by Geoff Roberts
7th place: Maxx Charles
Normally I would not assess a show all the way down to the 7th place finisher, but unfortunately for Max Charles, this year’s 7th place finisher at the Arnold Classic should not have been any lower than 5th, and some could even argue for him placing as high as 3rd. I have knocked Maxx in the past for having some “funny” looking triceps, an issue that did not bother me this year. Not only was Max the widest guy in the entire show, he also displayed a very small waist with no distention to speak of. In fact, of all of the industry insiders who have given their personal opinion on the show, not one of them had Maxx finishing lower than 5th, and the overwhelming sentiment was that he should have been 4th. These are not just fans, they are media personalities and former competitors who clearly know what they are talking about.
There always seems to be one major robbery at this particular contest. In 2013 Cedric placed 6th when not one person would have complained if he had won the show. It was one of the best Cedric’s we have ever seen to this day, yet he was relegated to 6th behind both Hide Yamagishi and Johnnie Jackson. Ironically, in 2014 it was Branch Warren who was robbed at the Arnold Classic. The 2014 Arnold Classic was really the last time that Branch showed us “the old Branch” so to speak. He was massive and absolutely peeled to the bone, yet lost to a sub par Victor Martinez, who amongst other things, was not controlling his midsection at said show. The irony is that this year Branch was judged by a panel of overly nice Santa Clause’s. But I regress, the bottom line is that at this show, Maxx Charles received the excremental side of the small wooden branch.
6th place: Juan Morel
Juan Morel is one of my favorite pros. I love his look, and he is one of the coolest guys that I have met in this industry. For these reasons, I won’t get into the nitty gritty of why he was not his best and Maxx should have certainly beat him. Simply put, Maxx was hands down the best he has ever been, while Juan was not his best, especially not at prejudging. Even so, I would not have had Juan any lower than he was, because I would have him beating Branch, but losing to Maxx, which would have a net effect of him staying right in that 6th place spot.
5th place: Branch Warren
Just as I predicted in my preview article, Branch steals 5th place despite everyone and their brother disagreeing with the placing. The reason it was so easy to predict was that this has become a ritual of sorts as of late. At prejudging, Branch could have quite literally been placed dead last and nobody would have said a thing. He was significantly better at the night show, as were most of the competitors, but it was not enough to move him into 5th place, not by a mile. Branch really had no business placing ahead of Maxx, Juan, or Evan Centopani for that matter. Everyone knows that Branch is the ultimate bad ass bodybuilding workhorse and nobody can take that away from him. Branch also has an incredible presence onstage that makes you want to cheer for him whether or not you are a fan of his. That said, this was certainly a gift from a physique standpoint.
4th place: Justin Compton
Justin looked just as I had feared, or worse. For some reason, bodybuilders absolutely refuse to learn that you cannot get too big too fast, because it will destroy your physique. Phil Heath specifically said that it would never happen to him for years and years, but wouldn’t ya know it, he got too big! Justin got too big even faster than Phil. From the Orlando Pro in 2014 to the 2015 Arnold Classic last year, Justin’s waist grew by about 40%, while the rest of him grew by about 15%. That does not and will not ever add up. Nonetheless, top bodybuilders continue to make the same exact mistake over and over again, failing to learn from history. In 2014 I had pegged Justin as the new Jay Cutler, the guy who would challenge Phil, then take him out. After seeing him at these last two Arnold Classics, I am finding it hard to believe he will ever be a top guy at the Olympia. It seems as if his midsection has physically grown to a point of no return. Some people are of the opinion that he can “streamline” his waist back down and be a force once again, but I’m not so sure. Hopefully, for the sake of bodybuilding, I am wrong.
3rd place: Josh Lenartowicz
I was not impressed with the photos of Josh from Kevin Levrone’s show. It must have just been the photos, because he was outstanding at this Arnold Classic. Dense, hard muscle, with great quad sweep, shoulder width, and deep, fantastic abs. In a very unlikely twist of fate, Josh has come over from the land down under and leapfrogged over Justin Compton as our new up and coming star. Nobody on that stage was happier than Josh, and it showed. Based on his structure and midsection, Josh is a guy who could potentially put on another five to ten pounds and do serious damage at the very top of our sport.
2nd place Cedric McMillan
Cedric was nearly flawless at prejudging, but may have faded just a hair at the finals. Although, it could be that Kai came back so much better at night, causing a greater contrast between his condition and Cedric’s. After Cedric’s routine, and before Kai’s, I would have bet good money on Cedric winning the show. He clearly beat Kai at prejudging and looked absolutely flawless during his routine. Kai had other plans. This sets us up with some much needed hype for the 2016 Mr. Olympia. With Cedric displaying a physique almost good enough to defeat the great Kai Greene, we now have five competitors who will be hoping to dethrone Phil Heath come September. Kai Greene, Cedric McMillan, Dexter Jackson, Shawn Rhoden, and Big Ramy all feel that they have a chance against the champ, and we have only seen two shows this year so far.
1st place: Kai Greene
Kai is now tied with Jay Cutler as a three time Arnold Classic champion. I have said on many occasions that Kai should have been doing the Arnold Classic all of these years and collecting the 2nd greatest trophy in all of bodybuilding year after year. While placing 2nd at the Olympia may give you a higher “rank” than winning the Arnold, I still feel that winning the Arnold is a much more prestigious accomplishment than placing 2nd at the Olympia. I truly believe that Kai won this show with his posing routine. Not so much because it was scored, but because it was a phenomenal routine that made the crowd go crazy and made every person in the building take notice of Kai’s improvements from the prejudging. The Kai Green we saw at the finals would have certainly won the Mr. Olympia back in September, and it will be very interesting to see how he fairs against the champ this year, assuming he competes.
In basketball, often times a team might make two long three point shots in a row, or have two massive dunks in a row, which cause a massive uproar of cheers from the audience, and gives said team a massive amount of momentum. At which time, most coaches will call a timeout, as a way to douse the flame of that momentum and energy. That is the exact same effect Kai’s posing routine had on this show, but Chris Aceto could not call a timeout for Cedric. Kai’s posing routine was akin to Steph Curry draining several deep three pointers in a row, causing the crowd to go nuts, and cutting the opponent’s lead from 15 to 6. While they are still losing, that amount of momentum and energy from the crowd will almost always allow them to make up the rest of the ground and be victorious. Even people who do not like Kai’s normal routines loved this routine, and it very successfully turned the tide in his favor.