Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
I'll be straight with you. I was deadened enough by all the racist crap
surrounding Asashoryu that I felt I'd lost my drive to give a ratzass about this
basho, and while that is not entirely untrue, it's been tougher than I thought
to sit on my peeps for fourteen days. Of course I read the dailies, and as a
whole they were damnably good, but they only made me want to join in instead of
sit here everyday by the hotel pool getting pestered by Nipponese who think I'm
I also perused a forum from time to time, looking to hammer down my jones, only
to discover that according to a few muppets, I should not be commenting on sumo
on the grounds that I have never wrestled sumo. I'm glad Mark Twain, Ambrose
Bierce, Walter Lippman, Paul Fusell, Susan Sontag and just about every film
director who ever lived didn't subscribe to that little diamond of childlike
"logic". Man, give 'em a place to hang their hats and the poster children for
birth control come right out of the woodwork.
I then attempted to amuse myself by sniffing around and digging into the past of
the two new contributors, a la my expose on Martin the Mongol last year, but
there wasn't much to chew on. Slash (or Gene Simmons sans jutting tongue, or
Pauley Shore after rehab) never drank a drop of liquid in front of the rest of
us, and it got so bad we took to hollering at him in the halls, "Mark Arbo,
hydrate!" As for the other fella, I couldn't find any reason why he would want
to imitate Jay Leno ("Hey, did you hear the one about Homasho and Dejima? Seems
one of them threw the other one down. THAT hadda hurt!") and call it a report,
but I myself wasn't stepping up to the plate, so who am I to kvetch?
I then set my sights on the English guys on NHK figuring, Hey, they're always
good for a few. Whether it's gems like "there are various different styles" or
"the Yokozuna was the favorite coming in", you can usually count on something to
nibble at. Alas, the new commentator on Day 11, I think, named Marvin made me
cringe with his "uh" after every word (and, uh, incredibly, uh, he's a
professional, uh, radio, uh, host!ah Nippon, the land where even the average
buck can become a star), and Musashimaru on Day 13 with his particular brand of
tortured narcissism took all the fun out of it for me (although he did crack me
up when he remarked after a henka, "I call it girl sumo, I hate when they just
run away"---I suppose all those henka defenders STILL think, after the dai-Yokozuna
makes that kind of comment, that it's still "honourable").
But who cares what I did to reach Day 15. I'm here so let's talk lamb fries. I
Pippen Nails Thirty-Five Foot Jumper As Bulls Win NBA title! The game may have
been a good one, and Scotty may be deserving of becoming a superstar, but we all
know why that headline lacks a certain something.
to avoid a playoff against former fellow Mongolian Kyokutenho, Yokozuna Scotty
took on the fearsome Chiyotaikai, the man (we keep hearing) on a 53 or whatever
basho reign of terror at Ozeki. Mike beseeches us to analyze, analyze (or is it,
Anal, guys!, Anal guys!?) but there was nothing to analyze in this bout. The
Wolf's Pup stood up at tachi-ai and didn't so much hit Hakuho with his big hands
as he placed them on Hakuho's chest and implored him to stay away. This was date
rape, and Hakuho the horny teen was having none of the Ozeki's protestations. As
he grabbed at the front of the belt the Pup squealed and backed away, far enough
to go out and lose. What a great final day bout! Much better for sure than the
one I would have covered if Jordan had not been exiled to a fricking yurt in
In the match before that we had two of the top division's most perplexing
wrestlers squaring off with Ozeki Kotooshu taking on Sekiwake Aminishiki.
Kotooshu was gunning for his 7th loss and he got it in spectacular fashion by
draping his long arms over Aminishiki's shoulders and then quitting. The
Sekiwake then carried him gently back and out. Forget date rape, this was Burp
The Frickin' Baby! Kotooshu may be lookin' California, but he's gotta be feelin'
Yeah, yeah, I could see the bandages all over the Big Bulgar. So what? He needs
a head bandage, one that can be applied directly to his medulla oblongata. Man,
if I had a body like that I could be a Yokozuna instead of some shitty little
nothing making fun of real men like
To be fair, what galls me and everyone else is the fact that he storm troopered
his ass to Ozeki, and then (insert sound of gas leaking out of tight orifice).
I'd love for just ONE of the he-men from Martin's neck of the world to have ANY
real success vs. "them Asians".
As for AmiShniki, beats me why he has to run like diarrhea two or three times
every basho (which sets up two or three more semi-cheap wins when his foes
hesitate at tachi-ai fearing the henka) when he obviously has the skills to play
it straight everyday. Rumor has it that next basho Shniki will unveil a new
technique he developed after a trip to Australia, a technique he hopes will let
him run roughshod over the division. He's the 'roo on the left.
Rounding out the powerful Ozeki rank is newly crowned Kotomitsuki. After a pansy
ass win vs. The Pup on Day 14, there is no way he would skirt the fight vs.
Kisenosato today just to make the fabled Ozeki Ten, is there? Naturally, that's
exactly what he did. Although all the Mitsuki lovers out there will say he hit
at tachi-ai, he was already slipping to the side big time. Not a henka, then,
but a hitka. The Kid (yep, old man Kise is still only twenty-one) had no chance
and did well just to keep his feet under him before Princess Aiko's real dad
pounced and finished his wounded foe off with the kimarite I use on my wife when
she pretends she don't want any, namely uchimuso.
Today's final three bouts, then, act as a microcosm of what was wrong with sumo
this time out: Underachieving Komusubi (Kise), weasely Sekiwake with padded
records (Shniki), way past their prime Ozeki (Chiyotaikai), Ozeki lacking in
confidence (Mitsuki), Ozeki lacking in mental game (Kotooshu), and most of all
no Asa. None of this is Hakuho's fault, of course, and he looked good even when
losing. He did his part by fighting tough everyday and taking the yusho with
only two losses. He wasn't exactly dominating, but he did what he had to and
saved the powers that be (TPTB) the shame of a rookie winning the tournament.
For reasons best left unstated (I'm stupid), I missed and did not record the
bouts from Miyabi/Takakaze up and through Toyonoshima/Sexy, and that bites dino
dick because it is in these bouts we had guys who exemplified all that was good
about this basho. So I suppose I will comment on the kimarite and final record
with some remarks about my impression of their performance this time out, okay?
Toyonoshima got an oshidashi push out win over Sekiwake Asasekiwakeryu (urp).
Both men finished 8-7. Toyo had that fine bout vs. the Yokozuna, so good to see
him get his KK. He played it straight up all basho and is really setting himself
up to be a strong spoiler for years to come a la the former Sekiwake Akinoshima.
Sexy had some good wins, and some poor losses, and with Ama getting ten big ones
at Komusubi, I suppose the possibility exists of TPTB deciding to flip the two
to avoid three Sekiwake, although I can't recall ever seeing a wrestler go down
in rank after a KK.
It looks to me like the Giku at W3 got hold of Komusubi Ama's belt and used his
enormous strength to win via yorikiri force out. Both dudes end up 10-5,
outstanding records at this level (although you could subtract one win from both
records if Asa had been in the house--course you could say that about nearly
everyone from M4 up.) Pisses me off I missed this bout in particular. The Giku
was a better man this time out, and Ama was his usual animal self. I think if it
wasn't clear to you before that it should be now: Once he puts on that extra 10
or 15 kilos like Shniki has, twenty-three year-old Ama will become an Ozeki
(like I and others here at Sumotalk said a long time ago).
Dejima eked out his KK by hatakikomi slap down of Homasho?! Difficult to
believe. Homasho is such a well balanced guy, especially lately. I hope it
wasn't a henka, but Dejima HAS been employing that dastardly tactic this time
out. Homasho with eight wins might just be joining The Giku at Komusubi in
Kyushu. With Asa present he would have lost once more and not gotten his KK and
not then made sanyaku for the first time ever, so it seems Kazemaru my little
friend, that as I predicted, Homasho did indeed benefit the most from Asa's
Eighteen kilos lighter than his foe, Kakuryu won his seventh by beating W10
Kasugao via sotogake, which is described as a leg trip but really requires a lot
of strength before to even get to the point where a trip can work. Winning seven
at W2 is great for The Kak, who is only twenty-two. Since his debut in Kyushu
last year (when Martin The Self-Hating Mongolian infamously stated, in HIS debut
for Sumotalk, "Sure, he's good at it (evasion), I'll give him that, but that's
not gonna get him anywhere near the top. Expect to see him back in Juryo come
Haru (2007). I have spoken!") he has risen steadily and improved his technique
as well. Just get rid of those henkas and he may turn out to be an occasional
visitor to sanyaku and someone we can all like (even if he is a...a...a
Every time I watch Hokutoriki as he prepares to mount (hnn hnn he said mount)
the dohyo, I half expect Takamisakari and one of the high priests to grab him
and escort him and his loose leaf sheets down the hanamichi.
Now back to bouts I DID see. Toyohibiki and Futenoh both were 7-7, so there was
a good chance that one of them would get their KK and one would get their MK
(man, I could be an NHK English announcer with my insightful comments!) The
Nikibi as usual started from the first row and blasted forward, driving
Fruitenoh back and to the edge, but the W11 somehow survived by letting the E6
knock his noggin around like a bobblehead doll. As Yoda might say, Bend, but do
not break! (Actually, I hate Master Yoda--the real one AND the one that pretends
to be a woman on the YDC. When he tells Luke, "Do or do not; there is no try" I
wanted to scream, "Idiot little man, try is an intermediate state between not
doing and doing!" George Lucas sucks at dialogue writing.) Then Fruity made a
comeback, deflecting the big boy and pushing down on his shoulder all the way to
In another 7-7 matchup, Kokkai (who is starting to look a hell of a lot more like
Elvis than Toki ever did, and an angry Elvis at that) brought what he THINKS is
serious slamming tsuppari but is in fact mostly upper body bluster, which
Tamanoshima is more than capable of handling on most days, and which he did
handle today. Once Kokkai was worn out Tama tried a pulldown which the E12
recovered from but now he was set up for the kill and as he tried a backstepping
slapdown himself the E7 stayed on his feet and ran the big Georgian out. Better
pull out of this nosedive, son, because at E12, Juryo is knocking at your back
W13 Tochiohzan was looking for number eight vs. grizzled veteran Tosanoumi.
After an excellent tachi-ai by both men (NOT "on both mens' parts", Dave Shapiro
you numbnut) Tosanoumi kept his elbows close to the body and stayed low, forcing
Tochi to reciprocate with the low pushing power. However, Tosanoumi was ready
and stepped away, leaving his foe squatting in the center of the ring looking
for all the world like he wanted to play Johnny On The Pony. This allowed the W8
to get to the youngster's side, and after one more slight escape was run out,
style, to his eighth loss.
Kakizoe was so fast across the line at tachi-ai that Takamisakari barely had
time to re-swallow that squirrel he looks like he's regurgitating just before he
throws his final salt. But as he usually does, Circus found some way to slip and
slide and weasel and worm, and when the little man with the big man's strut made
his final push, P.T.'s boy ducked under his foe's arm and pirouetting, let him
fall to the dirt. The gyoji got the call wrong, but the High Priests righted
things for a change. KK at W9 for everyone's favorite chest thumper, and a bochi
bochi W16 9-6 for Musoyama's little brother.
Back in Makuuchi for the first time since he had the audacity to drive himself
somewhere, W12 Kyokutenho was gunning for his 12th win vs. old man (no irony
here) Tamakasuga. The E11 already secured KK on Day 14 but yet still brought
some thunder. After a sidestepping tachi-ai by both left them in reverse
positions from the start, Tama tried to push up on Tenho's pits, but the former
Mongolian held steady and resisted such transparent chicanery, then reached down
and grabbed the front of the belt (but NOT the gonads like Ama did to Goeido on
Day 12, yikes!) and drove him around the edge a bit while keeping his feet
underneath him as Tama went out. The win put him in a position to fight in that
playoff vs. the Yokozuna, but Hakuho would have to lose to Chiyotaikai, which is
akin to saying, Monkeys would have to fly out of my butt (Wayne's World, Wayne's
World, party time, excellent, rrrrr rrrrr rrrrr!)
Finally, easily the two most surprising rikishi this time out fought where their
ranks dictated but not their records, the first bout of the day. Goeido, who
made a run for the ages, and Yoshikaze went forehead to forehead at tachi-ai,
with Goeido getting the better of the collision. The rookie then made a swipe at
the belt, didn't get it, tucked his arms in tight and shoved on Yoshikaze's
chest and sent him back and out. Yoshikaze had nothing to offer in the way of
resistance, which shows you why he will likely never climb higher than M6,
whereas Goeido showed that he will be a sanyaku guy someday.
One last thing on the decision to put Goeido against Hakuho. Some people say it
was good because it would have sucked to have Goeido win the yusho without
beating the Yokozuna (one turkey I read even said Goeido would "sneak away with
it"). What a bunch of shit. Feeding a rookie to the sanyaku is one thing, but if
a Yokozuna can't win enough bouts to take the yusho that's his problem, and if
the sanyaku guys aren't strong enough by themselves to turn away a rookie that's
tough luck as well. It's a three win swing because the Yokozuna gets a win he
shouldn't, and avoids a realistically possible loss by not having to take on an
Ozeki, while the rookie gets saddled with a loss he may not have gotten vs. a
Maegashira opponent. I think that a Yokozuna should fight the top guys, and if
he can't get the job done and loses the yusho to a low ranker who kicked ass
even on the sanyaku, I say too bad.
See ya'll in Kyushu
Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
The 2007 Aki is nearing its long-awaited but not so surprising
conclusion. Most sumo followers would say the Yusho had been decided when the NSK geezers put the stake through Asashoryu's heart and left him in the sun for
four months. It wasn't really as easy as that, and Hakuho didn't exactly look
completely dominating, but he is a lot better than his current competition and,
as of today, he has the sole lead to prove it, not that he needed to prove
anything in the first place. The leaderboard, this time before the actual
analysis of the bouts:
12-2 Hakuho the 99.9% Yusho winner and future East Yokozuna. The 0.1% is
Chiyotaikai's henka combined with the 11 win contender winning his own bout AND
the playoff with the big Yokozuna. Did I say 0.1%? I meant 0.000001%.
11-3 Kyokutenho See above for the numerical analysis. Should he beat
Tamakasuga (and it's a BIG if, that one, innit...), he can expect some prizes.
I'm not sure about that last part though.
10-4 A bunch of guys Ama will take the Shukun-Sho for his big win against the
Yokozuna, and, if he's lucky, he might just make it to a third Sekiwake slot.
Goeido will take the Kanto-Sho for storming the division in his debut. One more
win might just get Korean Kasugao the Gino-Sho. Yoshikaze? Considering his
ailing opponents, I would give him a rusty nickel for his trouble.
5-9 Roho He gets the Über Ugly Prize and he should go cry himself to sleep.
Let's put some sumo into it for a change and get to the actual bouts, shall we?
As we would normally have it, we'll start with the Yokozuna himself. His victim
today was the hot debutant Goeido, who was boasting a shiny 10-1 score after the
first 11 days. Pairing him against Hakuho was a bit of overkill. Normally, on
day 14 Hakuho should have fought Kotooshu, who could beat anyone on a good day,
whereas Sawai was bound to be under an enormous amount of pressure, this being
his first Yokozuna fight and all. Not to say he didn't have his chance, though.
Both wrestlers came straight and hard at the tachiai, with Goeido aiming to get
his favorite migi-yotsu position. Hakuho however denied him any sort of grip and
just curled his left arm around his younger foe's right, reinforced the hold
with his right and threw him to the clay within moments, just like a true
Yokozuna should, by one of his favorite kimarite of late, tottari. Goeido was
again outmatched in all the aspects of his sumo, but he's showing a lot of
promise and you can be sure he's gonna be around for a while.
Tomorrow Goeido is facing Yoshikaze and he 'should' finish him off easily, but
Kaze is a feisty one and shouldn't be underestimated. The Kanto-Sho is in the
bag, though. Hakuho is a mere formality away from the Yusho.
I made a little bet with a friend just before the basho started. He said
Chiyotaikai would beat both Sadogatake Ozeki and, of course, I took him up on it
right away. What the poor sucker didn't know was that I'm a
great-great-great-grandson of some other distant relative of Nostradamus and
occasionally I can catch glimpses of the future. Of course, the manner in which
Kotomitsuki won is by no means flattering, but hey, a win is a win, right? The
newly promoted Ozeki shifted to his left at the tachi-ai and tried to finish off
Taikai with a kotenage, but he couldn't quite get the lock on his thick arm. He
followed up with a quick series of thrusts to Chiyotaikai's side and managed to
lock his other arm, after which he quickly deployed the throw, helping Taikai
fall over more easily with a paw on the head. Remember what I was saying?
Win-at-all-cost sumo. Both Ozeki are at nine wins each. Back to my little bet,
I'll only win one beer, because the NSK excused Kotooshu from having to meet
Chiyotaikai, instead giving him Aminisneaky (that may actually be to my benefit,
come to think of it...).
After the bout, the NHK broadcast showed a glimpse of the Imperial Family, and I
couldn't help noticing the strange resemblance between princess Aiko's face and
Kotomitsuki's ugly mug. Maybe it's no coincidence he's her favorite wrestler,
eh? Also, I saw Kitanoumi, the head of the powers that be, in the background,
and I could have sworn he looked just like Bolo Yeung without the huge
pectorals. Or maybe it's because them Asians all look alike. How the heck can
you people tell 'em apart anyway?
There are two sides to Kotooshu's sumo this basho. The good side is that he
finally gave up the henka. Now he's hitting hard and straightforward in all of
his tachi-ai, and clearly driving his opponents back a step or two. The bad side
is that his balance is a complete mess and he's easy counter-throw fodder (four
of his six losses were by sukuinage and kotenage). Again, the same pattern could
be observed in today's tachi-ai: Kotooshu hit hard, drove the Korean way back,
planted his left on the inside and surged forward for the yorikiri. Kasugao kept
his cool, wrapped that inside arm, turned his hips into Kotooshu, planted his
left foot firmly and deployed the kotenage, using the other leg to flip the big
Bulgarian over. It worked like a charm and Kotooshu was in for a rough landing
on the dohyo, face up and with the Korean on top of him. Thank goodness for the
paltry opponents Kotooshu has been getting, otherwise he might have been looking
at a make-koshi right now. On the other hand, maybe he could use some time off
to Juryo (it looks like it's doing wonders for Baruto). At 10 wins, Kasugao is a
very viable candidate for the Technique Prize (hell, I'd give it to him only for
the sweet nichonage he did Futenoh in with). One more win will most likely get
it for him.
What do you do when you're a shin-Sekiwake with 7-6 coming in and you're facing
Dejima the Locomotive? That's right, you pull, pull, pull. Asasekiryu stood his
ground at the tachiai, uh, for half a second, anyway, and then switched into
reverse. Dejima couldn't stop in time and was a sure victim today, falling to
7-7 and on the razor's edge. He's facing Homasho on senshuraku, and that doesn't
really bode well for the veteran.
The other Sekiwake, Aminishiki, had little trouble against giant-slayer
Toyonoshima. A quick tachi-ai with both hands to the throat stood David upright,
and before he could take any countermeasures he was pulled down to the clay for
the easy hatakikomi. Aminishiki breaks a nasty 5 bout losing streak with the win
while the 7-7 Toyonoshima has his work cut out for him with Asasekiryu coming up
tomorrow. A win in that bout may earn him the Shukun-Sho along with Ama, who
already has 10 wins.
of the revelations this basho, Komusubi Ama, tried to overpower
Mongolian-Japanese Kyokutenho straight from the tachi-ai, but his massive frame
and strength were just too much for the lightweight to handle. All Ama could get
from his spirited charge was a left sashi, not enough to hold back the beast.
Kyokutenho quickly surged forward, determined to finish things quickly. Ama made
a last-ditch scoop-throw attempt with the aforementioned inner grip, but it
didn't work and he soon found himself on his back. The impressive yoritaoshi
victory ups Tenho's score to 11, keeping him in the (hypothetical) Yusho race.
But Hakuho has the last word on that matter tomorrow. Ama can be happy with his
Shukun-Sho and a Sekiwake promotion.
In the bout before that, The Fatman met Komusubi Kisenosato, who is already
certain of his drop from the prestigious sanyaku ranks, with eight losses coming
into today's meeting. Miyabiyama started the hostilities with some heavy duty
tsuppari to the youngster's jaw and neck, but Kisenosato forced the combat to
close quarters, the two exchanging left inside grips. A relative stalemate
followed, with both wrestlers vying for better positions. Eventually, Kisenosato
shook off Yama's grip to get his own right uwate and quickly finished the job,
driving the Blob over the tawara milliseconds before he crumbled himself.
Miyabiyama falls to 8-6.
My favorite wrestler Kakuryu has been a complete surprise the last three days.
After taking a severe thrashing in the first 9 days, he bumped his record a bit
with two evil henkas against two massive rikishi he'd not be able to take head
on, and then, like he should have when he first entered the division, he
switched to honest, forward moving sumo, and even with some success. That is,
until he eventually met a rikishi with a little backbone and some strength. Top
Maegashira Homasho came half-strength at the tachi-ai, probably cautious because
of what happened to Kisenosato a few days ago, and was driven back a little, but
managed to slip his left on Kakuryu's inside. The sneaky little Mongolian
snapped a quick maki-kae, but at that same moment Homasho timed a powerful
forward surge and swept his foe under the rug by yorikiri, despite giving up the
morozashi. This makes Kakuryu's makekoshi official and, although 6-8 might seem
extraordinary for Kakuryu at M2, just take a look at the guys he beat (and how
he beat them): he burned Dejima at the edge, as usual, shafted Tochinonada and
Kisenosato with some fat henkas and beat straight up the otherwise tough guys
Tokitenku and Wakanosato, who were looking even weaker than he usually is. His
only 'real' victory came against Asasekiryu. That's not top Maegashira material
if you ask me, but, alas, Kakuryu will be gracing the ranks in Kyushu too.
