Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
Well, its the final day and youre prolly thinking, uh oh,
theres nothing of particular interest to talk about and Clancy has the pine
tar cloth in hand. This means hes going to either focus on weird details,
make up some elaborate lie thatll stretch three paragraphs, or rip David
Shapiro a new one. Well, the truth is I did tear the bore a new one, maybe
500 words long, just before dinner: Scathing, bullseyed, and above all,
But then a funny thing happened on the way to the bath. My son is eight
years old and, for lack of a better term, kind of a dork. Hes happy,
earnest, sweet, as book smart as a kid that age can be, but in matters of
social interaction and personal expression, not the most polished apple in
the bushel. Hes only eight, so its not inconceivable he will grow up to be
as cool as his pops (tho Id settle for as cool as, say, Arbo), but like any
good father, I worry and fret that he could turn out to be one of those
adults weve all dealt with at one time or another: Decent, hard working,
competent, perhaps even smart--and yet without a scintilla of humor, wit, or
As I listened to my boy tell me some story that was shot through with
confusion and dead ends, a patchwork of cognitive stutter stops and cul de
sacs, and wondered if hell always be this goofy, it struck me that Shapiro
could very well be a similar duck. I volunteer with children in whom the
normal progression of mental acuity has been retarded in one way or another,
and I have great sympathy for their needs. Im not saying DS is clearly a
special needs broadcaster, but the possibility exists to enough of an extent
that I ought to take it easy on him. So I went and deleted the entire thing.
But he did say one thing that I can use to make a point. After Hakuho had
finished getting all his monies and trophies (loved seeing Kublai Khan get
that big ass trophy from the Prime Minister--I had my fingers crossed that
the would say, "From one Kan to another Khan," but no such luck), he said,
"November is going to be absolutely stunning...its gonna be an amazing time
to be a sumo fan."
Though by the exaggerated excitement in his voice it would have been
appropriate for NHK to run some icky computer generated graphics of semen
dripping down the screen, his remarks do highlight a disturbing fact in
current sumo: Lacking any real story other than Hakuho is a killer, the most
exciting thing to focus on is an artifice, a number streak that satisfies
our oh so human urge to quantify everything and gets stats geeks panties in
a knot. Will he or wont he and who gives a shit? (For the record, I dont
think Hakuho himself does.) Hes the other wrestlers worst nightmare
time he puts his hands to the clay. What else do we need?
In a bout that a year ago would have been reasonably suspenseful (and would
have taken place on Day 14 at best), a thoroughly overmatched Harumafuji
drove very hard into the Yokozuna, who let himself be pushed back a meter or
so. When Howdos kinetic energy was spent, Hakuho calmly and with authority
pushed him back across the ring and out. You call this a senshuraku clash?
Im not even going to go on about Asashoryu being gone, and the Ozeki all
sucking, cause you know it already.
So really, what other bouts were of interest? Do any of you apart from the
M&M Brothers care about the Baruto/Kotooshu fight? Okay, for your sake, here
it is. Baruto bent low and used both arms extended to keep the Bulgarian
from grabbing the belt he kept reaching for, but Kotooshu slid to the side
after several seconds and the Biomass came too far forward, where he was
easy picking as Kotooshu got up and under his pits and drove him out. Do I
need to say that trying to imagine either of these guys beating Hakuho EVER
again is like trying to imagine a two year-old boy sitting still?
Dont misunderstand. I like sumo well enough just for the sake of the art of
wrestling, but with all the yaocho and henkas and pulldowns and limp battles
and girly tachi-ai, even without the prospect of a yusho race my attention
is wearing thin. The confluence of a Japanese society that has moved well
away from their ancient singular focus on one sport (and thus has lost many
of its young potential sumo stars to soccer, baseball, jai alai, Nintendo,
Chatroulette, break dancing), the influx of foreigners from a wrestling
culture who are bigger, faster, stronger and more clever than the homegrown,
and the advent of television slow motion replay (where anyone who is not
self delusional can see the fix is in) has just about brought the sport to a
level where I can no longer justify caring about it.
Still, Ill keep writing cause its fun and I like to make the six or seven of
you who are not gaming every moment of your lives and who actually read the
reports chuckle from time to time. Plus if I quit Mike promises to report me
to Immigration for committing unnatural acts on a tanuki (he says hes got
photographic evidence, and seeing as how drunk I get whenever he visits, I
cannot risk calling his bluff).
The venerable Samuel Langhorne Clemens once wrote that he never let his
schooling get in the way of his education. Weve all been schooled on the
idea that sumo is straight up fair, never fixed. But we here at twenty-first
century Sumotalk, freed from our bonds by hypertext transfer protocols, have
tried to educate, using detailed written descriptions of the bouts, coupled
with video evidence, reinforced by reasoned analysis, and capped with
damning statistics, and still many think Kaio can win eight on his own
power. Today Aran showed how easy it is to beat the Moldzeki by moving to
the side and then clinching him in tight and muscling him out.
But dont be fooled into thinking that one NEEDS to henka to beat him, cause
its not true. Anyone of the three rikishi Baruto, Harumafuji, or Kisenosato
could have beaten Kaio in a chest-to-chest bout. They all let him win. They
love him and want him to be an Ozeki in his hometown basho. They can do
whatever they like, I dont care. Just dont expect me to pretend it aint
No one is going to deny that Tochiohzans recent success has been a sweet
note in an otherwise tinny year, and today he got his 11th win by pushing at
Asasekiryu for a few seconds until the Mongolian slipped to the clay.
Kisenosato bullied out Aminishiki (who, already in possession of his KK, was
simply punching the clock) to finish 7-8. He dutifully put his head on the
chopping block for Kaio yesterday, even though he has the reputation of
being one of the rikishi who does not participate in the “I wash yours, you
wash mine” trade. His sacrifice will not be forgotten, so dont be surprised
to find The Kid finish with a great record in November, and with a few wins
over Ozeki. Who knows, he may even be given the role of streak stopper (tho
it seems to me that Hakuho has been given the green light to go balls out
vs. everyone he wrestles since Asa was put to pasture, hence the four
Yoshikaze gave his best vs. Kakuryu, but the Mongolian was able to win this
pushfest with a neat little slapdown to book a Sekiwake spot in the years
final basho. Nice 11-4 for Starbuck (tho he fought no one of repute until
the final two days and got pwned both times).
Younger and stronger and with more upside Tokusegawa got a deadly two handed
grip on Tokitenku, but death does not faze this guy, who comes back like a
zombie at the edge. Finally Tokusegawa put it a yori-kiri bullet into its
brain to finish 6-9. 2-13 Tokidoki might as well have been rooming in Cell
Block H this time out for all the shtooping he received from the fellas.
Bit of a down basho for Tochinoshin, who had to eke out his KK the last few
days vs. scrubs. Apart from that win over HowDo he couldnt duplicate the
form he had in May. Still, hes here to stay and there is no doubt in my mind
he has Ozeki written all over him.
Takekaze finished 12-3 with an impressive win over Kotoshogiku. The Might
Mite got into the double arms inside moro-zashi right from the tachi-ai, and
never let it go, resisting the Geekus repeated attempts at squirming out of
it. One thing that struck me watching this bout is that Geeku is not really
all that much larger than Takekaze, especially in height.
So jun-yusho for Takekaze!!? Uh, do you think Hakuho will win 70 or maybe
77? Or what if he like, you know, wins until like, say, the last day he lost
this year, or even beyond? Im so excited about it all!!
Are you like me and wonder why the hell we need a guy (in this case Hiro
Morita) to describe what were actually WATCHING? Why do they have guys like
this? The replay analysis I understand, but let us watch the bout as it
unfolds without youre blabbering. I can see for myself whats happening. This
isnt god damned radio!
Both men coming in at 7-7 won today, Sokokurai muscling out happy KK
Korporal Kokkai, and the Gentle Giant Tochinonada buying himself some more
top division time with a emphatic crush out win over the Korean Kimchi
Kommando Kasugao. Sad to see Tosanoumi get crushed this time, and not a one
of us will be surprised if we hear that the Blue Collar Man is joining the
sweet, flat faced Iwakiyama in retirement. Speaking of whom, we always
enjoyed the Moon in the Man here at ST. He was a stand up fighter, always
gave an honest tachi-ai and never put his hands down to brace his fall like
many of the current crop of pussies. A warrior who will be missed. Farewell.
Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
You never want the yusho to hinge on the likes of Yoshikaze and
Takekaze needing to win against jo'i rikishi in order to keep the yusho race
alive, but that's exactly the scenario we faced heading into day 14. It's
not as if the yusho was ever up for grabs anyway, so it was no wonder that
the biggest buzz of the day was generated when Sylvester Stallone entered
the building with about 30 minutes left to go.
Let's start with the Oguruma-beya duo who had to win inorder to force Hakuho
to beat Kotooshu in the day's final bout to clinch the yusho. Oh the drama!!
M11 Yoshikaze needed to solve M3 Kotoshogiku, but his only answer was weak
tsuppari that quickly turned into putting his hands up high as if to attempt
a pull-down, but Kotoshogiku just laughed off the pretender striking hard at
the tachi-ai and shoving him back and across the straw without argument. So
much for phase 1 of this faux yusho race. The Geeku moves to 9-5 with the
easy victory while Yoshikaze falls to 11-3 forcing Takekaze to extend the
yusho race to the end of the day.
M12 Takekaze had to overcome the hurdle that was M2 Tochinoshin, who struck
with a dual kachi-age at the tachi-ai, but the tenacious Takekaze wasn't
fazed working his way inside to moro-zashi. Tochinoshin quickly countered
with two outer grips, and it was apparent at this point that Takekaze
couldn't budge the Georgian. Takekaze did shake off Shin's right outer grip,
so the Private responded by grabbing Takekaze around the back of the neck
with the right hand before bowling him over to the dirt with the left outer
grip. And just like that...ballgame. Hakuho skates to his 16th career yusho
before even facing Ozeki Kotooshu.
Regarding the day's finale, Yokozuna Hakuho just crushed Ozeki Kotooshu back
at the tachi-ai using a right arm on the inside to force the Bulgarian back
so fast, Kotooshu only survived by stepping one foot just within the
toku-dawara behind him. Kotooshu did manage to force the action back to the
center of the ring using a right inside grip, but Hakuho never stopped
pressing with his left outer grip using it to throw Kotooshu over to the
edge aided by a nudge inside the
thigh to completely set up Kotooshu for the oshi-dashi win that sent
Kotooshu flying off the dohyo.
If Kotooshu is the second best rikishi on the banzuke, this was clearly an
indication of just how superior Hakuho is. Oh, and he's also 14-0 if you
need him. Kotooshu falls to 9-5, and it's an utter shame that the best the
Ozeki can do these days after 14 day is nine wins. As for Hakuho, he
met up with Sly Stallone afterwards for a
and after Sly put a fist next to Hakuho's jaw as the flashbulbs flew, the
Yokozuna responded by grabbing Sly with both arms and lifting him clear off
the ground as easy as you please. Careful now. You don't want to
give Stallone-san any new ideas for another Rocky picture.
Speaking of tired, let's move to the Ozeki ranks where our Ozeki duel today
saw Baruto greet Harumafuji with two hands to the throat (called
moro-te-zuki) leaving Harumafuji no choice but to try and evade to the side.
He chose back and to his right, but Baruto was onto him like
Estonian/Romanian stalkers to their prey easily pushing Harumafuji back and
out for the win. Baruto (9-5) one-ups his counterpart who stands at 8-6.
to the basho, I thought that Kaio was in trouble reasoning that the
Association just couldn't afford any yaocho right now due to the scrutiny
surrounding the sport, but Kaio's bouts against Harumafuji and Aminishiki
were so damn obvious that the Ozeki's kachi-koshi was a given. Today,
against Komusubi Kisenosato, both rikishi moved to the right looking for the
cheap outer grip, so with separation created from the tachi-ai, Kaio went
for a quick pull down that didn't do the trick and left the two rikishi in
the hidari-yotsu position. From there, Kisenosato made one half-assed
attempt at a right outer grip, but the Kid knows his place among the
hierarchy of team Japan and allowed the Ozeki to force him back and out for
the win. Kisenosato falls to 6-8 suffering make-koshi with the loss, but he
will be back. It was do or die for Kaio, so this one was a no-brainer for
both rikishi. And yes, it's official. Kaio clinches kachi-koshi.
Sekiwake Tochiohzan greeted M5 Hakuba with a right paw to the throat that
was so effective, Hakuba had no time to escape to his left. He tried anyway
rendering him the easy push-out fodder from there for the Sekiwake whose
already put a stamp on this basho at 10-4. Hakuho is 8-6 thanks to a weak
Sekiwake Aran henka'd to his left at the tachi-ai against M4 Tokusegawa, and
regardless of the outcome, that tells you all you need to know about the
Russian's basho. A tachi-ai henka against a newbie to the jo'i? There's his
mindset for you. As for the bout, Aran (6-8) capitalized on the off-balance
Mongolian by eventually pushing him out, but the Russian still looked
uncomfortable winning with forward-moving sumo after that henka. Tokusegawa
fell to 5-9 with the loss.
Not to be outdone, M4 Aminishiki picked up his eighth win by henka'ing
Komusubi Kakuryu to his left as well slapping the Mongolian to the clay in a
split second. Just great. I'm sure the ST crew at the Kokugikan came out of
their seats for this one as both rikishi end up 8-6.
M6 Mokonami and M1 Wakanosato fought the longest bout of the basho that saw
the two hook up in the hidari-yotsu pose and then largely stand around from
there. I got so feed up waiting for any action that I fast forwarded the
bout to the end where Moe finally made a move going for a right outer
dashi-nage only to be foiled by a Wakanosato counter scoop throw. With both
rikishi exhausted, Wakanosato finally felled Mokonami to the dirt with a
right outer grip of his own. Both dudes are 4-10.
At this point in the broadcast, there was a noticeable disturbance in the
crowd as Sly Stallone made his entrance into the arena, and I can't imagine
how that ever over overshadowed the M1 Tokitenku - M9 Bushuyama matchup, but
damned if it didn't. Apparently, Tokitenku was also impressed by Sly's
presence because he got his ass kicked by Bushuyama who used his beefy
tsuppari to pummel Tenku around the ring and out in about five seconds.
Tokitenku was thinking all pull in this one as he falls to 2-12 while
Bushuyama improved to 5-9. Getting back to the real news of the bout,
Sylvester Stallone was bathed in a bevy of flashbulbs as he took his special
box seat flanked by Dolph Lundgren and the largest green blob that I've ever
seen that some said was Konishiki in a green t-shirt.
M5 Takamisakari used his lanky arms to try and grab M2 Homasho, but Homie
stayed low eventually forcing the bout to hidari-yotsu, and from there, the
genki'er Homasho (6-8) bulldozed Takamisakari (3-11) back and out with
M3 Kyokutenho exhibited a rare hari-zashi tachi-ai slapping with the left
hand, but it was a useless move as M13 Sokokurai simply lurched into
moro-zashi. Kyokutenho wrenched his smaller foe over to the edge with a
kime-dashi attempt, but it came from the center of the dohyo, so the
Chauffeur wasn't quite able to polish Sokokurai off. The rookie took
advantage of his compromised opponent from there, hoisting Tenho up in the
air with a tsuri attempt, and then turning the tables and walking Kyokutenho
across the straw that last step. This was great stuff from Sokokurai, who is
actually still alive at 7-7. Kyokutenho, who should beat the smaller
Sokokurai nine times out of 10, falls to 4-10.
M6 Asasekiryu entertained M14 Tochinonada by actually playing to the Gentle
Giant's strength, hidari-yotsu, but it was no matter as Asasekiryu used his
speed to grab a right outer grip and flip Nada onto his back with an outer
belt throw. Sexy moves to 9-5 with the win while Tochinonada is still alive
M13 Kasugao offered little resistance in the migi-yotsu contest against M7
Tosayutaka of all rikishi. I like Tosayutaka, but the Kimchi Kid didn't even
try here as Tosayutaka walked him back for the uneventful yori-kiri win that
left both rikishi at 6-8.
M7 Kitataiki was gifted his win today by the very nature of being paired
against M17 Toyozakura, who offered lame tsuppari at the tachi-ai but failed
to keep Kitataiki from eventually forcing his way inside with the left hand
setting up the quick force-out from there. Kitataiki is a quiet 9-5, but the
rikishi who actually deserve to be in the division are cleaning up this
basho. Toyozakura falls to 6-8, so it's good-bye to romance yet again for
M8 Kokkai gave a little hop at the tachi-ai perfectly aligning his feet
allowing M15 Gagamaru to step in and smother his countryman with a left
inside position and right outer grip. The Korporal could do nothing as he
was marched back and out in a flash by his inferior, Gagamaru, who improves
to 9-5. Kokkai still lives to fight another day at 8-6.
When M15 Kakizoe doesn't false start anymore, you know he's given up, and
even though he threw a couple of bitch slaps against M9 Kimurayama that
didn't really connect, Kim just laughed it all off pushing Zoe Jane out in
the end to a 3-11 record. Don't look now, but Kimurayama at 8-6 has managed
to kachi-koshi twice in a row, which tells you just how bad the banzuke was
the last coupla basho.
As Andreas pointed out yesterday, when a rikishi has clinched kachi-koshi
and faces a rikishi with seven wins, chances are pretty good that the guy
who needs the win will get it. And it was no different today when M14
Tamawashi (9-5) lamely charged forward and watched as M10 Shimotori moved to
the left at the tachi-ai and pushed Tamawashi to the dirt a half second in.
Shimotori (8-6) picks up kachi-koshi in the process with a rare tsuki-otoshi
A bout against M16 Tosanoumi has equaled a guaranteed win this basho, and
despite M11 Kotokasuga attacking too high and giving up a ridiculously easy
uwate, he was able to drag the hapless Tosanoumi (2-12) to the dohyo with as
mediocre an inner grip as you'll ever see. Kotokasuga clinches kachi-koshi
at 8-6 with the win, and he's been hot since his 0-3 start.
And finally, in a total meaningless bout between two guys who aren't
Makuuchi material, M12 Koryu and M16 Kyokunankai traded Juryo caliber
tsuppari for about five seconds before Koryu scored on a weak pulldown. At
5-9, Koryu may be able to keep himself in the division, but let's hope not.
Kyoku-nun-kai is 4-10.
Clancy wraps up the
Comments (Andreas Kungl reporting)
It's Friday, Day 13 of Aki basho 2010 - Ladies and Gentlemen - and your are reading a daily report that has just been freed of a lengthy and somewhat pathos ridden explanation about why your contributor - me - hadn't been able to warm your sheets for such a long time. I don't know how you do such things, but I prefer the quadruple left-click followed by a wholehearted smack on the DEL key. Anyhow, here I go again, this time still in feathery brevity. I plan to be back in full combat mode come Kyushu.
