Well folks, the 2003 Natsu Basho
is in the books and it turned out not to be an Asashoryu run-away as it looked
like it might be. In fact, the guy chasing
him, Chiyotaikai, wasn't even in the picture on senshuraku. We also had two Ozeki fighting for dear life
to prevent demotion and one grizzled veteran dangling at the bottom of Makuuchi
trying to extend his colorful career
one more basho. Some of these stories
produced highly unlikely results. Likewise, Kyokushuzan, of all people, managed
not only 8 wins but garnered the shukunsho by way of his stunning upset of
Asashoryu. Mike and I both made some
premature comments along the way, which goes to show that it is in fact true
when they say, "it ain't over til the fat lady sings". Or in this case, until "Kimigayo"
plays over the loud speakers at the close of each basho.
In the end Asashoryu did manage
his first yusho as a Yokozuna with a 13-2 record, but it did not come
easy. He dodged a bullet in the form of
a hard-charging Kaio, who really came into his own in the home stretch only to
lay an egg on day 15. Therefore Asa
didn't have to win against Chiyotaikai to close the basho, but Asashoryu comes
to win no matter what the stakes. He
showed in no uncertain terms that there would be no lapse in concentration even
though he had the yusho wrapped up, as he manhandled the fading Chiyotaikai
(10-5) with a lightening quick tachi-ai that secured moro-zashi before
Chiyotaikai could say "Uh-oh" and even think about a hiki-waza. He was ushered out in seconds. After a respectable first half, Chiyotaikai
showed why he is not Yokozuna material on the last two days of this basho. With a bad tachi-ai, Chiyo dosn't win. It's as simple as that. A Yokozuna can win despite a bad tachi-ai.
Kaio faced Musoyama on the bout
prior with enormous stakes on both sides.
Kaio was trying to make history as the first rikishi to win a yusho
after trailing the leader by two losses at the close of day 13, and also become
the first to win after consecutive losses to open a basho. What a tremendous accomplishment this would
have been. He looked so strong the day
before in beating Asashoryu that you had to think that if only he could get
another chance to face the Mongolian, he would be the favorite. But alas, Kaio broke out his "box of
chocolates" sumo in which he followed yesterday's gem with a chocolate egg
against longtime rival and friend Musoyama.
Muso kept Kaio at bay with his oshi-zumo and twisted the stiff looking
Kaio down with relative ease. Kaio
finishes at 11-4 and Musoyama pulls out an improbable 8th win after starting
3-6 against rank-and-filers. I thought
this guy was done, and he finishes 5-1 against the cream of the crop to retain
rank. My bad, folks. I've got to hand
it to Musoyama; I'd say that's one of the most spectacular comeback
kachi-koshis I've ever seen.
Sekiwake Wakanosato (9-6)
overpowered the remaining Ozeki, Tochiazuma (8-7), to round out the sanyaku
bouts on day 15. Waka got inside with
both arms and just muscled Azuma out.
While Musoyama deserves high regard for his 8 wins, the same cannot be
said for Tochiazuma. As Mike mentioned,
Azuma got his 8th with an embarrassingly cheap side-step at the tachi-ai not
worthy of Ozeki sumo, then was outclassed by the lower ranking Wakanosato in a
straight-up bout to end the tournament.
Tochiazuma has the skills to be Ozeki, but he must ask himself what got
him there in the first place and search to regain that tenacity.
The other Sekiwake, Dejima, came
THIS CLOSE to 8 wins but it wasn't to be.
He freight-trained M1 Takamisakari (6-9) in true Dejima style, but the
crowd favorite somehow stood ground at the tawara to stave off the furious
pushing, then beautifully turned the tables to force out the Sekiwake. Tough luck Dejima started 5-1 but falls just
short of the coveted kachi-koshi at 7-8.
It was a valiant effort on bad wheels, but he'll be demoted in
July. If this guy could just stay
healthy he can be Ozeki again for sure.
At Komusubi we have a tale of two
rikishi going in opposite directions.
