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Nick Walker’s Guest Posing Homerun!

By Christian Duque

Bodybuilding fans were in for a huge treat to see some big Olympia talent guest posing at original Men’s Physique Mr. Olympia Mark Anthony’s 2023 NPC High Roller’s Royale this past weekend. While fans hoped to see Mark in and around the venue, many hoping for a high-five, an autograph, or a selfie, they were also there to see the big-name bodybuilding talent that would be in the house to guest pose. That’s because this was a star studded contest and among the who’s who of top talent in the house was none other than The Mutant, Nick Walker.

Just one month from the 2023 Mr. Olympia Walker took the stage and the shape he brought sent shockwaves throughout the audience and all over the sport. He looked like he did just days out from the Olympia. His condition was spot on and he went through the mandatory shots as if he were standing in front of the most respected judges in bodybuilder.

Walker had held onto much of his size and it became pretty self-evident after just a few moments that the former Arnold Classic champion had not fallen off the wagon. Every time Nick hit a pose it seemed as if the audience got louder and louder. And like a true pro, the former North American champion worked the stage.

That’s what you have to do if you truly understand the notion of bringing the entertainment value. When you guest pose you don’t just stand in one spot and hit a couple shots. You have to walk up and down the stage, sometimes you walk into the audience and sometimes you go backstage and front stage several times. You gotta keep the people guessing and at the edge of their seat. Walker gets this and employs these tactics whenever he guest poses. This is part of why promoters hire him so much!

Nick did a great job with his appearance and he showcased a physique that many fans had hoped they would see at the Olympia. While everyone in the industry is very happy that Derek Lunsford was able to win, finally edging out Hadi Choopan, there were a great many commentators that would have loved to have seen Derek and Nick go at it. That would have been a very entertaining Top 3 to watch because The Mutant would have brought a huge amount of freak factor to a stage dominated by 212 guys prepped by the same coach.

Nick could have thrown a monkey wrench into the whole show. His massive back would have given Lunsford a real run for his money and the veins popping everywhere would have made fans scream to the top of their lungs. While no one will ever call Walker’s physique pretty, it’s very much gnarly and jaw-dropping to look at. Once you forget about aesthetics, flow, and the whole artistic side to the sport you’re left with monster genetics and size on size. Nick would have easily dwarfed both Choopan and Lunsford. That’s not to say he was better or that he would have won, but he certainly would’ve stolen the show by giving the fans something to look at.

That being said, the former Arnold champion and Top 3 Olympian put his health at the forefront. He was suffering from a torn hamstring and while some guys may have competed anyways, the young champion erred on the side of caution. In bodybuilding, that’s seldom the case. Most guys see pulling out of a contest as giving up or maybe not being hardcore enough. Ironically, what’s really hardcore is having the common sense to understand that longevity in the sport is the key to a long and fruitful career. Nick is just 29 years of age. There’s guys getting their pro cards at 40 and they’re still competitive for another 4-5 years in open competition.

This is just food for thought, but when a guys isn’t even 30, he has all the time in the world. The hardcore thing to do is prep for 16 weeks, look amazing, but not push yourself pointlessly beyond what’s safe. Nick probably would have been ok had he pushed himself, but would he have been at his best? And would he have compromised his chances of making a 100% recovery in the future? Could he have done more damage to the existing injury? I’m sure these were all concerns that factored into the decision-making process. I know they would have factored in for me.

When you’re a former Arnold Classic champion and a Top 3 Olympian, you have a reputation to protect. You’re not going to be seen doing $10k shows or competing in weak lineups. While they may provide an easy way to qualify, you’re considered one of the best athletes in the world. People at the elite level shouldn’t look for easy contests to compete in. That’s actually pretty weak if you think about it. On the one hand you’re battling with the top 1% of the sport and on the other you’re more or less bullying guys no one has heard of. This is a big reason why you never see Olympia-level athletes at small pro shows. This is also why the Federation has had to make qualifying stricter. They want to give top athletes an incentive to compete in less known contests. Otherwise these guys wouldn’t be caught dead on many of these stages. It’s not because they’re pompous or arrogant; it has more with maintaining their reputation for only being seen on the biggest stages on the planet.

Top guys aren’t going to compete in smaller stages and if they see themselves forced to do so, then they have to ensure to bring their absolute best. This includes guest posing. This is why Nick looked so good at the High Roller’s and it may also explain why he sat out the Olympia. Although he looked phenomenal on stage this past weekend, you could almost immediately tell the size difference between his legs. The uninjured ham looked way bigger. His back was also not on point as it had been prior to the tear. If we could tell these things in a guest posing appearance, they would have stuck out like a sore thumb at the Olympia. A guy with a resume as illustrious as Walker’s can’t risk being out of the Top 6 just because he lacked the courage to pull out. Pulling out is the hardcore move. There’s no glory for pushing yourself to do the best show in the world looking any less than 100%.

Competing may have also made the injury more serious. Whereas most injuries require down-time to recover, many athletes might take cortisone or another pain management drug to mask the discomfort and keep on going. The fact that Walker had the sense not to go this route also speaks to his maturity and vision for the future. I wish more people took the time to applaud Nick for making what might be the most difficult decision of his career. The fact is many people thought he had a great shot of winning the title this year, but he opted to taking care of his injury, as opposed to vying one more time to win a simple title. Even though a Sandow can change your life, he will have plenty more cracks at the apple. That is, if he takes care of himself.

I will say that I was very impressed with Nick’s look – all things considered – at this past weekend’s High Roller Royale. I could see the issues in his back and hams, but he’s on the mend. He will probably need a few months to a year to fully recover. If he’s smart he won’t try to get to the O through a special invite or less, by trying to qualify. I like that he’s doing guest posing appearances and that he will continue to be seen on the circut, but I hope that the temptation to compete before he’s ready won’t overpower what I believe to be Walker’s relying on good common sense.

What say you? Will Nick compete again in 2024? Should be compete in 2024? And do you think he should accept – if given – a special invite to the 2024 Mr. Olympia?

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