|Tagline(s)||Where it all Begins... Again|
|"Step Up" by Drowning Pool
"Touché" by Godsmack
|Promotion||World Wrestling Entertainment|
|Date||March 14, 2004|
|Venue||Madison Square Garden|
|City||New York City, New York|
WrestleMania XX was the twentieth annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It took place on March 14, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The event was a joint-promotion pay-per-view event, featuring performers from the Raw and SmackDown! brands. The card for the event featured two main events. The main match for the Raw brand was a Triple Threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship between champion Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit. Benoit won the match, making Triple H submit via the Crippler Crossface. The main match for the SmackDown! brand featured Eddie Guerrero versus Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship which Guerrero won after a small package. The event featured the return of The Undertaker, who defeated Kane after a Tombstone Piledriver. Also on the card was a match between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee. This was Goldberg's final match with WWE, and Lesnar departed the company to pursue a career in the NFL, and later became a mixed martial artist with UFC before returning to WWE on April 2, 2012. After Goldberg won the match following a Jackhammer, both men were given a Stone Cold Stunner by Austin on their way out.
WrestleMania XX was the third WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden but the fourth of five Wrestlemanias to take place in the New York metropolitan area (preceded by WrestleMania I, WrestleMania 2, and WrestleMania X, followed by Wrestlemania 29). The event grossed US$2.4 million in ticket sales, making the Pay-Per-View the highest grossing event ever for WWE at Madison Square Garden. More than 20,000 people from 16 countries, 48 states attended the event, which was also televised in more than 90 countries. The event generated an estimated $13.5 million of economic activity for New York City and created an equivalent of 96 full-year jobs.
The main rivalry heading into the pay-per-view was on the Raw brand, with Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit feuding over the World Heavyweight Championship. This would mark the third pay per view event that Triple H would defend a World Championship at Madison Square Garden. The first event was January 2000 at the Royal Rumble, where Triple H retained the then-known WWF Championship over Cactus Jack. The second event at the same arena was in November 2002 at Survivor Series, where Triple H defended the World Championship in the 1st ever Six man Elimination Chamber match, which was won by Shawn Michaels. Triple H was the champion heading into the WrestleMania XX event with the origins of the rivalry beginning on the December 29, 2003 episode of Raw, when Michaels challenged Triple H for the World title in Michaels' hometown of San Antonio, Texas. As it looked like Michaels was going to win his 5th World title over Triple H, Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff got to the ring at the last minute and made the pinfall but stopped at a 2 count, thus screwing Michaels in the process. At the Royal Rumble event on January 25, Triple H and Michaels faced each other again in a Last Man Standing match for the title, which resulted in a draw, and, as a result, Triple H retained the title, leaving question on who was the better of the two. Also at the pay-per-view, in the Royal Rumble match, SmackDown!'s Benoit won the contest by last eliminating The Big Show. The following night, on the January 26 edition of Raw, Michaels and Triple H were involved in an in-ring confrontation when Raw's authority figure (referred to as the "Sheriff"), Steve Austin, made his way to the ring. He stated that, although Michaels should have a rematch, he had to "enforce the law" and that even though the Royal Rumble rules gave the winner of the match a shot at "the (world) championship", there was not any specification as to which world title that was. Benoit, who at the time was a member of SmackDown, then came to the ring and said he was taking advantage of that loophole and challenging Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XX. On the February 9, 2004 edition of Raw, a contract signing took place between Benoit and World Champion, Triple H. As Triple H signed his name on the paper, Michaels came out to inform Benoit that the last thing he wanted to do is rain on his parade. He then stated that he more than anybody can respect Benoit's effort to win the Royal Rumble match and earning a World title shot but suggested that Benoit could've stayed on SmackDown to take care of business while Michaels, himself, was trying to finish his 10 year issue with Triple H on behalf of the Raw brand. Benoit refused to relinquish his guaranteed title shot, resulting in Michaels superkicking Benoit and signing the contract himself for the WrestleMania match. After the two men wrestled a match marred by interference from the champion the next week, Austin decided to make Triple H's title defense a Triple threat match. On the March 1, 2004 edition of Raw, after Michaels and Benoit lost to Randy Orton and Batista, Triple H's stablemates in Evolution, the entire group attacked Michaels and Benoit, ending with Triple H nailing them with the Pedigree and rubbing his World title belt into their faces while they were laying motionless in the ring.