Kyokutenho wooed us all with his yotsu-zumo technique and made himself a
case for being an Ozeki candidate to be reckoned with. He sure won me over. Despite his slip-up against Toki (10-5) on
day 15, Kyokutenho's efforts won him the Kantosho (fighting spirit award). I still think the Ginosho (technical merit)
is more appropriate but nonetheless we have another Mongolian force on our
hands. He turns in a strong 10-5 at
Komusubi and can use this basho as a first step to 33 wins over three basho for
Ozeki promotion. I wouldn't consider
him the next Ozeki yet, but he's now on the radar screen. Kyoku's counterpart Tosanoumi suffered a
different fate this basho, finishing with a paltry 4-11 record. He even lost convincingly in a straight-up
oshi-zumo match against the much smaller Hokutoriki (6-9) on day 14 that served
as evidence that Tosa didn't have his A-game this basho. He'll drop considerably, but don't look for
this guy to wallow in the rank-and-file for long.
M1 Tochinonada faced red-hot M7
Aminishiki on senshuraku and was given the Shukunsho nod if Kaio pulled off the
comeback yusho. After all, Tochi did
beat 3 of the 4 Ozeki this basho, including Kaio. Not only did that not pan out, the pint-sized Aminishiki put him
in his place with an agile dashinage.
Tochinonada fades to finish 8-7 but should be promoted to sanyaku in
July. Meanwhile Aminishiki quietly
posts an excellent 11-4 record and steals the Ginosho. I've always liked this guy but he kind of
gets lost in the shuffle because of his non-flashy style. He certainly showed he can take it to anyone
if he can get a hold of 'um. Look for
him to make a huge jump to join the Makuuchi joi' for Nagoya basho.
While we're on the subject of
sansho, we might as well cover M-3 Kyokushuzan (8-7). He secured kachi-koshi on senshuraku against Tamarikido (7-8) in
typical fashion. Moro-te at the
tachi-ai, then retreat in an exaggerated pull-down, so much so that he has to
jump to avoid stepping outside the ring. How this guy got 8 wins is beyond me,
but I've got to admit I'll enjoy seeing what Mike looks like with a black tooth
on the cover of our web page. Hey, I've
got an idea. Since Kyokushuzan not only won 8 but also got a kin-boshi and a
prize too, how about one black tooth for the kachi-koshi, a gold tooth for the
kinboshi and an extra black one for the Shukunsho (outstanding
performance)? At least give us the gold
tooth, Mike. Come on!
Others winning their 8th on the
final day were M-4 Mr. Ippun Kotonowaka, who showed M-12 Buyuzan (9-6) how difficult
it is to sustain a 9-2 start from the lower Maegashira, and M-14 Otsukasa, who
dropped M-9 Jumonji to 8-7 after a sparkling 6-1 start.
Oh, and Asanowaka finishes
8-7. Go figure. 10-win rank-and-filers include the
aforementioned Amininishiki, Toki and M-5 Miyabiyama, who finished 10-5 after
dropping his first three this basho.
Finally, I'll fittingly end this
report with a remark on Akinoshima. I
don't mean to sour a great career by any means, but why not fight on day 15 for
the fans? I am truly disappointed in
his (or whoever's decision it was) to not fight out the basho. You deserve the opportunity to win your last
bout, and the fans deserve an opportunity to see the record holder for most
kinboshi one last time. It would have
been a wondrous ovation to close the curtain on a remarkable Makuuchi run,
regardless of the outcome. And I agree,
Mike, Gojoro should be lynched for his shenanigans on day 13. Anyway, hats off to one great warrior in
Akinoshima. We look forward to seeing
you in the analyst booth to enjoy the coming basho with us as fans. See you all in July, and don't forget about
our first fantasy sumo banzuke. It'll
be rolled out in conjunction with the real banzuke a week or so before
shonichi, when we'll do this all over again. Cheers.
Day 12 Comments
Asashoryu continued to roll today
but thanks to a rare perfect attendance in the Ozeki rank, the home
stretch of this basho presents some interesting match-ups that may turn this
thing into a barnburner after all.
