Day 14 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
all know that it's been 8 years and change since a Japanese rikishi took the
yusho, and two of them were in a great position to break the trend heading into
day 14. And let's suppose a Japanese rikishi does break through this
basho and hoist the cup, will anything change? Nope. It will be business as
usual at the Aki basho and the Kyushu basho and at least all of 2015 meaning the
three Mongolian Yokozuna will continue to create openings around them, and when
rikishi are able to rise up and create excitement as they have done this basho,
it will make for some high drama.
I really appreciated Martin's enthusiasm yesterday in breaking down the yusho
race, and I found myself as excited as I can ever remember in anticipation as I
dragged myself out of bed and queued up the day 14 bouts. It's obvious that we
all choose to see sumo in different ways, but regardless of what your take is on
the action, there is major drama and suspense at the Nagoya basho, which is just
the way the Association wants it.
Before we cover the bouts, let's review the leaderboard, which shapes up as
11-2: Hakuho, Kotoshogiku, Takayasu
10-3: Kakuryu, Goeido
By scheduling Kotoshogiku and Takayasu to fight today, the Association
guarantees that a Japanese rikishi will be at least tied for the lead as we head
into senshuraku. It also eliminates any four-loss rikishi since the winner of
the Kotoshogiku - Takayasu bout will be guaranteed at worst a 12-3 finish.
Regardless of today's outcomes, the yusho-arasoi has been a huge success, and
senshuraku is guaranteed to be as electric of a final day as we've seen in
that said, let's start the day with the three-loss rikishi beginning with
Sekiwake Goeido who was paired with M6 Terunofuji, the most promising guy in the
division right now (I'd say the whole banzuke but there's an even bigger beast
lurking in Juryo). The two hooked up early in the migi-yotsu position with
Goeido pressing forward and Terunofuji willing to retreat to the side and go for
a mammoth kote-nage with the left, and the counter throw was going to work as
Goeido was knocked off balance, but Terunofuji stopped the throw and allowed the
bout to resume in migi-yotsu. If that wasn't the first clue, the second one came
next as Terunofuji senselessly brought his right inside arm to the outside
giving Goeido moro-zashi on the spot. We've actually seen Terunofuji give up
moro-zashi and win by kime-dashi, but he quietly stayed in front of the Sekiwake
and allowed him to score the yori-kiri win in the end. With the win, Goeido
moves to 11-3, but a lot has to happen for the yusho line to fall that low. For
his troubles, Terunofuji falls to 8-6 but will surely eat well tonight on
Goeido safely through, let's next move in chronological order to the Ozeki
Kotoshogiku - M11 Takayasu matchup. Takayasu is looking for the first yusho from
the hira-maku since Kyokutenho did it just over two years ago while Kotoshogiku
is looking for his first yusho ever. Takayasu led with his left shoulder, but
the Ozeki crashed hard as well driving from a lower stance, and the result was
the hidari-yotsu position where Kotoshogiku actually had Takayasu's right arm
pointing up in the air, but he relented allowing Takayasu to tinkle the ivories
on the right side of Kotoshogiku's belt just missing out on an outer grip as
Kotoshogiku bellied his foe back near the straw. At the edge, Takayasu attempted
a lame kubi-nage but was rewarded with a trip off the dohyo altogether as
Kotoshogiku scored the quick force-out win. I'll bite my tongue on this one and
just say I thought Takayasu coulda put up a better fight, but regardless, gunbai
to the Ozeki who moves 12-2 staying firmly in the yusho hunt. As for Takayasu,
he falls to 11-3 but will surely earn a special prize for his trouble.
Kotoshogiku safely through, it was now up to Yokozuna Hakuho to set the table
for the final day against fellow Yokozuna Kakuryu. Hakuho attempted a hari-zashi
tachi-ai slapping with the left and looking to get the right inside, but Kakuryu
jumped out of the gate quick grabbing the left outer grip sustained by the right
arm to the inside. The Kak was able to jump the dai-Yokozuna early, but Hakuho
persisted at the edge grabbing a left outer of his own and going for a quick
outer belt throw. Kakuryu survived, however, and as the two hooked back up into
hidari-yotsu, Kakuryu executed a quick maki-kae giving him moro-zashi, but his
jaw was perched above Hakuho's left shoulder. With Hakuho digging in tight,
Kakuryu had nowhere to go, and after lifting up with both outers, Hakuho
bludgeoned his way into the right inside position with a maki-kae, and once
obtained, he forced the Kak out for good keeping pace with Kotoshogiku at 12-2.
This was one of those crazy, unsettled bouts that we often see from the
Mongolian Yokozuna where they seem to fit in a whole basho worth of maki-kae,
but as the dust settled, Kakuryu was knocked out of the yusho race falling to
Let's pause at this point, and review the leaderboard. Hakuho and Kotoshogiku
are in the lead at 12-2 while Goeido and Takayasu bring up the rear at 11-3. As
for the bouts that involve the leaders, they shape up as follows:
Takayasu draws M4 Takekaze, who has been a crafty rikishi to deal with this
basho. Even if Takayasu does win, he needs both Hakuho and Kotoshogiku to lose
to still have a chance. A Takayasu win and losses by the two 12-2 rikishi is a
tall order, so let's send Takayasu home with a Kantosho for his efforts.
Kotoshogiku draws Goeido, and if Goeido wins, it puts both rikishi at 12-3 and
at the mercy of Hakuho who will battle Harumafuji in the tournament's final
bout. It will actually be interesting to witness the straight-up bout between
the two Japanese rikishi, but who knows what will transpire between the two
Mongolians.? Hakuho has shown in the past that he is willing to drop a bout or
two along the way, but the only time I can ever remember him not having control
of his own destiny was the 2012 Natsu basho where Kyokutenho won it all. If
precedent holds, Hakuho will beat Harumafuji and then battle Kotoshogiku in a
playoff (if Kotoshogiku beat Goeido) for the yusho , a bout that obviously
favors the Yokozuna. It all comes down to whatever Hakuho's modus operandi
happens to be.
The only element that Hakuho has no control over is Harumafuji's tachi-ai. HowDo
has henka'd a few times already this basho most notably against Kakuryu
yesterday. If Harumafuji really wants to throw a wrench in things, he'll henka
against Hakuho. Otherwise, I'd be really surprised if Hakuho doesn't pick up his
30th career yusho tomorrow.
If both Hakuho and Kotoshogiku lose, things will really get crazy with a
three-way playoff or maybe a four-way playoff if Takayasu and Goeido both win.
We haven't seen three or more rikishi in a playoff in who knows how long, but if
it does happen, this is the way it will work:
If three rikishi are tied, the three rikishi will draw lots to see which two
rikishi fight first. Essentially, the first rikishi to win two bouts in a row
will take the yusho. The tomoe-sen (as Martin introduced yesterday) could go on
and on as long as one rikishi doesn't win two in a row.
If four rikishi are tied, the four rikishi will all draw lots to see where each
is placed in a semi-final bout. The winners of the two semi-final bouts then
pair off in the final.
Once again, Hakuho controls everything tomorrow except Harumafuji's tachi-ai.
And speaking of Yokozuna Harumafuji, he battled Ozeki Kisenosato in the day's
final bout. Well, battle probably isn't the best way to phrase it as Harumafuji
had his way with the Ozeki tsuppari'ing him upright from the tachi-ai and then
seizing moro-zashi that set up the easy yori-kiri in about four seconds. As
Kisenosato was thrown off the dohyo altogether, Yoshida Announcer asked himself
out loud, "What happened to the Kisenosato who was so fired up yesterday against
Yes, what did happen? Martin handled the Hakuho - Kisenosato bout well
yesterday, and all I would add is this: we know now that Kisenosato has been
involved in at least three straight up bouts against Goeido, Kotoshogiku, and
Harumafuji. Both Goeido and Kotoshogiku easily got the inside position from the
tachi-ai and then just forced Kisenosato back and out in linear fashion
requiring just a few seconds to do it. That's also exactly how Harumafuji
defeated the Ozeki today, so to think that possibly the best rikishi to ever
grace the dohyo couldn't have done the same thing is preposterous. Anyway,
Harumafuji improves to 10-4 with the easy win while Kisenosato is a quiet 9-5.
In other bouts of interest, Komusubi Aoiyama ended his sanyaku run at 6-8 in an
ugly affair with M4 Tamawashi where both rikishi looked to attack with tsuppari,
but they were really waiting for the first pull opportunity that came along.
Aoiyama scored on it first sending Tamawashi to an ugly 3-11.
Rounding out the sanyaku, it was Komusubi Aminishiki who went for the pull first
against M5 Chiyootori who wisely struck at the tachi-ai and moved forward
instead of retreating as we've seen him do way too much in Nagoya. With
Chiyootori moving forward and Aminishiki retreating, the push out win came in
two or three seconds as Chiyootori limps to 6-8 while Aminishiki is a paltry
3-11. The Komusubi rank as a whole was useless this basho other than giving
cheap wins to rikishi who needed them.
