Ricky Steamboat

This article is about Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. For his son, see Richie Steamboat.
"Richard Blood" redirects here. This is also a onetime ring name of Tito Santana.
Ricky Steamboat

Steamboat in March 2015
Birth name Richard Henry Blood
Born (1953-02-28) February 28, 1953 [1][2]
West Point, New York, U.S.[3]
Residence Mooresville, North Carolina, U.S.[1]
Spouse(s) Maureen Muriel Powers (m. 1977; div. 1980)
Debra Blood (m. 1981; div. 1985)
Bonny Hastings (m. 1985; div. 2003)
Claudia Sobieski (m. 2004)
Children Richie Steamboat
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Rick Blood[1]
The Dragon[2]
Richard Blood[1]
Ricky Steamboat[1][2]
Sam Steamboat Jr.[1][2]
Billed height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[1]
Billed weight 235 lb (107 kg)[1]
Billed from Honolulu, Hawaii[1]
Charlotte, North Carolina
Trained by Verne Gagne[1]
The Iron Sheik[1]
Debut 1976[1][4]
Retired 2009

Richard Henry Blood Sr. (born February 28, 1953),[1][2] better known by his ring name Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, is an American retired professional wrestler. He is best known for his work with the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

In the NWA and WCW, he was a one-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion,[5] a four-time United States Heavyweight Champion,[6] a four-time World Television Champion,[7][8] a twelve-time World Tag Team Champion (eight-time under the WCW banner,[9][10] one-time (though unofficial) under the NWA banner,[11] and three-time under the Mid-Atlantic banner),[12] and a two-time Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion.[13] In the WWF/E, Steamboat was a one-time Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion[14] and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.

Early life

Blood went to high school in New York, and graduated in 1971 from Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport, Florida where he was on the school wrestling team. He was a two-time New York State wrestling qualifier and a Florida state champion.

Professional wrestling career

American Wrestling Association (1976)

Blood debuted in 1976 as a babyface in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) under his real name Rick Blood.[1][3]

Championship Wrestling from Florida (1976–1977)

He went from the AWA to Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF).[1] Before his debut at CWF, Eddie Graham gave him the ring name Ricky Steamboat based on his resemblance to Hawaiian wrestler Sammy Steamboat.[1][15][16] According to Steamboat, Graham thought Rick Blood was a good name for a heel, not for a face.[17]

Jim Crockett Promotions (1977–1985)

In 1977, Steamboat entered the National Wrestling Alliance-sanctioned Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) (which ran under the concurrent brand names "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "Wide World Wrestling"—later "World Wide Wrestling"—as well as airing syndicated TV programs under those respective names), where he would remain for the next eight years of his career. Steamboat, who had been brought in by JCP booker George Scott on the recommendation of Wahoo McDaniel, was initially billed as a babyface protege of Wahoo, and barely spoke above whispers in interviews. Matching him with his brash young counterpart, Ric Flair, was a natural fit. Steamboat stepped up to the plate during an interview on the syndicated Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling when Flair, the then-Mid-Atlantic television champion, began goading the youngster. Steamboat knocked Flair out with a backhand chop to set up a match between the two. Steamboat's star making performance came when he pinned Flair after a double thrust off the top rope to win the NWA Mid-Atlantic Television Championship at WRAL studios in Raleigh, North Carolina.[7]

Over the next eight years in JCP, Steamboat captured the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship three times[6] and the NWA World Tag Team Championship six times (once with Paul Jones and five times with Jay Youngblood).[9] He also held the NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship singles crown twice[13] and wore the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship straps four times (three times with Paul Jones, once with Jay Youngblood).[12] He also won the Television title (which by that point had been renamed NWA World Television Championship) a second time.[7]