Homasho, on the other hand, will be rightfully promoted to Komusubi.
Sitting on his worthless ass at the undeserved Eastern slot of the M3 rank is
Jokutoriki, whose 11 losses so far will send him tumbling back to where he truly
belongs. Against Mongolian Tokitenku the Joke's tachi-ai was true to his
moniker, because it lacked any strength and allowed Tokitenku to push his
extended arms out of the way and gain a nice, fat, deep morozashi. Of course,
after that the Mongolian just walked his compromised foe out for the easy
yorikiri win, upping his score to 5 wins.
M4 Wakanosato allowed M2 Tochinonada a left sashi that immediately proved
lethal. Nada yanked at Wakanosato's armpit, lifting him clean off his feet and
completely out of balance and position, making him a sitting duck for the
yorikiri. Impressive stuff it was, but it doesn't really help Tochinonada's
heavily damaged record. Wakanosato is a wreck too, with only 5 wins of his own.
M16 Kakizoe charged like a hungry wolverine in his match against Sadogatake #3
Kotoshogiku, but the size difference was pretty soon visible when he hit the
stonewall solid former Sekiwake. Zoe immediately tried to evade for the
pull-down, but Giku was on his every move and chased him all the way to the
tawara and then some more alongside it for the violent force-down, harvesting
his ninth win and a possible return to Komusubi (if the powers that be decide
Ama is worth the trouble of adding the extra Sekiwake slot just for his scrawny
ass). Kakizoe can be happy with nine wins of his own.
The next bout looked at first like a catfight between Lindsay Lohan and Paris
Hilton. Veterans M14 Kitazakura and M6 Kaiho started with some quick yet
ineffective tsuppari. Kaiho was the first to initiate something, by sliding to
his right to grab a nice uwate, but the big Super Zakura Bro used his bulk and
height advantage to easily break it off, resuming his quick tsuppari attack.
Kaiho again evaded to his right, only this time the maneuver sent his large foe
sprawling to the clay, much to his outspoken frustration. Both wrestlers have
double digit losses, and Zakura is setting sail yet again for the calm Juryo
With a dangerous seven losses already, M6 Toyohibiki crashed hard into his
opponent, M9 Takamisakari, and used a fierce nodowa and some more heavy thrusts
to eject the clown from the dohyo in spectacular fashion. This newbie's strength
is impressive, but I'm gonna repeat myself and say he'd do well to work on his
balance. His fate is going to be decided tomorrow, against fellow oh-point-fiver
Futenoh. Also at the 1/2 mark, Takamisakari ain't gonna have it easy, with
Kakizoe coming his way on senshuraku.
I'm now going to skip right to the first Makuuchi bout, the one between Old Man
Tamakasuga and Mongolian Figgered, who came way too high at the initial charge,
trying to dish out some tsuppari. The veteran was hit by a couple, but all he
really needed to do was slap the side of Ryuo's head for the quick and painless
(well, for Kasuga, anyway) slapdown. Tamakasuga gets another kachikoshi, while
Ryuo will start packing for Juryo with his 11th loss.
Hakurozan, the lesser of the Russians in Makuuchi, put his big bro to shame,
actually putting up quite a fight against Futenoh the underachiever. Henkarozan
opted for a thrusting tachi-ai, with both hands to his opponent's neck, probably
hoping to get him off balance for the cheap pulldown. Hardly surprising, that
failed, and Futenoh quickly took the show into yotsu ground, with the two
wrestlers exchanging double grips with the left inside. At that moment I thought
it was all over for the bald whitey, but Hakurozan decided to put me to shame
too, by taking Futenoh off balance with two shitatenage attempts and forcing him
out in convincing fashion to get his eighth. It was actually good sumo from the
Russian (ugh, I never thought I'd say it again). Futenoh will have to wait at
least another day for his own kachikoshi.
In the next bout, Iwakiyama wanted to the take the bet between me and Mike right
to the last day of the tournament (probably because Mike paid him off to take a
dive). Anyway, Iwakiyama attacked with some vigorous tsuppari only to have his
foe, future Juryo Kasuganishiki, dodge his subsequent charge and slap him down a
fraction of a second before he crashed out of the ring himself. And, yeah, had
it not been for our little bet, I'd probably have skipped this ugly bout
Roho lost to Yoshikaze. Next!
I'm guessing M8 Takekaze was expecting a hard tachi-ai from young prospect
Tochiozan, because right after the initial impact, he backed down and let the
young one take himself off balance and become an easy oshidashi target.
Tochiozan is still new to Makuuchi, but in a year or so you won't see this kind
of loss from him again. Of course, focusing strictly on the 'now', Oh has to win
tomorrow against Tosanoumi to get kachikoshi. And with his current bad shape,
that's not gonna be easy. My guess is that his injuries haven't healed
completely yet, because he doesn't really seem to be generating a lot of
Tomorrow promises to be an interesting day, with no less than 8 rikishi coming
in at 7-7. Also, it would be REALLY interesting if Chiyotaikai were to
miraculously defeat Hakuho and force him into a playoff with Kyokutenho. It will
be 'really' interesting to see how Iwakiyama fares against Henkarozan, and, of
course, it will be very interesting to see if Clancy comes back from the depths
of Hell with a tan. To write his senshuraku report, of course.
Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
Coming into day 13, we've got six horses left in what could be a very
historic yusho race. Of those, three would win and three would lose. Let's see
Before we start, one interesting fact that showcases how international sumo has
become. The yusho was determined in four of the five lower divisions today. The
winners? None other than Estonian Baruto (Juryo), Mongolian Tamawashi
(Makushita), Japanese Tosayutaka (Sandanme) and Korean Kinryuzan (Jonokuchi).
Now back to the race. The first of the contenders, M16 Kakizoe, kicked things
off in Makuuchi by losing via Oshi-dashi against fellow M16 Kasuganishiki. Just
like that, Zoe drops to 9-4 and practically out of the picture, while
Kasuganishiki (5-8) halted a horrific eight bout losing streak after starting
out of the gates 4-0.
By contrast, M12 Kyokutenho stayed in the race by beating M8 Takekaze (8-5).
Tenho (10-3) wasted no time securing the left outside grip from the tachiai to
avoid any separation and proceeded to easily force out the mighty might.
Next up was M10 Kasugao, my vote for most improved rikishi this basho.
Unfortunately, he succumbed to M5 Miyabiyama's well-timed pull down to drop to
9-4. Miyabi improves to 8-5.
If you're keeping count, that's two horses down and one horse still in it with
three more to go.
Now let's fast forward to the top of the division and see how Komusubi Ama did.
He won in a similar fashion to Miyabiyama- via a well-timed pull down- to keep
the collar on M5 Toyonoshima. This makes Ama (10-3) 10-0 in his career against
Even though Kotooshu is not in the race, I feel obliged to cover him based on
his status as Ozeki so allow me to touch on his bout. It was an interesting one
that continued a disturbing trend for our Bulgarian friend. He lost via
sukui-nage (scoop throw) to M4 Wakanosato (5-8), but he didn't initiate the
throw. It was Oshu (8-5) who offered a kote-nage (hook throw) first that Waka
was able to successfully counter with a scoop from the inside. Interestingly,
this was the forth "nage" loss (out of 5 losses) for the Ozeki this basho, and
not the first such loss by a counter throw. This leads me to believe he should
re-examine his positioning, or his decision making, to rely on throwing
techniques to win.
to the race. The most anticipated bout of the day matching Chiyotaikai with M14
Goeido did not disappoint. Well, if you're a Chiyotaikai fan at least. As much
as I like rooting for the underdog, I was proud of Chiyo for displaying to the
rookie what has sustained his 52-basho existence at Ozeki- a powerful tsuppari
game- without the cop out pull downs that has tainted his reputation the last
couple years. Taikai (9-4) was in full force with his tsuki-oshi and dropped
Goeido to 10-3 with relative ease. However, it is noteworthy that Goeido's
impact this basho continues an impressive cluster of rookie successes in 2007 in
which four of the five shin-nyumaku this year have collected double digit wins
in their first Makuuchi campaign (Tochiohzan, Ryuo, Toyohibiki and now Goeido).
Satoyama (7-8) is the lone unlucky one of the bunch.
In the final bout, Yokozuna Hakuho made it interesting but was able to get by
Ozeki Kotomitsuki (8-5) in the end. Mitsuki actually had Haku backpeddling and
on the ropes after garnering the left uwate, but the Yokozuna offered a maki-oshi
(twist down) in defense that was enough to drop the shin-Ozeki. The win, coupled
with Goeido's loss, for the first time gives Hakuho (11-2) sole possession of
To summarize, we've now got Hakuho on top at 11-2 followed by Ama, Kyokutenho
and Goeido at 10-3. Tomorrow shows Goeido going up against Hakuho, the first
time a rookie Makuuchi rikishi has been pitted against a Yokozuna since
Tosanoumi was matched against Takanohana in 1995. Don't miss it.
Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
There are a lot of sumo fans out there who need to take a reality pill
right alongside the Japanese press. Having Goeido stand alone atop the
leaderboard after 11 days is an incredible feat, and there can't be a single
sumo fan out there who isn't awed by this kid's maturity and potential
greatness, but there's a reason why a Makuuchi rookie hasn't taken the yusho in
93 years. And back then, the sport had its rikishi split into two major
factions, one in Tokyo and the other in Osaka. The last thing that the youngster
needed was the press asking him about the yusho race around day 10 and then
making such a big deal about his start in the headlines. Yes, it is news, but we
still had four days left coming into day 12, Goeido has now been thrown to the
wolves, and the rikishi who are always at the top of the banzuke have their
pride. The gap between the top 10 rikishi in the sport and the rank and file of
Makuuchi is greater than the gap between the lower half of the Makuuchi ranks
and the top 10 Makushita rikishi. Yes, rikishi have come from the depths of the
Maegashira ranks to take the yusho before. We saw Takatoriki do it in 2000, and
then Kotonishiki did it a few years before then. The difference, though, is that
those guys were veterans. They had served their time in the sanyaku, and after
they got off to their hot starts and were paired against the big guns the final
few days, they knew how to handle 'em. Goeido is so promising, but it's unfair
to expect that he'll continue to roll as he did against the likes of Kyokutenho,
Kasugao, and Takekaze.
Moving onto the action where we'll start with our M14 leader, Komusubi Ama
showed the difference in the lower Maegashira ranks and the jo'i from the
tachi-ai where he drove Goeido a full two steps back with a right paw to the
kid's throat that set up the moro-zashi position for Ama. Goeido instinctively
countered with the right outer grip, however, and actually managed a helluva
charge trying to throw Ama off balance with the hold. The youngster's strength
was evident here has he managed to throw Ama out of the morozashi position and
off balance enough to where he nearly had the Mongolian with a right kote-nage
throw, but Goeido's legs just weren't set properly and Ama survived the attempt
and pulled up on Goeido's right leg allowing him to slip to the back of the
rookie in the perfect man love position. Taking his time, Ama secured his right
arm at the front of Goeido's belt and used his left hand to uncomfortably grope
at Goeido's package before completely lifting him off of his feet in a reverse
wedgie higher than physics should have allowed and then slamming him down to the
clay with such ferociousness
seconds later NHK put a tsunami warning into effect for the Tokyo Bay area.
Damnation. This was so impressive that even Asashoryu flinched from the mud
baths in Mongolia. I love Goeido already, and his sumo his so mature it's scary,
but to see Ama's pride kick in and to see a tsuri-otoshi executed to that
proportion just kicks ass to no end. And don't look now, but I think I just
developed a mancrush on Ama after watching his sumo today.
Couple points here before we move on. First, Goeido is a special rikishi. As
early as Haru of this year we saw Tochiohzan in a similar position. You'll
remember on day 14 or so when they paired him with Kotomitsuki he looked like a
deer in the headlights, and got his butt kicked. Goeido, on the other hand, damn
well nearly pulled off the upset today. Ama's initial push and moro-zashi grip
would prove too much for Goeido to overcome, but he seemed unfazed out there
even with so much on the line. Second, Ama had his WWAD ring on today beginning
from the last repetition at the starting lines where he slapped the back of his
black mawashi just as Asashoryu does before taking the salt for the last time.
To see a guy take pride in his rank and make such a statement as this is what
defines great sumo. School your opponent at the tachi-ai, outquick him during
the bout, and then leave him in a heap as you walk back to your side. This was a
hallowed performance from Ama today who moves to 9-3 and is well in the yusho
race himself having faced all of the tough rikishi. Goeido falls to 10-2, but
should keep his head up...especially against Chiyotaikai tomorrow. You think Ama
was out for blood today...
to the final bout of the day, Sekiwake Aminishiki came with a fantastic right
nodowa at the tachi-ai that stood Hakuho upright, but he wasted the advantage by
immediately going for a pulldown afterwards. The Yokozuna slouched down
slightly, but Aminishiki threw himself to the side and off balance as he
attempted the move, so as Hakuho regained his footing, he just finished
Aminishiki off with a pulldown of his own. This was pretty ugly stuff all
around, and you wonder what the result would have been had Aminishiki still been
undefeated because I don't think he would have given up so easily. Nevertheless,
Hakuho moves into a tie with Goeido at 10-2 but better bring a little bit better
tachi-ai tomorrow if he wants to beat Kotomitsuki. Aminishiki has dropped four
in a row (which should be no surprise to anyone) and falls to 8-4.
Has it come to this...Kotooshu needing to clinch his kachi-koshi against M8
Takekaze? I guess so as the Ozeki completely dominated the session by actually
using some tsuppari from the tachi-ai to stand Takekaze upright setting up the
easy left outer grip. Oshu wasted no time from there driving Takekaze back and
forcing him haplessly down to the clay in the dominating performance that saw
him net a day 12 kachi-koshi. It's a shame, though, that Kotooshu hasn't had an
impact on this basho. Takekaze falls to 8-4.
bout that should have been so much better, M5 Miyabiyama dictated the pace early
thrusting into Ozeki Kotomitsuki's upper body to keep him on the run from the
start, but the Sheriff abandoned the thrusts too early and started monkeying
around with pull attempts that took away his momentum. Realizing that
Kotomitsuki wasn't going down via hataki-komi, Miyabiyama went back to the
thrust attack, but his lower body was no longer in position to really pound the
Ozeki back, so Miyabiyama went to the pulldown yet again, and this time,
Kotomitsuki was ready easily lowering his head and pushing Miyabiyama back and
off the dohyo for the uneventful win. Kotomitsuki secures kachi-koshi at 8-4
with the win, but it's too little too late this basho. Miyabiyama falls to 7-5.
As an aside, a couple of basho back, NHK's Fujii Announcer showed up for duty
sporting these coke bottle glasses that were a bit too loud to wear if you're
gonna be on tv and you're not either gay or French. Anyway, we kinda got used to
the look, but here in Aki he lost his glasses and went back to the contacts.
Well just after the aforementioned bout, they were showing Hakuho sitting on the
cushion at the east side of the dohyo and lo and behold right behind him sat an
uba-geisha wearing Fujii announcer's coke bottles. I didn't catch whether or not
they dispatched Takamisakari to retrieve the glasses, but the point is a geisha
wearing glasses is about as appropriate as a 53 year old man with a bowl haircut
dressed up like Peter Pan.
Moving right along, Ozeki Chiyotaikai's legs just weren't in it from the start
today as his tsuppari were so weak that Sekiwake Asasekiryu easily survived the
attack and slipped into the perfect left inside position that he used to force
the bout to the belt and send the Ozeki to the edge of the ring. Chiyotaikai dug
in a bit and tried to shake off his opponent by moving around the perimeter of
the ring, but Asasekiryu used his grip for the dashi-nage throw that threw
Chiyotaikai completely off balance to the point where the two were still in the
center of the ring, but Chiyotaikai just walked himself out the last three or
four steps. Afterwards, the announcers were commenting on Chiyotaikai and how
he's reportedly ailing from a rash. He definitely wasn't genki today, but just
watch tomorrow against Goeido where that veteran pride will surely kick in
causing Taikai (8-4) to fight like a grizzly bear. Sexy improves to 6-6 and will
make things interesting with a kachi-koshi because you can't deny Ama the
Sekiwake rank for Kyushu.
M3 Hokutoriki's initial moro-te tachi-ai worked for a step or two against
Komusubi Kisenosato, but the Kid easily withstood the charge using an inashi
move with his left arm to push at Hokutoriki's right side and throw the Joker
off balance for a bit. It was then Kisenosato's turn to use the tsuppari to
drive Hokutoriki back and eventually around the perimeter of the ring as
Hokutoriki tried to evade and set up the cheap win, but the Kid kept his balance
and persisted nicely dumping Hokutoriki (2-10) to the clay in about 10 seconds
of love. Kisenosato stays alive at 5-7 with the win.
M1 Homasho was just nails today against fellow M1 Tokitenku. In a rare move for
the Shikoroyama-beya prodigy, he ended up with a left outer grip after his usual
inside tachi-ai that stood Tokitenku upright and drove him back a step. You
rarely see Homasho fighting at the belt with an outer grip like this, but he
wisely used his left leg to cut off Tokitenku's right leg from planting and
pivoting to counter to the extent that he could turn the tables and win. Homasho
wasted no time forcing Tokitenku across the ring and beyond the straw tenacious
enough to where both rikishi ended up on the floor below. Good stuff from Homie
who improves to 6-6 while counterpart Tokitenku makes his make-koshi official at
M2 Kakuryu showed nice stuff by firing some pesky tsuppari into M4 Wakanosato's
face at the tachi-ai slowly driving the veteran back, and just when you thought
Waka would turn the tables after getting his left arm firmly on the inside of
Ryu, Kakuryu grabbed the right outer grip and used his body to perfection to
force Wakanosato back that last step and across the straw. Say it isn't so but
Kakuryu is still alive at 5-7 while Wakanosato makes it official as well at 4-8.
After a confused tachi-ai from both M6 Kaiho and M2 Tochinonada where neither
was in synch, Kaiho grabbed the easy right outer grip and immediately began to
spin Tochinonada around in circles in the center of the dohyo. I guess that was
entertaining to watch, but Kaiho didn't have the means to throw Tochinonada down
or force him back. Come to think of it, I guess he could have kept twirling his
opponent around and around until he got dizzy drunk and then just let him
stagger his way out of the ring, but alas, Kaiho eventually aligned chests with
Tochinonada (3-9) and paid the price as the gentle giant easily turned the
tables and forced Kaiho (2-10) out straightway.
Fresh off of his spectacular win over Hakuho yesterday, M5 Toyonoshima couldn't
come close to working that same magic against M3 Kotoshogiku today. The Geeku
displayed his best sumo of the basho slamming hard into Toyonoshima at the
tachi-ai and keeping his pits closed tightly refusing Toyonoshima any sort of
sniff at the morozashi position. Furthermore, Kotoshogiku never stopped after
the initial charge to see what Toyonoshima would come up with, and therefore had
his opponent pushed back and out in two seconds. This was great stuff from
Kotoshogiku (8-4), and it was nice to see that grin as he skipped down the
hanamichi after picking up his kachi-koshi. The payback on Toyonoshima (7-5) for
the two losses handed to the Ozeki, however, was just too little too late for
the Sadogatake-beya, who couldn't take advantage of the Association's gift to
them this basho.
In the old-timers bout of the day, M4 Dejima came with a solid charge right into
M7 Tamanoshima's gut that set up morozashi and the easy force-out charge from
there propelling the Dejyptian to a 6-6 mark. Tama is on the brink at 5-7.
M6 Toyohibiki continued that unnecessary tachi-ai where he starts back a few
steps (thanks for those comments yesterday, Mark. See if I ever cuddle with you
again), but M16 Kakizoe knew what was coming and delivered a well-timed left
ottsuke to Toyohibiki's right side as he came in throwing the youngster off
balance. Toyohibiki countered well managing to start up his thrusting attack
before Kakizoe could do any more damage, but the lower body just wasn't there
after being thrown off balance at the tachi-ai, and Kakizoe was able to time a
Toyohibiki thrust and then quickly move to the side and pull the Nikibi off
balance in the process. It's nice to see Kakizoe pull off his kachi-koshi today
after a feisty basho while Toyohibiki must go 2-1 the last three days at 6-6.
You know you've hit rock bottom when you have to henka M14 Kitazakura, but
that's exactly what M7 Tokitsuumi did today grabbing the cheap left outer grip.
With no game to finish his opponent off after the henka, Tokitsuumi gave up the
left uwate to Zak, but Alex said it best on day 10 when he pointed out his
surprise that Kitazakura could be so big yet have so little power. Tokitsuumi
was able to wrangle Kitazakura over to the tawara with the inner grip of all
things and push Kitazakura across the edge. Kitazakura was had and walked out
that last step, but then Tokitsuumi really added insult to injury by shoving him
clear off the dohyo to the floor below. That was dirty pool all around from
Tokitsuumi, who should change the kanji for "umi" in his name from "sea" to
And speaking of Alex, he refused to let us use his picture on the website saying
he was going to make this grand entrance sometime on day 11 and reveal himself
to the world. We didn't know what he was talking about, but he assured us that
we would surely know what he meant by that when the event happened. We're still
clueless and haven't seen him since just before the day 11 bouts started when he
left the hotel wearing a lime green shirt and carrying a stack of papers with
nothing but scribbling on them.