But here is the moment, here is the NOW, the importance of which has been taught to us recently no less than sixty consecutive times by the good Grandmaster White Phoenix. In the closest past of now's now - let's call it "last week" - I was troubled by two things (well, three, if you count Martin dropping in on his way to Japan): Hakuho could very likely secure the yusho on my day and Kaio could less likely lose his rank for good, leaving me in charge of dreaming up another eulogy after having to dismiss his chum Pup already a couple of tournaments ago. Fortunately (is it?), no such things occurred, and you may forgive me for spoiling the, ahem, suspense right here in the intro.
A question that troubles me, now that I joined the ranks of humanity's most despicable scum - the file sharers - gulping down torrent after torrent, madly laughing about my own unspeakable misdeeds against the grand cultural achievement that is digital rights management: Why can Darth Vader dispose of the Emperor just by throwing him down this bloody shaft? I mean, all those Jedi and Sith do all this telekinesis and shit and the almightiest of the whole bunch cannot even levitate himself? I mean, come on!, you now? But now that I have obtained my first copy of the crime that is Return of the Jedi after losing the VHS, what, 20 years ago, I could also finally pursue a suspicion I had subconsciously kept alive all these years. Thus, I made a frame-by-frame analysis of the conclusive stages of Vader's lightsaber clash with that little faggot (No offense! Most if not all of my best friends are gay. Gay is - well - gay. I mean faggot as in Harley Davidson.), and you know what?! It's Y-A-O-C-H-O! At some point Vader - without being hit! - just steps to the side, then bends his knees, clutches this stupid handrail and calmly waits for Junior to tsukidashi his hand. "Wow!", I thought, "Just Wow!"
I will quickly translate an advertisement that literally flashes around here on the dictionary site that I have to use in order to make this report blossom: "How can we achieve a balance between social responsibility and economical interest? 'Achieving Balance' - the workshop on sustainability for students, postgraduates and [in English:] Young Professionals of all specializations. 25th to 28th of November. [in English:] Building Global Leaders. McKinsey&Company." Good question.
Hey, Martin visited me, I already said so. Traveling is not made easy for our Romanian friends, so he was forced to some serious capital hopping. From Bucharest he flew to my dear Riga, where he hopped onto the bus to Tallinn, where he - joined by the good doctor plus spouse - took the chopper to Helsinki, to finally board the plane to Tokyo. And boy, is he there. Friend Mario published his photos of the ST posse schmoozing with big Bart, who didn't wear a kimono in public.
Martin's visit marked the first time I picked up one of the men I met on the internet.
He arrived at "Terminal" C of the great airport Riga "International". I hate to say it, but "Terminal" C usually sees only the arrival of planes from pretty rough places. No flowers in the guns there, I assure you. Anyhow, I arrived way too early. You check the monitor with all the announcements, wonder if there are other possible "Comments" than "Approaching", "Landed" or "Delayed" ("Crashed" maybe? "Hijacked"? "F**ked off"?), and use this information to make educated guesses about when the people from "your" plane start to emerge from the exit. So I was standing there, thinking "No, still Arabs. Wait, did I smell garlic? Romania, vampires, garlic? Ah, no, maybe still Uzbekistan. From which plane came these goats they are chasing out now?" Etcetera. When he finally arrived, I was well prepared for opening a potentially awkward first conversation:
"You must be Martin. How was your cavity search?"
"Your cavity search. Don't tell me they let you guys into their brave little country without proper security measures."
"Well, ahahaha, alright, let's go."
And so we did.
Martin knows how to hold his cue. He is larger than life. And he is not beyond showing his own father The Finger. He, I must admit, reminded me a lot of the young Skywalker.
Yeah, I know you wait for the bouts, but life is so interesting and sumo is so boring. I guess this is my own fault, though. I'm just not geeky enough. Half the population of current Makuuchi is, well, foreign... No wait! I mean, strange. Kyokunankai?! I mean, seriously?! There's a Chinese, who is really Mongolian. There's Koryu, who I will happily forget about once again as soon as he drops back to Juryo (again). Tosanoumi is still alive?! Toyozakura?! Is this a time rift, or what?!
And what makes me really angry is that I find myself forced to use all these "?!", which I despise when produced by others.
Let's compromise. I will write about only a few bouts, but I will try to be entertaining. Deal?!
Hell, no. Let's postpone the actual "action" by throwing around a few statistics. Today four of four rikishi who had achieved their kachi-koshi on the previous day lost their respective bouts. Listen all ya sumo gamers: This happens every single bloody basho. All of the time. It's a cosmic truth. Like Kaio getting his eight. Speaking of whom. What's this: 8-5-2, 1-5-9, 9-6, 8-7, 8-7, 8-7, 9-6, 9-6, 1-3-11, 8-7, 8-7, 8-7, 8-7, 8-7, 8-7, 9-6, 8-7, 9-6, 6-5-4? Yeah, I knew that you would know it. Wait! Not a single final day 7-8? Now tell me once more that you reject any notion about what we all know is true...
When Shimotori clashed with Mokonami today, it looked like a big cheese hugging a big steak. Cheese prevailed.
I am sad to announce that Hokutoriki will soon be gone for good. Already struggling in lower Makuuchi for a while, he obviously injured his knee and will certainly drop to Juryo either right after Aki, or pretty soon anyway. Sure he is archetypically one-dimensional, but this guy worked 52 basho below sekitorihood before earning the right to perform in an additional 53 tournaments in the upper two divisions. This commands respect. And I gladly give it to him.
Maegashira Kotokasuga, whoever he is, exemplified today how one could deal with a monstrosity like Gagamaru. While people figured out that a delayed tachi-ai plus lateral thrusting works well when facing behemoth YMY, the approach is less effective against the big Georgian, who is still a bit more mobile than Twin Peaks. So this Koto dude bravely took the charge instead, awarding him with double inside arm position. Here comes the tricky part. Had he chosen to settle for double inside grips, he may have found himself in an awkward position still, what with Gaga being not exactly lightweight furniture. Instead, Koto only placed the left hand on his aite's mawashi, using the right to prop up his counterpart and most importantly his feet to force a circular motion that finally felled the fatter one of the fat ones via
sukui-nage. I really liked the execution of this.
If Homasho cannot defeat an aging Wakanosato who entered the day at 2-10, he will never become sanyaku. Period.
Tochinoshin is as tall as Hakuho and even weighs a little more. I constantly find myself in complete puzzlement about this fact. The Georgian youngster (still 22!) somehow looks slim even. He's got one set of thighs, though, baby. Steel wire columns that are strong and fast. As could be seen against friend Hakuba, who does once again surprisingly well all in all. The Private totally anticipated the usual left shift of his opponent, mirroring the movement and catching the runaway within a split second. Then the hydraulic pumps started working as the incredible Tochinoshin lifted his fellow Maegashira mid-dohyo to drop him down outside the ring two seconds later. In the audience Mario's fiancé fainted. Questions: Will Hakuba replace Aminishiki as the shneakiest of shneaksters? Are there dancing schools that use hydraulic pumps?
Do I need to comment on Aminishiki vs. Kaio? When Kaio settled for the tachi-ai, his almost equally veteran opponent, known for his cunning and alertness, came to him, defenses down, with the trust of a child. Quite some people say that Kaio wins all his bouts legitimately. Quite some people say that Kaio couldn't even compete in upper Juryo anymore without bribing. I think both views are wrong. Kaio is very well f**king senior to almost anyone and for a reason. He is 170 kilos of condensed experience. He would be able to stick around in Makuuchi for a while longer. But. Anyway, Kaio will be an Ozeki still in Kyushu, and I don't really care anymore. BTW, he won three out of three against fellows from Tatsunami ichimon. Maybe they will give him Takamisakari on senshuraku to make sure. Aminishiki received an onion from his tsukebito after the bout. The latter, in turn, had acquired it from Harumafuji's servant.
Thinking about Takekaze and Yoshikaze, the two happy dwarves from Oguruma beya, I was wondering: Was there ever a rikishi called "Kamikaze"? Check it out!
So both of our Kazes keep the yusho race open, hah? Who am I kidding? At least their struggle for a (possibly collective) sansho keeps their efforts interesting, with Take making an ironic statement today by hop-fly-henkaing Kimurayama of all people. Ugly for the eye, good for the soul. Brother Yoshi wouldn't let this stand and engaged in one of the ugliest, sloppiest bouts in recent history against the highly motivated 8-4 Kokkai. Copykaze stand at 11-2, jun-yusho secured....
...because Kotooshu surprisingly lost to fellow Ozeki Harumafuji, thus granting his rrrrrrival a premature kachi-koshi ohboythisisallunbearable. I honestly don't know if it was gifted or not. Both men clashed hard enough alright and engaged in a high-speed tsuppari exchange. At one point Oshu misfired while Ama dodged. Enough for a lethal rearward position (I laughed about this expression, what about you?), that led to a well executed
okuri-nage by a highly aware Harumafuji. I honestly don't know.
The bout between our two shin-Sekiwake Aran and Tochiohzan curiously enough showed what is still wrong with both men's sumo. And that in a very simple fashion. Aran henkaed in best Roho tradition (Remember The Thug? Those were the times...), while The New Japanese HopeTM (courtesy of forumer Asashosakari) lunged out blindly. Nevertheless, Aran will soon be fit enough to become a sanyaku mainstay, IF he is prepared to work on his sumo basics.
Tochiohzan, on the other hand, slowly but steadily improved over the last couple of years. He is today's hottest candidate for Ozekihood. Notwithstanding brainfarts like seen here, his quota of really stupid losses gradually drops, making him a factor to watch out for as soon as Kaio's gone (i.e. 2016).
That leaves us with the Invincible Hulkuho against the Baltic Bombatron. After a more then decent tachi-ai by both men, the Estonian principally chose the right approach by vehemently denying the right-hand inside grip the Yokozuna sought with purpose. But Hakuho's current strength also derives from the ability to give way if he needs to. Thus, he absorbed the Ozekis momentum and finally managed to force migi-yotsu, gaining the decisive advantage of a supplementary outside grip quickly after settling for the mid-dohyo stance. This was the moment when Baruto lost the bout. Not that it might be easy, but he strictly must deny that second grip. Anyway, from here Hakuho marched forward (not without struggle to be fair), turning a potential
yori-kiri into the alternative pathway of uwate-nage. Hakuho's arsenal is now close to the collection of Asashoryu's finest days. Baruto's fault today was that he faced the wrong guy.
Tidbits and scraps: Hakuho will march on to another zensho. Wooohooo and yipeeayey, even. Will he conquer Futabayamas 69? I sense his internal struggle between warrior pride and the reluctance to best his idol. He will probably equal the score and then lie down in the next bout. Or maybe not. One of the next three basho should be handed to Baruto, so why not Kyushu after Hakuho's final score is defined? Who will stop Hakuho? Forumers Jejima and Asashosakari suggest Kaio for symmetry or
Tochiohzan for HopeTM. I say it will only happen by the hands of this new recruit, whose name is simply "U".
BREAKING NEWS: Hanaregoma-rijicho announces that all results of day 13 have been canceled because three European visitors were caught sitting in the wrong seats. "In my current position, I cannot call constant matta anymore, so I just stick to other senseless measures to distract from stuff.", he is somehow quoted.
The Force is strong with Mike Wesemann, so do what he says without questions. Tomorrow. And take a shower before you sit down to read.
Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
Yes, it seems it's all about the streak now with the yusho a given and barely a side story. This is further evidenced by another Ozeki drop out from the yusho picture in day 11. Now we've got the big dog being chased by two low-ranking Maegashira from the stable of everyone's favorite analyst, Oguruma Oyakata (formerly Kotokaze).
Yoshikaze and Takekaze--a double dose of wind, if you will--are breezing their way through the rank-and-file. M11 Yoshikaze posted an impressive W against Chinese youngster Sokokurai by attacking from the side, then following up with a stiff nodowa to quickly take control of the bout. M12
Takekaze made even quicker work of Shimotori by employing a hit and pull at the tachi-ai. Both Oguruma charges improve to 10-2. Yoshikaze in particular is in good position to eclipse his best ever Makuuchi showing of 11-4 posted back in November of 2008.
Other notables in the rank-and-file include the two Georgians--Kokkai and the Gargantuan Gagamaru--both chalking up their 8th win against 4 losses, the first of hopefully many majority win Makuuchi bashos for Gaga.
Be glad the 2 Kaze's and the 2 Georgians are making some noise, because the Ozeki sure aren't. It should be these guys pulling their weight in the shadow of Hakuho's dominance, but we're not seeing it. Baruto laid an egg against M4 Aminishiki, looking uncoordinated when his narrow attack to Ami's chin (with both hands) missed its mark. Ami deftly maneuvered to the right and got behind Baruto for an easy okuri-dashi win. Baruto drops to 8-4 while Ami improves to 7-5. It was a nice win for Aminishiki, who had a contingent from his hometown middle school on hand via a long field trip from northern Japan.
And Kotooshu, the last Ozeki somewhat within striking range of Hakuho coming into today's action. Turns out he drops the ball as well, against the surging
Tochiohzan. After Oshu's tachi-ai didn't phase Tochi, Oshu eventually pulled and thus dug his own grave--an oshi-dashi win for the Sekiwake. Oshu drops to 9-3 and out of the Yusho hunt while
Tochiohzan improves to 9-3. Dare I say Tochiohzan has supplanted Kisenosato as the home country's next Ozeki hopeful?
The only Ozeki to manage a win today was Harumafuji, who overcame Sekiwake Aran. Aran made the same mistake as Kotooshu, resorting to an ill-advised pull which gave away any remaining momentum and thus completely did himself in. Harumafuji puts up a huge 7th win before his peer match-ups begin; Aran drops to 4-8 and must brace for demotion in Kyushu.
That leaves Hakuho-Kaio, an intriguing if not emotional match-up. Kaio is the last rikishi to beat Hakuho back on day 13 in January. Since then Haku has compiled 58 consecutive victories. Could the 6-5 Kadoban old timer hanging on for dear life and pull off a miracle book-end performance? Uh, no. In a mild surprise this one started as a tsuppari affair, and Kaio even showed some agility by maneuvering laterally to stay somewhat competitive. But eventually the two locked arms, although neither got a belt grip. Hakuho didn't need it. He just kept Kaio close so as to not let him use his patented arm tug and proceeded to guide him gracefully out of the ring. No problem. 59 in a row. 10 away now from the
ultimate milestone of 69.
Can Hakuho make it through the rest of the Ozeki rank unblemished? You never know, but with the Yusho now virtually in hand and the Ozeki bumbling the way they have been, it certainly looks likely. See you in November folks. Enjoy the last 3 days.
Comments (Óscar Gutiérrez reporting)
With the Sumotalk crew going today to the Kokugikan and a
reservation with Baruto at the most expensive restaurant in Tokyo after the
action on the dohyo ends up, they had to find some chump that wouldn't mind
to just sit at the office, watching the ultra-expensive 12" monitor
installed for reporters (the 60" plasma screen is for the big boys, they
told me), answering the phones and receiving the daily tanker full of beer
that comes here (mostly consumed by Clancy). So here I am again, holding the
fort, instead of watching sumo live as everybody else is doing right now.
Great. Just when they were leaving early this morning they told me: "Water
the plants also if you have some time", sure...I'm going to put self-made
fertilizer on them. I'd better eat some more of that bean stew...
- (Mike told me I had to answer:" Sumotalk, Óscar Gutiérrez is attending
you, how may I be of assistance?", I decided to change the line a little
- Are you happy with your long distance call provider?
- No, we don't have a phone here
- ...(silence)...but, sir...I'm...talking to you ...I just called
you...you're on the phone right now
- If I were, I'd know that, don't you think?
- ......But.........the pone, we're talking, you know.
- .......well, sir, have a nice day, thank you.
5th time they call in the last hour. Love to make THEM hang up...
Well, enough with my tribulations, let's start with the action.
Tosanoumi is washed up already. Today he went all up at the tachi-ai as he
always has done, but couldn't move Hochiyama a single step back. Hochiyama,
tired of waiting, decided to go for the pull and it simply worked. The blue
collar man gets his 10th consecutive loss and will be back to Juryo and I
think his intai is not that far away. Hochiyama lives to die another day,
4-7 for him and not likely to visit Makuuchi soon.
Toyozakura came out firing tsuppari against Kakizoe, but the beetle didn't
want any of that and grabbed the right arm of his opponent. He tried to take
it with him, but Zakura preferred it attached to his body. Without letting
the arm go, beetle put a stiff nodowa at Toyozakura's neck but the veteran
resisted and Zoe opted for reversing gears and throw him with the arm bar,
but Zakura survived and threw the little one with the counter maneuver using
his locked arm. I swear to Homer I heard a voice with eastern European
accent (Rumanian or something like that) in the stands shouting "Sakatottari!!!".
Toyozakura walks to his 5th win and has still a chance to get the
kachi-koshi. Dung Beetle bites the dust and makes his make-koshi official.
He'll need to win it all if he doesn't want to fall to Juryo for the first
time in his career.
Sokokurai tried to go Hakuba on Gagamaru. Problem: it's easier to jump than
to go round Radio Gaga. The Georgian simply steamrolled him in less than 2
seconds. 7-4 for Gagamaru, who has cooled off since his good start, but has
the KK almost in the bag. 5-6 for the shin-nyu-maku, respectable enough.
Kotokasuga came out well low in his battle against Tochinonada. Nada tried
to deny him the inside position, created some separation to work with and
just pushed from the left side his compromised foe. 7th win for Nada, taking
advantage of his competition. Kotokasuga falls under the .500 mark.
Moo and Koryu was a battle of styles, yotsu vs. tsuki-oshi. When the bout
settled in yotsu, you knew who was going to get the W. Moo simply used his
superior skills with a powerful left-uwate to dismantle the struggling
Mongolian escorting him out of the dohyo. Moo gets over the line and will
probably get his kachi-koshi. Koryu has won two more bouts than me this
basho and should be a lock to his beloved Juryo if he keeps this pace.
Hokutoriki used his moro-te (two hands at the neck) tachi-ai to keep
Kyokunankai at bay. He circled a little bit always controling the pace of
the bout and the neck of his opponent and then switched gears to let him
fall to the dirt. The Jokester can't push even the scrubs any more, and he
gets only his 4th win in this Juryo-filled banzuke. Kyokunankai has the same
score in his debut on the division, not that bad considering his 32 years
and his level, but well, the banzuke down here just sucks...
