Promotional poster featuring various WWE wrestlers
|Date||March 29, 2015|
|City||Santa Clara, California|
|WWE Network event chronology|
WrestleMania 31 was the 31st annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event and WWE Network event produced by WWE. It took place on March 29, 2015, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Nine matches were contested at the event, with two being shown on the pre-show. In the main event, Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract as the scheduled match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns was in progress, and won the resulting impromptu triple threat match to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. On the undercard, The Undertaker (in his first match since the previous year's event) defeated Bray Wyatt and John Cena defeated Rusev to win the WWE United States Championship. The event was also notable for Sting's debut match in WWE and only WrestleMania match, in which he was defeated by Triple H.
The event received highly positive reviews from fans and critics alike; some critics called it one of the best ever WrestleMania events. WWE reported that the show was the highest grossing WWE event ever, drawing a revenue of $12.6 million. The company also claimed an attendance figure of 76,976.
The logo for the event included a red "play" button. According to a San Jose Mercury News article, Vince McMahon explained that the play button highlighted the technical prowess of Silicon Valley. There were two theme songs for the event. The main theme was "Rise" by David Guetta featuring Skylar Grey, while the secondary theme was "Money and the Power" by Kid Ink. The event included live musical performances from Skylar Grey, Kid Ink, Travis Barker and Aloe Blacc. Grammy Award winner LL Cool J appeared in the opening video package for the event.
Travel Packages for the event went on sale on September 29 with the exclusive California Dreamin' Travel Package ranging from $5,500. The VIP Package, Platinum Premium Package, Gold Package and Silver Package was available on October 6 with prices starting from $3,250, $1,650, $1,150 and $900 respectively including tickets to WrestleMania, hotel accommodation, airfare, and other activities through WrestleMania Axxess. Individual tickets went on sale on November 15 ranging from $35 to $1,000.
It was the first WrestleMania event to be held in the San Francisco Bay Area, the sixth to be held in the state of California (after 2, VII, XII, 2000, and 21), and the sixth to be held in an open-air venue (after IX, XXIV, XXVI, XXVIII, and 29).
The card consisted of nine matches, including two on the preshow, that resulted from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portrayed villains, heroes, or less distinguishable characters in scripted events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches, with results predetermined by WWE's writers. Storylines between the characters played out on WWE's primary television programs, Raw and SmackDown.
At Royal Rumble, Brock Lesnar successfully defended his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena and Seth Rollins in a triple threat match. Rollins was also the holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase, additionally guaranteeing him a future title match at a time of his choosing. Meanwhile, the 2015 Royal Rumble match was won by Roman Reigns, granting him a main event title match against Lesnar at WrestleMania. On the February 2 episode of Raw, Reigns agreed to put his number one contendership on the line in a match at Fastlane. Later in the night, Daniel Bryan defeated Rollins to face Reigns at the event. At Fastlane, Reigns defeated Bryan to ensure his title shot against Lesnar at WrestleMania. Reigns had only two face-to-face interactions with Lesnar prior to WrestleMania, with his title match described as "being built on whether or not he is even worthy of being in the match in the first place". Reigns was also described as having "experienced no adversity on his journey" as he "chatted with [Lesnar's manager] Paul Heyman one week, got a shirt, and then played tug o' war with" Lesnar – a reference to the in-ring confrontation between Lesnar and Reigns on the March 23 episode of Raw, in which the two grappled with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt. It was acknowledged in the storylines that Lesnar's contract was set to expire not long after WrestleMania. Less than a week before the event amid speculation that he would be returning to UFC, Lesnar signed a new WWE contract and he retired from mixed martial arts.
On the March 2 episode of Raw, Paige defeated Divas Champion Nikki Bella by disqualification in a title match after Brie Bella attacked Paige; therefore, Nikki retained the title. Brie and Nikki then continued to attack Paige in the ring until AJ Lee returned from injury and saved Paige. On the March 5 episode of SmackDown, AJ defeated Brie after Paige kept Nikki from interfering in the match. On March 9, AJ and Paige were scheduled to face The Bellas at WrestleMania.
