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Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
Day 14

Senshuraku Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
The main surviving indigenous language of the Nippon archipelago has a phrase, "natsubate", which means "Nuts to you, buddy!"  It can also be taken to mean, "summer doldrums", wherein a persons joie de vivre is sucked from them by the aggressive, oppressive heat (kind of like that Harvard professor arrested in daylight at his own home because he spoke back to The Man).

Ive not got that, no, but my boy has come down with "otafukukaze" (parotitis to Mario, mumps for you laypeople), we are about to start a spate of visitors to our home that will last for several weeks, each enjoying the wonderful beach only a stones throw away (unfortunately none of them is Kelly Brook at right), and the only real question going into today was would Hakuho punch his hairdresser or not. Upshot: Short Day 15 report.

Sexy made sure that both he and Tochinonada finished with rotationally symmetrical records by staying low and using a crackerjack belt grip and some nice leg pivoting to wrap up a 9-6. GG got MK.

Takekaze must have read Martins Day 14, barely hitting and wholly shifting and taking his 8th win at the expense of Toki "Already Gots Mine" Tenku. The day was shaping up to have such little drama that the JP announcer who speaks English (after a fashion) exclaimed "Nice technique!" Uh. . .right. This guy must also write the history of WW2 textbooks they use here Through the Looking Glass ("America ba-a-a-a-d, Japan misunderstood").

Just imagine what sumo would be like if everyone, by rule, had to charge as fierce as Kakizoe does at tachi-ai. Today he was matched against one of the true anti-henkaites, Homasho, so he loaded both barrels and, Kaboom! Got an armbar and not much more out of it, though, as Homasho used his patience and enormous size advantage to hold off the badger with a little ottsuke until the smaller mans forward mo took him to the flo! At ten wins from E15, and Zoe with nine losses from W8, they'll no doubt square up again in Sept.

Shoten showed eleven as he held up a seemingly drunken Kokkai and then let him fall. Painful to see such a shitty tachi-ai by the European, esp coming after Sweet Zoe Jane. The only question for the red hot Big Shot is will they fling him up to M4 or above and make him pay for his insolence, or raise him to M5 and let him gain one more basho of experience? Im hoping for the latter.

With his goose already cooked yesterday courtesy of Peter, Okonomiyaki had no reason to follow his two-handed nodowa attack with anything resembling lower body sumo, and Toyonoshima took the KK gift, asking no questions. Tugboat takes five out of his last six to squeeze by. Now thats just fun to watch. At an incredible rank of W7 in just his first Makuuchi basho, the 6-9 Mongolian should have nothing but sweet daydreams when he next lies down in his tanning bed.

The aforementioned Peter took on Bird Man (yeah, I know it doesn't mean "bird" but he looks like one) and unlike this matchup Shimotori got the best of the Family Guy, staving off certain death with two or three of the best tiptoe, back-to-the-ropes recoveries this side of P.T.s Boy. Finally he grabbed Tamanoshima and slammed him forward, Joe Pesci in Goodfellas style, waited for the resistance, and then executed the nicest kimarite of the day, the always amusing kirikaeshi, or "tripped your dumb ass backward, fooh!"

In a laugher of a matchup, we had W15 Kasugao, with his Cracker Jack (and Im going for the "surprise-in-every-box" angle here) sumo taking on a man I believe may now be joi material for pretty much the remainder of his career, Tochinoshin. No Shine has been Lights Out this tourney, with some quality wins over Toyonoshima, Miyabiyama and Shotenro. He still needs to work out the jitters, but he is trying for the right kind of grips and bringing the action, and thats just fun to watch. Today he bought the Korean a ride on the Yorikiri Express leaving Nagoya at 4:55 and bound for who cares?

Speaking of the mountain man, Miyabi was looking for win number eight vs. the caffeinated one, Yoshikaze. Café brought it big time from the whistle, getting both hands inside but being locked down by the Sheriff in the process. Starbuck then bit down on that capsule of double pure cappuccino oil he keeps in his fake molar and, feeling the rush, actually lifted the pile of flesh I like to call Flobby off the dirt for a heartbeat. Miyabi isnt a former Ozeki for nothing, though, and when he inevitably came back down he timed it perfectly, twisting his considerable girth and slapping down the W12 for his KK.

We then had a series of underachievers picking up feel good wins, with Oh Snap, Father Goeido, and The Bouncer getting the best of three other MKs, Bush, Bean, and Pimple, and it just wasnt fun to watch.

Baruto lifted out Geeku via the tsuridashi that really ought to be his winning kimarite at least thrice per basho; the Chauffer held the door to double digit losses open for Iwonkeykong and he barreled through it; and then Kisenosato made us all happy by kicking the crap out of Aminishiki, whose technique prize leaves my brainstem tangled up in blue. They even showed his henka vs. Mitsuki as if to say, See, he deserves this! Oh, sumo, you difficult to understand, fickle bitch.

In the final bout concerning a 7-7 rikishi, mighty Ozeki-for-Life Chiyotaikai broke out his arsenal of smart bomb tsuppari he could only have purchased on the black market, their power being so shock and awesome, blasting Sekiwake Kakuryu back at least the width of four or five human hairs. I ask you, what in the name of all things selected was the Kak to do in the face of such obvious superiority? Punch drunk, his topknot shining like Rudolphs nose, he was easy pickins for this 100% clean, go it alone Ozeki. Hatakikomi and see you all, come hell or high water, in my hometown of Kyushu. Word.

(We received a nice and enormous sausage as a summer several days ago, but since Im not Andreas and couldnt finish it off in one meal, its been appearing in subsequent meals everyday. First there were large chunks in a salad, then smaller cuts in the next days soup, and today little bits in my spring rolls. Its a frickin Mandelbrot-wurst.)

With his hometown crowd rhythmically clapping like they were watching a breakdance, Mitsuki got Kaio spun around and eased him out. A sammich is a sammich, but a Manwich is 12-3 for the Aichi hero and Yokozuna worldbeater.

Kotooshu beat a very strong Mongolian who, following in Asashoryus footsteps, raced up the ranks and took yusho like nobodys bidness. Unfortunately he was a day late, and hAruMAfuji aint Hakuho. The yusho defender led with a tricky one handed pushing attack that turned him perpendicular to the well set Kotooshu, interesting strategy vs. such a huge and strong foe. Guess Temur was hoping to, uh, surprise the Bulgarian with something, uh, unique! Yeah, thats it. Nothing but up and up here, folks. 

In the final bout, Kublai and Genghis went toe to toe, the earth shook, yada yada. The titans alternated belt grips, with Asa especially grabbing and letting go and grabbing and letting go, making the fans ooh and aah. Asa made one push forward that caused his own feet to skip and Hakuho fought it off easily by turning him aside. Warning: Foreshadowing! Then after a brief re-set in the center (at which point Asa let go of a front mawashi outside grip--which looked like it could pin Haks left arm down when Asa went for the pushout--and changed it to a front mawashi inside grip--giving Hak a freer arm) Asa drove forward. With Kublai now in a very disadvantageous position, it looked like Genghis might get er done, but Hak (shock) twisted and Asa just plumb forgot to set his legs wider for the shove out and also forgot that his left hand was firmly holding Haks belt. And wouldn't you know it, Asas hand touched down as he fell.

Everyone was happy, Hakuho had the yusho that is rightfully his, and Asashoryu showed he is no pushover. So why me feel empty like warehouse? See you in Tokyo.

Day 14 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
If you insist on comparing the respective attitudes of Asashoryu and Kotooshu before their bouts together, you always get something similar to this here picture. Asashoryu looks like a killer on a rampage, while Kotooshu looks like a nerd cornered by a gang of jocks in the hallway, and that usually reflects faithfully in the subsequent clash. After watching Kotooshu bite the dirt yesterday in the same old, tired fashion against Hakuho, and Asa throw Ama like a rag doll by a kimarite last seen only 30 something years ago, I thought "yep, it's gonna be business as usual". But appearances can be deceiving.

Asashoryu lead with a right harite and quickly followed up with a left shoulder blast, but the whole thing was for show only, as Kotooshu absorbed it easily and grabbed a solid right uwate. The Mongol wasn't gonna give up without a fight, so he kept his right side way back, denying the inside grip, but that move let Kotooshu work his way to his side and deploy a nifty dashinage that had the Khan hopping one-legged on the tawara. From there, there was only one way to go, and that was out. Yet again, great stuff from the Bulgarian Ozeki, who soars to a great 12-2 record. Asashoryu falls to his 4th loss with a bitter smile on his face.

Ozeki Harumafuji went all kamikaze on top dog Hakuho with a violent tachi-ai that took the bigger man back a full step or three, but the Yokozuna eventually stopped his frenzied foe in his tracks, got both hands on the inside, spun him around and shoved him out. It wasn't much to write about because there wasn't much going on anyway, Ama just went forward with no plan, and, of course, he failed (I could tell you what Ama's reasons for not having any kind of plan were, but you'd need to be lobotomized not to figure it out by yourselves). Anyway, with the win Hakuho moves into an insurmountable lead, as Kotooshu now has to win twice tomorrow, and Hakuho has to lose the same number of bouts. And, as Mike was saying...Kotooshu is outnumbered 3 to 1. True, he did beat Asa today, and he can definitely take Ama tomorrow, but there's no way in hell or elsewhere that Asashoryu beats Hakuho (he couldn't beat him even if he wanted to, but he doesn't really want to play spoiler to his compadre). Besides, even if, by some twisted turn of events, Asashoryu does upset Hakuho (wow, that would have sounded so wrong a couple of years ago), Kotooshu still has a kettei-sen to win. So, if I were Hakuho, I'd already pat myself on the back for winning #11.

Not-for-much-longer-Sekiwake Kakuryu was yorikiried to his 9th defeat of the basho, guaranteeing his fall from sanyaku. Kotomitsuki (who I have to say exceeded all expectations this basho with his double digit record) hit the Kak hard and got the immediate left uwate he likes so much, while denying any mawashi grip for the pesky Mongol. It was only a matter of time, but Kotomitsuki sure likes to take things slow, so he just waited a little, then unleashed an uwatedashinage, took Kakuryu for a 360 and forced him over the edge emphatically.

The Sadogatake boys have been explaining their success in Nagoya left and right, attributing it to an increased number of keiko bouts. If that's indeed the case, why the hell haven't they done it sooner?! It can't possibly be that easy, now can it. But whatever it is they're doing, Kotonowaka seems to be on to something, because the last time BOTH Kotooshu and Kotomitsuki got double digit wins was in May 2005 (that was still during Kotozakura's reign).

I have to be honest and admit I was expecting Kaio to let Chiyotaikai win today and get his own kachikoshi against Kotomitsuki tomorrow, but they had other plans. Kaio just stood up from the tachi-ai and absorbed Taikai's charge and deflected him with no visible effort, keeping him in front all the time. It was a particularly weak effort from Taikai, who eventually stumbled out of the dohyo on his own, after getting brushed aside by one of Kaio's bear paw swipes. If I didn't know better (i.e. that Chiyotaikai needed the win more), I'd be crying yaocho, because it certainly wasn't a good effort from Taikai. But I'm completely failing to understand why they'd do it this way (unless, of course, Chiyotaikai has an envelope with Kakuryu's name on it already in the mail). Kaio gets his kachikoshi with the dubious win. Wouldn't it be just ironic if Chiyotaikai lost to the flaccid Kak tomorrow, after managing to "defeat" Asashoryu and Kotooshu? I can tell you I'm rooting for Kakuryu in that one.

Giant Estonian Baruto lost the tachi-ai to Kisenosato (yawn, what else is new), and the two immediately locked up in hidari yotsu, with the Kid enjoying a deep, solid left inside that prevented Bart from lifting him off the dohyo (as it could be seen several seconds into the stalemate that ensued). Kisenosato eventually pressed forward and attempted some gaburi-yori (or belly shoves), but Baruto yanked him around with ease and deposited him on the tawara, where he used the momentum to push him down for his 10th win. Kisenosato falls to 8-6 and still has a lot of improving to do, especially on the mental aspect of his game.

The fact that Sadogatake man #3 is having a good basho is even more proof that they're up to something, because today he got his kachikoshi and his 5th win in as many days, by beating the Fatman at his own game. It was pretty clear from the start that Miyabiyama had no real intention of going forward, because his tsuppari were all bark and no bite. He was probably hoping to get lucky with a pull down, but Kotoshogiku kept him in front of him all the time, yawned off the weak thrusts and pushed the Sheriff out for his 7th loss. Miyabiyama still has a decent chance of getting kachikoshi, as he's facing Yoshikaze tomorrow. Kotoshogiku will be gracing the Sekiwake rank once again next basho and, as usual, will be benefiting fully from the same heya rule.

M2 Toyohibiki had a great tachi-ai against ex-Mongol Komusubi Kyokutenho, and pushed him right out, after avoiding a half-assed pull down. This was one of the worst losses Tenho (5-9) had this basho, but I can't blame him for wanting out of the jo'i already. Them Ozeki and Yokozuna are hazardous to your health (ok, ok, maybe not Chiyotaikai, but still...). The Hutt is a meager 3-11 and will be getting back to calmer waters for Aki.

Suppose you and one of your buds are competing in the same tournament, and you're not doing too well, but he's getting his ass handed to him in style, way worse than you'd ever imagined. Also, suppose you have to fight him. What do you do? Well, I know I'd let him win, and Goeido probably had the same idea today. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this was fixed, I'm just saying Goeido might have been feeling some pity for poor Oh, because the way he leaned forward on him was just hilarious. Tochi-onewin didn't need a formal invitation to finish it off, and he immediately got out of the way, more or less letting Goeido fall on his own. Can't say I blame Goeido (4-10) for letting up on this one, he'll probably get it back with interest.

If there's anyone who can read a henka on a Russian, that's Iwakiyama. I don't understand why these dense Caucasian types keep on trying to sidestep him, only to fail miserably time and again (remember Wakanoho caught in mid-air?). Anyway, Aran's henka backfired bigtime, as Iwakiyama charged forward, but corrected the course to his own left to account for the sidestep, then rushed the Russian and got a solid left arm inside, taking him to the tawara. Aaron dug in a bit and stopped Iwakiyama's advance, but the Hutt forced the issue, so Aran had to try a desperation throw at the edge. It almost worked, but the result was clear enough (and in Moony's favor), so there was no need for a mono-ii, much to the Russian's disappointment. Serves him right. Iwakiyama has 5 wins, and I'd call that overachieving.

Don't be fooled by Kakizoe's record this basho, at least two of those wins are the results of clear false starts, but for some reason he got away with it. It was the same today against the Clown, Kakizoe took off way before Takamisakari could get up from his crouch, so the result was a straight oshidashi with little resistance. It's a mystery for me just why they let these fights go, but at times they stop rikishi (who are otherwise in sync), because the don't put BOTH fists down. Both rikishi are 6-8, if anyone cares.

Veteran Aminishiki schooled rookie Tochinoshin a little after surviving a double helping of kachi-age at the tachi-ai (them Europeans sure like to play rough, innit?) and getting a shallow right uwate he would not lose for the rest of the bout. Tochinoshin had a decent left inside, but little else on the other side, so Sneaky quickly wormed his way to the Georgian's side and allowed him little room to maneuver. After another force-out attempt by the whitey, Aminishiki turned to the outside of the ring and threw the compromised Georgian down while tripping him, all in one fluent move. The kimarite was named uwatedashinage, if only for lack of a better term, because the throw was a combination of nichonage and kakenage, similar to both, but not quite one or the other. It looked more like something out of Mongol wrestling (which makes sense, actually, because Aminishiki's stable mate happens to be Ama). It couldn't get much better than this for Aminishiki (11-3), who'll have his work cut out for him in sanyaku next basho. Tochinoshin should be gracing the jo'i himself with his 8-6 so far, but I don't see him getting kachikoshi up there (not yet, anyway).

Another veteran, resurgent M6 Tamanoshima, schooled another newbie in M7 Mokonami. I don't think anybody was expecting the Mongol to still be in contention by day 14, but there you have it. Peter was more active at the tachi-ai, hitting and grabbing a solid right uwate while denying Moe one of his own with a well placed beam under the armpit. Then Tamanoshima took Moe off balance with an inspired right leg trip, and then he finished him off by the same maneuver, avoiding a desperation throw from the Mongolian. Peter soars to 9-5, while Mokonami cools to 6-8.

Everybody was expecting Takekaze to henka to avoid makekoshi, but, as usual, his opponent was the last one to find out, and only after it was too late. Henka and hatakikomi is as dirty as it gets, but Murray Johnson was right, it was mostly Bush's fault for not seeing it coming. Takekaze lives to "fight" another day, and I'm willing to bet he's going to do it again tomorrow against Tokitenku. G. Dubya (5-9) is doing pretty well for this rank.

What I was expecting to be a closely contested technical bout turned into a tentative cat and mouse pulling game between Toyonoshima and Homasho. The little guy attacked with a nodowa at the tachi-ai, but shifted quickly and went for the pull. He applied the same algorithm throughout, obstinately refusing to allow Homie to get in close (no idea why, he should be the better mawashi man). In the end, it seemed like Toyonoshima finally got his man when he got out of the way and sent Homer stumbling toward the tawara, but Homasho stopped in the nick of time and quickly applied the same maneuver to the charging Toyonoshima, who couldn't do anything to avoid falling, despite hanging on to Homasho's knee taping (!). Anyway, Homasho improves to 9-5 while Toyonoshima has one last chance tomorrow.

A similar affair was the bout between Kokkai the hairy and Yoshikaze the (usually, but not today) feisty. Of course, in this case, both guys had pulling on their mind as plan A, and, of course, no plan B. The tachi-ai was as soft as it could get, with Yoshikaze retreating first and trying the hatakikomi, but Kokkai resisted the temptation to lunge forward. He soon found himself trying the same thing, failed, but he managed to muster a decent right uwate he used to march the little fella out. Both are already in makekoshi land (yawn).

Veteran Tochinonada outclassed rookie Wakakoyu, who came out with all his guns blazing, which amounted to about nothing, because Nada easily withstood the charge, shifted to his left and downed Koyu with a well-placed thrust to his side. I'd be lying if I said it was worth watching. Wakakoyu will be cooling off in Juryo with his 10th loss, while Nada is enjoying the silence with his 6-8.

Mongols Asasekiryu and Tokitenku were the main actors in the comedy of errors that was their bout. It was hilarious to see just how useless Asasekiryu could be with the solid left uwate he had from the tachi-ai (while Tenku had no whiff of the mawashi), failing time after time after time to finish off the dashinage (which just happens to be his favorite move, and furthermore, it just happens to be his favorite move AGAINST TOKITENKU). Anyway, the irony was that at the edge, after a minute or so of futility, Tokitenku actually managed to improve his position and get both arms inside, but then Asasekiryu stepped it up a notch, kept his body low and finally (praise the Lord!) pulled off the throw. Can I please have my 2 minutes back?

Right now, I'd say the best rikishi in Musashigawa beya is Mongol Shotenro, who doubled his 5-2 since I last spoke of him. Remember how I was saying he's twice the Mongol Kakuryu will ever be? Well, with his imminent demotion and Big Shot's imminent (over)promotion, they're likely to meet next basho for the first time… in Makuuchi. Because they've already met once before, many moons ago, and Shotenro (then Musashiryu) won Baruto style. I can't wait! Oh, yeah, the bout with Shimotori. Well, that one was a straightforward pushing affair, with Shimotori having no chance of resisting and ultimately being pushed down to his 6th loss (when did this guy get kachikoshi?!).

What goes around comes around, so Korean Kasugao rightfully got a taste of his own medicine, as he was henka'd (well, sort of) by the ailing Chiyohakuho in a visit from Juryo. Chuck didn't go for the dirty hatakikomi, but he grabbed Kasugao's right arm and then worked his way deep inside and bellied the Korean out. 6-8 for the Juryo dweller, while Kasugao is 8-6.

Skilled rookie Tosayutaka made it a kachikoshi today with a solid yotsu victory over visiting Masatsukasa. Tosa got a solid inside on the right and the uwate on the left, which he used to immediately muscle Masatsukasa out for the yorikiri. Tosayutaka looks like he's here to stay, but his size might be his downfall.

Finally, Futenoh absorbed The Mawashi's weak thrusts and then timed a perfect evasion to his left to win his 6th. Mawashi will be populating Juryo next basho, but I think he'll be back.

Before I go, let's talk a bit about the special prizes. The Shukun-Sho won't be awarded (before you say Kisenosato, I say beating Asashoryu doesn't amount to much there days, everybody's doing it). The Kanto-Sho should go to none other than the Big Shot himself, while the Gino-Sho has been fully earned by Aminishiki. Baruto might be taken into consideration, but as a Sanyaku mainstay he might be expected to do well ranked below that area. Of course, like always, the guys deciding these will have their own obscure criteria, so take these with a grain of salt.

The Yusho, like I said, is 99% in Hakuho's possession (and he deserves it, too), there's just no way Asashoryu upsets him. Also, look for Kakuryu to lose dubiously to Chiyotaikai's trademark "lower body powered" tsuppari (for once, I'd love to see a Kakuryu henka; I know, I know, it's bad, it's dirty, but it couldn't happen to a nicer guy).

Clancy will be here on senshuraku to elaborate on why it's better to keep it hanging to the left. 

Day 13 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
You gotta love day 13, or moving day as I'm wont to call it. Inevitably, it's the day that sifts out the chaff from the wheat, and it always includes epic bouts as the Yokozuna and top-ranked Ozeki battle it out. Today would not disappoint with headliners Hakuho and Kotooshu and an undercard featuring Asashoryu and Harumafuji. It was a one-two punch that brought back memories of Guns 'N Roses teaming up with Metallica in the summer of '94. With Hakuho and Kotooshu both riding the lightening at 11-1 coming in, the victor of that bout for all intents and purposes would clinch the yusho, so let's get right to the action starting from the top.

Yokozuna Hakuho charged hard at the tachi-ai trusting that the Ozeki wouldn't side-step him, and he didn't. The proactive move gave the Yokozuna the advantage from the get-go as he earned the left outer grip straightway and knocked Kotooshu back with enough force that his left hand slipped away from the Yokozuna's belt. The two quickly hunkered down low in the migi-yotsu position with both circling the dohyo like sharks waiting for an opening, but Hakuho still maintained the advantageous outer grip. Kotooshu didn't relent, however, and bodied Hakuho back a step or two forcing the Yokozuna to keep on the move in order to avoid a force-out loss. Hakuho knew Kotooshu's limitations, and did just enough to keep control of the bout. About thirty seconds in, Hakuho went for his first throw using his left thigh against Kotooshu's right leg for momentum, but the Bulgarian rebuffed him in stride. They continued their methodical dance around the ring looking for any sort of an opening, and about 15 seconds after Hakuho's first throw attempt, Kotooshu made a move to grab a left outer grip of his own, but quicker'n a cat, Hakuho pounced on the slight momentum shift and committed on his second outer belt throw, this one sending the Ozeki flying over and down for the spectacular win. The Nagoya version of Hakuho vs. Kotooshu resembled their contest last basho, and if you remember that win, it was another great bout of sumo that saw Hakuho win it in the end thanks to the slight advantage gained at the tachi-ai. On one hand, I want to say that this was the bout of the basho, but having witnessed the Asashoryu - Harumafuji bout several minutes before, it's a tough call.

Back to the bout at hand...this one was for the yusho in my mind. The win moves Hakuho to 12-1, and even though he has Harumafuji and Asashoryu left, the Yokozuna holds the clear advantage over his countrymen. With Asashoryu out of the yusho race, he will let up against Kublai rather than see the cup leave Mongolian hands and go to a Bulgarian. And Harumafuji has not had the urgency this basho that we've seen from him in the past. Absolutely nothing is on the line for Harumafuji the rest of the way, so what's the point in going all out tomorrow? There is none. I learned early watching Akebono and Musashimaru back in the mid-nineties. Whenever one of the Hawaiians had nothing to gain with a win but the other did, he always deferred to the other in their head-to-head bouts. In fact, Hakuho beats Harumafuji tomorrow, an Asashoryu victory over Kotooshu would give the yusho to Hakuho before we even enter the final day. For Kotooshu fans, you have no hope because it's three against one. Still, no one can argue that Hakuho hasn't been the superior rikishi in Nagoya, but like Susan Boyle, Kotooshu can hold his head high and go back to his village with jun-yusho in hand. He sure as hell earned it.

