Senshuraku Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
think you have to go back to the Asashoryu days to see the last time that the
media was seething about a rikishi, but that was definitely the case after day
14 when Terunofuji defeated Kotoshogiku with a tachi-ai henka. I was actually
surprised that the move got as much run as it did, but there were multiple
officials within the Association and other oyakata quoted in the funny papers
with harsh comments for the Ozeki, and harsh might be putting it lightly. I
actually sensed legitimate hate for the Ozeki in the media, and it really did
remind me of the days back when Asashoryu dominated the sport. One anonymous
oyakata took a shot at the Mongolians saying there was some jealously there due
to the recent success from the Japanese rikishi. Uh, jealousy probably isn't the
word, but the knives certainly do come out in full force when the Mongolians are
kicking your ass.
Personally, I was fine with Terunofuji's henka. It's a perfectly legal move in
sumo, and there is no way that Kotoshogiku can beat Terunofuji straight up
anyway, so what did it matter? I guess what mattered was that a Mongolian dared
to seal Kotoshogiku's fate with a tachi-ai henka, and what's funny is that
everyone was criticizing and debating the henka while fully ignoring the eight
yaocho that sent Kotoshogiku into day 14 with an 8-5 record in the first place.
Then there was the issue of Kotoshogiku's refusing to bow after the bout. Isn't
that showing a lack of hinkaku towards your opponent? Oh yeah, I guess it only
applies when the offending rikishi is a foreigner. It's almost as if there's
this sense of entitlement with the so-called elite Japanese rikishi. Kotoshogiku
is upset, but why? He's a hapless rikishi, and he knows it, and so I think his
refusing to bow was just as much theatrics as was his tumble and roll after the
henka. I mean, it is possible to survive a henka as we'd see later on in the
day, so we don't need his theatrics nor his pouting to cover up for his awful
It's all pretty galling when you think about it, but Japanese society is the way
it is, and the Sumo Association is obviously making choices these days to make
the Japanese elite rikishi seem relevant again while beating the Mongolians into
submission. The hard part about watching this all take place is that the
Association is bullying the foreign rikishi in ways they can due to their
authority because they certainly can't bruise them whatsoever in the dohyo with
So with that backdrop in place, we head into the final day of the tournament
with Terunofuji leading by one bout over Kisenosato, who couldn't even put up a
fight against Yokozuna Kakuryu the day before. There are a lot of hard feats to
accomplish in sumo, and one of the most difficult of all is coming from behind
in week two to take the yusho let alone entering senshuraku one behind, but none
of that mattered for Kisenosato. He had already won the PR battle by refusing to
withdraw after getting his ass kicked on day 13, and I thought it interesting
how every media outlet used the exact same term to describe Kisenosato's
decision to continue after day 13: kyoukou shutsujo. There really
isn't a good English translation, but the kyou is the kanji for tsuyoi,
or strong, and basically they were implying that the strong Kisenosato was
refusing to give up despite a valid reason to withdraw. So it didn't matter that
he looked horrible against Kakuryu; he's already a winner because he refused to
withdraw. It's funny too because the tsuyoi totally contradicts his act
after Harumafuji sent him to the arena floor on Friday. He spent so much time
writhing around there on the concrete and rubbing at his shoulder, the
impression I came away with after that was anything but strong. Still,
when ALL of the media outlets are using the exact same phrase, you know they're
getting the talking points from somewhere, and it usually spells trouble for
But, I don't control the narrative of sumo. I just breakdown what happens in the
ring, so let's get to the senshuraku action starting from the bottom up. The day
began with M11 Daieisho and M9 Kotoyuki trading shoves into each other's
throats, but it was Daieisho who had the de-ashi working, and so he was able to
pound Kotoyuki back and out in a few seconds. Daieisho finishes the basho at a
sweet 11-4 while Kotoyuki is circling the Makuuchi drain fast at 5-10.
M9 Kagayaki blew M16 Nishikigi off of the starting lines with his thrust attack
and never let Nishikigi get close. The bout was even more lopsided than the
first contest as Kagayaki finishes the fortnight at a respectable 7-8 while
Nishikigi finishes 5-10 from the bottom rung of the division. Kagayaki ain't
exactly turning heads, but at least he's organic, and I enjoy watching him try
and figure things out. As for Nishikigi, he never had the tools to be a
formidable Makuuchi rikishi to begin with, and I can say that because I was
calling yaocho in his favor from the start of his Makuuchi career. When the
Association no longer needs you in order to hype a jungyou, this is the result.
M12 Sadanoumi and M8 Okinoumi hooked up in hidari-yotsu where Okinoumi enjoyed
the right outer grip, and he took his sweet time working his foe upright before
unleashing a throw by the outer belt. The throw didn't finish Sadanoumi off all
the way, and as they squared back up, Sadanoumi actually had moro-zashi, but
Okinoumi shook that off with ease in the form of a right kote-nage that easily
sent Sadanoumi packing. Trust me, Okinoumi is the best Japanese rikishi on the
banzuke right now as he finishes the tournament 10-5 while Sadanoumi is heading
to Juryo at 4-11.
Another guy who receives heavy yaocho help in the ring is M13 Takakeisho, and
that was the case again today against M7 Chiyoshoma, who led with his head and
had the clear path to the left inside, but just gave it up putting his hands up
high and faking pulls all over the place. As Takakeisho chased him around,
Chiyoshoma actually slapped him on the side with the right arm as if going for
an offensive move, but a slap to the side does nothing. The correct move in that
situation was a tsuki or a thrust, not a slap. Anyway, if you can read the tea
leaves, this bout was yet another easy yaocho call as Chiyoshoma played hapless
rikishi the entire way letting Takakeisho push him out in the end. I can't name
anything that Takakeisho did at the tachi-ai nor can I name a single move he
used to put Chiyoshoma on his heels as the Mongolian took care of that all on
his own, but it looked legit I'm sure to most, and so give Takakeisho an 11-4
record and a Kantosho to boot. As for Chiyoshoma, he ends the tournament at 9-6
and has his reward.
As long as we're keeping the Japanese fans happy, we may has well have M7
Ichinojo lose to M12 Ura. After an awful tachi-ai where Ura just henka'd to his
right standing up straight, Ichinojo matched him bad move for bad move standing
up straight himself as the two had separation between them. After a few ugly
seconds when they did hook up, Ichinojo went for a fake slap that barely glanced
off of Ura, and at that point I knew the outcome. I mean, how many guys have we
seen crush Ura this
tournament, but the biggest guy in the division can't make a dent? After the
fake pull attempt, Ichinojo got his right arm to the inside and had his left
wrapped around Ura's right as he forced the smaller rikishi to the edge with a
nice push into Ura's teet, but Ichinojo just stopped at the edge, aligned his
feet, and waited for Ura to do something. Though he tried, Ura's not strong
enough to actually push Ichinojo around, and so Ichinojo just took a quick dive
making sure to put his right hand down to the dohyo before Ura touched down
himself. Just watching the flow of the bout, Ichinojo controlled everything, and
so the ref actually signaled his way, but I think the bodies were blocking his
vision of the actual finish, so a mono-ii was called and they reversed the
decision giving the bout to Ura...of course. What a crockashit to think that
they gift the hometown guy kachi-koshi at 8-7 while Ichinojo finishes 6-9. The
stark contrast between these two rikishi could not be more evident in every way.
What are we...a handful of bouts into the day and already the yaocho is running
rampant. Can't wait until we get to the end because it's in the air...you can
just feel it.
M6 Aoiyama met M14 Myogiryu with some pretty beefy shoves at the starting lines
and as Myogiryu looked to duck inside somehow, Aoiyama reversed gears on a dime
and just pulled Myogiryu to the dirt a few seconds in. Aoiyama makes sure he at
least gets kachi-koshi as he finishes 8-7 while Myogiryu will have to sort
things out in Juryo next basho finishing 6-9. Before we move on, I know those
who try and convince themselves that sumo is real will undoubtedly say, "So why
didn't the foreigner let the Japanese guy win here as well?" My answer is
that I don't know why Aoiyama decided to do what he did. I just watch the
bouts and then break the action down in the ring. When mukiryoku sumo or yaocho
occurs, I call it. I know you don't like, and just because I don't have all the
answers as to why these guys decide what they do, it doesn't change the fact of
what occurs in the ring.
M6 Chiyonokuni met M15 Tokushoryu with a nice moro-te-zuki at the tachi-ai while
Tokushoryu just pressed forward without a decent hold on his opponent...as the
special sauce is wont to do, and so while it looked as if Tokushoryu was making
progress, Chiyonokuni kept him at bay with continued shoves to the neck and was
finally able to side-step him near the edge and spill Tokushoryu to the clay
with a left tsuki-otoshi. Chiyonokuni finishes the festivities at 9-6 while
Tokushoryu ain't too shabby himself at 8-7.
M5 Hokutofuji moved left at the tachi-ai against M13 Daishomaru thrusting a paw
into Daishomaru's side, but Hokutofuji didn't have enough momentum for the move
to take effect, so Daishomaru quickly recovered and put Hokutofuji on his heels
forcing him to the side and back, but Hokutofuji was able to hold on with a
right arm to the inside, and at the tawara, he showed Daishomaru the trapdoor by
evading sideways and scoring the tsuki-otoshi win at the edge leaving both guys
at 7-8. I'll say it right now that Hokutofuji is my favorite guy to watch right
now because none of his bouts involve mukiryoku sumo, but I was kind of hoping
he'd lose this one after that tachi-ai because I didn't want to see him rewarded
after a cheap move like that. His sumo skills helped him survive and win in the
end, but I kinda hoped that Daishomaru would pull this one out. As for
Daishomaru, I've given the dude a lot of guff, but I enjoyed watching him this
tournament. Hey, do straight up sumo and I like it.
Gee, both Endoh and Tochinoshin enter the day at 7-7. I wonder whose going to
win here?? I don't care about Tochinoshin's injury. He's won seven bouts with it
to this point, and he coulda pounded Endoh for his eighth, but there's
definitely a theme going for the day, and so Tochinoshin did what most rikishi
do when they throw bouts: they keep their hands wide and high and just let their
opponents get to the clear inside and then work their magic. Easy yaocho call
here as Tochinoshin followed the script letting Endoh get to 8-7 while the
Private took the bullet here falling to 7-8. Actually, Tochinoshin seemed to get
stronger as the basho went on, and so I'm sure he'll be at full strength next
tournament. Ranked around M6 or so, that's normally the place where a guy makes
a huge run, but foreigners making runs is not in the cards these days, so watch
for Tochinoshin to finish around 9-6. As for Endoh, his 8-7 from the M5 rank is
going to put him back in the spotlight for May, so here we go again with this
M3 Takarafuji got the quick left arm to the inside against M11 Ishiura and used
that to force the smaller rikishi back quickly where Ishiura had to make a
decision as to which direction he'd try and escape. With Takarafuji keeping him
at bay with the right hand, Ishiura jumped to his left, but Takarafuji knew
exactly what was coming and caught his foe mid-air shoving him out for the easy
win as both rikishi finish the basho at 7-8
Sokokurai and Kyokushuho hooked up in migi-yotsu from the tachi-ai, but it was
Kyokushuho and his longer arms that gave him the advantageous left outer grip,
and when the taller rikishi has the outer grip and sufficient position to the
inside, there's not much the smaller dude can do, and it showed here as
Kyokushuho scored the force-out win that was probably too easy. What I mean by
that is if you're Sokokurai and you want to take advantage of your injured
opponent, make him move laterally. Sokokurai didn't, and so he lost straightway
falling to 4-11 while Kyokushuho's 5-10 still ain't good enough to keep him in
Ikioi kept his arms in tight against M8 Kaisei as the Brasilian grabbed the
early right outer grip that ulimately morphed into an inside position as Ikioi
retreated, and so as the dust settled from the tachi-ai, the two were in the
migi-yotsu position where Kaisei had the left outer grip. Kaisei was tentative
in his force-out charge due to bad legs, and that allowed Ikioi to spring the
beautiful tsuki-otoshi trap at the edge moving out left and catching Kaisei with
a nice paw to the side. I think Kaisei suspected something like this was coming,
but he just can't defend himself with his bad wheels. I thought that was a well
executed bout from Ikioi. Despite giving up that outer grip, he knew his
opponent's limitations, and he never panicked as he finishes the contest at
5-10. Like Okinoumi, I feel bad for Ikioi because he's a solid rikishi. He
actually employs moves that I can identify and break down, which is more than I
can say for the big 5 + 1. As for Kaisei, he'll likely fall to Juryo after his
3-12 finish, but all he needs to do is heal for a spell, and he'll be right back
In the bout we've all been waiting for, M3 Shohozan looked to get moro-zashi
from the tachi-ai, but before Darth Hozan's light sabre was fully charged, M1
Takekaze went for a dumb pull, and so Shohozan just went with it scoring the
easy push-out win in maybe two seconds. As much as I like Oguruma-oyakata and
his tongue that always gets in the way when he talks, I'm glad I didn't have to
hear him try and make up excuses for his guy after this display of bad sumo
where both rikishi end the tournament at 5-10.
M2 Takanoiwa looked to get his arms to the inside against Komusubi Shodai, but
Shodai sensed the trouble and backed up a step to his left. The result was
Takanoiwa's grabbing the right outer grip and gifting Shodai moro-zashi, but the
Komusubi couldn't take advantage. With Shodai standing there limp, Takanoiwa
locked down with the left outer grip that was towards the front of the belt
rendering Shodai's right useless, and so the Mongolian just escorted his
opponent to the side and out easy as you please. Sometimes we talk about the
Mongolians fighting in a style where they actually leave openings for their
opponents, and my opinion was that Takanoiwa was doing that here, but Shodai
just had nothing to offer, not from the tachi-ai nor during the bout, and so
Takanoiwa made it look easy as he improves to 6-9, a record that includes
multiple gifts. As for Shodai, all I can say is Komusubi Komushmubi. This guys
is awful as he finishes 4-11.
Komusubi Mitakeumi welcomed M10 Tochiohzan up to these parts, but I think the
conditions were that Tochiohzan had to let Mitakeumi win. Oh got both arms to
the position where he coulda got moro-zashi if he wanted, but he backed out of
it for no apparent reason going for a light pull. Mitakeumi chased Tochiohzan as
he retreated trying to catch him with a tsuppari or two, but I watched the slow
motion replay and nothing connected for Mitakeumi nor did he do anything at the
tachi-ai to warrant Tochiohzan's retreat in the first place. Still, Tochiohzan
continued to catch Mitakeumi with shoves to the throat, but he was back pedaling
as he did so, and so after a few seconds of this nonsense, Tochiohzan just hit
the dirt at the first sign of a Mitakeumi swipe. All is well here as Mitakeumi
finishes 9-6 while Tochiohzan falls...literally...to 10-5.
Someone must have left the Monster Drink open all night because when M4
Yoshikaze fought Sekiwake Kotoshogiku, there was certainly no fizz. The tachi-ai
was good from both parties as they hooked up into hidari-yotsu, and we curiously
saw no pulls or shoves or slaps from Yoshikaze who just went with the flow of
things. At one point Yoshikaze looked as if he was loading for a right
kote-nage, but he just stayed square with the Geeku and let the former Ozeki
force him back and across without argument. Easy yaocho call here, and just try
and find another Yoshikaze bout where the dude was this lethargic. The end
result is Kotoshogiku's moving to 9-6 with the win, and while I was deservedly
harsh on him in my intro, that doesn't mean that he didn't used to be a
fantastic rikishi with solid game. But those days are long gone almost to the
tune of a decade ago.
Kotoshogiku didn't deserve his promotion to Ozeki, and he didn't deserve his
yusho a year ago, and while those two points are facts, it doesn't mean that he
wasn't good in days gone by because he certainly was a solid rikishi. Still,
take a guy like Wakanosato...a sanyaku mainstay for something like 18 straight
basho. Kotoshogiku's only claim to sanyaku mainstay fame was five basho back in
2008, so he was a solid rikishi in his time but never great. Dude isn't entitled
to jack these days, but there are obviously plenty of people who feel otherwise.
As for Yoshikaze, he finishes the basho a harmless 8-7.
a predictable bout between two Sekiwake, Tamawashi kept his arms out wide at the
initial start (what, did he suddenly forget his tsuppari attack from the
tachi-ai? That would be a yes.) as Takayasu forced the bout to yotsu-zumo
getting the left arm inside, and from that point, Tamawashi pivoted in order to
go for a right kote-nage that was wide open, but he was sloppy with his footwork
not to mention his throwing technique stepping out beyond the bales before
Takayasu hit the dirt. They actually had to call a mono-ii here to confirm that
Tamawashi's heel grazed the sand first, but The Mawashi was mukiryoku in this
bout. Question: Tamawashi is a tsuppari guy, so why didn't he use a single
thrust in this bout opting to leave both arms wide open instead? It's a
mukiryoku tactic as was his kote-nage and his footwork. Having said that, he
almost won the bout, but he was mukiryoku here as he falls to 8-7. As for
Takayasu, he did connect on a nice face slap at the tachi-ai, but that blow
doesn't even connect if Tamawashi comes out with his usual long arm tsuppari of
the law. Takayasu moves to 12-3 with the win and will likely replace Kotoshogiku
as the next Ozeki.
As Kisenosato stepped into the dohyo to face Ozeki Terunofuji, you could just
feel it in the air, and by that I mean yaocho. I mean the flow of the entire day
was just phony baloney, and as I often say, nothing in sumo surprise me these
days. Before we get to the bout, let me just seek some clarification here.
Terunofuji henka's a guy with Ozeki hopes on the line, and he's lambasted by the
media and the officials within the Association. Kisenosato henka's a guy
with the yusho on the line and nary a word is said. Why the difference?
To make matters worse, Kisenosato's first henka to his right against Terunofuji
failed drawing a false start, so as the two reloaded, Kisenosato next henka'd to
the other side. That's two henka from Kisenosato compared to Terunofuji's one,
so why the double-standard? I know the answer, but I point out hypocrisy
when I see it. I guess we could even take it a step further and say why
didn't Terunofuji just dive forward and roll himself across the dohyo in
exaggerated fashion? If he was able to survive the henka, then why
couldn't Kotoshogiku survive one? If Terunofuji would have rolled forward
across the dohyo, would Kisenosato have been criticized?
I think I see Kisenosato working here. He felt jipped by Terunofuji's henka
against Kotoshogiku too, and so he was going to come out and show the Ozeki a
thing or two. Except that his henka were so piss poor that they didn't
even faze Terunofuji...either time. Actually Kisenosato, I think you were
more threatening when you were writhing in pain there on the arena floor after
Harumafuji kicked your ass than you were here trying to stick up for your
to the bout itself, after Kisenosato henka'd to his left, he was wide open for
whatever Terunofuji wanted to do, but Terunofuji didn't want to seem to do
anything, and I was like "here we go." The Ozeki did have the brief path
to the right inside, but he pulled back and just kept his arms out wide and he
stood upright, and if Kisenosato had any game, he would have pushed the Ozeki
back oshi-dashi style, but he doesn't, and so the two finally hooked up in
hidari-yotsu, and Terunofuji's right hand was right there at the side of
Kisenosato's belt, but he refused to grab it for a few moments just waiting for
Kisenosato to do something. Kisenosato finally pulled his left arm out from the
inside and pivoted right getting his right arm to the back of Terunofuji's left
and using his left at the back of the Ozeki's head, and while I've seen older
Asian women ahead of me on one-lane highways drive their Lexus's faster than it
took for this move to develop, Terunofuji stood there and dove to the dirt
landing on both knees...you know...that position where we often see guys land in
sumo, especially in bouts between two elite rikishi. I get the biggest
kick out of the pic there above. You have Kisenosato standing there all
high and mighty with Terunofuji on his knees, head bowed, as if to say, "Please,
I can't take any more." Now that I think about it, that's kinda how I felt
as well after watching this bout.
In all seriousness, just play along with me here for a moment.
On day 13 Harumafuji sends Kisenosato onto his back and writhing in pain in a
matter of seconds.
On day 14 Kakuryu defeats a purely defenseless Kisenosato by yori-kiri in about
On day 15 Kisenosato sends the sole leader of the basho to his knees after a
chest to chest clash.
What changed between days 13 and 14 and then senshuraku? Why such the
stark contrast in Kisenosato's sumo today when compared to the two previous
days? The answer is easy. Kisenosato didn't change a lick other than
those weak henka attempts. It was the Mongolian who changed. On days
13 and 14, the Mongolians' intent was to win. On senshuraku, the
Mongolian's intent was to lose, and that's why we saw the stark contrast today
compared to the two previous days. It was actually painful watching this
one in slow motion, and I suppose it was even worse knowing that Terunofuji was
going to dive again in the yusho playoff now that the two were tied here at
But there was more unfinished business that came in the form of two legitimate
Yokozuna capping off regulation, and we were treated to a decent fight until the
very end. Both Yokozuna charged hard into the migi-yotsu position where
Harumafuji enjoyed the early left outer grip, and as both rikishi settled in for
a few seconds, Kakuryu moved first testing the maki-kae waters. Harumafuji
denied the Kak's quest for moro-zashi, and so the two dug in again in the center
of the ring. After about 10 more seconds of digging in, Kakuryu backed up a step
creating another opening for a maki-kae, and this time he got the left to the
inside giving him moro-zashi, and so he was able to halt Harumafuji's forward
momentum and just back him up for the kill. Problem was the gyoji was
standing directly behind Harumafuji and when HowDo bumped into the ref, he just
let up completely probably not wanting to send yet another Japanese guy to the
arena floor, and so Kakuryu walked him back in easy fashion to sill the dill.
Here again we had the typical bout between the Mongolians where they're treating
us to a fine bout of sumo but not really trying to just kick the other guy's
ass. Both guys end the tournament at 10-5, and before we move on, why did
the Kisenosato - Terunofuji bout lack the power and force and technique that we
saw in the final bout? The contrast was night and day, but that's what
happens when you have mukiryoku sumo. There's just no force anywhere, and
it's a lot of hands moving this way and that and nothing really getting
As the attention moved to the dressing rooms, there didn't seem to be a ton of
anticipation or electricity on the broadcast because I think everyone knew what
was coming. Terunofuji was not going to rip the heart out of the Japanese fans
the second day in row. It just wasn't going to happen, and so the playoff
was a mere formality.
the two finally stepped atop the dohyo, we were treated to an equally boring,
mukiryoku bout. In round two, Kisenosato was wide open at the tachi-ai as
usual and actually put one hand up high as if to pull, and Terunofuji
immediately assumed moro-zashi at that point, but like the first bout, there
were no de-ashi from the Ozeki, and he literally just stood there allowing
Kisenosato to move right and execute a kote-nage with the right arm that of
course easily felled Terunofuji to the clay without argument. And just
like that, Kisenosato has his second yusho in as many tournaments and becomes as
Beavis and Butthead would say, a bonerfide Yokozuna in the eyes of the sheep.
Now, if Kakuryu got moro-zashi from the tachi-ai against Kisenosato and finished
him off in two seconds the day before, why couldn't Terunofuji do the same?
Well, actually he could have. In the case of the Kakuryu bout, Kisenosato
could feel the pressure and went out easily so as to avoid another trip down to
the arena floor. With Terunofuji, he could feel there was no pressure, and
he's sure as hell been in enough of these situations that he knew what to do.
Yet again, we get another classic photo above of Kisenosato mounting his foe
after brilliantly defeating him in the playoff. Now that I think about it,
when was the last time a Kisenosato bout ever finished like this one?
Another angle that is lost on most people I'm sure is the injury angle.
Okay, you have three guys this basho pretty banged up: Tochinoshin,
Kaisei, and Kyokushuho. So how did their opponents choose to fight them
for the most part? They made them move and took advantage of their leg
injuries. If you know a guy is injured, you exploit the injury. Pick
any team sport and suppose that a star player goes down to injury. His
backup comes in but isn't nearly as good, so whom do you attack? It's such a
simple question that even the non-experts know the answer, so if you're fighting
a dude who was taken away in an ambulance two days earlier because he had a bad
shoulder, how do you fight him? Well, the first thing you do is come out
and fire a hard shove right into the injured shoulder. At worst, you force
the angle of the bout to your right side meaning that the injured guy has to
fight with his left. The list goes on and on, so for Terunofuji to display
the brand of sumo he did today in those two bouts with so much on the line is
I mean, take from sumo want you want, but I sit here and watch this stuff play
out, and I'm simply incredulous at all of the yaocho going on. At the end
of day 13, I explicitly stated that Kisenosato doesn't necessarily need to
withdraw. If they're going to let him win, they're going to let him win,
so what does it matter that he can't use one arm? We've now seen a
Japanese rikishi take 3 out of 4 yusho, and this on the heels of an entire
decade of failure. So what's changed?
I used to laugh at the jackasses who would comment below every time a Mongolian
would take the yusho saying, "Har, Sumotalk, you're 0-46 now!" referring to the
fact that it was 46 straight basho and counting without a Japanese yusho, and so
sumo bouts couldn't possibly be fixed because a Japanese rikishi never took the
yusho in the end. Now that they ARE letting them take the yusho, I'm not sure
what the weak explanations are from the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil
crowd, but it's been a lengthy process where everyone was conditioned little by
little until now when they are taking the nonsense to unspeakable levels. And
the unfortunate part is...there's no turning back now.
Yesterday Harvye closed his report by saying that I would show everyone the dark
side of the moon, but what he really should have said is that tomorrow Mike will
point out the dark side of sumo.
So let it be written, so let it be done.
Day 14 Comments (Harvey Hodja reporting)
I was in a particularly gemütlich (feeling of well-being, comfort, happiness)
mood as I sat down to my maultasche soup and spätzle this morning after viewing
yesterday's bouts. For those who don't know, Schadenfreude means happiness at
the misfortune of others. It is, of course, an impure emotion. But there is no
doubt it chased my better angels out for a bit and took residence. Like Mike
said, fate is often cruel--and sometimes satisfyingly just, and jam-packed with
bitter irony. I'm not happy Kisenosato got hurt; that's bad news for any
athlete. But I hope I've been clear that while I don't think Kisenosato is
terrible, nor do I think he is a Yokozuna, and this whole tournament has felt…
silly. I do think Kisenosato has looked okay in the role (and I use that term
with relish: "role"): he has the size, experience, and demeanor to fit the
casting, and his wins rarely look as ridiculous to me as Kotoshogiku's, say. But
having him cruise to the yusho while better rikishi flobber around or quit has
been about as fun as snorting Tabasco sauce after gashing my nasal cavities
repeatedly with a burred awl. So when Kisenosato a) lost and b) looked injured,
to be honest yes, I just about jumped out of my chair with sudden joy. Reality
returns!, I thought. Think how much dishonesty and misdirection it took to get
Kisenosato installed as Yokozuna #1--and look what one injury did. One moment of
brutal poetic justice exposed the whole thing as a farce, because there is no
local wrestler behind the curtain to take his place. Just Terunofuji looming
large, and about to crush the behoosus out of all the little wizards of oz
running around caught with levers and dials in their hands. Praise be.
So, I was legitimately excited to write today: what would we see? Would
Kisenosato really withdraw? Would he fight and get clobbered? Or would he fight
and win, repeating the famous Takanohana "guts" victory? Because if the Sumo
Association had come this far, why not just go the rest of the way? Like Mike
said, heck, might as well send him out there with a compound fracture sticking
gorily out of his arm. Those were the atmospherics in the morning.