At Survivor Series, Sting made his first WWE appearance by attacking Triple H in the main event Survivor Series elimination match, attacking Triple H and aiding Dolph Ziggler in pinning Seth Rollins, giving Team Cena the win and causing The Authority to be out of power, which was a secondary stipulation of the match. On the January 19 episode of Raw, Sting made his Raw debut, appearing backstage during the main event, a 3-on-1 handicap match between Cena and the team of Big Show, Kane, and Rollins. The lights in the arena darkened as Sting entered the stage and gestured to The Authority at ringside. The distraction allowed Cena to pin Rollins for the win, which reinstated the jobs of the recently (kayfabe) fired Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan. On January 26, Triple H challenged Sting to a "face-to-face" confrontation at Fastlane. On the February 9 episode of Raw, Triple H again called Sting out to accept his challenge. The lights went out, and a group of Sting impersonators appeared around the arena and inside the ring, illuminated by spotlights, while a video message of Sting accepting Triple H's challenge played on the TitanTron. At Fastlane, the two brawled until Sting got control of Triple H. Sting then pointed to the WrestleMania sign in the rafters with his signature baseball bat, issuing a challenge, which Triple H accepted. Later that night, the match was confirmed.
On the February 23 episode of Raw, a second annual André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was scheduled for WrestleMania. Over the following month, The Miz, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Fandango, Adam Rose, Zack Ryder, Jack Swagger, Titus O'Neil, Darren Young, Big Show, Kane, Erick Rowan, Sin Cara, Damien Mizdow, Goldust, Heath Slater, Mark Henry and The Ascension were announced as participants. On March 26, the match was set for the pre-show. That same day, Hideo Itami won a NXT tournament at WrestleMania Axxess to earn a spot in the match.
On February 26, Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett was scheduled to defend his title in a multiple-man ladder match at the event, in which a storyline was made when several contenders steal the title, claiming that they won it. Between the March 2 episode of Raw and the March 12 episode of SmackDown, R-Truth, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, Stardust and Daniel Bryan were added to the match.
At Fastlane, Rusev defeated John Cena to retain the United States Championship after hitting Cena with a low blow (while the referee was distracted with Lana) and making him pass out to the Accolade submission hold. In the following weeks, Cena challenged Rusev to a rematch, which Rusev declined. On the March 2 episode of Raw, Stephanie McMahon decreed that Cena would not compete at WrestleMania unless Rusev agreed to a match. On the March 9 episode of Raw, after Rusev defeated Curtis Axel, Rusev made several insulting remarks towards the USA, drawing the ire of Cena. Following the insults, Cena went into the ring and placed Rusev in the STF submission hold until Rusev passed out. Cena then picked up a bottle of water, used it to revive Rusev and then placed him into the STF again. Although Rusev submitted, Cena refused to break the hold until Lana granted Cena a title rematch at WrestleMania on Rusev's behalf.
At Fastlane, Bray Wyatt challenged The Undertaker to a match at WrestleMania after sending messages to the Undertaker weeks prior. On the March 9 episode of Raw, The Undertaker accepted Wyatt's challenge to a match at the event.
On the October 20 episode of Raw, The Authority members Randy Orton, Kane, and Seth Rollins defeated Cena and Ambrose in a 3-on-2 handicap street fight. Immediately after the match, Rollins Curb Stomped Orton after dissension between the two. On the October 27 episode of Raw, Orton RKO'd Rollins, thus directly defying The Authority's orders. On the November 3 episode of Raw, after increasing frustration, Orton attacked Rollins during his Intercontinental Championship match against Ziggler. Orton then demanded a match with Rollins to settle their dispute, which Triple H granted in order to keep Orton on The Authority's side. Rollins won the match, and Orton then attacked the Authority before Rollins Curb Stomped him, causing a (kayfabe) injury which forced Orton to miss several months of competition. At Fastlane, Orton returned to WWE and attacked The Authority. Over the next weeks, Orton teased a renewed alliance with The Authority, before attacking Rollins after a handicap match against Reigns. On the March 12 episode of SmackDown, Orton challenged Rollins to a match at WrestleMania. On the March 16 episode of Raw, Rollins accepted the challenge.
