Senshuraku Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
sure all of you were as shocked as I was to read the retirement announcement of
one of our own yesterday. You don't go through thick and thin with someone and
create memories over the years, and then just treat their moving on as if it was
yet another movie. I'm not sure what direction Sumotalk will take in the near
future or how this will affect the overall landscape, but I want to be the first
one to wish Kimurayama well and declare, "You will be missed!" Besides
Kimurayama's calling it quits, we also learned on the afternoon of senshuraku
that Ozeki Kisenosato officially withdrew from the tournament citing an injury
to his pride. If you really drill down into the details, the official excuse was
that he had a boo boo on his big right toe, but his coming up lame after losses
the last few days was a direct result of his coming up lame in the sumo
department. Ozeki and Yokozuna actually earn the right to withdraw from basho
due to phantom injuries, and that's exactly the case with Kisenosato here.
His senshuraku opponent, Kotoshogiku, undoubtedly would have stepped aside and
let Kisenosato win today officially giving him kachi-koshi, but that's not the
point. The purpose of his withdrawal due to this phantom injury is to save face
for turning in perhaps the lamest performance in history with Yokozuna promotion
on the line. If Kisenosato does step atop the dohyo today and pick up the
freebie from Kotoshogiku, there are no articles in the media the next morning
touting his courage. Now, however, the next time Kisenosato is up for Yokozuna
promotion, the line will be something like this: "After failing to deliver at
the 2014 Hatsu basho due to a toe injury..." instead of this: "After only
managing to go 8-7 the last time he was up for promotion..." I know I've been
harsh on Kisenosato this basho, but entering my third decade of watching sumo
now, I know what a Yokozuna is, and I'm simply defending the rank. Kisenosato is
maybe a perennial Sekiwake, so to try and turn him into something that he ain't
is only going to fail miserably time after time after time.
Due to Kisenosato's withdrawal, it leaves him with a 7-8 record meaning he'll be
kadoban for the Haru basho, but that's not even newsworthy as we all know that
he'll have his eight wins by day 10. His opponent slated for today, Ozeki
Kotoshogiku, improves to 9-6 with the freebie. Those two Ozeki not fighting
today also meant that the "kore yori sanyaku" bout featured Komusubi
Tochiohzan and M6 Tamawashi. What? An M6 with an 8-6 record coming in with a
chance to pick up that sweet arrow they give out to the winner of this
traditional bout? I guess that's just a microcosm of the basho as whole implying
that not much went right.
As for the bout itself, Tamawashi moved left at the tachi-ai hoping to achieve
who knows what, and while it threw Tochiohzan off a bit, he was able to settle
in and halt Tamawashi's momentum with the left to the inside. Tochiohzan played
brick wall from that point and ultimately pulled The Mawashi down with a slap at
the back of the shoulder. Tochiohzan moves to 11-4 with the win and probably
won't be mentioned as an Ozeki candidate next basho just because we'll be
dealing with Kakuryu's Yokozuna run, Kisenosato's kadoban status, and the rise
of Endoh near the jo'i. But that's how it should be. Let's have Tochiohzan win
10 or more next basho and then talk of Ozeki. The Association perhaps finally
learned a lesson this basho regarding Kisenosato and Goeido in tournaments past,
so it's best not to press the issue; rather, let these guys try and earn it on
If the Tamawashi - Tochiohzan bout wasn't enough to dull the crowd, the Sekiwake
matchup between Goeido and Kotooshu definitely did the trick. At the first
go-around, the timing was off by both rikishi and not due to anyone's fault, but
Kotooshu lamely jumped left in an attempt to henka Goeido. Well, they had to
call the bout back due to the false start, so how silly does Kotooshu look after
skirting the issue all for not? Not quite as silly as Goeido acting like a
badass by henka'ing to his left after they reloaded and got things right. With
Kotooshu flopping sloppily to the ground, Goeido gave him an extra dame-oshi by
pushing into the Bulgarian's arse sending him over to the corner of he dohyo,
but this was absolute nonsense. I mean, it's senshuraku; it's the penultimate
bout; and this is about as bigga stage as you can ask for, so to see both
Sekiwake act like this prior to the bout that would determine the yusho was
embarrassing. I'm sure Kane has seen his fair share of miserable opening acts,
but this one took the cake. I go back 20 years of watching every tournament, and
I can't remember a senshuraku where the first two bouts of the kore yori
sanyaku were so pathetic.
with zero momentum heading into the day's final bout, it was up to the two
Mongolians to put a fancy cherry on top of things. From the tachi-ai, Yokozuna
Hakuho had the clear pathway to his coveted right inside position, but for
whatever reason he opted not to take it. As for Kakuryu, he did his part to spin
away from the Yokozuna creating separation in the center of the ring. Hakuho
offered a mild hari-te with the left hand as he loosely went back for some belt
action. I say loosely because his arms where high and out wide just gifting the
Kak moro-zashi, and once the Ozeki had the dual insides secured, he immediately
force the Yokozuna back to the straw. Hakuho arched as back as if he was digging
in (a trick learned from Asashoryu), but in the end he tried no counter move and
just turned his right shoulder downwards diving out of the ring and falling to
his first loss of the basho leaving he and Kakuryu all square at 14-1.
So, with Hakuho obviously having just dropped this bout to Kakuryu, the question
was would he let him win the playoff? Once again, Hakuho stepped forward with
the right arm fishing for the inside grip, and once again, Kakuryu quickly
backed up a half step and maki-kae'd with the left arm forcing the Yokozuna to
settle for the outer grip on the right side. On the other side, Hakuho had his
left arm firmly to the inside keeping the Kak away from the moro-zashi that he
needed. After leaning in on each other's chest for a few seconds, Kakuryu
attempted a maki-kae with the right arm but was shut out again, and after
another few seconds of rest, as Kakuryu lurched to grab a right outer grip,
Hakuho seized on the momentum change and forced the Ozeki back across the straw
before bodying him clear off the dohyo. And just like that, Hakuho methodically
picks up career yusho #28.
So, the question then becomes...why would Hakuho intentionally lose to Kakuryu
the first time and then win in the playoff? I don't know the answer to that
question; all I know is that Hakuho did lose on purpose in that first bout, and
that fact is not even debatable. If I had to speculate as to his reason for
suffering that loss, the following comes to mind:
- Hakuho was trying to add as much excitement as possible to a basho that stunk
worse than a goat farm
- Hakuho wanted to maintain precedent of making himself look beatable so that
when a Japanese rikishi is in the position Kakuryu was today, it doesn't look as
- Hakuho has the back of his countryman who puts up with about as much crap as
we do these days as fans
- All of the above
Whatever the reason, Hakuho has shown in the past that he's willing to drop a
bout to someone who has earned their way into the yusho race, and he did the
same for Kakuryu today. I actually thought in the playoff that he left himself
open a bit as he did against Kisenosato a few days ago, and then the flow of the
bout just didn't look natural to me. When Kakuryu went for
maki-kae after the stalemate, Hakuho shoulda driven his ass back at that point,
but he just stood there. Then, that final scene at the end wasn't the typical
ending to a bout either with Hakuho recklessly forcing Kakuryu clear off the
dohyo while he himself belly-flopped over the edge. It just didn't look like
sound sumo to me, but regardless, Hakuho is your winner while Kakuryu's
consolation is an un-hyped Yokozuna run two months down the road. What I think
it really comes down to is that Hakuho would have had no problem giving Kakuryu
the yusho this basho, but the elders in the Association would have had a fit if
he did yudan sumo that resulted in another Mongolian taking his first
yusho while the Japanese rikishi have gone without for eight years now.
In order to save some ammo for a post-basho report, let's quickly comment on
some of the day's early bouts. M13 Tokitenku was absolutely worked by J3 Jokoryu
who got his right arm firmly to the inside from the tachi-ai and had Tokitenku
forced back and out so fast he didn't have time to grab the left outer grip for
insurance. The loss sends Tokitenku to an 4-11 record, and from the M13 rank,
he's a goner for the Juryo ranks. He won't be missed.
As hot as M11 Yoshikaze has been, has the sumo really been that great? Today
against a real man in M12 Chiyootori, Yoshikaze tried to do anything but fight
using sound sumo basics. He first tried to rip off Chiyootori's right arm
kote-nage style from the tachi-ai; he tried a serious of dashi-nage throws; he
bounced this way and that; essentially, he did everything but try to beat his
foe with straight up sumo. On the flip side, Chiyootori's only intent was to get
an arm to the inside and square up. After surviving Yoshikaze's shenanigans and
keeping himself within striking distance, Yoshikaze finally went for the
two-handed pull, and Chiyootori was there to capitalize sending Yoshikaze into
the first row. This was probably my favorite bout on the day because you had a
total spaz in Yoshikaze and then a relative newcomer whose only request is a
straight up match. Both rikishi end the day at 10-5, but there's no question who
had the better basho.
Next up was M10 Endoh with the Kantosho secure and a Ginosho in the waiting if
he could beat M15 Takanoiwa. No doubt he shoulda beat Takanoiwa, but he made the
exact same mistake he did in his first ever bout in Makuuchi against Homasho.
Endoh's tachi-ai was swift and caught Takanoiwa off guard a bit as he tried to
deliver a right hari-te. The result was Endoh's sending him back near the edge
in one fell swoop, and that was actually a blessing in disguise because Endoh
had to close the distance in order to finish his foe off. He wasn't able to do
it, and as Takanoiwa looked to get back in the bout, Endoh went for a brief pull
that sent the two back to the center of the ring in the hidari-yotsu position.
Endoh had the stifling right
grip, but Takanoiwa's left inside was even better, and so as Endoh carelessly
made his force-out charge without the sufficient left inside position, Takanoiwa
simply pivoted back a step like a magician and flung Endoh clear outta the ring
dashi-nage style with that left inside grip. This was beautiful counter sumo
from Takanoiwa in the end after being dominated for most of the bout. The win
was huge for Takanoiwa because it brings him to 7-8, and from the M15 rank,
he'll likely survive to fight in the division again come March. As for Endoh, he
falls to 11-4 with the loss and loses out on the Ginosho, but it could be a
blessing in discuss. 12-3 probably would have surely sent him to the jo'i for
March, a level at which he can't yet thrive, but now I think he will land around
the M4 or M5 rank, a position from which he can do much more damage.
After a flurry of tsuppari from both M10 Sadanofuji and M16 Osunaarashi, the two
hooked up in the gappuri hidari-yotsu position, and I've noticed a concerning
trend regarding the Ejyptian, which is when he goes chest to chest with someone
in a straight up yotsu-zumo fight, he's not that good. I think it's mostly due
to his inexperience in sumo altogether, but Osunaarashi has a very tough time
winning a simple yotsu-zumo bout. Today was a case in point as the Sadamight
gathered his wits and then kept the pressure on forcing Osunaarashi to defend
until he was vulnerable to the left scoop throw. Osunaarashi falls to 9-6 with
the loss, but he shouldn't be discouraged. In two years after he's learned all
the tricks, he's going to be a bitch for anyone to handle.
In one of the most entertaining bouts on the day, M9 Takayasu came oh so close
to finishing off M16 Satoyama over and over, but the little roach hung in there
and finally forced the bout to a stalemate in the middle of the ring where
left arm in a vice grip while Satoyama tried to get a decent grip at the belt.
After something like three minutes, Satoyama finally put his right hand up high
near Takayasu's head, and as Takayasu reached up to swat it away, Satoyama
grabbed a handful of Takayasu's mage and just yanked downward as he pushed
Takayasu over and down by the face. Takayasu mighta blacked out during the fall
because he looked like a prize fighter who had just been knocked out as he tried
to pick himself up off of the dohyo. As for Satoyama, he was actually going to
be awarded the Ginosho with the win, but the men in black correctly called for a
mono-ii and disqualified Satoyama for the vicious but unintentional hair-pull.
This was a heartbreaking loss for Satoyama. First, he loses out on the Ginosho,
which pays these guys something like $10 grand (USD) as a bonus; second, he
suffers make-koshi as he entered the day at 7-7; and third, ranked at M16 he's
going to drop to the Juryo ranks for Osaka. Dude looked like he was about to cry
after they disqualified him, and I don't blame him at all, but it was the
correct call no question. NHK tried to get comment from Satoyama after the bout,
but he simply told them, "I can't answer you right now." No doubt he's going to
lose sleep over this one.
M14 Masunoyama was no match for M8 Tochinowaka once T-Wok grabbed the firm right
outer grip. Masunoyama tried a few desperate scoop throws with the left, but he
was smothered into submission falling just short of kachi-koshi at 7-8 while
Tochinowaka impresses at 9-6.
M15 Tokushoryu finally went straight forward in his quest for that elusive
eighth win in a bout against M8 Kitataiki who was also 7-7 coming in, and
Tokushoryu showed great patience in the hidari-yotsu bout even after Kitataiki
broke off his right outer grip by moving all around the ring. Kitataiki finally
made his move leading with the right outer grip, but for some inexplicable
reason, as Tokushoryu persisted with his feet against the tawara, Kitataiki let
go of both his belt grips and tried to push his opponent out by the face. WTF?
His reward was Tokushoryu bounding forward and sending Kitataiki backwards so
fast the he lost his balanced and stumbled face fist to the clay.
M6 Kaisei picked up his kachi-koshi by taking advantage of M12 Gagamaru and his
hands outward and open at the tachi-ai, so once the Brasilian settled into the
firm moro-zashi, the yori-kiri win was swift and decisive.
And finally, M1 Toyonoshima picked up his eighth win over M5 Shohozan after
surviving a decent tsuppari attack from Shohozan and then what seemed to be an
insurmountable right outer grip. Shohozan wisely kept Toyonoshima's right arm up
high and away from any chance at a maki-kae, but he just couldn't muster enough
mustard in an attack leading with the right outer grip to force Tugboat outta
the ring. So there they stood for nearly three minutes in a stale mate until
Shohozan's fourth attempt at a force out when he lost his grip on the belt
allowing Toyonoshima to raise him straight up by the left inside grip and dump
the M5 off of the dohyo for good. This was likely a bout for a Komusubi slot in
March because had Shohozan won, he would have been 10-5 from the M5 rank with no
one ahead of him to fill the slot. Well, no one except for Toyonoshima whose 8-7
from the M1 rank will send him back to the sanyaku.
Day 14 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
been kind of diggin Mikes method of late, focusing on the final four bouts as
they are the ones with yusho implications, and had decided to do the same today
when I noticed that the fifth bout from the end had also some tastiness vis a
vis the future so lets begin there, shall we? (Answer: We shall.)
Yoshikaze came in at 10-3 having been a rampaging cyclone of over-caffeinated
rambunction for most of the fortnight. He was pitted agin the resurrected
Komusubi Tochiohzan, who himself had run off an impressive string of wins after
an 0-3 start to come into the day 9-4. Most of you know that 10 is a magic
number in sumo, cause if youre at Komusubi or Sekiwake, it can propel you to
champion heights. If OhSnap could get his 10th today, and his 11th on
senshuraku, well that could jump start a run for Ozeki.
So after an egregious false start that sent Starbuck off the dohyo and the head
judge off his nut, Tochi came in rather timidly, and was butted upright by
Yoshikaze, who then stepped to the side and let him go past. Café was
immediately on Tochi and had him heels-to-bales with his right arm wrapped
around the Komusubi. But just as he was about to shove him out, and it pains me
to say this, he deliberately flung his own arm, with no help from Tochiohzan, up
and over Tochis head and fell out himself. Go watch the replay and tell me
Yoshikaze did not throw this bout.
So why? Well, if I were a betting man, Id say that someone in Tochiohzans camp
laid out a little "caish" for that win. It doesnt hurt Yoshikaze any cause
nothing is going to change regarding his career prospects if he ends up winning
10 or 11 or 12. Its still just going to be a "magure" basho for him, standing
out for its rarity but not catapulting him to any rank of eternal achievement,
so he can afford to be generous (and any payoff wouldnt necessarily hurt his
bank account any, his salary being that of a Maegashira).
So its no harm no foul. . .EXCEPT for the fact that now we have to deal with the
empty chatter about Tochiohzans hopes in March, yet another in a long line of
drivel meant to keep the domestic fans interest as sumo weathers the only
Mongolian invasion that WASNT stopped by winds from god. And trust me, going
against another Maegashira mainstay with his KK in hand on Day 15 in Tamawashi,
Tochiohzan will finish 11-4. Past attempts at an Ozeki run have met with failure
for him, and this one may as well, but with the Ozeki ranks reeling, perhaps
things will work out for him in Osaka and then in Tokyo. Im not enamored of his
up and downness, if you will (and you WILL), but I could see him representing
the Ozeki rank at least as well as the turkeys who have been stinking it up for
the past three or four years.
Which brings me to Hakuho and Kotoshogiku. Head to head 37-3. The first time
Hakuho lost to Geeku was on Day One of Hakuhos third basho as Yokozuna,
otherwise known as Day One nerves (Hakuho still yushoed). The next two losses
came when? In Geekus final two basho as a Sekiwake, meaning those two YORIKIRI
wins over the greatest sumo wrestler ever greatly help clinch his promotion to
Ozeki. Since that promotion? Hes come about as close to defeating Kublai as I
have to tonguing Kate Uptons navel (but someday, I tell you, SOMEDAY!!) So were
those two wins legit? Or was Hakuho doing what was best for sumo? Kewpie dolls
will be sent to everyone who guesses correctly.
Its a similar thing to what Hakuho has done with Kisenosato, of course, the only
difference being that I believe Kisenosato has legitimately beaten Hakuho
several times in his career. But if you look back on the seven times Kise has
beaten Hakuho in the seven years starting from when Hak became an Ozeki, youll
see that the only time a Kise win over Hakuho prevented the Yokozuna from taking
the yusho (aka "when they mattered") was last basho, when it was publicly being
batted around that if Kisenosato could win 13 and take jun-yusho he would be up
for promotion in Jan. Seeing as how his countryman Harumafuji was poised to take
the yusho, Hakuho relented, did what was best for sumo, and let Kisenosato win
(cause these days, he does NOT have the game to defeat Hakuho straight up).