The undercard featured Yokozuna Asashoryu and Ozeki Harumafuji, and the two Khan did not disappoint. Asashoryu used a quick left harite at the tachi-ai to set up the left outer grip, and the Yokozuna wisely shifted his hips back leaving Harumafuji's left arm too far away from the Yokozuna's belt. Asashoryu hunkered down low and gathered his wits for a few seconds before pulling the Ozeki in tight and lifting him up off his feet towards the edge of the dohyo, but there was one too many steps to cover allowing Harumafuji to survive with his feet against the tawara. As the two hunkered down again in the migi-yotsu position with Asashoryu maintaining the advantageous outer left, Harumafuji looked to counter with an uchi-muso move with the left hand, but Asashoryu avoided that with ease. Realizing that he needed to take charge, Asashoryu made his move pulling Harumafuji in tight again, using his belly to lift the Ozeki clear off his feet, and then twisting him around in the air and throwing him to the dohyo via the kimari-te yagura-nage. I'd be lying if I pretended to know what in the hell that means, but I'm pretty sure it has to do with kneeing your opponent in the balls when you throw him.  It also gave Martin a stiffy to see a kimari-te used for the first time since 1975. It was as spectacular a throw as we've seen from anyone in sometime as Asashoryu improves to 10-3, but it's too little far too late as his monkey bidness earlier in the week leaves him without a shot at the cup. Harumafuji settles for 9-4, but it's no harm no foul.

Speaking of stiffies, Ozeki Kaio surely had one when he saw that he'd be facing M3 Iwakiyama today, a guy who he was 10-0 against coming in...and that was several years ago when Iwakiyama was a younger pup. Kaio didn't waste his chance using a quick harite with the right hand before demanding the right outer grip. Iwakiyama attempted to settle into the hidari-yotsu position, and he actually held his ground well surviving Kaio's initial throw attempt, but Kaio is as grizzled as they come, so he wasted no time in his second attempt this time driving his right thigh into Iwakiyama's left thigh forcing the Hutt over to the straw where a repeat attempt using thigh against thigh (sounds kinky but trust me, it wasn't) for leverage finally sent Iwakiyama across the straw. Kaio picks up his seventh win and will surely find a way to pull out number eight if ya knowhadduhmean, but I'll explain how it'll all unfold in a bit. Iwakiyama is a very respectable 4-9.

Mark singled out Aminishiki at the beginning of his day 12 report talking about anal sumo, and I was curious what prompted the rant since Aminishiki had been quite tame this basho, but alas, Arbodamus knew what he was doing as Aminishiki thoroughly greased Ozeki Kotomitsuki with a classless henka to his left where he grabbed the back of Mitsuki's belt and shamelessly pushed him out for the cheap win. I'm at a loss, really. Aminishiki already has nine wins, so why does he have to henka a guy still in the yusho race? And not just any guy; the last few days haven't been selling out because Kotooshu is tied for the lead. Plucking those annoying gray hairs out of my earlobes and fretting my appointment with Dr. Jellyfinger next year means I'm getting too old to go on one of my henka rants. Furthermore, Kotomitsuki's sumo hasn't even been close to Hakuho or Kotooshu, so go dig up my reports of yesteryear if you want a tirade. I will say this though.  Kotomitsuki employed his usual stall tactics at the tachi-ai, and that can piss off a veteran guy like Aminishiki and help him change his mind on how he's gonna charge.  If there's any good news that came from the bout, it has to do with Kaio. I know after day 11 talk of yaocho resurfaced like a swarm of ants to a melted ice-cream cone on the driveway, but those who refuse to accept the fact that at times rikishi let each other win are obtuse. I'm not saying at all that there were shenanigans in play on day 11, but you can take this information to the bank for days 14 and day 15:

Kaio will let Chiyotaikai beat him tomorrow. That will give the Pup his eighth win, and the reason why Chiyotaikai will win is because he's already faced Kotomitsuki. With Kotomitsuki having been eliminated from the yusho race today, he can now afford to give up his bout against Kaio on senshuraku... a bout that will give Kaio his eighth win as well. And that's why Aminishiki's win over Kotomitsuki was good news for Kaio. This isn't a new revelation; it's Sumo 101.

Rounding out the Ozeki ranks, Chiyotaikai was thrilled to see M1 Goeido staring at him across the starting lines. Goeido is the better rikishi for sure, but as I've mentioned before, I think Goeido lives and breathes sumo to the extent that he doesn't think an M1 should be beating an Ozeki or Yokozuna, and so that's the attitude he takes into those fights. As expected, Chiyotaikai pummeled Goeido from the start with his usual tsuppari attack, but the M1 didn't really seem to look for an opening to counter. At one point, Chiyotaikai went for a quick pulldown, but Goeido failed to capitalize keeping his hands extended at waist level for most of the bout. Twas oshi-dashi in the end as Chiyotaikai skated to that ever-important seventh win.  Goeido falls to 4-9, the same record as Iwakiyama.  Go figure.

The two Sekiwake were finally paired together today where it looked as if Kakuryu slightly jumped the gun at the tachi-ai, but Kisenosato reacted well enough keeping the Kak away from his body with some nice tsuppari. Frustrated, Kakuryu began dancing around the ring looking for an opening, but Kisenosato kept his opponent in front of him the entire way earning the eventual force-out win not to mention kachi-koshi at 8-5. The loss seals Kakuryu's make-koshi fate at 5-8 to the surprise of few.

In an entertaining chess match between our Komusubi, Kotoshogiku gained the slight advantage at the tachi-ai against  Kyokutenho as the two hooked up in the hidari-yotsu position. The Geeku went for a few of those gaburi shoves, but it was clear he wasn't going to beat Tenho in a straight up yotsu-zumo contest, so he executed a maki-kae demanding the moro-zashi position. Kyokutenho is one of the few rikishi who can survive a moro-zashi (Baruto being another), so he hunkered down pinching in tightly from the outside with both arms, but Kotoshogiku wasn't to be denied in this one as he parlayed a failed force-out charge into a nice inside twist-down throw after shifting gears and dumping Kyokutenho to the side. Martin pointed out to me that the winning technique was really saba-ori, which can be translated as bending a fish.  Sounds good to me.  Anyway, great stuff all around from Kotoshogiku today as he moves to 7-6. Kyokutenho makes his make-koshi official at 5-8.

M1 Aran clearly didn't want to be the one to hand M2 Tochiohzan his first win because he came out with alternating tsuppari to Tochiohzan's grill that looked nigh unto punches. With Tochiohzan clearly befuddled, Aran showed how unpolished his sumo is by actually wasting the momentum and going for a pull down. Tochiohzan wasn't ready for the move because although he went with the flow making it look as if he had Aran by the short hairs, he failed to push the Russian back and out at the edge settling for the gappuri migi-yotsu position instead. Aran forced the action back into the ring, but as we saw the other day, the bout had to be stopped due to Aran's belt coming apart. I'm all for watching people get disrobed on TV, but not these guys. Anyway, as the referee sent them on their merry way again, Tochiohzan just stood there like a bump on a log. Aran ain't the most go-getter when it comes to forward-moving sumo, but with Tochiohzan standing there clearly lost, Aran mounted a charge and had Tochiohzan forced back and out for his 13th loss. Ugh. Tochiohzan has been making more mistakes this basho than a hot-headed gaijin who comes to Japan and thinks he can speak Japanese, and he has deserved everyone of those 13 losses. Aran has been pummeled for sure himself, but at least he has three wins to show for it.

M4 Miyabiyama greeted M2 Toyohibiki at the tachi-ai with a swell moro-te (dual hands to the throat) that stood Toyohibiki upright, and just as Toyohibiki tried to resist, the Sheriff switched gears on a dime and pulled Toyohibiki forward and to the dirt without argument. Talk about clockwork as Miyabiyama improves to 7-6. Toyohibiki is smarting more than just a bit at 2-11.

M10 Shotenro learned the hard way today what a fast start can give a rikishi fighting from low in the ranks. With the Mongolian technically still on the leaderboard, the Association sought to take care of that little glitch by pairing him with M3 Baruto. Shotenro meant well at the tachi-ai coming in low and actually knocking Baruto upright a bit grabbing the left outer grip in the process, but against the Estonian, you have to pull the trigger without thinking or you're gonna be lifted straight in the air and politely deposited on the wrong side of the tawara just as Shotenro was today. This was quite entertaining to watch Baruto nonchalantly carry out his bidness, and tsuri-dashi wins never suck. Both rikishi have had solid basho at 9-4.

M10 Tokitenku and M4 Takamisakari weren't quite in synch at the tachi-ai that saw the Robocop jump the gun a split second early. I could be wrong, but I thought Takamisakari instinctively held up just a bit because when Tokitenku came out of his stance, he just crushed Forrest back to the edge and across using a frontal belt grip with the left that gave Takamisakari no chance to counter. Usually the gangly Sakari can keep it close with counter sumo at the edge, but this one was as swift as a helping of kimchi working its way through my digestive system. Takamisakari falls to 6-7 with the defeat, but at M4, he should be thrilled with his six wins as it is. Win one more to grab a final day of kensho money, but he really doesn't want to kachi-koshi does he and fight the elite next basho? Tokitenku cruises to 9-4 if you need him.

In a decent display of chikara-zumo, M5 Tochinoshin took the early charge against M15 Homasho with some nice shoves to Homie's throat, but after being backed up a step and half, Homasho waxed NoShine's tsuppari off just enough to where he lurched to the inside grabbing a left outer grip as he settled into the migi-yotsu position. Homasho pulled the two in tight as Tochinoshin desperately fished for the countering left outer of his own, but Homasho sealed the deal using his belly as a fulcrum against Tochinoshin's mid-section to lift the Georgian up to his tiptoes rendering him the easy force-out fodder from there. This was fantastic counter-sumo first and then offensive-minded sumo second for Homasho who finally secures kachi-koshi at 8-5. Tochinoshin will shed few tears himself at 8-5.

M12 Asasekiryu struck M6 Bushuyama extremely low at the tachi-ai securing a solid frontal belt grip with the left hand that he used to pull his opponent in close. Bushuyama was already lost at this point because he lifted his own left hand in the air giving Sexy moro-zashi. As Asasekiryu prepared for the inevitable force out charge, Bushuyama came to his senses and actually shook the moro-zashi off with a left kote-nage throw attempt, but Asasekiryu was just too invested in this one from the start, so he easily regained his left frontal belt grip. As the two moved in close again, Asasekiryu went for an uchi-muso (push at inner thigh) with the right hand, and while the move whiffed, it caused Bushuyama (5-8) to flinch and lose his balance allowing Asasekiryu (7-6)to easily pull him down from there.

With M15 Kasugao stuck on seven wins the last few days, how couldn't M6 Tamanoshima have known what was coming? And what makes matters worse, Kasugao's henka was so ugly and so readable as the Korean broadcast the move jumping a split second early at the tachi-ai. Kasugao moved sort of forward and to his left putting both hands immediately at the back of Tamanoshima's head, but Peter failed to react and bit the dust a second later. Of course it's shame, shame, everyone knows Kasugao's name, but Tamanoshima should be ashamed in this one as well...that is unless he pocketed a nice envelope of cash for his effort. Both rikishi are 8-5.

In a battle of two rikishi not fighting up to par of late, M7 Toyonoshima charged faster and lower at the tachi-ai against M9 Tochinonada raising the Gentle Giant upright and giving him no time to gather his wits as the two ended up in the hidari-yotsu position with Toyonoshima enjoying the right outer grip. The smaller Toyonoshima wasn't gonna to wait around to find out if Nada had anything left in the tank as he pivoted to his right and dragged Tochinonada to the dirt with ease via an uwate-dashi-nage throw. Toyonoshima is one win away from kachi-koshi at 7-6 thanks to the type of opponent he faced today. Tochinonada makes his make-koshi official at 5-8.

M7 Mokonami was a split second faster than M14 Shimotori at the tachi-ai grabbing the rosy left outer grip while securing the right inside position as well, but as Mokonami began to force Shimotori back, Shimotori countered with a left outer of his own forcing the bout to the gappuri yotsu position. Shimotori is sort of a poor man's Kyokutenho. He's a good belt fighter but has neither the size, strength, nor technique of the Chauffeur, but it would prove a good test for Mokonami to try and beat Shimotori in a yotsu match. Mokonami concentrated on a force out win for about three seconds, but when Shimotori dug in and forced the bout back to the center of the ring, Mokonami panicked and abandoned his left outer. Without a plan B, he was stuck with just the right inside position, but Shimotori made sure he wasn't stuck long taking advantage and driving the deep fried Mokonami back and out for the win. Shimotori clinched kachi-koshi with the win at 8-5 while Mokonami falls to 6-7.

In a battle of the beaten-down, M16 Wakakoyu met M8 Kokkai with a moro-te at the tachi-ai before backpedaling methodically and pulling the White Knight down in the process. Kokkai shoulda sent Wakakoyu into the second row in this one, but Wakakoyu's tachi-ai was just good enough to completely befuddle the Georgian. Both dudes are 4-9.

Who didn't suspect that the M12 Yoshikaze - M8 Kakizoe matchup would be one of those circus bouts where the two switch shoves with pull attempts as they dance around the ring. The two did not disappoint giving the fans exactly what they didn't want...a circus bout where they alternated shoves and pull attempts. To save you the misery of going into detail, Yoshikaze won the bout by timing a pull of course. God forbid a win by oshi-dashi. Yoshikaze stays alive at 6-7 while Sweet Zoe Jane suffers make-koshi at 5-8.

While no one that reads this gives a damn, M9 Takekaze and M14 Tosayutaka had a lot riding on today's bout as both entered the day at 6-6 as a win lessens the pressure of obtaining kachi-koshi the final two days. Tosayutaka was cautious at the charge (guarding against a henka for sure) but stayed low and kept his arms down looking for the belt or the inside position. Takekaze thought he was taking advantage by dictating the pace of the bout with a tsuppari attack, but there was no lower body to be found, so Tosayutaka laughed in his face for about 10 seconds when Takekaze tsupparied himself off balance, at which point Tosayutaka stepped in and shoved Kaze over by the side for the win.

M11 Tamawashi got some much-needed charity as the Association paired him with Juryo Masatsukasa. Finally, with a rikishi he could handle, Tamawashi executed a flawless tsuppari charge that had Masatsukasa backed up and out in less than five seconds. Masatsukasa actually had a frontal belt grip, but it's kinda hard to dig in and use it when you're being driven back. The Mawashi moves to 4-9 with the win and prolly has to win out to keep his Makuuchi paycheck. One more win for J3 Masatsukasa (8-4) should seal his promotion to the dance for Aki.

And finally, Juryo Hokutoriki took command from the start against M13 Futenoh firing shoves into his upper body and neck bullying Futenoh to the side and out in about six seconds. Futenoh tried in vain to force the bout to yotsu-zumo, but in order to do that, you've gotta show more oomph at the tachi-ai. Hokutoriki did, thus his 11-2 record, which means we'll be seeing him back in the division for Aki. Futenoh falls to 5-8 and could swap Hokutoriki ranks if he doesn't pull his head out the final two days.

That's a wrap on day 13.  I could hype the bouts tomorrow, but what's the point?  I already know how they're going to end, and you should too.  Martin finishes the chanko tomorrow.  I'm stuffed.

Day 12 Comments (Mark Arbo reporting)
Greetings all you sexy homosapiens, how goes it? 

If you look at the top bar thingy at the top of our page "our page" to it says "Expert Sumo Analysis" (I know lots of your are screaming what the name for that area is at your computers, like NOT KNOWING that is somehow a shortcoming, but keep it in your pants there Bill Gates). I remember this because all too often (just often enough?) I have innocently adjusted the size of the page just so and noticed it said "Expert Sumo Anal". Expert Sumo Anal!? You guys owe me big for not putting one of my whimsically poignant pictures with this paragraph. Or perhaps Expert Sumo Anal (I think it needs to stay capitalized like that to indicate that each word is as important as the others. Expert. Sumo. Anal.) is what Aminishiki hands out so readily, like a gutter tart, whenever he climbs high enough to have his little trysts with the sanyaku types.

Never the matter. The real word I want to focus in on here is the "Expert". That word looking down on my reports has given me pause many many times. Expert. I don't know that I am an "Expert". I can say that to the best of my recollection there has never been any ceremony with dancing girls and long velvet curtains where the right to refer to myself an "Expert" was bestowed on me. I suppose I know sumo a little more than lots of people and a little less than some others. But there it is, "Expert Sumo Analysis" hovering above my reports and (devilishly handsome) picture like a precariously balanced bolder waiting to crush and contrite me.

What I can say about the "Expert Sumo Analysis" banner is that it puts a good kind of pressure on me (and I dare to say most of the other writers as well). We pay close attention to careers, trends, styles, stats and a host of other things to ensure that we live up to that weighty and consequential banner.

I point that out only because I need to say this: for most of this basho I have been at a folk festival in rural Manitoba enjoying all manner of stimuli with 30 or 40 thousand beautiful (if not all together hygienic) hippies.  I have not seen one bout. I have not read one report. And I know no results. You were watching Bushuyama. I was watching Arlo Guthrie. You were confused by a bad call, and I was confused by sweet sweet B.C. Bud. 

This in no gimmick. I really know as much about this basho as I do about pleasuring a moose. While I know that most of you know a lot more about these than I, please bare with me as I try and catch up on almost 2 weeks of missed sumo. 

Here we go . . .

Wow! Dejima retired. Kind of the end of a (purple footed) era, eh? I feel like it's kind of my duty to say something here ... but I can't for the life of me ... umm ... well ... yeah ... bye.

Kasugao came out with a henka against Shotenro but it was called back in a matta but then in a move that was just about as asshole as anything we have seen since the Boradzov's made their graceful exit, he came out with yet another henka. Thankfully Shotenro kept his dogs under him and got him an uwatenage. Seriously classless Expert Sumo Anal foiled.

Asasecretary on the other hand had his Expert Sumo Anal in full effect as he greased Kokkai into an MK. Bastard.

Kakizoe was able to stave off his MK when, after a couple false starts of his own, he had a good tachi-ai against Tamawashi who lost his footing and slipped to the sand.

I'm glad to see Homasho has brushed of the debacle that was last basho, and I'm pleasantly blown away at how well Mokonami is fairing at M7. Today Homie seemed to be in control but, as it so often does, his game fell apart at the edge (when he needs it most) when Mokonami downed him with a underarm throw. Has anyone come up with a nickname for Mokonami yet?

As Aminishiki was single mindedly looking for an inside right, Tamanoshima forced him back to the rope with a painful mitt to the throat. By this time Nishiki was pushing so hard just to keep himself in the ring that all Tamanoshima had to do was step to the side and Aminishiki took care of himself. From what I saw today I can't imagine how Nishiki had only lost twice coming into to this. I guess it was just an off day. On the other hand, this was great stuff from Tamanoshima against a guy who is as often as not in or near the sanyaku.

Tokitenku worked inside on Tochinoshin and took morozashi. From there I assumed it was over but surprisingly he looked as lost as Mario at a brothel; lacking any confidence and not knowing when to push or when to pull. NoShine loosened the Mongol's belt up with his outside grips and the the ref gave them the double back pat that signifies that they get to take a breather. Belt tightened, the gyogi went about putting them back in the position they had been in but for whatever reason Shin got all pissy. He was so incensed at the position they were trying to put him into I had to go back and make sure that at the last second he had not taken some grip that was going to turn the match around. But he had nada, and I can't figure out what he was throwing his hissy fit over. When the gyoji finally got them back into something resembling their original position Tenku was eventually able to use his double inside to some effect and force the Georgian out.

Takekaze stayed low and compact and forced RoboCop back to the straw but Kaze fell as the man in blue struggled to walk the line. The shiny fan was pointed in the direction of the perennial bachelor and everyone was all even like with 6's. 

Wow, the Sakaigawa boys can't get 8 wins between the 2 of them. Didn't see that coming. Today Toyohibiki had a good tachi-ai against Bart but despite being stood up by a right to the throat Baruto grabbed Biki by the back of the neck and threw him to the ground. Any chance Bart can pull a Komusubi spot?

Goeido fared a little better today as Aran's Sumo Anal was far from Expert. Goeido weathered the henka and ensuing tsuppari and pushed the Russians out with a couple powerful shoves.

Not surprisingly at M3 Iwakiyama has, like Icarus at a folk festival, soared too high. Today The Geek hump jumped the hell out of the struggling Moon Man.  Kotoshogiku still has a shot at a KK and Mt. Iwaki has already assured his descent into slightly friendlier skies.

Holy Crap! What's Tochiohzan's problem? Not a single win? Today he and Sekiwake Kakuryu stood in the middle of the ring fishing for hand positions. But Kak is a wily one and he allowed Ohzan to think he was moving him backward only to get sucked in and pulled down. Chump. Kak'll get a forgivable MK this time around and Ohzan needs to get his shite together.

Kisenosato is another guy who snatched defeat from the jaws of a victory. He looked to be controlling Kyokutenho fairly well but Kyokutenho is always dangerous at the straw and he proved it today as he calmly pulled out a little uwatedashinage right when Kissy thought he had his KK wrapped up. Both these guy's fates are yet to be decided.

Chiyotaikai hasn't looked good sense Koizumi was inspiring a nation with his fiscal reforms and dreamy hair. But now he just looks B, A, D, bad. Against HarumaAma Chiyo stood up and without even attempting a single thrust opened his arms up allowing Ama to take morozashi and saunter him out as fast as Chiyo is comfortable walking backwards. I think it would be best for all involved if Chiyo joined Dejima on the golf course.

Kotooshu seems to be having a great basho. Today he picked up an easy number 11 when after a few slow-mo tsuppari Miyabi just fell flat on his face. They ruled it a hikiotoshi pull down, but that was just the judges being nice.

After one false start Kaio weathered a hard tachi-ai by Yokozuna Hakuho. They both took an inside left and Kaio began looking for the outside right. But Hak, of course, kept his hips back and out of reach. Hakuho went for a makikae that he couldn't get but it did bring him in close enough that he was able to grab the outside right. From there the Yokozuna backed The Old Grey Mare out easily.

In the last fight of the day struggling Yokozuna Asashoryu got his favourite whipping boy Ozeki Kotomitsuki. Like his stablemate, Mitsuki seems to be having a great basho and judging from his record Asa must not be at all. Mitsuki came out strong, but Asa was able to get his left behind him and grab a deep outside grip. Asa briefly lost it but Mitsuki seemed intent on making this a tsuppari battle and Shoryu reached back in and took it again. Asa began to turn the Ozeki around and as Mitsuki spun to square up the Yokozuna took an inside right. From there Kotomitsuki tried to get his stall on but Asa's positioning was too good and he yorikiri'ed his bested opponent. Very unKotomitsuki stuff from Kotomitsuki. I guess he was just trying something new.

So that was my first day of Nagoya 2009. Not pretty by any measure, but it sure has been interesting to see how everyone's been doing in my absence. I do apologize for being ill prepared or if I made too many points or jokes that others have already made.

Don't think that just because I staggered in here late and reeking of patchouli oil and hippy love that you won't be getting any homework. That's not how things work around these parts.

-A few music recommendations from the festival. Stuff you can play when people come around so you don't look like such a Pavlovian drone. Ridley Bent. Vance Gilbert. Xavier Rudd. Bellowhead. C.R. Avery.
-Tidy up your room a little bit. A clean well organized room leads to peace and clarity whereas messy rooms are where people who are just surviving life go to fester.
-You get an exciting Ama/Asa bout tmr but the real mach up to look out for is Hakuho/Kotooshu. Its bigger than ... well Hakuho and Kotooshu.
-Read Mike's report backwards making a fart noise by blowing on your forearm every time the word "the" occurs.

Day 11 Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
The basho is heating up folks, the basho is heating up! There's been an unexpected turn of events just over the last 3-4 days that's leading to a very exciting home stretch in this year's Nagoya basho. Here's a rundown of the high points. 

Two rikishi in particular in the rank and file are making noise, both coincidentally occupying the M5 slots. First is veteran Aminishiki, who took advantage of a poorly executed Ketaguri attempt by Tokitenku (7-4) to drive forward enroute to an easy Oshi-dashi. With this Ami notched his 9th win against only 2 losses. The second is youngster Tochinoshin, who bested equally hot Shotenro (8-3) with an impressive Uwate-nage to secure majority wins (8-3) for second straight campaigns.

Sekiwake Kisenosato, who looks like a sure bet next Ozeki from these eyes now, met his match again in nemesis Kotoshogiku (5-6). Kise dealt what looked like an effective hari (slap) at the tachi-ai that staggered Giku, but the little fire plug hunkered down into a lower position and got the right uwate to recover. He took advantage of this better positioning to force Kise out and stopped the Sekiwake from grabbing his eight win (7-4). Career-wise, Kise drops to 7-15 against Kotoshogiku. 

M3 Baruto (7-4) put the pressure on Ozeki Harumafuji and took him to the brink, but Haruma defended it just enough to entice a pull from the Estonian behemoth. That was all the Ozeki needed. With the subtlest of momentum changes from this pull, Haruma got right inside and applied pressure of his own to push Baruto out in a come-from-behind victory. The Ozeki is 8-3.

