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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here and forever only here at LordsofPain.net. Man, I feel GREAT… I’m relieved that the “series finale” of Mr. Tito is coming up here on 10/26/2018 for my 20th Year Anniversary of my columns beginning at LoP. Better yet, with no WWE Network, my weekend is free of not watching a glorified Australian houseshow. Feels good… BUT, as I suggested in another recent column, if you like the current WWE and/or other promotions, keep enjoying them. In just a few weeks, you won’t have Tito to kick around any longer, although you should NEVER let a columnist influence your own tastes/preferences.
Honestly, I have been struggling to write a column all week… I was going to response to all of the WWE marks saying “what about the WWE stock?” and as I writing that response with legitimate discussion on the Stock Market, the economy, etc., I was boring myself writing it. Basically, I concluded that WWE’s stock rise was a lot like Bitcoin as many early adopter investors are working to bid that price up and then will cash in at the right second, pretty much screwing any late buyers. I’m not sure how well that column would have been received or not. I was then going to write a retrospective on Kane, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H to tell younger viewers WHY all 4 are still relevant in 2018 and why they are getting the spotlight on these International shows. As I was writing the part for Kane, I got really depressed once I hit those 2002-2004 years… And then I realized that I’d be bashing Triple H during that timeframe too. Pass…
So what should I write about? WWE Network subscription is gone, barely watching RAW/Smackdown on YouTube.com, and my focus is on other non-wrestling projects that aren’t under the “Tito” banner.
Then, UFC #229 occurs… It was like Christimas to a wrestling columnist awaiting for a good topic to just find me.
In case you missed it or didn’t buy the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 229 Pay Per View, Conor McGregor lost Khabib Nurmagomedov to challenge for the Lightweight Champion. That should have been hit… Nurmagomedov beat the company’s top popularity star and that alone is big enough to make headlines. Nope, instead Khabib Nurmagomedov decides to hop the UFC cage wall and attack Conor McGregor’s cornermen. Then, Nurmagomedov corner joined the fight and it spilled into the crowd attending the event. This is true NBA like “Malice at the Palace” stuff.
Now, this is a PRO WRESTLING COLUMN… I’ll get to my point about how UFC 229’s events should relate to pro wrestling, specifically the WWE. And no, it won’t be about how UFC is “like” a pro wrestling promotion. In fact, it’s the complete opposite.
Watch what happens to the UFC… Through May 2018, UFC reached a television agreement with Disney owned ESPN Cable/Satellite channel to air UFC content for the next 5 years. Why is that important?
Notice how I mentioned the “Malice at the Palace”. In case you didn’t see that NBA incident from November 2004, it involved the Indiana Pacers playing at the Detroit Pistons‘s home facility, the Palace of Auburn Hills. Ron Artest fouled Ben Wallace late in the game and Wallace thought that it was too rough… Ben would shove Ron Artest hard but both teams actually broked up things quickly. However, as the teams and referees were discussing that foul and shoving incident, Ron Artest took it upon himself to lay down on the scorekeeper’s table in a relaxing manner. One of the Piston fans threw a cup of beer at Artest and it was a direct hit onto his face. Pissed, Artest storms up the stands and attacks a fan whom he thought threw the beer. Fellow pacer Stephen Jackson joined him and as he was running up there to defend his teammate, another beer was thrown at Jackson to light his fire. It became Indiana Pacer NBA Players taking on Detroit Piston Fans… It got ugly REAL QUICK and even spilled onto the court (that Jermaine O’Neil punch!!!).
The end result would see Ron Artest being suspended for the entire season, losing one of his prime years, Stephen Jackson with 30 games, O’Neil with 15 games, and a handful of other Pacers/Pistons with smaller suspensions.
But those were just the punishments with the players.
Soon afterward, NBA Commissioner David Stern began imposing new rules, new dresscodes, and changed the way that the league was marketed forever. Gone was promoting a more physical play of basketball where fighting and hard fouls were tolerated and now you see a very friendly where you can drive the lane virtually untouched. If you dare leave the bench, it is an automatic suspension as the Phoenix Suns once experienced in a crucial playoff game.
Could someone tell me which network that this “Malice at the Palace” game aired on? Oh, that’s right, the Disney owned ESPN.
