Last weekend, Nikki and I flew out to Las Vegas to attend the 2015 Mr. Olympia competition. And it sucked. Not just the show, but the entire trip.
The worst thing about a crummy trip, is fielding the responses when you get back. Inevitably, every single person will ask, “So, how was your trip?” And social etiquette, of course, dictates that I lie my ass off—“Oh, it was a blast, blah blah blah”. People don’t like it so much when you stare them in the eye and say, “It sucked. A lot”.
Lucky for me, I don’t acknowledge social etiquette.
Why did it suck? Well first of all, pretty much as soon as we arrived, Nikki and I got into a giant fight that set the tone for the entire trip. Which meant that everything else all weekend long would have had to have been perfect in order to justify the trip. And it wasn’t perfect. Again, it pretty much sucked from top to bottom.
Maybe I’m just not a Vegas kinda’ guy. Everything is insanely expensive, including paying $4 for a bottle of Diet Coke at the Bellagio gift shop. Paying $20 for a taxi ride to go a few blocks—on top of waiting twenty minutes in line just to get a taxi. Heat. Crowds. Stink. The air smelled like sewage.
I just don’t get the mentality—if people want to live like they do when they go to Vegas, why not just live that way all of the time? Why do you need to fly halfway across the country to act a goddamned fool? I’d rather just be a fool 24/7, embrace my true desire, than mask it year round so I could party like an imbecile for a few days.
But of course, the real purpose of the trip was to attend the 2015 Mr. Olympia. Which, itself, ended up sucking majorly.
There was a ton of press and hype going into the contest itself. First, all of the drama with Kai Greene, the second best bodybuilder in the world—whether he was going to do the show, not do the show, why he wasn’t going to do the show; last minute interviews and Instagram videos of him crying, while show promoter Robin Chang gave interviews to Flex magazine stating facts to the contrary. And the entire fan base left to wonder, ultimately, what really was happening behind the scenes that wasn’t being said in public.
And we still don’t know. All we know, is that we didn’t get to see Kai. I don’t really care who is to blame at this point. All I know is that it sucked for the fans.
As for the show itself, well, we got the same old shit. Reigning champ Phil Heath came out at his all-time worst—smaller, less detailed, less pop and polish than any of his previous four wins. Like him all you want, Phil Heath will go down as the worst Mr. Olympia since the early 80s. The fan base does not respect him at all. Hit attitude sucks. His training and mentality is severely uninspiring. Watching him lift is boring. Watching him talk is painful. You can’t blame the man for having arguably the greatest genetic response to weight training of all time, but when your nickname is “The Gift”—because you basically grow with zero effort—well, let’s just say it leaves many wanting more from their champion.
And as lackluster as Heath’s showing was, there was a little bit of hope—for the first time in years, it appeared there was a legitimate race for first place. Shawn Rhoden showed up majorly improved, and seemed to push Heath to the brink. Dexter Jackson, at the young age of 46 years old, showed up at his arguably all-time best, and many had him winning the show. And of course, Dennis Wolf rounded out the top four, also challenging Heath in many of his poses.
But when it was all said and done, it was more of the same. They gave Heath the title. The audience booed him off the stage, and fled the arena before he was even given the mic to make his victory speech—where he apparently talked about how he “persevered”, despite being ridiculed on social media.
Seriously? This is our champion? The greatest warrior in the iron realm? Give me a fucking break. You are a paper champ Heath, merely holding the title until a real bodybuilder puts you in your rightful place of “also ran”.
So yeah, a few grand in the hole for this shitty trip. And only one way to redeem it—our final night on the town, let’s walk Freemont Street, watch the freaks, and get shitfaced. And remember the interesting parts of life.
And as we walked, we took in the bizarre reality that is and can be Las Vegas at its best. A few shots of Honey Jack, and two giant frozen Hurricanes did the trick. We watched a twenty foot tall metal praying mantis that shot fire out of its antennae to a classic rock soundtrack. We watched a man parading in a thong, wearing a sign—“Reverse stripper: pay me to put my clothes back on”. (Three hours later, he was still naked; apparently, nobody took him up on his offer.) We even got to find a side alley with a DJ spinning for a group of people having a dance off—drunk as hell, holding my wife, all arguments faded and embracing why we were there in the first place—to live big, love bigger, Johnston Life.
Leaning against a garbage can and talking passion with Nikki, a bum approached us—an old black man missing the majority of his teeth. His sales pitch was awesome. “Look guys, I’m homeless and I need money. I ain’t gonna’ lie”. I was drunk enough to entertain his pitch for a moment. And feeling generous, I gave him a $20 bill. “Thank you”, he said. “You two—let me tell you something—you two, you have an inner warrior inside of yourselves. I can see it, shining through. You two are warriors”.
Yes, he really said this. And I looked at my wife, and felt my soul swell inside my chest.
I’m not religious, or mystical or superstitious in any sense. But I do believe that, with a little bit of perception and attention, you can see into a person’s soul. And this homeless man did precisely that. Despite the bullshit weekend, despite the money blown, despite the disappointing Mr. Olympia, for $20, a toothless bum made my weekend all worth it.
He saw the warrior within. Within both of us.
And I pulled Nikki close, held her against me, and kissed her with every ounce of passion I had within me.
You are my warrior goddess, baby. And will be until the end of time.
-David A. Johnston
This article was written by David Johnston. David is the founder and lead trainer of TEAM Warrior Within. You can also listen to him weekely on the GEARD Up podcast. ( GEARDUp.com ) David works with clients ranging from the everyday person just trying to lose weight and get healthy, local and national bodybuilding and physique competitors, to IFBB professional athletes.
David lives and breathes all things related to physique transformation, and has devoted nearly half of his life to passionately studying and educating himself to be the absolute best at what he does. His intensity in the gym is matched only by the passion he gives to his clients.