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Has Tag Team Wrestling become a Lost Art Form? AEW Says Otherwise

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AEW: The Best Tag Team Division in the Biz

At the recent Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia, WWE had a match to declare the Best Tag Team in the World. This was done via a tag team turmoil match that featured nine of WWE’s teams from Raw and SmackDown. None of the teams from NXT were invited and the Street Profits barely missed the cut, apparently. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, members of The O.C. with AJ Styles, won the match, the trophy, and the right to describe themselves with one impressively lofty title.

It’s a lofty title that’s really hard to take seriously when most of the tag teams who have a legit claim to said title are in AEW.

The Lucha Bros. Best Friends. The Dark Order. Private Party. The Young Bucks. SCU. Santana & Ortiz. This list of tag teams is impressive, to say the least. What’s more important is that AEW actually gives them time to shine. The October 30th edition of AEW Dynamite featured three tag team matches in a two-hour show, including an absolutely brilliant championship match between SCU and The Lucha Bros. Between Raw, SmackDown, and both iterations of NXT, there are five tag team championships and those belts don’t get that kind of TV time from week to week. There’s no guarantee that they’ll even be defended on a pay-per-view pre-show, let alone the actual pay-per-view. 

NXT does a bit better with this than the rest of the WWE does. Their tag belts at least get some prominence on the show. Fans watching Raw and SmackDown have to check the internet each time they tune in to remind themselves who the current tag champs are.

Thankfully, the Women’s Tag Championships have been used in conjunction with a timely heel turn to bring Asuka and Kairi Sane, aka the Kabuki Warriors, to the position of prominence they deserve.

AEW, on the other hand, has carved out a place for itself by making its tag team division a highlight of the show. It’s something you tune in for, a division that’s 100 percent over with the fans. SCU won the inaugural AEW Tag Team Championship, narrowly edging out The Lucha Bros. Fans were on the edge of their seats for the entire match, if not on their feet. The following week, Private Party and The Dark Order faced off to decide who would take third place in the tournament. Again, fans were fully invested in the match.

The Viking Raiders and The Revival are the respective tag champs on Raw and SmackDown. It sounds like fans are sitting on their hands when they’re wrestling, which isn’t their fault. Bad booking has plagued the WWE for years and was an obvious point of vulnerability for AEW to target.

Target it, they have.

The Lucha Bros.

But it’s not just WWE. AEW has a superior tag division to almost any other company in the American wrestling market. ROH and IMPACT, which have their own stars, simply do not have the talent AEW has. Watching The Lucha Bros wrestle is a thing of beauty. The same can be said for Privat Party, a team that’s finally getting the recognition it deserves thanks to AEW. Most other companies do not have comparable tag team talent AEW does. In the rare case that they do have the talent, they don’t book the division in a way that shows their talent off properly.

In reality, AEW’s tag team division isn’t really booked that much different than any other company, when you get down to the nuts and bolts. What AEW does right is let the teams be dynamic and unique. For lack of a better phrase, they let the tag team division breath. 

Where WWE keeps failing is slapping together random singles competitors into tag teams and throwing the belts on them to further other storylines. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode became a tag team out of nowhere, won the Raw Tag Team Championships, and then lost them to another makeshift team made up of Seth Rollins and Brawn Strowman. This was done solely to build up the feud between Rollins and Strowman over the Universal Championship, sacrificing the entire tag team division in the process. 

Young Bucks

Now, The Viking Raiders are the Raw Tag Champions, which they deserve. As War Machine, they were one of the most popular tag teams in the indies and took NXT by storm. The problem is that WWE has devalued their tag division so much that fans just don’t care anymore about who is the champion. 

The future of the AEW could potentially be the same, piecing together a makeshift team out of two random wrestlers like PAC and Orange Cassidy to win the belts on their first match out. That could happen, though it probably won’t. AEW management seems too savvy for that.

