The weekend of October 8-9 saw two major professional bodybuilding shows take place, with qualifications for the Mr. Olympia contest in December on the line. The Legion Sports Festival took place in Reno, Nev., while the Tsunami Nutrition Cup was held in Rome. Both shows contained top- level professionals hungry to seal their invitations to the biggest bodybuilding show in the world in a few months, which led to quite the hype train leading into this past weekend. I am happy to say that both lineups lived up to the billing.
I’d like to start with the second of the shows I listed above, the Tsunami Nutrition Cup, as the lineup could be argued to have been slightly weaker than that of the Legion Sports Fest. The main attraction in this show was the rematch between James Hollingshead and Marc Hector, who had just finished third and fifth at the Arnold Classic UK, respectively. Both felt they had more to give, and so, two weeks later, we got the rematch.
After a great show, Hollingshead came out on top. He finished first and earned his Olympia qualification, and based on the images I have seen from the show, it was well deserved. Hollingshead has never had the best structure (as I have spoken about in previous articles), but the guy is a certified mass monster with some of the best conditioning I have ever seen from a guy of his size. At 5’11’’, he consistently competes at over 250lbs and looks peeled to the bone every time. That was no different this time around either, with Hollingshead comparing water tight conditioning with crazy roundness across the board. The major points about his physique that stuck out were his quad sweep and fullness throughout the shoulders and back. His legs have always been a strong point, but recently they’ve reached another level in terms of both width and separation. I’d be curious to know how he trains the vastus lateralis (the lateral portion of the quadriceps that, when large, gives the quadriceps the massive look Hollingshead attains). And of course, despite his narrow shoulders, his back was absolutely massive, with a deep Christmas tree in the spinal erectors to boot. I’m looking forward to seeing Hollingshead at the Olympia.
Hector, on the other hand, disappointed me. He always manages to come in incredibly full and round, but sacrifices his conditioning to do so. It’s a real shame as well, because given his structural gifts, he should be winning shows. Hector has a narrower waist and wider shoulders than Hollingshead, and even comes in fuller, one could argue; but he is consistently holding too much water and looks washed out as a result. That was the same story in this show, and I’d be willing to bet that Hector won’t win a major professional show until he fixes this issue.
The lineup at the Legion Sports Festival was a bit deeper, and therefore led to a much more interesting competition. On stage were some of the big hitters from other recent pro shows, including Tonio Burton, Stan de Longeaux and former top 10 Olympian Justin Rodriguez. This trio created a decent storyline for the show as well, with each coming from a very different background. Burton is a former 212 bodybuilder, meaning he’s on the smaller side and carries something of a giant-killer title with him to shows; de Longeaux is new to the scene, and has developed something of a cult following that want to see him develop into a top- caliber professional bodybuilder; and Rodriguez is an established top pro who has experienced something of a fall of this season, meaning he was out to complete something of a comeback. These three were expected to take the podium places in Reno.
But it wasn’t to be, on account of one of the most unlikely suspects.a rather unknown bodybuilder by the name of Rasheed Oldacre. I had never heard of this competitor going into this weekend, but perhaps I should have, given how good the physique he presented was. Oldacre has never been all that competitive since turning pro in 2016. He competed in a few mid-to-upper tier professional shows, placing as high as sixth in the 2018 Tampa Pro, before a four- year hiatus and what appeared to be the end of his career. But after some time away, Oldacre placed eighth at this year’s Orlando Pro, going somewhat under the radar, before pushing Stan de Longeaux out of the top three in Reno this weekend. He was round and full, but also didn’t miss the minor details like the deep cuts in his abdominals, and his posing routine was phenomenal. Props to Oldacre, he deserves any and all plaudits he receives.
That underdog narrative aside, the show went much according to expectation. Tonio Burton and Justin Rodriguez placed first and second, respectively, with Burton winning on account of conditioning. Everything popped, but he also looked to not have an ounce of fat on him. Rodriguez, on the other hand, clearly had superior structure, but held too much water and looked rather soft by comparison. He may be on the smaller side, but I’m looking forward to seeing Burton at the Olympia in a few months’ time.