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Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
Day 14

Senshuraku Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." I doubt that the Christian Saint Luke, the man whose name is attached to this quote, was a big sumo fan, but the sentiments under consideration certainly bring to mind what we'd all like to believe is the karma of sumo, namely that men who, if not shit on the basho, at least piss in the public well by achieving a dignified rank and then fighting like salamanders. Is there any question about to whom I refer?

Now a Day 15 report can at the best of times feel like an afterthought, what with everyone sumo'd out after a fortnight plus one. But when the yusho is settled on Day 14, or on Day 13 for all intents of purpose, and worse still, on Day 10 if you want to be realistic, then a Day 15 report can feel more superfluous than a third nipple (sorry, I don't employ graphics like Arbo, use your imagination).

The Osaka basho Day 15 presents an even more special case in that it comes during the break between school years in Japan, meaning my children are home and fussing for me to pay attention to them. So I'm going to kenji this report and, cream or no cream, you're gonna like it!

Toyozakura won, Kimurayama won, Hakuba won, Asasekiryu won. Tamawashi won, Chiyohakuho won, Tochinonada, Kakizoe and Toyonoshima all won. Shimotori won, as did Aminishiki. Tochinoshin, Tokitenku and Kakuryu didn't lose, and Hokutoriki and Kyokutenho followed their lead. Goeido, Tochiohzan, and Baruto notched victories, and hAruMAfuji, Kotooshu, and Hakuho felt the thrill of defeating other men.

Okay, now that I've disappointed you, I'll go back and give a few details on some key bouts.

Chimerayama finished with 8 losses, and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving rikishi (see opening Bible verse). Tosayukata, the loser, still got his KK and maybe we'll see the lad introduced as a new Makuuchi sekitori in May. Good on ya, Kochi-ken!

Since everyone else is doing it, Sexy inserted his head all nice and snugly like into Ande's soft bosom and worked that belt until he could lift up and shove out the Organism. Still, both men moving up in the world come May.

Chuck got his 10th win in side-stepping fashion vs. Dejima, who recovered from his trip to the Creepy Van but after a series of chasing slaps was unlucky enough to fall forward and lose his 9th.

The Gentle Giant was gifted his KK when Erin decided to first stand there with his excellent front mawashi grip, then let it go, and then dive to the side. We all love GG so who doesn't want to see him advance up the banzuke. As Marteen pointed out, perhaps the Russian Leprechaun has seen the light and will excise the bullshit sumo from his repertoire starting in Tokyo. 

Sweet Zoe Jane was a day late and a hyaku-en short as he ramrodded Circus out, both men flying off the Doh!yo and Kakizoe kicking the shinpan!

This brings me to my Day 9 trip to Osaka, which was yes, my first time ever to see sumo live (for all those foreign fanboy purists out there who think I have no right commenting on their venerated sport because I haven't blown chanko chunks with Dejima at 3:00 am.) Mike was correct, that was me whistling, the high pitched, long, drawn out whistles that seemed to come from somewhere left of Jupiter. I also threw my zabuton just after Asa beat Baruto, from the upper decks mind you, and it hit the south side shinpan, or judge, in the noggin, but NHK closed up on Asa and we couldn't see it. Hahahaha, ain't I a frikkin' gas? 

Also, me and my bud stood out front and watched the wrestlers pull up in vehicles and enter the building, and Takamisakari was a petulant little queerbait as he pouted and frowned and muttered "baka" (fool, idiot) because his deshi took some time to bring Bean's goods from the taxi they had arrived in. None of the rikishi show any sign of noticing the throngs clapping and cheering their names, as they simply walked by aloof. I know, a slight nod of the head and a raised hand to make the gathered old men and women shouting out their love feel good is too phuqqing much to ask. Tiger Woods always politely acknowledges the cheers, and I'd say he is slightly more significant in the world of sports celebrities than any of these twerps.)

Two 7-7 rikishi coming in, Fruitenoh and Toyonoshima, promised a decent bout. Toyo got his ass kicked at tachi-ai, and was lucky to slip to the side and avoid Fruity Pebble's final thrust that would have carried the day. Instead Toyo reloaded during their separation and came forward feigning a belt grab attempt, then pushing Futenoh back and out rather easily. Looks like we'll prolly see Toyonoshima back up taking on the big boys in May.

Peter had his KK coming in, so he felt comfortable getting into a straight up belt battle with Shimotori, showing some mettle, and then getting moved back and out. Shimotori had to work for it, and I've always like him, so good to see the veteran W14 will be here another basho.

Gots to give propers to Aminishiki, who came in apparently lame yet fought like a badger vs. the Juryo fireball Shotenro looking for his rookie Makuuchi KK. Shneaky wasn't in the giving mood, evidently, and after a series of ferocious pushes, pulls, slaps, yanks, grabs and shoves Shotenro was dumped backward by a kubihineri. Seems like Shneaky is always involved in rare kimarite. Looked to me during some very frantic shuffling that Shotenro passed on a chance to add a right-hand front belt hold with a left-hand back belt he already had, as the grab would have possibly caused the Mongolian to snag Shneaky balls instead. Prolly a smart move for a guy who looks like he'll stick in the division.

Yoshikaze also failed to get his 8th as No Shine shined on like a crazy diamond, leading with a big tachi-ai and then fending off Café's hyper thrusting and slapping away at the edge at just the right moment to send the W4 down. Still, you have to love the spirit with which both Yoshikaze and Takekaze fought this basho, with the elder rikishi getting his KK and Café nearly so.

Homasho got Kak slapped and finished with the same record as the East Yokozuna, 11-4. Kak came hard at tachi-ai, but Homer was there to clean up the mess and force things back to the center, but he was too eager and lead with the head, and Kak just had to press down on it and let him come. The feisty Mongolian gets double digits for the first time ever if I'm not mistaken, and the man Martin said would be out of the division in two basho after his debut is now set to be Komusubi. But don't worry, Martin still gets a few things right about sumo.

Tochiohzan avoided the embarrassment of MK after being 7-3 by bringing the fight to The Kid, and then, after Kise rallied and seemed to have the W2 dead to rights, twisting nicely at the edge and dumping his foe out. Things could not have gone worse for Kise this time out, with losses to Kyokutenho, Kakuryu, and Chiyotaikai glaring at him. I mean, was there someone other than the Kid who didn't beat the Pup? Oh yeah, 2-13 Jokeutoriki. 

When bouts are gifted, they usually come in one of two ways: Either the loser falls clumsily in a few seconds, or he "succumbs" after a protracted belt battle that makes the fans think they are seeing strong man sumo. Biomass and Mitsuki held an exhibition of the latter today. You can tell Mitsuki wasn't giving 100% because he did not once try to wrench Bart to the side or throw him, something that Mitsuki is pretty good at doing. He offered the token resistance when Bio went for the lifting pushout that makes everyone clap, but this one was never in doubt. KK for the Estonian and I for one am happy to see him remain at Sekiwake.

hAruMAfuji. What is there to say? He royally screwed the pooch on Day 10, then henka'd Chiyotaikai and Kaio on successive days!! I'd rather hang a dried pair of cat balls from my car's rear view mirror then watch a great guy like Ama turn into the warm glass of spit he has become. Will he ever return to the wrestler who used to make us lather our lederhosen every other bout?

Pup didn't even bother to extend an arm vs. Kotooshu, just ran forward, whispered a Hail Mary or two into the Bulgar's ear, then went softly into that good night. KotoNoShow showed up this time to the tune of 10 wins, but losing to Kyokutenho and Tokitenku is unforgivable, and when we ask Who will defeat Hakuho, if not Kotooshu, who, and if not now, when?

A few guys I know play on-line sumo games, and I was shocked to learn that a few of them stayed away from picking Hakuho today, as if Asa ever had a chance. Even if Genghis had been in form to go all out, with the yusho already Hakuho's it wouldn't hurt to let Kublai have his zensho yusho and further the historic rampage that Mongolians are perpetrating on Japanese sumo. Course, Hakuho can now beat Asa straight up more than half the time, so there really was no need for Asa to fake anything. He got into a belt battle, made a stand, then a grab attempt, showed some resistance at the edge, then was walked back and out.

The teeth were sunk into this basho when hAruMAfuji took the low road, and the blood drained when Mitsuki got the better of Asashoryu and none of the other guys could do Hakuho a treat. I guess we can't always have great basho like we did in January. Until May, be well.

Day 14 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
Heh, despite what some of us will occasionally say about the excitement factor of a basho under momentary circumstances (like, for example, a rikishi losing when he shoulda won, or some other rikishi doing dubious sumo), despite all that, there is no bad basho, really. For the true sumo fanatic, the basho is just like sex, when it's good, it's really, really good, when it's bad it's still better than nothing. To the Pharisees who always cry that sumo is just too bad for them to keep following it (after, say, a scandal involving yaocho or god knows what), I say f**k that, if you want perfection, go read a women's magazine or something, this is the real world. With that in mind, I'd like to agree with Clancy on day 8, despite the Yusho winner being known early, the basho has had its bright spots. But before I start dissecting the facts, I feel compelled to share a little story with you.

The good doctor Kadastik is the happiest man in the world when we return to our hotel every basho, but after what happened today, I understand perfectly. Just as we were relaxing in the Jacuzzi with several local beauties, the door was busted open by something I'd call the result of "Baron Harkonnen meets the Valkyrie", which headed right for us and stared Super Mario down with the fury of Valhalla in its eyes (either that or it was really pissed about something). "Business trip, huh?" it rasped with a particularly deep contralto voice, and then proceeded to heave the hapless doc over its shoulder in true caveman (or woman?) fashion, quickly disappearing back through the now unhinged door. That would somewhat explain the mysterious mark on Mario's ring finger (he said it was a birthmark).

Anyway, back to the actual sumo, the first bout of the day in Makuuchi probably decided the Yusho race in Juryo, with visiting Toyohibiki (who belongs in Makuuchi anyway) demolishing the by now figgered Kimurayama (you know, that guy who ALWAYS henkas to his left). There's little to say about the bout itself, other than that Kimura shifted ever so slightly to his left (imagine that!), but Hibiki was all over him and was able to push him out easily after not falling for the meager attempts to evade at the edge. Chimera makes his make-koshi official and I think he's gonna have to start packing for Juryo, because I don't see him staying in the division from his current M15W, even with a win tomorrow. Hibiki becomes the single leader of Juryo with 11 wins and it looks like he's back.

Ossetian Aran (or Aaron, if you believe Murray Johnson) is finally sticking to doing manly sumo and it shows. Today he charged straight up, looking for the left mae-mawashi, but his opponent Asasekiryu was the one who came up with that grip, while Aran could only wrap that gripping arm above the elbow while maintaining a precarious inside position on the other side. Being something of a stalemate hater (according to my observations anyway), Aran shook the lighter Mongolian off his mawashi with a wild kotenage attempt, then followed up with the most violent slap I've seen or heard this basho and an almost immediate pull forward that sent not-so-Sexy stumbling forward towards the tawara where he was easy okuri-dashi fodder. This is the kind of sumo that will butter Aran's bread in Makuuchi for the years to come, quick, violent, powerful, not that henka and hataki-komi crap he used to favor until a few bouts ago. 10-4 for the hairy Caucasian and a shot at the Kantosho if he beats Nada tomorrow. Sexy is 8-6 if you need him (and I know you don't).

Tamawashi went after Futenoh with extra determination, getting him good with a couple of well placed nodowa right from the start and denying him the necessary mawashi grip. Fruity overcame the initial drawback by getting his left under his foe's armpit and forcing a stalemate in the center of the dohyo, but the Mongolian kept his ass way back and out of Futenoh's reach. The Mawashi then pushed forward slightly, inviting the ill-advised pull, then pounced with full force, finishing things nicely with oshidashi. Kachi-koshi, even as low as M14, is a good recovery after the make-koshi in his Makuuchi debut. Futenoh will have to wait another day for his.

Toyozakura was looking for the quick, easy win against the elder Hutt, Iwakiyama, by charging upright, with both hands to the face and looking to pull. The joke was on him, though, because Iwakiyama showed good stability and pushed him straight back to the straw. Occasionally, the smaller Zak likes to play around with the opponents' mawashi (and sometimes with some good results), and this time he got a very deep left shita-te, but Iwakiyama is quite bigger and stronger so he just wrapped that inside arm, lifted the struggling Zak upright and forced him out by kime-dashi with little argument. That makes it 9-0 in their head to head record and also brings the Moon in the Man his kachi-koshi. Toyozakura is a paltry 4-10 and will be back where he belongs next basho.

Veteran Tosanoumi dominated the whole time against fellow veteran and former Sekiwake Tochinonada, after a great tachi-ai that took Nada back a step. Following the initial pushing and pulling skirmish, the two settled down after Tosanoumi, surviving a pull, managed a solid grip on the front of Nada's belt. Keeping a low stance throughout, the Blue Collar Man denied any attack opportunities for his foe. Finally deciding to attack himself, Tosanoumi deployed an uwate-dashi-nage to the right which didn't finish Nada but allowed Tosanoumi to get into hidari yotsu. With the advantageous position, Tosanoumi moved in for the kill, but Nada expertly twisted his hips and dumped his charging opponent to the floor by tsuki-otoshi, snatching victory form the jaws of defeat after being dominated completely. I've said it before and I'd like to say it again, Tochinonada is often underestimated and his technique is up there with the best in Makuuchi. He gets a shot at kachi-koshi tomorrow, against the prize-seeking Aran, and he's got the head to head advantage (2-0). Tosanoumi (4-10) will be happy with some time off in Juryo.

Next up, Kokkai and Yamamotoyama were stopped mid bout after a few seconds of serious slapping because Hanaregoma (who else?) thought Kokkai's fists weren't close enough to the dirt and felt he HAD to call it back, even though the two guys were in perfect synch and the gyoji was busy encouraging them. The two had to spend a good deal of time to catch their breaths and when they went at it again, Kokkai slapped Jabba hard while shifting to the right, but the Double Mountain was right on his every move, running him out of the dohyo but falling himself at roughly the same time. The replay showed clearly that Yamamotoyama's knee touched down noticeably earlier than Kokkai stepped outside, but they decided to give the Hutt of all Hutts another chance. In the rematch, the Georgian hit hard, putting all his available force behind a nodowa that took Yama a step or so back, but the Hutt showed good mobility in evading back and to the left, letting the hapless Georgian fall forward on his own. It wasn't the prettiest win, but it brought kachi-koshi. Kokkai falls to 5-9 and can't forget this basho soon enough.

Wouldn't you know it? Hanaregoma did it again in the next bout, again despite the two rikishi being in perfect synch. By the way, did anyone notice Hanaregoma looks like a cannonball with glasses and a koi carp pout? Anyway, Homasho and Shotenro went at it again, and the Mongol henka'd to his left, pulling the unsuspecting Homasho down to his 4th loss... or so we thought. The replay showed the rookie pulling hard on Homer's hair, and they noticed it too, so they awarded the victory by default to Homasho after a longish mono-ii. Homie is a lock for a prize at 11-3 already, while Shotenro will have to defeat the injured Aminishiki for his own kachi-koshi (there is a 1.0 probability that there will be henka in that bout, if my calculations are correct and IF Aminishiki decides to show up at all).

Returning veteran Shimotori and Takamisakari charged right into migi-yotsu. After a second or two, Shimotori used an interesting leg jerk to break The Clown's uwate, to which Robocop countered with a maki-kae, to which Shimotori countered with a sudden, well-timed surge forward, to which Takamisakari had nothing to counter with. Don't look now, but Shimotori is still hoping for a kachi-koshi. Oddball will have to settle for a make-koshi this time.

One of the biggest disappointments this Haru brought must be Tochinoshin. After all the positive keiko reports, with the Georgian beating Asashoryu on separate occasions, No Shine suffered a major meltdown, going 3-9 after a 2-0 start, and against opponents he should be beating consistently. He's still young, though, he has time, but breakdowns like this one are never a good sign. Today he tried to keep veteran Tamanoshima at bay with some stiff thrusts to the face and neck, but Tama was never really bothered and forced Shin to the edge. The Georgian tried to dig in, but he stepped awkwardly and over-extended forward, allowing the experienced veteran to push him down easily, getting his kachi-koshi in the process.

One of the best bouts of the day had Chiyohakuho take on yotsu specialist Toyonoshima and go straight into hidari yotsu (Toyonoshima's preferred grip) right from the tachi-ai. As the two rikishi enjoyed good grips, there wasn't a clear favorite during the bout at any time, though Chuck did look a bit more offensive. After a lot of force-out attempts, Toyonoshima finally went for the kill after slightly lifting the Wolf's protégé off his feet, deploying the uwatenage at the edge. However, Chuck had other plans, and he planted his right foot on the tawara and used the other leg to flip Toyonoshima over and spectacularly land on top of him. Great stuff. Chuck notches his 9th win with the shitatenage, while Toyonoshima needs to win against fellow 7-7er Futenoh tomorrow.

After seeing Aminishiki limp away from his bout with Takamisakari a few days ago, I thought he'd stay true to his nickname and henka Kakizoe mercilessly, but it looks like the knee isn't so bad after all, so not-so-Sneaky just went with his oft-underestimated pushing attack and pushed Kakizoe all over the place. At the straw, Kakizoe managed to get both arms inside, but by that time Aminishiki had gotten a solid right uwate, which he used to turn Kakizoe's momentum against him and throw him down to his make-koshi. As I was saying earlier, Aminishiki is scheduled to meet Shotenro tomorrow, but if his knee is indeed in bad shape, I don't think he'll show up, with the 8 wins already in the bag and all.

Don't look now, but Yoshikaze seems to be overachieving again. Today he extended his kachi-koshi hopes with a win against a sloppy Miyabiyama by hiki-otoshi. The two stuck to what they do best, with slaps and thrusts being dealt generously, until the little Kaze timed a good slap/pull at the Fatman's left arm which sent him falling on his face and into double digit losses. Yoshikaze will be looking for kachi-koshi against Tochinoshin tomorrow, a man he's never beaten before, but I think he can take him at his current state. Miyabiyama (4-10) will be regrouping in mid-Maegashira next basho and I'll be looking for him to do some damage.

There's little to tell about the next one. Tokitenku (4-10) had a very passive tachi-ai, allowing Dejima (5-9) to steamroll him straight out of the dohyo. That's it, really. After the fact, Tokitenku was just standing there, outside, wondering what the hell had happened. So are we.

Next up, Hokutoriki was all bark and no bite (yeah, I know, what else is new?), choking Kakuryu for about a second, before being easily brushed off by the fish-faced Mongol and put into the brokeback position. The Kak lingered a bit, probably looking to attempt a tsuri-otoshi or something (or maybe because he likes it that way!), but eventually finished it off by a simple okuri-dashi. At 9-5 and with two guys falling out of sanyaku for sure, Kakuryu is certain to get promoted there next basho. Remember what I was saying about keeping it positive at the beginning of the report? Well, this is how it goes: Kakuryu did what he had to do to win against his competition, therefore he deserves his promotion. His sumo wasn't stellar and there were the two lowly henkas, too, but the competition sucked a lot more than that. Ko... K... Kkkk... Komusubi Kakuryu, There, I've said it (and it wasn't that hard). Still... Those guys he beat this basho, you know, Kisenosato, Goeido, Ama, Baruto and Chiyotaikai... they'll be back next basho and I guarantee you they can't all lose again, so expect make-koshi for Fishy and demotion back to Maegashira where he belongs. Oh, yeah, Hokutoriki is 1-13 (yawn).

Speaking of shite sumo, Kotoshogiku is an asshole for henka'ing Goeido today with an unflattering 5-8 record coming in. It was partially Goeido's fault, because he charged completely recklessly, falling straight to his face after the glancing impact. With a solid 8-6 record, Goeido is sure to be Sekiwake next basho, but still has some maturing to do. His rather short and light body could use some upgrading, and he could look to the formers for an improvement of his style (them short arms aren't going to do him any favors any time soon in a yotsu duel with the likes of Hakuho and Kotooshu, you know). What I'm trying to say is that Goeido should gain some 15 more kg and start using more pushing techniques. He definitely has the lateral mobility to be the next Tochiazuma, only without the injuries. The sky's the limit. Oh, yeah, Kotoshogiku should be demoted to Juryo.

Kyokutenho delivered a perfect harite to Tochiohzan's face and then lunged straight into migi-yotsu, a position that favors him heavily over all but a few rikishi, and wasted about two seconds in forcing Oh out to his 7th loss. Kachi-koshi will have to wait until tomorrow after the ideal 7-3 start, but hey, Tochiohzan did a lot better than most were expecting. His last 4 losses aren't tragic, there was the no-show against Kaio, then Baruto, Goeido and Kyokutenho, all of them either bigger and stronger or a lot more skilled and promising. Kisenosato looks fairly beatable tomorrow, but that guy is so erratic he could come into a day with 0-6 and then beat the Yokozuna. Tenho is 5-9, if anyone cares.