M3 Osunaarashi's fierce kachi-age was missing yesterday against Kotoshogiku, but
it was back in full force today against M2 Yoshikaze who moved out left in order
to avoid it, and thanks to Monster Drink's move to the side, both rikishi were
separated and ended up in an outright brawl with the larger Ejyptian flailing
away and Yoshikaze mostly ducking and looking to get in the inside. Yoshikaze
did manage to sneak his left arm to the inside, but before he could mount a
charge, Osunaarashi countered with a right kote-nage throw that just flung
Yoshikaze over and clear outta the dohyo. Osunaarashi stays alive at 7-7 while
Yoshikaze's make-koshi becomes official at 6-8.
Jokoryu picked up double-digit wins for the first time in his Makuuchi career
today as he struck M4 Takekaze hard with both hands at the tachi-ai while
Takekaze looked to slip out left, but Takekaze's legs weren't planted to the
dohyo, and he just plopped over a second in. Ugly win, but Jokoryu will take it
as he sails to 10-4 while Takekaze will still sleep easy at 8-6.
Endoh was gifted yet another win this basho with today's favor coming from M8
Toyohibiki. Endoh actually attempted a hari-zashi tachi-ai striking Toyohibiki
in the neck with the right hand (yes, Toyohibiki actually has a neck!) and
attempting to get the left arm to the inside, but Toyohibiki had Endoh's right
arm smothered with his right arm and a dangerous left of his own on the other
side, but he abandoned his right arm position and just leaned over waiting for
the outer belt throw that came about two seconds in. Toyohibiki's roll was the
exact roll you see at the end of keiko when the rikishi practice taking dives.
No question this was a gift as both rikishi end the day at 7-7.
M6 Myogiryu struck M13 Sokokurai hard at the tachi-ai knocking him straight up
and allowing Myogiryu to grab the right inside position, and after gathering his
wits for a second or two, Myogiryu mounted a perfect force-out charge driving
with his legs and sending Sokokurai outta the ring without argument. Myogiryu
fulfills Mainoumi's prophesy as he moves to 10-4 while Sokokurai's kachi-koshi
bid is denied at 7-7.
M8 Chiyotairyu just crushed M17Arawashi back from the start with dual shoves,
but Arawashi somehow kept a tiny grip of Chiyotairyu's mawashi with the left
hand, and that allowed him to keep his balance just enough to where the
Mongolian jumped to his left and grabbed Chiyotairyu's right arm sending him out
of the dohyo tottari style on Chiyotairyu's econd volley. Chiyotairyu did
everything right in this one, but you just have to credit Arawashi and his ring
sense. Both rikishi are 9-5.
M16 Chiyomaru looked to pick up kachi-koshi the cheap way by striking K9
Kitataiki with both hands before immediately backing up and going for the pull.
Didn't work, though, as Kitataiki kept his feet, so Chiyomaru mawari-komu'd left
barely escaping a lethal thrust from Kitataiki, and in the process, Maru was
able to pull Kitataiki off balance enough to where he set him up for the ugly
push out win in the end. Chiyomaru moves to 8-6 while Kitataiki is 5-9.
M9 Takarafuji picked up his kachi-koshi today when M15 Gagamaru just rolled over
for him...literally. I know we've talked a lot about mukiryoku sumo in the upper
ranks, but this was a classic example of a rikishi taking a loss to give his
opponent kachi-koshi. The two hooked up in hidari-yotsu before Gagamaru just ran
himself to the right side of Takarafuji and waited for T-fooj to just throw him
down with the left arm to the inside. Gagamaru actually won the tachi-ai and had
his right arm in the perfect position, but he did nothing with it and just
started leaning left resulting in the ugly two second bout. Takarafuji moves to
8-6 with the win while Gagamaru dozes his way to 5-9.
M11 Sadanoumi fell to make-koshi today against M15 Tokitenku as the two clashed
in the gappuri migi-yotsu position from the tachi-ai where Tokitenku had the
left frontal grip. With Tokitenku pressing in, Sadanoumi went for his signature
move, the soto-gake (outside) leg trip with the left leg, but Tokitenku who was
defeated last basho by this move was ready for it countering with an uchi-gake
(inside) leg trip of his own, and thanks to Tokitenku's better position gained
from the tachi-ai, he was able to force Sadanoumi down hard leaving both
gentlemen at 6-8.
The Senior Tour got a bit of run today as M12 Kyokutenho clashed with M16
Wakanosato in migi-yotsu. A few seconds in, Kyokutenho got lazy and instead of
going for the outer grip stepped outside and tried to pull Wakanosato cheaply
down, but Don Sato's been in a knife fight before and he demanded moro-zashi
when the dust settled. Kyokutenho tried to use his size advantage and kime-dashi
the Gangstuh, but Wakanosato used a right scoop throw Kyokutenho over to the
edge and out for the sweet win. Kyokutenho suffers make-koshi at 6-8 while
Wakanosato improves to 5-9.
And finally, M14 Azumaryu learned today what it's like to get sucked into the
abyss as he clashed with J3 Ichinojo in a migi-yotsu contest from the start.
Azumaryu gained the early left outer grip and tested the waters quickly also
feeling out a soto-gake attempt, but Ichinojo stood his ground admirably and
then from out of nowhere countered with a right sukui-nage throw that completely
threw Azumaryu off balance and to the side. Azumaryu recovered and grabbed the
left outer again, but the bout turned to gappuri-yotsu and Ichinojo wasn't going
anywhere. Just after the one minute mark, Ichinojo made his force-out move, and
as Azumaryu tried to counter backing to his left and dragging his foe with the
outer grip, his right foot missed the tawara and caused him to plant it
awkwardly as Ichinojo just crashed down on top of him twisting Azumaryu's right
knee in a direction it wasn't made to twist. I think Azumaryu was expecting to
find the tawara to make his counter move, and when it wasn't there, he tried to
adjust his stance, but Ichinojo was already crashing into him. It's a shame that
anyone should have to suffer an injury like this, and I'll be surprised if
Azumaryu (7-7) is able to fight in Aki. Ichinojo moves to 13-1 and not only has
the Juryo yusho in the bag, but he's got the attention of the entire
You know I will be back tomorrow to wrap things up.
Day 13 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
of the irreverent, in-your-face way we like to call the common implement used
for digging holes and moving around dirt a spade, every once in a while Sumotalk
will attract criticism, which some of those times will be open criticism, which
will occasionally degenerate into blatant name-calling, holier-than-thou,
venom-filled tirades by short, overweight, middle-aged white guys who have
nothing better to do on a weekday afternoon. In case you missed it the first 17
times, here’s the newsflash: we don’t mind. We write under our own names and
even post our pictures, and we take full credit and responsibility for anything
we write. If you disagree vehemently with our takes, you have these options,
1. Stop reading. It’s not like we’re forcing you to.
2. State your disagreement in a civilized manner. You might be surprised to find
out how far that will take you. At worst, we will, in the end, agree to
3.State your disagreement in an increasingly violent manner while saying you’re
a rikishi and throwing your (alleged) weight around with all your immense
knowledge and insight – everything under the guise of anonymity, of course. You
might, if you’re unreasonably lucky, elicit a mild response from Mike (he’s a
Mormon, sorry) and this nifty day 13 intro from me. Congratulations, your
existence has been validated. Now go play on the freeway or something.
Getting back to the hon-basho, it’s day 13 already and there is the possibility
of a yusho playoff, or even a tomoe-sen, if we’re lucky. (Here be spoilers)
Hakuho dropped his second bout in 3 days and was caught by the two-strong
chasing pack at 11 wins and 2 losses. Does that mean I think he’s not the
favorite to win the tournament anymore? No. To make it even clearer, here, I’ll
spell it out: as of the completion of day 13, I still think Hakuho is the
favorite to win the 2014 Nagoya basho. With the two contenders Kotoshogiku and
Takayasu meeting tomorrow and Kotoshogiku having faced all the Yokozuna already,
the chance for at least a kettei-sen looks pretty high.
This is what the leaderboard looks like:
Hakuho 11-2 faces Kakuryu on day 14, likely Harumafuji, maybe Takayasu on day 15
Kotoshogiku 11-2 faces Takayasu on day 14, likely Goeido on day 15
Takayasu 11-2 faces Kotoshogiku tomorrow, maybe Hakuho or Kakuryu on day 15
Kakuryu 10-3 faces Hakuho tomorrow, probably Kisenosato or Takayasu on
Goeido 10-3 faces Terunofuji next, and after that Kotoshogiku is most likely
Given Takayasu’s 11 wins, they might just decide to rearrange the tori-kumi so
Takayasu can’t run away with it without facing all contenders, which would mean
pairing him with Hakuho. The only other option I can see is keeping the top
Yokozuna match-up but giving Kakuryu to Takayasu (Kisenosato is mathematically
out of it anyway, but his rank is lower than Ama’s). Anything else, like pairing
the young contender with the likes of Kisenosato or Goeido, will screw up the
other matches pretty badly (Kakuryu and Kotoshogiku are still in the yusho race
and those two guys are the toughest opponents they need to face). (Spoilers end)
Alright, first the bouts, then the possible scenarios, which make for delightful
speculation for a change. Since I’m in an instant reward mood today, I’ll just
start off with the musubi-no-ichiban, which saw Hakuho get thrown at the edge by
kote-nage and relinquish his lead. Leading with a tentative left hari-te, Hakuho
was definitely the more active of the two throughout the match, opting to keep
away from the mawashi and just push his opponent right out. It seemed to be
paying off, too, as Kisenosato was driven back near the edge. But that’s when it
got really interesting. Kisenosato put up a fight to hold his ground, so Hakuho
took a quick, effective swipe at the Kid’s right arm and pulled him off balance,
briefly getting him turned around. Hakuho chased him down to the other side of
the ring to finish him off, only to meet with brick wall-like resistance at the
edge and get thrown to the dirt by a standard desperation move. The above
description is pretty neutral, so, if your stomach is weak for yaocho, you can
stop reading here. To make it crystal clear, I’m 99.9% sure the bout was not
legit, i.e. Hakuho was not giving his all.
