Senshuraku Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
end is well nigh as I sit here this evening, having witnessed history in
Ichinojos rise and possible history if Hakuho can somehow defeat Kakuryu, and Id
like to digress for a moment from my usual sacrilegious ways and talk about
Sumotalk for a second. I have been absent since January, and not just from ST
but from sumo itself. I was too busy to check in even once every two months, and
ergo missed a lot of the goings on, including the reports of my fellow
This basho has been singularly fun for me. Im on vacation and have been able to
write five reports. But more exciting was to the opportunity to read the other
fellas reports. Mike is, as always, writing like theres a gun to the head of his
Mitt Romney doll, mixing in-deft analysis (yes, I made it up and yes, you can
use it) with tantalizing supposition based on his extensive immersion into JPese
culture. Kane makes the page come alive with analogies and references that are
not so much from out of left field as they are from out of somewhere near the
Crab Nebula. And his way with graphics is professional level. As for Martin,
even after all these years I still find to difficult to keep in mind that he is
writing in a second language. Fuck me! Then we had Harvye bring in some fresh
fish and flop them down to carve into sweet and tender tidbits of sumo sashimi
love. Sadly, we didnt get to see The Mattrix this time out, but Im hopeful it
was just a scheduling blip.
Now I visit my fair share of websites, even a few that do not involve nudity,
and Ill be damned if ST isnt one of the most entertaining, even if it is only
for fifteen days every two months. With Martin from Transylvania, Mike from The
Rocky Mountains, me from Nueva Jork, Kane from The Planet of Hot Women We’ll
Never Sniff, Matt from Canada(?), and Harvye from where I am not sure but
definitively a long time resident of the archipelago here, it just feels like a
collaboration the UN might hope to one day emulate. I suspect many of you feel
the same and we appreciate your patronage (you patronizing bastards!) Um. . .thats
all I wanted to say.
First bout had Kagamio (do I HAVE TO put an "h" at the end??) vs. some guy from
Juryo, didnt catch his name but the way Kagamio threw him out by armbar, he
seemed to saying, "Dude, so tired o’ you."
Tokitenku got a glimpse of what could be his future as he took on the Gangstah
Wakanosato, who has refused to retire and has kept fighting from Juryo. It was a
chesty, leaning, belty affair, long and not hard to follow, and eventually
Tokitenku wore down the aged Sekiwake to win by force out. Wakanosato has gotten
a bit heavier since that time I saw him snoozing on the train on his way home
from his part-time job at Lawson Station.
Takanoiwa, already in the red, was eager to bring his record up to 7-8 while
dropping Kyokushuho to the same. He got low from the start and stayed low,
pushing in on Kyokushuhos ribcage, backing up the E15 and then rising up and
instituting a slapping barrage that the Mongolian could do naught about. Despite
being so lowly ranked, Im sure Kyokushuho will remain in Makuuchi in Kyushu.
The second 7-7 rikishi of the day was also de-e-e-NIED as Kitataiki had just
enough of a left handed inside belt to run out the W13 to his 7-8 make-koshi.
Sokokurai will stay in the top flight for November, but the Chinaman had better
take a good look at his inner Mongolian if he wants to stay past then.
Kyokutenho was doing what he does best, using long arms to get in and drive his
foe back, when all of a sudden Tamawashi pulled a nifty little grab and throw on
The Chauffeurs left arm that turned the tide and sent him to his 7th win.
Kyokutenho fizzled there at the end of the basho, but still not a bad showing
and looking forward to seeing what he can bring two months hence.
I think Sadanofuji could be forgiven for thinking he was in a rap music video as
he waited with both fists down at the shikirisen for 7-7 Chiyootori to stop
twisting and jerking his ass up and down. Twisting and jerking and twisting and
jerking—man, I wish someone would come up with a neologism so I wouldnt have to
type out BOTH of those words. At any rate, the jwisting(?) seemed to work as
Chiyootori was able to get inside and after a difficult struggle push his 4-11
foe back and out for his 8th win.
8-6 Sadanoumi came in with not a lot of power and got simply run over at
tachi-ai by the much larger Kaisei, who pursued him back and around to the edge
and out to clinch the all-important kachi-koshi majority win.
Ichinojo, after a four day dance with champions both nominal and grand, came
into his last tussle as a Makuuchi "wookie" needing a win to keep alive the
chance of battling Hakuho later in a playoff, and with E6 Aminishiki a shadow of
the slippery eel he once was, the chances were good the young Mongolian could
pull it off. True to form, 10-4 Shneaky shnuck to his left, but weighed down by
35 kilos of bedroll and taping, he made it only partly out of the way, where Han
Solos hired gun was able to get hold of him and run him out. Shneaky picks up
the Ginosho prize, while its all too beautiful for Ichi Koo as he picks up the
other two prizes and heads into the next tournament as the prohibitive favorite
to either hurt someone or himself. I wonder if it has ever occurred before, that
the two guys collecting all three prizes fought each other on Day 15?
(Speaking of Ichinojo battling Hakuho, did yall see that lady behind Ichinojo on
Day 14 as the camera showed him sitting ringside sweating bullets? Well, I did
and that leads me to tonights New Rule: If youre going to show on national telly
the one woman in Japan who is not afraid to display her cleavage, then you have
to make sure her age is somewhere south of ninety-seven!! I mean, sure, she
looked like a classy lady, and Id be willing to bet she was a handful back when
cars were started with cranks, but come on! There are children watching, for
crying out loud.)
A smashingly sound tachi-ai led to Okinoumi and Ikioi both getting arms inside
on each others pits, but as Okinoumi leaned forward in order to filch the inside
left belt, Ikioi timed it perfectly and swung him down by his arm kote-nage. Both
men finish with outstanding 10-5 records, Ikiois even more so as his came from
W5. With both Sekiwake and Komusubi slots being vacated, Im of the opinion that
Aoiyama will be Sekiwake and Ikioi will slip in beside Takekaze for the West
Well, Ill be damned. Contrary to my faithless Day 12 guess, Tochiohzan came
through bigtime in the final three days (actually wining his last six bouts) to
finish 11-4 from E8. Today was rigged Election Day as he got on Takarafuji early
and often and just swiped him out, with little to no protest from the 8-6 E4.
Yoshikaze pulled out of his second week tailspin by getting his 7th win over
Shohozan in a fast and short bout. It was little too little, little too late for
Yoshikaze, who likely would have been taking home the Shukunsho prize for his
legitimately impressive win over Kakuryu if only he had been able to get that KK
eighth win. From the glorious heights of 6-3 with a kinboshi and two Ozeki
scalps to 7-8 and squat. Oh sumo, you fickle bitch!
Takayasu kicked the living crap out of Aoiyama, with too many bitch slaps to
count, but when the chips were down, the Bulgarian bruiser executed a 180 degree
spin on top of the straw bales and Takayasu could nothing but watch in horror as
he himself stepped out while his foe stood in the ring, hands on hips and
laughing like Atlas astride the Earth. Muhahahahaha.
Endo stepped into an outside left belt courtesy of Osunaarashi, and the W4
wasted no time in driving the W1 out to his twelfth loss. Adding insult to
injury, Endo fell ungainly back and out, with his gams jammed straight up into
the air, and for a second Osunaarashi (who to me is not an Arab) was trying to
grab the youngin by both ankles to prevent him from falling. Oh, what a sight
THAT would have made, like some kid getting a swirly in high school.
Toyohibiki was looking for his 8th win, and he seemed about to get it as he
slammed Jokoryu back from the tachi-ai, but the Komusubi swiped The Nikibi and
squeezed away at the very last moment. Now it was Jokoryus turn to charge his
foe backward and out, but as he closed in, he slipped (probably in some pus) and
his knee buckled and he went down and lost. Toyohibiki lucks out for this KK.
As Martin predicted, Takekaze had no intention of trying today vs. Goeido, and
was run back and out before you could say "Ch-ching!" Of course, Goeido CAN
defeat Takekaze straight up 9 times out of 10, so even if he HAD tried itd
probably not have changed the outcome.
(Id like to clear something up here while I have the time. When I assured you
all in my Day 12 report that Hakuho would crush Goeido on Day 13, I was focusing
solely on what common sense dictated. I didnt even consider that Goeido record
and was going to need help to reach KK, or even that he was a shin-Ozeki. I
didnt even know that he had beaten Hakuho the previous two basho. Like I said, I
have been totally out of sumo. In my excitement (and my rush to turn in the
report to Mike in the States before he went down for the night) I didnt stop to
consider what was at stake. After Hakuho so clearly gifted that Day 13 to a guy
who got killed the day BEFORE by Ichinojo (whom Hakuho then whooped on Day 14),
and the day AFTER by Takarafuji, I realized what a glaring error I had made. Not
to whine about being wrong in predicting, cause Ive been wrong many times, but
just wanted to explain how I could have been so off base.)
There is no more telling stat on the demise of Kotoshogikus power and the rise
of Kisenosatos than their head to head. From 2009 to 2012, The Geeku pretty much
owned The Kid. But since mid-2012, theyve fought twelve times and Geeku has lost
nine, and six of those came by yori-kiri. Today was number six as Kisenosato
stepped into an inside left belt chest battle where he seemed supremely
confident that the Sadogatake man would not be able to move him. And he couldnt.
After some time Kisenosato worked him out for his 9th win. Though the crowd
clapped during the time the two men rested against each other there was
absolutely nothing to see here, folks, nothing to see here. Just move along back
to your homes now and let us do or jobs.
In the final matchup, two of the three Mongolian Yokozuna did what they normally
do, namely hook up in a tense yotsu battle and see who is stronger. Hakuho set
his fingers in well under Kakauryus mawashi and waited. While he was testing out
a few minor position changes for his feet, Kakuryu drove forward, but Hakuho
still has enough upper body strength to spin anyone in sumo around, and he did
just that, finally crushing down on his fellow grand champion as they both
tumbled out to a crowd pleasing finish. Hakuho goes to 31 yusho, none on
steroids as far as I can gather. Kakuryu wins 11 in the absence of HowDo and
thats just about what we would expect.
Sorry I wasnt all that funny today. A little shagged after a busy weekend. Fare
thee well until November, when I hope Ill be able to write, but not sure what
the future holds in store for me.
One last thing. We have gotten some complaints about Kanes so-called sexist pics
of women at the end of each of his reports, like this is some mechanics garage
and we are being told to take the girly calendar down. Its kind of silly, but I
CAN sympathize with the viewpoint that these hot babes are not representative of
sumo. So in the interest of being fair and all-inclusive, here is a photo that I
hope, if not puts to rest this controversy, at least balances the scales.
Day 14 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
biggest thing on everyone's mind right now is Ichinojo. Alright, if you're done
groaning, let me expound a bit. The dude is really big, and when I say really
big you should read "making Gargantua look like a dwarf". Even though the Sumo
Database still lists him at 183 kg, his mae-zumo debut weight, some sources
mention even greater numbers, to the tune of 200 kg, which, albeit
counterintuitive, is perfectly understandable, since he made his debut at
Makushita 15 in an obscure heya, immediately assuming the position of
heya-gashira, or the highest rank rikishi in that heya – under normal
circumstances, a new guy will lose some weight after making his debut, because
he starts low on the pecking order. Still, weight alone, though an important
part of it, won't make a guy too scary – just ask Yamamotoyama. This guy is also
tall and has the strength of 10 bulls – plus, he's a Mongol, a real, live one, a
direct descendant of the nomads of the steppes (You think Asashoryu, Ama and
Hakuho were tough? Those sumbitches were raised in the CITY!). He also has
significant amateur sumo experience and though his skills could use a fair
amount of polishing, they were enough to take him this far up in record time (if
the results align right, he'll be Sekiwake in Kyushu). Mike already said "he's
your next Yokozuna", and when he does that, you'd better prepare for it to
happen. His only downside is... he's big. At 200kg, he'd better have hardened
steel reinforced joints and carbon nanotube ligaments, because one small step in
the wrong direction is all it takes.
As fate would have it, again, on my reporting day he lost. The bout unfolded
just as one would expect it – Hakuho was cautious at the tachi-ai and put his
right arm right on the inside, deep under the pit, and at the same time grabbed
the insurmountable uwate on the left side. He didn't want to rush it, so he
wrangled a bit for better position, which he got when he also grabbed the right
inside, and then Ichinojo found himself pushed towards the bales. The Mongolith
(great nickname, I'm jealous for not coming up with it myself) wasn't going to
go down that way, but at the first sign of resistance near the tawara, Hakuho
executed him by uwate-dashi-nage. The Yokozuna is now 13-1 after the bimestrial
"Save Goeido" charity event while Ichinojo (12-2) is still on his merry way to
Sanyaku (he's facing Aminishiki tomorrow, and *should* win – but don't count the
Sneaky one out just yet, he's got this uncanny way to outsmart bigger
Before getting on with the bouts in chronological order, let's take one good
look at the records and leaderboard. The top 3 spots are occupied by Mongols
with consecutive records – not really news here. 3 wins away from the lead, at
10, sits a bunch of three Japanese guys, all of them from way outside the jo'i,
comprising Aminishiki, Tochiohzan and Okinoumi. The first Ozeki appears at 9
(Kotoshogiku), then Kisenosato at 8 and then Goeido, who still needs charity, at
7 wins. If I were a Japanese fan, I'd probably start following Occitan pétanque.
For reasons of force majeure (some volcano erupted and NHK was covering that
instead of sumo, who can blame them?) Tokitenku-Shotenro is missing, but both of
those guys are 5-9 after the day and will commiserate in Juryo next basho.
Okinoumi (10-4) welcomed Tochinoshin (14-0) from Juryo, but the Georgian would
have none of the hospitality, grabbed himself a strong left uwate and proceeded
to win by his 11th yori-kiri of the basho – that stat and his record show he's
back in business and beating Ichinojo last basho TWICE in the same day was no
bloody accident. I, for one, can't see him in the jo'i soon enough. Okidoki
should pat himself on the back for a fine overall performance, despite the loss
The third visitor from Juryo, Amuru, didn't fare as well against his Makuuchi
opponent, despite being more offensive from the tachi-ai. The Russian rushed
ahead and fished for the mawashi, but the round Chiyomaru would have none of it,
keeping his foe's long and greedy arms at bay with thrusts to the upper body.
The flustered and lightweight Amuru eventually overcommitted and was yanked off
balance with a well-timed hiki (or pull), becoming easy meat for the oshi-dashi.
The loss, however, won't prevent the injury-plagued J1 Russian from finally
making his Makuuchi debut (he's 31 if you're wondering). The win might also not
prevent M11 Chiyomaru (4-10) from falling to Juryo (he needs to win on
senshuraku as well).
Mongol Takanoiwa was more aggressive than Kitataiki at the tachi-ai and forced
his foe back near the tawara, but with no belt grip, Kitataiki's shallow left
inside was enough to turn the tables and take proceedings to the other side of
the ring as the attacker. He was careless, though, and let Takanoiwa maki-kae
and get a solid uwate on the other side, which was enough for the yori-kiri. This
leaves both men at 6-8, stranded in the basement of the Makuuchi banzuke for yet
another basho (but hey, at least they're safe from demotion to Juryo, so they
got that going for them, which is nice).
Tochiohzan improved to double digit wins after absorbing his lightweight tachi-ai
and swatting him down like the fly he is. The Mongol (he might be Chinese on
paper, but he's from Inner Mongolia and has a Mongolian name –surprised?) is now
7-7 and needs to beat Kitataiki tomorrow to get kachi-koshi.
Kyokushuho withstood Shohozan's furious tsuppari just enough to stay inside the
dohyo and long enough to be able to move around and finally slap his overeager
opponent down to make-koshi. The Mongol, ranked M15, is a perilous 7-7, but don't
be surprised if Takanoiwa (covered earlier) doesn't give him too hard a time
Sadanoumi (the lighter and more technical of the two Sada's gracing the current
Makuuchi banzuke) used a push to the side to deflect Chiyootori's strong but
linear pushing attack, and was able to get a relatively rare type of grip on his
rounder foe, a double uwate – this grip, if you're comfortable with doing
yotsu-zumo, is actually pretty advantageous to have, despite technically giving
up moro-zashi, especially if you're tall and you have long arms, like, say,
Takanonami. With the moro-uwate, Sadanoumi was able to take the lead and quickly
win it by yori-taoshi, getting his kachi-koshi. Chiyootori (7-7) needs to beat the
other Sada tomorrow.
Kagamioh went against Kaisei with a little too many centimeters and kilograms of
disadvantage, but kudos to him for using superior technique to make it last as
long as it did. The Mongol won the tachi-ai, getting the left uwate and the
right shitate, while denying the Brazilian an outside grip. Kaisei, however, did
get his hands on an inside, though, and that ultimately proved enough, as he
capitalized on his size advantage to win by yori-kiri. Kaisei (7-7) isn't out of
the woods yet, and Kagamioh (5-9 at M16) was already on his way down.
Toyohibiki watched Kyokutenho well while executing his typical pushing attack
and survived the inevitable slapdown attempt, which meant Tenho had nowhere to
go but back and out. Still, Tenho's already kachi-koshi, while Hibiki only
improves to 7-7 with the win.
The next one featured very quick and violent volleys of tsuppari from Aoiyama
and Yoshikaze and it came down to who was sharper at the cat and mouse game.
Yoshikaze was the one advancing on the Bulgarian's territory, despite seemingly
taking a lot more damage from the bigger man's thrusts, but in the end it was
Aoiyama who grabbed the little Kaze by the back of the head and introduced him
to the clay outside the tawara. Aoiyama (9-5) virtually guarantees himself a
Sekiwake debut with the win, while Yoshikaze (6-8) dreadfully falls to make-koshi
after a stellar debut (he was, at some point, 6-3, with a combined record of 3-2
against the Yokozuna and Ozeki (which should really tell you something about the
state of the banzuke)) (hey, I just love parentheses in general (and nested
parentheses in particular (heh, heh))).
If there's one thing rarer than a Japanese rikishi taking the yusho, it has to
be a Mongol who can't fight competently at the mawashi. Introducing Tamawashi –
also known as The Mawashi (oh, the irony). Takayasu came out firing his usual
stiff thrusts, but Tamawashi wasn't too bothered by any of it, expertly dodging
to the left and grabbing what would normally be a deadly grip on the back of
Takayasu's mawashi with the opponent facing sideways. However, Takayasu used the
precarious inside grip and simply flipped the 160kg Mongol down like the giant
pancake he is, handing him make-koshi in the process. Takayasu (7-7) lives to
fight another day, but will have his hands full on said day with Aoiyama,
against whom he doesn't have the best of records.
Toyonoshima valiantly stood his ground against the much larger Sadanofuji right
from the tachi-ai, and kept looking to worm his way into the moro-zashi he likes
(and needs) so much. It didn't come, but this time it wasn't needed, as
Toyonoshima eventually managed to push out the now tired Sadanoumi, who slumps
into double digit loss territory. Toyonoshima salvaged what he could from what
seemed to be a compromised basho, recording 5 wins in the last 6 days and
guaranteeing his stay near the jo'i.
Terunofuji had as easy a time as one can, getting a very deep uwate on
Tochinowaka's mawashi, turning him to the side and felling him down with a
textbook soto-gake. Terunofuji (5-9), the "other" Mongol this basho, got his
first taste of the jo'i wall, but he'll be back soon. Lee is an unflattering
4-10 from M9.
Endo (3-11) earned the dubious honor of being the last guy on the leaderboard
(of the ones competing on all days so far) with a bad loss to Arawashi. Japan's
paper Yokozuna came in low at the tachi-ai, but forgot to bring his legs with
him, and that enabled the agile, lightweight Mongol to go with the flow of his
opponent's charge and slap him down at the edge. The win won't do much good
honbasho-wise, as Arawashi was already at 9 losses before the bout, but he can
probably buy a new car with the kensho – too bad rikishi aren't allowed to
drive, huh? As for Endo, the less said, the better; I just hope he doesn't turn
into another Takamisakari, because the current state of Japanese sumo is already
more comical than it should be.
Osunaarashi came looking for the left uwate at the tachi-ai, but he couldn't get
anywhere near it, and a stalemate followed, until Jokoryu unsuccessfully tried
to capitalize on a half-assed pull from the Arab. In the confusion that followed
(I can't really find a more accurate word to describe it, I guess) Jokoryu made
a critical mistake by going for a kote-nage from an unstable position, which only
left him on the tawara with his back turned to the Ejyptian, who needed no
invitation to bowl the compromised Jokoryu right out of the dohyo and into
ringside Kotoshogiku's lap. It's still too little, too late for Stormy Sandy
(6-8), but he'll probably regroup in Kyushu. Joke-oryu (4-10) will be returning
to calmer waters.
And don't look now, but Takekaze (7-7) actually has a chance to, ugh, keep his
Sekiwake spot with a victory against Goeido tomorrow. But since Goeido is the
ozeki [small caps on purpose], I am ready to bet the farm on Takekaze taking one
for team Japan, even as a desperate damage control measure (just how do you
think the Association looks if the Ozeki they promoted with only 32 wins over
the three basho fails to reach kachi-koshi in his debut?). As for how Takekaze
actually got in this position, I don't even need to tell you it has to do more
with the poor quality of his opposition than his actual sumo skill (a brief
glance at the winning kimari-te will reveal 2 oshi-dashi, one tsuki-otoshi, 2
hikiotoshi, 2 hataki-komi, in short, a whole lotta evasion). In the actual bout,
Ikioi hesitated a bit before the initial charge, and that gave the fat Kaze the
green light to ram the living daylights out of him, and then retreat to the
side, yank on his arm and slap him down. Ikioi falls to 9-5 with the loss, but
still has a chance for Sanyaku promotion.