Like most wrestling promotions, both AEW and WWE have a men’s division, a women’s division, and a tag team division. But what AEW has seemed to realize is that the tag team division presents an opportunity to stake their claim on something that will set them apart. The sad truth is that tag team wrestling has become a lost art form in the modern wrestling world, particularly in the WWE. The Revival should be respected as the best in the business. Instead, they’re champs that fight for TV time, a battle they lose way too much. One can’t help but wonder if Dash and Dawson have a calendar with the days until their WWE contract is up marked on it.

AEW has a beautifully booked tag team division stacked with amazing talent. It is the Best Tag Team Division in the World and they don’t need to have a match in the desert to prove it.

Ian is a freelance writer based out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who writes about pop culture. That includes movies, TV series, comic books, and wrestling. He has a day job at a wildlife rehabilitation facility, sleeps way too little, and buys way too many toys.

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Wrestling

Royal Rumble 2020: The Good, The Bad, and The Tolerable

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Royal Rumble 2020 Review

Saying the Royal Rumble is the hottest of the big four pay-per-views in WWE is not a hot take. Sure, it the first stage of setting the card for WrestleMania. Fans love the actual Royal Rumble match because truly anything can happen in it.

Some of the biggest returns and debuts have happened in that match. Winning it has made wrestlers into superstars. Anyone could win the Royal Rumble and go on to headline WrestleMania. Usually, the person you expect to win does. Sometimes, it’s the person you least expect.

The 2020 edition of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view was the third one to feature two Royal Rumble matches; one for the women and one for the men. Both matches were solid with the right amount of surprises.

Royal Rumble Pre-Show

The two-hour Royal Rumble Pre-Show is filled with video packages and analysis that are somewhat tedious to watch. If it was half an hour, that would be okay. But two hours is a lot to sit through. Fortunately, they usually manage to sneak a couple of matches in.

The returning Sheamus took on Shorty G in an attempt to prove that the SmackDown locker room is weak and lazy. Picking on a guy half your size is always a great way to show people how tough you are. It was a surprisingly competitive and engaging match, with both men getting some good spots in.

Ultimately, Sheamus won but Shorty G still looked good.

Andrade lights up Humberto Carillo on the Royal Rumble Pre-Show.

The second match was Humberto Carrillo taking on Andrade for the United States Championship. Both men are incredible talents who play very well off each other in the ring. Andrade won but Carrillo is a future champion.

Falls Count Anywhere Match

The feud between King Corbin and Roman Reigns feels like it’s been going on for far too long. It jumped the shark when Corbin and friends broke out the dog food. Hopefully, their match at the Royal Rumble is the wrap-up and the Big Dog can move onto something else.

Corbin hits Reigns with a chair out in the crowd.

Reigns and Corbin took a trip around the arena, making use of the Astro’s home field. Naturally, Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler showed up to interfere. The Usos had their cousin’s back, though.

It came down to Roman beating the King down and pinning him for the victory. The match definitely was solid but nothing special. The audience isn’t super into Corbin so the energy in the arena seemed a little low.

The biggest spot of the match came from one of the Usos, and not the actual competitors.

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

For the third year in a row, the Women’s Royal Rumble match did not disappoint.

NXT was well represented this year. Bianca Belair came in at number two and was a one-woman wrecking crew for a significant portion of the match. She ended up eliminating eight people, as did Shaya Baszler. Combined, they took out 16 of the 30 competitors.

Among the surprise entrants were “Mighty” Molly Holly, Kelly Kelly, Beth Phoenix, and Santina Marella. For those who were confused by that one, Santina Marella is the alter ego of former superstar Santino Marella. She eliminated herself, a funny moment that was lost on a lot of the audience.

That being said, it was a shame that one of the many great current competitors in the division didn’t get Santina’s spot.

It’s worth mentioning how good Molly Holly looked in the ring. She was underrated when she was an active member of the roster so it’s always nice to see her get some respect. There has to be a place for her in the modern era of wrestling.

Naomi returns at the Royal Rumble.

One of the headlines was the return of Naomi, who has been away for some time. She looked like she didn’t have an ounce of ring rust on her. It remains to be seen if this was a one-night deal or if she’s back for good.

