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Day 1

Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day10 Mike Day11

Senshuraku Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
There was never any doubt that this basho would be a bellweather tourney, not only for sumo itself, but also for Sumotalk. And Id say the results are fairly obvious. Sumo is still sumo, business as usual (but lets avoid cell phone conversations, okay?) Sumotalk, on the other hand, has been forced to gaze into its soul more deeply, for what we do is not motivated by cash or prestige; ours is a labor of love, and when love is shown to be phony, in any way, a reckoning is as inevitable as the turning of the heavens.

One need only read our reports to see the truth. Marios dog eats his Day 6, I disappear like a shitbird on Day 8, Andreas gives us a fever dream/lengthy forum posting on Day 13, and Mike comments on less than 15% of the bouts on Day 14. Add to that Mark Arbo running away to Africa before the thing even begins and youve got yourself a pierogi.

Of course, its not hard to see why. Despite adamant and sincere ablutions and ablations, the sumos are still playing fast and loose with the truth. Kaios final day win over Hakuho last basho, Kotoshogikus win over the Yokozuna this basho, Harumafujis loss to Kisenosato today---I would insert a certain well used line from Hamlet here but we dont even need to raise suspicions, because we know for a fact that bout fixing occurs in this sport.

If you hear that nine riders in the Tour De Horseshit tested positive for doping would you bet money there were no others? To quote, Martin: Duh! And if you were told that the best riders on those teams not only did not dope, but knew nothing of the doping, would you swallow that? And if informed that the teams management and ownership had no part in any of it, would you bend over and say, Thank you sir, may I have another? I doubt it.

Im not interested in stating the same shit over and over. We said it here on Sumotalk years ago; yaocho exists. Not even those who would toadyingly wipe the smegma off of David Shapiros stunted, stuttering weewee can deny it. Sumo itself admitted as much earlier this year, cancelled two basho because of it (and conveniently ignored proof that Yokozuna have been involved in it).

But they have been running things smoothly this way for decades, perhaps even centuries, and so to imagine that a stinking cell phone scandal is going to bring about a stinking new day is just plain stinking naïve. They dont have to show you any stinking batches!

Now Im a bright enough fella, have lived in Japan a long time, and I can state with some confidence that the Japanese way of handling the “truth” is my bailiwick. Theyre telling the public what it wants to hear, instituting surface changes designed to squash only the most egregious and rogue rikishi (if such a thing can even exist in sumo), trusting their time honored ways of doing bidness, and counting on the publics notorious predilection for forgetting and forgiving transgression by their heroes.

You might be saying to yourself that if we at ST have known about yaocho for so many years, and have continued to write about the sport, why only now are we having second thoughts? My answer is that Im not sure we ARE having second thoughts, only that the quality and fervor of the reporting this basho is a country mile short of what it has been in the past, and Im not the only one who is saying so. Call me the Sumotalk Ombudsman.

So Ill wrap up this tourney and well let it simmer for two months, and when the sumos get back to Tokyo well meet again, and its my belief that at the time Sumotalk will either have righted the ship, recommitting ourselves to our previous position that bout throwing/fixing is unavoidable and acceptable and that rehashing it in every report (other than Kenjis, of course) is pointless, OR Mike will tell us all to go jump in a lake and pull the plug on the best English reporting on sumo.

The suspense is killing me!

In the days final bout, Baruto shockingly defeated Hakuho for the 2nd time in twenty meets. Coincidentally the only other time he did this, Jan of last year (Asashoryus final yusho and basho, after which the NSK slit sumos throat) Hakuho also finished 12-3. The difference is in that basho, it seemed that Baruto beat the Yokozuna straight up with a nice sukuinage on Day 7. Today Hakuho was dialing it in, and Baruto could smell blood. The Ozeki got an inside right, outside left and threw Kublai, who recovered for but a second before going down to an uwate-nage. (Course the Yokozuna has his pride, and did not go so far as to let himself be thrown down, but rather just kind of stepped out.) Baruto had a huge grin on his face in the hana-michi, as well he should, because for him, wins over Hakuho when the Yokozuna can muster up some care come along as often as a Higgs Boson.

In the penultimate bout, yusho rikishi Ozeki Harumafuji took on Sekiwake Kisenosato, whom all of Japan (sorry, I mean the tiny percentage that still gives a rats ass about sumo) were pulling for to prevent a zensho perfect 15-0 (tho to be fair, Im sure some wanted HowDo to pull it off). Anyway, the compelling story line played out nicely at first, as The Kid drove the Ozeki back to the bales and forced him into one of those classic Harumafuji (nee Ama) stances, legs bent painfully and ass nearly scraping the dohyo, but not down! After this sublime recovery, he managed to get a quick moro-zashi on the Sekiwake. But the man whose footing has been impeccable this basho decided to lean on Kisenosato, raise his right leg, and then deliberately NOT place it down again as he started to fall from being overextended. Go to your videotapes and watch it, he dangles that right leg in the air, refusing to put it back down to maintain balance.

Its just wonderful, the parity this recent housecleaning has left us with, right? Two Ozeki and a Sekiwake beat the Yokozuna, someone other than Hakuho, an Ozeki, takes the yusho BUT gets whooped by the other Sekiwake, and yet another Sekiwake bests three Ozeki. Yeah!! Makes it all so interesting and exciting.

Okinoumi manhandled Kotooshu into lifting his foot near the edge and having it brush outside the dohyo. Okinoumi picks up his deserved 8-7 kachi-koshi, while the 8-2 Ozeki limps in at 9-6.

Kotoshogiku was a day late and a dollar short as he kept Homasho nicely centered and drove him out with aplomb to finish 11-4. Mike is spot on that Geeku is not ready to be an Ozeki just yet, losing to Wakanosato with promotion on the line just the most obvious sign of that. Homasho on the other hand was great to watch this basho, and his 11-4 will put him up where he can take on all the top guys come Sept.

Kakuryu got in deep on Aran, and from there it was manly sumo as he pressed his foe back and lifted him out to finish 10-5. If not for Kotooshu being such a schlep, every Sekiwake and Ozeki would have finished with double digit wins (I dont count the retired Honorary Ozeki Kaio). Wow, that makes for great sumo!

Speaking of the retired legend, I just want to point out that while getting 1046 wins is impressive, Kaios record still pales in comparison with The Wolfs, who got his wins mostly as a Yokozuna, and ergo did not have the luxury (as Kaio did) of sliding along at 8-7 for many years (since Jan 2006, Kaio got DD wins THREE times only, and became perhaps the only rikishi in sumo history [and surely the only Ozeki] to go 8-7 for one entire year in 2009). Yes, The Wolf probably did roids (tho it cannot be proven), but Kaio was gifted endlessly by younger, awestruck rikishi (which can be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt). Glad to see him go.

I enjoyed watching Toyonoshima get his ninth by keeping Miyabiyama off of him long enough to get in and push His Corpulence out. Also dug Takekaze keeping the young punks at bay by hitting and shifting and following up with some good pushing to defeat Tochinowaka for his 8-7. E8 Tochiohzan finished 10-5 but knocked himself out of some sanyaku action with a three match losing skid to Takekaze, Fujiazuma, and Shotenro for crying out loud. Oh Snap is easily the most vexing rikishi in sumo (with Kisenosato runner-up).

You might think that Takamisakari has been an inconsistent performer in his career, and youd be wrong. P.T.s Boy took the Juryo yusho in Jan. of 2002 and has never been out of Makuuchi since. Additionally, he never pulled out for the remainder of the tourney in all that time (he did miss five bouts in the middle of Kyushu 2007). While he had only five double digit KK basho in all that time, he also only had eight double digit MK. Consistency. So it was sad to see him finally succumb to age and his weak tachi-ai this tourney, finishing 3-12 at E14 and sealing his demotion to Juryo. At thirty-five years of age he could be back, but Kaios longevity may have created unreal expectations in that regard. Unlike many other rikishi, Takamisakari has a guaranteed shelf life in this culture after retirement, being the darling of the easily amused crowd, and so will have no lack of lucrative sponsorship offers and television appearance fees waiting should he hang it up.

Our lad Kyokutenho did what he normally does, go double-digit losses after a few decent basho. In fact, if you look at his record since Sept. 2009 youll see he goes DD MK, then two or three basho around .500, then back to DD MK. Dude knows how to play this game for the long haul. His record since May 1999 is even more impressive than Circus. He has been out of Makuuchi one time only since then, when he was M8 and missed the entire May 2007 basho due to an accident he had while driving and was (in my opinion) unfairly demoted all the way down to Juryo. He proceeded to go 12-3 in Juryo, get bumped up to Makuuchi, and take his first and only jun-yusho. He is the perfect Maegashira sekitori. A model for all:

” I am the very model of a modern Mongol rikishi
I never drive a vehicle, I always take a takushi
Although the ladies tell me that they think its not so sekushi
And that I am the only one in sumos lengthy rekishi
Im very good at practicing, I keep a snappy mawashi
I eat the nabemono with my friends, we all like moyashi
And though Im fat I dont just simply lay there on the couch, yo
Ive cash enough to live so dont participate in yaocho

Im not the best among our kind that honor goes to Hakuho
Im older than most other guys, Ive been around the block you know
But still I never drive a car and always take a taksuhi
I am the very model of a modern Mongol rikishi”

Finally, I was not joking about Arbo; he did in fact run off to Africa, and now serves (at the pleasure of the village headman) as personal sumo sage to a tribe of Ghanaians who fetishize all things Japanese (kinda like Martin). So it is in his honor that I now give you your homework, due in September.

1.) Engage your neighbor in a battle of wills;
2.) Learns the names of all the parts of a shoe;
3.) Read up on Sir Richard Burton (the original, not the thespian who married Elizabeth Taylor cause she had great tits);
and last but not least,
4.) Drink at least one glass of a liquor youve never tasted before.

Mazel tov!

Day 14 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
I've stated it in multiple reports going back at least three basho that I'm of the opinion Yokozuna Hakuho would gladly let other rikishi yusho but that these other rikishi had to do their part by staying in the yusho race, something no one from the sanyaku or Ozeki ranks has been able to do for ages. This basho, Ozeki Harumafuji has looked fabulous in winning his first thirteen bouts of the tournament, a first for the one-time yusho holder. With Hakuho having given Kotoshogiku a freebie a few days earlier, the spotless Harumafuji could actually seal the yusho with a win over Hakuho on day 14.

The bout began with Harumafuji lunging into a left frontal belt grip that Yokozuna Hakuho would never shake. Not only did HowDo have the front of the belt, but he had Hakuho's right arm pinned so inside as to render the limb useless. With Harumafuji at the belt and ducking low, Hakuho was too far away from his own left outer belt grip, so the Yokozuna's only choice was to play defense and look for an opening to counter. The Ozeki wisely evaded, however, circling the ring tugging on Hakuho's belt in uwate-dashi-nage fashion never letting the Yokozuna settle in. The two finally came to a standstill in the center of the ring about 15 seconds in with Harumafuji still maintaining that stingy frontal grip and Hakuho upright. After gathering his wits, Harumafuji made another run and was finally able to wrench Hakuho back and out for the yori-kiri win, not to mention his second career yusho.

Now, I'm sure there are already debates online as to whether Hakuho let Harumafuji win this bout. Harumafuji's tachi-ai was spotless, and that left frontal grip and tactic of constantly keeping Hakuho on the run was money. I thought about 20 seconds into the bout that Hakuho had a chance with his right arm under Harumafuji's left armpit to lift the Ozeki upright and counter attack. It didn't happen, and Harumafuji would go on to win the bout. Now, I'm not saying that's proof that Hakuho let Harumafuji win. The best way I can explain my feelings on sumo right now are this.

I have a billiards table in my basement, and I'm a decent player. I had a coworker who was Chinese and was at one point in his life practicing to become a professional billiards player. It never worked out for him, but the guy was damn good. When he learned that I had a billiards table in my basement, he started coming over once a week after work, and we'd play 9-ball for about two hours. The dude mentored me in tons of aspects of playing billiards not the least of which was how to use various spins with the cue ball to set up your next shots. I became good enough to where I was actually able to run a 9-ball table every so often.

Well, I have three boys, and they are right at that age where they're starting to take an interest in the billiards table. They are becoming pretty good players, especially for their ages, and I play 8 ball with them all the time. Truth be told, if I wanted to crush them every game I could, but I always make a game of things in ways they can't detect. I sometimes miss a shot of my own by a millimeter or two, or better yet, I miss a shot and spin the cue ball in such a way that it actually sets up their next shot. I manipulate the game in ways that they can't perceive, for example, I'll hit a ball in but try and scratch on the turn as well, which then gives them ball in hand, the biggest advantage a player can have in billiards.

Now having said all that, what makes my tactics undetectable to them is that I actually win a majority of the games we play. They know I'm the Yokozuna of the house, and they would figure it out fast if they somehow won every game or even a majority of them. I make it a treat for them to beat me, and I make them earn it as well. It's not like I'm missing every shot and scratching five times a game. I play solidly throughout, but when I see a possible opening for them, I try and set that up.  If they can capitalize (they do about 20% of the time), they win the game.

