This is not going to be easy to write. Every week I write this column about Monday's edition of Raw whether I do it live or on Tuesday. We threw away all the troubles of our everyday lives to enjoy the entertainment provided to us by the entertainers that work for World Wrestling Entertainment. Last night during Raw, announcer Jerry "The King" Lawler, who has been calling matches on Raw for nearly 20 years, collapsed at the announce table in the middle of the show.
This is a post on WWE.com today.
WWE has released an official statement on the events in Montreal tonight:
Jerry “The King” Lawler suffered a heart attack while commentating during last night’s broadcast of Monday Night Raw in Montreal. We are hopeful Jerry makes a full recovery and returns to WWE in the near future. Our thoughts are with Jerry and his family.
During the tag team match between Kane & Daniel Bryan and The Prime Time Players tonight on Raw, viewers may have noticed members of the audience and WWE production team staring toward the commentary booth, as well as the absence of Jerry “The King” Lawler’s voice. WWE.com has learned that the WWE Hall of Famer collapsed at the announcers' table and was tended to in the locker room area by WWE medical staff. Lawler was then taken from the arena to a medical facility in Montreal.
We will have updates on Lawler’s condition as this story progresses.
According to multiple sources, his heart stopped backstage. He was revived by EMT workers who were on hand and was rushed to hospital where he rested on Monday night in stable condition.
If you're a regular reader of my work you know that I'm not a huge fan of how the Lawler character is produced by his employers. I loved the man so much as a heel announcer, but as a babyface announcer he was not the same. You should also know that as wrestling fans we should be able to separate a character from a person.
A few weeks ago when Lawler was in the ring cutting a promo with CM Punk and later wrestling him in a cage match I wrote about how great of a job he did. He was one of my three stars of the night as well. Lawler's one of the best talkers in the history of the business. He's also one of the best wrestlers at getting a crowd into a match whether he's working as a heel or a face. He knows every trick in the book in terms of eliciting a reaction from the audience. It's what makes him special.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jerry Lawler. As a lifelong WWE viewer, he's been one of the main voices on Raw and PPVs for the past 20 years. During his career in WWE, he also wrestled quite a bit in the earlier years. He also appears on independent wrestling shows and has done so during his entire WWE run as well. This past weekend he was part of shows in Aruba. Lawler loves the wrestling business. He lives for the wrestling business. That says lives not lived. He's still with us and while we don't know what his future in the business is, he still has a future on Earth and we should all be thankful for that.
As for this column, a typical Raw Deal during a three hour Raw usually goes about 6,000 words in length with incredible detail. This one won't be as long. I'll make it more of a summary than anything with some analysis on key angles, but my heart is with Jerry Lawler. I know the performers felt the same way when they were in the ring doing their job to the best of their ability. I'm not here to be critical of them or to make jokes at their expense.
As I write this on Tuesday morning, WISTV is reporting that Lawler is undergoing heart surgery today. Please keep him in your thoughts.
I'll have more on Lawler in the final thoughts section of this column.
Live from Montreal, Quebec this is the Raw Deal for episode #1007. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
The announcers for the show are Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. I really hope I can write that again one day.
Bret Hart was introduced to start Raw. He received a long ovation from the Montreal crowd, who hasn't seen him live in a WWE ring in that city since November 9, 1997 at Survivor Series that year. It took Hart a few minutes to get the crowd quiet, but he was able to thank the fans for all their support over the years. I'm glad he was able to have this moment.
The WWE Champion CM Punk interrupted Hart. He went into this story about how if he was around for Survivor Series 1997 he would have left to WCW and that WWE wouldn't be around. I guess that's a heel promo huh? Hart questioned his intelligence at that point. They replayed the ending of Raw when Punk drove off with Paul Heyman.
Punk went on his usual respect rant in the face of Hart. He bragged about how he's been the WWE Champion longer than Hart ever has been, which is true. Punk said he would cement his legacy as the greatest WWE Champion of all time. Punk said he would put John Cena to sleep at Night of Champions while Hart fired back by saying he was putting the people in the arena to sleep with his promo. That was a terrific line by Hart. The crowd loved it. Punk ended the segment by saying he would turn Cena into a beaten, broken down, empty shell of a man just like Hart is. Then he dropped the microphone "pipe bomb" style. The crowd chanted "Asshole" at Punk. I've missed that chant. Thank you Montreal.
