Expanded Event Coverage/Contest Results
THE MR. OLYMPIA PREJUDGING: 9/26/08 8:30 pm
A BATTLE TO SEE WHICH BB KNOWS THE ABCs IN THE IFBB
The Mr. Olympia Prejudging opened with a moment of silence for Steve
Stone, who passed on Friday, September 26. Stone was the co-host of Fox
Sports' "MuscleSport USA" TV program, as well as the Chief Expediter
for the Olympia and at many NPC contests.
The Orleans Arena was the meeting
place of rivals, rookies and returning warriors ready to settle scores
and snatch statuettes. After the crowning of Iris Kyle as Ms. Olympia
for the fifth time and Jen Hendershott Ms. Fitness Olympia, the big
boys came to do battle.
The Mr. Olympia competitors were
introduced individually. Entering to the most enthusiastic cheers were
Jay Cutler, Toney Freeman, Phil Heath, Dexter Jackson, and Dennis Wolf.
So, it seemed the crowd had already conducting its own prejudging prior
to this night and had selected its Top 5 picks.
Following are my general
impressions of the Olympians. Note my coining of the phrase ABC
(Aesthetic Bodybuilders Club) as a reference to those whose shape
closely resembles the ideal bodybuilder physique (an "X" shape denoted
by broad shoulders, a narrow waist, flaring quads and overall
symmetrical, balanced musculature):
USA's Jay Cutler, 5'9", 270 lbs., returns to the arena, chasing a third
Sandow trophy and Olympia title. While his conditioning improved from
last year's controversial contest, some doubt if he can ever recapture
the noteworthy physique he possessed in the early 2000s. He did some
homework, too. The muscles of his massive back and tree-trunk legs show
some detectable separation; however, his lower back did not completely
dry out. While his abs are cut, they sit atop a visually wide
waistline. No doubt, onstage alone, Cutler is a striking vision of
muscular girth, but, when standing next to the other front-runners, the
comparison yields an unavoidable shape or silhouette issue '" some have
described it as less of an "X" and more of an "H." For the rest of the
pack, psychologically, if not physically, he's still the man to beat.
Toney "X-Man" Freeman
USA's Toney "X-Man" Freeman stepped on stage at 6'2" and about 290 lbs.
with his signature symmetry and the sort of stage presence and
presentation worthy of a bodybuilding ambassador. Freeman is a
representative of what I refer to as the ABC (Aesthetic Bodybuilders
Club) because his shape hits the ideal marks '" big shoulders, small
waist, developed legs. He's tall and imposing in an awe-inspiring way,
and point blank, the guy knows how to present muscle in a beautiful
manner. Pec tear aside, he had conditioning, shape, everything!
Germany's Dennis Wolf, 5'11", 270 lbs., visits the Olympia for a third
time. The Russian-born gladiator is another tall ABC rep, who is wide
where it counts '" the shoulders '" and narrow where it counts '" the
waist. There were deep grooves in his flaring quads and splits in his
hamstrings attached to compact striated glutes. A thick, billboard back
helps him dominates in a Rear Double Biceps pose, but his Side Chest
shot is also blinding.
USA's Dexter Jackson, 5'5" 230 lbs., is an ABC veteran who has "been
there and done that" all over the Olympia stage. Will the ninth time be
the charm? Although Phil gave Dexter a run for his money, Dexter brings
one of the most distinct and recognizable sets of carved-up,
puzzle-piece abs on the planet. Flaring lats spread from his torso up
into cannonball delts. His thick traps jut forward like football
shoulder pads in the crab-style Most Muscular pose. His Side Chest pose
is equally awesome. While his calves don't overwhelm, his glutes, quads
and hamstrings have notable lines. Ultimately, Jackson's selling point
is his overall shape, comprised of orbs of sculpted muscle fused
together like an armor suit.