So, back to the Hakuho and Harumafuji bout. It's my belief that Hakuho could crush the competition basho in and basho out the same way that I could crush my sons at billiards if I really wanted to. Here is a guy that was in the midst of a 63 bout winning streak last year. You could argue that he's the best rikishi sumo has ever seen, and at the same time, he's fighting with a crop of Ozeki that are the weakest and most underachieving in memory. There is a vast gap between Hakuho and everyone else to the extent that Hakuho should really only be losing once every 35 bouts or so.

Hakuho is a team player, however, and much like my attempt to keep harmony among my sons in our own competition, the Yokozuna keeps things close for the benefit of sumo. I don't have any doubts that Hakuho flat out let Kotoshogiku win. Look what the Geeku did the following two days, and look what happened to Kaio this basho after his triumphant win over the Yokozuna in May. As for the bout against Harumafuji, it looked legitimate to my eyes, but having so much experience in yaocho with the billiards table, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Hakuho made the tiniest adjustment to ensure that Harumafuji could secure a stance from which he wouldn't lose.

Regardless, Harumafuji had to do a ton of work to get to this point, namely win his first 13 bouts again his fellow Ozeki and a decent sanyaku. Harumafuji was worthy of the yusho this basho, and he earned it. I think if Hakuho had really wanted to go 15-0, he could have done it, but Harumafuji was not handed anything this basho. This yusho was much more impressive than his career first, so props to Harumafuji for worthily being able to hoist the Emperor's Cup.

Now onto other bouts of interest. In a sweet Ozeki duel, Baruto was lazy at the tachi-ai allowing Kotooshu to secure a nasty left frontal belt grip, which he used to drive the Estonian fully upright before grabbing a right outer grip. Baruto dug in himself valiantly but was too up high to even come close a right outer grip of his own, so Kotooshu swung him towards the tawara dragging with the outer grip and using a scoop throw to send the Estonian to the clay. It was close, however, as Baruto used a kote-nage attempt of his own to send Kotooshu flying, but the difference was Baruto's putting down his left elbow an instant before Kotooshu crashed down. Great stuff from both Ozeki.

Sekiwake Kisenosato completely dismanted Okinoumi using a left nodowa at the tachi-ai to set up a right outer belt grip, and before Okinoumi could truly get settled, Kisenosato dragged him across the ring by the belt and dumped him to the clay with a belt throw adding insult to injury. Great sumo from the Kid, but he was fighting Okinoumi here. I know that recent records indicate that Kotoshogiku is the leading candidate as the next Ozeki, but Kisenosato is the best of the rest in my opinion.

Sekiwake Kakuryu has quickly become one of my most favorite rikishi to watch. I love his consistency, and he's shunned shenanigan sumo for a straight up in your face attack. Said style would work wonders today against Takekaze as the Kak aimed for Takekaze's neck (yes, he actually has a neck!) at the tachi-ai and never relented until Takekaze was shoved back and out in about 5 seconds.

Sekiwake Kotoshogiku has seemingly forgotten that thing in sumo called a tachi-ai. With promotion to Ozeki likely coming into the day after his win over Hakuho, the recent retirement of Kaio, and nothing but softies down the stretch (Wakanosato, Okinoumi), the Geeku is doing his damndest to screw all of this up. Today against Wakanosato, his tachi-ai consisted of keeping his head low and hitting flat footed. Wakanosato seized the opportunity not to mention a left inside position that Kotoshogiku would not be able to shake. Kotoshogiku attempted to counter with his own left on the inside, but Wakanosato had secured the advantageous position at the tachi-ai and easily bullied the Ozeki hopeful over to the edge before dumping him with scoop throw. I stated in my last report that I didn't feel as if Kotoshogiku was a worthy Ozeki at this time, and today's bout was a perfect example why (and just wait til senshuraku).

In the Komusubi ranks, Tochinoshin exhibited a horrible tachi-ai against Aminishiki, but with Aminishiki's bedrool growing thicker and thicker by the day, he just couldn't capitalize. Despite an upright stance and no position at the belt, Tochinoshin easily gathered his wits and shoved Aminishiki out for an ugly win.

Komusubi Goeido looked great today against Tamawashi, but who doesn't at this level? Tamawashi used a quick tsuppari attack at the tachi-ai in an attempt to keep Goeido completely away from the belt, and while the Father did flirt with a frontal belt grip, this bout quickly became one of those where both guys are separated and you know they're just going to try and pull the other. And while Tamawashi was looking for the pull, major props to Goeido for timing a lunge to the inside securing it with his left and then niftily using a soto-gake leg trip to counter Tamawashi's desperation outer belt throw. Problem is, and shweet as this kimari-te looked, Goeido has got to do better sumo against the jo'i.

I will end with the sanyaku for today and apologize for the brevity of the report, but not only do some things in life trump even sumo, but I gotta save some of my thunder for the post basho report.

Clancy's your Bruce Sutter tomorrow.

Day 13 Comments (Andres Kungl reporting)
It is only 10 days since my last report, but the surface of sumo has changed quite a bit, hasn't it? At the end of what turned out to be my very last Kaio bout report, I raised lament that his career hadn't ended yet. After nakabi I started to be suspicious. That he stayed in the tournament with only three wins out of eight was without precedent while gracing the Ozeki ranks. I thought "OK, he wants to hand out a couple of goodwill gifts for his kadoban basho", but Whambang: he retires just like that. "Rather randomly", that's what I thought. Only after Day 11, when Hakuho had given away the win to Kotoshogiku, I started to slowly comprehend the scale of what we are witnessing. I firmly believe now that Kaio never intended to fight in Fukuoka once more. And I am absolutely sure that he was already positive on that at the time before Kyushu 2010. Considering his general physical state, the 12-3 record he pulled out of nowhere back then was as likely as the Queen of England calling her next racehorse "Backdoor Bandit". If you care to look at the list of his opponents, you will find that he lost against Aminishiki (who rarely seems to play for the plot), Hakuho and Toyonoshima (who ended up facing each other in the playoff). He won against every other guy in front of his homecrowd. What a parting gift from Fukuoka!

So why didn't he retire there and then, you rightfully ask. Well, naturally because there was no-one ready to replace him. Now this is pre-yaocho-scandal time we are talking about, but betting-scandal and yakuza-connection-scandal had just buggered off for a quiet cigarette around the house, while Asashoryu-scandal drunkenly called every Thursday evening to complain about the quality of motels on the road to Ulan Bator. So already then the public might have responded a wee bit twitchy to seeing also the second highest rank devoid of pure blood. And look at the situation before the Makuuchi action of day 13 of Kyushu 2010: Kaio was to meet Hakuho and scheduled for fighting the red-hot Toyonoshima the next day. The latter was a major deviation from the usual tori-kumi scripting, as Kotooshu should have been Kaio's regular opponent. A strike of pure genius by the tori-kumi makers. A win-win-win-win situation with icing on top. Would Kaio have pulled the unimaginable upset against the Yokozuna, he would either have won the yusho by defeating Toyonoshima or handed over the flag to the Maegashira, who would have then won the yusho himself. As it was, Hakuho was still following his own agenda, but hey! no problem, as Kaio could still help Toyo to reach at least the playoff, having been virtually defeated only by his possible successor and The Man. At the same time Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku started to hoard white stars, so in case Toyonoshima wouldn't follow up, one of the others might do.

And that's what we are harvesting now. Kotoshogiku turned out to be the chosen one, as he surfed to jun-yusho in the basho that followed. The rest was fine-tuning and anyway quite overshadowed by yaocho-scandal kicking in the front door and raiding the bar. My guess is that Kaio had intended to retire in May at the latest, as soon as the successor would have sealed the deal. Things turned out to be different. That he didn't make his move in May is based on a) still no-one far enough on the Ozrun courtesy of inability and missing March basho, and b) unthinkabiity of ending the career during or after a "Technical Examination Tournament". That he knew in May that he will retire during Nagoya basho can be seen from the result of his incredible bout against the Yokozuna. His last clash ever with a Yokozuna -- who had already secured the yusho -- in the final bout of the last day: a win! What a parting gift from Tokyo!

Even though I am hungrily lapping the occasional compliment regarding my foreign language writing abilities, I feel far from comfortable as soon as I have to produce something grave like this text here, which also very much asks for coherence. That's why I didn't even try to introduce the conspiracy angle, yet. But when I say "Kaio decided this", "Kaio knew already that", it is just for stylistic clumsiness. He was never the lone operator. Nobody in sumo ever is. However subtle the communication might be, every single opponent of Kaio at Kyushu 2010 knew that he wouldn't come back the next year. In May, Hakuho knew that Kaio would withdraw during Nagoya. And Hakuho also knew that Kaio's retirement must be immediately followed by the promotion to the rank of Ozeki of a Japanese born Japanese. As I said, the communication channels are not really relevant. Only if one would be interested in the degree of oyakata/system involvement, the answer to that particular question would be a source of enlightenment. The Day 14 tori-kumi of Kyushu 2010 says: involvement is big time.

So what's the deal with Hakuho and Harumafuji and stuff? I can answer that, too. I'm really into omens and signs and things that might point to other things. Today, while I was taking my son for train spotting at a railroad crossing, I happened to notice the number plates of three cars that drove past us one after another. In our country here the plates show a couple of numbers but only two letters. The lettersets on the three cars were "ST", "HF", and "GM". I took this to read "Tell Sumotalk that Harumafuji will be Grandmaster". (Admittedly it could also mean "St. Halifax will buy a new car" but let's not get choosy.) Harumafuji will take the yusho, preferably in a playoff, after a regulation loss against the Yokozuna. He will then go and win the next basho as well, and Hakuho will let him. I'm serious. Hakuho thinks the time has come for a new partner in the good cop/bad cop game. Sure he won't conquer the yusho-in-a-row record, but with the break and May basho title and all, it's anyway tainted. Hakuho stands now at 19 yusho. Hakuho is also not stupid. He remembers well what happened to Asashoryu after entering the holy halls of 20+.

With Harumafuji getting the tsuna, the next yusho will go to Hakuho again. And do you know who the next Japanese Yokozuna will be? I'll tell you. Hakuho. Directly after pocketing the 20, he will see to it that he gets naturalized pronto. Which will be cool with everyone including the Mongolians, what with Harumafuji being on the spot. And again I am sure that Hakuho is not pulling the strings all by himself. For the association it would be a dream come true: not only the next Japanese Ozeki emerges, but also a new Yokozuna rivalry. If the Japanese Hakuho then stomps on to the mark of 33, so what? A PR heaven in the making.

Seeing that it's moving rapidly to 3 a.m. here at my place, I decided to skip today's bouts in total. I anyway didn't see much of interest, just take my word for it or get the vid from Mario's vault. Maybe just this: Kotoshogiku lost against Okinoumi (who will be an Ozeki, too, but never Yokozuna, he's too cuddly for that). Bad for the Ozprom project. I still think that he will get through with winning the last two bouts. And if not, Aki basho will have two plot lines: Yokrun and Ozrun.

After being very, very pessimistic about my own attitude towards sumo over the last couple of months, I must say that I very much enjoyed and still enjoy this basho. This comes as a relief. Even more so, as I am still believing in all that I wrote above. Sumo is not a competition sport in the Westerners' definition. (I recommend party crashing over at SF and reading Asashosakari's excellent take on this in the "Kaio retires" thread.) This is, by the way, one of the main reasons why it attracts me. Deals and stagecraft are part of the ceremony, but I can live with that, as long as it doesn't spill over to the annoying, as in Club of Ozeki Forevermore. And I have to second Martin: The young blood was most enjoyable and they can stick around if I have a say. Takayasu is my currently hottest candidate for the next Japanese-yokozunahood following Hakuho.

Day 12 Comments (Dr. Mario Kadastik reporting)
Firstly, about the day six report...the thing is that I had to fly the day of the report. So I recorded the feed and took it to the plane. Then I spent the hours flying on writing the report. Well as I got home and was walking towards the door my dog came happily and jumped on me out of the happiness kicking me over. During the process the day six report got scattered and the dog wanting to play gathered it up and went running around. The result was that yeah...the dog ate my homework. A day or two later I started to get bits and pieces back, but to be fair, the sumo on day six wasn't that great that I wanted to literally go digging in shit...

So let's kick off the action with a rookie Takayasu who fired all of us up and made it to the wall (Martin keeps a wanking wall in his room of all the rookies that get him hard) against a one-legged Toyohibiki. Takayasu has shown excellent willpower and technique, yesterday against Tokitenku he had the older mongolian off balance the whole bout and tried at least five different methods to finish him off, but somehow Tenku always survived. The two collided perfectly in sync and a tsuppari fest ensued that lasted about 5-6s with neither guy gaining an edge on the shoves and pulls. Deciding this isn't the way to win the game, Takayasu dug in and went for the mawashi. Hibiki tried to grab his neck , but Takayasu had a solid grip with both hands with what he escorted Toyohibiki back and out. A solid win like all his wins so far. Takayasu has reached the kachi-koshi meaning we'll see him again, and I think he'll get far with this fighting spirit barring injury. Toyohibiki will get his eight down the line still. Ankle or not.

