vince McMahon, who has been his foe, to try to get assistance and for some reason or another, they cannot.
Michaels could have been built up as a man trapped and forced to consider JBL’s offer. That was part of the storyline―he had no choice but to accept JBL’s offer, but in the build-up, they didn’t show that he truly was forced into that position.
Michaels did not come across as in the state of last resort he was meant to be in the storyline, which would have generated more interest and emotion.
It was only later that John Cena tried to get Shawn Michaels away from JBL. The build-up did not integrate John Cena’s involvement into the storyline as it should have. There are a number of better actions that could have been undertaken.
The feud could have ultimately meant something, as with Cena’s involvement. It could have been a turning point but it ended up meaning very little. It advanced the storyline, but did people care any more about the feud? No.
The point of build-up is not to advance the feud, but to advance enjoyment and emotional involvement. That failed because the promos, the premise and the storyline did not lead to this.
Scott: One of the best feuds that I have seen which had an excellent build up, especially in recent times, is the rivalry between Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho from last year. There were several reasons that I picked their feud, including the fact that WWE let the superstars involved in the storyline have creative control of it.
For a great feud there needs to be an equal balance of storyline and great matches. This feud definitely delivered on that.
It involved Michaels going through a television screen on “The Highlight Reel” which resulted in a kayfabe eye injury to Michaels, and then there was the brutal assault by Jericho towards the eye during their match at The Great American Bash PPV.
Michaels was then going to “retire” at Summerslam, but the feud continued after Jericho punched HBK’s wife. That resulted in an unsanctioned match at Unforgiven which Michaels won after the referee called for an end to the match.
The two stood at one a piece, and Jericho was now the World Heavyweight Champion. What followed was arguably the best match of 2008, a ladder match for the title belt at No Mercy. Jericho ultimately won the match and retained the belt, but the feud will always be remembered as a classic.
As for an example of a feud with a bad build, I’d have to say the grudge between Cryme Tyme and the team of the Miz & John Morrison from late last year was one of the worst that I’ve ever seen. It had so much potential to revive the tag team division, but failed miserably.
The entire feud involved the teams taking shots at each other through their shows on WWE.com and making several appearances doing ringside commentary during the other team’s matches.
The actual match between them for the tag team titles at Cyber Sunday was less than memorable to say the least.
Krut: In my opinion, the worst build up I can remember seeing is the recent Hardy vs. Edge angle.
The push down the stairs was childish, the car accident was pushing the envelope of stupidity and the pyro… the pyro accident had the angle in a race for supremacy with “Lost in Cleveland!”
Why the WWE creative department couldn’t come up with something more realistic is beyond me. My 12-year-old niece was laughing at how stupid the whole thing was, to me, that says something!
On the other end of the scale is Triple H vs Mankind/Cactus Jack from late 1999/early 2000. That magnificent bastard, M, asked me what my favourite match was.
Cactus Jack vs Triple H, Royal Rumble 2000 was my response.
This angle is the epitome of a wrestling feud in my book. Mankind was fired after losing a “Pink Slip on a Pole” match with his tag team partner The Rock, who two weeks later led a mutiny of all superstars on the roster demanding Mankind be reinstated.
Hunter agreed not only to reinstate Mankind, he also agreed to a match at the Rumble before beating down Mankind and leaving him a bloody mess, which paved the way for Foley to transform from Mankind to Cactus Jack, a transformation that Hunter sold as only he can.
The lead up to the match was centred around the enigma that was Cactus Jack. Video of Foley’s Japanese death match exploits was shown due to the fact Mankind had become, in the words of Triple H, “The Human Muppet.” To this day, this feud is still my favourite!
“For a man who has wrestled on nails, in barb wire, this will be a day in Central Park!” -Jim Ross.
For those readers that are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, click here.
3) Name an international star, not with the WWE, TNA, or ROH, that folks should pay attention to? Why?
