As I unpacked my suitcase in Columbus, one would be convinced that I too was going to walk (or embarrass) the Arnold Classic stage. Rice cooker, hot plate, frying pan, oats, protein powder and almonds were all contributing factors to yours truly forking out an extra $50 in disciplinary action for overweight luggage. I tried to barter as much as I could with the United Airlines employee but my chances of success were as weak as my pull on a speed dating evening. I refused to get flustered though because I had forgotten my Ventolin inhaler.
When I began taking trips like these from country to country, I imagined it to take the place of what life might've looked like had I practiced the bass guitar more often. Girls, drugs and soiled hotel rooms came to mind; instead I was unpacking enough nutritional supplements to sober a necrophiliac, and food produce that once had parents. I do thank my striated ass that I took the latter path because I am told I look great, at least so the mirror told me in the restroom of that United flight. I must give props to the lighting manager in those restrooms.
So, here I am reporting on the muscular men before me instead of snorting drugs off, what certain publications refer to as "a bevy of beauties", and I wouldn't admit to wanting it any other way (publicly).
Amidst my wreckage of an introduction I want you to understand that as a fan you are in the luckiest bodybuilding era ever, although Bodybuilding's popularity is dwindling so much that future shows may be housed in a beehive, you have never had it so good.
OK, so the economy has you saving your tea bag for several cups and you wear your underwear for 3 days before a wash, but think of my review as an Oasis from the turbulence of the economy and those dang worldly politics. For starters, I hope to have this article for your reading pleasure (or critique) within the hour of the Arnold Classic finals, we have also offered you a free up to the minute blog of the show, a live webcast that you are able to view for free, and even an Arnold Classic computer game to keep all of you over 30 year olds entertained (but it stop you from embarrassing yourselves on the dance floor).
In the past, what many refer to as the "Golden Era", you would have to default a portion of your earnings for your show report and refer to a calendar in anticipation instead of a watch. Today, because of the internet, we are closer to the athletes, the competition and the sport as a whole. Can anyone say group hug? Here is my top 5.
First Kai Greene
As I waited backstage with the reporters from other publications and websites, we were keen to see what Kai Greene looked like, who appeared covered in enough layers that would destroy the polar circle by the time the Olympia rolls around. We all waited eagerly amongst the other competitors who were each contributing to the atmosphere, silently but deadly.
The rumors on Kai two weeks prior were fierce, and we were the first to debunk the one mentioning he was rushed to hospital after collapsing in Gold Gym Venice. Was he really behind on his contest prep? Was he going to reveal fat following his struggle from an offseason weight of 290Ibs. Or was he going to hold so much water it would bring back my youth nightmares of incontinence bed sheets. Well, if you don't want to look at the pictures for an answer, I'll tell you in a thousand words???or less.
Looking like a monster that came out of the deep, Kai was striated with sinewy strings that the crowd hadn't expected but secretly hoped. He appeared to be around 10Ibs heavier on top of his already heavily muscled frame. Kai, simply-put was making his own special hand print on the ozone layer by taking up the space of a H1 Hummer. Someone needs to register this guy as something other than human.
Kai's routine was nothing short of memorizing, wacky and wonderful. He transitioned and displayed each pose with perfection. As he flipped upside-down during a couple of moves practiced by last nights fitness competitors, the crowd went wild and was well received. I grinned to myself as I saw Dorian's expression from the near rows. I am sure this type of posing didn't fall into his picture of bodybuilding.
Second Victor Martinez
In an economy where less people are thinking "big", the Dominican Dominator has always eclipsed that future thought. There was always a grey area following Martinez as nobody had got a real glance of his legs since his patella tear. Within that Grey cloud was also an abundance of question marks asking if he had the tools to resurrect himself, take back the Arnold Classic title and his hot seat as the 09 Olympia favorite.
Every cloud has a silver lining but not Victor's. He answered everyone's question without an explanation point. Victor's legs were notably down; particularly his injured left and he could've been a little dryer, particularly in the hamstrings. His cause wasn't helped with the lack of oil in his tan.
Third Branch Warren
I suspected Warren would show up as driven as a 1957 VW Camper Van but with the power of a bloody red Ferrari you wouldn't take anywhere where people live. I was fortunate enough to train with Branch on several occasions within his Texan habitat 4 weeks prior to the Arnold, and I can report that this "Hog Hunter" is so hardcore I could swear that he mixes Budweiser as his choice of carbs with his protein shake.
I was totally in awe, as was everyone else of the Texan Titan's striated mass. He jumped on stage tighter, dryer and around 8Lbs heavier than his last appearance. Legs from side, rear and front are out of this world, complete with lumps of muscle that appeared to by manifested from a Sheffield steel plant.
Branches back still doesn't quite match up to other freak body parts but my pounding heart rate wasn't too distracted by it. He posed to his usual remix of heavy hitting metal sounds that assist his weekly endorphin rush within the confounds of Metroflex gym. During the prejudging, Branch held his condition whilst Victor and Kai began to fade which could've made the difference between third and first, or so I thought.
Fourth Toney Freeman
Dave Polumbo's masterpiece showed visible signs of a possible victory when pictures were posted on the internet several days before the show indicating that he would steal the other kids lunch boxes and eat heartedly on their loss. Toney was of similar condition that brought him fifth at the Olympia but this time a little flatter. Again he displayed awesome symmetry except for the pec tear and the most pleasing physique of the line-up next to Haidar.
His overall mass puts the likes of Silvio down a couple of notches even if the latter, as was the case today, is in better condition. At 43 years old, Toney continues to age like a classic wine and continue his quest as a threat to almost any show if he hit the nail on the head.
Fifth Silvio Samuel
El Matador looked slightly bigger than his Iron Man victory but the added size looked to be on his limbs instead of his lats where he really needs it. This is apparent in his front double bicep pose more than anything which is surprising because his lat spread looks quite good. He is as consistent with his condition as Eddie Murphy is with useless movie roles and has made very well with his genetics that allow him to eat pretty much anything up to several weeks out.
It has been a great weekend of events and an awesome spectacle for bodybuilding fans. The Veterans memorial hall was filled with muscle hungry fans who we hope will follow Bodybuilding.com to Vegas for the Olympia. Until next time, stay healthy and train harder.