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Superstar Sleeze

[2000-02-07-WWF-Raw] HHH & X-Pac & Chris Benoit & Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko vs The Rock & Cactus Jack & Rikishi & Too Cool

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HHH, X-Pac, Chris Benoit, Saturn & Dean Malenko vs The Rock, Mankind & Too Cool - RAW 2/7/00

 

I have actually never seen this before and holy shit was this fucking hot as hell. The crowd was just electric. One of the hottest American crowds I have ever heard. Great, great babyface shine. Too Cool did not look that out of place in the main event. They easily could have been wrestling the Hardyz, Dudz and E&C. The Worm was great at the beginning. Scotty 2 Hotty reverse suplex on Deano Machino, wow! Rikishi looked fine. The Radicalz were servicable, but Saturn and Malenko came off as midcarders which they were and until the end Benoit did not seem that special. Benoit's value is his offense. He is great at selling and bumping, but in a popcorn match thats not where he excels. X-Pac and HHH were fantastic. I loved the crowd chanting Asshole at HHH when he got in the ring. Thats heat, BABY! There was so much energy in this match. Just a really great, babyface-oriented popcorn, TV match. It was real feel good until Benoit got the win with the Diving Headbutt, which was his shining moment. Kane's return fucking blew the roof off the place and was an excellent way to send everyone home happy. Really enjoyable. ***1/2

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A really hyped match that I haven’t seen in quite some time. Radicalz interrupt X-Pac and Tori. Crowd is really hot for Eddy as he thanks the WWF fans for their support. Benoit asks for Cactus Jack. The crowd here really is molten. Steph has a more edgy outfit on tonight. HHH asks for one more match with Jack with him putting his career on the line at No Way Out. HHH allows Cactus to pick the match but without any barbed wire and thumbtacks. The payoff of Foley to Hell in a Cell is greatly built up to. HHH also brings some great intensity to the promo describing the career stipulation and it including all of Foley’s personas. Foley talks about main eventing WrestleMania and that being the only milestone he has left. A huge pop when Foley says when I win. This was an incredible promo on both behalf. The Radicalz then turn on Jack as we learn that HHH gave them contracts and they are repaying their gratitude. I am not sure how I feel about the heel turn so soon for these guys but the promo set up wasn’t that contrived so I can give it a pass as of this moment. The main event is presented as 5-2 until Too Cool and Rikishi musics fires up and we get a huge brawl with the crowd going completely ape shit. Rock is paired off with HHH and HHH gets suplexed on the entrance. This is the peak of the Worm which I am a bit ashamed to admit was probably my favorite move in wrestling at the time as a 14 year old. Rocky chant fires up. Rikishi is right there heat wise with anyone in this match and I still think they really had something with him at this point. I don’t know how much staying power it had but they should have done more. Him and Benoit seem to have fun chemistry together. Benoit gives Rikishi a huge German making Lawler and Steph pop on commentary. Cactus goes after HHH and throws him on the table before everyone pounces on Cactus and he is the FIP. Good kicks in the corner by HHH and he shoves Hebner down. Cactus makes the hot tag to Rock and the crowd comes unglued. Rock does one of the better hot tag sequences I can remember giving everyone hell. Saturn gets in a moment of shine taking Rock out with a nice superkick. King is marking out on commentary. Big legdrop from Grand Master Sexay and he gets tripped by Eddy allowing the heels to take over and take control of Sexay. Steph is better here on commentary than the first time but still around passable level. Sexay does a double DDT on Dean and Benoit and makes the big tag to Jack. Chaos ensues and Benoit is able to pikc up the win with a diving headbutt on Sexay. Great booking. All ten men continue to brawl when the Outlaws come out with a lead pipe. The lights go out and Kane reemerges with his father Paul Bearer to a great pop in his old WCCW stomping grounds. ****

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This is one of my favourite WWF/E matches of all time - just so much to enjoy and an absolutely mental crowd that are so far behind the faces that it makes you incredibly wistful to when good guys could still get cheered. If I remember rightly there was a show long angle whereby Cactus was having to get people to stand with him, which up until the match started was only The Rock. This, and the spot in the 2000 Rumble where they all dance, is peak Rikishi and Too Cool to where they seemed like genuine threats to guys at the top of the card. There's so much action to pick up on, and the Radicalz bring a great level of intensity to the ring work which was often missing from the WWF in 1999 and you feel that it raises everyone elses game to be in there with them. As Soup says, Steph is also pretty good on commentary here and I think you can already see the progression to her becoming a really good heel.