Here are the 2 feel good surprises! There's no way Vegas could have called these. First, how about Chiyotaikai dealing Kotooshu his first defeat of the basho? Perhaps it was the slightly better tachi-ai that made Oshu sweat. Or perhaps it was simply the well-timed pull that followed shortly thereafter. Either way, Taikai is showing grit this basho at 6-5 while Oshu must regroup now at 10-1. Secondly, how about equally grizzled vet Kaio bringing down none other than Asashoryu? He couldn't get the right uwate, but he used that positioning to unleash his second favorite move- the elbow cracking Kote-nage. And he unleashed it at the perfect time- just when Sho was about to move, sending him flying out of the ring to his 3rd defeat in 4 days. Kaio and Chiyotaikai both stand at 6-5, and both pick up HUGE wins if they are to go on for majority wins. Winning 8 is all they can muster anymore, and you can't help but root for the old farts.

If you thought that was the extent of the surprises, hold on. In the final bout of day 11, Kotomitsuki brought down the house with an unlikely win over Hakuho! 8-19 in his career against Hakuho coming in, Mitsuki addressed his weak point in prior Hakuho matches- waiting. Pressure, pressure, pressure was the difference today. From the onset to the final Yori-kiri more than a minute later, Mitsuki never let Hakuho get the uwate and persevered first through migi-yotsu then moro-zashi and never stopped moving. Even when Hakuho stopped his attack at the rope initially, Mitsuki came strong again and prevailed in a second wave of pressure at the rope. With the win, he pulled even with the Yokozuna at 10-1 to the delight of the hometown crowd.

Folks, we've got a good one on our hands. With 4 days to go, we've got a 3-way tie atop the leaderboard with Hakuho, Kotomitsuki and Kotooshu all at 10-1 now, followed by M5 Aminishiki, who stands alone at 9-2 only one back in the loss column. Hang on to your hats for an exciting finish!

Day 10 Comments (Dr. Mario Kadastik reporting)
Tenth day in the hotel and we're starting to get used to it. Plus we discovered that as we don't need all the extra forty rooms that are lying around we can rent them out by the hour for some local girls to "service their customers" with an additional bonus of 30% off on local services for the crew here. So I'm not quite sure if Mark and or Clancy will be able to make the reports on their respective days, but if they don't then you'll know their time was well spent. Anyway, on to the action. 

Kicking off the day is the guy who's prolly going to kick the door to leave the active rikishi career any day now. Dejima needed to win all of his bouts from today onwards to still kachi koshi and even though he's at M13w and can probably remain in the division still with a 7-8, then anything below that and he's toast. It's not considered good taste for an ex-Ozeki to fight down in Juryo. So it's been going about now that Dejima might be going intai if he doesn't make it this time around. Kasugao could smell the desperation, but he didn't let himself be fooled into a half assed henka. Instead he charged hard into the steamless train and the two locked into right hand inside grips. They then stood and thought about their lives with one could see the whole career flashing before Dejima's eyes as he stood there in a lovely embrace of the Korean. And just as he got to this basho and saw the way his life was going down the drain he decided to turn the tables and go for a win. So he executed a well timed maki-kae on his left arm and gained an easy morozashi grip. Being now in the favored position you would expect him to just steamroll Kasugao back and out with all the motivation in the world in him, but alas it wasn't to be... Kasugao was high and had an awkward moro-uwate grip, but neither tried to move. After getting desperate from the waiting Dejima tried a few pushing and throwing attempts, which were countered and thrown back at him by the Korean with a throw that almost felled the Dejyptian and in any case was something to reviewed at a later date by ballet dancers. This struggling lasted until the bout had dragged just so long that Dejima couldn't do anything with any kind of grip anymore (even though he did manage to get Kasugao off balance for a moment there) and was just waiting for Kasugao to escort him gently back and out of the dohyo to make koshi and tears. 

Shotenro going against Homasho, isn't that something that gets all your juices flowing?  Last time the two met Shotenro won the bout technically, but a mono-ii was called and they ruled that Shotenro had pulled on Homey's topknot and the win was taken away from Shotenro. This time around it took the two a while to get in sync with the actual get go also being a matta, but which wasn't called back. Shotenro charged hard into Homasho stopping his charge and as he gave Homasho an opportunity to push back Shotenro grabbed the back of his head (!!!) and pulled Homey down to the clay. This time no one wanted to inspect the topknot so the gyoji's call stands and Shotenro finally gets an official victory over Homasho. 

The fatter Kaze took on Shimotori on this matta enriched day without any mattas. Well he didn't need a matta to run into Shimotori, make the latter overcommit to the pushing and then pull him down to the clay. I mean Takekaze wins like this every second time or so, how come the opponents never learn and always overcommit at the tachi-ai? Both guys have equal amount of wins and losses. 

Next up is the next Kaze aka Decaf taking on Tochinonada. Nada's been sucking this basho, which might be related to the humidity and warmth that his old bones can't take as well as the youngsters do. However today he decided that he can take decaf if he does it quickly so as Yoshikaze charged low into Nada's chest the latter went for an armlock of yoshi's right arm. Having Yoshi in his grip nada pivoted the small guy around him and pushed him out from the rear. Good technique from Nada, who knew he can't fight a long bout. 

Next up the militant white boy took on the broken legged Japanese guy. Or wording it differently Kokkai met Tosayutaka. It's difficult to comment on these two as Kokkai has looked good in some bouts, but then done some ugly henka'ish sumo the other days. Tosayutaka seemed to have hurt his leg in day one bout to then come back blazing the next day. Considering also that it's day ten and both are below the KK line, then one could only expect some ugly sumo. The two charged hard (wow, no henka) with neither getting a grip. Kokkai tried to get Yutaka upright with some slapping and a strong nodowa, however while Kokkai tried to push Yutaka's head back the latter niftily maneuvered himself into morozashi and that was the end of it as he needed no more than three seconds to escort Kokkai back and out. 

If I say a totally unreliable headcase, then who pops in your mind? I mean besides Kotooshu? Yeah Asasekiryu. The Secretary's been sucking even at the level he's at now and today was no different as Kakizoe slammed into him, shifted to his side and went for a slapdown, which didn't fell the sexy beast, but did compromise him enough that he was easy pushout material for Mr. Zoe. Good stuff from Kakizoe as he did his usual sumo to perfection while one can't really believe it's not that long ago that Asasekiryu was fighting in sanyaku... 

He has to be injured. I mean Toyonoshima. If you look at who he's fighting and how he does it, there can't be any other explanation besides the fact that the Kaionage hasn't healed still. Today he was granted an easier opponent as all he needed was to get an inside grip as Tamawashi knows what to do with a belt grip almost as much as he knows what to do with a woman, who passes out in his lap during spring break. Toyo did get a shallow frontal grip from the get go, but nothing that he could use effectively for any throws. So he switched gears and backpedaled pulling mawashi with him and then used his frontal grip to give the mawashi an extra speed boost while moving out of his way himself. Tamawashi didn't know how to stop until he was standing outside the straw and thinking wtf was that. Not the prettiest win, but it's a win for Toyo, who needs them to stay around and recover. The mawashi got his make koshi and is looking for shallower waters in the even lower Makuuchi. 

Bush and Fruity took it up next. Fruity got a quick left hand inside grip, but couldn't use it as Bush raised him up with his left hand in Fruity's armpit. The two struggled in the middle of the dohyo with Fruity trying to get his right arm anywhere he possibly could. While he was fishing for that grip he forgot to react to what Bush was doing, who in turn timed it perfectly and felled Futenoh with a beltless twistdown with his left arm. Futenoh looked utterly surprised to the move, which explains why Bush could pull it off. Both left the dohyo with 4-6 under their belt and a long uphill battle ahead for their KK. 

All the librarians fled the gymnasium next as the double book mountain entered the dohyo to face the veteran Tamanoshima, who actually won their last encounter. It seemed that this time around YMY didn't need his mawashi adjusted before the bout and in any case there was no Dejima around to do it (he was probably back in his room crying). The bout itself however was an odd one. It seemed as if both wrestlers had entered a subspace region, which was entirely contained in honey. They both moved in utter slow motion while they charged, met, moved together with Tamanoshima backing off and keeping YMY at a distance and then the utter slow motion move where Tamanoshima put his hands on YMY-s head and slowly pushed the mountain down to the clay. Very odd bout. Tamanoshima is one win away from KK while YMY is heading for his MK. 

Next up we had a battle of races. The white boy Tochinoshin took up da brothuh Mokonami. I mean does Mokonami spend half his keiko in a solarium or how did he come by such a strong tan? Jokes aside Mokonami has looked great considering that he was literally thrown to the wolves coming from Juryo and directly ending up on M7. His bouts have been solid with good technique so I'm hoping that he does get his KK and definitely remains around as he brings good sumo and there aren't that many people who do. And he's polite. Even when he charged early to a matta and moved shin backwards so that the latter almost went out of the dohyo he grabbed his arm and stopped him. Tochinoshin managed to get an advantage from the actual get-go and pushed the brothuh back, who responded by digging in. The two settled into hidari yotsu with a lot of power sumo struggle happening over the next minute or so. Neither was able to lift his opponent up although they did try and neither had the power to finish off either. Finally Mokonami decided he's had enough and put all his strength into a final strong lift and push attempt, which had Tochinoshin in the air and moving backwards, but he didn't have the full power to conclude this move and was too far from the tawara to pull it off with a single thrust so Tochinoshin dug in at the edge and pivoted Mokonami around him and down to a strong uwatenage victory. This was ozumo and definitely made my day better as it really sucks to report on a day of hundred henkas while it's a bliss to report on bouts like this. 

Pee break, insert your favorite advertisements here and while you're at it why not go and click some of these advertisement banners we have hanging around to generate also us some income. Keeping up a hotel isn't cheap and profitable even if you rent half of it out to hookers. A hooker and a cup of tea later saw the MIB return in new power and freshness and off we get to part two. 

After an utterly devastating week one, that every lower Jo'I has to walk through, Iwakiyama was finally given someone he can actually handle. The Robocop. Not counting the fusensho, the two had met 17 times of which Iwakiyama has taken the kensho envelopes 11 times. And he immediately thanked the NSK for the gift by charging hard into Takamisakari, gained a morozashi grip and ran Takami out to a yorikiri victory. Strong stuff from moonface, who has looked nails the whole basho so far. Takami is 5-5, which is more than I would have expected for him after ten days at this rank. 

In the next bout one just has to feel sorry for Toyohibiki as his 1-8 record seemed to go on to a 1-9 considering that he was given Aminishiki with a 7-2 record and who's looked good ever since day two. As the two charged and went for a small slapping contest it was Aminishiki who managed to land a blow that sent Hibiki to the left, where the latter lost his balance and was easy pushout material for Ami. So it went as I predicted with Hibiki getting his ninth loss and Aminishiki his KK. 

Guido has been out of his element a bit this basho. I would have expected him to be stronger after the first nine days than 2-7 of which the two victories came over Kaio and Kotoshogiku. Miflobby has been hit and miss with some good bouts and some absurdly easy losses (like the one yesterday). The two charged and moved on to a tsuppari fest, which one would give to Miyabiyama and true to the presumption Miflobby thrusted and moved Goeido around the dohyo and actually looked to be finishing Go off when Go from a very awkward position managed to slip from below Flobby and tiptoe around the tawara around his opponent, grabbed his belt and escorted Flobby to his fifth loss. This was a very ugly bout and it was a very close recovery for Goeido. This shows that he isn't quite his usual confident self this basho. 

Next up Tenho took on Oh Poo and showed the youngster that he's way way too high. He did this by first grabbing a left outer grip, but being unable to use it decided to shifted gears and took a right outer grip instead. Using the newly gained grip he sent Oh Poo rolling like a bowling ball. Tochiohzan took his losses to double digits while Tenho went to 4-6 and is now facing an easier week two to possibly still pull off MK. 

Next man, who needs all the love he can get is Aran, who has managed to get one big victory against Harry the ex-Y-runner. Today the sole Russian was paired up with the bellyhumping dog Kotoshogiku. As Kotoshogiku charged into Aran he grabbed the boy into his hug and went on humping the Russian to oblivion (or the straw as you may put it), where Aran showed why it's good to use a lot of soap just before the bout slipping to the right letting Giku almost hump himself out. The two recovered and settled into a yotsu fight, but even though Aran had a strong inside grip he didn't know what to do with it and that inexperience cost him dearly as Giku executed a nice strong uwatenage throw sending Aran to break his fall with his arm. Nice recovery by Aran in the beginning of the bout, but lack of experience showed when he couldn't turn the compromised Giku into a victory from there even though he got a very strong grip. 

Well my countryman showed up today to fight one of the two sado maso guys he's bound to meet at M3W in Kotomitsuki. From their previous rivalries it's been almost all Mitsuki with one nice win a few basho ago by Bart. Considering how passive Baruto has been this basho I didn't give him much hope today. Kotomitsuki charged hard and early as he always does and decided this time to go for the tsuppari tactic. Baruto adapted to it and had soon the Ozeki moving backwards away from Bart's thrusts. However Mitsuki had planned the tsuppari only to set up a good belt position and that's exactly what inexperienced Baruto gave him allowing Kotomitsuki to lunge in and grab a strong morozashi grip. This was the point where I knew the bout was over as Baruto can give up morozashi to guys like Toyonoshima and Tochiohzan or even to morozashi master Takamisakari, but you don't give away morozashi to an Ozeki. Considering Baruto's long reach he did manage to neutralize most of the gains that Mitsuki had from morozashi by grabbing a moro uwate himself and keeping Mitsuki from having enough footpower to back him. Mitsuki fully understood this and even tried to use one of his hands to push some separation between himself and Bart hoping against hopes to break his opponents grip. At some point Baruto decided "what the heck, I'll try it" and started to push Kotomitsuki back and you could see how slippery the surface of the dohyo really is as Mitsuki was slowly backed to the tawara against all his "footwork", which just didn't have any grip. However having Mitsuki close to the tawara Baruto made one final crucial mistake, he let go of his belt grip hoping to maki-kae or create some separation or what not and Mitsuki used that moment to time his attack by trying to use a beltless throw, which instead just reversed their position towards the tawara, but still gave miki the chance to push Bart out. Baruto had a few opportunities today, but he gave them away probably from because of lack of experience. One deciding moment was that tsuppari attack where Baruto didn't keep Mitsuki away form his belt and second where he let go of the belt to change his attack. Mitsuki is off to meet the top dog while Baruto is handed Harry the weasel. 

The highlight bout of the day by both NHK opinion as well as mine is the next one between Kisenosato the Yokozuna slayer vs. Kotooshu the nutcase without losses this time. As the two charged it was all Kotooshu who essentially ran into Kisenosato, stopped him in his tracks and immediately started to move him backwards with speed. Kisenosato tried to do something by spinning and twisting Kotooshu at the tawara, but it was too little too late as he himself crashed down first. Great bout from Kotooshu and if he continues to do sumo like this, then dare I say he can really contend this time around. Would be something, wouldn't it? 

Harry the weasel came around to meet Kaio the bear. I mean usually bears eat weasels for dinner, but as this bear's quite old and has very few teeth left then there's plenty of action around for the weasel and all his family. Neither one gained a grip from the initial charge with Harry immediately deciding to change tactics and grabbed Kaio's right arm and pulled. However that didn't work either so charged into Kaio again, this time gaining a left hand inside grip and backing Kaio to the tawara. However Kaio didn't budge from there and Harry had to again take the initiative and go from pushing to twisting by trying to use that left hand grip for an underarm swingdown, but the bear didn't allow himself to be felled. Harry continued to feature that grip and he went to that same throw a number of times until it finally worked when he also employed pushing on Kaio's right knee to make Kaio's evasion more difficult and finally succeeding in turning the old bear onto his back. Not the fastest and prettiest bout, but it was a technical one for sure and there's no doubt about it Harry was the attacked throughout the match. Nice technique also in the end, which is something we mostly only see from the Mongols. 

After yesterday's upset Chiyo was probably so fired up that he might have actually believed he can take on Hakuho. That is of course if the bout yesterday was legit, which is something some people are not quite sure of. In any case against Hakuho Taikai doesn't stand a chance with or without the yaocho money. Chiyotaikai came in with a few shoves, but nothing really pushing Hakuho around. Instead he opted for a nodowa and trying to keep Hakuho away from himself, but once he tried to land a few more blows they just missed and before you can say "c'mon it's long overdue for intai for you lazy Ozeki bastard" he was inside Hakuho's hug and you only had to wait then for the throw to happen. As it happens you didn't have to wait too long as Hakuho immediately went for a right hand throw, but didn't have his body in it allowing Chiyo to recover only to be thrown by Hak's left hand. No problem for Kublai today or any other day as he cruises towards his zensho yusho number eleven. 

Asashoryu on the other hand doesn't have such stability neither mentally nor physically and especially after coming through two consecutive losses and not having a kachi koshi while your rival already has double digits. This must work on a man's psyche a lot, but luckily he wasn't handed anyone too hard in Kakuryu. Sure, the fish face might scare someone or might pull an ugly henka against anyone, but so far Asa has always beaten him. Asashoryu did charge with his chest hoping to gain a quick inside grip, but Kak came in low enough too that he was able to keep the Yokozuna away from the belt. Not gaining a grip Asa created some separation and with great balance kept Kak at bay while regrouping and waiting for a new opportunity. The opportunity didn't need to be waited for long as Kak decided to rather attack than wait, but forgot how slippery the dohyo is. So when Kak tried to push Asa (who btw is still in perfect balance) and lost his footing it was instead Asa who charged and worked himself to Kak's side and behind into manlove position. However unlike the usual situation where the guy who's being shafted either runs out or tries to turn around Kakuryu employed the rarely seen lobster technique by instead starting to push back for some harder manlove. Asa found this surprising at first, but quickly recovered from the awkwardness and pushed Kak down so the fishy touched his hands down. Although the match was over at that point Asa wanted to drive home the point that you don't come to me for man love, I come to you so he added an extra push to send the already awkwardly standing/crawling Kak on his knees. That was a bout that could probably be featured in the new Brüno movie without any modifications. 

So the train's gone for most of the contenders and the only ones still "in it" are Kotooshu and Hakuho. How deep in it Kotooshu actually is is something we will see once Oshu gets his favorite nemesis Aminishiki and once he meets Hakuho on day 13. But today's bout definitely showed that there's a man inside him that can win a yusho if he's only allowed to surface long enough. Kenji will wipe your exhaust tomorrow.

Day 9 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
It's funny how the excitement surrounding a basho can turn on a dime or quickly dwindle over the course of a day or two, but when you have a Yokozuna setting a standard where the yusho line cannot fall below 14-1, the elite rikishi have to mind their P's and Q's or they'll be out of the yusho race quicker'n you can say bearded baloney. Case in point is Sekiwake Kisenosato who is having another helluva basho at 7-2. The problem is at two losses already he's largely fighting for nothing more than to establish an official run at Ozeki, a rank that's been devalued the last few years. With Ozeki Harumafuji already out of the running heading into the day, that leaves us the two Yokozuna and the two Sadogatake-beya Ozeki. With one of them falling today, the real contenders are becoming as hard to find now as a good rock band these days.

Since we're officially into week 2, let's start at the top of the leaderboard and work our way down.

Yokozuna Hakuho continued his dominance over the field slamming into Sekiwake Kakuryu and grabbing the early right inside position. Kakuryu actually performed a maki-kae with the left arm, but by the time he brought it to the inside, Hakuho had taken two large strokes forward and was in the process of depositing the Kak onto some unlucky bastard's lap in the second row never letting go of that initial grip. There's nothing new to say about the Yokozuna this basho other than that bout against Kotooshu can't arrive soon enough. At 9-0, Hakuho is the clear favorite while Kakuryu will surely come out in the wash at 3-6.

Speaking of Ozeki Kotooshu, let's move to his bout as he secured second place after Asashoryu's curious loss to Kisenosato yesterday. The Bulgarian welcomed fellow Ozeki Kaio with a surprising moro-te tachi-ai, and with Kaio being kept far away from the belt, Kotooshu went for the quick oshi-dashi kill, but Kaio dodged to the side at the last moment nearly causing Kotooshu to stumble forward and out of the ring on his own. The Bulgarian recovered, however, and as the two rikishi squared back up, both Ozeki pushed at each other's upper torso hoping for any sort of position. The two compromised into the hidari-yotsu position with neither coming close to an uwate. At this point a drawn-out stalemate ensued, but Kotooshu constantly kept pressure on his older opponent trying to body him this way and that. Without the outer grip, there was no way that Kotooshu was going to score the force out win, but he only needed to keep the heat on and force Kaio to use up all his strength to counter the younger Ozeki.

Close to a minute into the bout, you could see that Kaio could do nothing offensively and was at the mercy of Kotooshu. When Kotooshu sensed that Kaio's energy was sapped, he pressed in for the kill forcing Kaio upright before moving him back. In the process, Kaio actually grabbed the right outer grip and used it to throw Kotooshu to the side, but it was too late as Kotooshu had Kaio falling out of the ring before he himself took a spill. This was a great chess match between the two Ozeki, and it was good to see Kotooshu not panic. He knew he had his elder by the short and curlies, and he patiently kept up the pressure until he could feel him lose his power. How many rikishi get burned because they think they have their man and go for the kill too quickly? Kotooshu has recovered nicely from strange tachi-ai the entire basho as he moves to 9-0 alongside Hakuho, but in order to beat Hakuho straight up, he's going to have to win the tachi-ai, and without moving to either side, I'm not so sure he can do it. Still, this has to be the basho Kotooshu fans have been waiting for since his promotion to Ozeki. Kaio falls to 5-4 after a valiant effort.

In a disappointing matchup, Yokozuna Asashoryu exhibited the most unorthodox tachi-ai I've ever seen from him where against Ozeki Chiyotaikai he turned to his right shoulder inward actually looking away from the Pup as the Ozeki charged forward with his usual impotent thrust attack. Asashoryu rode Chiyotaikai's shoves back to the straw searching for the tawara with his feet, and once found, he sorta braced himself and leaned right into Chiyotaikai just waiting for the pull down to come. It came as Chiyotaikai slapped the Yokozuna to the dirt as easy as you please.
This was such a shocking bout and so obviously thrown that it actually took the Nagoya crowd about five seconds to realize that a Yokozuna lost so it was time to throw the zabuton. If you have the means, go back and compare the number of zabuton thrown Sunday when Kisenosato won to the bout  to today where Chiyotaikai won. When the sheep in the crowd sense things are out of order, it's pretty safe to say they's out of order.

I'm really speechless after this one and would like to know Asashoryu's mindset. His loss to Kisenosato was questionable yesterday as Clancy pointed out, and today's loss to Chiyotaikai reeked of yaocho so bad even Kenji winced. We've seen Asashoryu participate in "the game" in the past bowing to the Pup when he needed the desperate win, but we've never seen it so early in the basho, especially when Asashoryu was still in control of his own destiny. On one hand you have Asashoryu announcing his divorce from his wife stating he must focus on the Nagoya basho; then on the other hand you have him throwing in the towel by the start of week two. I can think of two explanations. As I hinted to last basho, it was Hakuho's turn to yusho, so Asashoryu has started handing out the favors early to his friends. The second is that he's looking for an excuse to go kyujo so he can get an early start to his tryst with that gal whose pic Clancy posted in his report yesterday. I can't blame him a bit for the second scenario, but throwing bouts this early in Nagoya has stained the basho somewhat. Asashoryu falls to 7-2 and is of course out of the running. Chiyotaikai improves to 5-4 with the gift and will probably find a way to grab that eighth win.

Preceding this bout was our second battle of Ozeki for the day that saw Kotomitsuki exhibit the slyest tachi-ai henka you'll ever see. Actually, Harumafuji was quick out of the gate and had both hands near Kotomitsuki's throat, but the Aichi-Ken native was moving to his left from the start in this one causing Harumafuji to skip a bit after the charge when he sensed his opponent wasn't going to be there. With Kotomitsuki shifting to his left and Harumafuji off balance a bit, Mitsukiki used his left arm around the outside of Harumafuji's right to flip the smaller Mongolian over and onto his back for the hataki-komi win. Good ole Kotomitsuki...henka Kisenosato and then throw Harumafuji a change up as well. You can clearly see that Kotomitsuki knows he can't yusho with straight up sumo, so he's resorting to the sly sumo to try and pile up the wins. He's amassed eight of 'em, but he hasn't been great in doing so, and he'll have his reward soon enough. Still, the Ozeki is technically in the yusho race just one behind the leaders at 8-1. As for Harumafuji, he suffers the tough-luck loss that drops him to an insignificant 6-3. hAruMAfuji's remaining role is to play spoiler in the yusho race. Otherwise, pick up that eighth win and amen to this basho.

