7/30 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey return, Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin

By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on July 30, 2018 from Miami, Florida at American Airlines Arena

[Hour One] Raw opened with graphics acknowledging the deaths of Nikolai Volkoff and Brian Christopher (Brian Lawler)… A recap video focussed on Roman Reigns beating Bobby Lashley last week to earn a WWE Universal Championship match at SummerSlam… The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Jonathan Coachman…

A backstage shot aired of Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. Lesnar put the WWE Universal Championship belt over his shoulder while Cole noted that he was in his 488th day as champion…

Roman Reigns made his entrance and was introduced by ring announcer JoJo. Reigns soaked up the live crowd’s reaction (the norm). Reigns said the energy and the noise is so loud that he has to give Miami a special shoutout. Some booed, some cheered. He said if he was giving shoutouts then he had to give one to “Bob”. Reigns said that after going to war with him a couple times, he respects Bobby Lashley.

Reigns said he has no respect for Lesnar. Reigns said Lesnar doesn’t show up for work, yet he has plenty of time to show up at UFC and get in Daniel Cormier’s face. Reigns guaranteed that Lesnar would not come to his yard, get in his face, and run his mouth “up in here.”

Paul Heyman interrupted with his usual introduction. Heyman said his client authorized him his most profound congratulations for beating Lashley to earn the title shot at SummerSlam. Heyman said that from his perspective the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over again and expecting a different result.

Powell’s POV: Are you listening, Vince McMahon?

Heyman delivered his spoiler. “Brock Lesnar is going to put down the Big Dog and go on to UFC and become a two-sport champion,” Heyman said. Reigns replied, “Just shut up, Paul.” Reigns said “we’re” waiting for Lesnar and told Heyman to bring him out. Heyman said his client is in the arena and he will come out when he feels like it. The fans booed. “I’m not done yet,” Heyman said. “And if, only if he feels like coming out here.” Heyman started to talk about what Lesnar was going to do at SummerSlam.

Reigns cut off Heyman and asked if Heyman was going to say that Lesnar would show up at SummerSlam. He said that if he does, he’ll send Lesnar back to UFC as “Roman Reigns’s bitch.” There were cheers in response to Roman’s closing line. Roman’s music played to end the segment and Reigns turned and talked off-mic to the crowd…

Powell’s POV: A good segment with Reigns seeming to win over some fans by interrupting or rebutting Heyman’s lines. Heyman is playing up the idea that Lesnar wants to be a two-sport champion and it’s effective. I’ve had several readers question whether I believe that’s where this is going. For the record, I do not believe that’s where this is going, but I can’t rule it out either. More importantly, the fact that knowledgeable fans are asking is a sign that this approach is creating some uncertainty regarding the match outcome (even if everyone will claim they never had a doubt coming out of SummerSlam).

Seth Rollins was shown sitting down backstage. He put his earbuds in while Cole hyped his match against Drew McIntyre for Raw, and his SummerSlam title match with Dolph Ziggler. Ronda Rousey was shown talking with Natalya backstage. Graves said Rousey would be in Natalya’s corner when she faced Alicia Fox, who would have Alexa Bliss in her corner later in the show…

Finn Balor made his entrance for his match against Baron Corbin… [C]

Lesnar was shown reading The Backwoodsman magazine when Heyman entered the room and asked if he heard what Reigns said about him. Lesnar said he obviously did not because he doesn’t watch the show and then questioned why he would watch the show. Heyman played footage on his phone. Lesnar threw the phone down and went back to reading his magazine…

Powell’s POV: You can’t blame the Lesnar character. I like to think that he watched Raw when it was a two-hour show and said the hell with it once they added the third hour. And if you’re wondering, yes, The Backwoodsman is a real magazine (thanks search engine).

1. Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin. Corbin’s entrance was televised. Corbin clotheslined Balor on the apron and knocked him to the floor heading into a break a few minutes into the match. [C] Balor tossed Corbin under the bottom rope. Corbin landed on his feet and raced back to the ring to throw a clothesline.