Kisenosato got the best grip he could possibly hope for against the Baltic Biomass, i.e. a deep hidari-yotsu with a lower stance and his shoulder buried under Bart's armpit. After one whole minute of nothing happening, Kisenosato finally attacked, breaking Baruto's uwate and driving towards the edge, but Baruto's size and strength saved his white ass again, because he unleashed a monstrous one handed shitatenage at the edge that felled the Kid to perfection. Baruto will have a hard time getting kachi-koshi against Kotomitsuki tomorrow, because Mitsuki is skilled enough to deny the Estonian a mawashi grip, but he can do it if he tries really hard. Kisenosato is ailing at 5-9.

Speaking of Kotomitsuki, he looked particularly stupid today, charging WAY too high against the vertically challenged Takekaze, who was coming in at 7-6. The Cannonball got a morozashi with a very deep shitate on the left, a position that left Kotomitsuki little chances of recovery, despite some effort from the Ozeki. Takekaze finished it off with an uncharacteristic throw. With Mitsuki 8-5 coming in and with Kaze needing one for an unlikely kachi-koshi, it's easy to see the perfect conditions for blatant, classic, envelope-exchanging yaocho here, and Kotomitsuki's tachi-ai certainly supports the hypothesis, but, as I said, I'll keep it positive and let it slip this time. No harm, no foul (as if anybody gives a rat's ass about Takekaze anyway).

Ama sidestepped the worthless Chiyotaikai for the right uwate (talk about overkill), and waited a few seconds before driving him out with no resistance. Ama's disaster of a first basho can be explained by his natural size disadvantage and his natural tendency to compensate that with henka or at least dubious tachi-ai. Well, after Ozeki promotion, his henka count decreased drastically and his opponents took full advantage of that to overpower him whenever they could. This basho, though, Ama seems to be back to his old tricks and that's well reflected on his score. Chiyotaikai and intai rhyme, have you noticed?

Before today's bout, Asashoryu could be seen breathing heavily ringside. I wonder if there's a possibility that he was somehow afraid of getting henka'd by Kotooshu. I doubt it, but his tachi-ai was rather careful, whereas Kotooshu hit hard with all he had and muscled his way into a strong hidari yotsu double grip. You've seen this scenario a few times before, Kotooshu gets mawashi => he beats Asa, and it was no different this time. Asashoryu expertly wriggled away to his left, snapping Kotooshu's left shitate, but the problem grip on the other side remained and the Bulgarian pulled the Mongol Yokozuna in close, enveloped him again, this time in migi-yotsu, and marched him out with little opposition to his 3rd defeat in 5 days. Kotooshu notches his 9th basho win and his yearly win against Asashoryu, but more importantly he puts a fork in Asashoryu's Yusho chances one bout earlier than anticipated.

Although already victorious overall, Hakuho went extra hard against Kaio, keeping him at bay with strong tsuppari. After digging in at the edge, Kaio was soon pulled back in and wrapped into a deep, tight morozashi, then escorted right out. Hakuho stays perfect and is a heavy favorite to go zensho for the third time in his career, but somehow I can see a consolation victory for Asashoryu tomorrow. Who could tell?

As usual, I'll take my bimonthly shot at guessing the prizes:

Shukunsho - none, nobody ranked Sekiwake or below was good enough to upset Hakuho or Asashoryu. Oh well, better luck next basho, you lead-asses.

Kantosho - This one usually goes to the rikishi with the highest record in the basho. So, a natural choice would be Homasho or Aran, or both.

Ginosho - This one's always a stab in the dark, as my definition of good technique doesn't usually coincide with the GIB's. Stab in the dark: Aran or (gasp!) Kakuryu with another win.

That's all for now from me, but tune in tomorrow for a rare opportunity to see Clancy in priest robes, reading aloud from the Bible.

Day 13 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
It's a shame that the Haru basho won't come down to senshuraku, but that can be blamed on Harumafuji's tachi-ai henka of Asashoryu back on day 10. I thoroughly enjoyed Kotomitsuki's dismantling of the Yokozuna yesterday because it was legitimate sumo from an Ozeki, a group of guys who need to fight like this the entire basho and not just once every three days. So while the henka has largely taken the anticipation out of the basho's conclusion, we have seen some legitimate points to talk about including Goeido's maturity, Tochiohzan's weak knees, the faltering Sekiwake, the always underachieving Ozeki, the brilliance of Yokozuna Hakuho, and Yamamotoyama's crack. Let's get right to the action beginning at the top as I'm wont to do at the later stages of the basho.

Yokozuna Asashoryu made sure Ozeki Kaio wouldn't get the right outside grip by forcing the bout to migi-yotsu early. As both rikishi dug in, Asashoryu pounced first going for the quick but harmless pull attempt. The move didn't work, but Kaio is too old to really take advantage nor was he positioned to where he could have pounced, and Asashoryu easily forced the action back to the migi-yotsu position. After the two stalled for another four seconds or so, Asashoryu wrenched Kaio upwards with his right inside grip rendering Kaio's right hip that much closer to Asashoryu's left outside paw. The Yokozuna grabbed the uwate, and it was curtains from there as he executed the flawless force-out move for the decisive win. Asashoryu moves to 11-2, but that is no consolation as his destiny has been taken out of his own hands through no fault of his own. Kaio is a happy clam at 8-5.

Yokozuna Hakuho stepped into the ring against his most formidable foe to date in Ozeki Kotooshu, and the two did not disappoint. Kotooshu kept his arms in tight at the tachi-ai looking for morozashi, but Hakuho forced his left arm on the inside leaving the two in the hidari-yotsu position where neither enjoyed an outer grip. After aligning chests and digging in for a few seconds, Hakuho went for the quick maki-kae, but Kotooshu responded with a maki-kae himself leaving the two now in the migi-yotsu position. The two dug in again when it looked as if Kotooshu was slowly forcing Hakuho back into harm's way, but the Yokozuna was baiting the Ozeki and then sprung the trap at the end lunging for the left outside belt grip that he seized and straightway used to throw Kotooshu down at the edge in spectacular fashion not to mention in about a second's time. Take nothing away from the Ozeki as he was Prince Valiant in this one, but Hakuho has been too good this basho as he moves to 13-0. This was easily the best bout of the basho so far, and to see Hakuho finish the bout off as quickly as he did with that maneuver is worth prizes for everyone. Kotooshu falls to 8-5, and as I hinted to in my intro, the Ozeki need to stop fighting to the level of their opponents and bring the kind of sumo Kotooshu brought today against Hakuho.

Ozeki Harumafuji used a wicked left harite slap that connected on M3 Miyabiyama's right cheek at the tachi-ai and sent him stumbling forward a bit, but when Harumafuji tried to finish him off with some shoves to the breasts, Miyabiyama slipped out of the move and actually turned the tables throwing Harumafuji to the edge. Just when it looked like the Sheriff would get his revenge, Harumafuji seized the front of his belt and bulldozed Miyabiyama across the length of the dohyo and sent him off the mound completely for the comeback oshi-dashi win. Miyabiyama (4-9) wasn't going quietly and pounded downwards on Harumafuji as the Ozeki drove him back, but props to Harumafuji for being so stable with the lower body. It enabled him to survive as he clinches kachi-koshi with the win at 8-5.

Rounding out the Ozeki, Chiyotaikai was all bark and no bite firing his toy machine gun tsuppari into Kotomitsuki's face. Kotomitsuki laughed them off after a few seconds by dodging to his right, shoving the Pup near the edge by the back, and finishing him off with a nice nodowa and extra shove sending Chiyotaikai out and Kotomitsuki (8-5) to his kachi-koshi officially extinguishing his kadoban status. Chiyotaikai falls to just 2-11, but his staying in the basho this long and giving his fellow Ozeki wins is a good strategy that he'll hope they can repay in May when the Pup is kadoban himself. Smart dude who knows how it all works.

Sekiwake Baruto turned in a better effort today fending off an early Komusubi Kyokutenho charge and forcing their bout to the gappuri yotsu position where both enjoyed right inners and left outers. Baruto methodically dug in and then lifted the Chauffeur clear off his feet in a tsuri-dashi attempt, but he was too far away from the edge to walk him out that final step. Still, the Estonian maintained his grips as Tenho landed and easily forced him out from there keeping kachi-koshi hopes alive at 6-7. Tenho falls to 4-9 with the loss, and I must say, he's given a much better effort this basho than I thought he would.

M1 Kakuryu pounced into the morozashi position against a lazy Sekiwake Kisenosato, and there was nothing the Kid could do 'specially with Kakuryu one win away from a kachi-koshi and certain sanyaku berth. The Kak forced the Sekiwake back and out in four seconds clinching his 8th win and sending Martin into a bout of depression. The skinny on Kakuryu (8-5) is he beat a handful of Ozeki and outperformed his peers. Do that from the M1 rank and you'll forever be known as "the former Komusubi Kakuryu." Kisenosato suffers make-koshi with the loss and better get his arse in gear if he wants a sanyaku paycheck the next two months (Sekiwake and Komusubi are paid the same).

Two long time rivals from their schooling days hooked up in Komusubi Goeido and M2 Tochiohzan, and Goeido showed why he is the true future of Japan's sumo. The two hooked up in the migi-yotsu position, but Goeido had the advantage as his stance was lower. Goeido wasted no time in going for an inner belt throw with the right as he used his right leg to perfection lifting Tochiohzan up and off balance from his inner left thigh setting him up for the force out win at the edge. As we've seen numerous times this basho, part of Goeido's greatness is his ability to use his legs to trip his opponent off balance. It's subtle, but it's yet another tool that will soar this rikishi to new heights. 8-5 makes Goeido's kachi-koshi official, and don't look now, but Tochiohzan is still stuck on 7 wins. The guy's gotta make the mental push and pick up number eight or it'll be devastating.

Say it isn't so!! M1 Hokutoriki used a nice moro-te at the tachi-ai to force Tokitenku upright and more importantly into a tsuppari affair. Both rikishi traded nodowa shoves, but Jokutoriki timed a Tokitenku push perfectly grabbing his right arm and spinning him around 180 degrees. Hokutoriki's obviously been in this position before because he assumed the manlove position with vigor riding his partner to the dirt and marking the first time he's scored (literally) this basho. Beautiful 1-12 my man, but what's worse...that record of the dubious honor held by Tokitenku (4-9) who broke the streak?

M2 Kotoshogiku used a hari-zashi tachi-ai against M4 Takekaze slapping with the right hand while getting the left arm on the inside. The move obviously worked as Kotoshogiku next secured the easy right outside grip, which he used to escort Takekaze to the side and out without argument. Still sucks for the Geeku though as his 5-8 record doesn't compare to Takekaze's 7-6.

Fresh off of his bout against Yamamotoyama yesterday where he exposed the Hutt's crack to the world, M4 Yoshikaze came in still sniffing his fingers today as he welcomed M10 Iwakiyama. The two hooked up in the quick hidari-yotsu position, a stance Yoshikaze did not want to find himself in. Yoshikaze smartly tried to create separation by using his right arm to push at the side of the Hutt, but Iwakiyama kept the dancers in close and finally grabbed the right outer grip. From here it was curtains as Iwakiyama drove Yoshikaze back to the straw where the action stopped, but Yoshikaze just stepped back that final step knowing he was had. Guess Cafe can wash his hands now as he stands 6-7. Iwakiyama is in good shape at 7-6.

M5 Aminishiki seized the early right grip against M8 Tochinonada and tried in vain to pinch in at the Gentle Giant's left inner, but without the lower body to fuel the attack, he couldn't overcome Tochinonada and his ability to use the tawara for resistance. Aminishiki went for broke trying to watashi-komi (trip with a hand to the back of the thigh) Tochinonada back across the straw, but Nada (6-7) danced around the perimeter of the ring well slapping Aminishiki down at the edge to pick up the much needed win. Aminishiki falls to 7-6, and I'm afraid he'll try and "pull" out that last win with devious means to compensate for his injured knee.

M6 Tamanoshima forced the early hidari-yotsu contest against M8 Kokkai putting the Georgian in an uncomfortable position. A short stalemate ensued, and just as I was reaching for my iPod to listen to Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Kokkai began extended himself reaching for a right outer grip, but that was the compromise in positioning that Tamanoshima was waiting for as he twisted Kokkai down pushing from that initial left inside position. Good stuff from Peter who moves to 7-6 while Kokkai's make-koshi is official at 5-8.

M13 Yamamotoyama had lost 5 of 6 coming in, but he takes solace in the fact that he was able to moon the nation yesterday on live television. Toyonoshima valiantly charged into the heart of Yamamotoyama's girth gaining morozashi and pushing Jabba to the brink, but YMY stood his ground going for a right belt throw that had Toyonoshima thrown over, but incredibly, Toyonoshima held onto the belt (a no-no in sumo if Asashoryu does it), twisted 360 degrees, and landed on his feet now separated from his opponent. It was an incredible feat, but unfortunately Yamamotoyama responded by grabbing the left outer grip again and bowling Toyonoshima across the tawara for a grand win. Both rikishi stand at 7-6.

M14 Tamawashi attempting to cool M7 Homasho off blasted him back from the tachi-ai with some nodowa shoves, but Homie dug in at the edge, secured the left inside position, and completely turned the table showing The Mawashi who's boss by driving him clear across to the other side of the dohyo before dumping him out via yori-taoshi. Gotta love Homasho at 10-3 and fighting well. At 7-6, The Mawashi is close but hasn't quite obtained is first ever Makuuchi kachi-koshi.

M12 Shotenro surged into the fast left outer grip and looked to bully M7 Takamisakari back and out in a flash, but Sakari dug in fancily obtaining the sufficient right inside position before grabbing a left outside grip of his own leaving the two in the gappuri-yotsu position from there. The gangly veteran ain't gonna lose this contest as he escorted Shotenro back and out like a gentleman. That kachi-koshi interview isn't dead yet as Takamisakari is 6-7 while Shotenro (7-6) is still one win away.

M9 Dejima (5-8) wasted his chance against M15 Tosanoumi (M15) trying to pull the Blue Collar Man shortly after the tachi-ai, but Tosanoumi, who hasn't stepped on those banana peels in ages, easily forced the Dejyptian back towards the straw where he reversed the action quickly swiping down at Dejima's dicky-do for the easy hiki-otoshi win.

Fresh off of his drubbing of Wakanosato yesterday, M9 Futenoh failed to read M15 Kimurayama's tachi-ai but recovered nicely to shove his way into the nice left inside position which he used to force Kim back and out with little trouble as he edges towards kachi-koshi at 7-6. As is usually the case with Kimurayama, he has managed to parlay a nice 4-1 start into his current paltry 6-7.

M10 Tochinoshin charged too high against M12 Kakizoe but was let off the hook at Sweet Zoe Jane wasn't looking for moro-zashi. A push-fest ensued where NoShine connected on a few good throat shoves, but he couldn't help himself by putting his hands up high again as if he'd go for a pulldown allowing Kakizoe to pounce and force the Georgian (5-8) back and out not to mention into a shameful make-koshi from these parts. Zoe Jane is still sweet at 6-7.

Give a veteran like M13 Asasekiryu the firm left inside and right outer grip from the tachi-ai, and there ain't nothin' that M13 Chiyohakuho can do but dig in and hope. Chiyohakuho did it well, but Asa's Secretary did it better wrenching Chuck off balance this way and that until he was out. Asasekiryu does clinch kachi-koshi at 8-5, but what the hell is he doing fighting in the third bout of the day? Chuck can still rest easy at 8-5 himself.

M11 Aran was all over M16 Toyozakura every which way but loose as he shook off Zak's initial moro-te and barely missed on a huge right roundhouse. It looked like Toyozakura wanted the hell out of there after that as Boris grabbed the left outer grip and escorted his comrade out straightway. Aran is a nifty 9-4 if you need him while Toyozakura's 4-9 record his huge for next basho. Allow me to explain with the next bout.

M14 Shimotori welcomed none other than Bushuyama up from Juryo for a country music sing-along. The two hooked up immediately in the migi-yotsu position with Dolly taking the early control by driving Shimotori back, but Shimotori dug in at the edge and perfectly timed a counter scoop throw to topple Bushuyama. Shimotori stays alive at 6-7 while the Dolly Yama should make his pilgrimage back to the division at 8-5 from the J1 spot; Toyozakura's fall from the division all but guarantees it. I'm already searching my Dolly Parton songs in preparation.

Martin breaks down Kakuryu's kachi-koshi in all its glory tomorrow, but the fat lady has sung in Osaka, so I'm planning a huge party tomorrow night at 8:30 PM to celebrate Hakuho's yusho. I'm gonna turn on every light and appliance in my house and let both of my automobiles idle for a good hour in the driveway. Care to join me?

Day 12 Comments (Mark Arbo reporting)
Oh, I see your game, you filthy cads. Show up with the balance of your homework not only uncompleted but largely unattempted (especially the part about ceasing to be such a loser), and you still expect me to drop sweet sweet knowledge on your slugabed asses? You've got balls larger than an exhibitionist monkey, and I've got half a mind to cut a switch and tan your hides. But as James advised us, "mercy triumphs over Judgment" so here is your report...bloody ingrates...

Kakizoe gave it a go, but Tamawashi was just too much for him today. After a good tachi-ai came Tama's powerful well placed tsuppari that Washied Zoe off the dohyo. Kakizoe's KK is slipping away while Tamawashi will have 3 tries to pick up his 8th.

Iwaki and Shotenro have both produced some sound sumo this basho. Today however, the Mongol won with sumo that was anything but sound; sliding waaay right at the tachi-ai, grabbing the back of the mawashi and spinning Crescent Face awkwardly to the ground. On a 6 bout winning streak, Shotenro should have no prob getting his wins but Mt. Iwaki, at 6-6, is a coin toss. 

Fending off a looming MK, noShine really looked quite Shiny today. After a hard tachi-ai he stood Tosanoumi up with tsuppari and then took an inside right and outside left. The Georgian then dumped struggling Umi with a powerful beltless arm throw. Umi has already reserved Toyohibiki's soon to be vacant Juryo spot.

A few days ago I learned that a good friend of a good friend a) used to date Dejima and b) has her sites on me now. Wooo Hooo Sumo Bunny!! So it looks like we are in for some tasty Deji-gossip. Rikishi's ex's are always good fun and full of stories. Yep, we're finally going to know what's up with that purple hove. Today, the pride of Ishikawa withstood some Aran flavoured tsuppari only to lean in and get pulled down. That's 8 for Boris The Bouncer.

After starting 2-3, Homasho hasn't lost a match since my last report and picked up an early KK yesterday. Asayamachiyohakuhonoshima also secured an early KK but today, after loosing the tachi-ai, had no answer good fundamental sumo from surging Homasho.

At this point I went in search of refreshments. In Japanese beer news; Suntoryu has come out with a black version of their higher end "Premium Malts" brand. It's ok but not as noteworthy as their Hibiki Whiskey. In other beer news, thinking it might be better to look like a snob than a drunk, I dumped my beer into a Starbucks mug today. Just a little helpful hint for you all there.

From the tachi-ai Aminishiki backed Takamisakari up to the straw but, hoping to stave off a MK and fighting with his back to the wall (or straw rope in this case) as only he can, Takami spun Ami around. Ami kept the momentum going spinning Sakari and spinning is how they fell off the dohyo. The gyoji pointed to Aminishiki, but the hands for a mono-ii were already in the air. After what was probably the quickest mono-ii I have ever seen the judges rightly decided that they should do it all over again.

In round 2, I thought Aminishiki, already looking kinda banged up, might well come out with a henka, but to his credit he came at Takami straight(ish). After some tsuppari and pull attempts Nishiki slipped inside to morozashi, but Takami immediately locked up his arms and was half way through his throw by the time Ami got his, now pointless, belt grips. As Ami hit the clay Takami, the fans, and announcers were all so excited that for a few moments no one noticed that Aminishiki wasn't getting up. As a concerned Takamisakari looked on, Ami, clearly in a lot of pain, needed help getting up and returning to the dressing room. Takami showed some class by not marching back to changing room as he usually does after a big win. Stuck at 7 wins, it's hard to say if Ami will have another shot at his 8th. 

The M4's from the Oguruma-beya used speed, determination, and some pushing power to vanquish their foes today. For Takekaze this meant a simple oshidashi of Tochinonada, but for Yoshikaze this meant something much more monumental. There are no 'simple' oshidashi's of Yamamotoyama. How could there be? 