James: Katsuhiko Nakajima is an international star, as a top-tier junior heavyweight but seems destined to become a World Champion someday.
Now 21, he has already been in the business since 2002, having initially been signed at the age of 14. He first match was not actually a professional wrestling match and occured when he was 15. He was 16 when he debuted as a professional wrestler.
He is the current record-holder for being the youngest pro-wrestler to be signed to a major promotion. He has earned the nickname ‘Supernova’ for making such a strong impact on the business from his early years.
He has already faced off against legends like Kenta Kobashi, Tiger Mask, Tatsumi Fujinami, Mitsuharu Misawa and Jushin “Thunder” Liger. He is well on his way to becoming a main-eventer and indeed, a legend himself.
He has been greatly assisted from his signing with Kensuke Office in April 2004. Kensuke Office is co-owned by Kensuke Sasaki and his wife Akira Hokuto (or rather, Hisako Uno Sasaki) and is a dojo and agency, as well as sometimes promoting shows.
He has been part of some stellar tag team matches with Kensuke Sasaki and has done very well in junior divisions. He still has so much ahead of him, being only 21 and under the mentorship of Kensuke Sasaki, one of the best on the planet today and Akira Hokuto, one of the best wrestlers of all time, he has the perfect assistance to help him achieve his full potential.
Named Rookie of the Year in 2004 by Tokyo Sports Grand Prix, who also awarded him the 2005 Fighting Spirit Award, he is definitely someone to watch. Even now he is talented enough to have been ranked No. 49 on the PWI 500 in 2006 and makes for quality viewing today.
Scott: As I’ve mentioned here on B/R before, Greg Bownds a.k.a. “TNT” from the Australasian Wrestling Federation, is definitely one of those special talents that could easily transition to the international scene.
He’s only 32 years old, so he’s still got a good 10 years left in him to break into one of the “big three” wrestling promotions in North America.
He’s had the training and the exposure of wrestling overseas already in his career. He spent a bit of time in Mexico learning the true Lucha Libre style of wrestling from one of the most respected in that part of the world, Rey Mysterio Sr.
Bownds is also one of the very few select Australians to compete overseas in the ZERO1-MAX and Dragon Gate wrestling promotions in Japan. While he was there he wrestled against and with the likes of Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Jack Evans, Ryo Saito, and Masaaki Mochizuki.
Not only has Bownds competed with some very high calibre wrestlers in his career, but he’s also established his very own wrestling promotion (AWF).
That means that he has a very good knowledge of the backstage workings in wrestling, which I think could only assist him overseas in whatever promotion he went to.
Krut: EPW Perth’s Davis Storm. Storm is awesome both in the ring and on the mic. I only discovered the guy existed a few months back but in that time he has impressed me greatly.
He is one of the reasons I subscribed to EPW on you tube. I suggest everyone looks into not only Davis Storm, but EPW Perth too!
4) The WWE just came from Australia where they did great business. Make an argument for the WWE having a PPV in Australia.
James: WWE once had a PPV in Australia. It was Global Warning. I argue that the great success of Global Warning and the success of WWE live events is proof enough that a PPV in Australia can succeed and is indeed desirable on a number of levels. I argue that history indicates that it is simply good business.
The crowd reaction of Global Warning was great and so was the attendance, which was even more than the live attendance at most WrestleMania’s, at 56,734. That is a large number for any pro wrestling event.
Any appearance in Australia by WWE is guaranteed a hot crowd and a large crowd at that. WWE has usually had dead crowds, for good reason in recent times.
A PPV appearance in Australia will have an improvement in the match quality simple by having such a hot crowd which generates a powerful atmosphere. The strong reaction in Australia can also be good for morale for the WWE Officials and Talent.
The hot crowd is partly due to fans that rarely or have never seen WWE Talent getting to actually see them. Due to the rarity of the experience, it has mroe impact. This is the same reason why promotions going into smaller and less visited markets get better profit and greater success.
