6th Place- Branch Warren
Branch Warren offered us not one, but two surprises at this show. The first being how well he looked, the second being how poorly he placed. When Branch walked out it immediately became clear that he would be a force to be reckoned with. His delts, traps, and even arms looked bigger and fuller than in the past, and his legs from behind had more size than anyone in the show with the possible exception of Ben Pakulski. Despite this new “size” he appeared to be the hardest man, all around, in the show. Some speculate that his body looked “torn up” and you could see minor injuries in his chest and back. This may be the case in up close photos that can be analyzed for several minutes, but in person these things did nothing to distort the package he brought to Columbus. Not having Branch in the first callout was not only confusing, but it was also a bit disrespectful, as this man has won two of the last three times this show has been held. I had Branch much much higher, and I will leave it at that.
5th Place- Evan Centopani
Evan was mildly disappointing, as he has been the last few shows he has entered. Though his upper body was spectacular, and his half-bent-over crab most muscular could make just about any other professional bodybuilder look like a noob, his legs from the front were not where they needed to be. Evan also has what looks like very underdeveloped glutes, which causes his trunks to appear too large for him and taints the condition he may have in that area. What The Ox did bring to the stage that was new and exciting was a much improved back. Evan’s back shots from the waist up were “lights out” for most of the other competitors. I feel Evan was placed fairly, though he could have placed over Victor Martinez.
4th Place- Victor Martinez
Victor continues to improve after all the trials and tribulations he has been through. That said, considering how he looked at this show, and how a few guys who placed behind him looked, most notably Branch, Victor got a bit of a gift. As stated above, Vic was certainly improved, however he was not back to his normal size, especially in the legs, not in his best condition, and his shape did not look quite as pleasing as it has in the past. The Dominican Dominator did manage to completely eliminate any stomach distention issues that had been becoming an issue in years past. Not only that, but his steady improvement has certainly struck fear into the hearts of some of his competitors. I had Victor fighting Evan for 5th and 6th.
3rd Place- Cedric McMillan
Cedric was very impressive at this show, most notably in the comparisons when his height, structure and roundness exposed the other guys. Cedric probably could have won this show, or at least been a close second had he been just a bit dryer. He did not seem to be holding body fat, but water. This assumption was further dignified when he began sweating onstage and getting harder over time. By the final callouts at night, Cedric was comparing extremely well to Dennis Wolf, certainly besting him in a few poses, and looking more complete. Cedric needs to be more aggressive onstage and not let the other guys step up on him as they were doing. The fantasy of the overwhelming bodybuilder this man could become, in my mind was not eliminated or increased at his show. Cedric’s “stock” if you will, stayed right about the same. I feel his placing was fair, though if I had to place him higher or lower it would certainly be higher rather than lower.
2nd Place- Shawn Rhoden
Shawn’s showing here is nearly a mirror image of Evans. This is a guy that 18 months ago was being touted as a serious future threat to Phil Heath. However since then, he has under delivered on this assumed potential. Despite what others may say, at least at prejudging, I feel this was the best Shawn ever. He was granite hard, especially in the holy grail of hardness, the glutes, legs were plain old freaky, and his back was improved, though still a liability. That said, this improvements in comparison to how he looked back at the 2012 Mr. Olympia contest, aside from condition, were very slight. Similar to Cedric, Shawn also needs to be much more aggressive onstage. I had Shawn winning the show at the prejudging, but Wolf did overwhelm him a bit at the finals.
1st Place- Dennis Wolf
Dennis had a great showing, but if I am Phil Heath watching from the audience, I am a happy man because he too did not show any improvements that would signify considering him a threat to Phil. Dennis simply overwhelmed his opposition at the night show, plain and simple. That is not to say that a case can not be made for Shawn, it certainly can. Dennis has no calves, and a distracting lower abdomen, which everyone seems to ignore. He was bigger than Rhoden and appeared harder, although I highly doubt he was, but Rhoden was astronomically more pleasing to the eye than Dennis. Especially when taking everything into consideration such as, muscle shape, proportion, skin quality, etc.
Other notables- 11th Place- Fred Smalls, 9th Place- Tony Freeman, and 7th PLace- Ben Pakulski.
Fred Smalls was overlooked. This was possibly his best ever, and obviously his presentation is second to none. 11th place was much too low for this rendition of Biggie Smalls. Toney Freeman was much improved from the Olympia and should be given credit for the package he brought at his age. He could have been higher than the 9th place he received, but more importantly than that, be showed us that he still has the ability to win shows. Ben Pakulski was a major disappointment and probably should not have been as high as he was. He had funny looking body parts, and some sort of atrophy or injury to his lower right lat. Even without these ailments he would not have been improved from last years show, if anything, his upper to lower body discrepancy was even greater than last year.
– Geoff Roberts