But of course weve seen how THAT turned out. Kid will be a damned kadoban Ozeki
in Osaka. The plain fact of the matter is, if Kyokutenhos yusho run didnt
already make it PAINFULLY clear, the Japanese rikishi are inferior to the
current crop of top Mongolians, and only through their willingness to be team
players has any Japanese rikishi at the top been able to do squat.
counter with, Why then hasnt a Japanese rikishi taken the Cup?, my answer would
be that the powers that be may fiddle with this and that, but to straight out
fix a yusho is something not even they will do. The only spiciousness that
occurs vis a vis yusho is when one of the Mongolians is close and Hakuho or
Asashoryu relented to them or each other just because they could.
To be fair, today vs. Hakuho, Kotoshogiku gave his all, getting into a yotsu
position and stalling the Yokozuna for a good (relatively) long time. But once
Kublai had Geeku leaning on his left arm (which was firmly under Geekus left
pit) he pulled its support away and at the same time slapped at the Ozekis
inside thigh (a la his old heyamate Kotomitsuki) and brought the Ozeki down via
"uchimuso." A superb flourish by the Yokozuna, who moved to 14-0 setting up a
Senshuraku battle with Kakuryu. . .
.who just PWNED Kisenosato via hataki-komi. Coming in 13-2 vs. Kakuryu in their
most recent 15 tussles, one could be forgiven for thinking the failed Yokozuna
candidate would bring his A game and get that kachi-koshi 8th win. But since
Kakuryu is fighting for something this time out, he blasted Kisenosato back at
tachi-ai and then let him come forward, slapping him down like a leetle girl.
7-7 for Kisenosato and his promotion failure of Kaioic proportion left quite a
bad taste in sumos mouth this January.
Meanwhile Kakuryu waltzes into Day 15s bout vs. Hakuho with some swagger, but no
way in hell he beats the Yokozuna twice in 15 minutes unless thats what Hakuho
wants, and I doubt thats the case, so a sweet jun-yusho for the Ozeki (as in
Osaka 2012 when he was unable to defeat Hakuho even once on Senshuraku to take
Goeido was in need of a 7th win to keep his KK hopes alive, and his foe
Kyokutenho didnt seem to have the heart to try hard to stand in the way. An
inside left that could have been a belt remained a rib hold, and with two belt
grips of his own, El Padre was able to drive the M5 back and out with no problem
Toyonoshima and Aoiyama came in both at 6-7, so something had to give and it was
Aoiyama as he put all his effort into a good tachi-ai, but after absorbing the
collision, Tugboat slid to the side and Aoiyama could not arrest his forward mo
and was easy oshi-dashi pushout picking for E1. Should Goeido win on Day 15, it
might mean 3 Sekiwake in March and Toyonoshima could pick up that Komusubi slot
(vacated by the injured Myogiryu) if he takes down 9-5 Shohozan (who may be
battling for a Special Prize).
Well, sorry to say but thats all I can do for today. I had to run an ekiden, and
it took all my time. I finished fourth in my leg, at a pace of 3:50/km. Yeah, Im
Also sadly I must inform yall that this report could quite possibly be my last
for Sumotalk. I have decided to leave Japan. Im taking a job with the Iceland
Department of Tourism in their brand new Jamaican branch, and the job will
likely take all my time and energy. So, its been a SHWEET 8 year run with so
many cool colleagues, from Bernie and George and Simon, to Kenji and Andreas and
Oscar, from Mark and Matt and Martin, to Kane and Mario and Frank the Janitor.
But of course, above all others was my pardner Mike, who redefined what sumo,
and sports reporting in general, was for me. Ill never forget his scathing
insights into the culture, his wit when writing even sometimes eight times per
basho, and his wife. . .uh, I mean professionalism. I deeply indebted to him for
allowing me to sound off for so long and not be in turn detained or physically
Finally, cheers also to all of you who have put up with or been amused by my
ramblings. I wish you well in your future endeavors.
Day 13 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
the yusho race having been narrowed down to the two Mongolians, it's going to be
interesting to see what the Sumo Association and NHK do to try and make the
weekend broadcasts as interesting as possible. Today they brought Chiyonofuji
into the booth to provide color, and that connection to a rikishi who was so
beloved by the fans is a positive, so it will be interesting to see how they try
and entertain the fans when the yusho race is something that won't be highly
emphasized. A particular graphic displayed at the end of the day 13 broadcast
was something that I haven't seen before, but it goes right along with my
narrative that the NSK is scrambling to keep everyone's attention until Endoh
can mature a bit in the division.
we get to that, however, let's focus on the day's bouts starting again with the
final four bouts of the day going in chronological order, which means we kick it
off with the M10 Endoh - Sekiwake Kotooshu matchup. After his shellacking at the
hands of Kotoshogiku yesterday, it wouldn't have surprised me to see Endoh try
and skirt his opponent, but he fearlessly charged straight into Kotooshu, and I
say fearlessly because it took balls to take on a giant and former Ozeki like
that. The two ended up in hidari-yotsu, and Kotooshu immediately burrowed his
chest forward driving Endoh back to the edge, and just as Kotooshu grabbed what
would have been a lethal right outer grip, Endoh countered immediately with a
left scoop throw that forced Kotooshu over and down a split second before Endoh
was thrown down himself. This would have been closer had Kotooshu not put his
left hand down first, but he had enough sand in his mage as it was when he stood
back up so the fall was fairly hard. Credit Endoh, however, for sensing that the
right outer throw was coming and springing the trap first, and it's adjustments
such as these which makes this guy such a joy to watch.
The arena was of course alive after the bout, but as soon as Endoh walked down
the hana-michi and out of view, things quieted down significantly, and there was
no momentum to carry into the next bout. It's kind of what I was trying
emphasize in my report yesterday in that you want those banner days in sumo, but
you don't want them to come too early. The end result in this one is Endoh's
moving to 10-3, which all but guarantees him a special prize while Kotooshu
falls to a costly 7-6, costly because he will not regain his former Ozeki rank
due to his inability to win in double digits. Fortunately, Kotooshu is worthy to
take over the East Sekiwake slot, and he will continue to be a decent player
among the jo'i until his retirement.
Up next was Sekiwake Goeido, who was flat-footed in his charge allowing M6
Tamawashi to dictate the pace with his tsuppari, but fortunately for Goeido, The
Mawashi wasn't that committed to a forward charge himself, and so Goeido was
able to worm his way into moro-zashi, and from there it wasn't a contest as
Goeido picked up a much-needed win to improve to 6-7. There's not much more to
say here other than it's day 13, the third bout from the end of the day, and you
have Goeido vs. Tamawashi. Forgive me if I turn over to NHK's sogo channel to
watch political debates instead.
Our lone Ozeki duel saw Kakuryu charge hard into moro-zashi and waste no time
dumping the Geeku over with the left scoop throw. This lasted about two seconds
and wasn't even close, but then again, Kakuryu is a viable yusho candidate. In
previous basho, Kakuryu would somehow conveniently lose to guys like Kisenosato
and Goeido, but when he's really trying, you can see the huge difference between
him and the domestic rikishi. It's also interesting to compare this bout with
the one yesterday between Kotoshogiku and Endoh, and you can see how it's a
different league up this high. Kakuryu moves to 12-1 forcing the yusho into at
least Saturday while Kotoshogiku (8-5) couldn't care less about dropping one
since he has his eight.
day's final bout, Yokozuna Hakuho interestingly used a left nodowa into
Kisenosato's neck and he curiously persisted with that paw instead of getting
the right to the inside that was wide open. Regardless, he methodically drove
Kisenosato to the edge trying to push him out up high, and Kisenosato was still
too clueless to figure out a way to counter. Finally, Hakuho just bodied into
him sending him back across the straw right before Hakuho's own hand slapped
down, and the finish was extremely close for such a lopsided bout. It's my
opinion that Hakuho left himself open just in case Kisenosato decided to take
advantage, but it never came. The two biggest openings were the initial nodowa
and hands up high that could have allowed moro-zashi, and then at the edge,
Hakuho still kept himself way up high and was vulnerable to a counter
tsuki-otoshi. Regardless of why Hakuho chose this style of sumo today, he won
easily moving to 13-0 while Kisenosato still hasn't picked up his kachi-koshi at
So, as the dust settles at the end of the day, it's a two horse race between
Hakuho and Kakuryu, but the Yokozuna will not lose twice out of a possible three
bouts through Sunday.
In other bouts of interest, M5 Shohozan looked to strike and evade against
Komusubi Tochiohzan, so he had zero forward momentum, which allowed Tochiohzan
to press forward and score the easy hataki-komi win. When you win by pull-down
and you're moving moving forward, it's a sign of good sumo. Funny how all of
Tochiohzan's solid moments come against the likes of Shohozan or Takayasu. He's
like the one-eye dude in the blind man's kingdom. Anyway, at 9-4 from the
Komusubi rank, he's fixin' to return to the Sekiwake rank, and will talk surface
of a possible Ozeki run? Shohozan falls to 8-5.
M1 Toyonoshima hesitated at charging into the heart of M4 Takekaze, and who can
blame him? The result was two small rikishi standing upright in the rasslin'
position, so you knew the pull wasn't far off. It came as Toyonoshima quickly
moved left and pulled Takekaze over to the edge in one swoop where a final oshi
finished him off. Toyonoshima is barely alive at 6-7 while Takekaze's make-koshi
became official at 5-8.
M1 Okinoumi was non-committal at the charge, which left him standing striaght up
and reaching with his tsuppari instead of using his feet to get to the inside,
but Aminishiki has been in a fight like this a time or ten, and he easily timed
a tug at Okinoumi's arm yanking him clear out of the dohyo and onto the floor
below. I had higher expectations for Okinoumi this basho, but his make-koshi is
sealed today as he shares the same 5-8 record as Shneaky.
M2 Chiyotairyu stood M6 Kaisei completely upright with a right nodowa, but then
he blew it by going for a dumb swipe outta the choke hold that only allowed
Kaisei to square up in migi-yotsu, his preferred position. Chiyotairyu found
himself in a pickle at this point and tried another swipe escape as Kaisei just
cornered him (if that's possible in a round dohyo) against the edge and forced
him across in a few seconds. It seems as if Chiyotairyu always saves his worse
sumo for the days when his stable master is in the booth, and I hear Chiyonofuji
say every time "hiicha dame!", or he can't go for the pull. Too bad they
don't allow those big bamboo swords in the stable anymore because apparently the
Wolf's words ain't doin' jack. Chiyotairyu should be ashamed of his 3-10 mark
while Kaisei is 6-7.
M7 Takarafuji used a straightforward hidari-yotsu attack from the tachi-ai
against M2 Ikioi, and once Takarafuji grabbed that right outer grip, it was
curtains. Ikioi (4-9) usually sets up his wins by forcing a lot of movement in
the ring. There was none of that today providing for this linear force out
charge by Takarafuji (5-8).
M9 Fujiazuma simply couldn't penetrate the length of M3 Aoiyama's tsuppari, and
the veteran Georgian waited for an opening and slapped Fooj down rather easily
staying alive at 6-7.
M12 Gagamaru was out of sync tachi-ai charging late against M5 Kyokutenho, but
it didn't matter as he stood Tenho up with a right nodowa, secured the left
inside, and then grabbed the right outer grip to secure the yori-kiri win and
pick up kachi-koshi in the process. Somehow, Kyokutenho is still alive at 6-7.
Was M8 Kitataiki able to solve the riddle of M16 Satoyama? Yes...winning by
kime-dashi and leaving both dudes at 7-6.
M15 Takanoiwa has got to stop his evasive sumo and charge into the gut of his
opponent and take it to the belt. Today he moved out left again in order to grab
the cheap outer grip, but M8 Tochinowaka is so long and covers so much ground,
he easily survived the gimmick move and forced the bout to hidari-yotsu.
Takanoiwa had no chance at the right outer grip, and Tochinowaka just smothered
him back and across the straw picking up kachi-koshi at 8-5. Takanoiwa falls to
6-7 and has had a less than stellar debut.
M16 Osunaarashi had M9 Takayasu dead to rights after he swiped sideways at
Takayasu's extended left arm sending Takayasu towards the edge and turned
around, but he stupidly when for the head shot with his ensuing tsuppari
allowing Takayasu to wriggle out of the jam and hook back up with the right
inside and firm left outer grip. Osunaarashi's hips were too high, and he
doesn't yet have the experience to go chest to chest with a guy like Takayasu
when he's that upright, and it showed as Takayasu flung him over and down with
that left grip. You could see Osunaarashi's raw power as he countered, but it
wasn't quite enough today as he falls to 8-5. Takayasu moves into position with
the good win at 7-6.
What was M11 Yoshikaze thinking henka'ing left against M13 Tokitenku. Tenku was
pissed and connected on two roundhouse hari-te with the right hand, but he had
lost his cool at this point, so Yoshikaze half connected on a slap of his own
and pushed Tokitenku (4-9) out from the middle of the ring in as sloppy'a bout
as you please. Despite the horrible sumo today, Yoshikaze moves to 10-3 with the
I got bored with things about eight bouts ago, but I'd be remiss if I didn't
mention the M12 Chiyootori - M14 Masunoyama affair. Masunoyama rushed his charge
sorta leading with the left inside, but Chiyootori had the wherewithal to back
left and pull Masunoyama down by the neck before Masunoyama could really get
established. My man picks up kachi-koshi at 8-5 while Masunoyama is still in
good shape at 7-6.
And finally, M15 Tokushoryu stopped his string of lame henka against M14
Kagamioh, but he rushed his yotsu charge allowing Kagamioh to grab the left
inside where he evaded laterally at the perfect moment grabbing the right outer
grip and burrowing into the perfect position to turn the tables and force out
Tokushoryu with aplomb. The win today takes a little sting off of Kagamioh's 5-8
record while Tokushoryu is still stuck on that 7th win. Dude too himself out
with that string of henkas, so no wonder he's struggling now.
At the end of the broadcast today, NHK had a little bit of time, and so they
showed the updated leaderbaord and incredibly they still listed the three-loss
rikishi even though they were eliminated from yusho contention today. If you're
wondering why they did this, just look at the names on the list:
10-3: Endoh, Yoshikaze
In my twenty plus years of sumo, I have never seen them list rikishi on the
leaderboard who had already been eliminated from contention. To be fair, Yoshida
Announcer reminded the viewers that the three-loss rikishi had no chance to
yusho, but they still showed that visual with the silver cup in the background
listing Endoh and Yoshikaze along with the two Mongolians. It's a bit of a
stretch, but what else is there to hype to the domestic fans?
The only other thing I can think of is Kisenosato foiling Kakuryu's yusho plans
by upsetting him tomorrow and picking up kachi-koshi in in the process, but talk
about a beg.
Clancy will give it another go agin tomorrow.
Day 12 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
fans always crave a day like we had today, especially of late because how often
do we see a day where the final four bouts have serious implications? What's
beautiful about high profile bouts strung together is that the momentum from the
first bout builds to the next bout and to the bout after that, etc., and it gets
to the point where the crowd is going crazy and everyone is on edge. A day like
today prolly shoulda come a bit later in week 2, but the way this basho was
going, I'll take it whenever I can get it. Let's start today's comments off by
covering those four bouts in chronological order.
First up was the Ozeki Kakuryu - M5 Shohozan contest, and while Shohozan was
knocked out of the yusho race yesterday, he's still been one of the better
rikishi this tournament, and so hopes were high that he'd be able to put a
serious dent in Kakuryu's yusho run. From the tachi-ai, Kakuryu guessed right
that Sho would come with his usual tsuppari, and the Ozeki
neutralized that attack by swinging his arms upward into the bottom of
Shohozan's extended arms. The result was the M5 being knocked out of his rhythm
from the start, and with Shohozan standing upright and looking lost as to his
next move, Kakuryu gave him a few jabs and then pulled him over for the quick
win. Yeah, you'd like to see Kakuryu win in a more straight forward fashion, but
if he tries to duck in at the tachi-ai, he's likely greeted with Shohozan's
genki tsuppari. Taking his opponent out of the bout in the first moment was a
brilliant move from the Kak as he continues his run at 11-1. As for Shohozan, he
falls back to 8-4, but with kachi-koshi already in the bag, he still has special
Up next was probably the bout of the tournament so far in my opinion, and not
because of the actual sumo content but due to the lead-up and the talking
afterwards. Ozeki Kisenosato came in not only looking for kachi-koshi against
Sekiwake Kotooshu, but his pride was on the line as well. Here you have the Kid
having fallen from grace a bit due to his miserable run at Yokozuna, and then
you have the Bulgarian scrambling to try and regain his Ozeki rank (and more
importantly, the raise that comes with it). As the two approached the starting
lines, Kisenosato was obviously stalling, and he baited Kotooshu into two false
starts. As Kotooshu jumped the gun the second time, he gave Kisenosato a bit of
a shove indicated that he was annoyed by the Ozeki's tactics. I agreed with
Kotooshu here because the two were ready to go and in sync, but Kisenosato
obviously playing mind games.