The next one was either really, really poor sumo on the part of Aminishiki, or
just plain, old "unmotivated" sumo. The two hit hard at the tachi-ai, and it was
Aminishiki who got a deep left arm on the inside, and, after being taken back a
small distance, moro-zashi. Kotoshogiku was undeterred in his advance, however,
and only at the edge did Aminishiki stop him. For a short while, anyway, because
the Geek somehow (I honestly couldn't tell, even from the replay) got on the
inside and twisted Aminishiki down by kotenage. It makes it that much more
puzzling that Aminishiki (10-4) had everything to fight for, while for Giku
(9-5) it didn't really matter. Who knows, maybe he choked or something.
Goeido vs. Takarafuji was almost painful to watch. Goeido tried for moro-zashi
right after the tachi-ai, but when that failed, he was content to keep trying to
simply push Takarafuji out. Takarafuji retreated for a while, easily dodging the
when he was taken to the edge, he evaded and turned the tables. On
the offense now, Takarafuji grabbed a solid left shitate (inside mawashi grip),
which he used to mount a force-out attempt. Goeido's knee-jerk response was to
wrap his outside arm around Takarafuji's neck (he has one?!) and duly fail
miserably at the ensuing kubi-nage, as Takarafuji's mawashi grip was as strong as
they get. As I've said several times before in my reports, Goeido isn't bad at
all at the neck throw, he can even pull off the occasional beauty – but the
problem is that he's getting into the position to be forced to attempt one in
the first place. You see, with kubi-nage it's do or die, if you fail, you most
likely end up face first on the floor, and, best case scenario, you don't fall,
but the opponent is behind you and you're 99% likely to lose by okuri-prefixed
kimari-te. In conclusion, the shitate-nage win earn Takarafuji kachi-koshi from the
M4 rank, while Goeido will need and get Takekaze's help tomorrow [ugh].
After three false starts, all of them Kisenosato's fault, I was fully expecting
a henka from Kakuryu, but it didn't come. Instead, the two clashed straight on
and settled into hidari-yotsu (left arm inside), which normally favors
Kisenosato. Indeed, the Ozeki pressed the action first, forcing Kakuryu to dig
in hard at the tawara, but the Mongol wasn't going to go away easily. The Kak
regrouped and took the action back to the center of the ring, where Kisenosato
mounted a second force-out charge. This time, though, Kakuryu was ready, and he
did just enough thrusting with the right hand to destabilize Kisenosato, whose
feet slipped from under him, leaving him lying outside the tawara with a 6th
loss and a bruised ego. Kakuryu is 11-3, equaling his best record as a Yokozuna.
With the main attraction already covered in the beginning, the only thing left
for me to do is a bit of speculating and predicting. The yusho will go Hakuho's
way, and he'll take it without any playoff (enough drama is enough). Ichinojo
will haul in two prizes, the Shukun and the Kanto, and the Ginosho, the prize
for technique, will likely not be awarded, though I'd give it to Ikioi for his
massive win on day 7.
That said, I'm looking forward to Kyushu and Clancy tomorrow.
Day 13 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
we look back on sumo since the start of twenty fourteen, the Sumo Association
agenda has focused on two projects: 1) Milk the Endoh story for all it's worth,
and 2) Get Goeido promoted to Ozeki. The Endoh phenomenon was a huge success
early on, but with the M1 unable to actually match the hype in the ring, the
story has plateaued at best and is actually probably starting to wane a bit. With
project #1 running on fumes and project #2 having been completed at the end of
the Nagoya basho, where does the Association turn next? The easy answer is they
have no place to turn, and they know it.
I'm glad that Kane mentioned the theme of the NHK broadcast on day 10 that
focused on the first foreign rikishi in sumo, Takamiyama. In Kane's words, it
was a touching piece that NHK put together, and they focused on nothing
but positives regarding the Takamiyama story. They even put Takamiyama's most
beloved recruit, Takamisakari, in the mukou joumen chair for the broadcast to
add extra emphasis. The experience that Kane also mentioned of his trying to
impress a girlfriend's father is so applicable because the father's stance was,
"If there isn't a Japanese Yokozuna, I don't care about sumo." That's the way
that a lot of Japanese people feel about the sport, especially the older
generation, and so the challenge for the Sumo Association is how do we increase
sumo's popularity knowing that we won't have a Japanese Yokozuna for a very long
time? The way to do that is to generate as many headlines as possible that
will grab the attention of the Japanese fans and encourage them to
rediscover sumo all the while carefully massaging the stark reality of the issue
that actually envelops the sport...the foreign invasion.
Day 10 happened to fall on a holiday in Japan, and there's no doubt that NHK and
the NSK planned the heart-warming Takamiyama piece on a day when they knew
they'd have a large audience because I believe that the message they were trying
to send to the fans subliminally is: the foreigners are here to stay; the
foreigners are going to dominate; and there are positives that come from having
foreign rikishi in sumo. That message couldn't have come soon enough because a
twenty-one year old rikishi has grabbed this basho by the horns and sent the
clear message that the foreign rikishi rule and the Japanese rikishi are as
dross cast out at their feet (an Isaiah reference...sweet!!).
Ichinojo--more accurately known as the Mongolith--has single-handedly generated
a whirlwind of headlines in the media with this run of his, and regardless of
the content of his sumo the last few days, his mere presence has turned this
disaster-in-the-making of a tournament into a basho filled with drama. Of
course, as Isaiah once quipped long ago, "A basho never really begins until
Hakuho loses," we needed the Yokozuna's cooperation today to carry the drama
into senshuraku, and let's face it, when has the Yokozuna ever failed to
As I'm wont to do, especially this late in the basho, let's start the day by
focusing on the leaders, which happened to shape up as follows at the start of
10-2: Kakuryu, Okinoumi
Let's go in chronological order of the bouts involving the leaders starting with
Okinoumi. A 10-2 start from the M15 rank is one thing, but peddling your wares
against M6 Aminishiki is quite another, and that's exactly what Okinoumi faced
as he hoped to remain the lone Japanese rikishi on the leaderboard. The two
rikishi bounced off of each other at the tachi-ai as they instinctively
tsuppari'ed for position before Aminishiki ducked in low forcing the bout to the
grapplin' position where Shneaky had his left arm hooked up and under Okinoumi's
right pit. Okinoumi dug in with the shallow left hand to the inside, but
Aminishiki moved out left quick as a cat and pulled Okinoumi down with a
shoulder slap easy peasy Japanesey leaving both rikishi at 10-3 as the dust
settled. Nobody took Okinoumi's run seriously, not even the Japanese media, and
so I was about to forget him altogether until Yoshida announcer said that
Okinoumi would officially be eliminated from the yusho race with a Hakuho win
later on. For some reason, that comment rang out to me because there was no
question in my mind that Hakuho would destroy Goeido and so why bother to
first things first. The most compelling match of the day in my mind featured
Yokozuna Kakuryu vs. M10 Ichinojo. The Mongolith is already creating a legacy by
becoming the first Makuuchi rookie to defeat two Ozeki in a basho, and he could
really add to that resume with a win over a Yokozuna in his first attempt. I
fully expected Kakuryu to show us a blueprint of how to defeat Ichinojo, but the
rookie had other thoughts henka'ing to his left and pulling Kakuryu down in an
Nothing that occurs in sumo surprise me these days, but this move by Ichinojo
did catch me off guard. When he henka'd Kisenosato, he could have done so out of
frustration at the Ozeki's stall tactics. Furthermore, Ichinojo was favored to
win that bout anyway in my mind, and part of me actually thought it was better
that he won by henka so as to help Kisenosato save face (just ask Goeido what
it's like to take the Mongolith on straight up). I did not expect another henka,
however, against such a prominent rikishi, and Ichinojo needs to be a bit
careful that he doesn't start creating a reputation as a henkaphile. There's
very little at this point to praise about Ichinojo's sumo, but it doesn't
matter. The dude is your next Yokozuna. With the grease job today he moves to
12-1 nipping at Hakuho's heels while Kakuryu is all but eliminated from the
festivities at 10-3.
Our sole leader heading into the day, Yokozuna Hakuho, had two choices: win or
lose. His opponent, Ozeki Goeido, had one choice: show up. The Ozeki was wide open
at the tachi-ai as Hakuho charged with his usual right hand getting it to the
inside. Problem was he also had the inside on the left as well giving him
moro-zashi, and so the Yokozuna quickly pulled his right
and placed it to the outside turning the bout to gappuri-yotsu. With Hakuho
intent on standing there in the center of the ring, Goeido made his force-out
move after a few seconds driving the Yokozuna back and to the side scoring the
easy yori-kiri win with zero resistance from the Yokozuna, not even a half
attempt to move to the side and counter. As soon as Hakuho relinquished
moro-zashi, I knew the outcome of the bout, but at least Goeido made it look
plausible to the sheep.
Some may say that Goeido's left grip was so good it forced Hakuho to remove his
right arm to the outside, but if Goeido's grip was worth shat, he wouldn't have
retooled it as soon as the Yokozuna got his arm outta the way. When you grab a
lethal belt grip on one side that's so good to render your opponent's arm there
useless, and you have the inside position on the other side, you lift and go.
Goeido had to shore up his grip with the left hand first, and even then his
force-out charge wasn't straightway. I posted
the replay on our Facebook page if you want to
have a look and decide for yourself, but this was mukiryoku sumo start to finish
from the Yokozuna, and that point isn't even debatable. Just the previous day,
Goeido found himself largely in the same position against Ichinojo, and he got
his ass kicked. To think that he could outmuscle the greatest Yokozuna of all
time is simply implausible. Furthermore, show me a rikishi who is capable of
beating Hakuho three basho in a row, and I guarandamntee you he doesn't exist on
As to why Hakuho chose to lose today, we can only speculate, but the same
reasons that I've raised before all apply: it extends the yusho race into
senshuraku, it keeps Japanese rikishi on the leaderboard (at least it did until
Ichinojo's henka afterwards), it aids in validating Goeido's promotion to Ozeki,
and it gives a semblance of parity on the banzuke. Regardless of the reason,
Hakuho falls to 12-1 putting himself in a tie with Ichinojo. Big Al's henka of
Kakuryu also knocked the two 10-3 Japanese rikishi offa the board, so it comes
down to Hakuho and Ichinojo, who both happen to meet on day 14. At this point,
Ichinojo is incapable of beating Hakuho, but in another year or so, he will
become the first rikishi physcially capable of defeating the Yokozuna in a
straight up yotsu-zumo bout. What Hakuho decides to do tomorrow is beyond me,
but I would be shocked if he let's Ichinojo yusho.
In other bouts of interest on the day, Ozeki Kotoshogiku welcomed M5 Ikioi in a
bout that tried to get to migi-yotsu, but Ikioi pinched inwards with the left
arm and then decided to evade a bit to his right. Kotoshogiku lurched forward
assuming the migi-yotsu for real, but before he could get his feet established,
Ikioi next slipped back to the left side and felled the Ozeki with a nice
tsuki-otoshi. An Ozeki's gotta do better than this on day 13 against an M5
rikishi, but this isn't the quality of banzuke we were used to say a decade ago.
The result is Ikioi's moving to 9-4 while Kotoshogiku is stuck at 8-5.
M4 Osunaarashi came with a tame right kachi-age and even tamer tsuppari after
that allowing Ozeki Kisenosato to easily get to the inside with the right hand
and mount his charge. At the edge, Osunaarashi went for that potent counter move
where you go for the right counter kote-nage, but instead of slipping to the
side of your opponent, you just stay completely in front of him so he can drive
you down with ease. This was either really really bad sumo on the part of the
Ejyptian or a nice way of sayin', 'there's your kachi-koshi bud.' Osunaarashi
did the same thing in this one as Hakuho against Goeido in that they both stayed
square in front of their opponents when the situation would have called for them
to move to either side and attempt to counter. Kisenosato picks up kachi-koshi
at 8-5 while Osunaarashi can live with his 5-8 record.
Sekiwake Takekaze displayed his usual tsuppari offering and then quick slap down
at M5 Toyohibiki's extended right arm, and this one was over in a flash. This
was indeed Sekiwake sumo at its finest as both rikishi end the day at 6-7.
One of the rikishi I've enjoyed watching most this basho is M4 Takarafuji who
opened with a strong left kachi-age from the tachi-ai moving Komusubi Jokoryu
back so forcefully he got him turned a bit to his right. From there he grabbed
his opponent in a bear hug from behind, stole a little man love in in the
process, and then forced Jokoryu out from behind. Takarafuji is 7-6 if ya need
him while Jokoryu is status quo for him at this level finishing 4-9.
M1 Terunofuji allowed the easy moro-zashi to M1 Endoh at the tachi-ai and just
lamely stood in front of his gal allowing Endoh the easy moro-zashi. No
kote-nage counter, no pinching in hard, and lazy feet. This was yet another
ending in the same vein as Osunaarashi and Hakuho. See the pattern? Three strong
gaijin deferring to three lukewarm nihonjin? It's not a coincidence as Fuji the
Terrible falls to 4-9 while Endoh ekes forward to 3-10.
M2 Takayasu used an effective tsuppari attack focused down and straight into M3
Yoshikaze's craw, and as Monster Drink looked to evade left, Takayasu kept pace
and just pounded him down to the dirt. Takayasu was clearly fired up in this one
beginning with his false start where he slammed his fists down and slammed into
Yoshikaze before the gun. Great effort here from Takayasu as both rikishi end
the day at 6-7.
M6 Kaisei and M2 Toyonoshima looked to hook up in migi-yotsu, but Toyonoshima
cut off Kaisei's right and parlayed that into what looked to be moro-zashi, but
he hurried his charge allowing Kaio to get his right arm in so deep he caused
Tugboat's left arm to point straight up, and so Kaisei slipped out right and
dumped Toyonoshima to the clay for the come-back win. Kaisei stays alive at 6-7
while Toyonoshima's win streak is halted as he ends the day at 4-9.
M3 Aoiyama was lazy at the tachi-ai allowing M7 Chiyootori moro-zashi, but
before he could really capitalize on it, Aoiyama backed up and countered with
the right kote-nage first and then the left kote-nage next dodging out of the
way as Chiyootori bodied his way into nothing and slumped over at the edge with
his butt facing the ring providing the easy okuri-dashi target. Aoiyama picks up
kachi-koshi at 8-5 while Chiyootori sits at 7-6.
M7 Shohozan tsuppari'ed his way into moro-zashi beautifully, but he rushed the
force-out charge allowing M11 Takanoiwa to counter with a left kote-nage just
enough to where he was able to push Shohozan (6-7) away with the right and pull
him down as he ducked back into the fray. At M11 Takanoiwa is safe now at 5-8.
M8 Tochiohzan used a right kachi-age before backing up against M10 Kitataiki,
who attacked way too low for his own good because Tochiohzan was able to quickly
slap him down near the shoulder despite the fact that he was backpedaling.
Another win on paper for Tochiohzan who moves to 9-4, but his sumo holds the
same amount of substance as a J-Pop song these days. Kitataiki has fallen on
hard times at 6-7.
Skipping down the ranks a few notches, M14 Kyokutenho employed a left hari-te
against M9 Tochinowaka while getting the right inside. As he lowered his left
hand from the hari-te, T-Wok's belt was there for the taking, so he grabbed the
left outer gaining the advantage, but Tochinowaka dug in deep with his right
inside position and wouldn't go down without a fight. Kyokutenho showed great
patience as he maintained his upper hand and gathered his wits for about 8
seconds before going for the uwate-nage kill that worked to perfection. Tenho
clinches kachi-koshi past the age of 40 while Tochinowaka falls to 4-9.
It was textbook yotsu-zumo from M15 Kyokushuho in his migi-yotsu affair with
sputtering M11 Chiyomaru. Kyokushuho wasted no time grabbing the solid left
outer grip and force-out came before the fat lady had finished clearing her
throat. Shuho is alive at 6-7 while Chiyomaru is headed to Juryo lessen he can
win his final two bouts.
In the hardest fought bout of the day, M16 Kagamioh slipped right in a slight
henka and assumed moro-zashi going for the quick and dirty force out, but at the
edge, M12 Sadanoumi countered with an effective left kote-nage that sent
fast, but as he fell he tripped up Sadanoumi with the left hand at his outer
thigh (fresh!) watashi-komi style causing both rikishi to crash down to the
dohyo at the same time. It looked to me that Sadanoumi's right arm touched down
first, and the ref saw it that way too, but after a mono-ii and review of the
tape, they ruled that Kagamioh's "kou," or the top of his left foot dragged
across the dirt first. Talk about a close call as Sadanoumi marches to 7-6 while
Kagamioh not only loses the bout but suffers make-koshi in the process. I took a
pic with my cell phone of the ending of this bout 1) to show Kagamioh's losing
the bout because the tops of his left toes are dragging across the dirt, and 2)
I wanted to highlight what a real bout looks like at the edge since we seemed to
lack such contests the final 20 minutes of the broadcast.
Overall, this was a terrible day of sumo. Sure, the yusho race was extended into
senshuraku with the chance of a rookie actually taking the yusho, but the henka,
the yaocho, and overall poor sumo content seen the last 30 minutes left me
Looks like Martin gets the match'a the basho tomorrow, so stay tuned.
Day 12 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
12 here in Nippon and things are heating up. Today we had the strange return of
a Yokozuna from a mid-basho absence. We had another Yokozuna lose a bout he
looked like he forgot was going on AS it was going on, and we had a third
Yokozuna employ some stragedy, as Bugs Bunny liked to say, to set up a likely
Day 14 date with a wookie rookie.
I dont know about you—literally, I have no idea what you do or dont do or with
whom you do or dont do it. But as for me, I cannot stop laughing at Kanes pic on
Day 10 showing Ichinojo holding toddler Yoshikaze. I dont know where he got that
pic of Starbuck (maybe contacted his family or his hoikuen enchosensei), but
from now on I will be looking for small faces in Kanes reports.
As I said above, it was very strange to see Harumafuji not only return from
injury, but return as Juryo East 2. And he looked a LOT heavier. I guess five or
six days off can do that to a fella. No matter, he showed he is still a man to
reckon with by shoving out Kagamioh in no time flat. Kagami? Oh, he needs to
look in the mirror and ask himself he really wants to be a top flight guy, cause
with three days to roll he is one loss away from perdition.
Okinoumi was looking to hang with the leaders, coming in at 9-2 against
Kitataiki. Both men got inside left belt grips and then rested their heads on
each others right shoulder, placed their hips far back and proceeded to dance me
to the end of love. They danced me on and on, danced me very tenderly and danced
me very long, but in the end the needle slipped off the record and Okinoumi
backed Kitataiki out, assuring that at least one Japanese name remain on that
ever lovin leaderboard graphic for Day 13.
Kyokushuho tried an all advised tachi-ai sidestepping slapdown on Tochiohzan,
but the Kasugano man must have watched the recent World Cup cause he guessed
which way his foe might go and was able to keep his feet and ram the Mongolian
out to attain his kachi-koshi majority win. I wish I could say hes a keeper and
will get three more wins to set himself up for one of the Komusubi slots being
vacated for Kyushu, but ya just know hes gonna blow it, and probably tomorrow
Sadanoumi suffered the sumo equivalent of a game winning in-n-out three pointer
as time expires. Thinking he had won as the gyoji indicated, after he ran out an
Arawashi pulling at the back of his head from jump street, he mounted the dohyo
only to find those dreaded MIB (not, the SCOTUS 5!) getting off their keisters.
Damn! The eye in the sky slomo showed what we all knowed yo, namely that Sada
had fallen just a leetle too soon. Reversal of fortune as the win was taken from
him and handed to his enemy.
(I have just been informed by an alert reader that the first bout of the day was
in fact Kagamioh vs. Homarefuji, NOT Harumafuji as was erroneously reported on
various news websites. As you were.)
Chiyootori was looking for his 8th win, but Sokokurai had other plans. After
giving ground initially the Chinese champ snatched an outside right belt that he
used to lift up and swing around his much heavier (40 kilos heavier!) foe. (Its
funny how easy it is for me to type that, and yet how insanely difficult it must
have been for Sokokurai to DO it.) Chiyootori was somehow able to remain in the
ring, his toes splayed wide open as he balanced on the bales. Sokokurai kept
wrenching and wrenching, and Chiyootori kept resisting, but finally when a
Chiyootori attempt at jamming his right hand in under Sokokurais arm failed, he
desperately tried to pull the Arashio mans neck, and was quickly shoved back and
out. THIS bout was pure, unabashed sumo power on display. Check it out on the
Sloppy footing by Kyokutenho postponed his kachi-koshi one more day (hes going
to mangle dispirited 4-8 Tochinowaka on Day 13) as he let Mr. A. Minishiki gain
his ninth win via (pro: "vie uh") by stepping out as the E6 was getting ready to
bed down for the night. Bedroll takes on Okinoumi in the first half gangbuster
Takarafuji won the battle of short arms by overcoming a determined Takanoiwa,
who was trying to avoid his eighth setback. Takanoiwa wanted the belt, but
Takarafuji was not letting him in, doing his t-rex best with those truncated
pipes to knock his opponent around and off kilter. Takanoiwa finally collapsed
in a heap at the edge as he just could not stand the beating any longer.
Ikioi tried to grab the cheap outer belt grip at a sidestepping tachi-ai, but
Takayasu read it and turned it into a close in battle. Ikioi was able to lock
down on Takayasus arm and use it as a lever to yank him around until finally
shoving him out, with a hand in his mug for good measure. I think
Iki-iki-iki-fatang-zoom (does anyone get that reference, I wonder?) knew if he
won this match hed be in position at a shot at one of the big boys, and for
Ikioi, his Day 13 draw Kotoshogiku qualifies as big. With that on the line, cant
blame him too much for wanting it badly enough to play cheap at the start.
