Live from Columbus, Ohio this is the Raw Deal for episode #1182. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
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The show began with a tribute video to Martin Luther King Jr. since today is MLK Jr. Day.
The WWE Champion Roman Reigns entered through the crowd for a promo. The announce team of Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show by showing replays of Brock Lesnar attacking Reigns on Raw last week.
Reigns said that the Royal Rumble will be One Versus All, but he’s calling out Brock Lesnar right now. Instead of Lesnar, it’s Chris Jericho.
Jericho isn’t wearing a scarf, which is a bit of a surprise. Jericho fired off some of his catchphrases. Reigns said that he’s happy Jericho is back, but he wants Lesnar in that ring right now. Jericho said that Lesnar will be in the ring later tonight. He wants to turn this into the biggest Highlight Reel with the top three contenders for the Royal Rumble: himself, Lesnar and Reigns. That led to Reigns saying he loves that and he’ll be there.
Analysis: To summarize that, it was a promo to hype up a promo for later.
The League of Nations group of Sheamus, Rusev, Alberto Del Rio and King Barrett appeared on the stage for a promo. Sheamus complained about how the Rumble has become the Reigns and Lesnar show, but noted that the League of Nations will be in the match too.
Sheamus welcomed back Jericho while wondering what happened to the shirt with the dinner jacket he had on. No crowd reaction while Jericho kinda mocked the insult. Sheamus said it’s stupid that they aren’t invited on the Highlight Reel. Jericho reacted to the “stupid” line by saying he didn’t want Sheamus on the show because they want it to be entertaining. Del Rio spoke up to say that he won the biggest Rumble match in history – that was 2011. Jericho said Alberto Del Rio is Spanish for jackass. He said he doesn’t feel like having Del Rio on the show. Rusev said that in Bulgaria every day is the Rumble and they had to fight to eat. Rusev said one of them is going to win the Royal Rumble. Jericho said he didn’t understand what Rusev said. He asked Roman who won the Rumble match last year – Reigns said that he did. Then he asked him who he eliminated last to win the match and Reigns said it was Rusev. Jericho said that with all due respect to Lana, Rusev always comes up just a little bit short. Rusev called Jericho a “stupid little Canadian.” Reigns told Rusev he would love to shut him up.
Jericho asked the crowd if they want to see that match. They cheered. Then Jericho announced himself as the referee.
Analysis: That dragged so much. I’m so tired of the show opening promos. Jericho’s one of my favorite talkers ever and I didn’t mind the insults he did about each guy, but it’s just not like it was in his prime. I’m not sure about the idea of a random guy being able to book a match as well as appoint himself as the referee. Shouldn’t they have The Authority make that call? Does WWE even care about that stuff or am I wasting my time thinking they should know better? Probably wasting my time. Anyway, that was a 15 minute promo that was about 12 minutes too long.
Roman Reigns vs. Rusev (Chris Jericho is special referee)
They showed referee Mike Chioda come down to ringside to give Jericho his ref shirt, so Jericho put it on for the match. This is not for Roman’s WWE Title. Rusev was in control early on until he missed a headbutt. Reigns came back with some punches and a neckbreaker for two. Rusev nailed a spinning heel kick for two. They went to break about four minutes into it.
Rusev applied a chinlock to keep Reigns grounded. Back suplex by Reigns on Rusev. Reigns came back with clotheslines and a boot to the face. More clotheslines in the corner by Reigns. Rusev came back with a kick to the back of the head for two. JBL was complaining about how slow Jericho’s count was. Reigns fought out of a Rusev attack in the corner by nailing a powerbomb for two. Del Rio jumped on the apron, so Sheamus pulled Reigns out of the ring and Sheamus tossed Reigns into the barricade. Jericho got in Sheamus’ face and he sent Sheamus to the back. Barrett complained about it, so Jericho sent him to the back too. Jericho even did an awkward cartwheel. Del Rio complained as well, so Jericho tossed him from ringside too. Another bad cartwheel haha. That was funny. Reigns did a Superman Punch to Rusev and then a Spear finished it after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns
Analysis: ** It was a slow paced match from the get go and they really didn’t get a chance to get it going because it was more about Jericho tossing the guys from ringside instead of the actual match. I thought Jericho was mildly funny while tossing the guys to the back, but probably not as funny as he thought it was. I’m just being honest here as somebody that has loved Jericho for 20 years. Reigns getting the win is no surprise. It gives him momentum, which he doesn’t really need. This is WWE, though. It’s always about making Reigns look strong. I think he’s probably winning the Royal Rumble although that prediction may change. As for the League of Nations, they are constantly booked poorly. This was pretty much standard of what we usually see.