The main feud on the SmackDown! brand was between Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship. In the beginning of 2004, Angle and Guerrero were allies while Guerrero feuded with his nephew Chavo Guerrero. On the January 29, 2004 edition of SmackDown!, Eddie Guerrero last eliminated Angle in a 15-man Royal Rumble style match to earn a shot at the WWE Championship. At the prior pay per view, No Way Out, Kurt Angle defeated The Big Show and John Cena in a Triple threat match to earn himself a title shot at WrestleMania on the same event where Guerrero defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE title. On the February 19, 2004 edition of SmackDown!, Angle was the special guest referee in a match between WWE Champion, Eddie Guerrero and WWE Cruiserweight Champion, Chavo Guerrero. As Eddie was about to close in on the victory, Angle stopped the 3 count and would turn on Guerrero. On the following week's edition of SmackDown!, Guerrero was eagar to get his revenge on Angle while looking for him but when he finally saw Angle, he shoved SmackDown General Manager, Paul Heyman and his assistant Dawn Marie out of his way only for Heyman to have Guerrero escorted out of the arena by security. Guerrero was scheduled to team with John Cena to take on Chavo Guerrero and the Big Show in a tag team match on that night but due to Guerrero being escorted out of the arena, he was replaced by Rey Mysterio for the tag match, which Mysterio and Cena won. Later that night, Angle appeared and stated that he attacked Guerrero for the SmackDown! fans and for the WWE. He then referred to Guerrero as a former drug addict that shouldn't represent SmackDown! as the WWE Champion and stated that one day people will be thanking him for a champion that they could be proud of. Guerrero then came back to the arena and assaulted Angle until he got arrested by orders of Paul Heyman. As Guerrero got taken out of the building in handcuffs, Angle made some insulting comments to him until the officers drove away with Guerrero in the Police car. On the March 4, 2004 edition of SmackDown!, during Guerrero's match with Heyman (while he was handcuffed), Angle interfered and knocked him down a few times until Guerrero defended himself by spitting on Angle. As Guerrero begged Angle to nail him with the WWE Championship belt, Angle did so and raised title the belt over-head to show an example for their match Wrestlemania XX.
This also marks the first WrestleMania to have a match billed as "interpromotional", which means that a party from Raw would wrestle a party from SmackDown!. WWE owner, Vince McMahon, named three matches to be interpromotional on the February 16 edition of Raw. The first was a match a tag team match featuring SmackDown!'s Torrie Wilson and Sable, who had recently been featured in a pictorial in Playboy magazine, against Raw's Stacy Keibler and Miss Jackie, who had protested the decision made by Hugh Hefner to not feature them.
The next match was made at the request of Kane, and had its roots in both a shift in character for Kane and a match at the previous year's Survivor Series. Kane's storyline brother, The Undertaker, challenged Vince McMahon to a Buried Alive match. Kane, who had adopted a much more sadistic persona since being forced to unmask in June 2003, interfered in the match and buried his brother under several tons of dirt, apparently killing him. On the November 20, 2003 edition of SmackDown, Kane appeared to give the eulogy for his brother, claiming that The Undertaker was no longer his brother and had died a long time before that as he no longer embraced his dark side.
Two months later, Kane participated in the Royal Rumble and was eliminated by Booker T after the bell from The Undertaker's old theme music began playing and upset and distracted him. Over the following weeks, Kane repeatedly insisted that The Undertaker was "dead", only to be met with various paranormal incidents such as a rainstorm localized over the ramp on which he stood. On the last edition of Raw, Kane appeared to the ring and saw an empty Casket standing in the ring but as he opened it, he saw an urn inside of it. He then grabbed the microphone and asked if that's what he's been looking forward to. He also stated it's going to take more than an empty casket and an urn to intimidate and beat him. He then stated that the Undertaker's legacy, his 11–0 WrestleMania streak and his life is coming to an end as he said "it's back to the grave for you for good". As he claimed that It's over and that he's not afraid of the Undertaker. The lights turned out but this time, the 10,000 pound wrestling ring lifted off the ground with Kane standing in it and tilted side ways, which would be the final message sent from the Undertaker before their match at WrestleMania XX.