Since we're starting at the top, I'll deliver a small spoiler: Kisenosato did
not withdraw. He came out with some taping on the shoulder for the Yokozuna
dance (dohyo-iri) at 16:00, and had no trouble lifting his arm above his head or
moving it about. So, we were back to will they, or won't they? My brow furrowed.
S Kotoshogiku (8-5) vs. O Terunofuji (12-1)
I heard the crowd roar for Kotoshogiku's backbend and saw Terunofuji's angry
expression, I had a bad feeling. However, hallelujah, in a great moment (a
Tokitenku moment, dare I say?), Terunofuji henka'ed gloriously, and Kotoshogiku
coasted, as if in slow motion, to the dirt, hataki-komi, sealing his fate--no
Ozeki promotion, likely ignominious retirement. Boos reigned down. I smiled
wickedly. Schadenfreude. Do you get it? Do you get it?!? If we must lose, we
will look like fools when we do it. And if we must not be allowed to win, when
we do so, we will mock you with your rules. If we must be the villain, we will
be villainous heroes in doing it. Hataki-frack-you-komi. I. Don't. Care. Win.
Yep. I complain lustily about henkas, yet I gloried unabashedly in this one.
Admitted. I hereby abandon all pretense of impartiality, and root for roosting
chickens. I will be rooting hard for Terunofuji tomorrow. There is still hope
for The Future. It is a good day.
Y Kisenosato (12-1) vs. Y Kakuryu (8-5)
Though Kisenosato had been whisked away in an ambulance the previous day, the
person who first examined him when he came out of the ring said he didn't have a
dislocated shoulder. His oyakata came out to meet the press this morning and
distractedly said Kisenosato was going to fight, but not much more. The
vagueness about it all made me suspicious. Ever been hurt really, really bad and
thought "I've broken a bone!" or "I must have just lost a tooth!" or even "I'm
may die!" then felt perfectly fine and a little sheepish a bit later when the
pain, which was very real, totally cleared up? I wondered if that was what
happened to Kisenosato. The announcers were prattling on about how young people
these days say "it hurts, it hurts!" but that maybe those callow youth should
take Kisenosato's brave stance as something to learn from. Heh. My feeling was
the opposite: maybe after losing, Kisenosato could have been a little less
dramatic in showing his pain. Isn't that the true "tough guy" aesthetic? And the
lack of medical info or diagnosis by the announcers--rather, lots of speculation
about the taping and how Kisenosato must feel and such--told me things were
likely just fine in the Lord's castle.
I know sumo is dreadfully tough, painful, and imparts horrible wear and tear.
But athletes fight hurt all the time--baseball pitchers will tell you their arms
pretty much always hurt, a least a little bit--and if forced to guess, I'd say
that is what was happening here with Kisenosato.
To the match. Kisenosato token cat slap. Kakuryu instant mono-zashi. One-second
Kakuryu yori-kiri win. Glory! Glory Glory! You've all been screaming about how
Kisenosato leaves himself open at the tachi-ai, right? Well, he did it here, and
paid, paid in spades. You'll never see a better demonstration of 2+2=4. Pretend
to be a Yokozuna like that, lose to a real Yokozuna like this. This had nothing
to do with the shoulder--his shoulder was never involved, floating about in the
ether over Kakuryu's ballistic death charge. Oh, we can argue about it. How
uncertainty with the shoulder made Kisenosato vulnerable. Or, on the opposite
side, how this was just the the thrill kill cult, one of those days when the
better man decided to say, hey look, I'm the better man. Does it matter? The
reality is Kakuryu slaughtered Kisenosato like the lamb he is. Personally, in
the end I don't much care whether or to what degree Kisenosato is injured or
not. I'm just happy when justice is done.
M16 Nishikigi (4-9) vs. M12 Ura (7-6)
What a bunch of ridiculous prac. Ura backed up at the tachi-ai, then put his
hands waaaay down low like he was going to grab Nishikigi by the ankles. He did
this so slowly Nishikigi nearly knocked him over when he came forward, and found
Ura had his back to him, pretty much of his own accord. Ura was spinning
pointlessly around as Nishikigi knocked him out in embarrassing fashion,
M14 Kyokushuho (4-9) vs. M11 Ishiura (6-7)
Another tiny little "ura." Ura in Japanese means backside, hinterland, ass, that
kind of thing. However, "Stone Ass" (Ishiura) knocked Kyokushuho upright and
stuck both arms to the inside for the moro-zashi position. He then pushed
Kyokushuho easily out, yori-kiri. Since Ishiura's on the brink of kachi-koshi,
it was sure nice of Kyokushuho to leave his arms all slack and limp like that,
dangling down while he stood up too tall. Too bad they have instant replay in
slo-mo that highlights how weak his effort looked.
M10 Tochinoshin (6-7) vs. M15 Tokushoryu (8-5)
Tokushoryu has been happy with his eight wins for a few days and is just hangin'
out. However, he henka'ed, in a buttery, slow kind of way, and had Tochinoshin
dead to rights. As he followed him slowly and ponderously towards the straw,
trying first to control him with an arm pull, then to batter him out with his
shoulder (there is a reason you don't see that much in sumo: it doesn't work,
and looks kind of cowardly), Tochinoshin smartly pivoted on the straw and pretty
easily slapped Tokushoryu to the dirt, tsuki-otoshi. This was a skills mismatch,
and all of Special Sauce's sloppy wiliness couldn't cover that up.
M13 Takakeisho (9-4) vs. M10 Tochiohzan (10-3)
Tochiohzan has had a sloppy looking tournament, pulling his way to ten wins, but
he thought he had a real easy mark here. With some slaps and shoves, he had
Takakeisho going backwards, and instead of following up and dominating the young
beast by getting his accustomed moro-zashi, which was available, he slapped
lazily at Takakeisho's shoulders. You could just see him letting up before it
was over, thinking he had it in the bag. So Takakeisho stepped to the side and
swacked him to the dirt, hataki-komi.
M8 Kaisei (3-8) vs. M11 Daieisho (9-4)
Kaisei wasn't sure what his plan was, and half stood up, half pulled. Daieisho
knew exactly what he wanted to do, and stuck a hand in Kaisei's flabby neck and
pushed him. It was very easy pickins from there: Kaisei hopped compliantly out
of the ring, yori-kiri, under pressure from this little red bee. Kaisei is hurt,
so his terrible effort here may be due that. Or it may be due to terrible
M7 Ichinojo (6-7) vs. M12 Sadanoumi (3-10)
Ichinojo has a losing record because he is sloppy, lethargic, and, for whatever
reason, unmotivated. He looked to have Sadanoumi under control, with a nice
overhand left grip and leaning his huge weight all over the smaller, weaker
wrestler. But he was lazy with his right hand, didn't move forward when he
should, and, when Sadanoumi worked from his right inside grip to turn Ichinojo
around and "throw" him, uwate-dashi-nage, Sadanoumi walked right out, nose
first, like a happy donkey to warm oats.
M14 Myogiryu (6-7) vs. M7 Chiyoshoma (8-5)
Heh. Chiyoshoma didn't look well set up here, standing up too tall and going
backwards, but he had his hand on the side of Myogiryu's head, and damned if he
didn't just knock Myogiryu over with one forceful shove with that hand,
hataki-komi. This was essentially a lateral pull, but man did it look strong.
M13 Daishomaru (7-6) vs. M6 Aoiyama (6-7)
Daishomaru has been marginally better this tournament, moving forward much more
often, but he's still just not very good, so Aoiyama pushed him backwards for a
moment, then grabbed him by the head and pulled him in and down, hataki-komi.
M5 Endo (7-6) vs. M9 Kagayaki (5-8)
Endo thought maybe he could just try this straight up. Mistake. As Mike said
several days ago, when a bigger wrestler wants to beat Endo, he just destroys
him. Kagayaki stood Endo up with focused open hands, kept his head down, and
thrashed Endo out, oshi-dashi. I still think he's going nowhere, though. Despite
his size, Kagayaki doesn't seem to wear his weight well: just look at those
flabby, mushy teats, that saggy, languid belly-wheel. Compare that to Takekaze:
short and undoubtedly fat, but built like a barrel. Tochiazuma was always a
great example of tight, impactful weight, too. Kagayaki should be happy: his DNA
was apparently never meant to be fat. But in this sport, you want your DNA to be
begging you to be built like a fireplug. Kagayaki's wants him to be thin and
healthy. Poor guy.
M9 Kotoyuki (4-9) vs. M5 Hokutofuji (6-7)
I was rooting hard for the youngster in this one, and before the start he
stamped his feet on the dirt in a way the directional mikes picked up and
amplified. Kinda scary! He looked loaded for bear. However, Little Snow
(Kotoyuki) undoubtedly saw that too. So he put mean hands on Hokutofuji's face
as if to gouge his eyes out, then pulled him swiftly down, hataki-komi. Easy
stuff for Kotoyuki against an over-amped opponent here, and well executed.
M4 Yoshikaze (8-5) vs. M8 Okinoumi (8-5)
Yoshikaze had his left hand inside, but Okinoumi was on top of him and pushing
hard, close enough to get a couple of good grabs at an overhand right, and
eventually just overwhelmed and crushed Yoshikaze over backwards, abise-taoshi,
in this very good looking, dominant effort by Okinoumi.
[Life is good: at this moment my mother in law brought me a can of beer and
several packets of cheese, unasked for. Now here is someone who understands sumo
M1 Takekaze (4-9) s. M2 Sokokurai (4-9)
Takekaze smacked Sokokurai, deeked him in the face, and started looking for a
pull. However, Sokokurai is a sneaky guy himself, and was well primed for this.
It looked like he just wasn't going to give Takekaze the chance, keeping his
distance and shoving judiciously, backing up when needed. Eventually, however,
true to form, Takekaze darted out of the way lightning quick and Sokokurai went
running past like Wil E. Coyote chasing the road runner over the cliff. His toe
hit the sand as he put on the breaks, and that was that. "Hiki-otoshi." When two
guys like this fight, it's like a whole different sport. You could call it
"reverse chicken," or something like that. This is not "in the spirit of the
M2 Takanoiwa (5-8) vs. M1 Ikioi (3-10)
Good match here. After a lot of pushing and shoving Ikioi, who had a right hand
underneath on the belt, made an effort to try to stick his left hand inside as
well. When it failed, Ikioi responded smartly to Takanoiwa's forward pressure
and pinching by turning that momentum against Takanoiwa: Ikioi withdrew his
right hand and pulled down hard with his left, forcing Takanoiwa down
[Wow, my beer is already gone…]
K Mitakeumi (7-6) vs. M6 Chiyonokuni (8-5)
Pretty simple stuff. Mitakeumi blasted Chiyonokuni into an upright position and
drove him out while Chiyonokuni tried desperately to pull him but came up short.
Oshi-dashi destruction from Mitakeumi. He's had a blessedly quiet tournament,
and I'm a-ok with that and him. He fights hard, and it ain't his fault he's
popular. Most days he earns it pretty well. And he had a nice smile during his
[Second beer. Let's have some more cheese…]
M3 Shohozan (3-10) vs. K Shodai (4-9)
Japan's next Yokozuna, Shodai, has not been earning it. But I have faith. Faith
that the Hakkaku Revolution will continue. Bad faith. This tournament, however,
is already a throwaway for the Future Lord, so I figured we'd get a good match.
With records like this, why not? The match was wearisome, however. Shodai lost
the tachi-ai badly, and found Darth Hozan's dark hand squeezing his Adam's
apple. And there, more or less, it remained. Shodai kept trying to get on the
body, and Hozan kept putting that claw back to his neck. Darth Hozan mixed in a
couple of pulls, and when one of these got Vanilla Softcream (Shodai) off
balance, Darth grabbed him by the arm and ushered him past and out, oshi-dashi.
Yeah, Shohozan's record stinks, and his wins were probably nonsense. But he
fights hard, and this was a good demonstration of what he can do. I'll take it.
M3 Takarafuji (6-7) vs. S Takayasu (10-3)
Takayasu's Ozeki runs have been interesting; it's as if the first half or so of
the basho everybody says, "yeah, let's do it!' Then, the last few days,
everybody says, "we've got more important things to worry about than your silly
Ozeki run." Takarafuji had him wrapped up and under control here, but was not
helped by a wardrobe malfunction. Takarafuji had lower position and kept his can
slung well back. Takayasu just couldn't grab it. However, Takarafuji's belt
eventually got loose, and the gyoji had to stop the match and readjust the belt.
That killed Takarafuji's momentum. I do think Takayasu is the better wrestler,
and after the restart Takayasu had more strength and pressure left to give, and
was able to finish this one oshi-dashi. He only needs about ten wins in May to
get Ozeki, and I predict he gets it. Ah, me. Shouldn't "Ozeki" strike some awe
into us? Chiyotaikai, Tochiazuma, Baruto, Kotooshu, Kaio… Well, anyway. Takayasu
seems like a really nice guy!! Smiley face.
[Second beer doing loads for optimism!]
Y Harumafuji (10-3) vs. S Tamawashi (7-6)
was a brawl. They decided to just frickin' go at it. They head-butted each
other. Harumafuji tried to beat Tamawashi up with hard hands from hell.
Tamawashi surged onto him as if to say, "eat this, yokowhatsawhat." And
collapsed him to the dirt with, in this one, superior power, oshi-taoshi. Yeah,
this wasn't Yokozuna-type effort or precision from Harumafuji. But it was
absolutely classic "what the hell, let's fight" ‘Maf action. And Tamawashi
showed that he belongs in it. "Wanna fight? Okay. Let's fight."
Terunofuji's now up by one all of a sudden, and it would take a Kisenosato
"guts" victory TWICE over him tomorrow to take the yusho. Let's not let our
heads explode with dark forbodance just yet.
Mike shows us the dark side of the moon tomorrow.
Day 13 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
you were to ask me what my favorite movie was, I don't know if I could give a
definitive answer because there are a handful of masterpieces out there, but
only once in my life have I watched a movie and been so blown away that I had to
sit there and immediately watch it all over again. Said movie was the Shawshank
Redemption, and in one of the final scenes of the movie, the corrupt Warden
Norton can hear the authorities coming to arrest him, and he looks up at a cross
stitch piece of work on his wall that says, "His judgment cometh and that right
soon." Fraud and deceit and corruption can thrive for a season, but at
some point the scales of Lady Justice will come back into balance, and there
will be hell to pay.
I know it's definitely the case with me, but I've sat here the last little while
and watched what's happened to sumo, and the frustration has almost been
unbearable, so I can only begin to think how the Mongolians feel about what
they've been asked to do, particularly over the last seven or eight basho.
I guess we should have seen it coming with the way that Harumafuji and Kakuryu
both took down Takayasu, but Kisenosato's liabilities have been mounting to
unseen proportions, and thankfully today the debtor came calling.
As I've done the entire week two, let's start from the bottom and work our way
up because the day started off with a fantastic bout of sumo. You had a kid up
from Juryo receiving a bit of run in J2 Onosho fighting veteran M14 Myogiryu,
who has been struggling of late. The very first lesson I ever received in sumo
was how these senpai refuse to lose to the hyped young guys. And you could see
the fire in Myogiryu today to that end, but Onosho shaded just left at the
tachi-ai warding off Myogiryu's initial blow leaving the two to stand there toe
to toe trading fierce tsuppari. And Onosho was the better rikishi using his legs
better and lifting Myogiryu upright before assuming moro-zashi, and he didn't
send Myogiryu out quietly; rather, he dumped him on his ass just beyond the
straw bales in humiliating fashion. I've always liked Myogiryu and felt bad for
him after this one because this should not happen to the veterans, but it
signals a changing of the guard as Onosho improves to 8-5 while Myogiryu falls
to 6-7 meaning he needs at least one more win to stay in the division.
M13 Daishomaru used a series of shoves with the right from the tachi-ai to keep
M12 Sadanoumi at bay, upright, and then on his heels. The younger Maru caught
him with a nice shove at the side to throw Sadanoumi off his game, and then
followed up with perfect de-ashi to finish off his foe in a few seconds. This
has been Daishomaru's best basho in my opinion as he moves to 7-6 while
Sadanoumi falls to 3-10.
I agree with Harvye that M11 Daieisho is one of the more enjoyable guys to watch
in the sport right now, and today against M15 Tokushoryu, Daieisho dictated the
pace from the start catching his foe with nice tsuppari from the tachi-ai and
forcing Tokushoryu to play the tsuppari game, but Daieisho's simply the better
rikishi in a pushing affair as Daieisho shoved Tokushoryu back once, twice,
three times a lady. When you have a yotsu guy like Tokushoryu (8-5) and a push
guy like Daieisho (9-4), the one who sets the pace will likely prevail.
M9 Kotoyuki came out with a bit more resolve today. Course he was fighting the
injured M14 Kyokushuho, so it all made sense. After catching Shuho with some
nice tsuki, Kotoyuki moved left pulling Kyokushuho off balance and down about
two seconds in. A guy really on his game would have won this bout in linear
fashion, but at the first sign of defense from Kyokushuho, Kotoyuki resorted to
evasive sumo signaling that he has no confidence in his sumo these days. Hey,
and what a coincidence; I don't have any confidence in his sumo either! Both
rikishi here end the day at 4-9.
On one hand, I was actually glad to see M10 Tochinoshin henka against M9
Kagayaki. It's not because I ever like to see the henka but because it showed
that Shin had some respect for Kagayaki. As the two lined up, I was interested
to see if Kagayaki could win this bout with his brand of sumo, but
unfortunately, Tochinoshin had other ideas moving to his right and then
continuing to mawari-komu right grabbing Kagayaki around the neck with one arm
and pulling him down by the shoulder on the other side. The bout lasted about
three seconds, and because Kagayaki can't fight in a non-linear bout,
Tochinoshin was able to defeat him rather handily despite his injury. Shin
survives his injury scare and will fight in Makuuchi against next basho
finishing the day at 6-7 while Kagayaki suffers make-koshi at 5-8.
M8 Okinoumi played the smart tachi-ai against M11 Ishiura which is to thrust
into the tops of his shoulders, and it disallowed Ishiura from burrowing in
deep, but he did duck down low as he is wont to do before springing a sideway
pull to his right that sent Okinoumi stumbling forward. The taller Umi was able
to recover, however, before Ishiura could finish him off, so the bout morphed
into a hidari-yotsu affair where Okinoumi grabbed the right outer grip over the
top. But not only did he have that stifling grip, but he locked Ishiura's head
in tight with his left hand as the dude ducked in low, and it was that neck grip
that rendered Ishiura useless because Okinoumi was able to score the easy force
out from there. This bout spells trouble for Ishiura because opponents will now
take note that you just grab him around the neck to render him limp. Great
adjustment from Okinoumi who picks up kachi-koshi with the fine display at 8-5
while Ishiura falls to 6-7, and this bout should learn him as far as sticking
his head that far into people's business.
M8 Kaisei struck M16 Nishikigi and then immediately backed up hoping for a quick
pull down by the neck, but Nishikigi kept his balance forcing Kaisei to think of
plan B. Fortunately for the Brasilian, Nishikigi ain't the savviest rikishi in
the division, and so Kaisei was actually able to hook back up in moro-zashi. At
this point, Nishikigi's wits kicked in, and he wisely forced Kaisei to move
around and around using his bad legs to try and keep up, but he was able to
because Nishikigi never employed a waza along with his retreat. After separation
was created, the two hooked up in migi-yotsu where Kaisei reached for the left
outer grip, but when Nishikigi cut it off Kaisei switched gears and dumped him
with a right scoop throw. Nishikigi should have never lost this bout, but it
shows how hapless of a rikishi he is. And I don't dislike the kid, but it was
obvious early in his Makuuchi career that they were feeding him wins to build
him up. Nishikigi's Juryo fate is sealed at 4-9 while Kaisei could really use
one more win at 3-10.
I must be developing a mancrush for Harvye because I too have really enjoyed M7
Chiyoshoma this basho. I actually think he looks better than guys like
Harumafuji and Kakuryu did early in their Makuuchi careers, but we'll see how
far he's allowed to climb. Today against M12 Ura, Shoma did nothing at the
tachi-ai leaving his hands around Ura's head area, but he never pulled nor tried
to raise Ura up, and so Ura got the easy left arm inside and pushed Chiyoshoma
out straightway. As they showed the replay, Kariya Announcer explained that
Chiyoshoma was trying to raise Ura up from the tachi-ai, but the hell he was.
Chiyoshoma's not a dumbass. He knows what's coming, and so for him to just leave
his hands up high and let Ura do his bidding was a clear sign of his throwing
the bout in favor of Ura. Chiyoshoma also had the path to a right counter
kote-nage, but that never came either. This was the first time that Ura has won
a regular-looking bout of sumo, and he did it because Chiyoshoma let
him...unfortunately. For as bad as he's looked, Ura is now 7-6 after the gift
while Chiyoshoma has plenty more bouts to give away at 8-5.
I guess I'm not so in love with Harvye after all because I think M13 Takakeisho
is a worthless rikishi. Today against M6 Aoiyama, the latter struck Takakeisho
with a nice shove at the tachi-ai, but then immediately went for a half-assed
pull. He repeated this process about four more times...shove and then pull,
shove and then pull. Had Aoiyama decided to use de-ashi and actually win the
bout he would have destroyed Takakeisho, but his intent was not to win here and
so he eventually let Takakeisho pull him over. There was nothing that came from
Takakeisho that warranted Aoiyama not to move forward with good de-ashi from the
start, and this one is an easy yaocho call in favor of the Takanohana-beya
hopeful. Takakeisho finishes 9-4 after the bout, and trust me, he is not as good
as his record reflects as Aoiyama willingly falters to 6-7.
Maybe I do like Harvye after all because I agree with him that M5 Endoh put up a
good fight against Terunofuji yesterday. The Ozeki is completely comfortable
fighting with his heels against the bales, so he wasn't in too much trouble, but
that initial charge was legitimate against Terunofuji yesterday. Today against
M10 Tochiohzan, it was all Oh at the charge getting both hands to the inside for
moro-zashi, but he didn't just rush forward and knock Endoh upright. Endoh
sensed the trouble and backed out of moro-zashi, and Tochiohzan completely let
him do it too, so as the two squared back up, Tochiohzan just stood there like a
dumb ass and let Endoh push him back and out with ease. Oh did offer a meager
pull in the process, but he was mukiryoku from the start here. Tochiohzan is the
master of moro-zashi, so for him to get it and then refuse to take advantage
against such a vulnerable rikishi is implausible. Furthermore, when Endoh
countered with his oshi attack, there was no defense from Tochiohzan. Total
yaocho here in favor of Endoh who is gifted a 7-6 record while Tochiohzan falls
At this point they announced the withdrawal of M4 Arawashi, and to be honest, I
just fast-forwarded through it. He'll end the day at 3-12 while Ichinojo picks
up the freebie at 6-7. Before we move on, how the hell is Endoh 7-6 while
Ichinojo is 6-7 assuming that sumo was all straight up?
M3 Shohozan looked to get to the inside against M5 Hokutofuji, but the youngster
used a nice right tsuki from the tachi-ai to keep him upright and at bay.
Shohozan still persisted forward, but Hokutofuji kept planting nice shoves into
Shohozan's upper body to keep him upright, and the kid must have sensed the
timing was right because he switched gears and employed a push attack that sent
Shohozan clear across the dohyo against the straw. As Darth Hozan looked to dig
in, Hokutofuji quickly switched gears again and pulled Shohozan forward and down
for the nice win. Hokutofuji has never suffered make-koshi in his career, and he
moves to 6-7 with the win today. As for Shohozan, he falls to a lame 3-10. As
for Shohozan, I went back and looked to see who is three wins were against
because I thought he "beat" one of the Yokozuna, and sure enough, the three
dudes he's toppled were Kakuryu, Tamawashi, and Sokokurai. As if.
M2 Takanoiwa and M6 Chiyonokuni both charged straight forward from the tachi-ai,
but both were looking for pulls, and they each traded an effective pull here and
there, but in the end, Takanoiwa got the right arm inside, and he used that to
push Chiyonokuni to the brink. When Kuni resisted at the straw, Takanoiwa just
lifted him off his feet and sent him across for good tsuri-dashi style. After
the bout, Kariya Announcer sounded surprised when he said, "Takanoiwa suddenly
has this new fire in him after going make-koshi so quickly." Ya think? He no
longer has to throw bouts the first part of the basho to the key rikishi, so of
course he's going to look good again when fighting straight up. He's 5-8 after
the bout wile Chiyonokuni falls to the same mark.
M1 Takekaze struck M1 Ikioi and then immediately moved left dancing around the
ring forcing Ikioi to give chase, and rather than put us all through the misery
of watching such sumo, Takekaze went for the quick shoulder pull while Ikioi
went for the do-or-die push. It looked as if Takekaze had won, but they called a
mono-ii to check his feet, and I was praying at this point that they wouldn't
make us watch a do-over. And they didn't...gunbai to Takekaze!! Ikioi had his
right shoulder taped up pretty good, and you know what they say about what
happens when guys let up in the ring. He falls to 3-10 with the loss, and I feel
really bad for this guy because I still think he's the second best Japanese
rikishi in the sport behind Okinoumi. As for Takekaze, he improves to a
M2 Sokokurai stood there like a bump on a log for the most part against Komusubi
Mitakeumi just playing along and going with the flow. As Sokokurai evaded around
the ring in escape of Mitakeumi's shoves, he actually grabbed Mitakeumi by the
left arm and had the easy tottari there for the taking, but he wasn't about
taking here, so he latched on to that arm but made sure to stay square with his
foe. Eventually Mitakeumi got a nice arm to the inside and scored the easy
force-out win with no resistance from Sokokurai whatsoever. Watching the replay,
Futenoh, who was in the mukou-joumen chair, stated that "Sokokurai was uke-sugi
from the tachi-ai," or that he stood there passively and let Mitakeumi have his
way too much. Uh, yeah. It's funny when they point out the truth of these bouts
when one of the guys is mukiryoku as if it's meaningful sumo analysis. At least
it was correct as Mitakeumi is gifted a 7-6 record while Sokokurai falls to 4-9.
do-or-die for Sekiwake Kotoshogiku who had to defeat Komusubi Shodai today to
keep his Ozeki re-promotion hopes alive. And lucky for him, Shodai played nice
today in their migi-yotsu affair just standing there upright and doing nothing
with either hand as he let the former Ozeki push him straight back and out. As
if. Having already suffered make-koshi, Shodai had the room to grant the Geeku
the win as BlowDry falls to 4-9. As for Kotoshogiku, he moves to 8-5 and has to
win out. He gets Terunofuji tomorrow, so that should be interesting. Terunofuji
can still lose tomorrow and take the easy yusho, so it wouldn't surprise me to
see him fall for the Geeku. I mean, Harumafuji and Kakuryu already let him win,
so why wouldn't Terunofuji? I hope he doesn't, but as I like to say these days:
the drama in sumo is will they or won't they?
Takayasu has been exposed a bit by the Mongolians the last few days, and today
M4 Yoshikaze didn't show him any mercy either bringing a feisty tsuppari attack
from the tachi-ai that forced Takayasu to play into his oshi hand, and after
trading blows in the center of the ring, Yoshikaze easily worked his way into
moro-zashi and began going for the kill. Takayasu knew he was in trouble and at
least went for a desperate kubi-nage at the edge, but Yoshikaze meant business
and pushed him out with ease. What was funny afterward was Kariya's total shock
that Takayasu had lost yet again!! What? Isn't this guy supposed to be the next
Ozeki?? Falling to 10-3 with two more chances at easy victories means he'll
definitely be in the conversation for Ozeki promotion in the near future, but
Takayasu is anything but an Ozeki. He's a solid guy, and we all like him, but he
has totally been coddled the last little while. Yoshikaze picks up kachi-koshi
with the win moving to 8-5.