On the third go-around, the two finally charged only Kotooshu charged out left
henka'ing Kisenosato in exchange for the two false starts. Kotooshu hasn't
exactly been sprite these days, however, and so Kisenosato squared back up
rather easily and the hidari-yotsu contest was on. Kotooshu used his length to
threaten the right outer grip, but each time Kisenosato shook him off and kept
his hips back. The problem with the Ozeki's staying back, however, was that he
was in no position to attack, and so eventually Kotooshu grabbed that right
outer grip, and when he got it, it was a frontal one to boot and so he easily
forced Kisenosato back and upright before dumping him to the dohyo with an
awesome outer belt throw. After the throw, they showed a close-up of the
Sekiwake and he was talking...whether or not he was trash-talking his opponent
or whether or not he was talking to himself, dude was fired up, and it was great
I have no problem whatsoever with the henka because Kisenosato attempted to
throw Kotooshu off twice at the start, and so the Sekiwake threw the Ozeki off
the third time. Fair's fair, and the emotion generated from this bout kept the
energy level in the venue high. With the win, Kotooshu improves to 7-5 and must
win out in order to regain the Ozeki rank, and the good news is that he's fought
all of the higher-ranked rikishi. The better news is that he draws Endoh
tomorrow in what should be another great matchup that generates lots of buzz in
the arena. As for Kisenosato, he falls to 7-5 and has had a hard luck basho, but
this is who this guy is...an average 8-7 rikishi when fighting among the jo'i.
off of the energy from the first two bouts, the most anticipated bout of the
tournament thus far was next with M10 Endoh climbing all the way up the ladder
to face Ozeki Kotooshu. The media was hyping this bout by reliving previous
times when a guy just five or six basho in the sport fought an Ozeki, and so
hopes were high that Endoh could make history. I must admit that I was caught up
in the hype as well and predicted that Endoh should beat the Ozeki today. The
last minute or so before the clash, however, I just sensed that Kotoshogiku was
feeding off of the moment. The old grizzled veterans have their pride and never
like to lose to the newbies, and the Geeku surely didn't want to be on the wrong
side of history. At the tachi-ai, the two went straight forward chest to chest
resulting in the hidari-yotsu position, but the Geeku was a man on a mission
sucking his gal in tight, keeping Endoh close with the right kote position, and
driving his legs forward sending Endoh back with some zip. It all happened so
fast that Endoh had little time to counter, and as he fished for the right
frontal grip in desperation, it was too late...wham bam thank you ma'am!
Kotoshogiku picks up his coveted eight and dominates Endoh in the process.
What you had hear was clearly a rikishi on his way up and a rikishi on his way
down, but two factors played in the dominance from the Ozeki. First, Kotoshogiku
may have been struggling this basho, but he was doing it among the jo'i. Endoh
on the other hand has been romping around in the rank and file, and the two
regions aren't even comparable. Second, Kotoshogiku has been on this stage
countless times before whereas Endoh has never experienced what it's like to
fight the last 10 minutes of the day. The result was a savvy veteran who just
handed the youngster's ass to him, and as much as everyone would have liked to
have seen Endoh win today, it wasn't meant to be. There's a reason why the
greatest rikishi of all time, Hakuho, still required two years to make Ozeki.
You gotta pay your dues, and as long as Endoh learns from it, he's okay. We'll
see how he reacts tomorrow against Kotooshu, an easier matchup for him due to
Kotooshu's weak tachi-ai of late. With the win, Kotoshogiku officially keeps his
Ozeki rank at 8-4 while Endoh at 9-3 is a shoe-in for a special prize with one
The final bout of the day saw Yokozuna Hakuho welcome Sekiwake Goeido, and you
could just feel that this was the last glimmer of hope of someone puting a stop
to Hakuho's run. Goeido did his best I suppose by henka'ing to his left, but
everything the Father does these days is half-assed, and Hakuho easily recovered
getting his long right arm of the law to the
Forced to the belt, Goeido offered his own right to the inside, but he was done
at this point as Hakuho took a few seconds to work his way into the left outer
position, and once obtained, he threw Goeido over and down with ease opting to
add insult to injury by landing squarely on top of him. The Yokozuna didn't need
to do that in the end of course, but it was payback for the henka at the start.
Goeido never had a chance in this one, and it's insulting to think that people
actually believe he beat the Yokozuna straight up a few basho ago. As if. The
Sekiwake falls to 5-7, and this nearly two year stint at the rank has hopefully
run it's course. As for Hakuho, he improves to 12-0 and still hasn't broken a
With the dust settled on the day, let's quickly take a look a the leaderboard
and then talk about the bad news stemming from this exciting day of sumo.
The two loss rikishi have vanished from the board, and so that's your
leaderboard the rest of the way...which leads us to the negative aspects of the
day. First, as good as today was, you need this to happen on the weekend when
the ratings are the highest, not on a Thursday. We often see day 13s this
exciting because it eliminates the pretenders from the contenders, but peaking
on day 12 is not optimal.
Second, you only have Mongolians left in the yusho race, so there's very little
to hype down the stretch to the Japanese public. I mean, if everything was
always fought straight up, you'd have Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Kakuryu on the
leaderboard every basho, and so the next three days will show you why the Sumo
Association wants to avoid that if possible.
A third negative aspect from the day was that you had three bouts pitting a
foreigner against a Japanese rikishi, and the foreigner handily won in all three
cases. This fact will be lost to most people on the surface, but it's exactly
the predicament that sumo has found itself in over the last several years. When
it comes right down to it and you have the top guys all battling each other, the
foreigners are clearly superior. I don't mean to detract from the spectacular
day of sumo we watched today, but this is just reality. If Endoh can pull off
the upset tomorrow (I'd give him a 40% chance), it at least gives NHK something
to hype heading into the final two days because nobody cares about the yusho at
this point. Nobody.
In other bouts of interest, Komusubi Tochiohzan was looking pull all the way
against M4 Takekaze, and why not? Takekaze isn't going to blow anyone off of the
starting lines. Took about three seconds for Oh to pick up the win and
kachi-koshi to boot at 8-4. Takekaze's losing ways continue as he falls to 5-7.
M1 Okinoumi survived M2 Ikioi's half-hearted tsuppari attack eventually forcing
the bout to hidari-yotsu, and once there, Okinoumi (5-7) gathered his wits
nicely, grabbed the right outer grip, and escorted his gal back and across the
straw with ease. Ikioi's make-koshi becomes official at 4-8.
M6 Tamawashi picked up kachi-koshi with a nifty win over M1 Toyonoshima using
his long arms to keep Toyonoshima away from the belt and forcing the action to
his style, the oshi attack. Toyonoshima is on the brink at 5-7.
M2 Chiyotairyu's sloppy sumo continued as he looked to blast M3 Toyohibiki back
from the starting lines with a coupla neck shoves, and when Ibiki went for the
pull, Chiyotairyu made his move. Only problem was he went for the head-shot
instead of that big target on Toyohibiki's chest, and the Hutt was able to just
move laterally just enough to cause Chiyotaikai to inadvertently step out before
Toyohibiki was officially out. They make bullet proof vests for a reason, not
bullet proof head masks. Chiyotairyu will live and learn as he falls to 3-9
while Toyohibiki is 4-8.
I was all ready to introduce this brilliant new theory yesterday regarding M16
Satoyama touting him as the rank and file barometer meaning any rikishi who
can't figure out how to beat him will never amount to anything higher in the
blew that theory to hell by actually winning on day 11, but I think you know
what I mean. Case in point today was M8 Tochinowaka who used his left arm up and
under nicely to lift Satoyama completely upright, but he also charged forward in
the process without a proper grip on his opponent, and I'll be damned if
Satoyama didn't slip to the side, grab Tochinowaka's left arm as Satoimo turned
around 180 degrees, and flung his opponent down to the dohyo ipponzeoi style.
Ipponzeoi is that common Judo move that you only see in the Sandanme ranks...or
when Tochinowaka is being a bonehead. Unbelievable as Satoyama improves to 7-5
while Tochinowaka shares the same record.
And finally, let's conclude with M15 Tokushoryu who once again tried to pick up
kachi-koshi by henka'ing to his left against M16 Osunaarashi. The Ejyptian still
hasn't figured out how to lunge forward hard at the tachi-ai, and so he easily
read Tokushoryu's lame henka chasing him outta the ring so fast with tsuppari he
garnered the tsuki-dashi winning technique. Osunaarashi picks up his first
Makuuchi kachi-koshi in two tries while Tokushoryu still sits on 7 wins against
5 losses. How about picking up KK with straight-forward sumo instead of this
Speaking of crap, I'm back at it again tomorrow.
Day 11 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
we enter the shubansen or final five days of the basho, it all now comes
down to the yusho race, and I'm using that term extremely loosely. Even the
see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil crowd knows that the only way Hakuho
doesn't take the yusho is if he gives it away, and the only candidate for that
scenario is Ozeki Kakuryu. Sure, Endoh is technically still on the leaderboard,
but in order for him to yusho, Hakuho would have to lose three times the rest of
the way, and that will simply not happen. And so the question in my mind becomes
who would the Association rather see yusho...Hakuho or Kakuryu? It's really a
damned if you do damned if you don't scenario, so the drama for me the rest of
the way is how will it all play out?
Two years ago at the Haru basho, Kakuryu was primed to pick up his first career
yusho, but someone made the decision to have him lose to Goeido on senshuraku
thus setting up a playoff against Hakuho that Kakuryu would end up losing. The
Kak--intentionally--hasn't been the same since, and even this basho it's not as
if he's rewriting the textbooks on sumo basics, but the cast around him has been
so inept that he's been sleepwalking his way through this tournament. If Kakuryu
does end up taking the yusho (I say chances are no more than 10%), I think it
will be an indication of the Sumo Association trying to prolong Hakuho's
reaching the hallowed mark of 32. I mean, there's nothing positive PR-wise that
could come from a Kakuryu yusho. He basically achieves a feat that no Japanese
rikishi can do even with tons of help. Second, if an Ozeki takes the yusho then
he's automatically up for Yokozuna promotion the next basho, and with Endoh so
hot at the moment, you don't want the media obligated to cover a guy like
Kakuryu in Osaka. There are just so many negatives that I'd be surprised if
Kakuryu ends up hoisting the cup, but nothing really surprises me any more these
At the beginning of day 11, our leaderboard is whittled down to four rikishi
after Osunaarashi suffered a day 10 boo-boo to Chiyootori. And while we're on
the subject of Chiyootori, I want Kane to know that I found him first, and if he
wants to fight me for my new gal, I'll meet him any time any where...just as
long as he doesn't bring that badass fire spitting machine gun thingy he used on
stage during the Alice Cooper days.
Getting back to the leaderboard, it shaped up like this at the start of the day:
8-2: Shohozan, Endoh
Let's start from the bottom of the board and work our way up, which means Elvis
has entered the building. I thought he'd receive a stiff test today against M12
Gagamaru because I thought Gagamaru would actually try and win. Didn't look to
me as if as if Yubabamaru gave any effort as Endoh secured the left inside at
the tachi-ai followed by a quick outer grip that set up
dosey doe outer throw otherwise knows as uwate-dashi-nage. For all intents and
purposes, Gagamaru was a practice dummy in this one keeping his right arm high
at the tachi-ai and not firing off a single tsuppari. I think this one was
yudan sumo all the way, and no, I don't think the orders came from the Sumo
Association. Regardless, Endoh waltzes to a 9-2 record and stays on the
leaderboard as long as he can stay two back of Hakuho. He draws Kotoshogiku
tomorrow, and I don't see how he loses. At 7-4, the Geeku will surely get that
last win, so it's good for everyone if Endoh just goes out and kicks his ass.
All it's gonna take a is a single belt grip and lateral movement. Gagamaru ends
the day at 6-5.
Next up is M5 Shohozan who offered a paw to the face of Ozeki Kotoshogiku, but
Sho wasn't driving with his legs, and so Kotoshogiku easily got the left arm
inside, kept his gal in place with the right kote-nage, and scored the yori-kiri
win easy peasy Japanesey. I didn't see an ounce of effort from Shohozan in this
one and have my suspicions, but when have I never had my suspicions? With the
loss, Shohozan drops off of the leader board at 8-3, but more was accomplished
with Kotoshogiku moving to 7-4.
Ozeki Kakuryu drew M4 Takekaze today in a "contest" that saw Kakuryu employ a
straight forward oshi-dashi charge into his foe scoring the once, twice, three
times a lady push-out. This may as well have been a fusensho it was that easy as
Kakuryu moves to 10-1 while Takekaze falls to 5-6 after being drubbed on
consecutive days by the real leaders.
finally, Yokozuna Hakuho entertained Sekiwake Kotooshu easily getting the right
inside and left outer grip against the defenseless Sekiwake, and just like that,
Hakuho lifted his opponent upright and forced him all the way over to the edge
and out using his thigh raised up to pin Kotooshu in place. I don't even think
Hakuho has showered yet as he breezes to 11-0 while Kotooshu's decline is
illustrated nicely in this bout. He could do nothing to keep the Yokozuna from
smothering him at the tachi-ai, and he couldn't dig in and even offer a hint of
a counter move. At 6-5, he obviously can't lose again if he wants to return to
the Ozeki ranks, and while this guy's obviously not an Ozeki-caliber rikishi, I
can think of two others off the toppa my head that don't measure up either.
With Shohozan officially off of the leaderboard, it's come down to a three horse
race between Hakuho, Kakuryu (1 back), and Endoh (2 back), but the goal now is
to keep Endoh on that board as long as possible. I've seen the first mention of
Endoh restoring the Taka-Waka boom, and while that will never happen just
because society has changed so much in the last twenty years--especially the way
in which we socialize, the Sumo Association is all about becoming fiscally
sound, and they know that a guy like Endoh can greatly contribute to that.
Touching on the other bouts of the day, Ozeki Kisenosato used a hidari-inashi at
back of Sekiwake Goeido's shoulder from the tachi-ai that easily sent the Father
off balance and over to the edge where the Ozeki forced him out from there in
mere seconds. This was a case where two negatives make a positive because it
actually looked like a well-fought bout for the Ozeki. Kisenosato moves to 7-4
with the win while Goeido falls to 5-6. With Hakuho looming in the shadows, he's
as doomed as doom can be.
M5 Kyokutenho showed once again how he lives rent-free in Komusubi Tochiohzan's
head. Tochiohzan actually gained moro-zashi from the tachi-ai, but it was so
timid that Kyokutenho easily wrapped both arm around from the outside in the
kime-dashi position and won with ease. Tochiohzan was riding a seven-bout
winning streak coming into the bout, and Kyokutenho is running on fumes; yet,
it's another lopsided affair as Oh Snap falls to 7-4 while Kyokutenho is still
alive at 5-6.
M1 Toyonoshima and M2 Ikioi were both flat-footed at the tachi-ai providing for
an ugly start to their bout, and with Toyonoshima not gaining that initial surge
to the inside, Ikioi went for right kote-nage that twisted Toyonoshima (5-6)
over to the edge, and he ran out of real estate allowing (4-7) to shove him out
with his long arms in the poorly fought bout from both parties.
The M3 Aoiyama - M1 Okinoumi pitted a push guy in Aoiyama against a belt guy in
Okinoumi, so the bout would be determined by the style of sumo. Okinoumi never
showed much gumption at the tachi-ai, and when they both rose up from that
initial clash, there was too much separation between the two in order to allow
Okinoumi to get at the belt. Aoiyama wasn't necessarily poised to tsuppari his
way forward, and so as Okinoumi made a hesitant approach, the Bulgarian just
pulled his arse down to the dirt leaving both dudes at 4-7.
Against M7 Takarafuji, M2 Chiyotairyu used bruising tsuppari the likes of which
we've yet to see this basho. Course, he hasn't faced the likes of Takarafuji up
until now either, so that explains a few things. Tairyu just destroyed his foe
in a matter of seconds leaving both combatants at 3-8, but the real question is
why doesn't Chiyotairyu bring this same attack against all of his opponents. I'm
dead serious when I say that Chiyotairyu has the most potential of anyone save
Harumafuji in taking down Hakuho mano-a-mano, but he gets so timid when fighting
among the jo'i. It's gonna be up to the Wolf to get it straightened out.
M3 Toyohibiki kept his hands up high at the tachi-ai allowing M4 Aminishiki to
pounce first pulling Toyohibiki completely forward and off balance, and the Hutt
just couldn't recover from there providing the easy force-out target in the end.
Aminishiki and his bedroll makes the dude a sitting duck, so I have no idea why
Toyohibiki charged up high instead of straight into Aminishiki's sternum.
Make-koshi is the result for Toyohibiki while Aminishiki creeps to 4-7.
M6 Tamawashi henka'd to his left, and who wouldn't when my man, M12 Chiyootori,
is across the starting lines?! Chiyootori managed to hold on with a right
frontal grip, but he was so far away from his opponent that Tamawashi bullied
him over to the side and out in the short-lived bout. Dirty pool moves
Da'Mawashi to 7-4 while Chiyootori's still alive at 6-5.
M13 Tokitenku shaded left at the tachi-ai looking for cheap tsuki-otoshi, but
his hands were too high allowing M6 Kaisei to get both arms inside shallow as
they were and force Tokitenku back to the edge where Baby Huey used a final
lunge to force the Mongolian out. As much as I think Kyokutenho has slowed down,
I think Tokitenku (4-7) is even worse. Kaisei improves to 5-6 with the win.
M8 Kitataiki prefers hidari-yotsu from tachi-ai which is exactly what he got
against M13 Kyokushuho, and it showed as he weasled his way into the right outer
grip first and pulled the trigger on an outer belt throw. It was just one fold
of the belt, however, and Kyokushuho's counter right inside throw was
outstanding forcing Kitataiki well over the tawara, but Kyokushuho stepped out
just before Taiki crashed out himself. This was a good bout, and I'm sorry to
see Kyokushuho at 2-9. He never did recover from that owie to his forehead on
day 1 while Kitataiki improves to 5-6.
M16 Osunaarashi used a right kachi-age that was so high and ineffective, M8
Tochinowaka sleep walked into the deep right inside follwed by the left outer
grip, and with the Ejyptian higher than Snoop Dogg himself, it was an easy
yori-kiri for Tochinowaka. I was frankly surprised at how easy Tochinowaka won
this bout today, but it goes to show how important a good tachi-ai. Both dudes
end the day at 7-4.
