by Matt Meinrod
Everybody wanna talk about the Olympia, but don’t nobody wanna talk about anyone besides Phil, Jay, Kai, and Big Ramy. Sure, those guys are about as close as you can get to a lock for the Top 4, but there are a ton of other stories that are making this Olympia one for the ages.o2007menpre-0461191937450
Let’s not forget that just about everybody not named Dexter Jackson or Toney Freeman skipped the Arnold Classic to prepare for this event. Yeah, I’m talking about you Dennis, and you Branch, and you Evan. I better see some calves out of Wolf or he should never take another full off season again.
Typically I would think Evan and Branch would be right there in the mix for the 2nd callout, but I’m starting to have my doubts. Centopani was my sleeper until I saw the recently released pics of his bruised pec. The guy finally comes in looking his best in Tampa with his much maligned chest fuller and denser only to strain a pec with a month left in his prep. It’s like Cutler 2011 déjà vu all over again – to a much lesser degree. For his sake I hope it was just an aggressive day on the massage table and not from the flat bench.
Branch-totalAnd Branch, even with a year off I don’t think we’ll see much difference out of him. He’ll earn a second callout the same way Kevin English will probably earn his win over Flex Lewis in the 212’s. Branch’s physique is tired, he looks tired, and I think his fans are tired. The quads aren’t the same and I don’t know what is going on with that back. MetroFlex breeds freaks, but it also breeds muscle tears. It’s time to shut it down Mr. Texas.
It also looks like Cedric McMillan will be competing after all. Since the debacle in Rio de Janeiro and then a laughable 12th place at the New York Pro, he fell off the face of the Earth. Nobody had more hype leading up to this season than Cedric. He won his qualification at the FIBO in Germany, but the only thing softer than his physique at that contest was the rest of the lineup. Nothing pointed to Cedric having his head into bodybuilding all season long. From poor stage presence at the Arnold to missing an athlete’s meeting in Brazil. He could slide into the 2nd callout, but only if Chris Aceto performed a lobotomy at some point this summer. Cedric’s physique is tier 1, but it seems he’s struggling from the neck up. If anyone needs a year off it is Django.
Two guys who could squeak into the Top 8 are Victor Martinez and Toney Freeman. Victor must know something we don’t know, because all signs were pointing to him skipping the Olympia and getting back on stage at next year’s Arnold. That plan was scrapped and now Vic is in the show and I’m expecting something special. Maybe not Top 4 special, but his time in lock up did his body good. An improved streamlined waist and more time in the gym since his win in Toronto should be enough to get him fighting for a 2nd callout.1
Toney, on the other hand, might find his position drop from last year’s 7th. Although he looked impressive at his three shows this year, he earned his qualification by placing in the Top 5 or better at 9 consecutive shows while winning none. Nobody in bodybuilding is more of a grinder than Freeman. Every year I think he’ll place out of the top 10 and there he is again up there with the best in the sport. If Toney is in the 2nd callout he’ll be in the bottom half.
Shawn-Rhoden-rebodybuilding2028229The guy who came virtually out of nowhere and shocked bodybuilding last year was Shawn Rhoden. If he can duplicate his 2012 form he’ll look great standing next to Dexter in the 2nd callout. Flexatron has been gone since last year so it’s anyone’s guess how he’ll look, but rumors are spreading that he’s put on 10lb to his 3rd place finishing physique of a year ago. If that is the case there’s no doubt in my mind Rhoden will be pushing several of the favorites.
In the end I see the show rewarding classical physiques; Dexter, Victor, Rhoden, and Wolf, with Centopani battling to sneak in. That unfortunately will leave several bodybuilders on the outside looking in. And of course all of this could change if one of the athletes in the Top 4 misses their mark. I hope it doesn’t happen, but it always does.