Sekiwake Tamawashi's intent was to win today, so against M3 Takarafuji he did
just that using perfect de-ashi and his patented tsuppari attack to bully
Takarafuji upright, around the ring, and then out with little argument. If
you're really bored, just watch Tamawashi's lower body in this one and then
compare it to the bouts where he loses. This guy is easily #5 in the sport right
now behind his fellow elite Mongolian counterparts. Tamawashi is proving to be
stubborn at 7-6 when it comes to knocking him off of his Sekiwake perch while
Takarafuji falls to 6-7.
marquee bout entering the day between two guys who actually have game featured
Yokozuna Kakuryu against Ozeki Terunofuji, and while we were treated to a nice
bout, we got the typical weekend bout from the elite Mongolians where there are
three or four uncontested maki-kae before the guy who needs the win the most
pulls it out. The two started out today in migi-yotsu before Kakuryu executed an
easy maki-kae giving him moro-zashi, but the Ozeki is comfortable giving that
up, especially if his opponent doesn't try and do anything with it. The Kak
didn't, and so Terunofuji dug in before maki-kae'ing himself with the left hand
only to have Kakuryu maki-kae back to moro-zashi, and you likely get the point.
After twelve seconds or so of jockeying in the ring, Terunofuji mounted a final
yori charge, the Yokozuna complied without too much argument.
Do I think Terunofuji can beat Kakuryu straight up? Yes. But do I think the Kak
didn't go all out here? Yes. I learned very early on with Akebono and
Musashimaru in the early 90's that when they faced each other the second
weekend, the dude who needed the win the most would always get it. They still
put up a formidable fight similar to what you'd see in the keiko ring, and both
guys were deserving of their ranks, but the one who needed the win the most got
it, and that was the case here as Terunofuji moves to 12-1 while Kakuryu falls
to a harmless 8-5.
I alluded to in my intro, there's only so much a person can take whether you're
an expert sumo analyst or a legitimate Yokozuna, and Harumafuji blew his top
today in the day's final bout against Kisenosato. The Yokozuna rushed in for
moro-zashi at the tachi-ai and easily got it against the defenseless Kisenosato,
and Harumafuji wasted no time in driving his opponent straight back and hard.
Kisenosato responded with an instinctive meager right kote-nage, but that was
like stopping a freight train with a BB gun. Harumafuji was intent on winning
this one, and he forced Harumafuji back so swiftly that he sent him off the
dohyo and onto his back ringside. As the Kiddie fell down to the venue floor, he
twisted a bit and landed squarely on his left shoulder.
knew he was hurt because while he did sit up, he was in no hurry to stand up as
he immediately put his right hand to his left shoulder. Just watching Kisenosato
move on the arena floor reminded me of my dad trying to get in and out of my car
(a typical Honda Accord). The dude is just about 80 now, and God bless him, but
he really struggles with such a simple action even though he's in otherwise good
health, and the point I'm trying to make here is that Kisenosato is way beyond
the stage where he should be doing sumo against guys who are out to kick his
ass. Fortunately for the dude, everyone has been going light against him for the
most part the last few years now, but Harumafuji was definitely out to prove a
point today, and that's exactly what he did.
The fans were of course shocked at the result of today's match, especially at
the way it transpired. I mean, Kisenosato did nothing at the tachi-ai; he had
nothing to offer in the way of defense; and he went down in defeat in such a
fashion that anybody ranked at Yokozuna should never do. Ever. This was an
embarrassing bout, and the Kiddie is lucky that he doesn't get this treatment
more often. A lot of people know that Kisenosato's sumo sucks, and so they chalk
up all these wins to his being heavy or hard to move. Bull-shit. Harumafuji ran
through this guy as if he was asked to break through a paper banner. Ichinojo is
big and hard to move; Kisenosato isn't, and the proof is in the pudding.
Kisenosato is such a fraud that even Bernie Madoff is taking notes from his
prison cell, and I don't know what disgusts me more: the fact that the
Sumo Association is trying to pawn this stuff off on us, or the fact that so
many people actually believe it.
After the dust settled, Kisenosato found himself tied with Terunofuji at 12-1
apiece heading into the weekend. Most people are saying that Kisenosato is too
injured now to continue, but I say what does it matter? If you're going to
let him win, who cares if he has a broken bone? As long as he can stand on
his own two feet, it will be no different from what we've seen him do the last
few years. To save face, Kisenosato will likely withdraw, which means Terunofuji
is right there to clean up the yusho. Hell, Terunofuji can even lose tomorrow to
Kotoshogiku and still be up one heading into senshuraku, so we'll see how that
fake storyline plays out as well. The Mongolians definitely stuck a dagger into
the heart of the Japanese fans today, so we'll see if Terunofuji twists it in
real good tomorrow against Kotoshogiku.
I suppose I've spoken my peace, so I'll let Harvye shine on you crazy diamonds
Day 12 Comments (Harvey Hodja reporting)
here we are at the end of the tournament. I look forward to finally getting some
good matchups today, the top guys going against each other. However, as I look
at my card, my draw feels curiously uninspired. With all those Yokozuna, my
subconscious is geared up for great last days, as they should duke it out with
each other and the Ozeki. Instead, one Yokozuna has withdrawn (Hakuho) as well
as an Ozeki (the unneeded Goeido). That means on Day 12 I still get matchups
like Terunofuji against Maegashira #5 Endo, and Kisenosato against 3-8
Maegashira Arawashi. Not the stuff sumo dreams are made of, folks. I am at least
happy Takayasu is being tested against a Yokozuna for the second straight day;
he draws Harumafuji. However, Harumafuji's tournament has been a lackluster
befuddlement, and there is little excitement involving his matches, and lots of
questions about his intentions. So it feels more and more like this tournament
is simply a ceremony designed to place Lord Kisenosato lovingly atop the banzuke
So, as a form of protest, instead of going to the leaderboard first, I am going
with a "big five" of my own: the five matches, scanning today's slate, that
piqued my actual interest, rather than causing a slightly tired and dutiful
MAYBE WE HAVE SOMETHING HERE
M11 Daieisho (7-4) vs. M12 Sadanoumi (3-8)
Daieisho has fought hard all tournament and really brings it most days. He is
too small to have much of a future, but every day I perk up when it is his turn.
That's worth recognizing. True to form, Daieisho dominated Sadanoumi with
beautiful aggression. Sadanoumi had the early momentum, knocking Daieisho back
up and off the blocks, but Sadanoumi's purpose was just to set up the pull.
Daieisho kept his balance when the pull came, then stood back up and
recalibrated the whole match with a sharp left thrust to the face. From there,
he deployed hard, focused tsuppari to drive Sadanoumi emphatically out, drawing
the tsuki-dashi decision. This kind of thing right here is enough to keep me
M7 Ichinojo (5-6) vs. M13 Takakeisho (7-4)
I'm not sold on Takakeisho yet, but he's big, young, and has done well this
tournament, so I'm still watching. He's not tainted by scandal yet, and had a
big test here against a large guy way out of his league. So, that's worth
recognizing. But I'll be honest: as good as the Daieisho-Sadanoumi match was,
this one was lame. Ichinojo was kind of following Takakeisho around the edge of
the ring, standing up, moving slow, with one long Mongolith arm fished down in
front with a shallow and ineffective grip on the belt. Takakeisho was pulling on
that arm and running for his life. When Takakeisho got to the edge Ichinojo,
instead of changing his sideways-moving momentum to push Takakeisho straight
out, kept moving sideways. Takakeisho took advantage by unleashing a last minute
left arm to the shoulder, and damned if it didn't knock Ichinojo right over
sideways just as Takakeisho dramatically fell backwards out of the ring but got
a surprise tsuki-otoshi win. This looked great at the end--there's no doubt
Takakeisho pulled a nice "gyaku-ten" move--but it was set up by lazy, vulnerable
sumo by Ichinojo and weak initial stuff by Takakeisho.
M4 Yoshikaze (6-5) vs. M7 Chiyoshoma (8-3)
If you haven't noticed, I'm hot for Chiyoshoma. He still has projection left for
his frame: he is wily and strong, and as he adds weight, if he remains limber,
he may yet be great. I'd like to see him change and use his strength more and
his wiliness, but he's one guy giving me a little electric thrill when it's his
turn. That's worth recognizing. However, Yoshikaze is experienced and a quality
guy, and Chiyoshoma wasn't able to manifest any of his strength against him. If
this were baseball, we'd say, "Chiyoshoma has natural raw power, but sometimes
has trouble getting to it in games." Chiyoshoma stuck his left arm in
Yoshikaze's right armpit and placed his right arm over Yoshikaze's shoulder.
That left Chiyoshoma a standing duck. Yoshikaze drove forward and thrust him out
with a lovely shove that sent him rolling up against the first row as Yoshikaze
himself sprawled out, oshi-taoshi. Like the Ichinojo-Takakeisho bout, attractive
M2 Sokokurai (3-8) vs. M5 Hokutofuji (5-6)
Hokutofuji runs a close second for me to Chiyoshoma in terms of natural
interest. Guy has solid sumo, has never had a losing basho, and has fought back
from a bad start to have a chance at another kachi-koshi. I'm dreading the
inevitable phase when he gets more recognition and begins to draw hype and
favors, but that hasn't happened yet, so he's fun to watch. That's worth
recognizing. Hokutofuji did well early on to keep the dangerous Sokokurai off
him with some hard shoves, but when he got the belt, where he could have
dominated Sokokurai, he wasted it by pulling. Sokokurai took advantage by
breaking loose and creating separation, and this time when Hokutofuji came in on
him, Sokokurai caught him off balance and dragged him down by the shoulder,
kata-sukashi. Hokutofuji looked inexperienced here, and it will be very hard to
get his kachi-koshi now. But I remain enamored, and will watch that with more
interest than Mitakeumi's similar uphill kachi-koshi climb.
M3 Shohozan (3-8) vs. M2 Takanoiwa (3-8)
Folks, Shohozan fights hard and is mean and focused in the ring. Takanoiwa I
don't like, but I do recognize that he has some skills, has risen steadily but
slowly up the banzuke, and does begin to bring a "this guy is dangerous" glimmer
to some of his matches. So, neither of these guys are real exciting at this
point in their careers, but sometimes a 3-8 record isn't what's important--it's
what potential we have for a good, hard hitting sumo match. That's worth
recognizing. Shohozan shaded left at the tachi-ai, but was all aggression after
that. However, Takanoiwa is too big, and too good. As little Darth Hozan surged
against him, Takanoiwa deftly circled the perimeter of the ring, and he had
plenty of room to put his arms around Shohozan's body kime-style and spin him
Well, I'll admit those weren't all great matches in the end. But they were more
fun for me than wondering whether Kisenosato's opponents are letting up or not.
Speaking of which…
M14 Myogiryu (5-6) vs. M10 Tochiohzan (10-1)
A good symbolic match to start the tale of why the leaderboard is about as
inspiring as stale crackers. Tochiohzan, allegedly hot on the trail of the
leaders, facing a dying scrub who has looked desperate and helpless, stood up,
backed up, and stepped out, offering no pressure, no grips, little evasion, and
really no sumo at all. You or I could have pushed him out, and Myogiryu easily
M5 Endo (6-5) vs. O Terunofuji (10-1)
the Terrible is having a great tournament. And Endo is overrated. But I do think
Terunofuji has had weaknesses exposed over the last year--rather than just
giving up on purpose all the time. And I do think Endo has enough savvy to get
some legitimate wins at this level. In this match Endo made Terunofuji work
very, very hard. Terunofuji spent too much time on face slaps, and Endo did a
good job of knocking away Terunofuji's arms. Hence, Terunofuji, instead of going
in and under, where he could have dominated the smaller man, went over, trying
his patented two-hands-down-the-back-and-onto-the-belt-at-the-ass move. But he
only got one over-the-shoulder hand onto the belt, and Endo burrowed in well and
got a left inside on Terunofuji's open belt. Moments later, Endo also had
moro-zashi, as Terunofuji was 100% exposed. Endo drove him to the straw. This
gave us one of those great rooting moments: whether you're cheering for Endo to
knock him the last few inches over, or for Terunofuji to survive against all
odds, it's one of sumo's classic moments. In this case, looking desperate and
straining hard, Terunofuji was able to exert his full weight and strength and
pick Endo up onto his belly, via that over-the-shoulder back-belt grip, and move
him back to the center of the ring. At that point, with the scales having
tipped, little Endo was literally overwhelmed, as he tottered a bit and fell
over backwards, pulling Terunofuji on top of him, abise-taoshi. I liked this
very much. M4 Arawashi (3-8) vs. Y Kisenosato (11-0)
This? This was fine, but boring. They bumped into each other in the center of
the ring, and Kisenosato put his big, long left arm under Arawashi's right arm
like a lever. He moved forward, and Arawashi wasn't heavy enough or near strong
enough, and though he was able to pull the charging and off balance Kisenosato
down underneath and left him lying on his back outside the ring in his
un-favorite position ("the turtle") in the end, it was much too late as
Kisenosato had already knocked him well past the straw, yori-kiri.
Harumafuji (8-3) vs. S Takayasu (10-1)
Harumafuji meant business and utterly destroyed Takayasu. First he hit him hard
on the tachi-ai and stopped his momentum cold. Second he reached his right arm
in and got a hold of the belt in front and drove him back. Third he let go and
took possession of the exposed and befuddled Takayasu entirely by wrapping his
right arm around his body and being so close up inside he got his left arm
around Takayasu's leg, like he was awkwardly carrying a bag of sod to the garden
to be dropped near the flower beds. And dropped he was, komata-sukui. Zoinks.
Now that's some Yokozuna sumo.
J2 Gagamaru (5-6) vs. M14 Kyokushuho (3-8)
Gagamaru oozed onto Kyokushuho in a lazy way with his arms up too high, and
though going backwards, Kyokushuho was able to get a solid, powerful inside
left. He easily turned Gagamaru around and dumped him to the dirt, shitate-nage.
M10 Tochinoshin (4-7) vs. M16 Nishikigi (4-7)
After a moment Tochinoshin grabbed Nishikigi by the head and twisted and upended
him, sukui-nage. Very easy to see who the better wrestler is when your knee is a
glass jar of dry marbles and gravel and yet you can still win this easily.
M9 Kagayaki (4-7) vs. M13 Daishomaru (6-5)
Daishomaru was backing up and waiting for a pull chance, but Kagayaki kept his
thrusts focused to the inside and Daishomaru in front him, so it was nothing
doing. Daishomaru then slipped and fell down, hiki-otoshi.
M8 Kaisei (2-9) vs. M9 Kotoyuki (2-9)
Kotoyuki has begun to remind me of Chiyotairyu or Toyohibiki: a comical one
trick pony who may get a win here or there with some powerful opening tsuppari
and thrusts, but doesn't have any other weapons and is a sitting duck once that
fails. He defied that here, though, as he beat Kaisei despite the match getting
a big loosey-goosey. Kotoyuki's initial thrust did not work, nor did a little
pull he tried thereafter. But he didn't let Kaisei lean on him or grab hold of
him: instead he kept him a bit at bay and standing up, and off-balance enough
that he was able to drive him out. They called it tsuki-dashi, but I'd call it
M15 Tokushoryu (8-3) vs. M8 Okinoumi (6-5)
Tokushoryu has had a pretty good tournament, dominating the guys lower down with
his girth, but he isn't a quality wrestler, whereas Okinoumi is actually quite
talented: big and supple (Tokushoryu: obese and unwieldy). Hence, although
Tokushoryu appeared to have slightly better, lower position in this
chest-to-chest, hold-my-body battle, Okinoumi took his time and used his
superior strength and conditioning to work Tokushoryu out, yori-kiri.
M6 Chiyonokuni (7-4) vs. M11 Ishiura (6-5)
Chiyonokuni chose not to move forward at the tachi-ai. Boring for us, good for
him. As Ishiura attacked with wild flying arms from across the great distance,
face looking down at the dirt, Chiyonokuni waited for the right moment to slap
the little guy out of the way, tsuki-otoshi. I remain thoroughly unimpressed by
Ishiura's future prospects: not good when you make Chiyonokuni look like a
M12 Ura (6-5) vs. M6 Aoiyama (5-6)
I expected to love Ura. You know what? Instead I can't stand him. He had nothing
of value to offer here. Aoiyama levered him up by the shoulders, slapped him
down in front of his feet, hataki-komi. Ura is going to have to do two things to
earn respect: his tricks, if he's going to fight that way, are going to have to
bring a "wow" factor. Impress with innovation. It shouldn't be, well, I suppose
he had to do that." It should be, "wow, he did THAT?!?" Second, he's going to
have to be able to fight straight up sometimes and not have it look silly. So
far, he's either looking cheap with the trickery or getting dominated in the
K Mitakeumi (5-6) vs. M1 Takekaze (3-8)
Takekaze pushed once, lamely and tentatively, then pulled and pulled, like a guy
miming beating a rug. Gratifying to see Mitakeumi have no problem with that at
all and drive him out, oshi-dashi.
M1 Ikioi (2-9) vs. K Shodai (4-7)
Oh, man. Japan's next Yokozuna, Vanilla Softcream (Shodai), looked bad in this
one. Shodai got a left hand inside early, but Ikioi easily pivoted his hips to
get out of it. Shodai then get a hold of Ikioi's right arm and tried to drag him
out of the ring by that, both guys facing the same direction and doing a little
dosie-do, but Ikioi grabbed him by the head and pried him himself loose by using
it as leverage. Shodai was then at the straw and in danger, but instead of
getting beaten by Ikioi, he ran out of gas and fell down on his own like a wet
rag, hiki-otoshi. Ikioi is the guy I'd rather see put it together, but we've
been waiting years for that and at 3-9 once again there's still no sign of
consistency when ranked in the jo'i.
S Kotoshogiku (7-4) vs. M3 Takarafuji (5-6) I
considered this for my big five, as I like Takarafuji--he's a hidden,
underestimated, quiet talent--but the presence of Kotoshogiku was just too
damning. Well hallelujah, that presence may at last be coming to an end.
Takarafuji let Kotoshogiku drive him back with belly humps, and even let
Kotoshogiku have both arms inside. However, there was nothing in it. The belly
humps were weak, and the moro-zashi was exceptionally shallow. Takarafuji then
made it look extremely easy as he lifted Kotoshogiku with his left and pulled
him down with his right, tipping him down hataki-komi. One more loss and
Kotoshogiku is denied re-promotion to Ozeki. Let us pray.
S Tamawashi (5-6) vs. Y Kakuryu (8-3)
Look, there is no doubt about it: just as matches are arranged in favor of
Japanese wrestlers, Mongolians also frequently arrange matches amongst
themselves, and this site has covered that since well before I was writing here.
From the well documented Asashoryu gifts to Hakuho, to Hakuho's gifts to
Asashoryu once the pendulum swung, to the all-too-easy Yokozuna runs of
Harumafuji and Kakuryu, to the frustrating final days of Terunofuji's yusho when
he was allowed to coast
than earning it. So yeah, I look on matches like this one with a very jaded eye:
it didn't make my top five today because even though Tamawashi belongs in that
five, Kakuryu knows that, has little to lose either way, and so we enter this
one full of doubts about whether the meal we're about to be served is
fresh-cooked or just defrosted and microwaved. In the end, this was Tamawashi at
his best, while Kakuryu stood there and took a thorough pounding. Tamawashi
looked huge, and every thrust and stab landed right down in Kakuryu's neck.
Tamawashi then tried something different, sending a roundhouse uppercut into
Kakuryu's right armpit that knocked Kakuryu clear across the ring. Tamawashi was
quickly on him there, and bashed him out with ease and emphasis, two hands to
the grill, oshi-dashi. Boy, oh boy, do I love Tamawashi.
Guess what? For all my carping, my favorite three matches of the day were
powerful wins by highly ranked Mongolians: Terunofuji, Harumafuji, and
Tamawashi. (Honorable mention to Daieisho.) Okay, I'll keep watching.
As for the yusho race, it's down to two guys: Kisenosato with zero losses and
Terunofuji with one.
Mike scales the wall tomorrow.
Day 11 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
four Yokozuna listed on the banzuke for the Haru basho, each day NHK has been
going back and broadcasting what they are calling "Yokozuna Mei-shoubu," or epic
bouts between two Yokozuna. The bouts have been pretty fun to watch, and they
have all involved Yokozuna who were fighting when it actually meant something to
achieve the rank, and I can't help but watch the bouts and then compare them to
the kind of bouts we see today between Yokozuna. Furthermore, with four days to
go and Kisenosato having yet to fight the three big Mongolians still in the
tournament, it will be interesting to see what kind of sumo we get and how those
bouts compare to the Yokozuna Mei-shoubu of yesteryear.
I've been harping on this for a long time, but even when Kisenosato or any of
the other Big 5 fight, it's never a mei-shoubu or epic bout. In fact, there's
very little substance there to describe because one party is likely mukiryoku,
or the Big 5 rikishi is getting his ass kicked when forced to fight straight up.
In my opinion, you can't have your pudding if you don't eat your meat, and the
Big 5 are simply incapable of producing any meat atop the dohyo at THIS LEVEL of
the banzuke. Sure, pair the younger ones up against guys from way down the
banzuke, and they can actually fight normally because 1) it reflects where they
really should be ranked on the banzuke, and 2) the Big 5 do have sumo skill.
They just don't have it among the elite ranks of the sport, and it's obvious
when you watch it day after day and then see the epic bouts from previous times.
If these guys really were legit, we'd see the type of sumo from them that we see
from everybody else...at least some of the time. Rank and record in today's
brand of sumo is simply inconsequential, and that's why it's so hard to get a
good bout the last 40 minutes of the day.
The broadcast began today with news that M15 Chiyooh withdrew due to a big right
toe break suffered during keiko back February. The withdrawal will send Chiyooh
down to Juryo while Takakeisho moves to 7-4 with the freebie.
Ura ducked left and stayed low grabbing M14 Kyokushuho's right leg while
Kyokushuho latched onto the back of Ura's belt with the left hand from the
tachi-ai, but before Kyokushuho could raise his guy up with the right inside,
Ura drove him to the edge and forced him across with a sideways battering ram
shove with the head and shoulder. The crowd wasn't sure who won, so as sure as
Ura took the winning squat (hey, I do that most mornings!!), the Osaka faithful
erupted in applause...as I'm sure they would have done if Kyokushuho had won
since there is no bias in sumo in regards to a rikishi's race. Anyway, the point
is that if the crowd doesn't know who won until the squat, the sumo was probably
suspect as is usually the case with Ura who moves to 6-5. As for Kyokushuho,
he'll need to rehab in Juryo next basho at 3-8.
M12 Sadanoumi and M15 Tokushoryu hooked up in hidari-yotsu from the tachi-ai
where Sadanoumi got the right outer grip, and while Tokushoryu didn't have the
right outer on the other side, Sadanoumi played right into Tokushoryu's hands
forcing Tokushoryu back a step before allowing Tokushoryu to twist him over and
down with the left inside belt grip. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not,
but Sadanoumi attacked from the wrong angle. When you have the outer grip and
your opponent doesn't, you take the proper angle and attack from the strong side
(the outer grip). I mean, it's why you try and get the outer in the first place,
but Sadanoumi completely ignored his advantage and drifted to the weak side
totally allowing Tokushoryu to score the easy win despite not having the upper
hand. So...this was either yaocho on the part of Sadaunomi or a blatant mistake
that gave Tokushoryu kachi-koshi at 8-3. Sadanoumi falls to 3-8 with the loss.
M11 Daieisho played it brilliantly today against M16 Nishikigi firing quick
tsuppari to keep him upright, and when he sensed the timing was right, he jumped
in close getting the left inside, and from there he was able to score the easy
force-out win. The difference here was that Daieisho's tsuppari blows were
offensive while Nishikigi was on defense from the git-go as we say in Utah.
Daieisho is a cool 7-4 while Nishikigi is likely headed back to Juryo as well
M9 Kotoyuki used a left kachi-age for the first few seconds to keep M11 Ishiura
upright, and as Ishiura looked to evade laterally and back, Kotoyuki finally
committed on his tsuppari charge, but he hadn't put a chink in Ishiura's armor
yet whatsoever, and so Ishiura was able to back up to the edge and pull Kotoyuki
down before he could shove Ishiura across. Kotoyuki hasn't had confidence in his
sumo since his oyakata paid for his 12-3 record in January 2016 as he falls to a
horrible 2-9 record. As for Ishiura, he's one up in the win column at 6-5.
M14 Myogiryu got the left arm inside from the tachi-ai as M8 Okinoumi had both
arms out wide before he used his own left to try and grab the frontal grip, but
it was too late, and he could never latch on which resulted in moro-zashi for
Myogiryu, and so Myogiryu scored the quick force-out win in mere seconds. I
question Okinoumi's tactics today because he gave up moro-zashi far too easily
and made basic mistakes at the tachi-ai which rendered him doomed as doom can
be. I mean, it's not as if Myogiryu is out there kicking everyone's ass, so I
suspect yaocho here as Myogiryu moves to 5-6 while Okinoumi falls to 6-5. In
Myogiryu's case, he's ranked M14, so he's gotta finish with seven wins to
guarantee is place in the big dance in May.
If you're still trying to figure out my comments on Sadanoumi, just watch the M7
Chiyoshoma - M13 Daishomaru matchup where Chiyoshoma got the right inside at the
tachi-ai that set up the solid left outer grip, and from there he attacked using
the outer grip to lift Daishomaru upright and nudge him back once and then
twice. After two such motions, Daishomaru was finished resulting in the easy,
textbook win. Chiyoshoma's sumo was natural here as he moves to a stellar 8-3
while Daishomaru ain't too shabby falling to 6-5.
M7 Ichinojo and M10 Tochinoshin hooked up in migi-yotsu from the start where
Tochinoshin used his longer left arm to grab the outer grip as the Mongolith
drove him back a step or two, but Ichinojo had all the momentum and used a
mammoth right scoop throw to send Tochinoshin back across the dohyo and break
off his outer grip, and from there, Ichinojo just kept his gal in snug and
scored the easy force out win. You look at the way Ichinojo used his de-ashi
here today, and his potential is absolutely scary. Too bad that Sith Lord
Hakkaku called for order 666 that resulted in the destruction of foreign
dominance in sumo. Ichinojo finishes the day at 5-6 while Tochinoshin probably
needs one more win to stay in the division at 4-7 while ranked M10.
M6 Aoiyama went for a quick pull against M9 Kagayaki at the tachi-ai, and
Kagayaki just doesn't have the game to take advantage of that, and so the kid
moved right as a result of that initial pull, but he couldn't square back up
fully before Aoiyama was all over him like white to rice scoring the push-out in
the end. Straight-forward stuff here to break down as Aoiyama improves to 5-6
while Kagayaki falls to 4-7.
