Victor Martinez and the GI crew talk about the 2023 Arnold Classic scorecard controversy, Dom Nicholls confronting Shawn Ray, and which bodybuilders would win in a fight.

The 2023 Arnold Classic was an exciting competition and had one of the closest battles in recent memory. Last week, we recapped the scores and results from the weekend. This week we focus on the controversies that arose out of the Arnold Classic weekend. This includes the criticism of Samson Dauda winning over Nick Walker as well as Chad Nicholl’s son, Dom, confronting Shawn Ray and the video going viral online. In our latest episode of the Generation Iron Podcast, Victor Martinez reacts to the Dom Nicholls vs Shawn Ray confrontation and weighs whether it is good or bad for the sport.

One of the most heated battles of the 2023 Arnold Classic didn’t happen on the stage. It happened in the expo. The battle in question was between Chad Nicholls’ son, Dom, and Shawn Ray. 

Shawn Ray had received much ire for his comments over the years about Chad Nicholls. Ray had gone so far as to say that bodybuilders have died under Nicholl’s coaching protocols. This angered many athletes and industry experts alike. But it seems one of the most angry was Dom Nicholls. Which is likely why he recorded himself confronting Shawn Ray and telling him to quit with the comments or Dom would “kick [Shawn Ray’s] f*cking ass.”

The video instantly went viral. Many enjoyed seeing Shawn Ray get told to shut up. While others felt the confrontation was unnecessary and a bad look for the sport of bodybuilding. Regardless of your opinion of Shawn Ray’s personality – there is no denying he was a major part of pro bodybuilding and his physique is legendary among many 90s greats.

In addition to this controversy, others have been stirring up complaints online. Specifically that Samson Dauda beat Nick Walker at the 2023 Arnold Classic finals. The biggest sticking point seems to be that Dauda received a perfect score during both prejudging and finals. Many believe this doesn’t match up with what they saw on the stage (or the live stream). Many have already gone on record defending or criticizing the decision. Nick Walker himself asked his fans to show respect and accept the results of the competition.

This week on the Generation Iron Podcast Victor and the GI team discuss the Dom Nicholls vs Shawn Ray controversy, the Samson Dauda vs Nick Walker controversy, and throw in a fun segment about which bodybuilders could win in a fight. Let’s jump into it.

Should Dom Nicholls have confronted Shawn Ray in public?

During discussing the confrontation between Dom Nicholls and Shawn Ray, the GI crew are torn on exactly how to react. On one hand, Ray had made some truly defamatory comments over the years. His most aggressive comments – such as Chad Nicholls being responsible for the deaths of bodybuilders – couldn’t in any way be backed up with real evidence in a court of law. Perhaps a threatening confrontation like this will end the comments for good.

At the same time, they debate if the Arnold Classic was the best venue for the confrontation. Not only that – but at the Arnold Classic expo surrounded by hundreds of people. Add to this that a video was recorded of the beef and suddenly the entire industry and even casual fans have seen it.

Does this make bodybuilding look bad? Does it reduce the professionalism of the sport that is already trying to reach more mainstream audiences and higher profile broadcasts?

Edwin Mejia Jr. believes that the better route would be a lawsuit. Chad Nicholls or even his family could file a defamation suite against him. That would threaten his money and certainly shut him up. They’d also be perfectly within their right to do so.

Victor Martinez, on the other hand, thinks there was no harm in the confrontation. There was no actual physical violence. In addition to this, Dom Nicholls is Chad’s son. He genuinely did this out of love, respect, and care for his father. Martinez can imagine how angry he would become if someone attacked his family with those kinds of accusations.

Also, Victor Martinez sees this as entertainment. He even notes that Shawn Ray probably enjoyed that the event happened in the end. Because now Ray can also use this to spin more attention on himself and his brand. No one was hurt and the sport had an exciting uptick in interest. Much like the Will Smith slap, which gave a massive bump to struggling viewer numbers as the Oscars, this is the kind of drama people like to see.

Did Nick Walker get screwed over at the 2023 Arnold Classic by the judges?

Victor Martinez also takes time to clear the air with the fan controversy around Nick Walker falling second behind Samson Dauda at the 2023 Arnold Classic. Some fans have gone as far as to say there was corruption and changed score cards. For Victor, he thinks this is just another case of fandom overtaking reality.

The competition was very close. In a subjective sport, these kinds of close calls can fall one way or another. Victor Martinez could have sen either of them win – but also understands the reasoning for why Dauda got a hair ahead of Walker.

Martinez believes that Dauda is the more genetically aesthetic athlete compared to Walker. Nick Walker often overcomes this through hard work and size to overcome that aesthetic weakness. It can work – and it has for him in the past. But at the Arnold Classic, Walker was slightly smaller. This showed off his weaknesses more. Meanwhile, Dauda improved significantly (Ehsan believes by at least 60% in as little as three months). That gave Dauda the edge.

But with non-transparent judging and a live stream for thousands to watch and see – fans will always become emotional and let their subjective opinion fabricate an objective reason for the loss. Victor believes Nick Walker die-hards want a reason to excuse Walker’s loss. Even if that means the judges screwed up.

Wrap Up

Victor Martinez and the GI team go into far more detail than we can cover here. Including a breakdown of the best bodybuilding beefs in history and Martinez’s opinion on which bodybuilders can hold best in a fist fight. You can check it out completely in the latest Generation Iron Podcast episode above!

Make sure to also check back every Tuesday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.