Wrestling Time Machine: November of 1996

We Don’t Need Roads Where We’re Going…

Hello fans! I’m your guide, Bobby Styles and this…is…THE Wrestling Time Machine! So on today’s post, we’ll be talking about November of 1996. I AM going to try to be more active on our eponymous website. So…November of 1996 was an interesting time for both of the Big Two.

Over on the WWF side of things, we saw the continuation of the epic feud between The Undertaker and Mankind. Of course during this time Mankind had the “Power of the Urn”, Paul Bearer and began to team with the “Mysterious” Executioner. Of course The Executioner was less intimidating, and the gimmick reeked of people in the back fumbling through an old trunk of generic Halloween stuffs that when put together, was never ever going to be intimidating. While Mankind and Undertaker could pull off their various Dark/Monster gimmicks, poor Terry Gordy just looked as confused as the rest of us.

BE CONFUSED. VERY CONFUSED.

Terry Gordy looks like he’s about to make various “Boo” noises. The Executioner gimmick ultimately went nowhere in the WWF, and thank god it didn’t. In a world where The Undertaker feuds with someone dressed like 1950s Halloween Costume Catalog reject, a feud like this might have killed his momentum entirely.

All of this would reach a new fever pitch though at Survivor Series. Undertaker would make his historic “Batman” entrance.

NA-NA NA-NA NA-NA NA-NA…DEAD-MAN!!!

As he and Mankind would battle over the fate of Paul Bearer who would be featured dangling above the ring.

Featured: Shark Bait

Also during this time, we would see the evolution of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin into the unhinged, no-nonsense rattlesnake that he would become. Austin would precede to call out Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and would turn on his longtime friend, Brian Pillman. This in turn would set in motion a notable attribute of the “Stone Cold” character, that he was indeed a rattlesnake-willing to turn on anyone, friend or foe. What makes this interesting, is that Pillman and Austin were essentially portraying the same gimmicks. They were both unhinged, and a selling point for the audience became their vignettes, in which it was expected that both men would act unexpectedly. That both these men would curse up a shoot storm, and say things that other wrestlers wouldn’t, that their gimmicks blurred the lines between wrestling and reality. So it came to pass that these two insane locomotives would come to butt heads. Pillman especially had spent the last year cultivating this personality starting in WCW, through ECW and paying off in WWF. Pillman was also the first wrestler to sign a Guaranteed Contract with the WWF, an important change in the way Vince McMahon had previously approached business with his superstars.

Does this look like the face of someone who dials 911?

Of course while this, and the feud between “Wild Man” Marc Mero and Hunter Hearst Helmsley for the WWF Intercontinental Championship would stand out as highlights in the WWF landscape during the Fall season, there were still…dark spots.

The LESS said about these two, the BETTER.

The Upper Card of the WWF during this period would feature a feud between “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and “Sycho” Sid. It became clear with Sid’s return, that the reason he was put into the spot he was, is because the REAL Diesel was over in WCW “rasslin'” for the WCW Tag Team Championships with the REAL Razor Ramon. Still, while Sid’s push may have been the result of Kevin Nash’s departure, he and Michaels would still go on to have a great match at WWF Survivor Series 1996. While Nash and Sid’s styles could be argued to be similar, with both of these wrestlers being what’s commonly referred to as “Big Men”, Nash’s style was always a little slower and more deliberate than Sid’s.

Of course Survivor Series was historic for another reason…The debut of FLASH

Pictured: The WWE Definitely NOT being racist.

 

FUNK!!! Rocky Maivia!!! Yes, that’s right. Rocky Maivia would debut at the Survivor Series, and would wind up being the sole survivor in a 4-on-4 Elimination Tag Team Match featuring Marc Mero, Jake Roberts, and “The Stalker” Barry Windham on his own team, against a team composed of Jerry “The King” Lawler, Crush, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Goldust. All of this hard-hitting WWF action would be brought to you by Milton-Bradley’s Karate Fighters!

Copyright Infringement not included, some assembly required.

And Boy…Wasn’t he dreamy?