M10 Tochiohzan henka'd as usual today moving to his right at the tachi-ai, but
he couldn't quite pull M6 Chiyonokuni down, and so the bout was on for real as
both rikishi quickly hooked up in migi-yotsu where Tochiohzan went for the
hurried force-out win. At the edge, Chiyonokuni easily had enough room to step
out left and execute a right kote-nage, and the result was a classic
nage-no-uchi-ai that we never see the last 30 minutes in sumo because one party
is always mukiryoku or the other is just plain inept. Both Tochiohzan and
Chiyonokuni crashed down at the same time beyond the straw, and the ref flinched
towards Oh before switching to Chiyonokuni, so a mono-ii was called that
resulted in a do-over...the correct call.
do-over was just awful as Chiyonokuni henka'd left, but he couldn't execute a
move as Tochiohzan caught him with a nice right tsuki, so with Kuni just
standing there like a dumbass, Tochiohzan rushed in, grabbed moro-zashi, and
scored the win with ease. Tochiohza moves to 10-1 with the win while Chiyonokuni
falls to 7-4, and I think it's a little premature to declare Tochiohzan out of
the fake yusho race. He's fighting nothing but scrubs, and he's using the henka
seemingly every bout. As an aside, I've been pointing out for a year or more now
that Tochiohzan cannot fight at the belt without moro-zashi, and that point was
made clear in both bouts today.
M5 Hokutofuji played it perfectly today keeping M8 Kaisei upright and away from
the belt with nodowa shoves and pushes to the body, and Kaisei simply couldn't
move laterally sufficiently enough to set anything up, and so Hokutofuji
patiently waited for an opening, assumed moro-zashi when said opening came, and
then forced Kaisei back easy as you please. Hokutofuji is street smart and such
a joy to watch as he improves to 5-6 while Kaisei falls to 2-9. Ranked at M8,
you gotta think Kaisei needs to scrounge up two more wins to stay afloat for
M2 Takanoiwa came with a right kachi-age and then immediately went into pull
mode against M5 Endoh. If Endoh does one thing well, it's keeping his balance
when he's ducked down low, but he doesn't counter well at all, and so it took
about three pulls, but Takanoiwa was finally able to pull Endoh out of the dohyo
for good. Ugly stuff here as Takanoiwa moves to just 3-8 while Endoh falls to
M3 Takarafuji kept both arms in tight at the tachi-ai and was passive against M1
Takekaze waiting to see what the Oguruma rikishi would do. And the answer to
that was not a whole helluva lot, but Takarafuji just seemed content to stand
there not really using his arms to do anything, and so Takekaze just moved this
way and that before finally pulling Takarafuji over and out by the arm. This was
a curious bout for sure as Takekaze moves to 3-8 while Takarafuji falls to 5-6.
M2 Sokokurai was mukiryoku from the tachi-ai aligning his feet and standing
upright signaling to Komusubi Shodai, "Do me now!" And Shodai did getting his
left arm inside first before finding the right arm inside as well after zero
defense from Sokokurai, and the force-out from there was laughable. Shodai moves
to 4-7, and the goal now is to just keep him among the jo'i while Sokokurai
willingly falls to 3-8.
Speaking of mukiryoku sumo--from a foreign rikishi of course, Sekiwake Tamawashi
came with his usual tsuppari attack, but there was no lower body behind it, and
not only that but he purposefully aligned his feet in the center of the ring
rendering him useless. As he continued to fire away with little effect, Shohozan
finally drove forward with tsuppari of his own, and as he did, Tamawashi
instinctively moved right and put a right hand at the back of Shohozan's left
shoulder, but the tug was half-assed and once again there were no de-ashi there
to finish off his opponent when he was off balance at the edge, and so Shohozan
countered with his own pull before the two finally hooked up in hidari-yotsu
where Shohozan had the right outer grip. From this position, Tamawashi just
stood there and allowed himself to be thrown over. I realize that the outer grip
is advantageous, but when Shohozan executed his throw, Tamawashi did nothing
with his right arm just letting it slide down limply along with the rest of his
body down to the clay. Total mukiryoku sumo here from Tamawashi, and I'm sorry
that you didn't see it as The Mawashi falls to 5-6 while Shohozan improves to
Kotoshogiku moved out left to grab the cheap outer grip against M1 Ikioi, but
the dude is so hapless he couldn't get it. The result was Ikioi with the right
inside and clear path to the left outer grip as seen in the pic at right, but he
refused to go chest to chest and just finish the Geeku off letting the left arm
just hang there. The problem was the Kotoshogiku is so hapless he could do
nothing, and so Ikioi went for a light pull backing up, and Kotoshogiku just
crumbled to the dirt. You could tell by Ikioi's reaction afterwards that he was
surprised he won because that was not his intent today. He immediately looked
left and then right down at his feet as if to say, "Damn...I'm still in the
dohyo!!" The problem was that Ikioi had to do SOMETHING in the ring, and
Kotoshogiku was just too weak to respond. That they're trying to still pass the
Geeku off as a potential Ozeki is just laughable, and today's loss was huge as
the former Ozeki in name only falls to 7-4 meaning he can't lose twice more.
Hope the dude is Christina and believes in mercy. As for Ikioi, he mistakenly
improves to 2-9 with the win.
What? A great bout the last 40 minutes of the day?? Oh right, it involves two
Mongolians trying to beat each other. Thing 1 was Ozeki Terunofuji, who has been
reaching for the frontal belt grip a lot this basho, and he got it here against
Thing 2, M4 Arawashi today. However, Arawashi got the right outer against
Terunofuji's left frontal and pinched in nicely before using it to lift the
Ozeki upright and force him back to the straw. But Terunofuji is in his element
with his heels on the bales, and he was able to work his right arm to the inside
giving him moro-zashi light and enabling him to fend off Arawashi's initial
force-out charge. As the dust resettled, Terunofuji came away with the left
outer grip, and coupled with his stifling right inside, there was little
Arawashi could do from this point. After catching his breath after the initial
onslaught, Terunofuji lifted Arawashi clear off his feet going for the
tsuri-dashi, but it fell just short, and so the Ozeki regrouped one more time
and felled his foe with the left outer grip. This was a great bout of o-zumo as
declared by the announcers mid-bout that we just don't see anymore from these
parts. Terunofuji moves to 10-1 with the win while Arawashi falls to 3-8, and
I'm guessing the same resolve to win will be absent tomorrow as Arawashi faces
Yokozuna Harumafuji demanded the left inside right outer grip at the tachi-ai
against Komusubi Mitakeumi, and Mitakeumi was just defenseless as Harumafuji
lifted him upright and forced his Komusubi ass back and out with no resistance.
Harumafuji picks up kachi-koshi at 8-3, but all the drama left surrounding this
Yokozuna is whether or not he'll chose to defeat Kisenosato. Mitakeumi falls to
Kakuryu used a flurry of tsuppari against Sekiwake Takayasu before grabbing the
right outer grip and settling in with the left inside as well. Kakuryu's left
was toi, or far away, and so the Yokozuna couldn't attack straight way, but
Takayasu really wasn't in position to counter well. Give him credit to the
Sekiwake for unleashing an inside belt throw with the left that knocked the
Yokozuna off his game briefly, but Kakuryu was able to regroup quickly and
maintain that right outer grip, so when the next inside belt throw attempt came,
Kakuryu was able to survive again and counter on his own by dragging Takayasu
across the dohyo and out. Kakuryu picks up the win and kachi-koshi moving to 8-3
while Takayasu suffers a costly first loss at 10-1 in terms of the yufaux race.
In the day's final bout, M4 Yoshikaze was his usual busy self against Kisenosato
using a nice tsuppari attack to keep Kisenosato at bay and on his heels, and
after a few seconds Yoshikaze ducked his head and mounted a more serious charge
that sent Kisenosato back towards the straw and the crowd screaming in horror,
but credit Kisenosato for using a right kote-nage to halt Yoshikaze's charge as
light as the move was, but as the two hooked back up, Yoshikaze got the deep
inside position with the left and drove Kisenosato back to the other side of the
dohyo, and this time there was nothing
could do to counter, so Yoshikaze stopped his charge and waited for Kisenosato
to shove him to the side whereupon Yoshikaze happily just stood there with his
back facing Kisenosato letting him push Cafe out from behind. After the bout,
once again the announcers were left to sigh and say, "Well, what do you think?"
Fortunately the drums started playing as the broadcast was out of time, so
everyone was left off the hook, and I think it's best that they didn't show a
replay in this one. Clear yaocho yet again from a Kisenosato opponent who could
have defeated his foe twice today but just let up. Yoshikaze still finds himself
at 6-5 while Kisenosato is...hmm..."spotless" isn't quite the word. Let's just
say his record reflects 11-0, and I'm pretty sure we're witnessing a new record
in sumo here: most consecutive yaocho in favor of a rikishi which currently
stands at 16.
I suppose that Kisenosato is the favorite to yusho, but it's up to the will of
the Mongolians the last four days. Regardless of the yusho, get your barf bags
ready because guess whose going to be ranked as the top rikishi on the banzuke
for May? Absolutely pathetic.
Harvye makes the final cut for day 12 tomorrow.
Day 10 Comments (Harvey Hodja reporting)
suppose we are around the time we should look at the leaderboard. With the
Mongolians wrestling very badly, Kisenosato has been allowed to coast, and has
looked good doing it, dumping his weight on other wrestlers and forcing them out
with seeming ease. His only competition has been Takayasu, who has looked great,
for the most part knocking guys down with abandon in hard-hitting sumo. They're
stablemates, so can't face each other except in a playoff. I don't think that
will happen, but you never know--the ice they're skating on is looking pretty
thick. Meanwhile twenty-five year old Terunofuji is having his best tournament
since 2015, and is a legitimate threat to take the yusho if interested.
Tochiohzan is not a legit yusho threat and is your token Maegashira guy hanging
in there by having a good tournament. Those are the four leaders. Neither of the
two-loss guys (Kakuryu, Chiyoshoma) are legitimately in it. So, here's how we
stack up on Day 10:
9-0: Lord Kisenosato, Takayasu
8-1: Terunofuji, Tochiohzan
Let's take it from there.
M13 Daishomaru (6-3) vs. M10 Tochiohzan (8-1)
Chestnut Heart (Tochiohzan) was first up amongst the leaders. This featured
about the simplest, tiniest little henka you'll ever see. Daishomaru had both
fists on the ground and deserves no better than a henka anyway, so Tochiohzan
looked down on him from the towering heights of M10, and saw him crouching there
on the ground like a poison toad, so Tochiohzan probably thought, I'm just going
to get out of here. He moved a tiny bit to the left and tapped the coiled toad
in token contact as it slid past underneath, and the toad touched the ground
with his hands a few inches away from where it had started, hataki-komi. And
they called it sumo.
Takanoiwa (2-7) vs. S Takayasu (9-0)
Dance party Osaka! The beats were pumpin' and the joint was jumpin'! These two
cool cats got their funky choreography down for a two-step jitterbug. First on
the orchestra was Takanoiwa, leaping in an electric slide to the left at the
tachi-ai. Next up was Takayasu, doing the hop--one hop forward, then stop, pop!
Come on, vogue. Next move was hizn, shuck and jive to the right, and swing those
arms round your pardner's neck, now! At which point Takanoiwa did a new dance
called the frog and put his hands on the dirt, hataki-komi. Yee, haw! As you can
see, I don't know much about dance. I do know sumpin' ‘bout sumo, though, and
since there wasn't much of that going on here, well, dance it is! They'd both
agreed on what record to play too, I fear: "I Henka You, Then You Henka Me,
Shodai (3-6) vs. O Terunofuji (8-1)
Shodai wiped his nose just before liftoff here, having eaten too much bhut
jolokia no doubt, but Terunofuji didn't mind and let Shodai rest that nose on
his shoulder for most of the match, like a nan bread draped on the side of the
tandoori oven. Meanwhile, Terunofuji reached in under and got the belt, a
handful of butter chicken. He was slow to get on with drinking his mango lassi
though, so Shodai wisely maki-kae'd, getting morozashi, and put the bigger man
in danger of rolling off the plate like a samosa. Now Terunofuji had to force
the action, pressing down and pinching and pushing in the kime position, which
always makes me think of keema curry for no good reason. Anyhoo, Terunofuji was
not able to shove Shodai out with all this keema slathering, so he reversed
tactics and slung him into the curry pot, uwate-nage, like a fistful of paneer.
Tamawashi (5-4) vs. Y Kisenosato (9-0)
I figured if there was one guy who would go ahead and beat Lord Kisenosato, he
with his little piggy eyes and his pouty expression, it would hard-hitting
up-and-comer Tamawashi. However, after the tachi-ai, when it looked like
Tamawashi was going to sweep out and back and away and pull Lordy by the arm and
fell him to the unforgiving clay like a used mop, instead they stopped and stood
stock still and sought for position. Tamawashi, frozen in everlasting beauty
like the Venus de Milo, moved not a bit and got nothing. Lord Kiss Kiss,
however, got a big handful of brocade. That secured, one little push, and oops!
Venus de Milo was yori-kiri'ed out, sent off to art smugglers in the backlot for
So, all four of our winners won. Now:
10-0: Lord Kisenosato, Takayasu
9-1: Terunofuji, Tochiohzan
M12 Sadanoumi (3-6) vs. M16 Nishikigi (3-6)
Sadanoumi grabbed his darling dear by the cheeks and pushed his face in as if to
smooch his sweetie. "Is that Old Spice aftershave, darlin'," he whispered. But
Nishikigi is a dirty old leprechaun and put his hands into Sadanoumi's armpits,
chortling "is that Mennen musk speed stick deodorant be-slicking my fingers?"
Sadanoumi was so shocked by this he swooned, letting Nishikigi drive him
backwards onto the bed in a violent oshi-dashi paroxysm. Once I saw Iggy Pop on
the David Letterman show. "What have you been up to?" Letterman asked. "You
know, lickin' pits," said Iggy.
M15 Chiyooh (3-6) vs. M12 Ura (4-5)
Steak, steak, eat more steak. The more fat on it, the more it quakes. Chiyooh is
like a little gobbet of suet, grilled to limp and jiggly hot dampness. Ura
skewered him on his arms and drove him off the medina that way, oshi-dashi.
M11 Daieisho (5-4) vs. M14 Myogiryu (4-5)
Daieisho won by oshi-dashi; I did not see it, though. Sorry.
M13 Takakeisho (6-3) vs. M11 Ishiura (4-5)
Like Ura in the match before him, Ishiura just got low, stuck his arms out, and
hoped something good would happen. Lo! As Takakeisho slapped fecklessly at him,
all arms and no feet, Ishiura found Takakeisho's belt in his hand, then knocked
him over backwards on his rotund rear, like Big Bill Broonzy felled in a barroom
brawl, bouldered back off the dohyo, oshi-taoshi. Cool.
M10 Tochinoshin (4-5) vs. M14 Kyokushuho (2-7)
I'm sorry, I did not see this one either. However, the innernet informs me that
Kyokushuho won, yori-kiri. I am saddened to report that I have hereby in one day
doubled my previous total of missed matches on reporting days (missed Chiyoshoma
vs. Seiro on Natsu Day 5, 2016). I am sorry.
M15 Tokushoryu (6-3) vs. M7 Chiyoshoma (7-2)
As I suffer from the sin of gluttony, if I found a can of Spam on the counter,
it is possible I would eat the whole thing cold. And if there was a giant tub of
spam towering there on the kitchen counter, hot and about to fall on me, why, I
just might grab hold of that with both arms and try to eat it too. Of course,
that would probably kill me. Which is just exactly what happened to Chiyoshoma,
crushed under a heap of falling Spam, his arms wrapped around it and its globby
arms wrapped around him, abisetaoshi.
M6 Chiyonokuni (6-3) vs. M9 Kotoyuki (2-7)
Kotoyuki mistook himself for a jack-in-the-box, which was a bad mistake, because
being fat and round and heavy, when he tried to spring up and henka at the
opening of the tachi-ai box, he just kind of ludderly lumbered to the side like
a lolloping galoot. Chiyonokuni was having none of that, and squared up to face
Kotoyuki's crazy wild arm swings. Not finding that to his liking, Chiyonokuni
stepped to the side, and Kotoyuki fell haplessly on his face and rolled forward
across the dohyo in a ridiculous exaggerated looking manner, hiki-otoshi, like a
barrel of peat moss down the side of a berm.
M8 Okinoumi (5-4) vs. M6 Aoiyama (4-5)
Aoiyama must have been very proud of the wicked, arm-removing tottari
slinging-through-the-air that he accomplished against Okinoumi here, and indeed
it did look beautiful, Okinoumi airborn like a paper airplane made of flesh.
However, Aoiyama admired it so intensely he paid no attention to the fact that
while he was ogling his heel was landing in the soft sand outside the straw,
giving the hang-gliding Okinoumi an oshi-dashi win after they checked with a
M9 Kagayaki (4-5) vs. M5 Hokutofuji (3-6)
As usual Fried Mosquito (Kagayaki), who looks so terrible the first few days,
has secretly mounted a comeback while I wasn't paying attention and is now on
the verge of an even record. "Hah!" said Hokutofuji, though, knowing he is much
the better wrestler, and mangled him this way and that with his arms, getting
him all un-linear and off-kilter, and if his final push down of his man,
oshi-taoshi, was with one open palm to the ass (and oh, it was), it couldn't be
helped because Mosquito was so floppy at that moment the ass cheek was all that
was on offer.
M8 Kaisei (2-7) vs. M4 Arawashi (2-7)
Arawashi's plan was to lead the blubberous Kaisei around the ring in a circle
until he fell down, and this worked, tsuki-otoshi. So remember that the next
time a really fat guy attacks you in a round place.
M7 Ichinojo (3-6) vs. M3 Takarafuji (5-4)
The Iron Blob of Gravity Grease (that would be Ichinojo) employed a lovely choke
hold with his left arm, but the real action was on the right, where Takarafuji
was working to get something but couldn't. And when he couldn't, he pulled the
arm, and that was a bad idea because he lost all his momentum and found he had
just toppled a wall of bricks into himself. Oshi-dashi win for the Blob.
M2 Sokokurai (3-6) vs. M3 Shohozan (1-8)
Darth Hozan had the best tachi-ai of the day, standing Sokokurai straight up and
maybe even dazing him slightly, because for a moment Sokokurai stood tall there
as if pausing to say "doy?" Darth sprang all over him and was in his chops and
grill like drano in a u-bend, scouring him out, yori-kiri.
K Mitakeumi (4-5) vs. M1 Ikioi (1-8)
Too many henkas today. Mitakeumi's caveat was to stand up for a split second as
if not henka'ing, then move to the side and grab Ikioi's belt way on the back
and usher him out from behind, okuri-dashi. There is an excellent potato whiskey
in Japan called "Mitake." I think I am going to go belt back a few glasses of
S Kotoshogiku (6-3) vs. M1 Takekaze (2-7)
Shlorp! Takekaze was sucked up into Kotoshogiku's paper-shredder arms like your
unguarded necktie. Kotoshogiku then kindly switched off the paper shredder and
reversed it, and lookee here what didn't fall right out of it: Takekaze, who
sunk to the ground in front of him, kote-nage. This was very silly stuff, ladies
M4 Yoshikaze (5-4) vs. Y Kakuryu (7-2)
I called Kakuryu before the bout and told him, "now I told everybody you're not
in the yusho race. So go out there and make me look good, okay man!" He said, "yeh,
sure dood." So when Yoshikaze went all slap face at him at speed Mach 1, Kakuryu
got mad and went back at him with a Yokozuna speed Mach 2 slap, but whiffed all
over it, and Yoshikaze got inside and hugged him and stuff. At which point
Kakuryu employed his favorite losing technique of pulling on the other guy's
head. He pulled at that head and he pulled at it, I'm tellin' ya, but since it
was burrowed into his chest all he got out of the deal was a guy's lips on his
pec. Meanwhile Yoshikaze kept drivin', keep drivin', drivin' all day and all
night. Drivin' Kakuryu out, yori-kiri. So then Kakuryu called me up and said,
"it's done, man." And I was like, "thanks bud."
Y Harumafuji (6-3) vs. M5 Endo (6-3)
Looking like Daishomaru on a particularly athletic day, Harumafuji fended off
Endo's probing arms and kept backing up and looking for little pulls. Whoopsie:
he then switched that out for a great big pull-and-step-aside and easily felled
the eager Endo, hataki-komi. Mmmm, mmm! Gonna get me some o' that Yokozuna sumo!
Them's good eatin', like day-old dead dog in the field, eaten with a spoon!
Mike is your atom heart mother tomorrow.
Day 9 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
often wondered what sumo would look like if we didn't have any foreign rikishi
fighting, and we kind of have that now with all of the foreigners pulling back
and letting the Japanese rikishi do their thang. Terunofuji was the last holdout
in week 1 before he intentionally lost to Takayasu, who coincidentally is one of
the co-leaders coming into the day along with stable mate Kisenosato, but I
think Terunofuji's losing on day 6 signaled that we're likely in store for our
third Japanese yusho in four basho.
If you go back to the end of the 2015 Kyushu basho, such a scenario of three
yusho in four basho was simply unthinkable, so the question I ask is what
changed to bring about this seismic shift? We'll likely never find out what gets
discussed behind closed doors, but one thing I do know is that this huge change
is NOT due to improved sumo from Japanese rikishi. There is such little
substance to be found anywhere atop the dohyo that I can't even take the yusho
race seriously anymore. As a result, let's just work our way up from the bottom
M13 Takakeisho and M16 Nishikigi traded shoves from the start, but it was
Takakeisho who played the part of aggressor keeping his foe upright, and then a
few seconds in, he got the left hand up and under Nishikigi's right armpit and
so the smaller Takakeisho lifted his opponent fully upright and used that
momentum shift to push him over and across. Slowly but surely it seems as if
Takakeisho is getting used to the division as he moves to 6-3. As for Nishikigi,
he's headed back to Juryo at 3-6.
M14 Myogiryu stuttered a bit at the tachi-ai against M12 Ura likely in an
attempt to read his opponent's initial charge, and when Ura shaded left,
Myogiryu was able to stand his ground and work his right arm under and then
eventually to the inside of Ura's left after pushing him upright. Once obtained,
Myogiryu forced Ura back quickly surviving a desperate pull and leg trip from
Ura as he was being turned around and forced down to the dohyo face-down. Both
dudes end the day at 4-5, and both dudes are struggling in the nether-regions of
M12 Sadanoumi got his right arm to the inside against M15 Chiyooh and
immediately pulled his gal in close leading with that right arm in bodying
Chiyooh methodically back to the edge. Chiyooh attempted to grab a left outer
grip as he was being forced back, but Sadanoumi cut it off nicely and used his
belly well to keep Chiyooh upright before eventually forcing him back. It's
interesting how we never see Kisenosato win like this in straight-forward,
linear fashion. Even when his opponents are mukiryoku, Kisenosato is incapable
of defeating them like this. That's neither here nor there, however, similar to
the records of both combatants who end the day 3-6.
M11 Daieisho jumped out of the gate firing tsuppari into M14 Kyokushuho's neck
standing the Mongolian fully upright, and with Shuho unable to move laterally
due to his bad knees, he was a big fat target for Daieisho to oshi-dashi back
and out in seconds. Daieisho moves to 5-4 if you need him while Kyokushuho
hasn't been able to stick in Makuuchi of late as he drops to 2-7.
M10 Tochiohzan shaded right against M15 Tokushoryu looking for the cheap win
from the start, but he couldn't quite latch onto the back of Tokushoryu's belt.
Didn't matter, though, as the Special Sauce was already leaking off balance, and
so Tochiohzan chased him down and attempted to pull him down for good a few
seconds later, but Tokushoryu just hit the deck before Oh could really force him
down. Tochiohzan picks up kachi-koshi with the win, but he's quickly turning
into a pull-first type of guy. That should work wonders down in these parts for
a few more years as he picks up kachi-koshi moving to 8-1. At least he admitted
it wasn't good sumo afterwards as Tokushoryu falls to 6-3.
Remember when M9 Kotoyuki actually had a bit of game? Back in those days, he'd
actually use his lower body to fuel his tsuppari attack, but he just stands
there all upper body now, and so M13 Daishomaru was able to use shoves of his
own to stand the listless Kotoyuki upright and then drive him back and across
with little argument. Daishomaru moves to 6-3 with the win while Kotoyuki better
get his ass in gear or he could be fighting in Juryo next basho at 2-7.
Kagayaki kept his eyes on Ishiura the whole time in their tsuppari affair, and
with Ishiura standing square and not trying to evade, he was unable to budge the
larger Kagayaki with straight-forward sumo of his own, and so Kagayaki trusted
in sound sumo basics bullying Ishiura back blow by blow with his thrusts to the
neck and shoulders before catching him with the final kill shot that come in the
form of a shove to the right teet. This was the first time Kagayaki has beaten
Ishiura in six tries, and while I don't remember the previous contests, I'm
quite sure Ishiura didn't go toe to toe with Kagayaki as he did today. Both
rikishi here end the day at 4-5.
In a similar bout where the smaller rikishi, M7 Chiyoshoma, also attempted to go
toe to toe with the larger M6 Aoiyama in another tsuppari contest, Chiyoshoma
realized that he wasn't making progress early, and so he began to evade to his
right forcing Aoiyama to give chase. Aoiyama attempted to catch his evading foe
with a lethal shove, but he never could connect, and so Chiyoshoma was able to
pull him off balance just enough to where he could finally rush in and get the
left arm to the inside, and from there he scored the force-out win. With no
weight-class in sumo, Chiyoshoma did what he had to do in order to defeat
Aoiyama. Chiyoshoma is a sweet 7-2 while Aoiyama falls to 4-5.
M10 Tochinoshin just henka'd to his left against M6 Chiyonokuni grabbing the
back of his head with both hands and immediately pulling him down to the dirt.
What goes around comes around for the wily Chiyonokuni who falls to 6-3 after
the grease job. As for Tochinoshin, he's just desperate for wins any way he can
get 'em at 4-5. One more should keep him out of Juryo for May.
M5 Endoh and M8 Okinoumi hooked up in the immediate hidari-yotsu bout where
Okinoumi stayed upright just gifting Endoh the right outer grip, and so Endoh
did what Kotoshogiku does: charge forward at the mercy of your opponent.
Fortunately for Endoh, Okinoumi wasn't looking to beat him, so he just stayed
square playing along never going for a right outer of his own, never attempting
a tsuki-otoshi with the right, or never digging in. Oh, I almost
forgot...Okinoumi DID put his left leg stiff and straight in between Endoh's
legs at the tawara because you know how effective it can be to fight on one leg,
but alas, Endoh was just too strong in this one!! Easy mukiryoku call here as
Endoh is gifted his sixth win while Okinoumi is content I suppose at 5-4.
M7 Ichinojo rushed forward against M4 Yoshikaze with his arms up high and wide
gifting Yoshikaze moro-zashi from the get-go, but the Mongolian wasn't making it
obvious forcing Yoshikaze to wrench him this way and that, but Monster Drink
couldn't quite sill the dill as both rikishi circled around the ring. At one
point, Ichinojo offered a lame kote-nage with the left, but he wasn't committed,
and then at about the 10 second mark, Ichinojo had the clear opening to get his
left arm to the inside, but instead of assuming that position, he kept his left
arm up high with elbow extended outward rendering it useless all of his own
accord. So with Ichinojo just standing there, Yoshikaze regained his wits and
then spun the Mongolian over and down with a right outer grip on the belt. This
looked like a good win for Yoshikaze to most I'm sure, but Ichinojo let up big
time here starting from the tachi-ai. He never attempted anything to defeat his
opponent, and then when he refused the left inside and just kept that arm up
high, it was obvious. Ichinojo continues the meme of parity in sumo falling to
3-6 while Yoshikaze improves to 5-4.