On the January 26, episode of Raw, Goldberg came to the ring, and demanded a match himself against Brock Lesnar, with whom he had problems over the past two months. The night before, Goldberg was entered in the Royal Rumble match, only to have Lesnar (who, as the reigning WWE Champion, was not entered into the match) interfered, causing Goldberg to be eliminated by Kurt Angle. The following week on an episode of Raw, as a result of the rivalry extending between the two programs, General Manager Steve Austin gave Goldberg the option of attending No Way Out by giving him a front-row ticket. At the No Way Out event, Goldberg was seen arriving at the arena and being escorted to his front seat by security. Then SmackDown General Manager, Paul Heyman gave a promotional in-ring segment on how SmackDown! was the better program over Raw. Lesnar would come down to the ring to promote his match and to insult Goldberg. Goldberg immediately jumped over the barricade into the ring, where Lesnar performed a running shoulder block to Goldberg's stomach; however he recuperated and lifted Lesnar vertically in the air before slamming him down to perform the Jackhammer. Goldberg was then escorted out of the arena by security. During Lesnar's WWE title defense against Eddie Guerrero later that night, Goldberg returned to the arena and interfered by executing a spear, which caused Lesnar to lose the title after Guerrero nailed him with a Frog splash. On the February 22, 2004 episode of Raw, Vince McMahon named the Interpromotional singles match pitting Lesnar versus Goldberg for WrestleMania XX with Steve Austin as the special guest referee. During the match between McMahon and Eric Bischoff, Lesnar appeared on Raw and nailed Steve Austin with an F-5 then stole Austin's four-wheeler. A few days later on SmackDown!, Lesnar stated that he appeared on Raw just to get back at Austin for giving Goldberg the front-row seat ticket and suggesting that Goldberg would attack Lesnar at No Way Out. Behind the scenes, it was widely known that the match would be Goldberg's last in WWE. Only a week before WrestleMania, however, rumors surfaced that Lesnar, too, was leaving in order to pursue a career in the National Football League. On the last edition of SmackDown! prior to WrestleMania, Steve Austin appeared to get his fourwheeler back from Lesnar only for the entire roster to get in his way by orders of SmackDown! General manager Paul Heyman. Moments later, the entire roster had decided to move aside and let Austin by to confront Lesnar in the ring. As Austin got to the ring, he and Lesnar traded punches with Austin attempting to nail Lesnar with the Stone Cold stunner only for Lesnar to escape, leaving Austin to finally get back his fourwheeler and closing in on the show with his trademark beer bash.
Another rivalry that had been simmering for some time was the one featuring Mick Foley and Randy Orton. In June, following an on-air ceremony honoring Foley for his achievements, Orton and Ric Flair attacked him backstage and threw him down a flight of stairs. Foley returned in December as the replacement for Steve Austin as Raw co-general manager and gave himself a shot at Orton's Intercontinental Championship, but walked out of the match and would not face Orton even after the champion spat in his face. In January, a furious Austin declared that Foley would be entered in the Royal Rumble match and he expected him to return and wrestle, which he did by eliminating Orton (and himself) from the match. Foley was later joined by The Rock in the feud, and the reformed Rock 'n' Sock Connection challenged Orton, Batista, and Flair to a handicap tag team match at WrestleMania.