The Disney corporation, with its many kid-friendly intellectual properties like Mickey, Pixar films, princess movies, or anything at their theme parks, has been actively its content that it owns for many years. Anything remotely racial, sexist, or violent is no longer seeing the light of day by that corporation. Go try to find a “Song of the South” DVD or Blu-Ray out there that’s not “hot” from a comic book convention. Many of their past Donald or Mickey cartoons contain disclaimers (usually Leonard Maltin) describing how offensive a past cartoon was for its time. Since its purchase of the Star Wars franchise, the company has refused to market any toys with Princess Leia in her iconic bikini from the Return of the Jedi. Furthermore with Disney, they are attempting to push as much diversity as possible on their latest Star Wars films and have been very open about it. Fans are beginning to revolt as seen by Last Jedi’s quick dropoff and Solo’s weaker performance.
ESPN, itself, has been scrubbed heavily by Disney… When ESPN tried to push the Playmakers series which was a show about a professional football league and its players, Disney shut it down quickly when that show “rattled the cages” of the NFL. If you’ll recall, that show featured players dealing with closeted homosexuality, steroids, drugs, inappropriate relationships, and other things that the NFL didn’t like. Disney agreed and the Playmakers show was cancelled after ONE season despite good ratings.
But I believe that ESPN had a great hand in “scrubbing” the NBA after the “Malice in the Palace” incident of November 2004. ESPN recently purchased the NBA through 2002 for a substantial amount and we were early into the 2004 season when the “Malice” happened. For weeks, ESPN held nothing back on showing footage from that event and their analysts didn’t either. In fact, during the telecast, the announcers (Bill Walton included) where shredding the incident as it happened. Remember, both announcers (like the WWE) have producers in their ears to advise what to say or what to point out at specific times. Ongoing incidents like this or an image problem could threaten the NBA’s television rights in a few years, or at least from Disney owned ESPN and ABC. If you don’t believe that Disney has a hand influencing the NBA, just observe how NBA players didn’t take as many games off last year following the previous season where many players took many games off, particularly ones with bigger national audiences.
UFC had it easy with FOX… FOX is usually hands-off with their television coverage and doesn’t mind pushing the envelope as you’ve seen with the FX channel shows on both violence or language. Hell, on their FOX broadcast channel, they’ve tried a few unique things that pushed the boundaries of language, violence, or even sex (see Melrose Place). Many former ESPN personalities and producers migrated to FOX or FOX Sports 1 and are relieved to have creative freedom.
As WWE fans, you should be relieved that the WWE is on FOX for WWE Smackdown shows airing on Fridays starting during the Fall of 2009. Though that Friday timeslot is not appealing, especially during High School Football season, FOX should be more hands-off than what the WWE sees with Comcast/NBC/Universal. However, the WWE is on broadcast television again which political groups seem to hold in high regard. During 2000, the WWE was targeted by the Parents Television Council (PTC) for language, sexual, and violent content and they began challenging the WWE’s sponsors. The end result was the WWE losing many sponsors and that quickly caused their ad rates to drop despite having higher ratings. This was on a Viacom owned station would later let them air the Muhammad Hassan segment where guys in ski masks would attack the Undertaker and choke him with piano wire… But then Viacom showed outrage after it was aired despite being close to those London attacks.
I believe that FOX wouldn’t show as much outrage unless it was a shot at more Conservative leaning issues… But then again, the Simpsons and Family Guy are both constantly mocking the political and religious right. So whatever?
Personally, I would have preferred that the WWE was on the FX channel instead… Gloves could come off, once again without any worry of the publicly viewed broadcast channels that are somehow held in high regard.
You just know that during next week, Disney Board members and their armies of Presidents, Executive Vice Presidents, Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, etc. and from every department along their organizational chart will have a say on what just happened… Not just Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s antics of jumping over the wall and attacking cornermen, but also the previous incident of Conor McGregor throwing a dolly at Nurmagomedov’s bus that legitimately injured individuals on that bus. I wouldn’t doubt that chief enforcer and company president Dana White will start to get questioned. Not just these incidents involving McGregor and Nurmagomedov, but there have been other legal incidents and drug suspensions that have occurred recently. The Disney Board and senior management might send a few talking points to the newer UFC ownership group to clean its act up or else… You may think that UFC has their guaranteed money, but again, LOOK AT THE NBA and how that league was quickly cleaned up.