In a complete contrast, the smaller rikishi in M3 Shohozan once again got
moro-zashi from the tachi-ai against the larger foreigner, M8 Kaisei, but in
this case, Kaisei desperately needs the wins and so he moved laterally working
his way onto the belt with the left hand before executing a maki-kae with the
right, and that was all the leverage he needed to lift Shohozan off balance
enough to where the larger Kaisei was able to force him back in short order.
Ichinojo also had the clear path to the maki-kae with the left against
Yoshikaze, but he refused it of course, so it was just interesting to see the
contrast here where one foreigner was trying to win and the other clearly
wasn't. Kaisei is a meager 2-8 but Shohozan actually fares worse at 1-8.
M5 Hokutofuji moved left at the tachi-ai grabbing the cheap outer grip on
Takanoiwa's belt, but he couldn't quite dispatch his foe in short order without
the inside position on the right, and so Takanoiwa was finally able to square
back up and force the bout to migi-yotsu. After the henka start, we were treated
to a great bout at this point as both rikishi tried to wrench themselves into
position to set up the kill, so around and around the two went for 10 seconds or
so until Hokutofuji was finally able to muster a nifty dashi-nage with the right
inside grip that fell Takanoiwa to the clay for good. After the bout, Hokutofuji
was covered in blood due to a bloody nose, and he looked like a drunkard as he
tried to get off of the dohyo and then administer the power water to the next
rikishi. I hated the henka, but I loved the rest of this bout as Hokutofuji
moves to 3-6 while Takanoiwa falls to 2-7. We never see this kind of sumo among
the elite ranks...unfortunately.
In a duel between our two Komusubi, Shodai actually got his left hand placed in
fairly good position under Mitakeumi's right armpit, but he could do nothing
with it, and so Mitakeumi was able to work his own left to the inside and apply
some pressure, and once the pressure came, Shodai looked to retreat, but
Mitakeumi pounced into moro-zashi and then made that retreat across the bales
official. This was a typical bout that involves the big 5 where it's tough to
describe because everyone looks busy, but not a lot is happening. I do think
that Mitakeumi is the best of the big 5, and it did show here today as he
dominated BlowDry moving to 4-5 with the win. As for Shodai, he falls to 3-6
with the loss.
Takekaze moved to his left against Sekiwake Takayasu and his left arm placed
well against Takayasu's right side, but he really didn't drive forward despite
the position, and as the Sekiwake looked to spin out of harm's way, Takekaze
just collapsed to the dirt as Takayasu went for a quick pull. The timing here
was good, but there's no way that feeble pull from Takayasu sent Takekaze down
that hard. I mean, Takekaze's bread and butter is cheap sumo, and after that
tachi-ai that left him in perfect position, he just floundered his way to the
loss keeping Takayasu unblemished at 9-0. As for Takekaze, he falls to a
M2 Sokokurai is a crafty enough opponent that Sekiwake Tamawashi knew he didn't
want this one to go to the belt, and so The Mawashi looked to take control from
the start firing his long arm of the law tsuppari into Sokokurai's upper chest,
and just when it looked as if Tamawashi would finish his foe off as Sokokurai
mawari-komi'ed to his right, Sokokurai wryly moved back left timing a pull of
Tamawashi's arm that opened up the trap door and send Tamawashi to a tough loss.
Sokokurai improves to 3-6 with the crafty win while Tamawashi settles for 5-4.
the Ozeki ranks, Terunofuji reached for and got the left outer grip from the
tachi-ai against M1 Ikioi, but he couldn't quite get the right arm to the
inside, and so Ikioi was able to fend Fuji the Terrible off for a spell, but the
Ozeki made a quick adjustment by pivoting to the side and going for an outer
belt yank, and that provided enough of a momentum shift to where Terunofuji got
the right arm firmly inside, and from there the yori-kiri was academic. Ikioi
did all he could in this one, but Terunofuji was out to win, and it showed as he
dominated one of Japan's best moving to 8-1 in the process. As for Ikioi, he
falls to the opposite mark of 1-8. Before we move on, now that Terunofuji has
secured his rank for a few more basho, let's see how he reacts the rest of the
Make Believe Land, Sekiwake Kotoshogiku shot out of the gate firing some thrusts
into the chest of Kisenosato that drove him back a step or two, and just when
you thought Kotoshogiku was going to fire that kill shot, he just belly-flopped
sideways to the dirt. Kisenosato attempted a quick pull attempt as his foe was
falling down, but it couldn't quite catch up, so what we had here is
Kotoshogiku's just falling and rolling to the dirt of his own accord and
Kisenosato employing no move to cause it. In fact, I counted threw total moves
from Kisenosato this bout: 1) he was in pull mode from the tachi-ai, 2) he
offered a quick face slap as Kotoshogiku was driving him back, and 3) he tried
to catch up with Kotoshogiku as he dove to the dirt in the end with a
pull/swipe. I mean, just look at the pic at left. How does that motion
from Kisenosato's right hand cause the former Ozeki to stop, drop, and roll.
The direction that Kotoshogiku rolled would have been the result of a left push
to the side, but not a faux slap down with the right hand. The main word
all of the announcers in the booth used at the end was "abunakatta," or
he was in danger. I mean, there was no sumo here to describe from Kisenosato, so
at least they were being honest about it all. It's so ridiculous that they try
and pass this guy off as a Yokozuna, but there Kisenosato is at 9-0. Kotoshogiku
falls to 6-3 with the loss, but he's still on pace to get his 10, and with
Terunofuji now safely at eight, don't be surprised if the Mongolians assist him
the rest of the way.
Harumafuji and M4 Arawashi hooked up in migi-yotsu from the tachi-ai, but the
Yokozuna brought his left foot forward perfectly aligning his feet across the
starting lines, and at that moment, Arawashi executed a right inside belt throw
that easily sent the Yokozuna hopping over to the bales and out. In a normal
world, a Yokozuna does not lose to an M4 rikishi who comes into the day at 1-7,
but this is definitely not a normal world. The angles that Harumafuji took in
this one were also wrong similarly to the horrible angle that Hakuho took in
week 1 in that loss to Ikioi, and I know were talking about expert stuff when
analyzing angles in sumo bouts, but trust me...I can see it. Anyway,
Harumafuji continues to intentionally keep himself out of the limelight falling
to 6-3 while Arawashi picks up an undeserved kin-boshi ending the day at 2-7.
The end to this day could not come soon enough, and thankfully we got a real
bout to cap things off. Yokozuna Kakuryu fired a few tsuppari into M3
Takarafuji's neck, and I know most of you are thinking, "What, Takarafuji has a
neck??" But the start was effective for Kakuryu as it stood his foe completely
upright and set up the ultimate moro-zashi position, and from there it was easy
peasy Japanesey as Kakuryu scored the force-out win. Kakuryu moves to 7-2 with
the win while Takarafuji falls to 5-4.
Harvye keeps us comfortably numb tomorrow.
Day 8 Comments (Harvey Hodja reporting)
seeing a changing of the guard. Lord Kisenosato is sailing along at 7-0, and is
the only Yokozuna in the yusho race. Ozeki hopeful Takayasu is also cruising,
7-0 and looking very good. The only Ozeki in the tournament at all right now is
Terunofuji, who may have already peaked, but also represents a new generation.
If 2016 was a transition year in which the Association put an end to the
dominance of the Mongolians, finally distributed one yusho each to the three
Japanese Ozeki, and created a Japanese Yokozuna, it looks like 2017 may be the
consolidation. I expected the Mongolians to continue picking up yusho here and
there, or return to dominance now that guys like Kotoshogiku had their needs
taken care of.
But that may not be the case; it feels a lot as if we've moved on. I wasn't
kidding when I predicted Hakuho will not make it through the year. Feels
premature, you say? In some ways, yes. However, in reality he's outlasted most
recent Yokozuna already. Let's look at the last four. Takanohana, after a
spectacular career featuring 22 yusho, got injured at age 29, fought only two
more tournaments, and retired at age 31. Akebono electrified the sport in his
early twenties, but then won just one tournament in five years before retiring,
citing injury, shortly after winning his last tournament at age 31. Musashimaru
won two tournaments at age 31, but retired at age 32. Even Asashoryu was just 29
when forced out of the sport--and had won just two of six tournaments before
Hakuho turned 32 just before this tournament started. People forget that
Harumafuji is actually Hakuho's senior, turning 33 next month. We think of
Kakuryu as the newcomer to this group, but he is only a few months younger, and
will also turn 32 this year. All three of them are at or past the oldest
retirement age of any of the past four Yokozuna. What we are witnessing is the
end of their era.
M15 Tokushoryu (5-2) vs. M14 Kyokushuho (2-5)
Kyokushuho got a left arm inside, but he's just too lamed right now; Tokushoryu
leaned hard on him and pushed him back and out with his ridiculously fat upper
body, oshi-dashi. When these guys first made the upper division I had a hard
time remembering which one was which, and sure enough today I first typed "Tokushuho."
M16 Nishikigi (3-4) vs. M13 Daishomaru (4-3)
Nishikigi was a little too high at the tachi-ai. Daishomaru had good position,
lasering in with two hands on the chest inside, and he knew it. Knowing he
didn't need to, he never attempted a pull, just kept pushing, pushing, pushing
for the good looking oshi-dashi win.
M14 Myogiryu (2-5) vs. M11 Ishiura (4-3)
Yesterday Ishiura pulled his opponent down with a nifty shitate hineri, and he
had that in mind here, backing out and away, then ducking in very low and
pulling. However, Myogiryu was too smart for that. After surviving it--just
barely--he put Ishiura's head in his armpit, wrenched Ishiura's arm up on that
side to immobilize him (the pretzel hold?), and drove him out in this awkward
M10 Tochinoshin (3-4) vs. M13 Takakeisho (4-3)
Tochinoshin played Takakeisho's game here throughout. First, Taka annoyed him by
twirling his hands and stretching his neck instead of putting his hands on the
dirt, and Tochinoshin asked for a reset. Then, Tochinoshin let this be a battle
of blasting shoves, rather than getting on the belt as he prefers. When
Takakeisho had frustrated Tochinoshin enough with all this, he backed up and
Tochi fell on his face in front of him, hiki-otoshi.
M15 Chiyooh (3-4) vs. M10 Tochiohzan (6-1)
Chiyooh looks like a kindly soft dough ball, and he may be the worst wrestler
currently in the upper division. He knew better than to do anything but run away
and pull on Tochiohzan, but that didn't work either, happy to say, and at a
certain point when Chiyooh though, "well, I suppose I'll have to try an attack."
When he did that, calm and collected Tochiohzan just pulled him in and rolled
him down, kata-sukashi.
M9 Kagayaki (2-5) vs. M12 Sadanoumi (2-5)
Kagayaki and Endo were the two other guys who came to mind when I mulled, "but
who IS the worst wrestler in Makuuchi?" But that's not fair to Kagayaki. As
terrible as he often looks, his size makes him dangerous when focused--like
here. He head-butted on the tachi-ai, followed with focused, tight thrusts to
the face and chest, and made Sadanoumi look tiny in pushing him out, oshi-dashi.
Come to think of it, Sadanoumi may be the worst wrestler in the upper division
M12 Ura (3-4) vs. M9 Kotoyuki (2-5)
hadn't watched a lot of Juryo highlights over the past year or two and read a
lot of hype, I would be just plain indignantly hating Ura so far. Erase what you
know about him and look just at his sumo this tournament, and what you have is
an undersized guy jumping out the way, retreating, and generally looking
overmatched and trying to eke something out with tepid trickery--like we've seen
dozens of times before from other little guys over the years. In the last couple
of days I've stopped waiting for him to turn on the circus act and felt
dismissive. Pinky soap bubble. Same weak treacle today. Kotoyuki was bashing him
hard in the face, but Ura won by jumping out of the way twice while retreating.
Worked the second time, okuri-dashi. While the silly announcers were busy
shouting "omoshiroiiiii!" ("coooool!"), I'm tired of this guy already.
M11 Daieisho (3-4) vs. M8 Okinoumi (5-2)
I would say it was very puzzling that Daieisho was able to beat Okinoumi so
easily: linear force out oshi-dashi with no attempt at evasion from Okinoumi. My
only excuse for Okinoumi would be that maybe he thought he was just that much
better and didn't need to move to either side. But I don't think he's that
stupid. Can't fault Daieisho for taking what was given: his aggression has been
very welcome this tournament, and looked good here too.
M7 Ichinojo (3-4) vs. M8 Kaisei (0-7)
Battle of the Behemoths. Kaisei actually made Ichinojo look like the smaller
guy. When the blubber wobbled, Kaisei got a quick right inside and left out. He
then just pushed hard and shoved Ichinojo (too?) easily out, yori-kiri. We'll
see if that works and gets Kaisei going.
M5 Endo (4-3) vs. M5 Hokutofuji (2-5)
It's probably not fair to think of Endo in the "worst rikishi" category. I don't
actually think he's that bad; his technique is okay and he isn't tricky and
doesn't retreat. He probably would look pretty good if he consistently fought
lower than, say, M8. However, no other wrestler gets so badly beaten so often up
here, making him look and feel like one of the worst, though he isn't. This
match was a good demonstration of what he can do when not getting absolutely
killed. He spent a lot of time keeping Hokutofuji's pushing arms off of him,
neutralized a charge with an arm pull at one point, and kept working towards the
low and inside, getting moro-zashi at one point that allowed him to put
Hokutofuji at the edge, where Endo finally yori-kiri'ed him out. I'm okay with
M4 Yoshikaze (3-4) vs. M6 Aoiyama (4-3)
Aoiyama head butted Yoshikaze on liftoff. Yay! However, after one good shove, he
then eagerly pulled him for the rest of the match. Boo! Yoshikaze stayed focused
and pushed him out, yori-kiri. Yay!
M6 Chiyonokuni (5-2) vs. M4 Arawashi (1-6)
Very hard hitting tachi-ai, then swift and aggressive re-engagement by Arawashi.
Too aggressive: Chiyonokuni smartly grabbed Arawashi's arm, turned, pivoted
Arawashi over his hip, and flipped him head over heels and onto his back,
tottari. Looked very cool.
Match of the Day: M7 Chiyoshoma (5-2) vs. M3 Takarafuji (5-2)
Excellent, viper-strike tachi-ai by Chiyoshoma, who lanced one long hand in at
the neck and kept it there. He drove Takarafuji around the ring, slapping him
with the other hand. Takarafuji wasn't going to go out like that, though, and
surged inside when given a brief opening and got a left around the body. He was
driving Chiyoshoma out when Chiyoshoma turned on a dime at the edge, lifting up
with a left arm under Takarafuji's armpit, and dumped Takarafuji to the dirt,
sukui-nage, a split second before he also crashed down and out. Mmm, mmm good!
S Tamawashi (5-2) vs. M1 Takekaze (1-6)
False start by Tamawashi, but wasn't called back. Reactive henka by Takekaze for
a hataki-komi win. Blech.
S Kotoshogiku (5-2) vs. M2 Sokokurai (2-5)
We're halfway through the tournament, and Kotoshogiku is halfway to ten. Whelp.
Sokokurai took a free arm inside on the left, but declined to do much with the
right, defending only, and pretty soon Kotoshogiku just gaburi'ed him out,
yori-kiri. I wish I cared whether Kotoshogiku gets his ten and gets back to
Ozeki or not, but I don't. It's a sideshow either way. Ask yourself: do you?
M1 Ikioi (1-6) vs. S Takayasu (7-0)
is from Osaka, and the crowd was really into him. Two lonely souls quietly held
up single, sad-looking sheets of paper with Takayasu's name on them, the ink
still looking wet. So I was rooting pretty hard for Takayasu--who doesn't love
an underdog? (wait--which guy is undefeated and soon to be an Ozeki, and which
guy is 1-6? Oh well, anyway…) The match turned out pretty good. Takayasu
tsuppari'ed hard for a moment, but then pulled, and I thought he was toast.
However, he got a left inside and they went to stalemate. Takayasu was the first
to mount a force-out charge, and it almost worked, but it almost lost it for
him, too, as when he couldn't finish it Ikioi backpedaled along the edge and
almost dragged him down. Having survived and re-stabilized in the center, after
a moment Takayasu pivoted, turning out himself and collapsing Ikioi in with as
lovely a shita-te-nage throw as you'll see.
Mitakeumi (3-4) vs. O Terunofuji (6-1)
Terunofuji mostly means business this tournament, and this was simple domination
on his part. Hard smacking tachi-ai, then emphatic push by the bigger, stronger,
better wrestler. That is how you win in seconds flat, oshi-dashi, and look great
Y Harumafuji (5-2) vs. M2 Takanoiwa (2-5)
Harumafuji is slowly recovering from his early days blunderings, and went back
to one of his standard moves here: more or less henka'ing, getting a hand on the
back of the belt, and slinging his guy out. Uwate-nage.
K Shodai (3-4) vs. Y Kakuryu (5-2)
This took a while, but Kakuryu was never in danger. He tsuppari'ed, he shoved.
He flung Shodai off him so hard his opponent flew two meters back and survived
only because that was how much dohyo he had left to him. He choked, he slapped.
Kakuryu then finally engaged for real with a left outside belt grip and soon
yori-kiri'ed Shodai out, yori-kiri. But Shodai is our next Yokozuna! I can feel
it! But why? Why can I feel it? I sure didn't feel it here. But I feel it. Hoo,
boy. Right now I feel that Kakuryu kicked Shodai's vanilla softcream arse.
M3 Shohozan (1-6) vs. Y Kisenosato (7-0)
opened this by talking about the agedness of our Yokozuna. I didn't mention him
in that context, but Lord Kisenosato fits right in with the other three: he too
turns 31 this year, and shouldn't last long. But just as politics was involved
in the career ends of Asashoryu and probably Akebono, and almost certainly will
be with Hakuho, politics should help Kisenosato extend his career for a bit
first. In the end he's Pope Benedict: a transition figure. Let's hope that like
Benedict he recognizes his own mortality and abdicates at the right point,
rather than insisting on sticking around ‘til death. Anyhoo, for the time being
we have to go on boggling at the daily space-time-continuum rupture represented
by him being Yokozuna. Yes, it's still real and true! Entertaining, energetic
match today, though. Kisenosato used unusual speed and force in shove-slapping
Shohozan backwards. He then let Shohozan get in and under, moro-zashi, and
almost lost it when Darth Hozan drove hard in on him. However, Lord Kisenosato
set his feet apart and survived. At the edge, he turned the momentum and headed
west along the straw, appearing as if he was going to drag Shohozan down on his
right. At the last moment he reversed that and pulled Shohozan in the other
direction with his left arm while hitting him in the head with his right,
knocking the little brown, dangerous gnome over, kote-hineri. Okay, I admit that
was lots of fun.
Mike makes sure our view is not obscured by clouds tomorrow.
Day 6 Comments (Harvey Hodja reporting)
we enter the meandering center days of the basho, it is time to spend a moment
to think about Tokitenku, who died of cancer this winter at the age of 37. There
but for the grace of god go we all.
Personally, I loved Tokitenku in the ring, and I was a proud minority in this.
When he first came up to the Makuuchi, he was a yawn-inducing nothing.
Mongolians were just starting to be not a novelty, and too many to keep track
of, and with all honesty I thought, "not another one." His milquetoast style
bore out this opinion. But then. Oh, then! One day he just started being really,
really mean. A kicking, slapping, grumpy looking old fishwife demon with a
grudge and a dame-oshi to follow every arm wrench, titty twist, and humiliating
ankle incapacitation. Yes, I know it wasn't good sumo in classic terms. But it
sure as shiz was good sumo in "i wanna win" terms.
One of my favorite things about him was that on top of this, he had a unique,
pissed-off, sullen, resentful face he'd put on after (fairly) cheating his
opponents out of a win. After some wicked, uncalled for henka against a nice
enough guy working on a good run, while we all looked on in indignation and the
crowd moaned loudly in shock, Tokitenku's face plainly said, "f*** you. It's in
the rules! I f*****' won." I loved it that he had feelings enough to be hurt,
but guts enough to pretend not to care, and do it anyway. And I always, always
will remember him for this:
That, courtesy the wonderful Andreas Kungl, is a picture of Tokitenku's hometown
in Mongolia. I do not, not, not put this here to make fun of him, or his
hometown, but to respect where he came from and what he did. My question is, if
you were from this town, wouldn't you too? Wouldn't you just plain win, win,
win, and to hell with everybody else? Behind every "dirty" win was the dirt he'd
shook off to rise this close to the top, to provide, no doubt, for himself, his
family, and a large network or responsibilities trailing his good fortune into
Goodbye, Altangadasyn Khüchitbaatar, and thank you for reminding me hundreds of
times that every battle is hard won, victory is sweet and difficult, and we had
might as well struggle mightily, because night is always closing in. Burn and
rage in daylight.
Match of the Day: M15 Chiyooh (1-4) vs. M16 Nishikigi (3-2)
These guys went chest to chest and rollicked each other all over the squared
circle, belts unraveling, strings falling off. Most basically, Chiyooh had a
right outside and Nishikigi a left inside. I thought Chiyooh was toast as the
smaller man, and having generally seemed softer since getting to Makuuchi.
However, to slather you with a cliché which is nevertheless true (and is how it
became a cliché), on any given day, if you fight your hardest in a reasonably
even match up, anything can happen. And I'll give the man from tiny Yoron Island
credit; he manfully strove, surviving both a moment with his back to the bales
and, at the very end, a last ditch utchari throw attempt by Nishikigi that just
didn't quite work as the bigger man was forced out yori-kiri. Tough loss by
Nishikigi, but being tough also won it for Chiyooh. More of this, please!
J1 Chiyotairyu (1-4) vs. M14 Kyokushuho (2-3)
Chiyotairyu stood Kyokushuho up, grabbed a left inside, and drove him out,
yori-kiri. Bothered by injury of late, Kyokushuho came up limping, and that's
too bad as he's a solid fighter with oft-good sumo.
M13 Takakeisho (3-2) vs. M15 Tokushoryu (3-2)
Nothing to see here. Tokushoryu was looking good with focused stabs to the face,
and Takakeisho was looking bad by being defensive and hopping consistently away.
But then this pattern reversed, Special Sauce (Tokushoryu) was the one going
backwards, and Takakeisho looked like he had it. Until he fell down on a little
hiki-otoshi pull by Tokushoryu, who was also falling down. Meh.
M14 Myogiryu (2-3) vs. M13 Daishomaru (3-2)
Also uninspiring, but with a good ending. Lots of shoving and pulling, and
Daishomaru almost got disqualified with a hair yank, but survived to shove the
fading Myogiryu out like a mattress being tossed over the second story
balustrade, oshi-taoshi, into the loving crowd.
M12 Ura (2-3) vs. M11 Ishiura (3-2)
In a match-up of two weensy little dots, Stone Ass (Ishiura) put his hand on
Ura's shoulder, and Ura (Ass?) put his hand on Ishiura's elbow while they leaned
their heads together. Seeking advantage. Ura then pulled a sharp, swift move,
grabbing Stone Ass's arm, pulling him forward and past him, turning, and pushing
him out, oshi-dashi. This was good, patient, well executed sumo by Ura, but we
have yet to see him do anything against the sort to anybody bigger than today's
naked garden gnome.
M12 Sadanoumi (1-4) vs. M10 Tochiohzan (5-0)
Mismatch. Chestnut Heart (Tochiohzan) stood his opponent up at the tachi-ai,
took advantage of his opponent's pull attempt with forward moving aggression,
got both hands inside against his befuddled man, and dumped him sideways to the
ground, oshi-taoshi. Must be nice to punch under your weight for a while.
M9 Kagayaki (1-4) vs. M11 Daieisho (2-3)
Daieisho, who has shown heartening aggression this tournament, quickly and
impressively tsuki-dashi'ed the bigger man out with tsuppari. Kagayaki always
looks so terrible in the first half of the tournament I wonder how he has
possibly survived in Makuuchi, only to finally get something together the second
week. That's a sign of a low-confidence guy who will never put it together at
the top level in sports, where confidence goes hand in hand with winning (and is
one reason many athletes are such jerks--it's symbiotic). Most days early on
Kagayaki is a hapless sitting-duck disaster of Endo-level proportions.
M10 Tochinoshin (1-4) vs. M9 Kotoyuki (1-4)
I feel bad for Tochinoshin, who survived a serious knee injury to work his way
back from obscurity and become one of the best guys on the banzuke, a
beast-behemoth on the belt, and better than he ever was before getting injured.
Now he's clearly hurt again, with his right knee wrapped up so thick looks like
he's having Aminishiki for a sleepover. I figured he would be toast here.
However, don't call down the curtain yet; he tsuppai'ed his way into an overhand
left grip and drove Kotoyuki straight out, sending him flying out with one last
well placed shove that had Kotoyuki knocking over a few members of the audience
like ninepins. For the sunsetting Tochinoshin I had that feeling like when you
see an old flame on the street and remember how much you liked her. But know
it's just a flash of something that's gone. With a knee like that, I don't see
Tochinoshin making it back to the top. Raise a glass for old times.
M7 Ichinojo (3-2) vs. M8 Okinoumi (3-2)
Ichinojo imitated a bag of wet sand being slung onto the levy as he stood there
and collapsed against Okinoumi limply at the tachi-ai, and Okinoumi scooped both
arms up underneath. Perhaps The Blob (Ikioi) just thought he was bigger and
could kime-crush and dominate his opponent. He thought wrong. Okinoumi had no
problem taking advantage of position inside and underneath, and he lifted that
bag of sand up and dumped it yori-kiri into the river.
M8 Kaisei (0-5) vs. M6 Aoiyama (2-3)
There is always something new in the world; I don't think I've ever seen a
wrestler start a basho out with an injury and come back in the middle. I've seen
plenty go out and come back in after a few days off, but not spot himself five
losses and then get going. Perfectly sensible though. Perhaps he and Hakuho are
tag-teaming it. Maybe Hak will be back in a few days! Kaisei might as well have
stayed out for all he offered in this one, retreating and pulling, looking like
a different (bad) wrestler. Aoiyama knew he had a lame duck, and patiently
followed, thrusting away, before felling him with a wee arm pull and head bonk
(they were tired, and guys fall down weird then, hey), kata-sukashi. Injuries
are tough on guys.
M5 Endo (3-2) vs. M6 Chiyonokuni (3-2)
Yikes. I had to nod yesterday when Mike says when a bigger rikishi intends to
beat Endo, he simply crushes him. So true. And today, a smaller rikishi intended
to beat Endo, and also simply crushed him. Chiyonokuni used an aggressive
tachi-ai with a smashing forearm, one perfectly placed choke hold that almost
tipped Endo over backwards, and one double-armed tsuki-dashi shove to dominate
this one in seconds flat.
M7 Chiyoshoma (4-1) vs. M5 Hokutofuji (1-4)
I can't say I "like" Chiyoshoma, but he has a wild kinetic power that is
increasingly exciting to watch, and intimidating potential. Here he thrust hard
when he wanted, and pulled just as hard when he wanted to do that, too, driving
the action all over the ring, keeping Hokutofuji off balance, finally swiping
him down, hataki-komi. Yikes. I try to avoid comparisons like this ever since I
compared Arawashi to Kakuryu and Arawashi promptly disappeared into Juryo for a
spell, but I can't deny that Chiyoshoma has been shouting "young Harumafuji" at
me for a while. Watch out.
M4 Arawashi (1-4) vs. M2 Takanoiwa (1-4)
And hell, maybe I'll be right on Arawashi in the end (just like this site was
right on Kisenosato's yusho timing, Kisenosato as next Yokozuna, all three
Japanese Ozeki getting at least one tournament win, and a passle of other things
of late. Truth be told, the sport is in the dumps, but we're on a roll), if he
doesn't get beheaded multiple times in the Hokutoumi Revolution. Ouch! He was no
Kakuryu today, as Takanoiwa dominated him in a really good performance.
