Rock Star Gary reflects on NWA Halloween Havoc ’89: Settling the Score

Live from Philadelphia, PA

Airdate: October 28, 1989

Attendance:  7,300

Hosted by Jim Ross & Bob Caudle

Put Flair, Funk, Sting, and Muta in a cage. Mix in electricity, Gary Hart, and a Philly crowd. Will the recipe be a masterpiece? Or a disaster? Read on!

To begin the show, Gordon Solie runs down his list of interviewees backstage. Of course, I won’t spoil it for you.

Making his NWA PPV debut, Christopher Cruise does the same from another portion of backstage. Hopefully, Halloween Havoc doesn’t become just another episode of WCW Worldwide due to his involvement.

Match 1: Z-Man versus “Captain” Mike Rotunda


  • Oh my! Philly does NOT like Z-Man.
  • By the same token, some Philly fans think “Syracuse sucks.” It must be the Villanova
  • After a leap frog, Rotunda gave Z-Man a hip toss but missed an elbow drop.
  • Z-Man then delivered a dropkick prompting Rotunda to seek refuge outside the ring.
  • After being tossed outside the ring, Z-Man used a sunset flip to re-enter and got 2.
  • Shortly after, Rotunda hooked a rope-assisted headscissors until referee Nick Patrick caught him.
  • Rotunda then sent Z-Man between the ropes into the aisle to the approval of the Philly faithful.
  • He then joined and rammed Z-Man face-first into the apron.
  • With Z-Man on the apron, Rotunda used the top rope to guillotine him.
  • He then gave Z-Man a vertical suplex back into the ring for 2.
  • Next, he hooked a rope-assisted abdominal stretch, but Patrick caught him again. Naughty captain!
  • After a clothesline, Rotunda missed a dropkick.
  • Z-Man then gave Rotunda a cross-corner whip followed by a back elbow.
  • Upon ringing Rotunda’s bell, Z-Man reversed a cross-corner whip.
  • Rotunda then leaped to the second turnbuckle and hit a cross body block.
  • However, Z-Man used momentum to land on top for the pin.
  • Z-Man won.

Rating: **

Summary:  Same finish as Rotunda’s match at Clash VIII. Amazingly, this was Z-Man’s biggest victory in WCW thus far.

Backstage, Cruise interviews Sammartino. It’s a good thing Ivan Koloff wasn’t around to knock him off his throne again.

Match 2: The Samoan SWAT Team & Samoan Savage (w/ the Big Kahuna) versus the Midnight Express & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams (w/ Jim Cornette)