Bushuyama, tired of everybody getting to second base with him (that's the
problem of having that rack), tried to pull the same trick on Kasugao. The
Korean got pushed to the edge, but if there's something he can do well is
throwing. He locked Bushu's arm and crashed him to the ground via kote-nage
stopping the dirty caressing. 5th win for the Korean, 7th loss for Dolly,
who at least today was the sexual offender.
a fight for kachi-koshi, Kimurayama received Tamawashi with the slightest of
steps to the left. Come on, big boy, a little bit more and you can go
straight (I'm starting to think he has more weight on that side of the body,
like he's missing a testicle or something). Tamawashi slipped slightly at
the tachi-ai, and they exchanged slaps when Kimu found the first opening by
pushing the arms of the Mongolian gaining his side and leaving him in a
difficult position. Still, the Mawashi fought back and steamrolled Kimu to
the tawara, but Lefty resisted and escaped to his right, puzzling everyone.
Here the Mawashi could have touched cloth, but decided to settle this with a
slap contest. That was as sad as dancing with your sister. Finally, a stiff
right nodowa from the Mongolian made Kimu step out practically by himself
when trying to create some separation to work (surely planning to evade to
his left, ha). So Tamawashi gets his kachi-koshi after starting with a
dismal 0-3, and Kimurayama still has to wait, and knowing his history, where
he uses to reach 7 wins early and failed at the end every time except the
last one, is not a sure bet to get it.
Takekaze and Kokkai stepped both to their rights (it wasn't going to be
pretty, what did you think?), but Kaze kept his opponent in front of him
while Kokkai was still hoping for Kaze to stay where he was at the
beginning. So Kaze, having won his opponent's side, had a nice position to
work. He simply grabbed the right uwate, stepped further to the right and
pushed Kokkai forward sending him to the ground for the easy
uwate-dashi-nage win. 9th win for him (losing against Sokokurai and
Tochinonada, my word, he could be zensho...). Kokkai will have to wait for
his kachi-koshi, he'll eventually get it but certainly isn't deserving it.
The KFC (this has nothing to do with chicken, just like the other one, it's
only the acronym for Kitataiki's Fan Club, whose president is Mike and his
"voluntary" members, the rest of the Sumotalk crew) got the joy of watching
his beloved one winning today. The bout with Tosayutaka settled in
hidari-yotsu position, but only K featured an inside grip. Compact tried to
get that himself but K rebuffed him, got the inside on that side as well and
went vintage-self gorgeously pushing Tosayutaka out. Kitataiki gets now over
the line of truth (.500), while Tosayutaka goes under it.
Asasekiryu started as usual, trying to lift his opponent with his right and
to get a grip with his left, but what he found was that Yoshikaze had
started low enough not to be bothered by that lifting attempt and getting
easily on the inside with both arms. Starbucks didn't waste time and swung
Sexy easily from the inside without needing any belt grip to get to 9 wins
already, just like his fatter mate at the heya, Takekaze. Sexy's a quiet
Well, the break is coming, let's find that gorgeous plant on the conference
room, I need to get rid of the bean stew already...Awww, that's better, and
just in time for the next bout...I wonder where they're going to set the
meetings, that stink won't come out for at least a month.
Giku came out like a rocket aiming at Tokusegawa's belt. Look at this one if
you can, if only to see the difference a side step makes. The Mongolian did
it to get the cheap uwate and left Kotomitsuki's impersonator with empty
hands. Tokusegawa didn't ramble too long and simply forced the issue with
the left uwate to get a strong yori-taoshi win. But remember, that's the
difference a step to the side makes, the difference between a boy and a man.
Tokusegawa saves the make-koshi and leaves Giku still one win away from
Finally Homasho is fighting like himself amongst the big boys. To speak the
truth, he only has "praiseworthy" (or sort of) wins over both Komusubi, but
at least he's being himself. Today he postponed the make-koshi going for his
usual balanced push attack and grabbing a left uwate when Mokonami slipped,
which he used to escort the injured Mongolian out. Solid sumo for Homasho,
who inflicts make-koshi on Mokonami.
The next bout, featuring two yotsu specialists, showed a lopsided
head-to-head record with 11 consecutive wins for Wakanosato. Croco got the
left inside and embraced Takamisakari strongly forcing him backwards.
Robocop, a master of last minute recoveries, tried to fight back and turn
the tables, but Wakanosato's been hanging around for ages and answered
backpedaling a little bit to push Takamisakari to the ground from that
inside position he gained at the tachi-ai. Both 'duds' have only 2 wins.
Tokitenku simply walked into moro-zashi. That's a helluva start, but today's
rival, the Chauffeur, can work from the outside as well. Tenho got moro-uwate
(both outside grips) and Tenku decided to go for the kill by lifting him.
That's pretty much useless if you don't have an overwhelming strength
advantage and more so if you pull that move in the middle of the dohyo.
Though spectacular, Tokidoki gained nothing from it, and the Chauffeur
simply waited in his car with two hands firmly on the wheel (metaphorically
the mawashi). Next move by Toki...trying to kick one of Tenho's legs. The
Chauffeur saw that was the precise moment to start the engines and drove
miss Daisy out emphatically. Still, 4 wins between the two with Kyokutenho
having triple than today's opponent.
Kisenosato and Tochinoshin started with a so-so tachi-ai, circling to the
left with a sort of migi-yotsu stance. They didn't hang around though, and
Tochinoshin forced the issue, but Kise resisted long enough to pull his
go-to counter move, wiggling a little bit and evading to the left pushing
his opponent by the ribcage. Dangerous as that move is, Kise today got away
with it but by the slightest of margins because Shin managed to crush him to
the ground while losing his balance. A mono-ii had to be called, but Kise
got the call and escaped from MK today. Tochinoshin is a good 6-5, vying for
a sanyaku spot (Kise's?).
Now, the awesome 12" TV Sumotalk gave me just blackened and showed no
images...Great, I'm gonna have to invent the report of the important
bouts...At least I know the outcome of the Kaio-Harumafuji already (as well
as Hak's but that doesn't count). Still, I don't want to disappoint my fans
(as if I had any), so I did what every man does, fix the problem as a crafty
handyman...Two punches and a kick later, it started working again, just in
time for the next bout.
Aminishiki attacked with everything against Tochiohzan. Helluva tachi-ai
that got Oh to the tawara, but this is not the same Oh from two years ago.
The Sekiwake stopped the rot and started marching firmly forward. Shneaky
tried to get some separation to work his magic but Tochiohzan was determined
to not let him escape and stuck to him like a fly to my self-made plant
fertilizer. Don't look, but Oh has got his kachi-koshi already on day
11...This is a ozeki in the making, still I don't think he's gonna make it
soon, but in 2-3 years I can see a double Kasugano Ozeki line-up. Aminishiki
is peacefully over the line and on his way to a kachi-koshi.
the Association showed some love for Kotooshu. Instead of pairing him
against the struggling Tokusegawa in a heavyweight bout, they made him face
the lightweight Hakuba. This would be great news...if only Kotooshu had a
clue of what to do against midgets and/or lightweights. Hakuba, of course,
pulled the mother of all henkas and grabbed Yoghurt's right arm, pulled the
tottari throw and got both hands on the inside to crash the Ozeki's ass to
the ground. All this at the speed of light, of course, not letting the Ozeki
settle down. The Mongolian certainly knows what he's gotta do. Yori-taoshi
it is and 7th win for Henkuba, while Kotooshu stops everybody's dreams for a
day 14 showdown against Hakuho, giving the Yok a two win advantage on the
"yusho race" (yeah, right, and the tooth fairy as well; by the way, its name
in spain is "the little mouse Pérez", I'm not kidding, a freaking mouse
takes the kid's teeth over here...).
Now, I have a link to show you roughly how the Kaio-Harumafuji went.
Here. Enough with the crap, I thought Baruto's loss against the Oldzeki
was legit, but now I'll have to review the video. Today was a piece of sh*t
bigger than the gift I left on the plant for the guys for not taking me to
the Kokugikan. Harumafuji decided to go for the pushing attack, but instead
of following with his feet, decided that leap-frogging was the right way to
advance. Of course Kaio rebuffed him, and pushed him to the tawara, were
Haruma grabbed Kaio's arm to again be rebuffed with a fierce shake
that arm that sent the Mongolian to the third row...Come on!!!. Even the
Euro guy from earlier didn't yell "Sakatottari!" as the move was ruled, he
yelled "yaocho!", but the Japanese crowd was so ecstatic with the win, he
could hardly be heard. Both guys are now 6-5 and if something,
I'd love to watch Kaio-Aran on senshuraku with the ozeki going 7-7. Remember
Baruto's helicopter against Chiyotaikai? This would be waaaaaay worse, so I
pray to the heavens, please, make it happen.
Now Kakuryu walked into moro-zashi against Baruto, who had a moro-uwate
himself with both arms over the Komusubi's shoulders (the so called
Baruto-uwate grip). Baruto took the crane out to lift Kak like a sack of
potatoes, and just like last year's bout in this same basho, Kak simply
pulled the outside leg trip to make use of Baruto's effort against him.
Pretty soto-gake that gives the Komusubi his 7th win, while Baruto won't be
too worried as he has his 8 already.
Musubi-no-ichiban or Hakuho's win counter advanced to number 58. Hak simply
got the double migi-yotsu grip from the tachi-ai (right inside and left
outside grips) and then even allowed Aran to get a uwate, although he could
have denied him. The yok decided what he wanted to do and that was a
uwate-nage as clean, strong and pretty as you please. 4 wins for the raw
Russian Sekiwake, whose acting qualities I long to see.
My last day of the basho, so I'll add my predictions for the special prizes.
Yusho: that's a hard one.
Shukun-sho: piling up dust.
Kanto-sho: Tochiohzan and maybe Yoshikaze.
So, I just ended my share for the tourney today. Next turn is for...I don't
really care, I'm off, who-hoooo. Hasta la vista.
Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
Fresh off of a three-day weekend, the Ryogoku Kokugikan was back to
its half-empty self now that the Japanese have gone back to work, and the
high from Hakuho's historic weekend run surpassing Chiyonofuji has largely
abated. The moment all rikishi whose shikona doesn't rhyme with knock-a-ho
were eliminated from zensho status, the basho turned from a yusho race to
kachi-koshi watch where Kaio's quest for eight will likely become the focal
It was interesting to read Kaio's comments in the media yesterday (posted on
our news page) after his shocking win over Baruto. Two elements really stand
out in his comments that illustrate perfectly the core issue in the hearts
of the Japanese as to why they've migrated away from sumo. First was the
issue where Kaio commented on getting the loudest ovations of the basho,
cheers even louder than what Hakuho gets despite everything the Yokozuna is
accomplishing these days. Second was the comment that someone needs to step
up and take his place.
Regarding the first comment, the most important aspect of sumo is the yusho.
Although Hakuho is on the verge of breaking Futabyama's record of 69
consecutive bouts, the grand poobah of records is still career yusho. We
(used to) speculate prior to the basho about who will yusho; NHK can't wait
to start posting the yusho race leaderboard mid-basho; and the greatest
rikishi of all time are measured by number of yusho. So, with no yusho race
to be had, it's turn-off number one.
Regarding Kaio's second comment, there have been plenty of rikishi lately
who have stepped up to take his place. The problem is none of them have been
Japanese. Kaio actually didn't say "a new Japanese rikishi needs to
step up and take my place." The Japanese media inserted the word "Japanese"
into his comments using brackets when they printed his statement even
though, subconsciously, everyone knew what he meant. So, with no Japanese
rikishi threatening greatness at the moment, it's just another excuse not to
attend the sumos. At least I know of a few foreigners who should be making
their appearance at the Kokugikan shortly...hopefully in matching t-shirts!
Watch for them. They'll likely be sitting in the nosebleeds or pretending
like they're part of Bart the Builder's posse. Can we stalk him? Yes we can!
It's obvious that I'm getting long-winded on these intros as I'm trying to
avoid the inevitable: covering the daily bouts.
If we must, M16 Kyokunankai struck low against M17 Toyozakura grabbing a
right outer grip that was at the front of the mawashi keeping Toyozakura
away from anything. Kyokunankai wasted no time pivoting to the side before
just slingshotting Toyozakura off the dohyo and up the hana-michi with a
dashi-nage throw that left both rikishi at 4-6.
M15 Gagamaru fired a head-butt into J2 Wakatenro at the tachi-ai setting up
some Baruto-esque tsuppari into Tenro's torso and neck that sent the Juryo
scrub back once, twice, three times a lady. Anti-Lady Gaga improves to 6-4
with the ass-kicking.
M14 Tamawashi seems to be doing just fine in these Juryo ranks. Today
against M15 Kakizoe, the two traded tsuppari before Zoe moved back and to
the left in hopes of throwing The Mawashi off balance, but when that didn't
work, Kakizoe resorted to Plan B, which was to become a human torpedo and
ram straight into Tamawashi's gut. Like any idea the Monbusho has had to
improve sumo, the move failed miserably allowing Tamawashi (7-3) to slap the
hapless Zoe (3-7) down to the dirt.
M13 Sokokurai slithered left at the tachi-ai against M11 Kotokasuga enabling
him to establish the cheap inside position. With the two striking a
hidari-yotsu pose, Sokokkurai pulled his gal in tight and actually lifted
Kotokasuga clear off his feet in tsuri-dashi fashion. He wasn't able to set
Kotokasuga down outside the ring, but it gave Sokokurai the momentum he
needed to finish him off at the edge via yori-kiri. Bad start, great finish
for Sokokurai whose even with Kotokasuga at 5-5.
M11 Yoshikaze charged low against M14 Tochinonada getting his left arm on
the inside up high into Nada's pit. Cafe wasted no time driving Tochinonada
back, but at the edge, the Gentle Giant countered with a right kote-nage
that sent Yoshikaze to the dohyo at the same time Tochinonada flew off the
dohyo. A mono-ii was called, and replays showed that when Yoshikaze hit the
dirt, Tochinonada's left leg was breaking the plane of the dohyo. The result
was a justified do-over that saw Yoshikaze henka to his right at the
tachi-ai, assume the hidari-yotsu pose with a right frontal grip to boot,
and then spin his opponent round and round before eventually forcing him
out. Yoshikaze secures kachi-koshi at 8-2 with the ill-gotten win while
Tochinonada is 6-4.
Speaking of henka, M13 Kasugao moved to his left slightly at the tachi-ai
against M10 Hokutoriki as the two settled into the hidari-yotsu position.
Jokutoriki had the Kimchi Kid up high, but as he forced him towards the
edge, Kasugao (4-6) sprung his usual kote-nage trap sending Hokutoriki 93-7)
to the deck with the right-handed throw.
M10 Shimotori exhibited a poor tachi-ai against M16 Tosanoumi, but because
his opponent was Tosanoumi, he recovered in short order forcing the bout to
migi-yotsu. From here it was as easy as Paris Hilton for Shimotori who
dumped the veteran to the clay with a nifty scoop throw evening his record
to 5-5. Tosanoumi falls to 1-9 and should get a mercy date with Wakanosato
or Tokitenku soon.
M12 Koryu and M9 Bushuyama traded tsuppari at the charge, but Koryu just
couldn't resist going for a pull. The Dolly Yama capitalized on the mistake
forcing the bout to yotsu-zumo near the edge of the dohyo before executing a
quick slap-down of his opponent making it official. Koryu suffers make-koshi
at 2-8 while his holiness moves to 4-6.
M12 Takekaze seized the left inside position from the tachi-ai against M7
Kitataiki and then just spun to the side, pivoted on his right stump, and
then threw Kitataiki over as pretty as you please with a scoop throw.
Incredible sumo from Takekaze who clinches kachi-koshi with the win.
Kitataiki is stuck at 5-5.
M9 Kimurayama (7-3) henka'd M6 Mokonami (3-7) to the right, drove a stiff
paw into the Mongolian's neck, and then finished him off in about three
M6 Asasuckiryu lived up to his name henka'ing severely to his left against
M8 Kokkai slapping the Georgian down to oblivion in half a second. Sure,
Asasekiryu moves to 6-4 with the victory, but it was still the worst sumo of
the day, which says a lot. Kokkai is cooled off a bit at 7-3, but the
Korporal hasn't exactly abstained from henka in his time, so he has no
They say bad things come in threes, so Hakuba made it official henka'ing to
his right against M7 Tosayutaka before using tsuppari for the sole purpose
of keeping Tosayutaka away from the belt, not to actually win the bout with
sound offense, which is Henkaba's problem. Anyway, having taken away
Tosayutaka's momentum at the tachi-ai, Hakuba forced his way into the left
inside position leading to the quick'n dirty yori-kiri win. Henkaba is 6-4
while Tosayutaka falls to 5-5.
M5 Takamisakari is giving a new definition to the term "slide" after facing
M3 Kotoshogiku today in a bout that saw the Geeku obtain an early right
outer grip with a decent left inside position to boot. But before
Kotoshogiku could make his move, Takamisakari scooped him over to the edge
and nearly out, but alas, the Geeku recovered and went into gaburi-yori mode
dry humping the hapless Takamisakari back and out to his eighth straight
loss (against two wins). Kotoshogiku is 7-3 if ya need him.
M4 Aminishiki henka'd to his left against M2 Tochinoshin, but the Georgina
recovered soon enough forcing the bout to migi-yotsu. Aminishiki stayed low
trying to parlay his cheap start into moro-zashi, but the powerful
Tochinoshin just sucked him in tight as if to say, "bitch, you ain't goin'
nowhere." Well, nowhere but back and out as Tochinoshin scored the nifty
yori-kiri win leaving both rikishi at 6-4.
Look at M1 Wakanosato picking up his first win by ramming his dome straight
into counterpart M1 Tokitenku's chin setting up the left inside position
with the right hand close enough to the front of Tenku's belt that it was
moro-zashi for all intents and purposes. The kill was swift and decisive as
Wakanosato sent Tokitenku clear off the deck via yori-taoshi. Both dudes are
Not wanting to be outdone, Komusubi Kakuryu rammed his melon straight into
counterpart Komusubi Kisenosato's jaw keeping the Kid far away from the
Kak's belt and from taking advantage. The Kak followed up the tachi-ai with
effective tsuppari, but lost some momentum when he went for a stupid pull
attempt. That Kisenosato couldn't capitalize at this juncture spelled his
doom because quick as a Kak, his opponent grabbed a left inside and right
frontal belt driving Kisenosato back and out redefining the term defeated.
This one smarts as Kisenosato falls to 3-7 while Kakuryu soars at 6-4.