Takanoiwa knocked Arawashi back off the tachi-ai, opening space to get a brief
left inside and a few moments of moro-zashi, then switched to a left outside,
but didn't matter what kind of grip he had because he was rolling Arawashi
swiftly out for the win like fall's last rotting haybale in the snow-dusted
field, yori-kiri. Good stuff.
M2 Sokokurai (1-4) vs. M1 Ikioi (1-4)
They were having a little arm battle when It's Dark There (Sokokurai) decided to
retreat, and Ikioi just wasn't fast enough in chasing, getting pulled down
hataki-komi. He was too defensive in this one and paid for it.
M1 Takekaze (1-4) vs. K Shodai (2-3)
Whelp, dare I say Takekaze helped Shodai here? I do! Shodai gave him one good
shove off the blocks, but that played into Takekaze's game, as the little man
backed away and pulled. Lucky for Shodai, somehow Shodai seemed to be suspended
on top of Takekaze's retreating arms, and was only pulled down to the clay by
those arms after Takekaze had already stepped out, oshi-dashi. "Oh, drat!" said
S Kotoshogiku (3-2) vs. K Mitakeumi (3-2)
A possible changing-of-the-guard match? If Mitakeumi wins, you know Kotoshogiku
is not going to get his ten. If Mitakeumi defers to Kotoshogiku, the jury will
still be out. They went chest to chest and Mitakeumi had the early advantage,
but Kotoshogiku kept on moving his feet, reversed the momentum, and drove
Mitakeumi out, yori-kiri. You could say Kotoshogiku won it when he used his
force to stop Mitakeumi's charge and drive him around to the tawara in a
half-circle, or you could say Mitakeumi lost when he gave up his charge for a
momentum-reversing stop-and-tug. My favorite part of this one was how the gyoji
tried to run away, tripped on his robes, and fell face first into the water
bucket outside the dohyo. Okay, I shouldn't laugh at that. But I did.
O Goeido (1-4) vs. S Tamawashi (3-2)
Having a terrible basho in his hometown, Goeido withdrew, citing right ankle
pain; it was the right ankle that forced him out in January. He's safe because
he got his eight in January before withdrawing.
S Takayasu (5-0) vs. O Terunofuji (5-0)
Takayasu did hit hard at the tachi-ai; Terunofuji bounced off him like a
surprised rubber ball. Takayasu did follow that up by driving hard with well
placed, aggressive thrusts that knocked a passive-looking, lame, befuddled
Terunofuji out of the ring, oshi-dashi. You can probably guess what I thought of
that. Here's what I wrote to Mike about these two guys after Day 2, when they
seemed emblematic of trends in the sport: "Day 2 was okay, but as with your Day
1 I had trouble taking it seriously after 17:20. One of the problems now is that
even if the bouts are straight up at the end, I have a problem enjoying them
because of the context attached to them, and the surroundings they play out in.
For example, Takayasu's beatdown of Goeido looked perfectly legitimate to
me--but neither guy got to where he is legitimately, or deserves the storyline
he's riding. So their bout is a non-starter. And Terunofuji's domination of
Tamawashi was legitimately exciting--except it is an island in a sea of
frustration as we've watched Terunofuji employ eight hundred different bad
techniques of late, and we know neither guy will get to build off whatever they
do right." Maybe I should have just written that in my report that day. Never
M3 Takarafuji (5-0) vs. Y Kisenosato (5-0)
guys went chest to chest, but poor Takarafuji, he just never could get a grip he
liked, and kept having to let go. Too bad, because he was lower down and seemed
in good position as opposed to Lord Kisenosato, who was upright and had to
settle for an arm around under the armpit. That's how he seems to get wins,
though, so Lord Kise leaned his considerable bulk in and moved forward it his
odd, boring way, oozing the other guy out like jello on a slowly heating hot
plate, yori-kiri. The crowd looked enraptured. There was lady clapping real slow
because she was smiling so hard and staring so happily at the Lord that, I
suppose, she couldn't concentrate on her clapping.
Y Harumafuji (3-2) vs. M4 Yoshikaze (3-2)
This one looked a lot like two guys at around M15. They slapped at each other
tentatively, but both were afraid to really go for it, Yoshikaze because he was
fighting a Yokozuna, Harumafuji because he's collected too many losses being
stupidly careless. Then Harumafuji nearly fell over backwards when he took a
misstep on an approach. And when Harumafuji then had to stumble backwards to
right himself, Yoshikaze himself slipped on the way to him and fell right down,
hiki-otoshi. Um, not inspiring. I see Harumafuji's bad sumo right now as a
product of his careless sumo earlier. He's poisoned himself.
M3 Shohozan (0-5) vs. Y Kakuryu (4-1)
Well, it ain't Shohozan's fault that Kakuryu pulled on nothingness once, then
pulled on his head. Ain't Shohozan's fault Kakuryu slapped him on the sides off
the tachi-ai like a man playing bongos, rather than grabbing anything. Ain't
Shohozan's fault Kakuryu didn't close his hands on any grips. Ain't Shohozan's
fault they gave him the tsuki-dashi kimarite because he did in fact bash Kakuryu
outta the ring. Yep, Darth Hozan looked pretty good here, smack ‘im, chase ‘im,
hit ‘im, thrust ‘im! Nope, ain't his fault he just beat a Yokozuna. No, it's
Lookee here. That ends the day with three rikishi undefeated: Lord Kisenosato,
Tochiohzan, and Takayasu. Yep.
Mike is forced to say "ummagumma" tomorrow.
Day 5 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
big news at the beginning of the day was the announcement that Hakuho had
withdrawn from the basho. The Yokozuna cited an injury to the bottom of his
right foot, but he is not injured. You could just tell from his start on day 1
and then the content of his sumo that he was not taking this basho seriously. He
had one good display of sumo on day 2 against Sokokurai, but other than that all
sound sumo basics have been thrown out the window. If the Yokozuna was
legitimately injured in his bout against Ikioi yesterday, then it was because he
let up in the ring. Early on when I first began studying sumo, I often heard
that moniker about letting up. Of course, it was always expressed in the context
of the keiko ring, but we are clearly seeing guys let up every day during
hon-basho now. I don't believe that Hakuho is really injured; he's just showing
the Association that he is not intent on spoiling anyone's party.
In fact, all of the Mongolian Yokozuna are playing nice this basho as depicted
in the graphic that NHK showed during the broadcast. It's all in Japanese, but
you should be able to figure it out. It lists the four Yokozuna on the banzuke
and then their win/loss results the first four days. Of course Kisenosato is the
only one without blemish!
The rikishi missing from list is Terunofuji, who has rocketed out to an
undefeated start because he's actually trying, but it's way too early to say
that he's going to stay the course the entire tournament. He'll pick up his
eight for sure, but don't be surprised if he goes limp in week 2 backing away
along with the other Mongolians. I hope he doesn't, but something tells me he
will fade down the stretch.
Due to a joint press conference with the Secretary of State from the US and some
Japanese dude who gets a sweaty forehead in front of the lights, I missed the
first three bouts of the day, but I want to really ask: Did I miss anything? If
you're reading this then you have access to the innernet and can look up those
first three contests, so let's start with M11 Ishiura, who ducked in low at the
tachi-ai, but M13 Daishomaru kept his eyes on his foe well and just shoved him
with palms into the top of the shoulders, and the impact was so effective it
knocked Ishiura back a step and a bit upright, so Daishomaru seized on that
momentum to just slap Ishiura silly in the two second hataki-komi win leaving
both dudes at 3-2. That's about the best sumo I've seen from Daishomaru in this
M13 Takakeisho and M11 Daieisho engaged in a fierce tsuppari contest from the
start, and both rikishi were actually in control of their slaps which is always
nice to see. That meant that most of the blows connected, and Takakeisho pushed
Daieisho around the first half, but he couldn't quite finish him off. When the
two rikishi were gassed, they leaned into each other in the center of the ring
with arms on shoulders, and then when they were ready for round two, Daieisho
took over scoring blow after blow forcing Takakeisho to finally back up and try
and move left. Daieisho was on the prowl, however, and scored the ultimate
oshi-dashi win in the end. Wow, this was great sumo, and we better enjoy it
while it lasts (meaning 5:20 lurks just around the corner). Daieisho moves to
2-3 with the win while Takakeisho falls to 3-2.
M9 Kotoyuki attempted his usual tsuppari attack at the tachi-ai against M12
Sadanoumi, but the shoves had little effect as Sadanoumi worked his way inside
with the right, and Kotoyuki just can't play defense in a yotsu-contest, so
Sadanoumi grabbed the left outer grip and quickly swung Yuki around and down
using a nifty outer belt throw. Sadanoumi picks up his first win as both guys
finish the day at 1-4.
M9 Kagayaki created the blueprint today on how to beat M12 Ura: simply keep your
eyes on him. Kagayaki leaned forward at the shikiri-sen almost false starting,
but the two were in sync when they actually charged, and it didn't really matter
as most bouts involving Ura have awkward tachi-ai. Once the two did go, Kagayaki
watched which direction Ura would move, and then he simply fired thrusts in his
direction, and it only takes one real thrust to knock him off balance, and from
there the oshi-dashi comes easy. Though Kagayaki was winless coming in, he
dominated Ura who falls to 2-3 to the dismay of the fans.
M8 Okinoumi was a shark who smelled blood against M10 Tochinoshin forcing his
right arm to the inside at the tachi-ai, and with Shin unable to offer much
resistance, Okinoumi used a nice gaburi with the belly to nudge Tochinoshin
upright, and at that instant, he got the left inside giving him moro-zashi. From
there everyone knew it as Shin just doesn't have the lower body right now to
move laterally and counter. Great win from Okinoumi who moves to 3-2 while
Tochinoshin continues to struggle at 1-4.
M10 Tochiohzan was looking pull from the start against M7 Chiyoshoma, and with
Chiyoshoma coming in low, he was there for the taking, especially for a veteran
like Oh who has resorted more and more to the hataki-komi these days. Chiyoshoma
tried to recover, but Oh is a strong ox and pulled his foe down in a matter of
seconds skating to 5-0 in the process. Chiyoshoma suffers his first loss at 4-1,
and you'd really like to see a better contest than this from two undefeated
M7 Ichinojo kept his right arm out wide at the tachi-ai and put his left hand up
around M5 Endoh's head, but he didn't do anything with it, so with both armpits
exposed as they like to say, Endoh easily grabbed moro-zashi. Endoh began his
force-out charge with Ichinojo responding with a left arm in the kote-nage
position, but the throw would never come. The Slug simply stayed square with
Endoh and let himself get forced out. Easy yaocho call here as Ichinojo showed
nothing that signaled he was trying to win. I think the most telling bout to
date for Endoh was the one against Takarafuji. When a big rikishi wants to beat
him, he crushes him. Both dudes end the day at 3-2.
M6 Aoiyama stayed low at the tachi-ai leading with his head against M4 Arawashi,
and before Arawashi could get anything going, Aoiyama had both palms planted
firmly against Arawashi's chest, and he just bulldozed him back and across the
straw without argument. Pretty good stuff from Aoiyama who moves to 2-3 while
Arawashi falls to 1-4.
Instead of just trying to come out and kick the youngster's ass, M4 Yoshikaze
was cool as a cat watching M5 Hokutofuji and defending the kid's tsuppari
attempt with ease, and after a few seconds of defense, Cafe timed a perfect paw
into Hokutofuji's neck halting him in his tracks and turning the tables. From
there, Yoshikaze took over offering a few more shoves before getting the left
arm to the inside, and he used that perfectly to stand Hokutofuji upright and
force him back. These veterans simply refuse to lose against an upstart like
Hokutofuji, and it showed here today as Yoshikaze moves to 3-2. Hokutofuji's
nifty climb up the banzuke is put into more perspective as he falls to 1-4.
M3 Takarafuji came with a left kachi-age against M6 Chiyonokuni keeping him away
from an offensive attack, and so Kuni responded by attempting to shove his way
back in, but each volley was rejected firmly by Takarafuji who eventually got
the right arm to the inside, and from there he lifted Chiyonokuni upright and
easily forced him back and across. Chiyonokuni's posture when attempting his
shoves was completely defensive with his legs planted behind him thus the easy
path to Takarafuji's victory and 5-0 start. Chiyonokuni falls to 3-2.
Sekiwake Tamawashi and Sekiwake Kotoshogiku hooked up in hidari-yotsu from the
tachi-ai where The Mawashi used a right paw to the Geeku's neck keeping him
upright. As he is wont to do, Kotoshogiku will mount that quick offensive charge
because he knows he's at his opponent's mercy, and it worked to drive Tamawashi
near the tawara, but as the taller Sekiwake dug his heels in keeping the Geeku
at bay with a subtle left scoop throw, Kotoshogiku just collapsed as Tamawashi
reached for the right outer grip. The Geeku is running on fumes, but if rikishi
are generally going to keep treating him with the kid gloves, then why not
continue...even if he doesn't get his 10 this basho. Both rikishi end the day at
Sekiwake Takayasu easily knocked Komusubi Shodai back and upright with dual
kachi-age followed by a few nice shoves up high, and as BlowDry looked to duck
back into the bout, Takayasu just pulled him forward and down in maybe two
seconds flat. Once again, Shodai is exposed by a solid rikishi looking to kick
his ass. I loved Harvye's take regarding Takayasu (5-0) when he said that he's a
solid rikishi but one who hasn't risen and maintained this status all on his
own, but when you compare him to Shodai (2-3) in a straight up bout, it isn't
even close. Shodai ain't got no goods.
Ozeki Terunofuji reached for the left front grip against M2 Takanoiwa, and while
he didn't get it, it forced Takanoiwa to back up a bit out of harm's way. The
problem was that Terunofuji's de-ashi are working great this basho, and he
caught Takanoiwa with a nice right kachi-age standing Takanoiwa upright and
opening the path for the right arm to the inside. From there, Takanoiwa had
nowhere to go so Fuji the Terrible moved in for the kill lifting Takanoiwa clear
off his feet with that lone right inside grip and a left group around Iwa's
right shoulder. There's little more beautiful than an elite Mongolian fighting
straight up as Terunofuji moves to 5-0 while Takanoiwa falls to 1-4.
Ozeki Goeido is the M1 Takekaze of yotsu-zumo, so I suspected a wild and crazy
affair from these two today, but Takekaze simply out did his opponent by
striking hard with the head and then shifting left putting a hand at Goeido's
right shoulder threatening the pull. Before Goeido could square up, Takekaze
kept moving laterally and pulled the Ozeki down by that shoulder on the second
try. This one wasn't even close as the Ozeki had a hard time keeping his feet. I
remember describing Goeido's sumo in the past as fighting like someone whose
been blindfolded and forced to put his nose on the handle of a baseball bat and
turn three times before being unleashed, and that was pretty much the content of
his sumo today. In my pre-basho report, I stated that I was worried that Goeido
was going to get preferential treatment because he was in Osaka, but that hasn't
been the case to date as he falls to 1-4 (that one win was a gift). As for
Takekaze, he picks up his first win at 1-4, and how pathetic is it that a scrub
like Takekaze picks up his first win during the jobansen against an Ozeki?
Kisenosato and M1 Ikioi hooked up in hidari-yotsu from the start where Ikioi had
his hand on Kisenosato's belt for the right outer grip, but he just relinquished
it for no reason and backed up leaving his right hand in the kote-nage position.
From there, Kisenosato attempted a few times to grab his own right outer, but
Ikioi backed away never once going for any kind of counter move just going with
the flow until he was up against the edge where Kisenosato eventually worked him
across. I mean, Ikioi is the king of the kote-nage or counter tsuki-otoshi, and
he attempted one half-assed kote-nage for show mid-bout, but he completely
dictated the pace in this one as he guided the Kid around the ring before
finally stepping out in the end. It's just ridiculous what they've done with
Kisenosato, but the venue is sold out everyday, and I don't see anything
changing. If Kisenosato's opponents continue to fight him like this, the dude
should be able to actively fight well into his 40's. He's undefeated at 5-0
while Ikioi's lone with at 1-4 was of course against the best Yokozuna of all
time. Go figure.
Speaking of the greatest of all time, he withdrew as mentioned previously giving
Komusubi Mitakeumi the freebie and a 3-2 record.
In the Yokozuna ranks, Harumafuji and M3 Shohozan engaged in a decent tsuppari
affair, and really the key here was to focus on the Yokozuna's footwork. His
feet weren't aligned, and he was using the lower body to fuel those thrusts, and
so the oshi-dashi win came easy with little danger as Shohozan (0-5) was shoved
completely off the dohyo. With the Mongolians, you can tell by their footwork
how serious they are in winning the bout as exhibited by Harumafuji who moved to
Exhibit A of Mongolians displaying good footwork was seen with Yokozuna Kakuryu
against M2 Sokokurai where the Yokozuna fueled his tsuppari attack with his legs
catching Sokokurai firmly by the neck and shoving him back one, twice, three
times a lady. It really is as simple as that. Watch the footwork from the
Yokozuna and watch the angles that they take in their bouts, and it's easy to
see when they are faking it or going all out. Kakuryu moves to 4-1 with the win
with that sole loss of course coming at the hands of Kotoshogiku. As if.
Sokokurai falls to 1-4 with the loss.
Well, if you're OJ Simpson and you've convinced yourself that you weren't Nicole
and Ron's killer, then I suppose you're enjoying the basho. If you're an
expert sumo analyst then the frustration continues.
Hopefully Harvye has something to work with tomorrow.
Day 4 Comments (Harvey Hodja reporting)
Kisenosato burped lightly: "uyf." "I'm a lord!" he reminded himself with
surly and somehow sour pleasure. As he lay face down getting another massage, he
tried to forget that the reed mat below him showed spots of mold, that the walls
wept mildew, that the floor in the cottage he called his "castle" hadn't been
swept in years, and that the grit that crunched under his silk slippers when he
walked in his rooms was mixed gravel, dust, and dried donkey dung (one of these
days, he told himself for the hundredth time, he was going to have to buy a
pony). He tried instead to think of those thin and clearly cheap, but at least
good looking, silk slippers themselves, a present from one of his clansmen in
the town when he was crowned Lord. He focused his eyes on the gaudy golden
candlesticks, another gift from his coronation day. He pretended that primping
lout Hakkaku, giving him the massage and droning on soothingly about protecting
his responsibilities, was a different, age, gender, hey, just about different
everything. Gad! He'd never let the public into this shoddy little room. "I'm a
lord!" he reaffirmed to himself again, scratching at the chigger bites around
his loins. He grinned in bitter, unwanted wickedness, grumbled. "It's not my
fault!" he pouted reflexively. He knew the gold candlesticks were just painted
lead. He tried to forget. He lied to himself, too, about why he'd put the most
expensive gifts he'd gotten in the closet. The crate of white jewels sent by
Hakuho, the absolutely enormous sword sent by Harumafuji, the plain but
stunningly valuable pewter box full of real silver coins sent by that boring,
annoying, yet admittedly rich Kakuryu--they'd almost taken his breath away,
those coins. He just didn't have stuff like that in his world. The golden
ukulele sent by Terunofuji bugged him too--there was some level of satire there,
he knew, but he couldn't quite work it out. Lord Kisenosato sighed loudly,
closed his eyes, focused again on the candlesticks with their sheen of pyrite,
tried to remember fondly his shabby Lord ceremony, where they burned whole tubs
of incense to cover up the smell of the manure in the streets but it still
seeped in with the dank humidity. Yeah, the other lords, those three Mongolian
jerks, had smirked the whole damn time. But Lord Kisenosato reassured himself
that the crowd hadn't noticed: they'd had only eyes for him. At their distance
down the cracked and splintering rough-hewn wooden pews, they couldn't see the
moth holes in his cloak, the threadbare lines of his breeches, the soot smudges
on his tiara. Nope! He was a lord now, too, dammit. Let those others talk. Let
M16 Nishikigi (1-2) vs. J2 Onosho (3-0)
And now for something completely different. And what a great way to start the
day. In case you're not familiar with him, Onosho is a big, tough kid from Juryo
with promise. Blam! He started this one lightning fast with an aggressive pop
that sent Nishikigi backwards, and followed it up with tenacious, low drive
right at Nishikigi's chest. But he's still young. Nishikigi absorbed it like a
living blob, bore down, worked his way into some brief chest-to-chest
equilibrium, then manfully shoved Onosho out, oshi-dashi.
M14 Myogiryu (1-2) vs. M15 Tokushoryu (2-1)
Myogiryu did everything but a voodoo dance to try to win this, and it's a
measure of how far he's fallen that he just couldn't pull it out. He hopped out
a bit to the side at the start, but Tokushoryu followed him and tsuppari'ed him
in the face to even it back up. Then Myogiryu worked inside and low, and he had
the fat and easily moved Tokushoryu stood up, but Tokushoryu was able to push
down, push off, choke, and generally remain impervious to Myogiryu's superior
position. Myogiryu got a tiny bit of a belt grip, but Tokushoryu responded by
easily flicking him out of the ring, tsuki-otoshi. If you make Tokushoryu look
like an invulnerable man-mountain, you're in trouble.
M13 Takakeisho (2-1) vs. M14 Kyokushuho (2-1)
Oh, come on, guys! This went on forever, but was just a lot of slapping. At one
point Kyokushuho stopped a bit, looking in for that moment when he could slap
back reel gud and give a "you wanna piece of this?" look. You knew at that
moment who was going to win: Takakeisho, who said, "yeah, I want a piece of it,"
took advantage of the lull to move forward, and finally ended this silly crap,
M15 Chiyooh (0-3) vs. M13 Daishomaru (2-1)
Blech. Two of my least favorites here. Daishomaru is nothing but a puller, and
Chiyooh is just not very good. Lived down to expectations, as Chiyooh backed up,
evaded, and pulled the puller down, hataki-komi.
M11 Daieisho (1-2) vs. M12 Ura (1-2)
Why henka against Ura? You know the last thing he's going to do is give you a
big chest-smacking tachi-ai. Yet that's what Daieisho tried. Overthinking it a
bit, p'raps? Ura had no problem with the henka, just loped forward with his head
down, like a kid looking for ants on the sidewalk, followed the off balance and
confused Daieisho around, and pushed him out, oshi-dashi.
M12 Sadanoumi (0-3) vs. M11 Ishiura (2-1)
Stone Ass (Ishiura) drove his head into Sadanoumi's chin at the tachi-ai,
reached a'way back behind and got a grip on the butt button, then took a grip
with the other hand right on the front of Sadanoumi's belt underneath. From
there it was curtains, as Sadanoumi was helpless and felled, shitate-hineri, in
a very good looking bout for Stony.
M10 Tochiohzan (3-0) vs. M9 Kotoyuki (1-2)
Tochiohzan may be 3-0, but it's because he's at M10, and it shows as he still
felt he couldn't take Kotoyuki on straight up. He evaded and pulled at the
tachi-ai, then a few minutes later did a beautiful swift switcheroo, moving from
Kotoyuki's left side to his right to unbalance him and push him out oshi-dashi.
But this was all backwards moving and bodes ill for him pulling off a 4-0 start
anywhere but here on the banzuke.
M7 Ichinojo (2-1) vs. M9 Kagayaki (0-3)
This looked like mukiryoku by Kagayaki, who imitated a surprised pedestrian on
the street corner being attacked by a mean bum. Though Ichinojo was standing up
straight and doing nothing but pushing, Kagayaki made no attempt to take
advantage, just twirled his arms around in circles, fingers limply open, while
walking backwards, also standing up straight, in the easiest oshi-dashi
embarrassment you'll ever see.
M10 Tochinoshin (1-2) vs M7 Chiyoshoma (3-0)
The truth is Chiyoshoma is pretty exciting these days, people, and you knew
before they ever came out of the crouch the injured Tochinoshin was going to
have no chance against this wiry, wily, strong up-and-comer with his excellent
focus and explosive late-bout pop. Chiyoshoma started off with lots of directed,
strong hands to the face, then got Tochinoshin by the belt and whirled him
around a few times. It took a while, because even when lame Tochinoshin is a
fine wrestler, but the bottom line is Chiyoshoma was never in danger here and
eventually mounted a charged and forced a spent 'Shin out, yori-kiri.
M6 Chiyonokuni (2-1) vs. M8 Okinoumi (2-1)
While lotta' hand slapping goin' on. Then Okinoumi ducked in low for the belt,
Chiyonokuni pulled, and down they went in a heap at the edge together, with
Okinoumi the forward moving aggressor. The original winner was Okinoumi, and
that seemed correct based on momentum and the feel of the bout. However, a
mono-ii was called, and the men in black got it right: replays did show that
Okinoumi's hand went down before any part of Chiyonokuni's body touched out.
Meaningless kimari-te of tsuki-otoshi was assigned and the win switched to
Chiyonokuni. Fine. But keep this in mind when we get to Hakuho later. In this
bout, the "spirit" of the law said give the bout to Okinoumi. But the "letter"
of the law said hey, we know it doesn't look that way to the naked eye, but we
just have to give it to Chiyonokuni, because facts are facts and Okinoumi
touched out first, however bad Chiyonokuni looked. So, they went with the letter
of the law here. They would later do the opposite in the Hakuho match, as you
M5 Endo (1-2) vs. M6 Aoiyama (1-2)
Oh, whatever. Aoiyama gave one shove, then pulled on Endo's arm--not his forte.
They inscribed a half circle upon the dohyo, and at the moment Aoiyama could
have thrown Endo down on his face by that arm, lo!, instead he only did that
once he'd already stepped out to a loss, "yori-kiri." Even the gyoji's gumbai
pointing seemed unconvinced: "oh, okay, yeah, sure, let's move on."
M3 Shohozan (0-3) vs. M4 Arawashi (0-3)
Another one of those slappity-slappity matches I just can't get into.
Eventually, though, they settled briefly on belts, and it was gratifying to
watch Arawashi, who I secretly admire, dominate swiftly from there: he just gave
one great tug and slung Darth Hozan down, shitate-nage.
M5 Hokutofuji (1-2) vs. M3 Takarafuji (3-0)
I call this kind of match where they hold on to each other's arms a lot, and
fling those arms away, grappling. No belt action, not chest to chest, but not
slaps either: just seeking position with the arms. This one was won by the
wrestler who never lost his cool. At one point Hokutofuji got a pretty good
choke hold going. After Takarafuji broke it off, Hokutofuji tried to replace the
lost grip with a wild choke-thrust attempt that pivoted his body in front of
Takarafuji. So Takarafuji stepped to Hokutofuji's exposed flank and pushed him
K Mitakeumi (2-1) vs. S Takayasu (3-0)
Good match here by two guys on the rise both because they're good and because
they're liked to rise now. Mitakeumi had lower position and a short, shallow
right inside on the front of the belt. However, he gave that up when he tried to
prematurely turn it into a force out, and Takayasu took advantage of his
closeness by getting his own right inside instead. Mitakeumi tried to counter
that by pulling away, rarely a good idea, and that put him near the straw, where
Takayasu, who is a largish lad, was able to bull him out without much trouble,
yori-kiri. Good stuff.
S Tamawashi (1-2) vs. K Shodai (2-1)
Two basho ago I wrote that Shodai likes to get to the inside. Or was that it?