Kitataiki leapt to the left, but was caught by Tochinonada. Kitataiki featured a right hand outside grip while Tochinonada kept a left hand inside but without a mawashi. Kitataiki pushed forward to finish Nada off, but being unable to get him across the tawara instead went for the outside legtrip that Tochinonada didn't expect landing him on the back. Not a pretty bout, but both leave barely alive kachi-koshi wise.

So our first meeting of make-koshi rikishi that sadly also features the clown Takamisakari. He's just not had any power/speed/visibility this basho (well the last he has never…) while Takarafuji has shown a bright spot here and there, but not being able to avoid make-koshi. Takarafuji charged hard and immediately got a moro-uwate grip with what he just backed Takami back and out. No kidding, no playing with food, straight up win. So even though Takamisakari got morozashi he had no usage of it. It's Juryo time for the clown while we hope Takarafuji gets enough wins to keep himself in the top division (a few more should be enough).

The limping affair continues with Mr Secretary taking on Kimurayama to avoid make-koshi. It seems that ever since the boss left the secretary has felt left alone and fallen to sucktitude… And today was no different as sexy was just thinking about how he missed Asashoryu during the intial charge utterly not noticing Kimurayama moving to the left (something we've been saying he does for at least a few years). Off balance, no grip, no Asa the sexy just allowed himself to be pushed out. R.I.P.

And finally a bout to look forward to. Tochiohzan and advertised start Fujiazuma both came in with a kachi-koshi in their pockets already so the fun now was about possible special prizes and larger promotions. Fujiazuma has been the topic of many discussions this basho as no one honestly expected him to perform as well as he's been doing, but he's been having crappy opposition. Tochiohzan however has been decent. However Tochiohzan has the problem of overextending and today he did it too when he was pushing Fuijazuma back Fuji just slightly slid to the left and pushed on Ohzan who hadn't followed with decent de-ashi and hence was easy pushdown fodder. To be fair, an unexpected result.

Little Lee took on mountain of Flabby. Fatman charged hard, then immediately backpedaled, a classic move to raise the opponent high and then slam him down. Didn't work. With plan A failed Miya went for plan B which was shove the hell out of Tochinowaka. The shove fest lasted about 3-4s and as Tochinowaka tried to slide away on the tawara Fatman shoved Waka's shoulder sending him rolling down. Tochinowaka hits .500 while the Sheriff is one away from kachi-koshi.

The legster Tokitenku met a small pun Sagatsukasa today. The matta these guys pulled was a fun affair with a slow motion tachi-ai from both. Sagatsukasa however had no pun intended and buried his head in between Tenku's tits with moro inside hands taking Tokitenku back and being without mawashi and unable to get Tenku over the straw instead used the inside arms to send Tokitenku with a beltless arm throw to the clay. A surprise win by ex Juryo regular who may actually make it to kachi-koshi and remain in Makuuchi.

It's fun to see how the Lady Gaga that I started a while ago has through Ross gotten also to the rest of the NHK commentators though they now say that not Lady Gaga, but Mr Gaga. This basho hasn't been too good for the fair lady as the make-koshi has already been secured, but that doesn't mean Gaga wouldn't want some more wins to keep floating in the mid-region. Shotenro has been on and off without good sumo and the same was today where Gaga drove Shotenro back and just as he was winning Shotenro moved away and sent Gaga flying. However the MIB waren't satisfied as it looked like Shotenro managed to put his leg over the straw possibly. So a meeting of black decided that Lady Gaga deserves to get this one though he was flying already.

Next up The mawashi got to play with the dildo that Lady Gaga left behind. As he got so excited on this while handling Daido moving forward he closed his eyes in ecstasy and didn't notice how Dildo swirled around him, grabbed the back of his mawashi and swung him off the dohyo. Tamawashi huddled back to the dressing room to clean the inside of his mawashi while Daido swiped off make-koshi for another day.

Now finally to conclude the first half we have a decent matchup of oldsters Homasho and Aran (isn't it weird to call them oldsters, but considering the influx of fresh blood they most surely are oldsters now). Homey's been shining this basho and Aran besides a few henka has looked decent. But just as I was thinking that Aran pulled a beautiful henka sending Homey to the clay in an affair that was over if you blinked. Oh well.

As the pee break passed we were given a duo that featured a staggering two wins split evenly between them. It just has to be the worst basho for both Kyokutenho and Aminishiki. Aminishiki showed some spirit by running into morozashi and immediatly starting to handle Tenho, but Kyokutenho wasn't to be won so easily as he tried to twist Amin loose, but the right hand grip of Ami was strong enough to keep on and instead twist Tenho to the clay himself. To be fair I didn't expect as explosive a bout as this one was from the crappy records of the two so a nice surprise.

An interesting bout to wait for while they're prepping is Wakanosato against Yoshikaze. The history favors Espresso with 8-4 record, the recent history as well with 2-1 yet the current basho has not been so great for Yoshi with a make-koshi in the pocket while Wakanosato is one away from kachi-koshi. Wakanosato charged hard with his elbow forward and moving it upwards effectively looking like a knockout move, but it didn't unhinge Espresso, instead Espresso wiggled in and slapped at Waka's hands sending him to the clay. I would be surprised if Yoshi didn't unlodge a few teeth in his jaw as his mage went absolutely straight from the hit he got at the tachi-ai. Vicious bout.

The underperformer of the basho met the overperformer of the basho. Goeido has looked weak, bleak, useless while Wakakoyu showed some real spirit against Hakuho, kicked Kaio's sorry ass, killed Kotooshu and creamed Tochinoshin. However the bout itself was quite anticlimatic with Waka leading off the start with tsuppari, Go moving backwards and pulling his hand down. Or slapped his hand down, was tough to tell there. In any case not something to write home about...oh...wait…

Toyonoshima immediately gained morozashi, but wasn't unable to secure the grip. Shin on the other hand locked the arms immediately and moved Toyo back and was able to break the grip. They then regrouped and gained an inside right grip that Toyo in turn locked immediately. Shin did manage to manhandle Toyo and throw him towards the straw where the small technician somehow managed to balance and survive. As Shin recharged a small struggle ensued that Toyo finally managed to turn towards his gain by twisting and throwing Shin over the straw. A bout full of action and Shin is learning how to secure and break grips the smaller guys gain, but Toyo's still agile enough to turn the tables in the end.

So we get to the bout of the day. The ozeki hopeful Kotoshogiku, coming off a row of 11, 10 wins he probably just needs 12 to get to Ozeki with him being a Japanese and with him beating Hak (legit to my thought) and kicking enough Ozeki ass that he should get the promotion. However today he had to get past the fishy slippery Mongolian Kakuryu that isn't playing ball in the grand scheme and who may in theory be on an Ozeki run himself. Kotoshogiku charged hard and immeidately gained hidari-yotsu; however Kakuryu managed to keep him far enough that the belly didn't work. However when Kak went for maki-kae and gained the morozashi he also hugged the humping dog close and that was his undoing as so close to a leg the hump motor started immediately and no resistance was enough to keep the dog at bay. Kotoshogiku improves to double digits on day 12 and needs just two more out of the last three days to gain the promotion. And the easy going starts tomorrow with Okinoumi. Kak will get his eight another day, likely tomorrow when he meets Wakakoyu.

Next up the tournament sole leader took on the Brazilian Kaisei. The bout started with a matta and a strong double nodowa charge by Harry. It just had to get Kaisei's mawashi wet. From pee that is. When the real bout started Kaisei actually neutralized Harry's charge well turning the bout a bit sideways keeping Harry's right hand inside grip far. After struggling around with Harry keeping a left hand inside grip and Kaisei looking to neutralize as much as he can Harry changed gears and decided to circle around unbalancing his foe, he even tried a leg swipe with his hand, but that wasn't even necessary as he sent the bigger Brazilian rolling. Harry's 12-0, his best basho ever and we'll see the first test of it tomorrow when he meets Baruto.

Baruto had a small moment of fear when Takekaze slightly swung him after the initial tachi-ai, but having had a strong right hand outside grip he was able to keep on. He immediately corrected to a hidari-yotsu grip and easily manhandled Takekaze out with a strong shove at the edge sending the fatter Kaze flying backwards to the third row. This new Baruto is nice to see and ten wins is a score every ozeki should reach.

Talking about every ozeki, Kotooshu has a tough way to get the 10 that is decent, but he has the 8 that has become standard. Today's bout against Kissy was an ugly affair. It was lots of thrusting by both, but more effectively by Kisenosato. Kotooshu found himself at the straw or back towards Kissy at least three times before Kissy finally managed to kick shove him to the side and slap the stupid Bulgarian down. Really, this is getting boring…

And the musubi-no-ichiban. Unlike yesterday today this has no big anticipation attached to it with Okidoki being fed to the dai-Yokozuna. The bout was over before it started. Hak charged lightning fast into an inside grip and after a bit of struggling by Okinoumi he allowed himself to be escorted out. Business as usual.

So after the dust settled we have Harry the fuji without a single loss, Hak the mighty with one loss and then a gang of Baruto, Giku at two losses. So how will this play out? Well Harry meets Baruto tomorrow, if he wins it then Hak needs to kick Harry's ass on Saturday to force a playoff (assuming both win day 15, not a stretch). If Bart takes Harry tomorrow and Harry takes Hak we've got a bit more options, but in the end I think the scripts mean us to see a Harry vs Hak playoff this time around, possibly Harry's gunning for Yokozuna promotion, but it'd be a new thing considering that he's not been shining that great the last few bashos… Anyway, Andreas'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Day 11 Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
Are we seeing a handover from one Kyushu Ozeki to another? In the wake of Kaio's retirement announcement, Kotoshogiku takes a huge step toward Ozeki promotion. Symbolic or coincidence? Either way, the Yusho picture got all the more interesting on day 11.

Of the rank-and-file rikishi on the fringe of the hunt, two fell out of the picture and one hung on to stay mathematically in the race. Fujiazuma and Tochiohzan both dropped their bouts, falling to 8-3 so they are out. Homasho defeated Tamawashi via Hiki-otoshi, improving to 9-2 and thus two back in the loss column of anyone who stayed undefeated today. His chances are slim, but I haven't heard the fat lady sing yet either.

Baruto, who dropped a big one yesterday, came back in unimpressive fashion to dispose of Aminishiki, which isn't saying much this basho. Ami (1-10) had the better tachi-ai, standing the bigger Baruto up. This most likely was the onus for Baruto's pull, which almost cost him. The Ozeki retreated to the tawara and within a few inches of defeat as Aminishiki came crashing down at his feet. Baruto's right heal stayed just above the clay on the wrong side of the rope, the difference between staying in the hunt for his first Yusho and becoming an also-ran once again.

Kotooshu was matched up against Harumafuji in a clash of Ozeki. Could Kotooshu sneak back into the race in a big way? No way, Jose. Harumafuji never let Oshu get into a rhythm, standing him up at the tachi-ai with a sharp upward angle followed swiftly by a left outside throw to swing his counterpart around. When they clinched again at the edge of the circle, Haruma used a Hazu-oshi (push upward in opponent's armpit) to keep Kotooshu out of sorts. The result was a convincing Oshi-dashi win to keep his record unblemished at 11-0. Kotooshu drops to 8-3 and thus out of the Yusho picture.

An eerie silence hushed over the half-filled arena as Okinoumi took his default win over Kaio, as if the sumo world was taking a moment to let his retirement sink in. Congratulations Kaio on a long career of achievement. It's hard to believe your debut basho in the late 80's was the same as the iconic Waka-Taka brothers and Akebono, all who have long since retired and made news for various antics. All the while Kaio was marching on in a picture of perseverance. You will be missed.

In the day's marquee bout, undefeated Hakuho was pitted against Ozeki chaser Kotoshogiku. The bout began with both rikishi locking into Hidari-yotsu, executed as planned for the Geeku. Both had the inside belt secured with the outside grip yet to go. The difference in the match was probably that Kotoshogiku got the outside first, as Hakuho struggled the whole bout to reach Geeku's belt from the outside. This allowed Kotoshogiku to keep the pressure on, which he did for an eventual Yori-kiri win. The Geeku won for only the second time in 29 tries against Hakuho as the zabuton came a flyin' in Nagoya. We have ourselves a race, folks.

Going into the final 4 days, our leader board looks like this:

- Harumafuji at 11-0.
- Hakuho at 10-1.
- Baruto, Kotoshogiku and Homasho at 9-2.

Day 10 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
I was chatting with Clancy this morning, and in light of the huge announcement today in sumo, the main topic of our conversation of course focused on steaming hot chicks. After that fierce debate, we next turned to the subject of Kaio's having finally announced his retirement following another bad loss today against Kotooshu. In my day 4 intro, I already talked at length about Kaio and his retirement, so I won't rehash any of that here as it still applies, but Clancy did make a comment that I will address. He stated the Kaio represented the end of an era, a era that included the likes of Takanohana, Akebono, Musashimaru, Wakanohana, and the Ozeki who fought alongside Kaio the last decade in Musoyama, Chiyotaikai, Tochiazuma, and Kotomitsuki. It truly marks the end of an era, and to take it a step further, it finally brings the curtain down on sumo's golden age, a time that will unfortunately never be revisited.