So let's pause and summarize the aforementioned bouts in terms of the leaderboard. Hakuho and Kotooshu stand at a solid 9-0, and your yusho rikishi will of course come from that pair (it's 75-25 that Hakuho takes it). Trailing by one loss is our lone 8-1 rikishi, Kotomitsuki, but judging by his sumo so far and the way he's reacted to tough competition, he's like a dutiful wife out there going through the motions and of course faking it. As for Asaswineflu who drops out of the race at 7-2, he's got some 'splaining to do. The thing that bugs me the most about this Yokozuna is like the current Oldzeki, he tarnishes his legacy the more shenanigans he pulls towards the end of his career.

On to the rest of the field, Sekiwake Kisenosato used as quick'a hari-te slap as you've ever seen against M1 Aran today that helped set up the hidari-yotsu contest where the Kid demanded to advantageous right outer grip. Aligning his chest with the Russian's masterfully, Kisenosato forced Aran upright before driving him back quickly towards the straw. When Aran showed some resistance, Kisenosato ended the funny bidness with a nifty outer belt throw propelling him to 7-2. Aran has been respectable despite his 1-8 mark.

M1 Goeido held up big time against Komusubi Kyokutenho at the tachi-ai opting for a gay little hop instead of an all-out headbutt, so when the Chauffeur took advantage forcing the bout to migi-yotsu, there wunt nothing Goeido could do without any forward momentum. Kyokutenho methodically dragged Goeido over to the side of the ring and forced him across from there without incident. Something's screwing with Goeido's mind as he falls to 2-7. Kyokutenho fares slightly better at 3-6.

M2 Toyohibiki slammed into Komusubi Kotoshogiku at the tachi-ai knocking the Geeku back near the straw from the migi-yotsu position, and as Kotoshogiku tried to evade, the Nikibi caught him with a beefy paw to the throat that left Kotoshogiku nothing to do but go for a desperate pulldown. Toyohibiki was on that move as well as he easily drove the Komusubi out of the ring picking up his first win in the process and getting his picture in the papers. The key here was Toyohibiki driving the entire time with the lower body. Good stuff all around as he drops Kotoshogiku to 3-6.

M2 Tochiohzan charged blindly into M3 Baruto's mid-section and actually had morozashi, but he was so upright that the Estonian easily neutralized him by pushing at both pits requiring a slight shift in direction to shove OhSnap down by the side. I guess there's a reason why you can't spell effort with the letters T-O-C-H-I-O-H-Z-A-N because he showed none of it today as he continues his awful 0-9 slide. C'mon...even Iwakiyama has two wins. What has Tochiohzan got to say for himself? Baruto quietly extends his record to 7-2, but he really hasn't beaten anyone yet.

M5 Aminishiki used his speed against M3 Iwakiyama today to seize the early moro-zashi position from the tachi-ai, and he never stopped driving with his legs pushing Iwakiyama upright before driving him out in a flash. Aminishiki moves to 7-2 with the ass-kicking while Iwakiyama has done well to stand at 2-7.

In a predictable bout, M4 Miyabiyama hit M7 Toyonoshima hard at the tachi-ai, and as Toyonoshima pressed his body forward in an attempt to get back into the bout, the Sheriff quickly moved to his side and pulled Toyonoshima down and out for the quick and dirty win. Miyabiyama moves to 5-4 with the arrest while Toyonoshima's slide continues at 3-6.

M7 Mokonami moved cheaply to his left at the tachi-ai against m4 Takamisakari grabbing the ill-gotten outer grip, but Takamisakari spun around on a dime rendering Mokonami's handiwork useless, and as the Robocop flirted with moro-zashi, Mokonami panicked allowing Takamisakari to shift gears quickly and pull the roasted rikishi to the dirt for an awkward-looking hiki-otoshi win. Like the victor, this one was far from beautiful, but Takamisakari will take that 5-4 record if you please. Mokonami hasn't been terrible in his debut at 4-5.

M5 Tochinoshin hit Takekaze nicely at the tachi-ai with a right kachi-age causing Otafuku-kaze to do the only thing he knows how...retreat and go for the pull down. The move sent Tochinoshin off balance a bit, but he recovered quickly and thankfully pulled the compromised Takekaze down for the win. Tochinoshin moves quietly to 6-3 while Takekaze falls to 4-5.

I've save the term "ugliest" for later on since Kasugao is currently in the division, but M8 Kokkai came close today against M6 Bushuyama. On one hand, the corporal is 3-0 against the Dolly Yama, but on the other hand, he's gripping right now riding a four bout losing streak, so was it really a surprise to see him henka to his right at the tachi-ai easily pulling down Dolly in the process? At least Bushuyama had some nice padding to break his fall as he hit the dohyo. This was ugly stuff all the way around as Kokkai limps to 4-5. Dolly can't get a break at 3-6. 

Showing his diversity, M10 Shotenro overcame a decent test against M6 Tamanoshima today by taking charge at the tachi-ai with a nice push attack that he never let up on until he had Peter driven back and out of the ring in about three seconds. Unlike that weird loner uncle everyone seems to have, Tamanoshima never really laid a hand on the kid the whole visit. Shotenro one-ups the veteran moving to 7-2 while Tamanoshima settles for 6-3.

M8 Kakizoe jumped the gun against rookie M14 Tosayutaka, but the timing was just right as Tosayutaka hesitated a bit at the charge but went anyway. Kakizoe used a quick moro-te to knock Tosayutaka upright before securing moro-zashi just as Tosayutaka began driving Zoe back. Like so many bouts today, Tosayutaka's legs couldn't sustain his wild forward progress, so Kakizoe was able to pull him down near the straw from the moro-zashi position while back-pedaling. An awkward finish for Sweet Zoe Jane as he moves to 3-6. Tosayutaka has his work still cut out for him at 4-5.

Meeting for the fortieth time in the division, M13 Dejima charged hard into M9 Tochinonada going for the quick force out, but those purple stumps couldn't keep up with the Degyptian's upper body allowing Tochinonada to easily slip to his right and turn the tables with a well executed kote-nage throw at the edge. The Gentle Giant is still a paltry 3-6 while Dejima is just 2-7 from the M13 rank. Does the former Ozeki retire if he falls to Juryo, a likely scenario at this rate? I say continue to pull a paycheck even if it is among the junior varsity. What little pride this former Ozeki may have had has dwindled his last seven years or so out of the rank.

In the worst bout I've seen in a long time (at that's saying something), M10 Tokitenku decided to charge lower than normal just as M15 Kasugao decided to henka to his right and go for the cheap kote-nage throw. The result was Tokitenku stumbling to the dirt as Kasugao rode him down by the shoulder. The worst part of it is, though, Kasugao "improved" to 6-3 meaning we've gotta put up with his sumo for another basho. Sometimes people will ask why Sumotalk doesn't cover any of the other divisions. Kasugao is the best answer I can give you. Tokitenku is also 6-3.

M16 Wakakoyu valiantly greeted M11 Yamamotoyama at the tachi-ai today with a nice moro-te, but after a moment JabbamotoJabba thrust his way out of it and actually started to drive Wakakoyu back with an oshi attack. The problem there, however, is you actually have to keep your balance and move forward...something YMY isn't adept at doing, so Wakakoyu easily avoided him at the edge and nearly pushed him out. As the two regrouped in the center of the ring, Wakakoyu went postal on Yamamotoyama's neck firing tsuppari after tsuppari into the thick of it turning Yamamotoyama into a bobble head doll, but as the saying goes fat win out in the end meaning Wakakoyu wasn't going anywhere with his oshi-attack against the cinnamon bun, so he quickly backed up committing on a pull of his opponent near the edge. Yamamotoyama managed a last gasp thrust of Wakakoyu that sent him flying across the straw, but not before he slammed onto the dohyo himself. The gunbai went to Wakakoyu, but a mono-ii was called where it was ruled that Yamamotoyama's torso zits are just plain disgusting. They also happened to mention that both rikishi hit at the same time, so they ruled a do-over.

During the preparation for the do-over, Yamamotoyama was clearly gassed meaning you just knew the result of the second act. Wakakoyu came out firing those tsuppari again into YMY's neck, and just like the first bout, he darted out of the way pulling Yamamotoyama to the dirt in all his glory. Different from the first go around was that the Hutt had no energy to attempt another counter shove, so he took his medicine like a slug and just crashed to the dirt giving Wakakoyu the win in the end. After all that Wakakoyu is still just 3-6 while Ande falls to 4-5.

M11 Tamawashi meant well in his sumo today against M14 Shimotori striking his opponent and driving him back to the straw, but The Mawashi's legs were nowhere to be found allowing Shimotori to easily keep his wits about him as he spilled Tamawashi at the edge with a shweet counter scoop throw using the right arm. Can't believe there weren't any kensho for the victorious Shimotori (5-4) in this one as Tamawashi falls to a dangerous 2-7 from the M11 rank.

In a curious affair, M12 Yoshikaze went Asasekiryu today against none other than M12 Asasekiryu charging extremely low and grabbing a deep inside grip with the left hand. Sexy countered with the easy right outer over the top, and the war was on with each trying to throw the other down in nage-no-uchi-ai fashion as they danced across the ring attempting leg trips and watashi-komi moves to help bring the other guy down. About thirty seconds in, both rikishi were completely gassed leaving Asasekiryu to stand in the center of the ring completely upright as if to say do me now. Yoshikaze didn't have the energy to comply that instant, but after popping one of those blue diamond pills, he finally made good on that force-out charge. Right as he made the charge, the referee tried to stop the bout as Asasekiryu had been disrobed, but in true Hanaregoma-oyakata style, the ref was ignored, and the two finished their contest without incident. Yoshikaze moves to 5-4 with the win while Asasekiryu has got to start thinking about avoiding Juryo now at 4-5 from the M12 rank.

And finally, M13 Futenoh and M15 Homasho hooked up in a solid migi-yotsu contest that saw Futenoh hold the lower position and thus the advantage. You would normally favor Homasho in this bout, especially due to the run he has been on in Nagoya while Futenoh has struggled mightily, but the key to beating Homasho is hinder his lateral movement. Futenoh did just that by keeping Homie in tight for about twenty seconds before finally forcing him back across the straw. Homasho can thankfully be removed from NHK's leaderboard now at 6-3. I mean, I love Homasho, but don't paste him on the leaderboard amidst a run from the dregs of the division. Fruitenoh moves to 4-5 with the win. 

Oh, and for the record NHK English announcers, if you pronounce the 'N' in Futenoh's name, you're saying it wrong. I'm stuck here in Seoul, Korea where my only means of watching the bouts is accessing my slingbox back home. Unfortunately, Mario Sparrow has rigged the device to broadcast the bouts with the English commentary instead of the Japanese, so he can do something or other with the feed. Former Kotonishiki was the guest today with Mainoumi in the mukou-joumen chair, and they were showing bouts from Kotonishiki's last yusho that came in Nagoya including a crushing defeat over Mainoumi where the latter exhibited a fluke tachi-ai that was beautifully read like Clancy's day 8 causing Mainoumi to be pushed as far into the crowd as I've ever seen a rikishi fly. It pained me almost as much as kimchi coming out the other end not to hear the Japanese dialog today, but with nothing to go by but the English feed, I can't comment more on their conversations. Oh, and for the record, I had no wild fantasies about getting Ross Mihara liquored up.

Mario the boat ashore tomorrow. Hallelujah.

Day 8 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
Well hello hello, good sumo peoples. The day is mine, to do with what I will. I was absent on Day One due to an appointment I had with a hundred or so young people who needed their asses kicked in a sport by a creaky oatchan like me, and rest assured, I kicked them good and proper. Do any of you know how it feels to be running at breakneck speed, diving to catch a flying object for the winning score, coming up with blood dripping down your leg while a defender ten centimeters taller than you and young enough literally to be your son gives you a hand up and concedes, "Great snag, man"? Didn't think so.

Years ago, especially in the crazy days of 2005, Asashoryu often sported a t-shirt that read on the back, "If you can read this then my bitch fell off!" Being far and away the leader of the pack, normally by Day 8 or so his bitches, Chiyotaikai, Kaio, Tochiazuma et al, had indeed fallen off, and off into the sunset rode the Wild One. Hakuho is approaching, if not at, the same level of power, but the dominance enjoyed by Genghis will not be his, for the tides of time have washed ashore young and hung-ry fellas like Kotooshu and hAruMAfuji and Goeido and Kisenosato and even (if he ever takes a look in the frickin mirror) Baruto, just as Kublai is securing his flag on East Yokozuna beach. Add to that the little matter of Martins "tired old Asa" still hanging around and causing trouble, and youve got a guy at the top of his sport who has to share yusho with others (a fairly typical situation throughout sumo history). For all the gushing about Haks mere two losses this year, he still has taken only one of three basho. Certainly dude is going to take twenty or so yusho before he hangs it up, and he is a monster, but the others are right there behind him, and that makes most basho, like this Nagoya basho, fairly entertaining.

Another thing keeping things copasetic is the ever expanding universe of stars that Mike trots out to give us the lowdown on the hijinks. Particle Man, My Favorite Martian and now personal lifedome salesman Dieter (who wants you to touch his monkey) have all been spot on with their observations and pretty damned amusing to boot! Had we Simon active all hell would be breaking loose. (Speaking of the Manchester Marauder, I ran into him at the ownsen, or bath house, yesterday. Dude had a tat on his prick that read, "Bad Boy". Later, as we sat in the tatami mats watching the Sandame bouts, I whispered to his female companion [I hesitate to call her a 'girlfriend'—shes prolly just one of those JPese chicks who really dig tabehoodai] that it seemed kind of tacky to have such a tattoo, and she agreed, giggling, "I dont even know what 'Bearded Baloney' means!")

You may have noticed that I left someone out. Re Mark Arbo, the lad his bad self, is in Kanada at the Ed Mutton Folk Festival (evidently this Ed guys event is bigger than the introduction of a new flavored cruller at Tom Hortons) scouting out the thousands of fine young fillies wearing flowing, tie dyed skirts and long braided hair (in their armpits). Since hes gone, Mario and I felt the need to pick up the slack and post a lot of goofy, distracting pictures that may or may not have anything to do with the report. If you dont like it, click on the link Martin provided in yesterdays first sentence. Sums up how I feel about anyone but Mikes opinion of my reports.

Are the acolytes prepping the pyramid for former Ozeki Dejima? As Martin mentioned yesterday, he is looking more mummy than yummy these days, and even though today he was matched against a man in Homasho who pretty much never goes for the pulldown, he still got worked. He simply had no push at tachi-ai, and was able to do nothing but play noggin-to-noggin, arm slappy games until Homa homed in and titty pushed him out. Oh whence have gone those days when his great white globes, so jellied yet firm, sent me reaching for a Playboy?

Wakakoyu, wanting nothing to do with his foes belt, got all Yoshikaze on Asas Secretary, but in the end all that frenetic swiping and shoving amounted to less than a hill of beans as the Mongolian finally had enough and gave a big double punch to the topknot that sent the W16 face down to his 6th loss and pritnear sealed his divisional demotion. I know they get paid less down there, but to me the worst thing about Juryo is how the wrestler often has to fight his way through fans milling about as he makes his way back to the dressing rooms. The indignity.

The Mawashi had his pushing game going, but for some reason (like it was weak and way too high) Tosayutaka was able to weather it nicely, and when he pushed back, the Mongolian took a slippery tumble to his tatas. At W11, the tendrils of Juryo are slowly wrapping around Tamawashis leg, so hed better find himself a scimitar for the next week.

Tochinonada looked like a green rookie as he blew a golden opportunity to force out Kasugao by taking his left hand off the Koreans belt and going for a stupid makikae just as Kasugao grabbed the back of the Gentle Giants mawashi and drove him back across the ring and out. So far not a good day for veterans. To add insult to injury, two finches landed on Kasugaos nipples as he waited to pass the chikaramizu and whistled "What A Wonderful World".

Speaking of birds, Shimotoooooooooooooori locked up with the White Knight in a man to man belt battle. As Kokkai pressed ahead, Shimotori used what I like to call great foot work and the strength of three men to sling the Georgian around like a plate of hash browns. He dont look all that strong, but a 4-3 in Week Two and he stays in Makuuchi.

Im telling ya, Id love to spend a night drinking with Doreen Simmons. She has so many sumo stories I know Id love to hear. Plus, you never know, if I got her drunk enough...

Futenoh and Toyonoshima banged together with an arms folded tachi-ai, out of which Futenoh came forward. But Toyonoshima was quick on his heels, sliding back and then to the side to get in front of an out of sorts Fruity and drive him out with ease. Futeno hasnt beaten Toyonoshima since Yao Ming needed a stool to reach the humbao.

Youll think this is a joke, but I know exactly what it must feel like to wrestle Yamamotoyama in close. My family owned a bakery, and I used to help make this cinnamon bread, and it consisted of dropping an enormous load of bread dough onto two large tables and then working the cinnamon and egg mixture through, scraping up and lifting and folding great gobs of dough that sloughed down over your arms like some 50s sci-fi movie alien. Mokonami (who looks like hes been on the grill way too long) must have seen that film cause he was in full side attack mode. Since Ande moves at tectonic speeds, Okonomiyaki had no trouble dodging the big mans shoulder attacks (wtf?) and hounding him out dog on postal worker style. If Ande cant grab that right hand belt, hes toast (unless hes fighting someone who left his brain in the heya, like Shimotori on Day 6).

Slowing down a bit in his dotage, Yoshikaze came in dangerously low vs. Bushuyama, but the DollyYama failed to employ his great mammaries to smack down the insolent peasant. Instead he worked Café back to the edge, but the Feisty One got a double arm inside and took the E6 to the edge himself. Café pushed with all he could muster, but he couldnt cut muster as Dolly, working 9 to 5 by balancing on that weird, set back piece of tawara, watched with sickening glee as his tiny foe fell first. Bufud by Bushu---not a pretty picture.

Talk about parity in the lower ranks. Of the first sixteen wrestlers today, only two have winning records.

For the second basho in a row, Tokitenku thought the gyoji was going to save him and didn't even wrestle, but there was no call back on Tamanoshimas slightly quick go and he ran the surly Mongolian out. They dressed it up and labeled it "oshidashi", but like that fancy term "anal sex" (which, lets face it, should be called "putting your dick in a shithole"), labels can lie. This was a "quitout".

Funny how Aminishiki felt like a jackass after getting slapped down by Shotenro but looks pretty damned proud of himself when he henkas. Not to take anything away from Big Shot, who held up the E5 nicely at tachi-ai and only afterward slapped Shneakys too far forward leaning head. Both men have won 75% of their bouts.

Tochinoshin got Kakizoe rapidly back to the edge, but squandered the advantage by allowing Sweet Zoe Jane to slip away back to the center, where he started coming in under his much taller foes arms. He looked to have the lower hand, but No Shine squelched any thoughts of a comeback by adroitly countering several well placed Kakizoe thrusts, getting his hand under Kakizoes chin and then used a pipe to the back of the noggin to pound his azz to the doit! Still, gotta love Kakizoes titanium nads attitude as he sauntered back to the dohyo, kind of like, "Well f**k me for flyfishing! I let this...this boy beat me." Naturally the English announcers have nothing clever to say about any of it, and its at times like this that I wish ST could do live commentary (and also I wouldn't have to sit here and hit all these keyboard buttons for an hour).

Mikes mask reminds me of that shining star, recently snuffed out at the tender age of fiddy. Dangle your babies off fifth floor balconies, give two the same name, make them wear fairy masks in public, call one "Blanket" and remain doped out when youre with them in the house--it don't make no nevermind, because you, my not strange friend, could sing. (And whos the turd who labeled it a "moonwalk"? A moonwalk would be a bounding gait about four feet off the ground.)

The first half was over so everyone got up to take a piss, and appropriately enough when they got back Takekaze took the piss out of Miyabiyama by holding him up at the tachi-ai and then letting him fall down. Why exactly Flobby felt the need to lean so far forward vs. Takekaze I do not know. Both men have lost as many as they've won.

You know, it may have looked like Toyohibiki blew it (and of course to some extent he did) but what was happening in that bout is Takamisakari has the strength of the feeble-minded. Ive volunteered with many sweet people who just happen to be, well, not all there, and one trait they all seem to share is a surprising power, especially when they grab your arm or hug your neck (and I dont even want to talk about the fellatio!) 0-7 Pimple Puss had Bean at hello, but P.T.s boy, a mere Planck length away from defeat, danced on the edge of the volcano and lifted the E9 out, even though Nikibis mawashi was riding up like the thong underwear Mario wears to lectures on quantum tunneling.

Goeido got off probation today and promptly stopped the Geekus hyper gaburi like he was some sort of elementary school principal grabbing and calming down the enraged class troublemaker (me). Can he finish 6-1? If he does, he will be telling us all something about how special he may well end up being.

Kakuryu hasnt been looking too good, losing to Iwonkey and Chauffer, and with two Ozeki and the Khans left to face, he needed todays bout vs Aran in a big way. Kak wasted no time, getting the right hand inside belt immediately, then fishing for the inside left. Aran sort of stood there stunned, knowing it was all going to hell on a handrail, because when a Mongolian gets on your belt like that, youd prolly rather be stranded in downtown Detroit at 3:00 am. Once the morozashi was attained, the Sekiwake bent down at an angle, getting his left hand on the back of Arans mawashi, and then using the leverage to lift him up and back out. Im having second thoughts about meeting Doreen, though, as she said "pivotage".

Four meters of European man muscle went toe to toe as Kotooshu, 7-0, took on the mighty Estonian Biomass Baruto. The Bulgarian showed why he is an Ozeki and one time yusho winner by parlaying a tachi-ai pube grab into a deadly inside left belt. Baruto locked his arms down on the Ozekis, but it was purely defensive, and when Kotooshu started dragging him down and around a bit, those infamous clumsy gams gave out, and though he tried to right the ship, Kotooshu quickly pounced and trounced. I know that Hakuho the Unstoppable (except in Jan and May) has been declared the 15-0 yusho winner already, but who knows, maybe Kotooshu and hArmuMAfuji and that other guy, Asa-whats-his-name, might have a thing or two to say about it.

Tochiohzan came hard at the start, and moved hAruMAfuji back, but the Ozeki had his hand on the back of the belt and knew he what he was doing, executing a perfect, those were the good old days, Ama-esque uwatenage. 

Even though I have Martin on my radar as a potential leader of a doomsday cult, I must admit that I, too, was looking for Mitsukiki to take a dive vs. Chiyotaikai, and when the bout started dragging on with Mistuki! firing harmless tsuppari, and then flubbing an easy early belt grab, I was pretty sure the fix was in. But then one of Pups thrusts slipped on Kotomitsukis chest, and he found himself standing over the bent down Kokonoe man facing a simple choice: Let him get back up and beat me and look like a total fraud, or push him down and say cest la guerre. He chose the latter, but you could see a moments hesitation, because thats not the way it was supposed to go, dammit. Theres gotta be a tacit understanding in yaocho that though Ill do my best to lose, if you totally screw it up, all bets are off. That's how bad Pup has gotten; he cant even win a yaocho match!

Like hes done pretty much his entire career, Kaio got inside on Kyokutenho and after a short wait moved forward and shoved him out. 

The ultra high speed camera that they are using this time is so funny. The shots they show. . .show nothing! But it made me think, I should be in porn. Not as an actor, mind you (if I had the male lead theyd prolly title it Deep Mouth) but as a producer, or director, or even just the guy who sits around the shoot making sure things are going smoothly. If I were in porn, Id institute lots of slow motion shots. Just like NHK.

Contrary to what you might think, there was a guy at the arena today who thought Iwakiyama had a decent chance vs. Hakuho, but that guy was Iwakiyama, so it doesnt really count. The Yokozuna brought a stiff tachi-ai and got the inside right belt. Iwaki wiggled like a salmon on a pike, and because everyone knows Hakuho has a fearsome left hand, the Hutt moved to Hakuhos right, the side that had the deep belt grip (wtf?) Can you say shitatenage? Fish in a barrel.

The final bout pitted young and hung Kisenosato against all that is wrong with sumo for the last seven years, Asashoryu. Genghis got an inside left immediately and used a side movement to consolidate that position. Kid was able to get the Yokozuna moving back while this was happening, but Asa soon used the hold to force Kisenosato back toward the edge. It looked very, very dim for the Sekiwake, when all of a sudden Asa let go of the belt, just let it go, and slid down Kisenosatos body as he pivoted away. Im not a sumo wrestler, but why would you let go of a grip youve had the entire bout and that has gotten your foe back to the edge? Asa drops his first and Martin chortles, though I should note I never bet him about anything and he did not have my permission to make our private, casual comments public. Im hurt, to be honest. Personally I think Asas loss has something to do with the racy photos he has been reportedly receiving from a woman well known in sumo, a woman who now that she knows Asa is a free man, can shall we say, bare her intentions. Yikes!!

So, tomorrow the Landlord comes to collect the rent. I hope youre all flush.

Day 7 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
First, I'd like to make good on Mike's last words and deliver the goods he promised on my behalf. Thank you.