M15 Takanoiwa used a henka to his left, and yes, he did sorta force M9 Takayasu
down by pushing at the back of the belt, but it was not THAT blatant. By that I
mean Takayasu should have been able to recover and make a bout of it. I don't
condone Takanoiwa's actions today, but I think the bigger point is that Takayasu
(5-6) went down so quickly to a bad henka. Takanoiwa improves to 6-5 with the
cheap win, and he better not make today's sumo a habit.
I guess I've covered every bout so far, so I may as dwell on the M9 Fujiazuma -
M11 Shotenro matchup that saw Fujiazuma (3-8) breeze his way to the left inside
position followed by the right outer grip, and that's all she wrote. Shotenro
falls to 2-9 after another ugly loss.
M15 Tokushoryu used yet another henka to his left against M10 Sadanofuji, but it
was poorly executed rendering him a huge oshi target for the Sadamight who took
care of bidness about four seconds and four shoves later. Tokushoryu is trying
to henka his way to kachi-koshi, so I'm kinda glad to see him stuck at 7-4.
Sadanofuji moves to 5-6.
M11 Yoshikaze used a striaght forward tsuppari attack to get M14 Kagamioh
upright and into moro-zashi, and you could tell he downed a coupla Monsters
prior to the bout because he forced him out so hard he ended up in the front row
along with the rookie. MonsterKaze picks up kachi-koshi with the stifling win
while Kagamioh is on the brink at 4-7.
And finally, M14 Masunoyama used a go'i right kote-nage from the tachi-ai that
kept M16 Satoyama upright to where Spalding could work under him and force him
over to the edge. Still, getting Satoimo outta the ring for good is like using a
stick to scrape the dog crap out of the treads in the sole of your tennis shoe
when you were a kid. I mean, you eventually get the job done, but it's a bitch
to get that shoe totally clean. Anyway, Masunoyama moves to 7-4 with the win
while Satoyama falls to 6-5.
Day 10 Comments (Kane Roberts reporting)
Hatsu basho…maybe not the absolute best in terms of ground breaking sumo but
come on…there's a lot going on. As we know, the major sumo business moguls have
been trying just about everything to get it goin' on.
My suggestion? ==========================================+======>
Well, they at least should think about it!
Let's look at the current dramas as they unfold before our very own sets of
1. The Japanese Faux-Ko-Zuna scam has been pretty well decimated and by none
other than the prom queen himself.
2. Endoh is showing the "right stuff" in a way we haven't seen for a long while
(Nihonjin or otherwise). "My ankle is getting better so I've been able to
practice more between bashos". The NSK proclaims - "Let them eat cake!"
3. Evidently seeking spiritual guidance, Chiyotairyu is wearing SALONPAS on his
back in the shape of a shrine!
4. Tokitenku's PR Agent is trying to get him to "brighten up" his image
5. Chiyootori is showing some serious nad…bulldog baby!
Satoyama embodies a small country fighting a BIG world and winning on occasion!
7. No one seems to miss Miyabiyama but I kinda miss the "gangstah" - good ole
8. Homasho was heard to say WTF!
9. Kakuryu has proven that a rikishi can back up every fight and still WIN!
10. Two pot smoking cities are in the Super Bowl!!!!
I'm also digging on Yoshi "Monster Drink" Kaze putting up the good effort. Dude
throws down hard with the limited skills and physical attributes he possesses.
So enough squeezing milk from an orange ay…let's get it on bro's and ho's!! Day
10: Hatsu Basho 2014!
One has to admit…Osunaarashi has got the right attitude.
He's so jazzed to be in sumo for real he barely can contain himself and his
self-deprecating review of his own skills in no way colors the "I CAN win this"
spirit he displays during his matches. He knows he's strong, got good height,
can throw a hard punch (hari-te) when he has to and loves to MIX IT UP.
reminds me of Randall "Tex" Cobb in a way. You remember him from the Nicolas
Cage film, "Raising Arizona"? Well he was also a pretty damn good heavyweight
boxer and after a brutal match (one of his 7 lifetime losses) against Michael
Stokes, he walked by the bloodied Stokes while he was being interviewed on air
(Cobb's own face was swollen and bloody as well) and said "Hey Michael, that was
fun. Let's do it again soon."
If he stays healthy, Osunaarashi will be good for sumo. I DO think he'll improve
(if he gets his footwork and ring awareness down he'll be a real threat) and
make some noise though I'm not sure how much. It will be tough for him not to
default to his strong arm techniques, but you know he'll be throwing down hard
and all the while thinking "I can win this one" no matter who he's facing.
I spent a lot of time on this kid because I love his exuberance and it's in
direct contrast to the seemingly jaded characters that are satisfied with the
status quo waaay too early in their careers.
this night M16 Osunaarashi (one win away from a kachi-koshi) faced off against
another tough kid, M12 Chiyootori, and you could sense this might be a barn
burner. Off the vicious tachi-ai, Chiyo straightened up the Egyptian who
immediately knocked his opponent backward with his strong arm tsuppari assault.
Much like Endoh on day nine, Chiyootori recovered and achieved the low inside
position and no matter what Osuna threw at him (kubi-hineri, kote-nage etc) he
was able to shift his position and maintain a low inside right handed migi-yotsu
grip. During the match Osuna repeatedly aligned his feet and this allowed
Chiyootori the leverage to shift and push his foe closer and closer to the dirt
Finally, after an intense hand to hand battle for belt grips, 6-4 Chiyo got low
enough to straighten Osunaarashi up and rumble him out of the winner's column
for a hard earned yori-kiri. Not text book sumo but an energetic affair
prolonged only by 7-3 Osunaarashi's strength and overall athleticism.
M16 Satoyama (who, if appearances play any role in naming those guys, may just
as easily been called Satoimo - a hairy potato know to benefit blood
circulation) has, as Mike mentioned, resorted to gimmick sumo with his super low
tachi-ai and unorthodox grappling techniques. But really, with his small stature
and truth be told, impressive strength, I feel as if he's doing what he's gotta
do to get the job done. I of course agree with Mike in his disdain for such low
brow tactics…I would never use any gimmicks in my craft…well except for this but
well…anyway back to the Slimy Potato.
M10 Sadanofuji it was biz as usual. Low tachi-ai, seek inside belt grip, squirm
out of any advantage sought by your opponent and then work the room (like throw
in everything from hiki-otoshi (pulling arms forward and down) to shitate-dashi-nage
(pull the inner belt forward and down)) until he can surprise his opponent with
unexpected strength. Yori-kiri win for the 6-4 Satoyama and Sadanofuji falls to
Sir Orbsalot, M14 Masunoyama and the rotund M9 Fujiazuma met even steven off the
gun, both men choosing an upper body, armpit grip to get the job done. As they
twisted each other left and right Fuji reasonably chose a sound technique and
reached for migi-yotsu…but alas this proved to be his undoing. Spalding shifted
his weight, twisted Fooji to his right and literally rolled over him like…well
like a ball…for a nifty kote-nage win. Marui no Yama is a hard fought 6-4 and
Fujiazuma is a hard fought 2-8.
ever jittery and (to quote Master Clancy) tenacious M11 Yoshikaze stepped up
onto the dirt to face a guy tailor-made for him…the molasses man himself, M8
Tochinowaka. Off the line, Monster Drink got under Tochinowaka (no surprise) and
then the rest of the bout reminded me of when Neo realized he was the "One" and
everything was slo-mo to him.
The ever frenetic Yoshikaze threw a barrage of "stuff" at the counter punching
Tochinowaka, got his arms under the bigger mans pits and then shoved him across
the rope for a quick oshi-dashi. Yoshikaze quickly accepts his 7-3 tally while
Tochinowaka slowly grasps the significance of a 6-4 record.
The always sharply dressed Mongoru, M6 Tamawashi took it hard to the light
footed M12 Gagamaru from the tachi-ai and never let up. The Mawashi (thanks
Clancy) HAS been know to suddenly backpedal and try the cheap arm pull but on
this night he tsuppari'ed Yubabamaru straight away and off the mound o' clay.
Dapper Dan, who so far is having a decent basho, strides to a slick 6-4 and Ms.
Maru tip toes her way to the same tulip bed.
When I heard the hip young Tokyo crowd start to rumble I knew that the talented
rock star M10 Endoh was def stepping under the hot lights. Across the dohyo was
standing a great test for him - Baby Huey himself…M6 Kaisei! Kaisei has been
around the horn a few times, fighting all these guys at different levels so
experience was most certainly on his side…plus he's a legitimately BIG man
(compare his height and weight 195.5 cm / 169.5 to Endoh's 184 cm / 143 kg).
At the tachi-ai Endo shoved at Kaisei's upper body to keep the big guy off of
him but Kaisei's long reach was unstoppable. As soon as Kaisei gained a right
handed grip Endoh captured a two handed inside grip and then it was game on.
Baby Huey kept moving forward but Endoh would take the initiative and yank the
bigger man around to counter the momentum
At one point Endoh was treading the line on his toes but his cool mindset (and
- see pic) was to continuously steal the moment from his opponent and he worked
Kaisei around to center stage. Kaisei was repeatedly on the offensive and was
just as often repelled by Endoh's tactic.
Finally Endoh pulled Kaisei down and off balance, shoved his right shoulder
(effectively turning him around) and then he lunged at Baby Huey sending him out
of bounds for an extremely well earned oshi-dashi, kachi-koshi (8-2) win. Not
classic sumo for sure but yet another display of dohyo smarts and adaptability
In the "kachi-koshi" interview Endoh said (I'm paraphrasing) "It was
entertaining sumo to watch, but it wouldn't have mattered to me if I didn't
win." Regarding his opponent - "Kaisei (now 4-6) is a big guy so I knew I had to
move fast and be patient". When asked what he expects from this basho now that
he's achieved kachi-koshi he replied "I'll just concentrate on tomorrow's bout".
Kid shows maturity on an interview as well.
M2 Chiyotairyu has had a bogus basho so far but on this Night 10 he fought M3
Aoiyama like…well himself (with a little Chiyotaikai (his Oyakata) thrown in for
good measure). Straight up, forward driving tsuppari attack without a hint of
backpedaling pulls or any other such nonsense. The result, Chia Pet gets the
oshi-dashi vic' and Aoiyama stumbles backwards and out to a 3-7 loss.
Sekiwake, Kotooshu has loads more experience and some serious physical advantage
over the grumpiest rikishi in history, M5 Shohozan. The big Bulgarian has shown
off some real skills over the years but he currently strikes me as one of the
jaded crew of athletes plaguing the banzuke of late. He was a solid part of the
that rarely challenge for the yusho and enabled the back scratching system that
drives some of the sumo talk regulars to drink (or, as in Clancy's case, watch
At the tachi-ai Shoho enacted his usual enthusiastic (and strong armed) tsuppari
attack but the taller Kotooshu slapped him around with a couple of resounding
hari-te. Undeterred, Grumpy Smurf kept on pushing forward and even though
Kotooshu attempted to screw the kid's head off, Shohozan finally shoved out the
former ozeki for an 8-2 record.
Kotooshu (now a shaky 6-4) is a dangerous guy to step in the ring with cause the
dude will injure you either through recklessness or maybe (just maybe) a genuine
mean streak. Sometimes I wonder about that guy.
Komusubi and consistent "Kisenosato party spoiler", Tochiohzan seems quite
uncooperative these days. Early on this basho, he pissed off King Hakuho, then
the great Japanese hope Kisenosato and I could sense a sincere desire to show no
quarter to the fast fading Ozeki, Kotoshogiku.
The bout was not pretty, as both men seemed unable to achieve solid grips or
establish and dominance. But Tochiohzan finally rassled his foe back, leveraged
his arm under Koto's left armpit and tipped him down to a 7-3 sukui-nage win.
The banged up Ozeki sits uncomfortably at 6-4 and Tochiohzan thinks, "You Ozeki
dudes ain't no better than me!"
Goeido Gotaro currently sits at Sekiwake status and was recently being molded,
kicked and throttled into a candidate for the elite Ozeki rank…but, alas, he
always seemed at least 5 losses off the mark thus preventing his promotion.
Yeesh. This basho much of the hubbub seems to have died down but that hasn't
stopped him from firmly establishing the notion that he's NOT Ozeki material.
Against a real Ozeki, Kakuryu, Goeido greeted the Mongolian with a quick hari-te
and Kak answered with his own face slap that almost knocked the Sekiwake on his
ass. After that it was all Kakuryu as he tsuppari'ed and pulled his opponents
head forward for a hataki-komi belt notch. Kak is looking sharp at 9-1 and
Goeido is searching for the dressing room at 5-5.
69th Yokozuna Maximus, Hakuho Sho steamrolled veteran M5 Kyokutenho (4-6) in
well under a New York Minute to a 10-0 record. Mr. Excitement is really showing
everybody how boring he could make each basho if he wanted…never mind his other
worldly instincts and dohyo sense…his basics are so fundamentally strong that
he's blown through the rest of the pack without stepping off page one of the
"Sumo for Dummies" handbook. He's just gotta stay away from hopping on one foot
when he spats with his Mongolian Mafia mates.
Well there you have it. The good, the bad, the fugly all rolled into one messy
little tome. Once again thanks for the opportunity to trip out on this sexy
The sumo wars are in full swing and in a real way the NSK has been taken out of
the mix at least for the remainder of this basho. Things have a way of working
out the way they're gonna…the butterfly effect in full swing. It just reminds us
all once again (as we learned in Speilberg's "Jurassic Park") it's not wise to
fool with mother nature….I mean after all who wants to tamper with this
Day 9 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
sounds as if the biggest news of the basho so far is the crackdown on furreners
uploading videos of the bouts to YouTube. I guess the Association let it slide
until a party or two began trying to profit from the bouts, and so the
Association finally decided to take action to put a stop to it. Along with
squelching the YouTube pirates, they also came up with the genius idea to charge
a user $10 a day or $120 per basho to watch their live stream. Who are they
kidding? They're gonna have to put a decent product on display first or at least
throw in a bitta porn before asking free thinking foreigners to pay that kind of
cash to watch their live feed. I know the move has affected many of you, and
it's even affected access for some of our writers, but the bottom line is that
the Sumo Association couldn't care less about its foreign fans. NHk loves to
scan the audience during lulls in the action and focus in on foreigners in
attendance in the name of diversity, but the Association doesn't give a shat
about us furries. Not that it matters. There will be those who will figure out
how to upload videos again, so just be patient. In the meantime, I can
guarandamntee you that you are not missing anything this basho.
One of my favorite aspects of the weekend broadcasts are the little
documentaries they do before the Makuuchi bouts begin. Unfortunately, the
broadcast on my satellite feed on Sunday began just as Takanoiwa and Tokitenku
entered the dohyo, and so I missed whatever they showed on day 8, but they did
have an interesting piece on former Ozeki Chiyotaikai that I'll lead off with.
In one of those memory lane segments, they went back to the 1999 Hatsu basho
where Chiyotaikai took his first yusho and was subsequently promoted to Ozeki.
Chiyotaikai beat Yokozuna Wakanohana on senshuraku to sill the dill, and it
really was a great moment to watch again. NHK then showed the scene surrounding
the Kokonoe-beya the next
as Chiyotaikai stepped out onto the genkan to wish everyone well. I took a
picture with my cell phone to give you an idea of the throng of reporters
gathered at the stable. Before I snapped this photo, the NHK cameras actually
started further left so you couldn't even see Chiyotaikai yet; you could only
see the throng of reporters. Then they panned to the right until Chiyotaikai
came into the scene, and then I snapped my photo, but as large as the throng is
in the left of this picture, it was equally as large on the other side as well.
Now, when was the last time you saw a throng of reporters like this surrounding
a member of the Sumo Association? Okay, let me rephrase that. When is the last
time you saw a throng of reporters like this surrounding a member of the Sumo
Association when drugs, gambling, hazing, yaocho, etc. weren't involved? At the
time, you already had two Japanese Yokozuna on the banzuke; yet, the media is
going crazy over a new Japanese Ozeki who has just taken the yusho. This scene
is exactly what the Sumo Association is desperately trying to recapture, and so
that's why we have seen guys like Kisenosato and Goeido propped up and set up in
an attempt to achieve this moment once again. Everyone knows that it's all been
fake, but then a rikishi named Endoh came along and many could immediately see
the potential. Some people may be getting sick of all the hype surrounding
Endoh, but those in the know could tell from his first basho in Makuuchi that he
actually had the potential to reach Ozeki on his own, and so you will see
continued promotion of Endoh until he actually gets there including NHK
revisiting his wins this basho at the start of the day 9 broadcast.
The problem is, as good as Endoh may be, a young guy is not going to come in and
take over the sport. Hakuho reached the Ozeki ranks in just two years, so that's
the absolute best case scenario, so until Endoh is ready to ascend the Ozeki
throne in 2-3 years, something has to be there to fill the void and that
something is Kisenosato and Goeido (ugh).
Our next order of business is this:
I have no real comments, it's just the most entertaining scene I've witnessed on
the television all basho.
on that note let's get to the action starting with the rikishi on the
leaderboard, but remember, I stated previously that no one besides Hakuho is
fighting at a yusho level, and so I don't see Hakuho dropping a bout this
tournament, so keeping track of leaders this basho is just academic. Today, the
Yokozuna drew M4 Takekaze and just blasted him back from the starting lines
knocking him back two steps and then just crushing him down to the clay with a
body to body blow in mere seconds. It's useless to even break this bout down
because there's nothing to say. Takekaze is 5-4 after the loss, so you actually
have a rikishi here doing well who couldn't even hold Hakuho's jock in the keiko
ring. The chasm between Hakuho and everyone else has only grown wider much to
the dismay of the Association. Oh, and the Yokozuna is 9-0 with only one other
rikishi in sight.
rikishi would be Ozeki Kakuryu who entered the day one off the pace at 7-1 as he
faced M3 Aoiyama. Neither rikishi seemed to want to take control of the bout as
they used tsuppari to set up the pull, and a bout like that can get ugly quick.
