Millions of viewers flock to watch the latest 3D blockbuster, but in the grand scheme of things, only a handful of people will ever be featured in one, even as extras.
The Olympia tells a similar story.
Millions of bodybuilders around the globe diet, train and spend their hard-earned cash on supplement stacks, but very few of them ever get a chance to grace the Olympia stage, even as a 'number' rather a recognized name.
With that said, I don't mean to offend the professional athletes that I've left out of my 2011 Mr. Olympia preview. As far as I'm concerned, you've already earned respect.
Today I want to preview the blockbusters, not the 'charts' of the Bodybuilding Billboard.
The Empire Strikes Back
Jay Cutler came back from the brink of Olympian death when he was defeated by his nemesis, Dexter Jackson, in 2008. In 2009, he returned from the Dark Side with newfound Jedi powers to dominate the stage.
With the Force of nutritionist Hany Rambod, Jay was fuller, shredded, and more defined. It was easy to see that '09 was his most impressive victory to date. Last year, we expected much of the same.
Jay cancelled most of his appearances and stayed hidden in the Vegas desert to storm through his daily rituals without distraction. While Cutler won the 2010 Mr. Olympia crown, an impressive win it was not. (Said Yoda.) Noticeably flatter and smoother, the pressure and Jedi mind tricks of previous below-par showings had taken their toll on Cutler's confidence and physique.
In 2011, Jay has already leaked images of his lean physique and is coming into the Olympia to dominate the opposition. He is by far the biggest competitor on this stage. He needs to come in dry, shredded and full to the brim to get the job done and grab the Sandow. As history has proven for Cutler, this will be easier said than done.
First Blood, Part 2
If anyone has the cutlery to slice through Cutler's defense, it's Phil Heath. He's got the combat knife, complete with compass, to locate and pierce any weakness he can find.
Known as 'The Gift,' Heath drew first blood last year when he almost lured Jay into his booby trap and nearly stole the Sandow trophy. His fuller muscle bellies, outrageous depth and ravines of striation make him look more like a 3D action hero than someone with a pulse.
Phil has enough ammunition in his guns alone to blast past anyone in his way. His front and rear double biceps, side triceps, chest, and most muscular poses will draw the attention of judges and audience members alike. These shots showcase his X-rated arms, which pull him up the steep slopes of Mount Olympia as he carries body bags for unwary victims.
Undoubtedly, Kai Greene is a slightly different life-form compared to his pro bodybuilding colleagues.
He justifies and processes every thought. He can camouflage himself like a predator in a jungle, but he has bled when it mattered most. Listen: If he can bleed, he can be killed.
This was the case at the 2010 Mr. Olympia, where a wounded Kai limped onto the O stage with enough water weight to pull him to the ground. A shocking and emotionally disappointing 7th place was hardly the domination of the humans ahead that Kai had planned.
He promptly swapped out his guru, Oscar Arden, for George Farah. Since then, he's impressively collected skulls at the 2011 New York Pro by obliterating the field. Kai is back and scared of no man. All Olympia contenders should be afraid, very afraid.
Even a man who's pure of heart and prays by night may become a wolf when the autumn moon is bright.
A full moon hovered over Columbus during the Arnold Classic earlier this year, and Dennis Wolf bared his teeth and sunk them into his competition. The show's favorite, Branch Warren, proved to be the only competitor too big for the German to swallow, but with Warren out of the 2011 Olympia due to injury, Wolf has cultivated an even bigger appetite for destruction.
Dennis has the vicious muscle to maul all of his Olympia prey, but he also displays as much symmetry and more classical lines than some of the favorites in the Vegas habitat.
It's said there is no sin in killing a beast, only in killing a man. But where does one begin and the other end?
Come September 18th, Wolf will howl for forgiveness for the sins he's about to commit when he bares his fangs once again.
At the FLEX Pro earlier this year, Dexter Jackson's cuts and crevices were awash with shallow streams and smothered lines. His trademark ribbons of sharp sinew were too blunt to penetrate the podium's top shelf. Two weeks later at the Arnold Classic, his weakness pushed him to the edge of the top 5 competitors.
Fast forward 6 weeks to the FIBO in Germany. Dexter 'The Blade' Jackson swaggered amongst the nightwalkers with a different physique and a wholly different psyche. He had taken on the workmanship of Charles Glass to better sculpt his masterpiece, and he employed George Farah to sharpen the sword that previously earned him an Olympia title.
From what I've seen, Dexter is coming to the 2011 Olympia even sharper, and this time he's confident that he will be pushing silver stakes through the hearts of those who doubt his marvel powers.
When a low-budget film is particularly successful or exceeds the confines of its genre, then it's possible for it to become a blockbuster. Small creatures can always evolve into something bigger, something more powerful and predatory. Victor Martinez and cult classic Roelly Winklaar are two such beasts.
Despite his origins, an athlete can always become a blockbuster. September 15-18, look for one of these 'hit makers' or 'sleepers' to come alive through Vegas attention.
Of course, the Bodybuilding.com paparazzi will be on-site to give you the flash reports faster and more furiously than any other press outlet. Prepare your ass for the edge of its seat, 'cuz the 2011 Olympia will be one explosive ride.