Asashoryu (11-1) was just too much
for Tochiazuma, who like Musoyama and Akinoshima has a 6-6 record and
will keep us all on the edge of our seats over the weekend to see if these
greats will hold their rank. Tochi gave it his best shot by squaring up
against Asa and keeping his head down. He even solicited a pull from
the Yokozuna but he could not capitalize; Asashoryu is just too
fast. His sense of urgency is unmatched. When he pulled back
and realized it wouldn't work, he turned the tsuppari into overdrive and simply
overwhelmed Tochi. Asa gets Musoyama tomorrow; look for a good one there.
Dangit, for once Chiyotaikai has
the balls not to back up against Dejima and wouldn't you know Dejima does it
today! When have you ever seen Dejima do a tachi-ai henka (side
step)? This is just proof that he is not himself. In fact, Chiyo
(10-2) stated he read Dejima during the shikiri and knew he was going to try
the side stepping. Dejima (7-5) will have to wait another day for that
coveted 8th win. Chiyo keeps pace one loss behind Asa but interestingly
has losing records against all three remaining opponents: Kaio, Musoyama and
Speaking of Kaio, he couldn't have
asked for better positioning today against Kotonowaka. Mr. Ippun
practically gave Kaio (9-3) his left hip as if to say "Here, go ahead and
lock your powerful right hand that is said to crush apples with one squeeze
right on to my mawashi". Well, that he did and down Koto
(6-6) went with a crushing uwatenage. Makes you wonder what these
guys are thinking sometimes. Kaio can crash the party these last few
days. Unlike Chiyo, he has winning records against all of his remaining
opponents: Chiyotaikai, Asashoryu and Musoyama.
Musoyama (6-6) defeated Wakanosato
(7-5) in somewhat of a suspicious match. I question the ease with which
Wakanosato went down. Sure, Musoyama had a strong taichi-ai and put quite
a bit of pressure on Waka by not allowing the Sekiwake any kind of belt
positioning but that spill to the dohyo looked like a dive to me. Yes, I
guess I'm playing the yaocho (sumo was fixed) card here. Tell you
what. Wakanosato should face Dejima on day 15. Keep your eye on
that one to see if Dejima takes a dive to return the favor, being that
Wakanosato is "owed one" by Musashigawa-beya (Musoyama and
Dejima). If anything, it'll make watching that match interesting right?
secured kachi-koshi for the first time as a sanyaku rikishi. While
he did it today in a not so spectacular fashion by pulling down Tamanoshima
(6-6), I believe Kyoku deserves the Ginosho, or technical merit prize, this
basho. He has made a believer out of me with his prowess on the
belt. I would have guessed he'd be the guy to have a
weak basho but instead it's his Komusubi counterpart and my fave, Tosanomi
(3-9), who lost again today to Kyokushuzan (6-6). Ouch. That
hurts to see my guy struggle like that, but I'll take it in
order to get a laugh out of seeing Mike's tooth blacked out if long shot
Shuzan can actually "pull" out 8 wins.
Others securing majority wins
today were Aminishiki, Kotoryu and Miyabiyama. Buyuzan was rewarded for
his stellar showing thus far by being matched against M1 Tochinonada, and
promptly lost. You knew it was coming. Toki lost to officially
fall out of the race, so it's down to four: Asashoryu with one loss,
Chiyotaikai with two losses, and Kaio / Buyuzan with three loses. Buckle
your seat belts, this could be a fantastic finish after all.
Day 10 Comments
Besides two upstarts who continue
to hang in with two losses, the yusho race was narrowed today to Asashoryu and
Chiyotaikai. Of course anything can
happen as we saw yesterday with Kyokushuzan, but it's a pretty safe bet that
one of these two will take the cup on Sunday.
Asashoryu, who drew criticism
from Kokonoe (moto-Chiyonofuji) and Kitanoumi as lacking Yokozuna-like dignity
after his actions immediately following his stunning loss yesterday, came out
angered and with purpose to up his record to 9-1 against Dejima (6-4). It was vintage Asashoryu: Nodowa from the tachiai to disrupt opponent,
lock onto the belt while opponent still copes with the tsuppari, then dispose
of opponent, which today came in the form of a nicely executed kirikaeshi. All in a whirlwind of movement that is too
fast for opponent to mount any offense.