Ultimately, Charlotte Flair won and will go on to headline WrestleMania against one of the women’s champions, probably Becky. Charlotte is a great wrestler, but she was the safest bet for the WWE in the match. It would have been nice to see someone unexpected, but deserving get the shot.

Bayley vs Lacey Evans

The heat on this Royal Rumble bout has been building for weeks. Bayley’s heel turn has made her more relevant than ever. It’s also nice that she has been given a respectably long reign as the SmackDown Women’s Champion. On the other hand, Lacey Evans sudden face turn was a bit surprising, but she wears it well.

Bayley tries to choke out Lacey Evans.

A year ago, Bayley would have been the face and Lacey would have been the heel in this match.

Overall, this was a solid women’s title match. Lacey looked good for the most part as did Bayley. The end came at a rather surprising moment with Bayley grabbing a handful of Lacey’s tights for the pinfall to retain the belt.

Daniel Bryan vs “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt

Daniel Bryan’s return to the Yes Movement, plus his new, clean look, has put him back in the title picture. Unfortunately, that title picture features the current Universal Champion, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt.

Bryan takes the strap to The Fiend.

After already losing to Wyatt and being repeatedly attacked by him, Bryan felt the smart move was to attach himself to “The Fiend” with a leather strap. Nope.

“The Fiend” made his traditional creepy entrance and proceeded to destroy Bryan. Eventually, Bryan came around and took it to “The Fiend.” The match was as brutal as expected with Wyatt coming out on top and Bryan left the Royal Rumble with some ugly wounds.

But the big story of the match is that it did not happen under only red lights, which was really nice. You could actually see what was happening. With any luck, this is how “The Fiend” will wrestle from now on. That red light thing made it difficult to enjoy his matches.

Becky Lynch vs Asuka

The rivalry between Becky Lynch and Asuka has taken a backseat to other storylines, but it has always been there. Lynch asked for the match so she could settle the score between them and finally move on.

Becky retains her championship at the Royal Rumble.

This match was as good as you’d expect from two such accomplished and talented in-ring performers in the company. It was highly competitive with a lot of incredible spots for both competitors. When Lynch and Asuka get in a ring together, they make pure magic.

In the end, Lynch retained her championship, but it was a hard-fought victory. This was arguably the best singles match Asuka has wrestled in the past year. Even though she didn’t win, she looked like the Asuka of old, and on the verge of total domination again.

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

Fans were justifiably concerned when Paul Heyman announced that Brock Lesnar would enter at number one in the Royal Rumble this year. WWE has a bad habit of putting him over in spite of themselves. What does WrestleMania look like if the WWE Champion wins the Royal Rumble?

As luck would have it, no one has to know the answer thanks to Ricochet and Drew McIntyre.

Lesnar tore through the first 13 superstars who came out after him. Number 15 was Ricochet, who was dominated. McIntyre was the next competitor out. Ricochet hit Lesnar with the low blow, then McIntyre hit him with the Claymore Kick straight out of the ring.

McIntyre wins the Men’s Royal Rumble Match.

Lesnar’s elimination was one of the biggest pops of the night. Drew stared holes through Lesnar until he left the arena. It was a clear indication of who he is going to challenge.

NXT was not as well represented in the Men’s match as it was the Women’s. Only Keith Lee and Matt Riddle made it into the Royal Rumble. Riddle was quickly eliminated, and apparently got into it backstage with Lesnar, but Lee continued his string of great showings.

Lesnar might have eliminated Lee but Lee stepped to him. Brock even looked a little impressed and that doesn’t happen often.

Men’s Royal Rumble Surprises

The Men’s match only had two surprise entrants, but they were great ones. MVP made his return after a long absence. He was quickly eliminated by Lesnar, but still looked great. The second surprise entrant caught everyone off guard when Edge’s music hit.

Rated RKO reunites at the Royal Rumble.

One of the best in the business was retired by injuries in 2011 and has not wrestled since. He looked amazing, entering at 21, eliminating three people, and making it to the final three. The pop he got when his music started rivaled the one The Hardy Boyz got at WrestleMania 33.