Meanwhile over on the WCW side of things, their organization was further plagued by the N.W.O. A bright spot of hope would shine down on the WCW kingdom, a new warrior would rise to challenge the tyrant king that was “Hollywood” Hogan. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper would debut for WCW at Halloween Havoc of 1996, challenging Hogan to a match at the upcoming Starrcade. The repeated standoffs between Hogan and Piper would include the privilege of viewing Roddy Piper’s music video, and would include some form of bizarre promotion for Hogan’s newest movie, “Santa With Muscles”.

SO. TELL YOUR FOLKS, “BUY ME BONESTORM OR GO TO HELL!!!”

The mid-card of WCW during this time would feature matches between Rey Mysterio Jr., and Dean Malenko, and another push for the bumbling mass of muscles that was Lex Luger.Somebody kept sticking a microphone in front of Lex Luger, and to be honest, “Mean” Gene Okerlund should have been charged with a war crime for doing so.

“I’m not sure what to do with my hands…”

Luger, with his size and his wrestling ability could have been a prototype Lesnar or even Goldberg. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t a resident of Suplex City, or that he wasn’t a striker, a brawler in the sense of either of these future stars, but Luger’s signature was The Torture Rack, and his various pushes with both companies revolved around Luger being able to accomplish stunning feats of physical strength. What Luger needed was a mouthpiece. He shouldn’t have been put into a position as a big-grin having face who played to the crowd, he should’ve had a mouthpiece like Jimmy Hart, managing him solely (none of the nonsensical Dungeon of Doom shtick, which should have ended the moment Hogan turned heel), directing him straight to the ring, and racking every unfortunate soul who got in his way. I wholeheartedly believe that had WCW and Luger gone in this direction, that Luger would have had a standout career, and WCW may have created a gap in the Monday Night Wars that would have been harder for the WWF to bridge.

Speaking of Luger, during November of 1996, he was given a great push on TV, and was the odds on favorite to win the 60 Man Battle Royal that was the Main Event for WCW World War 3, having come out on top of a feud with “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson. Luger has (more or less) turned Face at this point. The crowd is behind him. He becomes the last man. Eliminating Scott Hall, Syxx, and Kevin Nash… Only to be eliminated by The Giant.

Now. Why is this important? This was the bad habit that WCW couldn’t seem to break. Allowing Heels to go over time and time and time and time again. Stories are dependent on a sense of closure for the audience, on a sense of resolution and progression. If WCW was going to continue to bury every Face, then why should the crowd continue to watch? There’s no payoff for the Face in ANY encounter. Why should any fan in WCW’s audience be excited about anything, if their hopes and dreams are going to be halted? At a certain point, it starts to feel like they’re punishing their fans. Being a WCW fan was an exercise in sadism and futility.

Man. Modern Family sure took a weird turn…

Speaking of sadism, there was ECW. Through November of 1996 Raven and The Sandman would continue to feud not only over the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, but also over the fate of The Sandman’s son, Tyler.

We would also see “The Franchise” Shane Douglas continue to fend off the advances of Pitbull #2 for the ECW Television Championship. Douglas and Francine would stoop to new lows to defend the title. Also during this time while The Gangstas and The Eliminators were battling over possession of the ECW Tag Team Championships, a new team would arrive on the scene to challenge for ECW Tag Team supremacy, Rob Van Dam & Sabu.

“Mary Jane? Never heard of her.”

However, their path to the ECW Tag Team Championships would face one additional obstacle; the founder of Suplex City, and the Human Suplex Machine, Tazz. How would all this play out? Find out on the next exciting installment of The Wrestling Time Machine!

 

What to Watch and Not Watch in Superhero Television

For those not in the know, Nerdfect Strangers is not just a cool name for a blog/website, it’s our podcast, and the podcast came before the website. Here’s what’s on the podcast now…

The latest episode, our forty-first, just dropped the other day. Hosted by Bobby Fisher, Jerry Whitworth, and some guy named Glenn Walker, Nerdfect Strangers #41: “Gators ‘N’ Glaives” is a journey into comics, wrestling, role-playing games, and the latest batch of superheroes on television.

You can download the episode here, and don’t forget to Follow us on Twitter here and Like us on Facebook here. Enjoy!