Can you imagine if Dejima had attempted a pull-down today after what
happened yesterday? For those of you
who missed it, Asa and Shuzan accidentally rubbed shoulders on the way back to
bow. This infuriated Asa, who stopped
in his tracks to stare down Shuzan and then whipped his sagari (decorative
strings that hang from the mawashi) at him, kind of like we do at home to nail
somebody with a towel. Boy, if he does
that on live national tv, I'd hate to be a subordinate of his in private. Yikes.
Tochiazuma (6-4) dropped Kaio
(7-3) from the yusho race for the time being with a good tachiai that put his
fellow Ozeki on the defensive the entire bout.
Kaio was pretty much back-tracking the whole time, and was finally
unable to keep his balance as Tochiazuma pulled him down at the end. Tochiazuma
is two wins away now. Tomorrow he has
Chiyotaikai. Let's hope it doesn't
become a pull down fest.
Musoyama (4-6) beat Kaiho (3-7)
for a badly needed win. For a second
there, I thought it was going to be the same old story. He started strong and pushed Kaiho back, but
then there was a pause. Can he not even
finish off the little Kaiho? But alas,
Muso twisted him down with a nice slap to the face. He still faces a tough road to 8 wins.
Chiyotaikai (8-2) looked strong
in dominating big Kotonowaka (6-4) to stay in the hunt. Chiyo used his left in a suffocating
"ottsuke" where he handcuffed Kotonowaka's attempt to go inside with
his right. After this, it was a couple
of shoves and game over for Mr. Ippun.
Tochinonada (6-4) disposed of
Wakanosato (7-3) to remind everyone that he isn't going to continue
faltering. He was the aggressor from
the get go, driving Waka back with his strength and weight. At ring's edge he secured moro-zashi and
promptly dropped Waka like a bad habit using a nicely timed sukuinage. Almost picture perfect, but I've got to give
that nod to the next guy...
Kyokutenho (6-4) is emerging as a
legitimate Ozeki candidate these days. In another brilliant yotsu-zumo display,
he completely manhandled Takamisakari (3-7) despite Takami being in his revered
migi-yotsu position. Kyokutenho was all over him, locked on the belt on both
sides while the crowd fave had no leverage.
Absolutely picture perfect; if you're a belt guy, this was textbook
In a not as spectacular but still
solid belt bout, Takanonami handled Tosanoumi with relative ease once the match
settled into a hidari-yotsu contest.
Taka bellied up and used his strong legs to drive Tosa out for a
yorikiri. Both veterans stand at the
brink of make-koshi with 3-7 records.
The best of the rest include Toki
and Buyuzan, who both won to secure kachi-koshi on day 10 with 8-2
records. These upstarts look good for
sure, but don't expect them to stay in the race until the end. A couple of more wins and by the weekend
they'll get a harsh reality check against the big boys.
Day 8 Comments
Asashoryu defeated Kotonowaka
(5-3) to win his first 8 bouts in 5 of the last 6 tournaments, and is pulling
away from the Natsu basho field in a hurry. No longer is there a one-loss
rikishi. There are now 6 two-loss rikishi but none that can make up the
ground to turn this basho around.
Just when you thought Chiyotaikai
(6-2) had conquered his demons, they reared their ugly head today to show the
world why he is undeserving of the Yokozuna rank. Chiyo hits Wakanosato;
good morning. Chiyo is stopped in his tracks and offers a weak pull-down;
good afternoon. Chiyo is blasted out of the ring helped by his own
backward momentum; good night. Wam, bam thank you ma'am, and back to the
drawing board you go for tsuna-tori. Wakanosato improves to 6-2.
Let's face it, Dejima (5-3) was
ROBBED today in a torinaoshi that shouldn't have been. In a match where
both rikishi resorted to pulling down, Dejima clearly pushed Tochiazuma (4-4)
out. The video showed not only that the ball of Tochiazuma's left foot
was touching clay, but that his right foot was also down before Dejima fell to
the dohyo. But Dejima's body was "flying", you say? Then
what do you call Tochiazuma's position, in which the only part of his body that
was in the ring was the front half of his left foot? And who won on sumo
content? I can't believe they rewarded Tochiazuma with a second life
after a weak desperation hataki. What were they smoking in the video
room? They blew a good call from the gyoji, and Tochiazuma goes on to
pull-down his way to evening his record, a huge "win" in his quest to
remain an Ozeki.
