|“Show With A Pro”
March 6th 2010 was the busiest day at The Cage by far. At high noon we
held a FORVM members only event. We started holding this invitation
only event two years ago when we held the “Reign of Yellow” in Thte
Cage. It was really impressive to see 100+ yellow Animal Iconic
t-shirts gathered in The Cage. Last year we did the Blackout, which was
equally impressive. Every year the number of people visiting us
continues to grow. We didn't have a color-oriented theme this year.
Instead, the booth theme was “Special Ops”. Even so, it was mighty
impressive to see that sea of Animal inside The Cage and outside of it.
of the most awesome things about Animal is that they give back to their
loyal fans. To prove that, during this year's noon event there were
several giveaways. For starters, 12 cans of the newest Animal product,
Animal PM, were raffled off to a dozen lucky people. Then, three
stuffed-to-the-gills Animal Gym Bags were hundreds of dollars each were
given out to the winners of a FORVM promo. Also, The Victors winners of
Rage's Iron Contest II were also announced. But to me, the coolest
prize that was given out during the event was two VIP tickets to the
Saturday Men's Finals. As if that wasn't enough, the winner and his
guest would be accompanied by someone who will be competing on the
Arnold stage in 2011. It was none other than 2009 NY Pro winner, Evan
To qualify to win these tickets, the fans were asked on the FORVM what
it would mean to them to go to the show with an IFBB Pro. As I was
reading through the promo thread, I started thinking that the person
who wins this is really lucky. They are going to see one of the best
contests of the year, in VIP seats, with a friend and get to hang with
an IFBB Pro. I have to admit, I was a little jealous. As luck would
have it, someone from Animal would have to be at the show to present an
award to one of the contestants on stage. Yup, lady luck was with me
that day as I was the chosen one. So now I get to go to the show, sit
next to Ox and the winners, and I get to grace the stage to hand out an
award. Not a bad night.
Saturday, the noon event rolls around and we are getting ready to
announce the winner. The stipulation was that the winner had to be
there to claim his prize. Now if you have ever been to the expo on a
Saturday, you know how crowded and crazy it can get. If he wasn't
there, we would have to pick a runner up. We called out his name,
“CantGet2Big,” and lo and behold, he comes out from the crowd. He was
one happy young man. I hand him his two VIP tickets and let him know
that Ox and I will meet him at the seats. Boy was he in for a treat.
And so was I.
Ox is a pretty popular guy in the
bodybuilding community, so traveling with him gives you the opportunity
to see what it's like when everyone wants to talk to you and take your
picture. Ox entertains everyone with ease; you can tell he enjoys it
and he is grateful that people want to meet him. We finally get to our
seats, which are in the center, 5 rows from the stage… You can't get
much better than that.
CantGet2Big shows up just as the show is starting. He was almost late
because he forgot his tickets back at the hotel and had to go back to
get them. It was obvious he was a little nervous talking to Ox at
first. Heck, who wouldn't be as he is quite the imposing figure. But
after a few minutes with Ox you feel comfortable like you are with an
old friend. Yeah he is a freak, an incredible physical specimen, but he
is also just a regular guy who loves this sport. I was sitting on Ox's
left with the aisle seat (thankfully) and CantGet2Big was on his right.
Now the seats in the Veteran's Memorial Theater are small to begin
with, and when you place a 280lb pro bodybuilder in one, I can tell you
that it is not too comfortable. However, it's well worth it as
CantGet2Big and I were able to get insight from the perspective of a
pro and a future Arnold contender.
What is really cool about Ox is that he is truly a fan of the sport. He
doesn't just sit there; he was actively cheering for the people he
liked. Ox is a very analytical and intelligent guy. He has strong
opinions and can always back up his reasons for having those opinions.
It was very interesting to get his perspective on the competitors. He
is a true student of the game. I could see him getting fired up while
he was watching the contest; I think it made him hungry to compete.
contest had one of the hottest lineups in years. There were four
legitimate guys who competed in the Mr. Olympia contest that could have
easily won this show: Kai Greene, Dexter Jackson, Phil Heath and Branch
Warren. There were others competing, but it was almost a foregone
conclusion that it would come down to these four. We watched all the
routines and by themselves, each guy looked like the winner. I couldn't
really tell which guy was the favorite. Ox agreed and said, “Let's wait
and see when they are next to each other.” Branch, who shocked the
world at the Olympia by taking 2nd, won his 4th Most Muscular Award at
this show. Kai Greene won his 2nd Best Poser title. Who would take home
the winner's trophy?
Just as they were about to announce
the top six, I got called backstage. Wow, I am going to get to see what
it's like back there and then, in a few minutes, I'll be on the stage…
Yeah, you can say I was nervous. We walked in the back and Bob Chic was
doing the play by play for the webcast. Backstage was a who's who of
the industry. I was going to be walking out with American Gladiator
Mike O'Hearn and giving out 2nd place.
They announced 2008 Mr. Olympia Dexter Jackson in 4th place. Then, to a
chorus of boos, they announced Branch Warren in third. Then there were
two. It was my turn to walk out. They handed me the $75,000 2nd place
check. You could feel the tension in the air; who would it be? I stood
center stage with the lights in my eyes as I heard them announce Phil
Heath. It was a surprise to many; nobody was sure which way it would
go. Phil came over to get his check and Mike O'Hearn and I hold his
hands up while the press took pictures.
I made my way back to my seat to meet Ox & CantGet2Big and we
watched Kai Greene's victory speech. It was really motivating. As we
walked out, I could tell that Ox was pumped about the possibility of
next year's Arnold. I have no doubt he will be on that stage and he
will do damage.
was time to jet; we wanted to get to the National ABC to meet up with
everyone. It is hell getting a cab out of there after the event.
CantGet2Big said, “Hey, I got my car here.” Yeah, it was my lucky
night, just as it was for Can'tGet2Big. What an experience. Can it be
topped in 2011?