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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:  A Redneck Named Frank

Mike: Over the years I can think of a few reports that were written under the guise of someone else. There was day 7 of the Hatsu '06 basho where you did the Clockwork Orange spoof (why didn't we feature that?), and then a few years ago during the swine flu fervor, you wrote another report as an admiral from the British navy who was searching for the S.S. Blowhole, a ship we were confined to instead of the usual hotel out of my fears of catching the disease.

Clancy: Ive begun taking medication so please, bear with me.

Mike: The greatest of them all, however, was the senshuraku report you wrote--or should I say writ--concluding the Kyushu 2007 basho. I only remember that you asked me to find a picture of a redneck, so I went out and found the perfect picture of a guy whom we affectionately called Frank with a mullet, missing teeth, a Bud Light in his hand, and a faithful Rottweiler by his side.

Clancy: I wake up sometimes with that picture in my head. That was hands down the best funny photo find ever. And thats saying something, what with the Arbo Cache in the conversation.

Mike: As you know, I floated the idea by you of devoting a whole day to funny pics starting with this drawing by you of Kotooshu with the perfectly placed triangles on the skirt from the '07 Hatsu basho Day 1, so it definitely is saying something that Frank was the best find ever. On that subject, this is perhaps the only report where I can't shed any light on the background. Do you want to tell the readers what was rolling around in your noggin' that inspired this report?

Clancy: I truthfully dont know (or cannot recall). I DO know that after we posted it our own Alex Brohm got angry as a hornet. See, in the previous basho (Aki 2007) he had done a report and called himself The Cleaner in his intro. He fancied that I recalled that dollop of trivia (I did not, or at least did not consciously. Im willing to admit that a good portion of who I am does operate on the subconscious level, so possibly I was inspired by that bit). Now Alex was his nom de keyboard, the actual man being more private than Gomer Pyle.

Mike: Most people probably don't remember Alex, but he was an active contributor on our forum under the name That Satsu Guy. We approached him about writing for us, and he accepted, but he wanted complete anonymity, so we couldn't use his name, his picture, or even say that he was That Satsu Guy on the forum. We invented a fake name and used the gray shadow picture that we've used in the past for guests. I guess things were going ok with him aboard until you posted the report, and he took it as a direct insult thinking that your creation of Frank was a parody of him. He was so upset that he actually exposed, so to speak, himself on the forum essentially blowing his cover.

Clancy: This last part is crucial in that I had no idea of any of the particulars of his life. Turned out that he was from Kentucky, which apart from bluegrass, fried chicken, Churchill Downs, the Wildcats and Big Bone Lick is renown for being, shall we say, a quaint rustic backwater populated by many, shall we say, closely related individuals. Ergo when he saw Frank, in all his moonshinin glory, cleaning the place up, well, he figgered I was screwing with him. And again, given the control my id has over my ego, its possible like rain later.

Mike: Did you say Kentucky, or Nektucky? Anyway, the report was so perfect for wrapping up the basho, and as soon as I read it, I knew that I'd be able to work in pictures that Mark posted earlier in the basho when he visited the sumos on day 11 and took a ton of pics, the most memorable one having him doing a handstand on a purple zabuton right next to the ring.

Clancy: Certainly did dovetail sweetly. I lifted the "stink of that pomade" crack from the Coens "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" by the by.

Mike: The report itself was an instant classic, but I'll never forget the reaction from Brohm. He disappeared entirely from ST shortly after that, and we haven't heard from him to this day, but let's get to the best of the best, your senshuraku report from the Kyushu 2007 written as a redneck named Frank.

Clancy: Get er done!

Kyushu 2007 Senshuraku Comments (Frank reporting)
(Darkness. Distant sound of whistling is heard, gradually getting louder.)

Oh, hey there. Didn't notice ya. Name's Frank. Ah clean up around here after the festivities, you know, sweep up the salt, mop the halls, put away these purple pillows. 

(Sits back on a tall stack of zabuton, takes out a handkerchief and wipes his brow.)

Not that keepin this place spic and span is mah only chore, no sir. Ah also tidy up after them Sumotalk fellers, thinkin they know near bout everythin there is to know about sumo. Horseshit, that. Take fer instance that Kelly feller. Ya ask me he couldn't tell his fannie from a fanbelt. Day 1 tells us Kokkai might "be looking at a double digit basho" and that he likes "Kisenosato's chances this time out to sneak in and possibly grab 10 wins." Both finished with 9 wins. Smartass.

Then there's that jacknabbit Newfie Mark Arbo, doing headstands on mah pillows! Took me pritnear two hours to clean the stink of that pomade off. Million Hit Man or not, next time he pulls a stunt like that, ahmagoan beat em like a rented mule. 

To add insult to injury, we had Boss Man himself playing it straighter than a plumb line on Days 12 and 13, not a gag or ribald comment t'be seen. What's the world comin to?

Mind if Ah smoke? 

Anyways, what little buildup there was comin into Day 15 dissipated like hog gas in a mudhole when that Chiyotaikai feller dropped out, citin some elbow problem. Sounds to me more like the man got hisself some spine problems. So that big ol' Mongolian Yokozuna had the trophy in hand fore he got up to pee in the mornin. Well ain't that a piece?

Naturally bein top man an all he's still goan put on a show, and what better way than to whoop on Kotomitsuki. 'Cept, ya see, the Ozeki had other idears. He hits at the tachi-ai and moves quickly left, grabbin a sumbitch of a right inside. Yokozuna takes hisself a right outside, thank ya much, but after a bit o tussle the Ozeki executes a sweet makikae that befuddles the yusho winner and breaks his right hand hold. Once broken, Mitsuki pushed and pulled and swung the Yokozuna around until he got flung and flipped down to his third loss, as inconsequential as it be.

Problem here was Hakuho was prolly still ruminatin bout the two fights come fore his, fascinating contests of unmatched power between giants of the sport, Sekiwakes Sneaky and Sexy and Ama and ol reliable in a pinch to fill in when ya need em E8 Wakanosato.

Shneaky needed this win to make his eight, and for the second time in three days henka'd his way to the win, getting Sexy off balance and slappin em down like a polecat in a puptent.

Ama won ten for the second basho in a row by hammerin into the former Sekiwake's chest and then gettin closer than me and the missus was on our weddin day, grabbin the front belt and runnin him out quicker'n shit through a goose. One of them so-called "ex-spurts" called him Chiyonofuji on Day 7, then said he AIN'T The Wolf on Day 14. Well, which is er? No matter, plain for anyone to see, this hoss got hisself a whole lot of punch.

Pimple took on the Geek looking for that magic number, but it weren't to be as the E7 blew an early lead and pulled to an armbar. The Geeku almost went out here, but dug in and grabbed that belt like a pitbull with his right hand, then dragged Toyohibiki down to a "makekoshi" as them fancy pantses up in the NHK tower likes to call it.

That 9-6 E2 Kisenosato, aka The Kid, put on a fine show vs Tokitenku, everyone's boogeyman this time out (I hate the henka more than a coyote hates the pitchfork, but this boy was sheddin no tears over the two varmints Tenku henka'd this tourney. Mitsuki has always been a rascal with that non-move, and Ah'll never forgive The Pup for what he done to Miflobby way back when). Anywho, The Kid just dismantled the Mongolian, using great belly work to get him to the edge, and then grabbin in on that belt and Ah'll be darned of it didn't look like he sexed him out! (Ah noticed an unusually large number of gentlemen headin for the facilities at this point.)

Now what else got mah attention? Kokkai was up from 13 to take on a 5 in Takakaze. Weren't so much that he won the bout as it is how he won it. Stayed low and balanced, hands on his foe, waitin for the openin. When he got it he pressed forward keepin the slippery son of a catfish I front of em. No cheap pulldown or nuttin!

Yusho contender Baruto (more nonsense you might a heard, that this behweemoth weren't a factor in the yusho race--goatgunk!--he had them top rankers sweatin it out till Day 14--Wesemann was dead on about that, surenuff) got into some trouble vs Tochinonada, and if he haddna grabbed a last second back of the belt as he was being driven out wouldda gone down like shot of Jack. As it was he twisted the spunky Tochi to the dirt, goodnight Irene.

Ahm happier'n a one legged donkey at a sockhop to see KingTama get his 8th win, as we's both about the same age. Kaiho gave em a fair fight, with lots of slappin and fussin. Kaiho kept in tight, a lil too tight after all, as he was slapped down. He recovered a bit, but only to be punched back and out by the King.

Wakakrin said no to the man dance and toodles to Hokutoriki, who luckily already had his 8th win. Like the two Ozeki, couldna happened to a nicer feller than this serial henkaphile. The rookie gets 10, but at what cost, young buck?

Kasuganishiki blew his chance to stay in Makuuchi by fallin to Tosanoumi.

And what would our little chat be without sayin something bout Roho the Ho, the only Ho to those in the know. Is there a larger, more cretinous sack of monkey vomit operatin in sumo today? Even though he already got nine wins, he henkas Tochiozan who was lookin for his 8th win, a win that would have allowed him to remain in Makuuchi. This man is loathsome and thensome. 

And so ends our little excursion into Sumo's Two Basho Twilight Zone. The Khan returns presently, and 2008 will bring with it some good storylines, not least among them Hakuho trying to win his first yusho as a Yokozuna while another Yokozuna is fightin, Ama going for Ozeki, Kisenosato and Geeku, too. Kotooshu and Kaio will try and remain Ozeki. Goeido, Toyonoshima and Baruto should all become regulars in sanyaku barrin injury.

Wesemann will continue to make predictions as solid as ever (he TOLD you the two basho were Hakuho's with no uncertainty five months ago), Arbo will continue to confuse and delight, Kelly will gross you out as never before, and if the stars align themselves just so, we might, just might have the Manchester Maruader back in bidness in time for Asa's 22nd yusho sometime around Jan. 27. Thanks for reading in 2007 and have a great and safe New Year!

Day 14:  Tribute to Ross Mihara

Mike: One of the craziest moments of recognition for Sumotalk occurred during the 2009 Kyushu basho when Ross Mihara, commentator for the NHK English broadcast, mentioned Sumotalk on the day 4 live broadcast. Ross not only mentioned the site but gave it major props for providing news and commentary on the action.

Clancy: The NHK connect didnt rock my world so much, but Ross has been in this country longer than the Berlin Wall has been down and has lots of sumo knowledge.

Mike: The mention of Sumotalk was stunning, not because the site doesn't deserve the recognition for its contributions to foreign fans, but because of all the crap we've given the NHK announcers over the years. To be fair, when you comment about a sport as we do, anybody who is in the spotlight is fair game, even our own contributors, and since the majority of foreign fans rely on NHK's English broadcast, from time to time, their announcers are part of the fun. Still, for Ross to mention Sumotalk in the manner he did shows what a professional, stand-up guy he is.

Clancy: Yeah, I myself have taken a poke or two at him over the years, but truth be told he has always been THE most palatable commentator of a very bland and boring group. Course, their hands must be tied at NHK. No way the Japanese overlords want their own making truthful comments about the sumos. Or funny. Or controversial. So that excuses much of the tedium on the English side. Shapiro, however, is a trainwreck.

Mike:Well, you have guys who have been around since the "any gaijin will do" era. Doreen has worked out nicely. Shapiro hasn't. Anyway, while Sumotalk's mention on the broadcast was surprising, it didn't come completely out of the blue for me as Ross and I had been briefly exchanging emails prior to that point. It all started back at the 2009 Nagoya basho when Clancy made the following statement in his day 8 report:

"Im telling ya, Id love to spend a night drinking with Doreen Simmons. She has so many sumo stories I know Id love to hear. Plus, you never know, if I got her drunk enough..."

I was reporting on day 9 as usual, and Ross happened to be in the booth on my day. Everyone knows that I always listen to the Japanese broadcast when I report, but at the time I was in Seoul Korea on bidness and only had access to the English broadcast. I ended my report playing off of Clancy's Doreen reference the day before by saying:

"Oh, and for the record, I had no wild fantasies about getting Ross Mihara liquored up."

That line prompted Ross to send me a brief email that jokingly thanked me for the love on day 9. Since it takes me several months to get to my email, I didn't see the email from Ross until just prior to the Kyushu basho. It also came from a hotmail account, so I wanted to make sure it really was Ross. I replied to Ross right away and asked him what days he was reporting in Kyushu just to make sure it was him. He gave me his reporting schedule and just to make it official, he gave us the love on day 4 on live television.

Ross and I have yet to meet, but we still do keep in contact via email, and when something big comes down, Ross will kindly email the scoop as soon as he gets it. I also have to add that Ross' emails are absolutely hilarious, and dude has a sense of humor that fits right in with the Sumotalk culture, hence his waiting for a close-up of Hokutoriki when he mentioned my name and Sumotalk on that day 4 broadcast. I can tell he is just bursting at the seams when he does his NHK broadcast because he wants so much to lighten things up more than he already does, but he knows full well that he works for a professional, conservative organization in NHK, so his comments are limited to the occasional Oldzeki blast when referencing Kaio or calling Gagamaru Gentleman Gaga.

Clancy: Damn these chains!

Mike: Ezzactly. Since the mention of Sumotalk by Ross, he has become a cultural icon on the site, and I made sure to return the love on day 9 of that Kyushu basho with the following report:

Kyushu 2009 Day 9 (Mike Wesemann reporting)
In the history of Sumotalk, this is the first time during a basho that I've gone an entire week without writing a report. There have been quite a few talking points over the last week and emails on a curious subject, so you'll forgive me if I get off on a tangent here and there as I comment on the events of the past week throughout my report. Probably generating the most news in week one was the mention Sumotalk got on the NHK English broadcast on day 4. You all know the history of ST and the NHK English Announcers, so it probably came as a surprise to many. My comment for the other contributors who were all giddy is act like you've been there before. You won't see me selling out, and I'll be damned if the name of the guy who actually mentioned us ever gets listed on Sumotalk again.

I know that's harsh, but as uncomfortable as the circumstances may be, we've got a basho on our hands, so let's get right to the action starting from the top down.

In a classic contest, Yokozuna Asashoryu used his speed to burrow in deep against Sekiwake Baruto at the tachi-ai getting his left arm firmly planted on the inside while grabbing the front of Baruto's belt with the right giving the Yokozuna moro-zashi straightway. Still, just ask Asashoryu's countrymen Kakuryu and Harumafuji how well their moro-zashi grips worked against Baruto. The difference here though is Asashoryu stayed low, kept his hips back, and didn't align his chest with the Estonian. Bart did the only thing he could, which was to lean down on the Yokozuna over the top and pinch inward on his arms in an attempt to neutralize the Yokozuna's position. At this point, both rikishi dug in until about 20 seconds in when Asa briefly tested the uchi-gake waters. The move was too dangerous, however, so Asashoryu backed out of it leaving the two in another stalemate in the center of the ring with Asashoryu still maintaining moro-zashi and Baruto pinching in from the outside in the kime position. A full minute passed, and it was evident that Baruto had no offensive options, so it was a test of wills to see who would give in first. It was Baruto, who went for an uwate over the top of the Yokozuna with the right hand, but this was exactly what Asashoryu was waiting for. He pounced on the Estonian's movement immediately going for the left inside throw aided by his right hand pulling at the back of Baruto's left leg and the Yokozuna's own left leg inside of Baruto's right to completely lift the Sekiwake off balance and dump him to the dohyo via kake-nage.

What a brilliant performance from Asashoryu, who hasn't looked this good since before that unjustified two basho suspension over two years ago. I hope I'm dead wrong about my pre-basho thoughts that the top three Mongolians are in cahoots with each other and that it's Hakuho's turn to win this basho. Make no mistake, Hakuho is the favorite regardless, but at the level Asashoryu is fighting, a senshuraku showdown between the two Yokozuna with no funny bidness going on would be epic. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but you'll know it if it happens. Even if you can't figure it out, Clancy will straighten things out on senshuraku. If I am wrong in my assessment, this basho will be the best since Hatsu 2008 simply because both Yokozuna are at the top of their game. Great stuff from Asashoryu today who stays perfect at 9-0 while Baruto falls to 5-4. Regarding Baruto, he's finished with both Yokozuna, but he's the underdog against Kotooshu, which means he can't afford to lose to anyone else if he still wants the Ozeki rank. If you were the Estonian and were offered a 10-5 finish now, you'd take that in a flash.

In the day's penultimate bout, Yokozuna Hakuho welcomed ailing Ozeki Chiyotaikai with a perfect tachi-ai that saw Hakuho get his left hand on the front of Chiyotaikai's mawashi. I mean, Hak's hand was groping so deep on the front of the Ozeki's belt that if the Yokozuna had a cracked fingernail he surely would have snagged a whisker or two from you know where. With Hakuho continuing to move forward and Chiyotaikai's arms raised high as if to say "do me now," Hakuho thankfully withdrew his left hand from the Ozeki's package and assumed the moro-zashi position with both arms high and away from the belt. He thought briefly about going for a left sukui-nage throw, but held that up and marched the Ozeki back and out with his dignity still in tact. Hakuho's tachi-ai was textbook in this one as he moves to 9-0 and hands Chiyotaikai a costly seventh loss in the process.

Regarding Chiyotaikai, the dude's had a great career that has included three yusho and a record-setting number of basho ranked as Ozeki, but it's clearly time to go. Prior to the basho, the Wolf's Pup indicated that he would soldier on even if he suffered make-koshi this basho and was demoted to Sekiwake (a given at this point), and he even surprised some by saying he had his stablemaster's approval to keep fighting even if he lost his current rank. My question is for what? What does Chiyotaikai hope to prove by staying as an active rikishi? If he can't win eight bouts legitimately in two tries, how is he going to win 10 bouts in January to regain his rank? It's time to hang it up, get fitted for that drab navy blazer and gray slacks, and find a comfortable folding chair so he can assume security duties at the Kokugikan come January. The whole problem with Chiyotaikai the last year or so is even the Japanese fans could tell that his peers were giving him bouts. There was just too much liability for the Association to continue to allow Chiyotaikai to fight AND allow him to win his eight every other basho.

So...with Chiyotaikai's make-koshi a given, the current question is will he retire during the Kyushu basho? Or will he make good on his half-hearted word prior to the tournament that he'll soldier on as a Sekiwake. Pup, you gotta make the right decision and hang it up for the good of sumo. We'll see what he does, but I already know he's thinking long and hard about the decision. I sent Arbo out of the hotel armed with Sumotalk's sweet Noetic camera that includes a telephoto lens, and while he wasn't allowed on the stable premises (would you let Mark within 100 feet of you?), he was able to climb a tree and take the photo seen at right. C'mon Pup...make the decision to hang it up now.

Continuing on with the Ozeki, M3 Tochiohzan has looked decent this basho including a three bout win-streak where he toppled two Ozeki, but against Kaio today he played right into the Ozeki's hands by looking for the left inside position from the tachi-ai. Kaio did his part by crashing into Tochiohzan and keeping his chest aligned as he worked his way towards his coveted right outer grip. With Tochiohzan failing to try and maneuver out of the stanglehold or even keep his hips back, Kaio grabbed the right outer about five seconds in and then easily forced Tochiohzan back from there. This one was too easy as Kaio moves to 6-3 to the delight of the Fukuoka faithful. Tochiohzan falls to 3-6 but will eat well tonight.

Komusubi Kisenosato took the initiative from the tachi-ai against Ozeki Kotooshu firing tsuppari into the Bulgarian's neck, but the Kid was too flat-footed and upright (i.e.. non-committal), and Kotooshu easily ducked into the hidari-yotsu position using his long arms to grab the right outer grip leaving Kisenosato noting but a feeble right inside position with which to counter. Well, counter may not be the best term to use because Kisenosato couldn't even do that as Kotooshu just smothered him back and out for the methodical yori-kiri win. Perfect patience from Kotooshu prevailed today as he clinches kachi-koshi at 8-1. Kisenosato falls to 3-6, and while it's expected that a Komusubi get roughed up early on, the Kid's gotta turn it around now.

Ozeki Kotomitsuki dominated the tachi-ai against Sekiwake Kakuryu crashing his chest solidly into the Mongolian and demanding the left outer grip in the process. Kotomitsuki next confirmed his footing, lifted the Kak up with the right inside position, and then just steamrolled him back and out in about three seconds. There's nothing more to break down here; it was a thorough ass-kicking as Kotomitsuki quietly moves to 6-3. Kakuryu at 2-7 shows why Sekiwake is too high of a rank for him.

Rounding out the Ozeki, Harumafuji has completely lost his rhythm this basho, but it's always easy to get back on track against M3 Bushuyama. That's no disrespect to Bush; it's just that a newbie to these parts who lacks speed is going to have a tough time against a veteran Mongolian who knows every trick in the book. Fortunately, Harumafuji spared us of any trickery and focused his tachi-ai on thrusting into M3 Bushuyama's throat, but the attempt was half-hearted, and it actually allowed Bushuyama to pull the Ozeki in and force the bout to hidari-yotsu. Before Bushuyama could actually body up and use his size advantage, however, Harumafuji slipped to the side and executed a quick inside belt throw using his left leg against Bushuyama's right to trip him up in the process. Fish in a barrel at the end, but you could see from the tachi-ai that Harumafuji is flustered this basho. At 4-5 with both Yokozuna left to fight, Harumafuji ain't quite outta the woods yet. Bushuyama is a very respectable 3-6, and you have to credit this guy for not wilting under the pressure as we've seen from nearly every other rikishi their first time among the jo'i.

Komusubi Goeido stayed low at the tachi-ai knowing full well that if he kept M1 Takekaze flustered for just two seconds, Kaze would revert to the pull. He did, and Goeido was right on top of the move forcing Takekaze back and out for the wham bam thank you ma'am win. Goeido is limping for sure at 3-6, but he can still manage kachi-koshi with his lighter week two schedule. Takekaze falls to a surprising 4-5 mark.

At this point, allow me to get off on a slight tangent. Of all the emails we've received this week, most of them were about that collage of pictures Mark posted in his day 5 of all those sexy female athletes. Everyone is talking about that little smudge on Maria Sharapova's left buttocks. If you scroll down to Mark's day 5 and look at the picture, you can see what looks like a little red-blackish mark right at the base of her left cheek. I noticed it too when I initially posted that pic but just wrote it off as a smudge on my computer screen. Turns out I was wrong. After cleaning my monitor, I went and enlarged that picture of Sharapova, and I'll be darned if there wasn't a small tattoo at the base of her left butt cheek. Amazing! I've posted a close-up here so you can all see what I'm talking about.



M1 Aminishiki kept both arms in tight against M2 Kotoshogiku looking for moro-zashi, but the Geeku pinched in forcefully from the outside and burrowed his way low into Ami's chest. After about two seconds of Aminishiki trying to get his right arm sufficiently on the inside to mount a charge, he opted for Plan B, which was nothing but stepping to the side and going for the quick pull maneuver. The move failed, however, as Kotoshogiku had latched onto his opponent too tightly, and the Geeku took full advantage mounting his force-out charge that took about two belly shoves to knock Aminishiki clear off the dohyo and into the second row. Kotoshogiku moves to 5-4 with the win and could possibly still pick up the Ginosho if he can win 10. Aminishiki falls to 4-5.

M2 Tokitenku went for a ketaguri against M4 Iwakiyama. My least favorite move in sumo, a ketaguri (leg-trip) is really a tachi-ai henka in disguise, and it's actually better not to connect with your kick because it gives you more room to henka and better balance. Having said that, Tokitenku jumped to the side causing Iwakiyama to just stumble forward. Tokitenku did make contact with the leg, but it was already after he made the kicking motion and was more of a result of Iwakiyama just stumbling into it on his way down. Regardless, it's one of the worst moves in sumo and one that Tokitenku employs two or three times a basho. That's two or three times too many for me to stomach as Tokitenku hiccups to 2-7 while Iwakiyama has fallen and get can't back up at 1-8. And good news...we have one more ketaguri later on that was executed even worse than Tenku's today.

M4 Hokutoriki's moro-te tachi-ai against M6 Kyokutenho was useless because Jokutoriki wasn't supplementing it with the lower body. This allowed Kyokutenho to assume the hidari-yotsu position and pull his opponent in tight. Hokutoriki is decent at digging in when forced into the yotsu position, but he can't win. Kyokutenho knew it, and despite the lack of a right outer grip, he just belly thrust (gaburi-yori) Hokutoriki back once, twice, three times a lady scoring the easy force-out win. Kyokutenho clears the .500 hurdle at 5-4 while Hokutoriki falls to 4-5.

M7 Homasho charged low at the tachi-ai in an effort to keep M5 Toyonoshima away from the belt, and while it worked, it left both rikishi apart from each other leaving them no option but to touch heads (zu-yotsu) and push at each other's shoulders. Both rikishi went for the obligatory slaps and pulls, but the two finally hooked up in the yotsu position with Toyonoshima maintaining an inner left and Homasho the outer right. Toyonoshima went for the early inside belt throw with the left, and while it was too early to actually defeat Homasho with the move, it set Homie up by forcing him near the edge and taking away his solid footing. Homasho countered near the straw with an outer belt throw of his own, but he wasn't planted firmly enough to throw Toyonoshima across that final step, which can be credited to Toyonoshima's subtly giving Homie hints that a leg sweep was in the cards if he got too close. Homasho persisted, however, and forced the action up against the edge of the dohyo, but Toyonoshima brilliantly turned the tables at the edge twisting to the side and forcing Homasho down to the dirt with a push to the shoulder in tsuki-otoshi fashion. This was great stuff all around for Toyonoshima who thrives at 7-2 while Homasho still has some figgerin' to do at 4-5.

M8 Tochinoshin used a right kachi-age (forearm to the throat) against M5 Kakizoe, but he was too slow in setting up anything at the belt, and Sweet Zoe Jane seized moro-zashi and began driving Tochinoshin back in a flash. NoShine flinched on a maki-kae with the right hand, but he was being driven back so fast, he opted for plan B, which was stepping to the side at the edge and going for a desperation pull. It was close, but Kakizoe never let up on the de-ashi and had Tochinoshin pushed back and down for an extremely impressive win. Tochinoshin drops to 7-2 with the loss, and while I've really enjoyed watching him this basho, get him off the leaderboard already. As for Kakizoe, he's 6-3 already and threatening a sanyaku bid! That's awesome...or as Scooby Doo would say, "That's Rossome!"

Putting M9 Yoshikaze on the leaderboard is laughable as well, but you have to hand it to Cafe, he's got some serious momentum going right now. Today he crushed M6 Wakanosato back from the tachi-ai using an effective moro-te leaving Wakanosato nary a pot to piss in. As Wakanosato flirted with a counter pull move, Yoshikaze just kept his feet moving forward from the start and had Wakanosato pushed back and out in a flash. Yoshikaze moves to 8-1 with the win, and if he keeps this up, he'll have a few Sadogatake-beya Ozeki to deal with. Wakanosato has looked sickly most of the basho as he falls to 3-6.

Speaking of sickly, M7 Tamanoshima's balance has been so awful this basho that M9 Miyabiyama's lumbering tsuppari easily knocked him upright and back a step from the tachi-ai. As Tamanoshima tried to counter and get back into the bout, Miyabiyama just stepped to his side and slapped Tamanoshima down to the clay moving his record to 7-2 in the process. Tamanoshima is floundering at 3-6.

M11 Tamawashi stuck a stiff right arm directly into M8 Aran's throat standing the Russian straight up and giving him no options to counter. Aran extended his arm against Tamawashi's shoulder trying to keep him at bay, but Tamawashi was out for blood using a few more sharp tsuppari into Aran's throat to knock him back across the straw with some oomph. The Mawashi moves to 6-3 with the impressive win while Aran's role has changed from sanyaku threat to blow-up doll. He's 2-7.

M15 Yamamotoyama is so slow these days that M10 Asasekiryu hardly needed to evade to the side to beat him. Sexy smashed into the Organism head-on grabbing the easy left outer grip, which he used to wrench Yamamotoyama this way and that setting him up for the laughable force-out win. Sexy ekes to 3-6 with the win while Twin Peaks' novelty has completely worn out its welcome in this division.

Today was a perfect example of why M14 Kimurayama henkas in 90% of his bouts. He musta figured he didn't need to against M10 Kokkai today, but he miscalculated allowing Kokkai to get the easy peasy left inside position that he followed up with a solid right outer grip walking Kim back and out as if Kokkai (4-5) were a yotsu-specialist. Kimurayama falls to 3-6, closer and closer to yet another basho in Makuuchi without a kachi-koshi. Some stat geek should look up the record for most Makuuchi appearances without a kachi-koshi, so 1) I can thank you, and 2) I can chastise you for not spending more time trying to meet girls.

M11 Takamisakari actually put together a good tachi-ai against M13 Tosayutaka lowering his right shoulder and striking Tosayutaka's upper torso keeping him far away from the inside. In the process, the Robocop grabbed a left outer grip that was so close to the front of his opponent's belt that Tosayutaka's right inner was useless. Tosayutaka tried in vain to fish for his own left outer grip on the other side because when it comes to crocodile arms in the division, Tosayutaka may have even surpassed Wakanosato. Anyway, Takamisakari maneuvered his right arm deep on the inside of Tosayu-croca's left simply lifting him upright leaving him no room to counter. Sumo's version of Forrest Gump had the smaller Tosayutaka forced back and out in about 10 methodic seconds of sumo to the delight of the crowd. And speaking of the crowd, it was nice to see the Fukuoka faithful actually get two sell-outs over the weekend. It's hard to believe I know, but Arbo snapped this photo as proof. Back to Takamisakari, at 7-2 I can already taste that kachi-koshi interview!! Tosayu-croca falls to a decent 5-4.

I don't know what gave me more pleasure today...speculating on how much material was used to make Musashimaru's suit (Moose was in the booth today), or watching M12 Shotenro read an M14 Kasugao ketaguri attempt to perfection. Give credit to Kasugao for actually connecting with the kick, but his tachi-ai was so slow Moose was even laughing from the booth. Anyway, Shotenro read the move like a boring Help manual that comes with a particle physics colliding machine, grabbed Kasugao's right leg, and immediately turned him 90 degrees before driving him straight towards the edge. Shotenro was so on top of this bout, he tripped Kasugao in watashi-komi fashion before they even reached the straw. Love to see bad sumo exposed like this as Shotenro climbs above .500 at 5-4. Kasugao is 2-7 and has nothing to say for himself.

M12 Toyohibiki displayed a frail tachi-ai against M13 Mokonami that allowed the Mongolian to grab ridiculously easy left inside and right outside grips. Enjoying the lower stance, Mokonami immediately aligned chests, and began his force-out charge. Toyohibiki used his mass to dig in and counter near the edge, so Mokonami switched gears and went for an outside belt throw pulling Toyohibiki towards the center of the dohyo. The Nikibi knew he was gonna be squished, so he went for a desperation leg trip by grabbing at Mokonami's right ankle on his way down, but Mokonami (6-3) had the mo the entire bout and scored the uwate-nage win. Toyohibiki is under water again at 4-5.

Last and certainly least, Juryo 1 Masatsukasa walked right into an M15 Shimotori uwate at the tachi-ai and showed no urgency to counter, so it turned into a contest of how long it would take Shimotori to wrench him over to the edge and dump him. I'm not one of those nerds who times bouts, but my guess is about 14 seconds. Shimotori moves to 5-4 with the win.

