Home  |  User Forum  |  News  |  Fantasy Sumo  |  Media Requests  |  Contributors  |  About Us Sumo 101  |  Links  |  Archives  |  Swedish


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 two times.

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 basho.

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 and gimmicks.

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 from Japan.

Home   |   Back to page 1


hit counters