A reminder of Jericho’s Highlight Reel with Lesnar and Reigns later.
Jericho was backstage. Stephanie McMahon showed up to say he didn’t have the authority to do that. Keep in mind this was 20 minutes after they just did a match. He fired off catchphrases. She yammered on about how this isn’t 1999 anymore. Yeah, the ratings reflect that. Anyway, she said Reigns and Lesnar on the Highlight Reel was a good idea.
Analysis: What a terrible lack of story continuity. As if she would be fine with a guy making a match and being the ref while taking 20 minutes to tell him he can’t do that. Just get a microphone to do it. But no, we have to live in WWE fantasy world where things aren’t logical.
Brie Bella entered with Alicia Fox. Natalya is back in action and she’s got Paige on her side. I guess Paige is a face again. They showed some clip from Total Divas with Paige no longer being friends with Fox. It’s like high school or some shit. I don’t even know what to say.
Analysis: How many heel/face turns for Paige in two years? Even Big Show and Kane think she turns too much.
Natalya vs. Brie Bella
Brie was on offense for about one minute. The commentary team kept on saying Total Divas was “crazy” about five times in two minutes. We get it. Natalya was able to counter her and applied a Sharpshooter for the win. It went about two minutes.
Winner by submission: Natalya
Analysis: 1/2* It was so rushed. Remember when the “Divas Revolution” meant longer matches for the women? Not on this show. Good to see Natalya back. Here’s hoping she gets a ten minute match on television one day.
The Royal Rumble tumbler was at the show, so we’re going to find out who chooses #1 in the Rumble match.
The Wyatt Family entered followed by the Dudley Boyz. There was a video of Braun Strowman destroying the Dudleys after the Dudleys won a Tables Match on Smackdown. Basically the video was about putting over Strowman instead of the Dudleys win. Does Ryback even get a reaction for his entrance? Doesn’t sound like it. Commercial after his entrance.
Analysis: End of hour one. Not a good start.
Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan (w/Braun Strowman) vs. The Dudley Boyz & Ryback
Does WWE care to present fresh matches or do we just get rematches every week? Feels like I’ve written about Dudleys vs. Wyatts about five times in the last couple of months. Anyway, the heels focused on D-Von in the early portion of the match. Nice to hear JBL mention “Iron” Mike Sharpe on commentary since Sharpe passed away over the weekend. The heels continued to work over D-Von. The crowd didn’t care too much until D-Von nailed a clothesline and avoided a Wyatt attack. Ryback tagged in with a spinebuster on Harper. At least the crowd woke up with a “feed me more” chant. Big boot by Bubba (he tagged in) to Harper and a one armed slam gets two as Rowan breaks it up. Ryback was outside the ring with Wyatt, so Strowman got in his face and Wyatt nailed Ryback from behind. Double team neckbreaker by Dudleys gets two. Rowan breaks up the 3D attempt. Harper nailed a boot to Bubba followed by the Discus clothesline for the win after seven minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Wyatt Family
Analysis: ** A hard hitting tag match to put over the heels, which is no surprise since the Dudleys won on Smackdown. I’m a little surprised that Wyatt wasn’t the one getting the deciding fall. They really aren’t letting him look like a star anymore. I wish they would.
Post match, Wyatt was ranting outside the ring without a microphone. I miss when he would get promo time.
Another reminder of the Highlight Reel segment to come later.
Big Show entered for his annual “threat to win the Rumble” push.
The Social Outcasts foursome walked out for a promo with Heath Slater, Adam Rose, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas doing promos. Axel said everybody knows he was never eliminated from last year’s Rumble. Dallas didn’t get to talk, but the other three did.