So that does it for me although I'll see you right back here on Wednesday. My final tangent of the day...it's looking more and more like we'll have Shakira flown to Kyushu to play the Sumotalk after-basho party. Hopefully no one wasted their time watching the American Music Awards last night, but the gay man in me just couldn't help scanning all of the red-carpet photos from the event. Shakira wore that sexy yellow number seen pictured at right, but I'm not sure who that dude's face is on her dress. Musta been the designer.

Kenji teaches you how to cRoss stitch tomorrow.

Day 13:  Rumors of Simon's Death

Mike: On day 6 we featured a parody of the marijuana scandal that was plaguing sumo a few years ago, and today I'll post another parody we did way back in Kyushu 2006 where we played off of the Beatles' "Paul is dead" rumor. The target for our gag was of course Simon Siddall, also known around much of Japan as the fifth Beatle.

Simon had taken his first basho off ever in Aki 2006 since joining the Sumotalk crew, so Clancy and I decided prior to the Kyushu basho that we would start rumors that Simon had been killed and that we were using a look-alike from Australia to fill in for him. Our predicament was that we not only had to find someone who looked like Simon, but he also needed to be hung like Simon as well.

For the gag, I was the only one who knew the real fate of Simon and hid messages in each of my reports by using the first letter of each paragraph to form the following four statements on the four days I reported:

Day 1: SIMON IS DEAD REST IN PEACE
Day 4: THE ENGLISHMAN SLEEPS
Day 9: THE AUSSIE WILL HAVE TO DO
Day 13: I AM THE EGGMAN SI IS THE WALRUS

I also placed subliminal messages in many of the pictures posted for that basho that talked of Simon's death.  Clancy, apparently oblivious to the whole thing, played the role of detective throughout the basho pointing out the change in Simon's vernacular and associating him with all things Australian. Finally, on senshuraku Clancy figures everything out and explains what is going on to the readers only to have me debunk his claims in the opening of my post-basho report. There may be other clues or gags in our writing that I've long forgotten, but for day 13 of the "best of," I'll post excerpts from the Kyushu 2006 basho where Clancy breaks the case on the untimely death of Simon Siddall and my attempts to cover the real truth (and increase record sales in the process).

Day 2 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
Hello, everybody, welcome back to another exciting 15 days. We've got a new guy to go with our nude guy, some Romantic class to compliment my pedantic ass, a man who will add some Black Sea bullshit to my Galway Bay blarney. Add to that the whispered Day 3 return of Simon Longshanks, fresh off his helter skelter tour of so many of those places most of us will never visit (at least not without copious amounts of self-administrable penicillin) and, voila! you've got yourself a pirogue.

(Connected to nothing, I know, but I just saw Simon walk down the hallway eating what looked to be Vegemite. I thought he hated that stuff. Must have picked up a taste for it on his travels. I shouted out, Hey, and he replied, How ya' goin'?)

Day 8 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
 I'm finally seeing this Mike's way about Kotooshu in particular and the Europeans in general. He doesn't seem to have the mental to compliment that awesome physique, nor the fundamentals to advance to Yokozuna (or keep his Ozeki rank much longer than another year, I fear). Today he let Roho-ho-ho- Your Boat freak him out with shikiri-sen games, then bit on one of those pathetic sidestep tachi-ai the Russian is becoming known for, where he hits with just a smidgen of his shoulder. Kotooshu, unlike Hakuho or Asashoryu or Tochiazuma, has little recovery ability, and so looks the dope being shoved out onto his keister to his third, and yusho hope destroying, loss.

Actually, I just had a Fosters with Simon down in the hotel bar, and he agrees with me that the Europeans have such poor tachi-ai, to a man. They have reached the ranks they occupy now from sheer size and strength, but once people figure out you are afraid to get hit at tachi-ai, you're going to be open to all sorts of exploitation, and that's happening right now. Shit, look at Asasekiryu whoopin' on Baruto on Day 4, Tokitenku dusting off Kotooshu on Day 6, and Kokkai. . .Kokkai. . .Kokkai
 

Senshuraku Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
If there's one, single word that describes me, it'd have to be "team player". For me, the so-called trite clich "There is no 'I' in team" is anything but. Selfless, when linked with others in a joint effort, I am on board, with the program, all-for-one, in synch, on the same page, ready to "take one", ad nauseum.

At least, that is, when my team is playing by the rules. But when my comrades-in-arms start churning out smoke and polishing up mirrors, shearing sheep in anticipation of the big wool pull, I hit the roof, see red, get hornet mad and become, in essence, a whistleblower.

Loyalty to the team, but duty to the truth, if I was one of those insecure cornholeos with a tattoo it would probably read that. And the truth is, the man we have all been led to believe is Simon Siddall this entire Kyushu basho is, in fact, an imposter named Bryce. 

My suspicions began as soon as we were sequestered in the top floor of our hotel and Mike had locked the exit doors and given his typical goodnight salutation shouted down the hall so we in our rooms could hear: "Get some rest, you focking maggots, we've got a basho to report on!" and "Simon" replied from the room across, "Too right!" Huh?

Over my plate of cold eggie weggs the next morning I saw "Simon" woofing down on a cheese and chive damper like it was a map of Tazzie! Later, on the way to the wrestling venue, he pointed to some homeless men under a bridge and exclaimed, "Eeh, ah'd lock to git all romper stomper on those bums down in the billabong!" On Day 4 he was sporting a Russell Crowe t-shirt, and by Day 8 had a pyramid of empty Fosters stacked three feet high outside his door (Mike cancels room service, including trash can emptying and bed sheet changes, for the length of the basho--says it "rots our timbers" whatever that means).

So I started digging, and what I came up with is this. Evidently Simon was killed on Nov. 8th in a barfight with three young Filipino prostitutes in northern Luzon (he had suggested to them they "go home and study their maths"--he was always cheeky like that). Cut him up pretty badly, from all indications. Being closest next of kin, Mike (he was Simon's father's third cousin's half-step-nephew, through a marriage that has since been annulled) was contacted. He rushed to the P.I. and brought the body home on the q.t. With the basho a scant three days hence, something had to be done. 

Verification for what follows is difficult to come by, but I have good reason to believe Mike held a Simon look-alike contest and had the winner undergo major reconstructive surgery at some black market chop doc in Shibuya who specializes in helping geeks resemble their favorite Sims character (you'd be surprised at the funky shit people will go through to become regular contributors on Sumotalk--George, for example, ate a Chicken McNugget--don't laugh, I've seen the video!) This guy then pored over Simon's backlog (ooh, sounds saucy--that joke was for you, the real Simon, up there with the angels) to try and get the patter down, and by Day 3 was insinuated into the rotation with nobody the wiser. Nice.

Then a seventh contributor was added at the last moment, an alleged Romanian (did you see his photo? The guy is clearly Bulgarian) named "Martin" in an effort to deflect as much attention as possible away from the imposter. (That Mike chose the name "Martin" may be his way of having a bit of fun, considering that Nov. 8th is the day Paul McCartney was killed back in 1966 and secretly replaced. The "fifth" Beatle was their producer, George MARTIN!) And he might have pulled it off...

Except that Senor Wesemann was unable to avoid his one glaring fault, namely a guilty conscience, and because of this felt compelled to leave clues in his reports alluding to the chicanery; hell, might as well call it what it is, the conspiracy! 

Dear loyal and beloved readers, go and check the first letter of each paragraph of every report Mike wrote this basho, and you will come away as convinced as I that the Manchester Mamba, Simon the Snake Siddall, descendant of John Montagu and 2,375th in line to the throne of England, lays forever peacefully inside a copper urn somewhere in Tochigi prefecture. (And for the more adventurous, play the NHK Japanese language telecast for Day 3 backward and you will hear, just after the Ama/Kotooshu bout, the phrase "Bones that roll, homes go black, Luzon is the end of the [unintelligible], all hands on deck.)

2006 Kyushu Post-basho Report
Well, I guess the Kyushu basho didn't necessarily end with a bang, nor did it really set any stage of excitement for January. But before I review the actual sumo, I must touch on Clancy's ridiculous claims that Simon was killed, and that I replaced him with a look alike. I mean, let's just review the possibility of this anatomically. Sure I can search among those dudes who model for Abercrombie and Fitch to find someone whose body sort'uh looks like Simon's. Sure I can scour the drummers of all those Genesis tribute bands to find someone who looks like Simon from the neck up. But where in the hell am I gonna find someone whose...well...whose...you know...whose...well, who can do Simon any justice from the waist down? Think of how ludicrous your allegations are, Mr. Smartypants Kelly. It's always been tradition for us talkers to pop a few cold ones before hitting the hotel's onsen after the day's bouts. I noticed the usual sideways glances from everyone trying to subtly catch a glimpse at that...thing floating there. And tell me...did or did we not have that cage with 15 small rats in it in Simon's room so all 8 of us could be fed during the basho? Your claims just don't make any sense. Australian dudes who are packing like Simon? That'll be the day.

And furthermore, your allegations that I left secret messages in my reports to relieve my guilty conscience is preposterous. Anyone can take any piece of text, manipulate the order, read it vertically or diagonally or upside down, run it through a supercomputer to get new messages, etc. and find exactly what they're looking for. Don't you ever watch the History Channel and those Nostradamus programs? Take a look at the first letters of the paragraphs in all of your reports. Line them all up and then eliminate every other letter and you get the following message:

Hot pickles I suck dreamin, I love Kitazakura, oh!

I saw you and Sherlock McManus at the computer on day 14 taking Simon's blog picture, blowing it up 800%, and flipping it upside down to see if you could find any hidden messages in the garbled pixels. Give me a break. I did the same for your own blog picture just for fun, and I could swear I found the following message on that shiny new suit of yours: "John 3:16". Clancy Iscariot quoting Bible scriptures? That'll be the day. In short, anyone can take anything...a literary work, an event, a chapter from the Bible that tells of President Kennedy's assassination, the US 20-dollar bill when folded just so forecasting 9/11 and make up any sort of conspiracy they want. The only question I have is if these things are so prophetic, why don't people come up with them BEFORE the actual events happen?  It's just lunacy.  Conspiracy theorists should concentrate more on meeting people of the opposite sex in my opinion.

Day 12:  Clancy Kelly

Mike: Clancy Kelly had me at hello. I'll never forget that first email I received from him in March 2005. I had just made a comment about one of the NHK English announcers in my report, and Clancy responded to that take with an email that was just a few lines long, but when one of those lines contained the three words "Roho," "ugly," and "sumbitch," I knew that he'd be perfect for Sumotalk. In his next email, he wasn't afraid to throw out that first insult by suggesting I was from Salt Lick, and I believe that's when he made his first Johnny Cochrane reference as well. And so it was after two short emails that I asked him to contribute for Sumotalk.

Clancy's debut on the site came in May 2005, and to say that it didn't come with a coupla bumps in the road would be mistaken. First, the online sumo community had just resigned themselves to the fact that Sumotalk and its so-called irreverent ways was here to stay. And now there was this New Yorker aboard who let the insults fly faster than Chiyotaikai's tsuppari; who told Tochiazuma to stop complaining about a widdle headache when he suffered a minor stroke; and who even enlightened us that being pleasured by a hairlip wasn't all that bad, especially if she caught the vein just right (I can't believe I just repeated that last take). Clancy's emergence wasn't unlike that of Asashoryu's who demanded the spotlight by kicking ass atop the dohyo, offending the purists and faint of heart off the dohyo, and forcing all fans to either love him or hate him. Now that I think about it, Clancy's also the only contributor about whom we've received email asking us to oust him from the site.

Amway, the second bump in the road was the problem of working Clancy into the line-up. At the time we were doing 5-5-5 among Kenji, Simon, and myself, and George had also begun working the weekends when someone needed a day off, so who was I going to bump in order to make room for Clancy? As everyone knows, I'm a firm believer in evolution, and that problem has somehow taken care of itself leaving Clancy firmly entrenched to my west on the banzuke.

Surely at least one person has noticed that over the first 11 days of this "best of" series, the focus has hardly been on sumo, and I can promise you that the last three days will have nothing to do with sumo either. The sumo takes will always be there, and we will always keep the readers informed as to what is really happening in the sport, but what makes Sumotalk so much fun is everything else. And Clancy has been instrumental in creating that culture.

There were a number of reports that I could have selected for day 12, but I've chosen a report that someone on our forum said was the best report ever posted on Sumotalk. It comes from the 2009 Aki basho and was brilliantly put together from the introduction to the use of nicknames throughout and concluding with an anagram revealing the reporter for the next day.

Aki 2009 Day 5 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
Recently I heard through the grapevine (you know, grapes, where "whine" comes from) that a small minority of readers here at ST do not enjoy the spirited, liberal, at times bacchanalian use of nicknames in most reports, and that these dour souls have even gone so far as to write letters to the editor, as it were, about it. Well, heres some news for ya, folks: Shikona? Thats a nickname. And it means, after the horses are brushed and the barns are locked, diddly, whereas the nicknames we give mean, at the very least, laughter.

See, "Kyokutenho" may have some awe inspiring, quasi-religious meaning for someone somewhere, but the plainly put "Chauffer" speaks volumes--about him, about sumo, about Japan. And if you are not familiar enough with Japan or the wrestlers background to "get it", than at least trust us, the ones who do, trust that we are often saying more with the nickname game than you may personally comprehend, and bear with us if you find it niggling into your "match summarization" time. And as for the purely goofy nicknames, remember, Sumotalk isnt the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. Its a bunch of guys having fun. We suggest you have fun as well.

The lead off match today had the most annoying double whammy of shikona in sumo today, Tamaasuka and Masatsukasa. Tamatsukamasakatasamufasakasa. Phuq. Anyway, the bout was a decent one, with the two of them trading throat thrusts and Tamaasuka misfiring on one and giving up the moro-zashi, allowing Masatsukasa to spin him around and crush him out. I love it when both rikishi fall out together. Fighting spirit!

Second bout brought us more of the same as Futenohs poor tachi-ai let Tochiohzan in with a deep right belt, and after shrugging off Fruity Pebbles judo throw attempt, Toe Cheese On manloved him down to the dirt. (Both nicknames are socially relevant, trust me.)

I didnt for a second doubt that Wakanosato was going to kill Bushuyama, and Darwin be praised I was right, as the former Sekiwake mainstay slapped at Bushus blows with disdain, letting the W10 expend all sorts of energy, then coming in with the head, causing Dolly to back away to the ropes, where he planted his feet and leaned way too far forward to resist the pushout we could all see coming. Parton me, said the Crocodilian, and red caped him forward to the doit!

Yoshikaze was all sorts of genki today as he washed over Tosayutaka like an imperfect storm, getting the E10 to the edge and executing a nifty outside to inside grip switch (set up by a good body humping maneuver) that sealed the deal as he was able to shove him out.

Toyohibiki popped Kokkai hard at tachi-ai and the Comely Caucasian wasted no time in running and pulling, and he ran so hard that he ran himself right back and out. The End.

No one told Mokonami about Hokutoriki, who did as he always does, shoved his hands into the Mongolians throat repeatedly until he leaned in too hard and then pulled away and let the man fall. Mokonami got burned today (not that youd notice).

Veteran Tochinonada, 1-3 at W12 and with memories of Dejimas plunge to retirement last basho fresh in his mind, decided to dance with the devil vs. poor ol Shimotori, who ran past looking for the number of the truck that didnt hit him. Perversely, the truck then came up from behind and pulled on his leg and shoved him out. For those not clear after Mikes splanation, unlike Asas on Day 3, GGs move today was a henka, the difference being Asa opened his stance but kept his right leg on the shikiri line, whereas GG was nowhere to be seen.

Coming into the Iwakiyama/Kasugao fight, we were all looking for hijinks from the Korean, but he played it straight, wiping off The Hutt after a cracking tachi-ai. Iwakiyama spun quickly to stay squared, and they went at it with some pushing. Kasugao then got a left hand outside belt, which he used to make a throw that did everything but take the big guy down. Resisting well, Iwonkey Kong somehow miraculously escaped by twisting, leaning forward back at Kasugao, and getting the moro-zashi. Now with the Kimchi Kid raised up and with no leverage, Iwakiyama pushed and picked up and worked him back for the crushout win. Neither dude gave up in this one, another good Day 5 bout with exceptional footwork by the Moon in the Man.

Aran laid a henkatakikomi on Kakizoe, who as we all know deserved it after what he did on Day 2. Naturally the NHK English guy trotted out the same old bullshit read, that Kakizoe had his head down and wasnt looking at his foe and that his feet stayed behind him as he lunged at tachi-ai. First of all it wasnt true, Sweet Zoe was looking right at the Bodyguard. Secondly, EVERYONES feet stay behind when they lunge at tachi-ai, you numbnut. If they brought their feet up under their bodies as they moved forward, it wouldnt be lunging, itd be standing up. It only looks like a mistake (and even then only to those who dont really understand sumo) when the god damned foe is not there! If you want an example, the very next bout (surprise surprise) provides one. 

Goeido and Takamisakari both lunged forward, and both mens feet remained in place beneath them as they collided. If one had henkad, the other would have looked like he left his legs behind. So please, pretty please with artificial sweetener on top, stop talking about guys "leaving their feet behind them" when they get henkad.

Goeido, adroitly blocking any inside belt grab, ran the flailing Cop out in a heartbeat, btw.

I hope that Homasho has some chalk and a board back in the heya, cause hes definitively going to need to draw on it tonight. After getting deflected by a vicious face slap from Tokitenku, he went with his momentum and got a strong outside left. Tokitenku sensed danger and started doing that Mongolian leg tripping in desperation thing, but as Homasho was about to shove him out, Tokitenku somehow thrust back to the center, causing Homasho to get his legs all akimbo. As he stumble bumblingly retreated, Tokitenku swarmed him and ran him out. A bit of a shocker this one, but as we saw in the Iwakiyama bout, good footwork wins, bad footwork kills.

I should point out here that normally Thursday is the day wed have re-Mark Arbo reporting, but as I noted in my Day 2 opening, the poor kid has been suffering great pains lately, and so has had to stay in his suite this basho taking pretty much constant doses of medication. When Mike asked him if he was going to do the Day 5 report, he struggled to whisper, "Cancer" (tho Im pretty sure I heard, "Cant, Sir"). Either way, its painful to watch him struggle with his thrice daily bong hit, and inspiring to see him keep on fighting no matter what.

After seizing the advantage at tachi-ai, Asasekiryu overreacted to a Toyonoshima feint and gave up the moro-zashi. Sexy fought off a throw attempt at the edge, but Tugboat is close to a guarantee when he gets the double inside grip, and tho the Mongolian gamely fled around the rings edge, Toyo stayed on him and tripped him backward and down, employing the kiri-kaeshi, a move I use quite often to get my wife into bed.

Takekaze wanted nothing to do with Kakuryu, immediately moving to his left and then heading for the door. Shit, he was calling for a cab. Kimarite should have been "killer rabbit", as in "Run away, run away!"

Geeku continued his strange mastery over Kisenosato, and like a bored girlfriend ignored the latters ineffectual thrusting and drove forth to blast the Kid back and out. Why doesnt Kise man up to Kotoshogiku more often? His Chiyotaikai imitation sucks.

A bit of a shifting tachi-ai gave Tamanoshima a slight arm lock on Kaio, but the arm lock master Ozeki wormed out of it and pulled his Peter, who came quickly, a little too quickly. Easy as you please, Kaio sidled to his left, got behind him, and shoved the premature one out.

Tochinoshin was licking his chops today, after getting effed up by the Yokos and Kotos, because if he could just get his hands on hAruMAfuji...  After a pushing start by both men, Tochi did indeed get a good belt grip that forced the Mongolian to lean awkwardly forward to avoid being shoved out. hAruMAfuji got it back to the middle but he was in the weaker position, and after a long wait he made his move. No Shine was ready and used the Ozekis forward mo and his own strong belt grips to swing him around. With his higher ranked foe tiptoeing on the straw, Tochinoshin smartly did nothing odd, like try a hand to the face or anything else that might have created an opening for the wily hAruMAfuji, and instead just pressed his full weight on the Ozeki until the ghost of Dave Wiggins whispered in his ear, "Dude, its pancake time!" The suddenly Shiny Georgian then fell hard onto the Mongolian, who would not surrender and got a dohyo edge on the lower back for his troubles. Nice hard fight and another superb ending, where neither guy quits and both crash out painfully. THIS is why we watch sumo, am I wrong?

Shotenro, you poor boy. Will it never end? Today Mitsuki just hammered into him, then backed away and slapped him down like a cornstalk. Nothing cheap here, because Mitsuki has spent his career building his reputation as a bullish tachi-ai man, which forces guys like Shotenro to bring it all, which makes them vulnerable to being pulled down. Nothing wrong with using your reputation to set foes up (as long as you hit them fairly at tachi-ai, that is).

As the K man pointed out on Day 4, Kotooshu has been keeping up with the Jones' (shit, I had to use an apostrophe--first time in my new apostrophe-less career that I cant find a palatable way around it), Asa Jones and Hakuho Jones. But today showed, perhaps, why there is still a vast gulf between the Khan and the Bulgar. A dude who was thrashed by both Grand Champions earlier in the basho dusted off his A-game and charged hard at the Ozeki, who was forced to retreat. However, Kotooshu has skills, and he deftly waxed off Miyabis arms as he plunged forward, then wiped him on the ribs, deflecting him to the clay. The Sadogatake man was definitely dancing on the volcano, but alls well that ends well, as our pal Shakey liked pointing out.

It says a lot about how decrepit Chiyotaikai has become when he has to resort to bumrushing a sub-par Aminishiki to win instead of blasting away and setting him up for the slapdown or better yet driving him out. Sadly for the aging Pup, Shneaky was alert enough to pull the Ozeki forward, then balanced on the edge long enough for the Kokonoe man to touch down first. I know that the popular sentiment has Pup retiring at his home basho of Kyushu in Nov., but there is no way they are going to let him post another 3-12, so if it gets real ugly, like say five losses by Day 8, Im looking for the most durable Ozeki ever to call it a career.

Not much to analyze in the Asa/Kyokutenho bout. It was one of those bouts where Asa wins from the tachi-ai, getting a belt low and tight and then waiting until his foe tries some sort of escape, which in this case was Chauffer reaching over Asas shoulder to grab at the back belt. With his gravity now centered somewhere on Asas forehead, Genghis had no trouble lifting him back and tossing him out.

Finally Hakuho and Baruto locked up in what is fast becoming their routine manner, chest to chest with identical two hand inside grips. In this bout, they both executed maki-kae, switching an outside grip to an inside, which amusingly reversed their original positions. As usual Baruto was slow to capitalize on chances, as I felt he could have pressed forward when the Yokozuna went for his maki-kae. After a brief rest on each other, Hakuho started lifting and tugging, and he eventually got the Estonian out via yori-kiri. Its tempting to say Baruto should be pleased that he has taken out all three Ozeki he faced and lost only to the Yokozunas, but he has got to get it into his head that he is the Biomass and Hakuho and Asashoryu are just men and start kicking their asses every once in a while! Were all waiting.

Day 6 brings an exciting new guy into the mix, Ken M. Samewine (tho a bit of a ponce, insisting we use his middle initial). We hope you enjoy hearing from someone else for a change. Ill see you again in the Final Hours. Muhahahahaha.

Day 11:  Recent Contributors

Mike: As I alluded to in the intro to day 7, having Martin join our team really opened up the door to other non-native speakers.

Clancy: Sure did, and now there are all sorts of strange cooking smells coming out of the rooms during the basho.

Mike: Agree. At least we dont have to deal with that smelly cage of live rats now that Si has moved on. But back to the point, as the site began to pick up steam, I started paying attention to web statistics, and I noticed that outside of the English speaking countries and Japan, by far the most traffic was coming from Germany. Then, once Baruto began making noise in the sport, traffic from Estonia began to skyrocket. Seeing it was clear that Sumotalk would not be limited to just the dog and pony show that was Kenji and Mike, I wanted representation from the countries that produced the highest amount of traffic to give our readers a variety of viewpoints from various cultures.

Clancy: I forget, was Kenji the pony or the dog?

Mike: Martin's first non-English recruit was Dr. Mario Kadastik, whom we learned about when he signed up on our forum and became an active poster using the name Kajiyama. Some may think that having a direct connection to Ozeki Baruto, as Mario has, would have been the major catalyst in our selecting him as a contributor, but we actually couldn't stop drooling at the prospect of making more Donkey Kong jokes with a guy named Mario on board. Having a doctor on the staff is also a plus although, unfortunately, Doc. Mario does not specialize in proctology.

Clancy: But he IS the co-discoverer of the Enema Nebula.

Mike: Yes, Marios contributions to mankind are endless, and one of his greatest contributions to Sumotalk and to sumo fans worldwide is his making available the complete Makuuchi broadcast in English every day of the basho. He posts daily links on our forum to the bouts, and the only time there's a big hiccup is when there's a huge snowstorm in Utah, and I'm too lazy to go out in the cold and knock the snow out of my satellite dish with a broom.

Clancy: Its true, the Fantastic Doctor Kadastik puts the oo in bootleg, the pi in piracy.

Mike: After Mario came Andreas, whom we also recruited off our forum where he is one of the most active posters using the shikona YorikiriedByFate. It was clear that Andreas knew what he was talking about, and he offered us the German representation that I had wanted all along. Andreas also has a keen wit and puts together reports very well. I also get the sense that we have yet to fully tap into Andreas' abilities.

Clancy: Yeah, it wouldnt surprise me if he, too, is a PhD but just doesnt tell anyone.

Mike: And our latest recruit is Oscar, who gives us representation from Spain. Like the previous two fellas, we first noticed Oscar after he signed up on our forum under the name of Oskanohana and impressed us with the content of his posts. Once again, Martin worked his magic and arranged for Oscar to contribute for us bringing the number of active contributors to eight. Now I just need to figure out how to get Oscar's mug on the front page while still respecting our contributor emeritus.

Clancy: Maybe you could graft Simons mug onto Oscars shoulder? Seriously, though, while Im sure Id despise each and every one of these Europeans if we ever met (its already happened with Martin), I have to say they are a damnably impressive lot not only with their sumo acumen, but their nearly flawless English. And whats more, they all know how to take a joke.

Mike: A must if youre part of the Sumotalk fraternity. I'm not sure why, but as was the case with Martin, the most memorable reports from all three of these guys were their first reports, especially when Oscar sent us a Nagoya 2010 post-basho report unannounced and called me out regarding Kitataiki!! So for today's edition, let's honor our final contributors with highlights of their first ever reports for Sumotalk.

Hatsu 2009 Day 3 Comments (Dr. Mario Kadastik reporting)
Well, I don't know what Mike thought about the Girders and Barrels as I'm not that much into engineering. But while talking about top and bottom I'd like to say that the lower part of the torikumi (with the lower ranked guys) proved a disappointment to me in many ways as quite a lot of bouts got a surprise winner (at least for me). I'm especially disappointed in a few seriously under-ranked guys who should have just kicked ass, but what the hell. When I was preparing for the basho and reading all the keiko reports I was already expecting an interesting basho with Harumafuji showing everyone what he can do at his new rank (his keiko results were pretty good too), Asa being back after a long time and a number of other guys ranked at odd positions, which promised some nice ass-kicking to come. To say it politely I'd have to say that some of them have been quite a disappointment. Yet it's still day three so instead of yammering around let's get to the bouts in chronological order. 

So the first bout of the Makuuchi today featured the double pimple mountain Yamamotoyama facing a veteran Tamanoshima. Both stood at half the points coming in and to be honest after that fast dismantling of Toyohibiki yesterday I fully expected Tamanoshima to get a beating. As the two charged one could see how inertia is fully in favor of the double mountain. As a quick reminder from high-school physics momentum is a product of mass and velocity so if YMY is 50% heavier he'll also gain that in his momentum. For the other guy to compensate he has to essentially straddle a booster rocket to gain 50% more speed in such a short distance. So Yabba immediately stopped Tama in his tracks and took the fight to the tawara, however Tama isn't a veteran for nothing as he quickly ran sideways along the tawara forcing the big mountain to run in a circle. Now back to that physics reminder, if a body wants to move in a circular track it has to overcome that said inertia and the force that he must exert is proportional to mass. So from simple physics we can say that as long as you want to fight YMY you just have to make him go in circles. Seems Tama was given a quicky in basic physics too as he nicely evaded that first charge and as Yabba charged again moved to his right just at the tawara allowing the momentum to carry the mountain of pimples, muscles and fat to its doom. Tamanoshima improves to 2-1 while Yabba will feel it tough at 1-2 as the guys in Makuuchi are there for a reason. 

Well when I was considering who will do good and who will be bad this basho I was definitely keeping an eye on Homasho who has been underachieving due to the wrist injuries so I assumed he'll open a nice can of whoopass on Koryu today, but I was wrong. Koryu is a pusher-thruster and that's exactly what he did, he charged hard with his tsuppari and was able to keep Homey at bay. Homey did manage to get a few swoops through and slowly was moving Koryu back, but not out. At some point he seemed to be just about winning the bout when he went for a pulldown, but Koryu survived it and in turn charged into Homey. What happened was that Koryu somewhat missed Homasho and while Homey tried to pivot and thrust Koryu down he did so without any thought on what his feet were doing. So the bout ended with about a meter between the guys with Homasho awkwardly stumbling and putting his hand down. They did call it hikiotoshi, but I didn't see any hand pulling, just an off balance Homasho, who now is 2-1. Koryu is probably going to have wet dreams about how closely he evaded losing today to get his first "victory". 

I had been pretty suspicious about Masatsukasa from last basho, but Martin has been pestering me about how good Masa is that I decided to keep an open mind. The bout started a bit awkwardly with Tamawashi looking to have a better position from the tachi-ai. Masa looked like a small abused boy looking at the abuser with his head hunched down and trying to get it on the mawashi's breast. He did manage to get his left hand below Tamawashi's armpit and while backpedaling grabbed the back of his opponents head with his right hand and went for an under-shoulder swing down. The bout initially didn't look too good, but the execution of the swing was very nice. Well I'm not yet convinced on Masatsukasa and would like to see him kick ass more before I make up my mind as at the moment I still see him as mediocre at best in low Makuuchi. Both walked away with 1-2 and probably can't be too happy about the start. 

Now I have never really watched American pro wrestling where you have a lot of clowning and pure show, but the next bout between Chiyohakuho and Kakuryu the fishface did look a bit theatrical. Though Kakuryu has been looking good this basho it seems that he came to today's matchup without a real plan and throughout this bizarre match he was doing what the French do during warfare - retreat. Yohak did all he could and pushed and thrust, was evaded, pushed and thrust and getting evaded (repeat this cycle 4-5 times) with plenty of oohs and aahs coming from the crowd as it looked at least four times that the match is over with one stumbling down or out, but they always managed to recover and go at it again. After about a minute or so of this pretty comical show across all the different parts of the dohyo Yohak finally managed to get a decent push at Kakuryu sending the Mongolian staggering to the tawara while he himself did the same about a meter and half away. Won the guy who managed to keep his balance longest and this time it was Yohak the attacker. It was called oshidashi as the win resulted from Chiyohakuho's thrusts, but during the actual moment of winning they had a good two meters of separation and moving in different directions. Both continue into day four with two wins, but the total lack of offensive from Kakuryu today doesn't bode well for him in the days to come. 