On that somber yet truthful note, let's get to the action starting with the Ozeki duel that featured Kotooshu and Kaio. The two Ozeki bounced off of each other at the tachi-ai leaving them separated by about a meter. They danced slowly around the ring like this for a few seconds as Kotooshu took intermittent swipes to try and shove Kaio off balance. On about the third attempt, he connected sufficiently and then pounced for good sending Kaio clear off the dohyo and to the press room where he thankfully announced his retirement.

Kaio really had no other choice. With the tournament broadcast again on public television and with a recent survey showing that 80% of the Japanese fans don't think yaocho has been rooted out of sumo, he had to fight clean this basho, and you saw the results. There was no sense in the Ozeki risking injury by fighting the other Ozeki and Yokozuna.  Just look at the pic's not of a rikishi trying to win; rather, it's a rikishi trying not to get hurt.  It was Kaio's time, and I wasn't surprised in the least at the first words out of his mouth after the press caught up with him the morning after his retirement: "I hurt all over."  Major props to Kaio for getting out now...and for taking that piece of history with him in the all time career wins record. I'll talk more about him in my post-basho report.

Let's move back up to the top as Yokozuna Hakuho welcomed Sekiwake Kisenosato, a bout that NHK attempted to hype as Kisenosato has beaten the Yokozuna twice in the last little while. Problem was it had no affect since Kisenosato's having a terrible basho. It showed in the bout as Hakuho dominated the tachi-ai and then secured the quick right inside position followed by the inevitable left outer grip, which set up a quick uwate-nage throw. Hakuho just toyed with the Kid today as he moves to a spotless 10-0. Kisenosato is even steven now at 5-5. I was a bit disappointed afterwards because Hiro Morita said before the bout that the referee told both of them to "get it on," but unfortunately, it was just plain ole sumo.

Ozeki Harumafuji took his sweet time against M3 Wakakoyu who welcomed the Ozeki with two hands to the throat and a quick pull/swipe attempt. HowDo kept his footing nicely and eneded up with the solid left inside position and right outer grip. Not leaving anything to chance, Harumafuji took his time and then pulled the trigger on a shweet uwate-hineri move spilling Wakakoyu to the clay. Harumafuji is 10-0 as well if you need him while Wakakoyu is a respectable 3-7.

In the most compelling matchup of the day, Ozeki Baruto was literally schooled by Sekiwake Kotoshogiku who secured moro-zashi from the tachi-ai and bellied up to the Estonian not letting him get any sort of grip. After about 10 seconds of action that saw Kotoshogiku belly Baruto this way and that, he finally got him off balance to the point where he dumped him with an inside belt throw. Both rikishi finish at 8-2, which is too little too late in terms of yusho hopes. And regarding that, I'm not a fan of promoting Kotoshogiku to Ozeki this basho, even if he reaches 12 wins, which would give him 33 over three basho. An Ozeki is someone who should challenge the yusho every basho. Kotoshogiku hasn't challenged for the yusho in his career. Let's see him pick up a jun-yusho flanked by two other double digit basho and then we'll talk. Promoting him to Ozeki now won't do a lick of good. It won't sell any more tickets, and it will just add another rikishi to the rank who will stagnate.

Sekiwake Kakuryu and M2 Toyonoshima put on an ugly display of sumo...if you can call it that. After flirting briefly at the tachi-ai with an exchange of tsuppari, the two separated themselves by a good meter and cautiously danced around the ring looking for an opening. The Kak finally spurt and grabbed a frontal belt grip only to be wiped clean with a nodowa from Toyonoshima leaving the two separated again. Finally, Kakuryu made another attempt and pushed Toyonoshima up against the tawara, but it was Toyonoshima who proved slippery evading at the last second and sending out Kakuryu from behind. Ugly stuff all around as Kakuryu drops to 6-4 while Toyonoshima looks good at 5-5.

Komusubi Tochinoshin survived a half-assed tachi-ai henka from M1 Yoshikaze, who was strictly looking to pull his taller opponent down. I guess I can't blame him since there was no way in hell he was going to beat him at the belt. Tochinoshin survived a few pull attempts before deftly stepping to the side and basically watching Yoshikaze run himself out of the dohyo and make-koshi to boot. Shin is doing fine at 4-6 because the Komusubi have that heavy schedule up front and then the softies the last week.

Komusubi Goeido has failed miserably in his return to the sanyaku starting out 1-8. Today he got sort of a breather on paper in M2 Kyokutenho, but he made it as difficult as possible allowing the bout to go to migi-yotsu from the start. The Chauffeur quickly drove his guest back to the tawara in a flash forcing Goeido to tip toe on the tawara, and just when you thought Kyokutenho would score another hit and run win, Goeido twisted the Mongolian over hard causing his left foot to swing around and hit the dohyo before Goeido crashed down himself. This was a fantastic utchari win, but it's too little far too late for the Father who only improves to 2-8. Kyokutenho has managed worse than that though at 1-9.

Noteworthy bouts in the Maegashira ranks saw M5 Kaisei force his bout against M3 Aminishiki to yotsu-zumo from the start, and with no where to run, Aminishiki was forced back with little argument and a 1-9 record of his own. Kaisei soldiers on to 6-4.

M5 Wakanosato (6-4) easily dictated the pace against M8 Miyabiyama (5-5) getting in close and forcing the Sheriff out from behind in a battle of old-timers.

Remember when M8 Tochiohzan and M12 Toyohibiki burst onto the scene 5 or 6 years back? Now the two define the term rank-and-file. Their contest today wasn't even close as Tochiohzan got inside quickly from the tachi-ai and shoved Toyohibiki out from behind as the Hutt tried to twist away and escape. Oh picks up a very quiet kachi-koshi at 8-2 while the Nikibi falls to 6-4.

I really like M11 Tochinowaka's potential, but the veteran M9 Homasho got him today using quickness and experience to bait the tall youngster into a pulldown. It's always nice to see guys who have learned how to win school the fresh fish in the division. Homasho does get kachi-koshi at 8-2, but I think in the long run, Tochinowaka (5-5) will surpass Homie's accomplishments in the division.

The two hot rookies in M11 Takayasu and M15 Fujiazuma squared off today with identical 7-2 records in a bout that saw Fujiazuma dominate using potent tsuppari to keep Takayasu far away from the belt. Not only did Fujiazuma keep his opponent away from the belt, but his shoves were so effective they drove Takayasu back close enough to the tawara to where Fujiazuma was able to pounce and send his foe out for good earning kachi-koshi in the process. This bout was a good example of how Takayasu needs to get stronger. He's a lightweight in this division despite his inflated 7-3 start.

It was nice to see M14 Takamisakari pick up win number two over struggling rookie M12 Daido, who had no punch from the tachi-ai today allowing the Robocop to get a gangly left arm in on the belt, which he used to dump Daido to the dirt far too easily.

And finally, the other Heisei sekitori (besides Takaysu) is J2 Yoshiazuma who picked up his second Makuuchi win in as many tries easily driving M14 Tochinonada back for the yori-kiri win. From what I've seen of this kid, he's going to be good, even better than Takayasu I think.

That does it for me today. NHK has begun to flash the leaderboard, but the two-loss guys are all inconsequential. The yusho is between Hakuho and Harumafuji at this point, and don't be surprised if Harumafuji finagles a win when he faces the Yokozuna. I'd be totally fine with a Harumafuji yusho, however, because he has looked great the entire basho.

The old school Sumotalk continues with Kenji back tomorrow.

Day 9 Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
The cream is rising to the top as the big boys are starting to pull away from the pretenders in week two. Speaking of pretenders, it was nice to see The Pretender himself making his debut as color analyst today during the broadcast- the former Hokutoriki, now Tanigawa Oyakata. He did a fair job, but kept the scowl from his days on the dohyo intact. Come on guys, can we loosen up now that you're retired?

The noisemakers from the bottom of Makuuchi who came into the day at 7-1 looking to notch majority wins all laid eggs today. That would include Fujiazuma who lost to Takarafuji in a tori-naoshi, Takayasu who was no match for the formidable Tochiohzan, and Homasho who dropped one to Wakanosato. All are 7-2 now and looking to regroup for tomorrow.

In the Jo'i we had some great match-ups as we are starting to see the bigger boys clash against one another. To kick things off we had Kotooshu going against Aminishiki, who has a career 15-12 record against the Ozeki. He wouldn't improve on that today though, as Kotooshu wouldn't let Ami get inside. Oshu kept his distance with big thrusts which seemed to rattle Ami who eventually succumbed to an Oshi-dashi defeat. Kotooshu is 7-2 while Aminishiki falls to a paltry 1-8.

Kaio took on an Ozeki first time challenger in Wakakoyu, and like Kotooshu earlier this basho, dropped the bout. Easily. It's looking way too easy actually, as Waka pushed Kaio back with little resistance. You could see the Ozeki trying his patented "taguri", or pulling of the extended arm of the opponent, but to no avail. Kaio drops to 3-6 and may not make it to the end of the basho. That's how bad he looks.

In a stark contrast, Harumafuji continued his spectacular run with another win, this time over Kotoshogiku who's been no pushover this basho. Haruma started with a left harite to set up moro-zashi and take the advantage immediately. From there he stayed close and kept the pressure on which disallowed any gaburi antics from the Geeku. A convincing Yori-kiri was the result, propelling Haruma to 9-0 while Kotoshogiku dropped to 7-2, still within striking range of promotion.

In another compelling bout, Baruto and Kisenosato met. In this one, big Baruto started with a moro-te tachi-ai that stood Kise up, followed by a gesture to locate the right uwate. But in the flow of the match, Baruto abandoned that idea and pulled Kise down for a Hataki-komi win, keeping the Great Japanese Hope off balance the whole time. The giant Estonian is lurking at 8-1 ready to pounce into the Yusho picture if Hakuho or Harumafuji slip. Kisenosato falls to 5-4.

I was excited about the final bout pitting Hakuho against Kakuryu, even if Kakuryu had never beaten the Yokozuna in 17 career tries. I likened it to the Japan Women's soccer team who had not beaten the US in 20 something tries until the World Cup Final. Streaks are bound to be broken at some point, right? Well, not this streak yet, apparently. Kakuryu (6-3) gave it a go with a lot of movement, but got twisted around eventually and guided out without much fanfare by Hakuho, who keeps marching forward toward his record 8th straight Yusho.

So, to summarize the leader board after 9 days we have Hakuho and Harumafuji at 9-0 followed by Baruto at 8-1, then a slew of six rikishi at 7-2 led by Ozeki Kotooshu. Let's hope Harumafuji and Baruto keep winning to keep this thing interesting.

Day 7 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
I found myself surprised by my own enthusiasm, actually looking forward to seeing sumo every day. So far, I haven't been disappointed. My theory is that all the new blood in the Makuuchi and Juryo division (which I've been following every day, thank you very much, thanks to the new and improved NSK stream, along with a good chunk of makushita) had something to do with it. It seems rooting out some of the blatant yaocho motivated some of the younger guys. Of course, those of you who think there's no more fixing in Ozumo should come see me later, ‘cause I have some waterfront property in Nevada to sell you. But this report isn't meant to dwell on negatives, so let's get moving with the action.

Takamisakari has been looking just plain weak for a while now. Putting together more than once kachikoshi just once in the last three years and getting his last one last year, the Clown seems to be rapidly headed for Juryo, barely breathing at 1-6 after today's lopsided loss to a guy who's never even fought in makuuchi before. Something tells me there's a chance Takamisakari will soon retire altogether, but we'll see.

In total contrast, Fujiazuma is a guy 11 years younger, 40kg heavier and with 6 surprising wins already in just his first makuuchi basho. But today's bout was just as lopsided, with Sagatsukasa (now 3-4) unable to find an answer to the Tamanoi-beya rikishi's sheer momentum. I must confess I never thought a guy who got promoted from all the way to J8 after 9-6 and 8-7 in Juryo and 7 years in the lower divisions could do so well on his debut, but stranger things have happened. It's no big surprise, if you think about it, as all but one of his 7 opponent so far are below the .500 mark. Look for the guy to start losing seriously as the guys he'll be facing get gradually better and higher ranked. Sagatsukasa's performance is about as relevant or entertaining as a jonokuchi bout after the musubi-no-ichiban.

Japanese-Korean Tochinowaka (5-2) surprisingly lost a yotsu clash with Toyohibiki, after managing to stop the Hutt's charge and getting a right shitate. Hibiki got an uwate of his own, though, while denying a belt grip on the other side. Lee made his move, charging forward with the shallow grip and getting his heavier opponent to the edge, but he couldn't finish things off, and the Hutt was able to get his own foothold. Frustrated by the lack of a solid grip, Tochinowaka went for morozashi after a meager shitatenage attempt, but Toyohibiki resisted the move well, clamping the Korean's left arm into uselessness as he continued to move forward. His last attempt at a throw also failed, so Lee soon found himself on the dohyo, victim to Hibiki's uwatenage (doesn't THAT sound weird?). Both men have solid 5-2 records, and Tochinowaka is definitely one to watch, judging by his size, age and skill.

