|Mr. Olympia Reflections 2004 By Shawn Ray
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Mr. Olympia Reflections 2004
By Shawn Ray
Bodybuilding legend Shawn Ray in winning form.
The weekend got kicked off with the annual Press Conference where both Men & Women dressed in sweats provided by Max Muscle joined at the scene of the battle which would occur in the near future, to shoot each other challenges and respond to questions through the press moderator Pro bodybuilder, Bob Cicherillo. The usual stuff, soft ball questions about training, nutrition etc.. then WWE Superstar Triple HHH joined in the fun by re-wording a few of the questions and answers from the Pro’s adding his two cents when and where he could get it in.
As usual, the Fitness and Figure Women where mostly ignored in favor of the Men on the panel however, there was a war being waged between last years 1st Runner-up, Iris Kyle and reigning queen of bodybuilding and 7- Time defending champion, Lenda Murray. They shot word back and forth as Iris swore to beat Ms. Olympia to become Ms. Olympia which she would later go on to do! Rarely if ever has a reigning Olympian been beaten in head to head competition, as we literally witnessed history in the making in Iris dethroning and possibly retiring Lenda Murray for good!
Back at the ranch, the Press Conference went into high gear as 6 Time Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman who was highly agititated by Gunter Schlierkamp’s reference to beating Ronnie last year at the GNC and would soon do it again! Ronnie would later get up out of his chair, stand on the table, whip off his sweat jacket wearing a Spandex t-shirt and holla, “I’m gonna kick ya’lls Azz!” With that, Ronnie proceeded to challenge Man, Beast and Machines to pose down! He jumped center stage pulled off his shirt and hit some most muscular to Jay Cutlers delight as he would join in the fray right next to the champ! Gunter, a little pale for contest standards, would do the dame and we had a 3 man pose down and an all out Free for ALL with some of the ladies jumping in and hitting Abs Shots, lifting up their sweats to show their legs and more! The place went crazy and all of this was Free of Charge!
What a warm up of thing's to come…….. or would they?
Saturday October 30th:
The Prejudging began on time 12pm sharp! Earlier in the year the IFBB had a meeting that would change the order in which the athletes would appear onstage to benefit Athlete and Fan, as they would appear individually one at a time on stage for their 8 mandatory poses before being compared or called out by the judges. This order also was created to give the judges a better idea of “Who” to call out when the entire line up joined the stage because the athletes have been previewed and based on what was seen could be respectably called out for comparisons.
Some comparisons were right on time however; some call outs would baffle Stevie Wonder? By the end of prejudging, I think one thing was crystal clear, it was Ronnie’s show to lose and Dexter Jackson and Jay Cutler would be fighting for the Runner Up Spot.
Some small surprises shaped up from the afternoon proceedings:
Rookie Pro, Richard Jones looked flat and depleted. He would not be a threat to the top 10 however; his classic lines and posing made him respectable for being on the Olympia Stage for his first time after a whirlwind tour of Ireland, Australia, the US and qualifying in the Night of Champions in May. At 30 years old, he was the youngest in the contest and has Father Time on his side to improve on his weaknesses.
Dennis James looked better in the gym than onstage, as his legs were from the rear were devoid of separation and he appeared to be top heavy. His back detail still is a long way from the top 5 and his posing needs professional help for him to fully regain top 5 status.
Gunter Schlierkamp, a gentleman in every sense of the word was the lucky winner of the night, as he was mysteriously called out with Superior Bodybuilders and generously given a top 6 finish by the distinguished judges. In the challenge round he would not win single comparison pose against the other athletes, go figure?
Troy Alves, last years Rookie of the Year would get lost in the shuffle of mass as he finished out of the top 10 in his second Mr. Olympia contest. Troy’s upper body was sliced and diced however, his weakness is his hamstrings and glutes, which used to haunt former IFBB great, Flex Wheeler. This time around though, Troy appeared to be very near to solving the problem but too little too late in the eyes of the judges who left him waiting and wanting. Troy needs a bit more thigh separation and better chance at comparisons with top athletes.