First and foremost, Hakuho was never looking for a belt grip. The guy builds a
career out of yori-kiri and uwate-nage and against an arguably much tougher
opponent than the average he never ONCE tries to use his strengths? He’s either
suffering from temporary brain-deadness or taking it easy. Then there’s the
great opportunity mid-bout. Hak’s swipe at Kisenosato’s arm is nearly perfect,
the guy is sent stumbling across and briefly has his back to Hakuho, but Hakuho
makes sure he takes his sweet time to square up with him instead of just
okuridashi-ing him into the 3rd row. And last, for artistic impression, when
they’re at the edge, Hakuho, still not trying to get anywhere near the mawashi,
leans forward ever so slightly and then dives, gently and fluidly, at the
slightest sign of pressure from Kisenosato. In his defense, it was a really good
sell, but still not good enough.
As for the reasons, this is where it gets really exciting. Instead of having a
boring old Hakuho-alone-in-first-place leaderboard, we’re treated to the beauty
I showed above. Plus, it’s Kisenosato, the closest thing (sadly) the Japanese
have to a Yokozuna hope. Moreover, let’s look at Hakuho’s losses in the last 7
basho (or the last 9, they’re exactly the same). You got a big fat ZERO against
anyone ranked Komusubi or below (which also means Hakuho is really
cost-effective kinboshi-wise for the NSK), 3 against Harumafuji, 3 against
Kisenosato, 3 against Goeido (!), 2 vs. Kakuryu, both of them occurring during
the Kak’s uncannily improbable and dubiously successful Yokozuna run, and a
single one against Kotoshogiku (who finished 8-7 in that basho). That’s it, 12
losses in 133 matches. That’s f-u-c-k-ing it. Hakuho is currently standing atop
a hoard of 29 yusho and is in danger of winning this one as well. It doesn’t
really hurt anyone if he occasionally tries to give the impression he’s human
after all. Can you imagine him going 86-4 again? I’m sure there aren’t many
Japanese fans out there who feel the least bit excited thinking about it.
Now let’s go back up to that very promising leaderboard and speculate on the
variety of possible outcomes. Let’s start with the beginning and put Takayasu
out of his misery. He’s not the favorite tomorrow and he sure as hell isn’t the
favorite against either Hakuho or Kakuryu, so pencil in that 11-4 record and a
prize, whatever they decide to throw at him. If he somehow does win tomorrow,
though, senshuraku will become that much more worth anticipating. Goeido is next
on the list chance-wise, with three losses and not enough sumo in him. I see him
as a slight favorite against Terunofuji tomorrow, but I won’t be too surprised
if he gets “upset” by the gigantic Mongol. I don’t, however, see him as the
favorite against Kotoshogiku. Next
Kakuryu also with a 10-3 record, with Hakuho and Kisenosato/Takayasu left to
fight. 12-3 isn’t entirely out of the question, but I’m afraid it might not be
enough. Because Kotoshogiku’s 11-2 with Takayasu and Goeido left means the
chance for a kettei-sen is his to lose. As I stated in the beginning, I still
think Hakuho is the favorite to win it all, most likely in a two-way playoff,
but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it outright. There is also the
mathematical possibility of a monster four-way playoff, or a three-way tomoe-sen.
A tomoe, for your general information, is a design like the one in the image at
right. It looks pretty awesome, doesn’t it? It’s pretty obvious why a
three-way playoff in sumo would be called a tomoe-sen (巴戦 – literally “tomoe
Now, after all the anticipation I hope I’ve created, let’s slowly make our way
down the banzuke. In the clash of the two Yokozuna, Harumafuji stiffed Kak with
a well-disguised henka, but a henka nonetheless, shifting to the left and
grabbing the insurmountable left uwate which he used, along with Kakuryu’s own
momentum, to get behind him and show him the door. I can only imagine the
possibilities for the basho outcome if only Kakuryu had won that one. Harumafuji
improves to 9-4, which is too little, too late.
Osunaarashi was half a step slow with his kachi-age charge, which gave
Kotoshogiku just the advantage he needed to finish the job by oshi-dashi in
about 3 seconds. The Ejyptian falls to a dangerous 6-7 and needs to win the
remaining two in order to get that Shukun-sho prize.
Takekaze lived up to his infamy attempting yet another henka against Goeido, but
the Father fortunately read it fairly easily and pushed the compromised Takekaze
straight out. The fat Kaze slows down to 8-5, but I’m already looking forward to
his drubbing in the meat grinder next basho (he could make it as high as
Sekiwake, the slippery bastard, which would be a new high or a new low,
whichever way you want to look at it). Goeido improves to a seemingly honorable
(on paper) 10-3, but has his work cut out for him these last two days. Like I
said before, I won’t be surprised if Terunofuji dismantles him.
Tamawashi sidestepped Aminishiki just enough to gain a crucial advantage,
standing him upright with a right paw to the throat while pushing to the side
with the left. The result was a quick, merciless, and somewhat amusing
oshi-taoshi, as Aminishiki reaped the gyoji with his extended right leg in the
process of digging into the tawara. The old guy in the dress didn’t seem too
affected by the incident and kept his eye on the pair of combatants even as he
was down on all fours. After the dust settled, both guys walked out of the dohyo
with 3 wins and 10 losses, and Aminishiki with a limp as a bonus.
Endo lost a little bit more of his status as “the next big thing in ozumo” when
he was schooled by Yoshikaze, who used his superior speed and reflexes to win
the pushing/thrusting game and worm his way into a deep inside grip which proved
too much to handle. Endo falls to 6-7, and to the same mark improves Yoshikaze,
which isn’t really bad for an M2 like him.
only thing left mentioning is the strange conclusion to the Terunofuji-Takayasu
bout which, as seen above, had some implications in the yusho race. Takayasu
came out firing some mean tsuppari, which is always his first option, but when
the sheer size of Terunofuji rendered the thrusts nearly useless, Takayasu
adapted his game plan and grabbed a very solid double grip with the left inside
and the right outside, which he used to force his larger foe all the way to the
edge. Terunofuji seemingly recovered and took control of the hostilities, only
to find his action interrupted by Dejima, now on shinpan duty, who noticed
Terunofuji’s foot had grazed the sand outside the tawara at that first charge.
The large Mongol falls to 8-5 with the tough loss, but he will be interesting to
watch come Aki in his first jo’i basho (we’re already getting glimpses of that
and it looks damn promising). Takayasu shares a slice of the top spot on the
board, but, as I’ve said before, he should enjoy it while it lasts.
And speaking of big, bad Mongols, before I go I’d like to draw your attention
yet again to Ichinojo (12-1) who started getting Makuuchi opponents after
running amok in Juryo (he gave Wakanosato little chance today in a one-sided,
albeit slow, match).
That’s it from me for now. Be sure to tune in tomorrow, though. With all the
commotion, I heard Clancy decided to come out of his retirement and grace us
once more with his unique presence. (click for details)
Day 12 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
we get to the day 12 bouts, let me just start off by saying I know that I often
give takes that are hard for many people to hear. To illustrate what I mean by
that, allow me to take a stroll down memory lane...back to when I was in the
sixth grade. This new show began airing on Saturday mornings at 11 AM called AWA
or All-star Wrestling Association. I happened to play basketball as a kid, and
our games were Saturday mornings, so I vividly remember rushing home in time to
watch "the wrestles" as my dad called them. Back then, the WWF had yet to come
into fruition so guys like Hulk Hogan, Nick Bockwinkle, Ken Patera, etc. were
part of the gig and then Bobby "The Brain" Heenan managed the group of bad guys.
Mean Gene Oakerland provided the interviews and hyped the show up, and I was
Well, that Saturday routine continued for about six months and then one day my
world changed when Mean Gene actually announced that the wrestles were coming to
Salt Lake where they would hold a Battle Royal at the Salt Palace! He also
mentioned about five bouts on the undercard and immediately my brothers and I
turned to my dad and began asking every ten seconds or so, "Can we go? Can we
go? Can we go?" Tickets back then were $5 for the cheap seats, $7 for the lower
bowl, and $9 for the floor seats. My dad finally relented and agreed to take us
to the wrestles.
Well, the day finally came and I couldn't wait, so we headed for the Salt
Palace, bought the $5 seats, and then snuck down into the lower bowl (something
I would later learn to do when the sumos came to Fukuoka!). I was fascinated
from the very first bout and was enthralled by the action in the ring, but about
halfway through the event, I noticed something extremely disturbing. My dad, who
was sitting at the end of the row, was just howling with laughter. I had never
seen him so animated or having such a good time, but he would occasionally look
over to us and shout, "That was so phony!" while slapping his knee in fits of
laughter. It really was one of those moments for me in life where I was at a
crossroads. My brothers and I were just riveted to the action and didn't think
anything was funny about it; rather, we were rooting for the good guys and
nervously waiting the result of each bout, so to have my dad just sit there and
make a mockery of the event stirred this huge conflict within me.