Fans in the Mid-Atlantic territory to this day talk about classic Steamboat moments: the day Flair dragged his face around the television studio, causing facial scarring, and Steamboat retaliating the following week by ripping Flair's expensive suit to shreds; when longtime tag team partner Paul Jones turned heel on Steamboat at the end of a two-ring battle royal; Steamboat and Youngblood painting yellow streaks down the backs of Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke in order to embarrass them into defending the World Tag Team titles against the two; Steamboat and Youngblood's top drawing feud with Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle; Steamboat and Youngblood being turned on by their friends Jack and Jerry Brisco; Steamboat in a shocking (and surprisingly emotional) feud against former mentor Wahoo McDaniel; and his last great series in the territory, feuding with Tully Blanchard over the NWA TV title. After having creative differences with JCP booker Dusty Rhodes, Steamboat left the NWA.[18]

World Wrestling Federation

Birth of "The Dragon" (1985–1986)

In 1985, Steamboat was offered a contract by Vince McMahon and he joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Shortly after his debut, Steamboat was given the gimmick of a babyface nicknamed "The Dragon"; Steamboat's jacket-and-trunks attire was replaced by a keikogi and long tights. Steamboat's mother is Japanese American, hence his Asian features which were crucial for his "Dragon" gimmick. Steamboat kept the nickname and gimmick for the remainder of his career.

He appeared at the inaugural WrestleMania where he defeated Matt Borne in the second match on the card.[19] On the September 14, 1985 edition of Championship Wrestling, Steamboat defeated Mr. Fuji, but after his victory he was attacked by Fuji's manager Don Muraco, pitting Steamboat in a feud against Muraco and Fuji.[20] During a televised episode of WWF Championship Wrestling, Steamboat and Muraco were scheduled for a match that never officially started after Muraco jumped Steamboat before the bell. Following the beat down, Muraco and Fuji then used Steamboat's Karate black belt to hang him outside the ring from the top rop before Steamboat was finally saved by Tito Santana and the Junkyard Dog (JYD). On the November 2 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, he defeated Fuji in a Kung Fu Challenge.[21] On the January 4, 1986 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, his intense feud with Muraco ended after he and the JYD beat Muraco and Fuji in a tag team match.[22]

In the opening round at WWF The Wrestling Classic, Steamboat faced Davey Boy Smith in a rare match pitting two fan favorites against each other. The match moved back and forth until Smith landed in the ropes trying to attack Steamboat, but Steamboat sidestepped and Smith injured his groin and was unable to continue, so Steamboat was awarded the match by forfeit. He then faced off against Randy Savage in the quarterfinals. The referee was distracted by Miss Elizabeth as Savage took advantage and pulled out brass knuckles from his tights and hit Steamboat before pinning him to win the match.[23]

After a victory over Hercules Hernandez at the Los Angeles portion of WrestleMania 2,[24] Steamboat began his next feud with Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Their feud began when Roberts attacked him before their match on the May 3 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, which did not occur due to Roberts assaulting Steamboat.[25][26] Roberts was initially reluctant to deliver the DDT on the concrete floor due to his fear that Steamboat would not be able to stop his head from hitting the floor, which, on this particular occasion, was not covered with protective mats. Vince McMahon and booker George Scott were adamant that the spot take place outside the ring. Only after assurances by Steamboat that he would protect himself did Roberts agree to it. Unfortunately, Roberts' fears came true and Steamboat was legitimately knocked out when his forehead hit the concrete. Roberts later described the sound as like a watermelon bursting.[27] They later battled each other in a Snake Pit match (no DQ) in front of 74,000 fans at The Big Event in Toronto, Canada, which Steamboat won with a small package despite Roberts dominating virtually the entire match to that point.[28] Their feud finally ended on the October 4 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, when Steamboat defeated Roberts in their Snake Pit rematch.[29] Following the match, Roberts continued to attack Steamboat and was about to place his snake Damien on him, but Steamboat took his crocodile out of his bag and scared Roberts from the ring.[30]

Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion (1987–1988)

On the November 22, 1986 edition of Superstars, Steamboat got a shot at the Intercontinental Championship against Macho Man Randy Savage. Steamboat lost the match by countout but after the match, Savage continued to assault him and injured Steamboat's larynx (kayfabe) with the ring bell, beginning an angle between the two.[31] On the January 3, 1987 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, Steamboat returned from his injury and prevented Savage from attacking George Steele like he had done to Steamboat six weeks prior.[32] At WrestleMania III, Steamboat defeated Savage for the Intercontinental Championship.[33][34][35] The highly influential match was considered an instant classic by both fans and critics and was named 1987's Match of the Year by both Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer.