This was one of the few times where I would have totally understood a henka. I sure would have. A sport's not worth dying for. But Kaze, while no stranger to the tachi-ai henka, went straight into Yamamotoyama's ample yamas. He started up his tsuppari, but Ande grabbed an arm and flung Kaze around. With his foot propped against the straw and with YMY leaning on him it looked like this was going to be a quick one, but Yoshi dove into morozashi and forced the action back to the centre of the ring where he switched back to tsuppari. Then he tried what would have been a hazu-oshi on a human man, but on The Organism he ended up pushing up under those head sized breasts (and you  know it was all sweaty up in there). Pushing back in resistance YMY somehow slipped right by lil' Kaze and Yoshi then seized the man love position. Like a moose getting humped by a midget (you don't know how long I  looked for this pic) Yama spun around easily, but Kaze wisely kept a hold of the vertical strip on the back of Twin Peaks' mawashi (if you can call a guy who puts his hand in there "wise") and was able to get the leverage he needed to a) expose the full glory of the big boys posterior and b) swing him out. This was epic. Three cheers for no weight classes! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah! 

After an ugly tachi-ai Kokkai gave Tokitenku a deep inside right and a deeper outside left. Tenku nage-ed Kok with his uwate quicker than you can say, "5 bout loosing streak".

Kotoshogiku and Kakuryu got together to reminisce about how they both gave Chiyotaikai the Chevy Van Special last week. Today after an honest tachi-ai, Kak used the 'swim move' that I once explained to you, to get behind the Geek and usher him into a MK. This was Kakuryu's first win over KotoG, and he is just one win away from a KK. This dude is gunna make sanyaku someday soon...and Martin's gunna throw up.

With some decent looking tsuppari, Hokutoriki showed some life for the first time in 2 months. But Goeido is almost as good as Hokutoriki is blindingly awful, and after dancing around a bit trying to evade the thrusts, Goeido eventually spun him around and shoved him out. The 0-15 dream is alive and well!

Shortcomings fully exposed, Bart is having a very long couple of weeks. But today looked like the Bart of old as he picked Tochiohzan up two feet in the air and walked across more than half the dohyo and placed him gently down on the other side of the straw rope. The fans love this type of stuff (who doesn't?) but ranked this high it doesn't fly as a rikishi's bread and butter. Bart's is going to have to really dig down to get his KK this time while Ohzan's has some breathing room.

Kyokutenho is someone you can't assume you have beaten till he's back in the changing room. Kisenosato forced him back to the straw but when given a millimetre to breath, Kyokutenho calmly downed a frustrated Kisenosato with a tsukiotoshi/thrust down like it had been his plan all along.

Fresh off a comical henka to loss combo, Kotooshu drew Kaio today. Already having his 8 wins, Kaio only had his pride to fight for, i.e. he put up minimal resistance and backed out. It's hard to say where apathy ends and yaocho begins, but either way drinks are on KotoS tonight.

In a battle of aging tsuppari guys who can't get it up these days, Miyabiyama pulled down Chiyotaikai. A mono-ii was called because Miyabi's hand was clearly in Chiyotaikai's top-knot, but they gave it to Miyabi anyway. Kind of a slap in the face to the Ozeki, but it really doesn't matter; these guys won't get enough wins for a KK between the two of them. 

Going into his battle with Yokozuna Asashoryu, Kotomitsuki looked ready. Sure Asa beats him 19 times out of 20, but he really did look confident. The J-gal beside me said "makeso" (he looks like he's going to loose), and I responded by saying "Yeah, Asa always beets Mitsuki" but she said, "Today Asa's going to lose". What do you know, she was right. Asa got off to a sloppy start allowing Mitsuki an inside right outside left. Asa took the inside right but, unable to reach Mitsuki's belt his left hung limply. As Mitsuki powered him backward Asa squirmed and made numerous attempts at getting that outside left but Mitsuki made no mistakes: He didn't hesitate too long before starting his drive. He kept his arms in tight. He kept his butt way back but didn't allow any space between his and the Yokozuna's chests. Kotomitsuki took advantage of an early mistake and really played it perfect. And that's loss number two for Asashoryu.

With the yusho fully in his sights now, Yokozuna Hakuho stepped onto the dohyo. Today Hak met Harumafuji, the guy who handed Asashoryu his first loss and had the best chance of giving Hakuho his first too. Hak's tachi-ai was hesitant while Ama came out with a right to Hak's throat. Hak pushed forward and they settled near the centre. Ama tried to keep his ass back out of reach, but Hakuho hoisted the Ozeki up and took an outside left/inside right while Ama began trying to work something on the front of Hak's mawashi. Not giving whatever he was working on chance to develop to fruition, Hak charged forward, bodying Haru out. Hak is just too good this time.

Today was probably senshuraku as far as the yusho is concerned. We aren't into mathematical impossibilities yet, but the yusho IS decided. It would have been great if Ama had won today to keep the excitement in the basho till the last day, but life doesn't always work that way. I would rather see a few blow-outs than have every basho come down to the last match of the last day but with a slight professional wrestling feel. Unlike his first loss Asa was bested today; no henka, no yaocho; he just lost. Hakuho on the other hand has been literally unbeatable thus far in Osaka, so congratulations to Yokozuna Hakuho on his 10th Yusho. He earned it.

a) Enjoy Homasho/Tamawashi, Goeido/Tochiohzan, Kotooshu/Hakuho and Mike's report tomorrow.
b) The other writers weren't going to say anything, but you have really let yourself go lately. Get off your ass and do something. In fact...
c) Study your ass some Robert Herrick, particularly "Corinna" so you can figure out what a "slugabed" is.
d) While we are on the subject of Herrick, I'm gunna have to ask you to go ahead and memorize this entire Spring poem (recite it to yourself every morning, and there is no way you won't suck less ... also it works like a charm with the ladies ... those are the things you look at pics of on the net in your "alone" time ... when you aren't looking at pics of dudes...)-

by Robert Herrick

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying :
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer ;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may go marry :
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.

Day 11 Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
After Asashoryu's crushing defeat to Harumafuji yesterday, the leader board coming into today had Hakuho as top dog at 10-0, Sho at 9-1, then a drop off to five rikishi all at 7-3 who are technically still in the picture: Kotooshu, Kaio, Tochiohzan, Homasho and Chiyohakuho. But you can pretty much count on this basho ending with the same scenario as last, with the two Yokozuna deciding who takes home the cup on the final day. Let's start with the 7-3 rikishi and work our way up. 

Chiyohakuho and Homasho both continued their strong campaigns today, winning against Shimotori and Yamamotoyama, respectively. Chiyohakuho has won five straight and looks good, but it was Homasho who impressed me more today with a fundamentally sound tsuki-oshi driving upward at the armpits of big Yamamotoyama and negating his ability to throw around that huge mass. Homasho and Chiyohakuho meet tomorrow to see who remains in the yusho hunt. 

Kotomitsuki and Harumafuji also featured a good tsuki-oshi bout, this one controlled by Harumafuji. Between the tsuppari exchanges, Haruma was able to grab the uwate for just long enough to swivel Mitsuki around. This advantage was all he needed to follow back up with his tsuki-oshi to push out the Kadoban Ozeki. Both now stand at 6-4. 

Surprising Kaio continued his strong basho with a win over Tochiohzan (7-4). I wouldn't call this a quality win, as he pretty much went for the immediate pull down after an honest clash, but I'm sure he will take win #8 with a sigh of relief. Winning eight is simply a huge accomplishment for Kaio any more. For up and coming Tochiohzan, this was a poor effort. He went into the tachi-ai blind, too low, and his feet didn't move when Kaio offered the pull. The feet not coming along is usually a sign of "keiko-busoku", or not enough practice. Or maybe it's (dare I say) yaocho? I typically don't get caught up in this subject, but perhaps a deal was made so Kaio could grab his eight win before getting slammed the rest of the way against the Ozeki & Yokozuna? It seemed like a pretty easy fall to me for someone who came in at 7-3. 

In another quick bout, Kotooshu moved to the right against Goeido and immediately went for the Kotenage. But unlike Tochiohzan in the prior bout, Goeido was ready and went with the flow, forging ahead to use the momentum shift to his advantage. In the end, he was able to (barely) push Oshu out before going down himself. Kotooshu falls to 8-4 while Goeido evens his record to 5-5. 

As for the Yokozuna, Hakuho remained perfect with a win over Kisenosato (5-5), who went for tsuki-otoshi soon after the tachi-ai. What does that spell against someone like Hakuho? L-O-S-S. Like Goeido before, Hakuho simply took advantage of Kise's self-inflicted momentum loss and capitalized for a an easy force-out. 

I guess Asashoryu, who didn't do his normal arm swing and exaggerated belt slap prior to the final salt throw, figured he didn't need to get psyched up to beat struggling Chiyotaikai (2-8). If so, he was right because he didn't. Sho stopped Taikai's tsuppari in ho-hum fashion, grabbed the belt, then threw him down for an easy victory. 

Leader board now has Hakuho at 11-0 and Asashoryu at 10-1, followed by Kaio, Homasho and Chiyohakuho all at 8-3. Look for the two big dogs to duke it out on senshuraku.

Day 10 Comments (Mario Kadastik reporting)
I don't know how Mike fails to censor Clancy all the time. This time around he's talking about his penis, last basho he was talking about his wife's pussy (her cat). One might consider that sex is the only thing we are interested in here in the hotel. Then again, looking at the way Mark and Clancy behave I guess the conclusion wouldn't be far fetched. Last time you saw me around I had been sleepy the whole day so might have been a tick stiff around the edges and the virtual pen seemed to run dry of ink at times, but no fear of that today. After the day's bouts concluded and the celebrations finished, we all retired to our rooms to sleep through the day. Well all except Martin who must have had a bit too much champagne as he was giggling and missed his floor and entered some random room. Now he's walking funny. 

Ok, let's use this fresh mind of ours and go for some Ozumo action. It's good that I don't have to comment on the Juryo action as everything I guessed would happen happened the other way around, but as I said, no comments on the Juryo. Except maybe that Toyohibiki seemed to be doing great, but has suffered a few interesting defeats and isn't that much a favorite anymore for Juryo Yusho, which I actually expected him to be after he had stormed into the jo'i and then got ditched because of the detached retina all the way down to low Makuuchi and then sucked balls there. It seems that either he was way overrated or he hasn't recovered yet from the surgery, Which seems odd. 

So starting with Makuuchi action were Tamawashi and the newcomer Shotenro. It's been a tough start for Shotenro, getting totally shafted by Aran and suffering a few surprise losses, but from my point of view the fella deserves to be up here. So I hope he gets his positive score and is allowed a new go at the lower Makuuchi. Today was a good start to that. Shotenro ran into the mawashi, raised him up and went for a pulldown. However that didn't work, then went for the left inside grip and tried to swing Tamawashi over his hip to the clay. Didn't work either. After a short struggle still in this position he instead shakes the grip of Tamawashi off and went for an under-shoulder swingdown with a grabbing of the head. Very nicely executed bout, Shotenro was the driving force and he tried at least three different ways to win understanding fully well when it didn't work. He's now at 5-5 and can continue to the positive score from tomorrow. Tamawashi is still good at 6-4 and will probably get his positive score too, remaining in the top division. 

I don't really want to talk about Aran. He went in, didn't get a grip and was taken out by Shimotori who did get a grip. Enough said. 

Iwakiyama has been showing some nice sumo in the meantime, but Chiyohakuho hasn't been a pushover either. Both come in with nice six wins. Iwakiyama is belt fighter and Chiyohakuho is a pusher thruster so it was to be expected that if this goes to belt it's Iwaki's and if it's pushing fare then it could go to Yohak. Well Chiyohakuho didn't come blazing, but instead attacked extremely low going well below Iwakiyama, getting a deep grip and standing moonface upright. Iwakikong grabbed a nice right uwate and went for the kill however the mawashi of Yohak was so loose that the force Iwaki put in there didn't transfer over to Yohak hence no win. He even tried a nice legtrip, but today it didn't work. Backing away Chiyohakuho at some point dug in and went for a throw even though Iwakiyama had a hand in to counter the throw. They both went down, but Iwaki touched down breasts first. I have to say it was a nice bout. Chiyohakuho cruises to 7-3 and can KK tomorrow, Iwakiyama is cool at 6-4 and should have no problem getting a positive score either. 

The last time Tochinoshin and Yamamotoyama met shin went straight up and tried to move mountains. The result was a kotenage throw which almost cost shin his arm. Now we have 24 bouts of YMY in the top division behind us and we know now that to win YMY you need to get him sideways (I even explained the physics of that last basho). You don't go straight up with him unless you are Shotenro (which was great btw). What did Tochinoshin do? He went straight up to a belt fight fully submerging between these E size breasts of YMY. I guess he couldn't breathe there as YMY just used the belt to walk Tochinoshin out. There was no moment where Tochinoshin was in control (well, maybe before they actually started there was). YMY goes to 6-4 while shin is 4-6 and has been looking extremely bad this basho. I was expecting way more from him. 

Last time Toyozakura won against Futenoh was years and years back when Futenoh was still a youngster in the division. The last four matchups have all gone to Futenoh so one could expect what happens. The bout started with some pushing and thrusting attack with a hand pulldown mixed in by kura, but that didn't work. After about 20s Futenoh managed to get close enough to get a small hug and a sniff of the belt and this was the point where you knew it was over for kura. It still took a while for Futenoh even though kura can't fight on the mawashi. After a few attempts by Futeno it was clear why he couldn't get rid of the oldster, all he had was spandex in his arms. Toyozakura's mawashi was so loose that Futenoh could tie a knot on top of Toyozakura's head with it. It took a while for the gyoji to finally understand the frustration of the situation and stop the bout. After doing some heavy work on the mawashi and just in case checking Futenoh's own mawashi too he gave the go-ahead slap on both asses (he must just love his job). The moment the go ahead was given Futenoh just ran Toyozakura out. Look what a loose mawashi does to you. Futenoh improves back to the 0.500 mark while Kura is one loss away from Juryo. 

The next match is between Asasekiryu and Tochinonada. Asasekiryu looked so sexy this low that a lot of people assumed he'll be wiping the dohyo with his opposition, however then he came up to being totally unreliable. He is 5-4 coming in effectively telling you that it's a cointoss to guess which way his matches go. Then again Nada hadn't won consecutive days so he was supposed to lose today by that pattern. And this is precisely what happened. They did lock up at the get-go with both getting a left inside grip. And even though Asasekiryu was in an awkward position he still went for a throw with his right outside hand. It worked out nice granting Asasekiryu finally a thoroughly positive score of 6-4. Nada has yet to win two days in row and stands at 4-6. 

The next bout was weird. Kokkai came with some pushing attack, but his heart wasn't in it. He slapped around, honkered in but never seemed to have any kind of plan. Kimurayama understood this and just thrust Kokkai around him and down. Kokkai was "driving" the bout, but even the NHK commentators understood that there was absolutely no plan in Kokkai's head and it showed. 

Tamanoshima and Kakizoe met, Kakizoe was that furious round ball again that he always is, he tried raising Tamanoshima up and even somewhat managed that, but when he went for a pulldown it didn't work as the big fella wasn't compromised enough. Tamanoshima got close and comfy and managed to grab a nice armlock with his right hand, which used for a kotenage throw. Luckily it didn't seem to have killed an arm (that's because he's no Kaio). Both leave at 5-5. 

Toyonoshima had a bad injury last basho from just the kind of throw we saw in the previous bout and seems to be still recovering from it as he hasn't been his full this basho. Today he got a quick morozashi against Tosanoumi and immediately pushed him to back to the tawara looking to get an easy win as everyone expected. Except that he couldn't finish Tosanoumi off. When he pushed and pushed and got himself upright he decided to give up the morozashi and instead keep his hands on Tosanoumi's shoulders for better pushing. Tosanoumi used the moment and the support he had from the tawara and ran into Toyonoshima hoping to pull off a Dejima maneuver. Toyo went for a pulldown hoping to get the attacker to the clay before he's driven out but it was too late. Tosanoumi did fall, but Toyonoshima was already out by that time. Toyonoshima is at 5-5 (surprisingly many are) and Tosanoumi still staying alive with seven losses. He'll be eating Juryo food next basho if he loses one or two more (likely). 

When I was looking at the matchups yesterday then this one seemed way too lopsided. Wakanosato has been dominating Takamisakari with a 16-4 record with the last eight going Wakanosato's way. Takamisakari is just the right kind of opponent for Wakanosato to dismantle, he gets into the armpits, raises his opponent up and drives him out. At the collision of men Takamisakari got a nice deep mae-mitsu grip which neutralized Wakanosato's morozashi, but as I described earlier Wakanosato dug into the armpits and shook off Takamisakari's grip. From there on it was easy pushout for Wakanosato. Essentially Takamisakari was screwed today by the sakari because that's what he had, not that much a mawashi grip. Wakanosato is another fiver while Takamisakari falls just below average. 

In the next bout both rikishi won. Homasho the bout and Aminishiki against the Gyoji. The two charged hard (no sneaky stuff), some pushing took time, but at some point both dug in with Homasho getting the left inside and Aminishiki the right outer. Homasho used his grip to move Aminishiki back who managed to pull a nice double leg trip or nichonage (asked Martin for that one, you should have seen how his face lit up on the question, he's still blabbering about the variety of kimarite that could be and which have all been called wrong, but I'm not listening to him already a while now, sounds like a bee is in the room...). The gyoji did manage to get to his knees and see the end of the bout and point the right way, but it was close (for the Gyoji that is, Homasho didn't have a problem finishing Aminishiki off). At least Aminishiki can be happy that he won something today. 

After the halftime shimpan change and pee and tea breaks, the action continued with Dejima meeting Yoshikaze. Dejima who likes to do a train maneuver and Yoshikaze who is a tsuppari man. Dejima seems to be injured and sucks bad, then again Yoshikaze shouldn't be this high, but he's been surprising everyone these last two bashos (look what getting a wife can do to you). No henka against Dejima today who ran into Yoshikaze and drove him out, however Dejima fell as Yoshikaze stepped out. It looked close and Yoshikaze was looking at the shinpan to raise their hands, but no mono-ii was called and Dejima was given the win. However looking at the slow motion replay you could see that Yoshikaze was robbed. Oh well, both leave the dohyo with 4-6 records. 

Miyabiyama was already make-koshi coming in today with Tokitenku not that much better (3-6). It came to blows from the tachi-ai and a lot of running around the dohyo. This was a very interesting bout with very little close contact and looked more like children playing catch me if you can. At some point the inevitable happened and Tokitenku stepped out. Miyabiyama doubled the win count in this one but is still one short of Tokitenku. Both men look awful. 

The history didn't favor Tochiohzan coming in against Kotoshogiku with their both previous meetings going to Giku, but then again looking at whom Tochiohzan has dismantled this basho and in what style then one can't really believe his history, can you? From the get-go both got a left inside right outside grip. Kotoshogiku was driving the bout, going for his favorite gabburi-yori leghump and moving Tochiohzan around, however.  At the tawara Tochiohzan tried a few pulls moving to his left but as they didn't work he instead went for a very nice pulldown while sidestepping to his right fooling Giku, who expected him to still go to his left. Very nice win for Tochiohzan who might very well be sanyaku next basho considering whom he has defeated. He's just one win away fro kachi koshi while Kotoshogiku falls to 4-6. 

I know Martin wants Kakuryu to always lose and meeting Kyokutenho there definitely was probability in that happening, but alas it wasn't meant to be. As soon as the two met, Kyokutenho gave up morozashi, which immediately and effectively decided the bout. Even though Tenho has long enough arms and power to block Kakuryu, all it did was delay the inevitable, not even an uchimuso attempt could help. Kakuryu improves to 5-5 and Kyokutenho says bye-bye to that Sanyaku spot. 

Next up is the match that I was hoping for. Sure enough I hoped that Baruto would be matched up against a Yokozuna on my reporting day, but it's guessable that it had to happen before. If he would be more active in his bouts he'd win more often, but today he was facing an easy opponent. Jokester has won against Bart a few times, always the same way, he comes up with his signature nodowa and raises Bart high, then goes for a pulldown. Bart has fallen for it twice, but not a third time. Hokutoriki did exactly as planned with one problem, Baruto knew what was going to happen and was able to keep his balance. From there it looked like Hokutoriki just folded himself on the clay crying "Please don't hurt me, please". In reality Baruto just went for a hand pull himself and made Jokester eat the clay. Baruto starts his winning again with the improvement to 4-6 and should have easier opposition now hopefully getting his eight after this sub-par basho for him. Hokutoriki is making history again with his tenth loss on day 10, can he keep it up till day 15? I sure hope so. 