After about seven seconds of this nonsense, Kakuryu's ring sense took over and
he was able to get his right arm to the inside followed up by a stifling left
frontal grip that he used to send Aoiyama (3-6) crashing down to the clay. It
wasn't great sumo, and I wouldn't even call most of it good, but a win is a win
is a win as Kakuryu keeps pace at 8-1.
The rest of our leaderboard is down among the hiramaku, so let's start with M5
Shohozan, who was actually driven back a bit by M6 Tamawashi's tsuppari attack,
but with Shohozan looking for an opening, The Mawashi went for the slightest
pull attempt allowing Shohozan to seize the day in the form of moro-zashi
leading with the left arm that allowed him to force Tamawashi back and out in a
second flat. Shohozan maintains his leader status moving to 7-2 while Tamawashi
falls to 5-4.
much as I dislike the henka, I don't blame M15 Tokushoryu for trying it against
M10 Endoh, but I know that this isn't the first time this basho I've used
"henka" and "Tokushoryu" in the same sentence. As my dad used to say, "cool it,
Tokushoryu!". Anyway, dude moved way right at the tachi-ai and tried to force
Endoh down by a right kote-nage and left paw to the head, but Endoh recovered
nicely securing the left inside position and right frontal belt grip that he
used to halt Tokushoryu's momentum, work him back across the dohyo, and then
subsequently force him across the straw for the shweet comeback win. During the
melee, Endoh only had one fold of Tokushoryu's belt with the right hand, but as
he worked his opponent back, you could see him rework that grip to where he
maintained all of the folds, and when his foe fought like a hooked marlin near
the edge, he kept him in close and won convincingly. I can't help but contrast
Endoh's skill and Kisenosato's lethargy in the ring, but as Kane and I were
discussing in week 1, it just doesn't seem like
wants what the Association is trying to force upon him. Endoh moves to 7-2 with
the win, but he will not come back and compete for the yusho. Tokushoryu is an
And finally, M16 Osunaarashi moved to 7-2 using his long arms and power to keep
M14 Masunoyama upright and reaching. With Masunoyama unable to connect on
anything, Osunaarashi floated backwards and invited Spalding (5-4) into the
perfect pulldown. Osunaarashi's sumo hasn't been pretty, but he's winning and
making more adjustments than Kisenosato is.
With all of the leaders winning on the day, the board now looks like this
heading in to day 10:
7-2: Shohozan, Endoh, Osunaarashi
That ain't much to write home about, but beggars can't be choosers at this
In the penultimate bout of the day, Sekiwake Goeido obtained the quick left
inside position from the tachi-ai against Ozeki Kotoshogiku, and I really
thought the Sekiwake could have done more damage, but he let the Ozeki counter
with a left inside of his own, and with Goeido just standing there, Kotoshogiku
bellied him over to the edge and sent him down with a final gaburi. As Goeido
was driven back, he was flailing that right arm as if going for an outer grip,
but it just didn't look natural to me. If I had to guess, Goeido took one for
the team here falling to 5-4 while Kotoshogiku inches closer to maintaining his
Ozeki status at 6-3.
Toyohibiki knew Ozeki Kisenosato would be wide open at the tachi-ai, and so he
just crashed into the Ozeki from the start using his effective tsuppari into
Kisenosato's neck to swiftly drive him back to the straw where he finished him
off with a sweet teet dashi. It took about three seconds if that, and once
again, a rikishi who tries to beat Kisenosato trounces Kisenosato. Toyohibiki
was 2-6 coming into the day, which should put Kisenosato's current skill level
into more perspective. The Ozeki drops to 5-4, and he simply can't handle the
pressure put on him by the Association and the media. After the bout, Toyohibiki
sat back down ringside since the day was almost done, and he happened to occupy
the cushion right next to his stable master, Sakaigawa-oyakata (former Ryogoku).
The two obviously couldn't talk to each other, but you knew each one of them
were thinking "yoshi!" to themselves. It was a good scene that NHK
smartly milked for about 15 seconds.
Sekiwake Kotooshu and M1 Okinoumi hooked up in the hidari-yotsu position from
the tachi-ai with neither rikishi able to secure the outer grip. This proved to
be an interesting contest between two of the taller rikishi in the division, but
neither really wanted to make that move to get the decisive right outer grip.
After a 15 second stalemate, Kotooshu made the mistake of going for the maki-kae
with the right arm, but Okinoumi wasn't ready, and while he did drive Kotooshu
back near the edge, the Bulgarian was able to stand his ground and counter with
a right frontal of his own, and with the solid front grip, the former Ozeki's
dohyo-gi if you will (and you WILL!) took over and he threw Okinoumi over and
down in spectacular fashion. Kotooshu got away with one here as he moves to 6-3
while Okinoumi falls to 3-6.
Komusubi Tochiohzan used a left choke hold and right hand at the back of M1
Toyonoshima's left shoulder spinning Tugboat to the side 90 degrees where he
followed that up with moro-zashi as the M1 tried to square back up, and the
force-out win was swift and decisive as Oh moves to 6-3 while Toyonoshima is
still alive at 5-4.
When a rikishi is constantly losing with belly flops to the dohyo, it's time to
examine his footwork...or lack thereof, so we must be talking about M2
Chiyotairyu who faced fellow M2'er Ikioi. Ikioi henka'd just a bit to his right,
but it didn't fool anyone including Chiyotairyu, but as Chiyotairyu turned to
square back up and launch into his tsuppari attack, Ikioi just shaded right
again causing Chiyotairyu to tsuppari himself down to the basho's first
make-koshi. I mean, bro, not even Aminishiki finished the day with just 1 win. I
think part of the problem with Chiyotairyu (1-8) is that he went easy on
Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku two of the first four days, and the other two
opponents during that span were Hakuho and Kakuryu, leaders one and two on the
board. He just hasn't gotten into a rhythm since then, and it shows. Ikioi ekes
his way to 3-6.
At some point during the broadcast, they cut away
to Takamisakari so he could pimp an upcoming sumo charity event in February.
If anyone is interested in attending, here's the number along with another
classic shot of Furiwake-oyakata:
M15 Takanoiwa survived M9 Fujiazuma's tsuppari attack well managing to gain
moro-zashi near the edge as he was driven back, but once the rookie had the dual
insides, he took firm control of the bout and drove Fujiazuma clear across the
dohyo and back for the nice yori-kiri win. Somehow, Takanoiwa has kept himself
alive at 4-5 after a snake-bitten start.
Our other rookie, M14 Kagamioh, just couldn't solve M10 Sadanofuji's long arms
as the Sadamight's tsuppari forced Kagamioh to retreat where Sadanofuji got him
with a pull down in the end.
I speculated it would take about a basho for guys to figure out M16 Satoyama,
but that can now be safely downgraded to half a basho as M11 Yoshikaze--no
stranger to gimmick sumo--knew exactly what to do offering a left arm into
Satoyama's face before he could duck all the way down and then raising him
upright with tsuppari. As Satoyama tried to escape, Cafe got him turned around
180 degrees and got in a little bitta manlove before sending his gal out
okuri-dashi style. Yoshikaze moves to 6-3 while Satoyama's kachi-koshi isn't so
sure now at 5-4.
And finally, M12 Chiyootori ain't flashy, but he's one of my favorite rikishi to
watch due to his yotsu-zumo skills. Today against M12 Gagamaru, Chiyootori got
the left arm to the inside and went chest to chest with Yubabamaru, something a
lot of guys at this level are afraid to do. The result was a nifty and
seldom-seen nage-no-uchi-ai where Chiyootori pulled the trigger on a left inside
belt throw while Gagamaru opted for the right kote-nage. This was so close the
Apocalypse even took notice, but Chiyootori managed to wrench Gagamaru's left
shoulder down to the clay just before his own belly crashed down. Fantastic
stuff as Chiyootori moves to 5-4 while Gagamaru ain't too shabby himself at 6-3.
After the bout, Gagamaru looked squarely at the chief judge, Kagamiyama-oyakata,
as if to say, "You can't be serious! No mono-ii?!" They prolly
shoulda called one, but Kagamiyama did get it right. As a side note, NHK
does this little sports wrap-up show at night for about 15 minutes called Sports
Plus, and when talking about sumo, the majority of time was spent breaking down
Kagamiyama's performance today as the chief judge for the first half bouts.
There was the razor thin margin between Gagamaru and Chiyootori, and then during
the Shotenro - Tokitenku matchup, someone's mawashi came loose and so they
actually broke down Kagamiyama instructing the rikishi on where to stand after
the ref had stopped the action in the ring. On one hand, you want to focus
on crap like this to take the focus off of Kisenosato and his miserable
performance so far, but on the other hand, what else are they going to show to
fill the time? This has been one of the worst basho in recent memory, and
that's saying quite a bit.
Never fear, however. I know that Kane will find a silver lining in things
tomorrow, and I'm sure he'll also put a few more setsuh jugs on display.
Day 7 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
I am, at 9 AM on day 8, having just woken up with that ominously unnerving
feeling of "I'm pretty sure there was something I had to do, but I can't for the
life of me remember what," then remembering I was supposed to report on day 7.
Not that this would make it excusable or anything, but as of this Hatsu Basho
there will be no more free sumo video coverage by the NSK - they now want anyone
watching their stream to fork over $10 per day or, discounting 20% of that, $120
for the whole tournament. I'm not a specialist in economy or anything remotely
related, but what I can tell you is that such a fee is unreasonably high, at
least for the purchasing power of the average Romanian (which I am proud to say
I am). As far as value is concerned, Tennis TV, for example, offers ALL the ATP
and WTA matches in one year for roughly the same price. You decide which is
better. The point I'm trying to make, though, is that this dick move on the part
of NSK, however justified they might see it financially, turned me off sumo-wise
almost completely, to the point that I forgot I had to report.
But I somehow remembered, so here I am again. Looking at the hoshi-tori one can
see Hakuho with a perfect 7-0 record and a bunch of other guys with at least
some losses. Business as usual, and if I were a betting man, I would be
seriously considering putting all my money on Hak taking home yet another cup.
The rest is chaff.
Hakuho got his seventh with a textbook demolition of Toyohibiki, absorbing the
Hutt's tachi-ai easily, grabbing the left uwate and then flipping him over onto
his back like the little brother he never had (I neither know nor can I be
bothered to check if Hak has actual little brothers, but even if he does have
some, they're the little brothers he does have, not the ones he never had).
Nikibi falls to 2-5.
Kotooshu was soundly defeated by Kakuryu, who got a solid mae-mawashi grip early
on and never really let go. The Kak maneuvered some and then maneuvered some
more, denying the bigger Bulgarian any sort of belt grip until the opportunity
presented itself to deploy the pulling throw, which ended in a boring yori-kiri.
Kotooshu's Ozeki return seems less and less likely by the day (not that it was
too likely to begin with). Kakuryu improves to 6-1 and looks like the only
serious candidate to give Hakuho a good fight in the second week (i.e. stay on
the mathematical leaderboard until day 13).
Ozeki Kisenosato, whose hopes of Yokozuna talk are already gone for the next
couple of basho, did a solid job in keeping Aminishiki in front of him and
winning the pushing contest, going up to 5-2 in the process. Sneaky is yet to
slither his way to a win.
Kotoshogiku emulated his stable mate and also lost his 3rd, falling to a
semi-henka, for lack of a better term, from Ikioi. The energized one did stand
up and hit his foe at the tachi-ai, but he was already moving his legs right for
the evasion, and at the first sign of pressure, he nimbly got out of the way and
pushed the back of his compromised foe for the easy tsuki-otoshi win. Ikioi
records only his 2nd win so far.
Goeido compensated for his decent 4-0 start by losing 3 on the spin, the latest
one being to Toyonoshima. Goeido managed, at least for a while, to keep his
troublesome opponent from getting inside, but superior skill on the part of the
Tugboat soon meant Goeido was giving up moro-zashi and grasping at straws with
the last-ditch kubi-nage effort. It couldn't possibly work against a guy with
almost no neck, so soon Goeido found himself facing the dohyo dirt via
shitate-nage. Toyonoshima improves to 4-3 with the win.
The next one was decided as early as the tachi-ai, when Tochiohzan was able to
sneak his way into moro-zashi, forcing his taller opponent, Okinoumi, to the
side, then eventually attempting a throw and finishing it off by yori-kiri,
despite a kubi-nage attempt. Oh recovers from his pathetic 0-3 start with a
winning streak of 4, whereas Okinoumi sinks to 3-4.
Takekaze continued a long-standing tradition of his to outpush taller, heavier
and whiter opponents (I still remember the epic wins against Baruto of all
people), and this time the victim was Bulgarian Aoiyama, who simply had no
answer for the superior placement of his opponent's thrusts. The fat Kaze
improves to a pretty good 5-2 record. Aoiyama looks outmatched this high with
only 3 wins after the first week.
Shohozan and Kitataiki went at it twice, as the first time it was too difficult
to determine who stepped out first. In the rematch, Kitataiki henka'd blatantly
to his left, but Cheetos read the move like an open book and let the Thick Tree
of the North have it by tsuki-dashi. Shohozan shares 2nd place with 6 wins, but
something tells me that's not gonna last too long. Kitataiki limps to 2-5.
Everyone's sweetheart Endo survived a little trouble in the beginning when
Tamawashi went at him hard and pushed him a bit off balance, but Endo recovered
immediately and grabbed the flying Mongol by the front of the belt, yanked him
upwards and forced back over the tawara. 6-1 for the new guy, 4-3 for the
Finally, Osunaarashi won a short but intense yotsu struggle with the somewhat
undersized Kagamioh, yet another Mongol. The two locked up in migi-yotsu a second
into it, and the Egyptian used his superior size and strength to muscle his
opponent to the edge where he forced him down and fell over him. The win brings
his total to 5-2. Kagamioh makes a less than spectacular debut at 2-5.
That's it for me, I guess. I will, hopefully, see you next tournament.
Day 6 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
the first five days, Yokozuna Hakuho is running away with the basho, and in the
last little while he's been known to drop a bout early in week 2 in order to
keep things interesting down the stretch, but I get the feeling this time around
that he is going to run the table. Previously when Hakuho has dropped a bout (or
even two), there was someone on his tail worthy of remaining in the yusho race,
but there is no one even close to yusho consideration this basho, and so there's
no use for the Yokozuna to defer to an opponent. I believe that Hakuho largely
makes the decision to "let up" as he likes to say with input from his stable
master, but he will only do it when it can benefit the sport as a whole. Hakuho
finishing 14-1 with the next closest guy at 11-4 is senseless, so as the rest of
the field starts falling further and further back, Hakuho should cruise to a
zensho yusho with no need for any monkey business.
There's really not anything further to discuss, so let's get right to the action
starting with M16 Satoyama who is only having success in the division due to a
gimmick tachi-ai that will work for about a basho. Today's victim was M15
Takanoiwa who meant well charging hard, but he let Satoyama settle in low
grabbing the left inside grip and right frontal to boot. All it took was for
Takanoiwa to panic slightly and become unsure of his attack, and at that moment,
Satoyama twisted him over and down with two grips to the belt. These rikishi are
used to and taught to fight inside/outside not up/down, so Satoyama (4-2) should
score a kachi-koshi this basho, but when was the last time you saw Takanoyama in
the division? Takanoiwa falls to 2-4 with the loss.
Wait, maybe I shouldn't have spoken so soon about Hakuho in my intro because M15
Tokushoryu is 5-1! Today, he drifted left, grabbed M13 Kyokushuho (2-4) by the
right arm, and then tottari'ed him over and out nearly as fast as the bout had
begun. When a guy reaches 5-1 due to a henka, it goes in one ear and straight
out the other.
M13 Tokitenku's tachi-ai was extremely slow in developing allowing M14
Masunoyama to get the left arm inside and to the back of Tokitenku's belt. From
there, Spalding wasted no time lifting Tenku's right arm up, and he also wisely
knew the counter inside leg trip was coming, and once Tokitenku failed in that
effort, he was escorted back and out in just seconds leaving both gentleman 3-3.
M14 Kagamioh was happy to let M11 Shotenro charge forward recklessly throwing
his tsuppari around, and the rookie calmly watched his opponent like a hawk and
timed a left evasive swipe move that worked wonders in this short-lived bout.
Kagamioh (2-4) probably doesn't want to watch and react too much as he did
today, but when you have Shotenro floundering at 1-5, it was the smart move
today. Inneresting that Shotenro's only win came against Endoh on day 1, and it
wasn't even close.
M16 Osunaarashi used a right kachi-age and attempted wild force-out charge with
the right arm, but M11 Yoshikaze has seen this kind of attack plenty of times
before, so he scooted right in desperation pulling the Ejyptian off balance and
down just as Yoshikaze stepped out of the ring himself. This one was close, and
the referee hesitated in his call, but he got it right when he ended up pointing
to Osunaarashi. The youngster moves to 4-2 with the win but still hasn't looked
great. Yoshikaze falls to 3-3.
M9 Takayasu came with an ineffective tachi-ai, but with the way he's been
fighting this basho, I don't know if he wants to belly up with Chiyootori.
Instead, he held up at the tachi-ai and waited for Chiyootori to step forward
before darting out left causing Chiyootori (2-4) to stumble forward where
Takayasu grabbed the left belt and picked up the uwate-nage win the quick and
dirty way. Takayasu moves to 3-3 but is really struggling even at this level.
M12 Gagamaru was lower at the tachi-ai and forced M9 Fujiazuma back with a few
tsuppari, but he stupidly went for a quick pull losing his forward momentum.