Balor came back with a dropkick that knocked Corbin to the floor. Corbin came right back with a punch from the floor. Corbin smirked at the booking crowd. Balor bounce back and sent Corbin to the floor. Balor followed up with a flip dive heading into a break about 13 minutes in. [C]

Corbin performed the Deep Six for a near fall at 18:40. Balor came back with a dropkick through the ropes and followed up with a running dropkick that drove Balor into the barricade. Balor threw Corbin back inside the ring and performed another dropkick in the corner. Balor went up top. Corbin avoided Balor’s finisher, then hit his own End of Days finisher and scored the clean pin…

Baron Corbin defeated Finn Balor in 20:15.

After the match, Corbin returned to the ring and ended up tossing Balor to the floor. Corbin put Balor’s head on the barricade and punched him three times. Balor acted as if he was knocked out while Corbin gloated as he headed to the back…

Powell’s POV: A strong match that received more television time than anyone could have excepted in the opening slot. With Balor losing, my guess is they are setting up for The Demon to appear in a SummerSlam rematch.

Backstage, Paul Heyman was telling a staffer to get him a new telephone. Kurt Angle interrupted and barked that Lesnar was contractually obligated to appear. Heyman said Lesnar fulfilled his obligation the moment he walked into the arena. He said that if Angle wanted more from Lesnar that he should try himself. Angle said that Heyman might be Lesnar’s advocate, but he has a WWE contract. Angle threatened to terminate Heyman’s contract if Lesnar doesn’t appear. Heyman tried to play it cool. Angle stood his ground. Heyman signed and then walked away…

The broadcast team hyped a look back at the “historic, emotional” announcement of the Evolution pay-per-view… [C] A graphic noted that WWE’s Youtube page has surpassed 30 million subscribers. The broadcast team thanked the fans… A video package recapped the Evolution pay-per-view announcement…

Alicia Fox was shown stretching backstage and kissing her bicep when Alexa Bliss walked into the picture. Bliss said her partner Mickie James was injured so she handpicked Fox to face Natalya. She noted that Rousey would be in the corner of Natalya but said she would take care of her. Fox got crazy as she spoke about making Natalya meow…

Natalya and Rousey made their entrance. Cole announced that Rousey will appear on Stephen Colbert’s CBS talkshow on Tuesday night… [C]

2. Natalya (w/Ronda Rousey) vs. Alicia Fox (w/Alexa Bliss). Bliss and Fox made their entrance together coming out of the break.

[Hour Two] Natalya stumbled while running the ropes, but she recovered nicely and performed her running dropkick. Fox came back with a cross body block for a two count. Fox performed a northern lights supelx for another two count. Fox taunted Rousey, which allowed Bliss to punch Natalya from the floor. Fox hit Natalya with a big boot and pinned her…

Alicia Fox defeated Natalya in 5:00.

After the match, Rousey chased Bliss into the ring and took her down and was about to apply an armbar when Fox broke it up with a kick. Rousey performed her finishing move on Fox. Bliss tried to escape through the crowd. Rousey caught her at the barricade and tossed her to the mat. Fox caught Rousey with a kick from behind and then ran her into the barricade twice. Rousey started to get up, so Bliss and Fox rushed toward the ramp. Rousey rolled back inside the ring while Fox blew kisses to the crowd. There was a “Let’s go Rousey” chant…

Powell’s POV: The finish may be important or turn out to be trivial. It’s interesting that Rousey was lured in by Fox, which ended up being Natalya’s downfall in the match. It’s not the type of thing that I expect them to base a full Natalya turn on, but it is one of those things that could be used if they decide to have Natalya deliver one of those dot connecting promos where she points to various examples to explain her heel logic if they opt to take that approach.