Next up was the bout I was waiting for and not only because I'm from Estonia and root for Baruto, but a match between Kisenosato and him is something to be waiting for as it can promise a good and solid sumo match. Both knew that there's not gonna be a henka and charged hard. After the initial charge both men got the hidari-yotsu grip which promised a good fight. Baruto was a bit too upright, but decided to fix his position by lifting up Kisenosato to force the Japanese to lose his balance and as soon as he dropped him back down went for a maki-kae attempt on his right hand. That maneuver however cost him his balance and he was easily driven back by Kisenosato. Luckily for Bart, Kise wasn't able to get him to and across the tawara so he backpedaled and evaded sideways and went for an shitatenage throw with his left arm. Kisenosato countered on the last moment and went for a counter throw which felled the Estonian at about the same time Kise went down. The gyoji originally pointed the gunbai to west in the direction of Kisenosato, but a mono-ii was called. The slow-motion replays showed immediately that Baruto had kept his hands and legs high while Kisenosato went down quite fast so there was no real question on Baruto winning the bout, but it was sloppy and defensive sumo. 

As Mike has pointed out on a number of occasions Baruto has the body and the means to become the worst nightmare of any opponent, but he is a very friendly and calm guy and doesn't do such deeply offensive and brute force attack that he could. What he does is evasive and defensive sumo which is bad, however due to his size and strength advantage he gets away with it (look at the left arm toss of Yoshikaze for example from yesterday). Today was no exception and I think that he will not improve on this unless he sees that such defensive sumo will not get him further than where he is already. At this point he is a freshman in Sanyaku, it's his third basho there and he has so far managed to nicely KK, however if he sees that such sumo will bring him only between 7-9 wins which will mean no upward movement, then he will hopefully start to change and become the Baruto that we all see hidden inside him. Let's hope that it doesn't take too long and that he can keep his current rank in the process. 

Well well... our good old horse who has changed not only his name and mawashi but also really cleaned up his facial hair, Harumafuji has come in to this tournament with everyone having great expectations of him only to disappoint them twice. Already yesterday I thought that he can't get screwed twice, but he did. I was fully sure he would stop losing today, but NO. And while the first two days looked like flukes where he screwed up by a simple mistake, then this was not the case today. Toyonoshima charged hard while ex-Ama-s tachi-ai was mediocre at best. And even though they stopped in the center for a moment he was easily pushed back and onto his ass by Toyonoshima. Impressive stuff from Toyo who I was considering injured, but it seems that the injury to Harumafuji is bigger, though not a physical one. He isn't going to have it any easier tomorrow when he meets Kisenosato. 

I've been commenting here only for one basho before, but rest assured I have had a number of times, where I was 100% sure it was the last basho of Kaio. Well I was 110% sure this time considering that he didn't really do any keiko and the injuries he got last basho didn't look like something that would be fully healed in two months especially considering his age. However the first two days had gone by quite quickly for him coming in today at 2-0. The opponent he was given for today, Kotoshogiku, hails from the same region as Kaio, but has had a solid record against him in the recent past. The match itself was not a long one (I doubt Kaio could go all out for an elongated bout). Today he hit, backpedaled a bit at which point Giku lost his balance slightly so as Kaio charged his foe he was able to easily force him back and out. The only part that seemed odd to me today was the negligible amount of countering from Kotoshogiku. He seemed to be slightly asleep, not really trying to get a solid grip or fight back with all he had. In any case Kaio improves to 3-0 and I wouldn't be surprised to see again a "last Kyushu basho" for Kaio. Giku is yet to win one which he better do soon if he wants to get that Komusubi spot. 

Kotooshu seems solid this basho. No staggering around or henkaing. Today he also hit hard and even though Yoshikaze evaded after the tachi-ai to keep a distance from the Ozeki the Bulgarian was easily able to counter anything the caffeinated one could throw at him. A small chase followed with both trading blows but once Kotooshu had a decent enough grip on Yoshi he pulled him close to a hug and from that moment on the feeble chance that Yoshi had that Kotooshu would stumble down on his own was gone and he just allowed himself to be escorted out. Solid stuff from Kotooshu and I sure hope he keeps on going with what he has shown so far. The caffeinated Yoshikaze needs a miracle if he wants another win the first week (I doubt he'll out tsuppari the tsuppari master tomorrow) and his second week isn't too promising either, so I guess Arbo's shorts are safe unless Takekaze goes on a roll. 

Well I'm glad that I'm finally able to comment on Asashoryu. One can see what his comeback has done to sumo by simply looking at the crowd. Even though today was no holiday in Japan that I know of the Koguikan seemed to be stuffed and the cheers he gets are a pleasant thing to listen to. Kyokutenho has looked solid and provided a few scares, but there was no real distress for Asa today as he charged hard and immediately secured a left outer grip which he then immediately upgraded to morozashi. Kyokutenho leaned in strong and tried to keep himself alive by slightly turning into Asashoryu, but all it did him was cause a slight stalemate at the tawara where Asa was contemplating on how to finish him off. He tried a leg trip by kirikaeshi, which didn't work so he just went for a throw dropping Kyokutenho to the clay with a sukuinage. Nice sumo from Asa who was never in any danger today and just tried to win by a more spectacular technique. I've heard people are talking that he might actually take the Yusho and even though that would be a great comeback, but I don't see Hakuho losing this one. 

Speaking of which, the final bout really doesn't give much to discuss as Hakuho showed up and did what was expected of him namely charge hard and win by yorikiri in two seconds. Miyabiyama who was on the receiving end today took it in a swing as he probably didn't even expect anything else to happen. Hakuho is solid and does everything correctly so all he has to do is show up every day and do his sumo to get the yusho. 

The "leader board" looks interesting after day three with both Yokozunas, three Ozeki, a Sekiwake and two Maegashira on it. It'll reshape itself soon enough, but it's good to see so many top dogs up there which could be promising for an interesting basho to come. I will see you again in a week, but don't run away as you might otherwise miss the quickie tomorrow by Kenji.

- - - - -

Nagoya 2009 Day 2 Comments (Andreas Kungl reporting)
Yes, that really is my name. And my face.

Good day to you all.

If you were wondering: No, I am not a professor for medical genetics in Austria. That guy just happens to share my name, even though this is mind-bogglingly unlikely, given that my last name at least in this spelling is exceptionally rare. If you need some discount custom mutation, though, give me a shout and I will offer a cut-price sensation!

So let's keep note that I am not a professor. Not even a doctor. Merely a master. Of arts. Which doesn't do anything for me outside strangely again Austria, where it helps scoring with chicks and old landladies, who'd get a hard-on from any academic degree at their door if they were physically able to. But I digress.

Curiously, my association with Sumo Talk started already way back in the seventies, even though I couldn't know it at that time, for there was neither Sumo Talk, nor Internet give it a thought and swallow your tears. I happened to earn some scraps by playing part time clerk in an adult bookstore in Foxhurst, NYC when I became acquainted with one of my regular customers, the "Rocket Rooster" by street christening. Roroo, as I soon called him, was a late-teen/early-twen handsome monstrosity merging fair-minded freewheeling and unfathomable perversity. He lived from booze and fags and was hanging out with arty types and even more fags. From what he earned as a part time clerk in a children bookstore, Roroo carried significant amounts to the dealers of fortune, intoxication and schlock. There were thousands like him in Gotham 197x.

Roroo sparked my interest for having a peculiar fondness for a small but refined selection of our stock. I saw him only every other week, but he never left the shop without at least one new issue of series like "Big Boys with Boobs", "Sexy Stomach and Beyond (!)" or "Fat F**k". Not that his was the most despicable of tastes, but the fact that he was a) slim and wiry and b) confirmedly seen with varying girlfriends made me wonder a bit about the true depth of his imagination and needs. As it happened, I met Roroo one night at a party in an abandoned quarry outside the city proper. He was already drunk when I bumped into him. Not that he noticed me right then, for he was groping a girl I knew as "Patsy" and who had a degree in pottery or something. When his sluggish eyes finally met mine

[...]

he could barely keep a hold on his sanity.
"You got your fingers on the uncut November issue!?"
"Yeah", I said in a casual tone. "You know, the one with", I started, but we ended up speaking in unison, my voice still cool like a breeze, Roroo's turning into a greedy hiss: "The one with John Candy as a centerfold!"
"I need this issue!", his voice now urgent, almost threatening. "You cannot imagine how long

[...]

police report saying that his car was found at JFK International and that cross-checking with customs revealed that he must have left for Tokyo one week before. The Japanese authorities had been informed, but so far no-one by the name of 

[...]

And so on. You can read the full story in my upcoming autobiographical novel "Ham and Schlock. Hanging out with Roroo", available in any major bookstore.

Anyway, you cannot imagine my surprise in finding the thief of my ultra-rare John Candy centerfold special issue of "Rockin' with the Gluttons" more than thirty years later. On the Internet! On a site about (I should have guessed! It is so obvious!) sumo. It seems like the Rocket Rooster swapped his name and his life but not his taste. "Clancy" was showing mixed feelings hearing from me:

"Hey... ...ah... ...bro! It's been a while!"

And so on.

In the end he started to make offers of amends. He would, for example, promise to find an advertising rostrum for my upcoming autobiographical novel. So I don't know what he told Mike, but here I am.

Rocket Rooster Clancy insisted, though, that I also lose a word or two about this sumo thing. So here it comes:

Try a kubinage on Tosayutaka. Go ahead. The guy has got no neck at all. That's probably also the reason why he always looks so downcast. Anyway, I'm already in love with him. As Mike pointed out, his biggest disadvantage is his size at 1.78m, but he makes up for it with power, speed, intelligence and technique all neatly wrapped up in a 130kg parcel. We had to be a bit concerned about him or rather his knee after yesterday's failed utchari attempt. Against former Ozeki Dejima there was no weakness to be spotted, though. How can you dominate Dejima? You could henka for sure. Or you could decide to boldly take on the charge while actually spying out the elder's tachi-ai. This is what Tosayutaka did, cleverly shifting his head to the right blocking Dejima's attack with his left shoulder. From here it was all forward, forward, forward. The youngster quickly tried to secure a double inside which he managed to get before you could say "immediate win by yorikiri" to finish the bout with an immediate win by yorikiri. His first Maegashira win sees Tosayutaka at 1-1, while Dejima with the same score simply must feel his age. I mean he is one of the few Makuuchi wrestlers that are actually older than I am, and I know that my morning stiffy swapped members already some time ago.

So Futeno entered the anteroom of Asashoryu's office with a look of determination. "I need to see Asa right now!", he demanded from the somewhat baffled secretary. "He owes me money and I won't leave until this matter is settled." "It is not possible, he's in a meeting", Asa's secretary responded with a little shriek. "You will have to make an appointment, I must insist!" "Ahrrr, get out of my way!", Futeno yelled and charged for the door of the office. Asa's secretary jumped out of his chair and into Futeno's way but was much to passive right from the start. The battle was decided then and there. The still shrieking secretary tried to wiggle, pull arms and even grab for the neck but Futeno was all power and purpose. It ended like such things always do: they spectacularly fell through the door and into the office, where Asa stood in shocked amazement, wearing only his undies and wielding a golf club. Read the next issue of Sumo Scandal for what evolved from here. Futeno looks strong at 2-0, while Asasekiryu won't see a rise in salary for some time at 1-1.

All of a sudden the lights went dim and the air seemed heavier, like impregnated by invisible vapors of hellish origin. At the same time the temperature dropped significantly and muffled cries of panic could be heard throughout the ranks. A humming sound rose amidst the turmoil, a frantic buzzing that could not originate from anything sane or earthly. And then it was heard, the voice chanting "I! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!" Then in the middle of the dohyo IT appeared. IT was of gargantuan size, monolithic in ITS solidity while hideous in ITS fleshy, sore-infested softness. IT was an utterly alien, cyclopean horror arisen from the depths beyond even insane imagination. Only one learned hero could stand to face the Mountains of Terror. Thus, Shotenro copied his winning strategy of Natsu and went for Yamamotoyama's throat in a full force frontal attack. You have to give credit to Schotte for figuring that out; the others are already copying the style (see Tokitenku yesterday). And you need to be fearless to pull it off, because if you jump into YMY head-on, you need the mental guts to push further into these guts without getting mental. YMY is 0-2 and already fighting for his kachi-koshi. He should be a regular on the division elevator in the near future. At 2-0 Shotenro's future seems bright and you simply have to love his craft.

I don't know about you, but Tochinonada looks injured to me. The ease with which M10 Tokitenku was able to push back his M9 counterpart must make you wonder. Take that and yesterday's loss against Shotenro, which looked not like a real struggle, too. In short, Tokitenku won the tachi-ai (I wouldn't have thought that I will write this sentence in my debut report), Tochinonada, being too upright, failed with a pull down attempt, push, push, oshidashi within five seconds. With 2-0, Tokitenku tightens his grip on the Emperor's Cup, while Tochinonada (0-2) has to hope for ca. 30 other guys to slip once or twice in order to reenter the yusho race.

Sooooo, Schweinhunds! Armytraining ist gut for performanz, ja?! Gives you pauwer! I know das, all se members of my race know das! So the clich is done with. Recht so? Anyway, Kokkai does look alright after the brief stint at the Georgian Army. Against M9 Takekaze, he had the upper hand right from a head butt tachi-ai. Bouts with Kokkai tend to be wild affairs lately and this was no exception. Both men tried for pull downs on various occasions, neither succeeding. When the M8 had his opponent finally at the tawara, Takekaze tried for an all or nothing kubinage, which is nigh impossible against Kokkai, for he also doesn't have a neck. Kokkai countered smoothly with a sukuinage for his second win in as many days. I'm a bit concerned about Takekaze. He's retreating to backward and pull sumo more than usual. Not healthy? He is at 0-2 now.

I went to Kokugikan with a couple of friends today to see the action live. Already before that, we agreed that we were especially looking forward to the bout between M6 Bushuyama and M7 Toyonoshima. We still vividly remembered their first and only clash of epic dimensions back in Juryo days in '04. So we were sitting in our front row box, all exited and worked up, when we suddenly started wondering why it is so quiet. Further investigation confirmed that we were in fact alone in the building, except for a janitor who was found reading dirty mangas in a rest room. Then the realization dawned: It's in Nagoya! But we are modern people, so we reacted like all children of the 21st century would: We logged onto Twitter with our high end fruity cell phones and followed what Bush and Toyo had to offer concerning their bout:

B: "It's gonna start. He's waiting."
T: "I'm all there. He should charge any second."
B: "Here we goooo.... Umphh, I won the tachi-ai!"
T: "Damn it! He won the tachi-ai!"
B: "I have him by the tit!"
T: "He got me by the tit! I have to shift!"
B: "Here I go... aww, f**k!"
T: "I shifted sideways and swung him down!"
B: "He swung me down. This is my second loss in as many days and I will have a tough time since I'm overranked."
T: "I collected my first win (by katasukashi), but my injury is still a problem and maybe my career has already peaked. Tomorrow against Tochinoshin I won't have such an easy time."

Brave new world.

Now isn't it a charming match, the one between Robocopsakari and Baruto the Brute? In fact, suspense spells different, for the Estonian entered their fifth career meeting with a flawless record. Yeah, yeah, it is always a good show with the Clown and Baruto is also a crowd-pleaser, but everybody knew what would follow: Bart opened up at tachi-ai and shifted slightly to the left going for the immediate uwate. At the same time he seemed to care zeronadanotatall what Takamisakari was doing, which was gaining morozashi. Well, the M4 is good in what he does, so he managed to force back the giant ex-Sekiwake by repeatedly pushing up his left armpit. Feeling the tawara at his heels, Baruto grew sick of it and swung the Clown around 180 with his persisting left hand uwate. Just like that. He didn't even throw Takamisakari into the front row, just swung him around and out. Just like that. Baruto placed lower than Komusubi must be considered underranked. He's at 2-0 know and will get a sansho. Just like that. Robocop is at .50, so nothing to worry about, yet.

Yokozuna-wannamaybe Amafujiharu showed no weakness today in his match against former Komusubi Iwakiyama. A controlled tachi-ai led to a short sequence of tsuppari exchange, but the Ozeki didn't waste time, secured the double inside and guided his overranked opponent out of the ring for a convincing yorikiri win. We cannot claim to know where Amafujiharu is standing exactly, so let's wait and see. M3 Iwakiyama stands at 1-1 and has a flat face.

Sekiwake Kisenosato must have had a rough night, dreaming vividly of yesterday's bout against Amafujiharu and the missed opportunity. Mentally unstable as he tends to be at times, you had to worry about his performance against Chiyotaikai, a limping old diabetic who used to be respected in the last century. All fears proved unnecessary, though, for the "Ozeki" henkaed to the left, a move anticipated by the 23-year-old veteran. In just about two seconds he pushed the Pup out of the dohyo, even delivering an extra shove that tells us a story about how much the "Ozeki" is respected these days. Let's pray for another Chiyotaikai make-koshi to wipe off the stupid grin that he showed on the way out of the hall. Personally, I wish a solid basho for the Kid.

I watched the Kotooshu Tochiohzan bout together with my wife and baby boy here in our mansion high above the coast in Greenland. We have a spacious living room with windows opening to a grassy plain that turns into a steep cliff facing the Atlantic Ocean. On our 6' flatscreen plasma monstrosity we receive all channels of the whole world, because the radio signals are all being sucked to the North Pole in case you didn't know. So we were sitting and waiting for our bout, as my my wife and I called it with warm, knowing smiles. Barely being able to lock the excitement away, my wife went like "Ommagaawwd, it's gonna be so physical!" And I went like "Ommagaawwd, it's gonna be so technical!" And even my baby son, who hadn't yet managed to articulate clear words except for "Mammammam" (for food and my wife), "Bababap" (for me) and "Kakka" (for cats, all other animals and the possibility of having shat), so even my baby son went like "Ommagaawwd, it's gonna be so awesome!" Then Kotooshu henkaed Tochiohzan for the cheap slapdown win that ridiculously enough was called uwatenage. Outside our window, a baby seal, witnessing the scene by sheer coincidence, died of shame. Tochiohzan must keep believing at 0-2, while Kotooshu, the murderer of baby seals, takes his second win but buries his honor.

Yusho favorite Hakuho met Goeido in a much anticipated bout. Would the youngster finally overcome his stage-fright when facing a Yokozuna? Would Hakuho for once drop his special concentration that he always displays when facing especially dangerous opponents? Quite boringly "No" and "No". Well, OK, maybe "Maybe" and "No". To be honest I couldn't spot any reluctance in Goeido, since the bout was over so quickly. After a light-speed tachi-ai from both, Goeido shifted to his left, but Hakuho capitalized on a minute imbalance in an instant, pulling Goeido down to the clay. Looked impressive to me. The Yokozuna actually ended up standing with his legs spread above the crouching M1. I couldn't help but ask myself if Asashoryu would have sat down on Goeido's back in the same situation. All is as it should be with Hakuho at 2-0 and Goeido at 1-1.

Asashoryu's record against rikishi facing him for the first time is legendary. He simply doesn't give anything away to upstarts, so he had to be considered a heavy favorite in today's bout against Ossetian Aran for this reason alone. The M1, on the other hand, is one of the fastest rising stars in sumo history. Add to this that he still has a lot of headroom left for actually developing some proper sumo skills, and you had Asa facing just not any wannabe. This may have been a reason for the Yokozuna to deliver a "cautious" tachi-ai, to put it euphemistically. I may be wrong, but I know of quite many top wrestlers who would have capitalized on this kind of diffidence. Inexperienced as Aran is, he instead opened up to much, rewarding Asashoryu with an immediate morozashi. And then nothing happened. I mean, Asa is in a winning position and is not able to move Aran. For something like fifteen seconds. I may be paranoid, but this is an omen. Right, he finally managed the yorikiri, but with so many difficulties? Asashoryu wins two in a row, but personally I am looking for the upset every day from now on. Aran doesn't need to be sad for going 0-2 against the Yoks in his jo'i debut.

Time is up. Master Mike will take you to the zoo tomorrow already again.

- - - - -


2010 Nagoya Post-basho report by guest reporter, scar Gutirrez
Hi there. My name is scar Gutirrez and I'm gonna write the Nagoya'10 post-basho report, aka the Home Arrest Basho, the no-live-coverage Basho. I like to call it the Dark Basho. Why do I write it? Well, Mike is tired of having to carry the daily weight all alone because the rest of the crew is too busy, you know, sunbathing, surfing, going to casinos and gamblerrr, forget about the last one. I'd also like to tell you I'm from the proud nation who now holds the title of World Football Champions, Spain. For all of you Americans, football is that sport you mainly play with the foot and a ball. Not that sport you play with an egg and your hand. Well, let's make an introduction.

As you all probably know, Kotomitsuki was expelled from sumo because of a baseball gambling scandal (illegal in Japan). He was used as the whipping boy. There were some "minor" gamblers who didn't bet in baseball, but in cards, mahjong or things like that. The top name was no other than Hakuho, and they escaped with a frown and a "don't do it again" by the elders. The rest of the gamblers (all of them Japanese, curiously enough) escaped with a one basho ban and domiciliary arrest. A Mongolian Yokozuna got a two basho ban for playing football (not hand-egg) while being supposedly injured. 3 Russians got expelled from the sport for smoking marijuana, that performance-enhancing drug. Ahem.

Then, as a nod to the loyal fans the sport has, NHK decided not to broadcast the basho live. Fortunately, the internet live feed was massively improved and now you could see actually something. Let's hope they don't take it back when and if the NHK comes back.

Well, let's go with the main story of the real basho, which was Hakuho trying to maintain his unbeaten streak. And did he live up to the expectations. Third zensho-yusho in a row, first man to do it since the 15-day basho, 6 basho-a-year was instituted, and that was in 1958. Wow. Kublai has won now 47 consecutive bouts and is within spitting distance of Chiyonofuji's modern record era of 53. The historic record of 69 made by Futabayama, once thought insurmountable, is under attack by the Mongolian Yokozuna. Do you want to bet against it?...Err, wrong words again.

Now, let's analyze each man's performance starting from the top.

Hakuho, I can't say nothing more. He got a scare by Tokitenku (of all of them) and some "hard-fought" battles against the Ozeki. Actually, I think he could call his winning technique before the bout. If he gets to the 70-win mark, he should do that, just to make things interesting at the top.

Now, to the Ozeki:

Baruto, who 3 basho ago seemed like he could try to pose somewhat of a threat to Hakuho's dominance, has settled down in the comfy Ozeki life. 8 wins by day 11 and no interest in getting one more. He's trying the pushing attack but his feet movement is nowhere to be seen. Guess we'll have to break him a finger to get it back.

Harumafuji started 3-3 and got to 10 wins. Yawn. The thing is he lost again against his nemesis Kotoshogiku. If Kotooshu has problems with Aminishiki, we say he's a head case. Harumafuji actually got here by out-smarting his rivals and being a skilled rikishi as he is, he should have solved or at least mitigated the problem with a one-trick-pony rikishi like Giku. He hasn't. The Ozeki life is too easy and the association has to solve that problem.

Kotooshu actually looked like he could be on the yusho race. He started 7-0 but then he lost to the also unbeaten Kakuryu and then he mentally quit, ending up with another 10 uninspiring wins.

Kaio was on his way to his usual 8 when he injured his elbow in a fall against his fellow Kotooshu. That's what happens when you take foreigners to "La Famiglia". Actually, the Japanese situation at the top of the sumo standings looks a lot like "The Godfather" (if you haven't seen it or don't remember it, go watch it now, for Homer's sake): Kaio starring as the old Vito Corleone; Kotomitsuki, starring as Sonny, the older son who just got killed. There are 3 parts to take, the trustworthy but not good enough to take the lead Tom Hagen, the silly nitwit Fredo and the heir Michael. I'll get to the candidates to these spots during the report. About Kaio's situation, I don't know what to think. He can win his 8 next basho with one leg, one arm and blindfolded. Still, why should he? Isn't time to call it quits? I hope so. He was great but his time has passed. Still, if he retires we'll have a totally foreigner line-up in the yok-ozekis and the Japanese wouldn't like that. I'm betting on him coming back till somebody claims his spot as the new Japanese Ozeki, even if that means fighting till he's 50.

The sekiwake line-up featured two Japanese hopefuls. Both got make-koshi. La Famiglia isn't happy.

First, we got Kisenosato, starring as Tom Hagen: good, but not good enough to take it to the next level. He started OK with 6-2 but caught one of his losing streaks that put him in the brink of make-koshi. He finally got that 8th loss on senshuraku against an uninterested Kakuryu. He only beat one kachi-koshi rikishi, Tochiohzan. Very sad basho for Billy the Kid. Let's see if he can bounce back in Aki from the more difficult Komusubi schedule.
Then we had Kotoshogiku, aka Fredo Corleone. He's there, taking advantage of the family protection (same heya rule) but absolutely unable to do something really remarkable. He got only 5 wins, but 3 of them were against the 3 Ozeki he could face. Fugly.

The Komusubi were what-the-heck-are-you-doing-up-here Hakuba and the hopeful Tochinoshin. Hakuba got 4 wins and I think he overachieved. Tochinoshin got 6 but he got his make-koshi by day 11. He's young though and he'll be back.

So, the low sanyaku got 4 make-koshi's. That's the way to make a basho interesting Now, to the rank and fillers, who this basho filled less as 6 of them were banned and on house arrest.

Tochiozan is now probably the one who's vying harder for the Michael Corleone role. He was low on the ranks for some time, but now he's come up and he's learning with every bout. Will he be the next godfather? I don't know, but in Nagoya he got to 9 quiet wins, doing nothing fancy. The kid is learning fast how to win. If he takes off the "softie" label, he may be your next Ozeki.

Aminishiki got injured and had to retire on day 12. He had won 6 and was on his way to 8. Shneaky has been up in the jo'i jin with only one leg, and now he's got it worse. My opinion is he should take some bashos off, even at the expense of falling to Juryo to recover his knees. Still, he's 31 and the best he can achieve is more or less what he's doing now. I hope he recovers if only to see him embarrass the o-suck-is again.

"Driving miss Daisy" Kyokutenho was 7-8. The only kachi-koshi rikishi he defeated was Harumafuji. Although he's getting old, he can still do his business.

Mike's man-crush Kitataiki got 6 wins in Nagoya, all of them against sucking rikishi and a fusensho (no show win) against Aminishiki. I don't know what Mike saw on him. I think his place is mid-Maegashira at the very best.
At the 17th active spot was Kakuryu. That left him out of Hakuho's way in principle. Still, he got 7 wins in a row and on day 8 he beat the undefeated Kotooshu. That earned him a bout against the Yokozuna the next day. The yusho deciding bout (if there was one) was on day 9. Ugh. No chance for the slippery Kak though, Hakuho beat him for the 13th straight time and he just let go and ended up with 11 wins, 4 wins of the pace but a jun-yusho and a gino-sho for his efforts. The best thing about him in Nagoya is that I don't remember a single bout where he didn't go straight-up. This is another guy who gives nightmares to all the Ozeki (well, who doesn't, really?) and will be on the sanyaku come Aki.

Toyohibiki was also caught gambling on baseball. He got oshi-dashi'ed to home.

Wakanosato's age has caught up with him. Still, if you put him against an all Maegashira line-up he's bound to kachi-koshi. He got 9 wins in Nagoya from M7 and will get his ass kicked by the big fellas in Aki. He's now at the same level as Kaio. Kaio was a lot better than him in their primes, but if Wakanosato had put together an Ozeki run, he would still be now Ozeki Wakanosato by La Famiglia's fiddles. I wouldn't like that though. I prefer things this way and I'll respect him till he retires. I don't feel the same about Kaio.

One-trick pony Wakakoyu surprised everybody getting 10 wins in Natsu. I would've liked to see him get his ass handed to him being as high as M8, but he was one of the gamblers. Pity.

Shimotori was on his way down with the elevator. A single digit Maegashira spot means make-koshi for him. Even with all the gamblers out he couldn't get more than 6 and this time he was even trying.

"The dung beetle", Kakizoe, had an awful basho, 3-12. If he doesn't fall to Juryo, it will be thanks to the gamblers. Maybe he was close friends with some of the gamblers and his mind was out of it, I don't know, but he truly deserved the demotion to Juryo.

The most remarkable thing I have to say about Mokonami is that he's losing some of his tan. He got a quiet 8 in Nagoya. He should be sunbathing with the ST folks right now.

I had higher hopes for Tosayutaka at M10 than just fighting hard to get only 8 wins. I was wrong.

The clown Takamisakari already got his kachi-koshi interview by day 12. That meant a stiffie for the ST crew, so all's well that ends well. The probable over-promotion will put his 9 wins near the jo'I jin in Aki, so no stiffie till Kyushu at best. Hope you old guys made the most of it.

Gagagagamaru (he's that big) couldn't round up (as if he wasn't round enough) his debut in MU with a kachi-koshi. He only got 5 wins and seemed a bit out of the league, falling here and there to side movements by his foes. He's raw, but he's got some potential to become sort of a Dejima (no yusho and no ozekihood in it). I'm just waiting to see him face Toyohibiki. That's gonna crack it.

"Razor blade" Kokkai is not getting any younger. Still, with some fishy sumo in it, he's capable of getting his 8 this low in the ranks. He did it this time, but with his strength he should be scratching a 10-day beard instead of scratching a KK.

Kimurayama henkaed everyone's hopes for him and finally got KK in Makuuchi at the 8th try. A guy who runs like a sissy if somebody touches his mawashi is of no use for me in the division. Toyohibiki and Tamawashi at least are trying right now, but Kimurayama, Wakakoyu and Hokutoriki are 3 guys I love to hate.

The cute Okinoumi (at least that's what they say) will be gracing the Juryo ranks in Aki for gambling. Send Goeido a card, he probably saved your ass.
Bushuyama raced from behind to get his 8 and his rack will continue to be a hot spot in the daily reports in Aki.
The Jokester needed 3 guys from Juryo to get 8 wins from M15. I guess he's not likely to try to pull off a Takatoriki's yusho anymore. Speaking of which, Takatoriki was one of the oyakata busted for the gambling scandal. That was karma.

Now, how many demotions can we expect? Tamaasuka, Shotenro, Okinoumi and Wakakoyu are a safe bet to go to Juryo. Kotomitsuki's spot is also up for grabs. In Juryo, being generous I can only see 5 candidates to promotion to Makuuchi: Masatsukasa (who can do fine), Kotokasuga (old fag, no business up here), Koryu (22-53 record in 5 tries, ugh), Sokokurai (26 year-old, Hakuba-like body and some traces of the same sumo but less fishier I think) and Tochinonada (talk about an old fag, but at least he had some career). Maybe Makuuchi will get cut to less than 42 rikishi but we don't know. Only the pot-smoking apes who make the banzuke will know for sure.

So, that's it. Hope you liked it. Mike and the rest will take charge again in Aki, I did my best to fill his shoes in this report. If you're hungry for more, visit the Sumotalk forums. There are some nice guys who know their sumo. I'm also there. Hasta la vista.
 

Day 10:  Mike's shoulder bump named Clancy

Mike: We led this best-of basho off with your senshuraku report from the Nagoya 2006 basho talking about the now infamous bout between Asashoryu and Hakuho that was proven to be thrown. We devoted day 1 to the topic of yaocho and that article, but there were quite a few other gems from that tournament.

Clancy: Well, rhinestones anyway.

