Written by Flex Wheeler
06 October 2006

The Flex Report

By Flex Wheeler


2006 IFBB Europa Super Show


Ed and Betty Pariso's "Europa Super Show" is truly coming into its own as a premier event on the professional bodybuilding calendar. There's at least one story heading into every pro show. This one had enough to satisfy the famed Texan appetite for excess; remember everything is bigger in Texas. The headlines read like this: Top three qualify for Olympia. For most, this is the prime motivation for enduring the rigors of contest preparations. If they haven't made it yet, this is one of three more chances to step onto bodybuilding's grandest stage in September; sooner is better than later, so there was a lot riding on this show. And holding true to form, this Texas show was about mass. Swinging more to the Olympia criteria, it was a show of size and a day of reckoning for the freakazoids.


Patience, it is a Virtue

Some athletes start their IFBB careers to immediate fanfare and unbridled success. The spotlight follows them from amateur to the pros without so much as a flicker. Even if they don't win their debut shows, victory is right around the corner. The key word here is some. For others the journey isn't a straight road, but one that meanders and twists. But for those with the talent and will to hang on despite standing in the shadows of the limelight, the rewards lay tantalizingly within arm's reach. This weekend, a giant that's been shaking up the bodybuilding world finally got his just desserts for a ride that started years ago.


First Place- Toney Freeman

            The X-Frame Freak! "X" as in exuberant, exhilarating and "X" marks the spot. Toney imposed his will via a 6'2", 290-pound incarnation of muscle that could not be denied any further. You know, he called me two weeks before the show to tell me that everything was on point and when I got backstage, I knew he was going to win it. Still, backstage isn't center stage and strange things can happen in the interim, but not today. Big "T" was the clear-cut winner the minute he stepped from behind the curtain. Tremendous improvements from San Fran; he brought his legs up so much they rivaled Ronnie's for sweep and thickness. There was no doubt whatsoever- and this was Toney at 90 percent. He was drier and tighter at the night show, but if he can tighten up his hams and glutes, I see him cracking the top five at the "O."

It took a little while to fill out that tall frame, but now that he's arrived it will be interesting to see if he can keep stepping up. Sporting such dinosaur dimensions leaves no question that Toney's a mass monster. But it doesn't end there. This specimen also carries a Mevlinesque waist that gives his vaunted mass the much-sought-after aesthetic appeal to make him the complete bodybuilder. Speaking of complete, I can't discern a weakness in this man-mountain. His flaring quads are the perfect complement to his superwide and impressively capped delts and tiny waist. He's got major guns, a thick chest (that's recovered nicely from a pec tear), hanging hams and surprisingly good calves. His back, although wide and detailed from origin to outer fringes, could use a little more thickness. Toney was the subject of my Flex feature a few months back ["Toney Freakman, The Ultimate X-Man"] and is the main subject of Ron Harris' ongoing "Ultimate X-Man" series. Leave it to Steve Blechman to keep any eye out for new talent. Congratulations on your first pro win!


Second Place- Quincy Taylor

No one can ever question QT's immense size. At 6'4" and 305 pounds, Quincy's going to be the heaviest man at every contest he enters. The big man was tighter than ever before; however, the hardness came at the expense of a loss of size, as he lacked the characteristic mass that we've become conditioned to expect. I was actually a little shocked that he got the nod over the other guys for runner-up. Still, it was a great showing. Congratulations on making it to the Olympia again- this time with some headwind.


Third Place- Johnnie Jackson

This powerhouse always looks great. The thickness of his back and chest is unparalleled. His ab separation was much improved, showing huge raviolis with deep grooves between. Truth be told, I had JJ in second. The perplexing thing about Johnnie is that for such a powerhouse squatter, he lacks a true squatter's legs. His legs are thick, but they're missing that outer sweep. This discrepancy gives them a narrow, blocky look. Steve and I watched his video and we wondered if it might be a consequence of his training. He does really fast reps, not going all the way down. He also utilized supersets. That, coupled with the cardio may be a contributing factor to the stringy appearance of his legs. His tremendous upper body magnifies the weakness further. If he can bring up his legs, there's no reason he can't take out some of the guys who are finishing ahead of him.