Toyonoshima demonstrated for all (as if we needed it) the relative meaning, in
sumo, of the word "injured." His fourth straight win after returning came at the
expense of Endo, who could do nothing with his tenuous inside left belt as
Tugboat clamped down on it by leaning right and then working the hapless 2-10 W1
out. Props to Toyonoshima for his dramatic comeback, which has easily assured
him a Makuuchi spot in Kyushu.
He-Who-Disposes-Of-Yokozuna got his ass kicked by Jokoryu, making you wonder how
in the world he beat Kakuryu so easily. After that kin-boshi and his earlier phi
slamma eye jamma he pulled on Harumafuji, this is going to be one basho the
Caffeinated One will never forget, despite todays humiliation.
Osunaarashi forearmed Takekaze in the face and then followed it up with some
arms fully extended thrusts to that same mug, but Takekaze, look at him go,
shook it off and worked his way inside and I was totally rooting for Takekaze
(how often does THAT happen??) to kick this guys ass for being so...so...big and
strong, but alas, Osunaarashi was able to drag the smaller man in and slap him
down. Not sure what all the love people are showing for this Egyptian. I find
his sumo reminiscent of another furrie, name of Kokkai, and predict that using
those crappy pull tactics he will not ever rise above Komusubi, unless the
Sekiwake slots just go to shit in the very same basho as he KKs at Komusubi.
to task, as it were, by the enigmatic Harv for my part in STs not coming up with
a better nickname for Tamawashi than "The Mawashi," and deeply dissatisfied with
the nicks that have been employed so far for Ichinojo, including "Blob" and
"Iron Blob of Gravity Grease" (da fuck?), I hereby give you the nickname for
Ichinojo that will be used henceforth by any and all who have taste and style:
An-n-n-n-nyway, today Goeido was fooling himself, thinking he could get into a
belt battle and win. He snagged an outside left belt but gave up the inside
right, and stupidly sat still for a couple of seconds after the tachi-ai, which
allowed Ichinojo to cement his grip and snag an outside left. Once the table had
been set, it was not too difficult for The Mongolith to pull him off balance,
rush forward, and counter the inevitable twisting that the Ozeki would attempt.
The crowd went nuts, and rightly so on the basis of seeing a rookie beat an
Ozeki, but I didnt, and thats because I know Goeido is undeserving of this rank
and Ichinojo, barring injury, is a future Yokozuna.
(Ichinojo was cute in his interview, answering the pesky interviewer with short,
rote responses, but when asked if he was contacted by his family after beating
Kisenosato on Day 11, he smiled and said they called to congratulate him, and he
speculated that they would call again today.)
think Yokozuna Kakuryu wanted to show the world that he is strong enough to go
chest to chest with Kotoshogiku, who is a famously unskilled belt grappler, and
drive him out bi yori-kiri. So it seemed as the Yokozuna did not employ any
twisting to the side or shaking to see what apples might fall off the tree. He
just stood there right in front of the Ozeki, seeming to dare him to try and win
by pushing him back and out. And Geeku did just that.
At one point, the Yokozuna responded to a drive by Kotoshogiku by pushing him
back and had him off his feet and slightly unbalanced, but instead of
capitalizing on this by twisting to the left or right (because we all know
Kotoshogiku does not have the greatest balance and can be thrown down to the
side if one is sufficiently strong enough, like say a Yokozuna might be) he
simply set him down and went back to a stalemate. Real perplexing sumo there by
Kakuryu. Lets hope he employs a little more movement vs. The Mongolith tomorrow.
Finally we had what is normally the best battle of the basho in Hakuho vs.
Kisenosato. Hakuho will be 30 years old on the anniversary of the Tohoku Tsunamj
next year, and as good as he is, he has lost a step or two and its no shame to
admit it by employing some strategy. Today he admitted it by sliding a tiny bit
to his right, preventing Kisenosato from getting some lucky forearm to the
Yokozunas face or something that might throw a wrench in his plans to tie
Chiyonofuji with a zensho yusho. He was immediately able to get the moro-zashi
as Kisenosato had no plan on how to block Kublais intrusion. The Ozeki was easy
pickings from there and ends his day still needing one win to kachi-koshi.
Hakuho moves on with a date with Goeido, and it aint gonna be pretty. Goeido
will go down and go down hard. Trust me on this one.
Ill be back on Day 15 to review the carnage. And I dont mean to be a spoil
sport, but if there is a single one of you who thinks Ichinojo can defeat
Hakuho, please disabuse yourself of that notion immediately cause it wont
happen. Like Martin hilariously stated, "Hes coming, and hell is coming with
him" but this is Hakuho we speak of, and while everyone else may be quaking in
their bare feet, the GOAT will NOT be pointing and shouting, "Hannibal ante
Mike will splain it all to you tomorrow, Lucy.
Day 11 Comments (Harvye Hodja reporting)
my pleasure to guest-write today's column, and an honor. For three recent years,
I lived in a country where the internet was too slow to stream video (yes, such
places still exist). I spent--I shouldn't admit this--around $2000 dollars
having a satellite dish that looked like a prop from Apollo 13 built on the top
of my generator shack, and for two glorious weeks during a July basho we
actually had jittery but watchable NHK. Then the signal disappeared, and the
country's lone satellite-TV expert couldn't fix it, then he died, a day or two
after telling me he couldn't come to try again because he was feeling a little
sick. The point of this story is that during those three years the only thing I
knew about sumo I got from Sumotalk. So, props to the writers for writing
intelligently and entertainingly about the bouts. Now is my chance to give back;
I hope there is some yurt dweller in the wilds of Tuva cursing under his breath
right now that the western cirrus ice is obscuring his Sat feed, but thanking
his lucky clear-skied eastern stars that Sumotalk, and its low low bandwidth
bite is available as usual. Cheers.
Day 11: in general things felt rushed today. Guys who wanted to win did so
swiftly and decisively, and guys who lost looked like they weren't into it.
Early on in this tournament I was happy to see there was a lot of long, intense,
hard-fought bouts; that sagged away as the middle of the tournament came on, but
today the vibe was different: the rush towards the end has begun. The dog-days
of September? There are only two real questions: will Hakuho go ahead and win or
give a surprise yusho to Kakuryu? And what will Ichinojo do? Ichinojo has star
power in that bland, spreading bulk--there is something compelling about him
right now, and it ain't just the chilling power-sumo. Tonight, sitting at Ryuzan
eating my Sanratanmen just off the Shinjuku line at Higashi-Oshima, the only
customer, while the 75 year old proprietress and I were treated to the news,
guess what they showed from sumo: one bout only. Ichinojo. And they showed it
twice. Well, let me tell you about it--and everything besides.
First, the else. Okinoumi vs. Sadanoumi demonstrated today's trend of quick,
dominating wins: Sea of Oki beat Sea of Sada quickly and decisively, almost too
easily. Sadanoumi, who has impressed this tourney with forceful forward sumo,
had some fo' here too, and drove Okinoumi back ever so slightly--but Oki's Sea
(9-2) then just twisted Sada's Sea (6-5) by the left arm for a kote-nage win;
Sad Sea went down easily. I dunno; when I was a kid other kids on the playground
used to twist my arm behind my back and make me say uncle too--I just never felt
in the mood for a broken arm.
Kagamioh ain't got much. How do I know this? Today he faced Tochinowaka, a
rikishi with known weaknesses (passive, struggles when bashed in the face).
Kagamioh did not try to take advantage of the face thing (mentally weak) and
despite having lower position he was slid out (physically weak) like a toboggan
in February by Tochinowaka (4-7). There is a group of colorless rikishi who have
yet to show me anything that will get them to post-five-o'clock, and Kagamioh
(5-6), losing here by oshi-taoshi, is one of them.
Tamawashi is another colorless fellow, as evidenced by the fact that even this
illustrious site has never found a better nickname for him than "The Mawashi."
However, I can't do better; I nevertheless hereby will call him "Snack Break,
because he is the kind of guy who sends me to the kitchen to root out some malt
beer and a bag of peanuts for the following bouts. But not today. I stayed and
watched Snack Break show his experience and professionalism, maintaining well by
responding to flabby pushes and a few tsuppari by Sadanofuji by pushing back up
high and in Sada's face. As colorless as Snack Break is, at least he has the
power to win a bout like this: Sadanofuji (3-8) just doesn't have much more than
bulk, which led to his oshi-dashi loss to Tamawashi (4-7).
showed why everybody hates him by combining (1) a henka to his left with (2) a
kick to Arawashi's leg to trip him while (3) nearly pulling Arawashi's hair in
pushing down on his head, all after (4) not actually touching the dirt with
either fist in his eagerness to get to this bit of nasty trickery. Keta-guri
loss for make-koshi Arawashi (3-8). When the other kids didn't feel like
twisting my arm behind my back they might push me down in the dirt at the marble
pit by surprise and say, "hey, you got snot coming out of your nose." But I
still like Tokitenku (3-8) because instead of sniggering with the other boys
over by the tree, he walked away with a look on his face that said "okay... if
you don't like it MAKE IT ILLEGAL." Smart man.
Tochiohzan got both arms inside (moro-zashi) and forced Kyokutenho out quickly
oshi-dashi. Fine and well, but there is no question that despite the 7-4 record,
this tournament has raised questions about Tochiohzan: he should be, oh, 10-1 or
9-2 from this position, and unless lingering injury is causing it, his mostly
backwards-moving sumo this tournament is spelling "has been" for him. As for 7-4
Kyokutenho, it has been a fun basho with all the "Lordy Lordy look who's forty"
stuff, but this bout shows why you're hearing from those who know that the
grandfather clock has already struck about 11:30 for this guy--he had nothing.
And these guys fought a yusho playoff just two years ago. My goodness.
Chiyootori, who by all rights should be a rising star about now--and maybe he
is; don't look now but he's one away from kachi-koshi at 7-4--looked low, fast,
and strong in driving out Kyokushuho (5-6) efficiently with moro-zashi. Again,
today was all about dominance for winners and pasty weak nothings from the
Shohozan's dominant tsuki-dashi defeat of Sokokurai (6-5) was similar in flavor
if not content: Sokokurai, who I was looking to show me here that he more than
just a pretty-good bottom-dweller, could not do so. He panickedly tried to fend
off Shohozan's aggressive attack, and was out in seconds. He did very much of
nothing here. Shohozan (5-6) may never stick in the Sekiwake-Komusubi slot
because he is too small, but he showed today why a lot of people like him: he
has winning spirt from here to there. This stuff matters. Look at the size of
these two and pick a winner? Bad idea. Look at the demeanor and now pick again:
another guy whose fighting spirit I like; his opponent today, Takanoiwa, is a
"jury's out" guy, but I thought Takanoiwa did well to make this one against
Ikioi into a contest; Ikioi has more tools and experience but Takanoiwa didn't
just crumple. This may have been today's best bout. Iki got the right outer
while High Cliff (Takanoiwa) had the left inner, while with their other two
hands they concluded a deal, shaky shaky thanky thanky Have a Cigar. But the key
here is that Ikioi kept himself facing and moving forward and his feet active
and kept Takanoiwa facing to the side, leaving High Cliff (4-7) to hop about on
one foot while Ikioi (7-4) dictated the pace and looked like a savvy, strong guy
who is going to do a lot of winning and look good doing it.
A couple days ago I wrote that Toyohibiki is a better, fatter version of
Kitataiki. Lo! Here they are facing each other: two honest power guys. Guess
what, fatter, better = winner. This was a simple test of physics, of which
Toyohibiki (oshi-dashi, 5-6) has more than Kitataiki (6-5). Yay, Kerosene Burp
(my Japanese is bad and I always confuse the word for kerosene, which isn't toyo
but should be; "hibiki" means echo, but like I said my Japanese is bad, so I
really did, years ago, do a double take: Kerosene Burp??? (No, dummy, Rich
Echo... kerosene fumes?) so Kerosene Burp it will always be. And does he not
look like he could produce such a thing?)
like to pick on umpires and referees, who are trying to make decisions based on
tiny visual distinctions that happen in a split second at angles that may have
been blocked for them. So, I say: you try it. Today, probably Aminishiki should
have beat Yoshikaze on the first go round, as it looked like his heel was still
in as Yoshikaze went flying past him, missile like, after driving Ami back to
the tawara without sufficient control or de-ashi. However, when
seeing it in the comfort of my home on ultra slow replay multiple times, and I'm
still not entirely sure, well, then a do over is the right decision. Period. In
which do-over Aminishiki spun Yoshikaze around by neck and shoulder, and despite
being higher up and going backwards, swung Yoshikaze down like a missile now
going all curly-cue, hataki-komi. It is always odd to me how a guy who looks to
have such better position (Yoshikaze 6-5) can be beat so decisively by the one
with worse position (Aminishiki 8-3). Chalk it up to Aminishiki's "inner chi,"
while Yoshikaze looked like he was dancing a jig after 17 shots of
whiskey-and-coffee. Another theme of this basho for me has been that guys who
stay calm in the ring win. Zen-amen.
the myth of Sisyphus, Sisyphus is cursed to roll a boulder up a mountain and
have it come down again every time just when he gets to the top, and then have
to roll it up again. Good thing Zeus didn't decide to do this to Toyonoshima
instead of Sisyphus, because Toyonoshima today pushed the boulder, now featuring
the friendly nickname "Chiyomaru" all the way up and over the mountain top.
Chiyomaru is a huge fat round heavy thing, and
is visibly smaller, and even as it was happening I thought, "this is not going
to work," as old, injured Toyonoshima worked at Chiyomaru's belly and bulk and
kept pushing him back, back, back, and then up, up, up and over the tawara,
oshi-dashi. Chiyomaru (3-8) should have evaded, but he didn't. So be it. This is
why people enjoy Toyonoshima (3-5-3): he often looks overmatched, but he is one
of sumo's best gamers. He eats on Sisyphus's dime tonight, while Zeus says, "yabut,
time waits for no man. I'm getting' him right soon, you'll see."
Nice, powerful slap of bodies at the tachi-ai by Takayasu and Takarafuji, after
which Takayasu (5-6) got the left inside and used it to work Takarafuji (5-6)
out yori-kiri. Simple, powerful, lovely.
Don't look now, but Terunofuji, who has won three of four, may end up with an
okay record this tournament (4-7). Problem was, I'm not buying it. Who knows
why, but Kaisei (4-7), who had a left, gave it up, then did the old "hold the
armpit" strategy. I dunno, maybe his arms are short. Then Terunofuji did a nice
uwate-nage, but Kaisei's hop-hop and gentle roll reminded me of how the Aikido
teacher in Seattle whose session I watched once before deciding I'd stick to
Star Wars and Lord of the Rings instead would do nice falls when doing
confidence building work with his students.
Endo (2-9) wins an automatic one over withdrawee Chiyotairyu (1-10; right knee
injury). In effect, tournament was already over for both them. These are both
potential-guys, so I'll look forward to seeing if they can do something with
said potential next time. Underwhelma-a-rama please go away.
drove the action from the tachi-ai against Jokoryu with powerful
right-left-right-left thrusts, extending his arms to full length and
overwhelming Jokoryu tsuki-taoshi. Jokoryu (3-8) is the ostensible Komusubi
here, but Aoiyama (6-5) is the better rikishi, and probably consistently belongs
at Komusubi or Sekiwake. He seems to suffer from the looks-like-lethargy that
has seemed common to the Europeans in the division, but not today. (Scary in the
slow-mo tho; never seen such flappity flabbities, even on Miyabiyama. Here's
hoping the ceaseless march of Sensitivity will take pity on Aoiyama and
authorize his wearing a sports bra in the ring. And heck, give him a big helmet,
Kotoshogiku (7-4) rapidly drove Osunaarashi (4-7) out oshi-dashi. Nice, smacking
tachi-ai here, followed by two face slaps by Big Sandy, but what was Biggy's
next move? A head pull while standing up straight. Why? My take on Giant Sand is
that he gets one chance to get a knock-out punch in. If it doesn't work, he's in
"do'ope!" mode, and has nothing. Kotoshogiku, respect his rank or not, has
always been straight forward and professional, and today through calm or luck he
survived SandStromThurmond's first brute offerings. It won't always work that
way--Shohozan basically got knocked out by StormThorgerson the other day, and
Cheetos is no pansy--but Stormy is going to need to find more than two punches
to work with in order to advance.
the big moment: Ichinojo vs. Kisenosato. This doesn't happen very often: an
upper division rookie facing an Ozeki. But the result was sad, sad. After two
false starts by the Iron Blob of Gravity Grease (Ichinojo), Iron Blob henka'ed
and pushed down Kisenosato by the head hataki-komi. I mean, why? Well, if I was
selling my soul, I'd probably say, "okay, but if I'm going to lose, you have to
make yourself look bad. Henka me." Then again, Kisenosato did look annoyed with
himself afterwards (he said "ah" to himself in the tunnel--credit to where
credit is due, thank you Kintamayama). Who knows? Either way, Ichinojo gets an
historic victory in an anti-climactic, embarrassing, shameful way. (We need
Tokitenku to drop in right now and say, "if you don't like it, MAKE IT
ILLEGAL.") This, in a word, sucked. My sanratanmen was delicious, though.
Hakuho used his trademark "prop him with the right forearm, scoop him with the
left arm extended down low" tachiai, and it was starting to work--this
bulldozer/backhoe combination had Takekaze moving towards the tawara. Oddly,
though, Hakuho then decided-- what, that it wasn't worth the effort? Because he
changed gears and pulled Takekaze down by the back of the head hataki-komi (and
was lucky he didn't get a hair pull, as it looked to me like the fingers were
inside the back of the 'do). Is it just too easy for him? At any rate, I like
him to win this tournament; if he is going to tie Chiyonofuji, doing it with a
zensho would be his style: he knows how to Come Out and Make a Statement. He
doesn't always do it; let's hope he finishes his Speech.
Finally, Kakuryu was ho-hum; as he often does, he chose to dominate his opponent
with something that looks like weakness ("the Aikido Yokozuna"). He whapped
Goeido on the top of the head with both hands like a person pushing down a
plunger, then stepped neatly and swiftly all the way back to the tawara while
further pushing Goeido down tsuki-otoshi. This is dreadful for Goeido, because
at his rank he shouldn't look so vulnerable to a guy who looks like he isn't
trying very hard. Goeido's sumo looks befuddled.
Last four days is Ichinojo-a-go-go-happy-happy-Hakuho-ho-ho.
Day 10 Comments (Kane Roberts reporting)
a good plan…find out what you're good at and believe in THAT. Oh and it's better
that you don't watch the news 'cause theres a gawd awful stream of garbage that
flows unfettered through so many news drainage systems that you're just asking
to be bent over (and I don't mean backwards) and taken way off topic which is
and should always be…winning.
the reason I bring this up is recently I flicked on the telly to watch me some
pigskin action and saw Ray Rice doing a Ralph Kramden on his (at the time)
fiancée and found myself subjected to a truckload of opinions on how to think
about the dirty deed…having no thoughts that matched up with the nimrods' that
waxed pathetic on that topic, I changed the channel and saw a politician (no
name here is necessary since they're ALL the same waste of time) so I got the f…
offa THAT channel and shut down my boob tube.
It was then that I realized one of the main reasons I feel all excited when a
basho is starting up and why I get a bit forlorn when the event ends 2 weeks
You see, however much you believe that some kinda agenda plays a role in our
treasured fat guy sport, it's a true vacation from the glut of news and
corrective thought management we get shoved up our butts every frikkin day. And
speaking of butts…looking at a girl's butt is also waaay over anal eyesed. Not
sure how to spell that. (Please use your imagination and insert an image here)
But when I'm immersed in a real live basho…wellllll…I'm watching something
steeped in tradition…a honto ni omoshiroi koto (insanely interesting
event) born of a culture whose essence is notably beyond my ability to fully
comprehend (thank you Mr. Wesemann for trying to get us up to speed by offering
up all the sweet Nihon extras in your reports!).
got my sumo on, I'm suddenly in a new dimension…a fresh and insanely cool zone.
And in a broader (and nad) sense, I'm aware that I be watching it with alla you
maniacs who've also jumped the train to see mawashi wedgies galore!
hey, when we stand up and do the "guts pose" 'cos something fantastic has
happened atop the dohyo, it's also kinda like digging on a band that no one else
likes! As original thinkers (and I use that term lightly), we're somehow a breed
apart. We believe in ourselves enough to step away from our peers and get way
inside something on our own…and this my friends is truly most excellent (oh I
used that last time around…oh well).
Let's just hope randomly imposed agendas don't overwhelm this bastion
of…whatever the heck sumo REALLY is…
Now, having committed the very thing I was complaining about, let's all suit up,
roll our heads around our shoulders (now back the other way) and crack our
knuckles, 'cause dayum if it ain't Day 10 Aki Basho 2014!
The broadcast started off with a touching report on Hawaiian sumo wrestler
Takamiyama the first gaijin rikishi that became one of Japan’s most beloved sumo
dudes ever. Now there are those that still believe that allowing foreigners into
the sport was a mistake.
Just look at the profiles in the banzuke and you get a sense of how the home
team fans might be feeling. When I visited a Japanese girlfriend in Shizuoka a
few years back, I met her Dad and I thot he’d be all impressed that I was into
sumo…he said "without a Japanese Yokozuna he no longer has an interest in the
But although Takamiyama only made it to Sekiwake status (in those days it wasn’t
an “only”) he also won a championship, became the first foreign born rikishi to
start a stable (Hawaiian Yokozuna, Akebono was part of his Azumazeki stable!)
and held the record for most Makuuchi consecutive appearances. He started in
sumo in 1964 and ended his long career in 1984.