Mike: As a backdrop to the 2006 Nagoya basho, the World Cup had just ended, and that was the one where Zinedine Zidane got thrown from the final match after headbutting Italy's Marco Materazzi in the sternum, so there are plenty of World Cup references in there. We also talk about the usual ugly geisha that frequent the Nagoya basho, and don't forget that Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett died in July 2006 as well.

Clancy: That poor bastard. Syd, not Marco.

Mike: I've been shaving my eyebrows in tribute ever since. But as you know, I am usually in Japan for the Nagoya basho, and it's always a good time because I'm in the same time zone with a lotta the fellas. I parlay trips between Fukuoka and Tokyo into chances to visit you, Si, and George along the way. I still remember 2006 and the swell times we had collaborating that basho.

Clancy: But Mike, you told me to never speak of those times, that men would come and hurt me if I ever did?

Mike: I'll take my chances, especially with the statute of limitations running out in a few months. Anyway, during the course of oureruhchats, I think it was you who came up with the idea that we could do a report where two people collaborated on the same day. With my being in Japan then, it made sense because there would have to be a very quick turnaround between the two participants in order to get the report posted in a timely fashion.

Clancy: Wasnt that the same basho where you introduced me to Got Your Nose?

Mike: Yeah, and you thought I was only expert at talking sumo. I remember that we decided that for the day 11 report--which was assigned to me--that I would write the report, send it to you so you could throw in your comments, and then you'd send it back to me so I could handle the transition and smooth things up before it was posted.

Clancy: "Smooth things up" being a euphemism for "rewrite everything I contributed."

Mike: I don't remember exactly who came up with the next idea, but we decided that we would present the report as if I was talking to a big bump on my shoulder that I had named Clancy. Speaking of which, is it me or have rikishi with those huge mounds disappeared?

Clancy: Well, it takes some fierce keiko to grow one of those bad boys, and we all know how soft the sumos have become now that they cant be beaten half to death by their oyakata. Like the indefatigable Johnny Cochrane once said, "To make your bumps youve got to take your lumps!"

Mike: So true, and may Johnny rest in peace. The more I think about it, sumo's decline is in direct correlation with the steady decline of rikishi with sweet bumps on their shoulders. Even Miyabiyama, who sported a wad of raised flesh that was more a second head, seems to be flying solo nowadays.

Clancy: Sad, too, cause The Sheriff was our inspiration. Him and his Deputy.

Mike: And if I remember correctly, you even sing the chorus of a song in today's report regarding the Sheriff and his deputy after Miyabiyama got henka'ed. So on that note, let's get to today's "best-of" report, which is my Nagoya 2006 day 11 collaboration with the large bump on my shoulder named Clancy.

Nagoya 2006 Day 11 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
Penn has Teller, Batman has Robin, Boy George had the drummer in Culture Club, and like Miyabiyama, I have this big old bump on my right shoulder named Clancy, who will add the color commentary to my day 11 report. Eject now if you know what's good for you.

Mike: When was the last time we had a basho where two Ozeki fought each other as soon as day 9? When that happens as it did this basho, it's a safe bet that the sumo all throughout week 2 will be good. Then you throw Baruto in the mix, and that just adds one more element to this second week because he fits right in when it comes to the final few bouts of each day. I applaud the Sumo Association's decision to hold him back from fighting the Ozeki and sanyaku until week two because it adds yet one more bout near the end of each day that pits two of the best going chest to chest.

Clancy: I agree, Mike. They were on their toes with that decision. And despite the fact that Baruto's record has taken the plunge, they are sticking with him because they know HE is the rikishi we want to see fight the sanyaku honchos, not Tamakasuga.

Mike: I mean, how great was that bout between Baruto and Kotooshu on Monday where both rikishi stubbornly held onto each other's belts even though they were both out of the ring causing them to crash to the sunakaburi? And then yesterday...when Hakuho had his second go-around against the Estonian. Hakuho's promotion to Yokozuna is very questionable this basho, but he is the only rikishi on the banzuke who can beat Baruto in the fashion he did yesterday (from the gappuri yotsu position).

Clancy: That Monday bout was fantastic. Baruto made a bold decision not to hang in there and sweat it out like Kyokutenho or Kotomitsuki will do. He got that deeper belt grip and made his move. Kotooshu was a few mere heel from turning that around and flinging the Estonian out. Their next meeting (hell, their next twenty meetings, ought to be Standing Room Only. As for gappuri yotsu, I have to think Asa, too, could pull it off until proved otherwise, although it would be much more of a stretch for him.

Mike: Well, Clancy, since you are woefully uninformed about sumo history, I'll tell you that the answer to my lead-in question is the 2002 Aki basho, easily the best basho of this decade. You'll recall that was when Yokozuna Takanohana made his return to the sport after sitting out 7 basho and nearly took the yusho. Asashoryu was a new Ozeki and jumped out to 8 straight wins for the second tournament in a row, and Chiyotaikai was up for Yokozuna promotion after winning the Nagoya basho. And that's not even mentioning the eventual yusho winner, Musashimaru.

Clancy: Wasn't The Musashimaru some sort of boat?

Mike: It was all good then, and I believe this basho is a harbinger of good things to come in the very short term. With all the major players healthy as they were this basho coming into day 11, the sumo is guaranteed to be solid. Add to that the return of Roho to the dohyo and there's plenty to talk about. Let's get right to it with the caveat that we are commenting on every Makuuchi bout today, so if you're driving after reading this or operating heavy machinery, don't stay 'till the end.

Clancy the Builder: Can we fix it? Yes, we can!

Mike: Uh...right! Yokozuna Asashoryu will fight the five Ozeki the final five days of the tournament, so up first was Tochiazuma, who came with a brilliant attack at the tachi-ai with a head butt into the Yokozuna's jaw and a pesky attack that just dared Asashoryu to go for the right outer grip. The Yokozuna accepted the challenge and latched onto the Ozeki's belt with a right outer, and then probably had the Ozeki thinking twice as he quickly lifted up his opponent with the left arm denying Tochiazuma a right outer of his own. At this point, the Yokozuna spun Tochiazuma around and back towards the tawara, but in the process, Tochiazuma managed that right outer grip and the gappuri hidari-yotsu contest was on. The problem for Azuma, however, was that his back was closest to the tawara while Asashoryu was standing closer to the center of the ring. The Yokozuna wasted no time lifting up on Tochiazuma's belt as he used his left thigh to help drive the Ozeki back to the straw. Asashoryu simply will not be denied this basho, and as he had Tochiazuma back against the straw, he willed him up, over, and off the dohyo for the powerful yori-kiri win. As Tochiazuma fell of the dohyo, he bumped his left knee right on the corner of the structure causing him to slump over in pain and limp back down the hanamichi with some light assistance. Don't be surprised if Tochiazuma withdraws, this time with a legitimate knee injury. It's really a shame that this bout ended with an injury to Tochiazuma because I thought the most important part of Hakuho's run for Yokozuna was to see how he would handle his Ozeki nemesis. The two are scheduled to butt heads tomorrow, but I'd be surprised if Tochiazuma is even able to go. The last thing Hakuho needs after dropping two uncharacteristic bouts is a cakewalk heading into senshuraku. After a terrific start, Tochiazuma has dropped his last three bouts and is out of the hunt. Asa stays perfect moving to 11-0, but isn't it strange that I hesitate to call the yusho for him?

Clancy: I'm not sure why, Mike, but yes it is. Maybe you think that Kaio or Chiyotaikai (if he comes back form his phantom injury) will do harm to his yusho hopes? Or perhaps you see Kotooshu doing the same kind of sumo to Asa that he did to Kaio on Day 8? I don't see Asa losing once from here on in, not even to Hakuho, so why the hesitation?

Mike: That's because Hakuho is a legitimate threat to the Yokozuna and will be for the rest of their careers. The best chess match of day 11 featured said Hakuho going up against Kotooshu, a pair that I think provides one of the best matchups in sumo right now. Hakuho led hard with the right shoulder while reaching around Kotooshu to grab the left uwate. Hakuho's speed prevailed at the initial charge as he was able to grab that outer grip and turn his hips away just enough to deny Kotooshu a left grip of his own. The Bulgarian dug in, however, with a nice right inner grip, but Kotooshu seemed too content to wait for his opponent to make the first move. As the rikishi came to this stalemate in the center of the ring, Hakuho ensured that he had every fold of Kotooshu's belt, but it was Kotooshu who made the surprise charge going for a maki-kae that actually worked giving him two inner grips, but Hakuho refused to let Kotooshu lower his stance and powerfully drove his fellow Ozeki back to the straw and down. In the process of the yori-taoshi win, it looked as though Hakuho's right foot may have stepped out before Kotooshu hit the dirt, but Hakuho completely had his opponent smothered to the point where Kotooshu could not employ any tactic to beat his opponent, so no mono-ii was called. I think it was the right move because Hakuho was the winner all the way. Watching the replays, it looked to me as if Hakuho's foot and Kotooshu's butt hit at the same time, but once again, a judges conference was unnecessary as Hakuho was in complete control. Hakuho moves to 9-2 and is the only threat to catch the Yokozuna from behind, but even that is a long shot. Oshu falls to another 6-5 mark late in the basho.

Clancy: Great sumo by Hakuho, I agree. His timing is second only to the Yokozuna's. While that was a nifty maki-kae, Hakuho took full advantage immediately. True, also, that Kotooshu had nowhere to go, but this is one of those points that you and I (and Simon, I believe) disagree on. Which wrestler is fighting the better fight, showing more gumption or being more aggressive is just too vague a criterion, left open to biased interpretation. The loser should be the one who touches first. Period. And that was Hakuho (I have a nice VCR and could freeze and see it clearly). Furthermore, Kotooshu used his awesome strength to force Hakuho to have to push him down and back, holding off the massive Mongolian with what must be incredibly strong lower back muscles until Hakuho stepped out first. Tell me why that sort of effort by Kotooshu should not be rewarded with at least a mono-ii, if not a reversal? As a comparison, the Yokozuna defeated Tochiazuma in much the same fashion the very next bout, but if you go back and look, while he was pushing the Ozeki out, Asa was being very careful to avoid stepping out as he did. That's part of sumo. You can't say, I kicked his butt all the way to the edge, he had nowhere to go, and just because I stepped out first I still won! Not in my sumo book, anyway.

Mike: Yes you can say that and precedent has shown time and time again that the one who touches first does not necessary lose when it occurs at the ring's edge. One more outburst like that, and I'll go in for surgery to have you removed. Coming into the day, I would have said that I was really enjoying watching the upper-echelon rikishi plan their attacks against Baruto, but that all went out the window today in the Estonian's bout with Ozeki Chiyotaikai. What the hell was that, Baruto? That was the most classless, cowardly, girly sumo I've ever seen. You cannot ruin the yusho arasoi because you're afraid to take a few shots from an aging Ozeki. Baruto was so punk-ass today it made me sick. Chiyotaikai charged hard from the tachi-ai with the tsuppari cocked and ready, but Baruto jumped to his left employing an ugly, ugly tachi-ai henka. As Chiyo lunged into mid-air and tried to stop his momentum, he injured his knee in the process and had no choice but to give up on the bout. Baruto carefully pushed his opponent out from behind, but it was too late...the damage was done. The M4 stood over Chiyotaikai concerned, and if I was Chiyotaikai, I would given the wuss a sharp elbow in ribs. It's just one more argument against the henka. The rikishi are not built to counter it. Chiyotaikai goes from yusho contender to injured reserve just because of a gutless act. How is that fair, and how does that even arouse you people who favor the henka? Today's bout was everything that is wrong with chickenshit, gimmick sumo, and shame on anyone who likes what Baruto did today. I really appreciated Fujii announcer's interview afterwards because he pinned Baruto down with some great questions not the least of which was "you're so much bigger than he is, why couldn't you absorb his tachi-ai?" Damn right. Baruto's sheepish answer was that his lower back hurt and he was tired from facing the Ozeki the last few days. Boo-freakin-hoo. Apology not accepted. Take your undeserved 7-4 record and buy a few dresses with it tonight. Chiyotaikai falls to 9-2 and may be out of the basho now altogether. Thanks for nothing, Baruto.

Clancy: Mike, you're scary but also oddly charismatic when you get all fired up. Yes, I, too, loathe the henka like I loathe natto, but cannot find it in me to get too riled up when what goes around, comes around. You said Chiyo could "officially go to hell" for sidestepping Miyabiyama, so why get so angry when he is henka'd by someone appearing in only his SECOND makuuchi tourney? After all, the great (but then beginner) Hakuho henka'd Hokutoriki!! of all people to give Asa the yusho two years ago. Yes, it is always disappointing when someone runs at the tachi-ai, but it felt REALLY good to me to see poor little Chiyo tasting his own meds.

Let me just toss this bone out there to chew on. This may be payback for the whole Roho thing. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Roho's anger came from the slight sidestep Chiyo did to him the day after he sodomized the Sheriff (ain't that a song?I sodomized the Sheriff, but I did not touch his deputy ♪ ), something else that Roho and maybe a bunch of rikishi were perhaps angry about. After all, we know that the European Kotooshu feels okay publicly blasting the henka move by his foes. And it is likely that Baruto and Roho are friendly, check the map of the former U.S.S.R. Different heya or not, I wouldn't be surprised to find that most of the European wrestlers are united in their feelings about many things here in Nippon. Something tells me that The Wolf's Pup is probably not the most liked guy by non-Japanese rikishi. So Baruto may have been dishing out a little comeuppance. You hit our slugger, we'll hit yours.

Mike: I disagree that it was payback. Although incorrect, Baruto felt he was henka'd by Hakurozan on day 4, so why would he return the favor to Hakurozan's brother? But, moving right along, I have to hand it to Kaio for his great win over Tochiazuma yesterday. Tochiazuma is clearly the better fighter of the two at this point in their careers, but Kaio showed yesterday just how powerful he can be with a good tachi-ai that gives him the right uwate. Today, against Sekiwake Kotomitsuki, Kaio lost the tachi-ai and gave up the quick right outer grip in the process. Kotomitsuki also wisely kept the pressure on Kaio's right side by wrenching the Ozeki's body upwards and giving him no chance for his coveted migi-uwate. The two rikishi were at a stalemate for about 10 seconds in the center of the ring, which isn't rare these days for Mitsuki, but once he set his mind to charge, he was able to force Kaio back and out with ease. Kotomitsuki has picked up some good steam these last few days, but it's too little too late as far as affecting the yusho race. Up next is Chiyotaikai tomorrow, but a fusensho win for Hit and Mitsuki is likely. Kaio falls to 7-4, but still has four shots of getting that last win. Kotomitsuki shares the same record.

Sekiwake Miyabiyama really needed a win yesterday against Asashoryu. With as many losses as he piled up the first 10 days, he could only keep his Ozeki hopes alive with some huge wins in week two. His win over Hakuho was big on paper, but the pull-down technique sort of nullified things in my mind. Today, the Sekiwake would get M2 Hakurozan, and he responded well. Hakurozan actually delivered a good tachi-ai that handcuffed the Sheriff from getting off any tsuppari initially, but the lack of a belt grip from Hakurozan gave Miyabiyama some breathing room, and once he managed that first lumbering thrust, he had Hakurozan pushed back and out in seconds. It was a good win today, but I'm afraid we've hardly seen Ozeki sumo this basho from Miyabiyama. Tomorrow's bout against Baruto should be very interesting. Last basho, Miyabiyama had all the momentum and won largely on adrenaline. This basho is different, so we'll see if he can handle Baruto on day 12. I say he doesn't, but god willing the Sheriff will restore order and put Baruto back in his place. Hakurozan slips to 2-9.

Clancy: I agree, no Ozeki sumo this basho from The Sheriff, and I'm afraid that no god will be willing, and tomorrow it will be Miyabijabba vs Chewbaruto, with the rebel Wookie winning by uwatenage.

Mike: Komusubi Kisenosato came with some fire at the tachi-ai today with a fierce moro-te tachi-ai that nearly had M2 Kyokutenho tripping over himself at the get-go. Tenho regained his footing and actually looked to mount a charge, but Kisenosato never relented with the tsuppari attack driving Kyokutenho back to the corner of the dohyo where the Mongolian just flat out gave up the last two steps. I applaud Kisenosato for sticking to his initial plan, and I have a virtual nigiri-pe to deliver to Kyokutenho for his (lack of) effort today. That give-up at the end was embarrassing, Tenho, but fortunately for you, you were outdone by a fellow countryman who I'll comment on in a bit. Kisenosato improves to 5-6 and still has a great shot at kachi-koshi. Tenho officially sucks eggs at 3-8.

Clancy: Fried or sunnyside up?

Mike: I thought it was very interesting when Roho walked into the arena today preceding his bout. It's just telling of the Japanese culture where they all had their various thoughts on what had transpired the last few days, but they kept it to themselves. In America, the crowd reaction would have been boos with a few cheers. After watching the World Cup, I think it's safe to say that the European reaction would have been jeering whistles, but the Japanese? Silence. I dare say, however, that M3 Roho came back with a vengeance today against M1 Kotoshogiku. Roho held up ever so slightly at the tachi-ai in a move I believe was aimed to have Kotoshogiku walk into a belt grip. Kotoshogiku complied and charged right into a Roho left outer grip where the Russian planted his foot and threw Kotoshogiku over to the dirt emphatically. Roho moves to 5-6 now with the good win and should kachi-koshi as all of the heavy-hitters are busy now facing each other. The Geeku falls to 1-10.

Clancy: Yes, but I have been here long enough to read the faces without need of sound. Some of the fans were looking at him like he had rickets, some as if he was going to snatch their baby, and others like he should have committed ritual suicide rather than return. But there were a few that applauded his strong win (albeit over a 1-9 rikishii in free fall). Maybe they hate Chiyotaikai, too.

Mike: Joining Kotoshogiku with the same sorry record was M1 Kyokushuzan, who stood straight up at the tachi-ai against M4 Ama and didn't even go for the moro-te. Talk about a bump on a log. Ama wasted no time and pushed Kyokushuzan back and out so fast that I don't think he could have had an easier time with a blow-up doll. What is Kyokushuzan doing? He handed that win to Ama today plain and simple. I'm guessing that shoes-on has this sneaky agenda where he's doing people favors by handing out the wins, but what's really happening is he's inflating the sport. George has been in Kyokushuzan's corner the last few basho and wants us other contributors to be nice to him, but I don't see how that's possible. I'll be nice to Kotoshogiku despite his 1-10 mark because I respect him and I think he's giving it his all. Kyokushuzan, however, is a clown whose first priority is not to win every bout he participates in. Ama moves to 3-8.

Clancy: Yeah, he seemed to be waiting for the gyoji to stop the bout (Hey, I had three more matta planned here!)

Mike: One of the surprisingly entertaining bouts of the day was ruined in the end as both rikishi abandoned their fierce tsuppari attacks in favor of stupid pull down attempts that didn't work. But I suppose that M7 Hokutoriki and M3 Kakizoe gave us as good a bout as we could have asked from them. Kakizoe was winning the tsuppari war from the tachi-ai, which was acknowledged by Hokutoriki's abandonment of an offensive attack and quick retreat pulling as he went. Kakizoe had Hokurotiki dancing along the tawara and really should have finished him off at this point, but when he didn't have Hokutoriki pushed out straightway, he went for a pulldown that Hokutoriki read and used to push Kakizoe back across the entire length of the dohyo and out. The finish was close as Kakizoe went for that last ditch pull down where the rikishi steps to his side at the straw, but gunbai to Hokutoriki. A mono-ii was called with the ruling upheld, but for those who watched the live NHK feed today, did it not look as if Kakizoe had a handful of Hokutoriki's top-knot? That would have been interesting...a rikishi winning by hansoku (disqualification) the day after he lost in the same way. Both rikishi are now 3-8.

Clancy: Kakizoe, what were you thinking? It's the Jokester. Just keep slapping, baby!@@Like the ineffable late Johnny Cochran (may he rest in peace) would say, "If he's in front, you must be blunt!"

Mike: As much as I like M5 Futenoh, what's he doing losing to M9 Tosanoumi as he did today? I'll give Tosanoumi credit...he delivered his usual sound tachi-ai complete with an excellent grunt that Futenoh could only answer with a meek pulldown attempt. Tosanoumi (4-7) took over from there easily pushing Futenoh back and out for the easy win. Futenoh as 5-6 from this rank? Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Clancy: As Bernie might say, He was too mik-an!

Mike: M5 Kokkai came hard from the tachi-ai with his usual tsuppari, but he wasn't driving with his lower body. The result was a Kasugao who wasn't being driven back, but the Kokkai thrusts were enough to keep Kasugao upright and flailing for any sort of position. When Kokkai did finally move forward, it was to execute a nasty pull-down that earned him the victory...and I mean good nasty. Congrats on the kachi-koshi as Kokkai moves to 8-3 while Kasugao flounders at 4-7.

Clancy: You said it, Cap'n. That was as emphatic a hatakikomi as one may ever see. It was like, Prostrate thy form before me, for I am Kokkai the White!

Mike: It's always funny when you see low Maegashira rikishi on the leaderboard mid-week two especially when one of those is M12 Tamakasuga. I've actually enjoyed seeing Tamakasuga work his thrusting magic this basho, but he has as much business on the leaderboard as I do on the cover of GQ wearing a Speedo.

Clancy: (Shudder) I'm with you on that one...

Mike: He actually charged well at the tachi-ai today, halting M6 Dejima's momentum, but he just couldn't move Dejima's girth around to the point where he had him on his heels. Dejima persisted and finally got deep on the inside where it was an easy force-out win from there. So much for Tamakasuga's yusho hopes as he falls to 9-2. Dejima jumps to 6-5.

M7 Aminishiki obviously played dress-up with Baruto in the last 24 hours as he came with a classless tachi-ai henka to his left today against M9 Yoshikaze. He does know that he's fighting the smallest guy in the division, doesn't he? It was a poorly executed move, however, and Yoshikaze actually got his left hand on Ami's belt, but what good does that do a rikishi when he has no footing or lower body stability? It does no good, as Aminishiki, who clearly premeditated the wuss charge, was able to push Yoshikaze out for the cheap win. I'll bet that feels really good, Aminishiki. Obtaining kachi-koshi with a tachi-ai henka against a small dude like Yoshikaze is like me gloating in my eight year old's face and trashtalking him after I beat him in chess. I'm not impressed. During his kachi-koshi interview, Fujii announcer said "we'd like to see you rise back up the ranks." No we wouldn't. Yoshikaze falls to 4-7.

Clancy: And Aminishiki's uncle was an Ozeki, wasn't he? I'm sure he made him proud. This is Yoshikaze's fourth basho in makuuchi.

Mike: In one of the day's ugliest bouts, M8 Tokitenku meant well at the tachi-ai by delivering some decent tsuppari, but Jumonji just seemed content with a lifeless attack holding back. In fact, Jumonji really didn't look as if he wanted to do anything, so as he floundered without a belt grip and no intention of a tsuppari attack, Tokitenku just pulled his sorry ass to the dirt. How about a little effort this basho, Jumonji? I can't believe this guy has managed a 6-5 record. Tokitenku is a smooth 7-4.

Clancy: Smooth, perhaps, but let's not forget HOW he won on Day 10.

Mike: M8 Takamisakari fought off the inevitable today by surviving a pretty good left paw to the throat from M14 Toyozakura (2-9) at the tachi-ai and slipping to his left securing the right uwate. The Robocop quickly forced Toyozakura back to the tawara, but little Zak would not go easy. Toyozakura survived the initial offensive from his opponent, and actually looked to have Takamisakari in some trouble, but Takamisakari never relinquished that right outer grip and finally used it to wear his opponent down and across the straw. Takamisakari should be concerned, however, that he could not finish off one of the weakest belt fighters in the division without a big struggle as he moves to 4-7.

Joining Tamakasuga heading into the day trailing Asashoryu by just one loss at 9-1 was M10 Tamanoshima, who looked to keep his hot streak alive against M15 Tochinohana, but the latter welcomed his opponent with a nasty tachi-ai henka to his left.

Clancy: Thank you, sir, may I have another?

Mike: Tochinohana wasn't able to pull Tamanoshima down straightway, but Tamanoshima (9-2) was in no position to do anything after running forward into thin air a few steps, so it was an easy pushout from there for Tochinogirly.

Clancy: Tochinohanakuso, the snot nosed girlyman!

Mike: Like Chiyotaikai, Tamanoshima came up injured thanks to the henka, and like Chiyotaikai, Tamanoshima's yusho hopes vanished thanks to some cowardly sumo. Look, Chiyotaikai and Tamanoshima hardly had a chance to overcome Asashoryu for the yusho, but both of them deserved the chance to prove themselves in the ring. Not only were they denied that chance today, but they both came up injured as a result. The tachi-ai henka has no place in this sport, and that is indisputable. The flower moves to 7-4 but a nice 0-4 finish would make me happy.

Clancy: Here, here.

Mike: M10 Iwakiyama lost his bout today from the tachi-ai when he opted for a shenanigan at the initial charge today against M14 Homasho. Iwaki backed up a few steps behind the starting lines, and as he charged, Homasho wisely hit his opponent straight up and then stepped to the side letting Iwakiyama's forward momentum carry himself towards the tawara. Iwakiyama managed to hit the brakes in time and turn back around facing the center of the ring, but Homasho was right there with the morozashi grip that he used to push Iwakiyama back across the tarawa with little trouble. Iwakiyama out-smarted himself today in my opinion as he falls now to 5-6. Homasho is one step away from his first ever Makuuchi kachi-koshi at 7-4.

Clancy: Never thought I'd hear the words "Iwakiyama" and "outsmart" in the same sentence. What happened to the Mount Iwaki, Iwonkeykong, many people's odds on to be the next long serving Sekiwake or even Ozeki just two years ago? Oh, sumo, you fickle bitch.

M16 Kitazakura sealed his make-koshi fate today failing to provide any pop at the tachi-ai against the much smaller M11 Toyonoshima. Toyonoshima looked to get deep on the inside from the start and performed a nifty maki-kae move mid-bout to get his wish. With Kitazakura looking as if he only wanted to survive instead of mount some sort of counter attack, Toyonoshima (6-5) twisted the duck over and rolled him off the dohyo altogether.

M12 Tochinonada had the chance to clinch kachi-koshi today with his eighth straight win, and all he needed to do was beat M13 Takekaze, a rikishi he led 4-0 in head to head competition coming in, but Takekaze just kicked Nada's fanny at the tachi-ai...

Clancy: ...kicked it good and hard...

Mike: ...standing him straight up, using a good right otsuke (push to the side) to throw Tochinonada off balance toward the tawara, and then some quick pushes to make it official. Both rikishi stand at 7-3, and we'll see if the man of streaks, Tochinonada, will suffer from Takamisakari-itis down the stretch as he tries to pick up that elusive eighth win.

Clancy: No kidding. I recall Tochinonada once losing his first four and then winning his last 11 bouts about five years ago. This guy should be sitting front seat, Center Court, Wimbledon.

Mike: M15 Buyuzan really is hapless this basho, and I say that with all due respect. Actually, the dude seems to have a bum right knee, which was heavily taped. He delivered a fantastic morote tachi-ai today against J2 Tochisakae (pronounced Tochi-sockeye if you broadcast for NHK's English feed), but despite the two hands at his opponent's neck, Buyuzan had zero drive from his lower body. The salmon easily evaded to his right and delivered sort of a slap down move that really didn't connect, but Buyuzan (2-9) just floundered forward into nothing but thin air all but walking himself across the tawara. Ugly, ugly stuff, and I'm not talking about those patches of fur glued to Buyuzan's back.

Clancy: Ouch, that hurts! Poor Buyuzan. Mike, I liked you better when you were doing all that goofy Pink Floyd riffing on Day 6.

Mike: May Syd Barrett rest in peace. There were 31 references to a Pink Floyd album, song, or lyric in my day 6 report to honor the group, and if you're one who says "Pink Floyd? Yeah, I like some of his songs" don't go back and bother finding them all. But finally, the lone Makuuchi rookie this basho, M16 Daimanazuru, gave up the quick moro-zashi position to Asofuji. Who's Asofuji you say? He's a Juryo rikishi that worked the M16 today for an easy dashi-nage win. Daimanazuru is just average for a Juryo rikishi, so I'd be surprised to see him back in the top division again. The rook is 1-10.

What a day of sumo, good and bad. Coming in there were 7 names on the leaderboard, but after day 11, we are only down to 2 and that second one is a stretch as it is. Asashoryu is in firm control at 11-0 while Hakuho is the only other rikishi with a shot at 9-2. Hakuho must hope for an Asashoryu loss the next three days, but if Hakuho slips up again before senshuraku, you can put a fork in this basho and congratulate the Yokozuna on his 18th yusho. The sensitive lover Simon alluded to yesterday reports tomorrow.

Clancy: Uh, wait a second. YOU are reporting tomorrow, Cap'n.

Day 9:  Rikishi Nicknames

Mike: One thing that Sumotalk was heavily criticized for early on was our use of nicknames for the rikishi. People who like to ride their high horse claimed that sumo wasn't a sport but something sacred, and that we should not be making fun of the rikishi in this way, but sumo has shown itself in the past few years to be anything but sacred.

Depending on the transgression of the rikishi or certain traits in his sumo, you can get creative with the nickname and tell a story simply by coining the perfect name. It's also a way that we can try and upstage the other contributors.

Some nicknames are self explanatory, especially the ones that follow the rikishi's shikona closely, but others have nothing to do with the fighting name and are based on some event (usually embarrassing) that happened in the past. So for those who have wondered why we call some of the rikishi the names we do, here's a splanation of all the nicknames we frequently use on Sumotalk.

Retired Rikishi

Asashoryu
Genghis Khan - coined by Clancy denoting Mongolian Asashoryu's terrorizing of Japanese rikishi, and by extension Japanese society
ExtraShoveYou - coined by Clancy referring to the dame-oshi the Yokozuna would frequently deliver after a win

Chiyotaikai
Wolf's Pup - coined by Clancy to correct NHK English announcer Dave Wiggins who referred to Chiyotaikai as the Wolf's Cub even though wolves don't produce cubs, they produce pups
Choketrydie - coined by Clancy to describe Chiyotaikai's helpless sumo

Kotomitsuki
Hit or Mitsuki - coined by Clancy referring to the fact that Kotomitsuki either brought it in spades, or sucked chrome bathroom fixtures

Dejima
The Dejiptian or Degyptian - coined by Clancy referring to all the bandages Dejima wrapped on his body, especially purple legs, and thus looking mummified. The ancient Egyptians were sublime mummifiers.

Iwakiyama
Iwaki The Hutt - coined by Mike placing Iwakiyama in that elite class of fattest rikishi
The Moon in the Man - coined by Clancy referring to Iwakiyama's concave, moon-shaped face
Iwonkey Kong - coined by Mike referring to Iwakiyama's resemblance to the Donkey Kong gorilla

Tosanoumi
Lunchpail - coined by Kenji referring to Tosanoumi's work ethic
Blue Collar Man - Coined by Mike to refer to same

Kyokushuzan
Krustyshuzan - coined by Mike referring to Kyokushuzan's antic filled sumo. Krusty the Klown is a character on the American comedy, The Simpsons.

Kotonowaka
The Bore - coined by Clancy as a play on the previous Sadogatake-oyakata's nickname, The Boar, in reference to the enormous Kotonowakas (current Sadogatake-oyakata) style of dull, drawn out, wear em down sumo.