 

A personal memory from watching this at the time, I believe I was 15 or so and we'd just got Sky, but here in the UK they didn't show RAW until Fridays and then really late, like 2 in the morning. So I remember creeping down to watch this and waking the whole house with how loud I was popping for all the action. When the lights went out and out came Paul Bearer, even though he was wearing a red jacket and there was a red glow indicating Kane there was for a split second a part of me that thought Undertaker was coming back. It says something for how over everyone in 2000 WWF was that when Kane does come out there is no hint of disappointment and he gets an unbelievable reaction. Such a fantastic match.

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This was an absolutely phenomenal match. I'm really excited to talk about it, but first I'll talk about the opening segment, which contained both a pair of great money promos from HHH and Cactus (like, exceptionally great) and a strong angle assimilating The Radicalz in the WWF by turning on Cactus in exchange for contracts provided by HHH and Stephanie. HHH got so many details right in his promo -- the way he sold Cactus suggesting their match be Hell in a Cell was tremendous the point that you'd probably have to work harder to convince me that it *didn't* have a positive effect on the buyrate for No Way Out than that it did. He's been on a roll thus far. I have to give credit where it's due.

 

As for the match itself, it was awesome, and not just for the legendary hot crowd. I want to talk about each guy in the match. Some there aren't much to say about. X-Pac and Scotty 2 Hotty pretty much hit their signature stuff and got out, although X-Pac is always good at setting up over babyfaces for retribution spots. He did it for Rock and Foley here, much like he did for Flair many times in WCW. Brian Christopher was FIP for a while, which he did well, and ate the fall in the end after taking a pedigree from HHH followed by a diving headbutt from Benoit. Rock added heat. Foley added heat. To me, the most impressive guys were HHH, Benoit, Saturn, Malenko and Rikishi.

 

I want to start with Rikishi. I've said this before, but it really bears repeating. Rikishi was a superstar. He also was a tremendous worker. I love his exchanges with Benoit, which managed to put them both over, both in Benoit's immediate feed eating the Samoan drop and in Benoit finally hitting the German after struggling at first. Their stuff was really crisp and fast-paced, and I'm hoping they have at least one singles match that is given time and clicks this year. I know they have some matches against each other, but I don't remember any being hyped as particularly special, but it's possible they were just forgotten or overlooked. The fans are overwhelmingly excited to see Rikishi take on everyone and root for him in a big way. I watch this and totally think Too Cool rode his coattails, and I'm not sure I looked at it that way at the time. I love Brian Christopher and think both guys are perfectly capable workers, but they had been around for a while and hadn't clicked in different repackage attempts until they were paired with Rikishi and added the dancing.

 

The Radicalz were fun because I think they were all genuinely amazed by what they were experiencing. Maybe not Benoit because he flirted with WCW main events at times when the company was hot and was pretty over consistently. But Saturn seems excited as hell to be teaming with the champion and working opposite the biggest stars in the business in front of a red hot crowd, like he can't wait to get in his offense and can't wait even more to bump for the other guys. You get the sense he's just overly thrilled to be in what at the time was a mostly professional company when it came to main event-midcard interaction, especially compared to WCW. I also liked Malenko and saw a different side of him as a heel worker. We've talked a lot about how he worked "cold" in WCW, making guys conform to a match that often wasn't what the crowd wanted to see. But I thought he was excellent when he was with Rikishi at setting up his spots, teasing retribution spots and paying them off. He contributed quite a bit to the match not just in terms of action, but in terms of psychology, to a point that it surprised me.