Next up the top Ozeki met Kisenosato. It's a bit unexpected to then name the Ozeki Kaio, who hasn't been the top Ozeki for quite a while. Kisenosato won the start and managed to get immediately a nice left hand inside grip which he used to escort Kaio back and out. The whole affair lasted a full four seconds and gave Kisenosato his 5-5. Kaio is 7-3 and meets Tochiohzan who will not be a pushover, so Kaio may need another day for his KK, but he'll get it, he always does. 

Kotooshu just ran into Takekaze, secured his grip and pushed him out. Short affair. However while Kaze was falling out he managed to fall on his head. Literally. He did shake his head afterwards and seemed a bit confused, but I hope there's no concussion or the kind. Kotooshu is his usual headcase winning some of the bouts with superb technique and confidence and then totally folding the next day. Today was a good day so look for him to fold tomorrow. 

Next up is the next Japanese Yokozuna vs. the one who'll never make Yokozuna. Ok, it's Goeido meeting Kotomitsuki. The history is for Kotomitsuki with 4-0 so far, but Goeido has been on fire this basho so anything can happen. Kotomitsuki got a good start, ran fast into Goeido getting a right inside, left outside. Goeido backed away hoping to shake some of the grip and placed his hand on top of Mitsuki's head trying to pull him down, but that didn't work. When they settled back Mitsuki shook his ass like a professional Latino dancer and got rid of that outside left Goeido was featuring so far, but Goeido dug in and went for a pushout while also using his right leg to trip Mitsuki. Out they fell and yoritaoshi it was called, but in reality it was a bit more subtle than that. That legtrip is something Goeido does more frequently than the other rikishi. The trip was most likely kiri-kaeshi, maybe somewhat soto-gake, but it was in any case good. Goeido improves to 5-5 which is a superb score for day 10 from the Komusubi slot. From now on he should be facing easier guys and should have no problem getting above eight wins so all he can hope for is one of the Sekiwake to not get his eight (I hope it's not Bart of course). Mitsuki is at 6-4 and still alive with one Yokozuna behind him. He'll get his eight. 

Next up is the bout the NHK had been blabbering about between all the bouts, the meet-up of Ama (eh Harumafuji) against Asashoryu. The history is quite lopsided for Asashoryu, but Ama has been able to upset him twice before in both cases shifting to his side slightly during the bouts. Something he hasn't been doing that much anymore now that he's Ozeki and wants to do good sumo. Today at the get-go Harumafuji definitely henka'ed to his right as the sideways move was before the contact. Getting a nice deep outside grip on the compromised Yokozuna  he went quickly for the kill backing Asashoryu to the tawara. However the Yokozuna dug in and resisted but was way over-committed in leaning forward. So when Harumafuji stepped to his side and pulled with his right hand he sent Asashoryu running for the other side of the dohyo and with small assistance from Ama out of it. So we won't be having a 14-0 vs. 14-0 meet-up of Yokozunas that has been featured so many times this basho and hasn't been seen for decades, too bad. It's looking like a mirror image of what happened last basho with Ama being the upsetter and the Yokozunas meeting on the last day with one loss difference. Would be fun to see a playoff that is this time won by Hakuho, would be such a mirror image that it might get Martin totally on a roll about possible Yaocho.

The last bout of the day was totally anticlimactic after the loss by Asashoryu. Namely Chiyotaikai coming in with his 2-7 record had absolutely no chance of beating Hakuho today, so he just met his fate and came out with no tsuppari whatsoever. Some pushing was involved, but when Hakuho pushed Chiyotaikai away from himself and Chiyo got close to the tawara but enough room to start an attack for Hakuho, he instead opted to just take one more step backwards and call it a day. They called it oshidashi, but I'd have called it fumidahsi (rear step out losing technique, not winning technique) as this was a forfeited bout by Chiyo. 

Well it's good to have the day where a Yok gets creamed, so I'm happy.  Baruto also won so of course we have a very happy Doc around today. And feel relaxed, today you had a long report to read, Kenji will compensate that tomorrow his usual way.

Day 9 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
For those of you studying Japanese, the phrase of the day is "meiwaku wo kakeru." The meaning is to impose on someone or to cause someone trouble. Examples would be parking your car in a lane of traffic while you run into a convenience store for a pack of smokes, littering on someone's property, making noise late at night so your neighbors can't sleep, or whistling at the top of your lungs live at the sumos. Clancy said yesterday that he'd give us all a whistle prior to the Asashoryu - Baruto bout, but I first noticed the annoying sound after the Dejima - Aminishiki bout. Clancy then proceeded to whistle before and after each subsequent bout driving the people in front of him crazy I'm sure.

It was a masterful performance that ranks right up there with the king of meiwaku in Japan, Tom Green, who actually devoted an entire documentary to bugging people in Japan called the Monkey Subway Hour. My favorite clip from the show can be seen here, and as you watch it, notice the reaction of the Japanese passerbys, and then try to picture what the people sitting in front of Clancy were doing the entire time he's making this terrible disturbance in the arena because if you can hear any noise that isn't miked over a television broadcast, it was loud as hell. I'd have given my left nut to witness it. But since I have no control over that, let's focus on the one thing I do have dominion over: the day 9 bouts.

From the bottom up, M13 Chiyohakuho wisely kept his head up against M15 Kimurayama at the tachi-ai enabling him to get a left arm on the inside and follow his opponent around as he moved to his left. Having gained no advantage at the tachi-ai, Kimurayama hastened his lateral movement and committed himself slapping down at the back of Chiyohakuho's shoulder sending the Pup's pup dangerously off balance, but Chiyohakuho kept his footing and easily pushed out the compromised Kimurayama (5-4) from there. Chuck's a nifty 6-3 if you need him.

Rookie M12 Shotenro charged straight into M13 Yamamotoyama and focused on two things: Jabba's breasts. Using them against the Hutt, Shotenro push upwards on both boobs keeping Yamamotoyama upright and unable to lean into his opponent to gain any momentum. Shotenro (4-5) easily moved the slug back as he scored the well-planned push-out win. Kitanofuji in the booth offered a great take explaining Yamamotoyama's three bout losing streak when he said, "I think he's already worn himself out." It's just another problem with carrying that much weight. YMY is 5-4.

M11 Aran completely dismantled M15 Tosanoumi with a seldom-seen tsuppari attack from the tachi-ai. Aran's shoves were quick and perfectly timed into Tosanoumi's upper torso and neck. Aran didn't necessary fuel the thrusts with his lower body, but dude has so much strength in his upper body, he was able to force the Blue Collar Man back and out with a Molotov cocktail and a match to go. This was the best sumo of Aran's career so far in my opinion. Twas a straight on charge coupled with meaningful tsuppari and great fighting spirit. The Russian should consider changing up his style a bit and using the tsuppari to set up his opponents as he moves to 6-3. Tosanoumi is 2-7.

M11 Asasekiryu came into his bout against M14 Tamawashi with his right knee heavily taped, and The Mawashi took full advantage with a more-te charge that stood Asa's Secretary completely upright followed by a textbook tsuppari attack (fueled with the lower body) that sent not-so-Sexy back and out of the ring in two seconds. Great stuff from Tamawashi today who cruises to 6-3 while Asasekiryu settles for 5-4.

M10 Tochinoshin showed great patience today in his bout against the pesky M16 Toyozakura standing his ground as the younger Zak fired tsuppari after tsuppari into the Georgian. NoShine actually had some polish to his own tsuppari as he cleared an opening to lunge in and grab a left outer grip. At this point, you might think it'd be easy peasy, but Toyozakura is a slipper sumbitch, so Tochinoshin wisely waited on a force out attempt until he had his opponent sufficiently neutralized with the right inside position to complement his left outer grip. Once obtained, Tochinoshin forced Toyozakura around the ring and eventually out. All out great sumo from Tochinoshin today as he moves to 4-5. Toyozakura is a paltry 3-6.

M10 Iwakiyama charged hard into M14 Shimotori and demanded the left inside position. Using his girth advantage, Iwakiyama squared up his chest with his opponent and immediately began driving his legs forcing Shimotori back and out in short order. This was an ass-kicking as the Hutt moves to 6-3 while Shimotori is 3-6.

M9 Futenoh looked to get on the inside of M12 Kakizoe, but Sweet Zoe Jane kept him completely at bay slamming his head into Fruitenoh's torso and keeping his hands in tight completely denying Futenoh the belt. Kakizoe never relented driving with his legs as he easily forced Futenoh back and out of the ring offering a nice shove at the end for the oshi-dashi win. Futenoh could do nothing as Kakizoe exhibited his best sumo of the basho so far improving to 5-4. Futenoh is the inverse at 4-5.

I know I sound like a broken record all the time with my takes, but it's for good reason. Regarding the usage of the lower body, M6 Tamanoshima showed exactly how an attack without the legs is only asking for trouble as he battled M8 Tochinonada today. Tamanoshima used his right arm well to pinch in at Tochinonada's left on the inside neutralizing any offensive from the Gentle Giant, but Tamanoshima's force-out attempt from there was half-assed allowing Nada to easily slip to his right at the tawara and push Tamanoshima down by the side for the nice counter-offensive win. Both dudes are 4-5.

In a rather sloppy affair, M5 Aminishiki charged even lower than M9 Dejima if that's possible, and as Dejima tried to push Aminishiki back upwards, both hands slipped off of his opponent as he threw himself off balance. Aminishiki reacted in a flash just slapping Dejima to the dirt with ease. The sumo was so spectacular here Clancy was celebrating doing his best bird whistle in the arena. If you have the means, go back and watch the NHK feed from this point. Clancy's in fine form I must is Aminishiki who moves to 6-3. The Dejyptian is hapless again at 3-6.

M5 Wakanosato charged way too high with his arms out too wide against M6 Toyonoshima which spells instant trouble as Toyonoshima looked for the morozashi position. Wakanosato attempted to repent of his ways and bring his left arm from the outside in, but Toyonoshima used his momentum to simply push at Wakanosato's left side easily ushering him out of the ring like a bouncer throwing a whistler out of the crowd. Toyonoshima has struggled a bit this basho but at least has a 5-4 record for his trouble. Wakanosato falls to 4-5.

M8 Kokkai decided at the very last moment to henka to his right against M4 Yoshikaze. You could see Kokkai stutter step but finally decide on the move as he moved to his right, but it was a sloppy henka easily read by Cafe who seized the moment by pushing Kokkai around the ring a bit and thankfully out. Sloppy stuff from the Georgian who falls to 5-4 with the mishap. Yoshikaze is 4-5.

M4 Takekaze took charge from the beginning against M7 Homasho shoving his opponent back towards the edge with his pesky brand of sumo, but Homasho hunkered down and survived long enough to frustrate Takekaze into going for an ill-advised pull attempt. When it came, Homie pounced easily turning the tables and scoring the push-out win. Shame shame everyone knows Takekaze's name in this one as he falls to 5-4. Homasho is a cool 6-3.

M3 Tokitenku charged a half second late against M7 Takamisakari, but I think it was actually to his advantage as he caught the Cop with a firm nodowa using it to drive Takamisakari straight back to the edge. Sakari swiped away the initial right nodowa, but Tokitenku responded with another choke hold with the left, but the gangly Sakari managed to wipe that one off too this time sending Tokitenku off balance. Takamisakari lunged at the chance and used his body to force Tokitenku back across the entire length of the dohyo gaining a left outer grip in the process. As Tokitenku tried to gather his wits and make a stand, Takamisakari just bowled him over with a nice belt throw. The crowd roared in approval as Takamisakari improved to 4-5, but I'll be damned if I couldn't hear Clancy whistlin' over the top of 'em all. Tokitenku falls to 3-6.

M2 Tochiohzan came into the basho 0-4 against M3 Miyabiyama, but he is enjoying his breakout basho here in Haru so he easily withstood Miyabiyama's initial tsuppari before making his move and committing on a fine push attack that sent Miyabiyama back and across the straw with ease. Tochiohzan is an incredible 6-3 after facing as tough a schedule as you please. I know that some people might consider the basho boring up to this point thanks to the Yokozuna running away with it, but there are other intriguing aspects to the tourney not the least of which is Tochiohzan's performance and what has fueled it to a large part. You gotta love it baby. The Sheriff makes his make-koshi official at 1-8. Ouch!

Komusubi Kyokutenho was lackadaisical in his tachi-ai against M2 Kotoshogiku allowing the Geeku to gain the easy moro-zashi position. Wasting no time, Kotoshogiku used his gaburi move which looks a lot like a dog humping someone's leg as he forced Tenho back and out with little trouble. Kotoshogiku improves to 4-5 but his henka of Chiyotaikai is still stuck in my craw. The Chauffeur falls to 2-7 and has been disappointing in HarU.

Komusubi Goeido wasted his opportunity against M1 Kakuryu striking and then raising his right arm up around Kakuryu's head flinching on the pull attempt. The move allowed Kakuryu to gain the easy left inside position, and before Goeido could solidify his own left inside grip, Kakuryu executed a maki-kae giving him morozashi. The Mongolian wasted no time in driving the Komusubi back towards the edge using a few tsuri attempts to raise Goeido upright before finally sending him across. Goeido dug in and gave it his best shot, but he never could overcome that initial right hand at the Kak's head. His biggest flaw is his penchant for the hataki-komi, and it cost him this one against the Kak today. The Komusubi is still fine at 4-5 while Kakuryu shares the same mark thanks to his previous three wins over Ozeki. Don't look now but the Kak is primed to take over the soon-to-be-vacant West Komusubi slot.

Sekiwake Kisenosato easily took advantage of M1 Hokutoriki who offered nothing at the tachi-ai as Kisenosato used an easy oshi charge to dismantle the Quitter in about two seconds. The guys in the booth were talking about it afterwards how Hokutoriki had to at least try something in the bout. Embarrassing stuff as he falls to 0-9. The Kid has righted the ship a bit at 4-5.

The Kaio-Chiyotaikai bout was a bit compelling coming in because normally these two will defer to each other allowing the rikishi with the worse record to win, but with the Pup coming in a paltry 2-6 with no chance of kachi-koshi, his effort was half-assed offering a left nodowa with no punch behind it allowing Kaio to grab it and twist his fellow Ozeki around to set up the firm left inside position. Chiyotaikai just stood there a moment allowing Kaio to grab the right outer before calmly escorting Chiyotaikai out for the easy win. With his work accomplished, Chiyotaikai (2-7) can now withdraw. Kaio is gifted his seventh win against two losses.

In our second clash of Ozeki, Harumafuji charged extremely low against Kotooshu, but the taller Ozeki used a beautiful right hand to slap at the side of Harumafuji's dome throwing him to the side and off balance. Kotooshu responded with a right arm on the inside from over the top that was so deep Harumafuji's head was now stuck beneath the Bulgarian's armpit. With Harumafuji in a reverse headlock, Kotooshu used his long left arm to grab the back of Harumafuji's mawashi using the position to easily ride Harumafuji to the dirt. Kotooshu (6-3) completely dismantled the Mongolian establishing the fact that he is now the better Ozeki of the two. hAruMAfuji falls to 5-4, but what'da expect? That 4-2 start was badly inflated.

In the Yokozuna ranks, Hakuho and Ozeki Kotomitsuki bounced off of each other at the tachi-ai disallowing the Yokozuna his favored left frontal grip, but Kotomitsuki had lost his momentum as well rendering him unable to gain an advantageous position himself. As the two grappled and reloaded, Hakuho worked his right arm on the inside providing the impetus he needed to take control of the bout. Lifting the Ozeki upright, Hakuho grabbed the left outer grip on the other side and began his charge. As Kotomitsuki resisted, Hakuho actually went for an outer leg trip, but the move was ill-advised as it threw the Yokozuna off balance himself a bit, but Kotomitsuki was in defensive mode and couldn't take advantage. As the two squared back up, Hakuho took his time the second go-around as he methodically forced Kotomitsuki back and out for another solid win. Hakuho (9-0) is unbeatable these days if he gets an arm on the inside, and I'm telling anyone who thinks this kind of tournament is boring...the Khan are raising the level of everyone's sumo.

In the featured bout of the day, Yokozuna Asashoryu opted to hold up a bit in his attack and not charge right into a Baruto outer grip. The result was a left inside grip for the Yokozuna and an immediate right over the top from Baruto. As was the case in their fight in January, Asashoryu maintained a low stance ensuring that both rikishi didn't align their chests. With both rikishi owning a desirable position (Asa's inside left and Bart's outside right), the key would be the action on the other side. Asashoryu gripped Bart's left paw tightly by the wrist and pinched it downwards disallowing the Estonian to gain what would have been a lethal inside position. Can you imagine Baruto if he had forced the bout to gappuri yotsu with their chests aligned? It wouldn't have been close, and the Yokozuna knew it. The two rikishi jockeyed like this for about ten seconds before Asashoryu forced the action and surged into the morozashi position, but Baruto dug in. Still, Baruto did nothing beyond this just waiting for the Yokozuna to make his next move, so he could attempt to counter it. This stance is what I've meant all along by labeling Bart's sumo as passive. The Estonian needs to press the action against these big guns...not react to it. The outcome at the end was inevitable as Asashoryu eventually set up the yori-kiri win in a bout that lasted over a minute, but Baruto fans had to have been wondering what could have been.

There were two critical junctures in the bout where Baruto's inaction cost him. The first was when the two were getting fresh with each other as Asashoryu held Baruto's hand downward. Baruto seemed content with the love and failed to bully his way into the inside position. The result was an eventual Asashoryu moro-zashi. The next critical point came when Asashoryu got moro-zashi and Baruto failed to pinch in from the outside as Takanonami used to do so well (called kime). Even the announcer for NHK suggested it mid-bout because it was wide open. Baruto's guns are a lot bigger than Asashoryu's, so to see him fail to use his strength to his advantage was disappointing today. He made nary an offensive move and only reacted to the Yokozuna. Against Kotooshu...maybe he can win. Against the two Yokozuna, it's impossible. Baruto has to be more offensive-minded in his approach against the two Yokozuna. Until he realizes this, he will never beat them. Never. Asashoryu moves to 9-0 with the win, and you can argue that the competition is all downhill until senshuraku. Baruto falls to 3-6, which is no surprise when you're a reactionary guy up against this banzuke.

I'm off to Tokyo for a daytrip to see if I can find that jiggling Santa Claus, but breathe easy...Doc M's in the house tomorrow.

Day 8 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
Having written for Sumotalk for pritnear five years now, I am somewhat of a known quantity, and therefore you'll bear with me as I talk about my penis. Every guy has, at one time or another, whether he will admit it or not, measured his John Thomas. (The length, of course. Any freak who has bothered to measure the circumference is prolly posting photos of it shaved and pierced on some swingers site. The exception being Simon, who has had his measured, weighed, tested, shocked, stained and even biopsied, by dozens of researchers across the planet, all for the advancement of science.) It only takes a second and you needn't use something as formal as a ruler, either. It could be a piece of B5 paper, favorite photo, a TV guide even.

Now as far as my recollection goes, the length of my Lil' Man has remained constant since my late teens (I've never written it down, what kind of sicko do you take me for?) And while there has been the regrettable but inevitable and ultimately wholly acceptable loss of instant regenerative power, by pretty much any standard my Peacekeeper is roughly the same shillelagh it's always been (as the saying goes, I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was),

So here's the rub (so to speak). Although it looks for all the world like the same old rugbeater, in my mind it seems different, less imposing, less commanding, somehow humbled. Crazy at it sounds, the old gray mare she ain't what she used to be. I mean, when I was twenty-five I thought, I have a wonderful dick. Now I'm forty-three and I think, I have a dick. By the time I'm fifty-five I'll no doubt think, I wish I had a dick.

What does any of this have to do with sumo? Simple. Watching the once great Chiyotaikai reminds me of my once great truncheon. 

If you are thinking that today's win over Kisenosato changes things you're mistaken. When Chiyotaikai and Kaio are down and out each and every bout they're in is ‘spicious, and today's especially so. The comically fake, mummy-wrapped Pup held the Kid up by the throat at tachi-ai, like he normally does, and then pulled the Kid forward, again typical. Kisenosato put on the brakes and squared up, and here is where it got weird. Chiyotaikai is famous for being a one and out (no, not another penis reference), meaning when he loses his steam, his foe can usually win by getting inside and belting him down or more likely out. But Kisenosato didn't even feign an attempt at grabbing the belt, just kept his arms bent and resisting up high Pup's thrusts, the last one of which sent the Kid flying out. Thank you, young man, I'll remember you on payday. It was so obvious that they showed only one replay and it was just the same angle as the bout but in slo-mo, offering no chance to see the lack of effort by Kise more clearly.