After showing some insanely cool bouts with Takamiyama and Takanohana, NHK color
commentator, Mainoumi, praised Takamiyama for coming to Japan and learning
Japanese and eventually embracing Japan's culture and people.
Mike sent me an email noting that this featured special may have been a way of
easing the viewers into the Mongolian dominance becoming a total rampage!
At the outset, the ever stylishly dressed Tamawashi received a sound hari-te
from his fellow Mongolian Tokitenku. As the two men danced in a circle Toki did
what he'd learned from the sumo manual that came with his chon-mage kit and went
for his opponent's belt, Mr. Washi locked his mitts in Tokitenku's armpits and
drove him backwards. As the two men struggled Tamawashi got an insane nodowa
grip bending Toki's torso almost 90 degrees backwards and eventually corkscrewed
his man out of bounds oshi-dashi style. Tamawashi keeps the dogs offa his rump
at 3-7 while Juryo bound Toki get's all bit up at 2-8.
Now the other guy famous for getting his head bent back is Tochinowaka but
Sokokurai felt coming in low was a better tactic against the tall slow man. At
the tachi-ai Tochinodowa strode in upright while Soko got in a strongly executed
crouch and drove his head into the bigger man's chest. Each man achieved
opposing yotsu grips, but it was Sokokurai (6-4) who toughed it out and got the
leverage and threw down Tochi (3-7) for the impressive shitate-nage win.
Okinoumi (M15) needs a good basho real bad, and I don't think there's anyone
among us who doesn't believe he possesses the skills to do just that. At 7-2 he
could smell kachi-koshi and the only fragrance in the way was Shohozan's rapidly
El Grumpo Maximo can't seem to get his tsuppari mojo woikin' this time out, and
as he and Okinoumi engaged in a full on slapfest it was evident that Sho would
eventually step across the rope first. Oki gets his kachi-koshi (8-2) and
Shohozan (4-6) considers switching to a silver mawashi.
Next, the magical Mr. A. Minishki faced off with the mysterious Mr. Toyo H.
Ibiki, two rikishi that consistently keep their heads above the murky waters of
Lake Mukiryoku. These are two tough sumbitchs, and I gotta say the Shneekster
just kicks my butt the way he consistently works through his chronic knee pain.
Not bagging' on Baruto but there you have it….
The two men (as they are oft prone to do) struck with honest hard tachi-ai.
Aminishiki wisely kept Toyo away from his belt and repeatedly shoved his man
upright forcing the Beekster to respond with tsuppari (not his technique of
choice). Regardless, he still backed up the staggering Aminishiki who suddenly
responded with a stunning right handed shove that sent his big opponent
stumbling to his left. The Shiek of Shneak pounced on Toyo and rammed his big
butt clear off the dohyo. Aminishiki mans up for a cool 7-3 and Toyohibiki
reluctantly falls to 4-6.
Ichinojo has earned kachi-koshi. Yoshikaze has an Ozeki AND a Yokozuna scalp.
Will the big Mongolian kid be able to handle Monster Drink's frenetic brand of
su….oh its over? Ahh I see. Well credit Yoshikaze for coming hard and fast at
Ichinojo who simply backed up and slapped down Monster Drink in quick
hataki-komi order. Ichi Koo Park is 9-1 (he faces Ozeki Kisenosato tomorrow)
while Yoshikaze falls to a respectful 6-4.
Terunofuji and Takayasu had fire in their eyes as they approached the gate, and
when push came to shove Tak blew Teru back towards the bad place. Terunofuji
impressed everyone that was paying attention by his ability to lower his head
and lift Takayasu up and back showing his opponent what it feels like to get
worked. Both men grappled while trying to prevent the other from grabbing belt
when suddenly Tak went full headlock mode and tried an atama-nage (head
unscrew). He managed to yank Fuji the Terrible by his neck, but it appeared he
also pissed the kid off as Teru suddenly upped the intensity and began muscling
Taka towards the rope.
Let me say that right at this point I was enthralled by the intensity of what
these two rikishi were laying down. Takayasu slid his arms free and attempted
another headlock toss, but Terunofuji muscled him back to the edge of the dohyo,
grabbed Taka's right leg, and dumped the dude into the expensive seats. Great
bout I say unto thee placing young and hungry Terunofuji at 3-7 and just plain
hungry Takayasu at 4-6.
So Endoh (1-9) lost to Jokoryu (3-7). I believe my initial reactions to this
talented kid were well founded. Whatever is currently going on, he ain't the
same athlete I saw roar through Juryo and put up some sweet numbers in Makuuchi
for a couple of basho (an erudite fellow I know named Mike W. concurs). Along
with the NSK hype and a truckload of Makuuchi dynamics, he's had a LOT on his
plate. So here's hoping he can assimilate it all of this properly and start to
enjoy some better numbers.
Kisenosato has been a solid Sekiwa… I mean Ozeki this basho. He's shown maturity
through patience, technique by displaying sound footwork, and a drive to win
with a bevy of kimari-te yori-kiri and oshi-dashi. Takarafuji has been holding
his own and has shown some of his own mensch-like characteristics on the dirt.
The Kid let loose his signature semi-passive tachi-ai but achieved (as did
Tadaraboomdeeyay) a solid mawashi grip. Kise tested the waters and tried to
twist and jostle Takara back, but his man was not giving it up, and they settled
into using each others trapezius' as a chin rest.
Taka shoved back hard, but both men had their feet planted properly, and so the
center of the ring stalemate continued. Takarafuji showed the audience he
possesses stronger guns than the Kid and proceeded to lift, drive and slam the
Ozeki off the clay. Nice bout I say…Kise got worked mightily in the end…much to
the disappointment of the crowd…but give him credit for…well trying. Yori-taoshi
is the call as Taka feels mighty at 5-5 and Kisenosato feels like 7-3 and out of
Now that the whole "Japanese anything" taking place this basho had been cleared
out, I was soundly amused how easy a time Kotoshogiku had rocking Goeido (a
Japanese Ozeki) backwards and off the planet. Lower ranked rikishi kicked
Geeku's butt quite handily earlier in the week. Mandude Koto (6-4) beats
Lostdude Goeido (6-4).
seemed like Kakuryu tried a number of techniques before finally ridding the
world of Takekaze. Tsuppari then belt grip then hataki-komi then tsuppari and
finally uwate-dashi-nage to end the brief one-sided affair. Takekaze, who looked
like he just wanted to know what he was supposed to do, feels symmetrical at 5-5
while Mr. Excitement displays no emotion regarding his current status at a
Hakuho got his ass strong-armed around to the right and dangerously close to
hell's trip wire by Da Thug, Osunaarashi, causing all of my friends at my sumo
party to gasp.
But Osu’s tippy toe footwork greatly reduced the effectiveness of his initial
attack (he actually lost his footing) and Hak was able to recover his balance,
dig in and counter with a powerful left arm toss and the tsuki-otoshi vic. Yoko
Haku 10-0, Osu, who is trying to forget his sordid past, falters at 4-6.
Well that does it for me this time around and let me confess, it's been a gas!
Some sweet action taking place at this Aki affair and so far I'm juiced about
all the sweet sumo goodness we've been treated to…so as always, thanks for the
opportunity to smack down with y'all. Looking forward to the rest of the ST
reviews (good to have the C Man back) and of course your hardcore comments. I'd
take a selfie and send it to you but…she looks a whole lot better know
what I mean Verne?
Day 9 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
always look forward to the weekend broadcasts because NHK brings out their guns
as they know the audience will be large, and it gives them a chance to set the
stage for week two. The guests are always high profile celebrities, and the
oyakata providing color analysis are top notch as well, usually with Mainoumi in the
mukou-joumen chair. As you've probably figured out by now, I don't watch sumo
and then go to the media to see what just happened. I pay close attention to the
media beforehand as it offers clues as to what we can expect during a hon-basho.
I firmly believe that the PR department of the Sumo Association is not there to
just advertise the sport. Rather, they're there to coordinate with the media
regarding the highlights and talking points of the basho.
Endoh is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. They gave statistics on
Sunday afternoon talking about the rise in sell-outs this basho, and it was
pointed out on day 4 how the venue sold out on that particular day for the first
time in 17 years. I can't exactly say there is a resurgence in sumo's popularity
among the Japanese fans, but interest in the sport is definitely on the rise
again, and so the question becomes 'what's bringing the fans back?' For example,
a Japanese rikishi hasn't taken the yusho in 8 years plus, nor is a Japanese
rikishi even close to accomplishing that feat; yet, fan interest is definitely
on the rise again, and so the talk, especially on Sunday, focused on the reasons
for swelling fan interest.
Sunday's guest was none other than Yaku Mitsuru, a creepy looking anime creator
who uses sumo as the backdrop for many of his creations. Yaku was extremely
critical of Asashoryu back in the day, and it was he and that other dude named
Makiko Uchidate whom the media would always go to when they needed quotes
bashing the former Yokozuna. Anyway, NHK had Yaku create a one-frame anime scene
that depicted sumo in its current state, and he drew a rikishi walking towards
the venue and then a crowd of fans around him including a foreigner that is
represented at the far left of the frame. As for the captions to the story, Yaku
included the wording "sumo-ba" where ba means place and is the same
ba found in
the compound basho. And then he added the term "kenbutsu," or discover. His
belief was that the rise in fan attendance was due to people getting curious in
sumo, and so they were discovering the sport again.
Sitting next to Yaku was the former Takanonami or current Otowa-oyakata, and he
was more to the point and less poetic when he said, "I think the rise has to do
with female fans coming out to see Endoh." Both Yaku and Takanonami are correct
in their assessments, and the way they are getting Japanese fans interested in
sumo again is to manufacture and hype storylines that aren't based off of actual
sumo content exhibited on the dohyo. Using the case of Endoh, he's achieved near
rock star status without producing a single hit.
I kind of liken him to Justin Bieber. Musically, that queer boy has no talent,
but he's got an image that gullible fans (i.e. young females) just eat up. In
the case of Endoh, he's done nothing atop the dohyo; yet, the media has created
this image surrounding him that gullible fans (i.e. Japanese people) just eat
up, particularly the single female crowd. It's the strangest phenomenon; yet,
it's produced concrete results, so there's no reason why the Sumo Association
won't continue to ride this wave for as long as they can. I'm fine with whatever
the Sumo Association wants to do, but don't expect me to pretend that all of the
sumo in the ring is real just as I would never pretend that Justin Bieber
actually has any talent, especially when bands like Linkin Park occupy the
Yokozuna slot in the East with Coldplay in the West.
On that...er...note, let's start off week two by examining the leaderboard as we
head into day 9. What a difference three days make as the leaderboard is whittled
down from 19 rikishi to just four as follows:
8-0: Hakuho, Kakuryu
7-1: Kisenosato, Ichinojo
Let's start with the leaders going in chronological order and then work our way
back down the ranks in descending order.
M10 Ichinojo and M12 Sadanoumi hooked up in the migi-yotsu position from the
tachi-ai where Sadanoumi proactively grabbed the left outer grip and went for
the force-out kill. On his first try he backed the Blob back near the straw, but
on the second volley, his outer grip slipped off of the belt allowing Ichinojo
to get his right arm so deep that Sadanoumi's left was rendered useless pointing
in the air. With both dudes now near the edge, it was a half-step adjustment for
Ichinojo to turn the tables and send Sadanoumi across for good. Sadanoumi needed
patience in this one, and it seems as if I'm always pointing that out with this
kid. The strategy today should have been to keep Ichinojo moving laterally and
pounce with a soto-gake or dashi-nage when the opening presented itself since
trying to force Ichinojo back straightway it fruitless. That's easy for me to say,
I know, as Ichinojo clinches kachi-koshi moving to 8-1 while Sadanoumi is still
looking good at 6-3. There are a handful of rikishi among the elite ranks who
will simply school this kid when he gets up there...this basho, but he won't be
pushed around by anyone for long.
With Ichinojo safely through, let's now move to our Ozeki matchup for the day
featuring Kisenosato and Goeido. The two hooked up in hidari-yotsu with Goeido
enjoying the easy right outside grip. The rookie Ozeki attempted a quick force
out charge using the right leg at back of Kisenosato's left to try and pin him
in, but the Kid was able to slip out of it moving the action back to the center
of the ring. Now with the bout in hidari-yotsu, Goeido retreated a step and
unleashed a neck throw that sent Kisenosato into an exaggerated summersault as
he was flipped down to the clay.
From start to finish this bout just didn't look right to me, and when you watch
the replays, you can clearly see that Kisenosato does nothing with his inside
positions throughout the bout. He had the left at first that he kept in no-man's
land, and then when the two swapped places, he did nothing wit the right inside.
Furthermore, if you don't have the outside position, you're only hope is with
the inside, so it makes no sense that the Kid kept his inside hands in no man's
land never trying to lift Goeido upright or grab the inside belt. I don't know
how else to call this bout other than to say Kisenosato let up big time. I know
a lot of people will say 'Why would Kisenosato purposefully lose and knock
himself off of the leaderboard?" and my answer to that is...when has
Kisenosato's taking the yusho ever been part of the equation? I don't know why
Kisenosato didn't put forth any effort in this one; I just know that he didn't.
The end result is Kisenosato's falling to 7-2 while Goeido climbs to 6-3.
Oh, and at the end of the day, NHK expanded the leaderboard down to the two-loss
rikishi so they could still include Kisenosato. Would they have done the same if
Ichinojo had lost and Kisenosato had won?
With Kisenosato knocked down a step, let's move to the Yokozuna ranks where
Hakuho greeted M1 Takarafuji. There is absolutely nothing to be broken down here
as Hakuho executed the straight forward charge getting the left inside from the
first step and the right inside from the second. Hakuho with moro-zashi is
insurmountable, so the only question left was would he rough up Takarafuji at
the edge? He wouldn't as he peacefully forced him back moving to 9-0 in the
process. Takarafuji is having a great basho if you haven't noticed at 4-5.
The day ended with Yokozuna Kakuryu failing to move forward at the tachi-ai
against M3 Yoshikaze and settling for outward slaps slowly backing up on his own
because Yoshikaze certainly wasn't connecting on tsuppari that drove the
Yokozuna back. As the bout slowly drifted in Yoshikaze's favor, Kakuryu offered a
right pull attempt that was so half-assed he used it to step back right against
the straw where Yoshikaze went for the kill and got Kakuryu pushed out with
ease using a left jab. No de-ashi, no moving to the side, no commitment to a pull, and no
question that Kakuryu dropped this one on purpose. Just look at Kakuryu's
demeanor at the edge with one foot in and one foot out. He was upright
like this throughout, and I don't thin it's even debatable that this one was
mukiryoku. Decide among yourselves the "why" as Kakuryu falls to 8-1 while Yoshikaze moves to 6-3.
Yoshikaze admitted to the Yokozuna's slothfulness afterwards saying, "Well, he
didn't even move around the ring." Then, when Kariya Announcer asked, "you
watched him well didn't you?", Yoshikaze answered, "Well no, I just didn't want
to leave my head too low." When you watch someone in the ring well, it implies
that person was moving laterally and mawari-komu'ing around the ring. Kakuryu
was just linear the whole way...moving back step by step until Yoshikaze went
for the kill.
Since NHK moved the leaderboard down one notch, let's conclude talk of the
leaders with M15 Okinoumi who fought with M8 Tochiohzan in perhaps the sloppiest
bout of the basho. Neither rikishi maintained a real grip or position from the
tachi-ai as Tochiohzan drifted back and to his left slipping into moro-zashi
near the edge as Okinoumi pursued. In moro-zashi, Tochiohzan drove Okinoumi back
across the entire diameter of the ring but lazily let Okinoumi slip right
causing Oh to step out for what should have been ruled isami-ashi (they said
hataki-komi even though Tochiohzan never hit the dirt). Tochiohzan's being
unaware of where he was at in the ring is a sign of laziness while Okinoumi
didn't really do anything himself to throw the former Sekiwake off of his game.
Okinoumi gave up the ridiculously easy moro-zashi, and neither rikishi gave a
shat at the tachi-ai. Sloppy sloppy sumo as Okinoumi backs his way onto the
leaderboard at 7-2 while Tochiohzan is losing his luster fast at 5-4.
If you're keeping score at home, the leaderboard at the end of the day reads:
8-1: Kakuryu, Ichinojo
7-2: Kisenosato, Okinoumi
That's hardly a yusho race, but I'm sure someone will rise up and surprise
Hakuho in week 2.
In other bouts of interest, Ozeki Kotoshogiku and Komusubi Chiyotairyu hooked up
in the quick hidari-yotsu position with Chiyotairyu not even attempting a single
tsuppari or doing anything with his right inside position. He just let
Kotoshogiku gaburu him back once, twice, three times a lady as the Ozeki places
his head above water again at 5-4 while Chiyotairyu officially gave up the
kachi-koshi ghost at 1-8. I think Kakuryu was taking copious notes on
Chiyotairyu's demeanor in the ring today as the Yokozuna sat ringside.
Sekiwake Takekaze used his usual moro-te from the tachi-ai pushing hard and high
into M1 Endoh before immediately swiping back down along his dickey do felling
him in the center of the ring about one second in. Seriously, is that all
Endoh's got? The chicks are coming out in droves to see this guy end up on all
fours in the center of the ring? During the lead up to this bout, I had these words going through my
head, "Baby, baby, baby, Oh-oh! Baby, baby, baby No-oh!" Endoh suffers
make-koshi with the loss falling to 1-8, and I didn't see Takayasu give much
effort in their day 8 bout yesterday. As for Takekaze, dude could actually
kachi-koshi in his Sekiwake debut to illustrate just how effed up this banzuke is.
Whatever effort M2 Takayasu failed to show on Sunday suddenly reappeared on day
9 as he set the pace against Komusubi Jokoryu using effective tsuppari to set up
the migi-yotsu bout, but he wasn't able to dispatch of the Komusubi straightway,
so after about 20 seconds of jockeying in the ring, Jokoryu grabbed the left
outer grip and went for a dashi-nage throw that got Takayasu over to the edge.
The Komusubi was was lazy, however, in driving in that last nail, so Takayasu
was able to counter just enough with his right inside position in a light
nage-no-uchi-ai at the edge where Takayasu went Harry Houdini slipping out of
Jokoryu's grip magically and shoving him out for good. Okay sumo here as
Takayasu improves to 4-5 while Jokoryu is 2-7.
M2 Toyonoshima slipped into moro-zashi from the tachi-ai, and while M1
Terunofuji assumed the kime position, it was totally half-assed. Staying square
with Toyonoshima (just as he did against Goeido), he just stood there as
Toyonoshima backed up and dragged Terunofuji down for the kata-sukashi win. As
Terunofuji hit the dohyo, he put his right hand down early as if to brace his
fall telling me that he knew he was going down. Who remembers Terunofuji's first
ever bout in the division against Myogiryu? Myogiryu got the early moro-zashi
from the tachi-ai, but Terunofuji persisted like a madman and eventually wrested
the former Sekiwake out of the ring. That same determination and grit was
missing today as Terunofuji just allowed himself to get slapped down to a 2-7
record while Toyonoshima prolly needs one more at 1-8.
M5 Toyohibiki looked to grab the early left frontal belt grip against M3
Aoiyama, but he wasn't committed to a forward-moving charge, and so Aoiyama
easily slipped back and to the left slapping Ibiki down hiki-otoshi style for
the uneventful win. Aoiyama improves to 5-4 with the win while Toyohibiki falls
M4 Osunaarashi used his usual right kachi-age at the tachi-ai against M7
Shohozan, but this one was controlled today. Instead of a wild punch-like elbow,
Osunaarashi actually rose Shohozan up perfectly and then connected on another
right jab square to the jaw making the shoulder slapdown academic as Shohozan
was already on his way down. KNOCKOUT!! Both fighters end the day at 4-5.
M5 Ikioi gained the shallow moro-zashi from the tachi-ai, but M10 Kitataiki
ducked so low it foiled Ikioi's ikioi. He finally went for a right scoop throw
prematurely slipping right out of it with his body slightly turned, and so
Kitataiki pounced for the easy push out win of his compromised opponent knocking
him down to 5-4. Kitataiki one-ups his foe at 6-3 with the win.
M6 Aminishiki slipped left at the tachi-ai grabbing the quick and dirty left
outer grip against M6 Kaisei, but as Ami moved left the natural flow of the bout
drifted to the edge of the ring where Kaisei grabbed an outer left grip of his
own. Problem was he did nothing with it and just stood there as Aminishiki
pulled him over and down with right inside belt throw. Easy yaocho call here
(for whatever reason) as Aminishiki improves to 6-3 while Kaisei obviously
doesn't care about his 4-5 mark.
M9 Tamawashi used tsuppari up high against M7 Chiyootori, and after a few
seconds he went for the stupid pull move that Chiyootori read like a dirty Yaku
Mitsuru manga pushing Tamawashi out to a 2-7 record. Somehow, Chiyootori has
righted his ship improving to 5-4 with the nice win.
M9 Tochinowaka (3-6) got the right arm and shoulder inside so deep against M16
Tokitenku that Lee was able to ram his right leg up into Tokitenku's waist and
force him out in seconds with no resistance. At 2-7, Tokitenku is on the brink,
and he clearly doesn't have the energy to keep pace in the division any more.
M11 Chiyomaru tsuppari'ed M11 Takanoiwa over to the edge quickly but needed to
focus his thrusts just a bit lower because Takanoiwa was able to slip into
moro-zashi and counter sufficiently forcing the action back to the center of the
ring. Chiyomaru tried to pry Takanoiwa away, but the Mongolian secured a left
inner and right outer close to the front, and the battle was on. Takanoiwa (4-5)
used his superior position to force Chiyomaru (M11) back and across, but Maru
fought like a brook trout hooked in the upper lip until the very end. I bring
this bout up to show what it's like when both rikishi want to win because there
were too many bouts today where one party just gave up for whatever reason.