I loved my dad and trusted him and thought he was a smart guy, but what was he
seeing that I wasn't? I still vividly remember discounting his opinion in my
mind during the event and thinking, "You know...he says it's all fake, but on
this one he's wrong. I mean, that guy there has blood spurted all over his head!
How do you explain that?" There I was a sixth grader making that determination
because what my dad was saying was essentially "hard to hear." So I watched the
program faithfully every Saturday morning and continued to beg my dad to take me
to all the events that came through town, but there was always that inner
conflict in my mind because my dad thought it was all scripted.
Even my subconscious noticed things like "yeah, that blood does look a bit thin
and pinkish, but I'm sure some people bleed like that." Or you had a guy just
laid out and lying there on the mat seemingly unconscious for a few minutes, and
then 20 minutes later when they announce the lineup for the Battle Royal, he
comes bounding down the aisle like he's just had a shower and 8 hours of sleep.
My subconscious was saying, "shouldn't he be at the hospital?" but I overrode
that intuition because it was just too hard to accept at the time.
Now, I'm not implying that my sumo takes like my father are correct by using
this example, nor am I saying that sumo is scripted like professional wrestling
because it's not. I'm just illustrating that I know exactly what it's like to
hear things that your conscious mind wants to reject. Kane, Matt, Martin, and
myself are simply presenting our views on what takes place atop the dohyo. Right
or wrong, they are merely presented for you to read and then make your own
decisions as to what actually occurred. Remember, I'm a free market guy, and so
as long as Sumotalk has a sizeable audience willing to tune in, we will continue
to give our viewpoints on the sumos, so how you want to perceive them is
entirely up to you.
With that said, I last reported on day 9 where I started off presenting some
interesting numbers on how Hakuho compares to the two rikishi he's chasing for
the record books in Taiho and Chiyonofuji. I summoned up my whole take by
stating "weak Japanese rikishi = high number of yaocho." Now, when I or someone
else calls a yaocho, many people will wait with baited breath for when it
doesn't happen and then come out of the woodwork and say, "See? Why would they
let Goeido win that bout and lose today? It just doesn't make sense. A Japanese
rikishi hasn't won in 8 years."
That's a reasonable line of thinking when things are hard to hear, but let me
explain it with another definitive statement: if you use yaocho to propel a
rikishi to a higher rank, you must use yaocho to sustain him at that rank.
We all know that yaocho is a very slippery slope, and so the Association has to
be extremely careful as to how much they let occur. Did anyone notice besides me
that NHK abruptly stopped using the super slow motion replays after about five
days? In my opinion, the yaocho occurring during select bouts was so obvious
that the super slow mo vids were just poison and too risky, and so we haven't
seen them now for about a week.
Furthermore, contrary to what many people think, I never predict yaocho; I only
call it when it occurs, so many misconstrue that a yaocho call implies that the
rikishi receiving the benefit should go onto yusho. There is absolutely zero
precedent to that line of thinking, and it's entirely false. I don't know why
yaocho occurs for any given bout and can only speculate as to the reasons, but
when it happens, I will always point it out if it makes sense to do so.
With that in mind, let's get to a clean, refreshing day of sumo where the bouts
that mattered were all fought straight up.
Once we're in the middle of week 2, the leaderboard is primary with rikishi
looking for early kachi-koshi secondary, so let's start with the leaders first.
Due to Hakuho's gift to Goeido yesterday (perfect call on that one, Matty), the
leaderboard heading into the day was as follows:
10-1: Hakuho, Kotoshogiku
9-2: Kakuryu, Goeido, Takayasu
Yokozuna Hakuho and Ozeki Kotoshogiku squaring off today, the winner would be
guaranteed sole possession of first place. Both rikishi quickly aligned chests
from the tachi-ai hooking up in the migi-yotsu position, and from this point,
the Ozeki just didn't have the length to even attempt an outer belt grip. He
flirted briefly with thoughts of a maki-kae with the left arm, but Hakuho was
settled in tight and wouldn't budge. On the other side, Hakuho took his sweet
time grabbing the left outer grip for whatever reason, and when he really made
his move for it, Kotoshogiku tried to squirm away only to be dumped easily to
the clay by a left kote-nage throw. This was a pretty straightforward bout where
Hakuho took his time and dominated in the end. You know, for whatever reason, we
haven't seen that wham bam thank you ma'am sumo from Hakuho where he blasts his
opponent back while masterfully securing the right inside position and following
up with the left outer near the edge for insurance. Regardless, the Yokozuna
moves to 11-1 with the win and is in sole possession again of the lead. As I
stated in my day 9 comments, I believe the Japanese viewers are being prepped to
have Hakuho surpass the all-time yusho mark within the next year. As for
Kotoshogiku, he falls to 10-2 and gave it a good effort, but the gap between
these two is just too vast.
With Hakuho in the clear, let's stay in the Yokozuna ranks where Kakuryu
entertained M4 Tamawashi who wasted his time with a left hari-te attempt at the
tachi-ai while Kakuryu completely took advantage and just jumped into moro-zashi
from the start and had Tamawashi sent back and across in mere seconds.
Uneventful bout as Kakuryu moves to 10-2 while Tamawashi is the inverse mark.
Harumafuji came in low against Sekiwake Goeido, but the Sekiwake displayed about
as good of a tachi-ai from him that we've seen this basho rebuffing the Yokozuna
over near the edge. Goeido had his gal set up and pounced, but he was careless
allowing Harumafuji to grab the left uwate and square back up in migi-yotsu.
Goeido's short arms kept him far away from the uwate on the other side, so he
went for a counter right inside throw aided by a kake-nage that was decent, but
he just didn't have the positioning behind it to knock the Yokozuna off of his
perch. From there, Harumafuji pinned Harumafuji up against the tawara and then
reversed gears dumping him forward and down into a face plant with that outer
grip that proved the entire difference in this bout.
I was actually quite impressed with Goeido's sumo, and like Chiyotairyu, I
wonder why he doesn't try this kind of sumo every single bout. Did he think that
Harumafuji would possibly let up, and so that gave him the motivation to charge
hard and forward? Could be. Regardless, Goeido's sumo had direction today,
something we rarely see from him. I remember hyping this guy hard when he broke
into the division in late 2007, but somewhere along the path, he lost has way
and fights on most days with little confidence. I mean, how do you lose to a
two-win Ikioi this basho by tsuki-dashi? Regardless, Goeido falls off the
leaderboard at 9-3 while Harumafuji clinches kachi-koshi at 8-4.
final bout from the leaderboard featured M11 Takayasu against..wait a minute...a
6-5 Endoh? How in the hell did Endoh enter day 12 at 6-5 after that awful start?
Okay, I know the answer to that. Anyway, Elvis looked to establish his position
from the tachi-ai with a tsuppari attack, but it only lasted about two shoves
before Takayasu fired his own tsuppari in return that knocked Endoh back a step
and half. Takayasu pounced into the hidari-yotsu position and while Endoh tried
to wrench his way this way and that into some sort of attacking position,
Takayasu grabbed the right outer grip and then just bullied Endoh over and out.
I actually picked Endoh to win this fight coming in because I reasoned that
Takayasu had padded his record low in the banzuke, and I thought his rising up
to fight an M5 would make a difference. I guess it depends on which M5 we're
If I can get a bit personal here, my boys all play baseball and are affiliated
with so-called travel teams. The basic premise of a travel team is that you put
together the best possible team with whomever you can find with no geographical
restrictions, but the only caveat is the players all have to be within one year
of age with the deadline May 1st. So I have boys playing 12U, 14U, and one ready
to play high school. Anyway, you go into some of these tournaments, and the
opposing 12U team for example, has kids taller than me (I'm 180 cm) that look
like they have to shave twice a day. Pound for pound, my son's team can compete,
and they actually give an opponent like that a decent game for maybe two
innings, but after taking the best shot my son's team can give, the game usually
gets out of hand from there in the later innings.
And that's exactly what this Endoh bout reminded me of today. Takayasu took
Endoh's best shot from the tachi-ai, and yes, it did back Takayasu up a step,
but once Takayasu got established, there was nothing that Endoh could do to
counter due to a difference in size. I learned from watching these competitive
baseball games, that sheer size and speed will win in the end regardless of the
other team's talent level. Endoh is in serious trouble in this division, not
because he doesn't have game; rather, he doesn't have the size to enable his
outstanding technique to shine through. Dude falls to 6-6 while Takayasu stays
on the leaderboard at 10-2.
So, as we head into the final three days of the tournament, the leaderboard is
whittled down by one (Goeido) with four rikishi remaining as follows:
10-2: Kakuryu, Kotoshogiku, Takayasu
Hakuho draws Kisenosato, and I'll already say that if Kisenosato wins, it will
be by yaocho because Kisenosato physically cannot beat this Yokozuna. I don't
expect that and would bet against it , but we've seen stranger things happen.