At Fastlane, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro defeated The Usos to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. On March 23, the new champions were scheduled to defend their titles against Los Matadores, The New Day and The Usos in a fatal four-way tag team match on the WrestleMania pre-show.
The WrestleMania Kickoff Show was hosted by Renee Young, with Booker T, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton as analysts, while Tom Phillips and Lita served as social media correspondents. English commentators for the event were Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and John "Bradshaw" Layfield. Spanish, German, French, and Italian commentators also called the matches at ringside. Lilian Garcia and Eden Stiles served as the ring announcers.
As is tradition, WrestleMania featured numerous appearances by celebrity guests – such as E! News host Maria Menounos, who served as a backstage interviewer. The pay-per-view broadcast was opened by Aloe Blacc performing "America the Beautiful". The event saw another musical performance as Skylar Grey, Travis Barker, and Kid Ink performed a medley of the two WrestleMania 31 theme songs – "Rise" and "Money and the Power". Arnold Schwarzenegger also was featured at the event, first as part of the Terminator Genisys themed grand entrance of Triple H, and later being recognized as part of the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame class as a celebrity wing inductee.
Two matches were contested on the WrestleMania Kickoff pre-show. The first was a fatal four-Way tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship between the champions Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (with Natalya), The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Big E) (with Xavier Woods), Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) (with El Torito), and The Usos (Jey and Jimmy Uso) (with Naomi). Kidd and Cesaro retained their titles after Big E suffered a Samoan splash from Jimmy Uso, followed by Cesaro throwing Uso out of the ring and scoring the pin. Also of note, Jey Uso would suffer a shoulder injury during the match, putting him out of action for several months.
The second pre-show match was the second annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Big Show won the 30-man contest by last eliminating Damien Mizdow after Mizdow had turned on and eliminated his tag team partner The Miz.
The actual pay-per-view opened with the seven-man ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship where champion Bad News Barrett defended the title against Daniel Bryan, R-Truth, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, and Stardust. Bryan won the match after he and Ziggler exchanged headbutts at the top of the ladder, causing Ziggler to fall backwards and allowing Bryan to claim his first Intercontinental Championship.
Next, Seth Rollins faced Randy Orton. During the match, both men kicked out of their finishers. Orton eventually won the match after a second "RKO", which was given additional elevation as Orton countered Rollins' "Curb Stomp" by propelling Rollins up into the air.
After that, Sting and Triple H competed in a No Disqualification Match. This was Sting's first official match in WWE. Midway through the match, Sting locked Triple H in his Scorpion Death Lock submission hold, which prompted Triple H's D-Generation X (DX) allies to enter the ring and attempt to interfere in the match. Sting knocked down Billy Gunn, Road Dogg and X-Pac, countered Triple H's Pedigree and threw him to the outside, and then launched himself from the top rope onto all four men. Triple H then performed a Pedigree on Sting for a near-fall and retrieved a sledgehammer from under the ring, which prompted the three original New World Order (nWo) members (Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) to interfere on Sting's behalf. The nWo members took out DX and Sting dropped Triple H with his Scorpion Death Drop for a near-fall. Sting then locked Triple H in another Scorpion Death Lock. Triple H tried to grab his sledgehammer, but Hogan pulled it out of his reach, causing another brawl between both factions while Triple H was still locked in Sting's submission hold. Shawn Michaels then appeared and executed Sweet Chin Music on Sting. Triple H went to pin Sting only for Sting to kick out. Triple H grabbed his sledgehammer from Gunn, while Hall tossed a Baseball Bat to Sting. A standoff ensued between Triple H and Sting as they both held weapons. Sting struck Triple H in the gut with his bat and struck Triple H's sledgehammer which snapped in half. Sting then trapped Triple H in the corner and landed his Stinger Splash. When Sting went for another Stinger Splash, however, Triple H struck Sting with the sledgehammer to win the match. After the match, Triple H and Sting shook hands in the ring while the commentary team speculated that the rivalry between WWE and WCW had finally been put to rest.