Analysis: This was a good segment. It set things up for later in the show. The crowd was hot for Hart as expected while Punk was the perfect antagonistic heel that said everything he could to anger the fans.
The main event of the show was announced as Bret Hart interviewing John Cena.
We could vote on the opponent of CM Punk later as #PunkBrodus for Brodus Clay, #PunkLawler for Jerry Lawler and #PunkOrton for Randy Orton. As usual, you get a vote in determining something on Raw, but there was little doubt as to what would win.
Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. The Miz & Antonio Cesaro (Non-Title Match)
The deal here is all four guys were holding championships. They went to break shortly into the match.
The heels worked over Truth. Kofi got the hot tag, hit a nice cross body on Cesaro for two and then shortly after he was able to finish off Cesaro with the Trouble in Paradise for the win after eight minutes.
Winners: Kofi Kingston & R-Truth
Analysis: Solid TV match to put over the current tag champs even in a non-title situation where you might expect them to lose. It wasn't a big deal for Cesaro/Miz to lose since they're not a regular team.
There was a recap of Booker T banning the Brogue Kick of Sheamus on Smackdown.
There was a comedy skit from earlier in the day when Sheamus was deposed by Ricardo Rodriguez and his lawyer David Otunga. Sheamus was making jokes while threatening Rodriguez and Otunga. The whole thing ended with Sheamus giving a demonstration of the Brogue Kick to one of the cameras in the room.
Analysis: It went about five minutes. Some good lines. Nothing special, though. They're trying to get over the idea that Sheamus is a funny guy along with being a badass babyface.
Later on Raw is Sheamus vs. David Otunga. It's the same match that bored me as the main event of Smackdown.
Layla, Kaitlyn & Eve vs. Beth Phoenix, Natalya & Alicia Fox
I thought Alicia was a face? Oh well. Whatever. The best part the match was when Natalya and Beth were in there, which isn't a surprise. The heels worked over Kaitlyn. She tagged in Layla. She took out Beth and Natalya. Layla went to finish off Alicia, but Eve blind tagged her and she finished off Fox with her neckbreaker in about three minutes.
Winners: Layla, Kaitlyn & Eve
Analysis: I wouldn't be surprised if Eve was added to the Layla/Kaitlyn Night of Champions match on Sunday. Right now Eve is "playing nice" as a way for the other girls to trust her, but she's still an underhanded heel.
Backstage, CM Punk argued with Raw GM AJ Lee. She said since Punk walked out on the people last week on Raw, the people are going to choose his fate this week. Brodus Clay showed up smiling to scare him. "What's up?" Hopefully not a match with Brodus Clay.
We found out results of the poll. Punk/Orton got 75% of the vote, Punk/Lawler got 13% and Punk/Clay got 12%.
CM Punk vs. Randy Orton (Non-Title Match)
This is a rematch of WrestleMania 27. Cole pointed out it was the 296th day of Punk's WWE Title reign. The crowd split early, doing chants for both guys. They were really hot for the match, which was no surprise because the Montreal crowd is usually fantastic. They went to break midway through the match.
As they returned from break, Orton seized control with a perfect Superplex off the top rope. Punk fought off the Orton DDT from the middle ropes with a kick to the head followed by a springboard clothesline off the top rope. They countered the finisher's of eachother and then Orton hit his backbreaker variation for two. Orton got his DDT off the ropes. He went for the RKO, but before he could hit it there was Dolph Ziggler to run in for the disqualification. The match went 13 minutes.
Winner: Randy Orton via DQ
Analysis: ** That's the finish you book when you don't want either guy to lose a match cleanly. It was good up until that point. I liked their feud in 2011 quite a bit.
Post match, Orton knocked Punk out of the ring and he hit a powerslam on Ziggler. Then he hit a powerslam on Punk. The heels double teamed Orton. That led to a loud "Jerry" chant as announcer Jerry Lawler made the save for Orton. The crowd loved it. Lawler worked over Punk while Orton worked over Ziggler as they went to commercial break in an odd spot with the action continuing.
Analysis: That chant for Lawler was great to hear considering what was about to happen.