Something about losing by mistake? I mean, er, winning by mistake? Or when other
guys make mistakes? I get all confused. All right, all right, I confess: I am
miffed that I wasn't able to figure out his style--even while paying close
attention!--and have been in denial. But I admit it: The Next Yokozuna has got
nothing going on, to the extent that I've forgotten what I thought he had going
on. Not much to describe in this one except a lot of face shoves. Shodai,
however, kept trying to stick his arms inside instead--not a bad move if you can
bring it off. ‘Ceptin as he couldn't. And Tamawashi, having noticed the
attempts, grabbed hold of one of those arms and pulled Shodai forward and down,
kote-nage. Looked easy.
O Goeido (1-2) vs. M2 Takanoiwa (0-3)
Ah, you Goeido you. Lots of action, not a lot of finish. Or calm. Or
containment. Or power. I tired of waiting for him to impress me years ago, and
now just wish he would go. Away. Doh! Just watch him in this one. Action! Yes,
there he is, manfully bulling forward, which I should like, except that he
walked right into a long outside left from Takanoiwa. Action! There he is workin'
it, trying to force his opponent out, which I should like, except in his
eagerness he was so tight on his man he let Takanoiwa get an inside right, too.
Action! There he is, hyperkinetically changing his horse halfway through to go
for a pull, which of course is so rarely a good idea, and while I just can't get
inspired by the bland and cocky looking Takanoiwa, he knows what to do when
pulled--he won in a second flat, yori-kiri, when it happened. Frankly, Goeido
just seems to blunder around up there like a dunderhead, and you can't shake
that "not an Ozeki!" visceral rejection of it all.
Yoshikaze (2-1) vs. O Terunofuji (3-0)
Fuji the Terrible scooped Yoshikaze up with a powerful right arm, and was
getting all ready to grab some belt and destroy him, but then found that
Yoshikaze was already off balance, sideways to him, and ready to ride out on the
handcart that was Terunofuji's arms. So he pushed him out. Yori-kiri. We've seen
this before from Terunofuji during his recent struggles: a hot start that fools
you into thinking maybe this is the tournament he'll come roaring back, only to
finish 8-7. But mmm, mmm does this cheeseburger look tasty. Do I get to call him
The Future again soon?
Y Harumafuji (1-2) vs. M1 Takekaze (0-3)
This was interesting. While I do believe Harumafuji could very easily have
beaten Sokokurai yesterday by having just a little conservatism in his sumo, I
also think he intended to win, and when he was sitting next to the ring after
losing, I don't think he was pretending to wonder, "what happened," which Mike
is right to say we often see as part of Bad Acting Class after mukiryoku losses.
Rather, he was thinking, "I am a dumbass." He knew he'd blown it all on his own,
and had taken "let's be sloppy, because who cares!" too far. So today he had one
goal: hold back. This had dual value: prevent the reckless overcommitment that
kills him, and protect him against any Takekaze sneakiness. However, it made his
style unnatural, and he was simultaneously pushing on Takekaze and not wanting
to get too close, then having to tighten up again, and sure enough Takekaze
grabbed him and pulled him along, and at the end, though Harumph got the
oshi-dashi win, his own feet were uncomfortably close to the tawara too, and you
had the feeling Takekaze could have taken him down with the right evasion. If
you agree with me that this was real sumo, yay. But ask yourself: did you enjoy
the bout? Did this look like Yokozuna fun to you? The rot from the fake matches
spills over and ruins the real ones.
S Kotoshogiku (2-1) vs. Y Kakuryu (3-0) At
first I was enjoying this: Kakuryu stood there like a brick wall. Kotoshogiku
crashed into him and couldn't move him. It was as if Kakuryu was saying: "see, I
let you do your signature thing, and you can't even move me an inch." Like he
wanted to show that Kotoshogiku has nothing left. But wait! Actually, Kakuryu
then did start moving backwards. No lateral action, no attempts at throws or
moves: the only thing Kakuryu did in this match was resist a full frontal
assault by just, well, standing in front of it. And as broken down as he is,
Kotoshogiku is still a one-time Ozeki who can knock down even a brick wall or
two. He couldn't finish it, and had to get an arm in under and reverse and dump
Kakuryu over back into the middle of the ring, sukui-nage, but Kakuryu let him
have this one.
Y Hakuho (2-1) vs. M1 Ikioi (0-3)
For a moment it looked like we might have classic Hakuho: leapt forward, scooped
upwards with the right arm, legs apart, stance low. But he'd kind of lost the
tachi-ai, actually, as Ikioi came farther forward, and Hakuho needed to get a
grip, not just let his right arm rest there like Napoleon's hand-in-jacket. So,
Ikioi pushed and slid him all the way back to the tawara, like
was a marble statue. Hakuho then tried to turn out and twist and throw, but it
was too late (or was it?), as Ikioi had him where he needed him to be, and used
his solid strength to topple him over, yori-taoshi. Now, it was close, and
required a mono-ii, but the judges decided that it just felt like an Ikioi win.
Hakuho has either lost a step, or given up a step. It doesn't really matter
which: he looks really bad right now, and the tables are well set for him to
hang it up. I hearby (hear by? Hereby!) predict he doesn't last the
year--really. How long can you go with four Yokozuna? Hakuho's sumo is cynical
right now, and if that's how he wants to play it, it's time for us to move fully
into the maw of the new era. The judges seemed to feel it too; in reality, video
showed Ikioi probably touched down first, and they could have at least had a do
over. With Chiyonokuni vs. Okinoumi, they reversed it. But here, it seemed no
one felt like it--Hakuho doesn't seem to care if he wins or loses, so fine, let
him have lost. The whole thing was symbolic of the turn of the tide that has
left Hakuho a relic from the past, swamp marooned in sumo's Golden Dawn of Lies.
M2 Sokokurai (1-2) vs. Y Kisenosato (3-0)
Kisenosato stepped regally forward and placed one hand in Sokokurai's right
armpit. As the smaller man writhed against him, Lord Kisenosato reached over
with his right arm and grabbed his belt. Lord Kisenosato then calmly and coolly
used his girth to move the bout to its death phase, as the little fly flickered
against him. Yori-kiri, Lord Kisenosato removed the little man from the ring.
There Is Nothing You Can Do Against The Power Of Lord Kisenosato! For the
record, I totally believe Lord Kisenosato is a better wrestler than Sokokurai
and can easily beat him. His sumo was rock solid and no match on this particular
day for the minor bit player visiting from the lower ranks. But the Ozeki and
Yokozuna landscape in sumo these days is so farcical that it overshadows
everything with its leering light of fantasy. The legitimate bouts exist in pale
shadow to the lurid fake ones. The good bouts are dimly lit stick drawings, only
dully visible in the acrid reflection of the gaudy kodachrome hell-scenes of the
Hokutoumi Revolution. It's bad enough that the fake bouts make you roll your
eyes. It's worse that the real ones make you shrug and say, "yeah, but."
Mike serves a saucerful of secrets tomorrow.
Day 3 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
much guff as I've given Kisenosato over the years, I really enjoyed the intro to
today's broadcast. For whatever reason, they chose today to show a brief
timeline of Kisenosato's rise in the sport starting with images of him from
mae-zumo and then showing highlights of his rise up the ranks. And when I say
highlights, there were some great bouts that really showcased the Kid's
abilities. They also showed a brief clip of Kisenosato being instructed by his
original stablemaster, Onaruto-oyakata, or the former Yokozuna Takanosato. It
was really a great piece, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was nice to
actually relive what Kisenosato once was.
I decided to record two of those early bouts just so you can see how good he
was, and I want everyone to focus on the actual sumo taking place in the ring.
Watch how Kisenosato forces the bouts to the belt; watch he focuses on the
inside first and then the outside; watch how he cuts off his opponent's outer
grip in the Makushita bout; and then watch how he uses his body to defeat
Kotooshu in the Juryo ranks.
It's really great stuff to watch, and it's
impossible to have watched sumo like that for a few decades and then actually
accept the crap were being shown these days. What I mean by crap is largely illustrated
in the picture below that I found on the wires from the Kisenosato - Shodai bout
on day 2.
If you were to take a minute to study the details, what do you see? First and
foremost are Shodai's sagari lying there on the ground after I proclaimed on day
1 that the sagari never come loose in bouts that involve the big 5. It was
almost as if Kisenosato read that remark because he came out first thing and
just yanked the sagari out for no reason. But beyond that, what do you see?
What stood out to me first was Shodai's head. Why is he looking for a soft
landing? He's still in the bout, and it isn't as if Kisenosato is in his craw or
anything; there's plenty of room between the two. The dude's intent is to lose, and so that's why at the edge he's
looking for a way to land instead of looking at his opponent and trying anything
to counter. It's total mukiryoku sumo on the Komusubi's part, and I guarantee
you that if the bout was straight up, Shodai would not be looking away from his
opponent while the bout was still live.
Another thing that stood out to me was the placement of Kisenosato's hands. His
right hand is actually making a fist, and he's using that to push into Shodai's
left teet. Then with the left he's pushing into his opponent with the back side
of the hand instead of the open palm, which is the way these guys are taught in
front of the teppo pole. A big contrast also comes in the fact that
Kisenosato isn't fighting chest to chest. There's often separation between
him and his opponent; yet, he's not an oshi guy.
Ultimately, what you don't see in the pic are sound sumo basics anywhere, and it's an
indication of how watered down sumo has become, especially in the section of the
banzuke that features the big 5. Kisenosato was once a great rikishi. Kaio
was once a great rikishi. But just because someone was great, it doesn't
mean that we have to put up with yaocho day after day in order to make the
Japanese people feel good about themselves.
With that said, let's start from the bottom and
work our way up yet again today. M15 Tokushoryu met M16 Nishikigi at the
tachi-ai with arms extended but then quickly back-pedaled swiping downwards at
Nishikigi's chest as he retreated. Nishikigi had the forward momentum, but there
was just too much real estate between Tokushoryu and the edge allowing Tokushoryu to stay in the dohyo before Nishikigi crashed to the dirt.
Tokushoryu picks up the ugly win moving to 2-1 while Nishikigi falls to 1-2.
J2 Gagamaru had to sense that M15 Chiyooh is ailing because he came out of the
gate blazing with a tsuppari attack for which Chiyooh had no answer. Chiyooh did
attempt to escape back and right, but Gagamaru had the footwork not to mention
the Christmas hams attached to the end of each arm that pummeled Chiyooh back
and out in mere seconds. Chiyooh falls to 0-3 after the ass-kicking.
M14 Kyokushuho must have smelled blood against M13 Daishomaru because he got the
right arm secured to the inside from the tachi-ai despite Daishomaru's shifting
a bit left, and the Mongolian just kept on the pressure adding insult to injury
with the left outer grip, and it was textbook sumo from there as Shuho wrenched
his foe upright and off balance and had him forced back and across in seconds.
Just like they draw it up as Kyokushuho moves to 2-1 while Daishomaru falls to
the same mark.
M13 Takakeisho and M14 Myogiryu engaged in a brief tsuppari affair from the
tachi-ai where neither rikishi had much effect, so after playing pattycake for a
spell, Takakeisho backed up to his right and went for a pull maneuver that sent
Myogiryu down far too easily. This coulda been legit, and I know that Myogiryu
is ailing, but Takakeisho has shown us nothing in this division, and I've seen
enough of Myogiryu that I think he could have easily destroyed the youngster
today had he wanted. He falls to 1-2 with the loss while Takanohana, who was in
the booth today, likely paid for this one has his rikishi moves to 2-1.
M11 Daieisho stutter-stepped at the tachi-ai against M11 Ishiura probably
expecting some shenanigans, and although Ishiura didn't come hard and straight
forward, Daieisho was already off balance, and his only response after the
failed tachi-ai was a meager pull, but Ishiura read the move with ease and
jumped into the moro-zashi position, and from there it was curtains from
Daieisho who exhibited his worst sumo of the fortnight so far falling to 1-2.
Credit Ishiura for taking advantage of his opponent's mistake as he moves to
2-1 with the yori-kiri win.
Like the previous bout, I'm sure that M10 Tochiohzan suspected something
unorthodox from M12 Ura because he hopped a bit at the tachi-ai and then moved
out left. Fortunately, Tochiohzan guessed right because Ura attempted to duck in
low and dry hump Tochiohzan's right leg, but with nothing there, Ura was forced
to pivot in an attempt to square back up with his gal, but the former Sekiwake
already had the smaller Ura by the back of the belt and pulled him down to the
clay in between his legs before Ura really knew what hit him. Tochiohzan is 3-0 if you need him
while Ura is finding that the Makuuchi division is a different game at 1-2.
Unlike the great start we got to my Day 1, the first six contests of day 3 have
been quite lopsided.
That would finally change with the next bout where M12 Sadanoumi was likely
licking his chops against the injured M10 Tochinoshin. What Sadanoumi seemed to
miss, however, was that Shin's first two opponent's forced the Private to move
laterally and use his legs. Sadanoumi, on the other hand, charged straight into
his opponent settling for chest to chest combat. The two immediately hooked up
in the gappuri migi-yotsu position, and I think Sadanoumi sensed that he was in
trouble because instead of trying beat his foe at the belt, he wrapped his right
leg around Tochinoshin's good left leg threatening the soto-gake, but that's not
Sadanoumi's game, especially against a big lug like Tochinoshin, and so
Tochinoshin just went Greco-Roman style using his superior upper body strength
to wrench Sadanoumi this way and that and then out for the emphatic win.
Tochinoshin moves to 1-2 with the win while Sadanoumi falls to 0-3. I like that
fact that Sadanoumi looked to tie up Tochinoshin's healthy leg, but that
adjustment came after making the mistake of going chest to chest with him.
M9 Kagayaki and M8 Okinoumi hooked up in hidari-yotsu from the tachi-ai although
both rikishi used their right hands to push into their opponent. After a few
seconds when it was clear that this one was going to the belt (which favors
Okinoumi), Kagayaki attempted to counter with a tsuki attempt and then a
kote-nage as he moved laterally this way and that, but Okinoumi used his
length--and superior sumo skills--to stay square with his pardner and eventually
force him back and across for the nice yori-kiri win. Okinoumi looks
disinterested to me these days despite his decent 2-1 start. Kagayaki falls to 0-3
with the loss.
M9 Kotoyuki shaded to his right at the tachi-ai against M7 Chiyoshoma but still
attempted to unleash a tsuppari attack, but the Mongolian just went with the
flow and moved right himself keeping square with his opponent, and when it
was clear Kotoyuki posed no threat, Shoma timed a perfect slap of Kotoyuki's left
shoulder that sent him stumbling a bit sideways, and from there we got our first
Brokeback moment of the basho as Chiyoshoma dove in from behind, embraced his
man in snug, and then sent him forward and out okuri-dashi style. Chiyoshoma is 3-0
if you need him while Kotoyuki falls to 1-2.
M6 Chiyonokuni simply henka'd to his left at the tachi-ai and M6 Aoiyama fell
for it. I guess Chiyonokuni did use a kote-nage from the side to aid Aoiyama's
fall, but this was a cheap shot as Kuni moves to 2-1. Aoiyama falls to 1-2 but
will eventually make up the ground by the time the cup is hoisted on senshuraku.
M7 Ichinojo implemented his python sumo against M5 Hokutofuji getting his right
arm to the inside from the tachi-ai and sucking the youngster into a chest to
chest bout. Hokutofuji complied, but his left arm was far away from the outer
grip. Content to let the action flow backwards where his feet were near the
tawara, Ichinojo leaned into his opponent and finally reached that left arm
around securing the outer grip, and once obtained, he knew exactly what to do.
Hokutofuji knew what was coming as well and tried a desperate maki-kae with the
left arm, but the Python had him in too tight and enjoyed all the momentum as he
danced his partner all the way across the dohyo and out for the nice, textbook
win. Ichinojo moves to 2-1 while Hokutofuji falls to 1-2.
M4 Yoshikaze ducked in low against M4 Arawashi, who seemed to want to get to the
belt with an arm extended, but Monster Drink was caffeinated today executing a
quick pull before moving left and getting the left arm inside deep. Arawashi
looked to counter that with a right kote-nage, but Yoshikaze was moving so fast
and was so low that the counter move had little effect, so the result was a nice
win for Yoshikaze by yori-kiri as he improves to 2-1 while Arawashi falls to 0-3.
M3 Takarafuji's intent today against M5 Endoh was to win, and he did just that
crashing hard and forward at the tachi-ai before getting his left arm to the
inside against the listless Endoh, and with Takara Boom De Ay enjoying the
momentum, he didn't even need the insurance with the right arm the bout was over
that fast. Takarafuji moves to 3-0 with the win while Endoh falls to 1-2, and
the dude could do nothing here. It's not as if Takarafuji is a bruiser; it's
that Endoh's full colors were on display today, and we may as well have been
watching a TV in black and white.
Sekiwake Tamawashi fired some nice tsuppari into Komusubi Mitakeumi from the
tachi-ai methodically driving him back, but then the Sekiwake shifted gears and
eased up on the pressure keeping his arms out wide and allowing Mitakeumi back
into the bout. Now with Mitakeumi firing back, Tamawashi got his right arm to
the inside, but that was just for show as he allowed Mitakeumi to pivot out left
and tug Tamawashi down and out by the shoulder. I know that Tamawashi was
winless against Mitakeumi coming in, but that's an inflated number. This was
total mukiryoku sumo on the part of the Sekiwake, who stopped his initial
tsuppari attack for no reason and then did nothing to square himself up once he
got the right arm to the inside. iI gave Mitakeumi the bendoubt last basho when
these two clashed, but enough it enough. It wastoo easy for Mitakeumi who did nothing to set
this one up, but it looks good on paper as Mitakeumi moves to 2-1 while
Tamawashi falls to 1-2.
In a Sekiwake duel today, Takayasu briefly looked to have moro-zashi against
Kotoshogiku, but after a brief tussle, the two ended up in hidari-yotsu where
Takayasu looked to stand his ground as Kotoshogiku stayed busy trying
desperately to nudge his foe back towards the straw. Takayasu's heels were
close, and the former Ozeki actually got the right outer grip, but Takayasu was
just too big to budge, and so at the edge, he finally countered with a nice
inside belt throw with the left hand that toppled Kotoshogiku over and down to
his first loss at 2-1. Kotoshogiku must keep up this pace in order to
return to the Ozeki rank, and that will be up to the four Mongolians. As
for Takayasu, he moves to 3-0, and I thought Harvye was spot in yesterday in his
assessment of him: he's a solid dude, but he hasn't earned this rank and
talk of Ozeki on his own.
Ozeki on the board, Terunofuji, moved forward well against M3 Shohozan at the tachi-ai looking to get to
the inside, but Shohozan wanted no part of that, so he backed up and moved
right looking for anything, but with the Ozeki on his game and moving well,
Shohozan moved back to the center of the ring creating full separation even
though neither guy had really touched each other to this point. You could see,
though, that Terunofuji was on a mission, and so he advanced forward hard
executing a nice pull of Shohozan moving him over towards the edge, and as the
M3 looked to turn around and square back up, Fuji the Terrible sent him sailing
oshi-taoshi style over the the corner of the dohyo and eventually off. The Ozeki
was a destroyer yet again today, and it's refreshing to see him choose this kind
of sumo as he moves to 3-0 while Shohozan falls to 0-3.
Ozeki Goeido looked to burrow in tight against Komusubi Shodai, but there was no
punch to his attack, so the Komusubi was able to move left and sorta set up a
kote-nage throw, and then when Goeido came to square up again, Shodai next moved
to his right getting the right arm to the inside and easily dumping Goeido down
the clay with a scoop throw. Even watching the replay of this one, there really
weren't any concrete moves from either rikishi that one could describe. They
were both just kind of slapping their hands around and moving this way or that
until the final kote-nage in the end...which wasn't that powerful either.
Contrast this to the two bouts I showed of Kisenosato when he was young, and
it's totally different sumo. Goeido's gettin' up there in age, so that
could be excuse, but that Kisenosato we saw in those videos would kick the
modern day Shodai's as this way till Tuesday. Goeido falls to a precarious
1-2 while BlowDai is 2-1
Yokozuna Kakuryu and M1 Ikioi each looked half-assed at the tachi-ai getting all
busy with their hands but not really doing much. Still standing in the center of
the ring, Kakuryu finally ducked in looking for moro-zashi but coming away with
just the left arm inside. Still, he reached for and got the right outer grip,
and with Ikioi's right arm far away from the belt, the Yokozuna hunkered down
and gathered his wits. After a few seconds of inaction, Kakuryu made his
force-out charge getting Ikioi pushed back against the straw and then finally
out. Ikioi's height and his belt loosening from the right outer grip made the
Yokozuna work a little harder, but he scored the nice win in the end after a
bland start upping his record to 3-0. Ikioi falls to a hard luck 0-3.
For whatever reason, Yokozuna Hakuho kept both arms wide open at the tachi-ai
against M1 Takekaze who took the moro-zashi gift straightway. Hakuho's tachi-ai
made no sense here, but we often see the Mongolians dick around with their sumo
for no apparent reason (just look at Harumafuji yesterday against Ikioi). Despite
giving up moro-zashi from the start, Hakuho was in no trouble because his
opponent was named Takekaze, and so he held on with a firm left outer grip while
eventually working his right arm to the inside, and once obtained, the force-out
was swift and decisive. It was a horrible start but a solid finish for the
Yokozuna who moves to 2-1 while Takekaze falls to 0-3.
The only move M2 Takanoiwa consistently showed today against Kisenosato was to
keep his feet aligned at all costs. In another boring bout that contained few
moves that one can describe, both rikishi danced this way and that with busy
hands, and just when you thought Takanoiwa had an opening to the inside, he'd
back away allowing Kisenosato to give chase, and after about six seconds of
this nonsense, Kisenosato finally connected on a few shoves that weren't that
powerful, and it allowed Takanoiwa to get the left arm firmly to the inside. He
still did nothing with it, however, and backed out yet again, and this time
Kisenosato was able to follow him and score the easy oshi-dashi win in the end.
Complete mukiryoku sumo from Takanoiwa today as he falls to 0-3 while Kisenosato
is gifted a 3-0 start. Once again, you look at the photo finish at right,
and there's just something missing.
In the day's final bout, Yokozuna Harumafuji looked to take charge with a paw to
Sokokurai's neck and another good push from the side, but his feet were totally
aligned, and so while the attack looked legit to the novice, the Yokozuna was
being reckless in his sumo yet again. With Sokokurai really doing nothing from
the start, Harumafuji next went for a dumb pull motion, and I say motion because
he really didn't pull any part of his opponent's body, and so with the Yokozuna backed
way up in a bad bout all around, he next dove forward with a reckless do-or-die
push-out attempt where he tried to fly over half the dohyo in the air, and
Sokokurai easily read that move and pulled the Yokozuna down
for the sloppy win...or should I say sloppy loss on the part of the Yokozuna. This was like one of those bouts where the big 5 pulls off a
win without doing anything the first 9 1/2 seconds only to pull the rabbit out
of the hat in the final moments. It's just senseless, ridiculous sumo from the
Yokozuna, and he lost this one instead of getting beat. All three Yokozuna have
been sloppy so far save Hakuho's win against Sokokurai yesterday. Terunofuji is
the benchmark for what these guys can do, but for obvious reasons, they're
leaving themselves vulnerable and lowering the bar of their sumo in order to
create parity. After the bout Harumafuji sat on the edge of the dohyo
looking perplexed, and I just wanted to say get your ass back to your corner.
Isn't it enough that we have to see fake sumo in the ring? We don't need
to see you guys pretending as if you don't know what just happened. Both
rikishi end the day at 1-2.
I guess I've come to accept life atop the dohyo these days, but it doesn't make for enjoyable sumo. In fact,
the entire day today was so bland that I can't recall a single solid bout of
sumo from both parties. But...the Association has made their bed, and if I want to continue to lie
in it, then I guess I'll put up with it.
Let's hope the sumo gods are kinder to Harvye tomorrow.
Day 2 Comments (Harvey Hodja reporting)
a ridiculous day one, I will not deign to riff on Kisenosato, "Yokozuna," just
yet. Let's talk baseball!
In the 1990s and 2000s, baseball in the United States saw an explosion of home
runs. Balls flew out the park in record, absurd numbers that made it look like a
whole new sport. Thick-necked "athletes" with rippling muscles employed inhuman
power in their bat strokes. Meanwhile, the media, which surely knew
exactly what was going on, ran around writing articles about whether the balls
The sport was, of course, rife with steroid use, as is now well documented.
Many of the very, very best players were caught using steroids, and many gumps
as well. One of the very good ones, Jose Canseco, an irresponsible
lunkhead, eventually wrote a book and said pretty much everybody was using
steroids. He may or may not have been exaggerating, and because he was a
lunkhead, lots of people dismissed him. But meanwhile, the sport acted
like he was right, decided it had to clean up, made all kinds of rules, and
began testing like mad. So, by around 2010 scoring was way down and the
sport was confidently describing its "post steroid" era. Jose Canseco
remains a pariah, and a select group of those who were caught are vilified as
having sullied the sport. (But so is Canseco.)
Then a funny thing happened. Last year, guys started blasting balls out of
the part at near unprecedented rates again--precedented only, you guessed it, by
the steroid era. Yet strangely enough, nobody is talking about steroids.
Rather, for example, the other day an article appeared in the highly respected,
and indeed excellent baseball-insider bible Baseball America, where the author
speculated, amazingly, on whether the balls were different last year.
The balls. Hoo, boy.
The article reads like a comedy; the sport and the ball makers have exhaustingly
tested the balls, and proved they are exactly the same, yet a number of people
still insist them darn balls just must be wound too tight! One player
feigns bemusement and says well, we can't just have all gotten so much better
all the sudden, can we? With the ball theory in doubt, the article points
out that the pitchers are throwing much, much harder than ever before.
Very true! So it must be that the balls are flying off the bats because
they are thrown so hard. Right? Right?
The very obvious logical answer is that the balls are hit harder because of
steroids, and the balls are thrown harder because of steroids, too. It's
just really hard to catch, and players have started to figure out how to get
around the rules again. As an article in Men's Fitness says, "if you want
to get a good chuckle from the world's top experts on doping, just try telling
them this is baseball's 'post-steroid' era... [they] find that idea hysterical."
Why this long digression into another sport, you ask? Dear reader, you
have of course noted the parallel between steroid use in baseball and yaocho in
sumo. Substitute sumo for baseball, match fixing for steroids,
inexplicable bout technique for home runs and 100 mile per hour fastballs, Itai
for Jose Canseco, etc., and you get the picture. The reality in sumo is
that the current landscape is as fake as Okinawan summer snowscapes, but it's
hard to actually catch, so most of those having an interest, including the
deeply embedded mainstream media, have to run around and figure out other things
We're not going to do that on this site.
J1 Chiyotairyu (0-1) vs. M15 Tokushoryu (1-0)
That blasting ball of mutton meat, Chiyotairyu, tried something different in
this one. Well, he started off as usual, kabloom!, trying to launch his
opponent to the ceiling with upward jacks, but when it didn't work Chiyotairyu
didn't pull, and then actually went to the belt. Should have been toast
from there against blubbery inside-worker Special Sauce (Tokushoryu), but lo! if
Chiyotairyu didn't have an inside left and an outside right, and use it to drive
ol' bacon ball out and over, yori-kiri.
M14 Myogiryu (1-0) vs. M16 Nishikigi (0-1)
Oh wee weakling, Myogiryu, who are you? I remember when you were so tough
and tenacious. Here you are fumbling and bumbling, and pushed about, and I
hardly recognize you, old boy. Nishikigi kept his arms in tight and
quickly pushed out the eensy-looking Myogiryu, oshi-dashi.