Darrem Charles would compete 6 times this year including the Mr. Olympia and win 2 shows and place 2nd in 3 more! Darrem was ripped and then Ripped OFF! Say what you will about Darrem not being the biggest, the same can be said about Dexter and a few others but this guy deserves to be compared with the top level guys and he never is? Darrem would finish in 10th place and wrap up the night with the crowd on his side as he brought down the house with his posing routine which would garner him the 2nd Annual “Best Presentation Award” of $10,000.00 I created for the athlete with the best over all presentation with the money being raised through various sponsors who love being entertained, which they were and then some!
Chris Cormier: What can I say? Chris began the year with a nice start placing 2nd in the Arnold Classic for the 5th time! He arguably could have beaten Jay Cutler but the judges had other ideas and Chris never fully recovered. He would go on to compete in the San Francisco Pro only to drop out before finishing the contest. Later, he would fly to Australia only to get Man handled by Dexter Jackson. Chris was rumored to have been off the mark weeks before the contest and those rumors proved to be true. A former top 3 guy, Chris is slowly beginning to lose ground to the New Jacks! At 37 years old, he is far from being washed up but sooner or later this guy has got to wake up and realize his true potential or these other athletes will make him pay! Chris was soft from the front and back, his trademark shots helped him tremendously however, this is the Olympia it is not what you have that gets you to the final 6 but what you don’t have! You need to be damn near flawless to get to the Mountain Top and Chris had a lot of flaws on this night.
Victor Martinez: This New Yorker came to his first ever Mr. Olympia contest on the heels of winning the GNC Pro 2 weeks prior as a front runner. However, like I have always said, your only as good as the people you beat! The GNC line-up was not the Mr. Olympia Contest, as Victors finishinh 9th place proved. Victor has all the attributes to be a great competitor, Mr. Olympia Champion….. Dude has to prove himself a lot more to get me to utter those words. He has the tools but lacks the experience. His stage presence needs to improve dramatically. He could work on his color and poses, which would help get him noticed more. Overall, Victor did not embarrass himself, if anything he got unfairly ignored by athletes with bigger names. He’ll be back, that we can look forward to!
Now on to the top 5:
5th place: “Der Freak”, Markus Ruhl: This German Giant was all over the place with his Muscle MASS! Lat spread looking like a B-52 bomber! Markus’ neck disappears when he does a lat spread even. Big & Muscular he was the only one who could stand next to Coleman and not get blown away however, he was soft in the back and his skin was just too thick for the detail required to knock off the guys in front of him. This is Markus’s first time in the top 5 an improvement from last year and a spot his will not rest at according to him. His famous last words were, “I’ll be BACK!”
4th place: “The Blade” Dexter Jackson: Dexter was clearly the big loser with the implementation of the new “Challenge Round” which would knock him from 3rd to 4th place before the dust settled. Dexter in my book reasonably could have placed 2nd in this contest but the new round slapped him in the face and he could do nothing but take it, as he was clearly the most conditioned athlete and the most balanced of the 4 left standing onstage. His high lats were not as distracting as in the past and his proportions were evenly balanced. Pose for Pose he beat Ronnie on the Abs & Thigh but lost in the Challenge Round, go figure? He clearly beat Jay from the rear and pose for pose was the harder of the two. What doesn’t kill him should make him stronger, time will tell. 8 more Mr. O’s and Dexter will have experienced a bit of what I did for 13 years but can he last…..?
3rd place: “Gracious” Gustavo Badell. Gustavo has got to be the nicest of all the bodybuilders on stage as well as the Most Improved! This Puerto Rican native took the 2004 Mr. O line up by surprise! He placed 3rd in the Pro Ironman this past February to qualify, distinguishing himself as one to watch with the nutritional guidance of IFBB Pro, Milos Sarcev. Then he casually disappeared out of site for 8 months, only to resurface as the one to beat in the Mr. O! Gustavo was the definitely the beneficiary of the Challenge Round, not to take anything away from his accomplishment however, he definitely belonged in the top 4. Gustavo packed about as much muscle he will ever be able to carry on his body with chiseled Abs to boot! He held his own in comparisons and served notice that Dexter and Company better dot the I’s and cross the T’s if they plan on being next in line for the throne! Pound for Pound, Dexter and Jay did not put much distance between themselves and Gustavo as this man has come into his own. There is no doubt if judged fairly he could begin to win some top shows in 2005!
