BRM Reviews Ultima Lucha IV: Week One

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Big Red Machine
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BRM Reviews Ultima Lucha IV: Week One

Post by Big Red Machine » Nov 1st, '18, 13:18

Ultima Lucha IV

WEEK ONE:

AEROSTAR APPEARS IN CAPTAIN VASQUEZ’S OFFICE- F*CKING FINALLY! I have been waiting literally all season for Captain Vasquez to show up so that her part of the plot could be advanced.
AeroStar confirms for us what I think most already deduced via process of elimination once it was revealed that Captain Vasquez was Catrina’s mother: that Captain Vasquez was the little girl we saw in the flashback given the pendant of immortality by her dying father a thousand years ago. He also reveals that he was the one who gave her father the pendant, and that the fact that it only works on females is actually a lie he told her father to ensure that the tribe wouldn’t use it have one of their warriors be immortal and to conquer all of the others, and to ensure that her father gave it to her because he had seen in her a desire to “save the world.”
But now he says he was wrong! While Captain Vasquez has been “instrumental” in their war, it is actually another who is destined to save the world, and he needs her half of the pendant, even though he knows this will mean her death. He tells her that both her father and daughter are waiting for her “beyond the Cosmos.” She gives him the amulet, it fuses itself together and becomes whole again… and then Captain Vasquez fades to dust.

The excitement of seeing the mytharc plot moved forward, combined with this epic music they’ve got right now instead of the usual lame crap that totally fails at setting the mood has put me in such a good mood that I’m going to give Matt Striker a pass for claiming that Killshot has been here “since the beginning.” I was fairly certain that he was brought in by Big Ryck for the Trios Championship Tournament, but perhaps he was already a known quantity around The Temple before this.

THREE-WAY ELIMINATION MATCH FOR THE LUCHA UNDERGOURND TRIOS TITLES: The Reptile Tribe(c) vs. Sammy Guevara, X.O. Lishus, & Ivelisse vs. The Rabbit Tribe (The White Rabbit, Paul London, & El Bunny)- 4.75/10
This started off as a really great show-opening car crash spotfest type of match with all your dives and lard head kicks and stuff. Then it quickly turned stupid when Guevara and Kobra Moon battled up to a high platform. Guevara was about to throw Kobra Moon off of the platform, which would deal her a great amount of damage by causing her to fall through the air many feet down and land with great force on the floor (in theory on the floor; in practice, everyone else was there to catch her)… but then he stopped at the last moment, pulled her back, and instead decided to do a Spanish Fly, requiring him to jump off, too, and also take a big bump from many feet up in the air. What a f*cking moron.
The most frustrating part of this is that I wouldn’t ever have thought anything of this if he had just grabbed her and did the f*cking Spanish Fly down onto the crowd. But because he thought it was necessary to start to throw her off like normal but then pull her back so he could do his stupid spot, it changes the tone of the whole thing from “I am going to hurt my opponent so I can win this match” to “LOOK AT THIS COOL SPOT I’M DOING!”
Soon after this, Guevara pinned Paul London with a victory roll after London tripped over El Bunny, so the Rabbit Tribe look like idiots. The White Rabbit then menaced London, who begged for forgiveness until The White Rabbit instead grabbed Guevara with his glove-covered hand and gave him his super mandible claw that makes all of the blood. Guevara got to be defiant by spitting the blood onto The White Rabbit before fainting. The Rabbit Tribe left while, Ivelisse let several F bombs fly while demanding a medic come to check on Guevara, who was taken to the back during a commercial break. You’d think that whole segment with Famous B last week would have led to something, but apparently not. In fact, apparently Famous B didn’t even try to get the match cancelled due to his supposed exclusive control over Guevara’s contract (like he said he would in last week’s segment) but apparently that didn’t happen, either.
Ivelisse and X.O. then had to fight the Reptile Tribe down three on two. They made something of a go of it, including one big nearfall where Ivelisse hit Daga with a Crucifix Bomb and the ref made the count even though Daga’s shoulders were pretty clearly not down. Eventually the Reptile Tribe retained their titles.