Fourth Place- Darrem Charles

What a shock. True, it wasn't his best, but I didn't think he'd place that low. His disappointment was obvious. Talk about pouring salt on a wound. I was so vexed, I talked to some of the judges and they argued that standing next to Toney, Quincy and Johnnie, highlighted his shortcomings. The knock on Darrem was that he hasn't brought anything different to the table in the last three years (similar to the criticisms directed at Shawn Ray) while everyone else is improving. Darrem's a true warrior so I know he'll bring the fury next week in Canada.


Fifth Place- Art Atwood

I was sitting with Dave Palumbo and the Jumbo one advocated vehemently that Art should have won this show. I could see the case he was making; this was the best condition I'd seen from Art since he won his first show back in 2002. His conditioning was better than Toney's, but conditioning isn't everything. He's a big boy with a sick, thick back and powerful legs (curiously, his chest wasn't as thick as I remembered), but now he has to deal with an X-Frame Freak with just as much- if not more- size. That's too much to handle. I do give him much credit for bringing in his waist, which showed much deeper detail.


Sixth Place- Silvio Samuel

I told you guys to watch out because a monster is on his way and I wasn't fooling. I knew he was going to make waves and just a few months later, this guy is proving what I knew all along: he will take over. When Ronnie and Jay leave, we'll be in the era of the Phil Heaths, the Victor Martinezes, and now you can add one more name to the pantheon, the Silvio Samuels. He really has no weaknesses. Sorry, Sergio- Silvio has some of the roundest muscles I've ever seen. His chest, delts and arms just explode and he's got great sweep to his thighs (they could use deeper cuts). He's got a tight waist and very thick lumbars. His lats are a little high and he needs more thickness to his back, but everything else is there-including striated glutes. He reminds me of Momo (Mohammed Benaziza) with better shape. And he can still carry more muscle. Silvio is a newcomer to the sport who doesn't know the ropes. His disastrous bout with his color at prejudging is a sure indicator (luckily, someone came to his rescue for the night show, where he looked markedly better). Although he lacks the polish that experience brings, he's eager to learn and once he does, look out.


Honor Roll

The most incredible back next to Ronnie's was back in action. The airline captain, Joel Stubbs, brought along improvements to his chest and arms to cement what has to be one of the best upper bodies this sport has ever seen. The captain did improve his legs (Joel suffered a basketball injury years ago), but getting them up to the caliber of his upper region will be a tall order. But there's no getting over that back. When he turned around, the crowd started screaming, "Ronnie!" You can't ask for a higher compliment.

This is a year of comebacks as '90s iron warrior Dave Fisher hit the stage since last competing some six years ago. Although he lost a lot of size, he was by far the most shredded man in the building. I spoke to Dave afterward and he said this would be his last contest as it's too much to put the body through. Great job in coming back in shape, Dave!

We move from veteran to newcomer with the fresh German sensation, Dennis Wolf. This is one big boy, with tremendous sweeping quads. To top it off, he's really nice, with a good head on his massive shoulders. A healthy sense of humor was evidenced by his posing music: "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf/the big bad wolf/the big bad wolf?" Dennis couldn't nail his conditioning, but look for this kid to scare plenty of people in the future.

Recognition goes out to best presentation winner Shari "King" Kamali for an inventive routine. I thought Rodney St. Cloud's routine- complete with costume- was also worthy of an honorable mention. Speaking of costumes, Toney Freeman's executioner's outfit was a portent of things to come.

Thank you to Ed and Betty Pariso for another wildly successful weekend. It was complete with jiu-jitsu, arm wrestling, powerlifting, WWE-style wrestling entertainment and a terrific expo. Also on hand was great champion Lee Labrada, honored with a video tribute. Lee said that the highlight of his career was standing onstage with the awesome one, Lee Haney, and being onstage with me in '93. No Lee, that was one of the highlights of my career- standing with you in 1993.

Last year's champ Branch Warren was there, despite being a month away from his Olympia bash and the Dragon Slayer, Rich Gaspari, working his booth. Once again, a great show! The place was packed. It was so smooth, with everything done in a timely fashion. Thanks Ed and Betty for putting so much into this sport, which is responsible for everything I have right now. I look forward to it again next year. But I'll be seeing the rest of you much sooner than that. Peace and God bless.