2nd Place: “A Cut Above” Jay Cutler: Mr. Cutler was all business as he said at the Press Conference matching Ronnie pose for pose 2 days prior to the showdown. Jay the reigning 3- Time Arnold Classic Champion and now 3 Time 1st Runner up in the Mr. Olympia Contest, somehow some way made a contest out of what he had to work with. Jay has not taken a break in quite a while yet he managed to quietly position himself in a comfortable setting of being next in line. Jay from the front was classic Cutler. Big, Round and Full! He mastered his side chest and front double Bi’ shot and could not wait for the Ab & Thigh comparison with Ronnie, which he won every time. From the back, Jay still lacks the detail of the champion which he may never get. However, Jay is still young compared to the Muscle Maturity of the Champ and could possibly bring the lack of detail up one day. Jay was professional and all Class, as he posed to Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye” one could not help but wonder if he was serving notice to Ronnie as the challenge round was to come next?
From my point of view, Jay looks like he needs a bit of a rest from the Arnold Classic which comes on the heels of the Mr. O, as it does not allow sufficient time for him to bring up weak spots and recover for a show this big against a champion this formidable!
1st place: “The Big Nasty” Ronnie Coleman: The 7 Time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman is on the verge of making history and setting the stage for next year at the ripe old age of 40!
Ronnie, who was slightly off last seasons contest condition but 5 to 10 lbs heavier, was dominating to say the least. I am not all that impressed by his posing but he seems to enjoy himself and they way he presents his body so who am I to complain, he is the Champ! Ronnie clearly has some chinks in his amour. In the Challenge Round, Ronnie got blasted by Dexter in the Abs & Thigh pose, which All of his Challengers called him out on.
Ronnie’s side chest leaves a lot to be desired when compared to people who can actually hit it right like Dexter and Jay. His side triceps shot is not one of the best in the business and he got exposed because of it. As well, Markus Ruhl stood toe to toe with the champ on the Front Lat Spread pose! From where I sat, in certain poses you would never know Dexter was giving up 70lbs to Ronnie? However, when the Big Nasty turned around, it was his trade mark “Lights Out Lat Spread” that did every one in. Ronnie’ back is clearly light years ahead of the next competitor. All those grooves, valleys and peaks make Ronnie the Undisputed Champion knocking on the Great Lee Haney’s door for a record tying 8 wins for next year!
Ronnie, a God fearing man, rose to the challenge in the face of change and took the blows while tying Arnold Schwazhisnames record of 7 Mr. Olympia Titles! Overall, the evening felt rushed and anti climactic from all accounts after speaking with the fans. The winner of the contest was given away with no Big Bang, No Speech, No Prestige, as the other winners received their awards, the champ was announced then left to stand and watch.
“The Free for All Pose down” at the end of the night, where all the athletes went into the crowd on the surface was cool but there was no official commencement of the event and no thank you’s or goodbye’s from the champ?
We could all play “Monday Morning Quarterback” now that the show is over. However, we learned a few things, tried different things and will improve in both areas as we continue to try and put our athlete’s front and center!
My fight is for the Athletes to receive their fair share of compensation from Pay Per View or Ban the entire deal! These guys work too hard to be sold to the general audience for free. The flip side is that when the dust settled, I realized the federation is taking giant steps to try new things and create more opportunities for us to be linked with other high profile personalities which will lead to a wider audience. Motion Picture Star, Sly Stallone was there to lend his support, as well as Comedian, Tom Arnold and WWE star Triple H. Last but not least the “Govenator”, Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up to continue supporting the sport of bodybuilding as he is the Executive Editor of Muscle & Fitness. Arnold continues to stay faithful to his roots and come out each year to lend his name and time to the Mr. Olympia Weekend!
The show overall was a great success for the new team of Weider / AMI and while many of the fans may not have welcomed some of the changes that were implemented and some of the decision that were rendered, we are without a doubt moving in the right direction and with your feed back and suggestions, this new team will be able to build upon what we already have and get rid of what we don’t need. I am choosing to be part of the solution as relates to the advancement of the Mr. Olympia Contest instead of focusing on the negatives. Your help and input can be sent to: www.ifbb.com with regard to ways of improving next years contest.
Again, congratulations to 7- Time Mr. Olympia Champion, Ronnie Coleman and the Best Presentation Award Winner, Darrem Charles on their victories Saturday night at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino.
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