Now – How on earth does this relate to pro wrestling?
What I’m specifically talking about is how a politically correct corporation, like Disney, could react to these incidents… If you ask many UFC fans, they like a little chaos in their hype and aftermath as long as it’s real. A few months ago, Brock Lesnar appears in the right to confront Daniel Cormier. That felt a bit staged as he happened to appear in the ring after Cormier won his fight and Lesnar shoved him. Felt like pro wrestling… BUT, throwing a dolly at a bus that created legitimate injuries and hopping an Octogon wall to attack real people, that’s legit. While both challenge the confines of law enforcement, they are still adding “heat” to matches that need to sell Pay Per Views. Social Media has done nothing but buzz about last night’s incident.
UFC cannot control the real-life actions of Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov… McGregor, in particular, could have faced harsher legal trouble for legitimately hurting people on that bus and now, a big chunk of that Mayweather payday will probably be lost in lawsuits. Khabib Nurmagomedov could now face his own legal or lawsuit issues. Also with Colon McGregor, this is a LOSS for him… If losses keep piling up, his marketability goes down. See Ronda Rousey. She was the “talk of UFC” with her undefeated streak and the second she endures 2 straight losses, UFC didn’t want to focus her in a big spotlight any longer. Drug suspensions are bad news for both UFC and its fighters. Brock Lesnar was suspended during 2016 following positive tests found after the UFC 200 event. If you saw Lesnar in the WWE since July 2016, he’s been pushed and featured strongly by the promotion.
WWE is a controlled and scripted environment. The chaos that you see with Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov is real and have legal/liability issues all over them. Braun Strowman can pick up an ambulance with Roman Reigns in it with no problem… Weeks before that, Roman tried to “kill” Braun in a trash compactor. Now, I know that both incidents were staged and neither guy truly got hurt… THAT’S MY POINT! No innocent bystanders got hurt from either guy’s actions. You’ll never see WWE wrestlers throwing objects at vehicles to legitimately harm someone, nor will you ever see WWE wrestlers jumping into crowds to legitimately attack anyone besides their opponents.
Better yet, Ronda Rousey won’t endure tough losses in the WWE like she did in UFC… Seriously, she was legitimately depressed that her “career was over” after losing those fights in UFC. Just 2 losses, folks… If you lose repeatedly in UFC, it’s over. Lose repeatedly in Boxing, it’s over. If you lose in the WWE, you live to see another day. Hell, you can wrestle until your early 50s for all the WWE could care. Can you still draw money? Yes… OK, get on out there!
What I really want to push is the FAILURE of the WWE to “push the envelope” with its programming right now. This PG Era stuff BLOWS… It really does.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we go back to chopping off people’s dongs with swords, giving birth to hands, Hot Lesbian Action (well, maybe that?), fake pregnancies, and other pure Jerry Springer Talk Show stuff. Not in the least… Give me someone who is raw like a Stone Cold Steve Austin. He didn’t have to resort to any really trashy segments… He just used very basic foul language that everyday Americans use, gave the middle finger often, and drank beer. Just some adult twists on an already great wrestler. Austin went off the rails with that 2001 heel turn and especially when he viciously attacked Lita in one of the worst RAW segments ever. But if you look at 1996-1999, Austin got over by cursing like a real American and they lived vicariously through him as he challenged his boss on screen.
Tell me how Conor McGregor from UFC is different from Stone Cold Steve Austin from the WWE, besides throwing a dolly at a bus full of people. Both talk trash, both aren’t afraid of using foul language, and both have a swagger that they’ll own any room that they walk into. If you want to compare UFC to pro wrestling, it’s from someone like Conor McGregor taking pages out of Austin’s playbook on how to speak like a real human being, talk trash without fear, and always act like you own the room no matter what.