Kakuryu draws Harumafuji, and I'd be surprised if Harumafuji wins that one for
reasons I won't get into, and then Kotoshogiku draws a very interesting opponent
in Osunaarashi. I kind of feel as if Osunaarashi lost his sumo virginity this
basho, and what I mean by that is he was such a pure, raw kid who was fun to
watch, but that stretch midway where he "beat" two Yokozuna and then suddenly
forgot about his bruising kachi-age tachi-ai against Goeido and Endoh was
disheartening. I kinda feel like we lost something there from the Ejyptian.
Anyway, whether or not this bout is straight up will be determined by
Osunaarashi's tachi-ai. Let's see how hard he brings that kachi-age. And by the
way, if the bout is straight up, Kotoshogiku is the clear favorite, but don't
overlook Osunaarashi's ability to grizzly bear swipe the Ozeki down in a few
As for Takayasu, I love that they've matched him up with Terunofuji. I'd say
Takayasu is the underdog in that one. If he beats the Thug, give him a special
In other bouts of interest on the day, M4 Takekaze henka'd slightly to his left
against Ozeki Kisenosato, but it was more of his jumping in the air and going
for the back of the Ozeki's head. Kisenosato wasn't able to adjust and just
plopped forward and down in the one second affair. I thought Takekaze's means of
picking up kachi-koshi at 8-4 was weak, but an average rikishi should be able to
survive that henka. Kisenosato ends the day at 8-4 himself.
M3 Kaisei entertained Komusubi Aoiyama in a brief tsuppari affair, but Aoiyama
kept his head low just asking to be pulled over, so Kaisei went first with a
right kote-nage that sent Aoiyama lower and off balance to where his feet just
slipped out from under him. If I didn't know any better, it looked to me as if
Aoiyama just took a dive. I'm not sure what would have warranted such a
decision, but this bout didn't look natural to me as both rikishi end the day
with make-koshi in hand at 4-8.
Komusubi Aminishiki leaned out left in an effort to avoid M3 Osunaarashi's
kachi-age at the tachi-ai, but with Aminishiki leaning awkwardly to the side,
Osunaarashi rushed in, grabbed the left uwate, and then easily disposed of
Shneaky from there with a dashi-nage throw. Credit Osunaarashi for making that
quick adjustment to his opponent's quirky tachi-ai and ending the funny bidness
in mere seconds. He's still alive for a kachi-koshi and sanyaku berth at 6-6.
Aminishiki's falling to 3-9 will open up one of those spots.
M1 Shohozan tried his tsuppari attack against M7 Tochinowaka early, but SloWaka
got a right arm to the inside lifting Shohozan up, and as Shohozan looked to
duck back down, Tochinowaka just slapped him down from there sort of improving
to 4-8. Shohozan is a step worse now at 3-9.
How bad has M1 Ikioi been this basho? In an ugly affair against M9 Takarafuji
where neither rikishi really threw any shoves and no one was at the belt, Ikioi
slowly retreated staying low trying to manufacture anything, but in the process,
he just stepped his foot carelessly across the straw giving Takarafuji (6-6) the
isami-ashi win. I know they ruled it oshi-dashi, but this was a sloppy
isami-ashi from Ickyoi who falls to just 2-10.
M2 Yoshikaze worked his way into moro-zashi against M6 Terunofuji from the
tachi-ai, but that doesn't mean much because you next have to move the beast
beyond the straw, and the former Komusubi couldn't do it. Didn't really come
close as Terunofuji dug in with a left kote-nage counter throw that rendered the
Monster Drink flat enough to where Terunofuji turned the tables and bludgeoned
Yoshikaze out kime-taoshi style. This reminded a lot of Terunofuji's first ever
Makuuchi bout against Myogiryu. Dude picks up kachi-koshi at 8-4, and the elders
in the Association are already aware of this kid's potential. And yes, he's
Mongolian. Yoshikaze falls to 5-7 in defeat.
M6 Myogiryu's plan was to keep M5 Chiyootori away from the belt, and while he
never did bully his foe around, the tactic worked as Myogiryu was quick and
crafty enough to stay on the move until he could pull Chiyootori off balance and
then assume the lower attacking stance. Chiyootori gave it a great effort, but
he never did settle into his brand of sumo as Myogiryu scored the eventual
push-out win in the end. mYogi Bear picks up kachi-koshi at 8-4 while Chiyootori
falls to 5-7.
M16 Chiyomaru met M7 Jokoryu with the moro-te-zuki and forced the bout to oshi
sumo early on rebuffing Jokoryu's advances for about 10 seconds. Jokoryu next
committed on getting to the inside but gave up the careless left outer grip in
the now migi-yotsu affair, but Chiyomaru looked a bit lost at the belt, and
after both rikishi grabbed their breath, Jokoryu pulled the trigger on a right
inside belt throw that threw Chiyomaru off balance and all the way over to the
edge setting up the yori-kiri win and Jokoryu's moving to 9-3. Chiyomaru is
denied KK yet again at 7-5.
M8 Toyohibiki actually faced M15 Gagamaru at his own game--yotsu-zumo--and still
schooled him. After taking advantage of Gagamaru's hands that were up high by
securing moro-zashi, the Hutt began to settle into his stance when Gagamaru went
for a maki-kae with the right arm, but the move was as smooth as a baby giraffe
taking its first steps, and Toyohibiki easily cleaned up the mess with the quick
force out win. Great stuff from Ibiki today as he moves to 6-6 while Gagamaru is
dangerously on the brink at 5-7.
M8 Chiyotairyu psyched himself out prior to the tachi-ai against M10 Toyonoshima
thinking he was an easy pull-down target, and so after failing to offer a single
shove against Tugboat, he found himself with only a weak left kote-nage position
that Toyonoshima easily exploited by securing moro-zashi and showing Tairyu the
door straightway. Both fellas have been decent at 8-4.
M15 Tokitenku wasted his tachi-ai going for a slow developing hari-te with the
left against M9 Kitataiki backing to the side a bit in the process, and while he
did gain a shallow moro-zashi for his efforts, Kitataiki of all rikishi pinched
in hard from the outside and forced Tokitenku over and out kime-dashi style.
Both fellows are 5-7.
M10 Tokushoryu stalled at the tachi-ai, and all that did was give M14 Azumaryu
more time to think, and his decision was a henka to his left that threw
Tokushoryu off from the start. Azumaryu came out of the fray with moro-zashi and
then used it to chase his opponent to the edge, around a bit, and finally out.
Nothing good came of this bout as Azumaryu moves to 7-5 while Tokushoryu falls
M11 Sadanoumi was close to moro-zashi from the tachi-ai with the left firmly
inside and the right flirting with the inside, but M13 Okinoumi cut off that
right leaving them in hidari-yotsu. Sadanoumi was impatient, however, and went
for a quick maki-kae with the right giving Okinoumi the momentum shift he needed
to pounce into the force out win. Bad move by the youngster as both rikishi end
the day 5-7.
It was at this point in the broadcast that they announced the retirement of
Takanoyama. The announcers gave him his due props still amazed that he was able
to make it to Makuuchi several times despite his beanpole frame. You gotta hand
it to the dude. He did take his lumps and the usual kidding from us at ST, but
what he accomplished was admirable considering his physical resources.
It's not yet clear what he'll do after retirement, but I know we do have one
avid reader whom Takanowaka considers family, and so we'll all find out soon.
What? Have I covered every single bout today? Not sure what's gotten into me,
but M12 Kyokushuho leaned inward at the tachi-ai looking for the inside, but he
simply gave up the left outer to M14 Kagamioh in the process. All Kagami needed
was a firm position on the right, which he got, and he easily bullied Shuho over
and out from there leaving both dudes at 4-8.
M17 Arawashi moved right to grab the cheap outer grip which he used to just drag
M12 Kyokutenho over to the edge sending him out with a shove to the back'a the
right shoulder. Picking on the elderly with a henka is uncouth as Arawashi moves
to 7-5 while Kyokutenho falls to 5-7.
Finally, M13 Sokokurai moved cheaply to his right also in order to grab the
outer grip against M16 Wakanosato, and when you gain such an advantage against a
guy in his late thirties, it wont be close. Sokokurai moves to 7-5 with the win
while Don Sato's make-koshi is official at 4-8. The first two bouts on the day
were total monkey see monkey do where young'un exploited their elders with lame
That does it for me and day 12. Martin will give it another go tomorrow, and
just where can I go to make comments in the meantime?
Day 11 Comments (Matt Walsh reporting)
Well, I've been gone for four months, and it looks like I came back at
just the right time. Readers are up in arms, tinfoil hats are being
tossed around like grenades, and now, it's suddenly a yusho race again
(spoiler alert!). Gotta love the Sumotalk action, even when the action
on the dohyo isn't always up to par.
Let me start with a mild defense of the banzuke, which Mike has been
ripping, directly and indirectly, for a long time. While I appreciate
that the level of sumo talent dropped, especially after the yaocho
scandal, I think we're seeing things start to pick up. A lot of the guys
in Makuuchi have been around a while now, with fresh faces only sticking
around if they show a lot of promise. There is a lot of young talent,
like Takayasu, Chiyotairyu, Tochinowaka, and Jokoryu, who have been
getting schooled on the big stage for a while and are still just
entering their primes. 101 Kg. skinny white guy Takanoyama would not be
able to sneak up to this level any more. And for as much as I liked
watching him, that's a good thing for the state of sumo.