An Afternoon with Laverne & Shirley

For visitors to this website who might wonder what the title is all about, let me tell you, Nerdfect Strangers is not just a cool name for a blog/website, it’s our podcast, and the podcast came before the website. We’re going to start to be more diligent about making folks aware of the podcast, starting now.

The latest episode, our fortieth, just dropped the other day. Hosted by Bobby Fisher, Jerry Whitworth, and some guy named Glenn Walker, Nerdfect Strangers #40: “Tales from the Pizza Bowl” is a journey into comics, wrestling, and the sitcom zaniness of “Laverne & Shirley.”

You can download the episode here, and don’t forget to Follow us on Twitter here and Like us on Facebook here. Enjoy!

Young Justice S01 E12: Homefront

ayj1When Mount Justice comes under attack by the Red Tornado’s malevolent ‘siblings,’ Artemis and Robin are on their own to save the day without super powers. We learn a bit more about Artemis as she faces her final baptism by fire. A lot happens in this episode – all this and more in “Homefront.”

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Wrestling Time Machine: ECW Flux Capacitor Volume 1

Just call me “Bobby Styles” and this…is…THE Wrestling Time Machine!

WWE has ALWAYS been PG.

This is NOT a wrestling smorgasbord.

Allow me to preface by saying this is the first volume of my Wrestling Time Machine blog, something I talk at length about on our podcast that we do here. Today we’re going to be tackling ECW, what I would consider the first year. This first year starts with “The Franchise” Shane Douglas defeating 2 Cold Scorpio with a Pinfall decision, in the NWA World Title Tournament on August 27th 1994 and ends with a real BARN BURNER of a match in what was the final confrontation (in Extreme Championship Wrestling, anyways) between a young Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko. The WWE Network is a smorgasbord of classic wrestling of all kinds, albeit missing some of wrestling’s essential main courses. The WWE Network, while it boasts “Every WWE/WCW Pay-Per-View”, The WWE Network misses out on just about most of the ECW Pay-Per-Views and Specials. This is unfortunate, because Pay-Per-Views provide of course a sense of closure for much of a given month’s events, and where even new stories can be born.

So litigious. Much metal.

Though all is not lost, if Paul Heyman and the ECW Brass was good at anything, it was knowing that their target demographic may not always be in the market to pay to view, and so many episodes of ECW Hardcore TV were simply highlight episodes, devoted to the most recent Pay-Per-View, devoted to keeping fans not only enlightened of the match highlights, but also of any major story beats and new developments. By far the biggest omission that deserves mentioning is the lack of actually licensed music throughout the whole show. Now…I get it, WWE’s a big company, and ECW was known for using music without necessarily worrying about frivolous things like getting the rights from the artists, etc. You know, the little things, and so it came to pass that WWE is forced to use very generic tunes for the entrances of the ECW performers. Something is lost in the incredibly generic tunes, some of the attitude-the balls of ECW is muted, it feels almost too sanitized. Now granted, I don’t think we can necessarily fault the WWE for this, or even Heyman and whomsoever was in charge of designating entrance music. ECW was, for all intents and purposes, small show, a small organization. They barely (and often times didn’t even) made end’s meat, let alone had the extra cash to shell out for licensed music. This didn’t stop them from trying though…

"Delightful fun for the whole family!"

“Delightful fun for the whole family and a treat for children of all ages!”

Let’s get down to thumbtacks, though. The first year

of ECW is…pretty intense. The very first episode I mentioned at the top of the article also featured another pinnacle in ECW history, Tommy Dreamer being caned by The Sandman. This, along with Douglas’ epic speech about what ECW really is, how important new blood was to wrestling , this set the tone for the entire promotion. This wasn’t your father’s wrestling, and that’s what made it unique. ECW had a finger on the pulse of what wrestling could be, and what many fans at the time and even still to this day, think it should be. While ECW dabbled in extremely violent performances, that was simply the icing on the cake, the real substance of the promotion would be found in performers like Shane Douglas, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko-to name a few-who could put on spectacular matches without the need for barbed wire, or cattle brands. Tazz is another highlight in ECW’s fledgling year, and his first experience on commentary can be heard through the WWE Network’s archive, as he was a guest commentator with Joey Styles for a special match.