RICKY MUNDO vs. TAYA MUNDO- 5/10
Taya has taken Johnny’s last name. Ricky insisted on being introduced as being accompanied “Rosa,” which is apparently the name of his creepy evil doll.
Taya charged right at the ring, took Ricky down, and immediately began pounding on him. Given this exciting start to the match, you probably won’t be too surprised that the man whose job it is to call the action, Matt Striker, decided to ignore this and try to explore what factors have been motivating Ricky Mundo. He didn’t anything that was wrong… but is this really the best time to be doing that? Wait for a f*cking double-down or something.

When Ricky got his first offense in, cutting Taya off with a superkick and then pounding on her, Vampiro remarked that it couldn’t possibly be easy for Johnny Mundo to have to sit in the back and watch this. Striker kept insisting that Taya “can take care of herself” because “she’s an independent woman.” That’s all true… but that doesn’t make it much easier to watch someone beat the crap out of your spouse!
This was definitely intense, but shorter than I was hoping for. Taya made Ricky tap out to the STFU.

POST-MATCH SEMGENT- good
Perhaps feeling that Ricky tapped out early, Taya chokeslammed Ricky off the apron through a table because “You put your hands on my friends! You put your hands on my family! YOU RUINED MY F*CKING WEDDING!” Apparently Taya managed to channel all of her rage into this chokeslam because that table f*cking SHATTERED! Taya then picked Ricky’s doll up and began waving it around by the hair, then walked off with it. I REALLY hope this doesn’t lead to Taya becoming possessed.

MASK VS. MASK MATCH: Son of Havoc vs. Killshot- 7/10
At one point when Son of Havoc was down, Killshot grabbed a stretcher from a backstage area, then started unscrewing the bottom turnbuckle in one corner. Apparently there are no count-outs in this match because he wasn’t counted out while all of this was going on. I guess there are no DQs, too, because the referee made no effort to get the stretcher out of the ring when Killshot brought it in. Hell, the referee didn’t even seem to be trying to stop him from taking the damn ring apart. Is it really that hard for a promotion to just announce in advance if a match has DQs/count-outs or not? Or is it really that hard for wrestlers to just not use weapons or brawl on the outside forever in matches where such things aren’t allowed? Is it really that hard?
The “downward punches” of Stupid Announcer Quote #2 below resulted in Killshot being set up on a table, which Son of Havoc soon put him through via a big splash from all the way up on the camera platform. In just over half an hour of total TV time- not even action time, but total TV time, this was both the second table bump and the second dive from that same platform.
It did prompt a well-deserved “HOLY SH*T!” chant from the crowd, which Vampiro responded to by musing on the universal nature of such a chant, mentioning that it is chanted “throughout the Lucha Underground universe” in “Spanish, German, Japanese, or English.” I noticed that Vamp did not mention Portuguese, which I took to mean that Lucha Underground does not air in Portugal or Brazil. And I fully support that. Why should we send them our Lucha Underground tapes if they won’t send us their tapes of Pat Patterson’s Intercontinental Title win?
More stuff happened and it was exciting. There were some good false finishes, eventually resulting in a “THIS IS AWESOME!” chant… and the idiots running this show inexplicably chose to instead show us a close-up of a guy who was clearly chanting “THAT WAS THREE!” instead of one of the many people chanting “THIS IS AWESOME!” which made the chant look canned.
They did some stuff using the stretched that seemed pretty innovative, but also highly risky to my untrained eyes. Son of Havoc got the win following a Piledriver onto the stretcher, followed by a Shooting Star Press with Killshot strapped to the stretcher so he couldn’t escape.

KILLSHOT UNMASKS- His name is Lt. Jermaine “Killshot” Strickland. Strickland, huh? And when he took his mask off, he looked EXACTLY like indy superstar Shane Strickland. Must be his identical twin.
He tells us that “for the past few years, I’ve been trying to erase and escape my true identity… and the fact that I left my brothers for dead.” I guess he feels that he really could have saved his comrades in arms during his escape, whereas before it seemed to have been portrayed as if he was escaping and didn’t know that Dante Fox (and, apparently, others) were there. Vampiro pointed out that this does line up with Fox’s version of events, which I guess should make Fox a more reliable narrator in the future.