Fujiazuma wasn't pressing forward himself, but it gave him an opening to counter
with tsuppari of his own, and he managed to force Gagamaru back a step before
pouncing inside with the left. Gagamaru was upright and fighting lazily at this
point, so Fujiazuma (2-4) just forced his lard arse out. This was Fujiazuma's
first win against Yubabamaru in quite a few tries, so for Gagamaru (4-2) to just
gift him the victory with that stupid pull was asinine.
Endoh threw K8 Kitataiki a bit of a curveball in that he didn't go for the belt
at the tachi-ai opting to tsuppari his opponent upright, and the move worked
like a charm as Endoh was able to use perfect technique to drive Kitataiki back
near the edge where he then went for the inside position with the left arm
setting up the force-out win. While Endoh has exhibited superior technique at
times, this was his first forward-moving win of the basho. At 5-1, he's a lock
for a special prize if he keeps up this momentum, but it would be silly to put
him in the yusho conversation. Yeah, he may even win his next couple bouts and
show up on the leaderboard at the turn, but he is not fighting at a yusho level,
even if Hakuho wanted to drop a bout or two. As Endoh piles up the wins, they're
going to start feeding him to other rikishi piling up the wins, and my guess is
his left ankle will hamper him down the stretch against guys with game.
Kitataiki ain't got no game at 2-4.
M10 Sadanofuji pushed up high into M8 Tochinowaka allowing T-Wok the left inside
position, and he was able to withstand Sada's charge, pull him in close enough
to grab the right outside belt, and score the nifty uwate-nage win in the middle
of the ring. I think I've bet against Tochinowaka nearly every day this basho,
but he's managed a 5-1 start. Like Endoh, the swelling will go down soon enough
once he's faced with tougher competition. Sadanofuji falls to 3-3 with the loss.
M6 Tamawashi shaded right at the tachi-ai and won the tachi-ai with a sweet
right ottsuke that kept M7 Takarafuji upright, and when Takarafuji looked to
take control with the left to the inside, Tamawashi move right again shoving his
foe from the side, and in the end, Takarafuji just wasn't quick enough to keep
up with The Mawashi who made it official with a final sideways shove with that
right arm. Technically, Takarafuji (1-5) is the better rikishi and has the
better sumo body, but he didn't do enough to keep Tamawashi (4-2) in check, and
the Mongolian's speed proved the difference.
M6 Kaisei (2-4) played enormous target to M4 Takekaze's straightforward charge
where the smaller rikishi connected on a left inashi at the back of Baby Hueys'
shoulder sending him stumbling over to the edge and rendering him as easy
pushout fodder. Takekaze is 4-2 if you need him (and you don't!).
M2 Chiyotairyu finally brought the guns today against M1 Toyonoshima and knocked
him back with reckless abandon, but the charge was just a tad too hurried, and
Toyonoshima was able to dart left and swipe at Chiyotairyu's extended hands
sending him down to a belly flop on the clay as Toyonoshima tiptoed the tawara.
I was okay with Chiyotairyu's loss today because he at least moved his legs
forward, but he cannot keep starting out ofer (he's 0-6) from the jo'i. A good
basho from Chiyotairyu next tournament is meaningless at this point; it's time
he prove himself from the jo'i. Toyonoshima is even steven at 3-3.
M1 Okinoumi used the right arm deep to the inside against M5 Kyokutenho, and he
looked to be in complete control, but if you're not applying extreme pressure to
Tenho, you leave him room to counter, and that's exactly what the 40 year-old
virgin did moving left near the edge and using the classic tsuki-otoshi push to
the side in order to fell Okinoumi to the clay in all his girth. This bout was a
perfect example of Kyokutenho's' counter sumo skills and Okinoumi's lack of
urgency as both combatants end the day at 3-3.
Sekiwake Goeido wanted no part of M5 Shohozan, and when a rikishi wants no part
of Shohozan, is he really an Ozeki candidate? The Father was looking pull the
entire way, and Shohozan was on him like barfed-up ramen to pavement chasing the
Suckiwake around the ring and finishing him off with a tsuki-dashi no less.
Embarrassing loss as Goeido falls to 4-2 while Shohozan is in hot pursuit of the
leader at 5-1.
Kotooshu employed a stupid henka to his left...against Komusubi Tochiohzan of
all rikishi!! The sumo gods will only put up with so much crap sumo, however,
and with Kisenosato and Goeido already bleeding that well dry, they allowed
Tochiohzan to survive getting the left arm to the inside and right outer grip
all while standing on the tawara. Oh was still in a pickle at this point, but he
rammed his belly upward into Oshu knocking him off balance and setting up the
shweet outer belt throw. Kotooshu's inability to finish Tochiohzan off when he
was standing on the tawara shows you just how important forward momentum and
continuity to one's sumo is, but I was happy to see him lose after that shite
tachi-ai. The former Ozeki falls to 4-2, and with Hakuho lurking down the road,
he's essentially at three losses already meaning he can only lose twice more,
and there are just too many days left I'm afraid. Tochiohzan moves to 3-3 with
the comeback win.
M4 Aminishiki actually won the tachi-ai against Ozeki Kakuryu head-butting him
back a step, but then he went for a stupid full-blown pull just as Kakuryu was
looking to regain forward momentum. He got it all right, so much so that he
joined Aminishiki in the second row he pushed him out so hard and fast. I know
Ami's ailing this basho (yet still sleeping well), but he's 0-6 because of
bone-headed sumo, not because of his legs. As for Kakuryu, he moves to 5-1 but
you wouldn't know it by the content of his sumo. I realize he's a fellow
countryman of Hakuho, but getting back to my intro, I don't think Hakuho would
drop a bout as a favor to Kakuryu with the Ozeki fighting at this low level.
Speaking of fighting at a low level, I'm always amused when the fans,
announcers, and newscasters express shock at a Kisenosato loss as happened
yesterday when he got his ass handed to him by Aoiyama, but it just goes to show
you the power the media has over people willing to be led blindly like sheep,
and that applies not only to sumo but to politics and pop culture in general.
Anyway, Kisenosato once again looked for the right outer grip at the tachi-ai
against M2 Ikioi instead of going for the inside first. Luckily, it didn't look
as if Ikioi cared about moving forward, so the Ozeki eventually worked him over
to the edge where Ikioi curiously went for a counter ami-uchi throw pulling at
Kisenosato's right arm while arching his back a bit as if he actually expected
the Ozeki to fly right past him. And the funny thing is it almost worked, but
the reason you never hear about the ami-uchi in Maku-uchi is because it's a near
impossible move to pull off, and such was the case today as Kisenosato finally
forced the stationery Ikioi out in the end. Ikioi falls to 1-5 with the loss,
and my opinion is that he could have made things a lot closer, but I could be
wrong. As for Kisenosato, he moves to 4-2, and I'm still waiting to see a bout
that even half resembles sumo worthy of a Yokozuna.
M3 Toyohibiki slammed into Ozeki Kotoshogiku getting the left arm in deep and
knocking Kotoshogiku upright. His muscle memory forced the Ozeki all the way
back to the edge before he finally came out of his trance and realized he was
about to hand Kotoshogiku another loss, so he backed up back into the center of
the ring and eventually gave the Ozeki the right outer grip and stood there
waiting to be thrown. Kotoshogiku obliged moving to 4-2, so are you a glass half
full guy or a glass is half empty guy? I say give him four more wins and just
get it over with, so I don't have to watch as much fake sumo that last five
Finally, Yokozuna Hakuho got the right to the inside from the tachi-ai and
aligned chests with M3 Aoiyama until he could grab that left outer grip, and
once secured, it was curtains as the Yokozuna easily pulled the trigger on the
outer belt throw a few seconds in. Aoiyama (3-3) is the perfect litmus test
between Kisenosato and Hakuho in terms of exhibiting true Yokozuna sumo, and so
you can see just how far apart these two rikishi really are.
As we head into the weekend, it wouldn't surprise me if something dramatic
happened just because the audience will be larger, but at this point, I don't
think Hakuho has seen anything from the rest of the field that would make him
want to cooperate.
Martin puts down the books and takes his usual day 7 slot tomorrow.
Day 5 Comments (Matt Walsh reporting)
Another Nail in the Nokozuna Coffin
Well, that's disappointing. If you didn't view the bouts or check the
online before your faithful stop at El Talko del Sumo,
lost again to fall to 3-2. For the uninitiated among you, that
does NOT mean that the Great Japanese Hope can just right the
ship, reel off 10 straight, and still have a chance at giving the nation
a giant collective orgasm (just imagine the Emperor making an O-face
... man, I'm so going to Shinto Hell). At least, it doesn't mean that in
reality, even if it is theoretically possible. It DOES mean that
he's blown two of his best chances to rack up wins and get to the point
that top dogs start gifting him what he needs to finish it off.
Today's performance was so weak, that I can't imagine him representing
the best of sumo in the top rank at this point. (In fairness, HowDo has
some weak bouts from time to time. But's already got the tsuna, while
Kise's auditioning for the position, which is a huge difference.)
had a false start, and when they went for the redo, the two engaged in a
pissing contest to see who would squat first. First one down is the Beta
dog. Well, Kise is the Ozeki, which is a higher rank than E3, so the
Bulgarian should know who has the right-of-way and get his fat ass down
in a reasonable time, especially after a false start. So far, so good
for the Ozeki. Step 1: Put the youngster in his place; Step 2: Kick his
Well, seems we had a bit of hiccup on the path to Step 2. Aoiyama drove
into the Ozeki with the powerful tsuppari backed up by good
footwork. Nothing fancy, and certainly nothing surprising. The Ozeki
responded by, um ... well, um, he went backwards. All the way to the
tawara. That was his chance to ... um ... have Aoiyama drive a knee into
him, lifting the Ozeki off balance. And then more thrusting. And then
out. That was Kise's chance to ... look disappointed. It was a total ass
kicking and it sure looked like the "hopeful" had no capacity to
respond. A most Non-Yokozuna performance.
Love to see this kind of sumo from Aoiyama (a decent 3-2), though. I was
pumped up to see him just take it to the Ozeki, who had so much on the
line, and especially after getting shown up before the bout. That was
Bouts of Interest
Let's make this quick and dirty, baby. Japan ain't gettin' it's O-face
on, and neither are you, but I'm gettin' mine.
Ikioi hang around after the tachi-ai, just to see if the W2 could
mount a charge or otherwise liven up the crowd. Didn't happen, so Ikioi
(1-4) goes ka-dumpety-dump into the dirt.
In a bout that showcased the strengths and weaknesses of
Toyohibiki, the W3 had the better charge against Ozeki
Kakuryu. But Kak's a slippery fella and got to the side right as he
was going down and out. Still, it sure looked like the Hutt had this
one, since Kak fell down first, but Hibiki's left foot grazed the dirt a
second before that. Fumi-dashi is the called kimari-te, which is a losing
technique, since the big man (2-3) should have pulled it out with a
touch better footwork. Kakuryu is still one back, but needs a better
effort than this to be relevant.
Aminishiki has not looked too genki so far (now oh-fer).
Kotoshogiku just pummeled him today into yori-taoshi. Geeku's still
only 3-2 and has a bum shoulder, which he may have banged up further
Goeido are two pretty evenly matched dudes. In fact, they were 8-9
(or 9-8, if you like) going into this one. Nice match, some
back-and-forth, and Goeido drops one off the path. Oh Snap at 2-3. Worth
watching, but not otherwise meaningful to comment on.
Kotooshu looked pretty motivated today! He did a great job of
keeping his right arm inside, blocking
Toyonoshima's usual moro-zashi attempt. He then chased the little man
out, moving reasonably well and using his length and power
advantages. That guy could be an Ozeki someday.
Chiyotairyu, oh oh oh. Nice opening against
Okinoumi today. Way to get low and drive him back. And now bow your
head a bit so I can bitch hari-te you for following it up immediately
with that weak-ass pull attempt. And you wonder how you got to five
losses so quickly? Oki-doki is 3-2 after driving the E2 out in a hurry.
Among those joining the four-win group is
Shohozan, who used a well-timed kick to create an opening against
Takarafuji (1-4), and immediately pounced for the
Tochinowaka also joins that group. He found that his normal tack of
getting his arms low and into his aite and then driving forward wasn't
Tamawashi (3-2) over the edge. So he resorted to a rare hataki-komi,
catching Tama Tama off guard for the V (as in Victory -- what were you
Endoh is also 4-1. But he's winning with escapes at the edge. It's
fine, the footwork is nice, and it gets the job done for now, but it's
not going to take him (or more accurately, keep him) into the jo'i. The
Takayasu's of the world are going to give way to Ozeki and other
foes who will wrap him up properly before finishing the job. I'm having
trouble seeing how this kind of sumo will translate into the greatness
that his fast rise to this point would suggest.
Why are pusher-thrusters
running into each other, fishing for grips? Especially for the smaller
Starbuck, it seems like a poor strategy. Smells like a trip to Tsukiji...
Let's wrap this up with
The Mongolian got the better of the tachi-ai, driving the Egyptian a
little higher and back enough to get a solid inside-outside grip. From
this superior position, he should have been able to make a move. But the
Egyptian is a strong man, and he not only blocked the charge, but was
able to simply overpower the E13 into a yori-kiri win. Not very good sumo
from the rising E16 (3-2), but might makes right in this one.
And that's all from me this go-around. I will be flying through this
basho on my DVR at warp speed, stopping for the occasional good bouts
and nodding my head while Hakuho takes home the cup again. Happy New
Year, y'all! Hope it brings us some more competition for the top dog
before all is said and done (though hope is pretty much all I'm hanging
Day 4 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
favorite rikishi to watch by far this basho has been Endoh, and the word that
keeps popping up during analysis of his bouts on the Japanese broadcast is "dohyo-gi,"
or quite literally, dohyo skill. It seems as if I'm hearing the term dohyo-gi
less and less these days because frankly, very few of the rikishi fight with the
precision and skill that warrants its use. During both of his day 2 and day 3
wins against Yoshikaze and Chiyootori respectively, his opponents put up good
fights requiring Endoh to make adjustments mid-bout and then show patience
before he went for the kill. He hasn't dominated anyone thus far, and I attribute
that to his injured left ankle, but there have been so many twists and turns in
his bouts that it's been a joy to watch him work.
Today against M7 Takarafuji, T-Fooj came with the quick and stifling right outer
from the tachi-ai; however, he hurried his attack without the sufficient
position on the right inside, and Endoh displayed the most spectacular dohyo-gi
we've see thus far at the ring's edge. As Takarafuji had Endoh on the brink, the
youngster slipped left, brilliantly slid both feet along and over the edge of
the dohyo, and then felled his opponent with an inside belt throw that had me
singing the dude's praises. Watching it live, I was shocked that they didn't
call a mono-ii, but replays showed Endoh's perfect footwork at the edge that
allowed him to stay alive and at the same time drag his foe down via an inside
belt grip. If we examine photo finishes from two of his first four bouts, we get
scenes like this:
Now contrast the content of Endoh's sumo with that of Ozeki Kisenosato. In a
Kisenosato bout, there's no drama. Okay, let me rephrase that...there's plenty
of that kind of drama but little suspense. There are no close calls, no
mussed up hair, no red faces, no belts coming lose, no grunting, and frankly, no
action. Today against M1 Okinoumi, both rikishi got the simultaneous left inside
position from the tachi-ai where Okinoumi seemed content to just stand his
ground. As both guys just stood there (standing around is a BIG part of bouts
that involve Kisenosato these days) both rikishi reached for right outers, and
while Okinoumi tinkled the ivories a few times against the Kid's belt, he just
couldn't seem to grab the fatal grip...what with his long reach advantage and
all. After about 20 seconds of stalemate, Kisenosato finally bellied his way
into the right outer grip, and from there the yori-kiri was as straight forward
as they come. I've shown two photo finishes from Endoh bouts, so now let me show
two from Kisenosato bouts including his win over Okinoumi today:
I haven't seen so many stand-up men since I went to church last Sunday, and you
look at Okinoumi in that second pic, and he's clearly scanning the crowd for the
Kamoshita twins. The point I'm trying to make is that Kisenosato's sumo is
not indicative of a rikishi making a run. Remember when guys like Asashoryu and
Hakuho made their runs to Ozeki and Yokozuna? They were nigh unto unstoppable,
and when they did lose, they were close calls at the edge where counter sumo
played a huge role. There was visible momentum and you'd come away most days
thinking to yourself...wow, did I really just see that? Even when Kakuryu made
his run two years ago, you could visibly see him rise up above the rest of the
field except for Hakuho, and I still remember his charging straight into
Baruto's girth two basho in a row and defeating the Estonian in chest to chest
In the case of Kisenosato, there are no ebbs and flows to his bouts, no counter
sumo, nothing to keep one on edge, and zero moves from the Ozeki that impress
anyone. The crowd never gets worked up mid bout, and when he does win at the
end, he gets the type of applause you'd hear after a poetry recital at the
library. With Harumafuji out, Kakuryu lying low, and Kotoshogiku with more tape
on him than a Christmas present wrapped by a five year-old, we get to the end of
the day's bouts and everything is so anti-climactic. I have no idea whether or
not Kisenosato is going to make Yokozuna, but this run of his is just like all
of Goeido's runs to Ozeki: there is no substance.
Let's cover the rest of the bouts starting from the bottom up. M15 Tokushoryu
employed a stiff left arm into J2 Chiyooh's shoulder driving him back and
leading to the solid left inside position and right outer grip. The yori-kiri
was academic at that point as Tokushoryu (3-1) is wielding the beating stick
nicely this low in the ranks.