Several weeks after winning the Intercontinental Championship, Steamboat asked WWF owner Vince McMahon for some time off to be with his wife Bonnie, who was expecting the birth of their first son, Richard, Jr. This did not sit well with WWF management as he had been groomed to become a long-term champion. The decision was made by WWF management to punish Steamboat by having him drop the title to The Honky Tonk Man on the June 13 edition of Superstars;[36] his son was born a month later. Steamboat came back in time for the Survivor Series in November 1987.[37] WWF management was still bitter over his impromptu sabbatical from his first WWF run, however, and he was not pushed or given any meaningful feuds. (Steamboat himself has implied in interviews that he was being punished for one-upping the Hogan-Andre main event at WrestleMania III.) After defeating Rick Rude by disqualification at 1988 Royal Rumble,[38] Steamboat was entered into the tournament for the vacant WWF World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania IV in March 1988. On WWF television prior to the match, Steamboat appeared in a vignette where he stated that he hoped Randy Savage would win his first round match, thus setting up a rematch of last year's WrestleMania match and "one more classic confrontation". However, Steamboat would lose to his first round opponent Greg "The Hammer" Valentine.[39] Although television segments were shot immediately after WrestleMania IV that made it appear that Steamboat would be facing Valentine in a series of matches, Steamboat left the WWF shortly thereafter.

World Championship Wrestling (1989)

Steamboat made his comeback to wrestling in January 1989 and returned to the NWA (specifically, NWA affiliate World Championship Wrestling) on the January 21, 1989 edition of World Championship Wrestling (it would later become the name of the promotion) as a surprise tag team partner of "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert against NWA World Champion, Ric Flair and Barry Windham in a tag team match that saw Steamboat pin Flair.[40] This earned him a shot at the title at Chi-Town Rumble where Steamboat defeated Flair in the main event for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.[5][41] He was also the last NWA World Champion to defend the belt in All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) in a match against Tiger Mask II.[2] After Steamboat retained the NWA title against Flair in a controversial ending on the April 2 edition of Clash of the Champions,[42] Flair and Steamboat would then face each other in their final rematch at WrestleWar in May,[42] where Steamboat dropped the title to Flair.[43] All three of Steamboat's matches with Flair were given 5-star ratings from Wrestling Observer Newsletter publisher Dave Meltzer.

After losing the title, Steamboat remained the number one contender to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, a fact that irked fellow babyface U.S. Champion Lex Luger. This dispute culminated in Luger attacking Steamboat on the June 14 edition of Clash of the Champions, thus turning heel. Luger stood over the fallen Steamboat and arrogantly said, "There lays your number one contender!"[44] Steamboat then demanded a no disqualification match against Luger at The Great American Bash for the title, but just before the bell Luger demanded the clause be dropped or there would not be a match.[45] Steamboat lost the match by disqualification after hitting Luger with a chair.[45] Due to a contract dispute this would be Steamboat's last match of note in WCW in 1989.[1]

North American Wrestling Association / South Atlantic Pro Wrestling (1990)

Steamboat as "The Dragon"

After leaving the NWA, Steamboat underwent surgery on his injured foot. Fully recovered, he returned to the ring in February 1990 for the North Carolina-based North American Wrestling Association (later renamed South Atlantic Pro Wrestling in July 1990), where he feuded with Robert Fuller over the NAWA/SAPW Heavyweight Championship, until leaving the promotion in October 1990.