Backstage, Brock was still paging through his magazine when Heyman tried to sell him on going out in front of the crowd. Lesnar said Heyman was getting under his skin. He said he would much rather be at home on his couch. He told Heyman to go get him a steak, baked potato, and steamed broccoli. “Now get outta here, please,” Lesnar said…

Cole noted that Lesnar stated earlier that he wasn’t watching the show, so he didn’t know that Heyman’s job is at risk. Coachman pointed out that we’re used to seeing Lesnar abuse others, but Heyman is his guy. Graves hyped Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Riott Squad, and Coachman hyped Braun Strowman vs. Jinder Mahal for later in the show… Elias strumming his guitar could be heard in the arena. Cole said Elias was up next… [C]

Backstage, Rousey vented to Angle about Fox and Bliss. Angle booked Rousey in her first Raw match for next week against Fox… The broadcast team spoke about Rousey vs. Fox match and hyped that Raw would be in Jacksonville next week…

Powell’s POV: Rousey’s first Raw match announcement was okay at best. It lacked the big announcement feel that I would have expected given that it is her first Raw match.

JoJo introduced Elias, who was seated on a stool in the ring. He strummed his guitar and boasted that he dropped the greatest album of all-time. He said he beat out some of the best musicians in the world in the charts, including Panic At The Disco, Post Malone, and Taylor Swift. He led the crowd in the Walk With Elias bit. He said he could have beaten Drake and went higher on the charts. He blamed Bobby Lashley for interrupting him.

Elias mocked the fans for worshipping “a garbage musician like Pitbull.” He also mocked the fans for their love of The Rock. Elias said The Rock wants no part of Elias and he even wrote a song about it. Bobby Lashley’s entrance music interrupted Elias and he headed to the ring. Elias invited Lashley to sing with him. The fans were all for it. Elias said he doesn’t normally do this, but Lashley would sing with him. He said he would keep it slow and simple “just like you” so that Lashley could keep up.

Elias played “Rockin’ Robin”. Lashley joined in. Elias dropped his guitar and hit Lashley from behind. Cole said Elias seemed to be embarrassed by the performance and was taking it out on Lashley, who suplexed by Elias. Lahsley celebrated in the ring to end the segment…

Powell’s POV: Does this mean we should move Elias up the list of potential Rock opponents if the rumors of a WrestleMania match interest are accurate?

Backstage, Kevin Owens told Baron Corbin that his son finally had a male authority figure that he can look up to and respect. “That’s what I’m here for, to inspire,” Corbin said. Owens said the Brock Lesnar situation was very concerning to him. He said Angle was disrespecting the authority of Stephanie McMahon. Owens said Angle’s plan was for Lesnar to go to the ring so that Strowman could cash in before he gets a chance to beat him for it at SummerSlam. Corbin said he’d see what he could do, but until Owens beats him at SummerSlam the contract belongs to Strowman…

Powell’s POV: That’s the thing that’s been missing in the storytelling of Lesnar wanting to remain backstage tonight. He’s not ducking Reigns, he’s ducking Braun Strowman and his MITB contract threat.

Highlights aired of the Strowman and Mahal angle from last week. The broadcast team hyped Strowman vs. Mahal for after the break… [C]

3. Braun Strowman vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Sunil Singh). Kevin Owens walked to ringside and grabbed the MITB briefcase. Strowman left the ring to go after him. Owens ran and tossed the briefcase to Singh, who was clotheslined by Strowman. Braun picked up the briefcase and chased Owens up the ramp. The referee counted out Strowman to end the match. Cole questioned whether Owens would be able to pull off something like this at SummerSlam so that he could win the MITB contract…

Jinder Mahal beat Braun Strowman by count-out in 1:35.

Backstage, Corbin handed Angle the phone. Angle said it won’t look good and “our friends on Raw will be disappointed.” Angle said he gets that she doesn’t care and she’s trying to protect the SummerSlam main event. He told her to enjoy the show…

The broadcast team hyped Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre for later in the show, and the women’s tag match… [C]

Powell’s POV: I like the approach of the Strowman match. No one will buy the possibility of Owens beating Strowman by pinfall or submission, but the stipulation is that Owens will win the MITB contract even if he wins by DQ or count-out. Thus, it’s logical to show Owens coming up with a plan to cost Strowman the match in such a manner.