Where the banzuke has been weak is just under the top. By top, I only
mean Hakuho. There's no real competition or consideration for that. The
gap is so wide right now, even with two other Yokozuna, that we have to
worry each basho about someone being able to step up and even challenge
for a yusho. It's bad enough to have lost Asashoryu. But we really need
a healthy, motivated Baruto right about now. I know the big guy's not
coming down that path to the dohyo again, but I hope this could be a
wake up call. The Association is going to have to get a modern
perspective on injuries in sports and think a little harder about how to
keep the best and most exciting rikishi on the banzuke. (Here, I'll
admit defeat for the near term, since we know how progressive sumo is.)
What's with all the wind-up? Well, it does lead us back to the match
today, where the competition looks quite weak. Here's the setup: Hakuho
is undefeated and looking his usual self, handling the upper Maegashira
by letting them take their best shots and then turning the tables. One
loss back are W11 Takayasu and Ozeki Kotoshogiku, and you can guess
their chances in a fair fight with El Yokozuna Grande. Geeku has never
won more than 12 in Makuuchi, and that one occasion just happened to
come at his Ozeki promotion. The regular Japanese hopeful, Kisenosato,
just lost his third bout yesterday. Harumafuji, who is the closest thing
to a serious challenger we've got (he once won three out of four yusho
-- all zensho yusho! -- but that was starting two years ago in Nagoya),
already had his third loss. Kakuryu's lone loss to Osunaarashi made him
nominally the main challenger until Day 10, when he dropped one to
Oh, but Mike has been telegraphing this all basho long. Because, Goeido
may have lost two of his first six, but two losses puts him into this
ugly yusho race. If only Hakuho wasn't so dominant ...
Goeido Totally Overpowers Hakuho?
Well, well. A chance for the Ozeki hopeful to not only get a win on the
Dai Yokozuna, but a chance to pull within one win on the
leaderboard. Sorry, those of you on the anti-Mike bandwagon. Debate
amongst the writers here would be more fun, but I can't help you out
with a match like this.
Hakuho starts with a solid tachi-ai and gets inside position and a
chance at moro-zashi. If this match is straight up, it's over and done
right here. I don't care if it's a healthy Baruto, Asashoryu in his
prime, you name him, he's toast. He could grab a strong right mae-mawashi
grip, go either inside or outside with his left, and control the
match. Even the commentator says "Oh, he had moro-zashi. He lost it."
Which is all he could say, since Goeido did absolutely nothing to take
At the moment that Hakuho gives up inside position with the left, he
uses his inside right hand in the least effective way he can without
actually waving a white flag with it. He just puts it in Goeido's armpit
and leaves it there. An actual sumo move would be to push up with that
right hand to create leverage and prevent Goeido from getting an outside
left. Another actual sumo move would be to establish a grip on the
mawashi before giving up his left inside position to get an outside grip
(although even that would mean giving up moro-zashi on purpose). He did
neither of these and instead opened himself up to attack like a can of
tuna in front of a hungry cat.
Goeido's getting used to this Fancy Feast treatment by now and knows to
act quickly. He took the Yokozuna to the edge right away, forcing
Mr. Zenshou to bend his back like he's in the fight of his life. After
circling around a bit, they ended up in migi-yotsu, in what looked like
a pretty neutral position. So the Yokozuna attacked this time, but it
was incredibly awkward. He put his feet together, almost one on top of
the other, which breaks rule number 0 in sumo. Rule number 1 is "Don't
align your feet." Rule number 0, which is normally too obvious to state,
is "Don't put your feet together." And it's probably followed by "Baka
da na!" ("idiot!") if it needs to be said to someone who actually does
sumo. So when he breaks rule number 0, surprise!, he falls over.
It's an ugly way for Hakuho to lose a match, failing so badly to execute
a throw that he's done professionally
one gross (144) times before. I can't even say that his feet slipped
-- they appear to go exactly how he intends. Sigh.
The Rest of the "Leaders"
I'm also going to have to call it a soft match (I'll whip out the
mukiryoku call for
this one) for Harumafuji against now co-leader Kotoshogiku. Granted,
Harumafuji often has a tough time with the bigger Ozeki. I'd call most
of those losses clean enough. But if he wants to win, he has to play to
his strengths and move around the ring
(a fine example from
May). Trying to just drive straightforward basically ensures a loss,
and that's what happened.
Geeku certainly has looked springier this go around and maybe he's more
completely shook off his various injuries, but that was a gift. The most
generous interpretation here is that the Yokozuna is drinking heavily
each night and is not on his game. And I certainly can't rule that out.
Kakuryu remained one back by slapping Takekaze around. The Yokozuna is
17-0 against the Windy one, and this was just a breeze (sorry ... but not
Takayasu could have gotten a share of the lead today. He's only paired
with W5 Endo tomorrow, which is pretty dumb from the association. He had
his KK and should have gotten a couple of jo'i lined up by now. In Aki
of last year, he was Komusubi, so it's not like Jokoryu and Endo were
impossible for him to beat. And he would then be sitting with a share of the
lead at 11-1 after 12 days, with no significant wins. Yuck.
Fortunately, that thought became just mental masturbation (Double Yuck!
I just grossed myself out here) when Takayasu laid a big egg against
Jokoryu. The pair came out all pushy-slappy at the tachi-ai, and
Takayasu went for the Shohozan-style 1-2-3-4 quick thrust attack, with
Shohozan-style ineffectiveness in those thrusts. Then the two rikishi
each took turns with nodowa attempts, again not particularly effective
except at keeping each other at bay. Finally, Joker tried something
different. He got a left outside grip, spun Takayasu halfway around, and
led him out in a hurry. Jokoryu gets his kachi-koshi, while Takayasu
likely saves the association from having to pair him with a Yokozuna on
Some Other Bouts
In one of the better bouts of the day,
was up against Tamawashi. Tamawashi had a great tachi-ai, with solid
inside positioning backed up by effective de-ashi that drove Kise back
to the straw. The Kid, of course, had committed his usual sumo flaw of
starting outside-in with his right arm aiming wide. Compare that with
Hakuho's bout, where Hakuho starts with sound sumo and then undermines
it on purpose. Kise has this habit of just starting in the bad
position. Either way, your opponent will generally take advantage and
drive you backwards.
At the edge, however, Kisenosato got a grip (pretty sure that line's
never graced these pages before ...). A left inside grip to be precise,
and then a right outer. And while you'd think it would be pretty
academic from there, Tamawashi retained a lower body position and a left
inner grip to work with. So Kise had to muscle his partner around a bit,
before Tamawashi sensed the danger and seemed to try a shitate-nage with
his left hand. Kise was in position to counter, kept mostly bodied up to
his opponent, and ended up on top as they fell into abise-taoshi. The Kid
gets his KK, but leaves the crowd looking to others for Hope. Tamawashi
has looked OK to me, despite being 2-9, and may yet make a run at
Komusubi in the near future if he learns from these beatings.
Kaisei enjoyed a nice headlock on Aminishiki today. Both guys with the MK.
Osunaarashi won what looked like a clean bout today. ^_^. A quick hit
and shift at the tachi-ai got him a cheap left grip, followed by a throw
and slap down combination. Lame stuff considering what these two could
have put together in heavy thrusting battle.
Shohozan and Ikioi had a spirited but unaesthetic tsuppari battle to
start their match, with Shohozan making a bit more headway. Ikioi seemed
to understand that a grappling battle was a better bet, got bodied up
but without any grip, and tried to move forward. Shohozan took advantage
of the hasty move by using a quick maki-kae to get his left arm inside,
slipping to his right, and grabbing an arm bar on Ikioi's left in quick
succession. The resulting kote-nage was pretty much textbook. Both guys
are already headed down the banzuke.
If you're down here in my report, looking for a take on Endoh, then here
it is: Elvis won yet again with backwards moving sumo. Kitataiki is
skilled on the mawashi, so it's not a huge surprise that he took control
of the match in the middle. But it's hard to make a big case for your
future in sumo when that's happening.
There is surprisingly little to say about the Myogiryu-Terunofuji
bout. These are two guys I would like to see in a lot of bouts. Myogiryu
attacked hard from the tachi-ai, as he is wont to do, but his left hand
had a glancing blow on Terror-of-Fuji's chest/shoulder and went up into
the sky. Mr. Terror jumped on this to get under Yogi Bear's left
pit. Hey, Hakuho -- you should have tried this! Because that was enough
leverage to turn the match around and let the big Terror bully mYogi
around and throw him down sukui-nage style. Both are solid at 7-4.
And a (likely) final shout out to the Croc! A nice recovery after losing
the initial charge led to an outside right grip that kept him alive
throughout a long match, which was enough when Kyokushuho stepped out
accidently. An appropriately generous yori-kiri call for Wakanosato.
That's it for me. It should be a wild final few days. Take it for what
it is, which is entertainment. Have fun! Let Mike be one source of
trying to make sense of the mess, or complain about it in the
comments. Either way, we'll see you at Aki, maybe with a new Ozeki.
Day 10 Comments (Kane Roberts reporting)
been a wild basho hasn't it? Lot's of say whaaaaat to go around a few times and
Just as we thought, the outrageously dominant Mongolian Mafia started the basho
like He-Men, easily tossing nihonjin into every corner of the Aichi Prefectural
Gymnasium. But then suddenly these guys…lower ranked consistently drubbed guys,
guys who never been in the Yokozuna neighborhood before, "low on the totem pole
for who knows how long" kinda guys, started beating down on the Mongoru
First Yoshikaze grabs kin-boshi number 1 by taking down Harumafuji in a slap
happy fisticuff affair that saw Monster Drink dictate the whole bout.