Sekiwake Aran largely toyed with M2 Homasho using methodic tsuppari to keep
Homie at bay before unleashing a right-arm shove into Homasho's left armpit
sending him off balance. Aran went for the kill at this point pulling
Homasho clear across the dohyo before pushing him out for good. Not too much
else to see here as Aran limps to 4-6. I say Homasho has done well to stand
M4 Tokusegawa has assumed the role of punching bag these last few days, and
today it was Ozeki Harumafuji's turn to fire a tsuppari right into
Tokusegawa's neck lifting him up high enough to where the Ozeki bulldozed
him back and out from there in a flash. Still, Harumafuji's 6-4 record is
lacking. Tokusegawa falls to 3-7.
Ozeki Baruto used an effective moro-te tachi-ai against M3 Kyokutenho
setting up the left inside position, which you knew would be followed by the
death knell right outer grip. There was little the Chauffeur could do but
watch as Baruto nudged him to the edge before lifting him clear off his
wheels and setting him outside the dohyo for a patented tsuri-dashi win.
Bart the Builder is 8-2 with the win, but it's too little too late.
Kyokutenho joins the make-koshi crowd at 2-8.
In our Ozeki duel, Kotooshu seized the left inside grip at the tachi-ai
against Kaio followed by a sure-handed right outer grip, which immediately
spelled Kaio's doom. The Bulgarian wasted no time driving Kaio back before
dumping him to the clay with some force via uwate-nage. For the second basho
in a row, Kotooshu has roughed up his counterpart putting him in danger of
serious injury. Yes, it's fine to beat Kaio, but there's an unwritten rule
in place where you beat him with his dignity in tact. Figger it out.
Kotooshu moves to 9-1 with the easy win while Kaio is back to the drawing
board at 5-6 (figger it out).
As much as I've enjoyed Sekiwake Tochiohzan the last few basho, my hopes of
him as an eventual contender received a nice punch in the gut today against
Yokozuna Hakuho. The Sekiwake was as useless as tits on a boar against the
mighty Hakuho, who used a hari-zashi tachi-ai today going for the quick
face-slap to set up the inside position (he chose migi-yotsu). As he does so
well, Hakuho leaned heavily into his opponent while clutching him in tight
to nullify the chance of an escape and pull all the while fishing for that
left outer grip on the other side. Once he got it, there was nothing
Tochiohzan could do but take notes as Hakuho demonstrated the textbook
yori-kiri win. It's not all bad for the Sekiwake, though. He still has a
helluva 7-3 record at this point to speak for his efforts. Needless to say,
Hakuho is 10-0.
I'm offering a reward for the first person to spot Martin, Mario, and Mark
on the NHK broadcast. Óscar gets his chance tomororw.
(Kenji Heilman reporting)
If I had more time, I
would have gone back and counted how many matta (false starts) we had on day
9. Wow, I've been watching sumo for quite some time and don't recall seeing
that many in one day.
Once the action began, it was somewhat of a ho-hum day. "Upset" might be a
stretch, but there were a few surprises in the high ranks so let's
First, upstart M11 Yoshikaze has been at it again making noise from the
rank-and-file. After dropping his first bout yesterday, he followed suit
today and fell to 7-2 against Kitataiki (5-4). It was not content worthy of
his body of work thus far, as Kitataiki took control with a good, strong
tachi-ai that induced Yoshi to pull and therefore lose further momentum for
an easy oshi-dashi decision.
In the Ozeki ranks, the first mild surprise was Kaio (5-4) overcoming big
Baruto (7-2). Kaio got pushed to the brink but showed defensive flashes of
his old self by pulling on Baruto's extended arm. This allowed Kaio to
escape from the tawara and slip around the back of Baruto, setting up an
okuri-dashi. What a huge win to go 5-4. Three more wins to ensure he keeps
rank for his hometown folks in November.
Kotooshu got inside on the left but rushed the attack on M4 Aminishiki. The
two were separated enough to where Ami's last ditch uwatenage sent Oshu
flying out a split second before Ami broke the rope himself. Ami improves to
6-3 while Kotooshu suffers his first defeat to go 8-1. Too bad, I was
looking forward to a clash of the undefeateds when Oshu met up with Hakuho a
few days down the road.
Harumafuji suffered his third consecutive loss today against surprisingly
steady shin-Sekiwake Tochiohzan. Tochi absorbed all Haruma (5-4) had to
offer, maneuvered deftly to the left, and disposed of the Ozeki via
oshi-taoshi. This kid is now 7-2 and looking rock solid. Guess who awaits
tomorrow? That's right. Could he be the streak stopper?
guess I just gave away the result of the final bout. Hakuho was matched
against very vanilla M4 Tokusegawa. It crossed my mind that streaks
sometimes get broken at the most unexpected times, like against a no-name
opponent like this. But not today, as Hakuho slowly but surely took care of
Toku with a powerful uwate-nage. It took a while to unfold although Hakuho
was never in trouble. What troubled me, however, was that Tokusegawa (3-5)
just stood there like a bump on a log the whole time. If I were a no-name
guy with a slim to nill chance of winning, I'd be trying all kinds of stuff
from standard attacks to trickeration. Did Toku think he'd win defensively
against Hakuho? He's out of his mind. Anyway, 56 in a row and counting for
the big H.
Hakuho-Tochiohzan tomorrow. I think this is going to be a good one.
Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
I like objective numbers, the kind that owe little if
anything to the human mind, like the fact that there are more ways to
arrange twenty innocuous playing cards than SECONDS have elapsed since the
beginning of time over ten billion years ago, or the fact that when some guy
boasts, for example, "My great-great-great grandfather invented chamois,"
that he was only one of SIXTEEN guys who held that title (so the attempt to
seem cool simply through bloodline association is kinda lame).
Subjective numbers are less awe inspiring, but can still impress, either for
their roundedness (3000 hits, 300 wins), or their relative perfection (12
strikes in 10 frames, 27 men retired in 9 innings), or for their symmetry
(Fibonacci, 12:34:56 pm on 7/8/90). Or, of course, for their
consecutiveness: Ripkens 2632, DiMaggios 56, Hakuhos 54.
While these records are hallowed, it is not difficult to find imperfections
in their diamond like brilliance. Ripken surely played in games where his
condition was detrimental to the teams chance of winning (and this despite
the fact that he played in an era, unlike Gehrig, where body science helps a
shitload in terms of recovery and preparation), DiMaggio benefited from a
few generous non-error calls, and Hakuhos foes are not exactly going to find
themselves on astronomical charts anytime soon.
Do these flaws diminish the value of their accomplishments? Depends on whom
you talk to. As for me, I think less about each mans famous record than I do
about how Ripken was incredibly intense, that DiMaggio had an unbelievably
sweet swing, and that Hakuho just dominates each and every opponent he
So dont expect me to spend valuable bandwidth going on and on and on and on
and on about records and numbers and what they mean. Urp.
Despite being warned on Day 3 by the man himself, Im sure many of you were
shocked when you opened the ST homepage on Day 7 and encountered not the
bemused countenance of that redoubtable Romanian rapscallion, Mister Martin
Matra, but the vulpine visage of one Oscar Gutierrez. (When Mike told me
that he found a guy named "Oscar" who loved the martial arts and wanted to
write for us, I assumed he was talking about De La Hoya. My mal.)
Two things you ought to know about this gentleman. One, like Andreas and
Mario and Martin and Bernie before him, English is not his native tongue,
and also like Martin and Andreas, its nearly impossible to tell. Two, like
all good peoples of the Spanish speaking universe, his name is not simply
"Oscar Gutierrez." Since this is his first basho, Mike has agreed to let me
use his real name just this once. So here it is: Oscar Camacho Berlanga
Ferrado Odriozola Santoyo Aristizabal Gamboa Maldonado Lorente Pinzon
Toledano Sarmiento Chiamuhera Escamillo Preciado Guardiola Nascimento
Villalobos Pinto Gutierrez De La Ulm.
At any rate, Im sure you found, as did I, his report to be highly
informative and entertaining, so please join me in proffering a warm welcome
to Oscar...Camacho Berlanga Ferrado Odriozola Santoyo Aristizabal Gamboa
Maldonado Lorente Pinzon Toledano Sarmiento Chiamuhera Escamillo Preciado
Guardiola Nascimento Villalobos Pinto Gutierrez De La Ulm.
Going by the previous two days, Mike and Oscar are obviously the kind who
eat their steak before they touch their salad, but me, Ill start with my
lower Makuuchi lima beans.
I dont want to sound like some kind of uber expert on sumo, but its the
truth that I regularly scour the lower ranks looking for the Next Big Thing.
Well, I think I have someone for yall. Today, due to the reverberations from
some gambling scandal in sumo my inside sources have hinted at, a Juryo man
was sent up to take on Kakizoe, long one of my beloved. This guy, goes by
the name of Toyonoshima, burned Sweet Zoe Jane down like a pile of autumn
leaves. I predict this kid will be in Makuuchi one day. Mark my words.
The (still) Gentle (once) Giant Tochinonada looked to be in a good position
versus Kyokunankai, moving him back with a deep but beltless inside and was
poised for a throwdown like the good old days, but the E16 parlayed a few
fingers in the front of GGs mawashi into a fairly snappy backward pedaling
"No time, ever seems right, to talk about the reasons why you and I fight."
Tamawashi the foreigner played some head games with Sokokurai (in some
languages, "koku" means "country" and thus, "So Country, rai-ght?" Get it?)
at the tachi-ai, nearly causing the Chinaman to go "Over the line!" but Woo
checked his forward progress and as he was getting resettled, The Mawashi
lunged like a hungry octopus, swarming his bewildered foe like a 30% off
sale. (Drop me a note if you understood this entire paragraph, cause I sure
as hell dont.)
Tosanoumi (11 Kinboshi, 7 Outstanding Performance Awards, 5 Fighting
Spirits, 2 Juryo Yusho) gave it the old college try fifteen years out of
college, showing the form that earned him the moniker Blue Collar Man.
Unfortunately that same form also earned him his current rank of W16, aka
plunging straight ahead and hard out of the gates. He had Koryu on the run,
but the Mongolian was able to skip away and slap the overextended and oldest
man in the division down.
Two nearly identical morphologies went at it next, with M sized butterball
Takekaze delivering the shock and awe to LLL sized Gaga (its a good bet the
Russian is, as you read this, tenderly feeling his cheek). But King and
Queen Gaga didnt hook up just so their son would crumple after getting
railed at tachi-ai by the shortest man (by far) in Makuuchi, and he moved
forward, if somewhat groggily, sniffing for the belt. Tugboat kept backing
up and out of harms way, and was finally able to slap away the Lords elbow
and get inside deep, like prison deep, where he shoved up on all that flab,
causing the E15 to use the ropes to resist. He then used that forward lean
to step aside and yank the LZ127 down to the tarmac.
Around about this time I heard commotion at the ocean, so I ran outside and
down to the sea (a 15 second jog) to discover emergency crews of
firefighters and paramedics surrounded by half the men in my neighborhood,
all over the age of 55 and most dressed in their long underwear (the nightly
bath having been taken). Long story short, some numbnut, here from the big
city to fish, got hisself invalidated by falling off the 4 meter high
seawall and down onto the concrete tetrapods that line the coast like jettys
of giant jackstones. One awesome old man, my 75 year-old neighbor Ken-chan,
who pees on the side of the main road in full view of passing cars and lets
my dogs lick him IN his open mouth (yeccch!!!) stood there talking about how
the guys who come here to fish "show very poor manners." This as the dead
guys body lay not more than two meters 3 meters away! I was laughing like a
lunatic on the inside.
Were only five bouts into the day and youre probably nodding off, so lets
encapsulate the next few contests, shall we? Toyozakura used an effective
throat attack to get Kotokasuga off balance and shoved him out manlove
style. Kasugao forgot that his body is attached to legs, and where IT goes
so too must THEY, and Shimotori obliged his suicide mission by shoving him
down to where he was already going on his own. Yoshikaze also seemed to blow
a fuse vis a vis the lower extremities, allowing Kimurayama to throw him
even tho Dude had barely any hold to work with. (No, I wont be making any
cutesy "Well, I guess we can scratch him from the yusho race" remark here.
Ill leave that to the cheese eaters.) Hokutoriki flashed some mildewy
tsuppari form and got Mokonami to bite, setting him up for the slapdown
loss. Finally, Asasekiryu showed patience with the larger Bushuyama, waiting
for the Dolly Yama to shimmy shake his slapdash mammaries close enough for
Secretariat to snag a second belt grip that spelled force out doom for the
Tosayutaka, a feisty, honest wrestler who for me is becoming the new
Kakizoe, hit Takamisakari like he was going out of style, getting a secure
inside left belt grip and maybe some outside right as well. PTs Boy did what
he typically does, lean in on his foe and wait for some forward pushing that
he can capitalize on by swinging the guy around. Tosa U. had other plans,
however, exploding into an overarm throw that seemed to take Bean by
surprise (course someone lifting a paper napkin takes Takamisakari by
surprise) and definitely got the W7 on the midterm Deans List at 4-4.
Henkuba grabbed the cheap grip the only way he knows how, and parlayed it
into a decent enough push across the dohyo to finish with a fireworksy crush
out of Kitataiki. Half-assed sumo that will never lift Hakuba above upper
Maegashira. Kitataiki on the other hand might oneday reach Komusubi.
A weak tachi-ai by both men left Kokkai and Aminishiki battling like kittens
in the center of the squared circle. A poorly timed shove by Shneaky sent
him low, where the Korporal grabbed at his hand and pulled him down.
Wakanosato jumped the gun and drove an illprepared (ought to be a word)
Tochinoshin back and used a final dive to force him out...but, the judges
went to the videotape and determined that both men went out and called it a
do-over. On the re-firing No Shine henkad to his left and got the belt and
shoved the poor guy out. At 0-8, the W1s dreams of a return to Sanyaku are
ephemeral to put it mildly.
Kisenosato certainly brought the thunder, but Homasho stayed low and after a
few tentative rhino headbutts, timed a perfect slapdown of the reeling
Komusubi (who, for the millionth time, does indeed vex us all). Also, once
again, the losers feet seemed to be made of the same substance he was
Nice little battle between Kakuryu and Tokitenku, two men heading in
opposite directions on the banzuke. Tokidoki made an earnest effort to get
inside on his countryman, but The Kak expertly choked off any invasion of
his space, myan, by pinching in on the arms. When Tokitenku pulled his now
blue pipes out of the vicegrip, Kakuryu moved forward and grabbed a whole
shitload of belt. Taking his foe to the edge, they danced on the rim for a
few agonizing seconds, but Kakuryu is too tall for Tokitenku to lift up on
and swing around as he might a smaller opponent. The end came soon enough in
the form of a yoritaoshi crushout. Three more wins and Le Coq prolly has
Arans Sekiwake spot
in Kyushu (unless Kaio takes it?)
Tochiohzan got an outside right, inside left right from the start, then tried
to go maki-kae by changing that outside right to an inside, but Baruto put up
some orange cones and closed off that avenue by bending down and tightening
his pits. The Estonian then let Oh Snap in, which allowed Baruto to shove
once on his face with a right hand and on his ribs with the left, blasting
him back and out.
In his report yesterday, when Oscar excitedly spoke of Barutos arse
nal, it reminded me of just how workmanlike the Biomass can be when hes on.
Cue the childrens tv show theme song.
Bart the Builder
Can he yusho?
Bart the Builder
Yes, he can!
Hak, Kak and Kaio, and Geeku too
Harumafuji joins the crew,
Kotooshu, Oh Snap and Kid
Wrestling together, Ive got them on vid
Ahhhh, can he lift him?
Ahhhh, can he crush him?
Bart the Builder
Can he yusho?
Bart the Builder
Yes, he can! ♪
Aran and Kotooshu each got outside left, inside right belts, but despite the
Bouncers vaunted weightlifting regimen, Kotooshu is still the stronger (or
at least the taller) fella, and it showed as he lifted the Russian off the
ground and deposited him kicking and screaming "I wanna an Easter egg, I
wanna Easter egg!" outside the ring.
So our prodigal son stands at 8-0, but with his nemesis Aminishiki waiting
if the Kyoukai so chooses. They could instead throw him chum in the form of
Kokkai and Tokusegawa, then hed have only Kaio, HowDo, Oh Snap, and Baruto
before getting his ass kicked by Hakuho. I see him going 14-0 if Baruto
loses once more and has little incentive to fight overly hard when they
meet. Kaio is a no brainer, Harumafuji is off this basho, and I think
Tochiohzan is still several basho away from being even money vs. the
Bulgarian. As Zhon Luke was wont to proclaim, "Make it so!" Darwin knows we
could all use an exciting finish to this basho. Any basho.
When Asashoryu was utterly dominating high roller Kotomitsuki in the mid
Noughties, it was easy to understand why. Asa was a god, Mitsuki a water
sprite. But when trying to figure out why Kotoshogiku pwns Harumafuji, its
not that clear. Today Geeku used a koto-nage of all things, a kimari-te that
Id expect HowDo to use on HIM, to quickly defeat the Ozeki for like the 20th
time out of 30 or something. Dont be fooled, people, Harumafuji took a dive
in this bout. To SAVE HIS ARM!
Kaio managed to get his right arm wrapped around Tokusegawas left, and also
had his left up under the armpit. As Tokusegawa leaned in to grab his own
outside right belt, Kaio drove forward and lifted up with what now was a
two-handed belt grip and took the Mongolian out for his record evening 4th
win. There is no way the Ozeki can beat HowDo and Kise straight up, and he
wont beat Kotooshu or Baruto or Hak, so if largesse remains out of play this
basho, we may be seeing the end as early as tomorrow. Oscar fretted about
the possibility on Day 7, but Id have a better chance of getting Maggie Siff
to clean my navel with her tongue than we have of seeing Kaio fight again as
Sekiwake in Kyushu. The future is now for this man. (Then again, who knows
what carrot the NSK might dangle to get him to give it a shot--think of the
draw that would be!)
Finally, Kyokutenho manned up and gave the Yokozuna a run for his money.
Sorta. The Chauffer used a decent tachi-ai to gain an inside left belt,
leaving Hakuho with an outside right belt. After a few seconds, Hak snagged
the inside left belt. Just as he did this, however, Kyokutenho reached
around the back and
pawed at Haks belt. Knowing that if he gave up that back
belt the Chauffer could present some problems, Hak let go and pushed
forward, getting in tight to Kyokutenho and negating any over the shoulder
boulder holder type of grip. Now he grabbed the inside left belt once more,
and hunkered down for what Kyokutenho may have thought would be a rest on
each others shoulders. Actually the Yokozuna was just catching his breath
and making sure he looked good for the cameras, because the ensuing throw
was picture perfect. He set it up by widening his stance, and then pivoting
on his left leg while throwing the Chauffer down. The great thing about it
was he did this pivot on a dime, and after he was done, he was standing
upright and looked like all he had just done was open a car door for a rich
lady and her lapdog to climb in. Yes. Hak looked like a Chauffer.