  • For those unaware, the Big Kahuna was portrayed by Sir Oliver Humperdink. I knew I smelled a managerial change in the works.
  • In addition, Samoan Savage was portrayed by Tama. If I try to figure out how the Samoan wrestlers are related to one another, I’m going to need more than Excedrin for my headache.
  • Ross mentioned a little known fact to the 1989 wrestling crowd that the Midnight Express won the World tag team titles in Philly against Blanchard and Anderson in September of last year.
  • After Lane reversed an Irish whip, he gave Samoan Savage a back drop.
  • He then clotheslined Samoan Savage over the top rope to the floor.
  • While Williams distracted referee Tommy Young, Eaton nailed Samoan Savage on the floor.
  • Back in the ring, Eaton tagged in, and the Midnight Express gave Samoan Savage a double back elbow.
  • Samoan Savage came back with a slam and tagged in Samu.
  • Ross then explained that all three Samoans were brothers. My pain can now subside.
  • Shortly after, Samu gave Eaton a cross-corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Williams tagged in and gave Fatu a three-point stance tackle.
  • Ross then shilled Starrcade ’89 on 12/13 from the Omni in Atlanta. Could be interesting.
  • Meanwhile, Williams reversed a cross-corner whip and clotheslined Fatu.
  • Samu came in but got run over by Williams. I think he’d prefer Williams than this guy.
  • Regardless, Lane tagged in and delivered some kicks to Fatu.
  • Viciously, Fatu countered a hip toss with a clothesline. Even Philly fans had to “ooh” that one.
  • Samu tagged in and gave Lane a spinning thrust kick followed by a standing dropkick.
  • Williams tagged in, gave Samu a cross-corner whip, and followed with a corner clothesline.
  • After a leg drop by Williams, Eaton tagged in and delivered a lariat to Samu for 2.
  • Samu then leap-frogged Eaton but ate an elbow drop upon trying a monkey flip.
  • When Fatu and Lane tagged in, Lane attempted a cross body block, but Fatu caught and slammed him.
  • As Fatu missed an elbow drop, Eaton tagged in.
  • After Samoan Savage tagged in, he blocked a bulldog attempt by Eaton and tossed him outside the ring.
  • Samu and Fatu then crotched Eaton on the steel railing as the Samoan Savage distracted Young.
  • To add insult to injury, Fatu gave Eaton a hip toss in the aisle. Ross took exception to Eaton’s flesh hitting the concrete. OUCH!
  • Back in the ring, Eaton gave Samoan Savage a sunset flip but only got 2 thanks to a save by Samu.
  • Fatu and Samoan Savage then gave Eaton a double clothesline followed by a Fatu diving head butt for 2.
  • Eaton then countered a back drop with a face plant, but Fatu shook it off and responded with a clothesline.
  • When Samu tagged in, he gave Eaton a leg drop.
  • Samoan Savage tagged in and gave Eaton a sidewalk slam for 2.
  • He then mounted the second turnbuckle but ate knees on a Vader bomb.
  • Hot tag Williams.
  • He mounted the top turnbuckle and gave Samoan Savage a double axe handle.
  • Following that, he delivered a clothesline to Samoan Savage, a throw to Fatu, and a slam to Samu.
  • To bring the Philly faithful to its feet, Williams gorilla-pressed Samoan Savage and tossed him to his brothers.
  • Next, he gave Samoan Savage a powerslam but only got 2.
  • Lane tagged in and attempted to give Samoan Savage a swinging neckbreaker, but the latter botched it.
  • After an enziguri by Lane, both Big Kahuna and Cornette got up on the same apron. Cornette then WALLOPED Big Kahuna with the racquet to a huge ovation.
  • Samoan Savage then delivered a head butt to Lane who ran into Cornette.
  • 1-2-3.
  • The Samoans won.

Rating: ***1/2

Summary: The Midnight Express and Williams brought the goods but got robbed in the end.

Backstage, Solie interviews Funk with Hart. Funk wants to create a new dance craze called the “10,000 watt boogie” featuring Flair and Sting. He then calls Flair “fried chicken” after hitting the electrified fence. Clever!

Match 3: “Wildfire” Tommy Rich versus Cuban Assassin


  • Would anyone like some popcorn?
  • After a pair of slams, Rich gave Cuban Assassin an elbow smash sending him between the ropes to the floor.
  • As you might expect, the Philly faithful wasn’t fond of Rich as they chanted “Tommy Rich sucks.”
  • Rich then reversed a cross-corner whip, but Cuban Assassin leaped to the second turnbuckle and hit a cross body block for 2.
  • Upon being tossed to the apron, Rich used a sunset flip to re-enter and got 2.
  • Cuban Assassin then gave Rich a cross-corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • After a slam, Cuban Assassin missed an elbow drop.
  • Cuban Assassin then gave Rich a high knee that sent Rich to the apron.
  • Next, he attempted a piledriver, but Rich countered with a back drop.
  • Cuban Assassin responded with a knee lift for 2.
  • He then hooked a vertical suplex, mounted the top turnbuckle, but got caught.
  • After a back elbow, Rich reversed a cross-corner whip.
  • On the other hand, Cuban Assassin leaped to the second turnbuckle again, attempted another cross body block, but came up empty.
  • Rich then hit the Thesz press for the pin.

Rating: DUD

Summary:  Methinks Rich will NOT regain the NWA title with terrible matches such as this one.

Backstage, Solie interviews the Freebirds.