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1990)

In September and October 1990, he toured with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), where he faced high-profile stars like Hiroshi Hase and The Great Muta and teamed up with the likes of Owen Hart, Pegasus Kid, Riki Choshu, Shinya Hashimoto, and Miguel Perez, Jr..

Return to WWF (1991)

In 1991, Steamboat would return to the World Wrestling Federation. Billed simply as The Dragon, a series of vignettes began airing in February 1991 that featured him breathing fire. Despite his previous success in the WWF as a one-time Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion, Steamboat was mainly treated as a brand-new wrestler, save for the announcers occasionally making reference to his WrestleMania III match and former title reign. Steamboat's first match came on a Superstars taping on March 11 in Pensacola, FL when he defeated Jeff Sword. His first televised match was on the March 30 edition of Superstars when he defeated the Brooklyn Brawler with his signature diving crossbody. On subsequent episodes of Superstars and Wrestling Challenge, Steamboat would go on to win numerous squash matches. He would also be victorious on televised Madison Square Garden events, defeating the likes of Haku, Demolition Smash, Paul Roma, Col. Mustafa, Pat Tanaka, and The Warlord.

Steamboat's only pay per view appearance during his second WWF tenure was at SummerSlam. Teaming with Kerry Von Erich and Davey Boy Smith against the Warlord, Hercules, and Paul Roma, Steamboat got the victory for his team by pinning Roma.

The Dragon was undefeated on television during his 1991 run and lost only one match, a house show bout against Skinner. The day after his dark match loss, Steamboat gave his notice to WWF management and then quit the company shortly thereafter. He had been booked for the Survivor Series, teaming with Jim Neidhart (who would be replaced by Sgt. Slaughter due to injury), Jim Duggan, and Kerry Von Erich against Col. Mustafa, Skinner, The Berzerker, and Big Bully Busick (who would be replaced by Hercules after Busick left the WWF), but he left before the event and was replaced by Tito Santana. It is rumored that Steamboat was booked to be squashed by The Undertaker on Superstars to build Undertaker for his impending WWF World Heavyweight Championship match against Hulk Hogan, and that Steamboat chose to quit the WWF rather than lose to Undertaker. Undertaker instead squashed Kerry Von Erich on Wrestling Challenge weeks prior to Survivor Series.

During his time in the WWF, Steamboat asked Pat Patterson to work as a heel. Steamboat proposed to fight as a masked heel until somebody would remove his mask, but Patterson said he was a consummate babyface.[17]

Return to WCW

World Tag Team Champion (1991–1992)

On the November 19 edition of Clash of the Champions, Steamboat returned to World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as the surprise tag team partner of Dustin Rhodes, substituting for an injured Barry Windham. Steamboat and Rhodes defeated the Enforcers (Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko) to win the World Tag Team Championship, Steamboat's first World Tag Team Title under the WCW banner.[10][46] They lost the titles to Arn Anderson and his new partner Bobby Eaton at a live event in January 1992.[47] Steamboat began feuding with the Dangerous Alliance at this point, facing them in a critically acclaimed WarGames match at WrestleWar, which received a 5-star rating from Dave Meltzer. He unsuccessfully challenged Dangerous Alliance member and United States Heavyweight Champion Rick Rude for the title at SuperBrawl II.[48] Their rivalry culminated in a non-title Iron Man Challenge at Beach Blast, which Steamboat won.[49]

World Television Champion (1992–1993)

On the September 2, 1992 edition of Clash of the Champions, Steamboat defeated "Stunning" Steve Austin to win his first Television Championship under the WCW banner.[8][50] He lost the title to Scott Steiner at a television taping on September 29.[51] He however, won both his first NWA World Tag Team Championship (unrecognized by NWA) and his second WCW World Tag Team Title with Shane Douglas (NWA and WCW titles were unified) on the November 18 edition of Clash of the Champions by defeating Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes.[10][52] On the March 27, 1993 edition of Power Hour, they lost the NWA and WCW titles to the Hollywood Blonds (Brian Pillman and Steve Austin).[53] On the August 18 edition of Clash of the Champions, he defeated Paul Orndorff to win his second and final WCW World Television Championship.[8][54] In September 1993, at Fall Brawl, Steamboat's TV title reign was ended when he lost to Lord Steven Regal.[55] At Starrcade, the two fought in a rematch for the title which resulted in a time-limit draw.[56]