Big Show vs. Heath Slater (Adam Rose, Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas)
Show went after him and Slater tried to run away. Snow knocked him out with the KO Punch. Match is over after about one minute.
Winner by pinfall: Big Show
Analysis: DUD I don’t care. If I wasn’t reviewing the show, I would have changed the channel. I don’t blame anybody that did. There’s nothing exciting about this. Show has been on TV for 20 years, yet they feel like burying talent to get him over.
Post match, Show nailed Axel and Rose with KO punches. Then Dallas did a victory dance and Show knocked him out. Show celebrated what he did.
Analysis: I still don’t care. Show is back to being a face and a threat to win the Rumble because it’s that time of year. When people think Show's going to retire this is an example of why he will go as long as physically possible. Vince will always push the big guys like him and Kane no matter how old they are. Yawn.
The League of Nations members Sheamus, Barrett & Del Rio (no Rusev) were backstage complaining about Jericho. Stephanie showed up. She did a long winded promo about Jericho to try to motivate them to get revenge against him.
There was a tumbler on the stage. WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and daughter Stephanie McMahon were there to reveal who will be the #1 entrant in the Royal Rumble match.
Stephanie wondered who could win the Royal Rumble: Brock Lesnar, Sheamus or even somebody we have never seen before. That’s a nice AJ Styles reference. Vince McMahon even suggested Roman Reigns could win. Somehow they talked about Vince winning the Rumble in 1999 and she called her dad a specimen.
They shook the tumbler and then Vince pulled out a ball. He couldn’t open it, so he grabbed another. Stephanie opened it and it said “Roman Reigns.” Vince said we’ll do it again. Vince took three tries to open another one. Stephanie opened it and it said “Roman Reigns” again. They did it again. It’s official that Reigns is the #1 entrant in the Royal Rumble match.
Analysis: They took so long to get to the point. Here’s my summary: "Hi I'm Vince and here's my daughter Stephanie. We're here to waste time because we have three hours." Nothing against Reigns, but this storyline feels like a repeat of other years and I was hoping they wouldn’t do it. Of course they did. Brutal segment.
The Divas Champion Charlotte entered in her street clothes along with her father Ric Flair. They’re there to watch a match at ringside.
Total Divas is back. At least Amanda is really hot.
Becky Lynch vs. Tamina (w/Naomi)
No Sasha Banks with the heels because she’s out with a knee injury, but no mention by the announcers. Of course the issue is between Lynch and Charlotte, who is at ringside with Flair. Tamina applied a chinlock. Tamina slammed her down. Oh great another chinlock to kill the crowd even more. Becky made the comeback with forearm shots, kicks and two leg drops get a two count. Back elbow by Lynch. Lynch went to the turnbuckle, jumped onto Tamina’s back and applied the Disarmer submission for the win after four minutes.
Winner by submission: Becky Lynch
Analysis: * Clean win for Lynch was the obvious move. I’m not sure when the last time Tamina won a match on Raw. Short match like the first divas match was on this show.
Lynch did a promo after the match saying that the WWE Universe wants to see a Divas Title match at the Royal Rumble. Charlotte said she didn’t deserve a shot. Lynch said only because of Flair. Charlotte yelled that Ric was a two time Hall of Famer. Lynch told Ric that he never backed down from a challenge and she wondered if he has become a coward like her. Flair said she’ll get the Divas Title match at the Rumble. Charlotte didn’t look happy about it.
Analysis: It’s pretty obvious they were going in that direction. Flair accepting the match for Charlotte is a way to put over Charlotte actually being a bit scared of Lynch. They’ve had some really good matches in the past, so I look forward to seeing what they can do on the PPV stage. I think Charlotte keeps the title, but I wouldn’t mind a title change either.
Tag match up next: Ambrose/Kalisto vs. Sheamus/Del Rio.
This week on Smackdown it’s Miz TV with Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens. Also Reigns will face the entire League of Nations on Smackdown.
Kevin Owens was on commentary for this next match. It’s Owens vs. Ambrose in a Last Man Standing match at Royal Rumble on Sunday. That should be awesome. They're also doing Del Rio defending the US Title against Kalisto at the Rumble as well.