Match 4 for the NWA World tag team titles: The Fabulous Freebirds (champions) versus the Dynamic Dudes (w/ Jim Cornette)


  • Prior to the beginning of the match, the Dudes gave a kid at ringside one of their neon hats.
  • After a leap frog by Douglas, Hayes gave him a sunset flip, but Douglas escaped before any count could be made.
  • Douglas then botched a swinging neckbreaker that looked worse than the one from the previous match. Yikes!
  • When Garvin and Ace tagged in, Ace leap-frogged Garvin and delivered a dropkick.
  • Douglas tagged in, came off the ropes, and lowered the boom on Garvin.
  • While the Philly faithful chanted “Freebirds,” Douglas reversed a cross-corner whip and gave Garvin a back drop.
  • After both Hayes and Ace tagged in, Ace mounted the top turnbuckle and lowered the boom on Hayes.
  • When Ace reversed an Irish whip, both Dudes leap-frogged Hayes.
  • Ace then gave Hayes a powerslam while Douglas followed with an elbow drop.
  • They then gave Garvin a double dropkick. Without any doubt, these guys are a POOR substitution for the Rock’n’Roll Express.
  • As the chant for the Freebirds from the Philly faithful got louder, Douglas reversed an Irish whip and evaded a punt from Hayes.
  • After a face plant, Ace delivered an elbow drop for 2.
  • When Garvin tagged in, Ace frustrated Hayes and gave him a back drop while holding a headlock on Garvin.
  • After Ace took both Freebirds down, the Philly faithful booed them out of the building.
  • Obviously, the Philly faithful wasn’t finished voicing their opinions of the Dudes as they chanted “you suck” at them. That’s hardcore!
  • Ace then rolled up Garvin for 2. As Garvin kicked out, he sent Ace into a left hook by Hayes. The Philly faithful ERUPTED for that.
  • Garvin then gave Ace a belly-to-back suplex followed by a knee lift.
  • Shortly after, Garvin gave Ace a back drop and a cross-corner whip.
  • Upon tagging in Hayes, the Freebirds delivered a Garvin-assisted corner clothesline to Ace.
  • Hayes then attempted the DDT, but Ace blocked it.
  • Hot tag Douglas.
  • All four men were in the ring as the jeers from the Philly faithful echoed throughout the Civic Center.
  • After a double knee by the Dudes sent Hayes outside the ring, the Dudes attempted the Wipe Out (double slingshot suplex), but Hayes tripped Douglas.
  • 1-2-3.
  • The Freebirds retained.

Rating: ***

Summary:  Wrestling 101: when the fans boo the babyfaces mercilessly, it’s time to break up the team.

Backstage, Cruise interviews the Steiners. Rick refutes Woman’s influence as a distraction. That’s one tough distraction!

Match 5: Rick & Scott Steiner versus Doom (w/ Woman)


  • So why are these teams squaring off? Check this out!
  • Doom donned masks in their NWA PPV debut here.
  • The Steiners reversed cross-corner whips from Doom and delivered stereo German suplexes. Awesome!
  • After Scott made Simmons taste the steel railing (reeking of cheesesteaks), the Steiners clotheslined Doom over opposite top ropes to the floor.
  • Scott then reversed a cross-corner whip and gave Simmons a clothesline to the back of the neck. OUCH!
  • After a knee drop, Scott got 2.
  • Rick tagged in and gave Reed a Steinerline. Because Simmons allegedly looked at him peculiarly, Rick gave him one too.
  • He then reversed an Irish whip, nailed Reed, and got 2.
  • Reed then countered a side headlock with an inverted atomic drop.
  • Simmons tagged in, attempted a vertical suplex, but Rick blocked it.
  • Rick then gave Simmons a vertical suplex of his own.
  • Scott tagged in, mounted the top rope, and delivered a lariat to Simmons for 2.
  • Rick tagged in, hooked a hammerlock, but fell victim to an Ace Crusher. Backstage, Johnny Ace allegedly yelled: “Hey, I’ll steal that move!”
  • After Simmons delivered a leg drop, Reed tagged in and gave Rick a fist drop.
  • He then gave Rick a clothesline that resulted in a 360° sell. Woohoo!
  • Next, he guillotined Rick using the top rope for 2.
  • Scott tagged in and gave Reed a gourdbuster for 2.
  • Simmons tagged in, missed a clothesline, and received a German release suplex from Scott.
  • Upon delivering a pair of elbow drops, Scott got 2.
  • As Scott came off the ropes, Reed put a knee into his back. SNEAKY!
  • Reed tagged in, mounted the second turnbuckle, and gave Scott a double axe handle.
  • While Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Bill Apter captured a photo of Woman at ringside, Reed booted Scott to the floor.
  • As Reed distracted referee Nick Patrick, Simmons gave Scott a double axe handle on the floor.
  • He then guillotined Scott using the steel railing.
  • Reed then joined and guillotined Scott again using the steel railing. Like their booze, they like their matches STIFF.
  • Back in the ring, Simmons tagged in, and Doom gave Scott a double back elbow for a pair of 2-counts.
  • Reed tagged in and distracted Patrick again. Meanwhile, Simmons guillotined Scott using the second rope. Perhaps Doom confused him with Marie Antoinette.
  • Nevertheless, while Rick distracted Patrick, Reed tossed Scott over the top rope to the floor. How dastardly!
  • Scott then re-entered the ring via sunset flip for 2 thanks to some assistance from Rick.
  • Reed then came back with a swinging neckbreaker for 2.
  • Simmons tagged in and gave Scott a powerslam for another 2 thanks to a save by Rick.
  • While Patrick was detained, Doom gave Scott a double suplex for almost 3.
  • Reed tagged in, and a false tag occurred.
  • Again, Rick distracted Patrick so Doom gave Scott a spike piledriver resulting in a pair of 2-counts.
  • Hot tag Rick.
  • Upon giving Reed a back drop, Rick delivered a Steinerline.
  • Simmons came in and got a serving as well. I wonder if he got a side of fries with it.
  • All four men were in the ring as Scott gave Simmons a Frankensteiner.
  • After Rick gave Reed a powerslam, he delivered a belly-to-back suplex.
  • While Patrick was occupied with Scott and Simmons outside the ring, Woman got up on the apron.
  • She then loaded Reed’s mask with a foreign object.
  • As Rick attempted an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, Reed headbutted him.
  • Rick was OUT COLD.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Doom won.