Daniel Bryan was then interviewed backstage by Maria Menounos regarding his Intercontinental Championship victory, and was joined in celebration by former Intercontinental Champions Pat Patterson, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Ric Flair, and Bret Hart, who all congratulated Bryan by performing Bryan's "Yes!" chant together until Ron Simmons broke up the celebration with his Damn! catchphrase.
In the fourth match, The Bella Twins (Brie Bella and Divas Champion Nikki Bella) faced AJ Lee and Paige. Paige and Nikki began the bout. Most of the match saw The Bellas isolating Paige and preventing her from tagging in Lee – who the Bellas would frequently knock off the ring apron onto the floor – until Paige landed a somersault plancha to both Bellas on the outside. Paige finally tagged in Lee, who applied her "Black Widow" hold to Nikki, but Brie saved her sister from defeat. Paige then ran in with a big boot on Brie, but was soon pushed outside the ring. A distraction from Brie led to Nikki performing a Forearm Smash on Lee for a near-fall Outside the ring, Paige pushed Brie into the ring steel steps. In the climax, Lee forced Nikki to submit to the "Black Widow."
After the match, the 2015 Hall of Fame class was introduced; The Bushwhackers, Larry Zbysko, Alundra Blayze, Tatsumi Fujinami, Rikishi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Kevin Nash were presented to the crowd, while posthumous inductees "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Connor "The Crusher" Michalek were represented by family members.
After that United States Champion Rusev (accompanied by his manager Lana) defended his title against John Cena. Rusev dominated the majority of the match and overpowered Cena throughout, but Cena was able to make a comeback. The end of the match came when Lana climbed onto the ring apron and was accidentally knocked off by Rusev, who then suffered an "Attitude Adjustment" for Cena's pin and the title. This was Rusev's first pinfall loss in WWE since he debuted in the main roster in April 2014.
In the next segment, The Authority (Triple H and Stephanie McMahon) announced that WrestleMania had set a new Levi's Stadium attendance record of 76,976 and began to gloat about their accomplishments and Triple H's victory over Sting earlier in the night, which prompted The Rock to enter the ring. After a verbal exchange, McMahon insulted the Rock and slapped him across the face, taunting that he wouldn't retaliate because he dare not hit a woman. Rock then brought UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey (who sat up front) into the ring. After Rousey told McMahon that she "owns every ring she's in" Rock attacked Triple H and Rousey then threw both McMahon and Triple H from the ring, first teasing an armbar on McMahon.
In the penultimate match, The Undertaker faced Bray Wyatt. This was Undertaker's first appearance since WrestleMania XXX. It was reported that Wyatt legitimately injured his ankle earlier in the day while preparing for the match, resulting in both men working at a slow pace. While Wyatt largely controlled the offense, Undertaker was able to execute most of his signature moves such as "Old School", the big boot, and "Snake Eyes". Late in the match, Wyatt kicked out of a "Tombstone Piledriver", while Undertaker kicked out of "Sister Abigail". In the end, Undertaker executed a second "Tombstone Piledriver" to win the match.
In the main event, Brock Lesnar defended the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns. Within the first minute, Lesnar performed a German suplex and an F-5. Lesnar also suffered a minor cut to his face (and later on his chin), but went on to dominate the next ten minutes with knee strikes and various suplexes (fisherman, German, overhead belly-to-belly, vertical, snap), leading to Lesnar quipping, "Suplex City, bitch!" Lesnar performed a second F-5 near the 8-minute mark for a near-fall. Lesnar then removed his MMA gloves, slapped Reigns and performed a German suplex and then another F-5, for a near-fall. A turning point came around the 12-minute mark when the duo were outside the ring; Reigns shoved Lesnar into the ring post, causing Lesnar to bleed profusely from the head. After Lesnar barely avoided being counted out, Reigns performed three Superman punches, then two consecutive spears, but Lesnar kicked out. Lesnar countered another Superman punch with a fourth F-5, but failed to follow up with a cover.