Kotooshu seems to have picked up where Kotomitsuki left off in the unpredictability department. You never know what to expect from this guy. One day he is mopping the floor with Baruto, and the next he is charging at Tokitenku like Boris Karloff on Dramamine. Tokitenku is skilled, but it took nothing more than a slight sidle to his left and bit of a pull on the back of the neck and Koto No Show was chuggin' yoghurt. 5-3 for the Ozeki and does anyone in her or his right mind think he won that yusho last year fair and square?

hAruMAfuji decided to stay low and charge at Kakuryu, but the M1 was hip to the jive and started a pulldown attempt that ended up lasting the entire match. They raced across the ring and then around and back to the other side, all the while with the Kak on top. HaruMAfuji had a front belt grip, and could have stopped his forward charge and tried some different tactic, but he prolly thought he could run the Kak out of town before he himself was taken down. As it was the proud Kak spun the Ozeki around and shoved him out sweet as you please. Three wins in eight days for Kakuryu from this high up is good for sumo, if not good for Martin.

The first Ozeki head to head this basho had Kotomitsuki taking on Kaio. With both men sporting fine records, the bout seemed to be an honest affair, and as such was unsurprisingly won by Kotomitsuki. After a good chest-to-chest tachi-ai, Kaio managed in inside right, no belt, but Mitsuki leaned on the old man and got an outside left belt. He then bent down and backed up to move his hips away (weakening Kaio's grip while giving himself some space to make a charge, which he then did to immediate positive effect). This kind of win Mitsuki will get over Kaio ninety-nine times out of one hundred if things are on the up and up.

Not sure what Martin is on about with all this excitement gone from the basho malarkey. Why, just have a looksee at the way Miyabiyama was felled by Asashoryu today. Have you ever seen someone who is talking and laughing in a bar on a tall stool suddenly crash to his ass when the stool slips out from under him? It's funny and painful looking all at the same time. Asa came in at tachi-ai with one hand low and one hand high, going for both the front belt and the slap down all in one motion, if that's possible. With a guy as talented as the Khan, all things sumo are possible. The low move proved to be a feint as he decided to work on the top, and at first Miyabi was able to raise his head back up after the initial pulldown attempt. Flobby then grabbed Asa on the face with two hands ("I know it was you Fredo!"), but it was the former Ozeki who got broken, and it was more than just his heart. Quicker than shit through a goose, Asa slapped Flobby's arms and he fell to his tits like he was being yanked down by a rope. He's lucky he got his hands out to cushion the blow, or else his chin would have ended up sticking out the back of his neck.

You can see the experience and maturity in Hakuho even when he is taking on someone as big and intimidating as Baruto. While Biomass is leading off with a forearm and then quickly changing tactic and going for the armlock, all in the first second of the bout, Kublai is calmly and methodically moving forward looking for that belt. After driving Bio back and slightly to the side, Hakuho ended up with an inside right belt, as did Baruto. They leaned in on each other and with the camera angle giving us a great view of Baruto's solid belt grip, it seemed that perhaps the upset would come. The Yokozuna hasn't won more yusho than Biomass has healthy teeth by being tentative, and when Baruto distracted himself by sniffing for an outside left belt, Hakuho countered with a maki-kae that made his arm look more like a cobra than an arm. 

Now armed with the morozashi, Hakuho got the big boy into bear hug. Biomass was able to stave off the inevitable on account of his height and weight, and even mounted a charge that the Yokozuna had to shake off going backward, but once the crowd applauded Baruto's resilience Kublai said, That's all I can stand I can't stands no more! and with a downward forward pull on Baruto's left side got the Estonian off balance and shoved him back and out. A grand finale indeed, one that was hanging in the balance enough to make it interesting if not enthralling. That'll have to wait for Day 15.

Way down on the other side of Makuuchi town, another Mongolian was having a go at Tosanoumi, and The Mawashi displayed textbook perfect oshi zumo, keeping the Blue Collar Man dead center and sighted the entire bout. At 2-6 Tosanoumi is going to have to slip something extra into his lunchpail tomorrow vs. the hugely disappointing (from an honorable sumo standpoint) Aran.

Kimurayama showed that he can jump out of the way not only at tachi-ai but at the edge, as he dodged Asasekiryu after losing the first 9/10ths of the bout.

The aforementioned Aran beat Yamamotoyama the way everyone should, by hesitating for a fraction at tachi-ai, then diving in a grabbing the belt on one side and spinning the Organism around. Course if you miss the belt Ande may well avalanche all over your ass, but that's life in the big city.

In a battle between two of the most nicknamed guys in sumo, Circus got his inside right vs. Iwonkeykong, who got an outside right. Bean was able to wrench the two men around as The Moon in the Man drove him back. After a brief respite (please pronounce that word correctly in your head--res pit) The Hutt made a move to drive forward, where P.T.'s boy tried a last ditch twisting leg trip, but Jabba was on that like stink on natto and Robocop went down to loss number five.

Fruity took Peter down in a muscular but pedestrian affair, leaving both men with four wins. Toyonoshima evened his record (I'm not going to tell you at what) by fending off some savage driving by Dejima and getting the morozashi for the pushout win. 

After meeting thirty times in the top division (split 16-14) you might think number thirty-one would be a ho hum affair, but think again. Wakanosato got in quick on Tochinonada, but the Gentle Giant used his deadly left hand inside to twist the Barometer around and bring things back to the center. Wakanosato then crouched low and back, taking away GG's left inside, and used his own outside right to push him back but again Tochi twisted his foe around. Croc was now in a dangerously bad turned around position, but as GG went for the easy push out the former perennial Sekiwake held fast and instead got Tochi spun around, and it was Manwich time as Wakanosato snuggled in close and rear-ended his longtime nemesis out. Family fun bout, but a bit R-rated at the end.

Takekaze absorbed Kokkai's thrusts and when the time was right went in like a mastiff, knocking Kokkai onto one leg where he balanced, teetering, while Takekaze showed outstanding footwork by doing some kind of Chicago shuffle to remain in the ring until the Georgian was out. Kokkai looked pathetically around while stripping off his tassels, like some homeless Venetian begging for a soiled euro, but it was clear the first time around, Takekaze is Bolshoi material.

Like some older brother weathering the slaps of an angry younger sibling, Homasho patiently let Yoshicafe get all mocha'd out, and when the E7 got his hands on the belt, it was time to clear the tables cause we've got customers waiting.

Can there me a more satisfying sight than seeing Shneaky get his ass booted by the young and respectful Tochiohzan? After allowing himself to be driven back, OhSnap stiffened at the edge and powered forward, sending Aminishiki into full retreat mode, barreling him out while crashing to the dirt himself. 5-3 from W2? If he doesn't do his usual second week fade, seeing as how he is finished with all the big boys (save for Biomass, The Kid and Father Goeido) he'll pick up nine. 

Speaking of the future, East Komusubi Goeido looked to be beaten vs. Kyokutenho, but as he did with Baruto he showed fantastic skill at the edge, this time twisting out of the morozashi with a right hand inside belt and wedging the West Komusubi out. 

I hear all the time about sumo being boring now, that the Mongolian Yokozuna are too strong and everyone else is playing for second. I think watching guys like Father Goeido and Oh Snap and Toyonoshima and Baruto and Kak and Kid rise up the banzuke is great fun, and it's only matter of time before they replace Kaio and Pup, and when that happens? Another great era will begin.

As for Day Nine, I will be at the tourney in person. I'd like to alert you now that I plan on using my whistle, perhaps among the loudest known to mankind, just before Asashoryu wrestles. It will sound very wild and crazy, like screech owls having anal sex. So pay attention. And if there is a zabuton around (I may sneak one in), I will be throwing that right after Asa flattens Baruto, so look for it.

Mike has been complaining of constipation, but I think he's just full of shit. He'll be here tomorrow.

Day 7 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
Like Mark and a few others were saying in their respective reports, the excitement is all but gone from this basho. Having a top-heavy banzuke and a couple of dominant Yokozuna above it usually means that the Sanyaku will beat on each other while the Yokozuna run away with it undisturbed. Still, that doesn't mean the sumo itself in any given day won't have its good parts.

Let's start at the very top, with a so far impressive Asashoryu facing what some thought would be a stern test in (finally) newly promoted Sekiwake Kisenosato. Surely enough, Kisenosato was very determined, as he usually is against the Yokozuna, but he was also under great pressure, as shown by the matta he caused. At the second attempt, the Kid hit Asashoryu hard, but the Mongol was hardly taken back by the charge and got morozashi faster than Senor Arbo can gulp down on a predominantly alcoholic cocktail. The fight lasted about two full seconds after that, ending with Asashoryu unnecessarily pushing the already compromised Kisenosato down emphatically. Last basho, Asashoryu won the yusho (true, with a bit of help from his compadre Hak) while looking shaky during the first week. This time, he's looking as impressive as ever, and I say he has a chance to win it again, if somehow Hakuho slips up on his own. Kisenosato still has some maturing to do, but even though it feels like he's been in Makuuchi forever (what, 4 odd years?), he's still young and has time. His 3-4 ain't half bad, given the competition he had to face so far, and he should get his 8 easily.

Hakuho missed the left harite against the Fatman and was unable to grab the left, but by Jove if that stopped Hak even for a second. Even though during the live broadcast it looked like he was in trouble, he was the one doing all the attacking. After slapping the hell out of Miyabiyama, the Mongol bear got one hand on the inside and ejected the Fatman from the dohyo for the perfect 7-0. I think I'm not far off when I say Hakuho is looking unbeatable this basho. Sure, he might have his usual trouble against Ama later on, but I think it's safe to say he's the yusho favorite. At 1-6, Miyabiyama is Gary the snail.

Chiyotaikai (1-5 coming in) has been looking particularly useless this basho, and I can't see anything wrong with him physically. It's just that there are a lot of young, hungry guys around the top, and he just can't cut it anymore (about time, too, if you ask me). Kotoshogiku was 1-5 himself, but that can be explained by his brutal first week schedule (nobody ranked below Sekiwake). Well, Giku pulled an evil henka for some damage control, a move that worked to perfection with the desperate Taikai going for broke and lunging forward recklessly. Despite his record so far, I can see the Geek getting 8 in the second week. Taikai can't go kyujo soon enough, but something tells me he'll be around to dole out the wins to his fellow Ozeki club members (he'll be needing them back next basho anyway).

The most surprising story of this Haru has got to be Kaio's unlikely winning streak. After the day 1 hiccup against the Kak, Kaio has been winning convincingly, sure, nothing spectacular, a kaionage here, a yorikiri there, but all that added up to 6-1 after today. The Old-zeki's record against ex-Mongol Kyokutenho is 27-5 (with a fusen thrown in those 5), and today was just another day at the office, with Kaio looking for the hidari-yotsu position he prefers, getting it while denying his opponent an uwate, and ending it in fine yorikiri fashion. Like I was saying, this roll is nothing to get all excited about, Kaio will start losing some in week two, when he meets the beefy ones. Tenho can be happy with the two wins during these 7 meatgrinder days, and might even sneak to a kachikoshi with all the Ozeki and Yokozuna out of the way (don't hold your breath, though).

One of the more promising bouts of the day had enough drama in it, with Ama almost getting felled again by the same hit and pull strategy Goeido had been using on him with great success. This time, though, Ama's charge was a bit more careful and he somehow managed to keep his feet under him and turn the tables on the young Komusubi, keeping him on the defensive throughout. After pushing him to the straw, Ama attacked decisively with a pulldown which, although it didn't finish the job, got him a solid morozashi that he eventually used to force Goeido out by yorikiri. It was good stuff from the Ozeki, THIS TIME. From what we've seen so far, he's still not gonna impact the yusho race (unless he henkas Hakuho or something). The explanation is simple, Ama is now an Ozeki, he can't afford to henka too much, and the others know that and charge harder. Get used to it, you'll be seeing Ama overpowered in the future, much the same way Tochiohzan did yesterday. Also, as a little diversion, I think Kaio will kick his ass good and proper, and he better watch out for the Kaionage. Goeido is maturing nicely, and he's finally starting to beat on the people who used to cause him problems in the past (Chiyotaikai and Kisenosato). The giant win against Baruto on day 3 shows just why this guy will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. Expect him to get kachi-koshi.

Kadoban Ozeki Kotomitsuki didn't even bother going for the mawashi against the Jokester, he just brushed off the latter's limp tsuppari and pushed him out unspectacularly. The man from Sadogatake (5-2) should be able to stave off kadoban easily, especially with help from Kaio tomorrow and the lifeless Chiyotaikai (or if he pulls out, with the easy win over the replacement, likely Yoshikaze, while Hokutoriki is hot on the trail of that elusive 0-15 (and I hope he gets it, too).

Another particularly interesting bout, especially for two certain Sumotalk contributors, was the clash of the European giants, Sekiwake Baruto and Ozeki Kotooshu. The Estonian seemed particularly determined to win, showing a hard tachi-ai and some mean tsuppari right from the start. However, he seems to have forgotten that he needed the mawashi in each of his previous wins against the Bulgarian, who was only happy enough to show him the error of his ways. Kotooshu stood his ground like a stone wall, hardly moved by the flailing thrusts, and proceeded to take Bart back towards the tawara, wrapped him in a smothering morozashi and quickly moved him out. I'll admit it, Baruto has his chances against the taller Ozeki, but he needs the belt to do it, because Kotooshu is one of the most tsuppari resistant guys around. I always said, like most other Sumotalk writers, that Bart should try tsuppari, at least to the extent of setting up a favorable grip, but today was a clear example of when NOT to do it. With the competition not getting much easier, I'm a bit worried about Baruto's (3-4) kachi-koshi chances, but with a little focus he can get it. Kotooshu should be good for another 9-10 or so, but I hardly see him even threatening any of the Yokozuna.

Tochiohzan is having the basho of his life so far, having already demolished 3 Ozeki in his first 6 bouts. Today he stayed true to his current form, demolishing my favorite little Mongol. After a careful tachi-ai, Oh-Snap went straight for the inside position, but in doing so he managed to force Kakuryu back easily, so he stuck to oshi and quickly sent the Kak crashing into the spectator seats. With the solid oshidashi victory Oh rises above the .5 mark, while Kak sinks to his 5th defeat. Although his schedule has been as brutal as that of any meatgrinder Maegashira, for him there's not much hope of getting 8, because he's simply not good enough. Oh, on the other hand, only has Kaio and Sekiwake or below left as opponents, so kachi-koshi now is as likely as it was unlikely before the basho. Looks like that Kasugano softness is finally fading, and not a second too early, either.

Mongol Tokitenku, recently back among the top Maegashira after a whole year without kachi-koshi, slapped Homasho hard at the tachi-ai and looked to be set on getting morozashi, but Homer wisely kept his ass back and denied it. After being forced to the edge, he recovered and quickly pushed Tenku over to the other side, where he finished him off by yorikiri, despite a last chance kawazugake attempt by the leg technique prone Mongol, who falls to his 5th loss.

Sneaky was wary in his tachi-ai against the shifty Takekaze, who somehow keeps winning, even this high. After being taken back a bit by the smaller foe, the Isegahama dweller recovered nicely and pushed the round Kaze straight out, capitalizing on a poorly executed pull. Yawn. I'm sincerely puzzled by the low number of henkas from Aminishiki this basho, but this low on the banzuke he should win straight on, and he prolly knows it and prolly saving the henkas for the big guys.

Yoshikaze dominated the Clown today, getting the better of him at the tachi-ai and getting a solid left on the inside, which he used to quickly force his taller opponent to the edge. Then he used Takamisakari's resistance to win by the quick and inspired hatakikomi. Both rikishi are just below the .5 mark.

Former Sekiwake Tamanoshima got the better of Wakanosato in a beltless battle, despite giving Croco his favored inside left. After being taken back briefly, Waka recovered and tried to force Tama out himself, but he was felled by a well-timed kotenage. Peter surprisingly rises above the .5 mark, while Wakanosato is 3-4.

One guy I was expecting to do well in the comfort of the mid-Maegashira ranks is the stubby Toyonoshima, who got there because he happened to be on the wrong end of the Kaionage last basho. Today's opponent didn't agree with me, though. Veteran Tochinonada staved off Toyo's early attempt at getting a double inside and quickly got his own preferred left shitate which he used to drive his foe towards the edge. Of course, as a small dude, Toyonoshima has to have good evasive skills to do well so high on the banzuke, and he tried to demonstrate just that by attempting the hatakikomi as Nada was pushing him back, but Tochinonada, as I've said numerous times before, is a skilled veteran with occasionally brilliant and deadly technique, and he expertly grabbed Toyonoshima's left leg on his way down, forcing him to fall a few fractions of a second earlier than him. It was a textbook watashikomi and it should have been called out accordingly, but, as usual, they couldn't be bothered with such trivial nitpicks. 3-4 for both men.

Georgian Kokkai and Moon Man Iwakiyama went right into yotsu from the initial charge, a position which normally favors the more technical Japanese rikishi. Soon enough, Iwakiyama was on the offensive, attempting a meek uwatenage and getting the honky near the edge, but Kokkai kept his position low and managed to evade at the right time, sending Moonface sprawling to the dirt. Both guys are over the .5 mark, but, seriously, who cares?

After the disastrous 0-4 start and the continuous whining in the interviews, I thought Dejima was a goner for sure this basho, but, to my surprise, he is now embarked on a 3 bout winning streak after his close victory against The Mawashi.
Essentially a pusher/thruster, the Mongol succeeded in keeping old Purple-legs away from any inside position and looked like he was going to push him all the way out, but the veteran evaded just at the right time and slapped the inexperienced sophomore to the dirt before he was ousted from the dohyo. Tamawashi is 4-3.

Aran, probably ashamed about his lousy henka failure yesterday against Iwakiyama (the same guy who caught Wakanoho in mid-air a few basho ago, during one of his (in)famous flying henkas), decided to lay off the bullshit sumo, so he didn't henka. The result was a relatively long beltless stalemate between him and Futenoh, which Aran tried to resolve in his favor by powerfully yanking on Fruity's right arm (so hard, in fact, that I thought he might tear it from the body), but all he could get was a solid left shitate and a shallow right uwate. Futenoh had a double grip of his own, so, naturally, another stalemate followed. In response to Futenoh's eventual meek charge, Aran deployed a powerful shitatenage which took the Japanese fellow to the edge, where he was easy meat for the yoritaoshi. It was one of the better bouts of the day and it showed once more, if necessary, that Aran CAN do sumo when he wants to, but why work for your pay when you can henka your way around so easily? The win puts Aran over .5 again, while Futenoh drops under at 3-4.

Tochinoshin finally stopped the rot by overpowering returning veteran Shimotori. The Georgian lunged right into migi-yotsu from the tachi-ai and made short work of his foe, occasionally lifting him off his feet. This is the type of sumo all of these large European folks should employ all the time, but various factors seem to conspire against them, and we rarely see them ALL doing what they should. Anyway… this isn't something new, so I won't dwell on it.

The most surprising outcome today was Toyozakura's last ditch uwatenage win over Asasekiryu. After some severe abuse to his face, not-so-Sexy managed to get a solid double grip on little Zak's mawashi, and everyone, including him, thought that was it. Everyone except Toyozakura, that is, who somehow grabbed Sexy's belt at the very last moment and pressed on his head with the other hand, forcing him to touch down a few milliseconds before they both fell out of the dohyo. A mono-ii was rightfully called for and the gyoji's decision, who initially declared Asasekiryu the winner, was reversed. The loss might have cost Asasekiryu a special prize, but it's too early to tell. Toyozakura is still on his way back to Juryo, he can't have this kind of luck all the time.

Finally, THE Hutt got his slimy ass handed to him by the nimble Chiyohakuho, who initially kept Yama away from the mawashi, then he kept evading to his left, eventually pulling the unsuspecting monster down to his 2nd loss. It's the textbook way of beating Yamamotoyama and I'm somewhat surprised they don't do it like that more often. Nevertheless, let's not forget this is low Makuuchi, where most guys are often content with small kachi-koshi and a continued paycheck, but up there in the joi (should he ever get there), the double mountain is going to have a VERY hard time.

OK, there's still room for some drama towards the end of the basho, but from what I've seen so far, the Yokozuna are invincible. It's remotely possible one of them will be beaten before senshuraku, but it's pretty unlikely. But the real excitement this basho will come from the youngsters. Will Tochiohzan and Goeido kachi-koshi? I say they will.

Clancy rides into town tomorrow.

