In a follow up to my previous piece, the New York Pro took place this past Saturday and featured many a rematch between old foes from the Indy Pro. In the Men’s Open division, fans were finally treated to the Blessing Awodibu vs. Nick Walker matchup their online beef had been building up for months, while Justin Rodriguez aimed to make it two wins in two and mass monster Hassan Mostafa looked to lock down an Olympia qualification. In 212, John Jewett was back with a purpose after being snubbed at the Indy Pro, as was second place Indy finisher Nathan Epler who was seeking a win in only his second-ever pro show. Here’s how it all went down.
The biggest takeaway from the weekend was Nick Walker living up to his nickname. The Mutant, only 26 and in his second ever pro show after last year’s Chicago Pro, brought the combination of size and conditioning fans had been hoping for ever since he became a household name in the amateur community in 2019. He was peeled to the bone, despite weighing in at over 250 pounds at 5’7”. Nick is a mass monster in the truest sense of the word, and bigger guys of his type typically struggle to bring a complete package as well as conditioning. Yet despite his size, the audience could see every muscle fiber twinging as he moved from pose to pose, dominating the competition with arms that looked like horse legs, shoulders the size of cannon balls, and a lat spread that would make a set of barn doors jealous. He also managed to increase size in his legs, a major criticism after Chicago last year, all while maintaining the nutty conditioning required to be a major contender for the Olympia. The chat surrounding his Olympia prep right now seems to be that his is a legitimate contender, and I think for good reason. If he comes in looking like he did on Saturday, Mamdouh Elssbiay’s title may well be in jeopardy.
Nick dominated Blessing, who finished sixth, and his win seems to have settled the beef between the two that had run for 10 weeks leading up to the show. The fact of the matter is Blessing disappointed; he miss-judged his diet timing, and his conditioning was certainly noticeably off compared to other competitors. He finished in the bottom half, as there were only 10 competitors, and needs to put on size; if the Indy Pro didn’t confirm it, the New York Pro did. His legs look small in comparison to his torso, and his tiny waist makes his lats look deceptively small, especially from the front. Essentially, Blessing needs experience. Though this experience seems to have humbled him, as in a recent Instagram post Blessing congratulated Walker. In the same post he admitted his conditioning was poor before Indy, and confirming he’ll be “going back to school” before competing again. I’m very glad to see this from Blessing, as he clearly has a great genetic makeup and the bodybuilding world at his feet. We haven’t seen the best of him yet, but watch out for when we do.
Nathan Epler followed up an impressive pro debut in Indy with a win at the New York Pro, beating John Jewett to top spot. With Tonio Burton out of the way having won in Indy, this show was essentially Epler’s for the taking — and boy did he take it. Epler once again came in on point, arguably even more conditioned than the week prior. From the back, he looked insane, beating Jewett in every pose after I had argued last week Jewett had done the same in Indy. From the front he was dominant in terms of size, showing fullness in the chest and shoulders while doing enough to control his midsection to overcome Jewett on the day. The story here was size vs. conditioning, and in the end Epler’s superior muscular size was enough to overcome Jewett’s once again insane conditioning for the second time in two weeks. He’ll be at the Olympia this October.