M15 Hakurozan finally came with a clean tachi-ai today...against M8 Tosanoumi of
all rikishi. Surprisingly, Tosanoumi had no momentum from the tachi-ai and was
there for the taking, so Hakurozan capitalized with the ugly pulldown win.
Mainoumi said it just as I was typing it, but Tosanoumi (5-7) had to have been
worried about the pull down tachi-ai today from Hakurozan (7-5) thus the weaker
charge by the blue collar man. Ugly sumo from Hakurozan is as common as a
yori-kiri win from Baruto in the Juryo ranks. What? Baruto lost today? Damn.
Fresh off of cuffing and stuffing that woman in the lime green shirt with the
armload of scribbled papers yesterday (hey, wait a minute...), M9 Takami P.
Coltraine survived a wicked nodowa and quick pull attempt from M16 Kasuganishiki
as only he can. With Kasuganishiki a bit compromised after the pull attempt, the
Cop easily got on the inside of Kasuganishiki for the easy yori-kiri win leading
to an okay 6-6 record. I believe that marks Kasuganishiki's 8th straight loss
after an 0-4 start. Good job.
M9 Roho saved his ugliest tachi-ai of the basho so far for day 12, but
fortunately it came against M13 Ryuo. After a left hari-te that completely
whiffed and caused Roho to skip to his left painfully off balance, the Russian
was able to survive and even grab a right inner grip thanks to Ryuo's
poor...what's the word I'm looking for here...oh yeah...sumo. Ryuo went for a
few counter kote-nage throws on Roho's inner right, and he actually had a great
position to pull it off, but it just didn't look as if he had the confidence to
really go for the move, and after a a few failed attempts, Roho aligned chests,
grabbed the right uwate, and mercifully forced Ryuo to a 3-9 record. Roho stays
alive at 5-7.
M11 Futenoh charged right into M10 Kasugao's trap today keeping his left arm low
and on the inside allowing Kasugao to grab that right kote-nage position. Stop
the tape right there and go back to the Goeido - Kasugao bout. The rookie knew
what was coming and countered it beautifully, so why couldn't Futenoh? That
explains why the former Komusubi who overpowered Asashoryu on day 1 in Kyushu
two years ago has languished since in the rank and file. Back to the action,
Kasugao not only went for the kote-nage straightway, but he used his right thigh
nicely lifting up inside Futenoh's left leg as he executed the kake-nage throw.
Though Futenoh did a heckuva job to survive it, the Korean was right there for
another throw attempt once again using his right leg against Futenoh's left to
dispatch the Dewanoumi softie in spectacular nichonage fashion. Complete
ass-kicking by Kasugao who has wielded the beating stick nicely this basho, and
don't look now, but he's still on that leaderboard at 9-3. Futenoh is 6-6.
M15 Yoshikaze used some nice lightweight tsuppari to fend off M10 Iwakiyama's
own initial thrusts and slip just to the Hutt's right side. Iwakiyama
immediately went for a pull down, and though Yoshikaze was in no position to
push Iwakiyama out, he kept him on the run with his pesky thrusts before pulling
the off balance Iwakiyama to the clay and securing a glorius kachi-koshi.
Iwakiyama, who suffered make-koshi in the loss, is stuck on 4 wins, so I'm still
alive in our bet, Martin. And don't think I haven't noticed you sleeping with
that Little Jack Horner costume under your pillow. It's all mine.
M12 Kokkai has fallen and he can't get up. He telegraphed a left forearm at the
tachi-ai that was so slow that even M11 Tamakasuga read it and moved to his
right to counter right away with a nice ottsuke. Kokkai was thrown off balance
here but clearly knew that he had a weaker opponent...one that he could bully.
Kokkai wisely stuck with the wingspan tsuppari and chased Tamakasuga around the
ring with those double-thrusts, but the attack lacked true confidence, and
Tamakasuga (6-6) was able to hang around before timing a perfect pull down as
Kokkai lurched forward. The Georgian falls to 5-7 and is not only in trouble of
going make-koshi, but he could be booted out of the division all together if he
doesn't pick up another win. This is scary stuff.
And finally, you probably won't ever see this again where two solid rikishi lead
off the day, but M12 Kyokutenho took a page out of Hakuho's tachi-ai getting the
left deep on the inside and going for the instant yori-kiri win, but M13
Tochiohzan used his own left on the inside well to evade right and attempt a
counter scoop throw. The move worked to where the tables were turned with
Kyokutenho's back now at the edge, but having expended the energy to execute the
throw, Kyokutenho continued to press the action as he did from the tachi-ai and
drove Tochiohzan right back across the ring and down on his fanny for the
abisetaoshi win. Tochiohzan just couldn't get his feet planted and went down a
bit easy, but credit Tenho for pressing the action throughout. Like Kasugao and
Kakizoe, Kyokutenho remains on the leaderboard just one loss off the pace. Oh
falls to 7-5.
Should be an interesting final three days. I don't see any of the Ozeki being
inspired enough to defeat Hakuho, and I just don't see Goeido winning out, but a
well-timed henka here or there could change the setting dramatically.
Kenji will break it down tomorrow.
Comments (Mark Arbo reporting)
Ok. I know we have some explaining to do... Where to start???
No one is saying Mike has a drinking problem. I for one think he probably maybe
doesn't. Working in bars you learn a little about alcohol, a little about people
and a whole lot about alcohol's effect on people. The drink "changes" no one.
What the drink does is 'enhance'. An empty bottle is like a magnifying glass,
peering, through the airs we put on, to our heart of hearts. Janis Joplin put on
legendary performance after legendary performance full to the brim with Southern
Comfort. Her performance skills were magnified. Johnnie Walker magnified
Churchill's ability to kick Nazi ass. Likewise, Clancy and Martin always down a
few bottles of 'Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale' before they approach the
sumo-bunnies in the hotel bar (I don't know if Clancy really cares what brand he
drinks but Martin has refined tastes and insists on having it imported from
Scotia). So, a few weeks ago after our pre-basho meeting and luau, we were all
drinking in the hotel lobby and, as Mike was polishing off another White Wine Spritzer (4 oz white wine, club soda or mineral water, lime wedge for garnish),
he started his usual Britney Spears rant. He often starts with some sensible
arguments about her voice and big "talents" but then it grows in volume and
intensity as he reaches the "I love Britney for Britney" repetitions and it
usually ends with incoherent babbling about something called a Britney-Pool(??).
It can almost be scary. If you don't believe me have a look
here at his
blog. Anywho, a none-too-friendly-smelling janitor happened to be walking by
during Mike's homily and he and Mike got into it about how "Brit" was going to
fare at some upcoming awards show. We begged him not to do it, but Mike ended up
making a bet wherein if Britney wasn't "Back with a vengeance" (??) he would let
Stinky report on a day for the upcoming basho. I didn't see the performance, but
Mike's blog said it all. That stuff about sweeping wasn't shtick yesterday, that
really was the janitor.
As for the fat men...
It wouldn't be a not undishonest lie to say that the sumo today was mostly crap.
"Pulls" and "Henkas" are the first two words that come to mind. But the entire
day may have been salvaged by one little tugboat, but I will tell you about that
a little later. For now let's get this autopsy underway...
Kakizoe and Yoshikaze came to hump-day with 7 wins each so I was confident that
this was going to be a sweet first match. But please remember at this point that
"sweet" was not one of the words I used to describe today, right? Yoshikaze
stepped waaay to the left but Kakizoe kept his feet under him, where they
belong, and started pushin'. So Yoshi started pullin'. Pullin' beat pushin'. And
Kakizoe will have to wait a few more day for his KK cause I don't think he will
get it from Toyohibiki tomorrow. Still, he will get it, and good for him.
You know that there was nothing 'sweet' about a Hakurozan fight. Kasuganishiki
was downed by a big fat ugly henka. And while I'm taking the time to write
"Kasuganishiki" doesn't that name seem a little too long? 6 syllables!? That's
too many. Someone needs to make up a nickname for this guy.
Kitazakura came out looking to push a belt-focused Futenoh. After a little bit
of feeling around Futenoh found a grip he liked and easily uwatenaged Big-Salty.
Zakura's nightmare basho continues as he falls to 2-9 while Futenoh picks up his
Kyokutenho was expected to clean up this low (M12), but opponent Kasugao has also
dropped far enough (M10) to rack up quite a few wins, and the Korean has been
fighting with a little more zest than I remember him ever having. After the
tachi-ai they both grabbed identical right-hand-inside grips. They took turns
leading the dance but, Kasugao was not going to be denied today and he
eventually powered Tenho out of the ring. Both men can sleep well tonight
knowing that they have already secured their 8 wins.
Iwakiyama looked as lost as a sexy cheerleader in the woods as Ryuo pushed him
around. Far from looking like a wise veteran, Mt. Iwaki looked like a beginner
who still hasn't quite figured out what to do with himself. The real story in
this fight was the slow-mo replay. If you have the tape, go back and watch it.
Iwaki's body ripples and flows like a lava-lamp floating down a stream of
marshmallows. Hypnotic. Ryuo has already lost his 8 and Iwaki will.
Has anyone else noticed that there has been almost no young people in the
audience this basho? Sure Tokyo bashos are the best attended, but I really think
that might be because they are a field-trip for the local retirement homes.
As Takekaze and Goeido were about to fight a (crazy) lady holding 2 arms worth
of white papers jumped on the dohyo. Takamisakari, a fan with great seats and
one of the shinpan (Nishikido Oyakata) yanked her off quickly enough but the
damage was done... I winced as I waited for fire from heaven to destroy the now
defiled dohyo. Then my eyes shifted to the shinpan and gyoji to see how they
would react; surly the dohyo would need to be destroyed or at the very least the
defiled area would get the wipe and salt treatment that blood gets. But nothing!
I understood no woman could or would ever touch that sacred sand. But now the
blaspheme of blasphemes happens and we don't even get a momo-ii-style meeting!?
Strange. Too Strange. I need a Martin-style farfetched explanation.
After the complete non-acknowledgement died down the fight was allowed to
progress. Takekaze's game plan seemed to be a barge of pull down attempts but
Goeido's foot work was impeccable and he cut the ring off and forced Takekaze
out quicker than you can say "Special Prize". Takekaze still only has 3 losses
and Goeido is the cock of the walk. Goedo even looks taller now, carrying
himself differently than he did just a week ago. He will have a BIG test in
little Ama tomorrow. And I can't wait!
Tokitsuumi gave Roho a bit of a side step at the tachi-ai. He then spun Roho
around and started to push towards the outside. Roho looked like he was about to
mount a bit of a final stand but then he a) decided not bother, or b) hurt his
back and decided not to bother.
Takamisakari easily got his second yorikiri win of the night, this one over
Tamanoshima who is looking very old. They are both 5-6 but Tama has lost his
last 3 and Takami has won his. Takami should get his KK but I don't see it
happening for Tama.
Kaiho barely got his nose across the white line when Kokkai hit him with that
big shoulder. Kokkai quickly pushed him back and right off the dohyo. Kaiho
started so well but hasn't won since Abe was prime minister.
Toyohibiki won a battle of two of the younger lads by what I can't bring myself
to call a pull down. When I envision a pull down, I picture an opportunistic guy
stepping backward while trying to slap a guy off balance by the back of the
head. What Toyohibiki did to Tochiohzan was more grabbing his head and pushing
it down to knee height. This wasn't Hibikii's best outing but I can't place this
with the nasty pull downs I have been and will yet be telling you about.
I have been thinking about what Mike wrote about Toyohibiki's tachi-ai for a few
days now and I'm going to disagree (now we really are going to see fire from
Heaven!) Far from making him more vulnerable to the henka I think his 'south of
the border' starting position does the opposite, it makes him almost unhenkable.
The henka works on guys who dive hard with their heads down assuming that the
other guy is doing the exact same thing. Hikibi starts so far back that the
tachi-ai becomes two guys standing up and then bumping into each other. A henka
would be worse than ineffective in this situation it would be almost a
guaranteed tsukitaoshi. It is going to be interesting to watch how guys adapt to
fighting him over the next few basho.
In 13 meetings Tamakasuga had never beaten Miyabiyama. He still hasn't. Miyabi
pushed him out like the Nihon Sumo Kyokai and their biggest star.
Why is Dejima henkaing Ozeki and Yokozuna? What has he been thinking/drinking?
Whatever it was he seemed to be over it today as he smashed heads with
Wakanosato at the tachi-ai. Wakanosato did a great job of controlling Dejima's
arms while working his own into two good grips. The Dej fought back like a mule
but, armless, he didn't have a hope.
Tosanoumi got another win today because in order to have not won that would have
meant that Hokutoriki won. You can see the problem.
In an equally unimportant yet more boring bout Tochinonada survived Tokitenku's
henka only to get pulled down after holding hands in the middle of the ring for
what seemed like a very, very long time.
Ama is a clever as Hakurozan is bald. Today he came in very low against Homasho
putting his head against Homasho's chest and grabbed a right-outside. Ama tried
a few little throw attempts just to straighten Homasho up and then walking him
out was easy. Ama's face is beaten up but he's still beautiful to me (8-3).
Kakuryu got a quick "victory" over Kisenosato by way of big, fat, juicy henka.
A week ago Aminishiki and KotoM seemed golden but their true colors are showing
now as they migrate towards the middle of the pack. Both guys had dropped their
previous two fights and it was going to take quite a pull down to get out of
that kind of slump. Lucky KotoM rose to the occasion. Usually a pull down
happens because the opportunity presents itself, but other times guys are so
desperate for a face-saving win that they plan it.
In a quick and ugly affair Asasekiryu somehow got Kotooshu in a bear hug. A BEAR
HUG! That is a kimarite I would use on my five year old nephew. Maybe something
is wrong with Kotooshu's depth perception? Either way, the confidence building
Asa-less basho all of us arm-chair-psychologists thought Kotooshu needed just
ain't going to materialize.
The last guy to blemish the Sadogatake Heya today was Kotoshogiku who pulled a
nasty henka on Chiyotaikai. He had seemed like such a nice boy...
In a fight so good it deserved better company a little tugboat named Toyonoshima
squared off against Yokozuna Hakuho. Toyonoshima is great at fighting tall guys
(just ask Kotooshu), the dude is a giant killer. Toyonoshima had never beat
Hakuho but he has always put up a good
fight and he has come close once or
twice. Today's fight started normal enough, Toyo went inside belt with his left
hand and he shoved his right up into Hakuho's armpit. At this point Hakuho's
left arm was still on the inside. Hakuho could have swiped Toyo's arm away and
taken a left inside of his own, but before he did Toyo pushed up on that armpit
moving Hakuho's arm way up. Hakuho yanked his arm out leaving Toyo with two
hands inside. Toyo went for a throw that put Hakuho off balance but also caused
him to loose his grip on Hakuho. At this point too many guys take a moment to
regroup and the fight basically starts all over again. But Toyo didn't do that,
he chased and stayed on Hakuho, pushing him the last few feet out and off the
dohyo. Toyo fought this one perfectly and is establishing himself as a real
presence even at this level.
So Baruto has locked up Juryo. Goeido, Ama and Toyonoshima are looking to pick up
special prizes, Hakuho will still have to lose one or even two more to not take
the yusho and the Nihon Sumo Kyokai are idiots.
Mike will 'throw the beans' for you tomorrow and I hope he has some prettier
sumo to tell you about than I did.
Comments (Alex Brohm reporting)
Who am I? They call me "The Cleaner." Not because I clean up after
botched espionage attempts like Jean Reno's character in "La Femme Nikita" No,
it's because I actually clean up this place after everybody goes home for the
day. So, while I'm on call nobody pukes. Got it?
Hakurozan – Wakanoho: I was expecting a double henka taich-ai in this match-up
but they were both so sure that the other guy was going to henka that they had a
no impact tachi-ai and went straight for each other's mawashi. Then, Hakurozan
overpowered Wakanoho for the yorikiri. Wait did I just say, Hakurozan
overpowered someone? Yes, I did. If you can't hold your own against Hakurozan
when he has two busted knees, how do you expect to fare against the "real"
Kitazakura – Hochiyama: Kitazakura lost to Hochiyama after they both jumped the
gun and started early. I am always surprised how someone as big a Kitazakura can
have so little power. Well, at least he has his bead craft career to fall back
on, and I'm sure there's a big demand for people who can throw rice at weddings.
Kokkai – Kasuganishiki: Kokkai showed us today that he still drinks Red Bull
when he can find it at his local convenience store. He plowed right through
Kasuganishiki leaving only an empty can behind. Glad to see Kokkai leaving the
pull downs at home.
Tamakasuga – Kakizoe: Kakizoe, sporting his sassy silver mawashi seemed to be
doing his best Kokkai impression today. Tamakasuga will have to check the video
to find out what happened to him. Kakizoe has been dealing with a bad knee and a
Yokozuna wife all tournament, so I was glad to see him kachi-koshi today.
Yoshikaze – Futenoh: It didn't take too much help from Yoshikaze to send Futenoh
flat on his face today. So much for the childhood Yokozuna and former Komusubi.
Goeido – Kasugao: Goeido overpowered old-timer Kasugao (pictured at right) in
this strongman's competition today. Kasugao did put up a good fight. He must
have thought he was still in the yusho race. The effort of lifting his 152kg
opponent three times left Goeido's face as red as a boiled octopus.
Roho – Tochiohzan: Roho's ugly face and lazy tachi-ai weren't enough today.
Tochiohzan quickly escorted the dirty old man off campus.
Ryuo – Tosanoumi: Tosanoumi gave Ryuo a nice pull down. How much longer can Ryuo
stay in the Makuuchi? More importantly, who will sweep the dew when he's gone?
Takamisakari– Tokitsuumi: Robocop really pumped up the crowd today. He got a
firm hold on the side of Tokitsuumi with his left hand then quickly grabbed his
front with his right. Toki-chan tried to throw Takami-chan but that just left
Toki-chan on one leg to facilitate Takami's yorikiri.
Toyohibiki – Kyokutenho: Though the gyoji's gunbai gave the win to Toyohibiki. A
quick mono-ii cleared up what was obvious to us watching at home. Kyokutenho
pulled Toyohibiki down and stood on one foot to stay in for the win.
Iwakiyama – Kaiho: This grudge match two years in the making was kind of a
disappointment. It started off with a slap fight before getting down to brass
tacks. Then, after a little grappling Iwakiyama tossed Kaiho to the dirt.
Possibly straining his arm in the process. Hmm, a strained right arm? I guess
revenge is a dish best served cold. Mu ha ha ha!
Toyonoshima – Takekaze: The little engine that sometimes can faced the little
engine that fights dirty. Toyoshima justifiably hesitated at the tachi-ai
fearing a henka. Only, to get pulled down a few heart beats latter. Ah, the
element of surprise or at least, the element of no surprise then, surprise.
Hokutoriki – Wakanosato: I think Wakanosato must have slipped on some salt or
something. That wacky Jokester thrusted Wakanosato out in a hurry.
Tamanoshima – Takekaze: Kotoshogiku severed up the gaburi today! Is gaburi an
ice cream treat or a sumo technique? It's both!
Tochinonada – Kakuryu: Kakuryu yorikiri'd Tochinonada after Ryu's initial arm
throw attempt failed.
Kisenosato – Homasho: Kisenosato was playing Homasho's game today in a
surprising case of role reversal today. Kiseno just got down low and pushed
Homasho right out. I think I saw a little gaburi at the end. Sweet, sweet gaburi.
Tokitenku – Ama: Ama's display of power today was just standard textbook sumo.
Get a solid tachi-ai. Then, with arms pressed tight to the body, pushing for all
your worth. Hard to believe he did it all with a bad knee the left him limping
after the fight.
Miyabiyama – Kotooshu: After waiting for what seemed like forever, Kotooshu
broke the "who goes first?" stalemate by dropping his knuckles to the dirt and
charging. From then on it was Oshu's game. Without any slaps from Miyabiyama,
Kotooshu grabbed his mawashi and showed him the exit.
Chiyotaikai – Aminishiki: Aminishiki didn't get much sleep last night. He was
dreading today's match-up with Chiyo-chan. After a fair and square tachi-ai,
Chiyotaikai proved once again that he is the better pull down artist.
Dejima – Kotomitsuki: My son prophetically filled his diaper moments before the
tachi-ai. I cleaned up the mess just in time to see Dejima
Kotomitsuki. Kotomitsuki survived only to get pushed out during a failed pull
Hakuho – Asasekiryu: Wow, Mongolian versus Mongolian! Seems it happens only two
or three times a day. Though, Hakuho didn't get his preferred inside grip today
he pushed Asasekiryu right up to the straw, lifted him up and out. A big
tsuridashi win for Hakuho. I think he was trying to show that he doesn't need
his favored techniques to win.
Now, get out of here. I gotta wax this floor.
Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
Whouda thunk that at the start of week two, NHK would by hyping the
Aminishiki - Wakanosato matchup? If your last name is Van Winkle and you're just
waking up from a six-week slumber you'd surely think to yourself what's wrong
here...is a Yokozuna missing or something? This answer is, unfortunately, yes. I
can understand why the Association needed to punish Asashoryu considering the
public outcry created by the media and their agenda, but I sincerely hope that
part of the reason why they made Asashoryu sit out two basho instead of one was
NOT an attempt to generate excitement by giving some of the other rikishi a
chance. Asashoryu's sitting out doesn't make anyone better. Kotomitsuki is still
hit and miss, Kotooshu is still a headcase, Chiyotaikai is still Chiyotaikai,
Kaio is still old, Aminishiki is still sneaky, Asasekiryu is still not Sekiwake
material, and Hakuho is still a dominant Yokozuna. For those who thought this
basho would be better and more exciting without Asashoryu, sure hope you enjoyed
moving day today. Let's break down the action starting with the leaders who had
no more than one loss coming in.
Sekiwake Aminishiki has looked fantastic for 3/4 of the basho so far, but there
are still two nagging aspects that can't be overlooked regarding him. 1) Dude's
sneaky. Tachi-ai henka against Hokutoriki (1 win) and Tokitenku (3 wins)?
Spacing them apart may fool some, but not the experts. 2) Dude hasn't fought
anybody yet. Of Aminishiki's first 8 opponents, only Kotoshogiku (5-4) is above
.500. Because of his rank, he'll get the brass in week 2, so we'll find out just
how good he really is. Was today an indication of things to come?
Sekiwake looked to jump out of the gate committing a false start against M4
Wakanosato, but things cooled down quickly from there as the two reloaded and
clashed for real with Wakanosato enjoying his left arm deep on the right side of
Sneaky. Aminishiki tried in vain to grab the right uwate, but Wakanosato kept
wrenching Aminishiki up on that side denying the outer grip and slowly nudging
Aminishiki back in the process. Aminishiki was stuck in a vice grip at this
point because he was too upright, and he had zero offensive position. The
veteran Wakanosato calmly kept the pressure on until he had Aminishiki moved
back to the straw before throwing him off the dohyo and into a lapdance of a
jii-chan sitting in the first row. Yesterday, the media reminded Aminishiki that
he was 0-9 in his last nine bouts against Wakanosato. Think that had anything to
do with the bout today? They also reminded him that he's 0-13 against
Chiyotaikai, his day 10 opponent, and then he'll get Hakuho on day 11. Oh, and
he's 1-11 against Kotomitsuki in their last 12 meetings. If someone is yusho
worthy, they overcome their demons. Aminishiki slipped up today, and I don't
really see things getting better against the Ozeki and Yokozuna. Yeah, he's 8-1
now, but go ahead and cross him off the yusho list. Wakanosato creeps to just
3-6 with the win.
move on to the one-loss rikishi beginning with Yokozuna Hakuho, who could firmly
plant himself at the top of the leaderboard with a win over M4 Dejima. Dejima
moved to his left at the tachi-ai daring once again to henka a Yokozuna, but his
kata-sukashi attempt failed allowing Hakuho to regain his legs. Still, the
Yokozuna was in no position at this point to mount a sound offensive, so he
resorted to plan B on the fly which was a series of pulldowns. Hakuho was
noticeably pissed at this point, and Dejima just couldn't recover from the
grizzly bear attack that sent the former Ozeki off of the dohyo and into a
deserved heap in the first row. Hakuho normally doesn't show a lot of emotion,
but he had that look on his face today that said don't eff with me. Twas the
same look he had after Kisenosato showed him up at the tachi-ai on day 6. Gotta
love the Yokozuna protecting his territory. Hakuho skates to 8-1 with the win
and is your leader. Dejima falls to 4-5.
M1 Homasho bore the brunt of Ozeki Chiyotaikai's tsuppari charge from the
tachi-ai for a second or two before using some tsuppari of his own to drive the
action back in the center of the ring. With the Ozeki obviously flustered by the
counter attack, Homasho charged in close burrowing his head into Chiyotaikai's
upper torso leaving the Ozeki nothing to do but put both hands at the back of
the M1's head. Homie was waiting for the blunder and mounted a force-out charge
that sent Chiyotaikai back and out of the ring with some mustard. Great stuff
from Homasho (5-4) who keeps everyone honest. Chiyotaikai falls down a notch on
the leaderboard to 7-2 and will probably pick off at least one Sadogatake Ozeki
further creating separation between Hakuho and the rest of the field as the week
In a fantastic matchup between our two 7-1 rikishi deep in the ranks, M12
Kyokutenho and M14 Goeido hooked up in the gappuri hidari yotsu position meaning
both rikishi enjoyed right outers and left inners. Usually in this position,
Kyokutenho is insurmountable when he has the height advantage, but the rookie
didn't care throwing the Mongolian towards the straw with his right outer.
Kyokutenho dug in well at the edge, however, and used the momentum to pivot
nicely and swing around turning the tables throwing Goeido near the edge.
Unfazed, Goeido planted near the tawara and used the same momentum of the bout
yet again to swing the action back to the center of the ring, but instead of
retooling and taking a break, he charged straightway driving Kyokutenho back and
sticking his right leg around the back of Kyokutenho's left tripping him
backwards to the dohyo in spectacular fashion for the impressive win. Damn, this
was great stuff from Goeido who improves to 8-1 and finds himself ranked among
the leaders. The key of the bout was Goeido's willingness to forego a break in
the action, which would have allowed Kyokutenho to recuperate. This kid's
maturing right before our eyes although you can scratch him off the leaderboard
as well. His 8-1 record will only invite stiff competition from here on out
starting with Kasugao tomorrow. And, thanks to Kaio's departure, that's just one
less opponent the Sadogatake Ozeki have to fight down the stretch meaning the
Sumo Association will likely pair the hot Maegashira rikishi with them as a
substitute. Kyokutenho falls to 7-2 with the loss.
Moving back up the ranks, Ozeki Kotomitsuki was obviously indecisive in his plan
of attack today because M5 Toyonoshima was patiently waiting with both fists to
the starting lines for a good ten seconds or so before the Ozeki stood back up
to reload. Once the two actually did clash, they traded hesitant tsuppari while
standing upright for about five seconds before Toyonoshima just muscled his way
into the morozashi position. Kotomitsuki was forced to counter by pinching
inward on Toyonoshima's arms from the outside (fitting since Takanonami was in
the booth today) and keeping Toyonoshima's chin upright resulting in a stalemate
that lasted 40 seconds or so. After listening to Shine On You Crazy Diamond, I
turned my attention back to the TV to see Toyonoshima try and lift Kotomitsuki
clear off his feet (tsuri) and set him outside the dohyo, but the Ozeki survived
using the tawara to his advantage and forced the action back to the center of
the ring where the two stood in a stalemate for two minutes. Thinking what the
hell, I borrowed Clancy's Bible and read the book of Genesis finishing just in
time to see Kotomitsuki break off Toyonoshima's left inner grip on the belt.
Problem was Toyonoshima still maintained the morozashi position, and as the bout
reached the three-minute mark, Toyonoshima looked to regain that left inner belt
grip while Kotomitsuki kept brushing it away with his hips. This was the
distraction that Toyonoshima needed because from out of nowhere, he just mounted
a forward charge that caught the Ozeki off guard and left him no place to go but
back and out. Kotomitsuki was stunned in this one as he falls to 6-3, the same
record enjoyed by Toyonoshima.
Yoshida announcer asked Takanonami immediately after the bout if the yusho line
could go as low as 3 losses as if there was still some hope left for
Kotomitsuki. Takanonami struggled with the question because he knew the answer,
but he finally offered, "that's going to be difficult." I think we've been
pretty clear throughout that Kotomitsuki is not on his game. And how ironic is
this? The Yokozuna and Ozeki will generally fight the top 16 rikishi on the
banzuke each basho. Rikishi number 16 this basho is Kotoshogiku, but since he's
a stablemate of the Sadogatake Ozeki, they must go a full rank lower to get
their opponents since they don't fight each other as well. In this case, it's
number 18 on the list, West M4 Wakanosato. Problem is with Asashoryu now out of
the mix, the two Sadogatake oyakata must go down and fight number 19, which
happens to be East M5 Toyonoshima...the same rikishi who toppled both Ozeki and
put them out of the yusho race for all intents and purposes. Not that they still
don't have a chance, but mainly because the Sadogatake boys have never proven
that they can come back from tough losses. Oh cruel fate!
Komusubi Kisenosato jumped to his left against Ozeki Kotooshu with an ugly
henka, but the problem when Kisenosato goes for the henka is he doesn't use
anything with it to finish his opponent off. I guess that's admirable, but it
puts him in a terrible position to fight on. With Kotooshu trying to stumble
back into any sort of position, Kisenosato used some tsuppari and looked to duck
in for a deep inside grip, but Kotooshu just grabbed the left uwate in the
process and swung the Kid over to the edge before pushing him into the second
row. Kisenosato deserved everything he got in this bout. If my calculations are
correct, that's two henka against Ozeki and more shenanigans at the starting
lines against Hakuho. Rikishi who resort to gimmicks at the tachi-ai do so to
cover up other weaknesses. Note Kisenosato's 3-6 record. Kotooshu survived this
one thankfully and put Kisenosato in his place, but at 6-3 I'm afraid he's just
too far back.
Sekiwake Asasekiryu and M1 Tokitenku traded tsuppari from the tachi-ai, but
Tenku's gonna win that battle every time. Today was no exception as Tokitenku
(3-6) wrangled the moro-zashi position from the pushfest that allowed him to
easily drive the hapless Seki back and off the dohyo altogether. Asasekiwake-ryu
he ain't at 4-5.
Who was it that deemed M3 Hokutoriki as the official sparring partner of the
Sumo Association? You know...the guy who offers resistance in the ring but has
no intention of winning. Today against Komusubi Ama, Hokutoriki just stood
completely upright at the tachi-ai and gave Ama the laughable left outer grip
before deciding to dig himself in and make Ama work. This was very similar to
his bout against Kotomitsuki on Saturday where he gave up the easy uwate and
never really looked to counter with anything. Ama tried several force out
attempts from the get-go, but couldn't get Bulk-o-toriki to move back. After
about 30 seconds of this nonsense, Hokutoriki finally moved his feet as if he'd
counter, but Ama stepped back to the side and swung Hokutoriki down and out with
a dashi-nage throw to finish off the uneventful bout. Hokutoriki (1-8) wants no
part of the jo'i and is counting the days until he can fall back down the safety
of the rank and file. I just hope he isn't fined for accidentally beating Kaio.
Ama improves to 6-3 and needs just two more wins to pick up a deserved Shukunsho
M5 Miyabiyama dictated the pace of the bout completely against M2 Tochinonada
today keeping him on the run with the lumbering tsuppari, briefly securing the
moro-zashi position, alternating back to the tsuppari attack, and then ending
things with the moro-zashi position again that set up the nice scoop throw.
Tochinonada (2-7) was overwhelmed throughout and received only a bloody nose for
his efforts. The Sheriff restores order at 6-3.
M3 Kotoshogiku looked to grab the quick moro-zashi against M2 Kakuryu from the
tachi-ai, but Kakuryu denied it locking down on Kotoshogiku's right side. The
Geeku quickly performed a maki-kae and secured the right outer and immediately
began his gaburi charge bellying Kakuryu back and out without fanfare. Easy win
here as the Geeku improves to 5-4. Kakuryu has potential, but he can't think
fast enough on his feet--yet--to counter the jo'i rikishi.
M6 Toyohibiki pulverized M10 Kasugao at the tachi-ai with a right paw to the
Korean's throat that drove him sideways and back to the edge, but the blunder
here was that the Nikibi failed to use his left hand to add fuel to the fire,
and Kasugao was able to brace his feet at the tawara and eventually force the
bout back to the center of the ring. Toyohibiki maintained the advantage
grabbing the quick moro-zashi grip from there, but that gave Kasugao the right
arm in the outside position, so he pivoted left and unleashed a kote-nage throw
that threw Toyohibiki off balance allowing the Korean to finish him off from
there with one more kote-nage try. The Nikibi snatched defeat from the jaws of
victory today, but give Kasugao (7-2) some credit for digging in there and
surviving the abuse to his neck. Toyohibiki falls to 5-4 and gets Kyokutenho
In a bout that should have opened the day's events it was so insignificant, M6
Kaiho offered a weak moro-te tachi-ai that allowed M7 Tokitsuumi to easily get
his right arm on the inside and left on the outside. Tokitsuumi opted to raise
up Kaiho's left side completely with his right inner position, and from there,
he just dumped Kaiho over easily with a scoop throw. Both rikishi need to turn
their head and cough at 2-7.
M7 Tamanoshima and M11 Futenoh traded a tsuppari each before hooking up quickly
in the hidari yotsu position. Once there Futenoh pressed the action by nudging
Tamanoshima back and grabbing a right uwate in the process. Tamanoshima finally
offered some resistance at this point, so Futenoh brilliantly brought his elbow
inwards on the uwate side completely negating Tamanoshima's counter position and
setting up the easy yori-kiri win from there. Good stuff from Futenoh today, but
we unfortunately don't get to say it enough. Both dudes are 5-4.
M8 Takekaze placed both fists down quickly at the starting lines as M12 Kokkai
just squatted there rocking back and forth as if here were giving the appearance
of psyching himself up or something. It was obvious, however, that he just had
no idea how he was going to attack Takekaze and was stalling. Once the rikishi
clashed, it was clear that Kokkai was lost because he only offered a weak right
hari-te leaving Takekaze to execute a perfect ottsuke with the right hand that
twisted Kokkai sideways a bit. From there, the red-hot Takekaze just bulldozed
the Georgian sideways and out without argument. Kokkai should never lose like
this to Takekaze, and at 3-6, he's incredibly in danger of falling to the Juryo
ranks. Takekaze is 7-2 and lookin' good again.
M10 Iwakiyama completely stopped M8 Tosanoumi's tachi-ai today, but the Hutt
seemed only concerned with pulling Tosanoumi down, a plan that only let
Tosanoumi right back into the bout. Stupid strategy as Iwakiyama went from
surefire win to pull-happy rikishi who retreated his way off balance to where
he became the pulldown victim in the end. Both rikishi are 3-6. Martin and
myself have a running bet as to how many wins Iwakiyama will muster this basho.
I say four or less, and Martin says five or more. The winner gets first dibs on
the neat fairytale costumes Mark has been sewing in his hotel room.
M16 Kakizoe made his usual early jump at the tachi-ai against M9 Roho drawing a
false start, but today it was more a case of Roho just squatting there as if
constipated. As the two reloaded, I guess Roho was pissed that Kakizoe broke his
concentration so he jumped clear to his left with an ugly henka, but instead of
going for the pulldown or the cheap uwate, he offered a lame hari-te allowing
Kakizoe to completely overcome the tachi-ai and just shove Roho back and out in
one fell swoop. Justice is served yet again as Kakizoe soars to 7-2. I'm
thrilled to see so many failed tachi-ai henka this basho as Roho falls to a
stunning 4-5 considering his rank.
M13 Ryuo came with his usual moro-te tachi-ai (two hands to the opponent's neck)
against M9 Takamisakari, but with the Cop towering over the jolly Mongolian
(2-7), Ryuo's was basically standing on the tips of his toes providing the easy
target for Takamisakari to duck down and get on the inside. The force-out win
was inevitable from there and came so fast the crowd barely had time to
overreact. Takamisakari eeks his way to 3-6.
M13 Tochiohzan easily swiped away M11 Tamakasuga's tsuppari attack and
methodically drove the veteran back bit by bit before offering that final thrust
of his opponent across the straw. This was way too easy for Oh who has now gone
3-0, 0-3, and 3-0 the first nine days. Tamakasuga falls to 5-4.
M14 Kitazakura jumped early at the tachi-ai and then just stopped while J4
Tochinohana then decided to go. With Kitazakura having given up and just
standing there, the referee yelled out "nokotta" signaling that the bout was on.
I guess the referee and judges wanted to get to Kyokutenho - Goeido as soon as I
did because this was a false start tachi-ai all the way. To show why Tochinohana
is in Juryo, he grabbed an early left uwate on Kitazakura who was just standing
there thinking it was a false start and had him pushed halfway back before Zak
realized it was game on. The ambassador dug in nicely at the edge, however,
getting his right arm on the inside and quickly breaking off the uwate before
firing a few tsuppari into Tochinohana to drive him back to the center of the
ring. From there, Zak nicely got on the inside and felled Tochinohana with a
scoop throw to stave off make-koshi at 2-7.
I wanted to call M15 Hakurozan's tachi-ai today a henka, but I just can't. He
came with a right harite to M15 Yoshikaze's melon that slapped him so far over
that it just looked like a henka. Hakurozan grabbed the easy right uwate from
there and escorted Yoshikaze out with nary a good night kiss improving to 4-5.
Yoshikaze has cooled off a bit at 5-4.
And finally, M16 Kasuganishiki (4-5) has managed to squander a 4-0 start with
five straight losses now. Today he hit a brick wall in J4 Ushiomaru at the
tachi-ai, and then had his legs just slip backwards allowing the Ushi to slap
him down in the hapless bout.
This is usually about the time in the basho where the action really heats up,
but after today's results, I'm afraid we've peaked and will steadily go downhill
from here in terms of real excitement and drama. Your leaderboard shapes up like
One loss: Hakuho, Aminishiki, Goeido
Two losses: Chiyotaikai, Kasugao, Takekaze, Kakizoe, Kyokutenho
Three losses: Kotooshu, Kotomitsuki, Ama (forgive me from leaving the 6-3
Maegashira rikishi off of this list)
I've explained why Aminishiki will not yusho, and Goeido will undoubtedly find
himself facing a few Ozeki and maybe a Sekiwake if he keeps winning. While he's
good, history shows that he will become weak in the knees, so he's out.
Chiyotaikai, Kotooshu, Kotomitsuki, and Aminishiki will probably knock each
other out of the race before we even get to day 13, the first time that Hakuho
will face an Ozeki. As I said in my pre-basho report, this one's Hakuho's to
I wish I could tell you who's reporting tomorrow.
Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
We enter today with undefeated shin-Sekiwake Aminishiki, the unlikely
rabbit, pacing the field at 7-0. Close behind at 6-1 are a mix of heavy hitters
like Hakuho and Chiyotaikai, along with more upstarts like Kasugao, Kyokutenho
and rookie Goeido. We have the makings of an interesting home stretch. Let's see
how these front runners fared as we pass the half way point of the basho.
To lead things off, Kyokutenho (7-1) made quick work of all-flash-and-no-cash
Kitazakura (1-7) by quickly securing the left uwate at the tachiai and
smothering Kita for an easy yorikiri win. Tenho, who at M12 is working his way
back from a suspension and finds himself in a double digit Maegashira rank for
the first time since 2001, is simply outclassing opponents down here.
Rookie Goeido (7-1) followed suit and continues his honeymoon in Makuuchi with
an impressive win over Futenoh (4-4). In this match, Goeido also latched on with
a left outside grip, but in contrast to Tenho's win, he proceeded cautiously.
After some pause despite advantageous positioning, Eido served up a dashi-nage
followed by a kiri-kaeshi (leg sweep) to bring Futenoh off balance for an
eventual yorikiri win. Goeido gets the aforementioned Kyokutenho tomorrow in
what will be a feature match in the low rank-and-file.
Kasugao, who looks like a different rikishi all of a sudden with
never-before-seen tachiai aggressiveness, ran into a buzz saw today in
Tochiohzan (5-3). Tochi found himself with moro-zashi and quickly attacked for a
lopsided force-out win. Kasugao drops to 6-2, but I'm still impressed with his
newfound urgency this basho.
comes the pacesetter Aminishiki at 7-0. Ami's feat of opening the basho with 7
straight wins as a first time Sekiwake has only been done twice in the last 14
years (Wakanohana in '93 and Kotooshu in '05). Speaking of newfound urgency,
where did Ami's come from? Not only has Aminishiki displayed his knack for the
ring and sumo skill that he is known for this basho, he's coupled it with a
strength and purpose I haven't detected previously. Today was a good example. He
got the upper hand at the tachiai against Tochinonada (2-6) by grabbing the
mae-mitsu (front belt) with his right, buried his head under Tochi's chin and
continued to force the issue with repeated dashi-nage attempts which led to an
eventual yori-kiri. I think the difference we're seeing with Ami is, he isn't
defending the opponent's attack but rather attacking himself this basho. If he
continues this with confidence we may have an Ozeki contender on our hands.
After a big popping tachiai with Kakuryu, shin-Ozeki Kotomitsuki got inside
quickly on the right and pushed the Mongolian to ring's edge, then deposited him
in the middle of the dohyo with a well-timed uwate-nage from the left. Mitsuki
keeps pace at 6-2. Conversely Kakuryu at 2-6 is in new territory at the top of
Maegashira and is taking his lumps as expected. But it's good learning- the kid
still has potential.
What is with the ongoing saga between Kotooshu and Toyonoshima? When these
two tangle, it seems we will surely be delighted to a nage-no-uchiai (a throwing
duel). Today was no exception as Toyo (5-3) secured moro-zashi on Oshu. Oshu
countered by clamping down to negate the advantage, but the resilient mighty
might nonetheless unleashed a sukuinage (scoop throw) to once again flip over
the much taller Ozeki. What is it with these two? Oshu drops to 5-3.