Rating: ***

Summary:  Finish makes sense since Doom is new to the scene. As expected, the feud between Woman and the Steiners continues.

Backstage, Solie interviews Luger who informs Pillman that his “exhibition skirmishes are over.”

Match 6 for the NWA US title: The “Total Package” Lex Luger (champion) versus Brian Pillman


  • Once again, Pillman came to the ring with a cheerleading squad.
  • Not THAT squad!
  • After a slam, Luger taunted Pillman.
  • Upon getting tossed outside the ring, Pillman landed on his feet and mauled Luger.
  • He then gave Luger a cross-corner whip followed by a back drop.
  • Following a dropkick, Luger sought refuge outside the ring.
  • Pillman denied it with a baseball slide causing Luger to eat the steel railing. It must have tasted like the Ivy’s three three’s at McGillin’s.
  • He then chopped Luger on the floor.
  • From the apron, he then attempted a springboard maneuver, but Luger evaded him.
  • When Luger gave Pillman a cross-corner whip, Pillman floated over, leaped to the opposite top turnbuckle, and hit a cross body block for 2.
  • He then flipped out of a hip toss and delivered another dropkick.
  • After a leap frog, Pillman delivered his own hip toss and gave Luger a third dropkick.
  • After another leap frog, he hooked a crucifix on Luger.
  • Do we have a new champion?
  • 1-2-NO!
  • In the meantime, ECW’s hat guy was spotted on camera yelling at Pillman while wearing a USPS hat.
  • Luger came back with a cross-corner whip but ate a mule kick on his follow-through.
  • Pillman then mounted the top turnbuckle but missed a splash.
  • After a face plant, Luger guillotined Pillman using the top rope.
  • He then gave Pillman a trio of clotheslines somersaulting PIllman to the mat.
  • Next, he delivered a delayed vertical suplex for 2.
  • After a pair of elbow drops, Luger used momentum to send Pillman between the ropes to the floor.
  • When Pillman got up on the apron, he re-entered the ring via sunset flip for 2.
  • Luger then missed a clothesline and sailed over the top rope to the floor.
  • PIllman then gave Luger the ten-punch count-along, but Luger countered with an inverted atomic drop.
  • He then placed Pillman atop the top turnbuckle, joined, and attempted a superplex.
  • Pillman blocked it and sent Luger down to the mat.
  • From the top turnbuckle, Pillman hooked a second sunset flip but only got 2.
  • Pillman then delivered a flying back elbow.
  • Afterward, he gave Luger another cross-corner whip followed by a back drop.
  • From the apron, Pillman then hit a springboard lariat for only 2 because Luger put his foot on the bottom rope.
  • After a hangman’s neckbreaker, PIllman remounted the top turnbuckle but missed a missile dropkick.
  • Luger capitalized with a stungun and pinned Pillman.
  • Luger retained.