Then on his first time ever facing a Yokozuna, the alibaba of brouhaha,
Osunaarashi, tossed Kakuryu off the hill (kin-boshi number 2). The very next day
he tears off another Yokozuna scalp and throws down Harumafuji, AFTER the
Yokozuna had already gently eased himself to the turf (kin-boshi number 3) . The
thug tried to get in on the action. He really did!
And just when we least expected the unexpected, Sir Henka himself, Takekaze, who
has NEVER faired well against Yokozuna types, beats Harumafuji for yet another
surprising kin-boshi (number 4).
Equally surprising for me was Osuna's lack of kachi-age against Endo a few days
earlier…we all remember how Elvis took a taxi to queer street courtesy of
Osuna's forearm last basho.
And the rikishi weren't the only ones acting strange…what about all that whining
about Hakuho roughing up Homasho? We love Sho-Am-Sweet but this is a man's
sport…it can and should get violent (that's why we're not up there genius)…it's
wrestling for C O L!
Yes, once again, it feels as if there are two entirely different contests every
night - the first half (lower ranks) = smash mouth, honest bouts…the second half
("elite" rikishi) = well not so much. Last night we were treated with a graphic
demonstration of just how pronounced that contrast has become as young bazookas,
Terunofuji and Osunaarashi, went at it like two lions fighting over a fresh
kill…but more on that fracas later.
So coming off all of these bizarro world results and the Sumotalk theories that
spun around them, I've surmised that sumo is much like the Push Up or Push Pop.
You remember…the delicious frozen treat you gotta push through a cardboard tube
with a stick. I'll explain…
The sinking feeling that something's amiss is consistently slammed up against
the heartfelt enthusiasm we all share for sumo, thus creating a kind of inner
turmoil (thanks Mike, it's all your fault!). I mean as much as we don't like to
rain on our own parades, the fact is yaocho exists and the pursuit of truth does
(and should) temper our excited responses to everything we witness on the dohyo
(and the rest of existence as we know it on YouTube). All things considered,
it's a lot to go through for any sport right?
Well to that I say - "So what?".
The lower ranks provide me with mucho excitement AND when the jo'i spits out hard
fought pure sumo goodness it feels Bubble Yum sweet. The drama when these men
fight to stay "in the show" is an emotional ride (the lovable Wakanosato comes
to mind) and I also dig the fact that a goodly portion of the Japanese culture
swirls around every minute of these broadcasts. Like you, sometimes I gotta
rewind the "tape" repeatedly trying to understand why that rikishi tumbled over
when his opponent was pushing him in the opposite direction. And I get that
Mike's searing reviews and surgeon like analysis may
kick that "jump up and
cheer" moment right in the walnuts - but it's worth it. Yeah, it does seem like
a lot of work. Beyond putting on the right sweat pants and properly loading up
the snack tray, watching sports is supposed to be effortless. But the greatest
pleasures ALWAYS require at least a little massaging (Playboy magazine taught me
that years ago).
So sumo is kinda like the Push Pop. "You gotta work to get it. Massage it a
little. A lot of people don't wanna put in the time, but not this guy." And when
something sublime takes place on the odd mound of clay, you know nothing's gonna
keep you from digging your way through to the next day of Japan's national
Well whatever is afoot, the venues ARE getting filled on a nightly basis and
right now I'm glued in front of my flat screen, Push Up in hand, ready for
Nagoya Basho 2014 - Day 10!
This basho has given us all the opportunity to take a closer look at M16
Wakanosato's career. On Day 9's interview he verbalized his unabashed love for
sumo and how, just like life, sumo bouts turn on a split second.
On Day 10 the erratic M9 Takarafuji got the jump on him and hit the line a
second before Don Sato, pushing him back to the rope. The Gangstuh fought back,
twisting and shoving his way to the center of the ring and both men settled into
a brief hidari-yotsu stalemate. Wakanosato grabbed at T'fuji's belt with his
right arm but he's not called the Croc for nuthin' and he failed to reach
mawashi. Takarafuji locked his arms underneath Don Sato's armpits and worked him
to the line and out for an oshi-dashi win. T'fooj is at 4-6 and we may have to
savor the remaining moments of Wakanosato's (3-7) return to Makuuchi 'cos it's
lookin' a heap like his swan song.
M8 Chiyotairyu has somehow backed up into a 7-2 record while M11 Takayasu has
displayed a relatively strong variety of kimari-te to earn an early kachi-koshi.
The two rikishi met with solid contact at the gun but Takayasu quickly stepped
to his right and yanked ChiaPet around by his belt preventing Mike's bugaboo
from throwing up his usual tsuppari attack. Chiyo played along and grabbed
Taka's belt but alas his foe had achieved moro-zashi and easily walked him into
the loss column. Chiyotairyu (7-3) has to wait for kachi-koshi while Takayasu's
yori-kiri keeps him (numerically) in the yusho race at 9-1.
M13 Sokokurai got worked mightily by M7 Jokoryu who seems to be finding himself
in Nagoya. After announcing his arrival by making a scary face at Sokokurai, he
drove hard off the tachi-ai (keeping his hands low against Soko's chest)
standing him up and then shoving him back in 2 seconds flat. Jokester is on the
verge at 7-3 and Sokokurai (6-4) heads back to his heya to work on his game plan
for the Chiyotairyu bout on Day 11.
Before his bout, veteran beach ball M10 Toyonoshima employed his own scary face
to try and strike fear in M6 Myogiryu's heart, but I don't think it worked. Yogi
has been huntin' for bear in Nagoya and gotta say its been great seeing him man
up so hard again. From the gate Myogiryu's first order of biz was to keep Toyo
away from his belt. Every time Toyo would lean into Yogi's body and reach for
his mawashi Myogiryu would tsuppari him back with energetic shoves. The two men
separated briefly and Yogi straight armed his left hand against Toyonoshima's
shoulder and held him at bay. Suddenly Myogiryu said enough of this and just
drove into Toyo's body and bullied him back and off the dohyo for a confident
As much as I believe in M5 Endo's ability to recover from this first set of eye
opening losses, it's not helping him to be chaperoned towards kachi-koshi so
blatantly (after his first basho, his Makuuchi reality check has been an
initiation of fire for the kid and I'm thinking he'll begin to come on stronger
as the hard earned lessons set in) . I mean come on, M3 Kaisei shouldn't be
cutting Elvis slack like this. Take a look at the photos. When a guy touches and
lets go of his opponent's belt (twice) and then eases himself out of bounds, you gotta at least scratch your head. When you view the match you can't help but
wonder what Endo did to win this really?
At the tachi-ai Endo got shoved back precariously aligning his feet, but Kaisei
suddenly decided to back up while Endo searched for some kinda belt hold or
positive body positioning. Kaisei's long arms allowed him to repeatedly reach
Endo's mawashi but he chose instead not to grab it nor did he plant his feet to
stop his unearned backward motion (Endo was just too powerful?). The crowd goes
wild as Endo skates to 5-5 while Baby Huey hits the skids at 2-8.
Mike and I emailed each other at the same time after seeing the M6 Terunofuji /
M3 Osunaarashi bout. Hey, you wanna see sumo when it's full on, no BS, kick out
the jams wrasslin'?! Compare this action with the previous (Endo) match…place it
next to most of the goings on in the last 30 minutes of each night. Every real
match won't be this good but if this fight don't make you ask some questions
about the waltzing around we've been seeing in the joi…well "Mozart", you
probably think some notes are louder than others on a harpsichord.
I was hoping these two young beasts would go at it (Mike has been touting
Terunofuji's skills and mindset for a while) and man did they…44 seconds of kick
ass sumo by two guys that know how to brawl, like to mix it up and want to win!
Osuna greeted Terunofuji with a vicious kachi-age that tore his head back and
arched his torso, but Fuji the Terrible shrugged it off and kept moving into the
body. Osuna did NOT want Teru to gain any kinda zashi whatsoever so he circled
away and began his preferred tsuppari bombardment, connecting numerous times to
the iron jawed Mongolian. Teru did not strike back…he's seen the Egyptian's game
before…he sought instead (and found) some hidari-yotsu and the two giants leaned
into each other center ring. It was NOT the usual mid-ring sleeper…quite the
contrary because they strong armed each other…yanking and fighting for leverage.
At one point Osunaarashi seemed to get moro-zashi but Terrible make-kaed quickly
and got the inside belt. It felt like the young Mongoru had a plan…like this was
his territory. They each jockeyed for a better grip and then suddenly Terunofuji
had both hands right where he wanted them…securely gripping The Thug's belt!
The end of the match was stupendous as Osu lifted his opponent and attempted a
powerful uwate-nage, but Terunofuji was too aggressive…his footwork too strong
and he turned Osu around brought him across the dohyo and gave him his own taste
of serious uwate-nage…tossing him out of bounds. Teru gave him a look at the end
as if to say "You ain't so bad". Although the customary smile was on the
Egyptian's face he knew he'd been in a real bout. Both men receive 5 stars for a
great effort that should serve as a paradigm for how it's done. Osu falls to 4-6
while Terunofuji rockets to 6-4.