Let's talk some power sumo.
How about Tamanoshima (5-3) sticking it to Musoyama (3-5) in a display of sumo
the way it is supposed to be done. Butt heads viciously at the tachiai,
earn your way to your preferred belt position (hidari yotsu in Tama's case) and
plow forward strong and steady. Picture perfect sumo. If he does
this tomorrow against Chiyotaikai, I wonder what Chiyo will do? Musoyama,
meanwhile, gets Tochiazuma tomorrow in a defining bout for both
Kaio (6-2) defeated Kaiho (2-6)
handily partly because the much smaller Kaiho went chest to chest against
Kaio. Stick and move, attack from the side! What's wrong with these
people? Has anyone noticed though that Kaio has gotten his migi uwate
(right outside grip) almost every bout this basho?
The only reason I won't give my
picture perfect good label to Kyokutenho (4-4), who locked horns and battled
Takanonami (2-6) in a one minute, 37 second belt war that was off the hook, is
because there was too much pause in it. Otherwise this baby was a beauty
the way it went back and forth. You gotta love the way Kyoku challenged
Taka by giving him the right outside position he covets. They were locked
in hidari yotsu. Taka did his thing where he stood ground with one left
foot on the tawara, but in the end he could not overcome the tall Mongolian
even with his defensive wizardry. The kimarite was shitatenage but for
some reason was determined to be yoritaoshi. I'm not seeing eye to eye
with the kyokai today.
That's it for power sumo.
Takamisakari (4-4) beat Tosanoumi (3-5) and Kyokushuzan (3-5) beat Tochinonada
(5-3) by employing pull-downs. Yes, Kyokushuzan beat Tochinonada. I
know, it's depressing to see such a gimmicky rikishi pull off unsubstantiated
wins so often. Five more wins and Mike's tooth is black on our front
Although he lost today, Jumonji
along with Buyuzan and Toki round out the six chasing Asashoryu with 6-2
records. It's Asa's basho to lose. He won't.
Day 6 Comments
We've yet to have a day where all
the Ozeki have won and today was no different.
Meanwhile Asashoryu is putting on a clinic and, again, today was no
Asa's (6-0) victim today was the
upstart Takamisakari (3-3), who no longer looks intimidated when facing the top
two ranks. In fact, he was engaged in
some fierce stare downs with Asa on a couple of occasions today to the delight
of the crowd. But this only served to
fuel Asa's competitiveness even more.
He came at Takami with some mean tsuppari at the tachiai, then snuck in
amidst all the movement to secure moro-zashi (inner grip on both sides) and
bullied the crowd fave out. Then he
gave him an extra shove, which is becoming a trademark. Asashoryu is doing what he needs to do, and
that is recapture the hungry mentality he had when he was climbing to the
top. The extent to which he can
continue with this mindset will determine the extent of Asashoryu's dominance
in this sport. Right now, he is pretty
Kaio (4-2) beat Takanonami (1-5)
in a ho-hum bout barely worth mentioning, except maybe that it was nice to
finally see the vintage right uwatenage employed. Takanonami looks totally uninspired and disinterested this basho.
Old rivals Musoyama and Tosanoumi
locked horns today. When these two get
together, break out the aspirin because heads'll be a smashing. They didn't disappoint, and Tosanoumi (2-4)
pulled off a nicely executed uwatenage to drop Muso to 2-4. Yet again Muso had the upper hand early but
could not finish an opponent off. I'm
telling you, he's afraid to throw with that shoulder of his. Therefore his offense is simply his brute strength
going straightforward. I doubt it's
enough. He can only afford 3 more
losses and he still has to fight Asashoryu, Chiyotaikai, Kaio and
Not that Tochiazuma has been
tearing it up. He kept Kyokutenho in
front of him today but got tangled up when the Mongolian pulled back. With Tochi's arms locked up high, Kyoku took
advantage of the moro-zashi and quickly escorted the Ozeki out. Both stand at an even 3-3. Tochiazuma has the better odds to retain his
rank than Musoyama, but he's not exactly winning accolades with his sumo.
