New promoters, new judging format, new celebrities, and several new athletes were more than enough to keep us guessing.
The Big Change
The biggest change was the introduction of the highly anticipated new Challenge Round, hosted by Triple H and introduced by Sylvester Stallone.
For the first time ever, the athletes had the chance to address the fans and their competitors on stage. The new round turned out to be exactly what promoters were looking for. It was captivating as the scores were unveiled in real-time following each challenge.
Overall, it was entertaining, unless you ask Dexter Jackson, who oddly lost an abdominal challenge to Ronnie Coleman. The outcome of that challenge resulted in Dexter dropping to 4th place behind Gustavo Badell in the final standings.
After finishing 3rd just a few weeks earlier in Atlanta, Badell stunned the bodybuilding world with an improbable 3rd place finish in the biggest show of his life. Badell was in tremendous shape and he's certainly not lacking in overall size. He presented a thick, very balanced and well-conditioned physique… thrusting himself into the upper-tier, ahead of some of the sports biggest names.
The main event of course was "Ronnie vs Jay". Both giants were ready. Ronnie managed to keep his mid-section relatively in-check while presenting unprecedented size and rear development. Ronnie reported that he arrived with nearly 15 more pounds than the previous year.
As for Jay, his front poses were sensational and his overall condition and size kept him very close to Ronnie. But, in the end, Ronnie's superior back and glutes kept him in the winners circle… for a 7th consecutive year.
Gift for Gunter - perhaps the most obvious judging blunder was the Top 6 placing of Gunter Schlierkamp. This was a tragedy for several athletes who were superior. The most glaring example was Darrem Charles. Several judges reported (privately) that Darrem deserved a spot among the Top 6. Somehow, the head judge overlooked Darrem during much of the early stages of prejudging.
Speaking of Darrem, he was the recipient of Shawn Ray's 2nd annual Best Presentation award. The $10,000 cash prize was presented to Darrem at Shawn's All-Star Seminar held the day after the show at Gold's Gym.
Darrem recieving his award at Shawn's All-Star Seminar.
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So far, the TV reviews have been positive. Improved audio quality and additional cameras resulted in enhanced production value. Executive Producer Richard Enlow and his staff worked around the clock to ensure that bodybuilding fans around the country had the opportunity to view the Olympia live.
As our president was re-elected to another term, Big Ron remains perched in his throne, the envy of all who pursue his crown. It seems that neither can be defeated.
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