 

And HHH continues his hot streak. The way I would describe HHH in everything I've seen so far is that he does what I think a top heel should do in terms of not playing for cheers or laughs, being genuinely loathsome, coming out with the upper hand enough to maintain his heat, recognizing the strengths of other guys in his promos while putting himself over more, giving on-point reactions to things that may otherwise be a tough sell, getting guys who are near the top over at the top level (he deserves a big part of the credit for Rikishi for sure) and working effectively with anyone in any spot on the card, which he showed here in his interactions with Brian Christopher.

 

It wasn't a perfect match. Hebner was off his game (as he usually is) when he was supposed to miss a hot tag but was just standing there with his back turned instead of being engaged in something so he had a reason to miss the hot tag to Cactus Jack. I think Cactus also blanked on the finish and tried to break up Benoit's fall on Christopher before he realized what he was doing and got out of the ring. But neither of those flaws really brought the match down in any way that was all that meaningful.

 

So this match does a lot really well. It has a hot crowd, but the hot crowd is the icing on the cake. There is a lot of cake beneath the admittedly large amount of icing. I really enjoyed my dessert. ****1/2

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There is one thing about the opening promo which seemed odd. The exchange went about like this:

HHH: "You will get one last title shot. Choose any gimmick you want, just no ultraviolence."

Cactus: "Okay, I choose HIAC."

HHH: "Fine by me, but you have to put your career on the line."

Cactus: "Sure."

 

He already got the title shot, why not choosing another stip instead of putting his career on the line? Cactus tried to save it by saying "If I cannot beat you a in HIAC I don't deserve to continue wrestling." but still. I liked however HHH pointing out that he meant Foley's career, not just Cactus Jack's career.

 

By the way: it's funny hearing Lawler doing heel commentary rooting for the heels while his son (whose gimmick in 97 and 98 basically was that he is Lawler's son) is in the ring wrestling as a face.

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This is about as good as pro wrestling TV gets. Hot crowd, interesting character work, compelling story, a nice match that still leaves you wanting more... I know it would be impossible to book something this good week in and week out, but wouldn't it be nice if we could still get something along these lines once in a while?

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This is an amazing tv match. The atmosphere is remarkable, what struck even more than the pops all the faces got was how much genuine heat Triple H got. The structure was the classic babyfaces run through the heels. Everybody fit in and was on. My favorite segment was The Rock hitting the heel team with spinebusters. The only complaint is the finish seems mis-timed.

 

If there is another WWE tv match that comes even close to this I would be impressed.

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This is an amazing tv main event. An excellent fast-paced 10-man tag with everyone getting a chance to shine. The crowd just eats everything up and is solidly behind the babyfaces. The finish is kind of weird as Foley seems to accidentally attempt to break up the pinfall. Just an awesome main event that I don't remember being topped by anything else this year. WWE tv seems to really be on point during this time period. One thing that stands out to me is that it seems like they really dropped the ball with Rikishi. The crowd seems to accept him as a main event guy.

 

****1/4

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I remember seeing this match live on TV and what an awesome atmosphere the opening segment created and the main event topped it off. It's been so long since I heard a WWE crowd that molten hot. They were popping for everything that was happening. I absolutely love multi man matches and when you have an incredible crowd and when everything is clicking so well and the action for the most part is very smooth, it's going to be a personal favorite. This match will be one of my very favorite matches of 2000.

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I haven't watched the opening segment of a RAW in forever. Set up the main events for the PPV and the TV show pretty nicely. Foley is about a thousand times better than any of the others on the mic. Hunter is probably the next best on the stick. Stephanie is awful. I don't think I've watched this match since it aired. It's a fun bit of TV but a lot of people call this the best match in RAW history and I think that's going a bit far. I was still watching the WWF at this time and heavily into the news sites, but my memory is a bit foggy. I can't remember why they turned the Radicalz heel after introducing them as faces. Was that always the plan or was it switched after the initial reaction to them? Sleeze mentioned Benoit being out of place in a match like this, but the exchange I liked best was Benoit vs. Rikishi and that was the one match I wanted to see coming out of this. The next stop is that match. I guess.