Rating: ****1/2

Summary:   Wow! Combine Pillman’s speed and high-flying with Luger’s timing, and this is a great match. The Philly faithful ate this up with a spoon and fork.

Backstage, Cruise interviews the Road Warriors with Ellering. They’re ready to “reduce (the Skyscrapers) to rubble.”

Match 7: The Road Warriors (w/ “Precious” Paul Ellering) versus the Skyscrapers (w/ Teddy Long)


  • Anyone care for a dream match?
  • Animal reversed an Irish whip from Spivey and clotheslined him.
  • He then tried to clothesline him over the top rope, but Spivey ducked under the bottom rope to seek refuge outside the ring.
  • Hawk tagged in, mounted the top turnbuckle, and lowered the boom on Spivey.
  • Upon hitting three shoulder blocks, Hawk finally took Spivey off his feet.
  • Sid tagged in, missed a clothesline, but ate a clothesline from Hawk.
  • He then gave Hawk a cross-corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Animal tagged in, and the Road Warriors gave Sid a double back elbow.
  • Sid no-sold it, missed a clothesline, but received a flying shoulder block from Animal.
  • Hawk tagged in and gave Sid a monkey flip upon winning a test-of-strength.
  • After an exchange of tags, Animal delivered a clothesline to Spivey.
  • Shortly after, Hawk countered a side headlock with a headscissors.
  • Sid then nipped up and clotheslined Hawk. You don’t see that one every day.
  • Next, he hooked an over-the-shoulder backbreaker and followed with a helicopter slam.
  • When Spivey tagged in, he gave Hawk a sidewalk slam for 2.
  • He then missed a clothesline yet ate one from Hawk.
  • Spivey then gave Hawk a baseball slide sending him to the floor.
  • Behind referee Nick Patrick’s back, Sid guillotined Hawk using the steel railing.
  • Back in the ring, Spivey delivered a delayed vertical suplex to Hawk for 2.
  • After a cross-corner whip, the Skyscrapers gave Hawk a Sid-assisted corner clothesline.
  • Spivey then attempted a vertical suplex, but Hawk reversed it and gave Spivey one.
  • While Ross touted Spivey’s accomplishments at the University of Georgia, a false tag occurred.
  • Spivey then gave Hawk a cross-corner whip followed by an avalanche.
  • Following a second cross-corner whip, Spivey ate boot on his follow-through.
  • After a clothesline to Spivey, Hawk made the hot tag to Animal.
  • Animal then gave Spivey a dropkick followed by a flying shoulder block.
  • All four men were in the ring.
  • While Animal gave Sid a powerslam, Spivey and Hawk occupied Patrick’s attention.
  • Suddenly, Long entered the ring and nailed Ellering with the golden key.
  • As all four wrestlers continued to brawl, Patrick called for the bell.
  • The Road Warriors won by DQ.

Rating: ***

Summary:  Did you truly think one of these teams would job in this match? This was high-impact pro wrestling before it became the standard.

After the match, Spivey tosses Hawk between the ropes to the floor then nails Animal with the golden key. As the Skyscrapers double-team Animal, Hawk mounts the top turnbuckle and levels Spivey with a flying clothesline. He then grabs the key and WALLOPS both Skyscrapers with it.

Backstage, Cruise interviews Sting, Flair, and Ole. That’s a unique trio. I wonder if they’ll reconvene as a group down the line.