Dean Ambrose & Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio & Sheamus (w/King Barrett)
This match is sponsored by “The Real Cost” that is an anti-smoking campaign. Ambrose knocked Del Rio off the apron and Ambrose gave Kalisto a back body drop over the top to take out the heels. There’s a break two minutes into the match.
Back from break, of course the heels were in control of Kalisto. They kept Kalisto grounded and in the heel corner. Owens kept on telling Saxton to shut up. Ambrose tagged in with his clothesline and elbow combo. Neckbreaker by Ambrose followed by a clothesline over the top. Ambrose nailed a suicide dive to take out Del Rio on the floor. Sheamus went after Ambrose, so Del Rio tossed Ambrose into the barricade at ringside. Backbreaker by Sheamus on Ambrose as the heels decided it was time to work over Ambrose. Del Rio nailed a backstabber on Ambrose for two. Owens kept talking trash about Ambrose saying that he will go so far as to end Ambrose’s career if he has to. Del Rio took way too long to set up Ambrose for the double foot stomp, so Ambrose tossed him down. Missile dropkick by Ambrose. Ambrose with the clothesline off the ropes against Sheamus. Hot tag to Kalisto.
Kalisto was on fire against Sheamus with a headscissors takedown, a series of kicks, a kick to the face and he countered a power move with a DDT counter. Kalisto hit the Salida del Sol, but Del Rio broke up the pin with a kick. Ambrose went after Del Rio. Owens distracted Ambrose, so Del Rio hit a step up enziguri using the announce table to knock down Ambrose. Kalisto went for Salida del Sol again, but Sheamus fought out of it and Sheamus nailed a Brogue Kick on Kalisto to pin him after 14 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio
Analysis: **3/4 A pretty good tag match to put over the heels, which wasn’t a surprise. I like the way it was booked with Kalisto getting the hot tag, hitting his finisher on Sheamus and Del Rio making that big save at the perfect save. Then they involved Owens by having him distract Ambrose leading to Del Rio’s cheap shot and Sheamus getting the win. They had to put Sheamus over since he’s probably going to be in the final four in the Rumble match. I don’t think he’s going to win, but he’ll be in there near the end most likely.
A recap of the opening segment aired. Highlight Reel segment is later.
PLUG TIME: This is my review of last week’s Smackdown – I’ll be reviewing it every week going forward. It was pretty good, but not great…Years ago I wrote reviews of every Royal Rumble match (not the PPV, but the Rumble match itself) in history. I’ve re-posted them all right here, so check it out if you feel like watching only Rumble PPVs and need to know my thoughts…Lastly, over at TheRichest.com I wrote about the hottest women from World Championship Wrestling. Yes, there are pics included.
There were photos of the WWE tour of India last week. It’s the first time WWE did shows in India in 14 years. That’s pretty cool for the fans over there.
The New Day did a backstage ceremony for the broken trombone of Xavier Woods, who Big E called the fourth member of The New Day with the name of Francesca. Woods was crying as Kofi Kingston and E tried to console him. Woods said he didn’t get to say goodbye. Big E said that Francesca resides in his heart because of the power of positivity. Woods said Francesca wants Big E to beat Jey Uso. They did the “New Day Rocks” chant to the tune of “Fran-ces-ca” as they walked away.
Analysis: That was cheesy, but still fun. They’re awesome.
Good job by JBL doing the “Fran-ces-ca” chant as well.
The annual “All About The Numbers” video package about the Royal Rumble aired. It was narrated by Byron Saxton. They noted certain things like Steve Austin win three times, Rey Mysterio with the record of 62:02 and Santino get eliminated in one second. It focused on this year saying that the numbers mean more than anything due to the WWE Title being on the line. They noted that nobody has won two Royal Rumbles in a row since Austin in 1997-98. There were also numbers about former World Champions and former Rumble winners in there. Then it focused on Reigns some more saying that it’s so hard for him in this match.
Analysis: There was too much of a focus on Reigns, but other than that it was cool.
Jey Uso entered with brother Jimmy for a match.
No promo on the way to the ring by The New Day.
Big E (w/Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. Jey Uso (w/Jimmy)
Jey nailed a leaping clothesline early on for a nearfall. Jey kicked him in the head and Big E went to the floor. Big E recovered nicely with a back body drop. Of course it’s time for a commercial two minutes into it.