|Commentator||Michael Cole (SmackDown!)|
|Jerry Lawler (Raw)|
|Jim Ross (Raw)|
|Carlos Cabrera (Spanish)|
|Hugo Savinovich (Spanish)|
|Ring announcer||Tony Chimel (SmackDown!)|
|Howard Finkel (Raw)|
|Referees||Nick Patrick (SmackDown!)|
|Jim Korderas (SmackDown!)|
|Brian Hebner (SmackDown!)|
|Charles Robinson (SmackDown!)|
|Chad Patton (Raw)|
|Earl Hebner (Raw)|
|Mike Chioda (Raw)|
|Jack Doan (Raw)|
|Tim White (Raw)|
|Steve Austin (Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar)|
The event began with the Boys Choir of Harlem singing "America the Beautiful". The first match that aired was a singles match between The Big Show and John Cena for the WWE United States Championship, the first time the title was ever defended at the event; the match started out with The Big Show beating down on the challenger, not giving him any room. Cena hit an early FU though only secured a 2 count. Cena grabbed his signature chain and tried to attack Big Show with it, however the referee saw Cena with the chain and confiscated it due to it being illegal in the match. With the referee securing the chain with his back turned to the match, Cena hit Big Show with hidden brass knuckles and hoisted The Big Show up onto his shoulders for his finishing move, FU, for the second time in the match. Cena then immediately pinned The Big Show to win the match and the United States Championship.
The next match was a Fatal Four-Way tag match between the teams of Rob Van Dam and Booker T, Garrison Cade and Mark Jindrak, The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) and La Résistance (René Duprée and Rob Conway) for the World Tag Team Championship, held by Van Dam and Booker T. The match saw quick action between all four teams, and ended when Conway was pinned by Van Dam after Booker T used his signature Scissor kick on him, which was then followed by Van Dam's signature dive from the top rope, the Five-Star Frog Splash, leading to the two retaining their title.
The third match was between Christian and Chris Jericho. The match centered around both men furiously attacking each other; Christian won the match after Jericho's love interest, Trish Stratus, hit Jericho in the face with her elbow thinking Jericho was Christian, allowing Christian to roll him up for the win. Following the match Stratus turned on Jericho, slapping him several times allowing Christian to hit him with his finishing move, the Unprettier.
Next up was a Handicap match featuring Evolution (Randy Orton, Batista and Ric Flair) against The Rock 'n' Sock Connection (The Rock and Mick Foley). Evolution won the match when Orton pinned Foley after successfully executing an RKO.
"Mean" Gene Okerlund then introduced the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2004. This was followed by the interpromotional Playboy Evening Gown match between Torrie Wilson and Sable against Stacy Keibler and Miss Jackie, which had both teams wrestle in lingerie. SmackDown!'s team of Wilson and Sable would get the victory after Wilson caught Jackie with a roll up cover for a pinfall victory.
The next match was a gauntlet style match called the Cruiserweight Open for the Cruiserweight Championship, which saw cruiserweight competitors around the outside of the ring, while two competitors wrestled in the ring. As one wrestler lost, another one entered. Último Dragón and Shannon Moore started the match with Dragón getting a pinfall victory after the Dragon-DDT, but was then forced to submit by Jamie Noble with the Dragon Sleeper, who next eliminated Funaki in 8 seconds, a WrestleMania record. Nunzio was then in the match, but was eliminated after being counted out of the match when he was unable to return to the ring by the referee's count of ten. Billy Kidman then entered the match, pinning and eliminating Noble following a top rope BK-Bomb. Kidman was then pinned and eliminated by Rey Mysterio with a Modified Powerbomb from the top rope. Tajiri was the next entrant, but was also pinned by Mysterio following a standing West Coast Pop. Akio was the next scheduled entrant but was unable to compete due to being inadvertently attacked by Tajiri with his signature green mist he spat out of his mouth when Mysterio ducked. The Cruiserweight Champion, Chavo Guerrero, was the final entrant and pinned Mysterio with a reversal of Mysterio's Sunset Flip to win with the assistance of his father Chavo Guerrero, Sr., thus retaining the title.