Enough beating around the proverbial bush, though, today was a relatively rare day of sound, no-nonsense sumo, so we're starting with the top dog himself, who was to face his first real challenge of the basho in Sw Kisenosato, who has been looking in his return to the third highest rank. The key point of the bout was, of course, the tachi-ai, which the Kid approached cautiously, merely standing up and receiving Hak's charge rather than blasting into him. He did it, I suppose, to deny Hakuho any sort of mawashi grip, and that objective was met throughout the bout, but the Khan is on par with anyone even in tsuki/oshi, so he won the quick, desperate inashi contest in the center of the ring, after a failed pull-down by Kisenosato. It wasn't really close, but it was the closest Hakuho was to any trouble this basho, so you can see just why Mike "boldly" predicted the zensho Yusho in his pre-basho report. Kisenosato is still looking great at 5-2, and he should give Asashoryu a run for his tögrögs.

Speaking of Asa, today he received his usual dose of Iwakiyama palm (how can anyone NOT love Iwakiyama for slapping Asashoryu every chance he gets, even though he knows he ain't winning the bout?), but the older Khan kept his cool and got out of the way with astonishing speed at exactly the right moment, sending the lumbering Kong on his belly. The old Mongol still has it, the skill, but he's not as strong and dominating as he used to (and still could) be. I don't see him winning more than 12 in his current shape, but for some reason the Asashoryu fanboy in Mr. Kelly seems to think Asa can't do any worse than 14(!) wins this Nagoya. The loser gets to eat a used shinpan zabuton from senshuraku (and no mayo allowed, either!). Iwakiyama is having a good basho at 2-5, with only Hakuho left to fight from the heavy hitters.

With Ozeki Kotooshu, a 7-0 start means he somehow found a way to win all the bouts he was supposed to win in the first place. Since this occurrence is about as rare as Kadastik's sexual encounters, let's just assume the Bulgarian's confidence is sky-high right now and he is a contender for the Yusho. Today he survived a little sidestep from ex-Mongol Kyokutenho, who was trying to get the cheap left uwate and succeeded, but let Kotooshu get a solid inside grip of his own. After a failed makikae Kotooshu got his other hand on the mawashi as well, and at that point it was over for the elderly Komusubi. The Ozeki still has a few winnable ones left before taking on the big guys (i.e. Baruto tomorrow, then Miyabiyama, Kisenosato, Kaio and Chiyotaikai over the four the days after that). Only with 5-0 in those bouts (which *should* happen every basho anyway, but somehow never does), is he a legitimate Yusho contender. Tenho yawns his way to an unsurprising 2-5 start, but I have to say I loved the straight oshidashi of Chiyotaikai a few days ago.

Speaking of which, Taikai is a dirty, low-down, match-fixing and outright cheating disgrace these days. Today he charged way before Aran even thought about it (needless to say there was absolutely no shadow of a knuckle on the dohyo from Taikai), but the Ossetian reacted, unfortunately for him, and that was all the excuse they needed to let it pass. I remember Toyonoshima was called back from his winning tachi-ai against Takamisakari for much, much less, but hey, everything goes when the noble goal is saving a veteran Ozeki from makekoshi. With the disadvantage at the tachi-ai, Aran had absolutely no chance and he was oshidashied straight out. Taikai rises above .5 with the ill-earned win, while Aran sinks to 1-6. Oh, yeah, look for Kotomitsuki to lose tomorrow by hatakikomi.

The other Old-zeki had pulling on his mind right from the tachi-ai, where he absorbed Toro-hibiki's charge while at the same time pulling on his head. The move didn't fell Hibiki straight away, but it left him out of position and balance long enough for Kaio to reload and get it right. It wasn't pretty, but the difference in sumo skill between the two is too great for the Hutt to have a chance in this kind of bout. Kaio rises above .5 himself with the win, while the Hutt stays winless.

Kotomitsuki recovered nicely from his bad loss against the Kid with a win against another Japanese hope. Unfortunately, Goeido was disappointing yet again this basho, but if you look at his schedule, there was no loss against a guy ranked lower than him, and all the guys who beat him are having great tournaments themselves. Back to the action, though, Kotomitsuki charged well and set up a good left uwate with a few tsuppari, while denying Goeido any grip on the other side. After a brief stalemate in the center, Mitsukiki deployed a dashinage that didn't win the bout outright, but got Goeido critically out of position and gave the Ozeki morozashi. Yorikiri and 6-1 for the Sadogatake man, while Goeido falls to his 6th consecutive loss. Too bad.

Ex-Ama had little trouble with the extra flaccid Kak, who put up about as much resistance as a two dollar whore in the red light district. The Ozeki got the better of the tachi-ai and had Kakuryu running away the whole time, but unable to evade his imminent push-out. With weak sumo, only 2 wins so far and most of the heavy hitters left to fight, Kakuryu is in for an early, expected and well deserved makekoshi. Ama improves to 5-2, but any Yokozuna talk is sci-fi by now. Not that he wanted the promotion in the first place.

Komusubi Kotoshogiku is having a decent tournament himself, fully benefiting from the same heya rule, as usual. With the worst opponents out of the way, kachikoshi is possible, no, make that likely for the Geek, even more so after today's convincing victory over the winless Tochi-oh-snap. Oh went for morozashi right at the tachi-ai and he got it, but (be careful what you wish for) he got his arms locked in the kime position by the stubby Sadogatake Komusubi (3-4) and forced straight back and out with no argument.

It had to be frustrating for the smaller, more technical rikishi like Toyonoshima to completely outclass the Estonian Biomass skill-wise and still lose soundly because of the latter's huge size and strength. Toyonoshima got both arms inside straight from the tachi-ai and tried to finish it quickly with the same impressive shitatenage that felled a certain Bulgarian Ozeki so many times, but Baruto is some 25kg heavier and a few inches shorter than Kotooshu, so he recovered with little effort and grabbed the front of Toyonoshima's mawashi. In spite of Shorty's best efforts, Bart just wouldn't budge, so he finally decided to go on the offensive by wrapping Toyo's head with his left arm and twisting him to the clay. They called it uwatenage after a lengthy deliberation by the video judge, but I would have called it kubihineri. Toyonoshima falls to 2-5 and it seems he hasn't fully recovered from the encounter with Kaio's vice several basho ago. Baruto (6-1) is destroying the scrubs, like he should, but his vacation will be ending tomorrow when he's getting the first of the three Sadogatake guys he is compelled to face. And I don't see him winning more than one out of those bouts in his current shape (and only if he's lucky).

A rather entertaining push-fest took place between the Sheriff and the Corporal, with the honky apparently getting the upper hand from the tachi-ai, methodically pushing the Fatman back with well-placed tsuppari to the upper area. But the Georgian wasn't moving him back fast enough, so Miyabiyama, whose bread and butter is the push-pull cat and mouse game, evaded this way and that until he recovered and turned the tables on Kokkai, punishing his face with heavy thrusts and pushing him out just in time to get the clear win.

Private Tochinoshin didn't charge low enough to not fall for a right shoulder blast from the Clown, which enabled him to get a quick and deadly morozashi. Shin tried some last ditch head twisting, but the damage had already been done. That had to have been the easiest win of Takamisakari against the tall Georgian, and after the fact, Tamanoi oyakata (Tochiazuma's old man – wow, is that guy really 64 years old?!) was explaining how to make the shoulder charge more effective by turning your wrist in. That's all nice and fun, but this win was more a case of bad arm and body placement by Tochinoshin (4-3) than effective charging by the Clown (3-4).

Under-ranked Aminishiki used his superior skill and experience to counter Bushuyama's superior weight and size. Sneaky charged hard and straight, both hands to the throat, but Bush didn't seem too bothered by the tachi-ai, so Aminishiki was soon on the run, evading to his left and desperately looking for a mawashi grip. He couldn't get any, but he kept Bushuyama guessing long enough to be able to dodge one of his charges and finally slip to the side and pull him down and out while tip-toeing the tawara. Fancy footwork is an understatement. Aminishiki is 6-1 and on the provisional leader board, but not in contention. Bush is an unsurprising 2-5 and should be getting back to his lower maegashira comfort zone next basho.

The bout between Tamanoshima and Kakizoe was as typical as it could get for these two, right down to the finish. Kakizoe pushed at Tama and tried to keep him from the mawashi and burn him with pushes to the side, while Tama tried to muscle his way inside or push Zoe straight out. Eventually, as always, Kakizoe overcommitted and Tama was there to slap his ass to the clay for his 5th win. Kakizoe is overranked too and has the 2-5 to prove it.

The best Mongol in lower Makuuchi has to be Shotenro, who I'll agree is a lot better down here than Kakuryu ever was. His sumo is offensive, spirited and intense, in other words he's twice the Mongol Kakuryu will ever be. His technique ain't bad either, and he's one of the few rikishi who can boast straight on oshidashi/taoshi victories over Yamamotoyama (and if you think that's no big deal, you should take a look at the Hutt's bout with Dejima today). Today, against his compatriot Moe the Tan Man, Big Shot charged cautiously (you can never be too sure against these Mongols, and it takes one to know one), straight into gappuri hidari-yotsu. Mokonami attacked first, trying to lift Shotenro off the dohyo, and Shotenro countered, only to fail the lift himself. After an unsuccessful makikae, Shotenro wormed his way to Moe's side and tried a typically Mongol susoharai trip, but good footwork from Moe deprived us of the spectacular finish. Having worked his way to his foe's side, Big Shot sacrificed his inside position on the left for a very solid moro-uwate he used to force Mokonami out with little possibility of countering. Good sumo from both guys. Shotenro wins his 5th, while Mokonami is at a still respectable 3-4.

One of those match-ups in which one of the guys dominates the other thoroughly has got to be Takekaze vs. Futenoh. Today was no exception, as the shorter Kaze blasted Fruity upright with a cannonball head charge and moved him back with some well placed thrusts to the pits (hazu-oshi). Not wanting to risk anything at the edge, Kaze switched gears and slapped a bit on Futenoh's left arm and moved to his left, letting Fruity fall to his 4th loss in as many days. Kaze recovers a little from his bad start and is now at 3-4.

As I keep saying over and over in my reports, Tochinonada is a very skilled veteran, often underestimated because of his broken body. Today's bout was totally dominated by Nada, who blasted Shimotori back from the tachi-ai, forced him to the tawara and used his heavily taped left arm to throw the helpless foe to the clay in spectacular fashion by sukuinage. Shimotori falls below the .5 mark while Nada stops the rot at 5 losses.

Tokitenku is another guy who's doing great down in the basement, as is Homasho, both coming in at 5-1 and facing off in the derby of the dregs. The Mongol kept his Hawaiian looking foe at bay, pushing at his shoulders and neck. Homasho had enough of it and lunged forward hoping to rush Tenku, but the shifty one shifted to his left and dragged Homie down by his noggin. Both guys are still viable candidates for a special prize.

After his bad 1-3 start, everyone had Yamamotoyama dead, buried and heading for Juryo, but the big guy didn't seem to have gotten the news himself. Props to Dejima for trying to go straight at him, but that had no visible effect on the Double Mountain's momentum, because he stopped the freight train mid-charge, wrapped his right arm and hurled him out of the dohyo in spectacular kotenage fashion. The maneuver was completely offensive and calculated, and Dejima even looked lightweight in this one. The Hutt is now 4-3, while the Degyptian looks more and more like a mummy. Intai?

After a longish stint in Juryo, Kasugao finally got promoted back to Makuuchi, but his sumo has been nothing more than a succession of henkas or losses so far. No thanks, dude, we don't need that here. Today's victim was the unsuspecting Tamawashi, who did survive the maneuver but couldn't follow up with anything good, so the Korean grabbed a left uwate and escorted the Mongolian out of the ring without much resistance. Kasugao slithers to his 4th win while Tamawashi is a paltry 2-5.

Rookie Tosayutaka was again disadvantaged by his size against the taller, heavier and more experienced Asasekiryu, who denied the Gorilla any sort of advantageous grip, eventually finishing him off by yorikiri. Both men now stand at 3-4, and Tosayutaka would do good to get some more lean meat on them bones, because his current beef just isn't thick enough for the Makuuchi stew. Asasekiryu is anything but sexy this basho.

Last and most certainly least, Yoshikaze went past the .5 mark by completely outclassing rookie Wakakoyu, who seems completely out of place in this division so far. The little Kaze charged straight into hidari yotsu, a grip that isn't exactly his favorite, but Wakakoyu is as weak as Hokutoriki when it comes to fighting at the belt, minus the kick-ass attitude. Predictable yorikiri by Kaze, who keeps a good chance to get his 8 after a shaky start.

There isn't much excitement left in this here basho, except maybe a surprise Yusho by Kotooshu or (very unlikely) somebody else (yes, Clancy, that means I'm writing Asa off from day 7 again, sue me). But for sure there will be some great sumo, because the top guys seem to be in great shape.

Speaking of Clancy, he'll be riding his canoe tomorrow. If you're naughty, he might even spank you with the paddles.

Day 6 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
This is turning out to be a fantastic basho. When the early leaders are both Yokozuna, two Ozeki not named Harumafuji, and one Sekiwake, it's safe to say that things don't suck. It's imperative for the elite rikishi in the sport to pull their weight, and the Nagoya basho is a perfect example why. And even though Harumafuji is struggling with two losses, you know he'll play a factor in the end when he faces the aforementioned leaders. Off the dohyo, we're in Nagoya, which means we have plenty of eccentrics in the crowd to keep us entertained in between bouts. Today's highlight was a lady sitting in the first row where the rikishi come in from the West with a skunk on her head. Wish I had been there to smell it, but since you can't have any pudding if you don't eat your meat, let's get to the dirty work.

Leading off the day were two of our rookies, Tosayutaka and Wakakoyu. Wakakoyu looked to take charge from the beginning firing tusppari after tsuppari into Tosayutaka's neck and upper torso, but the shoves were largely from the waist up meaning Wakakoyu just couldn't finish his opponent off. The bout lasted for about 20 seconds with Wakakoyu alternating choke holds and shoves, but Tosayutaka stood his ground like a warrior and finally forced the action to the belt gaining the inside position with the right and outer grip on the left. That was all she wrote as Tosayutaka finished off his counterpart in two seconds after gaining the belt. Tosayutaka moves to 3-3 with the win while Wakakoyu falls to 2-4. It was great to see the rookie pride on the line here, but Wakakoyu was simply outclassed. Tosayutaka's gonna be a good one, and props for getting his first pic posted to Sumotalk.

In a bout featuring two veterans who love to fight low, Asasekiryu and Homasho butted heads at the tachi-ai and grappled for about three seconds before Homasho forced his way into the left outer grip. But Sexy refused to hunker down going for a quick right-handed scoop throw that nearly finished Homasho off. Though the throw didn't fell his opponent, it put Homasho back and his heels and forced him to retreat around the ring all the while maintaining his left outer grip. Asasekiryu tried a few more inner belt throws, but Homasho stood his ground nobly and capitalized on Asasekiryu's near misses by pinning the Secretary against the tawara. Asasekiryu managed two inside grips at the edge, but they were as shallow as Paris Hilton allowing Homasho to body Asasekiryu (2-4) back and across the straw in spectacular fashion.  How many times is Homasho (5-1) going to get hot down this low only to suck higher up?

Kasugao and Yoshikaze bounced off each other at the tachi-ai and as Yoshikaze looked to get back to the inside, Kasugao committed on a right kote-nage throw way too early, but his positioning was so bad that Yoshikaze just bulldozed him out of the ring from there. This was so anticlimactic that NHK only bothered to show the one obligatory replay instead of allowing the fellas in the booth to break it down from different angles.  Both rikishi are 3-3.

I'm not sure what Shimotori was thinking, but he lunged right into Yamamotoyama's fat not to mention the gappuri migi-yotsu position. With their chests aligned, Shimotori was had, and he knew it. He did try and force Yamamotoyama back once, but the Hutt wasn't budging. In fact Yamamotoyama was in such control, he coulda done a farmer blow right there on the dohyo, and Shimotori couldn't have done anything about it. We didn't get the farmer blow unfortunately, but Yamamotoyama did treat us to a slick tsuri-dashi win after gathering his wits. Both rikishi stand at 3-3.

In a compelling match with rising youngster Shotenro and veteran Futenoh, Shotenro didn't give Futenoh a pot to piss in slamming into Fruitenoh from the tachi-ai and using a shweet tsuppari attack to drive Futenoh back and out without argument. Shotenro's young, he's strong, and he can fight with the shoves or at the belt. He's already better than Kakuryu in my opinion, which means we should see this guy in the sanyaku in a year's time. Sho moves to 4-2 with the win while Futenoh falls to 3-3.

After an ugly false start between Dejima and Tokitenku, the latter regrouped and went for an even uglier keta-guri with the right foot, a move requiring a henka and simultaneous leg trip. Dejima survived the move, but he was just henka'd meaning Tokitenku had time to recover himself as the two settled into the migi-yotsu position. Dejima hunkered down low just giving Tokitenku the left outer grip, and with Dejima just standing there like a bump on a log, Tokitenku went for a quick force out attempt, but Dejima countered well near the edge with an inner belt throw that nearly did Tokitenku in. The Mongolian survived again, however, and with both rikishi back in the middle of the ring, Tokitenku collected himself before pulling Dejima in close and executing a successful force-out attempt the second go around whispering sweet nothings in the Degyptian's ear as he went. Tokitenku is 5-1 if ya need him. Dejima is 2-4.

Tamawashi has looked listless the entire basho, but put Takekaze in front of him and it must have given him some hope. The two butt heads at the tachi-ai, but it was Tamawashi who was driving with the legs, so he used his tsuppari to shove Takekaze upright and back in a flash even managing to bang faces with his opponent in the process. Hopefully this win wakes Tamawashi up because he's better than his 2-4 record. Takekaze shares the same mark.

In a bout between two rikishi down on their luck, Bushuyama made sure Tochinonada stayed as far away from the belt as possible using a seldom-seen tsuppari attack from the spiritual giant as he drove Tochinonada to the edge with a few shoves, survived a desperation pull, and kept his body squared up with the Gentle Giant at all times easily shoving him across the straw in the end. Wasn't much more to this one as the Dolly Yama moves to 2-4. Tochinonada has fallen and can't get up at 1-5.

After a horrible day 1 loss to Takamisakari where you thought he'd prolly end up withdrawing, Aminishiki has come back with a fury winning his next four. Make that five in a row today against Kakizoe as Aminishiki used his bulk to easily neutralize Zoe at the charge before using his long arms to grab a right outer grip. Kakizoe is as uncomfortable in the yotsu position as Clay Aiken is in the Playboy Mansion, so it was easy peasy as Aminishiki (5-1) pivoted to the side and dragged Kakizoe (2-4) down to the dirt by that outer grip for the uwate-dashi-nage win.

In the battle of our two Georgian sentries, Corporal Kokkai took the early charge winning the tachi-ai and knocking Private Tochinoshin back on his heels with a nice shove to throat, and Tochinoshin could really do nothing but go for a pull down. Kokkai seized the morozashi position, but one-upped Tochinoshin in the really doing nothing department even though he had the advantageous position. Why Kokkai did not go for the immediate force out charge I don't know, but Tochinoshin responded well executing a successful maki-kae that forced the bout to the migi-yotsu position. Now at the belt, the bout favored Tochinoshin, and he didn't waste his chance methodically forcing his superior back and out from there.  The Private stands at 4-2 with the win while the Corporal is 3-3.

Makuuchi rookie Mokonami not only has a shweet tan, but he's got balls of steel deciding to stand toe to toe with Miyabiyama in a tsuppari duel. Mokonami actually used his speed to stay alive as he forced Miyabiyama to chase him around the dohyo. After about seven second of action, Mokonami ducked inside and grabbed a right inside grip, and while Miyabiyama is a horrible belt fighter, there's such a size difference between the two, he had to have liked his chances. Mokonami didn't give up, however, and actually pulled the trigger first attempting to throw Miyabiyama to the side with his inside grip, but Miyabiyama doesn't carry Hutt status for nothing. The Sheriff barely budged and just slapped his opponent down by the shoulder as Mokonami extended himself too far yanking at Miyabiyama's belt.  Both rikishi are hanging in there at 3-3.

Toyonoshima and Takamisakari weren't fully in synch at their first go-around and the bout was called back as a false start. It sucked for Toyonoshima because he had the moro-zashi position and Takamisakari backing up to a sure loss, but sumo's version of Forrest Gump isn't as slow as you think. As the two reloaded, Takamisakari jumped into another false start, but you could see him leading low with the right shoulder...a move that neutralizes an opponent's attempt at moro-zashi. The third time was a charm, and Takamisakari used the same tachi-ai that not only denied Toyonoshima moro-zashi but befuddled him into standing straight up to the extent where Takamisakari gained moro-zashi instead. From there it took one gangly force attempt to shove Toyonoshima to the side and across the straw. Great stuff from Takamisakari today as both rikishi now stand at 2-4.

In one of the beefier bouts of the today, Tamanoshima and Baruto surprisingly never made it to the belt as Baruto kept his arms in tight and lifted up at Tamanoshima's paws denying him the belt. It was an awkward position that Baruto decided to tsuppari out of, and not only did the Estonian show us some shoves, but they were extremely effective driving Tamanoshima back and forcing him to flee. Baruto moved well keeping Tamanoshima on the run with his thrusts, and with Tamanoshima standing upright trying to stave off the blows, Baruto shifted gears on a dime and pulled Tamanoshima down to the dirt. I would have loved to have seen Baruto win this one by oshi-dashi, but it was great to see him be successful with the tsuppari. Yoshida Announcer repeated a take that I've often made when he said, "If Baruto could somehow polish that tsuppari attack..." Baruto is rewarded with a 5-1 record while Tamanoshima ain't too shabby himself at 4-2.

Kyokutenho demonstrated a potent tachi-ai neutralizing countryman Sekiwake Kakuryu at the starting lines forcing the bout to the belt, a position that favors the larger Tenho. With the two in the migi-yotsu position, Kyokutenho had his left arm wrapped so tightly around the outside of Kakuryu lifting him up that he actually gave up his inside position with the right and opted for two outers pinching in tight up high on the Kak's arms in the kime position. Using his size advantage, the Chauffeur drove (urp) the Kak back and out for the fairly easy win.  Considering their ranks and the competition so far, Kyokutenho's 2-4 is far better than Kakuryu's.

In the Ozeki ranks, Chiyotaikai used that faux tsuppari attack against Iwakiyama driving the Kong back in spirit, but Iwakiyama laughed it off and forced the bout to the belt. In the migi-yotsu position to be exact, Iwakiyama turned the tables and drove the Ozeki back clear across the ring. To the Pup's credit, he did counter well at the edge nearly turning the tables by throwing Iwakiyama over and dangerously close to the edge, but rolling barrels down steel girders all day toughens a guy up more than you think, so it was not surprising to see Iwakiyama dig back in and go for a throw of his own that didn't fell the Ozeki outright but threw him off balance to the point where IwonkeyKong was able to smother him across the straw and down with his girth. We all love Iwakiyama, but this was downright embarrassing for Chiyotaikai being outdone by an old, fat guy who hasn't beaten anyone of substance in years. At 2-4 Iwakiyama still hasn't beaten anyone of substance while Chiyotaikai is 3-3.

The matchup of the basho so far featured Ozeki Kotomitsuki and Sekiwake Kisenosato, two rikishi with a combined 9-1 record coming in, but Kotomitsuki couldn't have dreamt up a worse scenario in his nightmares. The Ozeki actually henka'd to his left (what is it with Ozeki henka'ing Kisenosato?!) looking to grab the cheap left outer grip, but Kisenosato sufficiently read the move driving into the Ozeki just enough to cause Hit and Mitsukiki's fingers to slip off the Kid's belt. As Kotomitsuki looked to recover, it was Kisenosato's turn to move out of the way as he slipped his left hand under Kotomitsuki's right pit easily sending the Ozeki off balance and to the dirt. Fortunately, we had Kitanofuji in the booth today, and he was all over the Ozeki questioning why Kotomitsuki didn't have the confidence to bring more than he did. As bad as Harumafuji's henka of Kisenosato was two basho ago, this one was ten times worse because Kotomitsuki managed to lose. This was the kind of demoralizing loss that can completely derail a guy's basho. Watch for Kotomitsuki (5-1) to parlay his 5-0 start into a 9-6 finish. Kisenosato is on fire at 5-1.

Aran looked to have a little bit of a spring in his step after his win yesterday against Harumafuji (ugly as it was) because against Ozeki Kaio today, the Russian brought a decent charge that kept Kaio well away from the belt. The two rikishi ended up grapplin' by the elbows, but Aran has to come in with a plan because Kaio is just too savvy not to eventually force his way to the belt. It came with Kaio demanding the deep inside position on the left, which of course set up the eventual outer grip on the right, so after a brief struggle where Aran looked to have some hope, the Ozeki smothered him up against the edge using his right leg at the back of Aran's thigh to finish off his bidness. Good win for Kaio who creeps to 3-3 while Aran (1-5) has got to keep his head high and actually think he can beat these Ozeki because he can for sure.