United States Heavyweight Champion and retirement (1994)

Heading into 1994, Steamboat engaged in one last feud over the WCW World Heavyweight Championship with longtime rival Ric Flair, which culminated in a match in the main event of Spring Stampede where the title was briefly held up due to both men's shoulders being pinned at the same time.[57] On the May 14 edition of Saturday Night, Flair defeated Steamboat to reclaim possession of the title.[58] Their final singles match was on Main Event in July which ended on a disqualification when Steve Austin interfered. Steamboat and Flair's last encounter was in a tag team match on the July 31 edition of Main Event where Steamboat teamed with Sting against Ric Flair and Steve Austin.[59]

He then feuded with US Champion "Stunning" Steve Austin and earned a US title shot at Bash at the Beach but lost.[60] On the August 24 edition of Clash of the Champions, he got a rematch against Austin where Steamboat hurt his back,[61] but managed to pin Austin for the United States Heavyweight Championship.[61][62] However, he had to give up the belt due to the injury at Fall Brawl; he was replaced by "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.[61][63] In September 1994, Steamboat was fired by WCW President Eric Bischoff via Federal Express package (while injured), thus ending a nearly two decade relationship with the Crockett/Turner wrestling organization.

First retirement (1994–2005)

Steamboat mentored CM Punk in Ring of Honor

After an eight-year retirement, Steamboat played an important role in the genesis of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), where he was the referee of the first Gauntlet for the Gold for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.[64] He was also the referee for the four-way double-elimination match to crown the first holder of the TNA X Division Championship.[1] He has also made appearances for Ring of Honor where he refereed the first defense of the ROH Pure Wrestling Championship.[65] In 2004, he engaged in a series of confrontations with CM Punk over Punk's arrogance in matches Steamboat refereed and then became CM Punk's inspiration to become the better person Steamboat knew he could be.[66] The latter part of 2004 saw Steamboat feud with Mick Foley over which style of wrestling was superior, pure wrestling or hardcore wrestling.[67] The two of them had many confrontations and managed teams to face one another, but never had a match against each other.[68] Steamboat's last ROH appearance was at Final Battle 2004 where he and Foley finally made peace.[69]

Second return to WWE (2005–present)

In early 2005, Steamboat returned to WWE as a road agent and was introduced as a WWE Legend on the "Homecoming" edition of Raw in October 2005.[70] In early 2006, Ricky Steamboat told WWE management that he would like to come out of retirement at WrestleMania 22 and work a match with Ric Flair, but the idea was nixed.[1] Ricky Steamboat has been the special referee in main event matches between John Cena, Triple H, and/or Edge at WWE house shows.[1] In 2006 at the Raw SummerSlam Tour in Sydney, Australia, he was a referee for a match between Cena and Edge for the WWE Championship.[1] He also refereed another title match in July 2007 between John Cena and Randy Orton in Anaheim, California.[1] On April 1, 2007, he made an appearance at WrestleMania 23 while various other legends were having a small dance party in the background.[71] He also briefly appeared at the Vengeance: Night of Champions pay-per-view, being recognized as a former Intercontinental Champion.[72] He made another appearance on WWE television during Ric Flair's farewell on the March 31, 2008 edition of Raw.[73]

Steamboat with fellow WWE Hall of Famers Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka before their match against Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXV

He appeared on the February 23 edition of Raw, after being named one of the members of the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame class. However, Steamboat was attacked by Chris Jericho, who began to feud with the Hall of Famers.[74]

On the March 16 episode of Raw, he united with fellow Hall of Famers, now-babyface, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, and Jimmy Snuka attacked Jericho.[75] In his first match in nearly 15 years, Steamboat returned to the ring alongside Piper and Snuka to take on Jericho at WrestleMania XXV on April 5, 2009. While both Snuka and Piper were swiftly eliminated, Steamboat held his own against Jericho, performing his legendary diving crossbody and even a plancha, although Jericho would eventually go onto win the match.