Match 8 (Thunderdome): NWA World Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair & Sting (w/ Ole Anderson) versus NWA World TV Champion the Great Muta &Terry Funk (w/ Gary Hart)


  • Bruno Sammartino was the special guest referee.
  • Winner of the match will be when the second (“designated terminator”) throws in the towel.
  • A small fire burst in one of the corners of the cage. To extinguish it, Muta spewed green mist at it.
  • Upon chopping Funk in the corner, Flair whipped him into Sting who rang his bell.
  • Funk and Flair exchanged slams until Flair dumped Funk over the top rope to the floor.
  • Sting tagged in and tossed Funk outside the ring.
  • He then joined and rammed Funk into the cage.
  • Flair tagged in as both he and Sting gave Funk a double chop.
  • Flair then gave Funk a pair of cross-corner whips followed by a chop.
  • He then delivered a knee drop to Funk as well as a shot to Muta on the apron.
  • With Sting’s assistance, Flair chopped Muta.
  • Sting tagged in and gave Funk a dropkick.
  • After Ross took a subtle albeit true potshot at the Ultimate Warrior, Sting military-pressed Muta and tossed him onto Funk.
  • Upon delivering a vertical suplex, Sting tagged Flair in.
  • Flair then gave Muta an inverted atomic drop followed by a knee drop.
  • Sting tagged in and tossed Muta outside the ring.
  • He then rammed Muta face-first into the cage as Flair and Funk fought outside the ring.
  • Back in the ring, Muta gave Sting a flashing elbow followed by a leg drop.
  • He then tossed Sting outside the ring so that Funk could choke him worse than the Atlanta Falcons.
  • All four wrestlers were outside the ring.
  • Funk then rammed Flair face-first into the cage twice. Do I smell blood?
  • Meanwhile, in the ring, Muta gave Sting a vertical suplex.
  • As both Funk and Muta gave Sting a series of elbow drops, Flair grabbed and tossed Muta over the top rope to the floor.
  • Flair then gave Funk a vertical suplex as Sting gave Muta and Funk consecutive face plants.
  • Sting then guillotined Muta using the top rope.
  • Flair tagged in, gave Muta an atomic drop, and Sting clotheslined him.
  • Sting then attempted the Scorpion death lock, but Funk made the save.
  • While both Funk and Flair hung onto the cage, Flair rammed Funk face-first into it.
  • Afterward, Sting gave Muta a vertical suplex.
  • Both Sting and Muta then climbed an adjacent portion of the cage, but Muta legitimately shocked himself with the electrified portion. OUCH!
  • Sting then rammed Muta face-first into the cage.
  • As Flair and Funk climbed to the top corner of the cage, Flair chopped Funk repeatedly.
  • Sting then gave Muta a delayed gorilla press slam.
  • While Sting sauntered after Funk who was trying to free himself from the cage, Muta climbed under the ring.
  • He then returned and whipped Flair back-first into the cage.
  • Back in the ring, Flair gave Muta a belly-to-back suplex.
  • After Sting played Tarzan with Funk into the top corner of the cage, Flair then applied the figure-four leg lock, but Hart didn’t throw in the towel.
  • In the meantime, Funk tied Sting to the cage.
  • After getting tossed outside the ring by Flair, Muta returned and gave Flair an enziguri.
  • Muta then applied a bridge death lock to Flair as Funk headbutted Sting.
  • When Funk directed his attention toward Flair, Ole untied Sting.
  • Funk and Muta then gave Flair a spike piledriver.
  • After Ole freed Sting, the latter climbed the cage, leaped, and hit Funk with a flying shoulder block. Wow!
  • Muta then guillotined Flair using the bottom rope.
  • As Flair gave Funk a knee crusher, Sting and Muta fought in the top corner of the cage.
  • Back in the ring, Muta gave Sting a spinning savate kick.
  • Upon giving Sting a backbreaker, Muta mounted the top turnbuckle, but Sting crotched him.
  • Flair then gave Funk a belly-to-back suplex followed by a figure-four leg lock.
  • Sting then mounted the top turnbuckle and splashed Funk twice.
  • Muta re-entered the ring, took a swing at Sammartino, but got nailed.
  • When Hart got up on the apron, Ole cut him off and nailed him dislodging the heels’ towel.
  • He then pointed out to Bruno that the towel was in the ring.
  • Bruno called for the bell.
  • Sting and Flair won.

Rating: *****

Summary:  Tremendously exciting and unique cage match that was action from bell-to-bell.

Conclusion:  Once again, World Championship Wrestling delivered a spectacular wrestling show. With awesome tag matches, Luger-Pillman, and the Thunderdome match, this show is a no-brainer for a positive recommendation. Gather your friends and family, fire up the WWE Network, and catch this show.

See you for WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event XXIII!

Rating: 1.77

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