Toyohibiki executed his best tachi-ai of the basho knocking Ozeki Kotooshu back a full step from the tachi-ai, and the Nikibi looked to continue his charge with a few more tsuppari that put Kotooshu in a bit of trouble, but Toyohibiki relented slightly and gave the Ozeki just the opening he needed to force the bout to the belt as the two now hooked up in the gappuri migi-yotsu position. Having gained the early momentum, Toyohibiki dug in well for about two seconds, but Kotooshu used his strength to gain some solid footing before unleashing a spectacular uwate-nage with the left that sent both guys sprawling to the dohyo. It looked to me that Kotooshu's right hand actually hit the dirt at the same time as Toyohibiki's body, but the throw was so one-sided that a mono-ii wasn't called. Kotooshu hasn't looked great at the tachi-ai this basho, but he's more than made up for it everywhere else. Let's just hope he doesn't pull a Kotomitsuki when the pressure's on against rikishi with game. He's your first 6-0 rikishi this basho while Toyohibiki is the first to suffer six losses.

After his brainfart against Aran yesterday, one of the last guy's Ozeki Harumafuji wanted to see across the starting lines was nemesis Goeido, but fortunately for the Ozeki, Goeido is in a major funk. The two exhibited a fantastic tachi-ai butting heads into a stalemate and the migi-yotsu position, but as he has in other bouts this basho, Goeido has given up on the front of his opponent's belt too quickly settling for the stale inside position. Twas the case today again, and hAruMAfuji took full advantage executing a left inside belt throw while tugging at Goeido's melon with the right hand. The move didn't send Goeido to the dirt, but it moved him over to the edge where the Ozeki offered an insulting knee into Goeido's package that sent him across the straw. This one was great for one and a half seconds, but Harumafuji's adjustment after the tachi-ai proved the difference. Harumafuji (4-2) needed a good bout like this to get back on track while Goeido is reeling at 1-5.

Yokozuna Hakuho is like a cat playing with cornered mice this basho. Today's victim was Tochiohzan who knew he was defeated before the gyoji even yelled oi-hakke-yoi. The Yokozuna employed his usual low tachi-ai that allows him to get his arms close to his opponent's belt at the same protecting himself from a henka. Tochiohzan could do nothing but settle for the migi-yotsu position, and just as Hakuho demanded the left outer grip, Tochiohzan managed to slip out of the hold altogether, but he was pinned at the edge of the dohyo, and as he looked to hook back up, Hakuho restored his grizzly bear swipes using two of them to knock Tochiohzan to the dirt by the side of the neck. Hakuho looks unbeatable at 6-0 while Tochiohzan hasn't given much effort in his 0-6 start.

Capping off the day was a bout that had great potential with Yokozuna Asashoryu welcoming Komusubi Kotoshogiku, and the two didn't disappoint clashing into a stalemate at the tachi-ai with both rikishi maintaining right inside grips. Asashoryu muscled his way into the early left outer grip, but Kotoshogiku resorted to the dry hump gaburi yori to keep the Yokozuna on his toes. The two jockeyed for position in the center of the ring with Asashoryu testing the force-out waters as Kotoshogiku rebuffed him with the belly shoves. About ten seconds in, Kotoshogiku wrenched his hips cutting off Asashoryu's outer grip, and just when you thought Kotoshogiku was going to set something up, Asashoryu reacted as he used to in his heyday taking advantage of his opponent's shift in momentum to send him to the dirt with a shove at his side. This was a bout with a dai-Yokozuna facing a guy who wasn't afraid of him and knew he could beat him, but it was decided by Asashoryu's speed and ability to react to the situation better than his opponent. Great stuff all around as Asashoryu moves to 7-0 (he has Iwakiyama tomorrow) while the Geeku is a very respectable 2-4. Remember, all a Komusubi needs to do is win two bouts his first week because he'll get the softies in week 2.

It's all good after six days. The only rikishi who I expected more from is Goeido, but considering his M1 rank, we don't need him this basho. Doc Martin gives you the finger tomorrow, so breathe easy.

Day 5 Comments (Dr. Mario Kadastik reporting)
Swine flu. That's what it's all about. Let me start from the beginning. Last basho during senshuraku we were floating around somewhere in the middle of nowhere because Mike had grabbed us all from around Tokyo and dragged us to the boat because he was afraid we might catch swine flu. Then I made a cry for help because we were running out of liquer and gave you, our readers, the approximate location of the boat. Boy was that a mistake. Know who reads our comments most? No? The North Koreans. We couldn't have guessed that either until out of nowhere a sub surfaced right from below our boat. Clancy of course was totally into his writing so our screams to come and look had absolutely no effect on the man and well thanks to that you at least got the senshuraku comments as some coast guard fella was nice enough to post them. As the sub surfaced the idiots of course didn't look where they were going and wrecked our boat making us all "lost at sea". Luckily enough the captain of the sub was a reasonable enough man that we managed to collectively convince him that maybe he could take us back to the shore (though we needed to subvert his attention from Martin as we'd never have gotten a ride with him conscious and freaking out). 

Anyway, just before we met up for this basho again I flew in to Tokyo and went to our usual hotel in preparation for an interesting fortnight of sumo action only to get a spiked fever and a cough. The next morning every single muscle in my body started to ache and boy was I feeling like crap. As soon as the hotel management heard about that we were all dumped on the streets for fear of ... YEAH you guessed it, swine flu. For hells sake, it's just a fever. And what's even worse, it came out Mr. Wesemann is totally freaking out of germs as you could probably imagine from last time. As a last resort Mike grabbed all his assets, liquidated them (made quite a loss out of it considering the economy) and bought us our own hotel. He's now sealed up in the top floor living in a bubble and has taken a newbie onboard who just came around to sell those bubbles. At least now after the report on day two I understand why Clancy went white and dropped his beer bottle when he saw the sales guy walk into the lobby. Geesh... And the best part? The tests came back and it wasn't the f***ing swine flu... Anyway, off to today's bouts then. 

The day's action was kicked off by Shimotori and Wakakoyu. Both came in tied in wins and losses and neither has shown any spectacular spark or any other reason why they should be hanging around the top division. Today's performance was no exception. The two went directly to tsuppari and the pushing feast did last a while, but it was visible the whole time that Shimotori could take the punishment and all he had to do was wait a while as the tank Wakakoyu features seems to be quite a small one. It wasn't that long until Wakakoyu ran out of gas and was escorted out by Shimotori. Moving on...

Now in the next bout I'd be hard pressed to call a winner in advance. Degyptian has done a steamroller on just one single day and has looked like an out of steam train the other three. Decaf did show us some spectacular stuff the last few basho, but has been struggling now that he's back where he belongs. I'd have to favor Yoshikaze in this one due to his speed and the oldness of Deji, but who knows? As you could expect Decaf went for a quick push and pull, but Dejima read the move fine and didn't fall flat. He then followed Decaf around and it almost looked like Dejima would do tsuppari, but all he did was try to get closer so that he could lock Yoshikaze's arm and go for a kotenage. Experience won here and Dejima is crawling closer to that .500 line, but it's not going to be easy for him to get KK. Decaf falls below the line as well, but he's got steam and spirit so look from him to get better over time. 

Not having quite recovered from that meeting with Futenoh, Asa's secretary had to listen to the moanings of the Korean Kasugao today. Not understanding a single word of the guys blabbering he just listened to the tone of Kasugao's voice and once the gyoji gave the go ahead sign sexy just ran past Kasugao, who with a small henka slid past sexy and helped him along on the way out. That's at least the second henka assisted win for Kasugao this basho. 

Homey had tripled his catch from last basho already by day four. Then again he's not meeting the top dogs, but instead guys like The Mawashi. Although Tamawashi has mawashi in his name the one thing he didn't want to happen was Homey getting an inside grip. He managed to push and pull Homey around for ca 20-30 seconds keeping homey away from the belt, but Homasho does have balance this basho so he weathered the attacks and slowly but steadily worked himself closer to the belt. Finally getting a sniff of it he went for the kill with Tamawashi trying to backpedal and pivot to get Homey below him, but alas Homasho was the killer on the road and sent them both across the tawara and to the lap of the man in black. 

You know the huge earthquake that created tsunamis in the Indian ocean and killed thousands upon thousands? Well I just remembered that our experiments sensors that measure the apparatus stability and surrounding environmental changes did pick up the earthquake that day as it was that big. So I went back and checked if it records anything these days too and guess what., it does. Every single time there's a bout with YMY the sensors register definite disturbance in the earth. If you don't believe me check out that graph on the right. Anyway, for today they gave the double book mountain the small newcomer with a broken leg. Tosayutaka decided to be brave and take the mountains on straight up. Boy was he wrong in that. YMY grabbed Yutaka's right arm in a strong armlock and never let go. From such a position all Yutaka could do was hope for still having two arms after the bout so he steadily followed YMY as the latter escorted him back and out. When do these guys learn that no one except Shotenro and Tokitenku can take YMY straight up? 

Remember the time Futenoh was riding the elevator between the lower and higher Makuuchi? Well it seems that we're getting back to this order as being ranked at M13 seems to be low enough for Fruity to be picking up some wins. Ranking in at 3-1 he's probable to be promoted back up, so is Tokitenku, who also features just one loss this basho so far. The two collided and Tokitenku tried to slide to his left after the initial collision to get to the side of Fruity, but the latter read the move perfectly and went for the manlove position. This looked like the end of the bout to me for a moment there, but tenku managed to run away from Futenoh and a race of "catch me if you can" ensued. To be honest Tenku was faster than either Futenoh or the gyoji could assume and for a while it seemed that the dohyo is too small for all three to fit in there. After three of four laps the two met and locked up with heads together and neither with a grip. They then decided that all that running took energy and it's better to rest a while. As they rested I went to make coffee and after coming back and drinking the coffee they still hadn't moved. I then proceeded to read the days newspapers and just as I was getting to the funnies I noticed from the corner of my eye as Tokitenku slid to the side, pushed on Futenoh's right shoulder and kicked with his right leg Futenoh's right leg from below him. A nice kekaeshi win which immediately resulted in odd moaning sounds starting from Martin's room. 

The fatter Kaze took up the hot new Mongolian Shotenro. Shotenro has been nails this basho showing great initiative and good sumo. That single loss was a hiccup so far, but he's definitely looking better acclimatized this basho than the previous one and might be getting more than 8-7 this time around. The two charged and locked, but neither got a grip. They then both put all their force into pushing at each others shoulders and this couldn't last too long with all the strain going into it. It was Takekaze, who first decided to give back in the push and instead backpedal and thrust the opponent down. Shotenro didn't read the move and continued to press hard, which resulted in him losing his balance and not recovering from it. He did try to remain standing, but before he could do so the dohyo ran out. This wasn't that much a Takekaze win than it was a Shotenro loss. He way overcommitted when pushing and when the wall of Kaze gave way, he didn't capitalize on the backpedaling opponent, but instead stumbled to his loss. No matter, these are experiences that one learns from (hopefully). 

Tochinonada is a guy with deadly technique, however this basho this technique is unlikely to help him even against a fly. And Kakizoe could be considered an angry buzzing fly with his Duracell batteries loaded and ass up in the air at the tachi-ai. Kakizoe came out the winner from the get go as he thrust into Nada's armpits and raised the veteran up high. Nada fished for any kind of belt, but didn't get it. Kakizoe stabilized the situation for a while and then decided to press forward. He did get nada into trouble and on the run, but couldn't finish it. As they regrouped Kakizoe decided to go for an arm pull and seemed to be pulling it off only to have nada slide to the side at the tawara. And that's another spot where the attacker is the one who loses the match. Kakizoe has the problem that he lives so much into the match that he forgets himself and overcommits on a particular attack allowing his opponents to use that to turn a probable loss into an unlikely victory. Too bad for the angry fly, he was the aggressor clearly while Nada on the other hand is happy for picking up his first win this basho. 

I don't quite get what's wrong with Toyonoshima. Can it be that the injury from Kaio a few basho ago is still bothering him so much that even as low as he is currently he's losing. And not that it gets any easier as he's paired up with the militant Kokkai who seems to have definitely benefited from the refreshing sting in Georgian military. The two locked up straight from the tachi-ai with neither a grip. Toyonoshima did have his left arm on the inside and as he went for a beltless attack he used it well to raise up Kokkai and push him back and out. There wasn't any real defense from Kokkai here as he can't really do anything without a grip and no separation either. This looked more like the usual Toyonoshima that we are used to, let's hope the guy's getting better. 

Looking at Aminishiki after the last three days one has to put the day one loss to a slow start. Sure, his leg isn't healed yet and he's somewhat one-legged, but he still packs some punch at least with the opposition that he'll get at his current position. The newbie Mokonami isn't a softie and has shown that out of the three newbies this basho, he's definitely got what is needed to survive in the top division. Mokonami knew he needed a fast tachi-ai and showed that with a fast matta. However all it did was show Aminishiki the game plan and during the actual start of the bout he didn't get the good position he was hoping for. As the two separated for a moment it was Aminishiki, who tried a pulldown and almost had Mokonami, but the guy has some nice balance. As they locked finally after some arm fishing it was Amin who got his favorite good grip with a right arm inside. Mokonami tried an armbar lock, but couldn't capitalize on this as Aminishiki had had enough and decided to go for a throw, which became quite an exercise as Mokonami fought him with all his teeth, toes and appendix to keep his balance with that armbar, but in the end didn't have a good enough position to wiggle out. In total a good bout and showed that both guys are in for a good run. 

Rounding up the first half are Tamanoshima, who's doing good, meeting the Robocop, who's doing what is expected of him this high (losing). Takamisakari went for the inside grip which almost looked like he's grabbing Tama's balls, but as he didn't reach and didn't get any grip he also didn't have much to defend himself with from what then got thrown his way from Tama. He tried to backpedal and pull off his usual miraculous recovery at the tawara, but Tamanoshima remained on top of him and didn't allow any room for escaping until the cop was out. 

Nope. No witty comments in the break between the first and second half today. Mkm. 

The second half starts with MiFlobby meeting another military boy Tochinoshin. Miyabiyama has seemed a bit unstable this basho with some of his losses being really surprising. He did come out guns blazing today, but he didn't have the lower body strength to have any effect and in effect was in shin's hug instead of moving shin around. Being as close as he was Tochinoshin went for the belt on numerous occasions and managed to even get yama moving backwards, but didn't get any serious sniff of the belt. As the two struggled and Flobby saw that this can't go on for too long he went for a serious pushdown almost grabbing the topknot, but Tochinoshin had the balance to keep him from succeeding. The two continued to struggle with Flobby trying to evade away from shin and the latter fishing and slowly gaining in belt grip. It seemed that Tochinoshin continued this flirtation with the objective of gaining a better belt grip (he only had a single fold on the inside, not the best grip), but decided at some point that that single fold has to work and went for a shitatenage throw which came out spectacularly. 

Baruto has seemed lost on the dohyo these days. I mean FFS he's ranked M3W or 17th meaning he's out of the top dogs reach (except the Sadogatake boys) and should be ripping new ones around here. Instead, he's mostly just stood up and then looked what happens. He seemed a bit better yesterday (maybe that loss to Aminishiki woke him) and today he meets an oldster Bushuyama, who probably has no chance against an actually attacking Baruto. And attack Baruto did, today was on of the few days where he really ran to his opponent and pushed. He didn't get any kind of grip so he decided to go for a thrusting attack (not so common for him), which seemed to work fine. However once he goes for tsuppari he usually finishes the match with a pull or thrust down and this was the case today as well. Once Bush decided to charge Baruto just directed him with his hands to his right while he himself moved to the left. This resulted in a crash landing of Bush and grimaces on Baruto's face as the camera zoomed in. It wasn't a spectacular win, but it was a win and it was good to see Baruto finally do some tsuppari to set up a win. Bush is in way above his head and is heading for a serious make koshi. 

A bout where I can't predict who's the favorite is Kakuryu against Kotoshogiku. Kotoshogiku has looked ok this basho and Kakuryu a bit lackluster, but it might just be early basho laziness. As the two charged and locked it was Giku who immediately turned on the leghump engine and there are only a few guys who can do something against that technique and Kakuryu isn't one of them. Kak did manage to flirt with a right outer grip for a moment, but Giku neutralized it quickly with another ferocious humping series to send Kakuryu back and out. Well I don't mind Kakuryu losing that Sekiwake slot and I guess neither does Martin. Both guys check in at 2-3 and hope for a better middle stint. 

Iwakiyama is one of my favorite wrestlers so it pains me to see him getting raped this high up. I mean it does look good on paper when you look at the head to head scores where Iwaki leads, but these are scores from days long past and have nothing to do with current performances. So it's not surprising that Iwakiyama is at 1-3 coming in meeting an undefeated Ozeki Kotomitsuki, but it's highly unlikely for Iwakikong to come out of this bout victorious. Kotomitsuki tried to get a left inside from the get-go, but couldn't get it as Iwakiyama neutralised the whole attempt by going for the right inner grip himself and getting it. Miki is good at fighting off opponents belt grips and that's what he did effectively today too. Every time Iwakiyama sniffed the belt for a moment Miki swung his hips around and shook it off. They finally settled on migi yotsu with neither quite happy about it . The ensuing struggle can definitely be labeled ozumo as Miki tried to push Iwakiyama backwards to set up for a maki-kae or finish him off straight, but failing to do either of them with Iwakiyama always digging in and keeping amazing balance. As Iwakiyama charged at one point moving Kotomitsuki backwards the latter used this momentum to carry the flow along the tawara and while turning away from Iwaki went for a twistdown. Iwakiyama tried to counter it by grabbing Miki's leg, but not getting it and finally not having any further room to go to and crashing to the clay. This was definitely the best bout so far with nothing weak from either guy. Kotomitsuki continues undefeated (!!!) not that we should be so surprised at an Ozeki going 5-0, but these days it is. For Iwaki it's a well gone weekend if he manages to pull off 2-6 or better after the first eight days as he'll get a bit lighter opposition in week two. Tomorrow he'll face Chiyotaikai and I'm not 100% on this bout being fully legit. More about that later. 

Kaio vs. Kisenosato. If Kaio would be in a form he was in a few years ago and Kisenosato in the form he is now, then this might be a mouth watering prospect. However with the current Kaio this just means we'll have to look how exactly Kisenosato is going to write this one down. Straight from the tachi-ai the grip favored Kisenosato who gained a strong left hand inside position also neutralising Kaio's deadly right hand armbar. The two struggled for a while to gain respectively better belt grips (or any grip for Kaio for that matter), but not having a serious grip and a bout which is prolonged are things that don't work for Kaio so it didn't come as a surprise that the kid was able to slowly work Kaio back and out. Kaio is 2-3 and will probably still get a few wins so don't be utterly surprised to see eight wins, but as he's not kadoban I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't get it. Kisenosato is 4-1 and is looking good after that poor start against Harry the weasel. 

The next bout has to be the bout of the day from the prospect alone already. Goeido the young rising star against Kotooshu the headcase. And it didn't disappoint. Goeido won the tachi ai getting an immediate right inner and left outer grip, but as Kotooshu has huge hands he was able to secure a deep left outer grip as well as an uncomfortable right front grip. Goeido did force the Ozeki back. He then made the mistake, which cost him the match. He decided to shake Oshu's grip by suddenly pulling him back, but Kotooshu used this moment to swing around Goeido and keeping that strong left hand grip managed to compromise any balance Goeido had had. As Kotooshu swung around for the manlove position and essentially got it there was nothing much to do for Goeido to try to pivot around in time to still salvage what was left. However there wasn't enough time for him to do more than get his face back to Oshu and with all nails and teeth try to remain upright which he did almost at the cost of both knees. However he was way too compromised and even though he didn't get sent out head first he didn't have the power to resist at the tawara for long and out he went. Good stuff from Oshu for hanging in there and then capitalising when the moment came. Goeido still has things to learn, but he's doing it well. So far all his losses have been quality ones and I can't really predict who will win tomorrow the bout between him and Harry. 

Harry met the Russian. The Russian took Harry straight on, but was pushed back with plenty of separation between the two. As Harry re-charged the thoughts that went through Aran's head must have been similar: 

* "Shit, he's coming at me" 
* "He looks like a roaring bull" 
* "The guys who fight bulls jump away from the bull at the last second" 
* "I'll do it too!!!" 

And as Harry charged as a roaring bull Aran did what the matadoor's usually do, leap to his left and thrust Harry down sending the ex-Yokozuna-run to stand on his hands. "A major upset" is what the commentators called it. Well it's an upset alright, but not a fully unexpected one at that. Aran left the scene smiling broadly after getting his first Ozeki scalp and his first win this basho. Harry now needs others to start dropping bouts to have a shot at the yusho and even if he gets it at 13-2 it might not be enough to go O -> Y. 

Chiyotaikai, who's looked utter rubbish so far got Tochiohzan for lunch today and seems his blood sugar was a bit off the balance as he did come out with a good tsuppari attack that moved Oh poo backwards, but what did he do then? Finish it off? No, he went for a hug. Cute ain't it. Now Tochiohzan having a belt grip and Chiyo not being a belt fighter you'd favor Tochi for the win. However it seems that this wasn't to be today as Chiyotaikai shifted around, locked his arm and went for a kotenage throw. Normally I'd call that an impressive win, especially considering that Chiyo's fighting style is as far from what he did as possible. However I think that the bout wasn't all that clean as Oh poo really looked either utterly stupid or just expected what came next. Chiyo has been known to "get his eight" with the most spectacular win being the one over Baruto last basho when the Ozeki was 7-7 coming in on the last day. World class ballerinas could learn from what Baruto did there. Anyway, clean or not Chiyo got a win and meets Iwakiyama tomorrow. It's entirely possible that tomorrow's bout isn't clean either so look at it closely. Iwakiyama is pretty deadly at belt so if he gets a sniff he should easily kick taikai's ass especially after the ozumo today with Miki, but if this doesn't happen ....... 

So it's almost done. We have gone through the day like a happy couple. You and me. Ah. So enough of flirting and on with the hard core action towards the climax. Here comes Toyohibiki (the future Yokozuna as some seem to dream in their wet dreams) meeting our bad guy Asashoryu. As the two charged and Hibiki got that trademark slap from Asa he somehow forgot that he's an oshi guy. So instead of slapping away at the Yokozuna, he instead went for the belt. That was a mistake as Asa neutralized his charge by not letting his hands get anywhere close to the belt and instead getting a strong left inside grip to boot. With the grip he dug in and sent Toyohibiki backwards. The man with silver mawashi dug in and tried to turn his side towards the Yok to try and stop the pushing attack, but not having any grip he didn't really have a go-to weapon to use to get himself out of this one. So in desperation he tried an armlock, but that wasn't even close to working as Asa's grip was just too solid. Not wasting any time Asa decided to stop this farce and sent Hibiki out with his usual extra shove to make the youngster memorize who he fought with. 

Feeling the excitement already, going fast enough. Need me to slow down or speed up? I can feel it already, it's coming... Well it would be if the musubi-no-ichiban would be a fight to look forward to, but it's instead Hakuho vs. Kyokutenho, which really isn't something you'd be waiting for. It's more of an afterplay instead of the climax of the day, which probably was around the region from Kotomitsuki to Kotooshu today. So there isn't much more to say than that Hakuho charged into Kyokutenho, settled into migi-yotsu and countering every move from Tenho worked his way to the tawara and escorted Tenho over the straw. Yawn. At least Asashoryu seems almost in trouble these days, which gives a few extra beats to the heart for the few seconds and hence to the memory of the bout. Watching Hakuho seems boring as the guy's just so good that he only needs to show up to win. It's almost like watching formula one after Hakkinen left and Schumacher dominated the sport from every possible angle (I was his fan btw, but even for me the sport started to get a bit boring after a few years). 

So this is it. Here we have to part for the next five days, but don't worry I'll be back to console you and take you through another beautiful day of hopefully ozumo next week. Sleep tight now for tomorrow you'll hear from the guy in the bubble assuming he did remember to send the sales guy for a power adapter (the bubble's for US market so it won't work in the hotel here unless you get a converter. Duh).

Day 4 Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
The main story-line of the basho is still in tact (barely). The Yokozuna and most of the Ozeki are actually winning as expected in the early going. Consequently we have the makings of a promising basho on our hands. Day four brought no big surprises and only solidified this trend. 

In a clash of the two most promising Japanese rikishi, Sekiwake Kisenosato (3-1) dominated Goeido (1-3). Kise grabbed the right uwate at the outset and applied relentless pressure for a convincing Yori-kiri win. Goeido could do nothing. Kise looks very good in the early going and will finally be in the Ozeki promotion spotlight next basho if he can pull off 10 wins to complement his13 from last basho. 