The M16 Satoyama duck low tachi-ai hasn't worn on me just yet, but give it a few
more days. I've never been a fan of gimmick sumo even when you had guys like
Mainoumi and Kyokudozan twenty years ago. Anyway, M14 Kagamioh scored the early
left under position and right outer grip, but he hurried his charge and lost
that under position (notice how I can't call it the inside position). Satoyama
responded by staying low and twisting Kagamioh's belt sideways with dual insides
resulting in the shitate-hineri win. Tell you what, Endoh's 3-1 is a helluva lot
more impressive than Satoyama's as Kagamioh falls to 1-3. Tomorrow Satoyama
draws Tokitenku, and something smells me there's a keta-guri in store.
M13 Kyokushuho has looked hesitant to me the last few days due to that gash on
his forehead. I mean, you get five stitches in your head and the last thing you
want to do is face a 200 kg guy like Gagamaru with hams at the end of both arms
swiping at..well...that gash in your head, but today against M14 Masunoyama,
Shuho was unfazed with a tsuppari attack so swift that Masunoyama couldn't
defend the blows as fast as they were delivered. The result was a
oshi-dashi that sent Kyokushuho back to 2-2. Rotundo-yama shares the same mark.
M16 Osunaarashi used a slight henka to his left, but it was half-assed and M12
Gagamaru was on him like flies to stink just bludgeoning him down with a series
of slaps to the shoulders. I think the official kimari-te was ruled
ham-beat-down as Gagamaru skips to 3-1 wile Osunaarashi still hasn't impressed
me with his sumo at 2-2.
M15 Takanoiwa and M12 Chiyootori hit with equal force at tachi-ai, but Takanoiwa
was lower and was able to keep his foe upright just enough to where he could
move left and pull Chiyootori off balance swiping at his shoulder. Chiyootori
just couldn't keep up with his footwork as Takanoiwa pushed him out in the end
when he tried to square back up. Go figure, the yotsu specialist in Takanoiwa
(1-3) picks up his win with pull and evasive sumo, but rikishi will resort to
that when they're desperate. Besides, Chiyootori is one dude you don't want to
get into a belt fight with when you're in a slump. He's better than his 1-3
M13 Tokitenku came with a hurried left face slap and two inside positions that
were so shallow, M10 Sadanofuji forced the bout to the most boring position in
sumo where one guy has a shallow moro-zashi (Tokitenku) and the other pinches in
hard from the outside (Sadanofuji). After about two minutes, even the gyoji had
had enough stopping the action in order to re-tie Sadanofuji's belt, and
Yoshikaze was getting so stiff from sitting ringside, that he actually stepped
up onto the dohyo to say W-T-F? Either that or he wanted to create a gyoji
sandwich with his two other pals. Anyway, when the
continued, Tokitenku finally threatened an inside leg trip that knocked Sada off
balance just enough to force him out in about three minutes that felt more like
M8 Kitataiki tried to establish the left inside from the start, but M11
Yoshikaze was just too ramped up from the double espresso he had in the morning
abandoning a great left inside of his own to slap Kitataiki down by both
shoulders in the short-lived bout. Kitataiki (2-2) dominates Yoshikaze (3-1)
head to head, but he hasn't seemed as genki of late.
M11 Shotenro delivered a right nodowa that had M8 Tochinowaka staring at the
rafters, but there were no legs behind it, so the Wookie pressed forward with
his body, got moro-zashi in the process, and easily finished off Shotenro for
the comeback yori-kiri win. When you have your gal staring straight up, you
have to finish your bidness. Shotenro blew it today falling to 1-3 while
Tochinowaka is a surprising 3-1.
M6 Tamawashi used a straightforward tsuki attack and had M9 Fujiazuma thrust out
in seconds. This bout surprised me a bit as Tamawashi (1-3) has never really
performed at this level while Fujiazuma is one of the better oshi guys in the
mid to lower ranks. At 1-3, something's up with Fujiazuma.
M9 Takayasu took the initiative with a tsuppari attack, but it was just too high
to have much effect, so M6 Kaisei, whose middle name this basho has been
'languish,' worked his way underneath Takayasu's extended right arm and
countered beautifully for the oshi-dashi win. On one hand, Takayasu (2-2)
shouldn't be 2-2 at this rank, but Kaisei isn't exactly a slouch either.
M5 Shohozan suffered his first loss of the basho with a hurried tsuppari affair
that had no legs behind it. Aoiyama, who is already a bit dinged up,
easily withstood the legless attack and sent Shohozan over and down with little
effort picking up his second win in the process. Shohozan was primed to have an
outstanding basho, so this loss sets him back.
And speaking of hurried charges, M3 Toyohibiki led with the left sort of on the
inside, but he had insufficient position on the other side yet still decided to
charge. M5 Kyokutenho put it in reverse, turned out left, and countered with a
perfect left belt throw of his own that sent Toyohibiki across the straw
shitate-nage style. Kyokutenho's age has really showed this basho, and
Toyohibiki shoulda wiped the dohyo with the Chauffer's chassis today. Bad loss
in my opinion as both finish 2-2.
Komusubi Tochiohzan was timid from the start against M2 Ikioi, but luckily he
had the inside position with the right while Ikioi had none. The Komusubi almost
blew it going for a stupid pull, but Ikioi wasn't ready to pounce, so Tochiohzan
came outta the fray with the solid left inside that he now used to set up the
force-out win. It's okay for guys ranked at this level to be 1-3 at this point
due to their competition, but neither of these rikishi has looked good or
exciting at all so far.
Everything I said about Kisenosato in the intro applies to Sekiwake Goeido, who
had no footwork to speak of today against M4 Takekaze. Instead, Goeido looked
more to spin around the ring than charge straight forward, so against Takekaze
(2-2), it resulted in an ugly dance where both guys tried to evade and pull the
entire way. Goeido squeaked it out in the end, but I didn't come away from this
bout thinking, dayum, that kid's a future Ozeki. He is 4-0, however, which makes
me wonder 'are Kane and I watching the same basho?'
I guess we are because I recognized that mummy picture of M4 Aminishiki this
instant I saw it, and today Shneaky attempted a henka to his right against
Sekiwake Kotooshu, but there was just too much cloth in Aminishiki's way, and he
could barely move. Kotooshu ain't exactly a speedster these days, but he easily
capitalized on the mistake and just pummeled Aminishiki as he further tried to
evade scoring the oshi-taoshi win. Kotooshu needed this one has he moves to 3-1
while Aminishiki still sports a bagel in the win column.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku picked up a much need freebie today against Komusubi Myogiryu,
and half of me thinks that part of the impetus in Myogiryu's going kyujo was to
give the Ozeki a day off himself. I know I'm losing my hair and the grays are
becoming more prevalent around my temples, but has Kotoshogiku aged overnight or
has he aged overnight? Dude can barely move out there, and after watching him
try to waddle around the dohyo, I thirst for Aminishiki and Kyokutenho. Major
props to Kotonowaka for taking the most kick-ass stable in sumo and just driving
it into the ground.
Ozeki Kakuryu ain't helping much in adding spice to this basho, and he was so
nonchalant in his charge today against Toyonoshima that Tugboat just bulldozed
him back creating too much separation for his own good. Kakuryu quickly
recovered after losing the tachi-ai, but from there, it was an ugly girl fight
where both tried to slap their way into position. Kakuryu (3-1) finally
connected with a left hand at the back of Toyonoshima's right shoulder slapping
him down to-a-to-n-to
record and putting everyone out of their misery.
Finally, M2 Chiyotairyu forgot he wasn't facing Kisenosato or Kotoshogiku, so he
led with that useless left shoulder again, but when your opponent is Yokozuna
Hakuho, it probably would have been wise to rethink a few things. I actually
think Hakuho was cautious just in case Chiyotairyu came hard (with tsuppari I
mean), but the M2's shoves were so timid that Hakuho just backed up a half step
causing Chiyotairyu to collapse to the dirt doggy style a second in. Needless to say, Hakuho
is 4-0, and he also looks bored as hell to me this basho. As for Chiyotairyu, he
falls to 0-4, and it's my opinion that he gave wins to both domestic Ozeki, but
he's gotta show more than this.
My challenge to Matt tomorrow is to find a better gurabia idol pic than the one
Kane posted of that gal throwing out the first pitch (among other things).
Day 3 Comments (Kane Roberts reporting)
New Year! Here's wishing you all a bountiful 2014 and a sincere hope that your
significant other can lick their teeth like this…
As we step into another year of our beloved sumo I get the feeling that it's
gonna be a wild one. Besides the arrival of some legitimately skilled, new
talent shaking up the banzuke (sweet!), the Sumo Association is officially (and
unabashedly) in full fledged "Japanese Yokozuna Now" mode.
The "powers that be" know how critical this has become and I believe they've
done an OK job of setting it all up. They got most of the rikishi covertly on
board in the effort and the fans (although they may smell a rat (do rats really
smell THAT bad?)) are juiced and ready to accept whoever gets the golden mawashi
(not literally 'cause its the kiss o' death on the
Though I will say, if the "chosen one" stinks up the joint, the fans reaction
will NOT be pretty. The sad implications of an obviously weak Nihonjin Yokozuna
will cause a bevy of problems for the sport as it's legitimacy is mos' def a
fine balance to maintain (yaocho scandals etc).
So far the only one not cooperating with the campaign is "Yok to be" and
perennial prom queen, Kisenosato. A fact never more evident than his loaf of
on day one.
I mean Kitanoufuji (as reported by Mike) was so spot on when he said "Kisenosato
is weak mentally". But Sonny Boy's got a lot to deal with….He and his fellow
rikishi must know whats going on so that's GOTTA be the elephant in the room
when they're shopping at the mall together (especially when there's not a
truckload of justification for the honor). And to make things worse his eyebrows
At this point the kid must notice that fewer athletes are going full bore
against him (Myogiryu had him on the ropes and then mysteriously pulled him back
into the ring…And the way that affair ended was a comfy tuck and roll by
Yogi-Mahesh-Mahoney, and Kisenosato's countenance appeared the same as if he'd
lost the match), and that's gotta indicate the general consensus around the
locker room that he
got what it takes to be a "king of the clay hill". So I'm willing to cut him
some slack on his shaky mindset. All things considered, his less than
Asashoryu-like mental state is somewhat understandable. Just think, the
antithesis would be Kise doing a fist pump after every so-called "win" and
that's shesa not so cool either.
So I say, Dude! You best be getting' your head on straight boy…at least show the
same positive attitude this fresh baseball player is displaying!
OK so no more gaijin musings stamped on to a culture that allows THIS!
With electricity crackling in the air and the hopes and fears of a new dawn upon
us all…let's get rocking' on this: The 2014 Hatsu Basho - DAY THREE!
diminutive (2-0) Satoyama does favor the low tachi-ai (master cylinder Clancy
pointed that out yesterday) but he hit a new low when he ducked under (1-1)
Osunaaaarashi's tsuppari attack. It was so deliberate it was almost like a henka
for short guys. Once he grabbed the Egyptian's belt and tucked his head into his
opponent's armpit, the epic mid-dohyo standoff (not mizu-iri length but a
whopping 3:09!!! ) was in full swing and therein lies the reason I'm reporting
on this bout.
When Harumafuji, Kakuryu or the venerable Hakuho are in lock down with their
opponents you can almost see the gears working in their heads as they seek /
create an opportunity to throw their opponents to the clay. In this bout the two
men seemed almost clueless as to what their next move should be and it brings to
mind the much picked on and sometimes brain dead Kisenosato. His ability to
sense the correct moment to apply a winning technique in similar "belt grip
stalemates" seems weak and physical instinct and real time creativity are
essential elements for the elite athlete in any sport.
After a few minutes, Satoyama gained a two handed inside grip on
Osunaaaaaarashi's belt and seemed to be seeking shitate-dashi-nage but it was
not to be…the much larger and stronger Osu lifted Satoyama's belt and forced him
to a yori-taoshi victory. Both men sport a 2-1 record and, hopefully, a huge
royalty check for so much screen time.
Super round dude, Masunoyama, has been showing mucho sumo soul early on in this
basho. The fact that, much like Takamisakari, he's stolen the hearts of many
fans with his quirky body language (much the result of his less than optimum
lung size) and his unabashed display of pure desire to compete, has added a
welcome flair to a sport stricken with maybe the most vapid interviewee in
recorded history, Hakuho.
faced newcomer M14 Kagamioh, Rotundoyama was aware that every bout this basho
must be viewed as critical if he's to stay in the big show and, as always,
Spalding looked loaded for bear (whatever the hell that means). Unfortunately
Masunoyama behaved very un-Takamisakari-like and threw down a disheartening
henka for the hataki-komi win. In all the years I watched him compete, I never
once saw Takami henka but hey, at least we didn't have to watch the round kid
gasp for breath. Spalding sleazes his way to 2-1 while Kagamioh stumbles to 1-2.
What I love about Endoh is his decision making on the dohyo. There's never a
sense of panic in the kid, only a sound blend of attack and response that leads
me to believe he's not only gifted with some real athleticism but he's also an
"in bout" tactician as well.
M10 (1-1) Elvis hit the stage he sported his usual "down to business at hand"
countenance (that he never loses…even mid-bout) and although his foe M12 (1-1)
Chiyootori isn't an elite rikishi he's a big dude that fights hard. As big Mike
has previously reminded us about other up and coming rikishi, Endoh has to beat
the guys he's supposed to beat (especially if he
to keep his loyal fan club).
At the tachi-ai the two men met with equal force on up high and immediately
started a brief tsuppari attack and then went for the belt! Endoh backed up and
danced along the rope as he attempted a quick pull to throw Chiyo off the dohyo
but his opponent quickly recovered and started pushing, pulling and slapping.
Although Endoh had a weak start he settled down and started to get busy with
some sound sumo. Once he gained hidari-yotsu it was only a matter of time before
he gained the shitate-nage throw down for a 2-1 record. I believe if he was 100%
the match would have been less frenetic but again, when it counted he shifted
into the right gear.
Speaking of frenetic sumo, the ever ditsy Yoshikaze retreated during his entire
bout with Sadanofuji until he was all but running backwards. He finally yanked
his foe to the dirt and gave a cute little jump at the end that was oh so ever
NOT the way to tickle the fancy of the lovable girls in AKB48! Katasu-kashi was
the call as Monster Drink tweaks his way to 2-1 and Sadanofuji trips the light
unfantastic to the same.
Ikioi is a strong kid. He's learning lessons each basho and he seems to be
committed to forward moving sumo which can only mean bigger and better things
for him if he keeps it up. On this night he met the rotund and honest
Toyohibiki, another guy who has always had a similar commitment to putting his
butt in drive and hitting his opponents straight up. The importance of that
initial hit in sumo was never more evident than in this match…once they'd
crossed the shikiri-sen it was all M3 Toyo as he came in low, quickly stood the
M2 youngster up and drove him back and out of paradise with an aggressive
oshi-dashi. Both men are 1-2.
Right off the gun, the lumbering Aoiyama shoved Sekiwake Kotooshu back and off
the dohyo forcing the ex-Ozeki to land on the wrong knee. Unfortunately for
BlueMountain, he lost his big-breasted butt balance and bounced onto the clay
before Kotooshu crossed the sacred boundary.
is one of my fav rikishi but this basho he seems to be stepping extra carefully
which may indicate his knees (and maybe some other body parts) are giving him
trouble. Recently he seems to be seeking more coverage with his knee wraps.
At the tachi-ai he gave Goeido a few flat footed shoves to keep him away from
his mawashi and quickly went for a gassho-hineri two handed pull down. Thick
necked Goeido was uncooperative and countered with well placed charge that sent
the Sheakmeister into the expensive seats. Oshidashi for Mr. Go Eido (3-0) and a
trip to the gauze warehouse for Mr. Amin I. Shiki.
than the fact that I've been gifted with more than my share of gyoji mishaps (gotta
say I love em!) the Kakuryu/Tochiohzan affair was a one sided ass kicking. Tough
guy, Kak (2-1) gets the hard core oshi-dashi and Tochiohzan (0-3) thinks maybe
he shouldn't have pissed off the dai-Yokozuna on Day 1.
was certainly energetic during his match with Kisenosato…but the one to watch in
this bout is the KID! He doesn't do much in the way of attack, counter attack or
anything really. M2 Chiyo deftly PUSHES the Ozeki every which way…PULLS him
forward and then around to the center of the dohyo…and then…after he easily
gains Kise's belt, Chia Pet works him back and forth around the turf until he
finally backs himself out of bounds into a slow motion yorikiri loss. I DO want
to root for this Kisenosato guy but dayum…someone tell me what the reporting is
gonna look like if he becomes Yokozuna. Dude was yanked all over creation this
So "company guy" Chiyotairyu listens to the powerful voices in his ear and drops
to 0-3 as sad sack Kisenosato rockets to a not so shiny 2-1 record.
ll I can say about Kotoshogiku / Toyonoshima bout is ouch! M1 Toyo gets the
kiri-kaeshi win for a 2-1 record and Koto says "ohhh the pain" at 1-2.
The final match, Yokozuna (2-1) Hakuho against M1 (2-0) Okinoumi was classic "Hak"
sumo. Fearless strike at the tachi-ai followed by an unstoppable drive to
migi-yotsu (Oki tried to squeeze Hak's arm off of his belt but ain't no way).
Okinoumi is a big, strong and promising rikishi, but once Hakuho has your
mawashi its pretty much a done deal ("pretty much" was unnecessary). The
Dai-Yokozuna used his keen sense of applied physics and weight displacement and
wasted no time in frog walking his hapless foe off his property. Yori-kiri was
the call as Hakuho stays pristine and Okinoumi (despite this loss) should go on
to make more noise at 2-1.
Gotta say I'm loving' this basho…enough intrigue and full bore sumo to keep my
brain stem humming. Oh and let's hope Myogiryu has a rapid recovery from his
injury. He's a talented kid and we need him fighting at full strength!
I'll be back next week when things should be truly rockin'! And as I wrap up my
first sumotalk.com report of 2014 and ponder all of the potential change that
comes with each new beginning, I'm also struck by the essential rules of life
that will NOT change no matter how many pages fly off the calendar. Things like
"a surfboard always looks better with a girl on it."