Chiyotaikai and Wakanosato showcased an "excuse me" tachiai and stared at one
another for a split second, then proceeded to do sumo. When the action ensued,
Takai recovered from the lapse better and successfully got into the rhythm of
his tsuppari game and pushed out Waka to go 7-1. Waka is falls to 2-6.
Finally, Hakuho entertained Homasho for the third time, but it wasn't a charm
for the latter. Shortly after the tachi-ai, Homasho slipped as he tried to go
inside on the left and pretty much went down himself for a somewhat
anti-climactic end to this anticipated match-up. Homasho is even-Stephen at 4-4
while Hakuho improves to 7-1.
With a week of sumo remaining, Aminishiki continues his surprising success atop
the field at 8-0 with Hakuho, Chiyotaikai, Kyokutenho and Goeido hot on his tail
at 7-1. Let's hope for that exciting home stretch.
Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
The seventh day of the 2007 Aki Basho hardly brought any surprises, with
one notable exception, and I'm going to take care of that first, to get it out
of my system. Yes, you guessed it, Kotooshu the choker lost again to a lesser
foe, former Ozeki Dejima, now
ranked at M4. The big Bulgarian clearly won the
tachi-ai, getting his favored double grip right away, despite some resistance
from Dejima. Kotooshu then wasted little time before attacking, but instead of
going for the surefire yorikiri, he tried the uwatenage, disregarding the big
fat beam Dejima had stuck under his left armpit and the fact that Dejima is a
bitch to throw. Well, the whole thing backfired and Kotooshu soon found himself
putting his hand down to break the fall to his second defeat and out of the
Yusho race. I didn't like the outcome, but I have to admit it: it was great
stuff from Dejima, who seems to have the Bulgarian all figured out.
As a little side note, that new guy Mark looked like he'd just gotten out of the
big house, so I decided to poke my nose into his personal effects at the hotel.
I found an Argentinean passport for the name Marcos Arboleda hidden in a secret
compartment of his suitcase. After further research I found out that there are
several warrants for his arrest all over South America, most of them for using
fake gift coupons to buy women's underwear. Of course, it's not really my
business what he used that underwear for, and I'm sure as hell not going to turn
him in (Hey, we're already harboring another fugitive, remember? I've a feeling
that Mark and Simon are going to get along just fine).
Yokozuna Hakuho stayed true to his rank with another smothering win over hapless
M3 Kotoshogiku. The tachi-ai was hard, with Hakuho getting morozashi after some
quick handiwork. It was curtains for Giku, who found himself ousted from the
dohyo in less than two seconds. Hakuho is now the clear Yusho favorite, with his
main contender falling to his second loss.
Remember shonichi when I was saying Kotomitsuki's sumo isn't even Ozeki sumo? He
must have read it and wanted to confirm today, because he fumbled around in a
yotsu-zumo bout with Jokutoriki of all people. The level of Mitsuki's sumo today
was something around mediocre mid-maegashira (and that was an alliteration for
those of you who don't know what litterychur is). The ozeki won the tachi-ai and
denied his opponent any sort of pushing space. Immediately he got a right
shitate and uselessly tried to get the left uwate. A quick maki-kae attempt on
that side failed, but Hokutoriki turned and allowed Mitsuki to get the uwate he
was after in the first place. Jokutoriki, however, broke his right inside, so
Kotomitsuki used that arm for a thrust into the Jokester's neck, driving him all
the way to the straw, but characteristically failing to finish the job.
Eventually, Mitsuki managed to use his left uwate to push Hokutoriki's tired
body out of the ring for his fifth win, but it was bad, bad sumo from both.
Kotomitsuki, a Yokozuna? Yeah, right.
Ahh, up next is a little bonus, one of the three Kakuryu bouts I was waiting
for, and not coincidentally the last one to take place in this basho's timeline.
It was Ozeki "Autocannon" Chiyotaikai vs. M2
"Way-over-ranked-and-with-a-big-red-target-painted-on-his-ass" Kakuryu. Let's
get ready to ruuuuuuuuuuuumbleeeee! Taikai started with both hands to Kakuryu's
head, and he kept mauling the poor guy's face and neck area like there was no
tomorrow. Of course, Kakuryu was so busy getting his ass handed to him that he
never had time to land even one thrust to any part of the Ozeki's body. The
onslaught took long enough for Kakuryu to lose any kind of balance and land in
the second row, barely able to get up afterwards. Tsukidashi for Chiyotaikai and
a schooling, no, a downright demolition for the Kak. As for me...a stiffy, Mike?
That's a huge understatement, I was thinking more in the terms of a tree trunk
(how's THAT for 'big in Japan'?).
Sekiwake Aminishiki upped his score to 7-0 with a nasty henka against Tokitenku.
You gotta hand it to the guy, though, he's pretty good at this kind of monkey
business, and the Eastern European apes would do well to take notes of how it's
done. Tokitenku is a 1-6 mess.
The other Sekiwake, Mongolian Asasekiryu, charged low at the tachi-ai, getting
the right uwate while denying M2 Tochinonada his favorite hidari yotsu. It was
more a chess game than a sumo bout, and you knew the uwatedashinage was coming
eventually. It did, but it wasn't the finishing move, it only managed to turn
Tochinonada around for the easy force out from behind. Asasekiryu moves past the
.500 mark while Tochinonada is slowly finding his way back to where he belongs.
Kisenosato manhandled Komusubi colleague Ama right from the tachi-ai, denying
the sneaky Mongolian any sort of belt grip with one hand on the shoulder and
another one under his arm. Kisenosato drove his smaller foe to the edge, moved
his hand from the shoulder to the face and used the other arm to constantly push
to Ama's side, eventually causing him to crumble to the dirt, looking like he'd
wrecked his already heavily taped up right knee. If that's the case, it's
goodbye Shukunsho for the little guy. Kisenosato takes his third win.
A rather dull bout had Fatman Miyabiyama take on Homasho, the Japanese hope (kinda
old for that if you ask me, but hey, I'm not Japanese and I couldn't possibly
know what those guys are hoping for). The Fatman dished out some heavy tsuppari
punishment right from the start, but Homasho patiently absorbed them until he
was able to turn the tables on Miyabiyama and start taking him back towards the
bales. The Fatman tried to stand his ground, but Homie just got out of the way
and let his bigger opponent fall flat on his face. It was 'vintage' Miyabiyama
sumo today, as he falls to his third loss. Homasho is also 4-3.
Being the lazy bastard that I am, I'm gonna skip a couple of lesser bouts (and
I'll start with the one between losers Wakanosato and Tokitsuumi) and get to the
juicy stuff. The huge Toyohibiki met the smaller but more technical Toyonoshima.
It was a slaughter, however, as Toyonoshima couldn't really get anything going
against Hibiki's size and strength. The big man dominated the bout right from
the tachi-ai, keeping his hands close to his body and successfully forcing the
hostilities into oshi-zumo. Toyonoshima tried a pull-down, but being the
shortest in the division certainly doesn't help in this area, so he was soon
finding himself at the tawara, digging in to stay alive. It was then that the
Hibiki unleashed a powerful thrust to his opponent's right side that slammed him
to the ground. Great stuff from the Monster, who notches his fifth win.
Toyonoshima still has some dohyo left to meet, because tomorrow he's facing a
frustrated Kotooshu, and the meetings between these two always end in -nage,
much to this expert's delight.
A more determined Tochiohzan owned class clown Takamisakari right from the
initial charge, quickly working his way into morozashi and forcing his opponent
out in the wild cheers of the audience. Takamisakari is looking pretty shabby so
far, but expect him to get back into it. Tochiohzan halts his 3 bout losing
streak, and not a moment too soon.
Eastern European Kokkai executed a piss-poor henka that allowed M10 Iwakiyama to
turn around and grab the right side of his mawashi. With that uwate Iwakiyama
ousted the inept Georgian from the dohyo and to his 4th loss. As I was saying
before in this report, he'd do himself a lot of good if he took some henka
lessons from Aminisneaky. And it looks like Mike's gonna buy the beer after all,
because Iwakiyama just got his 3rd win. Now all we've got to do is find a way
for him to send it here over the Internet (I'm working on a revolutionary Beer
protocol right now).
Another inept Eastern European, the Henkarozan, delivered a standing tachi-ai
which allowed Korean Kasugao to push him out easily for his sixth win. Hakurozan
is a pushover these days and is on his way to sandanme.
Old man 'Kasuga got hit by a couple of Yoshikaze's tsuppari before taking him
off balance with a bear-paw ottsuke and sending him crashing out of the dohyo.
Yoshikaze is feisty, but Tamakasuga is heavy. And, yeah, I don't like to repeat
myself, but size DOES matter.
Under-ranked M12 Kyokutenho used his long arm again to suck Kasuganishiki into a
solid left uwate, then yorikiried him in less than 2 seconds. It hardly gets any
more boring than this.
Mongolian Figgered wasted a damn good opportunity to get into morozashi, after a
sloppy tachi-ai from true Japanese hope Sawai (yeah, I know his new shikona is
Goeido, but Sawai sounds so much cooler, doesn't it?), who got back into it
after a botched pull-down attempt and got morozashi himself. A not so easy win
for the young Japanese, but a win nonetheless, and one step closer to the Kanto-Sho.
And one step closer to Juryo for Ryuo.
That's about it for today. It was a solid sumo day, all in all, with a few
notable exceptions, but at least now the Yusho issue is pretty damn clear. A
good debut for Goeido, strong sumo from Toyohibiki and, last but certainly not
least (not on my list, anyway), a hefty demotion for Clancy's boy, The Kak.
Kenji is coming out of his cave tomorrow.
Comments (Simon Siddall reporting)
Come on--admit it--you haven't missed me one bit, have you? Well,
I'm back in Sumotalk Towers for just one evening and I have to say that things
seem a bit different around here. I thought I'd do a little covert observation
of my colleagues and I discovered that things have taken a somewhat sinister
bent since my last stay. Martin, for example, now spends much of his time
humming to himself in a bubbling vat of cheese. Clancy has rearranged his room
to resemble his own face. Mike now insists we call him Ozzy and has two
guitar-playing monkeys on guard outside his door at all times. As for Kenji, it
is rare to see him these days, as he slips out most evenings in various animal
costumes. And I can't get anywhere near the two new guys--very tight security -
but there's something very odd about them--I can sense it. Further investigation
is warranted, I believe.
Turning to sumo, first let me mention that Kaio pulled out today. This was, of
course, inevitable given the circumstances, but it looks like we'll be seeing
Kaio in perhaps his final basho in Kyushu. He just hasn't been able to get into
his own sumo at all so it was frankly a relief that he withdrew.
On to the action, today's highlight bout was a no-brainer as Yokozuna Hakuho
took on serial crybaby Komusubi Kisenosato. After some serious pissing around at
tachiai, including the head shinpan calling it back (pointlessly) on the third
attempt, we finally got going on the fourth try but it was pathetic stuff as
Hakuho unleashed a harite and immediately got the morozashi grip at tachiai. It
was then a simple matter of forcing the whippersnapper out. Hakuho keeps on
cruising to the yusho at 5-1 while there will be tears before bedtime tonight as
Kisenosato falls to 2-4. The Kid could also do with a few lessons in manners
when facing a Yokozuna from a decent oyakata like the former Terao. I find
myself feeling very disappointed about this lad--I used to like him a lot,
especially when he did that arse-wiggling trick just before tachiai, and I had
so much hope for the future for him, but now I just want to slap that big poncy
face every time I see it.
Ozeki Kotomitsuki has not looked particularly impressive to me this basho; his
sumo is nowhere near the level we saw in Nagoya. Sekiwake Asasekiryu gave him a
real fight today as Kotomitsuki lost the tachiai, surrendering a strong
right-hand inside grip to the Mongolian Sekiwake, who then lost that grip,
allowing Kotomitsuki to execute a maki-kae to get his left hand inside. At this
point it looked like Kotomitsuki might be out of the fire but Asasekiryu swiped
Kotomitsuki's hand away (far too easily) from the belt, and then cleverly
wrapped up that left arm and pushed forward for the yorikiri win. Kotomitsuki is
not looking anything like a yusho rikishi at 4-2. Asasekiryu is 3-3.
Ozeki Kotooshu must have wondered why he bothered putting his mawashi on (much
like most of the crowd) as he faced M3 Hokutoriki, who really has no right
fighting this late in the afternoon. A standard, mind-numbingly easy win for the
Bulgarian, who got morozashi thanks to a fine tachiai and a bit of help from
Hokutoriki flapping his arms out like an idiot. If I was Hokutoriki's oyakata,
I'd have him practicing keeping the arms in tighter to the body at tachiai for
the next two months. Kotooshu is doing just fine thanks at 5-1. Hokutoriki (1-5)
Ozeki Chiyotaikai's brittle sumo was exposed ruthlessly by Ama yesterday.
Against another Mongolian, M1 Tokitenku, who has looked very average in Aki so
far, the record-breaking Ozeki got one of those go-forward-then-pull-back wins
we see all the time from him. Tokitenku (1-5) was very slow out of the tachiai
and completely screwed in this bout from start to finish. More alert rikishi,
like Ama, will not fall for this, though, and I don't expect Chiyotaikai (5-1)
to have any serious impact on the yusho race. How's that for searing sumo
Aminishiki put his unbeaten streak on the line against veteran M4 Dejima. It
turned out to be a prance in the park as Asashoryu's best mate got his right arm
inside Dejima at the tachiai, stopping the famous charge (which was decidedly
cautious, meaning Aminishiki's propensity for henka may have been on the former
Ozeki's mind) in its tracks. As we all know, Dejima has little or nothing in the
way of defence and so it was a simple matter of going forward for the genki
Sekiwake. Yoritaoshi. 6-0. Dejima is 2-4.
Komusubi Ama (4-2) is having a superb basho. Surely today M2 Kakuryu (2-4) would
be easy meat for the Mongolian midget?? In a fascinating bout, Ama showed us
just how sodding fast he really is, while Kakuryu demonstrated how dangerous
(evasive/hard to pin down) he can be. I thought I'd pressed fast forward on the
video by mistake while I watched this one but Ama was able to grab his wily
opponent's belt (left hand inside) after a bewildering exchange of pushes and
pulls. Ama used that grip to pull back, and then reverse Kakuryu's momentum
while grabbing the thigh for the spectacular watashikomi win, brushing aside
Kakuryu's last-ditch throw attempt. A real crowd pleaser.
M1 Homasho has been stop-start this basho. He took on elephant-worrier M4
Wakanosato today and got a left-hand inside grip while keeping Wakanosato's
right hand away from his own belt. A stalemate ensued but Homasho was finally
able to force his opponent out as Waka ran out of steam. This was better stuff
from Homasho and he goes to 3-3. Wakanosato is not having it the way he used to
among the big boys and he falls to 1-5.
M5 Miyabiyama (4-2), as we all know, is a big, blubbery lump of wobbling fat.
Those lumbering tsuppari have been paying off so far this basho, however. Today,
despite showing that his balance has improved no end over the years and
surviving numerous pull-down attempts against M3 Kotoshogiku (3-3), he was
simply unable to finish his opponent off. Credit to Kotoshogiku, who hung in
there impressively, and will have a sore face and neck tonight, I promise.
In a bout involving two rikishi that I want to marry, M5 Toyonoshima (4-2)
countered the superior speed of M6 Kaiho (2-4) well, finally securing an outside
right-hand grip and using that to pull off the kiri-kaeshi trip. Good controlled
sumo against a tricky opponent. That's a four-day losing streak for Kaiho and a
three-day winning one for Toyo. Ooh.
M7 Tokitsuumi is having what they call in the trade a nightmare, taking on the
mantle of the lifeless rikishi we seem to have every tournament. It was murder
once again as M6 Toyohibiki launched a powerful tachiai and pushed his hapless
opponent straight out. It looked like a morning practice session. Toyohibiki is
a performing squid at 4-2. Tokitsuumi is a huge, hairy, winless bollock.
M9 Roho improved my image of the two Russian brothers to no end with a henka on
M7 Tamanoshima followed by the usual tedious pull-down attempts as M7
Tamanoshima kept his footing easily to push his gutless opponent out. Roho and
Hakurozan...please just retire if you're going to 'fight' like this. PLEASE.
Tama-chan and Roho are 3-3.
M10 Kasugao has been having a sweet first week and has definitely had the bit
between his teeth, showing us his broad array of techniques. M8 Takekaze gets my
vote for one of the most improved rikishi around and was certain to provide a
stern test for the unbeaten Korean today. Kasugao survived a pull-down attempt
straight after the tachiai and went forward cautiously. However, Takekaze showed
some decent footwork to move slightly to the side, allowing him to take
advantage of Kasugao who was now out of position. Then it was the simple push
out. Both men are 5-1.
As usual M12 Kokkai (3-3) seemed more pumped up than usual before his bout with
M9 Takamisakari (2-4)--he just loves to hurt Circus and pick up the kensho
money. Takamisakari initially went hidari-yotsu but Kokkai was able to use that
brute strength to swing him around. Taka actually got a right inside grip at
this point but Kokkai was having none of that and executed a maki-kae, and that
was game over. Kokkai almost jumped on the crumpled form of his opponent but
managed to avoid doing any damage. It wasn't exactly pretty but Kokkai won't
care. And Circus--can you just lay off the dejected trudge down the hanamichi
after the bout? We all smegging-well know it's an act.
M13 Tochiohzan should have done much better with a decent tachiai and strong
left-hand inside grip on M10 Iwakiyama, but the big fella was able to grab migi-uwate
after manhandling the youngster with a series of belly thrusts and used his mass
and momentum to force him out. Good win for Iwakiyama, but he got out of jail
here. Tochiohzan has been very disappointing this basho and stands at 3-3.
Iwakiyama picked up his second win today.
Plenty of M15 Hakurozan's charms were on display today. He had the right idea at
the tachiai, coming in with thrusts to M12 Kyokutenho's throat, but they were
ineffective and half-arsed, ironically, much like his sumo. The big Mongolian
got uwate and wrapped up the bout, forcing Haku to the edge and out with next to
no resistance. Good old Hakurozan (2-4)--showing us the fire in his eyes with
all that fighting spirit. Enjoy Juryo, you spoon--surely one of the most
disappointing and boring top-division rikishi ever, certainly the laziest.
Kyokutenho is now 5-1, as well he should at this level.
After six days, Hakuho looks the clear favourite--he is cruising now after his
usual day-one screw-up. Aminishiki looks genki but will be brought down to earth
in the second week. It looks to me like Kotooshu is the main threat as long as
he can keep his focus, which, as we all know, is a big if. Other lads to watch
for me are newcomer Goeido, the impressive Toyohibiki, and I think we can expect
Kyokutenho to keep his run going until the middle of next week. Oh, and Ama!
Martin examines your navels tomorrow.
Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
I've been so excited the last couple weeks I could hardly contain myself.
Guns 'N Roses was my favorite band thru the mid-nineties, and Velvet Revolver is
by far the best rock band out there these days now that Assle Rose is out of the
lineup, so when Slash agreed to contribute for us I was ecstatic. Now, we here
at Sumotalk do have our standards, and one of them is that the contributors must
remain cleancut. So while I did go George Steinbrenner on him and make him trim
the locks and while RCA Records stipulated that we had to come up with the phony
pen name Mark Arbo, we thought it was worth the sacrifices.
Now having said that, you didn't have to be so blunt in your opening comments.
We already know that we can't hold a candle to seamonkey worship, dogshit, and
squirrel fishing, so thanks for rubbing it in. The only reason I'm letting you
stay is for the Peter Pan revelation. We were a bit skeptical at first when
"Mark" showed up at the hotel with those fairy costumes and his sewing machine,
but I'm tellin' ya, after walking around the place the last five days in these
silky tights, I'm a changed man.
In honor of Slash's debut, let's go in chronological order today. How often is
the first bout of the day one of the most compelling? Today it was, actually,
with the undefeated M16 Kasuganishiki facing Makuuchi rookie M14 Goeido. Goeido
established the pace at the tachi-ai lowering his head nicely and grabbing the
quick left outer grip. Kasuganishiki countered using his bulk to stop Goeido's
momentum and his gangly left arm to grab an outer grip of his own. A gappuri
hidari-yotsu (mutual left outers, right inners) contest ensued, and after both
rikishi dug in with neither taking the advantage, Goeido fired first with an
outer belt throw attempt that muscled his opponent down to the clay for a great
bout of sumo out of the gate. Though both rikishi are 4-1 now, you can tell
which has the bright future and which doesn't.
M14 Kitazakura got off the snide thanks to an opponent up from Juryo...and a
winless one at that. J3 Hakuba had the advantage from the tachi-ai gaining the
quick moro-zashi position, but his (lack of) size prevented him from moving Big
Zak back fast enough, and before ya knew it, the Ambassador executed a quick
maki-kae with the right hand slipping the limb under Hakuba's left side and
scooping him over to the dirt like a rag doll. Kitazakura picks up his first
M13 Tochiohzan is a rikishi who just oozes potential, but he gets into these
funks where his sumo becomes so lackadaisical. Today against the feisty M15
Yoshikaze, Oh was non-committal at the tachi-ai throwing a lame left arm
underneath in an attempt to grab the right frontal belt, but Yoshikaze was
committed 100% and fought Tochiohzan off with some good shoves to the neck and
then a left inashi (push sideways at the shoulder) that caused Tochiohzan to
slump over to the point where Yoshikaze slapped him down from there in a bout
that lasted all but 3-4 seconds. Tochiohzan schools Goeido on day 1 with perfect
sumo but can't handle Yoshikaze on day 5? I just didn't see any intensity out of
Tochiohzan today. His oyakata needs to get his ass in gear and teach it to him.