Kaio (2-2) dropped one to young Kakuryu in a not-so-surprising bout. Kaio's will is still there, but his body is not answering the call. He showed initiative today but tried to wrap Kakuryu up with a kote (hook) instead of securing the belt. Kakuryu, who at 2-2 is holding his own as a Shin-Sekiwake, was able to escape and maneuver for an Oshi-dashi victory. 

Kotooshu (4-0) locked in Hidari-yotsu, Migi-uwate at the tachi-ai against Iwakiyama. For Iwaki there was nary a mawashi to be had on either side, which spelled big trouble for him as the challenger. Oshu didn't squelch this advantage and went on for a predictable Yori-kiri win to stay undefeated. Iwakiyama falls to 1-3. 

The subject of the basho's main story-line, Harumafuji, navigated a dangerous bout with Kyokutenho to avoid consecutive day losses. He got the left shitate at the tachi-ai, and thank goodness he did because it was the only reason he would be able to withstand Tenho's initial charge. He defended it with a nage to neutralize Tenho, then nestled into position with a grip that was really too deep against a taller man. But in a classic example of "gaman", he waited for a chance and eventually used the same shitate to beat his senpai with a nage to keep his tsuna dream alive. 

After an impressive win against Harumafuji yesterday, Kotoshogiku laid an egg today against Chiyotaikai. He showed no fire in going through the motions of trying to neutralize Chiyo's rapid fire tsuppari. As a result he got driven out by the Ozeki and falls to 1-3. Chiyo is 2-2. 

Aran looks like a lost child among men this basho. It looks as if he's feeling his way around instead of going in there like a balls out challenger. His apprehensiveness allowed Mitsukiki to spin him around easily after grabbing the uwate at the tachi-ai. Mitsukiki went on for an easy Uwate-nage win to stay perfect at 4-0. Aran is 0-4 and still in the dark. 

In the Yokozuna bouts, smash mouth Toyohibiki went in banging as expected against Hakuho. And as expected, Hakuho deftly grabbed the left Shitate to thwart the attack. He then used that left to pull Toyo closer and eventually used the other side of the belt for a Yokozuna-like, matter-of-fact Uwate-nage win. Hakuho is 4-0, Toyohibiki 0-4. 

Tochiohzan (0-4) met a similar fate against Asashoryu (4-0), who is still winning these days but no longer convincingly. Today's task was not so difficult; his usual right harite followed by a well timed pull was enough to bring Tochi tumbling forward, but let's ponder Sho's execution. A few years ago I recall Sho in an interview blasting any "hiki" or "hataki" (pulling techniques) as cowardly antics. The macho message being sent was that one should test his mettle only through straight up sumo. At the time, Sho was practicing what he preached and backing it up in spades. Fast forward to today and you're seeing more pulls, more close calls, more wins being "managed". Clearly, he is no longer the top dog. If Sho wants to get back on top, he has to ask himself if it's really okay to disengage for weeks after every basho and try to whip himself into shape at the last minute before the next. The impact wasn't noticeable when his physical dominance matched his iron will. Now that his physical skill and dominance is wearing off, he must compensate in other areas to regain the edge. Unfortunately, I'm not so sure he has the same problem awareness to make this needed adjustment.

Day 3 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
I must say that bubble salesman really knows his sumo. And if you thought his comments were entertaining, you should sit through a demo of his product. He sold me on a livable bubble no problem. Well, there is one problem. I'm using Sumotalk property as collateral to purchase my new abode, which means I have to have Kenji's signature as well since he's part owner. Kenji's blackmailing me insisting that he report on day 4 or he won't cosign. I guess I have no choice, so once I'm secure inside of my bubble, I'll let the other crew come up to my floor and use the 'puter to write their reports. Turning our attention to the basho, there have been no real surprises. The tournament should come down to the final few days with no one but the two Yokozuna in the spotlight. Let's begin in chronological order yet again.

It was demonstrated today why M15 Kasugao henkas so much. If he doesn't, he rarely gains the upperhand. The Korean went straight ahead today against M15 Homasho, and the result was the two rikishi hooking up in the migi-yotsu position with Homasho enjoying a left outer grip. Both rikishi dug in nicely, but Homasho kept his hips back and away from Kasugao's left paw. With Kasugao never able to gain that neutralizing left outer grip, Homasho took his time to work Kasugao to the edge and force him clear off the dohyo in a powerful display of sumo. The NHK announcers were commenting afterwards that this is Homasho's sumo. Well, sort of. I want to see this kind of sumo higher on the banzuke although Homasho does move to 3-0. Kasugao is 2-1.

M16 Wakakoyu picked up his first Makuuchi win over a listless M13 Dejima, who just stood upright at the tachi-ai and welcomed Wakakoyu's tsuppari attack. The rookie never relented methodically driving Dejima back towards the straw at one point using a tottari grip with the left hand. Dejima just never put up a fight in this one, and while I won't declare the bout as fixed, Dejima didn't put up any sort of fight. Usually these veterans have their pride and want to kick the younger guys' asses, but it wasn't to be today as both rikishi end up 1-2.

Case in point was M13 Futenoh using a right kachi-age (lead with forearm at tachi-ai) against rookie M14 Tosayutaka. Futenoh elbowed Tosayutaka upright for a few seconds at the charge completely keeping the rookie away from any inside position while Futenoh planted himself deep on the inside leading with the right arm. The two struggled for a good 10 seconds in the ring before Futenoh grabbed the left outer grip and went for the kill. Tosayutaka dug in extremely well at the edge and forced the action back in the center of the ring, but Futenoh had him pulled in tight and scored the force-out win on the second attempt. Tosayutaka (1-2) is proving a bitch to finish off, and this will eventually work in his favor. Futenoh is 3-0 if you need him.

M12 Asasekiryu shifted lightly to his left at the tachi-ai against M14 Shimotori, but Shimotori was on the move and grabbed the immediate left outer grip. Sexy dug in with the right on the inside, but Shimotori's right inside position was more than enough to give him the advantage as he methodically smothered Asasekiryu back and out for the solid force-out win leaving both rikishi at 1-2.

M12 Yoshikaze waxed on and waxed off M10 Tokitenku's tsuppari effectively from the tachi-ai halting Tokitenku's forward momentum, and once the smaller Cafe gained his wits about him, he fired some effective tsuppari of his own that drove Tenku back a step and actually caused Tokitenku to briefly lose his footing. It was the opening Yoshikaze needed as he went for the kill giving Tokitenku little option but to go for a desperation pull at the edge. Didn't work as Yoshikaze picked up his first win while Tokitenku falls to 2-1.

In a battle of young Mongolians, M11 Tamawashi had both hands high at the tachi-ai and actually looked as if he was going to pull at the back of M10 Shotenro's head, but Shotenro had the guns blazing and knocked The Mawashi back fast and furious with some effective shoves that knocked Tamawashi onto his ass before he even hit the edge giving Shotenro the oshi-taoshi win not to mention a 3-0 start. Tamawashi is 1-2.

In an entertaining affair, M11 Yamamotoyama absorbed M8 Kakizoe's frontal attack, grabbed the back of Zoe's mawashi with the left hand, and threw the fella over in one fell swoop. Yes, it was a nice move, but it just goes to show how one dimensional Yamamotoyama has become. The physical toll in this division is just too much for the big lug to handle, but it's not all bad news as somewhere in this guy's creases I expect they'll find a cure for cancer. Both rikishi are 1-2.

M8 Kokkai walked right into the left inside position from M9 Tochinonada, and normally gaining the early right outer grip would give the rikishi a stiffie, but when you're a questionable belt fighter like Kokkai, you don't want to give the Gentle Giant his favored left inside position as well. Kokkai repented of his ways quickly and forced his opponent in tight trying to keep him as upright as possible, and the move worked as the listless Tochinonada didn't put enough mustard into his charge allowing Kokkai to pivot near the edge and throw Tochinonada over and down with a nifty outer belt throw. This was close to uwate-dashi-nage, but it was ruled simply uwate-nage in the end. Kokkai will take that 3-0 start any Tuesday of the week while Tochinonada is sickly at 0-3.

M7 Mokonami caught M9 Takekaze on the chin with his head at the charge and followed up with some effective nodowa shoves that had Takekaze upright and struggling to reassume a lower stance. Mokonami musta felt his opponent's resistance because he took a cat-quick step to the side and helped Takekaze along his merry way with a shove at his left shoulder that sent Takekaze sprawling forward and out of the dohyo. Mokonami is definitely taking what's given to him at 2-1 while Takekaze is an awful 0-3.

As M6 Bushuyama and M6 Tamanoshima approached the starting lines an excited buzz swept through the crowd. Unfortunately for the two combatants, it was because Takamisakari entered the building and not due to the pending fight. In the said fight, Bushuyama charged forward with the right shoulder looking for moro-zashi, but it was more like moroi-zashi because Dolly's movement was so slow, Tamanoshima simply backed up and dragged him down by the back of the left arm for the uneventful win. These rikishi are heading in different directions as Tamanoshima stands at 3-0 while the Dolly Yama is aging fast at 0-3.

Today was a perfect example of what is wrong with M7 Toyonoshima. Against M5 Tochinoshin, Toyonoshima stayed low and was able to force Tochinoshin upright enough enabling him to pounce into the morozashi position. Normally, this spells curtains for Toyonoshima's opponent, but he rushed the force-out charge not waiting for his feet to be sufficiently planted allowing Tochinoshin to somehow wrench Toyonoshima down to the dirt with a left outer grip before Tochinoshin was forced out himself. Too bad for Toyonoshima (1-2) because he couldn't ask for more than what he got today. Tochinoshin showed good maturity today as he moves to 2-1.

M4 Miyabiyama kept M4 Takamisakari away from any sorta position with the most wicked choke hold you've ever seen from the tachi-ai. The Robocop turned his head to the side--prolly to ease the pain of the Sheriff's right paw buried in his throat--and it was the opening Miyabiyama needed as he easily pulled Takamisakari down from there. Both rikishi are 1-2.

M3 Baruto was completely half-assed in his tachi-ai as he sauntered a bit to the right looking for the quick outer grip, but M5 Aminishiki did exactly what you need to against the Philistine, which is to charge hard into Bart's torso and drive him upwards away from your belt. With Aminishiki in his poor condition, there is no way that he should beat Baruto, but he polished him off in two seconds today with an oshi-dashi charge of all things because of Baruto's poor effort from the tachi-ai. They showed Baruto walking back to the dressing room, and you could tell from his facial expression that he knew he had thrown this one away. Hopefully he learns from it and gets some fire in his tachi-ai as both rikishi now stand at 2-1.

Sekiwake Kisenosato used a quick hari-te with the right hand against M3 Iwakiyama before getting his left arm on the inside and going for the right outer grip. The attack was too effective and too swift that Iwakiyama could do nothing but retreat and hope to pull Kisenosato to the side via kote-nage with his right arm, but the Kid would have nothing of it relinquishing the right uwate and using the hand to pull at the back of Iwakiyama's thigh in watashi-komi fashion sending Iwakiyama back across the straw in mere seconds. This was a complete dismantling for Kisenosato who moves to 2-1 while Iwakiyama is 1-2.

Sekiwake Kakuryu was a split second faster than Ozeki Kotooshu at the tachi-ai enabling him to fire off a few well-placed nodowa and put Kotooshu back on his heels, but as Kakuryu moved forward, he wasn't planted to the dohyo allowing Kotooshu to hang on with a left belt grip that he quickly used to pull Kakuryu down to the dirt. This was defensive sumo all the way for Kotooshu who was late at the tachi-ai, but he just as well could have given up this one. He's rewarded with a 3-0 start, but he's got to fix his timing at the tachi-ai or he'll be on the wrong end of a botched charge shortly. Kakuryu is an expected 1-2.

The featured matchup of the day was Ozeki Harumafuji vs. Komusubi Kotoshogiku due to the Geeku's dominance over the Ozeki 14-7 in previous head-to-head meetings. And Kotoshogiku showed why as he drove his head straight into the Ozeki's face knocking Harumafuji upright and leaving him no choice but to go for the back of Kotoshogiku's head. The Geeku wasn't playing along, however, and surged forward knocking Harumafuji back and out of the ring in two seconds flat. Kotoshogiku was an army with banners today as he executed flawless sumo officially eliminating Harumafuji from the Yokozuna promotion he was never really in the running for. Wow, this was great stuff from Kotoshogiku today as he picks up his first win, and even better was the smile on his face during his interview afterwards. You gotta appreciate moments like these. As for Harumafuji (2-1), it's no big deal. Every rikishi has that opponent who they always struggle against, so the important thing is for Harumafuji to shake this one off and start a new run.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai continues to be exposed with today's ass-kicking coming at the hands of Komusubi Kyokutenho. The Ozeki did move forward at the tachi-ai, but Kyokutenho swatted him away like a fly and just bulldozed the Pup back and across the straw without argument. Chiyotaikai offered nothing in the way of effective sumo rendering this an embarrassing performance coming from the Ozeki ranks. Chiyotaikai can't retire soon enough, but you've heard that from me plenty of times before. Kyokutenho picks up his first win leaving both rikishi at 1-2.

Ozeki Kotomitsuki employed his usual stall tactics at the tachi-ai against M2 Toyohibiki, who offered nothing in the way of tsuppari after he charged. This allowed the Ozeki to force the bout to the belt leaving the two in the migi-yotsu position with Kotomitsuki enjoying the left outer grip. Toyohibiki dug in valiantly--I guess--but there's no way he bests Kotomitsuki in a belt fight. The Ozeki toyed with the Hutt actually giving up his outer grip to go for a maki-kae followed by a quick uchi-muso attempt, and even though both failed, he still had the Nikibi by the belt with the right hand using that to pull Toyohibiki over towards the straw and upright where he was the easy force-out fodder from there. Good stuff from Kotomitsuki who moves to 3-0 to the delight of the Nagoya crowd while Toyohibiki looks a bit lost at 0-3.

Ozeki Kaio reached for the right outer belt grip from the tachi-ai against M2 Tochiohzan, and even though Oh denied him the mawashi, he was standing with his feet completely aligned, so Kaio switched gears on a dime slapping Tochiohzan in the shoulder before pulling him down two seconds in. Tochiohzan offered little resistance in this one, and his sumo was downright sloppy. Kitanofuji posed a great question wondering why Tochiohzan didn't come with the same force that Kotoshogiku did against Harumafuji. I agree. With the win, Kaio (2-1) surpasses Kitanoumi to move into third place all time for most career wins at 952. Taiho is number two on the list at 964, so look for Kaio to break that mark in Aki. For the record, Chiyonofuji is number one at 1,045. Tochiohzan falls to 0-3 with the loss.

In the Yokozuna ranks, Asashoryu threw a wild left elbow towards M1 Goeido's face at the tachi-ai, but the move was ineffective as Goeido finally charged straight into an opponent grabbing the early frontal belt with the right hand, but instead of latching on and lifting the Yokozuna upwards, he switched to the right inside position when Asashoryu grabbed the left outer belt. Still, Goeido was right where he wanted to be as Asashoryu was too upright to effectively attack despite his left outer grip. Goeido struck first planting his foot and unleashing an inside belt throw with the right hand that sent Asashoryu dangerously near the straw and hopping on one foot, but there was just too much real estate to cover for the M1, and when Asashoryu recovered at the edge, Goeido had sacrificed his position with the throw attempt allowing the Yokozuna to charge straight into him and drive him not only out but into the second row with emphasis. The ending may have looked powerful, but Asashoryu escaped in this one as a result from that failed tachi-ai and Goeido's lack of confidence that led him to give up that early frontal belt position. The result is a respectable 1-2 record for Goeido while Asashoryu is 3-0.

Rounding out the day was Yokozuna Hakuho who welcomed M1 Aran, and you could see that Aran had brought his textbooks because school was in session. Hakuho led with his right shoulder just as he's done the entire basho gaining the early right inside belt grip. Aran used his length to counter with the left outer grip, but on the other side Hakuho demanded a left outer of his own leaving the two in the gappuri migi-yotsu position. Hakuho took two seconds to dig in and then wrenched his hips cutting off Aran's outer grip before moving him back a step. Aran reached for and got that grip again, but once again, Hakuho methodically shook it off this time following it up with a textbook outer belt throw that sent Aran to the dohyo with ease. It's definitely not flashy, but Hakuho's sumo has been simply perfect this basho. There's just no other way to put it, and it's a joy to watch him execute this kind of technique. It goes without saying that Hakuho is 3-0, and I really don't see who can challenge him this basho. Kisenosato will give him the best fight of anyone, but I think Hakuho's on his way to a zensho yusho. Aran falls to 0-3 and needs to show a little bit more fire this high up. Of course he's not going to come in and immediately start beating the Yokozuna, but he needs to show a bit more fire than he has so far.

That's a wrap on another fine day of sumo. I'm not sure why, but I like how this basho is shaping up. As promised, Kenji tomorrow.

Day 2 Comments (Andreas Kungl reporting)
Yes, that really is my name. And my face.

Good day to you all.

If you were wondering: No, I am not a professor for medical genetics in Austria. That guy just happens to share my name, even though this is mind-bogglingly unlikely, given that my last name – at least in this spelling – is exceptionally rare. If you need some discount custom mutation, though, give me a shout and I will offer a cut-price sensation!

So let's keep note that I am not a professor. Not even a doctor. Merely a master. Of arts. Which doesn't do anything for me outside – strangely again – Austria, where it helps scoring with chicks and old landladies, who'd get a hard-on from any academic degree at their door if they were physically able to. But I digress.

Curiously, my association with Sumo Talk started already way back in the seventies, even though I couldn't know it at that time, for there was neither Sumo Talk, nor Internet – give it a thought and swallow your tears. I happened to earn some scraps by playing part time clerk in an adult bookstore in Foxhurst, NYC when I became acquainted with one of my regular customers, the "Rocket Rooster" by street christening. Roroo, as I soon called him, was a late-teen/early-twen handsome monstrosity merging fair-minded freewheeling and unfathomable perversity. He lived from booze and fags and was hanging out with arty types and even more fags. From what he earned as a part time clerk in a children bookstore, Roroo carried significant amounts to the dealers of fortune, intoxication and schlock. There were thousands like him in Gotham 197x.

Roroo sparked my interest for having a peculiar fondness for a small but refined selection of our stock. I saw him only every other week, but he never left the shop without at least one new issue of series like "Big Boys with Boobs", "Sexy Stomach and Beyond (!)" or "Fat F**k". Not that his was the most despicable of tastes, but the fact that he was a) slim and wiry and b) confirmedly seen with varying girlfriends made me wonder a bit about the true depth of his imagination and needs. As it happened, I met Roroo one night at a party in an abandoned quarry outside the city proper. He was already drunk when I bumped into him. Not that he noticed me right then, for he was groping a girl I knew as "Patsy" and who had a degree in pottery or something. When his sluggish eyes finally met mine


he could barely keep a hold on his sanity.
"You got your fingers on the uncut November issue!?"
"Yeah", I said in a casual tone. "You know, the one with", I started, but we ended up speaking in unison, my voice still cool like a breeze, Roroo's turning into a greedy hiss: "The one with John Candy as a centerfold!"
"I need this issue!", his voice now urgent, almost threatening. "You cannot imagine how long


police report saying that his car was found at JFK International and that cross-checking with customs revealed that he must have left for Tokyo one week before. The Japanese authorities had been informed, but so far no-one by the name of 


And so on. You can read the full story in my upcoming autobiographical novel "Ham and Schlock. Hanging out with Roroo", available in any major bookstore.

Anyway, you cannot imagine my surprise in finding the thief of my ultra-rare John Candy centerfold special issue of "Rockin' with the Gluttons" more than thirty years later. On the Internet! On a site about (I should have guessed! It is so obvious!) – sumo. It seems like the Rocket Rooster swapped his name and his life but not his taste. "Clancy" was showing mixed feelings hearing from me:

"Hey... ...ah... ...bro! It's been a while!"

And so on.

In the end he started to make offers of amends. He would, for example, promise to find an advertising rostrum for my upcoming autobiographical novel. So I don't know what he told Mike, but here I am.

Rocket Rooster Clancy insisted, though, that I also lose a word or two about this sumo thing. So here it comes:

You have to give credit to guys like Wakakoyu, limited in their abilities but persistent enough to work their bums off in the lower divisions until they finally make it to Makuuchi. So whatever he does from now on, he will be known as "former Maegashira", a label that at this stage of the game will curiously enough be also applied to today's opponent, Homasho. But we all know that Maegashira come in a dozen flavors, so Homasho entered the bout as a heavy favorite. Wakakoyu won the tachi-ai, though, straightening up his soft charging opponent with both hands to the throat. Homasho responded by doing what he always does: evading, shifting and probing without letting the distance become to big. Wakakoyu resorted to some more pushes and a brief pull on Homie's shoulder but could never build up enough pressure to endanger the defense artist. The action moved in circles for a while before Homasho's quick feet ensured him a solid oshidashi win. Homasho doubled his win count of Natsu on Day 2, while Wakakoyu will have to wait for his first Makuuchi win at least one more day.

I think I will never come to like Kasugao. He has enough strength to take on many opponents fair and square, he is skilled in the belt battle, nevertheless he resorts to coward sumo frequently. As wiser people pointed out, the henka is not only bad when actually performed, but also because it will screw with an opponent's attitude leading to a more cautious tachi-ai. I don't know if this was a factor today, but M14 Shimotori somewhat slipped with his right foot at the tachi-ai giving the actually charging Kasugao a decisive advantage right from the start. Both wrestlers managed to secure left hand inside, right hand outside grips, but the difference was that Kasugao had the momentum, and Shimotori was already too upright. The latter tried to dig in at the tawara and even had a chance for a brief counter with a hint of shitatenage, but the Korean prevailed winning the bout by a final forceful attack followed by yoritaoshi. Watch out for Kasugao henkaing Homasho tomorrow in a match of undefeated rikishi. Shimotori remains winless.

Try a kubinage on Tosayutaka. Go ahead. The guy has got no neck at all. That's probably also the reason why he always looks so downcast. Anyway, I'm already in love with him. As Mike pointed out, his biggest disadvantage is his size at 1.78m, but he makes up for it with power, speed, intelligence and technique all neatly wrapped up in a 130kg parcel. We had to be a bit concerned about him – or rather his knee – after yesterday's failed utchari attempt. Against former Ozeki Dejima there was no weakness to be spotted, though. How can you dominate Dejima? You could henka for sure. Or you could decide to boldly take on the charge while actually spying out the elder's tachi-ai. This is what Tosayutaka did, cleverly shifting his head to the right blocking Dejima's attack with his left shoulder. From here it was all forward, forward, forward. The youngster quickly tried to secure a double inside which he managed to get before you could say "immediate win by yorikiri" to finish the bout with an immediate win by yorikiri. His first Maegashira win sees Tosayutaka at 1-1, while Dejima with the same score simply must feel his age. I mean he is one of the few Makuuchi wrestlers that are actually older than I am, and I know that my morning stiffy swapped members already some time ago.

So Futeno entered the anteroom of Asashoryu's office with a look of determination. "I need to see Asa right now!", he demanded from the somewhat baffled secretary. "He owes me money and I won't leave until this matter is settled." – "It is not possible, he's in a meeting", Asa's secretary responded with a little shriek. "You will have to make an appointment, I must insist!" – "Ahrrr, get out of my way!", Futeno yelled and charged for the door of the office. Asa's secretary jumped out of his chair and into Futeno's way but was much to passive right from the start. The battle was decided then and there. The still shrieking secretary tried to wiggle, pull arms and even grab for the neck but Futeno was all power and purpose. It ended like such things always do: they spectacularly fell through the door and into the office, where Asa stood in shocked amazement, wearing only his undies and wielding a golf club. Read the next issue of Sumo Scandal for what evolved from here. Futeno looks strong at 2-0, while Asasekiryu won't see a rise in salary for some time at 1-1.

M 12 Yoshikaze surely added to the fun of the last couple of basho, what with being ranked high up and annoying the higher echelon. And he took on the challenge for sure, trying hard, being a nuisance and whatnot. These days are over, it seems, and it's back to holding-on-to-Makuuchi business. THE Mawashi, on the other hand, finally starts to dig into the division and rightfully so. In today's bout between the two, the M11 paid out heavy thrusts to Espresso right from the start giving the latter no room to move except backwards and sideways. Yoshikaze tried to outspeed Tamawashi, but it was no good. Oshidashi win for T, who picks up his first, a feat yet to be reproduced by Y.

