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Could the 2020 Arnold Classic Be Bigger Than the Mr. Olympia?

by Matt Weik

It’s hard to compare anything to the Olympia, but the 2020 Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio could be the biggest show of the year (maybe even bigger than Athleticon). While there is still much excitement surrounding the Olympia (as I know Dan Solomon is going to bring an amazing production), the potential lineup could again this year be lackluster.

While many competitors (such as Brandon Curry) will bow out from competing in any show other than the Olympia, it opens the door for the best of the best to hop on the 2020 Arnold Classic stage and take home a nice paycheck. The lineup for the 2020 Arnold Classic is pretty stacked which makes this show extremely interesting. Some of the competitors you can expect to see are:

  1. Lionel Beyeke
  2. William Bonac
  3. Maxx Charles
  4. Dexter Jackson
  5. Johnnie Jackson
  6. Steve Kuclo
  7. Josh Lenartowicz
  8. Victor Martinez
  9. Cedric McMillan
  10. Patrick Moore
  11. Sergio Oliva Jr.
  12. Big Ramy
  13. Akim Williams
  14. Roelly Winklaar

Honestly, that’s an Olympia lineup right there. I’m not even sure how you can predict the top five – that’s how great this is shaping out to be. Bonac is always a threat, Dexter is the ageless wonder, Lenartowicz is looking great, Patrick Moore is impressing a lot of people, Cedric has won it before, Ramy and Roelly will battle it out for the size game, and who knows if anyone else may jump in the lineup. Overall, that list of names for the 2020 Arnold Classic should be getting people excited to make the trip out to Columbus.

2020 Arnold Classic vs Olympia vs Athleticon

This year is going to be incredibly exciting for bodybuilding fans. Not only is female bodybuilding coming back to many stages, but we may see guys like Phil Heath coming back as well as the resurrection of Flex Lewis in the open class.

Flex Lewis actually brings up an interesting question of “Will Flex compete at the 2020 Arnold Classic in an effort to qualify for the Olympia?” Flex reminds me a lot of Hadi Choopan and we all saw what he was capable of at the 2019 Olympia where he placed third. If Flex were to qualify early on in the year, it would give him the rest of the year to prep for the Olympia where he could do some damage.

And what will happen if Hadi Choopan is able to get his visa and step on the Olympia stage again? That would be a sight to see! He could easily knock off most of the guys in the 2020 Arnold Classic lineup which makes him a threat to any stage he graces.

So, what about Phil Heath? I highly doubt we will see Phil Heath at the 2020 Arnold Classic as a competitor and I actually think he may sit out the Olympia a well and help The Rock make a splash with Athleticon by making THAT his return to the stage. We’ve been waiting ever since the 2018 Olympia to see what was next for Phil. Would he come back? Would he retire? If he comes back, what will he look like and will he come back to try to beat the record for Olympia wins? While he’s not getting any younger, he could easily come back and win several more if he really wanted to (which I hope he does). He’s been hinting at a return in 2020, the only question left to ask is WHEN?

And what about Kai? For years, Kai has been asking hinting at a return to the stage but for the most part, everyone has dismissed the possibility and has moved on. However, Kai is a threat – a major one at that. Kai is in shape year-round and always looks to be a few weeks out from stepping on a stage. Could you imagine what it would do for the 2020 Arnold Classic if all of a sudden he showed up? I still wonder what Kai has in the tank. I know he would put on a good show, but when he diets down, what can he still bring to the stage? I’d love to see it.

One competitor I don’t think we will see on any stage this year is Shawn Rhoden. His pro status is still up in the air and as of the time of writing this, I still do not believe he paid his dues to the IFBB to maintain his pro card status. Even if he does, it may be too late for him to enter the 2020 Arnold Classic. We still know that he is not welcome at the Olympia, and with his pending court case, who knows if he will even be able to prepare for any show this year (assuming he gets back in good standing with the IFBB)? Maybe a good show for him to enter to help create a buzz again would be Athleticon? A showdown between Phil and Shawn would make a huge splash in the industry and give us all something to talk about and be excited for.

What Will Separate the Arnold Classic from the Rest?

On top of the lineup of competitors at the 2020 Arnold Classic, I think this may be a show with the biggest expo of the year. I wasn’t at the 2019 Olympia but from what I heard from multiple sources is that it wasn’t nearly as big as it used to be. Many supplement brands are bowing out of the Olympia for other marketing opportunities that can bring them a better return on their investment.

The Arnold Classic has always been known for its expo and this year could be interesting. Will it continue to grow in attendance or will brands also hold out for Athleticon and go into the show guns blazing to make a splash? I work with many brands and a common denominator is that they are skipping the Olympia for Athleticon – banking on it being a huge draw.

Again this year, you can expect exhibitors to be handing out a bunch of freebies to get samples in the hands of the consumers. While I expect the usual suspects to have booths, I can see smaller companies coming on board and signing up for booth space at the show to gain exposure for their companies.

Are you planning on attending the 2020 Arnold Classic, Olympia, or Athleticon? Which are you attending and why? Let us know in the comments.

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