And then there were two. As Jay Cutler and Branch Warren stood side by side on the stage at the Orleans Arena, the tension cut be cut with a knife. As emcee Bob Cicherillo was set to read out the winner’s name, a bit of confusion ensued when he led the announcement with “the new Mr. Olympia.”
Surely many people read into that statement and were under the impression that Warren’s name was about to be read. With Cutler having two Sandows to his name, many may have overlooked that defending champion Dexter Jackson was already on the side holding the third place check. So regardless of who won, technically he would have been the ‘new’ Mr. O.
Even though Cutler earned the win, Warren took a major step in his career towards adding his name to the list of Olympia champions. Coupled with his third place finish in March at the Arnold Classic, the Texan has become a major player in the open division and cannot be taken lightly or overlooked.
Since earning his pro card at the 2001 Nationals, Warren has had some success but never the kind where you would pick him as a possible winner of the two major shows, the Olympia and Arnold. That is until this year.
In his previous Olympia tries, Warren finished eighth (2005) and 12th (2006). As for the Arnold, Warren appeared to be on his way by being named the runner-up in 2006 but took a few steps back with a seventh place finish the following year.
His shelf is not totally void of hardware, though. Warren won the 2005 Charlotte Pro and Europa Supershow, as well as the 2007 New York Pro. While those are proud accomplishments, being remembered as one of the greats of your sport requires at least one O or Arnold.
It was the opinion of many that Warren, 33, was in the best condition at this past Olympia and his size only was accentuated by it. No one came close to matching his legs and his upper body was in proportion with his wheels. His placing may have been considered a surprise by some but for those who have been watching Warren for a while knew that it was only a matter of time before he caught up with the competition.
One more step to go.