Back from break, Cole mentioned that the Tag Title Match at Royal Rumble is New Day vs. Usos. Jey was really aggressive on offense. They were battling out side the ring and then Jey nailed a superkick for a two count. With Big E on the floor again, Jey nailed a dive over the top to take him out. Jimmy nailed a dive to the floor as well. Jey to the top, Woods distracted him on the apron and Big E hit the Big Ending for the win after 9 minutes. Jey was favoring his knee, but it looked like he was just selling. He’s probably fine.
Winner by pinfall: Big E
Analysis: **1/4 It was a fast paced match, but I hated the commercial breaking up the action. If it’s only going to get nine minutes then do the commercial before the match starts and don’t go to a break during a match. I wish they timed the commercials better. As for the finish, it’s typical booking with the heels getting the win due to the numbers game. Faces are idiots and don’t ever seem to know how to combat it. I hope The New Day retains at Royal Rumble. That finish concerns me, though. Maybe they’ll have Jimmy beat Kofi on Smackdown as a way to make it even.
Backstage, Titus O’Neil was there with R-Truth and Mark Henry. Neville showed up too. They looked at him as if he didn’t belong, but then said they’re there to keep the dream alive. Good MLK reference.
Titus O’Neil, Mark Henry, R-Truth & Neville vs. The Ascension, Tyler Breeze & Stardust
All of these guys are in the Royal Rumble and none of them have a chance to win no matter what the announcers will try to tell you. There were a lot of quick tags in the match with Henry overpowering Stardust. They noted Henry’s interviewing on WWE.com noting it could be his last Royal Rumble match. He’s a threat to win! Of course he is…but not really. I used to make Mark Henry threat to win jokes so much back in the day. Stardust nailed a nice kick on Truth and then Breeze hit a superkick. Slam by Konnor on Truth and an elbow. The crowd is dead for this. Truth hit a DDT on Konnor. Neville with the hot tag. Got a nearfall on Breeze. Everybody took turns hitting moves and clearing the ring. O’Neil tossed Breeze to Henry, but Henry didn’t catch him. Oops. It wasn’t that bad. Henry hit the World’s Strongest Slam on Breeze and then Neville hit the Red Arrow for the win after six minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Titus O’Neil, Mark Henry, R-Truth & Neville
Analysis: ** It was just a filler match to remind the fans that these guys are in the Rumble match. In matches like that, the faces almost always win. I’m surprised O’Neil didn’t get the win just because it’s MLK Day and also they are really trying to push him as a bigger star.
The Highlight Reel with Jericho hosting Lesnar, Heyman and Reigns is our main event up next.
This week’s Smackdown: Miz TV with Kevin Owens & Dean Ambrose because every show needs a talk show apparently. Also Roman Reigns versus the entire League of Nations. I’ll have a review up on Friday.
The Highlight Reel With Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns
Jericho was out there doing a promo about the three most important guys in the Rumble match being in the ring at the same time. No scarf for Jericho. No Jeritron screen in the ring either. This crowd is so dead. Paul Heyman did his spiel to intro himself and Jericho told him to shut the hell up. Heyman got the cheap pop by saying “Columbus” in his promo. Heyman said that Lesnar isn’t focused on Jericho – he’s focused on the other guest…Roman Reigns.
Jericho noted how Heyman wanted Lesnar to skip the Rumble and go to WrestleMania directly. Then Jericho talked about how Heyman failed to get Lesnar what he wanted. Heyman said he’s been in a lot of depositions, but that wasn’t a question. Jericho noted that Lesnar is probably the most physically dominating performer in WWE history and 29 others are going to be in that match against Lesnar. Jericho asked Heyman if he tried to get Lesnar out of the Rumble because Lesnar is worried he’s going to lose the match.
Heyman noted that Lesnar wasn’t defeated for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania last year. Heyman kept on talking about Lesnar potentially having matches against different people. Heyman said that Lesnar will leave the Rumble as the WWE Champion and go onto WrestleMania as the WWE Champion again. Heyman said that Lesnar will turn the Royal Rumble into Suplex City.