Since Steve Austin and the Rock… When was the last time that we had a REAL wrestler like that who was a strong personality and had great trash talking verbal skills? I guess John Cena for a little bit, but the PG Era took care of him. CM Punk during 2011 for sure with his “Pipebomb” and additional promos, but the WWE machine neutered that quickly. Those Shield guys can’t speak… Can you name a single promo that Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, or Dean Ambrose cut that amazed you? Braun Strowman is terrible on the microphone. Nobody from the Women’s Division can speak well and that’s why you need to hand Ronda Rousey a pile of money to join the WWE. Yet, her marketability is hurt by her inability to talk tough in a PG Era.
What I’m suggesting is that Comcast take the gloves off and remove the PG Era label from Monday Night RAW that airs on USA Network. What do you have to lose? You have lost over 1 million viewers in the last 4 years and you could make money back on this $200 million per-year deal by letting the WWE generate better ratings. WWE is locked into that guaranteed money but Comcast is fully allowed to charge their own ad rates on WWE shows. Thus, if RAW’s viewership numbers go up, WWE can’t do anything but pound sand because they are stuck in that 5 year deal until 2023. Comcast can make more money on this deal if ratings go up and pushing more Adult themes on its show is the easy way out.
AGAIN – I’m not suggesting that we return to having sex in the middle of the ring, as Edge and Lita once did… Or drugging up a Stephanie McMahon to marry Triple H in Las Vegas. Better yet, not having someone like Brian Pillman pull a gun on Steve Austin. How about Triple H implying that Kane was a Necrophiliac and even reliving the scene involving a dummy in a casket?
Not at all… I’m suggesting that some light foul language can return, better trash talking can occur, and inuendo can be used. Reduce the amount of scripted promos and let the wrestlers have some creative freedom on what is being said. Bring back blood! That’s right! Get some color in the ring on occasion. If you had some real blood, the guy could sell the blood loss instead of getting slammed through a table for an added effect. You have plenty of gorgeous women on the roster right now. I 100% respect them as athletes and am proud of the great midcard and potentially main event attraction that they have created together… But Miss Elizabeth, Sable, Sunny, Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson, and others has roles too AS LONG AS they didn’t try to wrestle. WWE marketed their beauty and why not? Many of the female wrestlers are close to wearing bikinis now with their outfits. I’m not suggesting that we have endless Bikini Contests here, but show off some beauty here. Males still watch these shows as a strong majority of the fans.
If Comcast is unwilling to do it for all 3 hours of RAW, then why not just let a different television rating occur during the 10pm hour? That is a GREAT compromise and it will allow for some possible viewership growth again in that 3rd hour. Have you ever noticed how the WWE often keeps their Main Event wrestlers (specifically Roman) out of that 3rd hour? Because since the WWE became 3 hours, that third hour has been their worst viewed of the 3. Why not take the gloves off?
In fact, the WWE could market that the 10pm hour is for “adult fans only”… It’s kind of like placing that Parental Advisory label on music and how that causes younger fans to want it more… Anytime that a wrestler uses foul language or does something inappropriate from 8-10pm, the authority figures can punish them. Seriously, wouldn’t you rather want to hear a Roman Reigns who can speak freely and curse like any other American? You can just tell that he’s frustrated with what he’s scripted to say. As seen on social media when he responds to fans, he’s more real there than on the scripted and politically correct USA Network shows. Seriously, in the battle between Good versus Evil to claim title belts and fame, shouldn’t things get a little more heated?
Maybe if you added a little more realism to your shows, like foul language, then maybe you wouldn’t have to do stupid things like lifting ambulances, tipping over port-a-johns, having a child as your tag team partner, or desperately trying gimmicks like pushing Jinder Mahal to the WWE Title to seek international money. The WWE is losing AMERICAN FANS quickly and at the end of the day, United States/Canada fans still present the WWE with the most economic opportunities to grow as a company.
Look at the President of the United States… How is Donald Trump very popular with his base and extremely polarizing with his political opponents AT THE SAME TIME? Have you seen the 24/7 Cable News channel viewership numbers lately? MSNBC has re-surged with coverage in opposition of Trump while FOX has regained its losses following 2016-2017 controversies by being in favor of Trump. Money is just pouring in… And why is Donald Trump so popular and polarizing at the same time? BECAUSE HE TALKS LIKE AN UNFILTERED PRO WRESTLER!