Well, like General "Mac Daddy D" MacArthur, I shall return on Day 15, the
final day, senshuraku as we say in the beer halls. Kenji looks for signs that
the universal mind has written you into the passion play on Day 9.
Comments (Óscar Gutiérrez reporting)
Here I am, the new guy on the block is given the day 7 to start
reporting for Sumotalk. It's not a big deal, day 7 has usually nothing
special about it. We've seen already who's hot and not. The yusho race (yes,
that thing existed not so long ago) is still shaping up and the big bouts
are in store for the 2nd week. So, just another day, or is it? NO, IT IS
NOT. Today is the day that Hakuho faces history. "The longest journey begins
with a single step" says the Chinese proverb. Well, if Hakuho walks one step
more he'll have walked further than anyone else has in the modern era of
sumo. Chiyonofuji's record of 53 consecutive victories has already been tied
and to surpass it, Hakuho hast to clear one last hurdle that goes by the
fighting name of Kisenosato. When Mike told me I was doing this day, I
started drooling all over the place, just like Homer Simpson at the sight of
a box full of donuts.
Let me say that, in my opinion, it was a great decision by the tori-kumi
makers to save Kisenosato for facing Hakuho in this utterly special bout
(this is my "Kitataiki moment" of the report: praising a decision of the
Sumo Association going against the usual ST editorial line. Let's just hope
this is not my last daily report for the site...). The Kid has shown that he
can go "mano a mano" with Kubla, although lately he always ends up on the
receiving end, just as everybody else. But let's not get ahead of ourselves,
there was a lot of action preceding the climax. Sure you don't want to skip
all the foreplay...Yeah, me too, let's do the day in reverse order...
THE BOUT started with Kisenosato wide open on his left side (as always, can
somebody tell him not to do it, please?). Still, Hakuho didn't went for a
grip but he started pushing the Komusubi by the armpit. On the other side
Kisenosato was trying to establish an inside grip and Hakuho didn't want to
concede it, so the Yokozuna backpedaled to keep him away and that was the
moment of truth. Hakuho's feet slipped slightly on the dohyo, but this
Mongolian fighter hasn't come this far just by falling after a simple slip.
Still, there was a split second where the Kid could have capitalized but the
moment passed faster than speed of light in front of the kid's eyes. Then,
they recharged batteries, exchanged slaps and Hakuho went for his trademark
grizzly paw at the back of the neck
of Kise. The move didn't make the
Komusubi kiss canvas, but it made him cannon fodder for the last charge of
the Yokozuna who won by oshi-dashi. So with the brightest smile of
accomplishment Hakuho received a mountain of kensho envelopes, but more
importantly, entered the history books with his 54th consecutive win, one
more than Chiyonofuji, who watched from the NHK booth and didn't seem amused
at having his record beaten and by a gaijin on top of that. Oh, and by the
way, Kise is only 2-5. The Kid didn't become a man today, and this was a
great chance to officially get to the next level. He's been hanging with the
big boys for too long and his bandwagon is getting emptier and emptier.
Maybe I should leave it, but I still think he has Ozeki potential (I'm
probably crazy). Next stop for Hakuho: Futabayama's record of 69, and Kublai
will surpass it if he keeps winning until nakabi of Kyushu. Still, another
15 bouts where everybody has the chance of his life to make history and be
the stopper of the almighty Hakuho.
One of those guys with a chance is Baruto. He gave us a scare with what
seemed like a knee injury in his loss on day 2 against Kisenosato. Maybe
this served him as a wake-up call, but the truth is that we're watching the
Baruto that raised to the Ozeki ranks, charging with a fierce nodowa
supported by his feet going right behind his powerful arms. Today he
absolutely destroyed Tochinoshin, who is showing great form, by oshi-dashi
with some powerful shoves to the chest and neck of the Georgian. Baruto is
6-1 with the win, and if he wins 5 more he can have a shot at Hakuho on day
13. Shin is 4-3 and has faced the toughest competition. Let's hope he keeps
it up and finally gets to double digits from the jo'i, he has a great chance
In the sideline story of the basho we have soon-to-be former Ozeki Kaio.
Today he faced Kotoshogiku, who adding insult to injury, henka'ed the
banged-up Ozeki grabbing a migi-uwate and then humped him to his 4th loss. I
think there's no way back for Kaio right now. He cannot get to 8 wins this
basho, and he should save himself the embarrassment of going to his hometown
as Sekiwake just to fail like Chiyotaikai did. Giku meanwhile is 4-3 on his
usual bounce back basho.
The duel of crafty Mongolians between Harumafuji and Kakuryu went this time
to the Komusubi. It started as usual with a slap fest, but Kakuryu was
winning the affair, so the Ozeki launched into his arms to make it a
gappuri-migi-yotsu bout, with both wrestlers featuring left outside and
right inside grips. These two aren't going to just force the issue on
strength but on technique, and the Kak hit first and decisively twisting the
Ozeki to the clay in the direction of his outside hand with both his hands
still firmly gripping his opponent's mawashi. Uwate-hineri it was since he
didn't let go that outside grip. 4-3 for Kak having faced everybody up in
the ranks is a helluva result, and he'll be looking to double digits. 5-2 for
former Ama, whose basho can't finish fast enough as he has no real challenge
to go for (he has to face Hakuho, but ehem-hem-hem-trrrhem).
Probably the guy with a better shot at defeating Hakuho is Ozeki Kotooshu.
His problem is that having brain-farted on the first week he usually faces
Hak being already out of the yusho race, and while giving a good effort he
doesn't feel the urge and necessity to beat him. Well, first week is about
to pass and Kotooshu is undefeated. Today he made hard work of Kyokutenho,
who tried to sidestep the Ozeki at the tachi-ai to not concede him his
lethal weapon, the left uwate. With Kotooshu fishing for it, the Chauffeur
walked around and went maki-kae with his left hand thus almost featuring
moro-zashi. The Ozeki went maki-kae on the other side and they settled on
hidari-yotsu, which is not the favorite grip for the Ozeki. Still, he
overpowered Tenho after a hard struggle and he was so happy he went to hump
a cameraman on the first rows. The Chauffeur is 2-5 with the loss, while
Kotooshu is still at the top of the ranks. And let me say this here now, if
Kotooshu arrives undefeated to his bout against Hakuho I'm giving him a
50-50 chance because then he'll give himself a reason to try to sidestep a
Yokozuna at the tachi-ai.
Breaking news: Aran is raw. He settled against Tokitenku in a
gappuri-migi-yotsu fight. The Russian lifted the Mongolian off the dohyo but
in the middle of it. Tokidoki could survive because of the enormous distance
to the tawara landing still on safe ground. Aran went for it for a second
time, but Tokitenku threatened him with an outside leg trip and the Russian
had to stop his attack. Then, he tried for the 3rd time, nothing. At this
point anybody with half a brain would have noticed that was not the way to
win, so Aran...went for it for a 4th time. Tokitenku had had enough of it
and tripped the Russian's left leg with his right one from the outside
performing a pretty uchi-gake that sent the thug's ass to she dohyo. First
win for Tokitenku, while Aran features only 2 after an easy schedule.
Wakanosato attacked Tochiohzan with a rare tsuppari that at least kept the
shin-Sekiwake at bay. Still, not winning any ground, Wakanosato went for the
hataki-komi and that was all Oh was expecting. He read the move like a dirty
magazine and sent Wakanosato to his 7th loss in those same days. Tochiohzan
is a pretty 6-1 and will face tomorrow machine-man Baruto (who features a
steamroller and a crane in his arsenal, ain't that scary?).
In another set of breaking news, Hakuba sidestepped Homasho at the tachi-ai.
Who woulda thought that? Still, Homasho got rolling and got the Mongolian to
the tawara, but Hakuba digged in and didn't concede a grip to poor Homasho
while featuring a right uwate himself. When Homasho went for the kill a
second time, the counter maneuver by the Mongolian was swift swinging his
opponent with a sukui-nage to his 6th loss. Hakuba is over the KK line and a
puppy dies every time this happens.
Mokonami won the tachi-ai against Tokusegawa and got a firm left grip
and the lower stance, giving his taller opponent nothing to work with.
Tokusegawa, nullified, decided to take a shot at getting the left uwate and
put all his body to the task. Mokonami was in total control and simply put
him away with the counter. 2-5 for the Tan Man, who looks somewhat injured
in his shoulder but will be able to survive in MU for next basho at least.
3-4 for Tokusegawa on the 16th place of the banzuke and he's getting the big
boys now, he's gonna get murdered.
Aminishiki was all push and no pull today. He hit hard Tosayutaka at the
tachi-ai and the compact one tried to circle away and then look for a grip,
but with those short arms it was impossible. Aminishiki kept always the
pressure on and a last shove to the side sent the M7 out of balance for the
good okuri-dashi win. 4th loss for Yutaka and 5th win for not-so-Shneaky
today who's looming over Kotooshu's schedule.
Asasekiryu paid homage to Kotomitsuki by starting a bit early and hitting
hard at the tachi-ai. Moved by it, the MIB let him get away with it. Still,
Robocop stood his ground and was able to even grab a solid right uwate to
counter Sexy's left shita-te. Then, Bean charged with everything rising
Sexy's right arm by putting his own left around his opponent's shoulder,
although in the process he lost the uwate. Asasekiryu managed to survive at
the tawara and then turned the tables and crushed the gripless clown to the
ground. 3 wins for the secretary, only 2 for the clown, so the KK interview
is a hard task to achieve.
Kimurayama went slightly to his left at the tachi-ai (no news there) and
threw a fierce right nodowa at Kitataiki's neck. The Mongolian was able to
get rid of it and went on for Kimu's belt, but he found himself with the
right paw again at his neck. Then, the Mongolian rushed things too much and
launched forward. This was what Kimurayama was hoping for, evading to his
left and letting Kitataiki's momentum to do the work for him. Man, was
Kitataiki pissed with himself! He had it won and he knows that, but he
walked away with a 4-3 record that still looks OK. Meanwhile Kimurayama is
an impressive 5-2, but don't get too excited, even with the weak low
Maegashira it'll be hard for him just to kachi-koshi.
Time for the ugliest bout of the tournament. Kokkai pulled an awful henka to
his right against Hokutoriki. Still, the Jokester is so bad these days that
he couldn't even react to it and fell directly to the ground. Kokkai was
embarrassed and this is a guy who's used to this kind of fishy sumo, so I
bet he was embarrassed to have won with that crappy executed henka. 5 wins
for the Georgian; the Jokester is 1-6 and can't go to Juryo fast enough.
Bushuyama charged way beyond the line hard into Shimotori, but those airbags
Bushu features helped Moo resist the charge. They both got a left hand
inside grip and Shimotori made quick work of his foe sending him down and
out with a shitate-nage. Neither is brilliant this basho, Moo is 3-4 while
Buu is 2-5.
In a rare case of dominance on the lower divisions, Kasugao featured an
immaculate record against Kotokasuga having won every time of the 7 they had
faced each other, always in Juryo and for a reason...none of this two belong
to Makuuchi. Luckily, the affair ended quickly when Kasugao charged with
his hands but not with his feet and Kotokasuga simply evaded and pushed him
from the side to break the streak. Kotokasuga is 4-3 while Kasugao's record
Yoshikaze must have received a shipment from Colombia, cause his caffeinated
self is showing every time this basho. Still, today he didn't need all that
much movement. He charged fair and straight against Gagamaru and when the
Rounder started to advance, Cafe needed only one swift move to his side to
send the Georgian to the clay. Unbeaten record for Yoshikaze at the top of
the standings with Hakuho and Kotooshu, and with this competition and enough
supply of his favourite drink he may well keep there some more days. Radio
Gaga is an unimpressive 4-3.
Tamawashi simply kicked Koryu's ass today. 3 quick shoves is all he needed
to send his foe's ass to the clay in a convincing tuski-taoshi win. Tamawashi
finally starts showing the form that took him to high Maegashira and
recovers from his 0-3 start and is now with 4 consecutive wins, while Koryu
is a deserved 1-6.
Toyozakura-Takekaze...this is going to be uglier than a monkey's armpit.
Toyozakura didn't fall for Takekaze's first push and pull maneuver, but then
the Fat Kaze went on the run while trying to push down his foe by the
shoulder. He had to circle half of the dohyo, but the time came when
Toyozakura's old feet got tired of pursuing his opponent and he fell to the
ground. 5-2 for Takekaze who's being his usual self not showing some of the
techniques he used last basho. 2-5 for Toyozakura who doesn't belong here.
In a lightweight bout, Sokokurai raised up Kakizoe from the tachi-ai with
nice shoving, grabbed his belt with the 2 hands and lifted him up crushing
him to the ground in impressive tsuri-otoshi fashion. So, the Chinese
features a cool 4-3 record in his debut on the division though the rivals
are more or less the same from juryo. Meanwhile the dung beetle got pawned
for his 4th loss.
The next bout featured two jo'i mainstays...7 years ago. To see how much
time that is, Hakuho was still in Sandanme back then. Tosanoumi charged low
into Tochinonada's chest, who tried to absorb it and circled to his left as
usual trying to sneak his way to a left shita-te in the process. He got it
and Tosanoumi, knowing his foe, tried to pinch that left arm, but to no
avail. Once Nada got a firm grip, he used his trademark shitate-nage to
easily dispose of Tosanoumi. 5-2 is a good result for Nada even with the
crappy competition he's facing; 1-6 for Tosanoumi means he's as good as
Then, the day had started with Juryo Kyokunankai facing Maegashira Goeido.
This is how it should read at least, but it's the other way around because
the banzuke makers are the missing link between apes and humans. The bout
was as ugly as it gets, with Goeido playing the push-pull game, simply
putrid for a man with his abilities. Kyokunankai almost fell all by himself
and is a expected 2-5. Goeido can't come back to the jo'i fast enough to be
kicked in the butt and reminded that this is not the way he must fight.
The leaderboard goes like this: Hakuho, Kotooshu and Yoshikaze lead with
7-0, followed by Baruto and Tochiohzan with 6-1. Take Café out of the
equation and you have Hakuho with an Ozeki taking care of business, a genki
Ozeki with only one loss and a promising young Sekiwake with the same score,
looks good. Still, good won't be enough against the 54-win-and-counting man.
Let's see if the guys can keep it up and give a thrilling last week of the
So well, that was it for my 1st daily report. Who could have thought I would
debut on such a special day? They surely treat rookies good around here (the
cured ham has been sent already, Mike). Thanks for all. Clancy dots the i's
and cross the t's on nakabi, but don't expect him to apostrophe anything.
Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
Today was a feelgood day for sumo, and the sport can't get enough of
those lately. It's obvious that I follow the sumo world closely, but I also
keep close tabs on Japan as a whole watching NHK news each day and then
keeping up on other areas in Japanese society like the music industry (which
is god awful right now) and pop culture in general. I never watch anything
in English--unless Ross is in the booth of course--because I want to hear
things directly from the mouths of the Japanese in order to pick up on all
the little cultural nuances.
Anyway, as I've been observing the sports world in Japan the last few weeks,
my Western mind was a bit surprised at the number one story on the minds of
the Japanese: Ichiro Suzuki's quest to get 200 hits per season for the 10th
season in a row in Major League Baseball. Ichiro plays for the Seattle
Mariners, one of the perennial worst teams in baseball, and true to form the
Mariners suck in 2010 as well, so with some fantastic races going on in
baseball here in America and in Japan's professional league as well, it
amuses me that so much focus is placed on Ichiro.
Ichiro's pending accomplishment is phenomenal on paper, but taken in context
with the current sports environment around the world, it's an
inconsequential story right now just as any story of longevity or
consistency is until the athlete retires and we can look back on his career
and marvel at his accomplishments.
The whole reason I even bring Ichiro up right now is to point out two
things. First, it goes to show just how much the Japanese pride themselves
when one of their own excels on an international level (think of how that
applies right now to sumo, clearly an international sport). And second, it
explains why no one really cares about sumo these days, a fact reflected by
the horrible attendance numbers we're seeing.
So with that in mind, day 6 was definitely a feelgood moment for sumo as the
media spotlight shined directly on the sport after Yokozuna Hakuho defeated
Kotoshogiku to achieve his 53rd consecutive win, a mark that puts him in a
tie with the greatest Yokozuna ever in the minds of the Japanese,
Chiyonofuji. And NHK's nightly news did a superb job in their coverage of
the event focusing simultaneously on Hakuho's current run and Chiyonofuji's
legendary accomplishments. They even had footage of Chiyonofuji isolated in
a room with a couch and a big screen television, so they could capture his
reactions and comments live as Hakuho reached that magical number of 53.
All in all, it was one of those rare moments where one could forget all of
the crap going on the past few years and focus squarely on the greatness of
these two Yokozuna, one past and one present. It was a rare victory for sumo
today and hopefully a moment that we will be able to relive again in Kyushu
if Hakuho can reach 69.
Cool, I said 69.
Without further fanfare, let's examine the bouts today starting from the top
in honor of Hakuho's achievement.
the papers yesterday, M3 Kotoshogiku indicated that he was going to devise a
strategy to hopefully stop Hakuho today, but it turns out he prolly spent a
whole five seconds on his approach, which consisted of basically going into
a ball at the tachi-ai with head low and arms tucked in close in an effort
to refuse Hakuho any inside position. But Hakuho hasn't achieved grizzly
bear status for nothing, so all it took was a single swipe at the back of
the Geeku's dome to send him to the dohyo about two seconds in. Hakuho moves
to 6-0 with the triumph, which puts him alongside Chiyonofuji with 53
consecutive wins while Kotoshogiku falls to 3-3.
The day's penultimate bout featured Ozeki Kotooshu and Komusubi Kisenosato,
a duo that formed a nice rivalry up until 18 months ago when Kisenosato
suddenly hit the wall. Today wasn't much better for the Kid who charged so
high you'da thought he came from a Grateful Dead show, so the Ozeki secured
the left arm on the inside of the hidari-yotsu contest and had Kisenosato
driven back and out faster than you can say hippie lettuce. Kotooshu quietly
moves to 6-0 with the win thanks to the focus on Hakuho so far, but lest we
get too excited about the Bulgarian, one only needs to remember what
happened at the Nagoya basho, where Kotooshu also found himself 6-0 on a
Friday. Kisenosato falls to 2-4 and just can't capitalize on his win over
Baruto early on.
And before I move on, I must point out the Kisenosato - Tochiohzan bout
yesterday that signaled a true changing of the guard in terms of Japan's
next hope. Tsall yours Oh.
One of the more anticipated bouts prior to the basho turned out to be a dud
as Sekiwake Aran couldn't "pull" the trigger fast enough after a brief
tsuppari exchange with Ozeki Baruto at the tachi-ai. Once Aran went up high
for Baruto's head, the Estonian drove him back and out with ease using a
nice oshi attack. Baruto moves to 5-1 and has recovered nicely from his
early loss to Kisenosato. Aran falls to 2-4.