M15 Chiyooh (0-1) vs. M14 Kyokushuho (0-1)
Kyokushuho looked like a coach using his compliant friend as a practice dummy
while teaching the kids a lesson. "See now students, here I am with my
legs wide apart, chest low. See now how I reach in here and grab his belt with
my left overhand--that's it, thank you--and now you see with my wide stance my
can is far back and Chiyooh can't grab it. Reach for it now, that's a good lad,
Chiyooh, thank you, show them how you can't reach it, like that, yes. He's
wiggling about a bit, as you can see, but I'm holding him tight. And then I dump
him just like this, leveraging up on my belt grip and tipping him over, this
technique is called uwate-nage, your classic overhand throw. Thank you Chiyooh,
you can go back to the water coolers now."
M12 Sadanoumi (0-1) vs. M13 Takakeisho (0-1)
Takakeisho knows a mark when he sees one, and Sadanoumi has been pounded flank
steak breaded for tooth grind for a year or so now. Takakeisho looked like
a stupid alley brawler in this one, bashing away with aggressive but silly
looking tsuppari first, then eagerly pulling, but Sadanoumi looked drunk on
mescal and fell down in the cactus, tsuki-otoshi.
M13 Daishomaru (1-0) vs. M12 Ura (1-0)
We're all so eager to see Ura fly through circus hoops while twirling a tiger
round his loins, carrying a flaming noren curtain rod between his teeth and
moving each toe separately in an interpretive dance based on a John Cage
composition, that we forget that he is, at the moment, an undersized rookie.
This was as bad a boring, ill-fought lower bout match on his part as you're
likely to find from whoever. Ura stepped to the side against the loathsome
green pull-slug, Daishomaru, but Daishomaru turned to him and ruthlessly pushed
the little pipsqueak out, oshi-dashi. Tomorrow: Ura leaps twelve
meters in the air and knocks his opponent out with an ass to the face on the way
M10 Tochinoshin (0-1) vs. M11 Ishiura (0-1)
The Leaning Tower of Tochino-Pisa. This was a little sad, as The Leaning Tower
(Tochinoshin) kept moving forward too slowly, or not enough, and Ishiura did one
thing only: kept slightly diagonal to him on his right, and tugged at this
right arm. Hoping to topple his Leaning Tower. A demolition engineer, working
away at the fault line. Tochinoshin kept gingerly rotating, rotating, trying to
square; the little engineer kept retreating to the side, retreating to the
side... when the Leaning Tower finally moved forward fast and aggressively,
well, why, there was the little engineer, tugging on that ol' right arm and
ushering him past and out, okuri-dashi. The Leaning Tower finally fell down.
M11 Daieisho (1-0) vs. M10 Tochiohzan (1-0)
Tochiohzan's chestnut heart has grown dry and crumbly, but he's still pretty
good, and that is why Thou Shalt Not Pull Him. Daieisho had ol' chestnut going
backward, but then went backwards himself instead, trying to do what Takakeisho
did to Sadanoumi a few bouts ago. Lesson: Tochiohzan is not Sadanoumi. He easily
moved with the momentum shift and pushed leedle fellow Daieisho out, oshi-dashi.
M9 Kotoyuki (1-0) vs. M8 Okinoumi (0-1)
Kotoyuki pushed, which was working, then pulled, which did not. He slapped
dutifully away, but Okinoumi wore that hairshirt like a summer dress, and
stepped nonchalantly to the side while torqueing Kotoyuki by the noggin; then he
was standing placidly behind him, barely exercised, and got the easy okuri-dashi
win. Lo!; the best was yet to come. Kotoyuki, in an ecstasy of odd
movement, fell backwards onto one of the men in black, like a guy jumping onto a
silver dinner tray for an illicit ride down the hall, whee! Teenage fun at
your cousin's mental ward. But that weren't no dinner tray with wheels,
but an old man in a black frock, and he didn't roll, but rocked in an organic
jello-ish way underneath Kotoyuki and dumped him off. I love it when dumb
weird stuff happens to Kotoyuki.
M9 Kagayaki (0-1) vs. M7 Chiyoshoma (1-0)
Oh my my. This wiry nervy Chiyoshoma is pretty good, folks. He read our
scouting report, too. He spent the match trying not to let Fried Mosquito
(Kagayaki) catch him straight on. Good work! But in the middle he
also tried some little deeky paws to the face, which I've never been an admirer
of--just seems like Show move to me--and Kagayaki took advantage of the moment
by reaching in with his long, long left and grabbing Chiyoshoma's belt.
Now it was harder to rotate, and Chiyoshoma had to try something else.
Which, being a Mongolian who keeps in his locker a thermosful of "it" gathered
from a secret pool deep on the Mongolian steppe, he could do no problem.
He hopped and jacked his body out to the side while putting pressure on with an
arm to the body, and as Fried Mosquito was still lamely trying to linearly force
him out, Chiyoshoma limberly lurched lovelily at his side and threw him out in
this unlikely manner, sukui-nage. Chiyoshoma went back to his locker and
took another refreshing swig of "it." Ahhhh!
M6 Chiyonokuni (0-1) vs. M7 Ichinojo (1-0)
Chiyonokuni did the right thing at first, staying out of harm's way and rotating
the fulcrum of attack, and then he improbably drove The Mongolith (Ichinojo)
back with some slappity funsies. It must be the size of the ball!
That said, at the end Ichinojo put the wrong foot forward, literally, switching
out the left for the right. Lightning quick, Chiyonokuni jumped to his
right side and struck Ichinojo there, knocking him forward into the angle
created between his feet, tsuki-otoshi. This looked, um, weird.
M6 Aoiyama (0-1) vs. M5 Hokutofuji (1-0)
I have always wondered what it feels like to be dragged forward by the head and
then flipped into the air by said head in a twisting motion. Oh, okay,
I've never wondered that until this match. Aoiyama was doing fine with his
concrete-slabs-falling-from-the-sky arm attack, then found Hokutofuji's round
head between his sweaty palms and, like a man being gifted a golden bowling
ball, drew the precious orb towards him. And, as aforementioned, twisted
it and thereby slung the body attached to it twirling into the air,
tsuki-otoshi. Sometimes sumo looks pretty cool.
M4 Yoshikaze (0-1) vs. M5 Endo (1-0)
The return of classic Endo! Just like on so many days of yore, his foe was
being cautious, and Endo was trying to set up some nice technique, in this case
working to get his left arm inside. Then his opponent realized, hey,
there's no "there" there! Meaning it wasn't working, was going too slow,
and had no force behind it. So Yoshikaze simply turned on the gas and
bulldozed zero-power-Endo out like cotton dander in a typhoon, watashi-komi.
I have always loved watching this happen to Endo; he used to do this on my
reporting days all the time.
M4 Arawashi (0-1) vs. M3 Takarafuji (1-0)
Before the match Arawashi walked by Chiyoshoma's locker. "Hey; want a slug
of 'it'?" asked Chiyoshoma. "Nah, I had a mug full for breakfast," said
Arawashi. Mistake! When the muscley Takarafuji, with his beautiful
sumo body, wrapped him up with a right overhand and a wriggling arm getting
close to a grip on the right, Arawashi found he did not quite have enough of
"it;" while he tried to jump to the side in the same limber way Chiyoshoma had,
it was too little and too late, and instead he found himself jumping out of the
M Mitakeumi (0-1) vs. M3 Shohozan (0-1)
Ugly, obvious false start resulted in a lame-o match. Here Darth Hozan was
the over eager beaver, and leapt upon Mitakeumi like a beaver-eater while said
beaver was still lazily reaching his hands down to the clay. But, as the
ref ignored it like a naïve parent and just let them go at it, right there, like
it was okay or something, Mitakeumi stood up and carried Shohozan, who got
confused and went flaccid out, oshi-dashi.
S Kotoshogiku (1-0) vs. M2 Takanoiwa (0-1)
Oh, man. If Takanoiwa were a fifty-year-old man with calcified knee
joints, surviving on grit and guile, I might--might!--buy it that he could get
done like this, wrapped up by that fierce Sekiwake, Kotoshogiku, and driven out
with yo-yoing hump thrusts, yori-taoshi, while he just... couldn't... do...
anything... aaaargh! Home run!
O Goeido (1-0) vs. S Takayasu (1-0)
Goeido was uncharacteristically slow and methodical in this one, wording on the
inside, staying low, not trying to get the belt, then pushing up on Takayasu's
face and such and trying to force him out--he did have him near the straw and
standing up way too straight, and so there was some sense in this.
However, it was all an empty flour bag about to get flattened by a steel-toed
work boot, because Takayasu just said "uhn uh," and slapped Goeido down to the
S Tamawashi (1-0) vs. O Terunofuji (1-0)
Great match-up here, the hard-hitting, newly dominant Tamawashi against classic
belt behemoth Terunofuji. True to form, Tamawashi tried to
face-mash-and-mangle, and Terunofuji stood there like a statue from the "about
to grab the belt" gallery, kind of ignoring all the bashing: "I'm going to
get that belt yet..." He only had it for a moment, but in that moment he
found his rhythm, Tamawashi lost his, and when he let go of the belt Fuji the
Terrible shoved Tamawashi hard up high with both arms, oshi-dashi, even adding a
bit of a dame-oshi for extras. Day-um! "I'M the Ozeki, FOOL!"
Y Hakuho (0-1) vs. M2 Sokokurai (0-1)
Could this be Hakuho's last tournament? A radical thought, but it occurred
to me yesterday. It can't go on like it has much longer, and there won't
be a good point to end it. Why not do it now? Giving up the ghost on
the farce and making up some reason ("my poor arm still hurts ever since Lynn
Matsuoka fell on it!") would be accepted by all, and we could all get back to
the spectacle of the Hokutoumi Revolution. But not today, friends.
With vastly superior strength, The Yokozuna of Yesteryear wrapped Sokokurai up
and slid him out, yori-kiri. But I sense that the crumbling of the world
has only begun.
K Shodai (1-0) vs. Y Kisenosato (1-0)
Our most recent Yokozuna against our next one. Sumo is a frightening state
if I can both say that and mean it, and quote for you Mike yesterday--"Shodai is
a weak, weak rikishi"--and mean that, too. This was an upper-body
chest-bumping push battle. Shodai won phase one, pushing the Old Yokozuna
(Is he really brand new? You don't say!) back to the straw. There
Kisenosato swept an arm up into Shodai's pit, actually grabbing his mawashi
strings along the way and tearing them loose, like a cheerleader with a pom-pom,
stuffing them into said pit. He drove Shodai back and around and out from
there, oshi-dashi, dropping his sweaty pom-pom along the way. The spent
Young Yokozuna To Be (that would be Shodai) landed face down headfirst in the
crowd. Oh, them Yokozuna are tough! Yesterday Mike made an excellent
point about sagari rarely getting ripped loose in the last few bouts of the day,
no mawashi unkemptness, etc. Well, Kisenosato sure took care of that
problem today, didn't he! More Yokozuna pom-pom sagari action please!
Yay, yah, go team! Kisenosato, Kisenosato, he's our man; if he can't do
it, nobody can!
Y Harumafuji (0-1) vs. M1 Ikioi (0-1)
Why do guys drive their opponents to the edge, then stop and reverse momentum
for no reason? Harumafuji easily drove his inferior foe straight to the
straw, then stopped on a dime and eagerly reversed his momentum, clear across
the dohyo, Ikioi chasing him back while falling down. A mono-ii was called
to make sure, and yes, it was true, despite all this dumbness and the sloppy
willingness to lose in a stupid way, Harumafuji had won anyway, hataki-komi,
while flying out backwards on his own momentum. Icky. Oi!
M1 Takekaze (0-1) vs. Y Kakuryu (1-0)
These two fellers held on to each other's faces a bit: oh, lookit u, ainch u a
cutie pie darlin'! Like proud aunties cuddling the cheeks of dear nieces,
rosy cheeked and seven, with smiling bright button eyes. Except Auntie
Kakuryu reared back and punched niece Takekaze hard. Zoinks! Okay, so it's
sumo then. After a few moments of toying with him, Kakuryu went ahead and
finally pushed that noted powerhouse, Takekaze, out, yori-kiri. Ooh, lawd, I
b'lieve I've done had all I can take!
Mike pipes at the gates of dawn tomorrow.
Day 1 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
and I engaged in an interesting dialogue as we set up the basho reporting
schedule where we both questioned, "Do we really want to keep doing this?"
Ultimately, we both feel as if there is enough there to keep on going for the
time being, but it's hard to stomach something that is treated as real on the
surface when the underbelly of it all is so rotten.
I've talked before about acceptable levels of yaocho in sumo, and how it's easy
to discount yaocho psychologically in certain cases. For example, there's
the yaocho that gives a 7-7 guy kachi-koshi on senshuraku or the Ozeki who needs
that win or two to maintain his rank, and then for years we were groomed to
accept the occasional yaocho in favor of Japanese elite rikishi just to help
them save face and stay in the yusho run. Even last year after
Kotoshogiku's yusho--fake as it was, we all got it. I mean it was the 10
year anniversary since the last Japanese yusho, so why not? But then
giving a zensho yusho to Goeido and a Yokozuna promotion to Kisenosato?
It's just too much to stomach for the rational mind.
As I alluded to in my pre-basho report, the Japanese people are groomed not to
question authority, and so they are going along with this in blind faith, but I
think deep down, everybody knows SOMETHING is going on even if they can't
discern it for themselves. It took me probably two decades of watching
sumo to figure out why the Sumo Association doesn't issues press credentials to
foreign media entities . I mean why not give your sport that much more
exposure?? It's for times like these when Japan wants to keep the dirty
little secret to themselves and away from the prying eyes of Westerners who who
just don't understand. Take gambling for example. It's illegal in
Japan, so why are there pachinko parlors on every city corner? That type
of rational question does not cross the minds of the Japanese people, and so
that's why the Japanese people are so easily fooled. We all know that
yaocho doesn't exist in sumo. And so it doesn't.
I would liken my current interest in sumo to a tomato plant that just got the
hell beaten out of it by a severe hail storm. The plant itself is shredded, and
it can no longer bear fruit, but it's hard to entirely extinguish life, and so
you have these little offshoots that creep up from the main stem signaling life,
and for me, it's the first hour or so of the basho or these little offshoots
that keep me watching. There's still real sumo there as we will describe
shortly, but once you hit the 5:20 PM mark, the life is entirely gone.
I think the first bout of this basho that featured M16 Nishikigi and J1
Chiyootori should be the baseline by which we measure every single bout this
tournament. Nishikigi fished for moro-zashi at the tachi-ai, but the
footwork just wasn't there. Instead of planting firmly and moving forward,
he offered this weird stutter step that would eventually cost him. The
Morioka native used his length in the hidari-yotsu affair to grab early right
outer, and he used that to drive Otori back, but the wily Otori survived
grabbing his own right outer, and that allowed him to survive an outer belt
throw from Nishikigi. In the process of that throw, Nishikigi lost his
outer grip, and so Chiyootori stayed low and wrenched his upright foe back and
across. This was a legit bout of sumo that was entirely real between two
guys ranked where they should be. How often do we see a belt unravel
against the big 5? How often do we see tousled hair? How often to
their sagari fall out of the belt? Pretty much never because there's no
real force being applied from either party. There's no chest to chest sumo
with solid footwork, and so we get weak sumo that doesn't match the result we
see on paper. Anyway, good win for Chiyootori today who won this bout by
keeping his foe upright from the start.
M15 Tokushoryu came with a quick charge against M15 Chiyooh, and this time the
aggressor had the proper footwork, and it showed as Tokushoryu got the left
inside early, pulled his gal in chest to chest, and then scored the quick
yori-kiri win over the struggling Chiyooh who damned himself from the tachi-ai
after aligning his feet. Textbook sumo that the big five cannot execute at
their current level of the banzuke. They certainly could down here or in
the mid-Maegashira, but they can't do it among the jo'i or else they would.
M14 Myogiryu shaded left at the tachi-ai against M14 Kyokushuho and forced him
upright with an ottsuke shove, but Kyokushuho used his size well to dig in and
force the bout to migi-yotsu. From this point, Shuho used his length to
threaten the counter left outer grip, but Myogiryu wouldn't let him get
established charging forward and hard. He didn't have Shuho in snug,
however, and so the Mongolian was able to counter with a right scoop throw and
then a left tsuki-otoshi that sent Myogiryu to the clay, but Kyokushuho's leg
looked to touch out before Myogiryu bit the dust. They really should have
called a mono-ii here, but gunbai to the native.
M13 Daishomaru stayed low at the tachi-ai while M13 Takakeisho looked for the
quick pull. Daishomaru easily took advantage of the dumb move scoring the
quick push-out win as Takakeisho whiffed on a right counter tsuki-otoshi.
This was a bad bout of sumo from Takakeisho, but I'll take it "sense" it was
real as one of my co-workers likes to say (remember, I do live in Utah).
not one to really hop on the bandwagon of gimmick rikishi, and so I haven't paid
tons of attention to Ura, and so when they announced that he was an Osaka native
on the broadcast, it just added another dimension to the way this guy is going
to by hyped. Today against M12 Sadanoumi, Ura feigned a frontal charge and
then backed up left. Before Sadanoumi could adjust, Ura was up and under
Sada's right armpit lifting him up and pushing him over and out just like that
to the delight of the crowd. The guys down this low on the banzuke are
going to need to learn to adjust to Ura's brand of sumo...something that
Sadanoumi obviously didn't do today. This guy is not going to try and go
chest to chest, so you need to be ready for it. Regardless, it was a good
start for the rookie, and I suppose if I should have made any prediction prior
to the basho it would be a Kantosho for Ura.
It's been over seven years sense M10 Tochiohzan was ranked this low, and so
that's a testament to how solid of a rikishi he's been, but no one's doing him
any favors, and so he finds himself ranked at M10 coming into the basho.
Despite the drop, he's still outclasses M11 Ishiura, and it showed today as Oh
looked pull from the start slapping downward on Ishiura nearly spilling him to
the clay a half second in. Ishiura somehow survived, however, and grabbed
Tochiohzan's right leg not unlike a dog that's happy to see you at the door, but
Oh grabbed the back of Ishiura's belt and forced him to step out before he could
ultimately fell the veteran with a leg trip.
I hear that M10 Tochinoshin earned a lot of merit badges at the recent scout
camp for rikishi, but the dude forgot to unlatch the bedroll from his right
knee. The result was M11 Daieisho's catching the Private with some nice
shoves to the teets knocking Tochinoshin upright and back a step. Before
Tochinoshin could recover, Daieisho seized the opportunity knocking Tochinoshin
back and across before he could muster a counter. You could tell by the
way Tochinoshin moved (or didn't move) that he has no mobility due to that right
knee injury, and Daieisho simply took advantage.
M9 Kotoyuki and M9 Kagayaki tussled at the tachi-ai looking for position, but it
was a right hand from Kotoyuki into Kagayaki's neck that stood Tatsu upright so
that when he bore back down looking for position, Kotoyuki was able to show him
the trap door by quickly moving back and left pulling his foe down in the
In my pre-basho report, I stated that I thought M8 Okinoumi was the best
Japanese rikishi on the banzuke. I also implied that guys like Arawashi
and Chiyoshoma are better than any Japanese rikishi even though that aspect
doesn't show up in the record books. Today was exhibit A of that
assessment when M7 Chiyoshoma used his speed to establish the left inside
position before grabbing the left outer grip, and with Okinoumi searching for a
left outer of his own, Chiyoshoma simply tripped him off balance with a nice
soto-gake attempt before twisting his foe down in the end. Nice win for
Chiyoshoma who's thankful he doesn't have to throw as many bouts in these parts.
M7 Ichinojo and M6 Aoiyama treated us to an entertaining affair where Aoiyama
looked to take charge as Ichinojo did what he likes to do from the tachi-ai
which is to stand there like a brick wall. Aoiyama gave up on his forward
charge far too quickly, however, and despite working Ichinojo back near the
straw after a few seconds of grappling, he went for another pull, and this time
Ichinojo was ready using his feet to propel him forward and push Aoiyama back
and out. Not the soundest bout of sumo you'll ever see, but it was
entertaining to see all the size on display.
My current mancrush is M5 Hokutoriki, and today the youngster battled M6
Chiyonokuni. After bumping heads at the tachi-ai, Hokutoriki coolly
burrowed in low as Chiyonokuni couldn't test the pull waters fast enough, but
Hokutoriki was right there bodying his gal back leading with the right inside
while searching for the left outer grip. Near the edge, Chiyonokuni
attempted a counter left tsuki-otoshi that would have worked had he not stepped
beyond the straw before its execution. The problem wasn't Chiyonokuni's
footwork, however. It was that dumb pull attempt after an even steven
tachi-ai. Gotta love it when sound sumo prevails atop the dohyo.
Is it 5:20 yet? I guess it may as well be as M5 Endoh stepped into the
ring against M4 Arawashi in a bout that quickly went to hidari-yotsu with
Arawashi coming away with the right outer grip, and before Endoh could really
settle on a right frontal of his own, Arawashi attempted an outer belt throw
that he never finished for obvious reasons. After letting Endoh stay in
the bout, Arawashi relinquished that right outer and then let Endoh get one of
his own, and from the there it was just stay square so your opponent doesn't
muck it up. And Endoh didn't as Arawashi graciously lets him win in a
nice-looking bout overall for the sheep in attendance.
M4 Yoshikaze pushed from the start against M3 Takarafuji who looked to counter
that with a left arm to the inside, but Yoshikaze executed a nice push to the
teet and then to the neck with the left hand. The problem was there were
no de-ashi involved, and so Takarafuji was able to slip to the side and then
time a perfect tsuki-otoshi into Yoshikaze's side as Cafe looked to press
forward spilling Monster Drink to the clay. The better rikishi won here in
the end as Takaraufji picked up the win.
M3 Shohozan and Sekiwake Takayasu traded slaps and shoves from the tachi-ai
before Shohozan secured the firm moro-zashi position. Problem was,
Shohozan wasn't looking to win the bout, and so he applied little pressure
before attempting a stupid push out with a hand to his opponent's face (you now
how often rikishi like to try that from the moro-zashi position). After giving
up the insurmountable position, Shohozan lamely allowed Takayasu to get his left
arm inside whereupon Shohozan bear hugged that left arm with both hands and
stayed completely square as Takayasu drove him back. Shohozan's foot couldn't
scrape beyond the bales fast enough as he threw this bout in favor of the
Sekiwake Tamawashi charged quickly. In fact he moved forward so fast that
M2 Takanoiwa didn't even have his fists to the dirt yet. As we sometimes
see, however, Takanoiwa flinched as his opponent lurched forward and put both
fists down instinctively, and so the bout was on. Even Tamawashi knew he
went early and began to look over to the gyogi, but when he realized the bout
was live, he yanked Takanoiwa over and down with two hands to the neck.
Takanoiwa clearly thought this one would be called back, but it wasn't and so
gunbai to Tamawashi. This one was really on the referee and the judges,
but what do they care about these two rikishi?
Alls I can say (another term we like in Utah) is that watch out if Ozeki
Terunofuji is out to win. Today against M2 Sokokurai he was, and the
result was a forward-moving tachi-ai from the Ozeki, the right arm firmly
inside, and a left outer grip for good measure. There was nothing
Sokokurai could do from this point, and both dudes knew it, and so Terunofuji
forced the action by literally picking Sokokurai up and off his feet with that
left hand, and the result was the easy force-out win from there. Terunofuji
hasn't lost anything this last year and half. He's only chosen to lower
himself to the hapless level of his Japanese counterparts. And I do mean
I'm not sure why they even bothered with the Ozeki Goeido - M1 Ikioi bout.
There was no doubt in my mind at least that Ikioi was going to throw this one,
and he did just that striking Ikioi lightly at the tachi-ai and then just
tripping over his two feet as Goeido moved left looking for a dashi-nage.
As the guys in the booth watched they replay, they were thinking oshi-taoshi,
but even then there was a long pause from Ohta Announcer as they tried to
identify the winning technique. When it was finally announced in the arena
that it was uwate-dashi-nage, everyone was like, "Yeah, uwate-dashi-nage. That's
it!!" What it was was yaocho, and everyone knew it. Show me another bout
where a dude loses by uwate-dashi-nage and falls like that.
hero of the day, Kisenosato, stepped into the ring to face M1 Takekaze, and once
again, what was the point of fighting this one as well? Takekaze moved
forward at the tachi-ai, but then did absolutely nothing. In fact, when
was the last time you saw Takekaze not go for a single pull or at least a swipe
of his opponent, especially after winning the tachi-ai?? That was the case
today as he just stood there and let the Kiddie push him back and out.
Clearly yaocho here, which was no surprise. How pathetic is that when you have
to have a guy like Takekaze let up for you? And what rank is Kisenosato?
Looking at the pic at right, let's go through our checklist.
Sagari still in place for both rikishi? Check
Belts still snug around both rikishi? Check
Hair still perfect for both rikishi? Check
Unorthodox finish? Check
Dry armpits? Check
Harumafuji and Ozeki Kotoshogiku hooked up immediately in hidari-yotsu where the
Yokozuna refrained from grabbing the right outer grip and focused solely on
aligning his feet, the cardinal sin in sumo. Just watch this replay and focus on
Harumafuji's feet. All he's doing is aligning his feet and staying square in
front of the Ozeki who scored the ridiculously easy force-out win. This doesn't
mean that Kotoshogiku is going to get his 10. It means the Mongolians aren't
going to spoil the party.
was a similar bout where Yokozuna Kakuryu kept his feet aligned against Komusubi
Mitakeumi. The difference, though, was that Mitakeumi wasn't able to take
advantage. Kakuryu moved forward at the tachi-ai, but then just stood there like
a wet rag allowing Mitakeumi to shove him back a full step with a nice push.
Kakuryu kept his feet aligned as the two eventually hooked up in migi-yotsu, and
with the Yokozuna still just standing there at Mitakeumi's bidding, the
youngster wasn't able to finish him off. Near the edge, Kakuryu moved a bit to
his right causing Mitakeumi to just crumble do the dirt. What normal sumo bouts
look like this and end like this?? The contrast from the first half bouts
is so stark, but I suppose I'm the only pointing this out.
day's final bout, Yokozuna Hakuho had a decision to make against Komusubi
Shodai, and I guess I shouldn't really be surprised considering the act from the
other two Yokozuna. At the tachi-ai, Hakuho moved forward with both feet
aligned--of course, and even with the bad tachi-ai he still had the left frontal
grip and path to the right inside, but he pulled away from that putting his
hands up high near Shodai because there was no shoving motion. After
Shodai finally recovered and looked to move forward, Hakuho backed up going for
a fake pull or slap down, but at the first sign of a Shodai offensive move which
was a left hand up high at the back of Hakuho's head, the Yokozuna just aligned
his feet and fell down forward to the dirt. How many times has Hakuho
absorbed a blow to the head in career? And it's this one that knocks him
forward like that? That was actually Shodai's first real offensive
maneuver of the contest, so Hakuho was just waiting for anything to come before
he fell to the dirt. How does one even describe the sumo here? It's
near impossible when nothing makes sense. One thing is clear: Shodai is a weak,
The day actually started out quite well, but once you get to the 5:20 mark,
everything just goes to hell, and today's sumo was a perfect example.
Watch the first bout of the day, watch any bout in the first half, or watch the
Terunofuji bout, and then contrast that with the last five bouts of the day and
the contrast is simply stark.
We'll see what kind of energy Harvye brings tomorrow.