DANTE FOX CONFRONTS KILLSHOT ON HIS WAY OUT OF THE BUILDING- Fox is in full dress uniform. Strickland asks him why he went MIA, to which Fox responded that he “had a mission; one I couldn’t ignore.” Fox said “it’s good to see your face again,” but Killshot said “this is the last time you’re ever going to see it.” He asks Fox for ceremonial permission to be relieved of duty, and Fox grants it. Killshot then took his bag and walked off into the night. I have absolutely no idea why they used a Dutch angle (usually a hint that something is wrong or off about what we’re seeing, like, for example, in a dream sequence, or if someone has been transported to a parallel universe) for this.
Before going into my thoughts on this whole Killshot story in depth, I do want to highlight certain things that Dante Fox said here, and the possible implications they might have. The way this scene was portrayed certainly tells us that Fox is still on active duty. While the idea of an active duty officer being allowed to take time off to go join an underground wrestling promotion- especially one where several murders are known by the authorities to have taken place- might seem like a plot hole, I think it can actually be used to make things make more sense.
One possible answer to why Fox would be allowed to join such an organization is, quite simply, that he was on an official, sanctioned mission. We know the LAPD has been investigating the Cuetos, so I think it’s very possible that Fox was doing so as well, on behalf of the military. While I think they didn’t officially establish that Lt. Strickland/Killshot went AWOL after his escape from the terrorists who were holding him and/or his buddies prisoner, I do think they were hinting at it. This would explain his need to become a mercenary and anonymous prize fighter, because someone who came home and got discharged and just had trouble readjusting to civilian life wouldn’t necessarily need the anonymity. He might want a new name due to the shame he felt, but a mask does not seem necessary unless someone is chasing you.
If Fox is an undercover military intelligence/special ops officer going undercover, it would also make it more plausible that they would have officially listed him as retired/gone rogue/whatever as part of this cover, and thus Dario/The Order would not panic upon seeing him at their Temple. It would also explain why if Killshot is AWOL, they didn’t send a bunch of people in to get him once they knew he was there (so as not to bring suspicion upon Fox), and why Killshot was never worried about Fox having reinforcements during their feud (he thought Fox was AWOL, too). In fact, I think it’s likely that Fox’s entire feud with Killshot was something of a cover story to get Fox into The Temple. He knew where Killshot was, so he could have just waited outside the building to jump him, but instead he deliberately used a third party- Joey Ryan- to hand-deliver a message letting Killshot know he was coming for him, which is exactly the sort of thing a promoter like Dario would realize he could capitalize off of and get Fox invited into The Temple, whereas jumping Killshot outside wouldn’t necessarily have accomplished that.
And if Fox is investigating The Temple/the Cuetos/The Order, then he might well know a lot more than we previously thought about this mystical stuff. Is he serving a government agency that might have been working with Captain Vasquez and even AeroStar? And if he got ordered away from all of this by an urgent “mission” (finally giving some sort of an answer to where he was all season), then it’s entirely possible that this mission of his also had to do with mytharc stuff.
I actually spent a big more time than I intended to on Killshot there, but let me now give you, as promised…

BRM’S OVERALL THOUGHTS ON THIS WHOLE THING NOW THAT THE STORY IS OVER- I’ve been quite critical of everything that has gone on surrounding Killshot this season, so I feel like I should go into some depth about all of this.
I have been EXTREMELY critical of the way this whole angle has been done- and of a lot of this season in general- for a lack of focus on character and backstory, which LU had in the past used the uniqueness of their universe and presentation to make the most compelling feature of their show.
Three and a half years ago, during the very first season of Lucha Underground, I criticized the presentation of rushed Mask vs. Mask match between Superfly and Sexy Star by writing the following:
Because of the lack of build-up of the importance of masks, the announcers needed to tell us about it as the match was going on. This is bad because one of the worst things you can do in wrestling (and in most forms of storytelling) is start telling everyone that a person/object/outcome is extremely important once the person/object/outcome has already reached/achieved the task/destination/desired outcome, because at that point it feels like you're just pulling it out of your ass because you’ve completely wasted your opportunity to make the audience care about it.
Which of these seems more exciting?
1) A Bond movie where he just goes around doing stuff all over the world. Then at the end he kills some terrorist in the middle of London and grabs some suitcase the terrorist had been carrying around with him and brings it back to MI6 HQ, and M says “Good job Mr. Bond. The nuclear bomb in that suitcase would have killed millions of people, but we’re all safe now, thanks to you”
2) A Bond movie that starts off with M telling Bond that some terrorists have gotten their hands on a suitcase nuke in Russia and are planning on setting it off in London. We need you to stop them. Then Bond goes to Russia to try to stop them, but the terrorist with the nuke escapes him and heads to Japan so Bond has to follow him to Japan. Bond almost catches him there, too, but the terrorist escapes to Buenos Aries. Bond follows him and the same thing happens. Then the same thing happens in St. Louis. Then in Reykjavik, and then in London, Bond finally kills the terrorist before he can set off the bomb.

