Let The Challenge Round Die, Please!

The rules were different this year in the Challenge Round and technical glitches were running rampant. Did the new rules really make a difference? My opinion is voiced here. Learn more...
L ast year the Challenge Round was touted to make the Mr. Olympia more exciting. It didn't. Because of the way it affected placings, it even kept one of today's best bodybuilders out of this year's Olympia. This year, however, the rules were different and lots of money was at stake. Former Mr. Olympia's would be judging the new revamped round.

Did it live up to all the hype and publicity? No, it didn't. It was a complete embarrassment and it should be allowed to die before it gets any worse.

The Judges

After the final five competitors were announced, five former Mr. Olympia's were introduced as the judges of the Challenge Round. Sergio Oliva, Larry Scott, Frank Zane, Samir Bannout and Dorian Yates were chosen to decide the winner of this round, which would have no bearing on the final placings of the actual competition.

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The Judges: Frank Zane, Samir Bannout, Arnold, Mr. Weider, Larry Scott, Sergio Olivia and Dorian Yates.
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When I first read about the new format, I was intrigued. This was a new twist on the failed attempt from last year.

Technical Glitches

A scoreboard was projected on the screen with all the competitors' names on it and the fierce battle was ready to begin. Well, sort of. Triple H started the challenge with Victor Martinez challenging Gunter. After that it went downhill.

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And Away We Go!
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The scoring didn't work correctly so we weren't sure if the score was right. One of the judges hit the wrong button so points were even taken away but the scores were not corrected immediately.

BB.com Opinion:
One ended up doubting the very validity of Badell's win after this "confusing ballot" fiasco.

It seemed like a very high-tech system, but I'm convinced the relay system was inspired by the Flintstones, where a small dinosaur-looking creature would gather up the judges' scores on stone tablets and hand them off to a little monkey behind the scoreboard, who poked a whole in the shape of a number in the back of the screen and then shined a light through it.

On the way back to the judges' tables, the small dinosaur would look into the camera and say, "It's a living!" - if the sound was working for an interview, which it wasn't.

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And The Monkey Flips The Switch.
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The Athletes

It was good that the top five were able to compare poses with another because it didn't happen in the prejudging. Only Coleman and Cutler were together. Badell and Schlierkamp were never compared in mandatory poses with Cutler or Coleman during the prejudging. Many fans voiced their disapproval for that decision during the Challenge Round.

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Cutler & Coleman During The Pre-Judging.
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Personally, I don't think anyone had to be compared to the top two. They had those spots deservedly locked up as soon as they walked out on stage, but for the sake of the fans, a few more comparisons would have been nice to see in the prejudging. It was obvious that the athletes were getting tired and just a little frustrated.

Hitting that many poses is a lot of work, especially at the end of the night when all the competitors REALLY want, and need, is to drink some water. It might look effortless to many of the fans, but to a former competitor, like myself, who has went through extensive prejudgings and final shows, it looked downright exhausting. I was expecting one of the guys to start cramping up soon. Fortunately none of them did.

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Thankfully, No One Cramped Up.
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As the round unfolded, it appeared that no one was in control or really knew what to do. It almost seemed like it was being made up as they went along. The clincher was the final pose off between Coleman and Badell, who were locked in a tie.


All the poses in the Challenge Round were the mandatory poses. So why, in the event of a tie, do they decide to do a pose down. A pose down? Who came up with that idea for a tie-breaker? The whole round is based on challenging mandatories with each other, and then they throw everything away and have a pose down? It should have been a sudden-death, OT-style pose-to-pose ending.

Flip a coin and one of the competitors calls it in the air. He orders a pose and that's the final pose. A winner is declared. If those judges were judging the actual contest, would Badell be Mr. Olympia? This alone was reason enough to not end the challenge with a pose down.

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Would Badell Be Mr Olympia?
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Granted, there were at least six hours from the judging to the Challenge Round and some of the athletes looked a little sharper and fuller, but it should not have ended with a pose down to judge the overall physiques. It really made it look like neither set of judges knew what they were looking for because there isn't a set criteria.

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Badell, Challege Round Winner.
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I'm sure Badell was happy with the outcome because everything worked pretty well to his benefit. He should be happy. He won. None of the other competitors, however, looked too happy. Maybe I was reading too much into Cutler's facial expressions but it looked to me that he thought the whole thing was a huge joke.

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What A Joke.
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When the scores were messed up, he looked as if he was ready to call it quits and walk off. Coleman wasn't too happy about the event either and voiced his disagreement afterwards. I don't blame them.

Time For A Change

As you have figured out by now, this wasn't a play-by-play or a pose-by-pose account of the event, even though it could have been because I took notes on the whole thing. Nope, I've just voiced my disappointment with the whole round and hope enough other people feel the same way so things can change for future Mr. Olympia contests.

BB.com Opinion:
The constant jeering from the crowd certainly doesn't make this challenge seem like a crowd favorite.

Should The Challenge Round Be Brought Back In 2006?
No, Let It Die Already!
Yes, They Just Need To Work The Kinks Out.

Speaking of changes, I have a few suggestions to add some variety to the show and reward some of the athletes that have built some incredible physiques.

The Best Wheels Award got me thinking. Why not bring back the best body part awards? Best Back, Best Chest, Best Arms, Best Abs, and Most Muscular were common in all contests years ago.

Why not bring them back? Best Poser should also be in every show to give an incentive for all competitors to improve their presentation. Why not throw in a most improved award or most wins for the year?

These extra awards would also give every competitor a chance at winning an award and the monetary reimbursement that goes with the award. Fans would love it.

The Best Wheels, which was won by Cutler, was a fantastic idea and was a long time in coming. Drop the Challenge Round and implement the best body part awards. Who knows? It might even keep a certain Aussie in the show just to have a shot at the Best Arms Award.

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Jay Cutler, Best Wheels.
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I've got one last idea - a dream perhaps. Instead of having the former Mr. Olympia's as judges, let's see them up on stage to be judged. That's right the Grand Master Mr. Olympia. Let's get all the former Mr. Olympia's to go through one round of mandatory poses and declare a winner.

Who do you think would win? We'll never know, of course, but its fun to imagine Larry Scott going against Lee Haney in a front double-bicep pose, isn't it?

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