Seriously, Trump is “getting over” or “getting heat” by cutting unscripted promos or tweets. Nobody filters him…
How is Charles Barkley so popular on the NBA coverage from TNT? The guy is completely unfiltered and fearless… He’s an asset to the TNT network and even CBS wants a part of that for their NCAA coverage. Seriously, folks, the guy spoke about how overweight the women of San Antonio were and got away with it… He keeps joking about it!
What made the WWE Attitude Era great was how the personalities cut promo and appeared real… Stone Cold Steve Austin was so convincing in his role… You could believe that was someone pissed at Vince McMahon for being a horrible boss. Then, Austin did chaotic things like shoving Mike Tyson, spraying the Corporation with a beer truck, filling up a McMahon owned car with cement, and giving a stunner to his boss without any feared consequence.
Sounds like a blueprint that UFC’s Conor McGregor is following, but for real.
WWE STOCK PRICE ANALYSIS
NOTE FROM TITO: Here is the column that I was trying to write earlier this week, 100% unedited. Discussing stocks as they relate to the WWE’s own stock price kind of bored me, but maybe I’m wrong on the appeal of this topic? So here you go, folks… 2 columns in 1!
This would have followed my intro above…
By the way, how about that RAW average viewership number? Ouch, ouch, ouch… Just barely hanging on to a 2.3 million number this week. During 2016, I stated that after the Brand Split Draft that if RAW was headlined by Stephanie McMahon, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns, we’d become permanently under 3.0 million viewers. Over 2 years ago… Brock Lesnar and some Wrestlemania/SummerSlam hype helped play spoiler, but as you can see in a world with the diminished star power of Lesnar (WWE spent much of the year attacking him) and absenteeism, we’re falling well below 3.0 million. So yeah, it took a while to score this victory on that prediction, but I’ll take it.
Now, however, many of you WWE yes-men have moved onto to the WWE Stock Price. RAW’s television viewership has become a losing battle for you and now I hear nothing but “what about the stock price???”
Yeah, what about it?
DISCLAIMER – The following discussion about stocks, securities, stock markets, financial markets, etc. are for entertainment purposes only. Anyone reading this column should understand that they are acting on any of this information at their own risk!
Had to get that out of the way. Back on subject, what about that WWE Stock Price? Through the afternoon of October 4th, 2018, the WWE Stock price closed at $90.70 (actually down over $2 for the day). By comparison, the WWE’s 52 week low was $21.22 so thus the WWE stock has had quite the rise in the past year. Look, I don’t deny that a higher stock price is a good thing for the WWE. It is… It creates additional capital opportunities on the company’s balance sheet and that could be good for the company’s expansion.
BUT – Does a higher stock price dictate success? Or could it be indicating something else?
In my opinion, the WWE stock has increased due to the following reasons:
(a) Television Deals were larger than expected, much larger.
(b) International touring money, specifically from Saudi Arabia, was unexpected.
(c) WWE has managed costs well.
(d) Entire stock market is doing well, as the Dow Jones is hitting record multiple times this year.
(e) Though interest rates are increasing, they are still relatively low. For example, the Federal Funds Rate (rate offered to Banks) was 5.25% through mid 2007 before the last recession. The rate is currently up to 2.25%.
(f) Corporate Tax Rate was reduced from 35% to 21%.
(a) and (b) are what Investors look for… Unanticipated items, which arrive as a surprise. Nobody predicted that either event would happen. The TV Deals, in particular, were a major surprise as the WWE somehow split up the RAW and Smackdown deals among two networks and more than doubled their TV rights in doing so. Amazing… Both Comcast and FOX are desperate for LIVE sporting event like content that is “stream proof” and they took advantage of the situation. As much as I ridicule being under 3 million, their viewership is still way higher than most shows on Cable. Starting to become competitive with most shows on TV, too. FOX desperately needs content because they just sold their 21st Century FOX properties to Disney.
With great financial news, the DEMAND to own the WWE stock has increased among investors. As more WWE stock is bought, it drives the value of that stock upward and increases the price. Going from $21 to $97 (52 week high) is quite a rise.
BUT does a higher stock price indicate success? After all, there are fewer United States consuming WWE than ever. Viewership is down, attendance is way down, and merchandise bought at live event and retailers has declined. But international numbers are looking better and TV companies are desperate for content.