Roho
Rogaine coined by Martin referring to Rohos male patter baldness
Rohoid - coined by persons unknown to refer to Rohos blemished skin being a hint that he took steroids
Rasputin - coined by Clancy as a reference to Rohos Russian ancestry and nefarious sumo
HemorRohoid coined by Mike referring to Rohos pain in the ass demeanor


Former Makuuchi rikishi

Yamamotoyama
Ande - coined by Clancy as a double entendre comparing Yamamotoyama's size to the Andes Mountain range while also playing on his youthful features (Andy being a typical young boy sounding name in the States)
Jabbamotojabba - coined by Mike obviously referring to Jabba the Hutt

Kakizoe
Sweet Zoe Jane - coined by Mike in reference to the Staind single, Sweet Zoe Jane

Hokutoriki
Jokutoriki - coined by Clancy referring to Hokutoriki's sumo
Lil' Zuna - coined by Mark referring to Hokutoriki's antics of strutting like hes a Yokozuna after kicking someone's ass
Pretender - coined by Kenji referring to faux yusho runs made by Hokutoriki from the bottom of the Maegashira ranks

Futenoh
Fruitenoh - coined by Clancy after Bernie's dubious report where he passed out oranges to winning rikishi in honor of Futenoh's parents being orange growers


Current Makuuchi rikishi

Hakuho
Kublai Khan coined by Clancy referring to Ghengis Khans grandson and second most famous of Mongol conquerors

Tamawashi
The Mawashi coined by Clancy, and if you dont get THIS one, you should think about going into custodial work

Goeido
Father Goeido Sarducci / The Father coined by Clancy as a reference to the Saturday Night Live character (though there are claims by a member of the ST discussion board that HE made the reference and Clancy copied it. Clancy denies this vehemently and has sent out men to find this man)
Gonado coined by Clancy playing off the similarity in sound between the word "gonads" and his name. Gonads are testicles, or balls, or nuts, and they are often used to indicate strength and power.

Harumafuji
HowDo coined by Clancy to explain the pronunciation of Haru in JPese, which is far closer to HowDo than Harry (sorry Mario)
hAruMAfuji coined by Mike after Ama changed his shikona to Harumafuji
Chaka Khan coined by an emailer referencing the lesser Mongolian and the one hit wonder female R&B singer (as yet unused, due to the fact that its kind of lame)

Kisenosato
The Kid coined by Mike referencing Kisenosatos debut in the Makuuchi division at 18

Kotooshu
Yoghurt coined by Bernie referencing yogurt commercials Kotooshu did, his white skin, and the fact that his homeland is the reputed source of yoghurt
Koto Shoe coined by Mark, for reasons no one quite knows
Koto No Show coined by Clancy to illustrate how the Ozeki frequently fails to show up

Takamisakari
Robocop coined by the former Azumaseki-oyakata to describe his mechanical movements
PTs Boy coined by Clancy and referring to the famous American showman and circus owner PT Barnum, to denote the circus that surrounds this guy in the arena
Circus The Clown coined by someonethe lazy mans version of PTs Boy
Bean coined by Mike likening Takamisakari to Mr. Bean, the British comedy character portrayed by Rowan Atkinson
Gump coined by Mike as a comparison to Forrest Gump, the guy who needs to ride the short bus but who also exhibits phenomenal power

Miyabiyama
Sheriff Fat coined by Simon Siddall referencing Miyabiyama as the fattest guy on the banzuke
The Sheriff Mikes adaptation of Sheriff Fat
MeFlobbyYama coined by Clancy describing his physique

Kaio
The Ole Grey Mare coined by Kenji!
Oldzeki coined by Clancy and graciously borrowed from time to time by Ross Mihara

Baruto
Biomass coined by Clancy referring to the geologically tremendous size of the man
Chewbaruto coined by Clancy referring to the way that Baruto manhandles his opponents like Chewbacca vs. Lando Calrissian

Kotoshogiku
The Geeku coined by everyone I think it was so obvious

Tochiohzan
Oh Snap coined by Clancy
Oh Poo coined by Mario since "zan" = poo in Estonian??

Kakuryu
The Kak coined by Mike/Clancy referring towellkak (widely considered by both men to be the most fun nickname going)

Toyonoshima
Tugboat coined by Clancy referring to Toyonoshimas ability to move around larger vessels

Aminishiki
AminiShneaky coined by Martin describing Aminishikis oft-employed sneaky tactics

Tochinoshin
No Shine coined by Clancy referring to his lackluster sumo
The Private coined by Mike after Kokkai and Tochinoshin were forced to return home to Georgia to enlist in the army. At the time, Tochinoshin was ranked lower, so he was called the Private

Yoshikaze
Yoshicafe / The Caffeinated One coined by Clancy referring to his hyper style in the ring
Starbuck coined by Clancy as another offshoot of the above nicknames

Aran
The Bouncer coined by Clancy referring to Arans rough ways in the ring and tough exterior

Asasekiryu
Asas Secretary / The Secretary coined by Mark
Asasuckiryu coined by Mike referring to Asaekiryus frequent sucky sumo
Asasuckeredyou coined by Clancy referring to bouts where Asasekiryu henkas, a derivative of Mikes

Kyokutenho
The Chauffer coined by Mike after Kyokutenho was suspended for one basho for driving an automobile and getting in a minor accident (the rikishi are forbidden from driving)

Gagamaru
Lord Gaga coined by Clancy as a play on the famous pop star, Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga coined by Mario referring to Gagamarus bad sumo days
Jabbamaru coined by Mike to refer to Gagamarus extreme girth

Takekaze
Mighty Mite - coined by Kenji to refer to his small stature but strong sumo

Tokitenku
Tokidoki coined by Clancy playing off the word "sometimes" in Japanese

Wakanosato
Crocanosato coined by Mike referring to Wakanosatos stumpy crocodile like arms which have little reach
The Barometer coined by Mike touting Wakanosato as the yusho measuring stick many moons ago (i.e. lose to Wakanosato and youre not worthy to yusho)

Tosayutaka
Tosayucroca coined by Clancy referring to another guy with short, stubby arms

Hakuba
Henkuba coined by Martin referring to Hakubas seemingly every day tachi-ai henka

Shotenro
Big Shot coined by Mario using the first four letters of Shotenros shikona

Mokonami
Mokonamiyaki coined by Clancy referring to Okonomiyaki, a Japanese style pancake that also refers to Mokonamis being fried due to his dark complexion

Kokkai
The Korporal coined by Mike after Kokkai was forced to go home and enlist in the Georgian army

Tochinonada
Gentle Giant coined by Mike depicting his soft style and large frame
Tochi De Nada coined by Clancy describing his frequent 0-fer starts

Bushuyama
The Dolly Yama coined by Mike after Mark called Bushuyama "Dolly" in a report using a picture of Dolly Parton and her big boobs
Bush hn, hehncool

Toyohibiki
ToyoIbiki coined by Clancy using the Japanese word for snore, "ibiki", to describe his sumo
The Nikibi coined by Clancy using the Japanese word for "zit"
ToyoThe Hutt coined by Mike attaching the title of Hutt to the fattest rikishi

Kasugao
The Kimchi Kid coined by Clancy referring to Kasugaos Korean descent
KasuGirlo coined by Mike referring to Kasugaos frequent tachi-ai henka

Kotokasuga
Momma Cass coined by Mike because he thinks any Momma Cass reference is funny

Day 8:  The tachi-ai henka

Mike: As I indicated in my pre-basho report, one of my goals in creating Sumotalk was to have other news organizations come to us for comment whenever sumo was in the international news. And while we cleared that hump early, I realized the impact we were creating when topics discussed fiercely on Sumotalk began spurring debate among foreign sumo fans at large.

Clancy: I believe the first topic we set aflame in the minds of those large furren fans was the role pomade plays in sumo (and if Im not mistaken--and Im not--thats the debate that drew Arbo to our bosom).

Mike: The two biggest topics that came to mind were yaocho and the tachi-ai henka. We've already discussed yaocho on day 1, so let's shift to the tachi-ai henka for day 8.

Clancy: Very cute. Youre trying to push my buttons, arent you?

Mike: When I began using the net to find information on sumo, I don't ever recall seeing a discussion on the tachi-ai henka. And even when Sumotalk began, it was never an agenda item for me to bring that topic to the forefront, but as Kenji and I began breaking sumo down basho by basho, it became clear to me just how much I detested the move and the rikishi who relied on it for survival.

Clancy: No point in splainin in this intro why its utter pish since were about to post our best takes, but suffice it to say I prefer gangrene.

Mike: I think once the intense scrutiny and persecution of Asashoryu heated up, we shifted more to that topic and away from the henka, and then with the major scandals in recent years, discussion of the tachi-ai henka has been moved to the back burner altogether.

Clancy: Thats because we not only made the case against it, we prosecuted, tried, sentenced, and executed it. The sole reason to mention now is to make funny.

Mike: Still, we'd be remiss if we at least didn't bring up the tachi-ai henka as we look back at the history of Sumotalk since we've had some grand debates on this site and in other places.

Clancy: And we dont wanna be remiss, mister.

Mike: We could review the different arguments that favor the tachi-ai henka and the reasons to oppose it, but I think everyone achieved significant closure during the 2007 Kyushu basho when I had that epiphany and finally found the perfect object with which to compare the tachi-ai henka.

Clancy: The infamous Kyushu 2007 Hump Day Henka Chart. Now yas done got me hypmotized!

Mike: Without further delay, let's review day 8, where I finally had enough of the tachi-ai henka and let loose with one of my famous rants.

Clancy (feeling a small stream of urine trickle down his thigh): Youre frightening when youre angry.

Kyushu 2007 Day 8 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
At the beginning of my day 3 report, I joked about this being the Kyushu jungyo due to the lack of spectators in the seats, but as the basho has progressed, the fans have started to come out of the woodwork, and as the number of fans have gradually increased, I've noticed that this basho really does have a jungyo feel to it thanks to the Kyushu faithful wildly cheering on their own. It's really the best of both worlds...a hon-basho meaning the rikishi are actually trying to win, and a hometown crowd that becomes passionate and supportive of its favorites. And being the good Christians that they are, the Fukuoka faithful are also taking in the poor and downtrodden from other nearby prefectures like Homasho who hails from neighboring Yamaguchi. The whole reason I bring this up is that the fans deserve a whole lot more than what they got today. What a horrible day of sumo, and not just because everyone and their monkey got beat. It was a bad day for sumo because on such an important day of the basho, we saw too many incidents of cowardly henka and pull sumo.

Coming into the basho--hell, at the end of last basho--I thought that Hakuho would just clean up in Kyushu. I had reasoned that the momentum he gained from his win in Aki would carry over, and that he'd be able to capitalize on the rikishi in disarray around him. And while the Ozeki ranks have their issues, and the other rikishi can't hold a candle to Hakuho in terms of strength and ability, a lazy Yokozuna is extremely beatable. Today against Komusubi Ama, Kublai was absolutely dissected and frustrated to the point where he allowed himself to suffer a horrible loss. Ama wisely focused on Hakuho's arms at the tachi-ai pushing down on them to disallow any sort of belt grip or inside position. At this point Hakuho panicked and went for the quick pull down, but Ama was all over the move and pushed Hakuho back to the straw. The Yokozuna arched his back with the best of 'em and survived the move well, but instead of intently trying to get back into the bout and forcing his way into the inside, he went for a second pull down from which he could not recover. Ama managed to grab a right inner grip in the melee and used it to drag Hakuho down to the dirt before a Hakuho left kote-nage throw could take effect. This was an ugly bout all around thanks to the pull sumo involved, but Hakuho's lack of concentration is disturbing. The funny thing is, even at two losses now, he's prolly still the favorite to yusho because as I mentioned in my pre-basho report, Chiyotaikai is still Chiyotaikai, and Roho is despicable.

Ama moves to 5-3 with the shukun victory and has officially gotten into Hakuho's head, but if the smaller Mongolian is serious about this Ozeki business, he's gotta learn to beat the lesser folk. For the record, Ama has now defeated this basho Hakuho, Kotomitsuki, Kotooshu, Kaio, and Chiyotaikai. Now that's a clean sweep if there ever was one. And the Komusubi had similar success against the top dogs last basho but was kept from serious yusho contention because he lost to too many underclassmen. Granted, his two losses so far have come to a Sekiwake and a Komusubi, but he's done with everyone ranked above him, so if he can beat the guys ranked lower than him, he will be a serious yusho contender. And how about that travesty no-call when facing Chiyotaikai? The Ozeki ain't gonna yusho even with the gift, but how big was that no-call now in light of Ama's current standing and remaining schedule? Damn NSK and their biases.

Moving on, M3 Kakuryu executed a classless tachi-ai henka of Ozeki Kaio today, but the hometown favorite survived it well not exactly lunging forward at the charge. With Kakuryu now out of position and on the run a bit, Kaio was able to square back up with his opponent and get a left paw on the inside, which is all the Ozeki really needs, especially against a jo'i pretender this basho like Kakuryu. Kakuryu flirted with a right outer grip and tried to move laterally to shake Kaio out of position, but Kaio held on with the left and brilliantly used his right arm to tie Kakuryu's left arm up in the air with the elbow extended. In this position, Kaio was able to swing Kakuryu around and eventually out to the delight of the Fukuoka faithful. Kaio moves to 5-3 with the win and will likely kachi-koshi. The Ozeki only needs two more wins when you consider his senshuraku opponent, Chiyotaikai, will not send Kaio into retirement if he's 7-7 coming into the day. Kakuryu falls to 1-7 and has lost his confidence to fight in the jo'i sometime between the Aki and Kyushu bashos.

M3 Tokitenku is a disgrace to sumo as is Roho. Ozeki Kotomitsuki charged forward hard at today's tachi-ai, but Tokitenku was nowhere to be found as the Mongolian cowardly jumped to his left at the start executing a classless henka knocking Kotomitsuki to the dirt and more importantly to his second loss. After an early loss, Kotomitsuki was looking sharp this basho and was one of the solid yusho contenders, so you can't take him out of the tournament with a tachi-ai henka. You just can't. Well, I guess you can, and Tokitenku did, but it's the fault of the Sumo Association for letting the pathetic displays at the tachi-ai continue. They need to take my advice and redefine what entails a sound tachi-ai and what is classified as a false start. The henka just ruins sumo. Roho greased Baruto with it yesterday handing the Estonian a costly second loss, and now Tokitenku has largely ruined Kotomitsuki's chances with it today. They caught up with Kotomitsuki afterwards in the hana-michi, and he stated, "I don't care if they pull me after hitting at the tachi-ai, but to do it right from the start is wrong." I agree. It's everything that's bad about sumo, and I hate it. I don't see how anyone who is fine with the henka could have enjoyed this bout today. In fact, I was so furious after watching this display of cowardice that I decided to reveal to you all an epiphany I had awhile back.

When we get really bored here at the hotel, we often try and find an aspect to another sport that resembles the tachi-ai henka, but no one has ever succeeded because there's simply not another example in sport where an opponent can use such a cheap tactic to gain such a huge advantage over his opponent. If fact, I've racked my brain for years trying to find something that even remotely compares, but I just couldn't. That was until I moved beyond the world of sports and began considering an accessory used by men that exactly resembles the tachi-ai henka and reasons behind its use. Now I've spent many hours researching this and pouring over the scientific data, so allow me to introduce my findings with the following chart that compares the tachi-ai henka in sumo to a toupee:

Tachi-ai henka Category Toupee
yes legal yes
yes reveals a lack of self confidence yes
yes masks a flaw yes
no chicks dig it no
yes should be banned yes
no socially acceptable no
yes makes all who view it squirm yes
yes can't be applauded or praised yes
yes ugly yes
yes used as a disguise yes
yes uses it to try and fool others yes
yes user looks like a fool himself yes
no requires glue yes

Damn!  If it wasn't for that last category, I could have had this idea patented.

Day 7:  Ode to Martin Matra

Mike: I'm not sure where to start with Martin.

Clancy: How about that large lump on his shoulder--oh, wait, thats not Martin.

Mike: He was our first non-native English speaking contributor, he monitors our forum and site email, he does the Fantasy Sumo banzuke, he's the best sumo gamer on the planet, he used to comment on sumo bouts for EuroSport, he's very intellectual, he's handled the recruiting efforts of our last three contributors, and his English is better than mine.

Clancy: Im sensing some love here.

Mike: Hmm, you're right. Maybe my brother-in-law and I have more in common than I thought. Anyway, we have quite a bit of fun at Martin's expense, perhaps because he's the kid brother of the staff? He's also quite ballsy and isn't afraid to say what he thinks. He'll challenge anyone and debate them, and he's correct quite a bit (unless he's debating me).

Clancy: Or me, obviously. Still, Marty does take a kicking and keep on ticking. I mean, if he were one a dem sensitive types wed not say squat about him in our reports, innit?

Mike: I first learned of Martin when he contacted Simon about posting reports in Romanian for Sumotalk. Martin actually sent Si a sample report in English that was very good and flawlessly written. We of course gave him the go ahead to start reporting in Romanian, but I never did forget that sample report.

Clancy: Im suspicious, to be frank. I think Martin is a West Ender, masquerading as a Romanian, a country he chose simply because the chances of anyone in the world, let alone Sumotalk, knowing diddly about it are, to be kind, slim to none, and Slim just left town.

Mike: Martin's very intellectual, and he figured out quickly that there's hardly a market for sumo reports in Romanian, but he knew that he had something to offer to sumo fans at large, so I'm sure he had aspirations to become a contributor in English, even though we had no non-native speakers at the time.

Clancy: Whats with this non-native speaker shite? Call him what he is: un-American!

Mike: I remember that you, Clancy, were the one who actually set up the first (online) meeting between Martin and myself.

Clancy: Me, a pimp?

Mike: Martin had contacted you via instant messenger, and after chatting with him for a spell, you suggested that we could have him start contributing for Sumotalk.

Clancy: What!? Are you serious? I am responsible for this...this...What is this again?

Mike: I still remembered that sample report Martin had first sent to Simon, so I was all for a chat with him to feel him out (as opposed to feeling him up) as a potential contributor.

Clancy: Trying to cop a feel with Martin is not a sound idea. Hes a mountain of a man (a mountain of tofu, sure, but a mountain nonetheless).

Mike: You've introduced me to a number of people (not the least of which are the two Yamaguchi sisters who always seem to show up at the hotel) but your introduction of Martin has been extremely beneficial to Sumotalk. Not only does he contribute tons to the site, but he and I have become good friends, and I always enjoy a chat with Martin as he frequently challenges me intellectually.

Clancy: And his knock knock jokes are to die for!

Mike: Martin is a frequent target of Sumotalk gags, but the dude is thick-skinned and extremely confident in himself, as he should be. I think he probably annoys a few people out there as well, but when you're usually right about things like predicting yaocho, I say annoy away.

Clancy: Hes a cocky sumbitch, no doubt, but the lad doth know his sumos.

Mike: For today's edition, I'm going to post that sample report that Martin originally sent to Simon and that made a lasting impression on me. After that, I'm going to revisit a public bet that Martin and I made (very few people will challenge me like Martin, so props again to the Romantic) on the site where I said of Iwakiyama in my pre basho report, "M10 Iwakiyama should end up on a spit with an apple in his mouth after it's all said and done. Three wins is being generous."  Martin said that Iwakiyama would win at least five, and I said no more than four, so the bet was on.  With Iwakiyama standing at 4-6 after day 10, it created some tense moments the rest of the way.

Sample Hatsu 2006 Post-basho Report from Martin Matra
The 2006 Hatsu Basho ended with a few big surprises, some of them pleasant, others not so. Biggest one of all was the name of the winner, Ozeki Tochiazuma. No one expected him to take the yusho, and he probably shouldn't have taken it anyway, because of several reasons. The first and most important is the dubious decision in his 8th day bout against Hakuho. Old Daisuke got the victory in that particular bout 50% because he's Japanese and 50% because he was the attacker. After watching the replay I would have called for a rematch, but I'm no shinpan, so... Secondly, how in Hell's blazes did Iwakiyama lose his 10th day bout? Nice footwork from Tochiazuma, they said, lots of rabbit's feet and four leaf clovers I say. The third reason is the dreadful kote-nage that put Asashoryu's chances at victory to sleep. Takekaze almost had Zuma in the 7th, but he fell flat on his face, black sheep Kyokutenho put up one helluva fight, only to choke when moving in for the kill. And maybe I didn't see well, but did Tochiazuma dubiously step to his left at the tachi-ai in his 11th day Kotooshu push-out? Sure looked that way to me.

But all that is in the past now, and Tochiazuma can't be denied the yusho and his hopes for Yokozuna promotion... which I just don't see happening, because Asashoryu just doesn't lose too often, Hakuho will be going hard for Ozeki, and the rest of the opposition is really tough for a change. So I see no more than 11 points for the Yokozuna wannabe.

However, by the time you're reading this, the second day of Haru Basho will have ended, and the results will have become available for me to reflect upon, so what you're really in for is a late-pre-really-early-mid-basho-report/prediction... of some sort.

Alright, let's start with the yusho favourite, Asashoryu, aka Blue Dragon of the Morning. Some have their doubts about Asashoryu being prepared for this tournament, especially after he mysteriously went missing from keiko, just days before the start. When he did manage to show up for some sparring, he was visibly out of breath, but he explained that this was due to his practicing in the evening. Wow, you don't see that kind of dedication just any day; I'm sure that's why he's been the dominant Yokozuna for so long, and not because the rest of the banzuke was so weak. Late-night practice or not, the first two days revealed a hungry Asashoryu manhandling his opponents, steamrolling through to the yusho. Some of you will surely say he had a lot of trouble against Ama, but he was in no real danger in that bout, that was just Ama being his die-hard self. So, 13-14 wins and the Dragon's share of the yusho to Asashoryu this Haru.

I've already covered Tochiazuma, but I'm just going to repeat it: no more than 11 wins. Oh, and since Aminishiki made sure he won't be needing that dohyo-iri sword, Zuma might as well get himself a Hummer, like Roho did.

Neighbouring Ozeki Kotooshu appears to be out of the yusho race, due to a knee sprain he got in a practice bout against fellow stablemate Kotomitsuki. The first two days showed his injury to be as serious as everyone feared. With Tamanoshima determined to keep him away from his mawashi, Koto #1 had to resort to pushing, which he did pretty well, although it was obvious he was desperately trying to avoid putting any pressure on his right leg. An ill-advised pull down attempt almost cost him the bout, but he came out on top in the end. On day 2, however, he wasn't so lucky, and Miyabiyama made short work of him after a couple of failed pull-down attempts. Nice effort from the towering Bulgarian, but I'm afraid his chances at kachi-koshi are just about equal to Tochiazuma's chances of becoming a yokozuna, or Clancy's of getting into Maria Sharapova's mouth. We have seen miracles before, though... Go Clancy!

Sneaking down the banzuke ladder we arrive at Chiyotaikai's EO2 spot. A record 9th time kadoban, the soon to be sekiwake (according to some, at least) has been laying low for quite some time, that is to say no one knows (or is it "no one cares"?) what he's been up to in the practice dohyo. I honestly can't say if he'll manage to pull of the 8 wins he needs to hold on to his spot on the banzuke, but the first two days sure got him a few steps closer. Two typical examples of evasive, uncool sumo from the controversial Mr. Hiroshima: first, a quick pull down on Kokkai, who resembles an ox more than physically (that's "he's... er... not too bright" put even more mildly), and second, one huge leap out of the way of a Roho strikingly similar to the aforementioned ox. That makes it two to for the slippery sidewinder against the nothing of the two Europeans.

Kaio, still struggling to find his lost form, was optimistic before the start of the basho. He and his partner in crime Chiyotaikai are kadoban for the 9th time each, but Kaio is very likely to keep his rank if he stays out of injury's way (which, unfortunately for him, isn't so likely). The first bout he had, against Ama, seemed to go his way, but Ama somehow invented some strange aerobics at the tawara, making Kaio step out an instant before he did. Adding pain to the defeat, Kaio's nose had a close bout with Ama's forehead, and guess who won that one... Big Koga walked away from day one with a nosebleed and a desire for revenge, which he got the next day, bulldozing Hokutoriki off the dohyo with an attitude and a thrust to the throat. Kaio's 1-1 record is inconclusive yet, but he's looking good so far.

- - - - -

Aki 2007 Comments on Iwakiyama
Following the bet between Mike and Martin

Martin Day 1
Fresh Juryo champion Iwakiyama produced a monster tachi-ai against crowd favorite Takamisakari, and I was expecting to see him win quickly, but he failed to capitalize. With no belt grip and Takamisakari's left arm deeply lodged under his armpit, all Iwakiyama could muster was a half-hearted sukui-nage attempt that failed. After that, Takamisakari planted himself under his larger foe, stood him up and pushed him out by yet another beltless yori-kiri. I didn't think so before the basho, but Mike might be right about Iwakiyama not getting more than four wins. I guess the beer's on me this time.

Martin Day 7 (Iwakiyama 2-4 coming into the day)
Eastern European Kokkai executed a piss-poor henka that allowed M10 Iwakiyama to turn around and grab the right side of his mawashi. With that uwate Iwakiyama ousted the inept Georgian from the dohyo and to his 4th loss. As I was saying before in this report, he'd do himself a lot of good if he took some henka lessons from Aminisneaky. And it looks like Mike's gonna buy the beer after all, because Iwakiyama just got his 3rd win. Now all we've got to do is find a way for him to send it here over the Internet (I'm working on a revolutionary Beer over IPE protocol right now).

Mike Day 9 (Iwakiyama 3-5 coming into the day)
M10 Iwakiyama completely stopped M8 Tosanoumi's tachi-ai today, but the Hutt seemed only concerned with pulling Tosanoumi down, a plan that only let Tosanoumi right back into the bout. Stupid strategy as Iwakiyama went from surefire win to pull-happy rikishi who retreated his way off balance to where he became the pulldown victim in the end. Both rikishi are 3-6. Martin and myself have a running bet as to how many wins Iwakiyama will muster this basho. I say four or less, and Martin says five or more. The winner gets first dibs on the neat fairytale costumes Mark has been sewing in his hotel room.

Mark Day 11 (Iwakiyama 4-6 coming into the day)
Iwakiyama looked as lost as a sexy cheerleader in the woods as Ryuo pushed him around. Far from looking like a wise veteran, Mt. Iwaki looked like a beginner who still hasn't quite figured out what to do with himself. The real story in this fight was the slow-mo replay. If you have the tape, go back and watch it. Iwaki's body ripples and flows like a lava-lamp floating down a stream of marshmallows. Hypnotic. Ryuo has already lost his 8 and Iwaki will.

Mike Day 12 (Iwakiyama 4-7 coming into the day)
M15 Yoshikaze used some nice lightweight tsuppari to fend off M10 Iwakiyama's own initial thrusts and slip just to the Hutt's right side. Iwakiyama immediately went for a pull down, and though Yoshikaze was in no position to push Iwakiyama out, he kept him on the run with his pesky thrusts before pulling the off balance Iwakiyama to the clay and securing a glorius kachi-koshi. Iwakiyama, who suffered make-koshi in the loss, is stuck on 4 wins, so I'm still alive in our bet, Martin. And don't think I haven't noticed you sleeping with that Little Jack Horner costume under your pillow. It's all mine.

Martin Day 14 (Iwakiyama 4-9 coming into the day)
In the next bout, Iwakiyama wanted to the take the bet between me and Mike right to the last day of the tournament (probably because Mike paid him off to take a dive). Anyway, Iwakiyama attacked with some vigorous tsuppari only to have his foe, future Juryo Kasuganishiki, dodge his subsequent charge and slap him down a fraction of a second before he crashed out of the ring himself. And, yeah, had it not been for our little bet, I'd probably have skipped this ugly bout altogether.

Senshuraku
Iwakiyama lost to Hakurozan by hiki-otoshi leaving him 4-11 for the tournament.

From Mike's Post-basho Report
Normally I would just bypass an M10 who went 4-11, but since Martin and I had a bet on how many wins Iwakiyama would finish with, I gotta take the opportunity. After day 10 when Iwakiyama was sitting at 4-6, Martin already had one leg in that Little Lord Fauntleroy costume, but not so fast. Iwakiyama went an incredible 0-5 down the stretch to demote Martin from the LLF costume to the fun white fairy costume. Martin was kind of dejected in the end because he didn't get to hold the white bunny, but at least his costume came with a training bra.

Day 6:  Scandal at Sumotalk

Mike: One thing that the Sumo Association hasn't been able to avoid the last few years is scandal, and just when you thought they couldn't outdo themselves, sure enough, something else comes up.

Clancy: If its not one thing its another.

Mike: Personally, I like to think that the recent scandals plaguing the sport are a result of the sumo gods enforcing the golden rule as pay back for all of the supposed scandals the Association allowed the media to incite regarding Asashoryu.

Clancy: Like they say, paybacks a difficult female who never lets her man have any peace!

Mike: Asashoryu's benefits to sumo were immeasurable, and one of the biggest benefits we're finding out now is that simply having Asashoryu around kept the media nosing into his affairs instead of the affairs of the Sumo Association itself.

Clancy: If he ever turns his hand (or whatever) to porno maybe he could call himself "Lightning Rod?"

Mike: No, I'm pretty sure Simon's already got a trademark on that name. The point is, it's certainly not as if yaocho, gambling on baseball, and even marijuana smoking were vices discovered by rikishi in just the past few years.

Clancy: Nope, they were brought over in the 19th century by Admiral Matthew "Black Ship" Perry, infamous high rollin, cheatin stoner.

Mike: Funny you say that because up until a decade or so ago, Japan prided itself on supposedly being drug-free claiming it was only a problem among the foreign community and the yakuza, but so many celebrities have been busted for weed and/or meth the last few years, and college kids getting busted for growing marijuana in their dorms is always poppying up in the news, so it's clear now that Japanese people use just like any other culture.

Clancy: At least gambling is still illegal in Japan.

Mike: Yeah, I've already talked about the farce that is Japan pachinko parlors. Anyway, in my pre-basho report I talked about how much I enjoy me some good parody, so it should be no surprise that Sumotalk will jump at any chance to weave parody into our reports poking fun at scandals or pop culture in general.

Clancy: Weve our fingers on the pulse of the modern world, innit?

Mike: One of the Sumo Association's lesser scandals--looking back now--were several of the rikishi testing positive for marijuana usage. And while there was an onslaught of media coverage regarding the foreign rikishi who tested positive, the Sumo Association attempted to cover up the fact that two Japanese rikishi also tested positive. We know of course that that came back to bite them in the arse when Wakakirin was caught red-handed with the devil's weed in Tokyo.

Clancy: "Devils Weed!" Youre starting to sound a bit like Martin.

Mike: For today's report, let's revisit Sumotalk's parody of the marijuana scandal where the sudden disappearance of Mark raised questions as to what had happened, and I nearly ruined the whole thing by unexpectedly running with your Day 1 gag on Day 2. You had a plan on how to conclude the story in your Day 4 report, but when I unbeknownst to you took things in a different direction on Day 2, it put you in a pickle.

Clancy: Aw shucks, whats a little tsukemono between pals?

Mike: Readers also may be interested to know that we never plan anything out prior to a basho, especially the gags. Sometimes we will let the other know that we have a certain idea floating around in our noggin', but I can't remember a single instance of "Okay, I'll say this, and then the next day you say this, and I'll conclude it with that."