Day 6 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
NHK showed the "leaderboard" for the first time today during their broadcast, and the said leaderboard had the two Yokozuna on top of course with Kaio, Harumafuji, and Yamamotoyama on the second tier at 4-1. It's all meaningless of course as none of the second tier rikishi are fighting at a level even close to taking the yusho. Harumafuji has already admitted publicly that he longs for Ama; Kaio's week two record in tournaments the last few years is on par with the Washington Generals, and Fattymotofatty is a mere novelty who can never kachi-koshi from the jo'i. I could write pages breaking down the brilliance of the two Yokozuna, but since you can't have your pudding if you don't eat your meat, let's start from the bottom up in chronological order.

Shimotori easily wiped away a Toyozakura (2-4) moro-te attempt from the tachi-ai and secured moro-zashi straightway setting up the easy yori-kiri win and 3-3 record.

Chiyohakuho had Tamawashi on the run from the start with a nice inashi shove that had Tamawashi pushed to the tawara with his back turned to his opponent, but The Mawashi (4-2) incredibly spun out of harm's way using his momentum and a left arm on the inside of Chiyohakuho (3-3) to recklessly force him back across the dohyo and out before the Pup's pup could pull him down. It was close at the edge and you rarely see a rikishi win after having his back to his opponent, but since nobody cares, let's move on.

Unlike his opponents the first few days, Yamamotoyama's recent foes are striking and evading. Kimurayama has that move down pat at the tachi-ai, so he gave the Hutt a brief scare, but Ande was able to fight of Kimurayama's attack using his signature dual thrusts with elbows extended out wide before grabbing a firm outer grip and a right frontal grip on Kimurayama's belt. I don't know what's worse: being caught like this by Yamamotoyama or my habit of sniffing crack as Mark alleges, but Kimurayama was escorted back and out to a 4-2 record while Yamamotoyama sails to 5-1.

Kakizoe normally does well against Tosanoumi, but his wheels were spinning from the tachi-ai as he tried to push Tosanoumi back leaving the veteran an easy slapdown win. Both rikishi are 2-4.

Asasekiryu and Shotenro hooked up immediately in the gappuri hidari-yotsu position from the tachi-ai, and while this would normally favor the larger Shotenro, Asa's Secretary used his experience atop to dohyo to time his attack perfectly and neutralize a counter attack near the edge as he polished off the rookie in about 8 seconds. I always enjoy watching the veteran rikishi school the newbies. Asasekiryu is solid so far at 5-1, but look at his competition. Shotenro is gripping hard at 1-5.

It's just so hard to root for Aran despite his potential, but today was yet another example why as the Russian hopped to his right at the tachi-ai displaying an ugly henka. Fortunately, Iwakiyama knew the shift was coming because his head was up at the tachi-ai and his eyes were focused straight on his opponent. No need to flinch if you know your opponent ain't gonna hit you straight on. Anyway, Iwakiyama parlayed his opponent's compromising position into the easy moro-zashi stance where he easily forced Aran back and out from there. The Hutt moves to a sweet 4-2 while Aran doesn't even deserve his 3-3.

Tochinoshin grabbed the quick left uwate against Dejima, but the Georgian was too upright allowing Dejima to dangerously force NoShine back to the edge. In a last ditch effort, Tochinoshin attempted a counter uwate-nage throw, but with his momentum going backwards, it had no punch causing him to slip right out of it and off balance. Dejima charged directly into Tochinoshin's mid-section and sent him off the dohyo hard for the emphatic win. Both rikishi are a surprising 2-4.

In a battle of two rikishi who both favor the left inside position, it was no surprise of course to see Tochinonada and Futenoh hook up in hidari-yotsu. Officially, it was gappuri yotsu meaning both rikishi had left inside grips and right outers. Tochinonada isn't comfortable with an outer grip, and it showed as Futenoh took his time before pinching in Nada's left before using his body perfectly to force the Gentle Giant back and out to a 2-4 record. Futenoh is even Steven at 3-3.

Homasho and Kokkai hooked up in the grapplin' position from the tachi-ai where both guys hunkered down low, touched domes, and kept each other at bay with arms pushing at shoulders. The stalemate lasted a painful 10 seconds before Kokkai made the first move, which was a bad one as he jumped to his side while attempting to swipe Homasho down. Homie wasn't fooled and slammed directly into Kokkai's mid-section tackling the Georgian and sending him violently crashing to the dohyo with Homasho adding insult to injury by landing on top of him. I believe less brilliant minds have called this pancake time. Kokkai gets cooled off a bit at 4-2 while Homasho reaches 3-3. 

Toyonoshima showed his technical prowess today against Takamisakari easily working his way into the moro-zashi position from the start, but sumo's version of Forrest Gump has the uncanny ability to use a gangly arm pulling upward at his opponent's belt to neutralize his lower body, so as Toyonoshima forced Takamisakari towards the edge, the Cop survived pulling up at Toyo's belt with the right arm disallowing Toyonoshima the kill straightway. In the process, Takamisakari managed a maki-kae getting his left arm on the inside whereupon he immediately forced Toyonoshima across the dohyo and up against the tawara. But once again, the better technical fighter, Toyonoshima, was able to wiggle out just a bit and fell the taller Sakari with a nice inner belt throw. Good stuff from both combatants who settle for 3-3 records.

Wakanosato normally owns Aminishiki, but Shneaky was just that jumping a split second early at the tachi-ai and catching Wakanosato as he was still coming up out of his stance. The result was an Aminishiki positioned low with the his body perfectly aligned against Wakanosato allowing him to stand the Crocodile straight up rendering him the quick push-out fodder. This was Ami's easiest date so far as he moves to 4-2 while Wakanosato is a decent 3-3.

In a sloppy affair, Tamanoshima and Yoshikaze tsuppari'ed their way into a stalemate before Yoshikaze went for a quick and ill-advised pull attempt. Tamanoshima read the move like a twisted Mitsuru Yaku comic book and pushed Yoshikaze back dangerously towards the straw, but somehow Cafe squirmed out of the danger and actually slipped to the side of Tamanoshima attempting to secure the manlove position. The veteran Tamanoshima immediately realized he was the senpai, and if there was any love to be made on the dohyo, he would be the aggressor, so he showed his experience by slipping around the side of his opponent and grabbing the back of Yoshikaze's belt with the right hand twisting him around and assuming the manlove position himself. At this point, the fish knew he was had and said do me now, so Tamanoshima did sending Yoshikaze off of the dohyo into the lap of the referee waiting his turn below the dohyo. Tamanoshima scores as he evens things at 3-3 while Yoshikaze will live and learn at 2-4.

Miyabiyama and Takekaze traded hesitant tsuppari each knowing that the other had no qualms about going for a slapdown attempt at any time. After about five seconds of this nonsense, Takekaze felt Miyabiyama up quickly on both boobs before going for that phantom swipe downward from the opponent's chest. I'm not sure how it works, but it did as Takekaze enjoyed the hiki-otoshi win not to mention a 4-2 record! Miyabiyama is 1-5.

Japan's future hopes met on the dohyo today with Komusubi Goeido fighting Sekiwake Kisenosato. The Kid used a left kachi-age at the tachi-ai in an attempt to keep Goeido off of the belt straightway, but Goeido brought the goods and had a left belt grip before Kisenosato knew what hit him. Before Kisenosato could react to the circumstance, Goeido demanded the right inside grip as well, and with moro-zashi in hand, Goeido drove the Sekiwake back and out without argument. The look on Goeido's face afterwards exhibited pure adrenaline as both rikishi stand at 3-3. Today was a good example of why I much more geeked about Goeido than I am Kisenosato.

In the Ozeki ranks, Kotomitsuki started a step behind the starting line and started lunging before Tokitenku was fully ready. Tokitenku flinched and put his final fist to the dirt, but the Ozeki was already onto him like stink to crack using a right on the inside and left outer grip not to mention the overpowering momentum gained from the tachi-ai. Wunt nothing the Mongolian could do as Kotomitsuki forced him back and out in two seconds. Kotomitsuki breathes easier at 4-2 while Tenku falls to 2-4.

In a surprising affair, Tochiohzan kept both arms in tight at the tachi-ai against Ozeki Harumafuji, who was a bit lackadaisical in his approach, and the result was Tochiohzan in the moro-zashi position from the get-go. Oh wasted no time and just bulldozed his ama back and across the straw leaving us to wonder which was the Ozeki. You have to be happy for Tochiohzan (3-3) to see him finally performing like this among the jo'i. Give the credit to the one rikishi who has been doing his job and tutoring the young up-and-comers, all of them Japanese rikishi. Harumafuji falls to 4-2.

Hokutoriki is not out there to win this basho, so it was no surprise that Ozeki Kaio just waltzed into the easy right outer grip. Kaio prolly took longer than he needed wrenching Jokutoriki just so until he went for the inevitable force-out attempt. Hokutoriki's lack of effort is ridiculous, but hell if Kaio won't take the freebie. The NHK announcers were playing it up a bit for Kaio's 5-1 record, but he'll be lucky to win more than 9 when it's all said and done. Hokutoriki is a pathetic 0-6. No, starting 0-6 from the M1 rank is not a problem, but showing zero effort is.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai's tsuppari attack is gone. The problem is the lower body because the Pup can still rapidly fire off the shoves, but they have zero effect. Sekiwake Baruto easily withstood the blows grabbing the early right frontal belt grip. Chiyotaikai managed to shake that off with a choke hold, but you rarely hear the terms "Chiyotaikai" and "long arms" in the same sentence for a reason. The Estonian easily kept his cool about him as he lunged for and got another right outer grip, this one too deep for the Ozeki to counter. Baruto took his time, wrapped Chiyotaikai up, and then respectfully forced him back and out with care keeping him atop the dohyo. Excellent work for Baruto who moves to 3-3. The Pup falls to 1-5 and has already developed that limp as he walks down the hanamichi. The kyujo is coming, prolly after giving Kaio a freebie.

Ozeki Kotooshu showed great patience in fending off Kakuryu's early tsuppari attack that included a coupla well-time shoves into the Ozeki's neck, but the Bulgarian knew he had the advantage with his long arms, so he patiently waited for an opening which came about three seconds in. Kotooshu grabbed the right outer grip, took a half step forward to cinch his opponent on the left side, and then forced the Kak out with his brilliant handiwork. Kotooshu moves to a quiet 4-2 while Kakuryu falls to 2-4.

In the Yokozuna ranks, Asashoryu looked to receive a decent test from Kotoshogiku, but Asashoryu's hari-zashi tachi-ai was too good slapping the Geeku with the right hand while getting his left arm on the inside. Asashoryu followed that up with right outer grip, but Kotoshogiku kept the Yokozuna at bay breaking off the grip with a nice belly shove. With the rikishi back to square one, Kotoshogiku looked to actually have some life, but Asashoryu adjusted first by swiping at the Geeku's side with his right hand sending him sprawling to the corner of the dohyo in a heap. Kotoshogiku put up a valiant charge today, but as Mainoumi pointed out from the booth, the Yokozuna kept his cool throughout. The Geeku falls to 1-5 with the loss while Asashoryu remains perfect.

In the day's final bout, Kyokutenho actually struck Yokozuna Hakuho well gaining the slightly lower position, but Hakuho is so damn strong he easily held his ground using the right inside position to keep Tenho away from an outer on that side while securing an outer of his own with the left. After gathering his wits, Hakuho executed the perfect force-out win using his right arm on the inside to keep Kyokutenho upright, his left outer grip to lift up at Tenho's lower body to keep him from digging in, and his body to push against Tenho's mid-section providing the impetus to move him back. Textbook stuff as Hakuho breezes to his 6-0 record.

Both Yokozuna are 20-1 this year with losses coming to one Yokozuna and one Ozeki. It's hard to find much besides the Khan to talk about, but it's good for sumo to raise the bar like this.

Martin bellydances tomorrow.

Day 5 Comments (Mark Arbo reporting)
I got the call just a few days ago. The first thing I thought was, "Why are they asking me to help put together this dudes bachelor party?". I like him well enough but I hardly know the guy. But my second thought quashed the quandary. I realized I was getting the call not because of my relation to the deceased ... I mean engaged, but instead because of my (perceived) distinct and thorough knowledge of all things seedy and delightfully decadent that can be found in an onsen resort town. So I have dutifully been going about my vocation; planning, scheming, and doing no small amount of "research". If you are going to be anywhere in southern Japan tomorrow evening heed my warning and make sure your wives, daughters, pets and lawn ornaments are under lock and key till some time late Sunday. 

Kenji's little earlier than usual but predictable as the tide "cream rising to the top"/"Separating themselves from the pack" spiel was a thinly disguised allusion to the fact that everyone is sucking monkey balls this time around. 4 days in, only 3 pugilists had staved off their inceptive routing. So forgive me if I don't lead you on (like that new Office Lady who taunts you with likes like "I have a boyfriend" and "Stop following me or I'll call the police") with patronizing nonsense about how well things are shaping up. This basho belongs to a Mongol Yokozuna and everything else is just intramural.

Today we start things off with the organism that makes up half the leader-board (at least in weight). Like those before him, Tosanoumi took the kamikaze route and hit Yama's string on. Umi bounced off like he had run into.... well... a Mountain or two, and it looked like Yamamotoyama would get another easy one. But, at 37, Tosanoumi ain't no green rookie, and he began a combo of lateral movement interspersed with thrusts and slowly began standing up and moving the freak-show backward. With not an ounce of quit in him, Umi showed he is still as tough as nails, working his ass off tiring Yama's out and, pushing up under his armpits, sending The Mountain Man sprawling to the Kokugikan floor. The ground shook. That's loss number one for YMY and win number one for Tosanoumi.. 

Despite being well on his way to a Russian-Hat-Trick (more henkas than victories), 3-1 Aran came out clean against 3-1 Kimurayama who gave a quick push/pull that fell Aran like he wasn't even trying to stay on his feet.

Looking half way decent (ranked this low he'd better) for the first time since that janitor used to report for us, The Secretary grabbed an outside left and that was, sadly, all he needed to move Shimotori around like a marionette.

Both hoping to break .500 Tamawashi and Tochinoshin came out looking to push and it probably would have been an even contest had noShine not panicked and taken a step backward, allowing Tama to gain some momentum and wash the floor with him.

Kokkai and Shotenro were just securing their belt grips when Tenro suddenly seemed to loose his footing and drop. Watching the replay it looked like there could have been a incredibly deft leg trip in there, but I don't think Kokkai has the foresight or the skills to have pulled that one off, so I'm assuming it was dumb luck. Calling it a rare and unflattering tsuki-hiza, the judges thought so too.

Kakizoe downed Homasho in what was one of the most obvious hair pulls I have seen in sumo. Exactly what orifice the judges had their heads up I wont speculate on, but this was so obvious it could have been called without a mono-ii (which also wasn't called). A tough loss for Homasho who we were all hoping might start a little stronger than 2-3. Kakizoe picked up his second win, but it was a crap win.

Is Toyonoshima bigger around than Iwakiyama!? Yikes! He's like 5 feet tall! Today portly Toyo got two hands inside, but Iwaki, who is looking even uglier than normal with that big scrape on his forehead, was still able to lock up his arms and power him out and off the dohyo. Fantastic stuff for Mt. Iwaki.

I am thoroughly enjoying watching Aminishiki struggle this low on the banzuke. But today he stayed busy, successfully keeping Futenoh, who even flirted with morozashi, off his belt and yorikiri'ed him. Ami picks up his 3rd but he really doesn't look all that well. Perhaps he has a bug. Or perhaps his conscience is eating at him.

Dejima dejima'ed Wakanosato and picked up just his first win (at right).

I have always enjoyed the various pre-fight rituals that different rikishi go through. Takanohana used to glare at his opponents like he was doing a "You looking at me?" Dinero impression, Kitazakura throws as much salt as he can scoop up in his big right hand, Katayama did his graceful shiko, and Asa has the controversial Thunder Slap. I don't even mind Takami's increasingly animated hijinks... come to think of it I really enjoy them. Of all the pre-fight rituals the only one that really gets under my skin is Tochinonada's. While I can't pinpoint exactly why, there is something about watching him punch himself everywhere, save in the balls, that irks me to the point where I usually change the channel. 

Anywho, I flipped back just in time to see genki little Yoshikaze throw 10 things at Nada before he even realized the fight had started. Kaze got a relatively easy "W" as Nada fell into the special seats reserved for the brown robe bourgeoisies.

After the break the other Kaze came out with an A+ tachi-ai, shoving his head into taller Takamisakari's chest and following through with short, deliberate steps till Takami had made his exit, breaking the hearts of children and old ladies all over the greater Osaka area.

Tamanoshima locked up an arm and used a painful looking elbow to the throat to more or less submit Tokitenku who couldn't take it any more and stepped over the straw living to fight another day.

The Geeku hasn't really been able to find a Hump-Jump-Groove thus far in Osaka. He did turn the humper on today and seemed to have Kisenosato in trouble, but Kissy kept his head and methodically spilled KotoG at the straw with something that looked a little more like a throw than a thrust down but was ruled a tsuki-otoshi.

The Good Dr. Mario is a friend and an intelligent man of science whom I respect deeply. So it was with great dismay that I learned of all the peyote he's been eating. I haven't seen any "Buttons" (yet) but saying Bart's "looking good this Basho"? We ALL know what's going on.

Today 'Good Looking' Bart Drew Ama who also has been making waaaaay to many sloppy mistakes. But today Harumafuji really did look good, taking a quick inside left and a front right that he would not relinquish the entirety of this fairly lengthy fight. As is often the case, Bart was good enough to know he was in trouble but not quite good enough to know what to do about it. He hunkered down and locked up Ama's arms. Ama pushed and pulled Bart around the ring, but such enormous weight and power proved hard to force out or spill to the clay. Realizing Bart was attempting no offense whatsoever and that he was therefore quite safe, Harumafuji took a moment to regroup and then, shoving his left leg between Bart's, sprung a necessarily massive shitate-nage that sent them both across the dohyo and crashing to the floor. Ama put his hand down surprisingly early, and I wondered if a mono-ii might be called, but not wanting to reward Bart or penalize Ama, (or perhaps still having their heads up some orifice or another) it was aloud to slide. Walking down the 'Flower Road' both guys seemed to be dealing with elbow issues.

In a fight that was so ugly that I almost regurgitated my Afterburner over my pretty red shirt, Kaio came out with something not unlike tsuppari (I think). Miyabi responded with what I can confirm was in fact tsuppari of a most flaccid kind. Miyabi kept the limp thrusts and occasional pulls going while Kaio committed to a series of uncoordinated pulls while jogging backwards. Back and forth they went till Kaio, most likely inadvertently, found himself inside on Mt. Miyabi ran them across the dohyo a couple more times and finally straight off it's edge. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were both drunk.

Speaking of ugly, in clearly the ugliest henka of the basho thus far, Kakuryu drugged Chiyotaikai, brought him back to his Chevy van, and had his way with him over and over again. Then he threw Chiyo (still unconscious) out by a river miles from home. Hav'in taken pictures the whole while Kak mailed them to Chiyo's entire family. Kak then sent Chiyo a note that if he ever told anyone that he would plaster the pictures all over the internet.

Mike Wisheman, is a friend and a God-fearing gentleman whom I respect deeply. So it was with great anguish that I learned that he was on crack. I haven't seem any pipes (yet) but, even though he is 90% right, with Hokutoriki at M1, when someone starts a report with "As good as this Banzuke is...", we ALL know what's going on.

Today Shoe got the freebee as Hokutoriki, after a stiff hand to Yogurt's throat, turned inexplicably sideways and waited for Koto's outer left hand throw.

Working to keep his big Oz paycheck, Mitsuki had a great tachi-ai moving Kyokutenho back and taking morozashi. The Mongol did try to hold on at the edge but he was never in this one.

As Hak and Tochiohzan were going through their pre-fight rituals you could hear some heckler yell "Ganbatte Tochiohzan! Hakuhoooo, your going to loose!". Any hope Ohzan had of catching the Yokozuna napping were gone, and at this point I honestly began fearing for young Tochiohzan. But Hak kept his emotions in check, and after a dominant tachi-ai took his outside left/inside right and pushed Ohzan like this was a butsukari-geiko drill. 

I was stoked when I saw that Asa and Goeido were to square off on my day. Fantastic main event for a first week Thursday. What we all hoped would be a 'barn burner' that would have the men of Osaka on their feet and the ladies (ideally) throwing their shirts into the dohyo didn't materialize. Asa moved Goeido 4 feet back with one shove and then pulled him into the clay in a fight that didn't last ¾ of a second. These Yokozuna are just too good.

Here's your homework-

a) Try Asahi Black, but try not to think it will be Guinness like.
b) Download anything you can by "Soil & Pimp Sessions"
c) No matter where you live, track down some really good middle eastern food
d) Read Mike's report tomorrow
d) Try to stop being such a loser

Tomorrows pairings don't look all that arresting, so that should give you all more time to work on your homework (especially "d").