The seventh match featured Brock Lesnar and Goldberg with special guest referee, Steve Austin. The beginning of the match began with both men staring each other down, jawing back and forth, with no physical action for several minutes, causing an exasperated Austin at one point to coax them into locking up. The fact that they both were leaving the WWE immediately after the match, as well as the lack of effort brought forth by both Goldberg and Lesnar drew large heat from the fans throughout the match, with fans chanting, "You sold out", "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye", "Austin", "This match sucks", "We want Bret", "Boring", "Goldberg sucks", and "Hogan". Goldberg then successfully took Lesnar down with a Spear, that would only draw a two count after a pin attempt. Lesnar then executed the F-5 maneuver on Goldberg, but also resulted in a two-count pin attempt. Afterwards, Lesnar missed an attempt to knock Goldberg down, allowing Goldberg to execute another spear and a successful Jackhammer powerslam that led to a three count for Goldberg, thus winning the match. After the match, Lesnar responded to the fans' criticism by giving the crowd the finger, followed by a finger to Steve Austin. Austin then executed a Stone Cold Stunner on both competitors to the crowd's delight and celebrated with beer in the ring.
The next match was another four-way tag team match, but was for the WWE Tag Team Championship between the champions, Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty, versus the APA (Bradshaw and Faarooq), the Basham Brothers (Doug and Danny), and the World's Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas), which saw the champions retain after Rikishi pinned Doug with a Bonzai Drop.
The ninth match was the encounter of Victoria and Molly Holly for the WWE Women's Championship, where Holly would have to be shaved bald if she lost. Victoria would counter a Widow's peak maneuver attempt by Holly into a Backslide pin, drawing a three count, thus winning the match and retaining the WWE Women's Championship. Holly tried running towards the backstage area to escape the match's stipulation, but was eventually stopped by Victoria who would knock her out and strap her into the barber's chair, shaving her bald.
Main event matches
The next match featured Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle over the WWE Championship. The match was centered around both men maneuvering around on the match. Guerrero used a DDT and Frog Splash maneuver on Angle that would result in a pin attempt; Angle then recovered and secured Guerrero with an ankle lock hold. However, Guerrero escaped the hold by rolling through it and throwing Angle out of the ring. As Angle was outside, Guerrero loosened his ring boot to relieve the pain. As Angle returned to the ring, he tried to apply the hold again. This time, Guerrero pushed Angle off with his other foot, allowing him to break free from Angle's hold and leaving the challenger holding the champion's boot. With Angle confused, Guerrero executed a Roll-up pin maneuver leading to a successful pinfall, thus winning the match and retaining the WWE Championship.
The eleventh match of the event was the encounter of The Undertaker and Kane, which would be Undertaker's first match since he was buried alive at Survivor Series 2003. After Kane made his entrance, he was seen looking toward the entrance ramp saying, "You're not coming back tonight. You're not coming back, I buried you alive." After this, the lights in the arena went out and Paul Bearer, Undertaker's former manager and Kane's (storyline) father, was heard screaming his infamous catchphrase gleefully, "oh yes!", as he had done so numerous times in the past with Undertaker as his charge. Blue light began to fill the arena as Bearer, carrying the Undertaker's former trademark urn, and several chanting Druids entered the arena carrying torches. Bearer walked to ringside, turned and said to Kane, "you're no son of mine," then turned back to the entryway and raised the urn. Moments later The Undertaker returned in the guise of the "Deadman" he had portrayed from 1994 to 1996, complete with a black trenchcoat and hat. Before the match officially got underway Kane refused to believe that The Undertaker had returned, shouting at him repeatedly, "you're not real!", while Undertaker simply stood staring stoically at Kane. Eventually Kane decided to see if Undertaker was indeed standing in front of him by slowly inching forward with his hand outstretched. Undertaker responded by punching Kane, knocking him down, and the match got underway. The two continued brawling until Kane delivered a Chokeslam to Undertaker, which he sat up from shortly afterward while Kane was taunting Paul Bearer. The Undertaker then retaliated giving a Kane a Chokeslam of his own and executing his deadly finisher Tombstone piledriver into a successful pinfall, thus winning the match and remaining undefeated at WrestleMania with a 12–0 record. This was the second time that Kane faced off against Undertaker at WrestleMania and losing again, like the previous effort at WrestleMania XIV.