Randy Orton & Jerry Lawler vs. CM Punk & Dolph Ziggler
How much do I like the Punk/Ziggler team? A lot. They're two of my three favorites in WWE right now along with Daniel Bryan. Lawler was getting worked on with Ziggler. Looking at it now, you could see Lawler looked like he was struggling a bit although it was clearly hard to tell if it was legit pain or if he was selling. Orton got the hot tag. He took down Ziggler. Ziggler dumped Orton to the floor. With Orton, Lawler and Ziggler all out around the ring, Paul Heyman walked down to the ring to meet with his new client (we assume), CM Punk. Vickie Guerrero was yelling at them that they had a match. They continued to talk as Heyman gave Punk the WE Title while Orton wrestled Ziggler in the ring. After a rollup attempt by Ziggler, Orton came back with the RKO to beat Ziggler at the seven minute mark for the win for his team.
Winners: Randy Orton & Jerry Lawler
Meanwhile, at ringside CM Punk and Paul Heyman continued to talk. They didn't even notice that their team lost. Nor did they care. They quickly walked up the ramp together.
Analysis: *1/2 The purpose of this match was to put over the idea that CM Punk didn't care what happened in his match because all he cares about is the WWE Title. He's selfish.
As for Lawler, this might be the last match he ever wrestles in. There were not any obvious signs of his health being poor during the match. When it was over he stood triumphant with Orton just like any babyface character would.
Backstage, Matt Striker attempted to talk to Paul Heyman and CM Punk. He asked "what is the nature of this relationship?" Heyman said nothing. Punk simply said: "I'm a Paul Heyman guy."
Analysis: If you remember CM Punk's "shoot" promo from June 2011 he said "I'm a Paul Heyman guy" during his speech. It's come full circle now. I like the idea that they're not giving away too much too soon with this angle.
Jerry Lawler rejoined Michael Cole at ringside to talk about that match. They threw to a video package to show the Daniel Bryan/Kane story from last week where they had to "hug it out" in the ring.
In the locker room, Kane and Daniel Bryan were in a room together. Dr. Shelby from the Anger Management classes showed up. GM AJ Lee asked him to come there, which she informed us as she entered the room. She said Shelby had an idea for them to do a test to see if they can trust one another. They went to break.
Heath Slater was in the ring. He was talking trash about Zack Ryder. Ryder showed up on the Titantron to say that it was not him that was the opponent, but somebody else.
Ryback vs. Heath Slater
This was the typical Ryback match where he destroyed his opponent. Slater did hit a neckbreaker at one point. The "feed me more" chants are growing while the "Goldberg" chants are still there too. Ryback hit his big clothesline, his double powerbomb and then his finisher for the win after about three minutes.
Analysis: I'm not sure how many matches it's been, but it will be interesting to see how long they can book Ryback without giving him a real feud.
The announcers put over the new WWE App that has over 1.7 million downloads.
Backstage, the Primetime Players Darren Young & Titus O'Neil talked to GM AJ Lee. She told them they're not the number one contenders to the tag team titles despite winning on Smackdown. She said they had to beat Kane and Daniel Bryan.
Daniel Bryan & Kane vs. The Primetime Players (Darren Young & Titus O'Neil)
The winners of this match got to become the number one contenders to the tag titles. This was the match where Jerry Lawler collapsed at ringside. There was no acknowledgement by Michael Cole live. All we heard was a "Jerry, Jerry" chant from the crowd while referee Charles Robinson was seen looking over there with a concerned look on his face. Cole had a tough time calling the action, which was understandable given the situation. The fans were looking towards the announce desk. Bryan was getting worked over by Young & O'Neil. He refused to tag Kane into the match, so Kane tagged himself into the match. He hit a Chokeslam on Young. Bryan tagged himself in. Kane gave Bryan a Chokeslam on top of Young, so Bryan covered Young with his back. They won the match after eight minutes.
Winners: Daniel Bryan & Kane
Analysis: *1/2 The odd couple wins. I thought they were going in this direction after the Anger Management segments. Now they get the tag title shot Night of Champions where I would expect them to win. I think all of this is leading to Daniel Bryan turning babyface.
They threw to a video package regarding the Punk/Hart confrontation earlier in the show and plugged Hart's interview with John Cena later.