How often this basho have we seen Terao (Shikoroyama-oyakata) watching his
prodigy, Homasho, from the hanamichi and then teaching him as Homasho goes back
to the dressing room? Tochiohzan falls to 3-2 and needs the same kind of
inspiration while Yoshikaze has plenty of it at 4-1.
The bout that should have come first today featured M13 Ryuo and M15 Hakurozan.
Ryuo came with his usual charge while Hakurozan stepped a bit to his left
(wasn't a henka...this guy's too lazy for that anymore) in an attempt to grab
the cheap uwate, but Ryuo had enough of a punch to stand Hakurozan more upright
than he already was, so Hakurozan simply stepped back to his right and pulled at
Ryuo's outstretched arms easily felling the jolly Mongolian. Ryuo (1-4) is on
his way down for sure while Hakurozan limps to 2-3.
In a matchup of two rikishi with same styles but vastly different bodies, M16
Kakizoe took it to M12 Kokkai from the tachi-ai throwing those feisty tsuppari
into the Georgian leaving him only to offer counter tsuppari while retreating
and evading to either side. Kakizoe was a pest throughout the contest and
frustrated Kokkai to the point where he just gave up and went for the stupid
pull down. It was over in a second after that. Props to Zoe (3-2) for handling
someone whom he should rarely beat. Kokkai underachieves at 2-3.
The best match on paper coming into the first half of the bouts today featured
M9 Roho against M12 Kyokutenho. Roho didn't exactly make a huge impact at the
tachi-ai as he was more concerned about reaching around and grabbing a left
uwate. He got it straightway and immediately begin lifting up on Tenho's belt
while forcing him back. Kyokutenho tried to counter shifting right and left
while attempting to establish his own left uwate, but Roho was just too
strong...and too determined. That's something he needs to be more of. At any
rate, Roho made the textbook forceout win look easy as he improves to 3-2. Tenho
suffers his first loss.
With the aid of those stilettos, M11 Futenoh stopped M8 Tosanoumi's momentum at
the starting lines and got a quick right arm on the inside that he used to drive
the blue collar man back to the straw with. At the edge, Tosanoumi (1-4) tried
to counter nicely by twisting his body while pushing just behind Futenoh's right
shoulder from over the top, but Futenoh's momentum won out for the dangerous
yori-kiri win. He'll take it though as he moves to 3-2.
It was at this point of the broadcast that NHK panned down the row where members
of the Yokozuna Deliberation Council sat. Every time I see this group I can't
help but think of my Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer Days when Rudolph and Hermey
the Elf ("I want to be a dentist") are leaving the Island of Misfit Toys and
singing: ō We are a couple of mis...fits ō. The reason I bring this up is that
token female member of the puppet group, Makiko Uchidate, has now come out and
called for Asashoryu's retirement. I quote her reasoning as reported by the
Mainichi newspaper today, "If this were another company, he would have already
been forced out. If you have an employee like this, those at the top would
surely let him go."
Comparing sumo to the everyday working world is about as stupid a take as one
can come up with. How exactly is sumo like a regular salaryman's life? First,
this isn't another company. Second, the media doesn't cover the average working
man. Third, nobody buys tickets to watch the working man do his job and no
sponsors give a crap about him. And fourth, if you've ever worked for "the man"
than you know the higher a person rises to the top, the more time and company
money he can waste and the more he can be absent from work without being
accountable. You just can't compare a sports figure and his job to that of a
regular salary man. Making that argument is like applying flesh-colored
foundation to your green face and wearing a bushy brown wig so you can
masquerade as a bitchy Japanese woman (ever meet one of those?). Get back to the
Jedi Council where you really belong and lose the makeup and wig.
Moving right along, in a bout between two rikishi with identical styles but much
different ages, M8 Takekaze backed away from a shove fest despite winning the
tachi-ai. M11 Tamakasuga should have countered with pushes of his own at this
point, but he was content to just stand there along with Takekaze hunkered down
with arms pushing at the other opponent but doing nothing. After about five
seconds, Takekaze went for the pull down first managing to yank Tamakasuga (M11)
off balance by the arm. As Homer Simpson would say: BORRRIIING! Nonetheless,
Takekaze moves to 4-1 with the win.
M10 Kasugao grabbed the quick left outer grip from the tachi-ai against M7
Tokitsu-who-mi who just stood there and let him get it. It's not the side the
Korean favors the outer on, but he wasn't necessarily facing a tough opponent
today, so he just planted that right leg and threw Tokitsuumi over as if he were
that Peter Pan fairy dude that Slash introduced us to yesterday. Thanks for the
nightmares. The Korean moves to a hot 5-0 and is your leader. Tokitsuumi is the
last winless rikishi at 0-5.
In a bout between two former sanyaku dudes who are just too big and too slow to
entertain anymore, M7 Tamanoshima hit M10 Iwakiyama at the tachi-ai and then
immediately backpedaled trying to pull his opponent down. You rarely see these
words in the same sentence, but Iwakiyama used good footwork to stay in
the bout and actually force the now compromised Tamanoshima to evade around the
ring chased by a right forearm from Iwaki the Hutt. As the dust settled,
Tamanoshima finagled a left outer grip in the process, and easily twisted
Iwakiyama (1-4) out from there. Tamanoshima eeks his way to 2-3.
In an ugly affair, M9 Takamisakari did his damndest to give up any advantageous
position as soon as he got it against M6 Kaiho, but Takamisakari is so wiry and
moves too quick that you really have to grab him and hold him there in order to
gain a good position. Kaiho wasn't strong enough to do so, and even though he
enjoyed the inside position throughout, the Cop yanked up on Kaiho's arm long
enough to set up a maki-kae with his right arm that eventually allowed him to
scoop Kaiho across the straw. Both dudes are 2-3.
Today was an excellent display of maturity from the young, M6 Toyohibiki.
Against M3 Kotoshogiku he knew that he couldn't let the bout go to the belt, so
from the tachi-ai he fended off the Geeku with a quick shove and a constant paw
pushing into Kotoshogiku's throat. Kotoshogiku dug in nicely and grabbed
Toyohibiki's arms trying to swipe him to either side, and this would have been
the usual place where a young rikishi would get frustrated and either settle for
the belt match in Toyohibiki's case or go for the pulldown. The Nikibi did
neither and was content to just continue to push at Kotoshogiku's neck using his
lower body to keep himself in front of his opponent. After forcing Kotoshogiku
to the straw, the Sadogatake-beya prodigy tried a last gasp swipe to the side
that actually worked, but in the process his big toe barely kicked up the sand
outside of the ring to spell his doom. This was great sumo/counter sumo from
both parties, but the highlight was Toyohibiki's patience and refusal to go for
the pulldown. He moves to 3-2 with the good win while the Geeku drops to 2-3.
M1 Homasho just couldn't get on the inside of M5 Toyonoshima today, and it was
smart of Toyonoshima to stay lower than normal from the tachi-ai because he
probably knew that Homasho wouldn't go for the cheap pull down. Homie flinched
at the move once, but stayed true to form trying to get anything going against
Toyonoshima (3-2), but the latter took advantage of his low stance to force
Homasho back ever so slowly before pouncing near the edge to provide that all or
nothing shove that sent Homasho back across the straw. Homasho lost this one
from the tachi-ai, and if he has one weakness, it's his hesitance at the initial
charge. He falls to 2-3.
In a bout between two heavyweights, M5 Miyabiyama bullied M1 Tokitenku around
for the most part showing good footwork to stay in front of Tenku at all times
and even more importantly to survive the quick pull attempt that came right
after the tachi-ai. Having committed on the pull move early, Tokitenku was no
longer in any position to force the action to the belt, so he played tsuppari
bag to the Sheriff who timed those lumbering tsuppari with great effectiveness
to push the Mongolian out with some mustard in the 8 second affair. Miyabi moves
to a cool 4-1 while Tokitenku hasn't looked good for multiple basho now at 1-4.
There's nothing better than two belt guys who both have their preferred
positions forcing the bout to a pure chikara-zumo affair. Such was the case
today with Komusubi Kisenosato grabbing the right outer and M2 Tochinonada
getting his preferred left inner from the tachi-ai. Both rikishi dug in and the
battle of strength was on. Kisenosato won the bout because he didn't settle for
a stalemate in the center of the ring; rather, he kept the pressure on and
forced Tochinonada into counter sumo early on. The Kid's persistence paid off
because he managed to wrangle Tochinonada (1-4) close enough to the edge to
where he could offer a surprise counter with the left hand pushing into
Tochinonada's bulk to provide the difference. This was a great bout to watch,
and this is how sumo is 'posed to be when two belt fighters go at it. Kisenosato
improves to 2-3.
two Sekiwake butted heads today and put on a great display of finesse sumo.
Thankfully, both charged straightforward where Asasekiryu looked to avoid a belt
contest at all costs by immediately lowering his head and keeping it pushing
into Aminishiki's torso. In the early melee, Aminishiki managed to grab the
front of Seki's belt with the left hand and yank the outer fold upwards enough
on Seki's torso that he got the same grip on the right side as well. The problem
was Asasekiryu was lower and used his noggin to drive into Aminishiki's upper
chest keeping him from using those belt grips to his advantage. The chess match
ensued for thirty seconds or so until Aminishiki was finally able to drag Seki
forward and to the dirt with those frontal grips on the single fold of the belt.
Ami moves to 5-0 and stands alongside Kasugao as the basho leaders. Who needs
that Asashoryu guy anyway?
three false starts where M4 Wakanosato jumped the gun twice and Ozeki
Kotomitsuki stalled too long once, the two finally got going, but it was
anything but stellar sumo. It was just plain ugly, in fact, as Kotomitsuki's
de-ashi were nowhere to be found from the tachi-ai giving Wakanosato the early
inside position. Waka was never able to grab the belt, however, and even though
he had Kotomitsuki with his feet aligned (the Ozeki had them aligned several
times in the bout) Wakanosato was standing too upright to do anything but go for
a pulldown. Problem was he was in no position with the lower body to perform the
move, and after it failed, Kotomitsuki took his turn slapping Wakanosato (1-4)
down to the clay. This was Lindsay Lohan ugly and deserves no more comment.
Kotomitsuki is 4-1.
M4 Dejima seemed content to just bulldoze Ozeki Kaio back and out from the
start, but Kaio shifted ever so slowly to his right and attempted the quick
pulldown that threw Dejima off balance for a second, but it didn't allow Kaio to
grab any sort of offensive position. The result was Dejima reloading and
mounting another charge that Kaio simply couldn't handle. It's really time for
Kaio (1-4) to call it quits now. Well, not today, but sometime during or after
the Kyushu basho. When you expend your energy from the tachi-ai just to stand
yourself upright, 'tis time to go. Dejima hobbles to 2-3.
I think Martin had a stiffy all day today waiting for the Kotooshu-Kakuryu
matchup. Problem is that Ozeki Kotooshu doesn't really rough up his opponent
even when he has the chance to do so. Kotooshu wisely didn't commit himself at
the tachi-ai (didn't need to) opting to let M2 Kakuryu just walk into a right
outer grip. Kakuryu knew he was in trouble and tried a weak maki-kae as Oshu
drove him back, but it was to no avail. This was as easy as it gets as Kotooshu
softly forced Kakuryu (2-3) back across the straw keeping himself among the real
leaders at 4-1.
Chiyotaikai was atop the leaderboard coming in today, but you knew that it
couldn't last forever. He had hope today, though, in the form of Komusubi Ama, a
rikishi who should be able to run circles around the slower Ozeki but just can't
figger him out. Ama came straight on at the tachi-ai only to be met be a right
tsuppari to the jaw, so the Mongolian quickly evaded to his left and slipped
around the Ozeki just enough to grab the left uwate. Ama's speed kicked in from
there as he wasted no time yanking Chiyotaikai to the edge with that left while
pulling at the back of Taikai's head with the right to fell the Ozeki about 4
seconds in. There was nothing cheap from Ama today. While he of course wanted to
grab that early left from the tachi-ai, he stayed in front of the Ozeki and gave
him a fair fight. Ama's improves to 3-2 which is one helluva record considering
he's faced the Yokozuna and four Ozeki.
I'm not exactly building up to a fantastic finish here...what with Hokutoriki
taking on Hakuho. The Yokozuna remained cool at the tachi-ai laughing off any
tsuppari M3 Hokutoriki (1-4) threw his way before just reaching out and grabbing
the left uwate, which he used to throw the hapless Jokester across the ring and
down picking up his fourth win in the process.
Thanks to the weak banzuke we have now officially entered the dog days of the
basho where the Yokozuna and Ozeki should continue to swat the competition like
flies before facing each other. Until then, you'll never guess who has returned
from the mud baths in Mongolia. That's right. The Manchester Marauder is back
tomorrow, and he's bringin' his thing.
Comments (Mark Arbo reporting)
***This report should be read as it was written- Drinking a GOOD beer and
listening to "Brim Full Of Asher" by Cornershop (Full length version, not
Sumotalk is a very good website. There is no telling how many people have
been encouraged in, not only by macrophilia, but also by a love of professional
sumo wrestling. Sumotalk provides: an arena for sumo fans to meet and discuss, a
game, helpful links and a glossary. Sumotalk's news section is frequently
updated and its daily comments are invaluable for any fan who finds her/himself
in a situation where they can not tune in.
One would logically assume that Sumotalk is inundated with hits, day and night,
a barrage of net savvy indivittles jockeying to take advantage of this robust
and encompassing resource. Strangely that is not the case. As I type this
afternoon Sumotalk is hanging somewhere around just under 900,000 hits. Not even
1,000,000. Now 1,000,000 can seem like a big, almost surreal number. When looked
at from that haze, 900,000 could seem quite respectable. It's not. 1,000,000
hits isn't just for your Googles and Hotmails anymore (a good porn site can get
more than a million a day...and that's just from Sumotalk contributors).
DogDoo.com both have more than a mill. This
squirrel fishing has more than 2 mill and
this freak is closing in on 10 MILLION!
Point is, Sumotalk needed to do something to establish its rightful position as
a powerhouse of education and revelry on the web. That's why I was brought in. I
know that the other Sumotalk writers were none too pleased when they heard that
Mike was bringing me on. Up until now Sumotalk has been all-volunteer (though by
no means amateur) and most of the other commentators were apprehensive (read
"JEALOUS") when they heard that I was actually getting a salary as well as a
company car and all the other perks Mike threw in to entice me. But I want to
state clearly here that I AM COMMITTED TO SEEING SUMOTALK TO 1,000,000 HITS AND
BEYOND. Click HERE to find out how.
Did that work on ya?? Good, good.
But enough about me, lets talk about the fat men...the ones that aren't me ...
A man's first sumo report is a BIG DEAL. There is pressure to not suck. Problem
is, towering insight and unmatched wit will only get you so far; you have to
play the cards you're dealt. So it was with great excitement and expectations
that I first checked out today's match-ups. As my eyes scanned the schedule it
dawned on me that the best, most anticipated matches rarely get put on D-4. On
first glance there seemed little to get overheated about. Luckily, just as (or
perhaps 'because'?) I needed to take a maa-maa Wednesday schedule and write
something interesting, a lot of rikishi made the best of their respective
situations and it ended up being a pretty good day with some entertaining sumo.
"Last and certainly least"!? Bloody Mike and his brain-wave reading machines.
That was exactly how I was going to end my first-est ever report. The moment I
read that I decided a) I would write from the bottom up and b) Mike cares too
much about Britney.
So, first and certainly least, a stiff hand to the throat stood Hakurozan up
straight and then it was an easy oshidashi for Wakakirin. Backpedaling quickly,
Hakurozan did most of the work for him, trying to make space enough for a pull
Kasuganishiki was the first of the 7 undefeateds to fight today. He was paired
with Kitazakura who came in with a "defeated" record. I really thought Zak had
him but, Kasuganishiki pulled a tidy little throw at the rope. That was 66 years
of life experience in the ring and I thought that both fought with a lot of
heart and that it ended up being a really fun match.
Tochiohzan was the second undefeated today, but he came up with nothing against
Kakizoe who jumps up to a 2-2.
Kokkai and his sweet new sideburns came at Yoshikaze with a great elbow from the
tachi-ai that bloodied him up a tad but somehow didn't slow him down a bit.
Yoshikaze wasted no time working his way to Kokkai's side and with a deep inside
left, danced him out.
Young guy Goeido took old guy Tamakasuga with a pedestrian pull down. No one
A Korean on the belt proved too much for Ryuo (the "jolliest" of the
Mongolians). Ryuo did his best to hang around but eventually fell victim to an
uwatenage. The M-10 remains undefeated.
Kyokutenho is another dude who will remain undefeated and he did it in an
impressive fashion. M-9 Takamisakari had a decent start backing the Mongolian up
all the way to the edge but then, to everyone's surprise, Kyoku picked him up
and spun around throwing him clear off the dohyo. This was impressive stuff and
you got to think he is going to continue to rack up a lot of wins this low on
the Banzuke. Tomorrow is Kyokutenho's birthday, and I think Roho will be
offering up another easy win as a birthday prez. Roho is a sweetie.
Takekaze was the next 3-0 guy to throw the salt. He was up against Futenoh, that
lost, blogging soul who just can't seem to find his mojo. For some time now I
have been trying to figure out why Futenoh has been doing so poorly for so long,
and I think I am starting to understand. As I watch Futenoh's fights I have
noticed his hands/arms, as often as not, seem to end up in all manner of strange
and uncomfortable positions. This fight was a perfect example. For almost the
entire fight he was fending off arm throws, had his arms locked up or had his
one of his arms pinned against his own body. That however was not how the fight
was to end. Futenoh was in defense mode almost the entire time, but he never
gave up. He just rolled with it and hung in there as long as he could. As a rule
doing this just prolongs the inevitable but once in a while something happens,
someone looses his footing or makes a mistake. That one win, gained from just
staying in the game, more often than not will end up being the difference when
it comes to getting your KK or even a yusho. Ama and Asa are masters of giving
themselves every chance to win even when things look impossible. They each
probably get an extra win a basho by just fighting like hell to stay on their
feet. It wasn't a great win, but it is a great lesson. Takekaze loses his first.
Mt. Iwaki and Tokitsuumi came in with nary a win between them. Tokitsu got an
early piece of mawashi but moving mountains is no easy feat and Tokitsuumi just
wasn't up to it. Iwaki brought him down when he nage-ed his shita te.
After yesterdays complete surrender Roho must have felt really bad, because he
turned a new leaf! He came out with an incredible tachi-ai and then used his
size and sound sumo to defeat Kaiho. No, not really. He used his size to soundly
step waaay to the side to avoid the hit of a man who ways 75 pounds less than
him. Roho's sumo is like his face...
Toyonoshima withstood the monster tachi-ai that is Tosanoumi to pick up a pull
down win. All the old guys fought with a lot of heart today but the young guys
seemed one step ahead of them at every turn.
Miyabi showed up today with his hands taped like a boxer. I was thinking he was
going to go tsuppari all over Tamanoshima. Reality was significantly less
dramatic (as it so often is). The only word I have to describe Miyabi's tachi-ai
is absorbent. Drew him in, pulled him down. Yawn.
Toyohibiki and Wakanosato gave my favorite of the 'wily veteran vs. fresh new
face' matches. Toyohibiki looks like a freaking photocopy of Wakanosato. A quick
stare down and these two compact, neck-less powerhouses collided. Wakanosato was
going belt all the way but Hibiki countered with a right to the throat. He used
that right to push him across the entire dohyo and over the straw, BY HIS
THROAT! That move would have been impressive no matter who he did it to, but
Wakanosato!? I didn't even know he had a throat. He is like a neck-less horse.
Toyohibiki is a strong dude and you can now upgrade me from "curious" to
Kakuryu took Dejima's tachi-ai like a good little soldier and then began the
lateral motion that he knew would spell disaster for the freight train. Sweet
little kotenage and it's over. Kakuryu will never overpower his opponents and he
will never be an Ozeki. I'm not going to rush out and buy his cell phone strap
or anything, but Kakuryu is an adaptive, intelligent dude who seems to be making
the best out of what God gave (and didn't give) him. And Martin died a little
In an interesting role reversal Aminishiki out-Kotoshogiku-ed Kotoshogiku. A
powerful and well timed start leading into a yorikiri win. He even did that
little "Hump-Jump" that Giku uses so well. Aminishiki is perfect while the Giku
is batting .500.
Kisenosato and Asaseki are two guys who I was thinking/hoping would have good
bashos this time around. So far neither has really impressed. Asaseki got a
quick left inside grip and then went to work trying to neutralize Kiss's left
arm. Seki (2-2) was patient and careful with his footing as he ushered
Kisenosato (1-3) out of the ring.
I think Mike was wrong; yesterday there was no henka in Ama's game. Today on the
other hand I would say that 35.43% would be quite a modest number. Ama ventured
out pretty wide and got the exact grip he wanted. He backed the old gray mare
right up to the edge and it looked to be over. But Kaio kept his feet moving
and, after Ama lost his grip, was able to discard the Mongolian with good timing
and some excellent shifting of his weight. Score one for the old guys. Congrats
to Kaio on win number 706. It's the most wins of any non-Yokozuna and ties him
with some guy named Musashimaru on the all time winners list: Lofty company
I think Kotooshu and Kotomitsuki had a long talk about the best way to fight
Homasho 'cause this fight looked a lot like Day 2 to me. Both Kotos got inside
as quick as they could and seemed to smother him, aggressively pushing forward
with a wide stance denying him any lateral movement. I hope Homasho can learn a
way out of this trap because they both made it look easy.