The main event was a Triple threat match over the World Heavyweight Championship between Triple H, Chris Benoit, and Shawn Michaels. This match marked the seventh title defense of the night, the most in WrestleMania history. The match started with Benoit and Michaels wanting to face the champion, but would wrestle each other, trying to gain an advantage before Triple H's intervention leading to the match going back-and-forth between all three men, hitting their signature holds and maneuvers throughout. Benoit soon gained control over Michaels when he applied his signature hold the Crippler Crossface. As Michaels was about to submit, Triple H saved the match, attacking both men. Triple H and Michaels would then team up to suplex Benoit through the announcer's table, trying to eliminate him from the match. The two continued to wrestle until Triple H hit his own finisher, the Pedigree, on Michaels and Benoit made his return to action to save Michaels from getting pinned. Michaels then attempted to hit Benoit again with his signature kick, the Sweet Chin Music, but Benoit countered it, throwing Michaels out of the ring. As this occurred, Triple H attempted to execute the Pedigree again on Benoit, but Benoit countered and locked into the Crippler Crossface, and Triple H submitted. As a result, Benoit won the match and the World Heavyweight Championship. After the match, Eddie Guerrero came to the ring and the two embraced while confetti dropped for the emotional ending of WrestleMania XX.
Despite the effort from WWE to promote the Brock Lesnar versus Goldberg contest, some critics expressed disappointment with the match, with many in Madison Square Garden booing both competitors and only cheering for Steve Austin because of the fact that both participants were set to leave the WWE after the event.
At Backlash, the original main event match was between Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels for the World Heavyweight Championship. Though, on the March 29 edition of Raw, after being traded to SmackDown! and brought back to Raw, Triple H demanded that the intended match at Backlash be changed to Benoit and Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship. Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff liked the idea of the match, but concluded with adding that he made a promise to Michaels for granting him a World title match at Backlash; instead Bischoff booked a Triple Threat match between Benoit, Michaels and Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship. At Backlash, Benoit retained the World title, after he forced Michaels to submit to the Sharpshooter.
The feud between Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero continued. On the March 25 edition of SmackDown!, Angle was made the on-screen General Manager of SmackDown!, as part to the storyline of Angle's legitimate neck problems. This angle would also play on the April 15 edition of SmackDown!, when he attributed injuries suffered after The Big Show chokeslammed Angle off a ledge. In reality Angle announced that he would be having neck surgery in May and would be out of action until August. At The Great American Bash, Angle cost Guerrero the WWE title in a Texas Bull Rope match against John "Bradshaw" Layfield, after Angle reversed the outcome of the match when Guerrero appeared to have retained the title. In the same month, Angle's position as General Manager of SmackDown! came to an end when he was fired by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, after McMahon had exposed that Angle was not really injured. At SummerSlam, Angle and Guerrero were booked in a match, in which Angle defeated Guerrero after he forced Guerrero to submit to the Ankle lock.
WrestleMania XX was met with generally mixed to positive critical reception. John Powell of Canadian Online Explorer's professional wrestling section rated the entire event 4 out of 10 stars, which was a lower rating than the previous year's event. The Triple Threat match between Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit and Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship receiving the highest rating of 7.5 out of 10 stars, the match between Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship was rated 7 out of 10 stars, the brawl between The Undertaker and Kane was rated 2 out of 10 stars, and the match between Bill Goldberg and Brock Lesnar received the lowest rating of the matches with a rating of 0 out of 10 stars. Robert Leighty Jr of 411mania gave the event an overall score of 7.3 out of 10.0 and noted that "This is a very long show with a lot of filler to get as many people as possible involved, but the Main Matches all delivered in some way. The 2 Main Title matches were fantastic, and the handicap match was a blast. You throw in a strong Jericho/Christian match and the unique crowd response of Goldberg/Lesnar and you have a strong WrestleMania. Not the greatest ever thanks to a mediocre run in the middle, but a good show that could have been better." The Triple Threat match between Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit and Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship has received critical acclaim with many wrestling publications and websites calling this match this one of the greatest wrestling matches of all time. Robert Leighty Jr of 411mania cited that the main event was "The Greatest Three Way Match in wrestling history. Everything was perfect about this match including the finish." The Triple Threat match was also placed #2 on IGN's list of Top 20 Matches in Wrestlemania History.
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