1. Weider Denounces Wayne's World
Doing his best Donald Trump impression, Ben Weider fired Wayne DeMilia from his perch atop the IFBB Pro Division. Word traveled fast as theories blanketed the industry. When the dust finally settled, Jim Manion was anointed the new go-to guy in the pro division.
Wayne's departure caused a wave of changes throughout the sport. Most notably, the Olympia was suddenly without a promoter… until AMI and Weider announced a joint venture to produce the 2004 Olympia Weekend.
2. Back To Back To Back!
All the way back in November of last year, Jay Cutler and I had breakfast at an old South Beach diner. As he was inhaling enough food to feed a village, Jay predicted that he would become the first man in history to capture 3 consecutive Championships at the Arnold Classic.
Despite having lost a week earlier to Dexter Jackson in Atlanta, Jay exuded a quiet confidence. As it turned out, Jay once again conquered the field in Columbus to earn his 3rd consecutive 100k payday.
Fans of Dexter and Cormier debated the outcome, but in the end, Cutler drove off with another shiny new Hummer. Any more predictions Jay?
3. Innocent Until Proven Guilty?
Unfortunately, some of the biggest headlines took place off-stage and in the court room. Milos Sarcev and Dennis James find themselves in the middle of steroid-related charges stemming from a D.E.A. investigation into steroid trafficking.
Dennis being arrested.
As the industry tries desperately to clean up its image, this is exactly what we DON'T need to read in the papers.
4. Darrem Dazzles
In a remarkable display of consistency, Darrem Charles entered 5 events this year... finishing First or Second in ALL 5 events!
Bringing his career victory total to 4, Darrem has now won more pro titles than Gunter Schlierkamp, Lee Priest and Dennis James, COMBINED.
5. Not Just Another Pretty Face
Before he even stepped onto a pro stage, Richard Jones was already appearing on magazine covers from the U.S. to Europe. Jones made his much anticipated pro debut at the Night of Champions... finishing a very impressive 3rd place.
Richard Jones at the 2004 Night Of Champions.
Despite the judges' gift-wrapped generosity in New York, the writing was on the wall. Jones may one day become the face of pro bodybuilding. Now, all he has to do is go out and pack on 20 quality pounds to a frame that is desperate for an infusion of new muscle.
6. The Challenge Round
Did Dexter Jackson really lose an Abdominal Challenge to Ronnie Coleman? Well, let's not dwell on the infamous "Challenge Choke" suffered by the judges. Instead, let's all concede that the new round added a layer of drama and strategy to the show. There is no arguing the sheer entertainment value of the Challenge Round.
As a result, you can be sure that it will return for an encore in 2005…especially if Gustavo Badell gets to decide.
7. Seventh Heaven
In a moment of pure bodybuilding bliss, Seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger stood beside Ronnie Coleman to present a seventh Sandow trophy to the reigning champ.
With an audience filled with fans craving change, there were few who could argue with Big Ron's dominance at the '04 Olympia. For at least another year, the throne remains occupied by Coleman, just one victory shy of Lee Haney's record.
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