While both men still were down, Seth Rollins ran down to the ring with his Money in the Bank briefcase and cashed in his contract, making the singles match a triple threat match and the first time in history a Money In The Bank contract was cashed in during a match. Rollins kicked Reigns out of the ring and performed a Curb Stomp on Lesnar. Rollins went for a second Curb Stomp to Lesnar, who countered by lifting Rollins in preparation for an F-5, but Reigns performed a spear on Lesnar, which saved Rollins. As Lesnar rolled out of the ring, Rollins capitalized with a Curb Stomp to Reigns to win the title. Post-match, Rollins ran back up the entrance ramp and celebrated with the world championship title.
WWE claimed that the show was highest grossing WWE event ever at the time, drawing revenue of $12.6 million. WWE also claimed an attendance figure of 76,976. However, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported an attendance of 67,000, and said during the second main card match that there were "actually a lot of empty seats all over the stadium", mostly in the upper deck.
The event received acclaim from fans and critics alike. John Powell of Canadian Online Explorer gave the event a perfect 10 out of 10 star rating, calling it "the best Mania ever", with the main event between Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins rated 8.5 stars out of 10. Sting vs. Triple H received the highest rating of 9 stars out of 10, and Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt was rated 8 stars out of 10.
In his live report from the event, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter described the event as "one of the best shows I've ever seen. Several great matches, a killer angle and very little that wasn't good". He also praised the involvement of Ronda Rousey. Overall, he stated that WrestleMania 31 was "one of the more balanced WrestleManias in history because there was not a bad match. But it also didn't have anything close to a match of the year or a candidate for best Mania match".
Jack De Menezes of The Independent said, "It will go down as one of, if not the greatest WrestleMania of all time. From NWO's reunion, to The Rock teaming up with Ronda Rousey and Randy Orton's incredible 'RKO outta nowhere', nearly every match delivered a spectacle fitting of the Grandest Stage of Them All".
Dave Meltzer reported that members of Roman Reigns' family were legitimately upset at the finish of the main event, writing that especially his father Leati/Sika was furious to the point that there was "nearly a bad scene".
The following night on Raw in San Jose, Brock Lesnar wanted to invoke his WWE World Heavyweight Championship rematch clause, but was denied by new champion Seth Rollins. Lesnar responded by attacking Rollins, who escaped. Lesnar then attacked Rollins' cornermen J&J Security (Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury), a cameraman, and the broadcast announcers (Booker T, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and Michael Cole). As a result, Lesnar was suspended indefinitely and fined by Stephanie McMahon in storyline. Byron Saxton and Jerry Lawler immediately replaced them in the broken announce table. Tom Phillips also replaced Michael Cole as lead announcer for two weeks on the following Thursday on SmackDown. Rollins returned later during the show where Randy Orton declared a title shot request due to beating Rollins the night before. Orton and Rollins then had a steel cage match for the title at Extreme Rules, where Rollins retained after interference from Kane. Due to Rollins not winning cleanly, a fatal four-way match was scheduled for Payback where Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Orton went for the title. Ambrose and Reigns were given title shots after beating Rollins on consecutive Raw shows. Rollins then defended the title against Ambrose at Elimination Chamber due to Ambrose stealing the title two weeks before the event. Rollins again retained at Money in the Bank after being demanded by The Authority to win without any form of assistance. The following night on Raw, Brock Lesnar would then return to face Rollins in the main event of Battleground, and their match ended with Lesnar winning by disqualification after interference from The Undertaker. On November 4, during a match against Kane at a WWE live event in Dublin, Ireland, Rollins tore the ACL, MCL, and medial meniscus in his knee while attempting to execute a sunset flip powerbomb. The injury required surgery and it was estimated it would take Rollins out of action for approximately six to nine months. As a result, Rollins was forced to vacate the WWE World Heavyweight Championship the next day, ending his reign at 220 days.
