by Christian Duque
The competitive field for the 2023 Mr. Olympia has become so intense that very few pundits think Nick “The Mutant” Walker can crack the Top 3. I was recently invited to a private chat by some industry bigwigs and we got to talking about the big contest. The purpose for this impromptu chat was more to see where everyone stood than anything else.
Writers and commentators tend to have these moments where they want to know what the next person is thinking. We’re an eccentric bunch that often write first and edit later. The point is to just write. If you start editing and re-reading and proofreading, you can easily lose your way. Just turn the spell check off and write. You can make heads or tales out of it later. That’s the boring part.
Still, bodybuilding writers actually do care what The Jones’ have to say and don’t ever let them tell you otherwise. At the end of the day, physique-based sports are opinion-based. That’s the poor man’s definition of the very philosophical subjective nature of a sport scored by a group of mostly old men. They sit there and shift their around, eat protein bars, and under the thunderous sounds from the stage, they’re probably letting a few rip as well. The judges may seem like they’re just sitting there, but these folks see everything. They observe and score. There’s no politics involved. And I have a full head of hair.
The same way the judges confer so too do writers and commentators. We want to know what everyone else is thinking about and what the sport’s pulse is. And right now, the talk going round the scene is that Nick Walker just won’t stack up to the Top 3 and may not even make Top 5. What’s up with that? Just haters, salty people, unhappy critics? What gives?
Well I’ll tell you what gives. What gives is that Nick Walker is a freak and freaks aren’t always the prettiest to look at. Big Ramy is out. And if Hadi can’t successfully defend his title, then that puts the freaks to the side. As the now famous Bob Cicherillo catchphrase goes, “bodybuilding is a sport about apples and oranges.”
Well, if all the apples are gone, then it’s all about oranges. My point is, if Hadi can’t retain the title, we’re going to know it almost immediately. While where the judges put you doesn’t always predict how they’ll score, it’s a pretty safe bet that center stage during first callouts is where the winner stands. If Hadi makes first callouts and is put in the wings, he’s not winning. If SOMEHOW he gets called out in the second group and he stands center stage there, then the champ is looking – at best – for 4th or as low as 6th. It’s happened before and it can happen again.
If Hadi wins or looks to win, then Nick could be as high as 2nd. At that point, it’ll become who’s freakier than the other. With Hadi relegated out to a lower Top 6 placings, this will undoubtedly hurt Walker. Not only do many people doubt Walker can place in the Top 3, they also doubt Hadi can hold on. He’s too short, many of his muscles look suspect, and his shape isn’t pretty to look at.
When you have guys like Brandon Curry who are making jaws drop even though they’re seemingly ignored by the media, then guys like Hadi and Nick have a real problem. Then you look at aesthetics wizards like Andrew Jacked and the Hadi/Nick genetics really tend to look bad. It’s not that those guys don’t come in shredded. Good Lord they do! They work their asses off in the gym and they pose to the point they give their absolute all, but that’s not the point. They just don’t have the God-given flow to their physique. They can even have that Dorian Esque grainy skin, but when you compare that to a Lee Labrada or a Bob Paris or a Dexter Jackson or a Hunter, Samson, Andrew or DEREK – you’re just left in the dust.
Lunsford has that look, although jacked beyond doubt, but it’s there. He’s got a complete physique but he also has that wow factor. I honestly don’t know how Derek lost to Hadi last year, but that’s certainly not going to be a repeat this year.
Derek smokes Hadi. Derek destroys Nick. In a very real way it’s going to be Derek vs Brandon and then everyone else. I know, I know, people are going to give me grief because they’ll accuse me of being a Curry fanboy, but maybe I am. And maybe I’m onto something. Only time will tell, but if Hadi isn’t winning, I can’t imagine how Nick will.
Nick Walker is a class act. He’s funny on podcasts and he loves to promote bodybuilding. He’s a bit of a manchild in that he can’t accept criticism and loves to block people – like Phil back in the day. Walker has me blocked not because of anything I said about him, but because I took exception with how Matt Jansen treated Shaun Clarida. That’s still Shaun’s coach and they do great work together, but Matt is also a co-owner of RAW Nutrition and when that company dropped Shaun, I thought that was shitty. Jansen laughed at my critique but didn’t block me. And we still DM from time to time.
Nick, on the other hand, got all butthurt and blocked me. He even warned me at the Epic Block Party in Ozone Park, NY, to “not be negative.” What a tool. Lol. I’m a journalist! If I can only be positive, I’d be a shill. But I digress. Even though The Mutant has me blocked, he’s still a great bodybuilder and would be a great ambassador as Mr. Olympia.
The problem with Nick is the same problem with Hadi. If the O isn’t about the freak factor, they’ll get pushed to the side. And something tells me that they can be the best freak versions of themselves in 2023 and it’s not going to result in them taking Sandow home. Only time will tell.
Do you think Nick can crack the Top 3? Do you think he can win the 2023 Mr. Olympia? Sadly, I don’t.