Clancy: Ezzackly. Your Day 2 gambit (which was classic, btw--"pube mustache and that bulge in his leotard" indeed) forced me to come up with something better than I had planned for Day 4. In all sincerity, that aspect of La Cosa Nostra here at ST, that we on occasion must scramble to make it as seamless as we can, often produces something sublime. I know its self-congratulatory, but my Day 4 intro still makes me laugh kinda hard.

Mike: Cool, you said "kinda hard." But back to the point, everything is spontaneous here, which is half the fun.

Clancy: The other half is stomping on the feelings of everyone we can, whether they wrestle in Makuuchi, or write for us, or are Englishmen living in Tokyo by way of Australia who have delusions about being relevant.

Mike: OK, enough of our banter. Let's get right to the Aki 2008 basho where another scandal supposedly plagued the Sumotalk contributors.

Aki 2008 Day 1 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
Hello, and you are welcome to September, the finest month of the year. Unlike as a schoolboy, when the ninth month meant new classmates and an entire year of answering the same old questions for a new teacher ("Mr. Kelly, why do you talk so much?" "Mr. Kelly, what time does your mother get home?" "Mr. Kelly, why are you so effed up?"), September now means the end of stifling heat but yet the continued ability to swim in the ocean, the return of my children to school (freeing up chunks of daytime for me, who dotes on them everyday during the summer), and the last of the three annual Tokyo basho (and the one that, in a better world, would be held in Osaka).

September is also a time when we lovable goofballs here at Sumotalk look forward to meeting up at the hotel and sharing our war tales from the summer (i.e. how many wannabe starlets did Kenji convince he was a music video director, where did Mike (the only Japanese fluent naturist in Utah) get sliced by that "nasty old crabgrass", who from his entourage of admirers has Martin singled out for his annual Christmas holiday "Zwarte Piet's Lap Dance", and pretty much any late night tale from Simon, who, my lascivious friends, does not so much "whip it out" as he does "lure it out").
You'll note that conspicuous by omission is Mark. I could sugar coat it, but I prefer to be blunt, so here goes. Round about Friday evening, two hours after "lockdown" as we contributors like to refer to it, Mike, while doing his nightly check of the coin return slots at the hotel's phone bank, found a wallet. After rushing to the lavatory and shutting himself in a toilet booth, he found upon rifling through it, and much to his dismay, that it belonged to Arbo (Mike's as dirty as they come, but would never pilfer from one of his serfs, come on). As he folded it back up, something slipped to the floor, something wrapped tightly in paper, with little grassy strands jutting from the end and smelling for all the world like, as Mike later put it, "bad man's bidness". Since Mike doesn't know his "hash from a hole in the ground" (sorry, you can slap me for that one), he brought it to the top floor for us all to see.

After a brief but heated discussion, we agreed that it would constitute a reprehensible, unforgivable act to sneak into Mark's room when he was down at the sento, so we waited until he was down at the sento and snuck in. How to describe the scene that greeted us? Timothy Leary posters on the wall, a lava lamp on the bureau, Bob Marley and the Wailers playing on the jukebox, but most incriminating of all, a state-of-the-art, out-of-this-world, damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't good old Canadian water bong wedged behind the commode. 

Naturally at first we refused to believe our eyes, and eager to give our homeboy the bendoubt, Kenji offered that "it might just be a science experiment", while Mike suggested "a terrarium for a very small, traveling hamster", but then Martin, ever the pragmatist, bravely stepped forward, wrapped his thick Transylvanian lips around the top, slid his long, salmon-pink tongue down to lick the crusty resin caked on the inside wall, and declared in perfect, unbroken English, "Boys, whats we got here be the devil's weed."

I left to go get a cocktail (when Matra Martin starts speaking like he's Captain in Cool Hand Luke, I'm outta there) and three hours later, as I was making my way back to my suite (accompanied by the Yamaguchi sisters, aged 21 and 26), I saw a large blue plastic sheet strung across the entrance to Arbo's room, Kenji, Martin and Simon carrying out large brown boxes, followed by Mike with one hand gripping Mark's shoulder (I can only assume it was Arbo, because his head was covered by a flimsy blanket).

Long story short, we will be convening a session of the Sumotalk Deliberation Council (I'm assigned to wear a Medusa wig and, regardless of what transpires, shriek incoherently about Asashoryu) on Monday to determine what, if any, punishment will dealt out to Mr. Arbo (as we are now being instructed to refer to him) for his recreant behavior here in Tokyo, the capital of our host country. We are all hopeful it turns out well, but not optimistic, as Mike was overheard calling the airlines for quotes on their "economy rates to Hell". Shudder.

Day 2 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
I hope this report finds you well. If it seems a little late, it is because of the recent scandal here at Sumotalk where a foreign substance was found in Mark Arbo's possession. As Clancy indicated yesterday, the Sumotalk Deliberation Council did convene, and we had decided on excommunicating Mark for a number of reasons (ie, he's a foreigner) that I won't get into here, but when we called Mark into the room to ask if he had anything final to say for himself, he begged for mercy. He told us that he was really just a kid...a minor in fact. I told Mark he looked to be at least 30 years-old to me, but according to his explanation, he was born in China and had dreams of being a female Olympic gymnast but was kicked off the team when he was 13 because he couldn't explain to the authorities his pube mustache and that bulge in his leotard. He wound up being exiled to the outskirts of Japan...somewhere in Saga Prefecture, but his doctored passport and birth certificate that shows him to be older than he really is never got changed back.

Now we are not stupid here at Sumotalk despite what most of you think, so once we heard that improbable explanation, we were convinced 100% that he was telling the truth. It probably also helped his case when he showed up for the SDC meeting wearing shorts, nylon ankle-socks, and black leather shoes Still, he was found with an illegal substance and being the commissioner of Sumotalk, I am in quite the bind. The biggest problem is I've never dealt with weed before and don't know much about it. The closest I've ever gotten to grass was in the 80's when I used to go to any hard rock concert that came through town with my older brother. That was back when you could still smoke indoors, so as soon as the opening act would hit the stage, the majority of the crowd would light up. Growing up, I had enough bad little league baseball coaches that I knew what cigarette smoke smelled like, but it wasn't until I started going to concerts that I figured out what weed smelled like. But that was as close as I've ever gotten to inhaling. Coincidentally, those hard rock concerts were also my first exposure to rubbers. It took a bit to figure it out during the intermission of my first ever show, but along with throwing Frisbees around the arena, people were also batting these colorless balloons around that had nipples on one end and a bunch of lube smeared all over them. As soon as my brother and I figured out they were condoms, our repeated conversation for the rest of the 30-minute intermission went something like this:

Me: Heh, hehn

Brother: Uh huh-huh-huh. Cool.

Anyway, back to the business at hand, as commissioner I'm doing my best make things up as I go along and do everything to try and cover my arse from being exposed as the fraud I really am. I mean, what's the alternative...my stepping down so Clancy Kelly can become the new commissioner? The good news is that the sumo will always take precedent, so lemme put my current troubles on hold and get straight to the bouts.

Day 4 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
I'm gonna be honest here, folks. I love the word "hump." I love the idea of humping. I hump all the time, up hills, down riverbanks, over fields, through forests, in the privacy of my own home, wherever. But while Wednesday can rightfully be termed "Hump Day" for those who work a five-day workweek, it's not close to being a hump day for a fifteen-day sumo tourney. That'd be Day 8.

The reason I bring up it up is that this "Day 4 is Hump Day" notion was started by Mr. Arbo simply because Dude loves the word, too. He and I are much more alike than you'd think. One important way we are NOT alike is the lengths (or girths) we'll go to to make ourselves better(?) people.

What does this enigmatic remark mean, you ask? Well, I must officially announce that the Arbo Affair is over, and the surprising denouement has left each of us with an embarrassed but relieved grin on our face (each of us, that is, but Martin).

It happened late Tuesday night after Miyabiyama, who had come to celebrate with us the last big win of his career, left the hotel. There was a knock at the door of the East Yokozuna Suite (Mike enforces this "title" for his room every basho, even makes this large paper sign to hang over the doorway). It was way past midnight, and there had been monkeyshine aplenty (with a smashed Martin giving toast after toast on the "demise of the bastard Arbo", whom Martin has been trying to oust from ST since he came aboard last year), so it got quiet as Simon and I contemplated the implications. Hotel security? Police? Musashigawa Rijicho come to kick our collective ass for keeping his boy out on a school night? Simon broke the tension by turning Mike over, rolling Kenji into the bathroom, covering Martin with a blanket and then answering the door.

There stood Arbo and his lawyer, and Lord, if you could have seen the look on their pathetic mugs. We let them in, applied smelling salts to the three unconscious members of our Deliberation Council, and listened rapt to the entire, sordid tale.

First off, we were told, Mark is not now, nor has he ever been a soldier in the camp of cannabis sativa. Second, he got the whole idea for the China story from some recent sporting event, he couldn't recall which. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the object we found behind his toilet is not a water bong. 

Then what is it, we asked? They took out a large, empty plastic package and passed it to us. On the cover was written, Happy Hjorst's Hickory Dickory Dong with a star shaped blurb in one corner that read, "For lumberjack's who want their sausage smoked!"

Mark explained that he had noticed for years how crazy the gals he knew in Fukuoka were for all things Canadian, especially bacon and moose. A pal of his in B.C. told him about Happy Horst's, so he did some research, discovered they gladly ship to Japan and, voila.

I asked if they had a website (so we could verify his claim) and he said, yes, and then got a little too excited, describing how they also had maple syrup and Tim Horton walnut crunch pumps as well.

"But what about," stammered Martin, undergoing a dawning realization, "what about the resin that I...that I...I..."

"Oh yeah, that," replied Mark. "Occasionally during the pumping process there is some unintentional over stimulation, and well, sorry about that, eh!"

Into the extremely uncomfortable silence that ensued Kenji angrily intoned, "Those pumps aren't worth a damn!" adding quickly, "or so I've heard." Mike suggested we all get naked and discuss, "openly and frankly" our penises. Simon recalled being approached by an East End manufacturer in the late 90's who wanted him to celebrity endorse a similar contraption, "'cept theirs was gonna be chutney flavor, innit."

At this point Mark dismissed his attorney, and there were handshakes and backslaps and much rejoicing. We all went down to the hotel lounge for drinks, all but Martin, who lay on the floor in a fetal position, babbling incoherently in at least five of the many languages he speaks. "Poor bugger," I whispered to myself as I covered him with a bedspread, "thought he had Arbo licked, and didn't know how right he was."
 

Day 5:  Ode to Mark Arbo

Mike: I'm all for people getting fat as long as it's legal and ethical, and I can't think of a better land of opportunity for the everyday foreigner than Japan. For instance, if you're a total loser and can't get girls in your own country, consider moving to Japan for a spell and see if your luck turns.

Clancy: What? Is Martin really moving here?

Mike: As for Sumotalk contributors, we have one among us who has mastered the art of getting fat in Japan. I mean, just look at the evolution of his pictures since he began commenting for us.

Clancy: You can only mean one man, boss, our lad from the 51st state, the one, the only, the remarkable Mark Arbo.

Mike: Even if he totally quit on his reports and started churning out total crap (crap in terms of Sumotalk standards, which is REALLY stinky), he's worth keeping around just so we can hear about his latest exploits in Saga Prefecture. Still single, I swear he gets more cat than a little old lady whose house smells like urine thanks to the 34 strays she's taken in.

Clancy: Arbo reminds me of this other foreigner I know from Oslo. This gai is an animal with the Japanese ladies, more popular than well coiffed Korean men who cry. His nickname here in Japan is The Fifth Beatle.

Mike: Why's that?

Clancy: Cause hes always stoking their fires with his Norwegian Wood!

Mike: We found Mark Harold Arbo on our forum as his frequent posts fit the formula we look for at Sumotalk, which is good sumo takes laced with the right amount of humor. Mark also had a personal blog at the time devoted to whatever, but he pimped Sumotalk heavily from that blog, so that earned him brownie points as well.

Clancy: Finding Arbo was a pleasant surprise, I must admit. Definitely lessened the pain of losing Simon to the world at large.

Mike: Mark began commenting for Sumotalk at the 2007 Aki basho, and dude hit the ground running, immediately establishing his own signature reporting style highlighted by pictures so bizarre that it wouldn't surprise me if people tune in to see what pics he'll post next rather than read what he has to say.

Clancy: You mean he makes comments as well!? Im chagrin, and promise to pay better attention next time. Seriously, though, dudes reports are the closest thing to perusing a Playboy weve got at ST.

Mike: One of the best aspects of having Mark around is that he always comes up with something in his reports that I can play off of in my own. With the actual sumo content these days producing about as much excitement as a game of Dungeons and Dragons among nerds at the novelty game store in the mall, it's always nice to have a pic or two from Mark to create a running gag for the remainder of the basho.

Clancy: True enough. Trying to write your report and not make a comment about some freakishly funny thing in Marks from the previous day is like trying to climb over barbed wire without getting snagged.

Mike: For today's edition of the "Best Of ST", we'll start with Mark's very first report posted when Sumotalk was on the brink of achieving its millionth hit and then follow up with a few more goodies over the years.

Clancy: The only bummer is that some of the links are sure to be dead now. Still, Im licking my chops. Lets go.

Aki 2007 Day 4 Comments (Mark Arbo reporting)

***This report should be read as it was written- Drinking a GOOD beer and listening to "Brim Full Of Asher" by Cornershop (Full length version, not remixed).***

Sumotalk is a very good website. There is no telling how many people have been encouraged in, not only by macrophilia, but also by a love of professional sumo wrestling. Sumotalk provides: an arena for sumo fans to meet and discuss, a game, helpful links and a glossary. Sumotalk's news section is frequently updated and its daily comments are invaluable for any fan who finds her/himself in a situation where they can not tune in.

One would logically assume that Sumotalk is inundated with hits, day and night, a barrage of net savvy indivittles jockeying to take advantage of this robust and encompassing resource. Strangely that is not the case. As I type this afternoon Sumotalk is hanging somewhere around just under 900,000 hits. Not even 1,000,000. Now 1,000,000 can seem like a big, almost surreal number. When looked at from that haze, 900,000 could seem quite respectable. It's not. 1,000,000 hits isn't just for your Googles and Hotmails anymore (a good porn site can get more than a million a day...and that's just from Sumotalk contributors). Seamonkeyworship.com and DogDoo.com both have more than a mill. This page about squirrel fishing has more than 2 mill and this freak is closing in on 10 MILLION!

Point is, Sumotalk needed to do something to establish its rightful position as a powerhouse of education and revelry on the web. That's why I was brought in. I know that the other Sumotalk writers were none too pleased when they heard that Mike was bringing me on. Up until now Sumotalk has been all-volunteer (though by no means amateur) and most of the other commentators were apprehensive (read "JEALOUS") when they heard that I was actually getting a salary as well as a company car and all the other perks Mike threw in to entice me. But I want to state clearly here that I AM COMMITTED TO SEEING SUMOTALK TO 1,000,000 HITS AND BEYOND. Click HERE to find out how.

Did that work on ya?? Good, good.

But enough about me, lets talk about the fat men...the ones that aren't me ...

A man's first sumo report is a BIG DEAL. There is pressure to not suck. Problem is, towering insight and unmatched wit will only get you so far; you have to play the cards you're dealt. So it was with great excitement and expectations that I first checked out today's match-ups. As my eyes scanned the schedule it dawned on me that the best, most anticipated matches rarely get put on D-4. On first glance there seemed little to get overheated about. Luckily, just as (or perhaps 'because'?) I needed to take a maa-maa Wednesday schedule and write something interesting, a lot of rikishi made the best of their respective situations and it ended up being a pretty good day with some entertaining sumo.

"Last and certainly least"!? Bloody Mike and his brain-wave reading machines. That was exactly how I was going to end my first-est ever report. The moment I read that I decided a) I would write from the bottom up and b) Mike cares too much about Britney.

- - - - -

In a fight so good it deserved better company a little tugboat named Toyonoshima squared off against Yokozuna Hakuho. Toyonoshima is great at fighting tall guys (just ask Kotooshu), the dude is a giant killer. Toyonoshima had never beat Hakuho but he has always put up a good fight and he has come close once or twice. Today's fight started normal enough, Toyo went inside belt with his left hand and he shoved his right up into Hakuho's armpit. At this point Hakuho's left arm was still on the inside. Hakuho could have swiped Toyo's arm away and taken a left inside of his own, but before he did Toyo pushed up on that armpit moving Hakuho's arm way up. Hakuho yanked his arm out leaving Toyo with two hands inside. Toyo went for a throw that put Hakuho off balance but also caused him to loose his grip on Hakuho. At this point too many guys take a moment to regroup and the fight basically starts all over again. But Toyo didn't do that, he chased and stayed on Hakuho, pushing him the last few feet out and off the dohyo. Toyo fought this one perfectly and is establishing himself as a real presence even at this level.

- - - - -

Mike and I once agreed that you could not truly call yourself a sumo fan if you, unable to be at home, have never stopped to watch sumo in one of the big Japanese electronics stores. (back then we used to agree on everything. Now he never even wants to cuddle and some time when he is reading my reports I worry he might be thinking about other writers). I can remember watching Henka-gate with Chiyo, Hak and Asa at a BestDenki (word to the wise THEY'RE NOT). I have also stopped at a gas station to watch sumo as well as tuned in on my cell phone while in a meeting.

This evening I'm watching (or at least trying to watch) in a busy bar while making food and drinks (largely for myself). You see I clear my Wednesdays each hon-basho so I will have ample time to give my sumo reports the attention they (and you) deserve. But, as I mentioned, Clancy burgled my Hump Day and so now here I am reporting on a lowly Thursday on a busy work day.

- - - - -

By all accounts Ichihara is poised to blow up like he is Max Headroom and this is 1984. But I, for one, have one 'small' reservation and I'll tell you what it is: He is really fat! Sure they are all fat and of course that helps them in numerous ways, but this dude is 23 years old and already weighs as much as the mountains Miyabi and Iwaki. That's too much for too young. It's going to take a lot of discipline for Ichi to not surpass 200kg when he is 25. That's a LOT of kgs on ankles and knees. A guy who's bread and butter is yorikiri needs the power, but he also needs to to be mobile. Awesome power and natural athleticism launched him through the lower ranks, but just like Baruto, I fear he is going to learn that the elite know a lot of nasty tricks, and it takes more than fright-train power to get enough of the goo in sankyu scalps to sustain a big boy's appetite. It seems to me that the guys who really dominate an era are guys who were under weight when they were coming up. Chiyonofuji, Akebono, Asashoryu and Elvis all relied on skill at the offset of their carriers while their bodies grew to compliment their diverse styles. But what do I know? I have only seen the guy fight a few times and I'm hoping I'm wrong anyway...dude could be the next Konishiki. I think that's a complement.

- - - - -

Going into today's Wakanoho/Hokutoriki pairing I was, best case scenario, hoping for some kind of vicious animal attack at the Kokugikan that would be localized entirely in the dohyo. I was, at least hoping for a sexy double henka. This didn't happen and they met fair and and square in the middle of the ring. Wakanoho backed him up but then fell to Hokutoriki's well practised pull-down. At 7-4, the only thing more disturbing that Wakanoho's sumo is the ease at witch he is set to KK. Hokutoriki also may pull a KK out of his mawashi...lucky us!

- - - - -


Naaooowwww,
Swing that Russian
Round and round
Swing real fast 
And he'll fall down

Still, the young Russian Ho should be holding his head high. His henka rehabilitation is coming along well and the last 19 year old to fight a Yokozuna was some guy named Hakuho. Ho may beat his first Ozeki tomorrow.

- - - - -


Aminishiki got both hands inside on the Geek today but the youngster handled it perfectly. He locked up Shiniki's arms and began repeating his mantra "Hump 'em long. Hump 'em strong. Hump 'em long. Hump 'em strong. Hump 'em long. Hump 'em strong.". With arms locked up and a 300 pound man humping you like a genki Rottweiler, there is no room for sneakiness.

That reminds me, one of my best friend's families had a Rottweiler named "Duke" when we were in high school. Duke was exactly what you would imagine, a "Duke" to be: a big scary dog. He was also entirely friendly ... too friendly at times. Anywho, once my friend's family had asked this repairman to come have a look at their broken washer. No one was going to be at home, so the arrangement was for him to just let himself in. While the repairman was hard at work the dog took a shining to him and then got friendly ... and then too friendly. Though he had been told that the dog was harmless, the repairman just couldn't bring himself to be aggressive enough against the beast to break the dog's love embrace on his leg. So in the end, the repairman just stood there and took it. TOOK IT!! Till the dog finished. FINISHED!! 

But I digress... 

Fresh off his own Mongolian on Mongolian lube job, Asa'secretary thought he would use "sumo" to get his win today. Seck dove inside quickly grabbing the Pup's belt. With tsuppari neutralized, Chiyotaikai made that "Oh Snap! I blew it." face he so often makes and passively backed out.

- - - - -

Today against Homasho, Futenoh seemed to be kind of lost. He didn't want the belt but he wasn't that into pushing or tsuppari either. Homey on the other hand wanted him some belt. When he got it he pushed Futenoh out in a powerful showing. With 7 apiece, these guys are as happy as gay dolphins. 

As some of you might remember I am somewhat taken with NHK announcer Miki Yamamoto. Unfortunately she wasn't doing the 5:00 news today. One announcer who isn't looking so good these days is post-sumo news man Junichi Tosaka. What has 'The Man' been doing to this poor suffering bastard??


- - - - -

At this point for the third time today they focused on the Uchidate hag as she sat on the mats chatting happy with a handsome dude with good teeth and well-kept hair. Why did they keep showing this? Was she on a date? It had a feeling like when there are gay rumors about some celeb and then the next week there are supposed "candid" paparazzi pics in all the gossip rags of him frolicking with some hottey. Does Uchidate have rumors to squelch of her own?

- - - - -

The crux of what I wanted to say was that Asa is in a unique position to change, no BETTER sumo. I know a small number of Flat-Earth-ers don't believe there is Yaocho in sumo. But what they believe has no barring on truth, of course. And of course the truth is; yaocho does rear its ugly head more often than it should (I don't know how often that is, but once is too often...and I think it's a lot more than once). While as talented a fighter as I have ever seen, Asashoryu has had occasion, I believe, to "arrange" wins as well as take dives. I'm not even blaming him for that. I don't know how the fighters feel about it, but it's how the game is played (and how the game was played long before The Blue Dragon was even a gleam in Dolgorsuren's eye), and it's a game that he's been extremely successful at. But sumo would no doubt be a far superior special sport if all combatants gave 100% every fight (seeing people tenderly help Kaio back them out with the gentle touch of a home-aid worker does nothing for the sport).

- - - - -

An hour or so of recorded conversations with the right people would be enough to finally bring down the house of cards that is the NSK. Japan is VERY "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil". But, with a compelling enough body of evidence, Asa could probably land most of the current NSK staff in the unemployment line. At some point the Ministry of Education would need to step in and introduce some sweeping reforms. It would be the perfect opportunity to give the finger one more time and do some real good along the way. And how is it that the NSK never figured out that, if you are going to do a lot of underhanded things and then lie to the public about it, you need to keep every single member of the crew happy. "Hey, let's treat certain members of the team like crap and then assume that they are going to lie the rest of their lives to protect us!" Idiots!

But just as I was setting metaphorical pen to preverbal paper Wakanoho set out to do what is essentially a weak bastardization of my plan. He has all motive and no proof so his self-serving piety is destined to fall on ears that just won't be made to hear. Through poorly executing what I planned to suggest someone else do, Wakanoho took the metaphorical wind out of my preverbal sales. So instead of advising the embattled Grand Champion, I too looked for company amongst the Girl Scouts...

Yesterday the Captain wasn't lying. He really is a doctor. A PhD in High Energy Physics no less. Until now I only knew of 3 guys who had PhDs in physics, Hawkins, Albert Einstein and that guy in the movie I didn't go see (I think the big shocker was the most of the cast were imaginary?), and I'm actually only assuming that Einstein had his Doctorate. I also briefly considered a PhD in High Energy Physics, but everyone knows it the dudes in Molecular Physics get all the chicks. Is that a pony tail I see there Captain?

Day 4:  Sumotalk legends and the hotel gag

Mike: One of my favorite aspects of Sumotalk is that it has developed its own culture complete with stories, legends, and long-standing jokes.

Clancy: Youre right about that. Arbos quite a story, youre a legend, and Martin is one long standing joke! But I kid...

Mike: Undoubtedly, new readers to the site will come across something in a report and go what the hell are they talking about or why doesn't Clancy use apostrophes? And even our seasoned readers surely come across a line or two where they know we're making a joke of something, but they have no previous reference to it.

Clancy: And due to the bevy of international stars we have writing here, the number of times an outstretched hand shoots over someones head is that much higher.

Mike: Right. And many of the daily reports at Sumotalk contain inside jokes that the reader would only get, for example, if they followed our discussion board and were familiar with topics such as the knockers thread or the debate on religion.

Clancy: And theyre already put upon enough, arent they, being asked to slog through the daily reports, without having the additional burden of visiting our discussion board and looking at all those gorgeous women?

Mike: Can't argue with you there because sometimes I will even put a line into a report that only one reader would get whether it's you, Clancy, stemming from one of our chats, or an emailer who has annoyed me, or even a critic raising another lame take about the website.

Clancy: Like Leonardo, we hide clues right in the work, where only best selling authors can find them.

Mike: My feelings ezzackly. Who needs Dan Brown when you have Sumotalk? Maybe it's because I need to get out more, but I receive immense satisfaction when I get a rise out of the exact person to whom I directed a particular line towards in a report or when I craft a difficult and subtle joke that at least one person acknowledges they got.

Clancy: It's a thing of beauty, innit? I myself often write an entire report, erase it, and then write another over it. The "P" in P. Clancy Kelly stands for "palimpsest."

Mike: Sounds fascinating, and that's not unlike my current project where I've grown my hair out and am wearing dresses in preparation to paint a self-portrait that I'll entitle the Mona Mika. Let's face it, the sumo the last year in particular has been so tedious and boring, I need something exciting to kill the time. I feel as if I could just copy my writing from the previous basho and paste it into the next basho with little difference, so having legends or inside jokes to fall back on at least makes it innerestin to keep on writing.

Clancy: Youre preaching to the choir on that point. I mean, there are only a finite number of ways a sumo bout can play out, and those ways are often agonizingly similar, so to try and make each bout stand out, we need to have something up our sleeves. Or in our case--considering all the accusations lobbed toward us that we specialize in scatological, sophomoric humor--down our pants.

Mike: Heh, hehn, you said pants! Of all the gags we've done over the years, the one that has the firmest hold and that all of the writers have seemingly run with is the legend that all Sumotalk contributors get holed up in an unnamed hotel for the two weeks during the basho . And of course, I am the dictator of the bunch treating the other contributors as my servants, which of course is simply ludicrous!

Clancy: Wow. Now I see where this whole "looking back" thing is going. Revising history, expunging the record, trying to make yourself seem less the despot and more the respite. What a load of pish, but Ill go along like I always do, take the beating and keep asking, Thank you sir, may I have another? So, yes, the lot of us being sequestered in some third rate hotel for the duration of each basho is a "gag," a fiction made up by some twisted Yank with a penchant for whimsy, as is the notion that you are anything but a benevolent prince of a man whose door is always open and whose welcome mat is always out.

Mike: Some stories and legends get referenced so often and details are known so well by everyone that the legends just keep on growing. I always love to get those discreet emails where someone asks, "You guys aren't really all staying at a hotel, are you?"

Clancy: People often accuse me of drifting off topic, of not concentrating on the sumo and instead focusing on details such as chicks in the crowd, or the NHK English announcers, or how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootise Pop. But let me tell you something here and now: My car has two cup holders, so the implication that Im not successful doing what I do is nonsense, am I wrong?

Mike: O-o-o-kay. On that note, let's relive some of the more storied legends of Sumotalk

Clancy: Hold onto your mice, kids, cause Kansas is goin byebye!

Natsu 2006 Day 4 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
Well, it had to happen sooner or later. Under the immense pressure that comes with being not only a sumo fan, but a sumo writer, it was inevitable, I suppose, that one of Sumotalk's regulars would crack, fall to the soup, catch a ride on the loopedy loop, begin the long, slow descent toward madness.

Those of you who read the Day 3 report will know immediately I am referring to the Manchester Mantis himself, his badness Simon the Sid. We're not sure if it was his recent move to a drastically higher tax bracket (the royalties we are all receiving from the Bluehost adverts alone are obscene), his discovery that he is distantly related to Mohandas Gandhi, or his April penis reduction surgery (I'm done with it, his wife informed him. Enough is enough or, Too much is too much, as the case may be), or perhaps it was a combination of all these and more. We know only that when the Yokozuna pulled out after Day 2, Simon went off his nut. Started walking around shouting things like Game Over! in a frantic, half-crazed bellow, then suddenly quieting and whispering, Send in the clowns, to people he passed in the hallway, giggling to himself and vigorously rubbing his thighs.

( I should take a moment here to explain, during the course of each basho, Mike and Kenji insist that they, along with Simon, Georgie Boy, Bernie Birnbaum and yours truly all live in the same hotel for the duration of the tourney. They fly us in to the city where the basho is being held, rent an entire floor of some swank hotel, and then post burly guards--yes, occasionally ex-rikishi--at all the exits. It's not as bad as it sounds. It's all done on their dime, and I heard a rumor they might try and cop us some girly action in Nagoya.)

Anyway, long story short, we got together and decided that Simon was worth saving, or at least worth giving it one shot, so we planned an intervention. I took the notes.

Simon: Hey fellas. Whaddya'll doin' here? (The quirky lapses into a Texan accent also concerned us.)
Mike: Simon, we've come to see you about...
Kenji: ...a problem we've noticed you developed. (Kenji and Mike often finish each other's thoughts. It's spooky the first few times, but you get used to it.)
Simon: Developed? Like Asa's x-rays? Hnn hnnn hn hnnnn.
George: Si, you're cracking man! Do you hear me? (Gives two ineffectual slaps across the cheek.) Bernie, some help here, huh?
Bernie: Eh.
Mike: Look, Simon, we just think it's not as bad as it looks. Miyabiyama is having, uh...Tochiazuma still could, maybe... Hakurozan and Kitazakura are looking strong.
(At this point Simon leaps off the bed and starts brushing his hair with a vacuum attachment.)
Kenji: I don't think this is working.
George: I've seen this happen at my company.
Clancy: Let me try something.
Bernie: Eh.
Clancy: Simon? Si old buddy? Can I ask you a question?
Simon: All the king's horses and all the king's men.
Clancy: Do you recall The Tellytubbies?
Simon: (starts singing) Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La-La...
Mike: and Simon! Do you want that? Do you?
Simon (realization dawning slowly): You mean...if I act mad...then people will see.
Kenji: Yes?
Simon: And...they'll equate me...with unformed alien fetuses...frolicking on...public television?
George: Precisely!
Bernie: Eh.
Simon (suddenly invigorated): Well then, can't have any of that, now can we? Right! You boys have got work to do. Clancy! To Day 4.
Clancy: Aye aye, skip!
Simon: Mike, Kenji. I believe you've got a meeting with Kitanoumi at 7:00. Am I wrong?
Mikenji: We're off!
Simon: Bernie, George, continue doing whatever it is you do, I've got an ointment to rub on my John Thomas, surgery is no walk in the park, and neither is the recovery.
(George and Bernie stand mesmerized by the mighty Brit, splendid in all his sanity.)
Simon: Be gone!