Scenario 2 is a well-built story that explains why the suitcase is so important, then has our hero try multiple times to get it and fail before finally succeeding just in the nick of time. Scenario one is a guy doing stuff, then killing a dude and taking his suitcase with no reason for us to care about any of it… and then, at the end they tell us that our hero has just saved millions of lives, but we don’t care because the time for caring has passed, and at that point it feels like they’re just pulling the importance of the suitcase out of their asses after the fact. And that is exactly what this lack of build made the announcers sound like they were doing here, explaining to us for the first time why we should care about the competitors masks after the mask match had already begun.
For a great example of what I mean, Vampiro told us that Sexy Star’s mask (or the identity thereof and what it represents etc. etc.) “saved her from suicide.” THAT SOME F*CKING HEAVY SH*T RIGHT THERE! That’s the sort of backstory that tells us so much about Sexy Star: who she is, how she has suffered, and what her mask means to her… and thus what it might mean for her to lose it. And yet it has never ever been brought up before.
I’m sad to say that three seasons later, I still don’t think the writers have learned their lesson. I will give them credit that the end result of this was a situation that carried an emotional punch and where learning his backstory after his unmasking makes sense and works. But while I was watching the match, I didn’t care who won or lost, or have any grasp on what the consequences of losing his mask would be for either competitor. Yes, we pretty much knew they both wore masks to hide their identities rather than for a connection to Lucha Libre tradition, but the idea of losing the mask carried no gravity for either man because we didn’t even have a hint at what the consequences would be.
We’re honestly not even sure what the consequences are for Killshot now. He revealed his identity and admitted a shameful secret, yes, but he seems to be leaving The Temple of his own volition more than anything else, and is off to… what, exactly? Forge a new secret identity with a new mask to continue trying to “erase” his past shame from his own memory?
All in all, I still feel like this entire thing was one huge missed opportunity to use the Mask vs. Mask stipulation not just to build up stakes for the characters involved to make me care which of them would lose his mask and which of them would keep his, but to add some backstory to Son of Havoc’s character by explaining- or even just hinting at- the stakes for him were he to lose his mask. As Striker kept pointing out, Son of Havoc has been here since the very first show, and is a pretty beloved character by the fans (especially considering that he’s basically a jobber to the stars), and yet we know almost nothing about him. We know he used to be in a motorcycle club called “The Invisible Cult” but he left and they sent a masked dude going by the alias “Son of Madness” to bring him back to them, dead or alive, but Son of Madness failed… and nothing has been followed up on that since. Oh. And he used to date Ivelisse. We also know that about him, but that’s it.
Son of Havoc and Killshot wound up in a Mask vs. Mask match together, and until the match was over, this feud was just two masked guys having a Mask vs. Mask feud because they got stuck in a trio together and one was a dick to the other, so the other was a dick back. That’s just… painfully dull for what is supposed to be a major stipulation in a Lucha Libre promotion on a TV show that has so many interesting tools at their disposal to make this mean more that other companies do not have.

After all of this criticism, though, I do want to praise them for the decision to write Strickland/Killshot out in a way that not only doesn’t involve killing him or barring him from the promotion forever via Loser Leaves Town stipulation. The way they had him exit here does allow him to return it works out for everyone, and even gives them a built-in angle to do so via Fox recruiting him for some sort of secret mission.


Anyway, despite some disappointments, Ultima Lucha IV is off to a fairly good start. Hopefully they can keep it up next week.


STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Matt Striker called Taya an “ice queen,” which is a term for a woman who shows zero emotion. He did this while Taya was in a rage, assaulting the man who ruined her wedding and put both herself and her husband in the hospital. That’s the total opposite of not showing emotion.

2. Matt Striker- “The downward punch has a lot of pressure on it because the gravity works in your favor.”
First of all, you mean force, not pressure, moron. Pressure is a measure of force over area, and thus the amount is just as subject to the area over which the force is applied as to the amount of force itself. Hence why you can break the skin more much easily if you stab someone with a knife- which comes to a fine point- than you can if you stab someone with a spoon, which doesn’t.
But even if we are very generous to Mr. Striker- a former high school teacher, might I add- and say that the pressure is technically increased because the gravity is adding to the force with which you throw the punch, he’d still be wrong because gravity is such a weak force that the amount of acceleration it adds to your punch (-9.8m/s2, to be specific, though that assumes you are punching straight down and doesn’t include anything shaved off by the negligible put present wind resistance) is negligible, and thus, by definition, cannot be described as adding “a lot” of anything.
It’s things like this that make me hate Matt Striker so much. When announcers in WWE are bad, it’s usually because they’ve been trained to be bad, and either don’t know any better or the guy in charge yells at them when they don’t do it his way. When announcers other places are bad it’s usually because they either don’t give a sh*t and are just trying to entertain themselves (Taz in TNA, Corino in ROH) or because they’re trying so hard to fit into this idea in their head of what a PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING ANNOUNCER is supposed to be that they come off like a caricature instead (Ian Riccaboni, Don West, Kevin Kelly). When Matt Striker is bad, it’s usually because he’s trying to show you how smart (poetic, or funny or whatever) HE is… and nine times out of ten, the sh*t he’s saying either doesn’t make sense in the context or is just plain wrong.


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Re: BRM Reviews Ultima Lucha IV: Week One

Post by cero2k » Nov 7th, '18, 10:17

This is what happens when a Mexican tradition gets Americanized. Even though Striker and Vampiro haven't stopped mentioned it since season one, there really is no reason at all why we would need more reminding why masks are important, even more, why a certain mask matters to such and such. There's no need to have a full backstory why someone has a mask in order to make a mask vs mask match important. We don't know why Psycho Clown has a mask, we don't know why Liger has a mask, hell, not even the most americanized luchador Rey Mysterio has a story why he wears a mask. it's just tradition and their incognito is what they fight for.

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Re: BRM Reviews Ultima Lucha IV: Week One

Post by Big Red Machine » Nov 7th, '18, 11:54

cero2k wrote:
Nov 7th, '18, 10:17
This is what happens when a Mexican tradition gets Americanized. Even though Striker and Vampiro haven't stopped mentioned it since season one, there really is no reason at all why we would need more reminding why masks are important, even more, why a certain mask matters to such and such. There's no need to have a full backstory why someone has a mask in order to make a mask vs mask match important. We don't know why Psycho Clown has a mask, we don't know why Liger has a mask, hell, not even the most americanized luchador Rey Mysterio has a story why he wears a mask. it's just tradition and their incognito is what they fight for.
If this was, say Fenix vs. Rey I would agree with you. But it's not. With these particular characters it has been hinted at that there is a reason they want to remain anonymous, and thus such a thing needs to be made to feel like it would have consequences.
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Re: BRM Reviews Ultima Lucha IV: Week One

Post by cero2k » Nov 7th, '18, 12:39

Big Red Machine wrote:
Nov 7th, '18, 11:54
cero2k wrote:
Nov 7th, '18, 10:17
This is what happens when a Mexican tradition gets Americanized. Even though Striker and Vampiro haven't stopped mentioned it since season one, there really is no reason at all why we would need more reminding why masks are important, even more, why a certain mask matters to such and such. There's no need to have a full backstory why someone has a mask in order to make a mask vs mask match important. We don't know why Psycho Clown has a mask, we don't know why Liger has a mask, hell, not even the most americanized luchador Rey Mysterio has a story why he wears a mask. it's just tradition and their incognito is what they fight for.
If this was, say Fenix vs. Rey I would agree with you. But it's not. With these particular characters it has been hinted at that there is a reason they want to remain anonymous, and thus such a thing needs to be made to feel like it would have consequences.
tha'ts what i was trying to say, they tried to Americanize the prestige of masks (which I think they've done thought the series), but then try to do it with two completely irrelevant masks. Now I don't think we need to see the consequences go beyond someone being ashamed of showing their face, from season 1 and 2 we knew Killshot was hiding his face when he left his mates to die, and with Havoc if I remember correctly, it was an MC colors thing, like the vest. I don't think we need anything else other than seeing their shame and in the case of Killshot, we even saw him leave the temple