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X-Pac heads to the ring with Tori and he’s soon followed by The Radicalz. He steps outside to grab a chair but Saturn tells him that they’re not here to cause trouble. He says last week they showed up, tried to make a little noise, they tried to make an impact, but more than anything they wanted a contract to wrestle in the WWF. Malenko says last Thursday they were given the chance to earn their way into the WWF, and while they were good, on that night they weren’t quite good enough. Guerrero thanks the fans for their support and Jerry Lawler wonders if they’re saying goodbye? Benoit then talks about how they came here to personally thank the man who made this opportunity possible, Cactus Jack. A rather solemn looking Cactus is out and gives them all a hug, when Triple H’s music plays. Asshole chants for Hunter! He tells Cactus that he makes him sick and his patience is starting to wear very thin of this whole situation. He couldn’t get the job done, they (the Radicalz) couldn’t get the job done and they’re still all in his face. It’s time to put the matter to rest, it’s gone on too long and it’s time to finish it once and for all. HHH proposes that they face each other one more time at No Way Out, but it will be Cactus’ last shot at him and his last shot at the WWF title. He gives Cactus the choice of whatever match he wants, with a few caveats, and Cactus chooses ‘Hell in the Cell’. After thinking it over Triple H agrees, but he wants Cactus’ career on the line. If he wins, Cactus Jack retires, and that includes Mick Foley, Dude Love, Mankind and Cactus Jack. Cactus says how in his 15 years in this business he’s done it all except main event Wrestlemania, so he’s going to add one final stipulation; if, no, when he wins, he goes on to defend the World title at Wrestlemania. No stipulations, no rematches, he defends the belt against the winner of The Rock and the Big Show. Triple H tells him that he has about twenty days left of his glorious career, and at ‘Hell in the Cell’ he’ll finish what he started. He goes on to say he takes whatever he wants, and right now he wants a piece of his ass! Hunter gets up on the apron and tells the Radicalz they can either get their asses out of the ring and save themselves a beating, or they can show their appreciation to the man that gave them the opportunity…to the man that gave them their contracts! The Radicalz jump Cactus and it’s four on one with Triple H directing things. They beat him down in the corner, bronco buster from X-Pac, Malenko and Saturn with a double suplex and a Benoit diving headbutt to finish things off. HHH tells Cactus that it’s the beginning of the end, hits a pedigree on him and they all leave him laying in the ring.

 

Dressing room interview between Cactus and Michael Cole. Cole says how tonight Cactus goes into a five on two situation against HHH, X-Pac and the four men who stabbed him in the back. Cactus tells Cole not to count him out because for 25 years he’s been proving people wrong. He was fully prepared to go five on one, he didn’t ask for The Rock’s help but he’s not stupid enough to turn it down. Will it be enough? It’s going to have to be because he will get through tonight, he will get through ‘Hell in the Cell’ and he will go to Wrestlemania.

 

