The Top Eight: Afterthoughts On The 2010 Mr. Olympia!

It again was a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas this past weekend. I took a day to go over all the events in my head and sort things out. Here are my afterthoughts and analysis of the 2010 Mr. Olympia.

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The Top Eight:
Afterthoughts on the 2010 Mr. Olympia

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It again was a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas this past weekend. I covered the Mr. Olympia and wrote several reviews during the shows so I could submit them immediately after each show. I took a day to go over all the events in my head and sort things out. Here are my afterthoughts and analysis of the 2010 Mr. Olympia.

When I'm writing a review at one of IFBB Pro shows for Bodybuilding.com I try to write it for fans from each walk of life. I include as much background information on the competitors as I can along with analysis of the physiques of the bodybuilders. The more the better, but time is always a factor.

Some sites have a flash report and give you one or two paragraphs that summarize the entire judging or finals in one felled swoop. I like to put in as much content as I can for the fans so they have more of a feeling of being there. Even though my articles do have some details, I don't have enough time to really get in-depth and share my opinions on the event. That's when I do a follow-up article so I can add a few things and give the fans a little more insight on how things shaped up.

The Top Six At The 2010 Mr. Olympia.
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The Top Six At The 2010 Mr. Olympia.
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Surprises

Kai Greene didn't make the top six and neither did Victor Martinez. Most experts in their predictions had Kai in first through third. Some people picked Victor to be in the top four or perhaps even win if his conditioning was on target. Neither athlete came in at their best. It was the worst I've seen Kai since the Ironman in 2006, but that show doesn't really count. That was before Kai's massive transformation that occurred sometime in 2007. In recent competitions, this was the most "off" I've seen Kai.

Kai Greene At The 2010 Olympia. Kai Greene At The 2010 Olympia.
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Kai Greene At The 2010 Olympia.
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He was obviously holding water, especially in his midsection. His delts seemed very smooth and he lacked separation between his arms and delts. All around Kai looked too heavy and I thought he might be trying to match Cutler in the size area. It backfired on Kai. When I learned he weighed 284 on Wednesday I had my doubts that he'd be in top condition by Friday's judging. By the finals, however, Kai had tightened up a little. It was too late by that time, however, because the top six had already been picked.

Greene and Oscar mistimed the prep for this showing. It happens. There is another show called the Arnold Classic in about six months. I'll predict now that the world will see the best Kai Greene anyone has ever seen in Columbus in March of next year.

After seeing Victor looking smooth once again with an entire year to prep for the show, I started to think maybe Victor won't be able to really come in as sharp as Phil or Branch or Jay. No one has seen Victor really nail it. Perhaps genetically he has some limits. I'd love for him to prove me wrong, but unless he comes into a show totally sliced and better than his 2007 form soon, I'll keep thinking he might have hit his limit conditioning-wise.

Victor Martinez At The 2010 Olympia. Victor Martinez At The 2010 Olympia.
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Victor Martinez At The 2010 Olympia.
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The Top Six

Branch vs. Dexter

After the judging on Friday, it was obvious Branch came to the Olympia to try and win it this year. He improved upon his 2009 look, which shocked many people last year. To see him come in bigger, fuller and even more ripped was a sight to behold. In trying to describe Branch's physique, I've used this illustration in the past, but it still is an easy way to describe it. Phil Heath's physique looks like it was carved and from marble and then polished. Branch's physique looks like he was blasted out of granite and all the rough little details stay there without filing or polishing. It's a very dry, rugged look. Get the picture?

Branch Warren At The 2010 Olympia. Branch Warren At The 2010 Olympia.
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Branch Warren At The 2010 Olympia.
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Warren is thick and massive and he looks like you couldn't move him if he doesn't want to be moved. His legs have always been a strong point and I think they were even a bit larger this year and drier too. (I really didn't think that was even possible.) He improved his back; it showed more detail. His arms were better this year too. All around Branch looked bigger, thicker and his conditioning was on point.

Because of his conditioning, a few people I talked to on Saturday morning had Branch in first place - ahead of Jay and Phil. As good as Branch looked, I didn't see him winning the show. It wasn't out of the realm of possibilities because he was in great shape. I just didn't think he would overcome Phil based on aesthetics. I thought Dexter might even be ahead of Branch based on aesthetics. After Branch improved again for the finals, I changed my mind on that one very quickly.

Dexter was improved from when I saw him at the Arnold Classic this spring. He wasn't nearly at his best in Columbus because he just wasn't sharp enough and his legs looked smaller. At the Olympia, however, he was crisper, but not the degree that I've seen him in the past. His hamstrings weren't as tight as a few years ago and that was very noticeable when he stood next to Branch, Jay and Phil. Those three guys have the best hamstrings in the IFBB right now so Dexter needed to have that look too, but he didn't.

Dexter Jackson At The 2010 Olympia. Dexter Jackson At The 2010 Olympia.
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Dexter Jackson At The 2010 Olympia.
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Wolf vs. Rockel

Dennis Wolf finally got things back in order for the big show. He really needed to place well at a big competition since his downhill slide from last year's Olympia where he slid out of the top fifteen. He tried to redeem himself with a win at the New York Pro in May of this year, however, he came in flat and barely squeaked into third place, but that was good enough for an Olympia qualification.

As soon as Dennis stepped out on stage and before he even hit one pose, everyone could see the Wolf was about to howl once again. He was wide, full, and ripped. That was the physique everyone wanted to see last year.