Chiyotaikai vs. Hokutoriki went exactly like everyone expected. Chiyo (4-0) did
exactly what he was supposed to with the forward movement and the jazz hands.
And Hokutoriki (1-3) also did exactly what he was supposed to with the bending
over and the lube.
I thought Mitsuki might have started a hair early today in his fight with
Tokitenku but it probably didn't make any difference. KotoM was not going to
lose 2 in a row. In a 12 second fight Mitsuki tried 4 or 5 different kimarite.
Tokitenhu's defense was ok but he still sort of looked like a cowboy trying to
stay on the back of an angered bull. In the end it was a shitatenage that got
him. Mitsuki is gaining confidence every time he steps in the ring.
In fact, he has been fighting so well a lot of people have been talking about
Mitsuki winning the 2 Asa-less bashos and being a Yokozuna by the start of 2008.
I think they are right. When he gets his promotion I'm even thinking I will go
to the ceremony. My blue Nissan just ain't gunna cut it for this auspicious
occasion, no, I'm going to call my 3 supermodel girlfriends and we are all going
to jump on the back of a unicorn. Maybe we will swing by Narnia and pick Elvis
up and then congratulate Mr. Bush on winning a necessary war in a tactful and
timely manner. . . But I don't mean to discourage those of you who really
believe he will make Yokozuna. He IS fighting the best sumo of his life...and
supporting lost causes builds character.
I'll go out on a bit of a limb and say that between KotoM and Hakuho they only
take one of these two basho and the other one goes to someone who has never held
the Emperor's Cup before.
Coming off the sweet throw of an ozeki you got to wonder if Tochinonada had
convinced himself he had a chance today against Hakuho. He didn't. Fighting his
first non-Mongolian of the basho, Haku tried to get his tsuppari going but Tochi
bent over so far with his arm out that Haku could have performed his sukuinage
with a flick of his wrists. Thankfully, that was not how he chose to perform it.
Hakuho put some mustard on this one! The arm throw was hard and Tochinonada went
twirling like a thug in a Stephen Seagal movie. Good Yokozuna sumo and a great
end to my first day on the job.
5 of the 7 remain undefeated and it doesn't matter because none of them are
going to take the yusho anyway.
One last thing; there has been much written and even more speculation about the
Sumotalk initiation rituals. There is almost nothing I can tell you. But there
are a few things I feel the world should know. First, while most are, it's not
fair to say that ALL the ceremonies are horrific and painful. I, for one, was
honored and kind of touched that these guys would go through all the trouble to
learn such a lengthy dance...and with all those trained animals. One guy who I
mustn't name is a sadistic s.o.b. whilst Clancy puts on airs of being a tough
guy but really has a heart of gold. I'll never forget that hug Clancy! But I've
already said too much...
Mike will "eat the natto" tomorrow
Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
Lemme guess...if you were happy to see Asashoryu get punished, and you're
glad that he's being forced to miss at least the Aki basho, you were
disappointed by the results of day 3. We had a bit of a roller coaster first two
days thanks to Hakuho's loss on day 1 and all of the Ozeki whose shikona don't
rhyme with Cinco de Mayo looking good, but with day 3 we see the law of averages
begin to take effect. Let's get right to the action.
Hakuho gave us a repeat performance of his sumo yesterday: a quick tachi-ai
getting the easy left arm on the inside, a two-step charge forward grabbing
morozashi in the process, and an easy yori-kiri victory over a fellow Mongolian.
If Hakuho can bully Tokitenku as he did yesterday then it's a given that he'd
destroy M2 Kakuryu with the same sumo today. There's really nothing more to say
other than Hakuho seems to have figured out that he just can't stand back and
choose to react to his opponents instead of attack them and still put 13 or 14
wins on the board. The Yokozuna is 2-1 and controls his destiny while Kakuryu
falls to a respectable 1-2.
Oh brother. When you let M3 Hokutoriki do his stuff against you...and it
works...and you're ranked as an Ozeki, it's not good. Hokutoriki just
stiff-armed Kaio with a right hand at the tachi-ai setting up the far too easy
pushback that took about three seconds to achieve. Kaio offered no fight
whatsoever and is on the phone now with his old buddy Musoyama inquiring about
phantom injuries. The Ozeki must find a way to solve Ama tomorrow (good luck),
or he will be 0-4. Still, isn't the writing on the wall already? I'll save the
Sumo Association the trouble and officially announce right here that
applications are now being accepted for a new Ozeki. Hokutoriki (1-2) need not
The match of the day on paper featured Komusubi Ama vs. Ozeki Kotomitsuki. NHK
hyped the bout with a very interesting graphic that showed the result of their
last five meetings. Ama won two, both by okuri-dashi (a technique requiring you
to get to the side of or behind your
and Kotomitsuki won three, all by forward-moving techniques. So you ask
yourself, if Ama wants to win, is he going to stand right in harm's way of the
hot Ozeki and take another licking, or is he going to set up an attack from the
side and add another shukun victory to his belt this basho? Easy question, and
I'm a bit surprised that Kotomitsuki wasn't more prepared for it. Ama quickly
hit Kotomitsuki with his right hand at the tachi-ai as he shifted his body out
left to grab the cheap uwate. He got it, and in the process, Kotomitsuki kept
moving straightf orward lunging into the space where Ama should have been. Ama
pounced on the position driving Kotomitsuki back with a hand at the back of his
belt, and although Kotomitsuki managed to spin back around 180 degrees to face
his opponent, he just couldn't recover leaving Ama to finish the Ozeki off at
the tawara with a couple of belly thrusts despite no longer maintaining a grip
on his belt.
Was it a henka? That depends on what your definition of is is, right Bill
Clinton? Ama's move is called "uwate wo tori ni iku" and is the exact tachi-ai
that Kotomitsuki gave Tochinonada on day 1, and it's the same tachi-ai that
Kotomitsuki has used about a third of the time the last couple of basho during
this Ozeki run. I tend to agree with Martin that it's 35.43% a henka (do you
dare tell Martin his calculations are wrong?). I don't care for the tachi-ai
myself, but Kotomitsuki has to live with it. As we Ratt fans tend to say, what
comes around goes around. Both rikishi now stand at 2-1, but the real question
is will Kotomitsuki now let up a bit at the initial charge in fear of more henka
because the other rikishi had to have taken notice. I've stated before that I'm
okay with the tachi-ai once or twice a tournament, but if the retaliation and
imitation gets out of hand, it will ruin the basho.
Let's move on. What was Ozeki Chiyotaikai doing with those shenanigans at the
tachi-ai against Dejima? Get your ass out of the crouch already. Once
Chiyotaikai had his primping in order and actually charged, he dictated the pace
in this one throughout driving Dejima this way and that. Dejima kept things
interesting halting the Ozeki's momentum several times and looking as if he may
be able to hook up at the belt, but Chiyo always managed to fight it off with
the tsuppari finally wearing Dejima down and just slapping him to the dirt.
Don't look now but Chiyo's one of your leaders at 3-0. Don't get too excited
though, Chiyotaikai fans, he ain't for real this basho. The Dejyptian falls to
Rounding out the Ozeki, it was clear that M2 Tochinonada wanted morozashi from
the tachi-ai today against Ozeki Kotooshu, and he got it for the most part
inserting his left arm deep on the inside to force Kotooshu to the edge where he
went for a quick sukui-nage throw. Most rikishi would have been had at this
point, but Kotooshu is one of the best when it comes to counter tactics at the
edge, and today the Bulgarian grabbed Tochinonada's left leg as he fell managing
to half-trip-half-force Nada to the dirt just as Kotooshu himself crashed out.
The gunbai went to Kotooshu, but watching the live stream it looked to me as if
Tochinonada had won. The judges called for a mono-ii, but NHK only provided one
slow motion replay. Problem was, though, that the yobi-dashi's big head was
right in the way of the action, so nobody could really tell who hit first. Way
to go yobi-dashi, who do you think you are, Barry Bonds? Since everyone's view
was blocked, the judges basically said, "what the hell, let them fight again" or
something to that effect.
Tochinonada's strategy worked well in the first match, so why not go for it
again in the rematch? This time Tochinonada forced that left arm in at the
tachi-ai again and despite a quick right outer from the Ozeki on that side,
Tochinonada planted nicely and whipped Kotooshu to the dirt in two seconds with
a vicious sukuinage throw handing Kotooshu his first loss. Once again, the law
of averages simply worked it's way out with the Ozeki, who has been playing with
too much fire not to get burned. This was veteran stuff from Tochinonada (1-2)
who showed he still has some strength left, and it will also be interesting to
see how Kotooshu handles the loss. Early losses have been a problem for the
Bulgarian, and he even stated prior to the basho that was going to focus on
avoiding them. We'll see how he responds.
Sekiwake Aminishiki brilliantly worked his height to his advantage today using
his left arm to push straight up into Komusubi Kisenosato's right armpit at the
tachi-ai and then force his way in close keeping Kisenosato completely upright
and off of Aminishiki's belt. While pushing at Kisenosato's pit with the left,
Aminishiki grabbed a nice inner grip with the right causing Kisenosato to
attempt a desperate maki-kae on that side. Ami was ready for the move, however,
and forced the Kid (1-2) back and out making it look easy. This was great stuff
from Aminishiki today who sails to 3-0.
M1 Homasho bounced back nicely from his ass-kicking yesterday shaking off an
early attempt from Sekiwake Asasekiryu (say that fast five times) at the
tachi-ai to just grab Homasho's arm and hunker down. When Homie broke the grip,
he went on the charge timing his thrusts nicely as he drove Asasekiryu around
the ring. Not-so-sexy looked for some sort of inside position as he retreated
and circled the ring, but Homasho was too quick grabbing Asasekiryu's left arm
in an arm bar hold and launching him across the tawara via kote-nage. It was a
close bout due to Homasho's foot kicking up a bunch of sand just after
Asasekiryu hit the dirt, and the Sekiwake looked around at the judges in hopes
of a mono-ii, but no dice. Get back to your corner already. It bugs me when
rikishi fail to employ a single offensive move yet they want the mono-ii at the
end of a close bout. Homasho moves to 2-1 with the win while the Sekiwake falls
to just 1-2. I know some people like to question my translations of rikishi
quotes, but I could have sworn Asasekiryu said he's shooting for double-digit
wins this basho and not double digit losses. My bad on the misquote.
M3 Kotoshogiku never could get close to Tokitenku's belt today thanks to Tenku's
long arms and effective thrusts from the tachi-ai. The Mongolian stopped the
Geeku dead in his tracks with a left paw to the neck and didn't really throw
thrust after thrust, rather he stiff-armed Kotoshogiku slowly back until he was
so far off balance and slumped down that he was easy slap down fodder. Tokitenku
(1-2) made this one look easy as he handed Kotoshogiku is first loss. Who spiked
the Sadogatake-beya chanko this morning?
So that's why M6 Kaiho has been doing tachi-ai henka this basho...in order to
win. Today against M4 Wakanosato, Kaiho charged straight forward and actually
had a nice plan of attack keeping his own arms in tight to deny Wakanosato any
sort of position on the inside. Kaiho also eventually managed a left arm on the
inside himself of Wakanosato and was frustrating the former Sekiwake at first,
but Wakanosato said enough is enough and just grabbed Kaiho's left arm and
wrenched it this way and that finally managing to twist Kaiho completely around
to set up the okuri-dashi win. Wunt pretty 'tall, but Wakanosato will take his
first win. Kaiho falls to 2-1.
M5 Toyonoshima was nothing but careless today as he opted for the quick pull
attempt against M7 Tamanoshima after a stalemate at the initial charge.
Toyonoshima grabbed at Tama's left arm and immediately began to pull him back
and to the side, but Tamanoshima sufficiently kept his footing and kept up with
the pull attempt long enough to where Toyonoshima just stepped out of the ring
before dragging Tamanoshima to the dirt. This was horrible strategy from the
start by Toyonoshima who needs to repent starting tomorrow. At least his muscles
have loosened back up a bit, though. Both rikishi are 1-2.
As Martin and I discussed yesterday offline, what is M7 Tokitsuumi even doing
here? Nothing's the answer as he played the role of M5 Miyabiyama's practice
dummy today. The Sheriff took his sweet time keeping Tokitsuumi in front of him
at all times lumbering those tsuppari into Tokitsuumi's neck and torso before
slapping him sideways and off balance, which provided the easy oshi-dashi target
from there. Sheriff's 2-1 while Tokitsuumi is still winless.
M6 Toyohibiki decided to use that tachi-ai again where he starts a step behind
the starting lines. I just don't see how that helps a guy. It leaves him more
susceptible to a henka, and it's not the way you practice. Toyohibiki met
Takekaze straight on and managed to drive him back a step or two, but he just
didn't have the proper position to where he was driving Takekaze with any
leverage. Near the tawara, Takekaze seemed to easily turn the tables and slip to
his right pulling Toyohibiki (1-2) down with little fanfare. Takekaze has made
all the right moves so far at 3-0.
We got double grunts today from M10 Kasugao and M8 Tosanoumi at the tachi-ai,
but the Korean grunt had more pop as Kasugao completely halted Tosanoumi's
momentum and used a lower stance and left arm straight into the veteran to push
Tosanoumi (1-2) back and out in one fell swoop. Good stuff from Kasugao today
who moves to 3-0 himself.
Losing to Takekaze is one thing as he's still a fairly young guy with some pop,
but M9 Roho's losing to M11 Tamakasuga today? And it didn't matter that
Tamakasuga opted for a tachi-ai henka to his right because it was one of the
worst moves I've seen, and Roho's right arm actually made impact and his head
touched Tamakasuga's torso before the henka it was that slow. No excuses. Roho's
gotta overcome that weak effort from Tamakasuga. He didn't, however, due to a
lackadaisical tachi-ai and no footwork that left him completely susceptible to
Tamakasuga's grandfather speed. It was easy pickings as Tamakasuga (2-1) pushed
Roho out from behind and sent him to his second loss.
M1 Futenoh's got a pretty weak tachi-ai, but the one rikishi he can usually best
at the initial charge is M9 Takamisakari. That proved true today as Futenoh led
with his head getting an early right arm on the inside of the Cop that allowed
him to begin the forceback. Where Takamisakari usually shines is counter sumo,
but that wasn't the case today as he elected to latch onto Futenoh's right arm
with both of his own arms leaving his right side completely open to a Futenoh
left forearm that saw Sakari get pushed to the side and out in unspectacular
fashion. This was not pretty sumo starting with Futenoh's less than average
tachi-ai, but hey, dude still won. Both rikishi are 1-2.
M10 Iwakiyama's ineffective tachi-ai saw him walk right into an M12 Kyokutenho
right outer grip, and the Mongolian wasted no time in methodically forcing and
twisting Iwakiyama (0-3) back and out in 8 seconds or so. After that layoff in
May and the stint in Juryo in July to get that ring sense back, Kyokutenho has
just been toying with the rikishi this low in the ranks. He's 3-0 if ya need
M14 Kitazakura stood toe to toe with M12 Kokkai taking thrust after thrust, but
he just never get on the inside of the Georgian. After about ten seconds of
abuse and surviving several pull attempts, Kitazakura finally got his right arm
close to Kokkai's belt, but Kokkai (2-1) just stuck his left arm on the inside
and threw Zak over with a powerful sukuinage. Kitazakura falls to 0-3 but still
provides the effort...and respect.
M16 Kasuganishiki would have none of M13 Ryuo's sumo charging forward and
shaking off that first right arm to his neck forcing Ryuo back two steps and
upright. After this initial streamroll maneuver, Kasuganishiki quickly turned
the tables in true Ryuo fashion sending the Mongolian sprawling across the sand
and down to his second loss. Watch out, but the likes of Kasuganishiki, Kasugao,
and Takekaze are all tied for a share of the lead!!
Speaking of 3-0 rikishi, M13 Tochiohzan is a presence already this low in the
ranks. Today against H15 Hakurozan, the Russian used a quick harite with the
left hand at the tachi-ai, but Oh was unfazed getting his right arm in deep and
immediately forcing Hakurozan (1-2) back and out without argument.
M16 Kakizoe trying to make anything happen committed two false starts today
before eventually butting heads with Goeido. After a stalemate tachi-ai, both
rikishi began pushing each other, but Kakizoe went for the quick pulldown
allowing Goeido to easily push him back and out from there. Goeido wasn't
rattled by the false starts, nor did he panic in the shove-fest. I'd say he beat
Kakizoe every which way today moving to 2-1.
Last and certainly least, M15 Yoshikaze (2-1) used a henka to his left against
J2 Otsukasa, but when Otsukasa kept his footing, a sloppy tsuppari fest ensued
where Yoshikaze's speed won out with a pulldown in the end. Wake me up already.
A new Sumotalk contributor makes his debut tomorrow. All rise.
Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
I thought Day 1 was about as sloppy of sumo as you'll ever see (save
Ama's performance), and I was fully prepared to begin day 2 with a rant about
how sumo these days has gotten away from the basics. I mean you practice suri-ashi
where the rikishi keep their body low and elbows bent outwards as they drag
their feet across dirt one after the other to enforce the concept of de-ashi.
Then you have shiko, or the leg stomping, which strengthens the rikishi's lower
body and balance. And then there's mata-wari, where the rikishi do the splits to
the sides and plant their torso and head parallel with the dirt, all in an
effort to strengthen the hips and lower back area. It's just like Mr. Miyagi
teaching Daniel-san the basics of karate like wax on wax off or sand the floor
without really teaching him karate. The sumo basics are geared towards teaching
a rikishi to base his attack from the lower body and use his feet to guide his
charge. We saw nothing of the sort on day 1, but the rikishi must have known
that I was on the day 2 prowl because they shaped themselves up in a hurry. Good for
Yokozuna Hakuho's problem last basho was that he abandoned his oshi attack and
opted for this passive brand of sumo where he reacted to his opponents instead
of attacking them. He went from 4 oshi dashi wins and 1 pulldown win in May to 1
oshi-dashi win and five pulldowns in Nagoya. That trend continued on day 1 where
Hakuho wasn't bad, but he let Ama dictate the pace of the bout, and he paid the
price. The Yokozuna didn't make that same mistake today as he was a a half
second faster at the tachi-ai against M1 Tokitenku lunging his way into the
morozashi position before Tokitenku even knew what hit him. The result was a
yori-kiri win in seconds that gave his opponent zero options to counter. There's
nothing more to say here. Hopefully, Hakuho has realized now that he cannot just
show up and win.
Speaking of Ama, the Komusubi looked to rework his magic of yesterday against
Ozeki Kotooshu today. The Mongolian had the moro-zashi open for him at the
tachi-ai if he wanted it, but I think he made the smart choice by opting out of
it. You just don't want to give Kotooshu two outer grips if you're a much
smaller rikishi. With Kotooshu pressing for a belt grip, Ama backpedaled slowly
trying to finagle some sort of advantageous position, but Kotooshu had no
hesitation as he used a maki-kae with the right arm allowing him to get on the
inside of Ama's left and stand him up before easily forcing him back and out. Or
did he? After what looked like a dominating win for Kotooshu, a mono-ii was
correctly called for where it was suspected that Kotooshu's left foot stepped
out before either of Ama's feet hit the dirt outside of the ring. Watching the
NHK feed, it looked to me that Kotooshu's left foot did indeed step out out a
literal millisecond before Ama's foot touched outside, but for some reason, we
only got that good angle once. Another angle NHK showed was from the camera
mounted above the dohyo, and from this angle you could see Ama with that left
outer grip that may have been pulling Kotooshu out in a counter move. Based on
these two points, I thought for sure they would call for a rematch because even
though you could argue that Kotooshu stepped out first, you just don't reward
someone an isami-ashi win unless his opponent clearly stepped out before
finishing off his bidness, and watching a replay of the bout, there was no
indication that Ama's left outer grip had any effect on Kotooshu's stepping out
when he did. In a surprising move to me, however, the judges upheld the
referee's initial call and awarded the win to Kotooshu. Still, I had no problem
with the decision. Kotooshu was the aggressor, and he dominated the bout. You can
split hairs and say a rule's a rule, and Kotooshu stepped out first, but who
stepped out first wasn't overly conclusive, and though I rarely say this, I
thought the judges handled the situation perfectly. Kotooshu moves to 2-0 and
dispatches one of the toughest opponents he'll face all basho.
In the worst tachi-ai of the basho, Ozeki Kaio stepped forward with no force
whatsoever while Komusubi Kisenosato implemented a tachi-ai henka to his left
that I don't think was pre-meditated because he didn't go for a pull down or the
back of Kaio's belt straightway. I just thought it was a bad reaction from both
rikishi who balked at each others' tachi-ai. Nonetheless, what was done was done,
and Kisenosato offered a few tsuppari into Kaio's face before settling in the hidari yotsu position. Both rikishi wrangled a bit for an outer grip, but the
Kid got the right outer first, which led to the easy force out win from there.
This was ugly stuff, but I'm going to stop short of calling Kisenosato (1-1) a
chump because he gave Kaio a fair fight after that initial henka. Kaio has
looked very old these first two days as he drops to 0-2. And speaking of old,
did anybody catch
Britney Spears' act (click the play button on that link at your own risk) at
the MTV music video awards? Holy crap. I think Ozzy Osbourne moves better than
that...and his gut is smaller too. Gimme gimme Ozzy.