Unfortunately, an odd moment happened with AJ Styles. At one point, the ringside medical staff seemed to be attending to him near the ring apron. He was quickly eliminated by Edge and helped to the back. Hopefully, he is okay.

Beth Phoenix

Excluding the return of MVP, the most valuable player of the evening was Beth Phoenix. She left the announcer’s desk behind to compete in the Royal Rumble again and went on one hell of a run. Beth entered at 21 and hung around until she was taken out by Baszler.

Beth Phoenix wrestled with a nasty head injury.

But at some point during the match, Phoenix got a bad laceration on the back of her head. Her hair was soaked in her own blood, yet she continued the match. The injury actually seemed to make her more aggressive. This was the best she has wrestled in years.

Apparently, the angrier Beth Phoenix gets, the stronger she gets.

Royal Rumble Snubs

There were a lot of current superstars who weren’t included from any roster. The only NXT UK star that appeared was Toni Storm, a surprise since Worlds Collide was the night before. Noticeable by her absence was Sasha Banks, whose presence has been minimal over the last few weeks.

Many people were also hoping for returns from the likes of Nia Jax and Ruby Riott. They also did not appear. People were also looking for CM Punk but that is still a long shot at best. It would have been cool if his music hit, though.

John Morrison deserved better in his Royal Rumble return.

It’s also hard to imagine that John Morrison returned to WWE only to get sacrificed to Brock Lesnar in the Royal Rumble. His time in the ring was only a few seconds, a disappointment since he usually puts on a heck of a show.

Fans also might have been surprised to see that Braun Strowman didn’t face Shinsuke Nakamura for the Intercontinental Championship. That match was thought to be a lock but it didn’t even appear on the Pre-Show. Strowman cannot catch a break in his hunt for a singles title.

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Wrestling

Worlds Collide: NXT vs NXT UK— Another Truly Great PPV

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Worlds Collide: NXT vs NXT UK— Truly Amazing!

Worlds Collide as a brand has been subtly growing within WWE over the past year. The first edition happened on Royal Rumble weekend in 2019. It featured a 15 man tournament with stars from NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live. The next round happened in New York over the 2019 WrestleMania weekend with matches pitting stars from all WWE shows against each other.

What happened on Saturday was the first Worlds Collide branded pay-per-view event. If you missed it, you missed out. It was amazing.

Build up started at NXT UK TakeOver: BlackPool II, when the Undisputed Era appeared and attacked Imperium as the show went off the air. Since then, matches have been booked that pitted some of the best talents both brands have against each other.

Kay Lee Ray vs Mia Yim

This match went down on the Worlds Collide pre-show but it was at main event quality.

Mia Yim vs Kay Lee Ray on the Worlds Collide Pre Show.

NXT UK Women’s Champion faced off in a singles match against Yim, an incredible start to the rookie pay-per-view. Kay Lee Ray has proven herself to be an excellent heel champ while Yim is over with the fans.

While Yim lost, she looked great doing it. Ray cemented herself as a main event player in this match, as she always does. Yim is ready for the main event so it’s time to put her in the mix.

Finn Bálor vs Ilja Dragunov

For a lot of fans in the arena, Worlds Collide was their first introduction to Ilja Dragunov and they weren’t sure how to feel about him. Unless you watch NXT UK a lot, you’re not going to know him. The crowd didn’t really respond when he came out.

They sure knew Finn Bálor, though.

Dragunov calls out Finn.

Despite the fact that Bálor has gone full heel, fans have not given up cheering for him. They were firmly behind Bálor for the bulk of the match. But as it went on, they got a better look at Dragunov and starter showing him some love.

It was a solid opening match, but not a super memorable one. Dragunov was an odd choice to face Bálor given the depth of talent on NXT UK. Watching him face Joe Coffey would have been better. The crowd really only came alive when Bálor headed for the top rope and finished Dragunov off.

