An hour past midnight on August 25th the temperatures in Texas sore to heights comparative to an elderly gentleman exposed to a new figure posing round which would include a steel pole and an innuendo that the mind of Hugh Heffner could conceive with ease.
The dried earth of the mid west sits comfortably with its residents that have grown used to its humidity and reliance of air conditioning which has enabled this popular part of the country to flourish and grow.
When people say they grow them large in Texas it's definately confirmed when you look at the likes of the Texas muscle machines - Branch Warren, Johnnie Jackson, Quincy Taylor and of course Big Ron Coleman.
Two of the above compatriots waved the flag for the Midwest at Betty Pariso's Europa Super Show that was mixed with weird judging callouts and enough muscle to stock the entire Arlington Steak houses that riddle every square foot of the dried pastures.
On the Friday evening the woman's bodybuilding was judged as randomly as a fancy dress party. Although first place finisher Heather Foster was very muscular, she appeared to be very soft and far from contest shape. On the other end of the scale you had a hugely improved Marika Johansson who placed 4th in this show last year not even making the grade.
Marika was as the most ripped and striated athlete in the show which even left her competitors scratching their heads as to why she was placed out of the top 10 (watch Lonnie Tepar's pre-show interview with Marika here). Kim Perez was not as hard as Marika but was also in great shape with the best arm/delt development and waist to lat ratio in the show but this was still not enough to keep her in the top five.
The judiciary said it wanted a 20% downgrade in muscularity and has indicated that it would like to see the return of the Cory Everson appeal to keep the sport alive. If the mandate is adhered to then there is still a sense of hope but this so called mandate will kill the sport if it isn't. Sorry, you can't pin this one on the girls.
1st place - Toney Freeman
Toney had put on a considerable amount of size where it counts. His quad sweep and extra beef that he had slabbed onto his delt caps accentuated his super human frame to that could see him star in the next X Men movie. An obvious crowd favorite, Toney Freeman drew favoritism from the judges who awarded the huge athlete victory which in turn was Toney's virgin Pro win.
2nd place - Quincy Taylor
The big QT was his usual large and in charge self who sported the added benefit of condition that read the words - Quincy's all time best. Taylor relocated to Texas from California three years ago and the change in climate had worked its magic by drying him out to one of the most detailed athletes in the entire line up.
The second place that was handed to him was as welcoming as cookie crumbs in a bed as a visibly upset Q.T. knew he was in shape but had trouble swallowing the defying second place pill although it was enough for an Olympia qualification.
3rd place - Johnnie Jackson
The wheels had increased their diameter and the hometown hero was happy to reveal the detailed tread that sliced through his legs like a ninja with a degree in bodybuilding anatomy.
Jackson's back is the only highly rugged terrain seen in Texas and whilst his pecs depict the fullness of a silicone fest they were striated with cuts as sharp as Bob Cicherillo's witticism.
| Did You Miss The Webcast?
Check out the replays of the pre-judging and finals show here.
He wasn't as hard as he was at last years Toronto Pro but was considerably better than this years disappointing Arnold and San Fran appearances. He was fitting to his placement but could have been as high as first had he had been slightly sharper.
Johnnie did win the show where it really counts - in the fans hearts. Bodybuilding.com stepped to the plate once again to award $1,000 to the fans favorite athlete. Thousands of viewers from around the world watched the live webcast in anticipation of the final outcome, but not before voting for who they believed to be the winner (Johnnie won with 24% of the votes).
The viewers of Bodybuilding.com spoke and in turn awarded Johnnie Jackson with the cash bonanza.
An extremely gracious J.J. joked that the $1,000 should be awarded to his new wife as the money will be going straight out of his posing trunks into her shopping spree.
4th place - Darrem Charles
Darrem must be as tired as a Hitchhiker on a Hollywood celebrity diet following all of his contests of late. His body is starting to lack the detail on his back that is still clearly visible on his front. Every showing this year has slowly taken its toll on Darrem's physique.
Charles was in no way off the scale here but it is hard not to compare him to the Darrem Charles that has shown us the AB and C's to ripped mutated muscle. This is the first time in a long, long time that Darrem has finished out of the money in a show of this caliber which may indicate the slow capture by old father time.
5th place - Art Atwood
Early callouts in both the symmetry and muscularity rounds echoed whispers in the stands that Art could be as high as 3rd. 5th he was inevitably handed, which in many peoples opinion was a little giving to the Canadian. In all fairness Art was as hard as a frozen Toblerone, but his symmetry still looks like his body is a mix between an Action Man figurine and a melted Barbie Doll.
He has attempted to bring down his spilt muscle size which is a step in the right direction but it's hard to bring pop corn down to its original size once it has been popped if you know what I mean.
6th place - Silvio Manuel
Silvio's muscles were as much a treat to the symmetry police as Kung Pow is to a Japanese chef but his Dream Tan complexion had left much to be desired. This Spanish athlete has it all - full muscle bellies, no visible weaknesses and balance that could see him apply as a trapeze artist.
If his improvements from the NY pro to Texas are anything to go by he could easily nail a top 5 at next weeks Montreal Pro show.
The best posing award went to King Kamali who transcended through posing routines of bodybuilding's royalty such as Lee Haney, Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman before finishing with his own highly entertaining signature poses that would make even the best street dancers look like a Texan line dancer.
Speaking of dancing, Ed Pariso entertained the audience with his own robotic abilities by moving his body to the beat like a male Madonna. Ed put the "V" in vogue whilst joining in the dancing festivities when all of the female athletes got on stage to twist and groove celebrating a weekend of positively healthy fun.
I couldn't distinguish if Ed was in fact high on the adrenaline his show was giving out or if it was due to the sugar overload from the free desert buffet he frequented that he had put out for the athletes and vendors.
The legendary Lee Labrada was the recipient of a Lifetime achievement award who has not only contributed to the great sport of bodybuilding but to the fitness industry as a whole. Clips and features of Lee's bodybuilding background and outreached health education to the widespread masses were portrayed through a huge TV screen before the man himself appeared on stage to give his own gracious speech.
The weekend ran as smooth as a Barry White vocal note and the shows MC Lonnie Tepper put on a fine display of entertainment by throwing out nicknames, gags and fun observations as if there was a Weider contract waiting for him at the end of it.