The anticipation of the fans could almost be touched as it traveled throughout the Orleans Arena while the competitors were about to file out one by one. After a year of waiting, many of our questions were about to be answered. How would Ronnie look? Was his back and arm “fixed” or not?
Did Jay nail his conditioning two years in a row? Was there some dark horse lurking in the shadows who might possibly rise to the occasion and challenge the two Mr. Olympia champions? Suffice it to say that it was a fierce battle and another one for the history books of pro bodybuilding.
The guys we were all waiting to see were Cutler, Coleman, and Martinez. In most pre-Olympia predictions, these three athletes were the top picks. Dexter Jackson, Toney Freeman and Dennis Wolf were the other names mentioned in peoples’ top six. I, like everyone else, was waiting to see what kind of conditioning these guys would bring to the stage.
At the beginning of the night, each athlete came to the stage for 90 seconds to show their stuff. Here were my initial thoughts on each competitor.
Dennis Wolf was the first competitor to take the stage. Last year he placed near the bottom of the pack, but as everyone knows he won his first pro show at the Keystone Classic and he could easily have taken a second win over Branch Warren and no one would have questioned it. Dennis has an incredible v-taper with tremendously wide shoulders and a wasp-like waist, which gives him a very pleasing and aesthetic appearance.
See More Pictures Of Dennes Wolf Here.
It was obvious Dennis was in shape and ready to do battle with the big boys. My thought was that he was top-five material even before I saw any of the other competitors. It was like seeing a new Arnold Schwarzenegger burst into the Olympia scene. He ended his routine with an absolutely unbelievable most muscular and brought the crowd to a roar. Not bad for the first competitor!
David Henry was up next after Wolf and it was obvious Henry had brought his tremendous conditioning back to the stage. After following the big, bad Wolf, Henry appeared tiny. Well-muscled and ripped, but tiny.
See More Pictures Of David Henry Here.
Melvin Anthony was up next and my first thought was he was a bit smoother than last year, but he was in better shape than he was a few weeks ago when he placed fourth. Anthony has beautiful shape and is very aesthetic. We came in at a lean 237 pounds and would be in the running again for top-five.
See More Pictures Of Melvin Anthony Here.
Mark Dugdale came out on stage and looked really small. He looked nothing like the guy I saw at the Iron Man in February earlier this year. I thought Mark might crack the top ten a few weeks ago, but my first thought was he might be battling for last, which was a big surprise to me. He had good color, but that was about it.
See More Pictures Of Mark Dugdale Here.
Dexter Jackson was in good condition and sported his trademark cuts. He didn’t look any bigger, but he was going to be top-five again this year.
See More Pictures Of Dexter Jackson Here.
Sergey Shelestov looked good when he came out. He was even showing some glute striations. Bob C. predicted him to be last and I didn’t think that prediction was going to come true. He appeared to be cramping at the end of his posing.
See More Pictures Of Sergey Shelestov Here.
Quincy Taylor looked huge when he came walking out and showed good definition and looked better than when I saw him at the Olympia a couple years ago.
See More Pictures Of Quincy Taylor Here.
Hidetada Yamagishi was up next and it was great to see Japan represented at the Mr. Olympia for the first time. Hide was in good condition at looked on par with the way he did at this year’s Iron Man. I thought he might make the top 15.
See More Pictures Of Hidetada Yamagishi Here.
Next up was Victor Martinez, one of the three guys I was waiting for. Victor had nailed his conditioning and looked like he’d be a threat to both Cutler and Coleman. When Victor turned around, the crowd reacted with lots of noise of approval. If Cutler and Coleman were off, we’d have a new Mr. Olympia.
See More Pictures Of Victor Martinez Here.
Darrem Charles followed Martinez and, like Henry following Wolf, Darrem appeared much thinner than Martinez and not nearly as thick. Charles was, of course, well conditioned, but he lacked size.
See More Pictures Of Darrem Charles Here.
Bill Wilmore was up next and he wouldn’t be a threat for any high placings.
See More Pictures Of Bill Wilmore Here.
Ronnie Rockel took the stage after Willmore and looked really good, very pleasing to the eye. He has great proportion and is very symmetrical. His coloring was good again this year. My only criticism is that he looks sort of short in the same way Franco did. Great physique, just short looking.
See More Pictures Of Ronnie Rockel Here.
Eddie Abbew was huge but was holding lots of water.
See More Pictures Of Eddie Abbew Here.
Gustavo Badell was looking intense as always when he entered the stage. He is one the few guys that actually looks like he’s “competing.” Badell’s taper has improved. But his legs, especially the quads, looked smaller. He seemed more streamlined and I thought he’d be battling for the top-six placings again.
See More Pictures Of Gustavo Badell Here.
Johnnie Jackson was in okay shape and his legs needed some more size and sweep.