Fatal 4-Way For The NXT Cruiserweight Championship

Bringing the Cruiserweight Division closer to the overall NXT brand is a great decision. Showcasing this title match on Worlds Collide was an even better one. Jordan Devlin, Travis Banks, and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott were all chasing Angel Garza for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.

This was an absolutely incredible match featuring talent from all over the world. While everyone looked great, Travis Banks, in particular, showed why he belongs in the main event picture. That’s regardless of the brand he’s performing on.

Similarly, Swerve continues to build his personal brand. A championship run is inevitably in his future as every match he has is better than the last.

Devlin with his new NXT Cruiserweight Championship.

Ultimately, Jordan Devlin picked up the surprise, but well deserved, win and became the new champion. It was a surprise simply because Garza won the belt less than two months ago. Plus, no one expected the belt to go to the UK on Worlds Collide.

Still, Devlin will make a great champion. It will be interesting to see how that belt moving across an ocean will play out in the long term.

#DIY vs Moustache Mountain

There was no championship on the line. There was no bad blood between them. This was just two truly great tag teams going at it in a match that stole the show on Worlds Collide.

Moustache Mountain’s Trent Seven and Tyler Bate are mainstays of the NXT UK. On NXT, the reunited members of #DIY, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, are core to the brand. Having these two teams face off was an incredibly meaningful moment.

The match was lighthearted at times, filled with moments that were genuinely funny. Once the match got rolling, each of the four superstars got to show why they are as respected as they are in the industry. They are truly four of the best in the business, in any company.

Good sportsmanship at Worlds Collide.

#DIY won but that almost didn’t matter. To borrow an apt cliche, those who watched were the true winners. After the match, the two teams shared an honest moment of sportsmanship, something fans rarely get to see in a wrestling ring.

Rhea Ripley vs Toni Storm

Worlds Collide was the first challenge for the new NXT Champion, Rhea Ripley. She was the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion but lost the title to Toni Storm. Ripley never had a rematch before moving to NXT.

Toni Storm is ready to fight at Worlds Collide.

During her NXT UK tenure, Ripley only lost two singles matches, one of which cost her a championship. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to redeem that by successfully defending her new championship from Storm, which she did.

The match was well executed but not particularly engaging. Storm got the title shot by asking for it, and without having to earn it through competition. There wasn’t really enough build-up to it to hook the audience in fully.

Fortunately, both wrestlers are great enough at what they do to sell anything in the ring.

Undisputed Era vs Imperium

NXT and NXT UK both have dominant four-man factions who have devastated the competition. It only makes sense to have them face off on Worlds Collide.

While the Walter-led Imperium is always looking to rule the ring, Undisputed Era was hungrier for the win. Keith Lee broke the UE prophecy when he took Roderick Strong’s North American Championship in an epic match the Wednesday before the pay-per-view.

But early in the match, Imperium found themselves a man down when Alexander Wolfe was legit knocked out. He took a rough shot from Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong. The ref stopped the match and the doctors took him to the back. Wolfe never returned to the match.

Walter kills.

This left Imperium with a four to three disadvantage, which made their win even more impressive. Everyone looked great, but Walter stole the match as always. He brutalized everyone he was in the ring with and fans were firmly behind him. WWE would be well advised to make good use of him going forward. The man is a star!

After the pay-per-view was over, Triple H confirmed Wolfe’s injury but not the severity of it. Wolfe tweeted that he was fine, thanking the ref and medical staff for taking care of him. Hopefully, it’s nothing that will keep him down for long.

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Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

One Versus All

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Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

WrestleMania may be regarded as the Super Bowl of the WWE but of the other three major pay-per-view events, The Royal Rumble has often given us better matches over the years. Yes, the Survivor Series and King of the Ring have had their fair share of moments, but the Royal Rumble is without a doubt the second-biggest wrestling PPV on the planet.

What makes the Royal Rumble so exciting is how it sets up the most prominent storylines on the programming for the remainder of the year. The Royal Rumble is simply put, the start of playoff season and a steppingstone for WWE superstars to prepare for their big moment at WrestleMania. It really is a seminal event on the WWE calendar and has often launched the wrestlers to superstar’s status.