Kaio is as doomed as doom can be. Today, he had no chance against M2
Tochinoshin. He wasn't going to beat Shin straight up in a yotsu fight, and
his bad knee is rendering him unable to perform a legitimate tachi-ai henka.
The two did hook up in the quick hidari-yotsu position with neither gaining
a right outer grip thanks in most part to Tochinoshin taking his own sweet
time and understanding the risks of giving Kaio the right outer grip. The
two stood chest to chest for a bout 20 seconds before Tochinoshin said
enough of this funny bidness and executed a successful maki-kae with the
right arm giving him moro-zashi and the insurmountable position. He walked
Kaio back and out carefully so as to not add insult to injury enjoying his
4-2 record along the way. Kaio falls to 3-3, and now it's just a matter of
deciding what day to call it quits.
Kaio just can't move laterally, which takes away the henka or quick pull
maneuver, and his knee is also no longer in shape to try and hold his own
against these younger guys. It is my opinion that this injury and Kaio's
retirement would have occurred years earlier if rikishi weren't taking it
easy against him. As I previously stated, I believe that the Sumo
Association can ill afford any sort of shenanigans right now including
obvious yaocho, so now that Kaio has been forced to completely fend for
himself, the inevitable has reared its ugly head.
Rounding out the Ozeki ranks, Harumafuji employed a classic left nodowa into
M3 Kyokutenho's throat pushing the Chauffeur back to the brink. Kyokutenho
looked to evade and fight off the choke hold near ring's edge, and while he
briefly looked to have the Ozeki off balance, Harumafuji recovered quickly
and used another throat shove to seal the
Harumafuji is a quiet 5-1 if you need him while Kyokutenho is an expected
Sekiwake Tochiohzan welcomed an M1 Tokitenku who was so high at the tachi-ai
that Anna Nicole Smith rolled in her grave. With Tokitenku monkeying around
with pulls at the back of Tochiohzan's head, the Sekiwake seized the day and
had the hapless Tenku pushed out to an 0-6 mark. Tochiohzan moves to a cool
5-1 and is singlehandedly keeping the suck out of Sekiwake this basho. Great
Komusubi Kakuryu and M1 Wakanosato settled into the migi-yotsu position
after the Kak attempted a quick mae-mitsu (frontal belt grip) from the
tachi-ai with the left hand. Undeterred, the Kak bellied into his gal and
got Wakanosato up high setting up the subsequent force-out win. Kakuryu's a
quiet 3-3, which is a stellar record for a Komusubi at this point.
Wakanosato may be playing hard to get, but he's only got an 0-6 record to
show for it.
M2 Homasho kept both hands in tight pushing M4 Tokusegawa away by the
armpits in what looked like an old Asanowaka move where he kept his fingers
firmly pressed together as he pushed. Anyway, the tactic worked as
Homie slipped into moro-zashi about four seconds in allowing him to score
the upset with the force-out win. Homasho picks up win numero uno (that's
for my man Oscar who is reporting tomorrow) while Tokusegawa is still a
M4 Aminishiki lurched into the quick moro-zashi position from the tachi-ai
which left M7 Kitataiki nothing to do but try and evade and pull (i.e. nary
a pot to piss in). The yori-kiri damage was over quickly as Kitataiki was
never able to squirm out of the bearhug. Both rikishi are 4-2.
The two M5's clashed today that saw Hakuba offer a rather weak tachi-ai,
which is saying something for him. Takamisakari took full advantage--or so
it seemed--charging forward, but Hakuba was just setting him up for a quick
evasive maneuver as he dragged Takamisakari to the side by the belt. Still,
Hakuba's execution wasn't crisp, and Takamisakari was able to shoulder the
weakling out of the dohyo with a left shoulder into Hakuba's torso, but
Takamisakari's left foot stepped out of the dohyo before Hakuba's arse
apparently touched down outside the ring.
The gunbai was awarded to Takamisakari, but a mono-ii was called where it
was ruled that Takamisakari's foot stepped out an instant before Hakuba hit
the dirt. Problem was, Hakuba's body was completely beyond the tawara and
"dead" as they say, but they still gave the win to the Mongolian causing
Takamisakari to yell out in disbelief. I agree. Takamisakari was robbed in
this one as he falls to 2-4 after that 4-0 start. Hakuba can't go away fast
enough at 3-3.
M6 Mokonami hooked up with countryman and fellow M6 Asasekiryu in the
hidari-yotsu position, but the more experienced belt fighter, Asasekiryu,
grabbed a right outer grip and wasted little time and dumping Moe to the
dirt in an uneventful bout. Asasekiryu moves to 2-4 while Mokonami is barely
a blip on the radar these days at 1-5.
M10 Hokutoriki's tsuppari attack at the tachi-ai was so weak that M7
Tosayutaka patiently stood his ground before forcing his way inside causing
Hokutoriki to look for a way out. He wouldn't get it as Tosayutaka pushed
him out in short order from there moving to 3-3 in the process. Hokutoriki
is a measly 1-5.
I should note here that the previous two bouts were pre-empted by NHK so the
news division could report on the breaking news that Japan's new prime
minister (a position that gets changed faster than my underwear these days)
had announced his cabinet. For the first time in my life, I think, I was
more fascinated by Japanese political news than the action in the ring.
And how couldn't I have been with names like M8 Kokkai and M11 Kotokasuga
facing off in our next bout? If you must know the result, the two rikishi
hooked up in the hidari-yotsu position that saw Kotokasuga of all rikishi
execute a successful maki-kae with the right arm giving him moro-zashi and
Kokkai no place to go. Kokkai did try and get the hell out of there, but
Kotokasuga got him with a scoop throw in the process moving him to a shweet
3-3 after that 0-3 start. Kokkai falls to 4-2.
Alluding somewhat to my introduction, M11 Yoshikaze has been touted in the
press in recent days as the final Japanese rikishi without a loss. And he'd
keep it that way by striking M9 Bushuyama quickly before moving to his left.
Before Bushuyama could adjust, Yoshikaze seized moro-zashi, but Dolly proved
slippery as a fish wrangling out of the grip and forcing the two into a
straight-up yotsu-zumo fight, but Yoshikaze wouldn't stand for the belt
fight and quickly pulled Bushuyama to the dirt for a 6-0 record. Bushuyama
falls to 2-4.
M12 Koryu looked to force the action against M9 Kimurayama with some weak
shoves, but Kimurayama methodically backed away before baiting the hapless
Koryu into a pull-down. Like Hilary Clinton's face these days, this one
wasn't pretty, but Kim gets the job done as he moves to 4-2. Koryu is
1-5...with this banzuke! Shame, shame, everyone knows your name.
M10 Shimotori and M13 Sokokurai hooked up in the migi-yotsu position from
the tachi-ai, but following a common theme today, Shimotori was so high in
his approach that even Snoop Dog took note. Sokokurai took full advantage
easily forcing the compromised Shimotori back and out improving his record
to 3-3. Shimotori falls to 2-4 but apparently has an extra akeni (trunk)
stocked full of Twinkies and Doritos.
M12 Takekaze managed a big push at the tachi-ai against M16 Kyokunankai, and
then true to form he wasted that momentum by going for a quick pulldown.
Still, Takekaze (4-2) dictated the pace of the bout from the get-go, so by
the second attempt, he felled Kyokunankai (2-4) to the dohyo with little
M13 Kasugao charged way too low for his own good against M15 Kakizoe, so
without decent vision of his opponent, he allowed Kakizoe to duck under him
and force him upright. From there, Kasugao instinctively went for a pull
down, but he was completely compromised as Kakizoe thrust him down to the
dirt for the tsuki-otoshi win. And you know what they say about the
difference between oshi and tsuki: oshi means you just pushed your opponent
down, tsuki means you just kicked his ass. Both rikishi are 3-3.
M15 Gagamaru's attack against M14 Tamawashi was too high allowing The
Mawashi to slip into moro-zashi, whereupon Gagamaru went into immediate
damage control pinching inwards against both of Tamawashi's arms from the
outside in a position referred to as kime. To his credit, Gagamaru
pressed the action looking for the kime-dashi win (where's Takanonami when
we need him), but at the ring's edge, Tamawashi attempted an utchari that
looked to have been enough to send Gagamaru crashing to the dohyo before
Tamawashi hit down, but a mono-ii was called where it was ruled that
Tamawashi's body was so far removed from the ring's edge when Gagamaru hit
that a rematch was in order.
Fair enough. In the redo, Tamawashi moved to his left at the tachi-ai
causing Gagamaru to go for a quick pulldown, but with the Georgina now
exposed, he provided more than a large enough target for Tamawashi to shove
out of the ring. Gagamaru's momentum is cooled a bit as he falls to 4-2
while Tamawashi is even steven now at 3-3.
M17 Toyozakura's tsuppari were so weak at the tachi-ai that M14 Tochinonada
easily brushed them aside turning Toyozakura about 90 degrees in the process
rendering him the easy push out fodder from behind. Wham, bam, thank you
ma'am as Tochinonada moves to a gentle 4-2. Toyozakura is the converse.
And finally, in a bout I didn't see because I musta fast forwarded too much,
J3 Toyohibiki, who was incredibly winless coming in, managed to pull down
M16 Tosanoumi leaving both dudes at 1-5. And I'm sure I didn't miss
As Uncle Rico reported prior to the basho, Mark Arbo is kyujo due to a
broken coccyx (she was worth it, trust me). In Mark's place tomorrow, allow
me to introduce Óscar Gutiérrez, a dude so cool that his name requires non-ascii
(Kenji Heilman reporting)
The first third is in the books with one storyline holding together the fragile state of Japan's national sport. Considering the amount of empty seats seen in Tokyo, can you imagine the crickets we'll get in a regional basho like Kyushu if Hakuho doesn't keep winning?
In probably the most interesting sub-story line, Kaio in his 13th kadoban basho dropped his 2nd bout today against Kakuryu (2-3). Fragile would also be a description of Kaio as he soldiers on with ailments in his shoulder, and now his knee after yesterday's bout. He passed Terao for second all time in Makuuchi appearances with 1380, second only to Takamiyama, but looked overmatched in an easy yori-kiri win for Kakuryu. It will be very interesting to see if Kaio can pull this one out. I could very well see a farewell appearance for Kaio in Kyushu as a Sekiwake. It would be a story that garners similar media attention to Hakuho's if so.
Baruto sent a message-sending harite at the tachi-ai against Homasho to set the tone. This allowed the big Ozeki to get inside on the left and secure the right outside grip, taking control of the bout. From there, it was a matter of ushering the backtracking Homasho (0-5) out for yori-kiri and bolstering his record to 4-1.
Kotooshu has had some close calls but has managed to stay unscathed thus far. Today was no different as he negotiated Wakanosato's swift maneuver left after an honest tachi-ai. Oshu kept his feet under him just long enough for Waka to break the rope before flying head first into the second row. 5-0 for Oshu, 0-5 for Waka.
In a battle of fiesty Mongolians, Harumafuji used his patented nodowa attack to ward off Tokitenku (0-5). Haruma's attack was well grounded, which allowed him to overcome Tenku's well-timed attempt at a hataki (pull). Tenku's classic risk/reward effort at the pulldown didn't pay dividends, and when it didn't, his lost momentum quickly resulted in an oshi-dashi loss. Harumafuji improves to 4-1.
The challenger to Hakuho today was Tochinoshin, who as a 3-1 up-and-coming M2 rikishi presented as formidable an opponent as any. In fact, Tochinoshin has practiced with Hakuho recently which you'd think could help his cause. But it wasn't to be. The two locked up in migi-yotsu (left outside) position, which is preferred by bothrikishi, but Tochi didn't take advantage of the split second where he got the uwate first before the Yokozuna got his. Once Hakuho got a grip on both sides, he shook free of Tochi on one side and just like that the tables were turned. Although cautiously, Hakuho eventually twisted Tochi down in what looked like a kiri-kaeshi even though the official score was announced as sukui-nage (scoop throw). That makes 52 wins in a row, one shy now of Chiyonofuji's 53. Tomorrow he'll attempt to match it against Kotoshogiku. Personally, I still marvel at the fact that this guy has not lost since January shortly before Asashoryu left the sport. Unbelievable.
(Dr. Mario Kadastik reporting)
I am really pissed. I
have been planning a trip to Japan for over a year now and just as I
finalized all the things and booked some extra days to get also some
sumo action, the Association pulls such a load of crap that it kinda
makes me question if I even really want to go to the bouts anymore. I
mean the huge demotion and promotion due to betting scandals has left
the banzuke in such a state that every single day will feature at most
3-4 decent bouts with the rest being more akin to random Juryo rambling
than real Makuuchi action. So bear with me as I suffer through the first
two thirds of the tori-kumi to get to the "goodies" (if you can even
call them that).
I yawned so much and couldn't find the motivation fast enough, that I
actually missed how lady gaga lost. Then again, I'm not sure I really
Kakizoe just can't help himself, he so wants to go and battle that he
always causes false starts. Finally on the third go he decided to go for
a small henka, get around Wakatenro and go for a pushout. Tenro did
manage to recover from this, but kept going backwards around the ring.
Just as he was about to step out he managed to deflect Zoe and send him
stumbling, but before Zoe managed to lose it, Waka stepped out. I did
take the bother to comment this bout mostly due to my liking of warm
shit, but it was as Juryo a bout as can be so I'll know better with the
Tosanoumi and Tamawashi pushed around until Tosa mis-stepped and fell on
his ass. Tamawashi won.
In some languages kura means dick. In the same languages za usually
means around or something like that. If you look closely then, today's
opponent Sokokurai also has kura in his name, so against Toyo"za"kura
there was plenty of dicking around till Sokokurai found himself spread
out on the clay. Oh well, I guess I am milking the synonyms here for
there was no action to comment on.
Oldster Nada took on the older Kaze and quickly manhandled him with a
neck grip and throw. At least watching it didn't burn my eyes out and
might have instead provided some relief after the previous bouts. Hope
it also gives some relief in advance. Oh and even the MIB seem sleeping
for they missed the kimari-te again. That was no tsuki-otoshi, more like
For the next two guys that were called out, the normal outcome would be
that they would lose. However as they faced each other this really can't
happen. Kotokasuga finally made it to third base, but it did look like
two drunken women brawling about who gets the last pint and guess Koryu
had already had enough.
Now, the exact opposite to previous fellas is what you get when you look
at the next bout. Kasugao and Espresso showed up both anticipating a win
and that's actually a good starting position for a decent bout. Neither
had dropped one yet, but they were due one eventually. The first start
was utterly out of sync with Espresso just standing up so the gyoji
decided to call it back. Once the two actually decided to fight, it
showed why Yoshikaze is a regular in Makuuchi and Kasugao is a regular
in Juryo. Espresso quickly manhandled the korean moving him back and
then deflecting the counter-strike to send Gao rolling.
As Mike put it, Hokutoriki has been limp for a while now and his double
nodowa doesn't excite anyone anymore, but neither does Kimurayama's
henka to the left. So both guys decided to take it easy, Kimu didn't
henka to left, but just stood up and Hokutoriki just raised his hands
and forgot his legs. As both understood they look like two veterans
after a week of drinking, they decided to stopped the embarrassment as
Kimu moved slightly back and to his right allowing Hokutoriki to crash
on his belly.
Do I really have to comment on those bouts? I mean Korporal has been his
usual lousy self with no spark and Shimotori ain't really a blazing
star, so you can't really expect any decent strong sumo or interesting
techniques from here... Then again I might be wrong at times. The two
locked to a yotsu battle and I prepared to go for a coffee as such
standoffs usually take hours before anything interesting happens.
However something happened that I didn't think possible. Kokkai used his
left inner grip to pull Shimotori forward while using his right hand to
assist in the throw. If you blinked you missed it for it was lightning
fast. Maybe da cock does have some spark after-all. The last time I saw
such moves it was in the form of Kotomitsuki upsetting his opponents.
Maybe now that the Association threw Kotomitsuki out, some of his sumo
spirit rubbed off on Kokkai though I don't want to think how this
Bush and Yutaka locked into a beltless grappling with both featuring
access to armpits with one arm over and one below the opponents arm. The
height of Bush was the advantage in this case as he countered what
Yutaka threw at him and forced the younger guy towards the straw. As it
was apparent that it's close to curtains for Yutaka, the small guy
decided to attempt a beltless utchari move that did upset Bush and made
him kiss the clay, but not before Yutaka himself folded on all the
weight. Props for trying, but I guess better luck next time with at
least some form of belt to help ya on the way.
It's nice to see the Clown in the upper echelons and would be fun to see
the oldy get one more sniff of a Yokozuna, but I guess that's not gonna
happen unless something freaky happens as he's right outside the
kill-zone. So instead, he sniffed Kitataiki today and I guess what he
smelled wasn't so good for he quickly recoiled from the close grip he
had initially and made himself easy pushout fodder from there.
After the MIB had had enough and a new gang took their place (I can now
understand why they do it as one can really get bored after those bouts
that we've seen so far) we had Tokusegawa and Asasuckiryu kick up the
action. Suckiryu couldn't get his usual low stance, and that showed as
he was unable to counter Tokusegawa's moves nor was he able to do his
kind of sumo. Tokusegawa used what was given to him and never letting go
worked Sexy back and out. I have to admit, the second half kicked off to
a good yotsu battle as the bout was reminiscent of that what the average
lower rank Makuuchi sumo looked like a while ago (yes, that's how bad
it's gotten). Tokusegawa won the yotsu battle in the end, but that's not
what matters here.
I don't know what has happened to Moe. He is high, yes, but still I
would have anticipated him to be better than just 0-3 by now. He does
have his right shoulder heavily taped up so I guess the arm isn't what
it used to be. Aminishiki isn't his full self either with his bum knee,
but that doesn't seem to hamper him too much in moving around. The two
avoided yotsu and instead had a running around and pushing sumo with
lunges from both that got deflected. In the end Moe managed to deflect
one of Ami's in a good way getting around him like a matador allowing
the bull to crash on the tawara. It wasn't pretty so I'll stop here.
Hakuba knew that he can't fight Kyokutenho in a yotsu battle so as soon
as tenho wrapped him up in a tight grip, the Henkster quickly went for a
merry-go-around strategy hoping to get Tenho dizzy, but the mongol
didn't relinquish his grip and had Hakuba back and out soon.
It seems that Aran's doing the regular shin-sanyaku basho with a great
0-3 start. Today he wasn't served peanuts either as he had to stare into
the mug of Kisenosato across the starting lines. Aran went into
streetfighter mode sending straight punches that bordered on illegal to
Kise's neck and shoulder area getting the Japanese fighter off balance,
and when Kise was ripe for the kill, Mr. Alan delivered what was coming.