TerrFunk

Pictured: A man who still hasn’t retired yet…Probably.

While ECW had
few veterans in the form of wrestlers like Terry Funk, the fuel that kept it’s engines running was the

*Generic Surfer Lingo*

Totally Gnarly.

influx of young talent given a stage to shine on that didn’t involve being a jobber to the stars, or relying on silly gimmicks. If I’ve learned anything though, it’s that ECW was no stranger to silly gimmicks. Just ask Surfer Ray Odyssey.

StevieRichards

Pictured: Someone hopped up on goofballs.

There are many other things to talk about when it comes to ECW’s fledgling first year. The brilliant promo work of Shane Douglas, and The Franchise’s one-sided feud with “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, the formation of The Triple Threat to serve as combating force against The Four Horsemen. The introduction of the mysterious, brooding Raven and his obsessive groupie goofball Stevie Richards. Towards the beginning of July 1995 we see the introduction of The Dudley Boys, and before too long, their ever-expanding family. For Big Daddy Dudley, THE THIRST was oh-so-real. I’d say one of the biggest highlights though, in watching ECW was the surprisingly decent promo work of The Public Enemy. For those not familiar, this Tag-Team consisting of “Flyboy” Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge were essentially WWE’s Cryme Tyme, before Cryme Tyme, and they saw much more success than the WWE duo. Though The Public Enemy had some great matches with The Pitbulls and a feud that could only be described as “Actual War crimes of the 1990s” with

Where the old boys play...

“Welcome to the WARROOM, Boys!”

The Gangstas, The Public Enemy would soon depart, like many others, for greener pastures in WCW. Sure, Billionaire Ted’s money may have seemed appetizing, but I would argue that The Public Enemy didn’t get a fair shake (again, like countless others) in WCW, at least on the company’s flagship program WCW Monday Nitro. Rocco and Johnny could deliver decent enough promos to carry a story, and yet, WCW’s Tag Team Division was very much an afterthought, even prior to the N.W.O.’s emergence.

CheeseCW

Just Say, ‘When’…

By far, one thing that does bear mentioning when discussing ECW, is the strange weapons opponents sometimes used to inflict pain on one another, even during this first year. Often when reading about ECW, or even watching it, you’ll see the Hardcore standbys-chairs (wooden and steel!), tables, Singapore canes, trashcans, etc. but eagle-eyed viewers will see such strange weapon fodder as plastic dinosaurs and cheese graters.

I suppose I’ll close out this first edition of The Wrestling Time Machine by giving just some final thoughts on the first year of ECW…ECW was a welcome alternative to the then-WWF, and WCW, both promotions which suffered from their own problems. The WWF was struggling to push and build younger talent into main event stars, while still relying on hackneyed cartoon gimmicks based on garbagemen, french pirates and Portuguese Man-o-Wars, while WCW was ramping up it’s cartoon gimmicks to eleven with the Dungeon of Doom all whilst relying on older stars in Hulk Hogan, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. ECW focused on just being unique, and what made wrestling good. Stories didn’t need to be larger than life, and opponents that could go out and wrestle with the skilled technician of a brain surgeon didn’t necessarily need to have a built-in story for the match beyond, “These two guys are fighting”. ECW wasn’t afraid of it’s fans, and didn’t push matches, agendas, or stories it knew the fans didn’t want, something any person in the creative field should take away as an important lesson.

Young Justice S01 E11: Terrors

ayj1This episode features the first animated appearance of the Terror Twins, who had previously appeared in the comic Young Justice #0, which took place between “Fireworks” and “Welcome to Happy Harbor.” Southern super-strong badasses Tommy and Tuppence Terror can leap long distances and are highly durable, if not invulnerable. In our opener, once more narrated breaking news style by Cat Grant, the Terror Twins are in New Orleans, holding their own against Superman and the Martian Manhunter. Yeah, that’s how tough they are, but as usual with “Young Justice,” there’s more here than meets the eye. Looks like orange could be the new black for two members of our team…

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Wrestling Wrap Up by Mike E. Dangerously