In the day's most anticipate bout,
Chiyotaikai (5-1) beat Tochinonada (4-2) to deny the latter from achieving the
Ozeki sweep. I imagined myself in the
arena today as a spectator waving my broom, yelling "TOCHINONADA, SWEEP
'UM BABY!", and getting weird looks from the obasans and salary men in
suits. Anyway, it wasn't to be. Chiyo came out strong today with his good
oshi attack. He did pull Tochi's arm
with both hands, which got him in trouble but he was able to keep his balance
long enough for Tochi to fall forward.
Because this wasn't a blatant 'cop out' type of pull, I won't
criticize. Of the five rikishi chasing
Asashoryu with 5-1 records, you've got to give Chiyo the upper hand. He's been solid after a shaky first few
Dejima forged ahead to up his
record to 5-1 against Kaiho (2-4), who attempted a last ditch fireman's carry
borrowed from pro-wrestling's playbook as he was being pushed out of the ring
backwards. My only thought was that if
he'd have done that against Musoyama, the shoulder would've popped right out for
Let's see what else do we have as
we scan through the ranks. Miyabiyama
has now won three in a row after losing his first three. Buyuzan and the surprising Jumonji round out
the 5-1 guys chasing the Yokozuna. On
the opposite end of the spectrum, poor Takanotsuru, who made a splash just two
basho ago as a rookie, is 0-6. To make
matters worse he lost to the master of bad sumo in Asanowaka today.
Day 4 Comments
We're only four days in and
already down to two unblemished records, and the owner of one of those is
limping considerably. Mike made a gutsy
call by giving the yusho to Asashoryu yesterday but if you look at the field
there really is no one stepping up.
Asashoryu (4-0) had his revenge
today against fellow countryman Kyokutenho (2-2) in a yotsu-zumo fan's
delight. Asa's tenacity was on display
as he nestled in close and kept the pressure on the whole time. Give Kyoku props for a furious last ditch
defense on the tawara for several seconds, but it was to no avail. Then for good measure, he received an extra
push after the bout ended that knocked him clean off the dohyo. In other sports this may be an
unsportsmanlike "late hit" but in the world of sumo it's just Kyoku
being reminded who's boss around here.
Speaking of boss, Tochnonada (3-1)
sure showed Tochiazuma (2-2) who's boss today in a strong display for the
oshi-zumo crowd. See Mike, with Azuma
looking like this it's no wonder he resorted to such a cheap tactic yesterday
against Tosanoumi. If he hadn't, he
would have been steamrolled like he was today.
The bottom line is that Azuma needs wins to retain his
rank, so look for more cheapos in
the days to come if he is to achieve kachi-koshi.
Chiyotaikai (3-1) took a risk and
laid into Kyokushuzan (1-3), who mysteriously obliged by attempting to go toe
to toe with the Ozeki at the tachiai.
For his efforts, Kyoku landed in the second row after two powerful
thrusts. The one time he decides to nut
up, it's against Chiyotaikai. What a
While we're on the subject of
puzzling decisions, how about Takamisakari (3-1) willingly locking up in
hidari-yotsu against Kaio (2-2). It
looked like he actually wanted to position himself in the right-outside grip
position (not preferred), which also gave Kaio the right-outside grip (very
bad). Takami also for the first time
didn't display his comical psych-up ritual prior to the final salt throw, which
had me and probably the whole arena scratching their heads. In the end it was learned he did not know it
was time to fight. He must not have
been concentrating today, which is very unfortunate for a guy who was only one
of three left standing with a perfect record.
Just as I say Musoyama (2-2) is
finished, he comes back and looks like Musoyama of old for the next two days. Today he handled Takanonami (1-3) in
brilliant fashion by driving upward in both armpits and not allowing the long
meat hooks to embrace him. But you
know, it looked to me like Taka almost felt guilty about trying a kotenage
because that kind of pressure might pop Musoyama's shoulder right out of socket
again. I think not only Muso is
mentally affected but his opponents are, too.