Day 4 Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
The two Yokozuna are separating themselves from the pack already, largely due to the lack of performance from the Ozeki field. After four days we have only three rikishi with unblemished records. 

The first of those is M13 behemoth Yamamotoyama, who used his girth to charge ahead yet again and improve to 4-0. The youngster seems to be getting into a good offensive groove, taking aggressive initiative but staying in control at the same time. It somewhat reminds me of Konishiki, who was huge and aggressive, but not always in control. I'm liking what I'm seeing from this kid so far. 

In somewhat of a surprise, Ozeki (3-1) Kaio kept Baruto from his belt and unleashed a subtle but effective Kotenage to pinch the Sekiwake's left elbow and bring him tumbling down to consecutive losses (2-2). 

Hometown fave Goeido (2-2) gave the fans more to cheer about with a win over Chiyotaikai (1-3). Taikai has been so ineffective the last couple days that it makes me believe he may bow out before Kaio. His tsuppari, while lightening fast, is nothing more than empty movement as Goeido patiently secured the belt enroute to an easy yori-kiri. 

Landlocked in Migi-yotsu gappuri from the get-go, this classic belt match between Kotooshu (2-2) and Kyokutenho (2-2) went to the veteran technician Tenho, who used Oshu's momentum to turn the tides for an eventual tsukiotoshi. 

Kotomitsuki (2-2) picked up a big win against Kakuryu (1-3) via uchimuso, whereby one sticks a hand out to touch the inner thigh of the opponent, which induces an involuntary reaction to pull the leg away. This allowed Mitsuki to pull Kakuryu down. It's a pretty neat move that takes good timing and technique to pull off. 

Hokutoriki showed a glimpse of promise today with a solid nodowa to begin, but Harumafuji (3-1) set himself free of it to send the Pretender (0-4) tumbling down to his 4th straight defeat. 

In a battle to get better positioning, Asashoryu (4-0) garnered moro-zashi against Tochiohzan (2-2) which almost immediately resulted in a yoritaoshi win. Sho stays perfect at 4-0, showing no signs of vulnerability. 

Hakuho (4-0) used a hari-zashi start to secure migi-yotsu against Kotoshogiku (1-3) and grabbed the left uwate. With this set-up, the writing was on the wall for the overmatched Geeku. It was just a matter of time before Hakuho forced him out to also stay perfect at 4-0.

Mark's turn tomorrow.

Day 3 Comments (Mario Kadastik reporting)
Another basho another brand of sumo. It's been a while and you know that nagging feeling you get between bashos when there is no sumo on? Well that's over now. Am back in the hotel with the usual company and it's a lot of fun. The drinking, the arguing etc. Maybe not the squeaking in Mark's and Clancy's room, but the onsen and the big ass High Def TV that Mike ordered for us with the Thai massage is just awesome. Now you can just relax, someone is massaging you, getting all the muscle ache out of your back, and then you just float in the hot waters and watch sumo on the badass TV mounted to the ceiling. Mmm.... Too bad Martin's making bubbles constantly, should recommend him to change his diet. But let's get to the bouts now. 

The action kicked off with Tosanoumi and Kimurayama going at it. Kimu slightly moved to his left after the contact and had Tosa backing away. A slight slapping fest ensued with Kimu trying to get Tosanoumi to back himself out, when Tosanoumi planted his feet at the tawara and lunged forward Kimurayama just let the gravity do the work by evading to his left and slapping Tosanoumi down. Nothing to see here. 

Well, so let's try again and see if we get better sumo from the Mawashi and the Toyo the Zakura meeting. Nope, what we get is a henka to the left from Toyozakura who had Tamawashi moving backwards only to see the table turned around on him and get himself escorted out. Well at least justice was served and a henka was punished. Good job in that regard to Tamawashi for hanging in there. 

Well next up promised to be the one then. Shotenro vs. Shimotori. NHK even played it well up by having the day's special on Shotenro, the marvel child who kicked Juryo ass twice in row last basho. Well he's had some tough Makuuchi love this time around as he felt the henka wrath from Aran. Well today was a tick better. Shotenro definitely wanted to go full, but Shimotori managed to get both hands inside (though without a mawashi grip). Shotenro tried all he could, pushing without a belt grip, going for a left outer grip and then trying a maki-kae to get something on the inside. Well Shimotori planned it well and used that maki-kae attempt to push the out of balance Shotenro back and out. Good stuff from both, Shotenro showed spirit, but Shimotori got the better originally. 

Next one up is someone who definitely is worth mentioning, actually he is kinda hard to miss. You know whom I mean, it's the double mountain YamaMotoYama. And to make the fun even better, he's facing Kakizoe, who is one of the tiniest fellas in Makuuchi. The weight difference alone is 1.5x my mass (110 kg). Well the only way you can defeat YMY is by running circler around it until it starts to go backwards in time. The sure way to lose against him is to run straight on for the belt. So what do you think Kakizoe did who always runs circles around his opponents? Well he got to his usual stance with his ass up in the air and then ran straight into the mountain slapping away. The mountain responded with a slap of his own sending Kaki to the side and followed through, not allowing any chance for Zoe. Great courage (albeit stupid) from Kaki and great sumo from YMY. He deserves to be 3-0, we'll see how he manages throughout the week. 

Aran is a puzzle. He is now the sole Russian and maybe he feels he needs to keep up the henka trend, he did pull off a "beautiful" and successful henka on Shotenro a few days go, but he can also move forward. I wish he'd do that more. Today he met with Chiyohakuho. Well today he did a slight sidestep at the tachi-ai and got to the left of Yohak, but all he grabbed was some sweet white Yohak ass. Yohak went for a maki-kae from there and lost balance to what Aran responded with a try to push Yohak out, but failed in the attempt. He then planted a straight hand to Yohak's neck and tried to force the latter out with some weird sumo. Yohak backpedaled faster and managed to off-balance and down Aran. Another loss to the Russian and another henka attempt. He should stop them. Both stand at 2-1 which isn't that bad at all. 

The next bout was the bout of the day (well almost), at least the bout of the first half. Coming in Tochinoshin was the favorite, he's been looking very good the past few days and one expects him to wipe the dohyo with the oldster Iwakiyama. But Iwaki isn't a pushover either, he's a wily veteran who can beat a lot of guys when it gets to a yotsu fight. And a yotsu fight it was. From the get-go both got a left inner grip, but no right outer. After a while Iwaki went for a maki-kae which was exactly what Tochinoshin wanted as he just loves a left outer. Now what we have is Tochinoshin with moro-uwate and Iwakiyama with morozashi. That's not a good position for Tochinoshin to be in. The match that ensued almost made me sleep due to its length, but it didn't because it was full of yotsu struggle. Shin trying to pivot Iwaki out who only recovered because he foot-locked to still have a bit of of balance. Finally, Shin attempted to go for a push, but Iwaki was too well balanced. He took the push and carried it over to a pivot sending Tochinoshin to the clay. Great sumo and definitely the best yotsu battle that was around. Iwaki finally got the win and can stack them up now, shin's at 2-1 and not so bad himself. 

Asasekiryu has been looking utterly bad lately, but he's so low that he'll just win a number of them because of the rank. However Futenoh is a tough fella to move around so Asasekiryu had his hands full. The bout started with quite some slapping and going for mawashi with both fellas barring the other. Seemed like fencing with two swords to be honest. Finally, Sexy got the butt far away position that he wants with Futenoh upright. He then just slapped Friuity's side and turned him around. From the manlove position there was no going back. Good stuff from Sexy here. 

Well one guy who has surprised me this basho is Kokkai, he's like the second or third coming with nice and solid sumo which has paid off very well. Today wasn't quite the same. Kokkai charged hard, but then shifted finally to the side going for a pull attempt. It didn't work, it didn't work the second time either, but after some pushing he went for it the third time and this time it worked sending Tochinonada rolling on the dohyo. Kokkai is 3-0, but he doesn't really deserve to be 3-0. Today was shitty sumo. Nada hasn't been too sparky lately and the 1-2 reflects that. 

Some of the interesting feature today was when they showed an early Takamisakari who didn't do his robot antics yet, that was odd to see. For the bout itself, Dejima isn't his own self, he can't even do the wreck train so he's gonna really struggle this basho. That fall on day one where he looked to re-injure his arm didn't help either. Dejima did take Takamisakari back as the good old train, but Robocop stood his ground and turned around the Egyptian grabbing the mawashi to the side and turned him around sending him out with some manlove. Good stuff from the cop who always recovers at the tawara. Dejima better pull out and heal himself, he ain't winning many in his current form. 

The surprise of the day came from Homasho who facing the old barometer Wakanosato and considering his form should have had a walk in the part. Except the walk never happened when Wakanosato came out blazing and just ran Homasho out. I'm thinking Homey was essentially asleep still as he showed no real resistance. The Barometer's called the Barometer for a reason and he showed good sumo, hope he keeps it up as he keeps others honest and that can only be good. For Homasho this was just a miscalculation and he'll bounce right back, well at least he should. 

Toyonoshima was leading the stats coming in and even though Yoshikaze's been around the top region of Makuuchi these two basho, he's still not ready for it. The two went at it in a tsuppari fest which isn't what Toyonoshima usually does and what is good for Yoshikaze. However Toyo kept his balance and as the tsuppari fest usually goes ended up slapping Yoshikaze down. Nothing beautiful here, but it's a win. 

After the rerun of the first half that we had to look at during the long coffee (sorry, tea) break that the MIB have the action started with Tamanoshima just running Takekaze out. Nothing to see here, move along. 

Well one total disappointment this basho is Aminishiki. I was expecting him to make minced meat of everyone this low, but instead he just keeps getting to all fours and taking it from behind. What's wrong with the guy? Well he faced the happy man today as Tokitenku just comes off his first KK basho since six consecutive MK ones. Tenku charged into Ami with full force and Ami answered in kind. A short struggle for grip ensued with Ami getting the better position and moving for the kill, but Tokitenku just planted himself at the tawara and decided to go for the utchari move pivoting Ami over his back. Well it didn't quite get to an utchari as Ami just fell apart and Tenku lowered him to the clay with what came to be called shitate-hineri. To see an utchari we need to look at the next bout. 

Baruto vs. Goeido. Well you all know my love for Baruto so you can guess I expected him to win. Last basho when the two met, Baruto made the stupid mistake as immediately giving Goeido the frontal grip that he so likes and when he went for a maki-kae, he didn't have the grip to keep Goeido at bay. However this time around he did charge with a tick lower stance and his right arm folded in front hoping to neutralize that frontal grip. Goeido came in even lower and did get some grip. Baruto decided to not try a maki-kae this time and instead locked Goeido's arms high pulling the youngling totally off balance and gripless. He then just started to move Goeido back with ease at times even lifting him up off the ground. However he accidentally placed him right at the tawara with some momentum coming on to him. Goeido, with his back to the "wall" went for the last desperate attempt and went for utchari. Unlike during the last bout, this time he did pull it off. He actually took the whole load of Baruto onto him and his spine didn't snap in the process. Baruto tried to balance and lean in, but failed to avert getting crashed to the clay. Too bad that he had to pull that on Baruto, but I have to give the guy praise. He did pull off a great move there. Baruto is looking good this basho, but he didn't expect today to get utchari'd so let's hope he learned in the process. Both guys share plenty of future ahead of them and good sumo from both. 

Tochiohzan surprised everyone with that dismantling of Kotooshu yesterday, but I didn't expect him to repeat the occurrence today against Chiyotaikai. Taikai came with a nodowa, but Oh Poo had already gotten inside and wasn't gonna allow a tsuppari fest so he just dug in and went for a speed-run sending Chiyotaikai to the second or third row. That's the second day in row that he's gotten to give a kicked-an-Ozeki ass interview and he's looking solid. Maybe he got off the weed like so many others lately and can actually think clear now? Usually he falls apart when facing the higher competition after shining on week one. Maybe it's just the week two problem? We'll see. Chiyotaikai is in bit of a trouble now as he's still got a lot of guys coming along and he can't get a favor from Kotomitsuki. Would be interesting to see how he gets his eight this time... 

Well the day was off to a bad start for the Ozeki, let's see how this turns out in total, was total crap yesterday. So let's see next it's Kotooshu vs. Miyabiyama. The Miyabiyama who kicked Mitsuki's ass. Well they took their sweet time getting in sync. No real false starts, but getting up and sitting down for sure. Kotooshu charged hard and went into Miyabi's own cookbook and went for a slapfest. He then set him up for a pulldown and executed with such force on the first pull that Miyabi went down so freaking fast that even Kotooshu lost his balance and flung around for the second contact which didn't occur. Good to see that he could recover from this ugly business from yesterday, let's see how the rest of the basho works out for him. Miyabi has a scalp from yesterday, but I doubt he'll KK in the end. 

So the next Ozeki to get some love is Kotomitsuki facing Kisenosato. Even when Mitsuki is healthy I'd say this is a tough one to call as Kisenosato is the next Japanese hope. Mitsuki really really needs to win as he'll meet tough guys in second week and not getting his eight means back to Sekiwake, and at his age that's the end of the road, it can only go downhill from there. The two met face to face hard and while Mitsuki tried to get a belt grip Kise tried to keep him far away from any and pushed him away at least three times. When Mitsuki came back every single time he at some point just slapped him down. Mitsuki didn't just have the footwork to make it work for him. Cheers for Kise on pulling it off nicely, and I'm not quite sure how Kotomitsuki is gonna get his eight. No matter how much back-rubbing there is going to be from the fellow Ozeki, it can only give him max four wins. It'll be an interesting watch, but maybe we do see an Ozeki spot opening up now. 

So we have two downed Ozeki and a winning Ozeki and then we get to Harumafuji vs. Kyokutenho with Harumafuji still in his silver mawashi. They did charge nice and low giving Ama the frontal grip. Tenho was just left with Ama's nipples which he tried to play, but Ama wasn't into men (even though the number of manlove wins might suggest otherwise), and he pushed and shoved and went for the kill, but Tenho just planted his side to Ama and balanced at the edge not letting himself be pushed out. However, now he didn't have the balance to Ama's sides which was exactly where he was sent by the man in silver belt. He actually made the throw strong enough and Tenho kept his grip long enough that Ama himself made a total spin going onto his hands to regain balance. This was a nice and technical win unlike the spinning he did yesterday, he was the offender and he did win, so let's hope he's gaining his charm back. 

Ok, 2-2 so far with the Ozeki, it's now up for Kaio to keep the Ozeki honors and make sure more Ozeki win than lose. Then again he's facing Kotoshogiku who isn't a push-around and has so far slimly evaded a win. Then again Kaio has forgotten more about sumo than most of the juniors even know. The first attempt Giku just blew running way too early before Kaio even thought on putting the hand down. On the second attempt he did neutralize Kaio's left arm, but did give him his right inside. They turned around each other, but Kaio had a good grip so he just solidified his grip and then slowly took Giku over the tawara no matter his struggling. The old bear knows the play and can stick around for quite a while. I'm giving up on expecting him to have his last Kyushu over and over again. When he's really double MK, then I believe that it's done for him. For now he's ok, except that he'll lose tomorrow to Bart for Bart has improved enough to go yotsu with Kaio and win. We'll see how it goes. 

So the small guys out of the way let's see how the Khans behave these days and considering that we have now a top heavy well-balanced banzuke, we'll have a lot of guys handing each other losses and the Khans will be the ones running away with it. Already now we have only a few other players with 3-0 out there, none of them anything real. The first Yokozuna match is Hakuho vs. Kakuryu. Well that was a no-brainer for Hakuho except for Kakuryu who actually came out giving his all. He actually could push Hak around enough to get him almost to the tawara. Hakuho got very mad at that and during his recharge he had the power of god himself in him as he bear-hugged Kakuryu and then flung him to the clay with such force and vengeance that you could be sure that Kakuryu wouldn't want to meet Hakuho any time soon. Even though Kakuryu did move Hak back a bit he was never in danger, just had to adjust. 

And the musubi-no-ichiban with the bad guy Asashoryu facing Hokutoriki. Now this was a total letdown for the final bout of the day. Hokutoriki came with his signature nodowa to Asa's neck, but Asashoryu just didn't let himself be bothered by such a small thing. He went to the belt, grabbed it and threw Hokutoriki to the ground. There's no competition for these two at the moment, we'll have to wait a bit longer to see any "scares" to the two Khans, and I think by then it might be already too late as they have a comfortable lead. So a final result I would still guess is that Asashoryu and Hakuho play it out on senshuraku. Whether one will be chasing the other or they come in equal, it's likely that it's decided in the very last bout of the basho. 

So don't bend over, might have Ama behind you and then you'd miss Kenji giving you the highlights tomorrow.

Day 2 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
As good as this banzuke is, I can immediately see how it can create a rather lackluster basho. By nature of their ranks, the Yokozuna will be fed their competition from weakest to strongest by rank with the exception being the matchups against the Komusubi on day 1. While the two Khan are shredding their competition in week 1, the rest of the rikishi will be beating up on each other, so by the time week 2 comes around and they face the Yokozuna, they'll be well out of the yusho race...not that they were ever in it to begin with I suppose. The point is, when you have all of the tough guys packed tightly at the top, they'll inevitably hand each other losses while the Yokozuna sit back and get fat. Considering that neither Asashoryu nor Hakuho has ever been caught from behind to lose the yusho, it's looking more and more as if we'll have to look beyond the dohyo to entertain ourselves the first 14 days.

Leading off the day was Hanaregoma-oyakata in the head judge's chair who had to make sure everyone knew he was there because he waved off the first tachi-ai between M15 Tosanoumi and M16 Toyozakura. Course it took five seconds or so before anyone noticed him, but I guess he proved his point early as they stopped the bout and called both rikishi back. After an identical tachi-ai the second time around that wasn't called back, Toyozakura put both paws to Tosanoumi's throat and then suddenly switched gears a second later pulling Tosanoumi (0-2) to the dirt in unspectacular fashion. Zak moves to 1-1.

M14 Tamawashi looked a bit out of synch at the tachi-ai and kept his eyes looking at the dirt as he charged into M15 Kimurayama...well, what he thought was Kimurayama for Chimerayama had moved to his left easily pushing Tamawashi to the dirt with his signature henka move. The guys in the booth for NHK--Fujii Announcer, Mainoumi, and Toki (lookin' good as always)--all agreed that Tamawashi simply failed to do his homework against his opponent, and they're right of course. There is no excuse for any of these guys to lose to Kimurayama (2-0), but they continue to do so. Tamawashi falls to 0-2 with the careless loss.

And speaking of failing to study your opponent, M14 Shimotori charged straight into Yamamotoyama's girth, which is fine if you have a plan and know you can get morozashi. Shimotori got neither as he lazily let his left arm stray giving Ande the easy right on the inside, which he countered with an armbar over the top of Shimotori's right with his left ham. From there, Yamamotoyama swallowed Shimotori into his gut, raised him upright, and easily spit him across the tawara into Nineveh for the easy win not to mention 2-0 start. Shimotori falls to 1-1.

M12 Kakizoe jumped out of his stance a split second early looking to shove M13 Chiyohakuho back, but the latter evaded to his left trying to pull Kakizoe down with a kata-sukashi attempt. It was Kakizoe's turn to evade now moving to his left, and as Chiyohakuho looked to commit on a final pushout of Kakizoe who was dancing along the tawara, Kakizoe was too fast and slipped away leaving Chiyohakuho to push into thin air causing him to just stumble out of the dohyo on his own. Lackluster stuff as both rikishi sit at 1-1.

M11 Aran took a page out of Kimurayama's book and moved to his left against rookie M12 Shotenro easily slapping him down by the side of the neck in half a second. At 2-0 Aran proves absolutely nothing as his name gets added to the naughty list. Shotenro is 0-2 and likely frustrated. Bet he didn't get henka'd like this in Juryo.

Save Yamamotoyama's effort, the bouts up to this point had been total crap, but M10 Iwakiyama and M11 Asasekiryu changed that with a great display of sumo that began with Sexy ducking in low looking for morozashi at the tachi-ai. Iwakiyama denied him the stance with a pesky left arm on the inside, but he didn't have the outer grip with his right arm, so he opted to lift Asasekiryu upright and gaburu him back. This isn't the Hutt's game, however, and Asasekiryu easily dug in forcing Iwakiyama to rethink things. Iwakiyama responded by next going for a coupla kotenage moves, but when Asasekiryu stood his ground again, Iwakiyama's left side was there for the taking, and Asasekiryu wisely grabbed the quick right outer grip. From here, Iwakiyama wrenched at his smaller opponent to try and shake him off, but Asasekiryu's positioning was too good as he planted his leg and threw Iwakiyama down via a spectacular uwate-nage move. Asasekiryu's patience and skill were the difference in this one as he picks up his first win. Iwakiyama is 0-2.