That's the kind of sumo where Aran gets his juices going and can kick
anyone's ass (as long as that anyone isn't Hak). Well at least it won't
be a 0-15 now, and Kisenosato has been cooled down to a calm 2-2 meaning
he'll be of no consequence down the line.
Tochiohzan is showing that he won't bow to the establishment by kicking
Kaio's sorry ass, and today he showed that he won't bow to anyone easily
keeping his balance and strategy as Kakuryu came with a quick attack.
Once Kak's initial charge was spent, Tochi attacked himself and easily
had fishface back and out. Props to the youngster for he is indeed
showing some backbone. Maybe this is the next ozeki from JP that we've
all been waiting?
now that we've gotten to the Ozeki territory, we are welcomed first by
Ozeki Baruto meeting one of the guys who broke his knee years back. Giku
isn't quite what he was then, but as he's on his good basho interval one
can't know for sure what'll happen. Bart has showed in the past three
days that he does remember what got him the Ozprom as he's reverted back
to the strong oshi attack driving with his lower body, but he also has
to remember what cost him the win on day two. Today being cautious of a
possible henka, he abandoned the oshi attack and instead went quickly
for the belt. Once he had his right outer grip and neutralized Giku from
gaining morozashi, you already knew that the bout was over. We didn't
quite see a baruto-dashi, but close to it with a wiggling toe in the air
by Giku. After he got down to hand Shin the powerdrink, he looked at his
hand as if he'd gotten shit under his fingernails. That's a good Ozeki,
has again showed why he belongs in the upper ranks by utterly
dismantling his opponents and not just any lightweight ones, but even
with an ozeki scalp already to his name. So today he came for the next
one albeit a more difficult one for Kotooshu is at least as long and
strong as he himself is. Kotooshu having seen what happened yesterday
quickly worked himself to the inside and without allowing for much
regrouping escorted Shin back and out to the third row. Essentially the
ozeki did what the ozeki was supposed to do. Let's just hope shin won't
let it spoil his mood too much and continue to take scalps as he
continues on his quest to sanyaku again.
After that loss to Shin yesterday, the association decided to feel
Harry's pressure by matching him to the Barometer. The Barometer showed
high pressure, higher than normal for Harry, so Harry had to work his
way to the win. He did get Wakanosato to the straw, but didn't have the
force with him to get him across so he himself got moved back a step or
two. As Waka tried a slap/pull move he lost his pressure and was quickly
sent packing by Harry.
Kaio the broken bear took on a winless Tokitenku on his quest for eight.
And surprisingly it seemed that the bout was legit, and Kaio had to
really work to get the win. Of course he probably didn't have to pay off
Tokitenku, especially if one considers Tenku's current score. We'll see
how the quest looks in the second week, but I have a bad feeling that we
may still see Kaio in Kyushu and not laying down the mawashi (not that
I'd want to see him taking off the mawashi).
the final bout of the day saw Hakuho move one step closer to breaking
yet another record. I didn't even have to look who his opponent is in
advance to knowing what the end result is for the only man to whom
Hakuho can lose is Hakuho himself. If he manages to fall out of bed and
break a leg or something will he become vulnerable, but not by any
action of the current crop of guys surrounding him. And considering the
banzuke is really top-heavy this basho, this is saying something. Homey
showed up and did his duty by trying, and boy did he try--even looked
good, but in the end no matter how much he tried he found himself on the
clay. This is what happens if you face Hakuho these days, and I think
everyone is already getting used to it and through that adding defeat
after defeat already at the mental level...
Well that's about it. I won't be showing my face here on my usual slot
in week two for I'll be in Tokyo with Matron and Arbo enjoying the
scenery and the action live at least as much as one can enjoy it with
the current crop. It also looks as if NSK is going to start enforcing
seating arrangements from now on meaning they're prohibiting us for
sneaking low, but we'll see. We may have some surprises for you in week
two, but don't count on it if we actually find one of those drink all
you can for XX Yen places. Well about tomorrow, at least considering
that you'll be served by Kenji, you won't miss a thing with his standard
(Martin Matra reporting)
Can you spell
"imbeciles"? Let me give it a try: N... S... K. With all the scandals
plaguing sumo right now, you'd think the bigwigs are trying to salvage
what little is left of the sport's popularity, but if I didn't know
better, I'd be tempted to say they're out to get it for good. The latest
"reform" the worthless fat-asses farted forward is strict control of the
seating. So, if you're, say, a gaijin from Romania making less money
than your garden variety Japanese salaryman and you want to visit Japan
for the first time and you want to get up there in the front rows...
you'll have to pay the full amount, even though the wind is whistling
through the empty hall. I'm not saying it's
or anything, but it sure as hell ain't bringing them more fans.
Add bad bouts and a weak banzuke to that, and you get a Martin who's
more stoked about Lady Gaga's (the real one) meat outfit than the
current basho or anything remotely related to sumo, like the news about
Wakanoho and his new career in college football in the USA. Let's slowly
crawl to the action and get this over with.
Very late newcomer Kyokunankai got worked in typical fashion by (at
least by Juryo standards) powerhouse Miyabiyama, who stood him up with
his meaty tsuppari and then pulled him down rather violently. The
Fatman's 2-1 after facing his most dangerous opponents and will be a
serious threat for the Juryo Yusho. He can't return to Makuuchi soon
enough. The exact opposite should be said about Tenho's stable mate.
Lord Gaga continued his march through the dregs with a comprehensive
defeat of former Sanyaku mainstay Tosanoumi. The hulking Georgian kept
his opponent in front of him and pushed him straight back and out. 3-0
is exactly what you'd have to expect with this kind of opposition. The
Blue Collar Man is on his way back to the basement.
Tamawashi fell to a somewhat surprising 0-3, but what's really worrying
is the way he lost to Toyozakura of all rikishi. The Ambassador's
brother kind of hit his bigger foe and quickly moved out of his way,
grabbing him by the back of the belt and escorting him out from behind
for his first of the 3 wins he's getting this basho. The Mawashi should
slap himself hard and return to the form that propelled him to M4 half a
Kakizoe seems to be in an even bigger hole, if that's possible, losing
his third straight, this time to the bigger, more experienced and more
skilled Tochinonada. Zoe seemed to have the upper hand after the
tachi-ai, worming his way to the inside, but Nada resisted his advances
and kind of locked his left arm, pushed him up and immediately yanked
him forward with the free arm, getting behind him in the process.
Tochinonada climbs to 2-1 with the win, but don't expect him to get too
many more of those.
Mongol Sokokurai read Mike's day 2 and decided to put on a better show,
charging hard into Takekaze and getting in tight. The fat Kaze knew he
was in trouble, so he tried his old backpedaling game, but the younger
foe was just too good this time, finishing it with a straight push.
Sokokurai is a promising 2-1, but that's no big deal if you look around
Takekaze shares the mark.
Kasugao took a lot of abuse from Koryu, who seemed determined to beat
him into a pulp, but was really looking for the right time to pull him
down. The opportunity came at some point, but the Korean miraculously
survived at the tawara and turned the tables on Koryu, grabbing his
mawashi and ending the affair with a yori-kiri which degenerated into a
sukui-nage off the dohyo. Don't look now, but The Kimchi Kid is 3-0.
Koryu is a business-as-usual 0-3 and he can't get out of the top
division soon enough.
One guy who's pretty certain to benefit from the over-promotion of
Juryo-ites is Shimotori, who didn't have to work too hard today against
the aging Kotokasuga. Moo took his time and didn't try to finish it
right away, instead waiting for the perfect moment to get the left
outside, which he did after some slight hesitation from the Sadogatake
sekitori. Yori-kiri and 2-1 for Shimotori, while Kasuga stays winless.
Yoshikaze wasn't intimidated by Jokutoriki's pre-tachi-ai shenanigans
and brushed off his meek thrusts to get the left inside position. It was
all he needed, really, to yori-kiri his yotsu challenged foe in a flash
for a great, albeit somewhat expected 3-0. Hokutoriki is a paltry 1-2.
Korporal Kokkai found himself outgunned at the tachi-ai, so he went for
the panic pull-down, but Bush read it like a dirty magazine in a
Japanese train and steamrolled him out in a flash. Fascinating stuff.
Kokkai's at 2-1, while Bush is still in the woods with 1-2.
If there's one thing I liked today, it was seeing Kimurayama pulling a
henka and still losing. Tosayutaka saw it coming a mile away, stayed
back a bit, and when Kim reloaded with his usual push from the side,
Tosayutaka was ready and slapped him on the head a few times for the
hard-worked hatakikomi. Records... same order... same magnitude...
above... must not fall asleep.
Kitataiki got the lower stance coming into the tachi-ai vs. Mokonami and
muscled his way into a kind of hidari yotsu of some sort - there was no
clear mawashi grip on the visible side, and no visible grip on the other
side, but there must've been something, because Moe was blown away in
about a second or two. Mike's mancrush improves to 2-1, whereas the Tan
Man has to rethink a thing or two.
Henkuba stayed true to his moniker and pulled a slick little sidestep to
his left, getting the left uwate. Asasekiryu put up a lot of resistance,
but he just couldn't manage to survive the compromising position with no
uwate of his own. Henkuba "improves" to 2-1 with the dirty win, while
Sexy's anything but at one win to two losses.
Aminishiki used a dodgy move of his own to take Tokusegawa off balance
at the tachi-ai, then kept pushing and shifting around until he could
grab a hold of the Mongol's armpit and fling him down to the dirt for
win #2. Tokusegawa falls to 1-2, but he has nothing to be ashamed of...
Kyokutenho used an even subtler sidestep, just enough to grab himself a
slab of prime uwate on Takamisakari's mawashi, and then forced the
overwhelmed Clown right back and out. A win's a win, and for Tenho today
it was the ONLY win, while Takamisakari falls to 2-1. And it's weird to
see him fight in the second half.
One surprising sumo stat is Kisenosato's rather poor record against
Kotoshogiku (OK, not nearly as surprising as Ama's record vs. the same
guy, but still) - I'm guessing it has to do with favored grips, body
shape and size and throwing skills. Anyway, Kotoshogiku got the better
of the tachi-ai, getting on the inside and denying Kise the uwate, and,
at least for some time, driving him back. But Kisenosato took advantage
of his long arm to get that outside grip and once in hidari-yotsu he
methodically forced his lighter foe to the edge and out, not before some
wranglin' and rasslin'. Both men are now 2-1 and promise to be brighter
spots on an otherwise bleak banzuke.
Komusubi Kakuryu kind of exposed Aran again, winning the tachi-ai and
getting a solid left shitate and a lower stance in the process. The
Ossetian felt the pressure throughout the bout, as the Mongol constantly
threatened him with moro-zashi, but Aran was able to hold out for a
while by locking Kak's left arm. But the more skilled Fishy was not to
be denied this time and finished it with a strong yori-kiri after
finally finagling his way into moro-zashi. Kak is a VERY honorable 1-2
(tight losses to Kotooshu and Hakuho) and it's not ludicrous to think he
could go 11-4 or 12-3 and start an Ozeki run, while Aran just sucks at
0-3, despite showing the same strength as last basho (he started that
one 1-4 as well, but with deadly opposition).
Kotooshu went about his business by charging high at Homasho and trying
to work his way into an uwate, but when Homes flustered him with his low
stance the Bulgarian just said "enough is enough" and used a couple of
echoing slaps to send his outgunned opponent to the dohyo in a heap.
Homasho (0-3) can't get out of there soon enough, while Kotooshu stays
on par for the course with 3-0 (and, might I add, two of his more
difficult Mongol opponents behind him). With what I've seen so far, I'd
say he's on his way to maybe a 13-2 and a jun-yusho.
Easily the best bout of the day, today's Tochinoshin vs. Ama heralds
what could be a great future rivalry. The Mongol dominated the tachi-ai
and looked set for a quick and easy force-out win after getting a
vicious right grip on the Private's belt, but Shin recovered quickly and
got a left uwate of his own. Before he realized it, Hrmph was in a very
disadvantageous position, as the Georgian worked his way to his side. In
fact, with nothing but a deep right inside and Tochinoshin's chin buried
like an axe in his back, he could never really recover, despite some
pretty looking counter throw attempts. After a long, hard minute of
yotsu, Shin finally got the double grip he was after and lifted his
smaller foe clean off his feet, setting him up for the powerful
yori-kiri. With the 3-0 Tochinoshin couldn't have asked for more, while
Ama falls to his first defeat. This is gonna be interesting.
Just when I thought I figured out Kaio's yaocho pattern, Tochiohzan (who
was a suspicious 0-6 against him before today, with all of the old man's
wins coming by particularly lame looking pull/slapdowns) used a dirty
henka to his right, avoiding the uwate and pushing his compromised foe
out faster than you can say intai. Kaio is still on par for the 8, but
something tells me he'll have to show some of the worst sumo we've seen
out of him to get it, because the jo'i sure as hell ain't saving his
hide this time. Tomorrow's match against Tokitenku will be quite
telling. Oh's 2-1 if'n ya need him.
Baruto rebounded from his painful loss to Kisenosato yesterday with a
complete obliteration of Tokitenku (I know, that's not saying much),
whom he stood up and drove across the ring with a vicious nodowa, almost
lifting him clean off his feet. I hope he keeps this up, because I'll be
at the Kokugikan to see him fight Hakuho on day 13, and there's quite a
difference between 11-1 and 8-4 when taking on that particular Mongol.
Tokitenku boasts a very expected 0-3.
Yokozuna Hakuho was rather careful but otherwise untroubled in his
approach to the musubi-no-ichiban against Wakanosato, first getting a
right inside, then reinforcing it with the left outside and banishing
the former Sekiwake from the dohyo with no resistance whatsoever. Fifty
wins and counting - Kokonoe can kiss his modern era winning streak
record goodbye. Futabayama's probably squirming in his grave too,
because 69 all of a sudden seems trivial for the level of Sumo (sic)
Hak's showing. If anyone gives a damn, Croconosato is 0-3.
Since I'm not likely to report again this basho, let me do my usual
speculation early. Yusho: you don't have to own a PhD to figure THAT one
out. Kantosho: Gagamaru - the hombre seems to have gotten past his
Nagoya troubles. Yoshikaze is also an interesting candidate. Ginosho:
Kakuryu, with 10 wins at least. Shukunsho: see Yusho. Of course,
Kisenosato might just decide to stop sucking and sweep all three of
them, but don't hold your breath.
I haven't got the slightest idea who's doing tomorrow, but there's an
85.71% chance it'll be good. Sayonara!c
(Mike Wesemann reporting)
In my blog entry last
week along with my pre-basho report, I covered all of the relevant
topics heading into the basho, but now that the tournament has begun,
the utter lack of attendance is glaring. I mean, I have no ties or
allegiance to the Sumo Association, yet even I was embarrassed by
the number of red velvet seats in attendance today. Having said that, I
knew that all of this was coming and outlined it in a blog entry I
posted just after Asashoryu's retirement.
In that piece, I talk about how sumo wouldn't necessarily see the impact
of losing Asashoryu right away because there'd still be the novelty
factor of what sumo would be like without him, but by the time Aki
rolled around, it would be apparent that attendance was way down with no
Asashoryu coupled with a dominant Hakuho. At the time, a member of the
YDC who was connected to the financial world estimated a 30% drop in
ticket sales and ratings, and I felt as if that was an accurate number,
but what no one factored in was the emergence of these latest
gambling/yakuza scandals, so take that original 30% number and then add
another 20% for the recent scandals, and the result is a Kokugikan that
isn't sold out on day 1 and less than half full by day 2.
That's probably more gloomy news to start yet another report, but just
wait until we start hitting the early Makuuchi bouts.
Leading off the day, J1 Toyonoshima toyed with M16 Tosanoumi as a tom
cat would with a handicapped mouse. Toyonoshima easily withstood
Tosanoumi's aging tachi-ai before pulling the vet down in the center of
the ring about two seconds in. Tosanoumi (1-1) god bless him has simply
become a strike and pull guy, which has no place in the Makuuchi
division. Toyonoshima is 2-0 and can't get back up here soon enough.
Something had to have been up with M15 Gagamaru last basho because he
was so bad it was comical. I hinted in Nagoya that he was taking dives
as his falls to the dohyo were so unnatural, but whatever it was is
completely out of the Gentleman's system this basho so far (yes, I've
upgraded him from Lady to Gentleman again). For the second day in a row,
Gags just stormed through his opponent as if he wasn't even there. This
cheap banzuke is also helping with that, but M17 Toyozakura was a
complete non-factor other than his playing the role of Gagamaru's teppo
pole for a few seconds. Gagamaru is a fantastic 2-0 while Toyozakura
falls to 0-2. And do I even bother adding "Toyozakura" to my spell check
Kyokunankai was the first rikishi to hit from the ladies tees this basho
by side-stepping an unsuspecting M15 Kakizoe to the left and escorting
him out of the ring by the back of the jockstrap. Makuuchi rikishi be
warned: Kyokunankai can't win any other way. I think his oyakata should
change the "nan" kanji in his shikona from 'south' to 'soft'. Kakizoe
falls to 0-2, and I should point out that in the picture at right, that
is NOT a flashbulb going off. Some hack at the Japanese papers was
actually editing a portion of the shot out. Click the picture
itself to see a larger version that illustrates Kakizoe's exact feelings
regarding this bout.
M13 Kasugao muscled M14 Tamawashi over and out in a classic yotsu
contest where Tamawashi's failure to keep his stance low at the tachi-ai
enabled the Kimchi Kid to burrow inside and easily body his opponent
back and out. Kasugao is 2-0 while Tama has messed his mawashi at 0-2.
M13 Sokokurai beat M14 Tochinonada with his speed today always keeping
the bout on the move and refusing to let Nada get settled in.
Tochinonada did get his left inside grip eventually, but it was so
shallow that Sokokurai was able to keep to the side of the Gentle Giant
and eventually hoist him up with a right outer grip using his thigh on
the inside Nada's stump to aid the throw. I haven't been too impressed
with Sokokurai so far. He's too lightweight and will only be able to
take advantage of rikishi who can't move at all. Both dudes finish at
M12 Takekaze stood M11 Kotokasuga upright at the tachi-ai with some paws
to the throat, but you could see right away that he wasn't interested at
all in driving his opponent back. With Kotokasuga leaning forward trying
to stave off the choke hold, Takekaze sprung the oldest trap in the book
suddenly reversing gears and slapping the hapless Kotokasuga to the
dohyo for the pull down win. I guess there was nothing cheap here, but
this kind of sumo cannot keep the fans interested through the first half
bouts. Takekaze (2-0) is like a kid in a candy store with this banzuke
while Kotokasuga falls to 0-2.
