Victor Vs. Kai For The Win!
Many questions were on the minds of all the fans as they waited for the judging to begin. Question One: How did Victor's legs look? Question Two: Was Kai in shape? Question Three: Was Kai even in the show?
Rumors of Kai's collapse on the treadmill at Gold's Gym spread faster than seagulls diving for a soft pretzel on a Venice Beach sidewalk. Was Kai too far behind that he was kicking it up a few notches to get into shape? Why did Greene give the mighty Charles Glass the boot with less than two weeks to go in his prep for the Arnold Classic?
I arrived in Columbus late Friday night and found out that another rumor was circulating. Kai Greene had dropped out of the competition. Another rumor was out too. Kai hadn't dropped out; Steve Blechman was threatening him to compete or his contract would be dropped. I arrived at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium to see what the scoop was. No one was sure and no one had seen Kai.
Kai showed up in the pump-up room a little later than the other competitors so the rumor was squelched immediately. And to squelch the rest of the rumors right now, I asked kai himself point-blank about the rumors after the judging. His response? "The first I heard of any of it, was this morning." Kai pretty much stayed with his camp in his room and didn't talk to anyone and he didn't look at the Internet. He didn't want the distractions. So whatever anyone else has heard, ignore it. Kai's in the show and he might even win it.
Some of my other questions were immediately answered when each competitor made his way to the front and center of the stage of Veterans Memorial Auditorium during the assessment round of the 2009 Arnold Classic.
- Moe El Massouwi looked better than he did at the Iron Man, but still not as sharp as he was last year.
- Sergei Shelestov was at his best.
- Victor Martinez was a little smoother than the 2007 Mr. Olympia, but looked great and his leg recovered just fine.
- Silvio Samuel was shredded as usual but looked small next to the other guys.
- Kai Greene looked better than I thought he would and is in the top three. He weighed in at 257, which was not as heavy as some were predicting.
- Toney Freeman was in great condition, but looked lean in comparison to Vic, Branch and Kai.
- Badell's legs looked bigger but his conditioning was off.
Branch Warren has pulled everything together for possibly a top-three spot. Branch Warren competed in his first show since undergoing surgery for a torn tricep during his Olympia prep last fall. When I saw Branch in the audience at the Olympia watching his wife, Trish, compete, his tricep looked like it was healing well. It was still huge. Granted, he was in offseason mode, but it certainly didn't look atrophied.
Like Badell in some shows, Warren has a way of battling back from (what seems like) behind and then comes on strong and places in the top six. He might not get the first callout in every show, but he's usually in the running in nearly every show he enters - not counting the Olympia, of course. Today, however he made the first callout.
Victor's strong point has never been his quads so it would be very interesting to see how his rehabilitation went. Before this afternoon, I wasn't sure which knee Victor had the surgery on. It would have been easy to find out, but I thought it might be more interesting if I could try and figure it out for myself once I saw him on stage. If I could tell, then the judges could tell also and that would spell trouble for Victor. He hadn't released any precontest photos of his legs so when he stepped on stage the mystery was finally revealed.
After seeing Vic, I think it was his left leg, but it's hard to tell. Both legs look more blurry than the last time I saw him, but it was minimal. His recovery and rehabilitation obviously went well.
Vic looks like he added size to his upper body. He was full and massive, but like I said earlier, he was a little off compared to past competitions.
Kai Greene looked phenomenal and had striations in his biceps that were visible when he hit his side chest pose. No one else had that. He weighed 257 and could possibly win the show. I asked what he was going to do between the shows. "Eat and sleep!" was his reply.
I saw a few photos posted online of Toney Freeman from about one-week-out from today's show and he looked amazing! He was tighter than I've ever seen him and at that moment I started to think Freeman would be battling Victor for first place and not Kai. A lot can happen in the last week, however and that might be very good or it might be really bad. When I saw Toney come out on stage, I'd have to say things went well during the last few days. Toney was shredded, but he might not have been as full, even though his conditioning was great. I don't see Toney in a top-three spot, however. He's giving up too much size to Vic, Kai and Branch.
Straight off a win at the Iron Man in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, Silvio Samuel beamed with confidence. Despite his superb conditioning, Silvio still lacked size when compared to the other competitors. It really doesn't matter, however, if he's one of the smaller athletes because the crowd always loves Silvio!
Big Moe had six weeks to improve on the package he presented at the Iron Man. He was up 15 pounds from the Olympia last fall, but he needed to come in about 10 pounds lighter than he weighed at the Iron Man to bring back his stellar conditioning and graininess. He did improve slightly, but not much. He didn't look as bulky as he was at the Iron Man; he was more streamlined.
The biggest factor going against him was his coloring. It was blotchy and dripping all over his upper body. He continually wiped the sweat away and tried to blot the tanning cream while he was on stage. By the end of the judging, Moe had wiped off all of the oil from his upper body. He needs to change his coloring technique.
Sergie Shelestov is one of those competitors with lots going for him. He has size, shape and height so he looks bigger than the other guys on stage. His conditioning, however, has not allowed him to move up to the next tier. Today, however, Shelestov brought a whole new look and nailed his conditioning; his separation was also improved.
I started training when Frank Zane was still Mr. Olympia so I guess that qualifies me as "old school." Zane has always been one of my favorite physiques and Ahmad Haidar is the closest physique to Frank Zane these days. Just like Silvio will be the most ripped in any contest, Ahmad will have the best abs. He weighed 212, which was three pounds lighter than the Iron Man. He had great conditioning, but he looks thin in the lower lats and lower back.
Marcus Haley needs to spend some more time and let his leg heal. It's obvious he's favoring it.
Callout Number One:
Callout Number Two:
Callout Number Three:
Callout Number Four:
Callout Number Five:
Callout Number Six:
Callout Number Seven:
The last callout is usually an indicator of who is going to make the final placings. Today will be no different: Victor, Kai, and Branch.
The competition is very close with Victor Martinez and Kai Greene battling it our for first. I'm going to give the nod to Victor because he wins for shape. Toney will not win.
Here's how I see the top ten:
1st - Victor Martinez
2nd - Kai Greene
3rd - Branch Warren
4th - Toney Freeman
5th - Silvio Samuel
6th - Moe El Massouwi
7th - Dennis James
8th - Ronnie Rockel
9th - Sergei Shelestov
10th - Johnny Jackson
In a few hours the judges will let us know their results.