See More Pictures Of Johnnie Jackson Here.
The big surprise was Toney Freeman. He was smooth and looked nothing like he did earlier this year when he won a few of the first shows this spring. No top six or seven this year. Maybe not even the top 10.
See More Pictures Of Toney Freeman Here.
Vince Taylor was up next and it’s great to see him on the Olympia stage, again. This guy was competing when I was competing in amateur show in the 1980s. He showing his age and was pretty smooth in the hamstrings. He’ll battle it out for last with Dugdale.
See More Pictures Of Vince Taylor Here.
Markus Ruhl was huge but smooth. Even smooth Ruhl is a crowd favorite. He’s just fun to watch and the crowd always reacts wildly when he comes out.
See More Pictures Of Markus Ruhl Here.
Silvio Samuel followed Ruhl and despite the size difference held his own because of the stellar conditioning. I’m not sure how Samuel shows up in shape in every show he enters. He’s always sharp and might grab a top-10 spot at his first Olympia.
See More Pictures Of Silvio Samuel Here.
Paco Bautista came out looking huge. Although well conditioned, he’s not the most aesthetically pleasing physique and since the show wasn’t held in Europe, he’ll be out of the top 10.
See More Pictures Of Paco Bautista Here.
Marcus Haley looked ripped but smooth at the same time. That’s sort of a weird description, but he must have been holding some water.
See More Pictures Of Marcus Haley Here.
Ronnie Coleman took a little while before entering the stage to draw out the anticipation. He looked better than last year but still looked a little smooth. His coloring, which was the same as last year, didn’t look as good as it did when he won his shows. Ronnie was a little watery but it looked like he might be hardening up as the prejudging continued.
His back looked better than last year, but still a little lob-sided. His tricep looke a little better also, but now his other tricep seemed to be lagging too.
See More Pictures Of Ronnie Coleman Here.
Will Harris came out and I was impressed. He looked great for following Ronnie. It would be interesting to see how Harris would do.
See More Pictures Of Will Harris Here.
Jay Cutler took the stage and appeared dark and huge, really huge. My initial thought was he had Olympia number two in the bag, but then I thought he didn’t seem as sharp as he did last year. This could leave the door open for Victor, Ronnie or even Wolf.
See More Pictures Of Jay Cutler Here.
Dexter Jackson, Victor Martinez, Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler were in the first callout of the night. They were the top four from last year. Cutler wasn’t dominating this group.
See More Pre-Judging Comparison Pictures Here.
Dexter was in the best shape in my book, but he was the smallest. Ronnie was big and a little watery (but much better than last year). Jay looked good but was a tad off. Victor probably had the best combo of size, symmetry and conditioning.
Callout Number Two was Wolf, Henry, Anthony and Samuel. I thought Wolf had this callout with Melvin trailing marginally. David Henry edged out Samuel.
Dennis Wolf and Melvin Anthony stepped back and Ronnie Rockel and Gustavo Badell took their places.
Wolf, Jackson, Anthony and Coleman were in the next callout. That was a surprise and a blow to Coleman. They moved Wolf next to Ronnie and did the comparison poses. I thought Wolf had Ronnie in a few of the poses.
Coleman and Wolf stepped back and Cutler and Martinez took their places. Martinez was looking stronger and Cutler was not.
There were a few more callouts to determine the lower placings and during this time Jay Cutler was getting fanned with a towel by one of the expediters. He was looking pretty tired and dehydrated.
The last callout had last year’s top-five of Ronnie Coleman, Dexter Jackson, Jay Cutler, Melvin Anthony and Victor Martinez. In the side-by-side comparisons I thought Victor edged out Jay.
Later In The Parking Lot
As I was exiting the Orleans Arena, several competitors were leaving including Dennis Wolf. I told him had the best most muscular in the show and he said, “Thanks” and gave me the thumbs up. He was consulting with Milos afterwards and I asked (interrupted actually) Milos who he thought won. “Dennis Wolf,” he replied.
Steve Blechman from Muscular Development was convinced Victor had pulled off a victory. Blechman was very excited that Wolf had made such a strong showing afterwards.
Marcus Haley and several other fans felt that Dennis Wolf should be declared the winner, but thought the judges would go with Victor. Some people even had Cutler in fourth place because they thought he was that smooth. No one had Ronnie winning it, but some had him third, in front of Cutler.
Ronnie Coleman was strolling out into the parking lot where a Hummer was waiting for him. Fans swarmed the Hummer and were shouting encouragement. Coleman was all smiles and Flex Wheeler came up to his window and chatted for a moment and it appeared Flex was giving Ronnie some encouragement also.
In less than 24 hours we’ll know if Victor will upset jay or if the fan favorite Dennis Wolf will pull off an amazing come-from-behind win. Without a doubt, this has been won of the most exciting Mr. Olympia judgings in history!