Well let’s see here open Wrestling Sites see if there is anything to report………

Adam Rose? Don’t be a lemon, be employed! Oh wow Sandow! Well at least Cody is still he-THE HELL!? Whatcha doin’ wit your life WWE!? Yes, it seems like it’s that time of the year where the talent feels lost in the shuffle of the organization, or simply put you’re not on tv therefore you’re gone. Getting rid of talent doesn’t mean you won’t see them again, what with other Wrestling programs out there, I’m sure they’re bound to show up somewhere or just take time off refresh and return like nothing happened. What else, we just came off an Extreme Rules PPV, which is weird but common for just three weeks between not popular PPVs. That being said, that Fatal Four Way AMAZING!! The main event, good grief! Is there any match that AJ Styles can’t make look good? I mean wow, just wow, this guy is still amazing! Also we got the RETURN OF SETH FREAKING ROLLINS!! Yes, the heel we all love is back and what’s sad is he’ll have to kick a puppy or perhaps dump his father manager to get real heat on him this time, because the crowds just hate Roman. Still, even after putting on a show in two matches with AJ Styles, the crowd just doesn’t like him as champ. Again you know my stance on him-he needs to turn heel or just speak softly and not surfer….So yeah the PPV was fine, the Raw the next day, well it had me scratching my head and saying what!?

So Raw gave us all wrestling fans a star to shine for the next PPV Money in the bank simply by putting in our internet darlings Zayn, Caesaro, Owens, Ambrose and Jericho, which for him coming off of a lost to Ambrose in the first ever Asylum Match which was on for far too long during the PPV, but with two spots remaining, who’s it going to be?…..Also Girly Flair rid herself of Old Man Flair which is aboot time, but also gave her a ton of heat, like a TON. That crowd straight up hated her for yelling at that old man. We also saw the return of the Social Outcast, 3 Man Band baaabay!!! I keed, I keed. Enzo came back with Big Cass and continued their feud with those Damn Dudleys!!!

THIS JUST CAME IN TO THE NEWS ROOM! So starting July 11th on Raw they’re having a WWE draft!! The WWE is also moving Smackdown to Tuesday live!! So two different shows with two different stories? Well, I wonder if they’ll bring back the old Eagle belt? Or the Attitude title? What’s this mean for the current roster? In a way it could be good, it could give a chance for men and women that aren’t in current story lines to shine a little more on a different show. Will they split up the PPVs? Please for the love of GAWD! No, please no! Bragging Rights PPV…OK! This is just my thoughts on it, really I was just about done with this blog, so let’s hope with this change it’ll spotlight wrestlers or NXT talent getting the call up!

Speaking of NXT, Takeover is coming up and I can’t WAIT!!! Joe VS Balor in a steel cage!!! And Aries VS Nakamura!!! Take all of my money, NOW!!!! PLEASE I BEG YOU!!!! Also I hope we see Bobby Rooooooode come to NXT. Well this one is a short one, and I feel that unless something big happens before Money In the Bank, I know Cena is returning this coming Monday, so let’s see what storyline he ends up with…please just let him feud with Rusev, don’t put him in the MITB ladder match!! But it’ll happen unless AJ Styles comes out with The Club…that he said he didn’t need, goes full heel and attacks Cena. Yes, PLEASE!!!! Later down the road Cena can take the title from Hulk Roman brother!! I mean Uce? Uso? How do you spell that?

Well the Ref is calling this one a DQ….until next time, This is Mike E Dangerously saying, “Back To You Gorilla!”

Young Justice S01 E10: Targets

ayj1As with the last episode, this time we are dealing with fictional countries again as the “Young Justice” showrunners continue worldbuilding. Stand-ins for North and South Korea are North and South Rhelasia, and Red Arrow is there for the negotiations between the two nations. That’s where he stops Cheshire from taking out the new independent arbitrator… Lex Luthor.

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Wrestling Wrap Up by Mike E. Dangerously

So long time no words eh? Ahhh you smell that? It’s the smell of some really good and some really meh? Wrestling in the past three weeks leading up to the PPV Tomorrow Night Payback which I shall be updating this if any big changes were to uprise….in a demon like way…..