In a compelling matchup early on, M10 Tochinoshin struck M9 Futenoh straight on, but when neither rikishi gained a solid position from the start, NoShine opted to back up and pull Futenoh down, but Fruitenoh kept his balance well and kept himself square with his opponent. Tochinoshin responded with a tsuppari attack in an attempt to drive Futenoh out, but Futenoh was too slippery dodging this way and that hoping to time a counter pull move of his own. Both rikishi continued in this fashion producing an unorthodox bout for these two, and after about 10 seconds of this silly bidness, Futenoh finally managed to duck in and force the bout to yotsu-zumo. The problem was that Futenoh ended up with the right on the inside (he favors the left), and he could do nothing as Tochinoshin grabbed the cool left outer grip and marched Futenoh (1-1) back and out in the end. Good 2-0 start for Tochinoshin whose keiko with Asashoryu seems to be paying off.

Another rikishi who favors the left inside position is M8 Tochinonada, and he got it straightway against M9 Dejima completely halting the Dejyptian's charge despite Dejima's right outer. After a five second stalemate or so, Tochinonada grabbed Dejima's left wrist, lifted his arm up bending it over his head, and then pounced with the original left inside position scoring the solid force out win in the process. The Gentle Giant moves to 1-1 while Dejima is winless.

M8 Kokkai exhibited an interesting tachi-ai against M7 Takamisakari staying low and planting his left leg in an effort to bounce his opponent away from the belt. The move actually worked and left Takamisakari a bit upright and confused, so Kokkai actually went for the moro-zashi position. Takamisakari kept Kokkai at bay by pushing in strongly on the Georgian's right side refusing him the inside position, but Kokkai was too determined in this one (think kensho money) using his weight advantage to force Takamisakari back towards the straw where he finished him off with a nice dual shove to the puss. Kokkai smokes his cigarettes in style at 2-0 while the Cop falls to 1-1.

M6 Tamanoshima was completely passive at the tachi-ai against M7 Homasho who charged low as usual cautiously looking for the morozashi position. Peter stood his ground well looking to time a quick evasive-pull maneuver to throw Homasho off balance, and while he did manage this to a point setting Homasho up for what looked to be a quick push-out win near the edge, Homasho slipped into the morozashi position he wanted from the start, and once secured, forced Tamanoshima back across the dohyo and out. Homasho looks confident and sprite as he jumps out to 2-0. Tamanoshima's still an o'fer.

Capping off the first half of the day's bouts, M6 Toyonoshima kept both arms in tight and used a low kachi-age move with the left arm to completely neutralize M5 Aminishiki's charge. Quick as a cat, Toyonoshima locked his left arm around Shneaky's right rendering that limb useless and then used his own right hand to choke Aminishiki back and out of the ring in a flash. This was a thorough ass-kicking from Toyonoshima who looks to one-up Aminishiki for a sanyaku berth in May. Both dudes are 1-1.

Clancy mentioned yesterday that one of the best things about Osaka is all of the hotties in the audience, so during the intermission, the NHK cameras scanned the crowd as they usually do and led off with a nice shot of a tall, slender gal from behind who was standing up and wearing the tightest jeans you've ever seen and wearing them well. NHK is as professional as it gets when it comes to legitimate professionals in the news room and sumo broadcast booth (Japanese broadcast of course), but there is no way as professional as they are that the producer in the van couldn't resist that shot. A+ work fellas.

M4 Takekaze charged up and into M5 Wakanosato looking to grab the quick morozashi position, but Wakanosato evaded to the side forcing Takekaze away from what he wanted. Takekaze briefly looked to recover flirting with a right outer grip, but more importantly Wakanosato gained the firm left inside position, and that would be all she would write. Both rikishi dug in and Takekaze actually attempted a scoop throw with the left arm, but Croconosato is just too good when he has his opponent locked up with a grip on the inside. With Takekaze's kotenage having failed, Wakanosato took charge pulling his opponent in tight and escorting him across the straw with little argument. Both guys are 1-1.

M3 Tokitenku used a nice hari-zashi tachi-ai with the left hand slapping M4 Yoshikaze's face before slipping it into the inside position. Yoshikaze grabbed the right outer grip on that side, but in doing so gave Tokitenku the right outer grip on the other side. Who'da thought you'd ever see these two in the gappuri yotsu position? But there they were with both rikishi standing their ground and putting up a great battle of chikara-zumo. Yoshikaze stood his ground well against the taller Tokitenku, which says a lot about how much Café has matured, but during the melee his right grip was just on one fold of Tenku's belt, and as the bout wore on, that single fold of Tokitenku's belt slid up near his rib cage. Yoshikaze knew the danger of losing that grip and tried to grab the other folds of Tokitenku's belt, but the Mongolian wisely moved his ass back and out of the way before digging in and fueling a nice yori-kiri charge with his own right outer grip. Tenku's size and better outside grip proved the difference in this solid bout of yotsu-zumo. Great stuff all around as both rikishi stand 1-1.

For the second day in a row, Sekiwake Baruto came out with a tsuppari attack attempting to shove M2 Kotoshogiku back from the tachi-ai, but the Geeku grabbed the Estonian's right arm and pulled him off balance to the extent that Baruto had no other option but to retreat and pull in the process. Kotoshogiku looked to gain his balance as he was being pulled forward, and he managed to push Baruto back across the straw before he crashed to the dirt...or so he thought. The referee ruled in favor of Kotoshogiku, but a mono-ii was correctly called where replays showed Baruto clearly had both feet still in the confines of the dohyo when Kotoshogiku's right hand touched the dirt. Tough loss for the Geeku who must settle for 1-1 while Baruto "improves" to 2-0. Speaking of Baruto's tsuppari attack (don't forget how he dismantled the Sheriff yesterday with it), it's a sign that he is looking to take that next step up the ranks. I like the strategy, and even if he loses once or twice, he should stick with it. No how much you practice a move, you must master it during the hon-basho. Baruto ain't gonna yusho for awhile yet anyway, so do what it takes to hold on to the sanyaku paycheck while you expand your sumo.

It just baffles me that Ozeki Kotooshu can look so good against Kisenosato yesterday and then come out and lay a total egg against M2 Tochiohzan today. The Ozeki went for a hari-zashi tachi-ai looking to slap with the left and get the right on the inside, but Tochiohzan was slow coming out of his stance causing the Ozeki to miss with the slap attempt and fail to gain an inside position. The result was the easy moro-zashi position for Tochiohzan who wasted no time in pushing Kotooshu completely upright and forcing him to the side and across the straw with relative ease. For as much as Kotooshu completely exposed himself at the tachi-ai, it was nice to see Tochiohzan pick up the biggest win of his career. As for Kotooshu, he should lay off of the hari-zashi (slap to the face/arm on the inside) tachi-ai and leave that to rikishi with more speed. Both dudes sit at 1-1.

Things wouldn't improve for the Ozeki as Kotomitsuki was completely rebuffed at the tachi-ai by M3 Miyabiyama who charged low with his head. With Mitsuki having nary a sniff at the Sheriff's belt, Miyabiyama kept it that way using the lumbering tsuppari to keep Kotomitsuki at bay and forcing him to try and tsuppari his way into the belt. Clearly uncomfortable with the pace, Kotomitsuki slowly tried to work his way to the inside, but when Miyabiyama caught him with a right choke hold, the Ozeki pressed too hard opening up a quick evasive maneuver by Miyabiyama where he quickly slapped Kotomitsuki forward and down. Dominated by Miyabiyama; ouch. Both rikishi are 1-1.

Ozeki Harumafuji looked bad again today against Sekiwake Kisenosato, but he somehow came away with the win despite getting his ass kicked at the tachi-ai. Kisenosato dominated the initial charge stopping Harumafuji in his tracks and using a left ottsuke that forced the Ozeki low and to the side. The Kid used his right hand to pull down at the back of Harumafuji's dome as he continued to push with the left, and just when you thought Kisenosato was going to make that final force-out charge, Harumafuji defied the laws of physics completely reversing his forward momentum, pirouetting 180 degrees, and getting the hell out of harm's way leaving Kisenosato to hop his way out of the ring like a confused toad. NHK showed a replay from the camera directly over the dohyo revealing just how magnificent Houdinifuji's escape was, but I'll stop short of gushing about it because an Ozeki shouldn't be given run for his retreat tactics. Harumafuji is lucky to be 1-1 and is turning out to be an awful Ozeki. And that's saying something considering the other four yay-hoos at the rank.

Komusubi Goeido charged hard towards Ozeki Kaio looking for the left inside position, but Kaio caught the youngster with a right hand to the face that completely threw Goeido out of his rhythm. Kaio next retreated slightly causing Goeido to extend himself, so the Ozeki pounced with a right armbar around Goeido's left arm and easily threw the Komusubi to the dirt. Fortunately for Goeido, he was already stumbling off balance thanks to Kaio's good tachi-ai, so the Ozeki needed little force with that dangerous kotenage throw to finish off his bidness. The Godfather moves to 1-1 while Goeido falls to a paltry 0-2.

Rounding out the Ozeki ranks, Chiyotaikai displayed a great tachi-ai knocking Komusubi Kyokutenho upright and back a step, but he committed a grave error by opting to go for a force-out win with his left arm on the inside instead of using his tsuppari to finish Tenho off. Kyokutenho took the gifted right outer grip and then dug in sufficiently with a left arm on the inside completely halting the Ozeki's momentum before lifting him up off the dohyo and marching him across the ring and out for the easy win. Chiyotaikai had this one in the bag but for some reason thought he would finish things off yotsu style. Bad choice as he caps off the mediocre start for all five Ozeki who stand at 1-1 after the first two days. Kyokutenho shares the same mark.

Moving to the Yokozuna ranks, Asashoryu used his patented hari-zashi tachi-ai slapping M1 Kakuryu with the right hand before looking to position it on the inside, but Kakuryu kept his own right arm on the inside denying the Yokozuna any sorta inside position. Asashoryu didn't panic, however, and used his forward momentum to force Kakuryu to the side of the ring and upright rendering him the easy push out fodder in the end. Asashoryu never did have a good grip of his opponent, but he didn't need it using his speed and size to force his opponent back and out. This was another case of Asashoryu thinking at least two moves ahead because at one point Kakuryu actually had both arms on the inside, but he was escorted out so quickly, he hadn't the time to react, dig in, and spurt. Asashoryu methodically moves to 2-0 while Kak must settle for 1-1.

As if I even need to bother with the Yokozuna Hakuho - M1 Hokutoriki bout, Hakuho ignored Hokutoriki's moro-te attempt at the tachi-ai and forced his way into a frontal belt grip with the left arm while never halting his momentum getting his right arm on the inside of his opponent just driving his opponent back to the straw before discarding Hokutoriki (0-2) to the clay like a piece 'a smelly garbage.

The Yokozuna are making a mockery of the upper Maegashira and should continue to do so the rest of the week. Kotoshogiku looks as if he has some spark to him, but a kin-boshi can't come from anyone else. I'll take the hotties off of the dohyo, but we sure need something atop the dohyo to liven things up.

Doctor Mario uses the whole fist tomorrow.

Day 1 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
The first day of a basho is always difficult...for the writers. Since it has been so very long since we last met, I'm torn about what I should write. Should I make up some wild tale about the gang here at ST (i.e. what hijinks Simon has been up to with his "knee sock full of pudding"), a tale that would undoubtedly set in motion pachinko-like attacks and retaliation for the next fourteen days? Should I ruminate on the state of sumo, and how I think that if they had their druthers, many of the home press would recommend Asashoryu for Unit 731 experiments? Should I tell you what I have been up to these past sixty days (discovering how to homecook KFC chicken, running a marathon, etc.) or should I just get right to the sumo?

Good essay writing, like good sex, suffers from getting right to it, so that's out of the question. My life is pretty boring (plus how would you know if I'm telling the truth, since everything I say is a lie), so ditto that. Mixmaster Mike's dedication and passion in hunting down, translating and analyzing all things sumo for us rules out the sumo overview, and picking on the other contributors? Fish in a barrel.

I guess that leaves only one choice, namely bitching about how difficult it is to find an angle for day one and throwing in a Star Trek gag. Hope you enjoyed it, suckers!

The Mawashi came out like gangbusters, going straight for Yamamotoyama's throat, but he couldn't find it, and the W13 pushed him back and out in less time than it takes me to type out his shikona. The mountainous but baby faced boy, let's call him Ande, goes to 1-0, while Tamawashi still got that 'ol Juryo stink on 'em.

The baddest-assed name in sumo bumped chests with the newest smash single on the Mongolian Hit Parade, Shotenro, and all it took after a fair tachi-ai was a little backpedaling nice and circular like for Chiyohakuho to waltz the rookie around and then shove him out.

Kakizoe waited in his crouch before rising up against Aran, getting up underneath and sniffing for the double inside, but the Russian was immovable today and Sweet Zoe? Why that boy got hisself run out like Spam at a NASCAR rally food tent.

Asa's Secretary should have been taking notes when his boss was working over Tochinoshin in practice leading up to the basho. Although for a short time he looked to be winning with a good inside right, outside left, No Shine used his larger frame to lean in on and then lift up on the E11 and impressively, to this observer, set him out. In his debut last May, No Shine posted a 7-8, then an 8-7 from W14, then an 8-7 from E10, after which the NSK, in one of the bigger "WTPH were you thinkings?" in recent memory, put him at W4 for Kyushu, where he got, what's the phrase, plundered like an Irish village. Another 8-7 in January from W11 had many of us convinced he'd be made Komusubi this time, but the Boys in Black were a tiny bit more cautious. Still, if he sticks to today's kind of sumo for the fortnight (I'm contractually obligated to Mike to use that word once every basho) the W10 just may well finally get 9 wins. Enough numbers in that paragraph for ya'?

Futenoh, truly one of the least exciting but acceptably solid rikishi going, was assaulted by Iwonkeykong, getting stood up like an ugly prom date at tachi-ai and driven back via some tsuppari. We don't call him Fruitenoh for nothing, though, and he squeezed out of trouble at the edge and got himself a double inside morozashi. With Iwaki riding high, the W9 moved him across the ring, where despite his best Takanonami double arm bar while backing up impression (which was lame) he was unceremoniously shown the exit.

In a kimarite always sure to please, Kokkai took Dejima down with a kakenage, described in the official English translation of the Japanese kimarite as a "hooking inner thigh throw". If you can say that three times fast you ought to be auditioning for the Ptown Kiwanis Club's fall 2009 production of Brokeback Mountain.

A fairly textbook Takamisakari tachi-ai led to an outside right vs. Tochinonada, and despite being for years one of the best throwers from disadvantageous positions rikishi around, GG was unable to wiggle free from Bean, who stayed on him like a bull terrier on a letter carrier. The crowd enjoyed a communal orgasm.

Speaking of which, I'll say one thing for the fair weather, jump on the bandwagon, trendy nature of the average Japanese, the recent surge in sumo popularity sho do put a lot of dem sweet honeys in the seats. 

Gotta wonder if Toyonoshima is up for it this time out. His tachi-ai had all the punch of a Florida presidential ballot and Homasho simply needed to stay low and balanced while moving forward and the easy win was his. Toyonoshima seemed intent on getting out of the way today, so perhaps an injury is messing with his head.

After a tachi-ai performed in gelatin, Tamanoshima got his right hand on Aminishiki's mug and rammed him backward, but Shneaky was able to lift up Peter's paw by the forearm and once he had set his chin free, got morozashi and ran him across the ring and out.

Yoshikaze started off the second half vs. Wakanosato, and the feisty one came in hard, pushing back Croconosato just enough so that he could shuffle to his right and move forward once more, and when the former Sekiwake responded by reaching out to push with both hands, Café brilliantly timed a forearm slap that sent the Croc down to his palms.

Ouch. Takekaze weathered Tokitenku's abuse like a third wife, taking slap after slap to the puss and even avoiding a roundhouse or two, but when the dust settled, Takekaze had timed a slapdown almost exactly the same as stablemate Yoshikaze had done in the previous bout for the win. A roughly hewn day one win for the lil' man. Sometimes coming victorious out of a bout like this early in the tourney gives a man that little extra oomph he needs for a stellar basho, figures if he can win like that he must be bad. Despite reports to the contrary, it may be that the Oguruma winds are a blowin' this time out! Wouldn't be the first time both men exceeded expectations, would it Martin?

Take care to wash well this time out, because if you looked down to scratch your nuts you missed Baruto simply flood Miyabiyama. Biomass is getting stronger not only each basho, but further in to each basho, and his wins are coming in fewer seconds. One of these days he's going to stay strong through Day 15, and when that happens, holy crapola I can't even think about it, you know, man?

Last time out, Kotomitsuki had gout, without a doubt from being an out and about lout, but now he's Kadoban Juan, looking for his qwan and he'd better get it on or he'll be persona non. He had a good start today, getting an inside right on Tochiohzan and not allowing Oh Snap to break it, and then using his hips to wrench up and shake off an outside grip the W2 had gotten. Showing deft control of his body and legs, Mitsuki was all Hit today as he marched the second youngest Makuuchi rikishi (but oddly not the youngest Makuuchi rikishi in his heya) out.

Maybe Sekiwake Ama should have changed his shikona to "Geeku's Lil' Bitch" because though he came in with a modest three basho winning streak vs. the Sadogatake-beya man, Ozeki hAruMAfuji got beaten like a red headed stepchild. Leading off with an attempt at harite face slap, hAruMAfuji let Geeku in and once they locked chests, Geeku clamped down on the arms of the Mongolian and forced him quickly to the edge. Nee Ama made one of his trademark stands here, holding up the inevitable, and after a few seconds Geeku got sick of it and used his hand to slam hAruMAfuji in the puss and send him flailing into the crowd. Geeku gave a little "Take that, twerp!" glare after the win. Lawd, I do loves when there's fuyah on Day One.

As an aside, could anything be more pathetic than America raking a child over the coals for smoking a bit of weed? Arbo and I were agreeing, too bad Phelps doesn't have the balls to denounce the farce, stand up for casual marijuana use, pose for the cover of High Times (Mark's gag). He is cemented as a legend, and will undoubtedly win more races in the future (unless of course the governing body of his sport would cast him out to avoid bad publicity). Yes, he stood to lose money, but he's already a millionaire and besides, when did money become the end all of existence? What about pride and standing up for what you believe in? At any rate, it also shows just how bankrupt American culture has become, when we hold up children as role models. 

Now back to the zumo! Kaio is looking to reach Fukuoka and become the all-time Makuuchi appearance champion with close to one hundred basho, but he had trouble getting a grip on the Kak, who, after holding off the much larger Ozeki in a man to man tachi-ai, smartly used lateral movement to deny Kaio a belt grip while briefly getting his own hand on the back belt. Kaio turned to face Le Canard and was greeted by some excellent mixing up of low and high pushing attack to be shoved out. The Kak just keeps getting better, fulfilling all the promise I saw in the youngster so many moons ago. Since anything we say on Kaio will be proven wrong in the coming days, let's just move on.

How to describe the Chiyotaikai-Hokutoriki bout? How about like this. Abraham, the voice of Yaweh, Mount Moriah, a stone altar, knife, an angel, some ropes. Guess who plays Isaac? Seriously, though, while the Joker has his proponents here at ST, he is such a complete non-entity in big bouts it makes me childishly derisive.

In a case where the harite works like a charm, Kotooshu popped Kisenosato in the puss with his right and then got in deep and simply overwhelmed the Kid tout de suite. A total non-bout, which was for sure the biggest disappointment of Day One for moi.

Goeido was in front of the hometown crowd on Day One taking on the mighty Yokozuna Hakuho, so he figured he'd give it a real go, but when you go chest to chest with Hakuho and miss the belt while he grabs yours, might as well start picking out pennies for your eyes, because the ferryman is awaiting your crossing. Hakuho got that outside left, hunkered down in that balanced and steady manner of his, and then easily lifted and pushed Goeido back and out. Three bouts in a row that almost made me want to breathe.

The final match had Asashoryu vs. Kyokutenho, and though the Chauffer was looking to show Asa the door, it was pretty standard fair. Genghis didn't even need a grip, he just resisted the former Mongolian's predictable attempts at locking up his arms (esp. his less than 100% left), and after being pushed back a smidgen, manned up and drove forward and ran him out.

The American NCAA college basketball tourney starts soon, and we can only hope that that Final Four is light years better than today's final four. Stinkers each and every one. With Day Two featuring Kotooshu/Tochiohzan, hAruMAfuji/Kisenosato and Asashoryu/Kakuryu (it is finally time for the Khan to get Kak blocked?), Mike will assuredly be able to rub in the salve for your weary souls.












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