Speaking of rikishi to watch, Takayasu (6-1) led his charge against Kimurayama with a lightning quick right harite and quickly got an insurmountable double inside, sending the older, fatter and less skilled foe from the dohyo in about one second to his 4th loss and on his merry way to Juryo where he belongs. Surely enough, Takayasu's opponents are nothing to write home about, but, damn, 6-1 isn't bad at all for a debutant, 21 years old, no less.

Takarafuji's opposition, on the other hand, comprises mostly solid, established or promising rikishi, so his 1-6 should really be no reason to worry for the rookie, as he hasn't looked overwhelmed or weak in any of his bouts. His one-sided victory over Tochinonada (2-5), who HAS looked weak, should therefore not be a surprise. Look for the Isegahama guy to recover maybe to the tune of a 5-10 or 6-9 in the second week and establish himself in the division in the next few basho. 37-year-old Nada is kaput.

Kitataiki (3-4) recovered a bit from his bad start with a solid yotsu victory over Shotenro (also 3-4). Yorikiri was a mere formality for the green-mawashied man after obtaining a very favorable double mawashi grip from a quick tachi-ai.
Experience and skill prevailed in the next one as well, with Asasekiryu taking on rookie Daido. The Mongol struggled a bit to get into some kind of convenient position, but managed to finally muster a right shitate, conceding a left uwate to his bigger opponent. Normally, you'd favor the uwate guy in this situation, but, as I said, experience showed, as Sexy looked the part, pivoting well and using his leg to push up into his foe's thigh, lifting him off balance and beautifully throwing him down. Asasekiryu improves to 3-4 with the well-earned shitatenage win, while Daido seems headed back to Juryo at 2-5.

Next up, Homasho (6-1) made short work of the Fatman (now 3-4), exposing the weakness of his pushes and thrusts, keeping in front of him and eventually pushing him out. At 34, Miyabiyama doesn't look like he has too many basho left. Homie's on his way back up by means of double-digit wins and maybe a special prize.

Tochiozan (5-2) and Tokitenku (4-3) had (surprisingly little, if you realize this is Tokitenku we're talking about!) trouble synchronizing, but when they went at it, Oh quickly found his way into morozashi and ousted his older foe from the dohyo in an instant. About Tenku's timing troubles... my theory is that they're caused by the 時 kanji in his shikona (it means “time”, in case you're wondering).

Wakanosato looked like he was in trouble throughout his affair with Gaga (did THAT sound weird or what?), allowing the huge Georgian to get a double mawashi grip on him, but experience prevailed again, as Wakanosato managed to skirt around the dohyo long enough to break Gagamaru's inside mawashi grip and throw him down at the edge by sukuinage. The Hutt is now 2-5 and, don't look now, but Wakanosato is actually above the .5 mark, at 4-3!

Brazilian Kaisei seems a bit over-ranked at M5, but that doesn't mean he can't produce the occasional decent win. Today he stopped Mongol Tamawashi in his tracks and held him off long enough to get into position to thrust him to the side and down. Not at all surprising if you consider the height and weight differential and factor in The Mawashi's rather limited arsenal (i.e. pushing forward, albeit with some oomph). At 3-4 Kaisei still has some kachikoshi hopes left, but something tells me there's a chance he gets pitted against higher-ranked guys. Tamawashi is a paltry 1-6.

Don't be fooled by Takekaze's 5-1 record coming into today's bout with Aran. The guy only did ONE think this basho – pull, pull, pull. The big, technically challenged Russian gave up morozashi to his smaller foe, but Takekaze couldn't capitalize for the life of him. Aran methodically forced the fat Kaze to the edge, survived his meek throwing attempt by locking his left arm and pushed him out convincingly. The Ossetian improves to 4-3, while Takekaze drops to his second loss.

Okinoumi also improved to 5-2 with a solid win vs. 1-6 Kyokutenho. Okidoki repelled his bigger foe and snuck his way into morozashi, making yorikiri a formality from there. If only he were a coupla years younger. Tenho seems like he doesn't have any gas left in the tank.

Kakuryu was dealt his second loss of the basho by a wise Kisenosato, who kept his long-armed foe well away from his mawashi and pushed him back and out with ease, using his superior mass. Kisenosato improves to 4-3 with the win, but he still seems to be struggling to find some consistency. Kachikoshi should be no problem, though. The Kak is looking to build on his 12-3 in May for a likely Ozeki run in Aki. So far, so good.

Kotoshogiku (6-1) took care of business against pesky Yoshikaze (1-6), quickly getting inside and bellying him out. Though he still has some heavy opponents left (especially Hakuho and Baruto), I think 12 wins is a definite possibility. And, if he gets that, he's pretty likely to be promoted, being Japanese and all. Yoshikaze is headed for the peace and quiet of the mid M's.

The somewhat legitimate yusho threat that is Harumafuji improved to 7-0 against 1-6 Goeido, continuing his string of sharp, aggressive and sometimes downright nasty sumo with a perfectly timed uwatenage dismantlement. Goeido kind of won the tachi-ai and was the more offensive wrestler, but he was pretty careless in his attack, allowing his senpai to shine in the process. With everyone else at at least one loss, Ex-Ama is about the only hope we have of some excitement in the second week, yusho-wise, but with Hak in record territory, something tells me there's only going to be one contender. Heck, I wouldn't even be surprised if Harumafuji were “upset” by Kaio.

Speaking of the old bear, he had it pretty easy against an ailing Aminishiki, who never seemed like he wanted to bother actually trying to win, mostly keeping in front of his much larger opponent and offering token resistance. I'm not saying there was cash from the Koga bank account in his pocket, but with Kaio at only 3-4 and most of the big guns left to fight, you simply HAVE to take that into consideration. Sneaky ain't so hot at 1-6, but Kaio, on the other hand, is an odds-on favorite to get his 8. Let's see... he has Hakuho, Baruto, Harumafuji, Kotooshu, Wakakoyu, Tochinoshin, Kotoshogiku and possibly Okinoumi left. That means, assuming Kotoshogiku gives his best tomorrow (and that's a LOT more than Kaio has to offer right now), he has to win against the three scrubs and two Ozeki. How much are you willing to bet the big Europeans are gonna start dropping like flies to Kaio's kotenage and tottari? I know I'd bet a lot.

While we're on the subject of big Euro guys, Baruto overpowered Tochinoshin, quickly getting his preferred right uwate and deploying the head-grabbing assisted over-arm throw, improving to 6-1. The Private drops to a lackluster 2-5, lowlighted by his sissy henka in yesterday's bout against Goeido.

Rounding up the Ozeki, Kotooshu seems to have figured out his old foe, Toyonoshima, winning now from a position that would have spelled doom for him in the past, i.e. a throwing contest after giving up morozashi. The Kadoban Bulgarian looks pretty safe at 5-2, while Toyonoshima falls to 2-5, but should start winning again in week 2.

Last, but by no means least, Wakakoyu put up the fight of his life against Dai-Yokozuna Hakuho, stopping his charge and keeping him well away from the mawashi. The brave rank-and-filer then engaged in a push-pulling contest with the Mongolian and actually seemed to have him in trouble a couple of times. It wasn't meant to be, though, as Hakuho ultimately caught his pesky foe off guard with a perfectly timed slapdown, keeping his perfect record. Normally, I don't see any way Wakakoyu can take part in the bout of the day, but I simply have to congratulate him for believing in his chances against such an overwhelming opponent. Hakuho is business as usual, but has looked a tiny bit vulnerable this basho. I'd really be surprised to see him lose, though.

Alright, as this is the first and last time I report this Nagoya, let's start a-speculatin' on the sansho: Takayasu and Fujiazuma are prime candidates for the Kantosho, seeing as they're rookies and all, starting out 6-1. Of course, for that to happen, they need to go at least 4-4 in the last 8 days, but something tells me at least one of them will. Homasho and Tochiozan should also finish strong, to the tune of at least 10-11, but a sansho in their case would require just a little more, because of their low ranks. I don't see a Shukunsho happening this basho, but, if anyone can do it, it's gotta be Kakuryu. Speaking of the slippery little Mongol, he's a frontrunner for the Ginosho as well, along with Kotoshogiku.

Yusho-wise, there's little surprise left, in my opinion, so let's leave it at what's already been said. If you're wondering about the day 6 report, you should know that the last time I saw the good doctor Kadastik he said he was on his honeymoon. Now, whether that is true or what really happened is that he was abducted by aliens and retrofitted with an anal probe is up to you to decide. Clancy will likely set things straight in his report tomorrow. Bye for now.

Day 5 Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
Hi gang. I'm having a hard time getting back into this Sumo thing. Nonetheless here's my foray back into calling the shots. Bear with me if I'm in need of a ramp-up back to my normal self.

Day 5 brought Nagoya's first third to a close with only 3 rikishi undefeated. They are none other than Hakuho who is dominating like no other, Harumafuji who is looking like his solid self again, and Homasho who is making noise from the depths of Maegashira. But the story today was Kaio's pursuit of win #1046, which would put him as the winningest sumo rikishi in history. It was his day. But here are some highlights before we get to that.

The latest Ozeki hopeful, Kotoshogiku, won convincingly over Kisenosto to improve his record to 4-1 after 11-4 and 10-5 campaigns in the prior 2 basho. He is quietly putting together a legitimate run. Today he brought his A-game to overwhelm Kisenosato with this patented gaburi-yori attack, putting a stamp on who is the real Ozeki candidate right now. Kise falls to 2-3.

Kotooshu laid an egg against Wakakoyu, who was challenging an Ozeki for the first time. Not only does this look bad on Kotooshu to lose to a first timer, but the manner in which he did was embarrassing. Oshu looked apprehensive against his challenger and committed the cardinal sin of pulling, thus giving away all momentum during an uneventful oshi-zumo bout. Oshu wraps up the joban on a sour note at 3-2 while Wakakoyu picks up a big first win to go 1-4.

Harumafuji continued his string of impressive bouts with a carefully executed victory over Yoshikaze (1-4). Haruma took a watchful approach as Yoshi did his thing making a lot of tsuppari noise, waiting patiently for his chance to get inside. And get inside he did eventually with a moro-zashi to force out his 2nd pesky opponent in a row following a win against Kakuryu yesterday. Right now Harumafuji-Hakuho is looking like a bout to get excited about.

Speaking of the pesky Kakuryu, he put a stop to Baruto's undefeated streak in grand fashion. In fact, he looked much like none other than Harumafuji in doing so. Kakuryu began with a stiff and effective left nodowa to stand up the giant, then snatched the rug out from under him with a well timed hiki-otoshi. Looked just like one of Harumafuji's David vs Goliath bouts. Baruto falls to 4-1. Kakuryu improves to 4-1 and is looking like Ozeki hopeful #2 to these eyes.

Hakuho was matched up against Toyonoshima, himself a pesky and dangerous opponent. The Yokozuna began with a tsuppari attack, but then Toyo got moro-zashi for a split second of hope. Hakuho quickly countered however with a shitate-dashi-nage to dissolve the threat and turn the tables back to his favor, resulting in an oshi-dashi win to stay undefeated at 5-0. Toyonoshima falls to 2-3.

Let's finish with Kaio, who did in fact come through with a win. It was fortunate that he was matched up against an opponent that's he has beaten 7 times in a row in Kyokutenho, which is something the grizzled veteran probably can't say about anyone else at this point. So the stars were lining up for him. It was poetic justice to see Kaio secure that big right uwate from the get-go and forge on to victory. The only thing sweeter would have been for him to unleash that signature uwate-nage to reach this milestone. But we'll take what we can. No matter what you think of Kaio, the facts are that he has now eclipsed the great Chiyonofuji in overall wins to rank first all-time. He is tied for 1st at 65 basho as an Ozeki (he'll break this next basho if he's still around), and he's 1st in Maku-uchi basho at 107, Maku-uchi bouts at 1438, and Maku-uchi wins at 877 over a 23 year career that started way back in March 1988. That's March, 1988 folks. I was in high school then for crying out loud. How's that for longevity? I think we can all take a moment to respect these accomplishments and staying power in a pretty tough sport to stick around so long in. If he's still kickin' in November, I'm really looking forward to the reception he receives over 15 days in Kyushu; surely it will be his last hometown basho this time around. Well done, Kaio.

Mario is up tomorrow.

Day 4 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
The big news of the day was Ozeki Kaio picking up his first win over M1 Toyonoshima in a bout that lasted a second if that where Kaio moved slightly left and then backpedaled quickly knocking Toyonoshima to the dirt by the back of the right shoulder in sort of a hiki-otoshi kote-nage combination. The win, which was ugly indeed, moved Kaio into a tie for first place all time in career wins with Chiyonofuji at 1,045, and while I was rather harsh in my comments of Kaio and the record on day 2, I'm going to back track a bit and change my take on the whole affair. After the Kaio bout, Chiyonofuji was waiting for the Ozeki in the tunnel, and the two shook hands warmly while Chiyonofuji chided, "What took you so long?" Kaio gave a brief laugh, but you could tell he was getting emotional. Chiyonofuji then said while still gripping Kaio's hand, "you keep it going now, and congratulations." Kaio understood the significance of Chiyonofuji's gesture, and it was actually quite a touching moment.