On the April 6 episode of Raw, Steamboat competed in a 10-man tag team match with John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Jeff Hardy, and CM Punk defeating Edge, Big Show, Matt Hardy, Kane, and his WrestleMania XXV opponent, Chris Jericho. Steamboat's in-ring performance was so exceptional that the crowd began chanting "You've still got it!". Following the match, Cena, Hardy, Mysterio, and Punk left the ring and allowed Steamboat to take one final bow to the crowd.

On the April 20 episode of Raw, Steamboat made a surprise appearance to thank Jericho. Jericho said Steamboat came only because he could not leave the spotlight, then challenged Steamboat to a match at Backlash, which Steamboat accepted. At Backlash, Steamboat lost after submitting to the Walls of Jericho.

On August 15, 2009, Steamboat wrestled for the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico where he teamed with his son Richie Steamboat to defeat Hiram Tua and Orlando Colón (nephew of Carlos Colón and cousin of Carlito and Eddie Colón).

On June 28, 2010, he returned to WWE Raw to promote his new DVD only to be attacked and injured by The Nexus. On WWE's website the following day, it was announced that in storyline, Steamboat suffered injuries from the attack. However, on July 1 WWE's website announced that the prior night, Steamboat felt legitimate pain in his neck and shoulders and as a result, was now legitimately hospitalized. This caused WWE to take down any storyline information related to that attack.[76]

On October 19, 2011 it was announced that Ricky Steamboat was going to be featured in the WWE '12 video game.[77] On December 17, 2012, during the WWE Raw, Ricky Steamboat appeared alongside Jim Ross and Gene Okerlund to announce the winner of the Slammy Award for Match of the Year.

Steamboat worked as an NXT trainer and in the talent relations department with Triple H until the developmental release of his son, Richie Steamboat, in 2013. He later moved on to being an Ambassador.[78]

Personal life

Steamboat is of mixed ancestry, having been born to an English father and a Japanese mother.[79]

In 1978, while wrestling, Steamboat dabbled in bodybuilding, along with fellow wrestler Tony Atlas. He would win the Mr. North Carolina competition that year.

Steamboat has a son, Richard Jr. (born July 7, 1987) by his third wife Bonnie, as well as a younger brother, Victor. Both are also retired professional wrestlers.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

Steamboat at the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony

1 During this time, the title was almost exclusively defended in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. However, on occasion, the title was defended in other promotions through arrangements made with Mid-Atlantic.

2 Steamboat won the title after Ted Turner purchased Mid-Atlantic Championship wrestling from Jim Crockett and renamed it World Championship Wrestling.


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  16. Mike Mooneyham (2014-07-25). "Ageless Ricky Steamboat good guy inside and outside the wrestling ring". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2014-08-11. I walked into Eddie Graham's office, he took one look at me and said, 'You look a lot like Sam Steamboat. We're going to make you his nephew - Ricky Steamboat,' the wrestler recalled.
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  45. 1 2 "Great American Bash 1989". The Powerdriver Review. 2008-01-26. Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2008-06-07. NWA U.S. Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger vs. Ricky Steamboat. It's been scheduled to be a no-DQ match, but Luger protests because he's the champ and doesn't want a no-DQ match with Steamboat, but he'll wrestle if the no-DQ clause is dropped. Now Steamboat has the chair! Tommy Young tries to stop him, but Steamboat shoves him aside as well and BEATS Luger with the chair to give Luger the DQ win! (10:27)
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