Hey, the above-mentioned studs were terrific in their deserved triumphs. But, Ronnie Coleman, I say with seven months to go 'til game day, won't have a whole lot to agonize about as he preps for his eighth consecutive Mr. Olympia crown come October.
Yes, even at 41 years old. Tell Roger Clemens, or Randy Johnson - hell, Heather Locklear, for that matter - how reaching four decades equates to planning a trip to the glue factory. And, I'm sticking with a well-rested Jay Cutler, who sat out the Arnold for the first time in three years to concentrate on his continual Coleman quest, as the only guy who rates a shot at dethroning the champ.
But, we have seven months to go over 'Olympia envisage; let's revisit the early season events and see who wins my "Best of '05-to this Point" awards.
Gustavo Badell tipped the scales at 16 pounds heavier than a year ago (250) and overpowered the field in the annual season opener, although supporters of Lee Priest (second) and Troy Alves (third) were screaming that their man got jobbed.
Actually, supporters of David Henry and Mark Dugdale were screaming their man got jobbed, too, with the hard as nails Henry finishing seventh and the always sublimed conditioned Dugdale making his pro debut with an eighth place landing.
Although many folks thought the contest could go anyway between top three, there was no doubt who would win the first Vince Gironda Award for Posing Excellence. Has there ever been anybody more graceful, fluid and entertaining than Marvelous Melvin Anthony? Well, maybe Russ DeLuca in a late night dance contest at one of the after parties.
Chris Cormier entered as the sentimental fave after finishing second the last five-count 'em, five-ASC's in a row. He's still the sentimental fave for 2006, since Dexter Jackson showed why he's called The Blade by cutting up the field en route to a unanimous victory. And, yes, Chris did wind up in second again.
A year ago I thought he probably should have beaten Cutler to get the monkey off his back; this year Chris faded at night, Jackson was perhaps his best ever and deserved the $100,000, new Hummer and the $25K watch.
Priest was 15 percent sharper in Columbus than he was two weeks earlier at the IM, and I would have had no problem with Lee finishing at least third. As it was, placing behind Jackson, Cormier and Badell in fourth is nothing to sneeze about. Pass the hankie.
As long as there is booty being given away for Best Presentation, Melvin will always leave the auditorium in a Marvelous mood. This time he got 10 grand for dominating that portion of the show, to go along with his fifth place finish.
Darrem Charles might have been a tad too heavy for my liking, but I still would have had Charles in the top five; Victor Martinez made his 2005 debut and is a guy with gobs of muscle. But, in this contest, I think Alves (eighth), and even Dugdale (ninth), could have slipped ahead of the seventh-place finishing Victor, who was at least 10-12 pounds off his mark.
San Francisco Pro:
Cormier got revenge over The Blade in this one, scoring a narrow victory in the first ever men's pro show produced by standout NPC promoters Jaguar Jon Lindsay and Steve O'Brien.
Just like I felt Jackson deserved his victory in Ohio, likewise for Chris this time around. Was he better than he was at the ASC? Was Jackson a bit off? Too hard to say, with different stage lighting and circumstances involved. It was just a case of two outstanding bodybuilders, and only one first place trophy to give out.
Biggest story in this one was the sixth place finish of Dugdale, who got sharper with each contest and was peeled in San Francisco. A third place conclusion would have qualified Mark for the 'Olympia, and that's where I thought he could have landed.
Sure, he's not that big, at around 5'6" and 200 pounds, and, he needs to add size to his width and arms, but so what? No one was more dialed in. And, do I have to tell you about flaws on those who finished ahead of him?
Australian Pro Grand Prix:
This was the only one of the opening season contests I did not see first hand; from the pictures I viewed it could have gone either way between Priest and Cormier. Lee looked like he held his condition from the Arnold as he competed in front of the hometown folks for the first time in over a decade; Cormier, from what I hear, felt that performing in front of his countrymen was the only reason Priest was given the nod.
Regardless, Priest walks away with his second pro win, and Cormier walks away with knowing his disappointing seventh place finish at the 2004 'Olympia is but a distant memory. Cormier now moves back to his familiar post of being a top three or four 'Olympia candidate and Priest, if he does decide to enter the contest, is definite top six material once again.
2005 Early Season Honors
Bodybuilder Of The Year:
Why did I include this one, with nobody competing in all four events? Oh well, I did, so here it goes. Jackson, for his unanimous victory at The Big One, the ASC, and for a close runner-up finish to Cormier at the San Francisco. Chris and Priest in a tie for second.
Alves. I could have given the guy a run the way he looked at last year's 'Olympia. Okay, so finishing 15th, in any contest, other than pie eating, is still way out of my league, but for Alves it was a disaster, especially after coming off my "Rookie of the Year" honors in 2003.
Alves was Troymendous at all three events and reestablished himself as a top 10 'Olympia contender come October.
Troy At The 2004 Olympia & 2005 Arnold Classic.
Dugdale. Would have been two three slots higher at all three contests if I had a judges sheet.
Rookie Of The Year:
Entertainer Of The Year:
Melvin Anthony. Russ Deluca a distant second.