As I watched this scene take place, I couldn't help but think to myself there are two of the greatest Japanese rikishi that ever fought in the Heisei era (started in February 1989). Kaio sure as hell knew he was in the presence of sumo deity, but you could tell that Chiyonofuji was also genuinely pleased about Kaio's accomplishments, and it forced me to look back on Kaio's long career and contemplate on just how good of a rikishi he was. Kaio entered sumo in March of 1988 along with the likes of Akebono and the two Hanada brothers, Takahanada and Wakahanada as they were called at the time. If you start at that point and move forward to the present day, the top two Japanese rikishi without debate are Takanohana and Kaio in that order. Yes, Kaio is number two, greater than Wakanohana (who would become a Yokozuna), Takanonami, Chiyotaikai, and Tochiazuma.

I mentioned Kaio's class that included three eventual Yokozuna in Akebono, Takanohana, and Wakanohana. He entered the sport when it was still a dogfight to get to the top. Akebono made it on sheer size, Takanohana made it on talent, and Wakanohana backed into the rank aided largely by his coming from the most dominant sumo stable we have ever seen, the former Futagoyama-beya. If you switch places with Wakanohana and Kaio, Wakanohana has maybe two career yusho, and Kaio has at least 8 on his way to a surefire career as a Yokozuna. Yes, Kaio was that good, but he was also unlucky never once having a stablemate to rise high enough on the banzuke to assist him. He really has traveled a tough road, and I still fondly recall his sumo in the mid-nineties when he was just becoming a sanyaku mainstay and constantly knocking off the top guys.

I still remember his first yusho as he quickly became my second favorite rikishi barely behind Musoyama. I can also recall his day 13 bout against Miyabiyama at the 2004 Kyushu basho where he went for an ill-advised pull down that sent him to a costly loss that left him one short of promotion to Yokozuna. I have so many great memories of Kaio and was such a big fan that it has always pained me a bit to criticize him so heavily the last few years. Many of you will probably scoff at this, but in my comments on sumo, I have removed all rooting interest, and I play no favorites. I tell things as I see them, and I think my track record has been pretty damn good. Behind the scenes, however, I am a true sumo fan with heavy rooting interests, and I think it's the emotion from that connection that has caused me to pause here and re-address Kaio's pending record.

As I watched Chiyonofuji's exchange with Kaio, I realized that his breaking this record will be a badge of honor for a rikishi who indeed was Yokozuna caliber but just didn't get the breaks. This record honors the Japanese rikishi who carried the flag for the country after Takanohana's retirement. It will haunt Kaio to his grave that he never became Yokozuna, but this run to Chiyonofuji's 1,045 is a way for sumo to honor the career of the second best native rikishi in this generation.

Now, having said all that, it will drive me crazy if Kaio doesn't retire after this basho. Win one more and make it yours alone and let us celebrate your career on this note rather than flinching each day when we see rikishi letting up so you can get your eight.

On that note, let's get to the action starting with the commentators. Yes, the commentators. My man Ross Mihara was in the booth on the English side, and even though they didn't show him, I know he was lookin' good. By comparison, former Yokozuna Onokuni was providing color commentary in the Japanese booth and dude nearly filled the thing up himself. His gut is so huge I was hoping Shirasaki Announcer sitting next to him would pull out a large pin and jab Onokuni in the stomach to see if he could pop him like a big balloon and have him sail around the room as he deflated. No such luck there, so to compensate, let's start from the top down for a change.

Yokozuna Hakuho faced M2 Kyokutenho who left the door wide open to a right arm on the inside for the Yokozuna. Hakuho easily drove Kyokutenho back from there but putting on the brakes just in time to keep Kyokutenho parked atop the dohyo. This was swift and pretty for Hakuho who sleepwalks to 4-0. Kyokutenho is 1-3.

Ozeki Baruto (4-0) picked up the freebie against M1 Tosayutaka who was forced to withdraw after getting body slammed to the dohyo yesterday in his bout with Kotooshu. Memo to Kotooshu: have some common sense out there atop the dohyo. Your opponent was already beyond the straw and falling down, so your slamming him to the edge of the dohyo like that was ridiculous. You're the tallest guy on the banzuke fighting the smallest guy in the division. Figure it out before you ruin someone's career. Clancy used to frequently point out bouts where Asashoryu could have seriously hurt his opponents but held up just enough to allow them to fight another day. Yesterday was a perfect example of a clueless rikishi who needs to understand when enough is enough.

In the dohyo today, Ozeki Kotooshu hit M1 Yoshikaze well at the tachi-ai that was so good, Yoshikaze's feet were aligned allowing the Bulgarian to slap his opponent down with ease. Kotooshu moves to 3-1 while Yoshikaze falls to the converse.

In a good battle of undefeateds, Ozeki Harumafuji and Sekiwake Kakuryu put on a great display of sumo threatening belt grips and pulls as the two danced around the ring. After seven seconds of action, Harumafuji swooped in low grabbing the Kak's belt with the left hand that set up the nice yori-kiri win. I actually think Kakuryu is the better rikishi these days, but you could see Harumafuji's experience win out in this one.

I've already commented on the Kaio - Toyonoshima matchup, so let's head to the sanyaku.

Sekiwake Kotoshogiku butt heads with Komusubi Goeido who quickly grabbed the Geeku's left arm and tried to evade to the side and pull the Sekiwake down, but Kotoshogiku read the move like a dirty manga and shoved Goeido back and out with ease. Kotoshogiku recovers nicely with three straight wins after the opening day loss. Goeido falls to 1-3.

Rounding out the sanyaku, Komusubi Tochinoshin committed two false starts against Sekiwake Kisenosato, but Kisenosato looked hesitant to me both times. I guess that feeling was then manifest when they fought for real as Tochinoshin had an arm on the inside seemingly at all times. After five or six seconds of grappling where Kisenosato focused mostly on Tochinoshin's neck, the two finally settled in the migi-yotsu position where Tochinoshin enjoyed the lower stance not to mention a firm left outer grip. After gaining his wits, Tochinoshin used a left outer belt throw to send Kisenosato off balance setting up the easy yori-kiri for Tochinoshin. Shin looked great picking his first win while Kisenosato is already sputtering at 2-2.

M3 Aminishiki used a hazu-oshi to completely befuddle M4 Okinoumi from the tachi-ai setting up an eventual left arm inside that he used to pull Okinoumi forward as he slapped him down by the back of the head with the left. It was a great move, but Aminishiki moves about as well as Onokuni on crutches these days, and he carelessly stepped out of the dohyo just as Okinoumi hit the dirt.

In the rematch, Aminishiki actually got moro-zashi from the tachi-ai, but the taller Okinoumi just squeezed in tight with both arms and sent Aminishiki down quickly with a left kote-nage. Okinoumi's looking good at 3-1 while Aminishiki limps to 1-3.

M3 Wakakoyu pushed M4 Takekaze around a bit shoving into his jaw with both hands, and just when you thought Wakakoyu (0-4) would pick up his first win, Takekaze managed to retreat and slap at Wakakoyu's extended arms sending him to the dirt in the process. Prior to the bout, three grandmas walked right in front of the camera blocking the view of the dohyo, and I kind of hoped they'd block me from having to watch Takekaze's sumo, but no such luck as he moved to 3-1 with the win.

M5 Wakanosato delivered a message of comfort and support to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami disaster, and then promptly got his ass kicked by M6 Tamawashi, who was tickled to death to finally get an opponent that stayed in front of him. Tamawashi kept his armpits closed tight as he pushed Wakanosato back and out with little opposition. Both rikishi end the day at 1-3.

It looked to me that M5 Kaisei was hesitant at the tachi-ai fearing an M6 Aran tachi-ai henka, but the Russian surprised everyone by thrusting both hands into Kaisei's throat. The move knocked Kaisei off balance to the point where he had Kaisei turned 90 degrees so it was an easy push out win from there. I liked how Ross put it, "a rare pushing win for Aran." True dat as he moves to 2-2 while Kaisei falls to 1-3.

M8 Tochiohzan aimed for moro-zashi from the tachi-ai against M7 Gagamaru and basically got it settling for a moro-hazu sort of stance basically pushing into Lady Gaga's teets. Whatever it was, it worked as Tochiohzan easily worked Gagamaru to the side and out for the shweet oshi-dashi win and 3-1 start. Gagamaru falls to 1-3.

M8 Miyabiyama used a moro-te tachi-ai to keep M7 Tokitenku at bay, and as Tenku tried to lean forward to stave the move off, Miyabiyama used that signature counter hataki-komi of his to slap Tokitenku down to the clay not to mention his first loss. The Sheriff improves to 2-2.

M9 Asasekiryu got in low at the tachi-ai against M10 Kitataiki securing a deep inside grip with the left that Kitataiki just couldn't shake. After trying to back pedal and pull Sexy down, Asasekiryu kept perfect pace and turned the tables on the now compromised Kitataiki scoring the easy hataki-komi win, his first of the basho. Kitataiki is 2-2.

M9 Homasho was nice and cautious today standing solid against M10 Takarafuji from the tachi-ai and waiting for a pull attempt that came about three seconds in. From there it was wham, bam, thank you ma'am as Homie skates to 4-0. Homasho is running roughshod through these softies not unlike that Brasilian dude, Marta, who dominates women's soccer. Takarafuji is still looking for his first.

M11 Tochinowaka just smothered M14 Takamisakari from the tachi-ai grabbing a quick outer grip and using his right thigh to force the Robocop back towards the straw in a matter of seconds. Takamisakari was just flailing around in this one falling to 1-3 while Tochinowaka (4-0) is gonna be a playuh in this division. He stands at 195 cm, moves extremely well, and knows how to use his length to his advantage. From what I've seen so far, this kid could quickly receive the label of Japan's next hope.

M14 Tochinonada should probably change his shikona to something that resembles a target because that's exactly what he was today against M11 Takayasu who caught the Gentle Giant from the tachi-ai with a left nodowa that allowed him to easily bully Nada back in about two seconds. Takayasu is 3-1 due mostly to his weak competition while Tochinonada is lucky to be 1-3.

M13 Sagatsukasa took a few M12 Toyohibiki tsuppari from the tachi-ai but moved left on a dime grabbing Toyohibiki's left arm in the process pulling him down to the dirt via tottari. Sagatsukasa is a decent 2-2 while Toyo The Hutt suffers his first loss.

Rookie M12 Daido survived some nice tsuppari by M15 Kimurayama, and after being pushed around for about 10 seconds, he suddenly evaded a Kimurayama tsuppari attempt managing to get the left arm on the inside, and it was curtains for Kimurayama (1-3) from there. Daido picks up win number two for his troubles.

And finally, M15 Fujiazuma (3-1) dropped his first bout of the tourney against M13 Shotenro (2-2) when he aligned his feet after a brief exchange of tsuppari allowing Shotenro to smartly pull him down with a nice hataki-komi.

Kenji gets red-carded tomorrow.

Day 3 Comments (Andres Kungl reporting)
I simply cannot be funny today. I tried the "Dear Diary" approach. I tried the "Mike threatens to fire me, if I cannot come up with a spot-on sociological analysis of the concept of 'corruption'" routine. I even went for the "My passion might be a flower of sunny days only" shrift. And where do I find myself? Just in the middle of the bitter "Meta-reflection as window-dressing" window-dressing.

If you find yourself expulsed from Jocular Lane, unable to transform even the odd flicker of inspiration like, say, "Jocular Lane" into anything useful that might also contain, say, "Jugular Vein", than you are in more dire straits than somebody sentenced to listen to Mark Knopfler albums for a full moon cycle. The only cure for such Bobsmithian oblivion might be to try to invent jokes at any cost.

Here's one: A fat man in diapers enters a bar. He says to the barman "You and all your guests can laugh about me, but my drinks are on the house." Says the barman: "You tell THAT to the media."

Or another one: Two fat men in diapers enter a bar. One of them tells the other "I will buy you a drink". Says the barman: "Hey, we don't serve your kind here no more."

Or another one: Three fat men in diapers enter a bar. One of them tells the second "I will buy you a drink". Says the barman: "Hey, we don't serve your kind here no more." Points the first man to the third and answers "It's OK. He's a foreigner. You can slaughter him in your barn." Says the barman "Alright then, but you can only have decaf."

Or another one: Seventeen fat men in diapers enter the MIT Department for Advanced Encryption Technology. They tell the porter "We wrote this book 'Breaking a code by following it', but now we are unemployed". Says the porter: "Too bad. Get a life."

Not funny? Too bad. Get a life.