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

A Brief History of the Royal Rumble

Credit for the Royal Rumble can be given to Pat Patterson who came up with the original idea when brainstorming an event that would be bigger and better than the Battle Royale. The concept was simple really; unlike the Battle Royale which begins with all twenty participants in the ring, the Royal Rumble would instead start with only two superstars and have the remaining participants join the match every two minutes thereafter. And to up the ante, instead of having only twenty wrestlers, the Royal Rumble includes thirty superstars who battle it out for a title shot in the main event of WrestleMania (except for in 1992, when Ric Flair won the WWE Championship by winning the titular match ).

If you had to choose just one reason as to why the Royal Rumble is one of the most anticipated pay-per-view events, it would be because you never really know what to expect. Aside from anticipating who’ll come out next during the main event— and guessing who will eliminate who— we’re also left wondering who’ll make a long-overdue comeback after being away from the WWE for months – sometimes years.

We’ve seen big men like Kane eliminate eleven opponents in a row, and a superstar like Shawn Michaels become the first wrestler to win the Rumble after entering first. We watched Undertaker get locked in a casket and set on fire and we witnessed The Rock and Mankind battle it out in an “I Quit” match that temporarily led to a power failure and left the entire arena in the dark. There’s just no shortage of over the top moments at the Royal Rumble such as Kofi Kingston’s creative ways to avoid elimination or the surprise entrance by AJ Styles. The Royal Rumble is where dreams are made, careers are ended, and over the years, fans have witnessed some of the most intense rivalries take shape at the event.

History of the Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble is without question, an important PPV and has been a part of a tradition dating all the way back to 1988. We’ve seen many of the most iconic wrestlers win the multi-man brawl, including Hulk Hogan (1990, 1991), Ric Flair (1992), Bret Hart (1994), Shawn Michaels (1995, 1996) Steve Austin (1997, 1998, 2001), The Rock (2000), Triple H (2002), The Undertaker (2007), and John Cena (2008), to name a few. And we’ve seen plenty more superstars come close, but ultimately getting eliminated at the very last minute. Yes, it’s a simple concept but the Royal Rumble is also incredibly exciting to watch.

Apart from the titular main event, WWE’s annual January extravaganza has also given us some incredible matches in the undercard. From surprising sleeper hits to fast-paced tag team action to hardcore matches and strange gimmick matches— the Royal Rumble has time and time again, blessed wrestling fans with the perfect blend of great storytelling and in-ring action. As such, the event has given fans some classic matches over the years and many have stood the test of time.

Whether it’s the rumble itself or a high-tempo singles match, the list of great matches that took place during the Royal Rumble is rather long. Below is a list of the greatest Royal Rumble matches to date, with links to the full review of each match.

Simply click on the links below to read about whichever match interests you most and let us know in the comments, what you think is the greatest Royal Rumble match of all time.

Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series. You can find all the articles here.

  • Ricky D

The 10 Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

1) Royal Rumble 2003: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

2) Royal Rumble 1992: The Royal Rumble Match

3) Royal Rumble 2000: The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz (Tables Match)

4) Royal Rumble 2000: Triple H and Cactus Jack Street Fight

5) Royal Rumble 2001: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit (Ladder Match)

6) Royal Rumble 1998: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (Casket Match)

7) Royal Rumble 1995: Diesel vs. Bret Hart

8) Royal Rumble 2004: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels

9) Royal Rumble 1999: The Rock vs.Mankind (“I Quit” Match)

10) Royal Rumble 1994: Yokozuna vs. The Undertaker (Casket Match)

Special Mention

Royal Rumble 2007: The Royal Rumble Match

Royal Rumble 2015: Brock Lesnar Vs. John Cena Vs. Seth Rollins

Royal Rumble 2009: Jeff Hardy vs. Edge

Royal Rumble 1991: Sgt. Slaughter vs. the Ultimate Warrior

Royal Rumble 1991: The Rockers vs. The Orient Express

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