Muscle Sport Magazine

Unfair WBF & PDI Comparisons for the NSL

NSL Toney Freeman flyer

We’ve seen this one before… or have we? When Lee Thompson bolted from the NPC/IFBB to launch the Nspire Sports League (originally named NPC Global for strategic purposes, which worked), a lot of people in the industry fluffed it off as another attempt that went by the wayside like the WBF and PDI before them. But even with those two federations, things nearly broke right for them if not for some bad luck and bad timing.

Only time will tell if the NSL can fare better, but there are a number of differences between these organizations.

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There certainly was no shortage of money with Vince McMahon and the then-WWF (now WWE) mogul was able to easily sway a number of IFBB pros to jump ship with large contracts. But he went overboard with the dog and pony show production and wrestling motif.

Even with that, the WBF could have lasted a lot longer than the few years it did if not for the steroid trial that McMahon had to deal with. Because of the negative attention with the wrestlers and PEDs, the bodybuilders were told that they would be drug tested and it wasn’t going to be of the sham variety, either. Bodybuilding without steroids is…gone.


This organization has a very distinct similarity in that both Wayne DeMilia and Thompson were higher ups in the IFBB when they left for their own respective ventures. And that is a huge difference from McMahon.

If not for DeMilia’s failing health at the time, the PDI could have become a strong rival to the IFBB.



The main difference between the above two federations and Thompson’s is that he is giving himself an entire brand to be built through the pro/am aspect of the NSL. Neither the WBF or PDI included an amateur division and with the addition of so many categories in the industry today, there is a plethora of competitors that wouldn’t have been on the scene before. Even though the PDI was around in the mid-2000s, they kept it at bodybuilding.

The way that Thompson is approaching it, he is looking to include all of the divisions, but put his best foot forward with bikini, figure and men’s physique. Those three just also happen to have the largest demographics for potential competitors and fans, alike.

The Texan is also partnering up with companies that are not already in the bodybuilding industry and being from the mainstream areas. His business plan includes television exposure and he and two of the NSL athletes were on a CBS morning show in Dallas promoting the league on May 4.


The production value of the NSL product has also been high end and that is also a major difference from what the NPC/IFBB does. Venues, promotional material and the overall appearance has been uniform and impressive, while the NPC has been hosting contests in middle school and high school auditoriums with less-than-stellar flyers and websites.

One widely circulated difference has been the NSL’s adoption of the Bodysquid computerized scoring system. Michael Kranitz, CEO of Eventsquid, parent organization to Bodysquid, explains it as follows:

1. The head judge has no discretion on who makes callout groups.  The system instantly computes the callout selections from each judge and feeds them into a screen that the head judge can “lock in” so that the mathematical consensus of the panel rules who makes a call out.
 2. The system displays in real time, the callout classes of the athletes so judges can easily see how they placed that athlete in previous classes.
 3. The system allows each judge to tap star ratings for body parts and enter comments in real time.  The athlete can log into our system and see CONSTRUCTIVE COMMENTS for the first time.
 4. The system automatically computes scores, breaks ties and figures results instantly, causing shows to be faster than ever.
 5. For championship rounds, once the judges lock in round two scores, the system computes the total of the rounds and instantly projects the score grid on huge screens behind the athletes.  Fans can see exactly how the athlete placed and who scored them what.
 6. Our live voting app allows the audience to weigh in as the “12th man” and vote for their favorite.
 7. Digital expediter sheets keep the judges’ tablets invisibly up to date on scratches, order, etc.

And with IFBB veteran Toney Freeman on board as a competitor/ambassador, the NSL is giving itself more than a fighter’s chance to survive and possibly thrive. Put social media in the mix where it wasn’t around or the marketing monster it is now and there are many tools available to the NSL that weren’t to the WBF and PDI.

So perhaps the NSL can be a viable US-based alternative to the NPC/IFBB after all.


  1. John Romano

    May 12, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Haha. DeMilia’s failing health?!? Why would you buy his bullshit story? PDI was a flop. No one showed up for the two shows. Only one IFBB bber of note (Lee Priest) jumped to his ship because everyone knew DeMilia was the problem, not the solution. The same is true of Lee Thompson. IFBB is glad to be rid of his crooked ass. The way he ran the Texas NPC was a disgrace, as was his head judging at the Rio Arnold, and as was his bedding down with competitors for years. Good riddance!

  2. Christopher Minnes

    May 12, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    Bad venues? Lee is late to the game. In 2011, I promoted the first NPC Tahoe Show in the Montbleu Showroom in Lake Tahoe following acts from Frank Sinatra to the top names of today. I’ve held the NPC/IFBB Ferrigno Legacy first at the Granada Theatre, a 1920’s opera house in Santa Barbra remodeled to the tune of $62 million. In 2015 I moved it to Palm Springs to the $71 million Agua Caliente Showroom awarded best showroom in America. Finally I brought the NPC West Coast to the Fox Performing Arts Center, another 1920’s remolded opera house know as the venue who first premiered “Gone with the Wind”. We will not use venues with flat floors, folding chairs and poor acoustics as I see NSL Dallas show did. Additionally we do not allow vinyl banners on our stage. We use a combination of high power projection, LED Screens and gobos. That just scratches to surface of our production, services and programming. Visit http://www.tahoeshow.com http://www.ferrignolegacy.com and http://www.npcwestcoast.com to see what I’m taking about.

  3. Joe Pietaro

    May 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Hi, John. Glad to see that you’re posting here. I have personally spoken to Wayne (recently; just a few weeks ago as a matter of fact) and we covered a lot of very interesting topics. It is no secret that the IFBB & their show production grew ten-fold under DeMilia and that he did have an illness that changed things drastically with the PDI. Would it have flopped if that wasn’t the case? Possibly, but we’ll never know for sure. But the crux of this article was to show the differences between then and now and how there is a possibility for the NSL to succeed where the others weren’t able to. -Joe Pietaro

  4. Joe Pietaro

    May 13, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Christopher – Thanks for your comment and it appears that you are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to venues in the NPC and, in some cases, the IFBB, as well. I’m sure that you have been at shows where you knew that a lot was left to be desired and that may have in turn made you do what you did, venue-wise. Kudos to you but the majority of your brethren take the easy way out and keep the overage of money after the venue is paid for. MuscleSport Mag used to actually sponsor contests, including ones in the NPC, and we have seen some doozies over the years between sponsoring and covering them. Selling too many tickets, charging double for folding chairs in between rows in middle school auditoriums, etc. The list is endless. So you should take a bow for not doing crap like that and encourage the others to emulate you and not the ones who are there simply for a pay day. – Joe Pietaro

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