Takanonami's gingerly arm movements today sure looked fishy to me,
In a battle of the
"joint" challenged, Dejima (4-0) beat Kotomitsuki (0-4). You have got
to feel for both of these guys battling through these ubiquitous injuries. I wouldn't have taken Mike up on his bet
that Kotomitsuki would sidestep a charger like Dejima, but he surely
didn't. He came with everything he had,
and for this you've got to give him credit. Props also to Dejima for pushing
forward on a bad knee. His bad knee
just so happens to be a little better off than Kotomitsuki's bad elbows, and
thus the result. Koto has a long road
ahead with the way he's been looking, and Dejima's 8th win can't come soon
enough with that limp of his. Hey, but he's half way there already. Let's hope the knee holds up.
In the rank and file, Miyabiyama
(1-3) finally picked up his first win while Aminishiki (3-1) suffered his first
defeat. "Seki" also looks
good at 3-1, and don't forget about Buyuzan (3-1) either. Akinoshima (2-2) looks like he's going to
make us all sweat it out the entire way.
Who wants to bet he'll be 7-7 with his career on the line on day 15?
As for tomorrow, look for
Tosanoumi to bring it against Chiyotaikai.
Let's just hope Chiyo doesn't give in to his 'hiki-waza' demons when the
harsh reality hits that Tosa ain't gonna fly out of the ring like Kyokushuzan
did today. Bring your A-game tomorrow,
Chiyo. The sumo fans deserve it.
Day 2 Comments
It was Mongolia day at the Tokyo Kokugikan as all four
Makuuchi Mongolians won, including even Kyokushuzan, contributing to an Ozeki
fall-out in which three out of four lost.
Asashoryu (2-0) overpowered Kotomitsuki (0-2). So much so that when Asa secured moro-zashi and started
advancing, Koto gave up like a coward two steps from the tawara and backed
right on out. Picture perfect bad for
Kotomitsuki and unacceptable no matter how painful his elbows are.
In a battle of the slightly injured, Dejima (2-0) bulldozed
Kaio (0-2) to send the Ozeki to his second consecutive loss. Kaio stopped Dejima's charge okay but
couldn't hack his opponent's constant movement and broke the rope in a matter
of seconds. Not a good start for a guy
who looked good coming in.
Kyokutenho (1-1) beat Musoyama (0-2) for the third straight
time, showing his superior belt skill in the process. In hidari-yotsu position,
Muso pressed forward to the brink of victory but looked like a desperate
underdog in his futile attempt to follow through. Kyoku calmly stood his ground not unlike Takanonami often does,
then went on to turn the tables and force the struggling Ozeki out. Folks, it looks like the beginning of the
end for Musoyama. He has no spunk left
in him and I think the susceptible shoulder is affecting him mentally. I say he retires within a year.
Lo and behold, Kyokushuzan (1-1) beat Tochiazuma
(1-1). He did it in the only way he
could, which was to disrupt his opponents's rhythm. The kimarite? Hikiotoshi
of course. Ring rust or otherwise,
Tochi should try to put this behind him and get on with it; he looks to be in
pretty good shape.
Chiyotaikai (2-0) was the lone Ozeki victor, shoving out
Takanonami (0-2) with no problem. He
better have, or I would have been all over him after his shenanigans
Wakanosato (2-2) played into his opponent's game, but
prevailed over Mr. Ippun (1-1) after 1 minute and 33 seconds of Kotonowaka
trying to keep Waka from getting the migi-shitate. In the end it didn't work.
See Mike, yesterday's quick win was a fluke. You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
After a tetsuki-fujubun that wasn't called, Takamisakari
(2-0) handled Hokutoriki (0-2) to collect a win for his 27th birthday. Hoku came in like a rocket and, to
everyone's surprise, went for the belt!
It didn't have much effect because he also positioned himself right into
migi-yotsu and gave Takami the hidari-uwate.
Tochinonada (0-2) beat Miyabiyama (0-2) in the best match
of the day. Miyabi came out with
purpose, pushing and shoving and keeping Tochi on the defense the whole time
but somehow it seemed as if Tochi was in control at all times. He must be a mountain to move. After patiently tolerating Miyabi's thrusts,
he finally got the migi-uwate and ushered the former Ozeki out for the picture
perfect bout of the day. Speaking of
picture perfect, tomorrow's bout matching Tochinonada with Asashoryu is not one
to be missed.
