As the 2023 Pittsburgh Pro approaches next weekend, all eyes are on the stars expected to perform on stage. In a recent RxMuscle interview, Chris Aceto, a renowned bodybuilding expert, predicted standout performances from Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay and Derek Lunsford, both of whom are aiming to win this year’s Mr. Olympia show. The Men’s Open division has been turned upside down after the conclusion of the 2022 Mr. Olympia event, with Hadi Choopan winning his first title, and Ramy falling to fifth place after most in the community suspected he was off on stage, such as IFBB Pro League head judge Steve Weinberger. Derek Lunsford and Nick Walker rounded out the podium in second and third.
The 2023 Arnold Classic competition took place in March, and judging became a hot topic on its heels. Despite his status as the highest-ranking Olympian, Nick Walker ended the show in second behind Nigerian native Samson Dauda. In the meantime, Lunsford made it clear that he was using the off-season to increase his chances of winning the next Mr. Olympia. Last year, Lunsford guest posed in place of Big Ramy who failed to meet his obligation. Lunsford and Walker stole the show, which paved Derek’s way to a special invitation from the Olympia brass to compete in the Open. Given the significance of the Pittsburgh Pro guest posing event, fans consider it an appetizer for what is to come in November at 2023 Olympia.
Aceto believes that Big Ramy will remind the bodybuilding community that he’s still a viable Mr. Olympia threat once he’s done guest posing in Pittsburgh. “Mark my words, slam dunk. He’ll be in good shape and he’ll be way bigger than he’s ever been. We can play this show back but go ahead. 100% to use the 100% three times in one show,” said Chris Aceto. Similar to last year, Aceto expects Derek Lunsford to make a powerful impression. He anticipates the former 212 Olympia to be even bigger on stage than in 2022. In addition, he believes Lunsford will have made improvements to his upper body, most notably his chest.
Aceto says judges at major contests like Mr. Olympia look at physiques for something ‘truly special.’ He specified that Choopan won last year because he brought excellent conditioning but paired it with more size. “The Olympia, you know, when you’re being judged at the Olympia, I think the judges want to see no stone left unturned. That means they want to see something special. At that level, everyone is big, so they need to see something that is truly special. Look at how successful Hadi has been from day one at the Olympia, this year, of course, he was fuller than ever, not fuller, but bigger and he brought tremendous condition still at a bigger weight and that’s what put him over the top. They want to see something special, usually something special means conditioning.”
In regards to the judging process, Aceto believes it’s fair to wait a few days after a show before asking officials what areas of improvement are needed to advance further in the sport. “I would never go up to a judge and say hey what did you think between second and first or first and second, I would give him a lot of time before I ask him, and I wouldn’t necessarily blab it out on a show, ‘Oh I spoke to Bill, oh I spoke to Steve and they had so and so in ninth place during prejudging, then he ended up in ninth because of XYZ, a show is a show, but you have to keep some level of fairness there if that makes sense.” “People can come off as biased or unfair when they connect it to the Olympia and make criticisms of people’s attention,” said Aceto.
Next weekend, bodybuilding fans will have a teaser of the upcoming season at Jim Manion’s 2023 Pittsburgh Pro. In addition to the contests, Nick Walker, Samson Dauda, Shaun Clarida, Hunter Labrada, Big Ramy, and Derek Lunsford will be in attendance to stake their claim as the next contender to push Hadi Choopan for gold. The last time fans heard from Chris Aceto, he discussed the chances of four-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler returning to the stage. Despite fan speculation, rumors online, and the return of Masters Olympia in August, Aceto said Cutler isn’t even considering it on a scale of 1-10.
In conclusion, the 2023 Pittsburgh Pro is set to be an exciting event, with some of the biggest names in bodybuilding vying for the top spot. With predictions from experts like Chris Aceto, fans can expect a thrilling contest that will set the stage for the upcoming Mr. Olympia show in November. As always, the judging process will be under scrutiny, and the bodybuilding community will be watching closely to see who will come out on top.