Natsu 2006 Senshuraku Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
Lynrd Skynrd be praised! The basho is over and I can finally see my wife and children. Okay, I exaggerate, but webcam is just not the same thing as face to face, knowhatimean?  I am really amped about today's sumo, but first I want to straighten something out. If you've read Mike's Day 13 report where he stood in for Simon, you know that Our Man Siddall was hurt in a tricycle crash. As plausible as that may seem, I'm here to rip the facade off the lie and give you the straight chit.

I told you on Day 4 that we have been sequestered in the top floor of hotel in Tokyo for the duration of this basho, we being all us numbnuts who pound the keys for Sumotalk's two Founding Fathers (a.k.a. oligarchs), Mike and Kenji. I also told you that once Asashoryu pulled out, Simon was teetering on the brink, sanity wise. Well, he was okay until Day 11 when teenager Kisenosato lost by a toe to Aminishiki. The lad went berserk, running through every room and grabbing all the sheets off the beds. Mike and Kenji didn't think much of it, but to be safe put an extra guard at each door for the remainder of the tourney. When he didn't show up for mandatory 5:45 (yes, a.m.) calisthenics on Day 13, we knew there was trouble.

Gorgeous and I were asked (read: ordered) to go and check on him. We sensed something wrong the moment we card swiped our way in. It was eerily cool in the room, the beds were stripped and the window was open. With the door also open the curtains were being sucked out into the morning air, fluttering like the twin beats of our frightened hearts. I'm sure you've guessed by now what we found. Simon had tied all those sheets together in a series of intricate Monkey Fists (his father had been a sailor) and escaped out the window in the dead of the night. 

We peered out the window to the ground below and there was Simon, splayed out on the sidewalk 18 stories below like some squid on a himono rack in Shimoda, Shizuoka (evidently his father had been a POOR sailor). The passing crowds paid him nary a notice, what with drunken, passed out foreigners being a rather common sight in Nippon these days.

Long story short, he was rushed to the hospital, where it turned out he had broken three of the five bones in his cock, two of which are intimately involved in raising and lowering the damned thing (odd as it may sound, it has been said of Simon, "Christ, he's hung like a drawbridge!"). The doctor told us that if his "moosco-san," as he delicately labeled it, hadn't absorbed the brunt of the fall, Simon would, in all likelihood, be dead. And this AFTER reduction surgery. The legend lives on, eh gals?

So Simon, this senshuraku report is for you, buddy (just don't ask me to sign your cast).

- - - - -

Kyushu 2006 Day 3 Comments (Simon Siddall reporting)
Hi apes! You can all relax now because I've finally shaken off all those shady bastards who've been tailing me for months. But, oh no, Simon (codename: the Ferret) doesn't get taken so easily, no sirree. I'm back at Sumotalk to inject some insulin (and maybe some mutagens) into proceedings, although I seem to have got myself caught up in one of Clancy's sticky fantasies (no, not that one) because I'm now on the top floor of that hotel he keeps going on about...and I have to say that the Sumotalk writers you have all come to know and love (read despise) are pretty bloody eccentric! Kenji, for example, beeps like a digital watch on the hour, every hour. Bernie thinks he has an invisible parrot on his shoulder. Mike talks to pieces of wood and gets twitchy if they don't reply (leading to epic bouts of twitching). And then we have George, who, Clancy tells me, rarely leaves his room these days, and only then in the company of three female bodyguards. Clancy himself, he won't mind me informng you, eats his own sideburns. So, as you can see, some kind of sane guiding force was required to get things back on track. And here I am. Quack.

- - - - -

Hatsu 2007 Day 11 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
You're probably wondering how I got to report on glorious day 11, aren't you? No? How about I tell you anyway? Yesterday I was enjoying a quiet afternoon in my fleabag room at our fleabag hotel (you didn't really believe Clancy when he said the doors opened with swipe cards, did you?), when someone knocked on the door. I instantly knew it wasn't one of the guys, because they just barge in with no previous warning, so I instinctively reached for the holster. Not finding it, I thought about it a bit and remembered I wasn't there on assignment, so I just asked through the door who the hell it was and what they wanted. No answer coming, I cautiously stepped behind the door, and when the guy busted it open, I grabbed him and threw him to the ground (by a kimarite I don't really remember, sumo was the last thing on my mind that moment). When he came to, he told me he was from the Interpol and showed me a picture of some guy named Danvers McEwan, who looked vaguely familiar and was wanted for numerous accounts of panda bear poaching. I was unable to help, so I sent him to Mike. Some thirty minutes later I heard police sirens outside, and I saw Simon being arrested. I then realized the picture that guy had showed me was of someone closely resembling our man. When I asked Mike about the whole thing, he told me it was a simple case of mistaken identity, and the guy they were really looking for was also known by some as 'Bryce'. With Simon held up at the local police station, someone had to take care of day 11, so, being the newest and all, I got to do the honors. Hang in there, Simon, I'll make you proud.

- - - - -

Day 11 Comments (Mark Arbo reporting)

Ok. I know we have some explaining to do... Where to start???

No one is saying Mike has a drinking problem. I for one think he probably maybe doesn't. Working in bars you learn a little about alcohol, a little about people and a whole lot about alcohol's effect on people. The drink "changes" no one. What the drink does is 'enhance'. An empty bottle is like a magnifying glass, peering, through the airs we put on, to our heart of hearts. Janis Joplin put on legendary performance after legendary performance full to the brim with Southern Comfort. Her performance skills were magnified. Johnnie Walker magnified Churchill's ability to kick Nazi ass. Likewise, Clancy and Martin always down a few bottles of 'Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale' before they approach the sumo-bunnies in the hotel bar (I don't know if Clancy really cares what brand he drinks but Martin has refined tastes and insists on having it imported from Nova Scotia). So, a few weeks ago after our pre-basho meeting and luau, we were all drinking in the hotel lobby and, as Mike was polishing off another White Wine Spritzer (4 oz white wine, club soda or mineral water, lime wedge for garnish), he started his usual Britney Spears rant. He often starts with some sensible arguments about her voice and big "talents" but then it grows in volume and intensity as he reaches the "I love Britney for Britney" repetitions and it usually ends with incoherent babbling about something called a Britney-Pool(??). It can almost be scary. If you don't believe me have a look here at his blog. Anywho, a none-too-friendly-smelling janitor happened to be walking by during Mike's homily and he and Mike got into it about how "Brit" was going to fare at some upcoming awards show. We begged him not to do it, but Mike ended up making a bet wherein if Britney wasn't "Back with a vengeance" (??) he would let Stinky report on a day for the upcoming basho. I didn't see the performance, but Mike's blog said it all. That stuff about sweeping wasn't shtick yesterday, that really was the janitor.

- - - - -

Mike Wesemann

2008 Nagoya Basho Post-basho Report
From the moment I laid eyes on the Nagoya banzuke, I suspected that we'd be in trouble. After consecutive basho with a solid upper Maegashira, the rankings for Nagoya revealed a gaping hole near the top. So knowing that we'd get no excitement from the M1 - M4 ranks, all it would take was a bad break or two to derail the basho. The first red flag came on day 1 when Asashoryu was defeated by Toyonoshima. The loss itself wasn't what was troubling; it was the way in which the Yokozuna lost. Asashoryu was clearly out of shape and not ready for the basho, so when he had withdrawn by day 6, it was over. It also didn't help that Kisenosato decided to suck, and then when Kotooshu was faced with a little something called pressure, the stars would not align themselves in Nagoya for anyone except Yokozuna Hakuho. And it wasn't just the rikishi who had an off basho. I don't believe Sumotalk has ever had as bad a basho as this. It's sorta like being in a rock band with a bunch of egos...guys fighting over whose tracks make the 15 day album, being unable to cope with each other's creative differences, and of course the influence of the bottle.

Since not much happened on the dohyo in Nagoya, allow me to explain what happened to the group. It all started when Mark showed up to the hotel with his new Japanese girlfriend who was supposedly some sort of artist. Mark said that he thought we should all go in a new direction beginning with his taking over day 1 duties. When we began to protest that, he quickly changed the subject and hinted that perhaps Sumotalk needed a manager..."someone who isn't actually a contributor" he said while gazing at his new gal. We shot that down faster than a redneck firing at a goose, so just like that, he took off. We didn't see or hear about him again until some photos were posted on the TMZ website that showed Mark sipping margaritas on a beach somewhere along the Atlantic Ocean near Canada with a different gal by his side...this one with a nice settuh hooters.

But that was fine. We've always got plan B, so I made a call to the one, the only, Steamin' Simon Siddall, who is still technically part of the band, but has taken a leave to work on some solo projects. Si was more than willing to strap it back on and fill in for Mark by covering day 6 for us, but alas, the drink had gotten the best of him as he admitted, and he just wasn't able to pound out those solos on the six stringer like he used to. Still, Asashoryu was gone by then, and we still had four members left to jam that final week, and everything really was going smoothly. Well, until day 14 when Martin was typing his comments. He got as far as the Ama-Goeido match and then made one of the most irresponsible comments I've ever read on Sumotalk (and that's saying something). Martin said that Goeido had more than a 50% chance of getting kachi-koshi against Kisenosato on senshuraku, but we all knew his chances were really 49.9994%. "Martin, you can't just round up to the nearest ten thousandth," I told him. "You of all people should know that." A shouting match between us ensued, and after trading a few eff yous I'm sorry to say, Martin just stood up, smashed his typewriter on the floor and said, "I'm outta here." And he exited stage left just like that. But I wouldn't let him go so easily. "You're proof that Darwin's Theory of Evolution is true," I shouted towards him. "You did come from a monkey my friend!"

Martin didn't react to this and just slammed the door behind him, but Clancy...Clancy exploded. If you think you've ever heard Clancy go on a tirade, you should have seen the way he got into my face. He jabbed his finger repeatedly in my chest and slowly repeated through clenched teeth, "You take that back now, or I quit."

"Take what back?" I asked. "You make fun of Martin more than the rest of us."

"No," he interrupted. "The Evolution part. Don't mock my God by even suggesting that we weren't created in His image."

"It was just a joke," I told him.

With that Clancy ran to the nightstand in between the two beds and grabbed the Gideon Bible, held it up, and then started quoting scripture to me. None of us have ever seen anything like it, and while we all respect Clancy's time when he studies his Bible, we had never seen him this passionate about it. To make a long story short, he said something about not being able to stand in the presence of someone who mocked his God, and he stormed out of the room leaving only the two of us...the two founders of the group, Kenji and myself. We talked it over and decided that since the yusho had already been decided, we'd just go old school and have no one report on day 15 opting to wrap everything up in the post-basho report, just like the really old days when we both reported seven days apiece and were too worn out for the senshuraku encore.

So here's the said post-basho report. And just in case anyone's wondering...the other guys will be back. They always come back.
 

Day 3:  Retired contributors Simon Siddall, George Guida, and Bernie McManus

Mike: I'll never forget the first email I received from Simon Siddall. It's not so much what Si said in the email, but the circumstances surrounding the event.

Clancy: Well, its not often one encounters a man whose both names begin with "Si," and youve done gone and piqued my innerest. Do tell.

Mike: Well, I was borrowing my brother in law's computer at the time to post some updates to Sumotalk, and being the good boy scout that I am, once I finished my bidness, I decided it'd be best to leave no trace behind, so I dragged all of my files into the Recycle Bin and opened it up to empty it. To my utter astonishment and feigned horror, I discovered images and video files of gay porn!!

Clancy: And the links were from the same company that produced such Simon the Sid classics as, "Alls Well That Bends Well," "Apocalips Wow," and "My Left Nut?"

Mike: Uh, not ezzackly. See, I'm definitely not a nosey person, so I immediately did a search of all jpeg files on the computer and pulled up the history of websites he'd visited the last 20 days in his web browser.

Clancy: Youre the picture of decorum.

Mike: Let me just say, I still can't shake the image of that teen boy standing butt nekkid in the shower with a horse's shlong photo shopped onto his groin.

Clancy: I suppose it would be inappropriate for me to urge you try with all your might to shake it? As for your brother-in-law, I think he signed up as a Sumotalk member a few weeks back, so he ought to enjoy this report.

Mike: Could be. The only thing about English that would interest him, though, are the comPOUND words and dangling PARTicipleS. Anyway, let's get back to Simon. Sumotalk had been up and running for about a year and a half with Kenji and I each taking seven days per basho to report alternating back and forth. Kenji, who works for Toyota, was traveling a lot and just couldn't keep up with our current pace any longer, so we put out our first and only general call asking if anyone would be able to help contribute to Sumotalk. Simon was one of the respondents, and after just a few reports, Kenji and I knew that we had struck gold, so we decided to bring in a new partner and make it a threesome.

Clancy: Glad you said "gold" and not "paydirt," given where my mind was heading with that threesome description.

Mike: Simon's reports immediately took off as he established a unique style highlighted by his British humour (sic). Not only did he create his famed Simon-isms (analogies comparing losing rikishi to off the wall organisms), but he became a close confidant of mine who helped take the site to new horizons.

Clancy: Well, when I stumbled upon Sumotalk in early 2005, one of the things that caught my attention was Sis humour (sick)! "Tosanoumi is a half-eaten chicken" indeed!

Mike: Around the time Simon became a regular, Sumotalk was taking tons of flak on message boards and forums. People couldn't help but read what we were saying, but the established old guard sumo community detested the way in which we presented things. Si and I spent countless hours laughing about our critics and then planting lines into our reports that we knew would draw certain responses from certain people. He was instrumental in helping me understand that Sumotalk didn't have to be strictly bidness.

Clancy: Dudes a maverick.

Mike: After awhile, though, I think Si got restless with things at Sumotalk. Dude's a fantastic writer and novelist, and I think it was time in his mind to aspire to bigger and better things.

Clancy: Mike, you made him sleep in the corridor, remember? When he forgot to shine your golf clubs? THAT'S why he left, boss.

Mike: Wellyeah...maybe. Nevertheless, Simon and I are still close friends, and you can still read his contributions to Sumotalk on our discussion board, but I would be remiss if I didn't recount some of the legends that grew surrounding Simon Siddall, not the least of which is his better, or should I say bigger, half.

Clancy: You and Simon may be thick as thieves, but I curse him and his poxy yard! Years ago, while doing some background check on Simons pre-Japan, cinematic life, I made the mistake of asking my research assistant (and wife) to "check out these videos and see if theyre any good." She still regularly asks all these years later if "my friend Simon" is going to be visiting us anytime soon. It wouldnt bother me that much except that she only asks when Im peeling off her underwear!

Mike: Let's conclude this intro by touching on our other two former contributors, George Guida and Bernie McManus.

Clancy: Gayorg and BerNARD? Are you sure you want to "touch" those two?

Mike: I first learned of George when he sent me an email with the simple subject "Beers in Tokyo". I happened to be in Japan on business, so I hooked up with George who was working in Tokyo at the time, and our first date consisted of beers in Tokyo and killer yaki-tori. He was as passionate about sumo as they come and a huge Asashoryu fan, so I asked George if he'd be interested in contributing to Sumotalk.

Clancy: And playing the role of the Captain in the annual Sumotalk production of The Sound of Music?

Mike: Yes, he accepted after he learned my brother-in-law would be cast as the Baroness. I think my favorite thing about George was his picture, which featured him with a serious look on his face while wearing a suit. We email each other maybe once a year now, since George got married and moved back to Boston to settle down. He left Sumotalk when the obvious media bias against Asashoryu turned him away from the sport.

Clancy: Now that I recall, didnt Hyorgay have a special connect with our other erstwhile contributor (and Im not talking about Alex Brohm)?

Mike: You're right as usual, and that would be our final former contributor, Bernie McManus. Bernie was recruited off of our forum after it was evident that he'd say anything about anyone without any care of the repercussions...exhibit #1 being his photo with that black eye after a karate chick kicked his ass at a New Year's party when he said something to her while inebriated. I really liked Bernie's sense of humor, and he was such a character that I thought he'd be a perfect fit for Sumotalk, but he just couldn't translate his potential and wit into a sumo report.

Clancy: Guy was large than life, thats for sure. And if memory serves, he trained for months to get back at that chick. Finally keyed her car one night while she was sleeping. High five!

Mike: The best line Bernie ever got off was one that drew the most ire from Kotooshu fans and Bulgarians that I've ever seen. Kotooshu had a leg injury and was limping badly, and during a bout against Ama, the Mongolian went straight for Kotooshu's bad leg (as he should have) and sideswiped the Bulgarian to the dirt. Bernie's words in describing the bout were something like "it was the best execution a lame horse could get." It was the funniest line Bernie ever coined, but it also drew the sharpest criticism we've ever received from Bulgarians.

Clancy: You know, Im good with pen and paper, but I could never draw ire as well as that mad Canadian. I mean, if there is one thing we could always count on with Bernie Birnbaum it was pissing off Eastern Europeans who have a long and storied cultural history but are in the present economically, militarily, and politically marginal nation/states that everyone else in the world confuses with each other (quick, name one difference between Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and the Czech Republic?)

Mike: Bernie is most famous, however, for that infamous report on day 5 of the Natsu 2006 basho after Futenoh's parentswho are orange growershad sent some of their crop to the Ryogoku Kokugikan where they were passed out to the first few thousand fans. Bernie riffed his report on that info, and I must say, it's still probably the worst report ever written for Sumotalk, and that's saying quite a bit. The only thing that kept me from slitting my wrists was your email to me the next day that simply said, "Orange you glad it's over?"

Clancy: Uh, that nekkid teen boy? Father was a horse? Gives you the willies all these years later? Bernies Orange report does the same for me. At any rate, Im just glad that you allowed me to report on George and Bernies final moments on Senshuraku, Natsu 2007.

Mike: My pleasure. On that note, here are portions of reports throughout the years that highlight the legend that is Simon Siddall and that not so elegant account of what really happened to George and Bernie.

Paragraph from Clancy's 2005 Aki Basho Senshuraku Report
(A slight digression. Simon and I were discussing this very topic recently when we met up for a little "sake soak" at one of Tokyo's finer sento. Some of you may already know this, but since SumoTalk Simon was a semi-notorious porn star (straight porn) in Manchester back in the late 80fs before coming over to Nippon and throwing himself full tilt into the noble profession of arse scratching, I was admittedly curious to see what all the hullabaloo was about with a man who was once asked by The Stone Roses to dance on stage in a g-string while they banged out their hit song Love Spreads. Now I'm not trying to get all the cute little fanmentators over at SumoForum wound up so they start racing through their files to find neat yellow face orbs to describe the fantastic bubbly feelings they are experiencing in their collective chests right now as they read this, and I'm not saying Simon is the owner of enormous pudenda, but I wouldn't be surprised if he has to feed that thing a live rat every two weeks or so. I'm just sayin' is all.)

Hatsu 2007 Day 13 Comments (Simon Siddall reporting)
Excellent! Looks like I've shaken them off for a while. As you can see, I'm in disguise (don't tell anyone). I think it's pretty convincing what do you reckon? As Martin told you the other day, the Feds got their filthy paws on me on day 11, meaning I couldn't report on the Asashoryu-Hakuho match-up. And if that wasn't enough to piss me off, they tore my library card in half and said I'd never borrow a book (or CD/DVD) again for three years at least. However, during a coffee break in the interrogation, I managed to henka a guard (sorry about that) and made a dash for it. They're not really up to much on security in Japan. But now I'm in real trouble...if they get me this time, it'll be a stint in Guantanamo AND Abu Ghraib for me on some trumped-up terror charge, and it won't matter which god I pray to. Incidentally, for those of you who were wondering which religion is the right one, watch this short video clip. (Warning: this clip is amusing and not offensive in the slightest).

Actually, I'd better get on with this report because a couple of likely Feds have just walked in here (here being a Russian doll-making establishment with a small caf). You can always spot them (sunglasses, black suit, Hollywood contract, know about aliens etc.) so I'd better keep my profile low in this dark corner with my back turned and my hood up etc. It's a pity there is only one other customer in here (a Cossack) because it makes it a bit tricky to blend into the crowd. But don't you worry about me British intelligence training is the best in the world (so spake Sean Connery in the Rock...and just watch the latest James Bond).

Well, to be honest, being on the run and all and not being in the best of moods, I'm tempted to go on a rant. The Lord (Tom Waits) knows the sumo has been diabolical this basho. And as most of you will know, when you're on the run from the law, one's mind naturally turns to the ills of sumo. Now where do I start? The first thing I've noticed is a creeping-in of rikishi going early at the tachiai but not getting called back by the head shinpan or gyoji. Just yesterday, Chiyotaikai did it against Asashoryu (but got his arse kicked in majestic and nonchalant style anyway) and Kotomitsuki did it to screw Homasho. What the hell is the point of making a rule of the two rikishi having both hands down on the shikiri-sen if you're not going to enforce it, or at best, enforce it loosely? Sort it out, you tadpoles.

Next...you know how you just cringe when you know something utterly awful is about to happen like when that tosser Bono from U2 gets on his high horse (again) well, I had that feeling yesterday when Ama got his kachi-koshi and was called into the interview booth. Despite him stating categorically to the press that he would no longer talk about his father (who died in a car crash before the basho), the total knob masquerading as a reporter went for it anyway...yeah, first question..."Was this kachi-koshi any different for you in light of the death of your father?" Now just think about that question...what purpose could it possibly serve apart from some poxy hope that Ama might get a bit emotional? (If you watch Japanese TV, especially in the daytime, you'll know that it's a dire festival of mawkishness, with tears being the prize commodity). I was caught between seething despite for the idiot in the suit, and fierce admiration for the dignity with which Ama brushed him off. So, nice one NHK; a total lack of respect for a great fighter who is grieving the death of a close relative but still managed a kachi-koshi on day 12 at a tough rank. You da men.

And, of course, no Sumotalk rant is complete without a comment on the henka. With Kotooshu a strong contender for this basho's Sumotalk 'Ugly Prize' sansho, it's relevant, and you know that most of us here at Sumotalk think the henka is girly sumo. But, hey, it's not against the rules let's just marvel at the timing, right. Wow, he's just so clever to do that, and the crowd rise as one to applaud the fantastic...er...timing of a guy...er...jumping out of the way. Well, it's all right girls and boys, because it's not against the rules. Reminds me of a recent directive from FIFA (Federation Internationale F*ck All), or could it be the (sweet) English FA (F*ck All) in football soccer to you North American barbarians. Traditionally, if a player went down injured, the other team kicked the ball out of play and allowed the hurt player to receive treatment. And then when the physio was done, the opposing team passed the ball back to the other team's goalie or defence. The fans always applaud this as fair play, sportsmanship. But now, due to some people allegedly feigning injury (yes it happens), FIFA or whoever has made it known that no team is obliged to kick the ball out of play and can play on, even if three players are down injured with their team mates checking them out...it's OK now to go on and score a goal. It's OK don't worry it's not against the rules. So that's all right then. The referee is only obliged to stop play in the event of a possible head injury so this is a possible (if unlikely) scenario. Yeah...I'm OK with that. And next time I have an arm wrestle, I'm going to surreptitiously tickle my opponent's inner thigh with my big toe under the table so I get a bit of an advantage (Ok...that might be against the rules, but only in Azerbaijan and Fiji). It's not against the rules...why the hell not? GET HENKA OUT OF SUMO!!! Come on, Clancy...back me up on day 15...get it out of your system! Again.

OK, that's better...rant over...it's much more fun than reporting on the sumo this basho, which has been (and let's be honest) with a few exceptions in terms of content, bollocks. Where the hell are the Ozeki, Sekiwake and Komusubi rikishi? There are five Ozeki and not one of them is within two wins of the leader coming into day 13, and all this with Asashoryu trying to help them out by losing to Dejima in the first week.

As a quick aside, I have a little quiz for you: who does top yobidashi Hideo (pictured right) remind you of? Here's a hint. (Warning: this is an audio file so bear that in mind if you're in your office! On second thoughts, turn the volume up...it might give someone a laugh).

On to the action: today's lamb to the slaughter for Yokozuna Asashoryu was veteran battler Ozeki Kaio, who was simply manhandled around the dohyo. Once the Yokozuna got the migi-uwate it was just a matter of time. Kaio fought valiantly and refused to give in via the seemingly inevitable yorikiri but you could almost see the little wheels spinning in Asashoryu's head: which technique am I going to use? Finally, he yanked downwards and pulled the hapless Kaio around and out. Uwatedashinage. 12-1. 14-1 yusho here I come. Kaio is in real danger at 6-7.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai (9-4) launched his trademark lightning tsuppari against M4 Ama (8-5), who had no answer at all. Ama tried to fight back with tsuppari, strangely not even attempting to make a grab for the belt. Bad idea, my friend. We've seen this type of win from Chiyotaikai a billion times.

Like a ferret who's just discovered that his best ferret has run off with his blushing ferret bride, Ozeki Hakuho has been looking very twitchy indeed this basho. He had to be content with only a right-hand grip in a long-ish bout against Sekiwake Kotomitsuki, no pushover on any day of the week. Kotomitsuki wisely kept the deadly left hand of the Mongolian well away from his belt and bided his time before executing a lightning quick maki-kae that Asashoryu himself would have been proud of, thereby getting morozashi and the inevitable yorikiri win. Hakuho really is out of sorts this basho, but it's ring rust as much as anything else. The most worrying thing, as I said in my day 3 report, is the fact that the top lads have worked out how to counter his tachiai. Between now and Haru he needs to go back to the drawing board. Both men are 8-5. Kotomitsuki stays at Sekiwake for yet another basho.

Forgive me for not getting too excited about today's only all-Ozeki match-up; the five men of this rank have been at best average, at worst poor. Ozeki Tochiazuma had Ozeki Kotooshu in an advantageous position as he started with his trademark ottsuke and then gained the hidari-uwate grip, facing the side of Kotooshu, exactly where he wanted him. However, in his condition, he was never going to beat Kotooshu in a throwing match and the Bulgarian countered with his own migi-shitate grip and threw Tochiazuma to his make-koshi. Nice one, Tochi...you've been risking further serious injury all basho and now you've got a losing record, meaning you could have taken the basho off and had exactly the same situation going into the Haru Basho. I shake my head. Kotooshu is 9-4.

Komusubi Kisenosato (6-7) has enjoyed a fine basho but fell for a sneaky little trip while seemingly in total control against the always-dangerous M2 Tokitenku (7-6). Excellent foresight from the Mongolian here, who saw very early that he was going to be thrown and pulled off a rare chongake (a kind of ankle hook). I wasn't too worried about this loss for Kisenosato because he will learn from it. And he is learning all the time. Future Ozeki here...no doubt whatsoever. Good technique from the Mongolian.

Well, Clancy, do you want some sugar on that dog turd you promised to eat if Kotoshogiku wasn't at least 9-5 come senshuraku? M1 Kotoshogiku executed a fine tachiai against the woefully hot and cold Komusubi Roho and went with migi-yotsu. And then, with Roho asleep at the wheel, slipped the left hand from outside to inside and there we have morozashi and game over by yorikiri. Good, strong, solid technical sumo from Kotoshogiku today. He reminds me a lot of Wakanosato in the good old days, actually. Kotoshogiku is Tom Cruise at 7-6. Roho is Jack Skellington at 3-10.

With the retirement of Kyokushuzan still recent in my memory, I got to thinking how you miss rikishi when they're not there. I was never a fan of Kyokushuzan, and M1 Dejima's henka-yusho at the expense of Akebono ensured I was never a fan of him either. He's been around for a while now (he invented the kipper, you know), so there I was before Dejima came up for his bout thinking that I'll miss the big lug when he finally retires. Why? Well, imagine a world without knockers; particularly Dejima's knockers. Damn it, I won't live in that world. M6 Tochinonada walked right into a hatakikomi in today's bout. BUT!!! The judges spotted that Dejima had pulled the mage (top-knot) of Tochinonada. Pulling hair is an illegal move in sumo (and chess) so he was disqualified. Pretty unlucky. I think it's safe to say he didn't intend to do it. The former Ozeki will be as bemused as the rest of us at his 3-10 record (after defeating Hakuho AND Asashoryu). Tochinonada is hanging in there at 6-7.

M3 Kyokutenho couldn't quite believe that he'd lost to M5 Takamisakari. But it was no accident as circus boy executed a lovely maki-kae to get morozashi. From then on even the technically superior Kyokutenho stood no chance at all. The Mongolian paid the price for not taking Takamisakari seriously he was uncharacteristically sloppy. Both men are at 7-6.

M4 Homasho put M14 Tamanoshima in his place nicely with a low tachiai that allowed him to get right in under Tama-chan's armpits. This gives the attacker the advantage of forcing the opponent upright, leaving them unable to use any lower body strength. And that, spawn of Satan, is why he won this bout easily. Homasho is in with a great chance of kachi-koshi at 7-6. Tamanoshima will be pleased nonetheless with a decent 9-4 record. You have to admire Homasho's sumo this basho. Another one on the up-and-up.

I thought I spotted Kate Bush in the crowd prior to the Kokkai-Kakizoe bout...but then I realized it wasn't her. Oh, well. In a ludicrous bout, M5 Kokkai played cat and mouse with M9 Kakizoe. Neither man really knew what he was doing and both were looking for the pull-down win. Kokkai (6-7) finally succeeded in pulling Kakizoe (7-6) down but his foot just strayed outside the tawara. The ensuing mono-ii went against the cuddly Georgian so he bowed very politely, skipped off down the hanamichi, and possibly went to the ice cream shop with his friend (a former roadie for Sparks). I'm afraid I can't tell you for sure whether this mono-ii was correct because my video broke. At least now you can define professionalism.

M9 Toyonoshima has been on fire, fulfilling the role of possible spoiler to Asashoryu (cough). His solid sumo has been one of the few high points of a deeply disappointing basho. M15 Ushiomaru has been no slouch himself and with his kachi-koshi in the bag coming in, anything from now on was a bonus. Not today, however, as Toyo kept the basho 'alive' with a clinical display, taking good advantage of Ushiomaru's floppy arms to get the morozashi grip and march him out with ease. Toyonoshima stands at 11-2 and fights Ama tomorrow, a match which is certainly winnable. Although he has next to no chance of winning the yusho, at least he is giving the Yokozuna a nice nudge in the back. Ushiomaru is a rare breed of parakeet at 8-5.

M11 Tamakasuga (7-6) has wilted badly since that fine 7-0 start, looking tired and lacking in the sharpness we saw in the first week. In a forgettable and untidy match, Tama-chan's opponent Otsukasa (7-6) eventually pounced and thrust the veteran down by tsukiotoshi. A horrible bout.

Oh, and by the way, M13 Kasuganishiki (7-6) should have at least had a mono-ii in his 'loss' to M6 Asasekiryu (8-5). Well, maybe the theories about the shinpan always favouring the Japanese in close calls are rubbish after all. Or is that because this was a totally inconsequential match? You decide.

Well, it's now between two men, and by two men, I mean one. Asashoryu is 12-1 and fights the injured Tochiazuma tomorrow. Toyonoshima is 11-2 and takes on Ama. The yusho race could be as good as over before the Yokozuna steps on the dohyo for his bout if Toyonoshima loses to Ama so let's hope the plucky lad gets his win and keeps some semblance of tension in the air. Honestly, I think you'd be mad to reserve senshuraku tickets these days. The best day to go to the sumo is definitely day 13 or 14. With Asashoryu around, it's going to be game over well before the final day in most instances.