And finally, M14 Kyokutenho and M13 Sokokurai hooked up in the hidari-yotsu
position that saw Sokokurai gain the right outer grip while Kyokutenho settled
for the right kote-nage hold on the other side. From there your your options are
a kote-nage throw or a counter tsuki-otoshi, but at Kyokutenho's age, he can't
afford to just settle for an inferior grip, and Sokokurai illustrated why
showing Tenho the door straightway in a matter of seconds leading with his outer
grip. Good stuff today from Sokokurai who improves to 5-4 and has actually been
entertaining to watch this basho. Kyokutenho falls to 6-3 but can still make
history by winning just two more.
Kane strums your geetar tomorrow.
Day 8 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
must admit my first basho in nine months has been rather exciting. Ive had to
keep a low profile, though, due to a bit of a dustup I had late last year with
some unnamed yet prominent members of the NSK. Long story short, Im in and
around the venue but being forced to don more disguises than Roger on American
Dad. Things had been going swimmingly until Mikes Day 6 report surfaced, and
someone ratted me out to the MIB. While I am now being even more creative in my
costuming, I am also missing a few matches here and there so please, bear with
me if I skip over one or two of your faves.
5-2 Sadanoumi was having none of Chiyomarus protestations, answering the M11s
weak thrusting to the face with emphatic chest pushing to finish the day sitting
rather prettily. The Kokonoe grappler falls two below .500 and will have to
scramble for that KK.
The big early bout was 6-1 Okinoumi vs. 6-1 Ichinojo. Everyones favorite
candidate to one day abduct Fay Wray got a quick outside left belt and coupled
that with a right arm wrapped around Okinoumis head (typically a poor grip to
have) to swing him down via an uwate-nage that leaves no doubt about the rookies
strength and sumo acumen. Okinoumi may have heard Ichinojo prefers the right
hand belt, but it looks like he is ambidextrous when it comes to chewing bubble
Tochiohzan pushed out a lackluster Sadanofuji, who looked as if he was thinking
about man in the moon marigolds rather than how NOT to get embarrassed on
national telly. At 5-3 the only thing OhSnap is going to impact is his futon
tonight, but its still much better than Sadanofujis 2-6.
Kyokutenho squatted stone still waiting for Shohozan to get it awn, but when he
did, The Chauffer (who now qualifies for the Silver Citizen discount at his
local Eneos) struck like a mongoose, feigning the inside left belt while setting
ShoHo up for the delicioso kata-sukashi (tho both I and the JPese announcer felt
it was nothing more than an ordinary hataki-komi) bitchslapdown. How do you do
at 6-2, you forty something you? Shohozan crawls back to his Greenwich Village
loft to work on his sumo and that Google Play Store app idea he has.
Toyohibiki had Arawashi fleeing for his life, or so it would seem, because when
the Hutt caught up to the much smaller Mongolian belt man, he got his cookies
tossed? His ashes hauled? His clock cleaned? Take your pic of wildly
inappropriate and offbase metaphors, but do yourself a favor and go find this
match on the WWW because it was as classic a shitate-nage as youll see, with
both men cartwheeling like Oompa Loompas.
When in hell is someone going to break out a hari-te this basho?? I mean a good,
loud, NFL running back, bitch git OUTS my elevator hari-te?
The words "Yoshikaze" and "yori-kiri win" dont often go together, but they did
today as he got down at the crouch with a fierce determination to stay above
.500, and Ill be damned if he didn't, by wiggling his way inside on Ikioi and
then keeping his head low and under Iikiois chin to work him out. 20 cm shorter
and 20 kg lighter, and yet our Hyper Space Cowboy (who it appears has been
upgraded in intensity during my absence from a Double Latte to a Monster Drink—lol)
pretty much owned the likewise 5-3 Ikioi.
Endo broke his seven match losing streak to start this basho by using some nice
thrusting to get a frontal belt grip, which he then employed to run Takayasu
back and out. Fast thinking entrepreneurs immediately rushed to fill their
vending machines outside the Ryogoku Kokugikan with women's panties in
anticipation of a post Day 8 surge in business.
Now a man who DOES know his yori-kiri wins is Ozeki Kotoshogiku. Today, looking
to even his record, he drove Takarafuji back and was about to get the win by
yori-kiri when Takarafuji leaned in and fell (with a bit of help from the Geeku)
to the clay. One would truly have to be not only sweeter than ninety-five year
old Aunt Mabel but also as blind as her to deny that Takarafuji simply refused
to even try to grab the right hand belt that was sitting there calling out to
him like a bottle of fine sake on Senshuraku. But there are a LOT of Aunt
Mabel sumo fans out there. Thankfully none here at ST. One way or another that
loss will benefit "Takarakuji."
point about the past being embarrassingly more competitive than the present was
illustrated painfully today as new Ozeki Goeido got run all over the ring by the
larger and stronger Aoiyama, so when the Ozeki finally squared up and shoved
forward, I was fine with the big Bulgarian winning with a desperation
hataki-komi. The main difference between then and now is that the current
Japanese Ozeki are propped into place, and it shows when they have to fight all
the big foreigners. Chiyotaikai and Musoyama and Tochiazuma normally had good
records in their prime because the only furries they had to face were Akebono
and Musashimaru, and later Asashoryu (oh, and Kyokushuzan!) While they were a
cut above Kotoshogiku and Goeido, Im of the opinion that if they were around
now, they might not do much better than this ragtag duo.
I dont lump Kisenosato in with these two because he has been able to represent
the rank well for most of his tenure, having garnered at least ten wins in 75%
of his sixteen basho at Ozeki, and five jun-yusho runner-ups. This tourney he is
looking passable and today was no different as he stood up little Takekaze,
resisted the smaller mans attempts to shove, and then drove him out. One might
be forgiven for wondering WTF Takekaze was thinking in just standing there and
not trying to move laterally whatsoever, but as they say in the USA these days,
"It's what it's." For now, Kisenosato remains a bright spot for the JPese at
7-1, one behind the two Grand Champions.
Oh, Im sorry. Did I spoil your anticipation of the breakdown in the two Yokozuna
bouts by writing that?
Toyonoshima rushed in fast and low to try and get Yokozuna Kakuryus belt, but
ended up flailing for a leg that wasn't there as the Kak slipped away without
working up a sweat and let the beleaguered and harried M2 fall down. Kakuryu had
what almost appeared to be a sad face on as he walked back to his corner, a face
that seemed to say, "Tsk, what a pity that you JPese wrestlers have so little to
Hakuho had about as much trouble with Jokoryu as Mike has with X-Code, as he got
the inside belt and walked all over the Komusubi in route to his 8-0, which is
something he seems to do every basho. When I see Hakuho murder others like this
I just cant help sigh and wonder what sumo would have been like had they not
blackballed Asashoryu, cause he was the only wrestler who had what it takes to
battle this man.
So we head into our final seven days its Kisenosatos basho to lose. All he has
to do is defeat both Yokozuna, and then one of them once more in a playoff. He
can do it, cant he? Mike paddles our knuckles tomorrow for horsing around while
banging the erasers.
Day 7 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
spite of all the effort by the Japanese Sumo Association to hype up their own
wrestlers, this basho was always going to be about Mongols. Three of them on top
of everyone else, fighting it out for the yusho, two of them up and coming and
looking to prove themselves in various parts of the division, one of them
turning 40 and still competing well enough, and a slew of others holding their
own and keeping everyone, especially the Japanese, honest. One of the Yokozuna
withdrew with eye socket damage in a dubious loss, but the other two are up to
this point without loss, and one of them is looking as unbeatable as ever. Of
the up-and-comers, one is already having a taste of the jo’i wall (which is the
expected result in your first basho up there), but the other one is using his
Baruto-esque size and weight to throw lesser opposition around. The Japanese? A
couple of them are doing alright, but the vast majority are just mediocre or
sucking big time, and the worst of them all is the very guy they’re hyping the
most, Endoh. Let’s see, then, how team Mongoru is doing against team Japan,
Kagamioh, one of the many Mongols who’ve populated the banzuke lately, won his
bout vs. Sadanofuji from the tachi-ai, getting an unbreakable grip on the
latter’s mawashi and holding on to it until the very (yori-kiri) end. Didn’t
matter that the Mongol’s several inches shorter and some 60kg lighter (notice
the ad hoc mix of imperial and international here), what matters more than raw
size is skill. In any case, both men begrudgingly share 2-5 records. 蒙1-0日
The next one wasn’t less awkward, but that’s always to be expected when it
features the Master of Mistiming himself, Tokitenku (ironic, isn’t it, that the
guy has the kanji for time in his shikona, huh?). He and Chiyomaru pranced
around the dohyo for a little while, trading bitchslaps, until Tokitenku decided
to put some core into it, but failed so miserably that he whiffed, fell off
balance and crashed with his face into the round guy’s chest. He was promptly
put out of his misery, naturally, and is now staring down the barrel from the
bottom rung of the banzuke with a 2-5 record. Chiyomaru ain’t faring much better
at 3-4. 蒙1-2日
Kitataiki won a straight up hidari-yotsu duel despite the size disadvantage,
forcing out Kyokushuho for his 5th win. 蒙1-3日
In yet another exciting hidari-yotsu affair, Sokokurai put those long arms to
good use and his back into it, lifting Arawashi clean off his feet and
depositing safely outside the tawara. 4-3 for the Inner Mongol, 1-6 for the Wild
Kyokutenho chalked up his second loss in as many bouts against the Chiyo bros.,
giving up early moro-zashi against the younger one, Chiyootori, who recovers to
3-4 with the routine win. Tenho cools off to 5-2 and... 蒙1-4日
Sadanoumi (if you’re permanently mistaking him for the other Sadano, i.e. fuji,
this one, umi, is the shorter, lighter, more agile one, and he wears a green
mawashi) took all the tsuppari Shohozan had to offer like a man, then used timed
evasion perfectly, getting behind his overeager foe and grabbing the back of his
bling mawashi to finish things by okuri-dashi. Sadanoumi improves to 5-2 with
the win, while Shohozan slows down to 4-3.
Kaisei opened a can of whoopass on Tamawashi, stopping the Mongol in his tracks
at the tachi-ai and pushing him right back and out in a couple of steps. The
Charging Brazilian Saint (!) wakes up a bit with the second win in a row after a
1-4 start, while The Mawashi sinks further to 2-5.
Aminishiki took some time to make short work of Tochinowaka (talk about
metaphors!), going toe to toe and chest to chest, and in the end out-pushing and
outwitting the bigger Lee into okuri-dashi and out of the ring. If there’s
anything I noticed, it’s how damn vulnerable this big Korean guy is to pushing
in his upper body. I’m guessing it’s a combination of a high center of gravity
and overall softness, but color me clueless. Sneaky improves to 4-3 and is
already eyeing sanyaku while poor Bruised Lee is 2-5.
now for the big one. Ichinojo came into today at a flawless 6-0, mostly moving
around banzuke basement furniture, but word around was he was bound to lose as
soon as he started facing better opposition. And face he did, on my watch to
boot. Between Ichinojo and Ikioi the size difference isn’t that great (only some
25kg in favor of the Mongol, and Ikioi is actually an inch taller), so technique
was always going to be the deciding factor. Ikioi won the tachi-ai, getting a
fairly good right inside which Ichinojo could only counter with a uwate on the
same side. On the right side, the Mongol kept Ikioi well away from the mawashi
with a big paw under the pit, however, Ikioi’s stance was solid enough to mount
a force-out attempt, but
was thwarted mostly by Ichinojo’s size. A long-ish stand-off in the center of
the ring followed, which was interrupted in order to stop Ikioi’s nosebleed.
After they resumed, it didn’t take Ichinojo long to try and capitalize on his
tactical advantage (Ikioi still couldn’t get the uwate), and mounted a force-out
charge of his own, but Ikioi dug in valiantly at the tawara and wouldn’t relent.
Ichinojo went for broke by letting go of Ikioi’s torso with the right and
deploying the uwate-nage with pressure on his opponent’s head, but the attempt
was meek enough to hardly make Ikioi flinch. To make things worse, the failure
meant that now Ikioi was free to take the left uwate, and once he secured that,
Ichinojo had nowhere left to go but down, face first, at a sharp angle, with
nothing but his own gravity to rely on. It was as epic as they get and Ikioi
struts off the dohyo with 5-2 and victory over a guy he might never get the
chance to defeat again. As for Ichinojo, he got his first taste of the big time
(and I dare say his loss was long overdue) and, at least for this basho, it’s
only going to get harder. But he’s a comin’, and hell’s comin’ with him. 蒙1-5日
The next bout pales in comparison to the clash before it, featuring an
off-his-best-game Tochiohzan and a Toyohibiki in a hurry to go home early. The
whole thing lasted a mere 3 seconds and Oh never looked in danger of getting
anything going on the inside, which led to the inevitable push-out. Both guys
In a similar fashion, Osunaarashi was blasted back and out when Aoiyama read his
ever so slight shift to the left in order to get the uwate. The big Arab falls
to 3-4 (one of those wins by no show) and is looking out of sorts. Aoiyama
improves to the same mark.
Terunofuji recorded his 6th consecutive loss to as many sanyaku opponents,
losing the tachi-ai badly and giving up moro-zashi to Jokoryu (2-5), who took
little time to win by yori-kiri from the advantageous position. Terunofuji’s
record tells you he’s not yet quite ready to hold his own against the very top,
but give the guy time, he’ll eventually get there. As a little side note, the
other day I was talking to Mike about the future of sumo after the trio of
Mongol Yokozuna retire and he pointed to Ichinojo, Terunofuji and Osunaarashi,
saying “there’s your next Triumvirate”. It’s kinda sad, really, if you’re
Japanese. On the plus side, maybe things aren’t that gloomy for the Japanese, as
Tatsu (born in ’94) is now 3-1 at Makushita 3, which puts him dangerously close
to making his Juryo debut. Time will tell. 蒙1-6日
Takekaze was exposed for the fraud he is by none other than Takarafuji (who?).
When the quick push rush failed to seal the deal (or impress his opponent, or
audience, or anyone, for that matter), the fat Kaze retreated and tried fiddling
around with Lottery’s upper body and face, hoping for a lucky pull, but, alas,
his numbers didn’t come up and he was ultimately thrown out of the dohyo like a
losing ticket. If you’re done groaning by now, take note that both cervically
challenged wrestlers now share a vertical 4-3 record.
Endo lost 7 in a row, the latest one to “Ozeki” Goeido, who received his charge
a little upright, but righted that ship when he inserted his left under Endo’s
arm and yanked him down to the dirt by kata-sukashi. Goeido improves to 5-2, but
only one look at the way he won those 5 (fusen, shitate-nage, hataki-komi,
soto-gake, kata-sukashi) will tell you things are far from alright. Endo is done
with the big guys, but don’t expect things to go much smoother in week 2. Expect
maybe 4 wins. Maybe.
Kisenosato was patient and passive in approaching his fight with Yoshikaze (what
was he gonna do, overpower him?), absorbed all the tsuppari the little guy could
throw at him (and he had quite a few), then clinically finished him off by
oshi-dashi. One look at Kisenosato’s list of winning kimari-te shows you how an
Ozeki’s first week should really look like – oshi-dashi x2, yori-kiri x3,
uwate-dashi-nage x1. Yoshikaze should consider himself an overachiever with 4-3
after the first week.
Kotoshogiku continued his freefall with the 3rd consecutive loss, getting
scooped down to the clay after failing to make an impression with his yori
attack against Takayasu. Both share 3-4 records.
Hakuho received a bonus in facing the injured Toyonoshima (not that he wouldn’t
win against a perfectly healthy one anyway), which he brutally pushed out in two
seconds with some of the most offensive sumo I’ve seen him bring to the dohyo
this basho – he actually led with a left nodowa. The Khan stays perfect and par
for the course, while Toyonoshima (0-7) will need tons of luck (and bad
opponents) to muster any wins. 蒙2-6日
Finally, Kakuryu grabbed a solid right mawashi grip on Chiyotairyu, who had no
answer to being spun around and pushed out like the 1-6 Komusubi he is. Kakuryu
keeps up with Hakuho with the simple win. For now. 蒙3-6日
Things are starting to take shape and, for what it’s worth, it looks like
business as usual, with two Mongol Yokozuna at 7-0 and the nearest thing
remotely similar to a threat Kisenosato at 6-1. In Juryo, you have a hungry
Tochinoshin leading proceedings at 7-0 (he’s gone 34-2 since missing some 4
basho with injury). All in all, it looks like there’s plenty of stuff to look
forward to in the second week. I’ll be back on day 13 or 14, and Clancy’s back
Day 6 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
I get into the meat of day 6, allow me to apologize for the tardiness of
Clancy's day 5 comments. I mean, I'm really glad to have him back in the fold
this basho, but you give the guy an inch and I swear he takes a mile. He
us off guard when he walked unannounced into the ST headquarters a couple of
days before the festivities, and so we scrambled to find him that cheap folding
chair and issue him a drab navy jacket and gray slacks, but he just won't set
still (as we say in Utah) on his chair and type up his reports. We were an hour
away from Showtime on day 6 when I ran down to the venue and found Clancy in the
back halls of the Kokugikan actually posing as a recently-retired oyakata. I had
to drag him away from this colorful flock of groupies and force him to churn out
his day 5, but as soon as he ripped the sheets out of his typewriter and said
"here ya go boss," he was off again just like that. Who knows where he'll show
up again next and in what attire, so let's turn our attention squarely to the
day 6 bouts.
I had to chortle at the beginning of today's broadcast when NHK actually showed
the leaderboard after just five days. What's more, they went three levels deep
down to the two-loss rikishi. You had Hakuho, Kakuryu, and Ichinojo occupying
the top tier at 5-0; five rikishi filled out the second tier at 4-1 led by
Kisenosato; and then you had the third tier at 3-2 that read: Kotoshogiku,
Goeido, Takekaze, and "9 others." 9 others? They almost had half of the division
represented on their leaderboard! Sawadaishi Announcer of course singled out the three
Japanese Ozeki from the mess and sought Tamanoi-oyakata's opinion, and the
former Tochiazuma kept saying, "Well, it's just the jobansen," or first five
days' worth of bouts. Tochiazuma actually looked a bit uncomfortable even
discussing the leaderboard because it's still so early, and how can you blame
him? My guess is that heading into the weekend, NHK wanted to project the image
of the three Japanese Ozeki with a mathematic shot to yusho.
Despite that mess, we were treated later on to a replay of one of the top 10 bouts the
last two decades. Rewind back to the 2002 Hatsu basho where Tochiazuma had just
been crowned Ozeki, and on day 4 he was paired up with newly-crowned Sekiwake
Asashoryu. Back then, Asashoryu was strictly a tsuppari guy, and he would
literally come into the ring looking for blood as he attempted to beat the hell
out of his opponents. And he drew blood on that day from Tochiazuma's nose and
mouth causing the referee to actually stop it midway so they could stuff tissue
in Tochiazuma's nostrils, but the Ozeki wouldn't back down as the two rikishi
threw sumo basics out the door and just started slugging each other over and
over in the face. In the end, Tochiazuma thankfully got a left belt grip that he
used to force Asashoryu back and out with, but it was a defining moment in
Tochiazuma's career. He would go on to score his first career yusho that basho,
and then of course one year later, Asashoryu was knighted as the sport's first
Hopefully everyone had the chance to watch that bout because that was a
legitimate Ozeki and a legitimate Sekiwake going toe to toe. And the thing was,
back then you always had competitive bouts among the upper ranks. Sure, they
rarely drew blood like that one, but they were hard fought and featured true
rikishi. Contrast that to today's sorry crop of Ozeki and sanyaku rikishi, and
you can see why everything but the sumo has to be hyped in order to get the
fans' attention. On a closing note, after that basho Asashoryu changed from a
tsuppari guy to a belt guy as Clancy once correctly pointed out, and it's likely
that someone approached him and said something to the effect of, "Hey, you can't
just kick the shit out of guys like that." That Asashoryu was able to completely
redefine his style after reaching the Sekiwake rank is evidence of his true
greatness as a rikishi, the likes of which we will never see again.
Now that you've indulged me on a stroll down memory lane, let's focus our
attention back to the present and start with a rather compelling matchup between
Tokitenku and Kyokutenho that began in the gappuri migi-yotsu position meaning
both rikishi had right inside and left outside grips. After a brief stalemate
in the ring, Tokitenku fished for a few suso-harai attempts before Tenho made
his move forcing Tokitenku to the brink, but the Chauffeur doesn't quite have
the power he once did, and so Tokitenku attempted an utchari at the edge that
caused both rikishi to touch down so close you coulda called it either way. The
gyoji immediately pointed to Kyokutenho and after a judges conference, they
stuck with the initial ruling. I really thought this was a legit tie, but
whatever as Kyokutenho stays firmly on the leaderboard at 5-1 while Tokitenku
falls to 2-4.
M15 Okinoumi and M13 Sokokurai began in the hidari-yotsu position from the
tachi-ai where Sokokurai was afraid to attack too closely as he'd likely give
up the right outer grip, but Okinoumi slowly pressed his gut inwards and got it
anyway, and from there it was curtains as Okinoumi sails to 5-1 while Sokokurai
is technically still on the leaderboard at 3-3.