This looks as though it’s going to be five on two, but just as Rock and Cactus enter the ring Rikishi’s music plays and he rushes out with Too Cool to even up the odds. Wild, action packed opening to proceedings with everyone getting it on. Rock suplexes HHH on the steel runway, Cactus and Benoit end up in the crowd before things appear to calm down with X-Pac and Grandmaster Sexay duking it out in the ring. Grandmaster with a ‘Rude Awakening’ neckbreaker, but he then misses a kneedrop off the middle. X-Pac tags out to Saturn, however GMS immediately catches him with a powerslam. Bulldog from Scotty and an early version of ‘The Worm’. Malenko knees him in the back off a reversed Irish whip and the distraction allows Saturn to hit a double underhook belly to belly. Heel kick from Malenko but Scotty counters the suplex attempt with a reverse suplex. Nice Samoan drop by Rikishi on Benoit. ‘The Crippler’ with a go behind, he tries to land a German but he can’t get Rikishi up, one strike to the back of the head later, and this time he manages it. Reversal of the whip to the corner sees Benoit go careering chest first into the turnbuckles and Rikishi with a belly to belly. Cactus unloads on Benoit, beating him down before making a beeline for Triple H. After a bit of help from his team mates, ‘The Game’ starts to get the better of things. Boot to the mid-section of X-Pac, swinging neckbreaker and he’s able to make the hot tag to The Rock. Spinebuster to Malenko, one for Benoit, ‘Rock Bottom’ to X-Pac and Triple H is in to break up the pin. He goes for the pedigree on Rock but Rikishi levels him with a thrust kick and Saturn evens things up with one for The Rock. Rock cuts off the bronco buster with a clothesline and tags the Grandmaster. Legdrop off the top but he gets tripped by Guerrero while dancing in celebration and that distraction gives X-Pac the chance to nail him with a spinning heel kick. High knee by HHH, big clothesline by Saturn as they focus their efforts on GMS. He ducks a double clothesline from Benoit and Malenko and counters their backdrop attempt with a double DDT. Hotter than hot tag to Cactus Jack and the match quickly breaks down with everyone fighting each other. As the ring begins to clear, Triple H with a pedigree on Grandmaster Sexay and Benoit with the diving headbutt for three. Even though the match is over the fight shows no sign of stopping and now the New Age Outlaws are out with weapons which they uses to lay out The Rock and co. The lights in the arena go out and Paul Bearer is out followed by Kane who heads straight to the ring, seven on one odds don’t bother the ‘Big Red Machine’! They all pinball for him, chokeslam on Saturn, one for Mr Ass and order is finally restored as the show goes off the air.

 

The opening interview was tremendous with Triple H sticking with Cactus on the mic every bit of the way, in fact I thought he was out doing him until Cactus came back with about how he’s achieved everything in his career he ever wanted bar main eventing Wrestlemania. They way they slowly built things to we got the ‘career on the line’ stipulation was first class, and then we get the coup de grace of The Radicalz turning on Cactus to cement their place in the WWF. The match itself was all action, fast paced and everyone got a chance to shine with crowd heat that was off the charts. The lone negative was Stephanie who was atrocious on commentary for the duration. Nevertheless it’ll take something pretty special to beat this as for WWF TV match of the year.

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I've always loved this match. I take this over the No Way Out HITC any day of the week. Just goes to show how something can go from good to great with GENUINE GOD DAMN HEAT.

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This reminded me of the great 1997 run of television in the way they effectively brought together three or four different storylines. They earned the nuclear crowd. From a pure wrestling standpoint, Benoit vs. Rikishi was the best segment, but everyone got to look good here. It's always astounding how over Too Cool was in this period.

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As I rule, I generally will not watch Benoit matches, but I have never seen this before and I've heard so much hype about it, so I had to check it out. Wow, was this fun. I think this may be the absolute high point of WWF chaos. Just moment after moment after moment with THAT crowd. It's a shame that WWE doesn't do multi-man matches like this more often because it suits their programming style so well.

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Every single person was good in this. Malenko looked like he really relished his role early on with Rikishi. Benoit and Rikishi had a nice physical interaction that put both guys over. Rock was on fire in his comeback and the crowd could not have been more molten for all of it. Saturn got in some nice stuff including the kick to Rock. I loved X-Pac getting paid back by the Rock's big clothesline and then taking the leg drop from Sexay and his subsequent selling of dazedness before making the tag.

 

Totally lives up to all the hype you would hear about it and exceeds it. A great mixture of intermingling feuds and putting over strong newcomers with a clean finish packaged with a great post-match to make everyone happy.