So let’s start by saying holy crap is it awesome to see AJ Styles in a WWE program let alone for the title we know he isn’t going to win and if he does it’ll be all due to the form of the Balor Club….yeah now if you do your internet search you’ll see that New Japan has the Bullet Club with ummm…a few guys from the WWE now I know on last Monday’s Raw Cole was spouting that the two new friends of AJ; Anderson and Gallows were a part of group in New Japan but before that on Smackdown they said the name Bullet Club so more than likely some lawyer called another Law Guy who called Harvey Birdman and now we just have to rely on whatever name *THEY* (meaning creative) gives them….so yes regardless of that whole mess, I see Roman and his mumbling about being guys that are good nor bad persona getting the win… I feel that him winning though will turn him heel…which is what’s best for him.
I mean look at Cena, yeah he’s been a super face for all these years but he will never turn heel…why? The dying kids. Those make-a-wish kids have his ever loving healing factor heart because if you didn’t get the memo-Cena is returning in May. So yeah Roman is like the Surfer Cena he’s all chill and cool cares for his Bros, the Usos which makes me worried for them being with Roman that the fans might turn on them, but regardless they had an impressive match on Monday versus Anderson and Gallows. I think they can come out of the funk if they get the boos.
Another Match I’m looking forward to is Owens Vs Zayn. I’ve seen it a dozen times on ROH, but this is where it’s bigger. I wish they would of made it a stipulation match or at least a Last Man Standing match, just something to get that Chicago town to not utter he who shall not be named….CM Punk….yes the wrestler who was amazing in ECW then just kinda went flat with his ego and personality and left the company-well he’s still their hometown boy and if the fans are bored, then one moron will likely start the chant of his name and other morons will join in….which if you want my advice, no crowd in the history of crowds will ever compare to the old ECW crowds!!! Ahhh the memories…. Which you can watch on the network for just…$9.99…So yes what else happened in these past few weeks???

Samoa Joe is THE NEW NXT CHAMPION!!!…..Let that breath….sounds good right? Then to top that, Eric Young is now on NXT!!? Which is cool and kinda sad, I mean I was hoping for Austin Aries VS Joe but I’ll settle to let Joe destroy Eric then move on to Aries….What else is the WWE doing, you ask? Why they’re doing this behind closed doors tournament for a new lightweight/international feathered King crown champion??? That will be on the network soon or during the summer….I just hope it spotlights Indy guys and gets eyes on them. Let’s also take a moment and pay respects to Chyna who passed a week ago. She was a pioneer, who’s backstage personal life conflicted with her in ring career we will never know the truth as to why she left. We can guess, but boy did she leave an impact when it came to women in the ring first Intercontinental Champion as a woman, and also the first woman to ever enter the Royal Rumble. Here’s to you, The Ninth Wonder of The World. You will be missed.

On a lighter note let’s get some predictions going before the PPV……

Kick Off Show
Kalisto VS Ryback
The Winner: Ryback

Ceasaro VS The Miz
The Winner: The Miz

Baron Corbin VS Dolph Ziggler
Winner: Baron

Big Cass And Enzo Amore VS The VaudeVillains
Winner: VaudVillains due to a Dudley Boyz Interference.

Charlotte VS Natalya
Winner: Charlotte

Kevin Owens VS Sami Zayn
Winner:I’m taking Sami Zayn here and hoping it’ll lead to a longer fued

Chris Jericho VS Dean Ambrose
Winner: Ambrose. C’mon, you can’t let one of top faces lose twice can ya?

Then The whole Vinny Mac telling us who’s in or out…YAWN!!…..

Heavyweight Title Match
AJ Styles VS Roman Reigns
Winner: Roman unless the Balor Club forms and helps AJ win…….

Boy, was I off but only by 3 so yeah I can’t wait to extreme rules….where once again Hulk Roman will win once again….sigh….I hate to say it….when’s Cena coming back? Well the ref is given me to the count of ten until next time…Back To You Gorilla!
-Mike E Dangerously

Young Justice S01 E09: Bereft

ayj1Time is an extremely important factor in “Young Justice,” and it becomes even more important as the series continues. In “Downtime” it is specifically mentioned that Aqualad has been gone from Atlantis only two months, and the time stamps at the start of each episode verify that. With this episode, it starts to get complicated.

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