Jericho mentioned Suplex City and this dead crowd did a mild “Suplex City” chant. Jericho wondered what if it does come down to Lesnar vs. Jericho in the Rumble match. Then he wondered if he tosses Lesnar out of the Rumble and walks out as the 7-time World Heavyweight Champion. Brock Lesnar’s music hit at 11:02pmET. Way to take your time.
Lesnar walked down to the ring in a Suplex City shirt. Heyman was outside the ring. Reigns walked down through the crowd like usual. He walked down pretty quickly so he can get to Lesnar.
Reigns was in the ring with Lesnar and Reigns met him with a Spear. Jericho was still in the ring. Reigns unloaded on Lesnar with some punches. The League of Nations went into the ring. Barrett was on the apron because he can’t take bumps. Lesnar nailed a suplex on Rusev. Lesnar with a German Suplex to Del Rio and Lesnar with a F5 to Sheamus. When Lesnar turned around, Reigns nailed him with a Spear.
The Wyatt Family showed up with all four guys surrounding the ring. Reigns tried to fight them off, but he couldn’t do it. Harper took down Reigns with a Discus clothesline. Wyatt nailed the Sister Abigail on Reigns. Lesnar struggled to his feet. Harper hit a running boot to the face of Lesnar. Rowan hit a spin kick on Lesnar. Strowman took down Lesnar with a clothesline. Wyatt kissed Lesnar on the forehead and hit the Sister Abigail.
Wyatt: “The Royal Rumble is mine! Mine! Mine! Follow the buzzards!” The announcers stopped talking. Raw ended at 11:09pmET with the Wyatt Family standing over Lesnar and Reigns.
Analysis: That was a pretty good ending. I liked how they painted the picture of Wyatt Family potentially doing well and dominating in the Rumble match. While I still think the final two competitors in the Rumble will be Lesnar and Reigns, what they did here was make it look like Wyatt could be the winner due to the dominance of his group. It’s the old “get beat up on TV, win on PPV” theory that I’ve mentioned for years. Lesnar will bounce back from this. It’s important that he sells and gets beat up sometimes. Reigns too.
That ending should also start up the Lesnar vs. Wyatt rumors for WrestleMania. It makes sense because Reigns is likely against Triple H at WrestleMania, so Lesnar needs somebody to match up with and Wyatt is one of the few top heels they have. Wyatt's also a guy that lost to The Undertaker and John Cena at back to back WrestleManias as well as losing his feud with Reigns. I'm sure WWE will try to paint the picture that Wyatt is as good as ever thanks to the support of his "family" there, but it's not like they would put him over Lesnar.
As for the promos from Jericho and Heyman, they were great. It was better than the opening promo to start the show, that’s for sure. They each made compelling points that made sense from both sides.
I’m probably picking Reigns to win the Royal Rumble, but there’s the Triple H factor too. Maybe he comes in as #30 and finds a way to win in order to set up the Reigns/Triple H match at the Rumble. I’m really not sure of my official prediction right now, but I’ll figure it out by the time of the preview on Friday.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Roman Reigns
3. Becky Lynch
Nobody really stood out. I wish somebody did. I didn’t want to be cheap and say “nobody” for this.
4.5 out of 10
Last week: 5.5
2016 Average: 5.33
Last 5 Weeks: 5.5, 6, 4, 4.5, 9
I’m giving it a 4.5 out of 10.
- That score is probably generous on my part. I feel sorry for the performers because the writing is poor and the performers are doing the best they can.
- It was a poor show that didn’t have any compelling matches and the promo segments weren’t that good either. At least the main event segment ended on a high note.
- Matches at the Rumble include four title matches on the undercard: The IC Title (Ambrose vs. Owens), US Title (Del Rio vs. Kalisto), Tag Titles (New Day vs. Usos) and Divas Title (Charlotte vs. Lynch) matches. Of course the WWE Title is on the line in the Rumble match as well. I’ll have a full preview up on Friday.
- If I wasn’t writing about it live I would have fallen asleep. I wasn’t even tired going into the show. It was just boring for much of the show.
That's it for this week. Check out the Smackdown review this week on TJRWrestling.net also.
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John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org