Ozeki Kotomitsuki's sumo today was the best I've seen from him in his last 17
bouts. He gave M1 Homasho no chance today by leading with a quick left hari-te
and inside grip on that side and a crushing blow with his right shoulder into
Homasho's torso that stood the youngster completely upright. Kotomitsuki seized
the inner grip on the right side as well, and now in the moro-zashi position,
bulldozed Homasho back and out with such force it made the other Ozeki blush.
This was powerful, powerful stuff from Kotomitsuki and sends a message to the
rest of the field. I've been quite critical of Kotomitsuki lately, and the
reason was seen on day 1 with that weak side step of Tochinonada. And the reason
Kotomitsuki is so frustrating to me is because we all know he's capable of the
sumo he showed us today; he just doesn't show it often enough. I desperately
hope to see more of the day 2 Kotomitsuki the rest of the way instead of the
Kotoshiftsuki we saw on day 1.
Moving along, Ozeki Chiyotaikai made short work of M2 Tochinonada by using the
kind of sumo we all want to see from him. He caught the gentle giant with a
stiff left arm at the tachi-ai standing him completely upright, and then turned
on the burners with the lower body while the upper-body thrusts polished
Tochinonada (0-2) off in three seconds. This was Ozeki sumo for Taikai who shed
yesterday's skirt for the manly belt today.
Sekiwake Asasekiryu looked to have a walkover in M2 Kakuryu, but he made the
cardinal mistake of going for an early pulldown after one of those boring
stalemate tachi-ai where the rikishi are grabbing at each other's wrists to keep
each other away from the belt. The result was a feisty Kakuryu taking advantage of his
compromised opponent and forcing him out in mere seconds. Not-so-Sexy said he
wanted to win in double-digits this basho. That ain't the way to do it. Both
dudes are 1-1.
Sekiwake Aminisneaky lived up to his name today by using a tachi-ai henka to the
left against M3 Hokutoriki of all rikishi. Instead of going for the pull down,
Sneaky used his left arm to pull Hokutoriki down by the back of the belt. Does
anybody like to see this kind of sumo from a Sekiwake?
In a bout between two rikishi with similar styles where they like to get deep on
the inside, M3 Kotoshogiku completely cut off M4 Wakanosato's left leaving the
veteran no other choice but to go for the quick pull down with the right hand.
The result was the Geeku just bulldozing Wakanosato back and out in between
the two shinpan on the muko-jomen side. This was just basic stuff from
Kotoshogiku who was deservedly all smiles in the hanamichi at 2-0. Wakanosato is 0-2.
M4 Dejima went chest to chest with M5 Toyonoshima at the tachi-ai today, and
even though the smaller Toyonoshima had his right arm on the inside early,
Dejima gave him no room to maneuver driving his opponent back with that lower
body. In a pinch, Toyonoshima went for the last-gasp kubi-nage throw at the edge
with his free left arm, but Ama proved yesterday that you can rarely pull of a
kubi-nage against a quality opponent without employing another tactic to set it
up. The result was Dejima keeping his balance and managing to shove Toyonoshima
over the edge and down in spectacular fashion that Toyonoshima flew off the
dohyo looking like a deer that's been killed at the side of the road with all
fours stiffened outward due to rigor mortis. Both rikishi are 1-1.
Two days, two tachi-ai henka from M6 Kaiho. Dude, I love to cheer for ya, but
not when you pull continued crap like that. M5 Miyabiyama actually survived the
move at the edge and managed to force the bout into yotsu-zumo, but it's a style
he's uncomfortable with, so he used a vicious right push to Kaiho's head to
bully him off of the belt, but this created some separation between the two and
as Miyabiyama went in for the kill, Kaiho slipped to his side and escorted
Miyabiyama out with two hands to the fanny. Kaiho's 2-0 start is greatly
inflated while the Sheriff swallows a tough first loss.
M6 Toyohibiki started a full step back from the starting lines, a move I thought
was a mistake. I mean, when was the last time M7 Tamanoshima blew anyone away
from the starting lines? No matter though as Toyohibiki's solid oshi charge was
way too much for Tamanoshima to handle as he just stood there in front of his
younger opponent with arms raised trying to fend off the attack. It lasted about
5 seconds, but the Nikibi dominated Peter from the start in the one-sided
affair as he picks up his first win.
It was classic Tosanoumi today as he used that grunt to complement a smashmouth
tachi-ai that blew M7 Tokitsuumi back a step and upright. The blue collar man
kept the legs driving forward and had Tokitsuumi pushed back and out in two
seconds. This was old school stuff from M8 Tosanoumi who moves to a feelgood
M9 Roho allowed himself to get completely bullied back and out by M8 Takekaze,
who kept his head just low enough and used his lower body to drive into the
Russian taking away any of his momentum. Roho was had at this point because he
had to worry about the constant push coming from his smaller opponent instead of
taking any time to set up a belt grip. In the end, Roho instinctively brought
both hands up to the side of Takekaze's head, but Takekaze was so good in this
one, he pushed Roho back and out in three seconds or so before the Russian even
knew what to do. This was great stuff from Takekaze whose charge from the lower
body made the difference. In fact, I haven't seen such effective lower body work
since Shakira released her last music video. Takekaze's 2-0 if you need him.
M10 Kasugao knocked M9 Takamisakari clear back from the tachi-ai and quickly
hooked up with him at the belt, but he grabbed the firm left uwate instead of
the right (his preferred attacking position). This allowed Takamisakari to
survive, and as he evaded to the side grabbing a left uwate of his own, Kasugao
lifted the Cop upright breaking off his left outer grip. Takamisakari took that
left arm and used a maki-kae to grab moro-zashi, but all that did was give
Kasugao his favored attacking position...the right outer grip. As Takamisakari
tried to turn the tables at the edge, Kasugao unleashed that good ole kote-nage
throw that proved the difference in this solid affair. The Korean jumps out to
M10 Iwakiyama showed his discomfort at this level by backing up a step or two at
the starting lines against veteran M11 Tamakasuga. All that did was give
King-tama more time to watch what his opponent was gonna do. Nothing's the
answer as Tamakasuga met Iwakiyama with a fierce nodowa and head right into his
upper torso keeping Iwakiyama upright. Tamakasuga next quickly used an ottsuke
move pushing with his right arm at Iwakiyama's left gut as he slipped to the
side of his opponent. From here the two traded pulldowns, but Tamakasuga was
just too firmly grounded to the dohyo while Iwakiyama was on the run forced to
attack a smaller opponent that was a step or two away from him throughout...a
scenario Iwakiyama invited at the tachi-ai. In
the end, Tamakasuga (1-1) succeeded in the pulldown win, and that's far too much
commentary for a bout like this. Iwakiyama is winless and better not give
stablemate Toyohibiki any more pointers about backing up at the tachi-ai.
In a somewhat compelling bout, M12 Kyokutenho simply overpowered M11 Futenoh
today by grabbing a firm left outer grip from the tachi-ai and then planting his
feet using his tall frame to lean in on Futenoh cutting off any position by his
opponent. Futenoh knew he was in trouble at this point and went for a maki-kae
with that left hand, but Tenho read the move with precision and yanked Futenoh
over to the side and out in spectacular fashion. This was grand sumo from the
Mongolian who moves to 2-0. Futenoh falls to 0-2.
M13 Ryuo used the full 8 seconds today (I timed it to keep my theory in tact) to
dispatch M12 Kokkai in a push fest. The Mongolian used the moro-te tachi-ai to
completely halt Kokkai's momentum, and then traded neck pushes with the Georgian
in the center of the ring. The key to this bout was Kokkai's impatience and
Ryuo's keeping his eyes firmly locked on Kokkai throughout. Ryuo knew early on
that he wasn't gonna force Kokkai back and out, so he patiently waited for
Kokkai to thrust himself off balance before slipping to the side and escorting
Kokkai out of the ring. Both rikishi are 1-1.
In one of the most anticipated matches of the day, both M14 Goeido and M13
Tochiohzan looked a bit tense. Tochiohzan committed a false start to show his
nerves, and Goeido exhibited a tachi-ai without much of a plan taking the
initiative by lunging harder but failing to use any thrusts or an arm on the
inside of Oh to set something up at the belt. Tochiohzan showed his experience
by patiently letting Goeido walk into a moro-zashi grip before using perfect
de-ashi to force Goeido back and out with ease. It didn't have the excitement
that we all expected, but it did show us why Tochiohzan reached the division
before Goeido. Good stuff here as Oh improves to 2-0.
Big props to M15 Yoshikaze today for beating one of the handful of rikishi that
he's capable of beating down here. Furthermore, he did it with the sound sumo
basics. Yoshikaze never let up in his tsuppari attack that kept M14 Kitazakura
away from his belt and standing upright throughout. After about 15 seconds of
the wild affair, Yoshikaze was in the perfect position to bulldoze the
Ambassador clear off the dohyo in the corner from whence he came. Yoshikaze
picks up a rare win while the Ambassador is an o'fer.
M15 Hakurozan, who can't exactly bend it like Beckham when it comes to his knees
these days, moved slightly to his left at the tachi-ai and executed an ugly
pulldown move that felled M16 Kakizoe with ease. Nuff said here other than it
was nice to see Kakizoe sporting Musoyama's old colorless mawashi. Mmmm...hand-me-down-mawashi.
And last and certainly least, M16 Kasuganishiki employed perfect lower body work
as he had J1 Wakanoho neutralized at the tachi-ai and pushed out in two seconds
or less to pick up his second win in as many days.
An awful day 1 was all but forgotten with some solid sumo on day 2. Let's hope
the trend continues tomorrow, and if the rikishi are reading this, (in Arnold
Schwarzenegger voice) I'll be back.
Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
Hail to all fellow sumo followers from a face unfamiliar with the basho's
first day. In case you were wondering how I got to draw the short stick for
shonichi, you should remember the recent disappearance of George and Bernie.
Also, the feds are after Simon, and Clancy has recently discovered religion and
joined a cryptic cult, Akenu's Worshippers (I think he's just pretending,
though, because the high priestesses only wear a skimpy robe and are often seen
engaging in ceremonial chocolate wrestling with the new acolytes). Anyway, all
these things left us understaffed, so Mike decided to bring in some new blood. I
don't know much about either of the two, but I have a strong suspicion that one
of them is actually an undercover Interpol agent out to get Simon (you should be
able to read his stuff around day 10).
For some reason I thought the basho was going to be strange without Asashoryu,
but, guess what, I don't miss the guy one bit. That still doesn't mean his
punishment was fair or the NSK didn't have an ulterior motive for it. And I'll
bet I'm not the only one not missing Asashoryu (a couple of names from the
Sadogatake roster suddenly pop into my mind), because with him gone from the
banzuke, there's actually a chance to grab the yusho. Anyone for three Yokozuna
at the start of 2008?
Alright, let's start from the bottom up. The very last guy in Makuuchi, M16
Kakizoe, met the very first guy in Juryo, Hochiyama. Zoe took half a step to the
left and tried an inashi, but the move only allowed him to briefly get both arms
inside. Hochiyama shook him off, but Kakizoe kept pushing at his armpits and
eventually drove him out, ensuring a good start for his attempt to return to the
The feisty Yoshikaze came with his usual swarming routine, dishing out the
punishment to M16 Kasuganishiki's face and quickly shifting to the side to try
the tsukiotoshi, but the maneuver didn't work, and Kasuganishiki got back on
track and quickly pushed his small opponent to the edge and down by okuritaoshi,
like a used up chew toy.
From the next bout I only got to see the part where new hope Goeido got a solid
double grip on Hakurozan's mawashi and forced him out by yorikiri. Good first
bout for the debutant, and business as usual (I mean losing, that's what I mean)
for Hakurozan. Hey, look on the bright side, part of the bout is better than no
M14 Kitazakura, the champion salt thrower, faced Tochiohzan, ranked at an
unusually lowly M13, following his injury in Nagoya. After the tachi-ai, the
young one head-butted Kitazakura a couple of times, just enough to get a decent
left uwate. The old guy wouldn't go out easily and tried a little offensive of
his own, but Tochiohzan used the favorable grip and Zak's momentum to attempt
the uwatedashinage and in the end pushed him out from behind. There is a bright
side in this bout too, and it's Tochiohzan's future. There are two bright sides,
actually, the other one is Kitazakura's bald spot.
Revenant Kyokutenho used his superior reach to suck Mongolian Ryuo into
morozashi and then spit him out of the dohyo like an old tobacco wad in less
than 3 seconds. Figgered out, as they say it in Utah, the future looks bleak
right now for the round pusher.
Georgian Kokkai tried the same old left-elbow-front-bumper-to-the-face tachi-ai
in the bout with fellow underachiever Futenoh. The maneuver wasn't too
successful, but it allowed Hairy to get a solid right outside grip and quickly
push out Futenoh, in the process employing a left nodowa that looked more like a
chokehold to me. After he ousted his opponent, Kokkai gave him an extra stare
and kicked his fallen sagari out of the way, probably because he wants to be
just like Asashoryu. It was good stuff, nonetheless, and that's the kind of
stuff I want to see from a guy his size.
In the next fight, old man Tamakasuga wanted to go for the easy pull-down win
right from the tachi-ai (you could see that in his tachi-ai, there was no
forward movement), but he miscalculated his starting point and Kasugao was all
over him, pushing him out in mere milliseconds. It was an open and shut case,
this one, and, let's face it, Tamakasuga ain't what he used to be.
Fresh Juryo champion Iwakiyama produced a monster tachi-ai against crowd
favorite Takamisakari, and I was expecting to see him win quickly, but he failed
to capitalize. With no belt grip and Takamisakari's left arm deeply lodged under
his armpit, all Iwakiyama could muster was a half-hearted sukuinage attempt that
failed. After that, Takamisakari planted himself under his larger foe, stood him
up and pushed him out by yet another beltless yorikiri. I didn't think so before
the basho, but Mike might be right about Iwakiyama not getting more than four
wins. I guess the beer's on me this time.
Russian Roho had to pull the back of Tosanoumi's head twice to get it right. It
was effective but it wasn't pretty, so I won't waste anymore time and bandwidth
talking about it.
Wait a second, did I just say Roho's bout was ugly? This one was even more so.
M7 Tokitsuumi was too slow in his attempt to henka M8 Takekaze, and what
followed was a series of pull-down attempts from both guys, so excuse me for not
being overjoyed about it. Takekaze eventually won, but who really cares?
M6 Kaiho sidestepped Tamanoshima and tried to get into morozashi, briefly
succeeding, but Tamanoshima characteristically locked his left. With a solid
belt grip on his side, though, Kaiho quickly took his foe all the way to the
edge and was ready to force him out. But then...mmm...controversy, gotta love
it. The former Sekiwake was robbed in style by the Geezers in Black, because
they awarded it to Kaiho, even if he was clearly the first to touch the ground
with his right knee, falling for the old kotenage-at-the-edge maneuver. Shinitai?
No way, Tamanoshima became airborne because Kaiho pulled him along as he was
passing him on him way down (and I did watch the high definition slow motion
replays for this one). Thanks for nothing.
Up next was the long awaited battle of the two largest pushers in the division.
The two super-heavyweights crashed into each other and got down to business,
with Toyohibiki slightly pushing Miyabiyama back. Still, Miyabiyama's tsuppari
were right on target (i.e. Hibiki's face) while the vast majority of the younger
one's tsuppari were wide. The whole deal wore Toyohibiki out quickly, because
soon Miyabiyama started the offensive, pushed forward and then switched into
reverse, throwing his opponent off balance but not quite finishing the job.
After another forward surge, Miyabiyama wisely evaded and then moved in for the
kill, pushing Hibiki out in convincing fashion. Experience prevailed against
youth today, but this may as well be the last time, because Toyohibiki looks
Toyonoshima and Wakanosato were both too high at the tachi-ai, something pretty
common for Wakanosato lately. No belt grips were obtained, but Toyonoshima did
get his left under, so Wakanosato executed a quick makikae to avoid morozashi,
and even tried to get the mawashi, but Toyonoshima clamped his arm long enough
to get out of reach. After pushing his bigger opponent some distance, he
executed a quick maki-kae by shifting his entire body to the left. Wakanosato
tried desperately to push him out in the process, but he couldn't, and, despite
a late kubinage attempt, he soon found himself on the ground, face down. Just as
a little side note, Toyonoshima has an impressive belly.
Dejima and Kotoshogiku both came strong at the initial charge and a brief
stalemate followed. Kotoshogiku then pushed at blank Dejima's side, throwing him
off balance, and then just pushed him out. Hardly even worth mentioning. Oh,
yeah, in the background that creepy guy with the gold top hat and fan could be
seen waving around like crazy. Hey, it's a strange world out there.
Hokutoriki faced newly promoted Sekiwake Asasekiryu and used the same moro-te
tachi-ai he favors (when he's not pulling henkas, that is). His stance was so
poor, though, that not-so-Sexy got both his hands on his mawashi and evicted him
from the dohyo like the joke he is. To quote Mike once more, happy 2-13.
Another cruel joke is Kakuryu's rank. At M2, he's gonna get ripped to little
shreds by the sharks and today's bout was a pretty clear sign of that. The
little fokker had no power in his tachi-ai and was pushed out in less than two
seconds by the other newly promoted Sekiwake, Aminisneaky. I can't wait for the
Chiyotaikai EKakuryu, Kakuryu EHakuho and Kakuryu EKotooshu matches. Oh
new Ozeki on the block faced former Sekiwake Tochinonada with grey sumo, i.e.
sumo that isn't outright dishonorable, but can be frowned upon. He made a 35.43%
henka (yeah, I measured it accurately, using highly teck-no-logical equipment)
and got the cheap right uwate. He then used it to spin the helpless opponent and
throw him onto his face. After the deed was done, he walked away with that bored
look on his face, you know, the one that says "Amateurs...". It's pretty clear
to me, this guy is on a mission, and Asashoryu's absence definitely has
something to do with it. The only problem is...this isn't Yokozuna sumo, hell,
this isn't even Ozeki sumo. It's pragmatic, must-win-at-all-costs sumo. And it's
the type of sumo most fans don't want to see.
Old man Kaio used a quick right harite to set up his feared uwate, but M1
Homasho's impeccable stance burst that soap bubble in about one second. From
there on it was a one sided push-out, with Kaio landing with a squat near the
ringside Chiyotaikai and taking his time standing up again. The word
'retirement' certainly comes to mind right now. As for Homie, it's sanyaku all
The bout between M1 Tokitenku and Bulgarian Ozeki Kotooshu looked more like a
schoolyard brawl than an actual sumo match. Kotooshu tried to get the left uwate
right from the start and once more immediately afterwards, but the Mongolian
kept him well away from his mawashi with some well aimed tsuppari to the throat.
The third time, though, Tokitenku slipped to his left and tried the pull-down,
but the Bulgarian got mad and paid him back with some nasty tsuppari of his own.
The Mongolian managed to get both arms on the inside of his opponent, well, for
a fraction of a second, anyway, before he was on the run again. At the tawara,
Tokitenku managed to lock Kotooshu's right arm and deployed the kotenage, but,
at the same time, the Bulgarian used his superior reach and leg-grabbing skills
to yank Tokitenku off his feet and narrowly win the bout by watashikomi, keeping
himself in the hypothetical yusho race. After the two got up from the floor,
Tokitenku glanced at the judges hoping for a mono-ii, and he looked pretty
pissed when he realized there wasn't going to be one, but the outcome was pretty
clear this time.
Ozeki Chiyotaikai had significantly less trouble in finishing off Komusubi
Kisenosato, who just can't seem to figure him out. Chiyotaikai went at it with
both hands to his foe's face, just enough to mess with his focus, then quickly
pulled him down for his 9th victory in as many meetings with the youngster. 'Nuff
Finally, and there's a reason why I reversed the natural order of the bout
analysis, we have the match between the only Yokozuna taking part in this basho
and Komusubi Ama. Both wrestlers exchanged left harite and tried to get some
belt grips, but it was Ama who made the first
move by trying to pull Hakuho down by the back of the head. He wasn't strong
enough to pull it off, and Hakuho survived at the edge and got a solid right
uwate and a left shitate to go with it, but, just as he was about to attack, Ama
wrapped his right arm around the Yokozuna's neck, turned into Hakuho's body and
lifted him with the right leg for the spectacular, no, the MAGNIFICENT throw,
and all of that in the blink of an eye. Poor Hakuho never knew what hit him. The
judges called it kubinage, but I think they should call it Amanage, because it
was great, no, HUGE stuff from the lightest guy in the division. Anyway, Hakuho
took a hard blow to his yusho hopes, while Ama took a serious step towards the
Well...no Asashoryu and things are looking a lot more interesting already. Who's
gonna get away with the Yusho? That's the real $64,000 question right there,
because right now Hakuho is looking old and slow (and there's no way he's gonna
get the 14 wins Mike predicted for him). Kotomitsuki can take it, sure, he's
been looking damn good lately, and Kotooshu has a chance, too, if he can keep
his wits about him, like he did today.
Of course, this is me writing so you gotta hear some ludicrous scenario
involving the Association, right? How's this? If Kotomitsuki fails to win 13 or
take the Yusho, Asa's gonna be back for Kyushu.
Mike steals first base tomorrow.