M11 Yoshikaze outlasted a stubborn M12 Koryu who managed to grab a solid
right outer grip early on, so while Yoshikaze burrowed in close, Koryu
continued to counter with outer belt throws, but as the bout wore on,
Cafe's belt became looser and looser rendering Koryu's initial outer
grip a mere clasp on a few folds of mawashi. That was the difference
Yoshikaze needed to finally use his lower body to set up a nifty scoop
throw of Koryu with the left arm. Yoshikaze (2-0) is like a Kitazakura
in a junior high gym class with this banzuke while Koryu falls to 0-2.
Look at M9 Kimurayama beating a yotsu guy in M10 Shimotori without using
his usual side-step at the tachi-ai. The two hooked up quickly in a
yotsu contest, but Kimurayama managed to keep Shimotori up high with
hands to the throat setting him up for a nice counter scoop throw near
the ring's edge. Kim is 2-0 if you need him while Shimotori is even
steven at 1-1.
M10 Hokutoriki (2-0) was easily able to keep M9 Bushuyama away from the
belt with his usual tsuppari up high that should be used to set up an
oshi-dashi win, but which are used nowadays to set up the quick pull of
an unsuspecting opponent. The two danced for five or six seconds before
Hokutoriki sprung the trap and pulled the hapless Bushuyama (0-2) to the
In the day's worst bout by far, M7 Kitataiki came in way too high
against M8 Kokkai who began thrusting into Kitataiki's mid-section, but
Kitataiki was able to jump out of the way, and as Kokkai pivoted and
went for round two, Kitataiki jumped back just as Kokkai lunged forward
allowing Kitataiki to yank Kokkai forward to the brink. The Korporal
managed to keep his balance, however, with one foot on the tawara, and
as he regrouped going in for round three, there was no question what
Kitataiki was going to do yet again when Kokkai charged forward. The
third time's usually a charm, but not so today as Kitataiki lost his
balance as he jumped to the side that final time, and although he was
successful in baiting Kokkai into the move sending him to the dohyo,
Kitataiki tripped himself up as well actually managing to touch down a
split-second before his opponent. I was glad to see the offensive-minded
Kokkai come away with the win here as he backs in to a 2-0 record.
Kitataiki is 1-1.
As a side note, if you think a horrible banzuke is just going to plague
us for this basho, think again. Guys like Kokkai and the two Kaze's are
going to be able to rip through the ranks sending them sky high for
Kyushu. So while we will have Toyonoshima, Miyabiyama, Goeido, etc. back
in the division in November, they're going to be so low on the ladder
that we'll have to suffer through another similar tournament.
Rounding out the first half was M7 Tosayutaka and M6 Asasekiryu who
hooked up early in a yotsu-zumo contest with neither rikishi having the
advantage. Tosayutaka needed moro-zashi in this one, but the feisty
Asasekiryu kept him away with a solid inside grip.
Deadlocked--literally--the two traded turns testing the force-out waters
early on but then settled in for a bout that was so long, I decided to
dust off my PC from 13 years ago, boot it up to this slick operating
system called Windows 95, load AOL, and then establish a dial-up
internet connection. Right about the time the static and pings stopped
and the dude said "you've got mail!", Asasekiryu bulldozed Tosayutaka
(0-2) out of the ring picking up his first win in the process.
M5 Takamisakari pleased the empty seats today with his second win by
striking M6 Mokonami at the tachi-ai and then switching to counter mode
backing up and slightly to the side while managing to pull Mokonami
(0-2) forward and to
M4 Aminishiki used a right paw deep into M5 Hakuba's throat forcing the
Mongolian back near the edge, and even though Hakuba swiped Aminishiki's
arm away, the former Sekiwake reloaded right back up into Hakuba's
throat making good on his promise this time forcing Hakuba back and down
with the some mustard. Both rikishi finish the day at 1-1.
M4 Tokusegawa and M2 Tochinoshin gave us the best chikara-zumo bout of
the day hooking up into a gappuri-yotsu position from the tachi-ai and
trading turns trying to body the other person back. The difference here
was Tochinoshin's threatening the tsuri-dashi move, and while lifting
Tokusegawa completely off his feet is a tall order, Tochinoshin was able
to hoist him up high enough to eventually come away with the yori-kiri
win. Shin's fought two-a the best yotsu bouts of the basho, so props to
his fast 2-0 start. Tokusegawa's gonna be a player along the lines of
Tochinoshin once he gets more experience at this level. He's 1-1.
I was disappointed yesterday that Sekiwake Aran didn't give a better
effort against Tochinoshin. Sure, Aran hung in there and wanted to win,
but gone was that kick-ass-at-all-costs mentality that we saw the final
10 days in Nagoya. The Russian came with the exact same nonchalance
today against M3 Kotoshogiku, and once again, he found himself in a
stiff yotsu contest that he would have won in Nagoya but lost today
because he allowed his opponent to dictate the pace of the bout. Said
pace was Kotoshogiku's signature gaburi-yori move where he slowly
bellies his opponent back and out in a motion aptly described by Arbo as
a "dry hump." The Geeku moves to 2-0 with the gutsy win while Aran
hasn't exhibited an ounce of urgency up to this point. If the Russian
can't handle Tochinoshin nor Kotoshogiku early on, howsie gonna fair
against the Yokozuna and Ozeki? He's not.
Watching Sekiwake Tochiohzan mature the last year or so has been an
absolute treat. Previously, Oh Snap is schooled by a tough yotsu guy
like M3 Kyokutenho who he was just 2-7 against coming in, but today, the
Sekiwake demanded moro-zashi from the tachi-ai and made short work of
the Chauffeur yanking him over to the edge before shoving him out with
some oomph picking up his first win in the process. Kyokutenho is an
In the Ozeki ranks, Harumafuji showed just how unafraid any of these
guys are of M2 Homasho in a bout that saw both rikishi strike and stay
low before Harumafuji went for an ill-advised suso-tori move where a
rikishi grabs his opponent's ankle and just lifts him off balance. It's
ill-advised because the aggressor is totally set up to be pulled down,
and even though the Ozeki whiffed on his first attempt, he went right
back down for the ankle again, this time pulling Homasho off balance and
sending him to the clay via suso-tori. Harumafuji is in territory he
hasn't seen in awhile, namely a 2-0 start while Homasho is going to
continue getting his ass handed to him by the upper-echelon rikishi.
Ozeki Kaio capitalized on another scheduling gift from the Association
by grabbing the easy right outer grip against M1 Wakanosato, yanking him
to the side, and then bodying him back for the signature yori-kiri win
all the while oblivious to any counter sumo Wakanosato was attempting
with the left inside position. Sure, Kaio has to fight these guys some
time during the basho, but the Association is doing him a big favor by
not forcing the Ozeki into a deep hole early. Wakanosato is 0-2.
Ozeki Baruto got off to a great start against Komusubi Kisenosato
driving the Kid dangerously back to the edge, and while the Ozeki's
de-ashi looked great to me, he overextended himself just a bit putting
more pressure on his left leg than his knee wanted to accommodate. At
this point, you really have to credit Kisenosato for sensing the
negative shift in his opponent's momentum because the Komusubi pounced
swiping Bart's arm away before knocking him completely upright and then
pushing him back and out with some vigor. This was a huge win for
Kisenosato, and the type of win that Kisenosato has lacked for more than
a year now. Granted, Baruto controlled this one early and obviously
tweaked something in his knee, but Kisenosato was ready when the opening
came and capitalized. Both rikishi end the day at 1-1, and this bout
will likely send the two in opposite directions...that will
coincidentally end with both rikishi scoring an equal amount of wins.
Baruto limped back down the hanamichi after the bout favoring his left
knee, and this wasn't a classic Dejima sour grapes limp after a loss;
rather, I really think that Baruto hurt something here. He should
continue to fight, but he may do well just to reach eight wins.
Kisenosato picks up a huge win that will likely make the kachi-koshi
difference in the end.
The most entertaining bout of the day featured Komusubi Kakuryu looking
to upset Ozeki Kotooshu for the second tournament in a row, and the Kak
nearly pulled it off again using the same tactic he bested the Bulgarian
with in July, namely the fearless moro-zashi charge and quick offensive
maneuver. The difference today, however, was that Kotooshu remembered
exactly how he lost last basho, so he countered nicely, not by trying to
dig in and use his strength but by pivoting to the side and keeping Kak
on the move all the while dragging him off balance with a solid outer
grip. Kakuryu made it close due to his advantageous position, but
Kotooshu's nifty footwork and lengthy arms proved the difference as the
Ozeki was able to pull Kakuryu to the side just enough before bodying
him back for the nervous win. Great stuff from both parties in what has
been my favorite bout of the basho these first two days. Kotooshu moves
to 2-0 while Kakuryu has my full respect at 0-2.
You may recall last basho that Yokozuna Hakuho's closest bout came
against Tokitenku of all rikishi. The Yokozuna apparently has the memory
of an elephant because against the M1 today, he took no chances coming
out of his crouch using one of those grizzly bear slaps he employed
early in his career to just pound Tokitenku to a pulp in the center of
the ring with the right hand before the M1 had completely come out of
his stance. Works for me as Tokitenku falls to 0-2 while Hakuho skates
to his 49th in a row.
Martin splains the rest tomorrow.
(Clancy Kelly reporting)
Well, its September and
the world is mudluscious and there are known knowns and known unknowns.
The troubles in sumo have made me want to burn something, publicly, and
lets not forget those who lost their lives, eh?
For me the highlight of the basho has already come, namely Mike daring
to employ the term "nosegays" in his pre-basho report. For most others
its whether or not Hakuho can reel off another fifteen wins. I suppose
that focal point is as good as any in a sport that seems less and less
relevant with each passing day. I live here and trust me, the buzz is
there is no buzz. Sumo is in serious danger of taking its position among
the wax figures of samurai and court courtesans at the Museum of
But since the double secret probation imposed by NHK has been lifted and
its on the boobtube once again, I decided to tune in. The sight of the
sanyaku and the Yokozuna standing behind that numbnut new sumo headman
(remember, the guy who used to stop all the wrestlers several basho ago,
when false starts were the diablo du juor?), their eyes downcast as he
apologized for them and the sport and swore theyd all be on their best
behavior from here on out, made it worthwhile. And its a good thing,
too, cause todays sumo sure didnt.
I joined the festivities a bit late, after an exciting new Juryo rikishi
called Goeido had pulled down M17(?) Toyozakura (younger bro of the
recently retired Catholic priest Kitazakura), Lord Gaga had bested
Kakizoe, and two veterans who have mothballed their walkers to give
Makuuchi one more shot, Tosanoumi and Tochinonada, started out with wins
(in the Blue Collar Mans case over a guy, Kyokunankai, who took---wait
for it---SEVENTEEN years to reach Makuuchi from his sumo debut). Now
thats just cool.
The first bout I witnessed pitted Korean Kasugao vs. Inner Mongolian
Sokokurai (labeled as Chinese but thats like saying Maria Sharapova is
Russian). The Kimchi Kommando killed the newcomer, who has impressively
gone from his Juryo debut in Jan. to his Makuuchi debut here. Hes tall
but a wee bit light at the moment. Eat up, Right Around There!
Next up occasional top division visitor Koryu worked his smaller foe
around some, but Takekaze has been in that position on numerous
occasions, and this one ended as many have before, with Scrappy Doo
managing to slip away all over the place and get around his man for the
Scrappys stablemate Yoshikaze stepped up next and dismantled a man we
havent seen for a couple of years at least, Kotokasuga, getting under
"le pits" and giving him the bums rush.
The W10s went at it, two guys who are tough to get excited about in
Hokutoriki and Shimotori. Props to the Jokerman as he hung tough once
his tsuppari flew out the window, making Shimotori work harder than
anyone in the place could have expected for the yorikiri decision. I can
honestly say that I cannot recall EVER ONCE seeing Hokutoriki win on the
A mountainous battle betwixt Kimurayama and Bushuyama ended in a HUH?
but not overly WTF? kneeldown, or tsukihiza, where the loser
inexplicably, and without being molested, wilts to his knees. Strange to
see his Holiness the Dolly Yama being the one in the position of
Tosayutaka had the win in his pocket (he wears one of them fancy new
fangled mawashi with a pocket for the cell phone) but as he made his
final push at the Korporal, Kokkai nimbly waxed off and sent the W7 to
his first straight loss. Dude better right the ship and pronto!
Asasekiryu had no answer for the onslaught of human will that was
Kitataiki, getting humiliatingly run out like a Democrat crashing a
Republican fundraiser. Good thing Sexy isnt from Kentucky, doesnt live
in a trailer, and has no twelve gauge.
If someone had told you that Hakuba would be involved in the manliest
sumo of the day, why would you have said? Me, too! But lo and behold,
Hakuba dancing cheek to cheek with Mokonami, each man with outside
right, inside left belt grips, both men lifting up on the other trying
to get his foe off balance. Eventually Hakuba was able to "rays" UVB up
and back to the edge, and when the Mongolian resisted this insult to his
dignity, Henkuba niftily shifted weight and pulled while twisting
Mokonami into the clay.
A typically frenetic win for resurrected E5?!! Takamisakari (who was
worryingly facing Juryo demotion in May) over Aminishiki, with PTs Boy
hitting harder than he usually does at tachi-ai, sending Shneaky
scurrying back and on the run to the edge. After a slightly deft
tightrope walk maneuver, Aminishiki was finally pushed out.
Two big, tall, strong Mongolian-born rikishi went at it with Kyokutenho
taking on Tokusegawa. They got in tight, a little face time, and after
some good belt wrangling the younger man was able to show the Chauffer
Before they started, I thought Tochiohzan had a great chance to beat the
Geeku, but a halting tachi-ai by Oh Snap led to a quick dismissal by
Kotoshogiku. It looked as if Tochiohzan thought perhaps a matta would be
called, but the only matta was "wassa matta, you lost?"
Ill allow that its possible the Aran/Tochinoshin bout was a tad more
manly than the Hakuba/Mokonami bout. The same cheek to cheek stance,
both men with deep double belt grips, the big difference being that in
this bout both men are powerhouses, stronger than gyoza breath, so the
dénouement promised to be that much more satisfying. After one or two
spectacular tawara saves by Aran, the inevitable occurred as the more
massive No Shine lifted the shin-Sekiwake up and around and out.
Paychecks were earned in this one, people.
Not much of a strategic challenge today for the Old Gray Mare Kaio, as
Homasho can be counted on to lower his noggin and continue charging in
low. Whether or not Kaio would take advantage of that was another
matter. Turns out he was able to in precisely the manner youd imagine,
by using alternating pushes and pulls to set up the relatively easy
slapdown. Opening day victory for the kadoban (in danger of demotion)
Ozeki, but whos kidding whom? The Oldzeki may have showed his inner Fred
Astaire today, but the goat footed balloon man is whistling far and wee.
you might be forgiven for thinking that Wakanosato could give Baruto a
good fight today, and you might also be forgiven for giving yourself a
prostate examination in a public phone booth, but that doesnt make it
any less nutty. Nothing to note here as it was ram, bam, thank you, now
(As Mike mentioned in his pre-basho, the good Doc Mario is indeed
actually and truly [as opposed to the pack of lies we usually feed you]
physically present in the metropolis of Tokyo this basho, accompanied by
his woman Martin and perhaps a few others. (Evidently there have been
disturbing readings in anti-matter subfluctuations beneath the kokugikan,
or at least thats what wily Mario told his jackass bosses back at
CERN!!) So, a free plane ticket later, Barutos number one fan is here to
give him advice, provide the occasional rubdown, and to leech any face
time he can with the sumos.)
Kotooshu got a decent outside left belt from the word go, and then
fished with his right for a front mawashi. Tokitenku may have felt
violated at all the groping, but he definitely felt used after the
Bulgarian Bruiser executed a swiftly nifty twisting belt throw. The
Ozeki had to commit fully on this throw, so he actually ended up
crashing out of the ring with great fanfare, but Tokidoki had already
placed his hand down to protect his itty bitty face from slamming into
the dirt.. You know what Im going to say, but Ill say it anyway:
become a cliché to say that Kisenosato has the skills to be an Ozeki,
that he shows the ability to defeat anyone on any day, and most
importantly, like the Dude tells Walter after a bungled money drop, he
"f***s it up, man!" Fully able to absorb the Ozekis two-handed throat
charge, The Kid then created separation by easily shoving the smaller
guy away. But separation is not what Kisenosato is looking for. He wants
to get in close and use his bulk to force submission (likely the same
sort of plan Martin has for the gals of Tokyo). Harumafuji didnt allow
this to transpire, though, staying crouched down and diving in to grab a
double-handed front belt. This is by no means a guaranteed win for most
wrestlers, as it puts the attacker in a tenuous position beneath his
foe, but Harumafuji is not your average Yoshi and he certainly didnt
just fall off the daikon truck. He deftly pivoted and yanked with great
aplomb, and once again all of us who think Kisenosato shoulda, woulda,
coulda were left holding our (insert something appropriately ribald).
The days last match featured Hakuho and Kakuryu, so you can imagine my
glee that I get to write "Hak vs Kak!" On paper this is a no-brainer,
despite the general consensus that of all the wrestlers with a chance of
taking down the Yokozuna, Kakuryu is high on the list. He has progressed
much in the last eighteen months, gotten larger and more aggressive.
That, coupled with the well known truism that Day One nerves can affect
even the best, suggested that we might have a bout on our hands.
After a tense, Bollywood like face-off that led to both men standing and
resetting, they were off! Hakuho chose to start the lickin with a Kak
slap (something Im rather fond of myself), but it didnt do much as the
WK immediately recovered and closed to an improbable double hand inside,
the dreaded morozashi (TOTALLY sounds like the name of a Bond villain).
Kakuryu had his right hand on the back of Hakuhos belt and was even
lifting him up a bit. Now, this being two Mongolians whom everyone wants
to have a nice, exciting fight, it was no surprise to see Hak go makikae,
then Kak, then Hak. When the dust had settled, they had inside/outside
grips and Kakuryus goose was fully cooked. As the Yokozuna pressed in
and forward, the Komusubi tried a desperation throw, but all this did
was compromise his balance and allow Hakuho to easily shove him back and
out. It was a good college try for the man who didnt attend college, but
it just wasnt in the cards (or script?)
So, were off to see the wizard, and his march to take down The Wolf
Chiyonofujis 53 bout winning streak record (which for me is the all-time
record, Futabayamas 69 being like baseball records from the 19th
century--quaint). Other than that, I guess the promise of some tawdry
pics of our Europeans living it up in the capital is what weve got to
look forward to.
Mike bastes your bird tomorrow.