2014 Natsu Post-basho Report (Page 2)
In the Ozeki ranks, Kisenosato's 13-2 performance was not
impressive. I mean, name me one bout where he totally dismantled an opponent. It
can't be done, but I vividly remember Aoiyama throttling the Ozeki on day 4 in
about two seconds. When an Ozeki finishes 13-2, you expect at least half of the
wins to be of the type that Aoiyama demonstrated in beating the Kid. Instead,
there was a lot of hesitation, a lack of fighting spirit from his opponents, and
then one of the uglier dives I've seen in awhile (that's saying something!) from
Yoshikaze on day 9. It all goes back to my intro, though. When rikishi let up
and assist each other in order to fulfill an agenda, you'll frequently see a
13-2 performance that lacked any substance. And...if Kisenosato is up for
promotion again in Nagoya, expect the same results he's shown us the previous
As for Ozeki Kotoshogiku, the wins that would have helped him win his eight were
much more effective distributed elsewhere, so if an Ozeki is going to be
kadoban, it makes no difference whether or not he won seven bouts or just three.
In the case of the Geeku, he finished 5-10 with those five wins coming against
rikishi who averaged 4.2 wins in May. Like past Ozeki on the verge of
retirement, you can just see it when they've lost a step, and Kotoshogiku has
definitely lost a step. We'll see what happens in Nagoya, but I'd be very
surprised to see this guy still on the banzuke by year's end.
Primed to take over the Geeku's slot are either of the Sekiwake, Goeido or
Tochiohzan. Let's start with Goeido who finished 8-7 thanks to a lot of help,
especially in week 2. That win over Hakuho was huge politically because if he
loses that bout, he suffers make-koshi, and many on the surface would say,
"Okay, he can easily recover in Nagoya," and while that's true, it would have
completely negated his 12-3 jun-yusho performance in Osaka in March. I know,
we're all thinking, "He went 12-3 in March?" The reason you don't remember is
because it was along the lines of Kisenosato's 13-2 this basho, but the point
is...securing kachi-koshi here in May means he now has 20 wins the last two
Kisenosato was promoted to Ozeki with just 32 wins, so all Goeido needs now is
12 wins again in Nagoya to be worthy of promotion, and it wouldn't surprise me
if they seriously considered him at just 11-4. It's a stretch, I know, but he's
still in the conversation (i.e. headlines) at this point. If he goes 7-8, his
results in Osaka are all for naught, so now you can see just how big that gift
from Hakuho was. With Kotoshogiku on the verge of retirement, it's a lot easier
to catapult a guy like Goeido prematurely into the Ozeki ranks to take the sting
off of losing another Japanese rikishi from an elite rank on the banzuke.
Furthermore, Goeido has been hyped so persistently the last two years, having
him finally achieve success gives that much more hope to the next dude (Endoh).
The guy who really should be considered for promotion in Nagoya is Sekiwake
Tochiohzan. Nothing has been handed to him, and yet he's won 30 bouts the last
three basho from the sanyaku. I'm not quite sure what the fascination is with
Goeido, but the next Japanese Ozeki candidate is right here in front of our
faces, and no one's said a word about him. Well, no one in the Japanese media.
I've been saying for awhile now that he is the best Japanese rikishi on the
banzuke and the proof is in the pudding. Take away his fluke loss to Chiyotairyu
on day 2 and then suppose he doesn't let Kisenosato win on day 6, and this guy
finishes 12-3. Here is the guy to market if you're Japan because there's actual
substance to his sumo that you can hype along the way. He has a good tachi-ai,
he worms his way into moro-zashi better than most, and he doesn't need help from
anyone to win in double digits. This is easily my favorite Japanese rikishi at
the moment because he's earning everything with his sumo skills, not obvious
charity. Let's see what happens with Tochiohzan and the hype because he will
overtake Goeido on the Nagoya banzuke and check in from the East slot.
The Komusubi were disappointing this basho with Yoshikaze finishing 6-9 and
Chiyootori finishing 5-10. In the case of Yoshikaze, his body isn't quite up to
snuff to really make an impact here, and Chiyootori is so young (the youngest
guy in the division if you need him) that it's hard to expect him not to be
overwhelmed fighting at this level. It's too bad because I think Chiyootori
already has the ability to flirt with kachi-koshi among the jo'i, but he needs
to work on the confidence first.
M1 Aoiyama will slide into the first Komusubi slot after a fine 8-7 showing that
included wins over both Ozeki. Dude starts out 0-3 against the three Mongolian
Yokozuna, and then on day 4 just crushed Kisenosato back to his first loss.
Using him as a barometer (sorry Gangstuh), you can clearly see the vast
difference between the top three on the banzuke and everyone else. Aoiyama could
actually be more lethal if he wouldn't go for the pull so much, but chalk that
up to chronic injuries.
M2 Chiyotairyu and the entire Kokonoe-beya were the biggest let-down of the
basho. I realize that dude had a tough schedule, but he barely went to his bread
and butter, which is the tsuppari attack coupled with de-ashi. Instead,
Chiyotairyu offered his hands up from the tachi-ai as if he were the victim of a
stick-up and he left himself so wide open that his opponent had him pushed back
before he could even flirt with a pull attempt. I think it really boils down to
fear with this guy. When he's lower in the ranks, he knows that his
forward-moving sumo can work, and so he stick to it. When fighting among the
jo'i', he becomes timid and defensive and gets his ass kicked. Course, he did
beat Tochiohzan, Goeido, and Endoh...three of the bigger names in Japanese sumo
for various reasons.
I normally wouldn't comment on M2 Takarafuji, but he showed me something with
that 4-0 finish after his horrific 0-11 start. Things like that impress me a
helluva lot more than Goeido's 8-7 or Kisenosato's 13-2.
M3 Aminishiki came out of nowhere to post a 10-5 record that will propel him
back to the sanyaku. The only problem was that his sumo was nothing but pulls
M4 Endoh managed to finish 7-8, but he didn't have a single big win this basho,
which I define as a win over a guy who kachi-koshi'ed or a win over a sanyaku
rikishi or above if you're a hiramaku guy. Okay, okay, he defeated Kakuryu on
paper, but I'm bit more of a critical thinker than to accept that fluke at face
value. There is nothing to hype about Endoh this basho. Dude has a ton of
technical skills, but as I've said before, he's a middle weight trying to box in
the heavyweight division. At a certain point, size and speed will always win
out, and those two factors are not on Endoh's side.
I am going to wrap things up at this point since I've already commented about
the guys below Endoh in my daily comments, and I will pick right back up where I
left off for the Nagoya pre-basho report.
Before I go, I just have to pimp the new
Sumotalk Facebook page. I'm not much of a
social media guy, but it's a lot easier to throw news nuggets up on a Facebook
page than it is a website, and it allows anyone to comment on the piece. I
really enjoy the comments from fans, and it's always fun to participate in a
lively debate where there are actually two sides to the story, so check us out
now on Facebook and see you all in July where I will do some of my reporting
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