USA's Phil Heath, 5'9", 240 lbs., is a favorite among new generation
muscleheads who view him as the future of the sport at the Olympia
level. Even though he bypassed the Olympia Stage, thereby making him a
default rookie, he packs the kind of bursting muscle bellies that
titillate the Olympia judges. This is "beef and nails." Dry, sliced
hams on your sandwich, anyone? Addressing the "narrow" issue, over the
course of five months, Heath got "wider" up top. Bodacious triceps and
delts make for a nasty Most Muscular pose. His peeled conditioning on
top of a solid structure are advantages enhanced by an insanely intense
posing style. The madman facial expressions '" priceless!
Vying with Heath for the title of most bombastic Most Muscular pose and
exaggerated facial expressions while posing is USA's David Henry. Henry
does the Joker's wicked grin, while Phil does teeth-gnashing madman '"
both are fun to watch. Henry, 5'5", 202 lbs., delivered a frame full
of cut-up muscle, billowing off his spine and femurs. In other words
sliced and diced legs and back. The delts explode when fired, but will
stature still be an issue for the Giant Killer?
USA's Kevin English, 5'4", 202 lbs., is another rookie who wants to
walk the path laid by David Henry and also be known as a smaller man
that bigger men should fear. His grainy quality on an overall balanced
body and barely-there waist are plusses for this East Coast scrapper.
For now, unless standards change, this top contender in the 202
Showdown might just lack the mass to be competitive in this Olympia
USA's Melvin Anthony, 5'8", 242 lbs. loves the spotlight and returned
to it in Vegas for the sixth time. He exhibits remarkable shape coupled
with stellar posing ability. Addressing the previous grumblings about
his hamstrings, Anthony grinded in greater detail in his
hamstring-glute tie-ins. In addition, quad separation finished off his
lower half. Something '" lighting or skin texture '" doesn't make him
appear as bone dry as needed to blow the viewer away. But nobody hits
an "arm over head with face in profile while flexing a single bicep"
pose quite like Anthony.
Spain's Silvio Samuel, 5'7", 225 lbs., is an ABC member and walking
anatomy chart, clearly exhibiting where every human muscle is located
on the body '" in 3-D! With A-game level conditioning, he wears
striations like stylish clothes '" in his quads, glutes, delts and low
back. In fact, he whipped out one of the sickest lower-back "Christmas
trees" ever seen. At one point, as he prepared to flare his lats over
his pinched waist, it appeared there were two trees, one stacked on top
of the other! Fullness and skin stretched over bursting muscle bellies
are evident on Samuel including his standout abs, which literally pop
and stand out from the walls in an impressive way.
Gustavo Badell, 5'8", 245 lbs. The Venezuelan-born bull is known for
solid yet stocky build. He brings a massive look without the elegant
lines of the ABC fellows. The pronounced muscle bellies he totes are
offset by his actual "belly," well, more accurately a semi-blocky waist
that, at certain angles, detracts from an otherwise mighty physique. He
showed up sporting good color on his skin and new color in his hair '"
blonde streaks that were hard to miss.
Trinidad and Tobago's Darrem Charles, 5'9", 235 lbs., appeared onstage
with good conditioning and muscle separation on display and awesome
bicep peaks. At 40, he still represents the Aesthetic Bodybuilders Club
well. He had lines and cross striations etched in the right places,
such as the lower back "Christmas tree" and quad "teardrop." Charles
moves and conducts himself with a sort of quiet power that does not
seem to get him the attention a veteran may deserve, especially in the
face of louder and/or larger bodybuilders who demand to be noticed.
USA's Craig Richardson, 5'7", 225 lbs., has made Olympia appearances
twice before. While some stacked traps and a little lat and chest
expansion wouldn't hurt his horizon, something about this guy screams
potential! Good conditioning gave him a sheet of rippling abs, pec
striations, glute cuts and wood-carving-like detail in the Rear Double
Biceps pose. On top of great leg shape from quads to calves, he's got a
marketable look that will hopefully get him some more face time onstage
New Zealand's Moe Elmoussaoui, 5'9", 240 lbs. is new to the Big Stage.