An ad for Smackdown hyped Jeff Hardy confronting Randy Orton, and AJ Styles and Samoa Joe both appearing on the show…

A shot aired inside the locker room where the heroes of WWE Main Event (The Ascension, Mike Kanellis, Curt Hawkins, Zack Ryder, Heath Slater, Rhyno) were doing their thing. Mojo Rawley entered the room and said he was calling out everyone. Bobby Roode entered the room clapping and asked Rawley if he has a problem with him. Rawley asked what if he did and then added, “What are you going to do about it, Bobby, are you going to catchphrase me into submission?” Roode tackled Rawley and they had to be pulled apart by the wrestlers and agents…

4. Akam (w/Rezar) vs. Apollo Crews (w/Titus O’Neil, Dana Brooke). A pre-taped AOP promo aired. They spoke about the last chapter, turning the page, and slamming the book shut. You know, because they are authors (of pain). Ugh. Crews performed an enzuigiri and a standing moonsault for a near fall. Crews also dodged Akam charging into the corner and then rolled him up and pinned him…

Apollo Crews beat Akam in 1:55.

Drew McIntyre was shown preparing for his match while crimped hair Dolph Ziggler barked in his ear. The broadcast team hyped McIntyre vs. Rollins for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: I’m pretty sure Ziggler’s hairstyle tonight is known as the Hunter Hearst Helmsley at Fantastic Sams. Ziggler loves Shawn Michaels and Billy Gunn, so I guess it was only a matter of time before he started paying homage to Hunter. One can only pray this means Dolph will show up with the Road Dogg hairstyle one of these years.

An ad aired for Wednesday’s NXT TV show focussed on Tommaso Ciampa… Coachman hyped Rousey vs. Fox for next week’s Raw…

5. Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre (w/Dolph Ziggler). McIntyre stuffed an early suicide dive and dropped him into the barricade. McIntyre followed up by catapulting Rollins throat into the steel ring frame. [C] Rollins hit a couple of suicide dives coming out of the break. Rollins ran McIntyre into the edge of the ring and they returned to the ring. Later, Rollins hit the Stomp and Ziggler attacked him for the DQ to end the match. Rollins clotheslined Ziggler to ringside and performed a suicide dive before backing up the ramp…

Seth Rollins beat Drew McIntyre by DQ in 8:15.

Powell’s POV: A good match despite being fairly brief. I can’t wait until these two get the amount of time they gave Balor vs. Corbin in the opener. They work very well together. The broadcast team did a nice job with the finish. Cole implied that Rollins was going to win and that’s why Ziggler interfered. Graves made his case for the outcome not being a lock. Cole stood his ground and pointed out that Rollins hit the Stomp.

Cole set up footage of the segments involving Lesnar, Heyman, Reigns, and Angle from earlier in the show…

Reigns was shown sitting looking at a tablet. Kurt Angle and Baron Corbin entered the room. Angle informed Reigns that Stephanie McMahon asked to have him removed from the building. Reigns said he didn’t care what Stephanie wanted. Angle said Reigns would lose his championship match if he didn’t comply. Reigns asked Angle when it would end. He said Angle is an Olympic Champion, not a yes man. “Officers,” Corbin said. Several independent wrestlers, er, police officers entered the room and Reigns followed them outside the door. When Corbin laughed, Reigns punched him in the face and dropped him…

Powell’s POV: Finally, a hint that the Angle character might regain his balls and stand up for himself. I’d love to have Angle play the type of authority figure that he did in TNA/Impact Wrestling. He was confident and no nonsense. This WWE persona is just sad and pathetic. That said, Angle and Strowman should be paying a visit to the locker room of Strowman next or this won’t make any sense.

A sponsored classic superstar segment focussed on Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig… Graves hyped Cedric Alexander vs. Brian Kendrick in a non-title match for 205 Live…

The broadcast team spoke about the Reigns angle. Graves said there better be consequences for Reigns putting his hands on Constable Corbin…

Charly Caruso stood in the ring and introduced Raw Tag Team Champions Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. Caruso noted that they have been undefeated since changing their name to The B-Team. Dallas called Caruso “Charles” and said the B in B-Team stands for dream. He thanked the fans for their overwhelming support. Caruso noted that Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy are not very excited about their tag title win. Axel and Dallas labeled Hardy and Wyatt as poor losers.