M16 Kagamioh looked for the left belt grip at the start but was just thrust away
by M11 Chiyomaru, and as Maru gave chase, Kagamioh threatened the pull while
giving it one last attempt to grab the right belt. He was denied a second
time, so when the next pull attempt came, Chiyomaru used his forward momentum to git him in the end. Chiyomaru is still just 2-4 while Kagamioh is worse at 1-5.
You gotta hand it to M15 Kyokushuho for being so proactive against the Blob
getting the right to the inside and a frontal belt grip with the left, but M10
Ichinojo maintained a right of his own, which allowed him to execute his
favorite tactic: just stand there for a minute and a half and wear your opponent
down a bit physically and mentally. Finally, Kyokushuho attempted to make a
force out charge, and when he did, Ichinojo dug in, grabbed the left outer grip,
and relied on his sheer girth to break off Shuho's outer, and it was ballgame at
that point. Ichinojo is a cool 6-0, and if he was a Japanese rikishi, I would
emphatically point out that he was the sole leader at that moment. Kyokushuho
falls to 3-3 but gave it a good effort.
M9 Tamawashi came with weak tsuppari and spinning feet as M10 Kitataiki was able
to slip under his arms and grab the left belt using it to set up moro-zashi, and
from there the yori-kiri was swift and decisive. Kitataiki continues to
enjoy "9 others" status at 4-2 while Tamawashi falls to 2-4.
M12 Sadanofuji redefined the term slow tsuppari for nearly 30 seconds until M9
Tochinowaka was able to grab the right outer grip, and from this point the two
just settled in and barely moved. After two minutes, T-Wok finally had the
Sadamite on the brink with a right belt throw, but it slipped off at the last
second allowing Sadanofuji to just bow T-Wok out with a backwards shove of his
arm. This was similar to an ushiro-motare as both rikishi end the day at 2-4.
M8 Tochiohzan used a right kachi-age from the tachi-ai getting that right hand
inside with left outer grip to boot against M12 Sadanoumi, and as Oh went for
the force-out kill, Sadanoumi slipped right and countered with a brilliant left
tsuki-otoshi that sent the surprised former Sekiwake out of the ring for good.
They actually called a mono-ii here, but the reason wasn't clear because this
one wasn't even close. It could have been that they were checking the booth to
see if Tochiohzan could still be on the leader board tomorrow at 4-2 despite the
loss while Sadanoumi improves to the same mark.
M11 Takanoiwa and M8 Arawashi hooked up in the migi-yotsu position after
Arawashi got the right hand in deep from the tachi-ai. Hoping to capitalize on
that momentum, Arawashi went for the early inside belt throw that would have
worked if they were closer to the edge, but Takanoiwa simply had too much dohyo
in which to land, so as the two reloaded, this time in gappuri yotsu, Takanoiwa
used his belt skills to execute a great throw that sent Arawashi out and down to
a 1-5 record. Takanoiwa needed the win as he moves to 2-4.
M6 Aminishiki pushed upwards into M7 Chiyootori's extended arm at the initial
charge throwing Chiyootori off of his original plan to tsuppari, and although he
still thought about more thrusts, he lost his patience and finally went for a
pull, and when he did, Aminishiki was like "I've seen this kinda bout before"
and pushed Otori back and out in no-time. Aminishiki is a comfortable 3-3 while
the slump continues for the Chiyo brothers as Otori falls to 2-4.
M5 Toyohibiki and M7 Shohozan engaged in a tit for tat tsuppari affair meaning
neither one really wanted to commit with the lower body, and as the bout
progressed, Shohozan got close to moro-zashi where he was able to slip out right
and throw Toyohibiki forward and off balance leading to an easy okuri-dashi in the
end. Ho hum as Shohozan moves to 4-2 while Toyohibiki is 3-3.
M4 Osunaarashi used a moro-te from the tachi-ai against M5 Ikioi, and although
the Ejyptian's thrusts were busy, they were completely ineffective. You could
just tell Osunaarashi didn't have confidence in his game, and as soon as he went
for a pull, Ikioi pounced and pushed his foe back and out with an extended right
arm. Great stuff from Ikioi (4-2) in letting his opponent fall on the sword
while Osunaarashi is even steven at 3-3.
M3 Aoiyama played his hand too early against M6 Kaisei going for a quick pull
with right hand, and with Kaisei knowing that Aoiyama wasn't going to come
forward, he just stayed square with his gal and got Aoiyama on the second pull
attempt. This wasn't great sumo as both guys lumbered around for a few seconds
before both finishing the day at 2-4.
M2 Toyonoshima decided to throw his mage back in the ring after withdrawing the
morning of day 2. Ranked at M2, an 0-15 record would likely have sent him down
to Juryo, so all he really needs is a handful of wins. Komusubi Jokoryu could
use a handful of wins himself, and so he perked up in this one denying the quick
inside position with a right kachi-age before quickly pulling back. Toyonoshima
seemed a bit surprised that Jokoryu gave him an opening by retreating, but he
just didn't have his feet beneath him, so by the time he got started moving
forward, Jokoryu slipped out left for the cheap pulldown win. Jokoryu picks up
his first win at 1-5 while Toyonoshima's bidness doesn't get any easier tomorrow
M2 Takayasu shaded right against Komusubi Chiyotairyu causing the two to hook up
in the immediate hidari-yotsu position whereupon the ref immediately stopped the
fight so they could retie Chiyotairyu's belt. As soon as they resumed, Takayasu
used his larger frame to grab the left outer grip, and he wasted no time in
going for an outer belt throw that sent the Komusubi down with ease. This was a
cheap tachi-ai from Takayasu, and I thought the best execution during the bout
the gyoji was re-tying the Komusubi's belt. Takayasu is a paltry 2-4 while
Chiyotairyu is one worse at 1-5.
One of the things I watch for in sumo is a guy getting left in his opponent's
wake. What I mean by that is when a guy gets beaten so badly that he's just
lying there in a heap while is opponent is already strutting back to his side of
the dohyo. A good example of this came yesterday as Endoh was bullied around by
Toyohibiki, and I found this picture of Toyohibiki essentially leaving Endoh in
his wake. It's happening more and more where Endoh is forced to pick himself up
after a guy has just kicked his ass, and I'm always amused by the clueless
Japanese fans who always shriek in horror when Endoh loses. I need to remind
myself not to be so harsh on Endoh because he hasn't asked for any of this
attention. For whatever reason, the media decided to tout him as Japan's next,
but the experiment is failing miserably. The only thing good about that
pic at right is the alert yobi-dashi.
Today, M1 Endoh looked to solve his troubles against Ozeki Kisenosato getting a
firm left inside grip from the tachi-ai because Kisenosato is one guy whose
tachi-ai he can take advantage of. The Ozeki complied in the migi-yotsu affair
and then grabbed the right outer after 10 seconds or so. Endoh stood his ground
well, but he was in no position to execute an offensive move due to the Ozeki's
outer grip. After about 20 seconds of jockeying around the ring, Endoh moved in
getting his own right outer grip, but in doing so, he had to snuggle in too
close, and Kisenosato easily dumped him with the outer grip a second later. More
head scratching for the Japanese fans as Kisenosato moves to 5-1 while EnD'oh!
is the only dude to have fought six times and lost 'em all. I actually
found another pic of the Ozeki leaving Endoh in his wake, but one per report is
Sekiwake Takekaze absorbed Ozeki Kotoshogiku's charge and then moved out left swiping
down at his dickey do as he went, and the Ozeki bought it hook line and sinker.
Kotoshogiku falls off of the imaginary leaderboard yet again at 3-3 while
Takekaze is actually 4-2, and before we move on, just compare the content of
this Ozeki - Sekiwake matchup to the one featured earlier in the broadcast
between Asashoryu and Tochiazuma. Kotoshogiku and Takekaze could fight 100 times
and never come close to equaling the sumo of yester year.
M1 Terunofuji and Ozeki Goeido clashed in what looked to become a migi-yotsu
affair, but Teru pulled his right hand back and focused on sorta of a kote-nage
throw of Goeido's right arm where he had both arms wrapped around the Ozeki's
limb. The difference here though was that Terunofuji was attempting the throw
by standing directly in front of the Ozeki instead of stepping out to the side
as you'd do in a normal kote-nage, so Goeido just bodied him back leading with
the left front belt grip and then tripped him with the right leg from behind
soto-gake style. It was actually a nice move by the Ozeki, but if Terunofuji is
just going to stand there and offer no resistance, even I could trip him over.
When they showed the reverse angle replay, it was revealed that Terunofuji also
pulled back form a solid left outer grip, so I'll leave it to you to decide
whether these mistakes from Teru were intentional. The end result is Goeido at
5-1 while Terunofuji falls to 1-5. Let's just hope the gyoji sitting
ringside for this one saw better action as he officiated the Yokozuna bouts.
Yokozuna Kakuryu flirted with moro-zashi against M1 Takarafuji, and then moved
out right going into pull mode, and Takarafuji just couldn't keep up with him.
This bout was so one-sided they gave Kakuryu the tsuki-otoshi kimari-te in the
end, and I thought this was probably the best-judged bout of the day as the
shimpan sitting to the West of the dohyo was paying rapt attention to the action.
You also gotta love the "ooftah!" expression on Takarafuji's face just before he
smacked into the clay. With the win, Kakuryu moves to 6-0 while Takarafuji
ain't too shabby himself 3-3. Six outs in, if we review both M1 rikishi,
Takarafuji is 3-3 while Endoh is 0-6. Just sayin'.
Yokozuna Hakuho looked mean today in his bid to exact punishment against M3
Yoshikaze for sending Harumafuji packing after a sweet poke to the eye. The
Yokozuna looked to secure the right inside and left kote-nage grip, but
Yoshikaze attempted to slip left. He did escape the Yokozuna's hold gained from
the tachi-ai, but Hakuho stayed square in front of Monster Drink and just
cornered him against the edge before bodying him out in about three seconds.
Hakuho was a man on a mission today, and I think he was partly battling for the
pride of Harumafuji as well.
As I always say, the basho never really starts until Hakuho loses, and I don't
expect him to fall over the weekend, especially against Toyonoshima tomorrow.
Come day 9, we should have a more reasonable leaderboard for the start of week
two, so let's just hope for some excitement over the weekend. Martin has your
Day 5 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
in the hizzouse for Day 5 of the Fall Tourney and don’t yall be fooled. While it
IS true I am relegated to sitting in a folding chair wearing gray slacks and a
drab navy blue jacket while watching the other writers parade past on their way
to work, its really not so bad. Being a ST oyakata has its perqs (and as soon as
they become apparent Mike promises to tell me what they are). In the meantime
how many of you can say youll get to watch Martin strut his fine little caboose
out to ringside later this week to stir up some whoopass? Or will have the
chance to try and (fruitlessly) catch Alice Coopers axemans eye as he returns to
his dressing room full of girls Id give my left (insert paired organ necessary
for fulfilling human life) to be able to buy expensive drinks that will nine
times out of ten lead to no sex later that night for? As I suspected.
Speaking of Sumotalk oyakata, word around the office particle accelerator is Dr.
Mario, the Fantastic Captain Kadastik, welcomed his first child into the world
yesterday (he never welcomed the other seventeen he has fathered with whores
from all the great world capitals that host physics conferences), and will now
find out how much more difficult (and in ways oddly similar) it is to raise a
boy than a dog. Congratulations, Mario and enjoy but please, don’t let this stop
you from your job discovering why we are all here (especially those smelly
Japanese girls who wear winter wool knit caps in the heat of summer!) I gottsta
Kagamioh played tackle sled to Okinoumis Mean Joe Greene as he stood there and
was slid back and out. I blame the sand. Okinoumi stands at 4-1 and Kagami? Oh,
he has a mirror record (a little treat there for you JPese speaking readers).
Tokitenku, 1-3 at M16 and facing demotion in motion, abandoned his initial
attempts at getting Sadanofujis belt and instead turned it into a girl fight,
shoving under his foes chin and then taking a roundhouse swing at Sadas mug that
mostly missed, and finally kicking at his left leg and tripping him down in a
fashion that was begging for injury. I was actually rather surprised he didn’t
then leap onto Sadanofujis back and start yanking his mage, all the while
screaming, “Stay away from him, hes MY boyfriend, you dirty little bitch!!”
That reminds me, any of you see those news reports out of China showing gangs of
women publicly beating and stripping another solitary female because she was
flirting with the wrong guy? And naturally filming it for dissemination on the
always lovely WWW? Arent we a wonderfully entertaining species? I hear Mr.
Rogers now: “Hi there boys and girls. Can you say ‘glorified squirrel monkeys?’
I knew you could.”
Next Kyokushuho got a solid lightning quick inside left back belt and wasted no
time in flinging out both himself and Sadanoumi. But since he was on top...badda
BOOM, third win.
Outstanding bout between Sokokurai and Takanoiwa as both men got inside right
belt grips after a “shoving, keep away from me” type start. The better belt
fighter, Sokokurai took the aggressors role, but each time he tried to lift up
and/or swing around Takanoiwa, the Takanohana trained brawler countered with
perfectly timed lifting and shifting that DENIED his opponent. The difference in
this bout, which went a full minute or so, was Sokokurais ability to repeatedly
grab and let go of a second belt grip in order to work himself into a position
from which he could use his left arm to pin Takanoiwas hand, preventing him from
getting a second belt grip himself. With two hands lifting he was finally able
to muscle his enemy out, after which both men looked ridden hard and put away
wet. A bout that shows the beauty of sumo, when two fairly evenly matched men
try as stalwartly as possible to win.
Chiyomaru got off the snide as he handed Kyokutenho his first loss of the
tourney with a deftly timed sidestep at the edge as The Chauffer moved in for
the pushing out kill. 4-1 is better than 1-4 but itll be Chiyomaru who enjoys
the chanko just a little more on this evening.
Kitataiki hit hard at tachi-ai and then chased the circling away Arawashi by
sort of crabwalking sideways and then backward into him as they circled the
dohyo, until the both men tumbled out and Kitataiki won. One of those drunken
looking fights where no drinking was involved.
I wonder how many of you out there whacked off to, or were inspired to whack off
in general by, Kanes final pic on Day 3? I know I did FOR SURE!!
Chiyootori got into an inside right, outside left belt battle with Ichinojo, and
despite his best efforts was worn down after a lengthy tussle by the large
rookie. Ichinojo goes to 5-0 with visions of sugar plums (of which he
purportedly eats 3 dozen per day) dancing in his head, while the Kokonoe star
falls to 2-3.
Shohozan brought the fast and furious shoving attack to Tochinowaka, and even
survived a run past that spun him around 360, and finally managed to will his
way to victory in a high energy bout, the kind where you can clearly hear the
attackers breath pouring out of his nostrils. Sho (and his mawashi) is golden at
Tamawashi obliterated Aminishiki with an unrelenting barrage of slaps and
forearm shoves. Go sleep it off, Shneaky. . .No! Not there in the hallway!
Tochiohzan used two hands on the back of Ikiois head to force him down between
Tochis legs, and they weren’t even in the front seat of Daddys car!
Takarafuji got up in Kaiseis shit like a thong on. . .wait, I used that joke
already. Actually Taka let the big Brasilian go past after holding him up, and
then got around behind him and. . .you know what Im going to say, don’t you?
Steamrolled. Freight trained. Avalanched. Unstoppable force vs. easily moved
object. All these descripts apply to what Toyohibiki did to Endo, who was unable
to end, oh!, his losing streak to open the tourney. Ah, growing pains.
Takekaze played a dirty trick today by bringing an honest, straight up tachi-ai
against Terunofuji. Props to the little fella, whose sumo normally makes me want
to both fart and sleep.
Kotoshogiku got too excited, and that’s never a good thing when its Yoshikaze
youre hunting down. With the match in his control, he pressed much too urgently
forward on the scaffolding Yoshikaze had built with his arms, and fell victim to
an expertly timed slap down by the veteran Bean Eater. Id have to say that for
Yoshikaze, things went perfectly to Java script! Hardy har har har har har.
In a style that will surely come to define his Ozeki career (the highest rank he
will ever attain, to boot), Goeido won after getting owned by,
Chiyotairyu. Retreating and going for the cheap slapdown from the bell, he
looked less like a shin-Ozeki than a withered and worn Ozeki in the death throes
of his own career, namely Chiyotaikai. And like the Wolfs Pup, he somehow
managed to scamper away and maintain his footing long enough to win as
Chiyotairyu fell to his chest with a garoomph! of displeasure that he blew such
a golden opportunity. A yawner.
Some nightmare in makeup with a Statue of Liberty hairdo blocked my view from my
folding chair of the next bout, but I was told later that Kisenosato won the
tachi-ai and with the inside left position thus established paired it with an
outside right belt to work out a pugnacious Jokoryu in a hotly contested match.
Osunaarashi got the walkover win courtesy of Harumafuji pulling out due to some
Three Stooges type mishap. Bummer for the Yokozuna.
blasted into Aoiyama and as he was slapping one of the M3s arms down to get
further inside, the big Bulgarian crashed to the clay. If you look at the
kimari-te and think that Hakuho won this cheaply don’t you believe it. This
wasn’t so much a hataki-komi as it was a big fat guy falling down because he had
Takayasu brought nothing but facial shoving to his bout with Kakuryu, and he
paid the price as the Yokozuna patiently read the lean of Takayasus body as well
as the pattern of the shoving attack and timed a slap that sent the M2 down.
The Yokozuna are winning thus far, it seems to me, because their opponents know
they are better and are frantically trying to do whatever they can to have a
chance. I see a zensho this basho for sure, and as much as it would amuse, it
wont be Ichinojo.
Finally it seems as we go to press that enough Scots bought the lies and
distortions and decided against independence. What a shame. Im not Scottish, Im
American, and we told England to go fuck herself some years back, but I have a
Scottish friend or two, and am well versed on their culture, having seen all the
Shrek movies and being a regular at my local McDonalds restaurant. Pity. At any
rate, Ill be back sometime in Week Two. Mike brings his needles to ink all you
heroes with tomorrow.
Day 4 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
biggest headline entering the day was that the venue sold out on day 4 of a
Tokyo basho for the first time in 17 years. You have to go back to the 1997
Natsu basho to find the last time that the Ryogoku Kokugikan was full for the
sumos on the Wednesday in the first week. When such a feat is achieved, one must
ask the question "Why?", and the answer is that the Association has done a
brilliant job in creating headlines that have generated rising fan interest in
the sport. The supposed rise of Endoh and the recent promotion of Goeido to
Ozeki have to be the two biggest factors, but I also think others are showing up
to see Hakuho as he nears the all-time yusho record; I think having an Egyptian
rikishi doing so well holds some interest; and even good ole Kyokutenho racking
up the wins after the age of 40 is at least something to talk about.
And the rise in attendance is a good thing, but at what cost is the Sumo
Association generating such headlines? In the past few months, every single
Japanese person that I've met for the first time has asked me if I've heard
about Endoh. Now, that's not the first question out of their mouths, but
ultimately the content of our introductions will lead to talk of sumo, and then
every single one of them has perked up and said, "I really like Endoh." Who knew
that nearly 200 years ago when Hans Christian Andersen published "The
Emperor's New Clothes" that he was actually prophesying the rise of Endoh
and the Japanese fans' inability and/or unwillingness to see the fraud behind it
It's kind of like the United States stock market at present. The market is at
all-time records but only because the Federal Reserve is pumping money into the
market to the tune of about $80 billion a month. The US gumment does not have
$80 bill to pump, and so they're essentially printing money. That's all being
done for political reasons, and once those reasons are no longer necessary and
the "quantitative easing" stops, the economy and the stock market is going to
crash like a house of cards. I can't help but to think sumo is facing a similar
situation because the rikishi being pumped up by the Association are either
going to collapse in the near future or the public is going to see the whole
situation for what it really is. To make matters worse, you have a triumvirate
of foreign rikishi in Terunofuji, Ichinojo, and Osunaarashi who are going to
dominate the landscape along with the current crop of Yokozuna. I guess the Sumo
Association can enjoy this inflated success for a season, but there is no
substance behind it, and they are playing with serious fire.
M16 Kagamioh led off the day with an early left outer in his migi-yotsu contest
against M16 Tokitenku, but he had insufficient positioning on the right for
about 30 seconds. Once he finally established himself to the inside with the
right hand, the yori-kiri came straightway, and there was nothing Tokitenku
could do about it. Both rikishi end the day at 1-3, and while Kagamioh is used
to Juryo, Tokitenku hasn't been there in awhile, so retirement could be on the
M13 Sokokurai was a hair late at the tachi-ai rendering his tsuppari meager and
useless, so M15 Kyokushuho grabbed the deep right inside position forcing the
bout to yotsu-zumo, and as soon as Kyokushuho used his length to grab the firm
left outer grip, it was curtains. Both gentleman end the day at 2-2 and Kagamioh
lost this one with his tardiness at the tachi-ai.
M15 Okinoumi offered a light left kachi-age against M12 Sadanofuji as the two
hooked up in hidari-yotsu, and the superior rikishi, Okinoumi, gained the quick
right outer grip and dumped Sadanofuji straightway in the center of the ring.
Nothing to break down here as Okinoumi skates to 3-1 while Sadanofuji is the
M14 Kyokutenho was a bit late at the tachi-ai in his hidari-yotsu contest
against M10 Kitataiki, and even though Kitataiki had the right outer grip and
the forward momentum, he stood upright allowing Kyokutenho to tsuki-otoshi him
with the right hand. This looked way too easy to me especially when you consider
Kyokutenho was on defense and didn't have great positioning from the start. I
think this one was thrown, and after making such notes after watching the bouts,
I got an email from Kane where he suspected the same thing. I almost made a
similar comment on day 2 when commenting about Tenho's bout against Kagamioh,
but I refrained. In that bout, Kagamioh lost despite the quick outer grip gained
from the tachi-ai...the exact circumstance Kitataiki had in today's bout. I'm
calling BS on Kyokutenho's 4-0 start, and while I don't know the exact reason
guys are letting him win, I think it has to do with the ability for the media to
create more sensational headlines. Look, the fans are coming out for some
reason, and it isn't the actual sumo. Kitataiki falls to 2-2 with the loss but
undoubtedly has more spending caish tucked away in his mawashi.