Natsu Basho Pre-basho Report
Natsu basho is upon us! Can Chiyotaikai
maintain his momentum? Can Asashoryu regain it? Can the two Ozeki
returning from injuries make an impact? We'll find out in a matter of
days. My respective take on these questions is no, yes and no.
Musashimaru carries the torch for
sumo's injury plague for the third straight basho. After he and
Musashigawa oyakata proclaimed prior to the March tourney that "we want to
ensure that healing is complete", they promptly went about
trying to come back too quickly from left wrist surgery and thus have now
prolonged the Yokozuna's absence. A lot of good that does for the
sport in need of healthy rikishi. Am I being too harsh here?
Asashoryu succumbed to rookie Yokozuna pressures
last basho and showed that he was human. But have no
fear. As competitive as this guy is and judging by
how he's slapped around Chiyotaikai like a rag doll
in recent keiko sessions, I see nothing short of redemption
in the form of a 14-win yusho similar to his sophomore Ozeki
effort just a few months ago.
Regarding Chiyotaikai, is it not absolutely hilarious
that Kitanoumi (Kyokai Head) stated "No promotion even if he goes
15-0. A 12-win yusho line is not worthy of tsuna-tori
consideration". You gotta love this guy's frankness. I
couldn't agree with him more. He's as unconvinced of Chiyo's fortitude as
I am. That said though, there's no previous case where an Ozeki wins two
basho in a row and does not get promoted. Interesting...
Tochiazuma takes sleeper status this month.
Coming off an injury, who knows what he will show us? Expect some ring
rust early, then anything from a narrow kadoban escape to a strong jun-yusho
Musoyama is forced back from yet another dislocated shoulder
because he wasn't granted exempt status. Therefore he is kadoban and must
compete and win majority or be demoted. Question: If Musoyama's
injury, suffered during a hon-basho bout, isn't official, what is? I have
a bad feeling about Musoyama's future. One more dislocation and it's game
over for this guy. You'd think the Kyokai would give this worthy Ozeki a
break and let him heal so that he can mount another legitimate comeback.
We'll see, but I'll be cringing as I watch Muso in May.
There's not much to say about Kaio except for the
fact that he is the wildcard once again. There's no predicting this
popular Ozeki's performances. He's Jeckel and Hyde in a mawashi.
At Sekiwake and Komusubi, we have four rikishi coming
off solid but unspectacular Marches in Wakanosato, Dejima, Tosanoumi and
Kyokutenho. Of note is Dejima, who last week felt sharp pain in his knee
during practice and has had to scale back his final week of preparation in
order to avoid withdrawing. This is just another set back for tough luck
Dejima, who has managed to climb back to Sekiwake for the first time in 10
basho. He just can't seem to avoid the injury bug. Look for one of
these four to have a fall out basho in the form of single digit wins.
Tochinonada and Takamisakari sit atop the Maegashira
heap. Tochi is a mule and should continue climbing. Takamisakari is
trying to become a mule by engaging in a bulk-up plan of increased food intake
and protein shakes. He is also diligently "de-geiko’ing"
(visiting other stables for practice). Looks like he doesn't want to stop
at M1. I think he does.
As for the rest, let's sum it up with the two most
promising, the two least promising, the one most intriguing, and the one most
Two most promising: M13 Asasekiryu and M11
Shimotori. I'm sticking with my guns on Seki. He just needed a
basho to wake up. Shimotori is coming off an injury and should show his
skill well at this level.
Two least promising: M3 Kyokushuzan and M15
Asanowaka. Bad sumo personified, squared. I'd like to kick both
these guys in the shins.
Most intriguing: M6 Kasugao. Can the
promising Korean keep climbing? He can if he fights like he did in week 2
in Osaka. Doesn't Kasugao vs. Kaio sound like a barnburner?
Most inspiring: M15 Akinoshima. Quite
simply, it's win 8 or retire. Will he or won't he? Either way,
we'll be rootin' for you. He is a warrior.
It's days away, folks. I see Asashoryu taking
this one at 14-1 with Miyabiyama taking Shukunsho, Iwakiyama stealing the
Kantosho and Asasekiryu sealing the Ginosho.
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