At the Raw after WrestleMania 31, Bryan defeated Dolph Ziggler for his first successful title defense; however, after the match, Bryan and Ziggler were attacked by Barrett only for Sheamus to return and chase off Barrett before attacking Bryan and Ziggler. Bryan faced Sheamus on that week's SmackDown and lost the match by countout when Barrett interfered. During the match, Bryan hit his head on the announce table and suffered an unplanned cut on his forehead which caused him to bleed and later acquired stitches for the wound. Two weeks later on SmackDown, Daniel Bryan teamed up with United States Champion John Cena and defeated WWE Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Tyson Kidd via submission in what turned out to be Bryan's final televised match. Following the April 14 SmackDown taping, WWE pulled Daniel Bryan from wrestling on the remainder of WWE's touring of Europe as a "precautionary measure". Bryan's scheduled title defense at Extreme Rules on April 26 against Bad News Barrett was later cancelled as Bryan was "medically unable to compete". Less than a week later, WWE stopped advertising Bryan from all future live events or television tapings. After about a month off television, Bryan returned on the May 11 episode of Raw. However, he announced that after having undergone an MRI, he would be out for an unknown period of time, and could possibly have to retire; the nature of his injuries were not revealed. Therefore, he relinquished the Intercontinental Championship. Ryback won Bryan's vacated WWE Intercontinental Championship at Elimination Chamber on May 31. In July, Bryan revealed that his injury was concussion-related and claimed that he had been cleared to return to the ring by external medical professionals and was waiting for WWE to clear him. After receiving further diagnostic information that convinced him retirement was necessary, Bryan announced his retirement prior to the February 8, 2016 episode of Raw. On March 20, 2018, after more than two years of evaluations, reviews of his medical history and neurological and physical evaluations, Bryan was cleared by three external independent neurosurgeons, neurologists and concussion experts, in addition to Joseph Maroon, to return to WWE in-ring competition.
On April 3, 2015, five days after winning at WrestleMania 31, AJ Lee retired from in-ring competition with WWE. On April 13, Paige won a battle royal to become the number one contender to Nikki Bella's Divas Championship. After the match, Naomi attacked Paige, turning heel, and injuring Paige in storyline.
In 2017, at WrestleMania 33, Lesnar defeated Goldberg to become the Universal Champion, on the same night where Reigns became the second person to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania. On the post-WrestleMania 33 episode of Raw, Paul Heyman teased a match between Lesnar and Reigns for the Universal Championship since they were the only two men to have defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Over the following year, Lesnar retained the Universal Championship in various matches, including a fatal four-way match at SummerSlam against Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, and Reigns, who Lesnar pinned to retain. At Elimination Chamber in February 2018, Reigns defeated Strowman, Elias, John Cena, The Miz, Finn Bálor, and Rollins in the first-ever seven-man Elimination Chamber match to become the number one contender for the Universal Championship. In April, Lesnar had two successful, albeit controversial, televised title defenses against Reigns, first at WrestleMania 34 and then Greatest Royal Rumble inside a steel cage. Reigns eventually defeated Lesnar at SummerSlam in August, to win his first Universal Championship. On the October 22, 2018 episode of Raw, however, Reigns relinquished the championship due to leukemia, a disease which he has been battling since 2007.
- Order of elimination from first eliminated: Curtis Axel, Adam Rose, Fandango, Alex Riley, Zack Ryder, Bo Dallas, Hideo Itami, Diego, Fernando, Sin Cara, Tyson Kidd, Mark Henry, Konnor, Viktor, Darren Young, Heath Slater, Titus O'Neil, Jack Swagger, Big E, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, Erick Rowan, Goldust, Kane, Jimmy Uso, Cesaro, Ryback, The Miz, and Damien Mizdow.
- This match was originally a singles match between Lesnar and Reigns. However, Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract while the match was in progress, making it a triple threat.
Other on-screen personnel
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