Besides getting his conditioning right, did he make any improvements? His lower to middle back still needs work, but I don't know if he can really do much to bring that area out. It doesn't look like the muscle fibers are there. I think it adds to his dramatic v-taper in his back-double-bicep pose, though. If his waist was wider and his lower back was thicker, the flare wouldn't be as impressive.

Dennis Wolf At The 2010 Olympia. Dennis Wolf At The 2010 Olympia.
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Dennis Wolf At The 2010 Olympia.
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He still needs to add size to his calves, but several guys have won the Mr. Olympia without great lower legs so maybe that doesn't matter anyway.

His hamstrings were tight and they were even sharper during his routine. By the time the final round was judged near the end of the show, his hamstrings started to smooth out. And that was only a couple of hours.

Overall I think the 2010 Dennis Wolf was somewhere between his 2007 and 2008 showings. He wasn't as dry as he was in 2008, but he was tighter than 2007 and just as full.

I was very happy to see Ronny Rockel break into the top six. I saw this guy at the Ironman back in 2004 and was very impressed with how complete his physique was then. He had good proportions, shape and symmetry back then. He has filled out since then and has brought up his ability to really dial it in for a show. Rockel has worked very hard on his presentation because it does not come natural to him. The extra time and effort has paid off and he is now among the top six in the world.

Height was the major factor that he didn't place ahead of Wolf. Dennis towers over him and his frame is so much wider than Ronny's. It makes Ronny look small in comparison. If Ronny keeps making improvements, his height will become less and less of a factor.

Ronny Rockel At The 2010 Olympia. Ronny Rockel At The 2010 Olympia.
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Ronny Rockel At The 2010 Olympia.
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Jay vs. Phil

After the judging I was very impressed with Phil Heath. Last year I picked him to win, but he got food poisoning. This year I predicted a third place finish for him, behind Kai and Jay, respectively. When I left the Orleans Arena on Friday night, I started thinking that Phil might have the edge. Jay looked very good, but not quite as good as last year. It was very close and I didn't think Phil blew Jay away. I could see where Jay might be in first place at the point too because Jay's mass really made him stand out. You can't help but keep looking at Jay on the stage when he's the biggest guy standing on it.

Phil Heath At The 2010 Olympia. Phil Heath At The 2010 Olympia.
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Phil Heath At The 2010 Olympia.
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Did I mention that Jay was really huge? You can't appreciate how big he is until you see him moving around on stage next to the other competitors. That three-dimensional perspective and depth cannot be captured on video or in a photo. Those who have seen Jay in a competition know what I'm talking about. On Saturday morning I knew if Jay was going to win his fourth title, it would be because of his size. Phil and Branch were beating him in the conditioning area.

A couple hours before the finals my wife, Rosemarie, and I decided to go to dinner. We happened to sit at the table next to Lonnie Teper in the Country Café in the Orleans casino. I couldn't help asking him who he picked for the win and he was going with Jay Cutler. Lonnie thought Jay's conditioning was almost on par with last year and his size would carry him through to victory. I told him I thought Phil might pull it off based on conditioning and aesthetics, but knew very well Jay could win his fourth title because he outsized everyone.

I found out that Jay had been fighting some dehydration problems on Friday night and he had corrected the issue by the finals on Saturday night. I thought Jay did look better at the finals and started thinking more and more that Jay was going to take the title again.

Phil Heath And Jay Cutler At The 2010 Mr. Olympia.
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Phil Heath And Jay Cutler At The 2010 Mr. Olympia.
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After the routines were completed the final six were eventually called back for the judges to make the one last comparison that would determine who was going to win. The decision for Kai to win the Arnold Classic this year over Phil was determined in the final round despite Phil being ahead by three points when the last round began. I knew it was close for all the placings and one of these guys might move up one place or move down a place.

I was looking at Jay, Phil and Branch. I didn't look too much at Dexter or Wolf. I don't think I even looked at Rockel in that round. I was comparing who I knew would be the top three. I just wasn't sure of the order. Branch looked amazing. He was chiseled. Phil with his full sweeping muscle bellies reminded me of Ronnie Coleman in his prime. Jay was, well, big. I did notice that Jay's chest looked very flat from the side compared to both Branch and Phil. That was about the only thing that I saw on Jay that appeared smaller than the other guys.

As they moved guys around I was fairly certain that Rockel was in sixth and Wolf would come in fifth. Even though I had Dexter third after the judging, I thought he'd be in the fourth spot. When it came to third place I was certain that it would be Branch filling that spot. Then I took one more look and for some reason I thought he might actually pull it off and win it. Nope. He was announced in third. A lot of people booed at that decision, but, hey somebody had to be third. And it was Branch. It was a good call too.

The last two guys, Phil and Jay, were still standing and waiting for Bob C. to call out one of their names as Mr. Olympia. At that point, I really wasn't sure who the title was going to. I went back and forth. Back and forth. Phil for aesthetics. Jay for size. Everyone was on the edge of their seats when Jay was finally announced as the winner. I felt it was a good decision.

Jay Cutler At The 2010 Olympia. Jay Cutler At The 2010 Olympia.
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Jay Cutler At The 2010 Olympia.
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Conclusion

Many good things happened at the Olympia this year. The judging was good. It seemed fair and on target. Jay won his fourth title to move ahead of Oliva and Zane, who both have three wins each. Wolf came back from the abyss. Phil made new fans because of the physique he brought to the stage. Branch improved again and Rockel made the top six. I'm sure many people would have been happy to see Kai and Victor in the final round, but it wasn't to be this year. Maybe next time. Only one whole year to go. I can't wait!

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