M9 Tamawashi's arms slipped upwards after his initial tsuppari allowing M12
Sadanoumi to slip inside using the right arm, and with his de-ashi chugging
forward, he had the upright Tamawashi back and out in a flash. The two bumped
foreheads at the tachi-ai which may have thrown Tamawashi (1-3) off his game,
but regardless, Sadanoumi looked good in this one as he moves to 3-1.
M11 Chiyomaru used a decent tsuppari focused on M9 Tochinowaka's neck, but he
used the thrusts to try and set up a surprise pull that even Tochinowaka could
read, so with Chiyomaru on the attack but constantly looking for the pull, T-Wok
patiently waited for an opening and finally struck with a paw lifting up at
Chiyomaru's extended right arm sending Maru completely upright and giving Lee
the immediate push-out win from there. Tochinowaka improves to 2-2 while
Chiyomaru is circling the drain at 0-4.
M8 Tochiohzan came with a right kachi-age easily getting the left inside and
right outer grip against M11 Takanoiwa, but instead of attacking
straight-forward, he stepped out to his right and opted to retreat to the side
as he pulled Takanoiwa down by the back of the belt. This was a fairly dangerous
tactic, and we still haven't seen Oh win with forward moving sumo, even down in
these ranks. He's a predictable 3-1 while Takanoiwa continues to struggle at
M10 Ichinojo didn't threaten the sound barrier at the tachi-ai, and he was wide
open again allowing M7 Shohozan to tsuppari his way into moro-zashi, but before
he could even get established, Ichinojo just pivoted right and felled Shohozan
with a right kote-nage as easy as you please. Ichinojo's sumo ain't pretty, but
the way he is manhandling these seasoned veterans should be alarming for the
rest of the field. If that pic at right was included in a Marvel comic book, the
sound effect would surely read "SPLAT!!" I don't think we've had a beast
like this in the division since Baruto as Ichinojo moves to 4-0 while Shohozan
I think M6 Aminishiki overlooked M8 Arawashi today offering a right paw to the
throat at the tachi-ai that set up the hidari-yotsu position where Aminishiki
enjoyed a deep right outer grip, and despite having Arawashi straight up, he let
him slip out and latch onto Aminishiki's right arm and threaten a yank down by
the left limb. Ami countered with an uchi-muso attempt, but it was half-assed
allowing Arawashi to slip away and slap Aminishiki down from that low uchi-muso
attempt. That'll learn Aminishiki as he drops to 2-2 while Arawashi picks up his
much needed first win.
M7 Chiyootori lurched low into M6 Kaisei who went for a quick push down by the
back of the head as he maneuvered laterally, but Chiyootori hung on and obtained
the migi-yotsu position that included the left outer grip. From there, Kaisei
didn't have a pot to piss in as Otori worked him out with ease. Don't look now,
but one of the Chiyo brothers actually has two wins to his credit (it ain't Maru)
while Kaisei falls to 1-3.
M5 Toyohibiki attacked hard with paws to M5 Ikioi's throat, but as he he tried
to attack, his left leg slipped forward of all directions causing him to fall
backwards onto his widdle bum. Ikioi improves to 3-1 and has his tsuke-bito to
thank for throwing that banana peel onto the dohyo with precision while
Toyohibiki falls (literally) to 2-2.
M4 Osunaarashi seemed out for blood in this one firing open-palm punches and
slaps into M4 Takarafuji's dome before grabbing him in the kote-nage style with
the right arm and throwing the hapless Takarafuji down in mere seconds. This was
a brutal display of sumo of which Takarafuji wanted no part, and how can you
blame him as both rikishi fall to 2-2?
Komusubi Chiyotairyu went Takekaze on Sekiwake Takekaze greeting him with two
hams to the face before swiping down at his extended left arm sending the aging
Kaze down in a second flat. Such ugly sumo from both parties as the Komusubi
picks up his first win while Takekaze is 2-2.
Jokoryu got the right arm to the inside against Ozeki Goeido, but he did nothing
with it unless you count slapping sheepishly at Goeido's side and grabbing and
letting go the Ozeki's belt giving the appearance that he was at least trying to
do something. On his attacking side, Jokoryu keep his left arm wide in no man's
land and just stood there waiting for Goeido to throw him over. The inside belt
throw came about three seconds in as Jokoryu flipped to the dirt showing no
resistance whatsoever. Jokoryu's intentions are pretty clear when you
slow motion replays as he falls to 0-4 while Goeido is an ugly 2-2.
Both Komusubi this basho didn't deserve the promotion, and Chiyotairyu even
admitted as much in his press conference, so I think as a way to give back to
the Association, they are just standing there like dumbasses when they face
opponents who are constantly being propped up.
best bout of the day featured M1 Terunofuji vs. Ozeki Kisenosato in a bout that
saw the two hook up in hidari-yotsu where the Kid enjoyed the right outer grip.
Terunofuji casually let the Ozeki force him back, but dug in well with the left
inside grip as if to say, "That all you got?" For two minutes the combatants
grappled with Terunofuji testing the waters with inside belt throws while
Kisenosato tried in vain to corner his opponent using the outer grip, and in the
end, Terunofuji just couldn't overcome the Ozeki's outer grip with Kisenosato
scoring the force-out win. While I don't expect every bout the last 30 minutes
of the broadcast to go two minutes, I do expect both parties to give the same
effort exhibited by Terunofuji and Kisenosato today. Before we go on, the
strange thing about Terunofuji is that he is perfectly content to just stand
there at the tachi-ai and let his opponent dictate the pace. Can you imagine
this kid if he ever got a mean streak in him and came out looking for blood at
the initial charge similarly to what we see from Osunaarashi? Not sure if Teru's
holding back is intentional or just his nature, but even at 1-3, he's still been
a huge presence among the jo'i. Kisenosato moves to 3-1 and hasn't earned a win
like this in long time.
We were treated to another great bout between Ozeki Kotoshogiku and M1 Endoh
where the Ozeki secured the early left and right kote-nage hold from the
tachi-ai. Endoh dug in well, however, with his own deep left grip, but as has
usually been the case his entire Makuuchi career, he was too casual from the
tachi-ai and was forced to fight from behind as a result. The Ozeki tried three
or four times to wrest Endoh out of the ring keeping him in tight with the
inside grip on the left hand side and the kote-nage hold with the right. Endo
was in no position to counter, and he could only hold on for so long, and so
after about 15 seconds of excellent action, Kotoshogiku finally bodied Endoh
down and across the edge for the yori-taoshi win. We've seen so many fake bouts
that involve either one of these guys, and so it was refreshing to actually see
them both go at it full bore. You can tell just by the way each exerted full
power, and they way they both toppled off of the dohyo that it was real, and the
contrast to a fake bout is so stark that it amazes me that more people can't
figure it out. Or should I say choose to figure it out? I had hoped to find a
sweet pic of these two at the edge on the wires, but I really couldn't find any.
I wonder if they don't want to show Endoh getting his ass kicked like this?
Regardless, Kotoshogiku sails to 3-1 while Endoh is 0-4.
Yokozuna ranks, Harumafuji and M3 Yoshikaze were busy as bees slapping wildly
and looking for the pull. HowDo finally got Yoshikaze turned around 180 and
pushed him out manlove style, but wait... a mono-ii! Replays showed that in the
process of dragging Yoshikaze around, Harumafuji pulled Kaze's mage with the
left hand, which is the problem with this type of ugly bout. Not only did the
judges catch it and disqualify the Yokozuna, but in the course of this crazy
affair, Yoshikaze jabbed Harumafuji in the right eye causing the Yokozuna to
slump over in pain. Dude could barely open the eye afterwards and you could
already see it swelling up before he walked back to the hana-michi, and it turns
out that Harumafuji is actually going kyujo due to the eye injury! Normally I
would scoff at such a withdrawal, but this move is completely political. Get
Harumafuji outta the mix, and that frees up a whole helluva lotta wins for other
rikishi. Both rikishi end the day at 3-1.
Kakuryu stood his ground well at the tachi-ai against M3 Aoiyama as he fished
for the early left inside position. As Aoiyama looked to counter with a few
tsuppari, Kakuryu pulled him forward and off balance with a right kote-nage that
set Aoiyama up for the easy pulldown by the neck in the end. Kakuryu is a quiet
4-0, and judging by how quiet the crowd was after they announced Harumafuji's
disqualification, this guy could disappear in the night and no one would notice.
Aoiyama is a very respectable 2-2.
And finally, Yokozuna Hakuho got the early right inside position against M2
Takayasu and was casual on the left just testing the waters. Takayasu created
some excitement with a coupla right scoop throw attempts, but Hakuho sleepwalked
his way into an eventual left outer grip resulting in the yori-kiri after about
20 seconds. This bout was akin to a typical keiko bout from Hakuho where he lets
his opponent hang around just to feel him out and get a little bit more practice
in the ring. Hakuho probably gave it about 70% effort today and still won the
bout with ease moving to 4-0 in the process. Takayasu falls to a paltry 1-3 and
has that lone win over Goeido on day 1.
With Harumafuji now out of the mix, a couple of timely losses from the other two
Yokozuna would really pump some life into this basho that was sputtering in my
opinion early on. Clancy picks himself up offa that rickety folding chair
tomorrow to give you all the business.
Day 3 Comments (Kane Roberts reporting)
off let's give a tip of the shorts to Japan's own Kei Nishikori for being the
first Asian man to make it to the finals of a Grand Slam Pro Tennis Tournament.
He beat Djokovic in the semis to get there and eventually lost to Cilic, who
played some of the best tennis I've ever seen. He beat Federer in the semis
(thank the stars Cilic isn't Mongolian!) and finished off Kei on the final day.
Nishikori is a supremely talented athlete who will be heard from again for sure.
Now there's some heavy goings on in our beloved sumo. Not only is Clancy back
for another sato-imo (slimy potato) bake-off, but there's some emerging stories
beyond the crowning of another Japanese Ozeki who wouldn't have cut it back in
the current Mongolian Sumo Dynasty is firmly entrenched. King Hak and his
generals walk and eat and smile with the swagger of the ruling class. And as
they easily slash and burn through the less skilled, feckless minions of their
chosen sport, they feast and merrily sing songs heralding their eternal
dominance which in truth has thus far been most excellent.
But deep inside the battle torn valleys of Mongolia, somewhere far beyond their
view, an ominous wind roiled the darkness as a Mongolian giant lumbered from the
shadows onto the sacred dohyo…
Ichinojo has arrived (much the same way Foreman broke into the boxing scene
during Ali's insane tenure as the KING OF ROCK).
And he seems to be shoving aside the rest of the competition to get at the
comfortable dwellers of the sanyaku, the bloated / hyped Ozeki and dare we say
it…the Mongolian triumvirate!
His Mongolian (and talented) brethren Terunofuji is also making his move…
and these are both big dudes whose frames and musculature can handle the weight
(unlike Yamamotoyama who always looked as if he was about to collapse).
Their presence is changing the makeup of the banzuke…more so than enthusiastic
gaijin like Osunaarashi, more than floundering pop stars like Endo or young guns
like the smiling Chiyo brothers. I believe when they get their collective shite
together, some great battles will ensue. And I say to thee most verily (setting
aside all nippon nationalist implications)…duuuude, that is most excellent!
So as the sumo winds of change are once again upon us, lets pull on (or off) our
stretch jeans, slap on some pomade, kick out those who do NOT understand, and
settle in for some real genuine sumo straight from Tokyo JAPAN! AKI 2014 Grand
Sumo Tournament is Game On!
Lets get things rocking with the jovial Tokitenku and the ever bored Okinoumi
stepping onto center stage. At the gate, the two men stood up straight, slapped
chests, grabbed at each others belts and spun around. Tokitenku got both his
mitts securely on Oki's mawashi but his strength being what it is, was unable to
make much of the advantage. The two men alternated between resting their heads
on each other's shoulders and jerking at each others bodies for advantageous
Finally Okinoumi let go of Toki's belt, and started to muscle him around towards
the rope. Tokitenku attempted to lift Oki off of his feet, but his strength
being what it is was unable to do so and the two men spun to the dirt like
synchronized rikishi. The Gyojii gave the bout to Okinoumi, but after a lengthy
mono-ii, the black kimono'ed Shimpan decided we all go at it again and this time
Toki tried to kick his opponent but, his strength being what it is, Oki shook
off the leg blow and blasted an exhausted Tokitenku (his strength being what it
is) off the dohyo in 2 seconds flat. Oki stands at 2-1 while Tokitenku (i won't
say it again) stumbles to 1-2.
man Kyokutenho met Sadanofuji with his customarily honest tachi-ai, plus he
added a brief hari-te to Sad And No Foolin's ample cheek for good measure. When
the dust settled they each had opposing one-handed belt grips but Sad wanted
this affair to end sooner than later. He suddenly shoved and muscled the veteran
to the rope…and we all know the edge of the cliff is Kyoku's territory. Tenho
backed up and rolled Sadanofuji over like a 300 lb steamed bun…Kyokutenho
rejoices at 3-0 and Sadanoumi sulks at 1-2!
Straight off the gun, 1-1 Sadanoumi straightened up 2-0 Kitataiki and shoved him
oshi-dashi style outta bounds lickety-split. Sad And Lonely is feeling better at
2-1 while the same tally makes Kitataiki feel sad and lonely.
I was stirring my natto (100 times for best results thank you very much), I
heard a nervous laughter roll around the venue. I laid down my hashi and
ran over to the telly just as the shadow of the Mongolian Beast, Ichinojo, was
streaking across the dohyo. As Tochiohzan looked up at him from the crouch I
thought, "Well Tochi seems a bit injured but this ain't a bad test for 'he who
lumbers large in the night'."
the tachi-ai, Tochiohzan was across both lines before Ichi Brutha had barely
reacted and he struck the giant with a resounding slap like he'd driven his fist
into a giant egg custard pie!
Ichinojo pranced to his left and tried a variety of techniques that included the
oft maligned hataki-komi, but Tochi sallied forth and drove him to the edge of
defeat. Unable to get a good grip anywhere on his massive opponent, Tochiohzan
quickly relented his attack and opted for a belt grip allowing Ichi to shove
back towards the center of the ring. The rest of the match was all brute
strength as the giant Mongoru grabbed Tochi's head and twisted around and out
for a 3-0 record. Tochi settles for 2-1 and ambled back to the locker room to
have his head screwed back on.
Mike's comment rang true as Ichinojo was slow at the gate, but because of his
semi-truck physique he feels he can allow his opponent the first shot. Once he
leans into his man it's gonna require some serious leverage to roll him off and
out, and it really appears that it hurts for this guy to smile.
Osunaarashi has a bit of a thang going on with his knee, but don't expect any
sympathy for Mister Gauze himself - irrefutable Aminishiki. The Shki-Meister is
a crafty sort who's gotten so good at gauging where he is on the banzuke, on the
dohyo and on his gimpy gams that he can hammer down whenever he feels he can do
Sir Elbow he knew some kinda shot to the head was coming, so he paused mid
tachi-ai and shifted to his right. Good thing because Osu still landed a two
handed bitch slap to Shneekee's chin, but he of the overly bandaged knee threw
his attackers arms offa him and fought his way towards a belt grip. Once he'd
secured migi-yotsu he started swinging Osunaarashi around like he was pissed off
at the young Egyptian. The affair ended with an ugly shove sending Osu flying
off the clay and a yori-kiri for Aminishiki. Aminishiki feels purty good at 2-1
and Osunaarashi seems to have lost his impish smile at 1-2.
Chiyotairyu gave Kisenosato all sorts of problems, but credit the Kid for
keeping his cool and pulling out the yori-kiri win. His signature sluggish
tachi-ai was the prob for Kise, but he did prevail for a 2-1 tally while Chia
Pet (3-0-3) can't seem to cut a whole lotta mustard in the upper ranks.
Kotoshogiku showed some good body strength to move Aoiyama's body around
although Blue Mountain's strategy was to not do very much in the way of trying
to win. He made no attempt to grab mawashi and then just hugged Kotoshogiku
until it was over. Extremely romantic in many ways but the smell of fish ruined
the whole affair. Kotoshogiku and Aoiyama are both at 2-1.
may be this and he may be that, but he's always in the game to fight. Goeido,
feeling the pressure of his coming out party bearing down on him, literally flew
off the line looking for the quick vic. He blew Yoshikaze back with some fiery
de-ashi, chucking some powerful tsuppari at his opponent, but Monster Drink
treaded the line and frenetically slid away from the eager Ozeki. Goeido
followed him, but Yoshi ducked and grabbed Goeido's leg and turned him around.
Goeido attempted a nuclear kote-nage throw, but his strength being what it is
(couldn't resist), it was a no-go and Captain Guarana grabbed Goeido's right leg
and flattened him for an extremely rare komata-sukui victory. Yoshi is a sexy
2-1 while Goeido is not so erotic at 1-2.
Kakuryu (3-0) kicked Endoh's bruised ass (0-3). I think he's dealing with a lot
in terms of hype and media attention (and a truckload of events). Let's hope
when the smoke clears he gets his bearings.
With so much hataki-komi being spent, I was surprised to see Hakuho show how
easy it can be for him when he chooses to exhibit classic forward-driving sumo.
I mean, it was a beautiful thing to behold, and I know that some in the sumo
association are so glad he doesn't choose to do this every bout. He sliced
through Terunofuji for the yori-kiri like he wasn't there and it's no
coincidence Fuji the Terrible is Mongolian. Hakuho is a scary 3-0 while Teru is
finding himself at 1-2.
Harumafuji had a sweet brawl with Takayasu. The two men bounced off of each
other at the tachi-ai and a brief tsuppari festival ensued before settling into
a yotsu dance. Takayasu did NOT want to go down and he hung in there as the two
men tried energetic uwate-nage throws. Haru (3-0), who was never in trouble,
finally rocked his world and spun Taka (1-2) around and down for a sukui-nage
A lot of tales to be told this basho for sure, so I'm here for the long haul.
I'm off the ST docket until next Tuesday, but like you, I'll be watching,
looking for the perfect kimari-te, the perfect tachi-ai. And if the sumo kinda
falls short of our hopes and dreams….well…we always have this:
Day 2 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
have good news and bad news as we lead off day 2 of the festivities. The good
news is that Clancy is back in the nest for now providing commentary on the Aki
basho. As he already pointed out yesterday, the other writers kind of mooched
his stuff taking his desk and assuming his female assistants, but he agreed to
stay after I offered him a drab navy jacket, gray slacks, and a cheap folding
chair that he can sit on in the hall as we walk to and from work. So, while
Clancy is back in fine form in September, the bad news is that the Japanese
rikishi aren't. It took just two days for the three Japanese Ozeki and Endoh to
all suffer at least one loss while the three Mongolian Yokozuna have skated out
to 2-0 starts. Now some may say that a one loss difference can easily be made
up, especially with 13 days to go, and I'd agree with that if the rikishi trying
to make up ground was Mongolian. Just watching the content of the sumo from the
three Japanese Ozeki and Endoh the first two days is enough to set off alarm
bells, and the Sumo Association will get extremely uncomfortable if the gap
between the Yokozuna and everyone else gets too vast. I won't expound further at
this point so as to not distract from the actual sumo in the ring, but the Aki
basho is not off to a good start. Trust me on that one.
is custom early on, let's start from the bottom and comment on every bout. M16
Tokitenku welcomed J1 Amuuru, a Russian whose been in sumo for over a decade
now, but he has been plagued with injuries that have kept him from the big time.
Tokitenku decided to henka to his left offering a lame hari-te attempt against
the Russian, but Amuuru wasn't buying it and squared up quickly planting his
right palm firmly into Tokitenku's gut and applying the pressure there as he
simply drove his compromised opponent back and out before Tokitenku could even
muster a counter pull. This was awful strategy from Tokitenku, and even I was
embarrassed to see a seasoned veteran like this forced to do jumping jacks as he
was pushed into the front row by a dude fighting in Makuuchi for the very first
time. Tokitenku falls to 1-1 while Amuuru moves to 2-0 in his quest to finally
reach the big dance.
M15 Kyokushuho and M15 Okinoumi hooked up in hidari-yotsu from the tachi-ai
where Okinoumi got the right outer first, and even though his initial force-out
attempt was foiled, he didn't panic and dug in even deeper as both rikishi
reloaded. Kyokushuho eventually got a right outer grip of his own, but Okinoumi
had the better positioning and used his length to force Kyokushuho (0-2) back
and across the straw for the good win. Okinoumi (1-1) needed this one after
dropping that day 1 contest to Kyokutenho.
Speaking of M14 Kyokutenho, he found himself in a migi-yotsu affair against M16
Kagamioh, who gained the early left outer grip. One reason why the outer grip
can be so effective is that you can pinch inwards on your opponent's set-up
hand--the inside grip--making it harder for your opponent to really counter, but
Kagamioh had such a loose outer today that it was mostly useless. All Kyokutenho
had on his strong side was a left tsuki position, but he used his experience and
size to easily push Kagamioh over to the edge with that left hand, and by the
time Tenho got the outer grip, Kagamioh had already given up the ghost beyond
the straw. Kyokutenho's 2-0 start will help generate a few more headlines in
lieu of anything exciting from the Ozeki ranks or Endoh while Kagamioh (0-2)
wasted a chance today.