WWE Superstars deserve the reception it gets in Australia, even though the product doesn’t. The reaction the WWE Talent get in Australia is uplifting and in a PPV experience, would be well worth the trip especially if the PPV involves meaningful, quality matches that the crowd can really get behind.
If WWE were to have a PPV in Australia soon, it would be best if SmackDown! and ECW were the dominant focus rather than RAW, unless the guys are RAW are allowed to put on the quality matches they can. At Global Warning, the matches that diidn’t interest the crowd made the crowd a lot quieter.
It would also be profitable, too, as not only will the live gate be substantial, but it would be additional inducement for Australians to buy the PPV because it is on their home soil.
It would also help stimulate general merchandise sales in Australia due to the anticipation surrounding the event for many fans, should it occur. The typical PPV in North America does not have as great an effect, except for the big four PPVs.
The impact of such a special experience will lead to a considerable number of fans becoming very big fans, which can lead to a prolonged increase in merchandise and PPV sales down the road.
Unfortunately, I do not have any data about the impact of Global Warning in terms of merchandise and PPV sales.
From accounts on Global Warning, I can quote people on the impact it had for them. Judging by that, a similar impact on a newer generation of fans, which would lead to more faithful and passionate fans, can only be very desirable, especially considering the current state of the economy.
Scott: I think it’s about time that the Australian WWE fans get rewarded for their loyal support over the years. Where else in the world would you find fans that are willing to pay up to $350 and fill a stadium, just to watch a live show featuring superstars from just one brand?
The time difference would work out well, too. When a PPV starts in America, it’s 8pm Sunday night (EST). At that same time in Australia it’s 10am on Monday morning (EST). The PPV could still be broadcast at the same time as usual, which is something that couldn’t be said for most other countries in the world.
Australia has several public holidays that fall on a Monday throughout the year, which would help with crowd figures if the fans had the day off work or school. Most recently was the Queen’s Birthday holiday on June 8.
That would’ve been the perfect occasion for WWE to have their Extreme Rules PPV here. It wasn’t one of the “big four” shows and WWE could’ve potentially made more money having it here, then having it in New Orleans like they did.
I feel that the ideal situation would be if WWE came out here after one of their PPV’s and had three weeks of Raw, ECW, and Smackdown tapings leading up to a PPV. That would provide WWE with more time to make their money back from travelling.
There’s no doubt that WWE would sell out every arena they go to for the whole three weeks, and the atmosphere would be absolutely electric!
Krut: You’re kidding… right?
As much as it would help raise the profile of professional wrestling over here, I don’t think it’s a good idea. To hold a PPV on the other side of the world is not only a logistical nightmare, it’s a pretty stupid business move!
To have an event start at 8pm Eastern on a Sunday night in th U.S would mean it would have to take place at 10am Monday morning in Australia, that would be the least of WWE’s worries.
Ticket costs would be extremely high due to the cost the company would incur putting on such a show, which is a risk WWE can not take due to the recent tour. Business wasn’t as great as WWE had hoped for.
To the best of my knowledge, only the Melbourne show sold out. There were quite a few seats available for the 4th of July show in Sydney when when I left for work at 2:30pm that day.
Those are just a few of the reasons why I won’t make an argument for a PPV down under. The others are more economic, relating to the recent woes of the world that I wont go into in any detail.
Let’s just say that if the company wants to hold a PPV here one day, they need to start out smaller and start with a SD! and ECW taping. Baby steps folks, baby steps.
Moderator: “Thank you three for taking part in today’s discussion. We have concluded another episode of Enter the Hall of Justice. We hope to see you next time.”
Shane Howard is a member of the Hit The Ropes Radio Show team. Tune in to HTR this and every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Be sure to add HTR’s Web site to your favorites, YouTube us, add us on Myspace, follow us on Twitter, and join the Facebook group.
Be sure to check out HTR this week as we welcome the legendary “Leaping” Lanny Poffo (brother of “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
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