All of a sudden the lights went dim and the air seemed heavier, like impregnated by invisible vapors of hellish origin. At the same time the temperature dropped significantly and muffled cries of panic could be heard throughout the ranks. A humming sound rose amidst the turmoil, a frantic buzzing that could not originate from anything sane or earthly. And then it was heard, the voice chanting "Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!" Then in the middle of the dohyo IT appeared. IT was of gargantuan size, monolithic in ITS solidity while hideous in ITS fleshy, sore-infested softness. IT was an utterly alien, cyclopean horror arisen from the depths beyond even insane imagination. Only one learned hero could stand to face the Mountains of Terror. Thus, Shotenro copied his winning strategy of Natsu and went for Yamamotoyama's throat in a full force frontal attack. You have to give credit to Schotte for figuring that out; the others are already copying the style (see Tokitenku yesterday). And you need to be fearless to pull it off, because if you jump into YMY head-on, you need the mental guts to push further into these guts without getting mental. YMY is 0-2 and already fighting for his kachi-koshi. He should be a regular on the division elevator in the near future. At 2-0 Shotenro's future seems bright and you simply have to love his craft.

I don't know about you, but Tochinonada looks injured to me. The ease with which M10 Tokitenku was able to push back his M9 counterpart must make you wonder. Take that and yesterday's loss against Shotenro, which looked not like a real struggle, too. In short, Tokitenku won the tachi-ai (I wouldn't have thought that I will write this sentence in my debut report), Tochinonada, being too upright, failed with a pull down attempt, push, push, oshidashi within five seconds. With 2-0, Tokitenku tightens his grip on the Emperor's Cup, while Tochinonada (0-2) has to hope for ca. 30 other guys to slip once or twice in order to reenter the yusho race.

Sooooo, Schweinhunds! Armytraining ist gut for performanz, ja?! Gives you pauwer! I know das, all se members of my race know das! So the cliché is done with. Recht so? Anyway, Kokkai does look alright after the brief stint at the Georgian Army. Against M9 Takekaze, he had the upper hand right from a head butt tachi-ai. Bouts with Kokkai tend to be wild affairs lately and this was no exception. Both men tried for pull downs on various occasions, neither succeeding. When the M8 had his opponent finally at the tawara, Takekaze tried for an all or nothing kubinage, which is nigh impossible against Kokkai, for he also doesn't have a neck. Kokkai countered smoothly with a sukuinage for his second win in as many days. I'm a bit concerned about Takekaze. He's retreating to backward and pull sumo more than usual. Not healthy? He is at 0-2 now.

I really lack the creativity to make much out of the bout between M8 Kakizoe and M7 Mokonami. In short, it was a wild slapfest with the newcomer keeping the upper hand securing his first Makuuchi victory. Kakizoe hit the clay tsukiotoshi-style and has to think about a different approach against fellow tsuki guys, since it tends to be always a coin flip. He's even at 1-1.

I went to Kokugikan with a couple of friends today to see the action live. Already before that, we agreed that we were especially looking forward to the bout between M6 Bushuyama and M7 Toyonoshima. We still vividly remembered their first and only clash of epic dimensions back in Juryo days in '04. So we were sitting in our front row box, all exited and worked up, when we suddenly started wondering why it is so quiet. Further investigation confirmed that we were in fact alone in the building, except for a janitor who was found reading dirty mangas in a rest room. Then the realization dawned: It's in Nagoya! But we are modern people, so we reacted like all children of the 21st century would: We logged onto Twitter with our high end fruity cell phones and followed what Bush and Toyo had to offer concerning their bout:

B: "It's gonna start. He's waiting."
T: "I'm all there. He should charge any second."
B: "Here we goooo.... Umphh, I won the tachi-ai!"
T: "Damn it! He won the tachi-ai!"
B: "I have him by the tit!"
T: "He got me by the tit! I have to shift!"
B: "Here I go... aww, f**k!"
T: "I shifted sideways and swung him down!"
B: "He swung me down. This is my second loss in as many days and I will have a tough time since I'm overranked."
T: "I collected my first win (by katasukashi), but my injury is still a problem and maybe my career has already peaked. Tomorrow against Tochinoshin I won't have such an easy time."

Brave new world.

Now, who would have thought that the most exiting bout of the day would be the one featuring Tamanoshima (M6) and Tochinoshin (M5)? Anyone? The freshly drafted Georgian had been looking good the other day, and from keiko reports it was known that he was doing great at least in practice. Counterpart Tamanoshima had performed above par for several basho now, always declared to be overranked, always surprising with unexpected vigor. So don't say that you couldn't have known. The bout took off with a tachi-ai that left neither winner nor loser. Both rikishi failed to secure any grip, so they resorted to playing handgames, heads bent low. Mere seconds later, both fighters manged to get their left hands deep inside on each others mawashi, while failing to back it up with outside grips. A mid-dohyo stalemate ensued, but not one of the boring ones where you think they just don't have a clue about what to do next. It was a working stalemate, a painful stand-off with lots of forces being exchanged. When they moved again, it was Tamanoshima who proceeded, but for me it looked like a trap set by his opponent who went for the kubinage attempt. And failed. There it was, the opening Tamanoshima needed to gain the decisive advantage by finally getting hold of Tochinoshin's mawashi with a right hand outside grip as well. This again, caused the Georgian's mawashi to slowly unfold causing the predictable and lame "Whoooa!" in the crowd. King Tama had no time for appreciating the fact and humorlessly forced Shin back, out and off the dohyo, where he knocked out the helpless Takamisakari for good measure. I enjoyed this bout. May both wrestlers have success. Tama stands flawless, while Shin is 1-1 but should feel at least like 1.5-0.5.

In one of the shortest bouts of the modern era, Aminishiki hit Miyabiyama like a steam-hammer, causing the latter to lose his legs, his balance and the bout all in a single movement. Shneaky remains an enigma. He's practically one-legged on one day, and an evil puncher on the next. MYBY seems to make this his yearly lazy-bones basho. They stand at 1-1 and 0-2, respectively.

Now isn't it a charming match, the one between Robocopsakari and Baruto the Brute? In fact, suspense spells different, for the Estonian entered their fifth career meeting with a flawless record. Yeah, yeah, it is always a good show with the Clown and Baruto is also a crowd-pleaser, but everybody knew what would follow: Bart opened up at tachi-ai and shifted slightly to the left going for the immediate uwate. At the same time he seemed to care zeronadanotatall what Takamisakari was doing, which was gaining morozashi. Well, the M4 is good in what he does, so he managed to force back the giant ex-Sekiwake by repeatedly pushing up his left armpit. Feeling the tawara at his heels, Baruto grew sick of it and swung the Clown around 180° with his persisting left hand uwate. Just like that. He didn't even throw Takamisakari into the front row, just swung him around and out. Just like that. Baruto placed lower than Komusubi must be considered underranked. He's at 2-0 know and will get a sansho. Just like that. Robocop is at .50, so nothing to worry about, yet.

Shin-Sekiwake Kakuryu left the dodgy stuff in the wardrobe today as he faced future Yokozuna Toyohibiki who himself is on a comeback tour after an injury induced visit to the lower ranks. The M2 delivered his usual steam train tachi-ai, but was absorbed by Kakuryu's rather defensive stance. The Mongol showed excellent balance here, considering that it looked almost easy how he took away Hibiki's momentum. A short exchange of mutual tsuppari ensued, then Kakuryu gained the upper hand by securing a right hand inside grip. This was backed up by the outside left mere moments later after he had failed with the instant shitatedashenage. Here the bout ended. Sure thing they struggled a little longer, but Hibiki's position was hopeless. Kakuryu confirmed this by push, pull, push, pull on the belt ending the play with what was called uwatedashenage, but was more pull than throw. Kakuryu picks up the pace with his first win, Toyohibiki licks his wounds at losses only.

Yokozuna-wannamaybe Amafujiharu showed no weakness today in his match against former Komusubi Iwakiyama. A controlled tachi-ai led to a short sequence of tsuppari exchange, but the Ozeki didn't waste time, secured the double inside and guided his overranked opponent out of the ring for a convincing yorikiri win. We cannot claim to know where Amafujiharu is standing exactly, so let's wait and see. M3 Iwakiyama stands at 1-1 and has a flat face.

Sekiwake Kisenosato must have had a rough night, dreaming vividly of yesterday's bout against Amafujiharu and the missed opportunity. Mentally unstable as he tends to be at times, you had to worry about his performance against Chiyotaikai, a limping old diabetic who used to be respected in the last century. All fears proved unnecessary, though, for the "Ozeki" henkaed to the left, a move anticipated by the 23-year-old veteran. In just about two seconds he pushed the Pup out of the dohyo, even delivering an extra shove that tells us a story about how much the "Ozeki" is respected these days. Let's pray for another Chiyotaikai make koshi to wipe off the stupid grin that he showed on the way out of the hall. Personally, I wish a solid basho for the Kid.

Nagoya homeboy Kotomitsuki and veteran Mongol Kyokutenho met for the 35th time today. I mean, they probably met even more often, but I'm talking about basho and bout. Two months ago, the Ozeki had kept the upper hand initially but then got trapped by an emergency kotenage of Kyokutenho that made him lose by fractions of a second and after a mono-ii. This time around, their bout looked like a complete copy of the one at Natsu: Monster charge by Kotomitsuki pushing back the Komusubi to the tawara in a blink of the eye and... screw-up this time. Very strong yorikiri win by the undefeated Ozeki, while Kyokutenho will pick up one or two later on for sure.

The Geek played into Kaio's cards today by sleeping through the tachi-ai, awarding the Ozeki with a right hand outside grip without putting up much resistance. Kaio is old and one of the sad players in the annoying Ozeki charade, but at least he still can win against most other rikishi on the banzuke if he bothers to move into the right position. No room to breathe for Kotoshogiku, as he is forcefully guided out of the dohyo by the old bear. Securing his first win in Nagoya, Kaio ties Kitanoumi for third place in the list of Career Wins at 951 (including thrown bouts). The Geek stays at 0-2.

I watched the Kotooshu – Tochiohzan bout together with my wife and baby boy here in our mansion high above the coast in Greenland. We have a spacious living room with windows opening to a grassy plain that turns into a steep cliff facing the Atlantic Ocean. On our 6' flatscreen plasma monstrosity we receive all channels of the whole world, because the radio signals are all being sucked to the North Pole in case you didn't know. So we were sitting and waiting for our bout, as my my wife and I called it with warm, knowing smiles. Barely being able to lock the excitement away, my wife went like "Ommagaawwd, it's gonna be so physical!" And I went like "Ommagaawwd, it's gonna be so technical!" And even my baby son, who hadn't yet managed to articulate clear words except for "Mammammam" (for food and my wife), "Bababap" (for me) and "Kakka" (for cats, all other animals and the possibility of having shat), so even my baby son went like "Ommagaawwd, it's gonna be so awesome!" Then Kotooshu henkaed Tochiohzan for the cheap slapdown win that ridiculously enough was called uwatenage. Outside our window, a baby seal, witnessing the scene by sheer coincidence, died of shame. Tochiohzan must keep believing at 0-2, while Kotooshu, the murderer of baby seals, takes his second win but buries his honor.

Yusho favorite Hakuho met Goeido in a much anticipated bout. Would the youngster finally overcome his stage-fright when facing a Yokozuna? Would Hakuho for once drop his special concentration that he always displays when facing especially dangerous opponents? Quite boringly "No" and "No". Well, OK, maybe "Maybe" and "No". To be honest I couldn't spot any reluctance in Goeido, since the bout was over so quickly. After a light-speed tachi-ai from both, Goeido shifted to his left, but Hakuho capitalized on a minute imbalance in an instant, pulling Goeido down to the clay. Looked impressive to me. The Yokozuna actually ended up standing with his legs spread above the crouching M1. I couldn't help but ask myself if Asashoryu would have sat down on Goeido's back in the same situation. All is as it should be with Hakuho at 2-0 and Goeido at 1-1.

Asashoryu's record against rikishi facing him for the first time is legendary. He simply doesn't give anything away to upstarts, so he had to be considered a heavy favorite in today's bout against Ossetian Aran for this reason alone. The M1, on the other hand, is one of the fastest rising stars in sumo history. Add to this that he still has a lot of headroom left for actually developing some proper sumo skills, and you had Asa facing just not any wannabe. This may have been a reason for the Yokozuna to deliver a "cautious" tachi-ai, to put it euphemistically. I may be wrong, but I know of quite many top wrestlers who would have capitalized on this kind of diffidence. Inexperienced as Aran is, he instead opened up to much, rewarding Asashoryu with an immediate morozashi. And then nothing happened. I mean, Asa is in a winning position and is not able to move Aran. For something like fifteen seconds. I may be paranoid, but this is an omen. Right, he finally managed the yorikiri, but with so many difficulties? Asashoryu wins two in a row, but personally I am looking for the upset every day from now on. Aran doesn't need to be sad for going 0-2 against the Yoks in his jo'i debut.

Time is up. Master Mike will take you to the zoo tomorrow already again.

Day 1 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
Greetings from the 9th floor of my hotel. Yes, my hotel. It's no secret that the Sumotalk crew moves from hotel to hotel during the hon-basho, but I just can't take my chances anymore. Using the money saved up from all of our advertisers on Sumotalk, I've purchased a run-down hotel in the outskirts of Nagoya and holed myself up on the 9th floor. It wasn't my intention to buy the place, but when I refused to leave my room due to the current swine flu scare, I had no other option as management was about to evict me. I've placed the rest of the crew on the 8th floor and ordered them to study Mormonism with a fury. If I'm to have my personal mafia, they have to be people I can trust. I could really use a shave and a haircut, and my nails could stand to be trimmed, but I can't find my hair and nail clippers among this massive clutter in my room consisting mostly of hypodermic needles and jars of urine. Fortunately, I have my TV and laptop handy meaning I'll be able to provide daily comments every single day throughout the basho. I just don't trust the others anymore.

But enough of my personal life. Let's get to the basho!

Leading off the festivities were M16 Wakakoyu--a newcomer to the division--and M15 Kasugao, the veteran from Korea. Kasugao gave Wakakoyu a poorman's welcome for sure jumping to his right at the tachi-ai and henka'ing Wakakoyu out of the ring in a flash. Fantastic start to the basho, Kasugirlo.

Out of the three newcomers this basho, M14 Tosayutaka is the most compelling as he battled M15 Homasho today in what turned out to be a fantastic bout of sumo. Tosayutaka seemed to take advantage of Homasho's soft tachi-ai and actually flirted with moro-zashi, but Homie backed out of it quick and forced his right arm on the inside rendering the bout a migi-yotsu contest. From this point, the much taller Homasho took charge by tightly aligning their chests leaving Tosayutaka one last possible offensive maneuver. With Homasho forcing Tosayutaka back to the straw, Tosayutaka went for the utchari and had all but succeeded, but somehow Homasho was able to keep his balance at the edge and twist Tosayutaka down for the impressive win. This was great stuff from the junior varsity. I like what I've seen from Tosayutaka already even though he lost today. If there is one weakness to Tosayutaka, it's his size. His body resembles stablemate Toyonoshima's, which explains why their sumo is similar as well.

Nagoya native M13 Dejima put the freight back in train today against M14 Shimotori driving the former Shimooootori back and out in two seconds with a crushing tachi-ai, moro-zashi grip, and perfect de-ashi for the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am win. Great stuff from Dejima today.

M13 Futenoh and M12 Yoshikaze butted heads literally at the tachi-ai before hooking up in the hidari-yotsu position. Realizing that the stance favored Futenoh, Yoshikaze wisely pinched in on Futenoh's left arm and buried his forhead into his chest lifting Futenoh up and attempting to drive him back. Yoshikaze had this one in the bag, but he went for a soto-gake leg trip near the edge, and it gave Futenoh the opening he needed to turn the tables and fell Yoshikaze at the edge with a nifty kote-nage throw. Yoshikaze snatched defeat from the jaws of victory today, but give Futenoh his props for hanging in there.

M12 Asasekiryu must have been watching the last four bouts of quality sumo and realized that things were getting out of hand because he executed the ugliest tachi-ai henka you've ever seen jumping back and to his left. While poorly executed, the move did the trick against M11 Tamawashi who stumbled out of his stance into thin air allowing Asasekiryu to burrow in close and grab the mawashi on The Mawashi. Tamawashi is an oshi-guy, so he didn't have a chance as Asasekiryu carefully took his time before forcing Tamawashi over and out for the ugly win.

In fact the win was so ugly, they panned in close to our next combatant, M11 Yamamotoyama's torso, and I thought those red zitty things were absolutely gorgeous. Speaking of YMY, M10 Tokitenku hit him straight on at the tachi-ai just bouncing off, but the Mongolian didn't give up jumping into Jabba's mass again this time coming away with a swell left outer grip. Tokitenku gathered his wits for about two seconds before jerking Yamamotoyama forward while simultaneously assuming the brokeback position, which he used to easily grope Yamamotoyama out of the ring from behind for the strategic win. Don't be surprised if Yamamotoyama is out of the division in a few basho.

M10 Shotenro charged hard into M9 Tochinonada using a nice kachi-age that knocked the Gentle Giant upright and allowed Shotenro to seize the right outer grip. As Tochinonada looked to dig in with his favored left inside position, Shotenro pivoted outside and dragged Tochinonada forward and down with a brilliant dashi-nage throw using that right outer obtained from the tachi-ai. Good stuff from Shotenro.

Because I'm under contract, I will comment on the M9 Takekaze - M8 Kakizoe which started of course with a Kakizoe false start. On the second go around, Takekaze though it a good idea to go for a flat-footed pulldown just after the tachi-ai allowing Sweet Zoe Jane to push him back and out before that uba-geisha sitting in the second row could spell u-g-l-y.

Our final Makuuchi rookie, M7 Mokonami, made it three duds in a row for the newcomers standing relatively upright at the tachi-ai against M8 Kokkai allowing the Georgian to hunker down low and keep Mokonami as far away from the belt as you can get. After ten seconds of grappling in the middle of the ring, Mokonami attempted a quick pull attempt that nearly worked, but as Kokkai regained his balance, he secured his left arm deep on the inside of the Mongolian and escorted him out of the ring like a gentleman.

Knowing that M7 Toyonoshima wanted morozashi, M6 Tamanoshima turned his right should inwards at the tachi-ai refusing to give the smaller Toyonoshima the left inside position. With Tamanoshima upright leaning his shoulder against Toyonoshima's chest, Toyonoshima stepped to the side and grabbed Tamanoshima's left arm in the tottari position, but that's really not Toyonoshima's game, and Tamanoshima was able to wiggle out of the move, grab a right outer grip, and throw Toyonoshima to the dirt as Tamanoshima actually backed up making for an awkward-looking finish. Toyonoshima's struggles continue because he was in control of this one and let it get away.

M5 Tochinoshin and M6 Bushuyama hooked up in the gappuri migi-yotsu position from the tachi-ai, a position that obviously favors the younger, stronger Tochinoshin. It showed as Shin actually put some shine to his sumo by bodying in close to Dolly and using good footwork as he worked the country singer back and out with little trouble. Good chikara-zumo in this one.

As the second half began, M5 Aminishiki obviously didn't want to be outdone by Kasugao, so he henka'd to his left against M4 Takamisakari, but with his left knee wrapped up fatter than Musashimaru's neck, he couldn't move out of the way, so Takamisakari reached for the left uwate and used it to spin Aminishiki around before easily pushing him out from behind. Good win for the Robocop who gave the crowd everything they expected to see.

As M3 Baruto and M4 Miyabiyama lined up at the starting lines, I half expected my TV screen to crack when the two made impact, but the blunt force never came as Baruto stood straight up at the tachi-ai while Miyabiyama extended his arms forward as if he was only interested in keeping his opponent at bay. With neither rikishi having an offensive mind, it could only lead to one thing: a circus in the ring where the rikishi alternate shoves and go for pull downs. Baruto won this one in the end via hataki-komi, but the problem with both of these rikishi began at the tachi-ai with Miyabiyama's hesitation and Baruto's defensive mindset.

In the Sekiwake ranks, Kakuryu looked to walk over M3 Iwakiyama, but not so fast as Iwakiyama slammed into the Sekiwake with a dual kachi-age tachi-ai that knocked Kakuryu upright, a stance he would employ the rest of the way. The slippery Kak wiggled to his side and actually grabbed a right outer grip, which he used to attempt a dashi-nage throw using his left hand at the back of Iwakiyama's head, but the Kong said not so fast threatening a watashi-komi move that caused Kakuryu to pull out...of his position that is. With Kakuryu upright again and Iwakiyama on the charge, Kakuryu backed up going for the desperation pull down, but Iwakiyama read it like a dirty manga on the subway and pushed the Kak back and out for the surprising win. I think Mainoumi said it best of Kakuryu when he commented, "This was an example of Kakuryu's lack of experience at this level."

In the Ozeki ranks, Chiyotaikai attempted to bulldoze M2 Toyohibiki at the tachi-ai, but the Nikibi stood his ground well making it clear that the Ozeki wasn't gonna push him back. Chiyotaikai got the message and immediately created separation because that was the only way he was going to win the bout...wait for a Toyohibiki charge and jump out of the way. Toyohibiki hesitated at this point unwilling to commit, so the Pup charged in again with a few faux tsuppari before backing up and pulling Toyohibiki to the dirt. An oshi-dashi win for Chiyotaikai this basho will be as rare as a hot geisha in the Nagoya crowd.

Ozeki Kotomitsuki and M2 Tochiohzan hooked up in the immediate migi-yotsu position from the tachi-ai where the Ozeki showed great patience in setting up Tochiohzan for the patented uchi-muso move. It came with the left hand into Tochiohzan's right thigh, and while it didn't fell Oh-snap, it broke up his balance enough to where Kotomitsuki was able to dump him to the dohyo with a belt throw. Textbook sumo from Kotomitsuki here.

Ozeki Kaio couldn't handle M1 Goeido, especially when the former Sekiwake moved to his right at the tachi-ai. It wasn't a henka as Goeido charged forward with the body; he moved his right leg out wide to keep Kaio away from the right outside grip. It was a savvy move from Goeido who stayed low throughout searching for moro-zashi as Kaio looked to get his arm somewhere on the inside to lift Goeido up and flip him to the side. Kaio came close to knocking Goeido off balance, but Goeido kept his wits about him in the end eventually securing morozashi and using it to force Kaio back and out. On one hand, Goeido's tachi-ai was smart as it completely neutralized his opponent, but on the other hand, Goeido needs to charge straight forward and just muscle his opponents out. He'll learn.

Ozeki Kotooshu and M1 Aran were completely out of synch at the tachi-ai as Kotooshu jumped first causing Aran to flinch into a tachi-ai of his own. In the same motion, Kotooshu looked to hold up a bit expecting the false start call, but it never came leaving Aran completely vulnerable as Kotooshu grabbed the suffocating right outer grip. Flustered from the start, Aran really never did attempt to dig in as the Bulgarian forced him back and out for the uneventful win.

Rounding out the Ozeki ranks, the bout of the day featured Harumafuji against sparring partner, Sekiwake Kisenosato, and it was evident that these two know each other well because Kisenosato stayed extremely low at the tachi-ai neutralizing Harumafuji who was charging low himself. The rikishi ended up with chests aligned and both standing relatively upright and looking for moro-zashi. Kisenosato pounced first using a left ottsuke at the back of Harumafuji's right armpit that sent sent the Ozeki to the side, but Harumafuji held on with that right inside grip obtained at the tachi-ai. The Kid attempted another ottsuke while pushing at the side of Harumafuji's head with the other hand, but the Ozeki wasn't gonna relinquish that belt grip, and he eventually used it to suck Kisenosato in tight to where he could raise him upright and force him out in the end. You could see how Harumafuji was the superior tactician in this one. Kisenosato had little chance because he aligned his sumo to the Ozeki's style.

In the Yokozuna ranks, Asashoryu welcomed countryman Komusubi Kyokutenho. The two rikishi hooked up at the tachi-ai in the migi-yotsu position with Asashoryu enjoying a left outer grip after stepping out to the side. Kyokutenho actually looked to have a chance as he aligned his chest squarely with the Yokozuna's hoping to use his height advantage to set up the force-out win, but before he could unleash an offensive, Asashoryu turned on a dime and felled the Chauffeur to the dohyo with a cat-quick inside belt throw. Twas a good win for Asashoryu, but it seems those dominating forward-moving wins are a thing of the past.

Rounding out day 1 was Yokozuna Hakuho and Komusubi Kotoshogiku in a bout that saw Hakuho execute the perfect tachi-ai where he keeps his hips back, strikes with his shoulder, and sends his arms forward fishing for the belt. Hakuho came out of the fray with the left outer grip and was positioned so low, the Geeku didn't have a pot to piss in. Hakuho took his time as he kept Kotoshogiku in tight before forcing him over to the side and bodying him past the straw for the flawless win. Wasn't flashy, but it was Yokozuna sumo.

All in all it was a good start to the Nagoya basho and enough to keep my mind off of all the germs floating around out there. I've actually been shopping online for one of those bubbles I can live in while I type my reports using mechanical arms. Obviously such a device requires German engineering, and I have a fellow named Adnreas coming by tomorrow to demo his product. If I like what I see, I may let him stay. Hell, I may even have him write the day 2 comments.












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