Day 2 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
mother used to complain I was always a day late and a dollar short (but oddly
she never complained when Id go out at 6am in the nad freezing four foot high
lake effect snow drifts of Upstate NY and dig her car out of the previous nights
storm, starting it up and putting the heater on while she sat warmly inside the
house!), and it seems this basho her words figure true. Mike picked up the slack
for me at the last moment on Day 1, as it turned out to be a national holiday
and my children needed their Papa to run interference for them in this crazy
sport we call "Life."
Twenty fourteen is upon us with a vengeance, and the only thing here in Japan
more amusing than the 2013 summary reports informing us of such tidbits as the
number of teachers fired for placing cameras in the girls toilets is the hype
surrounding the former Hagiwara fish known as Kisenosato and his chances at
becoming the first JPese shin-Yokozuna in the lifespan of a woodchuck. Ive seen
the phrase "Yokozuna run" but to me its more of a "Yokozuna drunken stumble,"
cause thats what its going to look like if by some chance this guy becomes a
Yokozuna while the Mongolians are still a maraudin. I mean, its one thing to
rudely return Toyonoshimas Day 1 gift, but UNOPENED??
To start things off on Day 2, Satoyama got into his patently ridiculously low
position at tachi-ai, but Tokushoryu was unable to take advantage of it,
pressing down on the back of his foes head for all he was worth but still
finding himself run back and out via yori-kiri, so tell me, Kelly sensee, who is
the ridiculous one here?
Masunoyama looked like the hound that caught the fox after defeating Takanoiwa,
panting heavily and a bit disoriented as he made his way back to his corner. No
wonder, as he brought a furious charge at tachi-ai, getting a pitbullish right
hand belt grip and not letting it go until that final moments when he saw an
opening for moro-zashi and took it. The rookie Takanoiwa was impressively strong
throughout but was schooled by his more experienced opponent. Spirited bout
Kagamioh speared an outside right belt at the start and used it to clinch his
adversary Kyokushuho and the bout in straightforward fashion. The poor boy
Tokitenku calmly snagged the outside, inside belts but so too did Chiyootori,
and it was the Japanese man who was the stronger on the day as he dropped his
hips and brought in that great big belly, which Tokitenku had nary and answer
for. Four yori-kiri in the first five bouts, and the day was shaping up to be
But then along came a survivor of Thanksgiving we call Gagamaru and he stayed
amazingly (for him) nice and upright while stiff-arming Shotenro. The gorgeous
Georgian then lowered the goddamned BOOM on the Mongolian by tomahawking down on
his left shoulder, a blow that would undoubtedly shatter most peoples clavicle
but only instantly brought Shotenro to his knees. I replayed it about five
times, the sound and fury being muy delicioso! Shotenro has my admiration if he
shows up for Day 3 with no bandaging on that shoulder.
continued to fire on the front burner as Yoshikaze survived a textbook straight
armed tachi-ai from Endoh that sent the W11 back to the ropes, but we dont call
him The Caffeinated One for nothing, and he escaped by the skin of his teeth
(teeth have no skin, btw, so it was a very close escape indeed, in case youve
ever wondered about the sense of that idiom). Starbuck then was on the
offensive, slapping Endoh back to the other side of the ring and getting an
outside right belt. Endoh himself then wormed away and in the process gripped
onto the front of Yoshikazes mawashi and using that to lift up and force him
out. But Yoshikaze is nothing if not a fighter, and so he pulled Endoh along
with him as he fell backward with his knees locked. Endoh managed to remain atop
as both men crashed out, but I gotta give Starbuck his propers, cause it cannot
be easy to fall back like that knowing in your mind how much its going to
fucking hurt. One good reason to love straight up sumo.
In an all out pushing battle, Takayasu had no answer for Sadanofujis shoving as
the E10 was able to keep the E9 in front of him throughout and finally crush him
out in about ten seconds.
The Fujiazuma Tochinowaka bout reminded me of that scene in the "Spongebob
Movie" where Patrick and Spongebob manage to escape from these gargantuan
monsters by playing this kind of body slapping game that makes the monsters stop
and stare in awe. I think perhaps Fujiazumas fingertips grazed the belt at one
point, but that was it as dude got bitch slapped out to his second straight
Kitataiki went noggin to noggin with Tamawashi, but the Mongolian could not keep
his feet and went down like so many bulls in the rings of cruel España.
Kaisei gave up the inside left belt in order to get the same, but his hand never
quite reached the belt, and it was Takarafuji who used his solid grip to sling
down the gaijin at the edge.
How useless is my dictionary (yes, the kind made of paper that must he actually
handled) if it has "Blair, Tony" but not what is perhaps my favorite English
Aminishiki displayed some "choots pah" vs. Kyokutenho, driving his foe back to
the bales, but The Chauffer was able to evade at the edge and turn things
around, and once he got the double inside armpits hug, it was "Goodnight, sweet
prince," which is really not all that much of a problem, seeing as how
Aminishiki brought two bedrolls with him to the bout.
After a false start where Takekaze knew he was in the wrong (he apologized to
the head judge) Shohozan blasted him back and wrapped him up, and was about to
flip him into the expensive seats when Takekaze sort of gave up and meekly
stepped out. Take a page from your heyamates playbook, ya pansy!!
With one hand on Tochiohzans throat from the very start, Toyohibiki had no
problem ramming the Komusubi out lickety split. This is a Komusubi?? Oh, for the
days of yore.
I was glad to see Goeido fight well on Day1, and my feeling was not diminished
by his performance on Day 2 vs. giant Aoiyama. Offering a stiff tachi-ai
challenge, the Sekiwake smartly gave ground to the hard slapping and hard
charging Bulgarian, deflecting with his arms in short bursts of power, then
leaning forward at the edge just enough to avoid being slapped out but not so
much that he fell to his hands. One of those short bursts sent Aoiyama off
balance and well, the bigger they are the harder they fall, no? We ought to get
a good sense of what Goeido is about this basho when he meets the dangerously
crafty Aminishiki on Day 3.
Even with a back left belt and right inside above the groin belt grip (gained
via a henka tachi-ai), and with his foe turned perpendicular to him, Kotooshu
STILL managed to get thoroughly whipped as Iki-iki-iki-fatang-oi somehow slipped
out of both grips as the Sekiwake drove him forward, step to the side, and watch
as the Bulgarian fell to his titties. Inglorious only begins to cover it.
Kotooshu would have to be 7-1 after eight days to have a chance at 10 wins, and
folks, that just aint gonna happen. Maybe he ought to call over to Baruto, see
if he can save some hall renting cash by getting in on that danpatsu action in
At first blush it seemed like Myogiryu was going all out vs. Kisenosato, a big
strong guy who could be expected to halt Myogiryus initial tachi-ai charge as he
did in fact do. But then he lifted up on Kise and came forward with a decent
chance to grab an inside right belt, but his hand seemed frozen into the shape
it would be if it were trying to cup water and he missed. Then after a lengthy
wait in the center, he made another push forward but passed on doing anything
with his left inside, keeping it at armpit height instead of once sniffing for a
belt. Without anything to hold onto, he was easy twist down material for the
Ozeki. Nothing irrefutable so I suppose he may have been trying, but if he was
he did a piss poor job of it.
Kotoshogiku received a much stiffer test today from Okinoumi, who managed to
stall three or four gaburi charges that normally seal the deal for the Ozeki,
but today merely tired him out. Desperate, Geeku latched on to a belt, and in
that moment Okinoumi knew he had won. It took 40 seconds more of waiting till he
moved, but when he did Okinoumi simply twisted him down with nothing more than
an inside beltless left. Geeku on the belt is like Shaq on the foul line.
Poor footwork after a bang up tachi-ai led to Chiyotairyu being out of position
when Ozeki Kakuryu yanked on the front of the E2s belt and dropped him very
suddenly to the dirt. The crowd let out a big "Awwwwwww" as they were taken by
surprise when Chiyo went down just as the bout looked to be entering a standoff
Finally, after Kak came Hak, and Haks a lock to rock. Today he took on Slayer of
Yokozuna Hopefuls Toyonoshima, who discovered (like he didnt already know!) the
difference between a dai-Yokozuna and a so-so Ozeki is like the difference
between a googol and a googolplex. As they pushed on each other at the center,
Toyonoshima was actually able to drive the Yokozuna back some, but it turned out
to be naught more than a ploy as Kublai kept his long left paw on Tugboats neck
the entire time and as the E1 smelled blood (which turned out to be his own) and
charged forward, the Yokozuna slid to the side and let Toyonoshima imitate a
boot camp Marine dropping and giving his drill sergeant fiddy.
Kanes on his bad motor scooter for Day 3, so tune in and enjoy what, along with
some penetrating sumo analysis, are certain to be some choice pics of some the
more lovely members of the homo sapien sapien species. Ill be playing Terminator
on Day 8. Cheers.
Day 1 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
really wish someone else was reporting today, and we had actually planned for
the most feared threesome since Peter, James, and John to kick off the basho
with Clancy taking day 1, me taking my usual day 2, and then Kane rocking us on
day three, and while that threesome will still kick things off, we're going to
have to shuffle Day 1 and Day 2 at the last minute. The reason I wanted someone
else to take day 1 is just to get a different perspective than my own on
Kisenosato and this Yokozuna run. I already gave my two cents in the pre-basho
report, and then after witnessing Kisenosato's bout on day 1, I was curious to
know if others had the same opinions that I do.
This will probably be an abbreviated report, so let's get right to the rikishi
who matter starting with Ozeki Kisenosato who welcomed M1 Toyonoshima. If
there's an aspect about these two guys that I've repeated over and over through
the years it's that Kisenosato leaves himself wide open at the tachi-ai and that
Toyonoshima has to get moro-zashi in order to win among the jo'i. Well, that's
exactly what happened today...Kisenosato left himself wide open at the tachi-ai,
and Toyonoshima just instinctively charged low and straight forward grabbing
dual inside positions in an instant. At this point, it was actually comical to
watch Toyonoshima come to the sudden realization that he could have had the
Ozeki's ass in less than two seconds, and so he stopped charging with his legs
and kept his arms in the middle of Kisenosato's torso, but the Ozeki was so
hapless, he had no idea to counter.
tried to create an opening by pulling his left arm out, wrapping it around the
Ozeki's neck, and feinting a kubi-nage throw (a move that defies logic when you
really think about it), and still, Kisenosato's feet were so aligned that he
could do nothing with it. Toyonoshima reassumed moro-zashi with ease, which is
another interesting point because once a guy raises his arm up high, you don't
let him get it back to the inside. Yet, the hapless Ozeki did just that, and as
Toyonoshima moved laterally towards the edge, he dragged Kisenosato along for
the ride, and the Kid just stumbled over his own two feet falling in a lousy
heap at the side of the dohyo. And just like that, all of the hard work and hype
in the media the last three weeks goes for naught...after day 1.
I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry after this one, but we cried foul when
Kisenosato was promoted to Ozeki in the first place, we've cried foul nearly
every basho since as Kisenosato has always seemed to find himself ranked as the
highest Ozeki, and we will continue to cry foul when a rikishi is being propped
up and considered for a rank that he clearly does not deserve. A rikishi who
really is worthy of Yokozuna does not get up from a beating at the hands of an
M1 in the tail end of his career with a big spot of dirt on his back. As for
Toyonoshima, he could have won this one in two seconds, and you could literally
see the conflict within him in regards to his body and mind...his body
instinctively reacting to his opponent's movements and doing what it took to win
while his mind realized that a Kisenosato loss on day 1 was the last thing that
anyone needed. The bottom line is that Kisenosato is responsible to win on his
own, and he couldn't even make it close today despite the openings Toyonoshima
favored him. Kitanofuji said it best afterwards when he commented of the Ozeki,
"He's just weak mentally." (seishin-teki ni yowai)
The big loss was of course the lead story on NHK's Sunday Night Sports show, and
they tried to spin it in the best light possible having Hakkaku-oyakata (the
former Yokozuna, Hokutoumi) come in an talk about how he also lost on day 1 his
first time vying for Yokozuna, but in the case of Kisenosato and what he's shown
over the years--rather...what he hasn't--I don't know how this one gets
day's final bout, Komusubi Tochiohzan jumped the gun against a clearly annoyed
Yokozuna Hakuho who just straight-armed him back to his starting line giving him
a nasty stare in the process. I didn't think that the false start was that bad,
but if a Yokozuna feels disrespected, he's free to act accordingly, and so when
the two went for real, Hakuho henka'd to his left in an attempt to grab the
cheap tottari and just wrench Tochiohzan out of the ring in a flash. The problem
was that Hakuho lost his cool a bit and whiffed on the tottari, but it was no
matter as the change-up at the tachi-ai had Oh befuddled rendering him a big
oshi-dashi target in the end. I had no problem with the Yokozuna's henka today
because when you fight against a dai-Yokozuna, you show him respect, and a false
start against him is a sign that you're dissing him. Coincidentally, Hakuho
chided Kisenosato a few days ago during a keiko session when the Ozeki also
couldn't get it right at the tachi-ai. When you're on the Yokozuna's time, get
In my pre-basho report, I talked about how Kitanofuji listed Okinoumi as one of
the more disappointing rikishi in 2013, and today's bout against Ozeki Kakuryu
was a reason why Okinoumi was on the list. Yeah, I know Okinoumi won handily,
but that's just the point...the dude has so much potential, so when we see him
let up, it's a disappointment. Today, Okinoumi met the Kak with a fierce right
kachi-age that stopped the Ozeki in his tracks, and while Kakuryu technically
had both arms to the inside, the moro-zashi was so shallow that Okinoumi was
able to pounce on a left kote-nage throw that sent Kakuryu back towards the edge
where Okinoumi just lunged into him forcing him back and across. I suspect that
Kakuryu took his opponent a bit lightly today because Okinoumi hasn't really
fought that hard previously, but let's hope this is a sign of things to come for
Okinoumi, who used his larger stature today to perfection.
Chiyotairyu led with a strange sideways slap with the right hand while sending
his left shoulder towards Ozeki Kotoshogiku at the tachi-ai, but it was just a
token tachi-ai with the upper body, and so Kotoshogiku easily responded by
getting the left arm to the inside and wrapping his right arm around
Chiyotairyu's left forcing the younger M2 back and across the straw in mere
seconds (and mere is probably overstating it). Chiyotairyu didn't even try in
this one, and there is such a stark difference in the bouts that he's trying to
win and the bouts where he just gives up. He gave up today for sure, and if I
had to speculate as to why, I'd guess he was told to do it by his stable master
Kokonoe-oyakata. It's one thing when a foreign Ozeki get demoted from Ozeki as
seen by the recent cases of Baruto and Kotooshu where it's not a big deal, but a
Japanese Ozeki getting demoted in this current political climate is another
story. It's my opinion that Kokonoe-oyakata knows that he's next in line to be
promoted to Rijicho when Kitanoumi retires, and he's just doing his part for the
good of the sport.
If there was a spot of good news today, you'd have to say that it was from
Sekiwake Goeido who stayed low at the tachi-ai against M2 Ikioi and focused on
grabbing the frontal belt grip at all costs. He secured it with little trouble
and then was able to wrench Ikioi sideways with a dashi-nage throw setting the
taller Ikioi up near the edge for a left scoop throw that came moments later. In
my pre-basho report, I talked about Kitanofuji's advice for Goeido, and he
played this one to a T. Great stuff from Goeido, but the larger questions is can
he continue to fight this way the whole two weeks?
You could really see M5 Kyokutenho's age catching up with him today as M5
Shohozan knew he had the advantage just charging full board into the near 40
year-old. The mind was likely willing, but the body was definitely weak as
Shohozan finished Kyokutenho off in seconds. It's one thing for Tenho to get his
ass kicked among the jo'i', but when it starts to happen at the mid-Maegashira
range, it's time to consider retirement.
As I suspected in my pre-basho report, M10 Endoh has still not recovered from
his foot injury sustained at the Aki basho. As I read a handful of keiko reports
on the dude, I just didn't get the sense that he was completely healthy, and
that fact was realized today as M11 Shotenro used dual kachi-age to knock Endoh
upright at the tachi-ai giving the youngster no choice but to try and evade to
the side. His feet wouldn't cooperate however, and Shotenro was on him like
stink to bait thrusting Endoh down so hard I'm surprised it wasn't ruled
tsuki-taoshi. You could just tell by the way that Endoh fell that he's still
favoring that left ankle, and I don't think he's much improved at all from his
condition during the Kyushu basho.
Rookie M14 Kagamioh was schooled by M13 Tokitenku who literally only needed to
stand there at the tachi-ai and watch the rookie charge straight into
moro-zashi. To make matters worse, Kagamioh just kept charging despite his
disadvantageous position, and so Tokitenku just pivoted to the side and wrenched
Kagamioh over and out using his momentum against him.
Our other rookie, M15 Takanoiwa, may as well have been fighting back in Juryo
because you knew he wouldn't get a straight forward attack from M16 Osunaarashi
who used a wild right tachi-ai to knock the rookie upright before employing busy
tsuppari and crazy footwork that Takanoiwa could never adjust to. In the end,
Osunaarashi got 'im with a tsuki-dashi, and as unorthodox as the Ejyptian's sumo
is, if Takanoiwa wants this one, secure it at the tachi-ai. He didn't and ended
up on the wrong side of a lopsided bout.
Today's effort is short and sweet due to time constraints, but I'll be back on
day 4 to discuss all of the rikishi in the division from the bottom up. Clancy
will be back for day 2, and I'm warning everyone now who has access to the live
broadcast, you're going to have to deal with that weirdo Demon Kakka who NHK is
brining in yet again to try and captivate the holiday audience. Too bad
Kisenosato couldn't do it today.