At the 7:30 mark in this video you can see Lawler experiencing pain at the announce table. I'm sharing that because I know a lot of people didn't watch the show or know what happened, so hopefully that gives you an idea what happened live.
Michael Cole was at the announce desk trying to keep the show going. I can only imagine how difficult a task this was for him. By this point Lawler was taken backstage where EMTs were working on him.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Tyson Kidd
Ricardo Rodriguez was out there in a neck brace. These are two of my favorite performers in WWE, but it was not easy to focus on the match considering what happened to Lawler. Kidd applied the Sharpshooter to a big reaction from the appreciative fans in Montreal. Del Rio ended up winning the match with the Cross Armbreaker after three minutes.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Analysis: It was fine for the time given. The crowd wasn't into it because of the Lawler situation they witnessed, which is understandable. No surprise that Del Rio won since he's the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Title held by Sheamus.
After the match, Del Rio asked Sheamus if he watched this match and said it was nothing compared to what he'll do to Sheamus at Night of Champions on Sunday.
At the announce table, Michael Cole updated us on the Jerry Lawler situation. He said Lawler collapsed and he was receiving medical condition. He said "this is not part of tonight's entertainment" which is how they informed us that it was legit and not a work.
From this point forward, Michael Cole didn't call any of the action. He stayed at the announce desk, but he wasn't putting anything over. I think that was the right move.
There was a graphic telling us that on the Night of Champions pre-show there would be a battle royal to determine who would face Antonio Cesaro for the US Title later at Night of Champions.
Sheamus vs. David Otunga (Non-Title)
Sheamus hit all of his regular spots in the match. He finished off Otunga rather easily with the Texas Cloverleaf for the submission win after two minutes.
Post match, Sheamus thought about leaving. He ended up going back in the ring where he signaled for the Brogue Kick. He hit Otunga with it to knock him out.
AJ Lee and Booker T showed up on the entrance ramp. He said he would handle it. Booker told him that if he used the Brogue Kick against anybody at any place or time then he will be stripped of the World Title. He also said it was still under investigation, so we're not sure how long that lasts.
Analysis: I'm not a huge fan of banning moves. Sheamus has so many moves that can be considered finishers, though, so it won't hurt him too bad. This is a way to get over the Texas Cloverleaf as a good submission move for him.
Bret Hart was shown talking to Rey Mysterio backstage.
Backstage, Dr. Shelby talked to Daniel Bryan and Kane. He said their win was a triumph that saw them work together as a team. Bryan said the team was "Daniel Bryan and Kane while Kane said it was Kane and Daniel Bryan. Dr. Shelby interrupted: "How about we call it Team Friendship?" They both yelled "no" at him. I think I should refer to them as Team Friendship.
There were graphics for some Night of Champions matches: Kingston & Truth vs. Team Friendship, Orton vs. Ziggler, Sheamus vs. Del Rio and Punk vs. Cena. There are other matches, but those are the ones they mentioned here. I'll have a full preview up on Saturday morning.
Back to the show, Cole said "this is not part of our entertainment - this is a real life situation." He told us that he was revived backstage after CPR. He said he was taken to a local hospital. He said his prayers are with Jerry and that out of respect to Jerry there would be no further commentary on the broadcast. There was about 30 minutes of show left as he said that.
Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio
It was an even matchup for the most part. The Miz ran down to interfere against Rey Mysterio. It didn't work. Rhodes took advantage of Mysterio focusing on Miz by hitting the Cross Rhodes after about five minutes of action. That was enough for the win.
Winner: Cody Rhodes
Post match, Miz went to attack Mysterio. Instead, Rhodes hit Miz with the Cross Rhodes. Rhodes held up the IC Title before dropping it onto Miz.
Analysis: I would assume this sets up a Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Title between The Miz, Cody Rhodes & Rey Mysterio. They will likely make that official on WWE.com or on Smackdown later in the week.
John Cena was shown walking backstage.
At the announce desk, Cole updated us. He told us that doctors were there immediately when Lawler collapsed. Cole said that Lawler was more responsive to light and he was awaiting a CAT scan at this point. He said in typical Lawler fashion he was fighting through it. He said: "Come on King, get through this."