 

****1/4

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First time watching this as it's one of the few widely pimped WWE matches I hadn't seen and I have to say I'm a bit perplexed by the ****+ praise this is getting. It was a good Raw main event, but I never felt like I was watching anything more than a showcase match before a PPV. Guys constantly tagged in and out, which was good for giving guys a chance to shine but bad for building the sort of intramatch storylines and rivalries that is key to having truly great multi man matches. It never seemed to evolve beyond just guys hitting their signature spots. The finish also looked botched with Foley standing there while HHH hit the pedigree and Benoit hit the diving headbutt then trying to break up the finishing pin. There was plenty of good stuff for what the match was, though. The crowd was hot, there was never a dull moment, and everyone looked good. It served as a good showcase for all the mid-card guys while also keeping HHH/Cactus as the clear focus and building to the PPV match. ***1/2 seems right.

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God damn, look at Perry Saturn's shirt! I think that was louder than the crowd heat. More great promo work from HHH and Cactus and you almost forget how well built their program was and it's no surprise that the booking, combined with strong HHH performances like this, were the things that finally got him hot. The match is just fantastic; if there's a better Raw main event in 2000, I certainly can't remember it. A great showcase for every single guy, the Radicals get to look strong and debuting them alongside the hottest stars in the company was a masterstroke at establishing all 4 of them off the belt. The Rock and Foley are just next level over, Rikishi and Benoit seem like total break-out stars and you even have guys like Christopher and X-Pac, who have been around forever, looking as hot and relevant as ever in their segments. Yeah, the ending is botched slightly but it's quickly forgotten about as Kane's return is one of the best of this era at a time where he wasn't incredibly stale. The work itself may not be mind-blowing but it's one of those matches where the heat, the pace and the overall excitement of the promotion's new direction helps elevate it to another level. Transcendent pro wrestling.

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I love this. The match kind of reminded me of the Toryumon/Dragon Gate multi-man style in a way. Super fast paced, each guy coming in and not overstaying his welcome in front of a super hot crowd. It does slow down a bit once the Radicalz gain control towards the end, but that is short lived when Cactus gets the hot tag. It's basically a showcase match for each guy, without that much substance, but sometimes that's exactly what is needed.  

****1/4

I will say, the introduction of the Radicalz has been very bizarre. From begging for contracts to losing their first night to immediately being thrown in as the other guys in the Cactus Jack/HHH feud, it is all just strange. Thankfully they turned here, so hopefully it will all turn around and head up for them soon. I was worried the crowd would already be out on them, but thankfully they ate up the opening promo and reacted huge for the turn. 

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Probably one of my ten favourite matches ever. This is really one of those things where everything comes together, with a rabid crowd that care about everyone involved, every participant getting to look good, it all being booked well, just the whole shebang. Too Cool and Rikishi were as hot as they'd ever be and everything they did in this ruled. Scotty does the Worm and Stephanie throws a rager on commentary about "this stupid move!" Grandmaster SEXAY puts on his goggles and hits the top rope legdrop, then Eddie trips him from the floor and when he turns around again X-Pac wheel kicks the goggles clean off his face. By the end of his heat segment he's lost his goggles, durag, wifebeater and gold chains. Truly the mark of a serious beating. Rikishi looks like he was on his way to being damn near Rock levels of overness and he has a couple amazing little exchanges, one with Benoit where he takes a German suplex on his neck, and then later he comes roaring into camera shot to thrust kick Helmsley's head off, in the process saving Rock from being Pedigreed. Rock is godlike volcanic levels of hot at this point; right up there with peak Hogan, Austin, Grandmaster Sexay and anybody else you want to bring up. Benoit and Saturn unleash the double SNOT ROCKET! X-Pac goes for the Bronco Buster and Rock clotheslines him out his boots! Rikishi with the greatest Samoan Drop ever seen! Eleven million other things! I also loved Cactus coming in and making a beeline right for Helmsley on the apron, which incites a mini riot on the floor just to ramp up the heat a little more. Only thing they whiffed on was the timing of the finish, but it's like, you know, who gives a shit? Imagine Eddie had been fit to wrestle? Holy fuck I think I need to step out the room for a minute.
 

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