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Re: BRM Reviews Ultima Lucha IV: Week One

Post by Big Red Machine » Nov 7th, '18, 16:50

cero2k wrote:
Nov 7th, '18, 12:39
Big Red Machine wrote:
Nov 7th, '18, 11:54
cero2k wrote:
Nov 7th, '18, 10:17
This is what happens when a Mexican tradition gets Americanized. Even though Striker and Vampiro haven't stopped mentioned it since season one, there really is no reason at all why we would need more reminding why masks are important, even more, why a certain mask matters to such and such. There's no need to have a full backstory why someone has a mask in order to make a mask vs mask match important. We don't know why Psycho Clown has a mask, we don't know why Liger has a mask, hell, not even the most americanized luchador Rey Mysterio has a story why he wears a mask. it's just tradition and their incognito is what they fight for.
If this was, say Fenix vs. Rey I would agree with you. But it's not. With these particular characters it has been hinted at that there is a reason they want to remain anonymous, and thus such a thing needs to be made to feel like it would have consequences.
tha'ts what i was trying to say, they tried to Americanize the prestige of masks (which I think they've done thought the series), but then try to do it with two completely irrelevant masks. Now I don't think we need to see the consequences go beyond someone being ashamed of showing their face, from season 1 and 2 we knew Killshot was hiding his face when he left his mates to die, and with Havoc if I remember correctly, it was an MC colors thing, like the vest. I don't think we need anything else other than seeing their shame and in the case of Killshot, we even saw him leave the temple
I agree that they have tried to Americanize the idea of masks, but I think they have done that with guys who had backstories (and at least teased backstories) that should have made such a thing doable. If they had done this right, this wouldn't have felt like a lucha de apuesta so much as a match with a stipulation that would have major and dire consequences for the loser. When Ultimo Guerrero lost his mask, he was Ultimo f*cking Guerrero afterwards. Yes, he suffered shame and a loss of kayfabe income due to mask sales (theoretically), but that was it. If LU had done this right, there would have been the sense that there is a real reckoning coming for the loser. This shouldn't have been two guys fighting to take the other's mask as a trophy; it should have been two guys fighting to not lose their own mask.
As for their backstories, we knew Killshot was hiding his face because he was a mercenary. The way the story seemed to be at the time, Killshot didn't know that Fox was being held captive (which also explains why he didn't totally freak out upon seeing Fox again for the first time).
We knew he used to be in the military, but that he was now a "solider of fortune" as the announcers kept calling him, which is a fancy term for a mercenary. Plus, we knew he was an associate of Big Ryck, who was a known gang boss (remember that Bael, Castro, and Mr. Cisqo were originally his henchmen). he could have been wearing his mask for any number of reasons. Any number of people could have been after him for things he had done. The idea that he actually did knowingly leave his comrades behind was only revealed to us on this show.

As for Son of Havoc, I don't know if they ever confirmed that the mask was part of the motorcycle club uniform, but it would make some sense given their name and the fact that the only other member we have ever seen, Son of Madness, also wore one. But the whole Cult of the Invisible Hand thing is something hanging out there that we should get answers for. Why did he leave the club, but still feels the need to wear their colors (and possibly official mask)? Why did they feel the need to send Son of Madness after him, and why did Son of Madness say the preference in his orders was to bring Son of Havoc back to them willingly, or if not willingly then bring him back alive rather than just kill him? These are open questions that really should be answered. Because otherwise Son of Havoc is just LU's trios championship version of Billy Gunn; the guy who wins the tag titles with a whole bunch of different partners.
Hold #712: ARM BAR!

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