Very heartfelt moment. I can't imagine what that was like for Cole to do live. That takes a lot of courage.
Bret Hart walked out to interview John Cena. He introduced Cena. The crowd gave Cena a big reaction for his entrance. It felt so weird not listening to Lawler react to a Cena entrance as if it was the first time he saw him. I actually miss it.
I'll write this part in more detail because it's the main event.
Hart said when he thinks about Cena's problems with Punk he remembers his own issues with Shawn Michaels. Cena thanked Hart for the compliment and said he had plenty to do to earn the accolade of being compared to guys like that. Cena was trying to make a point about Punk and Michaels, but there was a loud "you can't wrestle" chant in his direction. Cena: "The thing I like most about Montreal is they recognize a Hall of Famer when they see it (points to Bret). I could never have even laced your boots and that's a fact." The crowd gave a huge ovation to that statement. I don't necessarily agree, but that's another column in itself. Cena said that when Michaels was a jerk he owned up to it while Punk constantly brags and asks for respect. Heel Michaels was the cockiest guy I've ever seen, but that was a long time ago. I'll let it pass. Cena said the fans loved Hart because they knew that he stood for something. Hart asked Cena what he's going to do to shut that "phony" Punk up.
CM Punk entered the arena. Cena called Punk a phony too. He told him to either stay at the top of the ramp or to get into the ring with him. Punk made his way into the ring. He told Hart and Cena that both of them surpassed him. He said in Cena's case he was talking about himself. Punk told Hart that he was talking about Shawn Michaels. Punk: "I am better than Shawn Michaels." Punk asked Hart if he remembered the "hillbilly" that he made pass out to the Sharpshooter at WrestleMania 13, in reference to Steve Austin (my favorite match ever by the way). Punk said: "I’m better than him too. And I'm better than The Rock." Punk bragged about what he did to the Rock in one night when Rock disrespected him, which was something Cena couldn't do in one year of battling with Rock. Punk bragged some more: "I am the best wrestler. I am the best talker. I am the best technician. I am the best brawler." He ended his bragging with: "I say it because I am it."
John Cena fired back at Punk by calling him a liar, a hypocrite and a conceited scumbag. Cena sucked up to the fans by saying Montreal was an honest city. Cena said for the 300 days Punk has been WWE Champion he's complained as main events have passed him by. Cena said that Punk's been in WWE for many years and the night that he made the most noise was when his voice was silenced. That's a reference to the "shoot" promo in Vegas of June 2011 when Punk's speech was cut off at the end to make it seem real. Cena talked about how Punk was clamoring for change when all he really wanted was for he (Punk) to be a bigger star. Cena had this really good line: "I went from an underdog to an odds-on favorite, but I did it as me." Cena said through everything he had to do things as himself. Cena looked at Punk and fired off this great speech: "You have changed your ideology numerous times, you have stabbed your friends in the back, you borrow colors from Hall of Famers…you steal the elbow of the late Randy Savage. All because you have yet to find you." It's not like he stole the elbow of Savage. It was in tribute. Michaels did the elbow in all his matches too. I see the point he was trying to make, but it's a bit of a reach in that case.
Cena said Punk's problems have developed because of the WWE Title. Cena said that at Night of Champions Punk is in serious jeopardy of losing the WWE Title. Cena spoke in French. Huge pop. The same people that said "you can't wrestle" were now largely cheering him all because he spoke French. Punk made fun of Cena for lowering himself by speaking the language of the locals. Cena really got fired now. He said the fans are the reasons they are there and that Punk is an ignorant son of a bitch (bitch got bleeped out). Cena told Punk that he needs a little bit of respect as the crowd got really hot for it. Cena translated his French for us. He looked Punk in the eye: "You say you're going to win at Night of Champions, but I'm just going to kick your ass!" He dropped the microphone. Ass was not bleeped. Great fire shown by Cena. The crowd was cheering loudly.
Punk went to throw a punch at Cena. Cena blocked it. He pushed Punk's hand away. Punk went to punch Hart, but Hart blocked it and he decked Punk with a punch to the face. The crowd cheered loudly as Punk retreated and the music of Hart started to play.
