Olympia Men are On Stage

The 16-22 men coming out to do a quick minute on stage; only top 15 will continue on to compete in the final two rounds. In no particular order: Paco Bautista, Dennis Wolf, Rodney St. Cloud, Ronny Rockel, Mustafa Mohammad, David Henry (which is insane, this guy is a top 15 physique; huge oversight), and Bill Wilmore. Wilmore has a great physique, he probably deserved a little better, but the lineup is loaded. Now, the top 15 come on for their individual posing routines. Victor Martinez is up first. Comes out to some rock music, then with a voiceover tribute to his mom, who recently passed away, he segues into a slow posing routine. Now into hip hop; guys got an amazing physique, and Ronnie is right -- while this likely isn't his night, Victor is a guy who probably has a Sandow in his future. He has the symmetrical attributes of the smaller guys, coupled with mass to help him match up with the big guys. A potent combo, and extremely rare. Next up, Troy Alves, posing to a ballad. Troy looked good for this show. The Phoenix Arizona resident is better than his third-place condition at this year's Ironman, the result that earned him his qualification. It's a basic routine -- he's making shur to hit his poses hard, and is mixing in some of his usual classical poses. Getting some good reaction from the crowd, which is cool -- the guy deserves some love. Now, nine pounds heavier than at the Arnold (247 pounds), Melvin Anthony takes the stage. Starting with an R&B ballad, and his smooth-as-silk posing. Anthony knows how to move, that's for damn sure. Based on yesterday's callouts, he's probably in the hunt for a top-six spot. Earlier this year, Melvin made the Flex top 20 most aesthetic physiques of all time, and there's nothing he's showing her to disappoint in that regard. Now he's into his dance/pop-and-lock, crowd's getting into it. It's nice to see a guy who really puts some thought into his posing routine -- it's something that can really take bodybuilding to the next level, if all the competitors took such care. Gustavo Badell marches out to center stage. The third place finisher of the past two years, his routine contains a voice-over talking about the guys he's beaten in the last two Challenge Rounds. Dexter, Ronnie, Jay... now a voiceover comes on to say, "Whoa, Gustavo, there is no challenge round this year." Followed by, "Bodybuilding is a challenge." He's having fun up there -- this year is likely going to be a disappointing result for him, but champs are built on how they respond to adversity. He's compared exceptionally well to the top guys in the sport, and even if he doesn't get top three this year, he's still a top contender in this sport. He talked about bodybuilding being a challenge, his challenge will be bouncing back next year. He has a physique that can do it, when he's on. Johnnie Jackson is up next. Winner of this year's Montreal Pro, his achilles heel is his legs, but with improvements there he can be a top six contender in the coming years. His chest is awesome, which, strangely, is a rarity in the pro ranks these days. Gunter Schlierkamp is next. One of the most popular athletes at the expo today, he got a big rise from the crowd here. Whether or not he's ever able to achieve that now mythic 2002 form again, he's still a class-A representative of the sport. His music is classical, with a "Thor" voiceover. Fitting for the mighty German. The X Man, Toney Freeman, comes out with the first props. A battle axe and a black hood. Now segues into DMX, "X Gonna Give it To Ya." Then another DMX tune. The routine doesn't quite meld together, but then again, can't go wrong with hardcore hip hop and some attitude. Hard rock, hip hop rap -- that's the music of bodybuilding. And, of course, his physique, while not without some weaknesses, looks pretty damn good. Dexter Jackson now on stage. Goes with a ballad. There were plenty of supporters of Dexter around the expo today in the conversations about the show -- he was one of a handful of guys with the potential to win this show. He should have a top-four spot locked down, but the Blade may not have been sharp enough to pull it off. Branch Warren now up. His legs are freakin' huge from the front, back, side .. from space. Wow. Guys thick, and picked the perfect music to go with his type of freaky physique: Metal. He seems to be getting more comfortable with this round; in the past, he's been more awkward in the free pose, but while he's no Melvin Anthony, he's confident and energetic. Nice job. Darrem Charles coming out. You expect him to give Melvin a run for the unofficial award of "Best Routine." He's starting with a ballad (not a fan of the slow music for bodybuilding routines, as it's overdone, but Darrem's one of the few guys who can pull it off). About 2/3's through and he's stuck with the same song throughout; The song itself builds up, so the energy level of his performance is rising throughout. Little different than he's done in the past. Good, but Melvin still has the top spot thus far for posing on this night. Dennis James comes out, looking insanely wide as he enters. He struggles with waist issues, it's no secret, but his upper body and thighs are incredible. The guy's lat spread stretches to each end of the stage. HIs most muscular is arguably the best in the pro ranks. Jay's up. It's on -- he absolutely needs to come out here with confidence and attitude and try to take this thing. He needs the killer instinct he's lacked in this round in the past. Here we go. Voiceover to start, comparing his body to a car. Crowd is reacting well thus far. Now some classic music ... not a great pick, but hopefully he transitions into a stronger music choice...back to the car ... good, now some heavier music. Hitting poses, hasn't lost really anything from last night conditionwise, at least it appears. Throwing in a lot of poses. Now playing to each side of the auditorium with poses. Much better than in 2001, when he went into the night show with a lead and lost it at night when he came out lacking energy and Ronnie came out with all guns blazing. Let's see Ronnie's response. But meantime, we have Markus Ruhl, who is back to doing what he does best -- being absolutely huge. I can't imagine how Markus lost last week's Santa Susannah to Paco Bautista. Nothing against Paco, who's a good bodybuilder, but Markus is ... well, Markus. Ahhh, German metal -- the place rocks when Ruhl takes the stage. Vince Taylor. The ageless one, 50 years old. This is a cool moment. Another guy who can make a ballad work, and that's what he starts with, R&B style. He looks great, his classic physique stll pretty intact from his prime. Now his voiceover goes into the "ultimate transformer." No one does the transformer/terminator/robot schtick as well as Taylor ... now into hip hop, Young Joc. Nice mix of styles, a routine with a little bit of everything. Now, the moment everyone's been waiting for -- Ronnie Coleman. He has an announcer come out for him, the world-famous boxing announcer, Bruce Buffer. Ronnie comes down through the crowd from the back, wearing a boxing robe. Wow, this is awesome. Ronnie pulls a rabbit out of his hat. Holy crap. He hasn't even taken the stage yet officially, and this is his best posing routine ever. Inventive. Now he's out dressed like freakin' Moses, with two tablets. Huge beard. Voiceover. "Thou shalt not cheat on their diet, complain about ther placings...he created his masterpiece, Ronnie Coleman." Ronnie strips the robe off and starts dancing and raising the roof. I can't believe I'm seeing this. Ronnie is a rock star. This is what you want out of a Mr. Olympia. What a show, he's come so far in his posing round abilities. This thing is going down in history as one of the best posing routines ever. Now we are going into the participation medal ceremony.


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