The Lebanese-born athlete brings very balanced physique to the arena.
While his chest would not suffer from a little added development, the
rest of him flows nicely. His tan could have been a tad darker to best
show what he's got which include muscle hardness and rear-side
Canada's Fouad Abiad, 5'10", 245 lbs. made his Olympia debut in his
signature Mohawk and looking good on all accounts '" good shape, proper
build and decent conditioning, though not as bone dry as he's been in
the past, which may be attributed to the fact that this is his fourth
contest this year. Abiad needs to work on creating the illusion of a
smaller waist on stage and to add a tad more thickness in the quads and
back to move up in placings.
Germany's Dennis James, 5'8", 240 lbs., appeared relatively sharp! On
the upside, his conditioning prompted some vascularity to pop in the
biceps and quads and James packs a mean upright Most Muscular pose.
However, the inability to vacuum in, rein in or simply pull in
tortoise-shell abs in certain poses lends itself to a bloated
appearance. James is powerfully built but the lacking v-taper and
x-frame does not make his super-wide back appear as impressive as it
could/should with a smaller waist.
Russia's Sergey Shelestov, 5'11", 272 lbs., took to the Olympia stage
for the second time, showing improvements. His height gives him a bit
of presence but he must make greater adjustments to harness the full
potential he looks to have hidden in that big body. Bigger forearms and
traps and wider lats would add dimension. He needs greater conditioning
to etch out some finer details throughout. When hitting certain poses,
muscle separation appears in the quads and upper back, but the trick is
to look like "beef and nails" just standing there.
USA's Leo Ingram 5'9" 255lbs. walked on to the Olympia stage for the
first time on bulging quads full of cuts; however, those same legs were
not nearly as impressive upon turning around. Ingram needed more
detail in his hamstrings to complete the "wow" of his wheels. He did
reveal a heavily muscled upper back, but he needed a compressed stomach
to display more complete ab detail. To a degree, Ingram maintained his
grainy texture, but he didn't appears as crispy
grainy as he customarily does.
USA's Johnnie Jackson, 5'8", 240 lbs., has been called "The World's
Strongest Bodybuilder" and verified this by setting a record-breaking
lift at a powerlifting meet in June. He borrows from the physical
requirements of the powerlifting world and brings a solid muscular
physique to the bodybuilding arena. However, the way those muscles are
arranged don't automatically lump him into the ABC. Jackson suffers
from genetically small calves. The quads lacked flare. The lower back
was not thoroughly dehydrated and, when not completely flexed, the
hamstrings and glutes took on a slightly smooth appearance. Did he peak
at his qualifying show, the Atlantic City Pro?
Germany's Ronny Rockel,
225 lbs., is giving the Olympia a fourth go. A nice, safe package, all
the items on the basic checklist are there: good shape, symmetry,
conditioning, musculature, balance, etc. He was stone hard and improved
from his qualifying contest, the New York Pro. Detail was visible in
the lower back and hamstrings. Full, round pecs and delts. Separated,
brick-wall abs. A stellar physique. So, what's the problem? Nothing.
But without the pre-contest hype of a rivalry or a special attribute,
it's easy for one to look at Rockel, be momentarily impressed and
quickly move on, waiting for controversy to hit the stage.
The first Call Out included front-runners Toney Freeman, Dexter
Jackson, Jay Cutler and Phil Heath, but not Dennis Wolf, who was
summoned in the second Call Out, and, eventually, got his long-awaited
comparison to Cutler in the third Call Out.
The judges did an excellent job of
mixing and matching the Call Out formations with enough variety to give
the crowd in attendance and the athletes on stage the sense that the
right competitors were being fairly compared to others on their level.
Following a series of about 10 Call
Out comparison rounds, that ended, again, with Freeman, Jackson,
Cutler, Heath and Wolf, spectators were left in suspense. Who would
emerge as the man at the pinnacle of the sport? The next day would
answer the mystery.