It's Day 3 of the first Hon-Basho of the new Golden Era of Unbesmirched Dohyo Honesty and Sustained Scrutiny of Which featuring the rising superstars of Sumo Fandom's all-time favourite hotlist: Daido, Fujiwatsisname and Sagatsukasa, as well Junior Yusho Contender Promotion Candidates in Training Goeido, Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku! All is well under the four differently colored Pompons of Symbolic Significance or Other, so let's move right to the

Sanyaku action! (rubs hands)

Komusubi Goeido used to have a brief phase of dirty sumo back in the days of the Dirty Era of Foul Dishonesty Enforced by Drug-Addicted Foreigners in General and The Demon Asashoryu in Particular. At that time he produced enough henkas and pull sumo to ignite hard thinking about tachi-ai strategies with his opponents. It is the past and "Good riddance!", so mighty Goeido's returned to straight-up winning ways. However, sometimes, just sometimes, he seems to forget to enhance his charge by, let's say, visual cross-checking. So here we fly against Kisenosato's shoulder! Here we falter! Here we fall. The Man They Called Kid throws back his head and stands victorious. A proud smirk and wink for the crowd, which just came back in time from the food stalls.

Enter the Ozrunner! No seriously: The Geek fought well today against the powerful but technically challenged ex-PFC Tochinoshin. Gossipers of malicious intent might attribute a certain belly fixation to the good Sekiwake. In today's match, however, he showed talent for variety by most effectively using his left hand to first block any good inside grip and then execute the deathblow uwate. The Georgian's urge to attempt the tsuri against any opponent whenever the action stops for the fraction of a second might, I say might, be a reason for his volatile win-loss pattern.

When Toyonoshima decided that he would try to get a double inside position against fast and not overly tall Harumafuji right at the tachi-ai, he displayed a behavior that I am prepared to consider calling ambitious. Save to say he failed, courtesy of the determined charge by the Ozeki who seemed to be late for dinner, his own wedding, his own wedding night, out of cigarettes and generally pissed off, all at once. So far, Harumafuji is as fast and present in the same sense as Tochinowaka is not (I'm going to say some words about former Ri in my next report). Toyonoshima will contribute to the rest of the tournament for sure and all is well.

Talking of being positively aggressive. Baruto's wife must have moved on to the not-so-sweet tongue making him put on the not-so-pink glasses, or what else is buzzing there in his mawashi that makes him have an attitude all of a sudden? Gone the goofy boyscout-in-a-brothel sheepishness that seemed to dwell around the corners of his mouth as unbudgeable as Castro does in Havanna. Fighting a big, laid-back, henkaphob, cost-benefit ratio conscious opponent like Kyokutenho must seem like a never-ending holiday to the big Estonian. "Here I can be man!", he thinks, "Here I can even get moro-zashi!" We learned a valuable lesson in this bout, boys and girls. Just because you gained the grip you longed for against Big Bart, doesn't mean that you cannot lose convincingly. If the Ozeki keeps it up, we might see (whispers) suspense!

Shape and size make Tosayutaka an unwelcome visitor in Camp Kot Ooshu. Too small, too technical, as to feel comfortable with the neckless upstart. Self-conscious as the Ozeki is, he refined his approach all night, giving us an explanation for his sub-ophthalmic shopping bags as a general bonus. The Bulgarian's final stratagem went like this: "I don't want to give him a grip. Wait! But what should *I* do then? I cannot tsuppari him seriously, what if I misfire? Hey that's it: I'm gonna jump around like a sissy, fake a few thrusts and go for the pull or slap down whenever the window of opportunity opens itself for a nanosecond. I'm an Ozeki, you know!" In the end, the Maegashira would have made a good career move by just falling for one of said thrusts. Instead, he got caught and slam-dunked off balance. He left the hall one knee short of any prospects for finishing the tournament on senshuraku. Let's hope it won't be even worse.

Entering the day at 0-2, Kaio was considered by some observers as most probably already out of the yusho race. Alright, he can still aim for jun-yusho or just double digits, but you know how it is, I mean psychologically. It's tough to muster that extra something when fate slammed the door so early in a basho. Sometimes this setback in motivation makes you even overcompensate. Thus, Kaio stood up so dynamically at the tachi-ai, that by mistake he applied too much stasis in his left big toe area leading to a compromising commitment in general posture. Now, that Kakuryu fellow is a sly fox. Instead of simply sitting down or handing over his arm he opted for the much more sophisticated push-push-push combination, even alternating hands! Dumbfounded by such trickery, the Ozeki employed a last straw emergency knee buckle on himself, offering the crowd (which just returned in time from the toilet) a reason for exchanging the negative feeling of sadness with the positive feeling of relief, as soon as it became clear that careers hadn't ended, yet. Oh god, would they have, would only they have...

Hakuho beat Yoshikaze but it was

Post your suggestions for a fitting adjective to complete the above sentence in the forum. We will then choose the best one and reward the contributor with a printout of the genom of my neighbors dog, which I am going to kill now, the f**king rat.

The good Dr. K was originally scheduled for tomorrow, but he literally might be above clouds. So check back for the resolution of this particular cliffhanger situation that might even shanghai your ability to sleep sorrow-free. Bob Ross prevent!

Day 2 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
There are always plenty of talking points on day 1 for the NHK announcers to kill time with, especially with the recent events that have rocked the sumo world, but on day two they need to dig a bit since storylines have yet to develop and since everyone is still within one loss of each other. As a result, NHK went to one of the top two storylines prior to the basho, which is Ozeki Kaio's quest for the career all time win mark (the other major storyline being Hakuho's quest for a record 8th consecutive yusho). As part of their discussion, they put up a graphic that had the top 10 career win guys. Kaio will become #1 shortly, and you also have names up there like Terao, Akinoshima, and Mitoizumi. Let me just say this: if the top five of any list regarding a record in sumo doesn't contain the names Taiho, Chiyonofuji, Asashoryu, Kitanoumi, and Takanohana, it's a meaningless record.

With that, let's move to the day 2 action, and let me preface it by saying I like the cut to 40 Makuuchi rikishi down from the previous 42. Less is definitely more in terms of providing watchable Makuuchi bouts. Leading off the festivities was M14 Takamisakari vs. M15 Kimurayama in a bout where Kimurayama caught Takamisakari with a clean right nodowa that set up an easy tsuki-dashi win in two seconds. Yeah, I know it was ruled oshi-dashi, but when a guy stiff arms his opponent straight back and out without alternating shoves, it's tsuki-dashi. Anyway, Kimurayama recovered nicely after an ugly day 1, and I've also noticed he's not henka'ing as much from the tachi-ai. As for Takamisakari, he's moving like I do the morning after I've played 7 games of racquetball. Not good at all as both rikishi finish 1-1.

If Takamisakari is dwindling fast, M14 Tochinonada is dwindling even faster. He was useless today agin M15 Fujiazuma who showed his rookie ways by allowing the fight to immediately go to Tochinonada's favored hidari-yotsu, but it simply didn't matter. With a weak right outer on one fold of Nada's mawashi, Fujiazuma picked up his second straight win with the easy yori-kiri. Tochinonada falls to 0-2 and would probably finish 4-3 if fighting among the Makushita jo'i. Maybe. Fujiazuma is a genki rikishi that shows potential, but let's wait and see how he does a little higher up the charts.

I remembered that M13 Sagatsukasa has been here before, but I had no scouting report on the dude which forced me to go back and re-watch Gremlins. Now it makes sense. He can't handle the bright lights just above the dohyo. It showed today as M14 Daido fought off Stripe's inside right attempt throughout, and with Sagatsukasa staying low with his head ducked down, it didn't take much for Daido to shove him off balance just a bit to set up the easy push out win. Stripe is reeling at 0-2 while Daido picks up his first Makuuchi win. Speaking of Daido, isn't he due to put out another album soon?

M12 Toyohibiki and M13 Shotenro exchanged brief tsuppari before Toyohibiki relented and just leaned his girth forward into his opponent stabilizing himself with a left inside grip. Now in a yotsu contest, Shotenro would normally have the advantage, but it didn't seem as if he dared put a lot of weight on his ailing knee, so as he tried to evade around the dohyo, he was all upper body allowing Toyohibiki to force him across the straw. Toyohibiki belly-flopped to the clay himself after then win, and this bout resembled an inebriated man ready to collapse and his smaller friend trying to get outta the way. Shotenro wasn't quick enough and falls to 1-1 while Toyo-ibiki is a quiet 2-0.

If sumo had a middleweight division, M11 Takayasu and M10 Kitataiki would be stars. In their contest today, Takayasu led with a right kachi-age right into Kitataiki's throat giving him the slight edge as the two slipped into the hidari-yotsu contest. Takayasu wrestled his way in for the right outer grip first and after a failed uwate-nage attempt, he had Kitataiki just off balance enough to where a follow-up kote-nage finished him off. Both rikishi stand at 1-1 as Takayasu picks up his first Makuuchi win. Regarding Takayasu, he's got sufficient weight, but it seems to me he needs to add a little muscle. Yeah, sumo guys are fat, but there's also a ton of muscle underneath it all. In Takayasu's case, it looks like he has a beer belly going.

I really like M11 Tochinowaka's size, and it should be sufficient enough to keep him in the Makuuchi division for several years to come. When a tall guy like that can maneuver into moro-zashi as Tochinowaka did against M10 Takarafuji today, there's not much his opponent can do. Takarafuji put up a good fight, but he just couldn't shake his man and was left with no more room to maneuver ‘cept outta the dohyo altogether. Tochinowaka looks very good at 2-0 while Takarafuji is the only rookie without a win now.

The M8 Tochiohzan - M9 Homasho bout looked exciting on paper, but Tochiohzan failed to keep his end of the bargain. Oh looked for moro-zashi from the tachi-ai, and when he didn't get it, he stubbornly kept both arms low as if it was moro-zashi or bust. Homasho denied his advances, however, by staying low and constantly moving around the ring causing the referee to give chase and shout "nokotta nokotta" the entire 20 seconds or so. Speaking of referees, isn't that the cushiest job there is? You show up, ref two sumo bouts a day, and then you're done. I'd sign up if I thought it would get me some chicks. Anyway, Homasho eventually latched onto a left outer grip in the melee and pounced scoring the yori-kiri win from there against a lackluster Tochiohzan (1-1). Homie picked up his second win in as many days.

When did M9 Asasekiryu become so lazy? His opponent, M8 Miyabiyama, has slowed down so much so of late, the global economy is even taking note. But instead of trying to maneuver to the Sherriff’s side and look for an opening, he was hell bent on backing up and timing a pull. It eventually did work after about 6 seconds of nonsense, but Asasekiryu carelessly set a foot outside of the dohyo just as Miyabiyama crashed to the dirt in all his girth. To be honest, I didn't even care who won this bout, and I fast forwarded right through the replays and mono-ii explanation. All I can tell you is they called a rematch, and this time Asasekiryu didn't even go for a pull down as Miyabiyama methodically sent him back and out with his trademark tsuppari, which should probably be downgraded from lumbering to slumbering. Regardless, Miyabiyama is 1-1 while Asasekiryu is 0-2.

M6 Tamawashi has had a hard luck basho so far. After getting henka'd by Aran yesterday, he met the keta-guri happy M7 Tokitenku today. Need I say more? Let's just say that Tamawashi has fought two bouts so far that have lasted a combined one second. Tokitenku skirts to 2-0 with the ugly move.

Maybe I shouldn't have so much disdain for M6 Aran after his henka of Tamawashi yesterday considering his "straight up" sumo today against M7 Gagamaru was so ugly. Aran did go straight at the tachi-ai but then immediately raised both arms to the back of Gagamaru's head to go for the cheap pull down. Gagamaru doesn't necessarily redefine the term "speed," but even he was able to read Aran's move and snuggle in for the easy force-out win with Aran already in back-pedal mode. Both furries finish the day at 1-1.

M4 Okinoumi and M5 Kaisei met up today in a promising hidari-yotsu contest from the tachi-ai that saw Kaisei grab a right outer grip and strike first, but the throw attempt just didn't have any mustard on it allowing Okinoumi to counter brilliantly with a shitate-nage of his own that spun Kaisei down to the clay. I think the difference in this bout was simple experience. Kaisei, a foreigner from Brazil, has had to learn sumo on the run late in his teen years while Okinoumi has been taught the basics from his childhood. Okinoumi moves to 2-0 with the win while Kaisei falls to 1-1. These are both likeable rikishi.

Not so likeable is M4 Takekaze (1-1) who gave M5 Wakanosato (0-2) a lube job and didn't even put a cherry on top.

I've already mentioned guys like Takamisakari, Tochinonada, and Miyabiyama who have really slowed down the last few basho, and catching up with them soon enough will be M3 Aminishiki who was hesitant at the tachi-ai and could only offer M2 Toyonoshima a weak pull attempt. Tugboat read his opponent like a free porn site and immediately bulldozed him back and across the straw for the easy win. Toyonoshima is 2-0 and will test everyone except for Hakuho. Aminishiki is a stinky 0-2.