The Wyatt video flashed and both he and Wyatt were in the ring. Hardy talk about how dreams are not real. Wyatt said nightmares are real, and “we are you nightmare manifested.” Hardy said they will haunt the B-Team until they are finally deleted.

The Revival’s music played and they headed to the ring. Scott Dawson said he didn’t even know what Hardy or Wyatt said. He asked Dash Wilder how those four buffoons are on top of the tag division. Wilder reminded everyone that they beat Bobby Lashley and Roman Reigns. Dawson told Hardy and Wyatt to step aside and let a couple of real top guys handle business and get the job done.

Dallas said he and Axel would be more than happy to step aside. Bray shoved Dallas at Dawson, who shoved him back. They both tried to punch Dallas, who ducked, causing them to punch one another. The Revival fought with Hardy and Wyatt while the B-Team slipped away. Hardy and Wyatt got the better of the brawl and stood tall… [C]

Powell’s POV: It’s about damn time they get the Revival in the tag title mix. I suspect this means we’ll be getting at least a Triple Threat for the Raw Tag Titles at SummerSlam.

6. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt vs. “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. The B-Team sat in on commentary for the match, which was joined in progress. Wyatt set up for a uranage on Wilder, but Dawson broke it up with a kick. Dawson and Hardy fought to ringside. A “Rusev Day” chant broke out. Wyatt set up Wilder for his finisher, but Wyatt grabbed his hair and tagged in Dawson. The Revival hit Wyatt with the Shatter Machine and pinned him…

The Revival beat Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt.

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Seth Rollins, who spoke about taking back the Intercontinental Title. Rollins was attacked from behind by Ziggler and McIntyre and left lying… Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan made their entrance… [C]

Powell’s POV: Rollins looks like he could use some help. Is this leading to the return of Dean Ambrose?

7. Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. Cole noted as Banks and Bayley made their entrance that they wore matching gear and have the new tag team nickname of the Boss and Hug Connection. The broadcast team ran through the Raw matches for SummerSlam. Banks and Bayley were in offensive control heading into a break at 2:25. [C]

The Riott Squad duo isolated Banks coming out of the break. Banks hit a double knee press (Meteora) on Morgan. In the end, Banks performed a Backstabbler on Morgan, then Bayley performed the Bayley To Belly for the win…

Sasha Banks and Bayley defeated Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan in 8:50.

Powell’s POV: It was a rare flub for Cole, who mistakenly said that the finish resulted in a kickout. He immediately corrected himself. All is right in the world of Banks and Bayley. Are they going to be the first Raw Women’s Tag Champions? Are they building to a breakup?

Backstage, Heyman told Lesnar he could go to the ring and say hello and goodbye and then they could be at a private steakhouse 25 minutes later. Heyman pointed out that Reigns had been removed from the arena and then questioned what could go wrong. Lesnar asked if Heyman got his money. Heyman confirmed that he did. Heyman sat down and said he has a contract with Lesnar and WWE. He said the WWE deal allows him to have a contract with Lesnar. He explained that Angle would fire him if Lesnar didn’t go to the ring. Heyman asked Lesnar to go to the ring for a minute because they are friends.

Lesnar stood up. Lesnar grabbed Heyman by the collar and said they are not friends. “You work for me,” Lesnar said. “I don’t work for you.” Lesnar asked Heyman how long he’d been leaching off him. “I suggest you march your ass out there and do your job. Understand?” Lesnar released Heyman and gave him a light shove to the back to send him on his way…

An ad aired for the Elias mockumentary that will air on WWE Network after Raw. This has the potential to be really fun…

Powell’s POV: Are they actually making Heyman seem borderline sympathetic? I love it. The question is why. Is it as simple as telling the story of Brock being a prick to the only person the WWE fans think he has a friendship with? Maybe. Are they setting up a Heyman turn on Lesnar with his new heel champion Roman Reigns? I doubt it, but let me dream.