NIKE‘s stock price is $80.18. Do you honestly believe that the WWE is more profitable than the #1 athletic shoe provider in the world? They almost make $10 Billion per quarter in revenue.
Comcast has a stock price of $35.21… Wait, are they the ones handing the WWE $1 Billion over 5 years to host RAW on USA Network? The same company willing to spend over $50 Billion for Time Warner Cable and over $70 Billion for 21st Century Fox.
Walmart is the #1 retailer and grocery store in the nation and by a margin. $94.21 is the stock price.
It took a while for the Stock Market to react to the 2007-2009 Recession to drop hard…
BUT, if we we do take your advice that a higher stock price means everything, then anyone who dislikes WWE Hall of Famer and United State President Donald Trump has to give him praise for repeatedly breaking stock market records. Why, if you suggest that WWE’s stock hitting record highs justifies the current WWE Creative Direction, then you must declare that Donald Trump is doing a great job. BE CONSISTENT.
Here is what I think is happening with the WWE stock. Truthfully, it should probably being in the $50s at this rate. It’s revenues are smaller than other companies and they are still too dependent on TV revenues. What happens if FOX decides to cancel them?
What I think is happening with the WWE Stock is that early adopters are bidding that price upward so that it encourages other investors to jump into the market place. Then, once a price peak is found, those same early adopters will quickly sell their stock and those who bought at the high price are screwed. Same thing happened with Bitcoin. It was quickly elevated to $19,000 on the open market but the early guys cashed in quickly after many late bloomers got in. Price dropped quickly down to $6,500 where it remains today.
12/1/2017 – 7.3%
1/1/2018 – 15.5%
2/1/2018 – 7.9%
3/1/2018 – -5.6%
4/1/2018 – 10.4%
5/1/2018 – 45.4%
6/1/2018 – 25.7%
7/1/2018 – 8.6%
8/1/2018 – 10.4%
9/1/2018 – 10.6%
10/1/2018 – -3.9%
Since April, there has been a considerably strong growth rate but things started to cool down for the WWE stock since late September. Maybe that peak was hit? This is with the recent announcement of another higher payday for Saudi Arabia but investors didn’t jump at that? I just wonder if stock investors bid up the WWE stock and some might have cashed in once it was in the $90s mark. If you bought above $90, you could be in trouble…
What you have to realize is that an over 200% price growth in the past year is quite abnormal, specifically in a shorter period of time. That tells me that investors are seizing on the good news to get the public to join in on buying the stock and then cash in when the time is right.
We’ll see. The question now is WHAT the WWE will do with the $2 Billion over 5 years from the TV deals and all of this international money. If the money is invested wisely into the company, that could cause the stock price to remain high or go even further.
However, if we get more things like WWE Films, WWE the Music Label, XFL, WBF, etc., you know, non-wrestling things… Bad things will happen for that precious stock price.
THANK YOU for reading, as always. I wouldn’t be writing these columns if it weren’t for you, the readers. I appreciate the time that you put into reading and discussing my columns. Tweet me anytime if you want to chat, as even after I retire from writing wrestling columns, I’ll still be lurking there. Just follow @titowrestling and you’re set.
And if you want an ass kicking on the Nintendo Switch online system, you can receive that too. Ice Hockey and Tecmo Bowl are a TON of fun to play online from the NES Classics, but if you want to play some Rocket League, Mario Kart, Splatoon 2, Street Fighter 2, Bomberman, Runbow, etc., just let me know.
I’ll still be around on Twitter and I’ll loosely follow pro wrestling news, maybe pick and choose YouTube segments to watch to remain current. I’m just choosing not to dedicate my Sunday Nights to Pay Per Views, watching RAW/Smackdown, or spending 2-3 hours (sometimes more) per column dedicated to wrestling. I just don’t have that in me any longer…
And remember… To purchase the Doc’s book Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the Wrestlemania Era via Amazon.com in the United States, GO HERE. To purchase this book via Amazon.com in the United Kingdom, GO HERE. If those don’t work, please inquire Doc via Twitter through his handle @TheDocLoP.
BUY THE BOOK!
So just chill… Until the next episode!
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