Oh, I almost forgot...the Emperor turned up with his missus today. Good for them.

Well, Mike titillates your badger tomorrow and Clancy will wrap things up in patented fashion on senshuraku. And if you've been wondering where Kenji has been, he's got Black Death.

I'll be back between basho with the Sumotalk Good, Bad and Ugly Awards. Until then, I'll be lying low. Wish me luck, and keep it hanging to the left.

A Sampling of Simon-isms


Futenoh is Heidi at 5-9. Takamisakari is an unhappy mountain goat with the same score.

Tochiazuma is Godzilla in full flight at 7-2. Futenoh is one of the Teletubbies (Tinky Winky) at 2-7.

Miyabiyama was fighting too high to turn the tactic to his advantage (compare this with the AmaHakurozan fight later in this report), and went down like a sack of dung. Wakanosato keeps his pecker up at 2-0. Miyabiyama continues not to impress at 1-1.

Iwakiyama is Lassie the faithful hound at 3-8. Kakizoe is Scrappy-Doo at 2-9.


Tochinonada is a giant squid at 1-1. Katayama is Gary the Snail at 0-2.


Kyokutenho is a set of golden crutches at 9-4. Miyabiyama is a urine sample at 8-5.


Natsu 2007 Senshuraku Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
"I love you, you love me..."

I know that most of you come to these pages on Day 15 knowing that I am writing and therefore expecting lots of jocularity, a mildly clever turn of phrase, perhaps a new nickname, or some nice fanciful ruminations on grown men's breasts (like Futenoh's nipples--can you say stilettos?) Unfortunately, today I must disappoint you. I'd like to be serious for a change. 'Cause you see, it's a sad day here at Sumotalk.

The quick-witted among you will have no doubt noticed that Bernie and George were conspicuous by their absence this time out. I wish I could sit here and lie, say it's just a temporary thing, something to be ironed out lickety split and that we'll soon have their unique musings gracing our hallowed site once again. I wish, but as the old adage goes, "If wishes were bacon fat, I'd be making fried eggs right now, where you sort of tilt the frypan and then use the spatula or some people even use a spoon to drizzle the hot fat over the top of the egg until the yolk cooks nice and hard and the egg is left with this greasy, salty, cured taste". (I know, it's a damnably long adage, ergo it don't get much usage anymore.)

On or about May 22, 2007, at approximately 11:45 pm, Bernard "Big Mac Daddy" McManus and George "It's An "a" Not An "o" So Don't Call Me "Guido"" Guida were gunned down in a hail of gunfire discharged from the rifles of three officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Skookumchuck, British Columbia. Early indications are the Mounties stumbled upon the pair together in the brush (evidently Skookumchuck is, like, 85% brush) engaged in what one unidentified source has cryptically referred to as "actions unspecifiable". When the locked and loaded officers approached, one of the victims was heard to call out, "Oh, man, I'm gonna shoot BIG TIME!" The Mounties, perhaps a bit skittish after spending the better part of three days tracking a family of recalcitrant badgers, opened fire with their standard issue DSA SA58 FALTactical .308 Cal. Carbine Rifles, making the corpses of Bonnie and Clyde resemble summer festival Kewpie dolls by comparison. There were no guns found on the victims, so I guess you could say they were found "packing but unarmed".

Naturally we were all shocked at the news (Kenji even cancelled a lecture entitled "Yeast and Warmed Flour: Proof of the Existence of God" he was "shedjeweled" to give in Paducah, Kentucky and came rushing back to Tokyo to commiserate over the loss of our buds). Yet, as we sat there stunned, barely able to comment on the new mini bar selections we were quaffing like polar bears eating seal livers, odd recollections of the last few months began to surface: Bernie's outburst in January when Mike moved him to a suite on the opposite side of the hotel from George; George getting married to a lady he never brought around or showed us a photo of, a "super good looking gal who loved sumo", he boasted, part Japanese part Scottish/Canadian; the subsequent snubbing of all Sumotalk contributors, who were not invited to the wedding; Bernie's telephone call to the hotel on May 13 claiming that "George Bush had ordered all flights from Canada to Japan cancelled for the foreseeable future" and that therefore he could not attend this basho; and finally Martin confiding that in March George had asked him privately if he imagined his Mongol ancestors sometimes "got lonely out on the steppes".

So, for now it's all Churchillian, riddle, mystery, enigma and, I should note, entirely unconfirmed.

Day 2:  Hatsu 2004 Day 4 -- Kenji waxes sarcastic

Mike: It's been fun sitting in this chair for 8 years now watching Sumotalk evolve.

Clancy: Fun for you, maybe, but Im squatting here in the dust while you ride that La-Z-Boy G3000!

Mike: Beggars can't be choosers, pal. As I was saying, Kenji and I had a ton of ideas in the beginning, and we tried to implement them all, but I think we've realized over time that there are other places on the web to obtain mundane, trivial information on sumo, so let's just stick with what we do best.

Clancy: 72.4 % of respondents agree with that assertion.

Mike: As I mention in my pre-basho report, the best thing about running Sumotalk the last 8 + years is the people.

Clancy: Running/ruling with an iron fistits semantics, really, but yes, the people we have humiliated, soiled, broken, and destroyed ARE the best aspect of this juggernaut we lovingly call ST.

Mike: Here, Clanc (reaching down from my throne to proffer Clancy a small blue pill, which he gobbles up like a hungry squirrel), that's exactly what I had in mind. Now then, the content of the site has definitely evolved over the years, and I even look back at my initial reports and find a pretty big contrast to what I'm writing today.

Clancy: Mosdef. Back then, you left your participles dangling, jammed adjectival phrases in where they didnt belong, and didnt know that unravel and ravel mean the same exact thing! Good thing I came long. Sorry, along.

Mike: If you want long, wait until our discussion tomorrow. Anyway, the one constant through all of this has been Kenji. Dude's been unflappable, and his reports today are the same reports he's been writing from day 1, so I find it humorous when people knock him for his shorter reports. When has he ever NOT chosen brevity over filler? Kenji's reports remain truer to the origins of Sumotalk than anything I produce these days.

Clancy: No question. Kenji has not wavered from the original style in all this time. Dudes a goddamned coelacanth. He may focus on only a few bouts, but his takes are rock solid, for the most part.

Mike: A lot of readers may be surprised to know that Kenji has a huge following on Sumotalk. There are so many fans who appreciate his style and his refusal to hop on bandwagons with the rest of us, even if things we harp on persistently turn out to be relevant.

Clancy: A lot of contributors as well! Yeah, Kenji does appeal to a certain demographic, dare I say our more intransigent followers. Tea Party sumo lovers, if you will, people who seek the straight dope, with little filler (other than a little cream on top) and absolutely, positively no jokes about tits and swallows!

Mike: One of my biggest regrets about Sumotalk is that I simply don't have enough time to devote to it. If this was my fulltime job, Sumotalk would be 10 times what it is today.

Clancy: All kidding aside, youre not joking. While many readers know that you are a devoted family man and community leader (the sealed affidavits not withstanding), Im sure lots think youre single, own a re-built Commodore 64, and live in a van down by the river. If this WAS your sole joband we know its your soul job (throws a kick at Clancy), ST would be another Huffington Report.

Mike: Along those lines, it's extremely unfortunate that Kenji doesn't have more time either to translate his wealth of knowledge and experience into reports available to our readers.

Clancy: True. He is a busy father of a few kids, and I know hed like to be able to put more time into his reports. I myself have to essentially browbeat the missus into taking my brood out to the pubsnack to have some Japanese pizza in order to get my writing done.

Mike: Major League Baseball fans will remember growing up watching Saturday games with Vin Scully in the booth and Joe Garagiola at his side. Kenji truly is a Joe Garagiola type figure. The readers just don't get to see that side as much due to other responsibilities of life taking up Kenji's time.

Clancy: And due to the fact that you photoshop hair onto Kenjis picture to make the resemblance even LESS obvious.

Mike: Well, you don't have to reveal all of my secrets. I'm not trying to make you jealous or anything, but the origins of Sumotalk did begin with Kenji and I taking late night baths together all throughout Kyushu and Japan where we discussed our mutual love for...(sigh) sumo.

Clancy: Quick, pass me a bucket. Im going to be sick!

Mike: Okay, before I get too carried away taking a stroll down memory lane, let me just say that I will never forget the day this report from the straightforward, always serious Kenji landed in my email box.

(Cue ominous church organ music)

Day 4 Comments
If you like good sumo, read Mike's column again from day 3. If you must read on, join me for the day 4 festivities, featuring a veritable plethora of hikiwaza gems. Look! Here comes the first float, the Asanowaka Shuffle. A pioneer in the art of hikiwaza as a sumo staple, it's only appropriate that he leads the parade today down Hatakikomi Street. See how he frustrates M13 Takanowaka (2-2) by keeping the much better rikishi out of his rhythm. A couple of shoves here. A token push there. And there it is! The little shuffle and Takanowaka walks himself out of the ring. What a great start to the parade and to M16 Asanowaka's basho. He is a sparkling 3-1.

Next up is up and coming puller Kyokutenho (2-2). Okay, maybe it's easy to slap down Tosanoumi (1-3). But he sure had some gems in Kyushu with those beautiful tachiai henkas. Now that's the kind of sumo that makes you want to shell out the dough to sit on a square cushion for hours on end.

Oh, here comes a good one. Sekiwake Tamanoshima (0-4) is on display now. See the straight up tachiai with Iwakiyama (1-3). Who wants to see a straight up fight mano-a-mano? Not I. Wait, look at that! Tama tried a hikiotoshi and gave all his momentum away. Wow, look how he just flew out of the ring back tracking like that. That is good stuff.

Oh boy. Now for the mother of all pulls. The clean up hitter of hikiwaza and the feature attraction today on Hatakikomi Street is here. Kyokushuzan is facing undefeated Kaio. Note the apprehensive tachiai and the strategic spacing between he and opponent. In the blink of an eye as Kaio steps forward, oh! A brilliantly timed hiki and side step and Kaio (3-1) has both hands on the clay. Kyokushuzan (3-1) even takes a little jaunt half way around the dohyo after his hard earned victory. He has 'pulled' off yet another upset. The 'man-in onrei' (arena at full capacity) scroll is sure to hang above the Kokugikan crowd tomorrow.

As an encore act today we have Ozeki Chiyotaikai (4-0), still undefeated mind you. He showed power and grace today employing the Hatakikomi. You didn't want to see him plow through Hokutoriki did you? After all, what is one to do when a Maegashira rikishi neutralizes your tachiai? Stick with your game plan? No, you pull 'um down, tightrope the tawara and call it a day. Sheer quality sumo.

I hope you enjoyed the parade today. For some reason or another, some floats did not participate in the festivities. One no show in particular was Toki (1-3), who for some reason was making a rare visit to Forward Sumo Avenue where he went toe to toe with Musoyama (3-1) and got into a throwing match with him and prevailed. But who wants to see that. Maybe he'll come to his senses tomorrow and join us for some good 'ole pulling.

Also absent were Tochiazuma (3-1), who kept the pressure on Tochinonada (2-2) and Asashoryu (4-0) who absolutely blasted Wakanosato (2-2) out with the help of two vicious, alternating nodowa thrusts. He'll never be welcome here on Hatakikomi Street.

Joining Asashoryu and Chiyotaikai with unblemished records through 4 days are M4 Kotomitsuki and none other than M10 Takanonami. We're all pulling for you, Nami.


Day 1:  Nagoya 2006 Days 14, 15 -- Calling the Asashoryu - Hakuho yaocho caught on tape

Mike
: I'm looking forward to the next two weeks as we relive some of the best SumoTalk moments (in our sick minds of course) since the inception of the website.

Clancy: Word. Seems like just yesterday that I stumbled upon your site, with you and Kenji and Simon dishing the dirt. Who knew that sending you an electric mail rant would end up with me sitting here now, across from you, so close. . .

Mike: I knew I should have shaved my legs this morning! Anyway, our pick for Day 1 is especially appropriate given the current yaocho scandal. I don't know exactly when Sumotalk started to emphasize yaocho, but it's always been a sore spot for many of our readers, especially our critics.

Clancy: So are the pinched, dark holes at the middle of their asses. The mandate of SumoTalk has always been, Tell it like it is, and Ill be damned if we dont do just that.

Mike: For the record, I don't mind getting hen pecked by our critics, just as long as they don't scratch AND sniff. The main argument for those who refused to believe yaocho existed in sumo was always, "Where's your proof?"

Clancy: To put it bluntly, the proof is right in front of our accursed eyes, if only we choose to look. And taking a good, long, hard (hold on, I need a cool drink--there, thats better) look at sumo is this sites "raison d'tre."

Mike: We now know from the police investigation into gambling that multiple rikishi left electronic paper trails providing enough proof that yaocho exists to have an entire basho cancelled, but the grand poobah of evidence was actually introduced in a court of law a few years ago and not refuted by the Sumo Association.

Clancy: An association that has been rather vigilant about tracking down and prosecuting any hint of impropriety vis a vis match fixing made by others. Funny how they left that one alone.

Mike: Yeah, go figure. We're of course referring to the tape that the Shukan Gendai tabloid produced wherein Hakuho's stable master, the artist formerly known as Miyagino-oyakata, was actually caught on tape admitting he paid 3 million yen to Asashoryu's camp in exchange for a win on senshuraku of the 2006 Nagoya basho, a win that led to Hakuho's subsequent promotion to Yokozuna.

Clancy: Guys a real Prince.

Mike: I find it very interesting that the existence of that tape and the former Miyagino-oyakata's being stripped of his stablemaster status at the end of last year has conveniently been forgotten during this latest yaocho turmoil.

Clancy: That stables Golden Boy is laying the only eggs this sorry assed association has at the moment, so its all brooms and throat clearings.

Mike: But enough fog on the windows. Let's reach back across the years to our first "Best Of" report taken from days 14 and 15 of the 2006 Nagoya basho, wherein I forecast the infamous yaocho between Asashoryu and Hakuho, and you actually call it along with a sexy rant on the tachi-ai henka.

Clancy: Yes, you tripled on Day 14 and then scored when I got hit by a pitch on Day 15. Working with the main man of English sumo makes my job easier than finding hateful references to Justin Beiber on YouTube. (And something tells me we haven't heard the last from that Nagoya 2006 basho)

. . .

2006 Nagoya Basho Day 14 Introduction (Mike Wesemann reporting)
The drama in Nagoya was all but sucked out with the injuries to the two Ozeki on day 11 after they were fighting well this basho, so let's not sugar coat anything and get right to the chase addressing the only remaining talking point this basho: is Asashoryu going to throw his bout tomorrow against Hakuho? I was glad to see Simon raise the question yesterday, and I was also happy to see that his opinion on the subject differed from mine. With any website or forum that provides analysis, it's extremely healthy to provide differing viewpoints, especially when both parties can provide good, logical takes.

First, I don't see what Asashoryu has to lose by giving Hakuho the bout tomorrow. Back in March, I wrote up a blog entry explaining how and why Asashoryu and Hakuho threw their senshuraku bouts then. I copy and paste from that:

"For Asashoryu, what has been the biggest criticism of his domination and current yusho run? Answer: there's no competition. However, if another Yokozuna is on the banzuke when Asashoryu racks up yusho 17 through 30 or whatever, the take of "weak competition" becomes just that...weak. Having another Yokozuna on the banzuke affects Asashoryu in no negative way. His pay isn't reduced; his likelihood of losing doesn't increase; he no longer has to shoulder all the burdens of a lone Yokozuna, etc. I honestly don't think Asashoryu cares one way or the other if there's another Yokozuna, so for him to throw today's bout to extend Tochiazuma's run is no sacrifice to him whatsoever."

And as sound as my reasoning was then, there is one element that didn't come into play in Osaka: national pride. If you watched NHK's feed today and stuck around after the final bout today, then you saw Asashoryu's yusho interview. Towards the end of the interview, he offered a few words in Mongolian to the fans and country he knew were watching. Having lived and worked in Asia, I've noticed a definite competitive feeling among the countries. Of course Japan is number one and sets the precedent in terms of their economy, technology, pop culture, etc. but whenever one of the other Asian countries can rise up and best Japan in something, it gives them immense pride not to mention bragging rights if only for a season. And as much as it galls Japan to have a foreigner dominate their sport, it's that much worse when it's a fellow Asian. Everyone knows it, especially Asashoryu. So can you imagine if there were two of them? Another reason is that Asashoryu likes Hakuho. Hakuho handed the yusho to Asashoryu in May 2004 when Hokutoriki led the Yokozuna by one bout going into the final day but couldn't solve that...should we say unsound tachi-ai from Hakuho? Asashoryu appreciates fellow countrymen like Hakuho, Ama, and Tokitenku, rikishi who fight with passion. I agree with Simon's take that the zensho yusho is important to the Yokozuna, but I don't think it overrides the other elements that I've raised.

. . .

Senshuraku Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
"all the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots
and it's partner found, it's partner lost
and it's hell to pay when the fiddler stops:
it's closing time"

--L. Cohen


Well, perhaps it wasn't all THAT exciting, but there was drama aplenty in Nagoya, gotta admit. We had shenanigans, harsh words, suspensions, shameless henkas by the boatload, rikishi teetering on the brink of promotion, a wounded Yokozuna, unbelievable rallies from early deficits, the possible ascension of a new Yokozuna, and the possible re-ascension of a former Ozeki. Even my six year-old daughter, an artist who up until this point in her life has shown about as much interest toward sumo as Mike has shown toward washing between his toes, asked me today, "Papa, who's the Yokozuna?" "Of our house?" I responded. "Me. Of sumo? The Khan, Asashoryu. Now go and instruct your mother that if she does not have dinner ready in moments, she will be on the receiving end of a severe okuri-taoshi tonight."

One aspect lacking on Day 15 that is usually there in spades was rikishi who are going for their winning records. Only three had 7 wins going in, and (surprise!) all three won. Who'd a thunk it? Ozeki Kotooshu took care of The Meniscus Kid Tochiazuma (let's hope he gets that thing excised before September), Roho, one half (I hesitate to call him the "ugly half" because his sibling, too, is far from easy on the eyes) of the Brothers Henkamazov, finished what younger brother Hakurozan started on Day 1 by giving Kotomistuki a big ol' Crisco Kiss, and Jumonji won a suspiciously long (and ill-fought bout by Futenoh) to get his winning record (but Jumonji fans, don't break out the chips and salsa just yet? he had just one win vs. a wrestler who made kachi-koshi).

A fan wrote to me after my Day 8 and complained about me using the phrase "Sumo Sodomy" to describe a henka. He's right. Equating a henka with sodomy gives sodomy a bad name. I'm not going to rehash the issue here, you have three smart guys on this website telling you the deal: Henka=poopoo. And if you think it is a "non-issue" to the wrestlers themselves, don't listen to what they SAY about it in the polite light of day (although Kotooshu sure didn't seem to eager to stick to the party line after his Day 1 bathhouse encounter with a bald twenty-four year-old who must hail from where, Chernobyl??). Instead, check Tamanoshima's face on Day 14 or Miyabiyama's on Day 6.

(For those of you who watch the NHK (No Henka Knowledge) English language broadcast, are you as sick and tired as I am of their constant assertion that the rikishi who loses to a henka is somehow to blame because "he didn't keep his eyes on his opponent"? This is a load of crap if there ever was one. The man could have his eyes boring into his foe's soul and it wouldn't matter. When a wrestler is victimized by a henka, he has no time at all to adjust to what he sees. He has launched himself from the clay in the belief that his opponent will be there, and that after their smashing start (a move unique to Japanese sumo, I think) they will fight it out. True, some wrestlers DO keep their heads down a bit or duck their heads as they anticipate the contact at tachi-ai, but EVEN IF they were looking forward and up, they'd still be at a serious disadvantage. The only guys who do NOT fall for henkas are the guys who know and anticipate their foes cowardly ways and are prepared, or guys who have weak, stand up tachi-ai, like Takamisakari.

But something is broken with sumo, and it needs fixin' fast. Look at the list of egregious henka-ites this basho (highest ever rank in parenthesis): Chiyotaikai (Ozeki), Roho (Komusubi), Dejima (O), Tokitenku (M1), Tochinohana (K), Hakurozan (M2), Aminishiki (M1), Kokkai (M1) and Kyokushuzan (K). Plus the timing. Sure, Shu does it every other bout nowadays, and Roho and Dejima henka'd their way to kachi-koshi (still a yellowbellied way of goin' about your bidness), but look at the timing of some of the others: Chiyo to Miyabi on Day 6, the Sheriff going for Ozeki and Chiyo at that point with just one loss; Tochinohana to Tamanoshima on Day 11, and Hakurozan to open the affair on Day 1to Kotooshu. Henka should be disallowed. Period. I'd rather see the topknot yank being legalized than see another guy run away, Bernie's Baryshnikovs and George's Lokis and Ravens notwithstanding.

Anyway, on Day 15, from the bottom up, we have Toyozakura heading down to Juryo with his older brother M16 Kitazakura. Both men finished 5-10, Kita with a nice suki-nage win over M11 Kasugao (also 5-10) and Toyo with a loss to M10 Iwakiyama. Toyo peppered his foe with facial blows from the get-go, forcing Iwonkeykong back to the edge, but the former sanyaku man said, Enough is enough and drove the M14 back across the ring and tumbling out, as our boy Simon might say, ass over teakettle. Iwaki ends up 9-6, with every one of his losses coming to a kachi-koshi rikishi (the same thing can be said of only two of his wins, unfortunately).

Even after beating M15 Tochinohana by yori-kiri today, M9 Yoshikaze ended up with a 6-9 record. Perplexing losses to Hokutoriki and Takamisakari Days 3 and 4, and to Kitazakura yesterday, coupled with the Jiffy Lube he was gifted by Henkanishiki on Day 11 made certain this firecracker of a rikishi will be slipping down a notch or two in rank, but you have to love this youngster's sumo. Tochi was unfortunately able to get his winning record by beating a fellow member of Nagoya Henka Club (First rule of Henka Club is, You do not talk about Henka Club!) on Day 13. Like Mike said, it would have been sweet to see him lose out after slipping Tamanoshima that stiffy on Day 11.

Tamakasuga scored one for the geriatric crowd by taking home a special prize to go along with his career best 11 wins (5 over kachi-koshi rikishi, all four losses to kachi-koshi wrestlers). If this basho was a deer, he would have it stuffed and mounted (Simon could tell him all he needs to know about mounting and stuffing dears? sorry, typo--deer). Today he beat M8 Tokitenku, whose 10-5 record made me yawn, replete as it was with henka (a bout he lost!) and sloppy execution that got him some lucky wins. I like Tokitenku, but I'd prefer to see him grow into a wrestler like Kyokutenho and not Kyokushuzan.

I recall someone on this site writing that they feared M14 Homasho might not have the chops to remain in the top flight. The jury is still out, but after deliberating his performance in Nagoya, they may return a Not Guilty As Charged verdict. He didn't flinch the final five days, taking out three out of four kachi-koshi rikishi to finish 9-6 in only his second Makuuchi tourney.

M12 Tochinonada completed a very strong basho by craftily allowing The Great White Ape M5 Kokkai drive him back to the tawara, only to pull off one of the sweetest tsuki-otoshi of the tourney. As the sumo guides will tell you, this move is often used in desperation at the edge, but methinks Tochinonada had it in mind from the get go. Kokkai had a nice tourney although for some reason felt he had to henka Hokutoriki on Day 4 (like poor Tamanoshima, who may have gotten jun-yusho had he not been repeatedly molested, Hokutoriki had his soap on a rope stolen twice this basho). Tochinonada was 0-3, losing to the two special prize recipients and a kachi-koshi man, and then reeled off seven straight before losing to two more kachi-koshi rikishi. Four of his ten wins came vs kachi-koshi guys. One of the smartest guys in sumo, look for this classy former Sekiwake to shoot up to M5 or 4 for September. Where he belongs at this point in his still thriving career.

Kakizoe finished off a disappointing basho with a decisive win over the younger Henkamazov. The diminutive M3 got only one win after finishing his run on Murderer's Row on Day 8 by beating Krustyshuzan. I thought after coming out of week one with wins over Chiyotaikai and Kotomitsuki he had a chance for kachi-koshi, but he seemed to either run out of steam or more likely had some injury not obvious to us. He's going to drop down to M7 or so, where, if his usual feisty self, he should mop up with 10 wins or more.

M1 Krusty the Clown went to the Circus and got his head handed to him after a predictable henka which was ineffective as I said above because Circus does not bring it at tachi-ai like, say, Tosanoumi or Iwakiyama. Takamisakari is back to his 7-8 ways after one basho at 8-7, while Krusty is overjoyed to be plummeting to lower Maegashira where he can get 10 wins again. OR is The Trickster finally out of time? (insert evil cackle).

After a 9-6 at M4, and with most of the guys at M3-M1 getting losing records, I don't see any reason why Baruto won't be the other candidate for Komusubi along with Kokkai come September (somehow I think the Sumo Kyokai will pass on putting Roho back up there just yet). In his second top division tourney he showed he has a lot to learn. And so? Of course he does. Baruto fans, be like George and do not panic. This boy will grow into a man who dominates sumo, thus it is written. Today he had one of what will be many, many bouts vs. The Comeback Kid, Shin-Komusubi Kisenosato. After trying to get the outer left at tachi-ai, Baruto gave up that plan in the face of some strong throat pushing by The Kid, then countered with huge upper chest bombs that Kise had no answer for. Kise finishes at an incredible 8-7 after being 2-6. This is how you tell a guy has what it takes to oneday be at least Ozeki. Sure, he and all of his twenty years got thumped in week one (although he nabbed nice wins over Kotooshu AGAIN--he owns that Bulgarian--and Kaio for the second straight basho), but he kept his focus and rallied. Recall his final four day winning run to Komusubi in May: oshi-dashi vs Kaio, oshi-taoshi vs. Ama, oshi-dashi vs. Kakizoe, yori-kiri vs. Kokkai. All strong kimari-te, all strong foes, when the pressure was on. Also recall some of the disastrous Komusubi debuts of the recent past: Kotooshu, Ama, Roho. Everyone who has been saying it all along is right: This guy is special.

Now, Miyabiyama. As you all know, he was denied his promotion (thanks, Ozeki Chiyotaikai, you piece of dog dung). He did all he could by taking it to Tamanoshima today, using his tried and true tsuppari to set the special prize winner up for the sidestep and rear push out. It was beautifully timed and executed, nothing at all wrong with sidestepping AFTER the tachi-ai. The powers that be decided his sumo was not worthy of Ozeki, and after having been burned before by Miyabi, I can understand their hesitance.

Still, he was unlucky to lose after dominating the cleverly evasive Kaio on Day 4, was raped on Day 6 by The Wolf's Pup, but finished super strong, winning 7 out of 8 with the only loss coming to Asa. His losses came to the Yokozuna, two Ozeki, and powerful Roho on nervous Day 1. He beat Baruto, Kisenosato, Kotomitsuki, Tochiazuma and Tamanoshima and Hakuho, for crying out loud. I think he got robbed by not getting the Ozeki promotion. Was it really just that one win short of 11 that did it, even considering he was henka'd by Chiyotaikai? It also did not help that there was no spot opened at Ozeki (more on that below). Sad, sad, sad.

Not-at-full-strength Kotooshu pulled it out on Day 15 (no, not THAT, his mawashi was wrapped too tightly for THAT). He got his winning record, silly, vs. a seemingly truly injured Tochiazuma. The two time yusho winner just couldn't stand on that left leg, and Koto took advantage by giving him a two armed shove at tachi-ai, then trying for a hataki-komi, finally getting in on the belt and forcing the wounded Ozeki out to his seventh loss.

Kaio absorbed The Pup's blows, if you can call them that, and got in and under his arms and threw him down, beltless, for his 9th win. It'll be interesting to see how Kaio does in Sept. and what effect, if any, that will have on any decision to retire in his homelands come Nov. If he has a strong basho two months hence, and again in Kyushu, will he try to go another year? No way he could make it back to Kyushu as an Ozeki for 2007, so his choices will be tantalizing if he is still winning: Keep going and risk retirement in some distant locale, or say, That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more and retire to certain rapturous glory in November 2006. Just another story line to follow in the weeks and months to come.

Now on to the biggest story to follow for the next ten weeks: Hakuho still searching for that Yokozuna promotion. After his classic, truly one for the ages win over the nearly invincible Asashoryu, dai-Yokozuna, winner of 17 yusho and counting, to finish at 13 or better wins for the fourth consecutive basho!, a streak that includes three wins over Asa and a yusho, he was denied, that's right, denied. The word was that with a jun-yusho and 13 wins he would be promoted, but the elders of JAPANESE sumo decided that because he wasn't at 13-1 going into his bout with Asa his record did not satisfy their criteria. So if he had been 13-1 and LOST to Asa, that would presumably have been enough to clinch promotion, but since he beat Asa, well...

I don't get it. Maybe they suspected, like I do, that Asa seemed to forego finishing a few moves that he would normally finish in an effort to give his countryman a tiny chance to win the bout. I am NOT talking about fixing or throwing or any such crap. At that level all it takes is a minute pause in the pressure one is putting on one's foe, or a split second choice to try the wrong defense, or deciding to go only 98% on one particular move in order to give an opponent as strong and talented as Hakuho the opening he needs.

Now remember Mike's Day 14 telltale sign that show something is amiss: "...if you see an obvious change in his sumo tomorrow and Hakuho of course wins, then I will be of the opinion that Asashoryu handed Hakuho the bout."

Well, like he has most of this basho, Asa got inside quickly at tachi-ai, where he almost immediately tried an armbar throw. Here was the first indication of something odd. Asa didn't even try to finish off that armbar (like Hakuho did to him in January). He could have stuck with it and twisted Hakuho down, but he relented. Then they settled into deep mirror belt grips, Hakuho with a full left belt grip, Asa with a more shallow right (another small sign, perhaps, Asa not trying to inch his fingers forward to get a deeper grip). Now the fact that they locked up and it took longer than in Asa's other bouts means nothing to me simply because Hakuho is a very tough opponent and I wouldn't expect Asa to dispose of him quickly. But the ease with which Asa twisted and stalled Hakuho's attempt to drive him to the edge was another sign, followed by the most blatant of them all: Asa lifted Hakuho in the air, where he could have and should have executed a tsuri-dashi. True, there is little chance of Asa pulling off a standard tsuri-dashi vs. Hakuho, but even if he had to twist the Ozeki and fall himself, landing on top of him, he would have, if he had really been 100% desirous of winning this bout.

Nonetheless, Hakuho fought like a champion, and once he came down to earth drove the Yokozuna back to the edge where Asa put up cinematic resistance, but the Ozeki was able to crush out his countryman and make a huge claim for Yokozuna promotion that for some reason was deemed insufficient. Yes, he is young and will have more chances, but if it isn't obvious to the sumo kyokai that their two men are already battling Yokozunas, and that Hakuho has a rock-solid claim to the title in this day and age of lone Yokozuna domination, then they are being blinded by something, something they perhaps have little control over, something ingrained, something they are not even aware they possess.

Thanks for reading again this basho. You're such a good readership. I would promote you if it was up to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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