The broadcast team hyped Bobby Roode vs. Mojo Rawley, and Ronda Rousey vs. Alicia Fox for next week’s Raw…

Kurt Angle and Baron Corbin made their entrance. Angle said Lesnar comes out now or this would be Heyman’s last night on Raw. Heyman walked out with a dejected look on his face. “Um, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman and I’m the advocate for the reigning, defending, undisputed Universal Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar,” Heyman said in somber voice. Heyman asked permission before entering the ring. The fans sang the goodbye song to Heyman.

[Overrun] Heyman said his client would not be coming out. Angle got upset and said that a real champion shows up. He said a real champion defends his title at all cost, does things for charity and community. “Brock Lesnar does none of that,” Angle said. “Brock Lesnar has to be the worst champion of all time.”

Heyman agreed with Angle. He said he tried to mold him, but Lesnar doesn’t respect him or anyone. He said Lesnar only tolerates him. Heyman said he tried to mold Lesnar in the image of Angle. He said that if Angle has ramifications to take out, it should be on Lesnar rather than him. “How about you’re full of crap,” Angle responded. Heyman continued to say he tried all night long and Lesnar doesn’t respect Angle or the fans.

Heyman said he respects Angle and would like to have a better working relationship with him. Angle said the contract of Heyman is now terminated. Heyman got down on his knees and begged. Lesnar’s music hit and then Heyman’s begging stopped and he flashed a sinister grin. Heyman strutted around the ring while Lesnar made his entrance. Lesnar walked around the ring and looked at the trio inside before joining them in the ring.

Lesnar placed the Universal Title belt on Heyman’s shoulder, then took the mic and approached Angle. Lesnar breathed into the mic and then asked Angle or Corbin if they had a problem with him. Lesnar picked up Angle and put him down with an F5. Corbin backed out of the ring and dropped to the floor when Lesnar leaned in his direction. Heyman smiled as he looked down at Angle.

Heyman handled Lesnar the Universal Title belt and continued laughing. Heyman thanked Lesnar, who joined him in laughing at Angle. Lesnar grabbed Heyman by the face and told him to look at Angle before forcing him to the mat. “You’re hurting me, I can’t breathe,” Heyman said. The fans chanted for Braun Strowman (or perhaps Roman?). Lesnar released Heyman and picked up his title belt. Lesnar’s music played and he left the ring…

Powell’s POV: I love this Brock Lesnar. It reminds me of something I’ve written about Kongo Kong and Jimmy Jacobs in Impact Wrestling in that Kong would come off as so much more of a badass if Jacobs acted like he was struggling to keep him in line rather than always acting like he’s in total control of the monster. Lesnar is always a badass, but this gave him a new edge and creates some interesting storyline possibilities. Heyman’s performance was excellent. I will have a lot more to say about this show in my members’ exclusive audio review later tonight. Need a free audio fix? Check below for my interview with Bruce Mitchell of PWTorch.com on the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell.



Readers Comments (5)

  1. I’m sick of the main event storyline, I have a problem with Roman essentially complaining about Brock’s contract. Which, if anyone with a brain could understand that, “hell yeah give me a big ass paycheck with limited dates, I’ll take it”. It makes Roman look petty which is how it comes off at least in my household. For the last very of God let’s move on to new main event storylines.

  2. Brock was reading a different magazine every time. The second time around it was American Frontiersman. I thought that was funny.

  3. This recalls the period when Heyman would plead with Brock yelling “No Brock No” as he brutalized someone, then look panicked after he did it. That Brock didn’t care about anything other than his title, and this Brock is an evolution in that he just doesn’t care about anything. He know’s he holds the chips and has beaten everyone on the roster easily, and feels he’ll win this match easily as well. There is no challenge here in his mind.

    Slowly turning on Heyman the way he is also helps. Even though he’s smarmy, the audience likes and appreciates what he does. Heyman didn’t have control of Brock in the “No Brock No” area, and in this natural progression he has even less.

    This also somewhat protects Brock because he can be shown as loosing because he’s not taking Roman seriously. It’s sort of how they protected him when he dropped to Goldberg. Didn’t take him seriously and lost, easily, twice. When he took him seriously he won. That keeps Brock bankable when he eventually returns. “Now he’s Serious.”

  4. “Dawson grabbed his hair and tagged in Dawson.”

    Really? I’d like to see that.

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