If M12 Sadanoumi has a weakness so far in the division, it's impatience. Today
against M13 Sokokurai, Sadanoumi lost the bout at the tachi-ai after going for a
quick maki-kae where he tried to bring the right arm inwards from the outside. I
guess it technically worked, but Sokokurai's response was a left outer/frontal
grip that was so good he looked like a Yokozuna as he lifted Sadanoumi upright
and forced him over and out so fast Sadanoumi had to hop step on his feet to
keep up with the pace. This bout was a perfect example of how you have to
establish something at the tachi-ai. Sokokurai got the right inside first while
Sadanoumi was half-assed on the other side, and he paid for it. I like this bout
because it's a good example of how Kisenosato and Goeido are frequently
unable to ever establish that inside position from the initial charge, and
someone who hasn't mastered such a simple concept could only be promoted to
Ozeki in today's sumo landscape.
M11 Takanoiwa latched onto the front of M12 Sadanofuji's belt early with the
left hand and then burrowed his head in tight beneath Sadanofuji's jaw managing
to grab the right outer on the other side. Due to the size difference between
these two, Takanoiwa wasn't able to go for the kill straightway, but after
gathering his wits for a few seconds, he unleashed a right tsuki into the side
of Sadanofuji pushing him over and out right in front of the chief judge's seat.
Both rikishi end the day at 1-1.
Ichinojo, who is defining the term ugly to an extent we haven't seen
since Roho, was introduced to his first tsuppari affair in the division against
M11 Chiyomaru, and the Mongolian was wide open and susceptible to moro-zashi.
Problem was, Chiyomaru wasn't able to take advantage (or perhaps chose not to
get sucked into the machine?), and after a molasses like exchange of thrusts,
the two eventually settled into yotsu-zumo. Obviously gassed from their initial
flurry of tsuppari, the two settled in for nearly a minute while Ichinojo worked
his way into a stifling left outer, and from there the yori-kiri was imminent as
the rookie moves to 2-0. Ichinojo will continue to manhandle his opponents this
low on the charts, but he has some apparent weakness that will easily be
exploited by rikishi with game higher up. Namely, he's slow, he leaves himself
too open, and he looks out of shape to me. Even that throw yesterday against
Tochinowaka was not set up with wham bam thank you ma'am sumo. He happened to
latch onto that outer grip and used sheer strength to just twist his foe down
awkwardly. I'm not saying this kid can't make the sanyaku in the next year, but
I think Terunofuji is more potent. Regardless, we're talking about two Mongolian
behemoths who are going to be absolute bitches to fight against sooner rather
than later. Chiyomaru falls to an 0-2 start with the loss.
M10 Kitataiki secured the left inside while M9 Tochinowaka looked for the pull,
so you can guess how this one ended. As soon as Kitataiki got the right outer
grip, which came near the front of the belt, he forced Tochinowaka back to the
straw straight up where a final elbow to the chest and palm to the face sent him
across for good. The feisty Kitataiki is 2-0 if you need him while Tochinowaka
falls to 0-2.
M8 Tochiohzan used a thrust attack from the tachi-ai setting M9 Tamawashi
upright and moving him back a step. Then, as The Mawashi leaned forward trying
to get back into the bout, Tochiohzan moved to the side and sorta pulled him
forward and down, but it looked like Tamawashi did most of the work on his own.
I guess Tochiohzan is 2-0 at this point, but it certainly hasn't been the result
of great sumo. At least the dude took care of bidness today at the tachi-ai.
Tamawashi falls to his first lossa the contest.
M7 Chiyootori got the early moro-zashi against M8 Arawashi, and even though
Arawashi managed a maki-kae with the right arm, it was too late as Chiyootori's
right grip on the belt was so superb he was able to lift Arawashi completely
upright and send him back across the straw with some oomph. This was the perfect
case of a much larger rikishi getting the dominating position and making the
force-out look so easy even though Arawashi has become a formidable opponent.
Chiyootori looks good at 2-0 while Arawashi is winless.
M6 Aminishiki set the pace with early thrusts while M7 Shohozan's tsuppari were
more defensive in nature, so Aminishiki had the luxury of pressing forward with
his feet. After nudging Shohozan back a step or two near the tawara, Shohozan
tried to switch gears and mount on offensive of his own, but as soon as he
lurched forward, Aminishiki sprung the hiki trap to perfection pulling Shohozan
down to the clay with ease. Aminishiki simply had too much dohyo to work with
today, so when Shohozan did try and move forward, there was just too much real
estate where Aminishiki could escape and counter. Both fellas are 1-1.
M6 Kaisei fished for and got the early left outer grip against M5 Ikioi, but he
wasn't set up properly with the right inside position. Ikioi was, and he used
Kasei's poor approach to step out wide and scoop the Brasilian up high forcing
him over to the edge for the easy yori-kiri win not to mention 2-0 start. Kaisei
looks as if he's been fighting in ski boots this basho (with skis attached!) as
he falls to 0-2.
M5 Toyohibiki fired some lumbering tsuppari into M4 Takarafuji's chest, but he
was hesitant with the de-ashi, so even though he looked to take advantage from
the beginning, Takarafuji was under little pressure and had the entire dohyo at
his disposal to counter...just like Aminishiki a few bouts before. And counter
he did by drifting out to his left forcing Toyohibiki to chase, and as Ibiki did
so with arms extended, he proved to be the easy pull-down fodder as Takarafuji
slapped the sheepish Hutt down with aplomb leaving both gentleman at 1-1.
M3 Yoshikaze pushed M4 Osunaarashi's right kachi-age attempt away at the
tachi-ai and then ducked low causing Osunaarashi to fire his high thrusts into
thin air. The result was Yoshikaze's slipping out left and getting the mammoth
inside position that he used to force the Ejyptian over to the edge, but it was
largely an arm throw, not a throw set up with proper footwork, and so
Osunaarashi was able to use his strength to counter with a right kote-nage that
sent Yoshikaze down to the dirt before Osunaarashi was driven out of the ring.
If you have the kind of inside grip that Yoshikaze enjoyed against anyone
gained with forward moving sumo, you'll win. In Yoshikaze's case, he gained
the superior position with the left but did it moving to the side--not forward,
and so the larger, stronger Osunaarashi burned him in the end. Enjoyable bout as
both rikishi are 1-1.
Sekiwake Takekaze displayed his usual quick
two-hands-to-the-throat-and-then-evade tachi-ai against M2 Takayasu moving to
his left and managing to pull Takayasu off balance as he thrust into nothing.
Takayasu looked to square up near the edge, but Takekaze thrives off of
unorthodox bouts such as these and knew exactly how to retool and push a
compromised Takayasu over and out in mere seconds. Both dudes finish the day 1-1
while old schoolers can only dream of the day when the Sekiwake ranks were
populated by guys named Akinoshima and Wakanosato.
In the Ozeki ranks, Komusubi Jokoryu was quick in getting the left arm to the
inside of Ozeki Kotoshogiku, but he just kept the limb in no man's land showing
no effort on the other side in obtaining a right outer grip, and so the Ozeki
pushed his right arm into the side of Jokoryu up high and felled him to the clay
tsuki-otoshi style in a couple of seconds. It's funny because you watch hard
fought sumo the entire day with guys earnestly trying to move up the ranks, and
then you get to this bout, and it's like...was that other guy even trying? The
answer is a likely "no" as Jokoryu just gave up in this bout, whose flow just
didn't look right from start to finish.
of standing upright and offering beefy thrusts, M3 Aoiyama charged with his head
low straight into Ozeki Kisenosato catching the Ozeki completely off guard.
Unable to counter the move, Aoiyama threw a right paw into the side of
Kisenosato's head knocking him to the dohyo in less than two seconds. I know I'm
constantly beating a dead horse, but an Ozeki does not get done in like this at
the hands of an M3 rikishi. I mean, look at that pic at right and show me the
Ozeki. I haven't missed a basho in two decades, and until the current crop
of Ozeki came along, I had never seen Ozeki constantly get their asses kicked by
the hira-maku rikishi. If you're wondering why I've always got the redass, it's
because too many rikishi are being elevated to ranks that they clearly don't
deserve. Kisenosato falls to 1-1 after the drubbing while Aoiyama is a hefty
Ozeki Goeido executed some of the best sumo you'll some from him this entire
basho thanks to M2 Toyonoshima's going kyujo. I thought I'd post of pic of him
performing flawlessly in the ring today because we likely won't see such
highlights form Goeido or the other two Ozeki the rest of the way. The win
by default moves Goeido to a much-needed 1-1.
Moving on to the Yokozuna bouts, M1 Endoh extended his arms at the tachi-ai in
an attempt to keep Yokozuna Hakuho away from the belt, but Hakuho can execute
plan B before his opponent can even get out of his crouch, and in this case,
Plan B was a simple retreat easily pulling Endoh down by the back of the head in
the process and
him so hard face-first into the sand that the Yokozuna drew the ire of several
media outlets claiming that the finish to this bout was too rough. Too rough?
What is this...pattycake? It still amazes me how worked up the crowd gets when
Endoh steps onto the dohyo even though he hasn't been able to deliver jack.
Hakuho broke down Endoh's sumo perfectly afterwards commenting, "I give him
credit for trying to think through some things, but first off, he has no form
out there. He has to create his own style. If he's going to tsuppari, then
tsuppari. If he's going to push, then push." Hakuho's criticism totally hits the
nail on the head. Endoh is just out there like Stevie Wonder playing the
piano...looking this way and that totally oblivious to anything going on around
him and then WHAM! He gets driven hard into the clay. Japan's hope (yes, they're
still using that term in the media) falls to 0-2 and will likely receive some
charity soon while Hakuho picks up another pull down win moving to 2-0. Remember
the good old days when Hakuho would do forward-moving linear sumo getting that
right arm to the inside and following up with the left outer grip?
Komusubi Chiyotairyu was never fully committed to his tsuppari attack against
Yokozuna Harumafuji keeping his hands way too high, and despite not being blown
back by the Yokozuna at the tachi-ai, Chiyotairyu still refused to trust in his
push attack instead opting for a weak pull that the Yokozuna could read in his
sleep. The easy push-out was academic as we were "treated" to another bland bout
the final few minutes of the broadcast. Harumafuji snores his way to 2-0 while
Chiyotairyu is a futile 0-2.
finally, M1 Terunofuji avoided a straight up charge again today focusing on
Yokozuna Kakuryu's extended right arm going for the early kote-nage. The move
would have worked on most rikishi but not a Yokozuna, and so Kakuryu was able to
survive the attempt and assume moro-zashi. Problem was Terunofuji is so massive
he was able to lift Kakuryu's arms up high and pinch in so tightly they were
rendered useless. The youngster was next able to slip his left arm to the inside
forcing the bout to hidari-yotsu, but before Terunofuji could grab the right
outer grip on that side, Kakuryu was able to retreat a step and drag Terunofuji
down to the dirt via kubi-nage. Granted, Kakuryu was never in trouble during
this bout, but his inability to beat Terunofuji by driving him back is an
example of just how potent this relative newcomer is. Kakuryu completes the day
at 2-0 while Terunofuji is 1-1.
As I looked over my notes for the last three bouts, I noticed that I started
each of them off by commenting on the non-Yokozuna rikishi. Unless the tachi-ai
is fiddy-fiddy, the first rikishi I mention in the paragraph is the one who
presses the action. In the case of the Yokozuna, I mentioned their opponents
first in all three cases which tells me that the Yokozuna are fighting passively
so far. We've seen mostly pull wins from the three Mongolians and no linear
sumo. These guys are intentionally not separating themselves from the field, and
so this passive, boring sumo is the result.
If there's one guy who can find a silver lining in things, it's Kane, so there's
still plenty to look forward to tomorrow.
Day 1 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
kids. Im Sumotalk writer Clancy Kelly. Perhaps you remember me from such classic
reports as "Akebonos Babys Got A Cold Upon His Chest" and "Dejima: Ruminations
From The Land Of The Purple Rhino." Im on hiatus from me job at the Iceland
Tourism Board, Jamaica office (maybe "forced administrative leave pending
dismissal" would better describe it) for inadvertently introducing the
vacationing college-aged daughter of the King of Iceland to my counterpart at
the Jamaican Tourism Board, a man who has a tattoo that I THOUGHT read simply,
As such, hanging out in the wind like this, facing lifes new wrinkles, and
desperately needing some cold, hard Bitcoin, I decided to contact Mixmaster
Mikenstein to see if I could be thrust back in to my old gig as a writer here at
ST. Far from it being a "Welcome back, mon, have a nice day!" typething, turns
out Martin got my office (and my secretary, a delish little thing name of Nobuko
who gives the finest handjobs [which is my clever way of saying "manicures"]),
Kane got my quill and ink and my extensive backfile of sumo insider notes (which
is how he comes to know that Toyohibiki adds a single drop of sweat to each and
every bowl of chanko he eats), and Matt got my autographed photo of the
legendary Chiyonofuji hanging backstage after a Tower of Power concert with
BALCO founder Victor Conte.
So I struck a deal with El Wesemann. In exchange for hunting down and murdering
with extreme prejudice the wannabe sumo wrestler foreigners who lurk outside
Tokyo heya at 3 a.m., sipping from their Boss coffee cans, waiting for a
backdoor nod from one of the minor rikishi that its okay to come inside and lick
the toilets clean with tongue so they can call themselves "insiders," foreigners
who are continually...whats the word...gunning for Mike over his claims that the
Nihon Sumo Kyoukai masterminded the JFK assassination, he would allow me to
write...dear I say it...one more sumo report for yall.
So close that link to the Archives, friends and lovers, cause what we have here,
man, is some NEW chit! And trust me, like olden times, it AINT goan be pretty.
In the opening tussle we had Mongolian Kagamioh! Kagamioh! Kagamioh!
magnifico..ja nai. His arms were too short to snatch Juryo 1 Tokushoryus belt at
the tachi-ai, leaving him head down and getting slapt like a fiancée in an
elevator. A desperation armbar at the edge worked about as effectively as
requiring teachers carry firearms in public schools, ya know, to keep everyone
With the start of Makuuchi seeming to mirror the finish, we had our second and
third straight Mongolian fighters in Tokitenku and Kyokushuho. Kyokushuho seemed
to have this one from jump street, with a strong outside left belt, but the
veteran Tokitenku leaned in and made himself just too damned heavy to budge.
After a protracted bout, Tokidoki managed to get two hands on the back of his
foes belt and work him out, even with his own mawashi riding so high that he
looked like a five year-old kid heading to the beach for summer fun.
Our fourth straight Mongolian Kyokutenho met our very first homegrown hero in
Okinoumi. Ill admit to being surprised after my eight-month long banishment that
The Chauffer is still in sumo. I wont admit to being surprised at how he drove
his opponent back, forcing him to lean forward, then expertly timed an arm throw
for the win. A more skilled rassler than Okinoumi (he leaned in too far and
aligned his feet poorly) might make Kyokutenho pay for such sumo, but at his
age, dude will take what he can get and so will we. Carry on Kyokutenho!
Our second Japanese rikishi out of the first seven was up next as Sadanofuji
took on Chinese born Sokokurai. The Middle Kingdom bulldog made a bold choice in
grabbing the belt and trying to will his way to victory over the much larger
Sakaigawa stalwart. Props to Sokokurai as he forewent all sorts of herky jerky
yanking and spinning and focused on good, clean yotsu, with a couple of
halfhearted leg trip attempts thrown in. Eventually however, he lost out as The
Mountain Man showed the patience of the large and worked him out glacier like.
Good bout. Nobody quitting, nobody doing inexplicable sumo.
The other Sada, he of the Sea, took on yet another Mongolian in Takanoiwa and it
wasn’t...even...close. Sadanoumi won the tachi-ai by a country mile, wrapped up
his aite, dug in, and worked him out like a booger. Takanoiwa has lost one
consecutive match and hed better start thinking about tactics.
Speaking of the country, Id like to take a moment here to set the record
straight. Seems many of you figure Im some sort of city slicker cause I use big
words and smell of concrete. Nothing could be further from the truth. Im not
really all that fisticated. Im a country boy trying to be city. Hell, my first
attempt at rap was about my goddamned horse, who loved carrots:
♪ Bitch want it ha-a-a-ard
Bitch want it sweet
Bitch want it ra-a-a-a-mmed
Right between her teeth ♪
Now that that’s cleared up, lets move on to...WTF is up with guys whose shikona
end in "maru?" Why are they so often round? Anyway, in our first all Nippon
bout, Chiyomaru came in with appendicitis but by the way the bout went it looked
like Kitataiki had gingivitis. Chiyo was like, "Whoa, back OFF brother, dayum,"
slapping and driving his arms forth in a frantic effort to not allow Kitataiki
in close. The blind date went badly for Chiyomaru though as Kitataiki slapped
him out and whispered, "Its genetic, man, I cant help it. Leave off"
The natural order of things in Japanese Sumo 2014 was restored in the next
contest as young Mongolian Ichinojo, whose hair is not even long enough to
qualify as the fifth Beatle, grabbed the belt at the start and flung down
Tochinowaka who fell to the elevator floor and immediately stood up and proposed
marriage. Handsome and exotic Ichinojo just laughed, and flung a purikura of his
three Japanese girlfriends onto the dohyo.
Following this we had two washis go at it, Tama and Ara, both from a country I
wont name but which is located on the Asian steppes and has some crazy assed
tents hippies like to live in (and in case youre keeping score in your divorced
mothers basement, that’s 9 out of the first 15 Makuuchi rikishi who are not
Japanese by birth [nice try, Kyokutenho]). A violent bout with much slapping and
head butting, it was no surprise that one ended up with a bloody nose and the
other an injured paw. Tama ended up victorious and will live to fight another
day, while Ara is shipped off to an island to face Katniss.
I really wanted Tochiohzan to pay for his evasive sumo, but Chiyootori was
unable to keep his balance long enough and was felled by Tochiohzan's pulling
and pushing. If Oh Snap is, when healthy, the best Japanese wrestler on the
banzuke as Mike has suggested, that’s just...sad.
Shohozan got inside Kaiseis shit like a thong on Ipanema and the Brasilian had
no response other than to step off the dohyo like he was it was the Amazon delta
basin and he feared some piranha had made the trip downstream to feast on some
flesh. One would hope hed bring more chutzpah on Day One.
Aminishiki stepped to the side at tachi-ai, a difficult maneuver at best for a
man weighed down by two futons Glad was I to see that his pulling sumo resulted
in him being driven out by the Osaka shakalaka Iki...Iki...Iki...fatang...oi!
After the bout Shneaky looked like the trick-or-treating kid who got an apple
while his friend got a king sized Milky Way.
Am I the only one who wonders if Scotland sued YouTube for copyright
Toyohibiki must have gone to see some of the summer Marvel blockbusters, cause
he blew back Osunaarashi like he had Cyclops goggles on. The Egyptian walks to a
Yoshikaze lent his head to Takarafujis chest and it worked well as Double Shot
blasted his enemy for the day out in no time.
Thought my TV was broken when I saw the word "Sekiwake" next to Takekaze. As
they like to say in America these days, with a rising inflection, "Really?"
After a hitting and shifting tachi-ai by both men, Takekaze came in and was
immediately slapped down by sumos lone Bulgarian (Kotooshu is gone??) Would love
to see Aoiyama make some waves from his E3 position this tourney.
Goeido fell flat today as the man with the kanji for "woman" in his shikona made
the new Ozeki his bitch by somehow slipping out of a moro-zashi and tossing him
down at the edge. There was some brief drama as the MIB looked to see if
Takayasus heel had not touched out first, but the replay clearly showed it a tie
at best, and as lame as the Ozeki looked, it was right that they did not reverse
the gyojis call in favor of the Taganoura-beya man.
In the next bout Toyonoshima was owned by Kisenosato. Tugboat stepped out
earlier in the bout, in fact, but the MIB did not see it so Kisenosato had to
close the deal by locking down on Toyos moro-zashi and lifting him up and out by
his own arms.
So, ending as we started with four Mongolians, Terunofuji made Mongolia proud by
leaping to the side and humiliating Kotoshogiku, who was so fooled by the shitty
maneuver that he didn’t lay single finger on the E1. Another one of those bouts
that divides sumo purists, with some thinking the leaping henka is wonderful,
and others, like me, thinking it exposes too much vagina.
Next off was Yokozuna Harumafuji, who stood Endo up at tachi-ai, and then
slapped him down (despite the JPese announcer shouting, "Hiki-otoshi!") Not much
to see here as one of Japans great hopes fared rather poorly against what is a
middle of the road Yokozuna at best.
Jokoryu appeared to have Yokozuna Kakuryu on the move, but left his feet behind
him and ended up as so many of Kanes groupies did back in the day, tits down and
hoping what The Kak does next doesn’t hurt too much. Another hataki-komi yawner.
had much the same game plan vs. Hakuho as Jokoryu, namely to get real genki and
hope the energy somehow flummoxes the Yokozuna. Didn’t work at all as Hakuho
made it three straight Mongolian Yokozuna hataki-komi wins over the best
Japanese sumo has to offer.
Oddly, we went an entire day with no one opening up a can of Rice (Ray Rice,
that is) on their opponent. Riddle me this? Why is it called a hari-te when
Hakuho does it, but an action worthy of banishment from the sport when Ray Rice
does it? And Adrian Pederson? When he prays to his god after a game we ooh and
ahh about how pious he is, but when he employs the dictates of his holy book to
discipline his baby, we get all worked up. Im just looking for, in the words of
George Carlin, a little consistency.
Which is what Im sure we will get when Mike and Kane bring the thunder on Days 2
and 3. Cheers till then.