Analysis: I thought it was a fantastic promo. Cena was tremendous in all aspects of it. Punk fired shots at him. Cena came right back at him. The crowd was telling him he couldn't wrestle early on, but then they were cheering him loudly by the end of it. It reminds me of the movie Gladiator when Maximus is told to win the crowd over. This is when Cena is at his best. When he has a great heel to play off he comes off as the perfect kind of babyface. As long as he's not telling jokes he is more likable. I'm leaning towards picking a Cena win on Sunday night. I'll write more about this angle in a column on Thursday. Then on Saturday I'll offer up my official prediction for Night of Champions in our preview column.
To end Raw, they went back to Cole at the announce table. He informed us that Lawler was breathing on his own and his heart was beating on its own. He encouraged the fans to keep Lawler in their thoughts and prayers. He told us to read WWE.com and all WWE social media for updates. He told Jerry to "beat this thing" and I think we can all agree with him on that.
Analysis: It was smart of WWE to end the show with an update on Lawler because the viewers at home were likely very concerned with what happened to him.
The show ended with John Cena raising the hand of Bret Hart at ringside while the crowd cheered him on.
Three Stars of the Show
We can scrap this for a week. I thought Punk, Cena and Hart were all fantastic, though.
No rating this week. The second half of the show was derailed obviously.
Last week: 6
2012 Average: 5.81
2012 High: 9 (January 30)
2012 Low: 3 (July 9)
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 4, 7, 4.5, 7
The wrestling business is one giant happy, sometimes dysfunctional, family. Promoters, wrestlers and fans. We are in this crazy professional wrestling business together. Jerry Lawler, we love you and we will do everything we can to help you get through this.
It's important to separate the character from the man. Lawler loves the wrestling business and dedicated his life to it. He does that to entertain us - the fans. The men and women backstage in WWE, they're fans too. A lot of them grew up listening to Jerry Lawler as one of the voices of WWE just like all of us did. I know the phrase "WWE Universe" is a way to brand the WWE business, but we are all a part of the show.
I'm thankful that Jerry Lawler is on the road to recovery. Also praise to Vince McMahon, the WWE doctors, the medical team in Montreal, all the performers and everybody else involved in making sure that Jerry Lawler is still with us on God's green Earth.
Lastly, thank you to Michael Cole for giving us updates throughout the night during a very difficult situation. There's no "right way" for dealing with what happened on Raw. Cole sat at the announce table speechless while the show was going on. Reports from the arena said his head was in hands due to the emotional pain he was going through as he saw his friend collapse in the chair beside him. I can't imagine what it was like for him to continue on trying to call a match while medics rushed to the aid of Lawler. While I, and many others, may criticize the character that Cole portrays during Raw I have the utmost respect for the man who did his job to the best of his abilities. I sincerely hope that one day we hear Cole call a match with Lawler once again.
Please continue to pray for Jerry Lawler or do whatever it is you do when somebody needs your support. Read updates on WWE.com and various other wrestling sites that hopefully have information pertaining to his road to recovery. We're in this together.
Jerry Lawler, we're with you. God bless you, your family and your friends on behalf of everybody involved in the wrestling universe. I hope we get to hear your voice calling a match on Raw again one day. Whether you're there in a full time capacity or just for nostalgia sake, I hope that you get to do the job you love at least one more time.
As for the show and the storyline aspects, I'll be writing a Night of Champions preview that will be posted on Saturday morning where I'll cover everything in great detail.
On Wednesday I will write a column about CM Punk's Top 10 Moments of his WWE career so far. I wrote most of it on Monday, so it's just a matter of adding a few things and editing. On Thursday I'll likely write a shorter column on how great that Punk/Cena/Hart promo was in terms of making people interested in their match on Sunday night. After Smackdown on Friday we'll post the Night of Champions preview. I'm not sure if I'm watching Night of Champions preview due to the NFL game that's on. I may write it on Monday morning. I'll let you know later in the week.
Keep checking out TJRWrestling.com for all those columns from me and the wonderful work of the TJR staff as well. Thanks for all the support! Also at TJRSports.com we're covering the NFL from all angles. I'm writing weekly picks. Others are writing analysis of the games. We're all over it.
Also check out WWE.com and whatever news sites you visit for updates on the health of Jerry Lawler. Hang in there, King. We're with ya.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org
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