Moving to the sanyaku, Sekiwake Kotoshogiku looked to get a breather against M3 Wakakoyu. The two hooked up in the hidari-yotsu stance (meaning both had left inside positions), and with Wakakoyu showing a bit of resistance, Kotoshogiku went for a maki-kae to try and get moro-zashi. The move failed, but Kotoshogiku received no counter attack from Wakakoyu, so he took that initial left inside position that was given and yori-kiri'ed his opponent back and out from there. The maki-kae is usually a do-or-die move at this level on the banzuke. That Kotoshogiku failed in his attempt and was not even pushed back shows the huge discrepancy in the level of these two rikishi. Yes, the banzuke will be a bit whacked for the next few basho. I did get a kick, though, out of the NHK announcer's comment that Kotoshogiku was able to do his brand of sumo (they call it "jibun no sumo" in Japanese). Ya think? Against Wakakoyu, Sekiwake should be able to show up and wrestle in ski boots and still get the win. The Geeku is 1-1 but hasn't looked impressive while Wakakoyu's win total for the basho has officially been downgraded to 2.

Sekiwake Kisenosato welcomed M2 Kyokutenho today, but it looked to me as if the Kid totally overlooked his opponent. Like the sound of a tree that falls in the woods with no one around, Kyokutenho could totally disappear from the banzuke and he wouldn't be noticed. Yet, he's got game and is big enough that you can't just overlook him. Today the two hooked up in the migi-yotsu contest, and Kyokutenho enjoyed the lower stance. Still, Kisenosato went for a left outer belt throw, but the move was ill-advised considering Kyokutenho's position. The Chauffeur was easily able to turn the tables and force Kisenosato to the edge with his back against the tawara, and he gave the Kid nowhere to run brilliantly using his right thigh to pin Kisenosato's lower body from moving whereupon Kyokutenho leaned into his opponent's torso and crushed him to the dohyo via yori-taoshi. Great stuff from the sneaky Tenho who moves to 1-1 while Kisenosato (1-1) was too careless against a wily veteran.

In the Ozeki ranks, Baruto looked as if he was fighting a kid at some exhibition when M1 Yoshikaze easily snuck under for moro-zashi and then bear-hugged Baruto's right thigh trying to knock him off balance with an ashi-tori move. Baruto just stood his ground though and grabbed the back of Yoshikaze's mawashi with the right hand throwing him to the dohyo in a heap by the belt. This type of sumo should not be happening at this level now that Mainoumi has retired, but we'll have to put up with it a few more basho as Baruto moves to 2-0. Yoshikaze actually has a win already at 1-1! Oh yeah, he fought Kaio yesterday.

Up next was Ozeki Kotooshu against Sekiwake Kakuryu, and the Kak showed that he is indeed worthy of his rank by actually welcoming the yotsu-zumo contest against the taller rikishi from the tachi-ai. With both guys leading with left inners and Kotooshu in tight, Kakuryu easily withstood the Ozeki's advances and just dug in before throwing Kotooshu to the dirt with a right outer grip in spectacular fashion. Going chest to chest against Kotooshu is an extremely bad idea for anyone but Hakuho and Baruto, so to see Kakuryu not only shrug that off but to set the pace of the bout and finish with an outside belt throw speaks volumes...about both rikishi. The current situation in sumo right now is Hakuho so far above everyone else that there is little intrigue. Baruto is barely in second place, but right on his tail are the likes of Kisenosato, Kotoshogiku, Goeido, and Kakuryu. You have this core group of guys in the sanyaku who are actually better than the Ozeki, but it's so hard to get demoted from the prestigious rank that it creates a strange unbalance in sumo. By definition, an Ozeki should threaten the yusho every basho, but I can't remember the last time an Ozeki took the jun-yusho. It's just another reason why sumo is dying and needs a few sweeping changes to make it viable again. Anyway, Kakuryu is a solid 2-0 while Kotooshu will definitely have to work to get his eight.

Ozeki Kaio couldn't handle Komusubi Goeido even when the latter agreed to a hidari-yotsu contest from the tachi-ai that puts Kaio that much closer to a right outer grip. Wouldn't have mattered anyway. If Kaio can't even ride a bus due to his back problems, how the hell is he going to stop Goeido if a fix isn't in? Simply put, he's not as Goeido scored the easy yori-kiri win. The respectable thing for Kaio to do would be to withdraw after his 0-2 start and then call it quits from sumo leaving Chiyonofuji's record intact. I believe that Kaio could actually win two bouts legitimately this basho giving him first place all-time in career wins, but how many of those other wins weren't earned? As I said in my opening, if the top five don't include dai-Yokozuna, then the record is meaningless and even the Japanese public knows it on this one. Goeido moves to 1-1 with the easy win.

Komusubi Tochinoshin delivered a left kachi-age at the tachi-ai against Ozeki Harumafuji and then kept his right arm in so deep to deny Harumafuji moro-zashi that his right arm was actually grappling with the Ozeki's left arm on the other side. I thought Tochinoshin's tachi-ai was good, but instead of trying to maneuver in deep for a solid position of his own, his tactic today was to keep the Ozeki away. You can't beat an Ozeki if you're defensively-minded, so Harumafuji showed great patience solidifying his right frontal grip on NoShine's belt and then digging his head underneath the Private's chin driving the taller rikishi upright to where he was the easy push-out fodder from there. Props to Harumafuji for being patient against a guy who has given him tons of trouble the last year or two. The Ozeki had to have sensed that Tochinoshin was fighting not to lose today, so he played things perfectly by picking his spot and then seizing the day. He's 2-0 for his troubles while Tochinoshin falls to 0-2. As I indicated in my pre-basho report, the content of Tochinoshin's sumo last basho was not worthy of the jun-yusho, and we're seeing that manifest the first two days. Sure, Shin's competition has been stiff, but he didn't even put up a fight yesterday against Hakuho, and he wasn't looking to dictate the bout today against a rikishi he's handled of late.

Do I even need to comment on the Yokozuna Hakuho - M1 Tosayutaka matchup? Even if Tosayutaka did get moro-zashi, he couldn't beat the Yokozuna, and I give him props for trying to burrow on the inside of the Yokozuna, but Hakuho toyed with the mini-croc today throwing him over to the dirt with ease via an outer belt throw. Tosayutaka falls to 0-2 and is the second most overmatched rikishi among the jo’i a step ahead of Wakakoyu.

Andreas checks his cell phone in at the gate tomorrow.

Day 1 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
Wasnt sure this day would ever come again, me up on your screen writing about those lovable lunkheads, The Sumos! My uncertainty stemmed not from the fact that there was a remote chance sumo might have disappeared from TV altogether, but from the ennui the six month layoff engendered in my quan. That long apart can have a deleterious effect on any relationship, and lets face it, its not like we were engaged or anything. I like sumo primarily because I enjoy friendly conflict, secondarily because Mike sends me snack foods, and tertiarily because, in a world tits full of deception, corruption, reprobation, and rot, sumo stands ramrod true as a beacon on the hill of purity and honor.

There are many who have become disillusioned with sumo due to yaocho. Not me. Know why? I was never illusioned. Neither were the rest of us. I recall early e-chats with ST newbie Martin in which he put his rather considerable finger on it: “Its fecking human nature, innit. Live together, work together, play together--what, you think theyre NOT going to make deals with each other?”

Thats not to say I knew sumos dirty little himitsu from the get go. No, I went through my rose-colored stage. But once I started breaking it down every basho for Mike and Kenji, lets just say the band started playing Danny Boy for my innocence.

Still, it didnt really bother me because Ive never thought of sumo as a sport in the same sense I think of say, baseball or tennis as a sport. Sumo is a curiosity, a cultural oddity sprung from a relatively odd culture. No disdain is intended by that word--curiosity, but its not like I wait with bated breath for the next tidbit from the NSK. I enjoy my sumo knowing that it is not always a 100% effort.

However, coming back to it after the recent layoff is another matter. Is the fire still there? By way of analogy, I had a girlfriend in high school, so hot she was near molten. I knew she liked to flirt, and suspected with good reason she slipped out for de-geiko on occasion, but as I was enjoying my time with her, I didnt really concern myself with images of her playing diver down in the front seat of some other guys car while I was working my shit job at (insert giant retail outfit). Well, one day she took sick, had some rare condition that caused her to be hospitalized and tested for months. I visited all the time and once she asked me to bring her some things from her house. I was close with her family so it was perfectly fine by them for me to be around. Long story short, while getting some of her things, I found a shoebox and there were, essentially, pics of chicks holding dicks like bricks, but Dr. Seuss it was not. Shocked and disgusted by this revelation, I quickly jerked off, twice, and then got out of there.

Two months later she was released, and she called me up. I went over to see her. It was awkward. Thoughts of the hard (literally) evidence I had seen raced through my head. Would I still feel the old magic? Would I still care about my love? Would I

remember to tape the matches? Well, yes, but I was a few minutes late, and missed the first bout of the day, between Fujiazuma and Kimurayama, won by Fujiazuma via oshi-dashi. Sorry.

But I did see Takamisakari shove Tochinonada back and then give way as Nada (which is all he has left these days) resisted at the edge, PTs Boy pulling him forward and down to remain undefeated.

Shotenro welcomed back Sagatsukasa and his race car hairdo with an armbar that spelled doom for Stripe, who plowed into the dirt in a flash.

Toyohibiki schooled newcomer Daido, who has a kind of young Miyabiyama look to him, with uncommon (for him) yori-kiri class.

Another first timer was next, the Heisei Kid Takayasu, taking on sophomore Tochinowaka, whose face was giving off strong young Dejima vibes. The two gave us a long, well fought bout, with several close calls, before Tochinowaka got Willie up on his toes at the edge and crushed him out. No Catch today for the rookie.

Takarafuji let Kitataiki snatch the match as he couldnt seal the deal at the edge and got swung around and down. Tough sumo from the Kitanoumi heya grappler.

Homasho kept in front of Asasekiryu, nicely countering some of Sexys shenanigans, and finally shoved him out with, I dare say, aplomb.

All the way down at E8 is Tochiohzan. Wow, you go to sleep for six months and when you awaken, things have really changed! Is Hakuho in Juryo? Anyway, Oh Snap played the Eskimo card, meaning that although Miyabiyama was dishing out his aged tsuppari slapping attack for what seemed like days, Tochiohzan was having “Nunavut.” Once spent the thirty-four year-old was easy oshi-dashi pickings for his much younger foe.

Cant help but think Gagamaru would have made a good Hindu deity, maybe partnered up with Ganesha (and its not just a cheap elephant gag). There is something...lordly about him. Anywho, he had Tokitenku dead to rights but literally fell victim to a deftly timed pull from the Mongolian. (Apropos of nothing, but did yall know Japan was home to an extinct type of large elephant called an "Akebono," stegodon aurorae?)

The final bout of the first half presented us with the first lame sumo of the day, with Aran pulling a shitty tachi-ai hataki-komi on poor Tamawashi. Not a single hand clap, and even the Japanese announcers let loose on the move. Still, it stood out precisely because all the other bouts had been straight up, generally well fought contests. What would the second half bring? Would Kaio Jeter get his 1045th career hit?

But first we had Kaisei use his enormous form to bully out a hapless Wakanosato. Then we had Takekaze take an ill-timed dive at Okinoumi, who sidestepped it to the cheers of the Madrid crowd. Kakuryu took advantage of Aminishiki sporting on his right leg what looked to be some sort of cybernetic leg brace. Whatever it was it did him no good as Shneaky tried to avoid standing on it and got driven out for his troubles, despite bringing a fierce head hammering tachi-ai.

Kisenosato had no problem with Wakakoyu, but Kotoshogiku had much trouble with Toyonoshima. Tugboat got in low and pretty much geekud out the Geeku. Ozeki runs dont normally grow out of such uninspired sumo.

Kotooshu, being nine years younger than Kyokutenho, easily turned the tables on the forward moving Chauffer and swung him around at the edge.

Next bout had Kaio going for the record, but he wasnt fighting some thirteen years younger chump like Hakuho, no sir, he was up against the mighty Yoshikaze, and Starbuck was not about to be victim number blah blah blah BLAH blah. After knocking the Ozeki back, he timed a sideswipe of a desperate Kaio lunge and then ran him out manlove style. No worries for Kaio, though, because even if everyone else beats him this time out, he can rest assured knowing that he can get 1045 vs the Yokozuna.

Tosayutaka showed gumption to spare vs. Harumafuji, battling him straight up till the Ozeki had him pinned against the tawara, where the E1 dug in and lifted up and tried like a demon to throw HowDo, but his heel touched down first as the both crashed out. Fun to watch.

Baruto invited Goeido over for tea, but since the Komusubi mistakenly thought the party was in the cottage, Biomass bear hugged him and carried him out to the garden, setting him down gently and asking, One lump or two? The crowd spewed gooey things at this demo of power, but my mind couldnt help but go back, back, back to when a much smaller but equally powerful rikishi who went by the name of Asashoryu used to do it three times per basho. Still, nice work from Marios buddy (and congrats to the Fantastic Dr. Kadastik, as he got married a few days ago).

Finally, looking to bounce back from that unavoidable loss to the mighty Kaio on Senshuraku in Mays practice-tourney-that-nonetheless-had-a-yusho-that-counts-in-the-record-books basho, Hakuho made two second work of Tochinoshin.

Ill be back on Days 8 and 15, when the action will have heated up and well have some great fighting to expound on. Mike gives back the obscenely valuable homerun ball for a chance to simply meet his hero on Day 2.











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