Ozekster Kisenosato who seems to be sleep walking through his matches (and still
has risen to 7-2) faced off against the newly revitalized O Z Kotoshogiku.
Kotoshogiku simply bulldozed Kise back and off the dohyo like a pile of yellow
snow (yori-taoshi was the call). The surprisingly dainty Kisenosato attempted a
weak kotex-nage at the end but he knew (as did we all) he was goin' down. Koto
(who looked at one point like he was leaning against Kisenosato for balance) is
at an atomic 9-1 while the Kid tiptoes through a field of 7-3.
At the tachi-ai, another supreme powerhouse, Ozeki Goeido, whiffed on a woefully
insincere kachi-age against Yokozuna Kakuryu, but it was still enough to scare
his opponent into running for shelter. KookooClock kinda grabbed at Goeido's
noggin' but decided instead to just give up and step out of the winner's circle.
Kudo's for Goeido (8-2) for attempting to keep up with the much faster Kak
(8-2). The loss was attributed to Kakuryu (oshi-dash- awayski).
M4 Tamawashi, who finds himself in the forest of the giants, achieved a solid
nodowa into Harumafuji's neck and did his best Fred Flintstone imitation running
in place. The Yokozuna quickly turned and allowed his foe's momentum to carry him
out of bounds. Tama gets an A for effort but well you know. To-tari was to-tally
the right call as Haru strolls through the glen at 7-3 and Tamawashi struggles
amongst the redwoods at 2-8.
Finally, dai Yokozuna, Captain Interview, faced M4 "Yokozuna Killer" Takekaze.
After a rapid harite to Take's mug Hakuho just walked forward and achieved a
quick yori-kiri. Hak is a perfect 10 and Take (who dared not henka the King) is
a surprising 7-3.
Well that's it for me in Nagoya, and I again want to thank all of you in this
angry mob of sumo fans for reading my take on stuff…know that I'll be watching
all the action right along with everyone. And if I'm ever not available I'll ask
this obvious sumo fan what I missed…
Day 9 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
was a holiday in Japan, and so you had a dynamite combination providing color
with Mainoumi in the main broadcast booth and Takamisakari in the mukou joumen
chair. NHK and the Association followed that up with a theme that permeated the
broadcast focusing squarely on Hakuho and how he currently compares with the two
rikishi he's chasing for his place in history, Chiyonofuji and Taiho.
We've seen a lot of yaocho the first eight days, and I'm quite sure we're not
through, but I don't see Hakuho dropping more than one bout and falling out of
contention for the yusho, so I think the large audience was being prepped today
for Hakuho crossing over that 30 yusho threshold and ultimately reaching the 33
yusho mark to set the all time record. It's my opinion that Hakuho dropped a lot
of bouts and sacrificed a lot of yusho the last five years in order to prolong
his run, but the banzuke is so weak that Hakuho's becoming the greatest of all
time is a given.
The first graphic they showed was the current yusho tally that looks like this:
That was followed up by another graphic depicting how many times the three
reached kachi-koshi by day 8 (called nakabi kachi-koshi). Those numbers look
Hakuho just destroys the other two in that category, but that can best be
explained by the third graphic they showed, the number of kin-boshi given up by
the Yokozuna (a kin-boshi is a Yokozuna's losing to a Maegashira rikishi). Those
numbers are as follows:
Hakuho: 8 (spanning 42 basho)
Taiho: 28 (spanning 58 basho)
Chiyonofuji: 29 (spanning 59 basho)
Normally, a Yokozuna will give up a kin-boshi every two basho as reflected in
Taiho and Chiyonofuji's numbers, but Hakuho only averages one just over every
five basho. That doesn't spell Hakuho's greatness nearly as much as it spells a
horrible banzuke and weak competition the last seven years. It's just a
different sport these days, and the Japanese people are about as interested in
sumo as the rikishi, and so that's why the Mongolians are dominating to this
It's also indicative of why there are so many yaocho in favor of the Japanese
rikishi. If sumo were fought at a free market level, you'd rarely have a
Japanese rikishi win more than about nine bouts. Using yaocho, the Association
can at least create the semblance of Japanese Ozeki and strong Sekiwake although
the current crop could be nothing further from the truth.
The final set of numbers NHK showed were the number of times each of the three
Yokozuna went kyujo in their careers as Yokozuna. These numbers are broken out
Once again, Chiyonofuji and Taiho are par for the course while Hakuho's number
is a huge outlier, and the way to interpret these numbers is to factor in the
toll taken on the bodies of these guys as they perform(ed) sumo. Hakuho hasn't
had anyone capable of roughing him up since he was promoted to Yokozuna whereas
the other two constantly fought on banzuke with legitimate Yokozuna, Ozeki who
would easily qualify for Yokozuna in this day and age, and Sekiwake who would
easily qualify as Ozeki.
Hopefully these Hakuho numbers help explain why I am calling so much yaocho
because the number of yaocho present in sumo is directly related to the level of
strength of the Japanese rikishi. In other words, weak Japanese rikishi = high
number of yaocho. Hakuho is great, but he's not that much greater than Taiho and
Chiyonofuji as the aforementioned statistics suggest.
With that said, let's get to the leaderboard working our way up in chronological
order meaning we start with M11 Takayasu and his most difficult opponent to date
in M6 Myogiryu. This bout wasn't even close as Myogiryu slammed into Takayasu at
the tachi-ai getting his right arm to the inside and using his left arm like a
delayed kachi-age driving it into Takayasu's gut and sending him off balance and
off the dohyo in two seconds flat. Takayasu falls to 8-1 with the loss and was
never a serious yusho threat anyway. Myogiryu sails to 6-3 with the nice win.
Hakuho breezed his way into the right inside / left outer grip position against
the hapless M4 Tamawashi and just dragged The Mawashi by the mawashi all the way
over to the edge setting up the easy okuri-dashi win. Hakuho moves into sole
possession of the lead at 9-0 while Tamawashi falls to 2-7.
Kotoshogiku's keeping pace with Hakuho would have to come at the expense of our
only one loss rikishi coming in, Yokozuna Kakuryu, but the Kak wasn't
cooperating getting his right arm to the inside early and then just moving out
left and pulling Kotoshogiku over to the edge and out with ease. That Kakuryu
beat the Ozeki with such average sumo shows just how fake Kotoshogiku's 8-0
start was. The result is both rikishi sitting at 8-1 along with Takayasu as
Hakuho moves into sole possession of first place at 9-0.
other bouts of interest, M4 Takekaze henka'd Yokozuna Harumafuji to his left and
pulled the Yokozuna off balance to the point where he was teetering on the edge
and only required a final shove out from Takekaze to pick up the quick and dirty
win not to mention his first career kin-boshi. Takekaze moves to 7-2 with the
cheap win, and we'll see if Harumafuji (6-3) even cares to pay him back later.
M5 Chiyootori had the clear path to moro-zashi against Ozeki Kisenosato but
failed to partake keeping his hands extended upward and away from the deep
inside position even though Kisenosato was completely upright. Kisenosato
finally began a weak oshi attack that apparently sent Chiyootori back forcing
him to escape around the ring's edge, and in the process, Chiyootori was thrust
wildly down to the dirt...by his own volition. With his feet sprawling upwards
in exaggerated fashion, Kisenosato went for a slap down, but it was too
late...Chiyootori already took care of that for him by executing as ugly a dive
as you'd care to see. This is getting so ridiculous, I'm not even going to
bother posting a video of this as Kisenosato moves to 7-2 while Chiyootori
falls--emphasis on the word fall--to 3-6. The only legitimate move this entire
bout was when Chiyootori did the hussle and knocked his hip into the ref's body
sending him over and down at the edge of the ring. It took the old man forever
to pull himself back up off the dirt and point the gunbai in favor of
Kisenosato, but the Ozeki still muttered in the gyoji's direction, "man that
dude is fast."
Sekiwake Goeido absorbed M1 Shohozan's moro-te-zuki charge and then just backed
up outta the way allowing Shohozan to stumble straight forward and down onto all
his girth. This sumo was so lame that hardly anyone in the audience even
reacted, but as quiet as the response to this one was, it was a rock concert
compared to the ending of the Kisenosato bout. Anyway, you look at Goeido's
record at 7-2 and think that he's having a good basho, but it couldn't be
further from the truth. When his opponents don't let him win, he scrounges wins
against inferior rikishi like this. Shohozan's 2-7 defines inferior.
my comments yesterday, I explained how Osunaarashi was given two for one with
two wins over Yokozuna in exchange for a loss to Goeido. Well, that assessment
was entirely wrong I'm sorry to say as I failed to notice Osunaarashi fighting
Endoh today, and the math finally worked itself out as Osunaarashi offered
another lame kachi-age with the right arm allowing Endoh to grab the early right
outer grip with the left inside position to boot, and as Endoh moved in close,
he gave up the right outer to Osunaarashi as well, but winning wasn't on the
Muslim's mind. After a brief struggle in the center of the ring and a half-assed
outer belt attempt from the Ejyptian, Endoh ended the funny bidness with an
outer belt throw of his own sending the Nagoya faithful into a frenzy. Both
rikishi fall to 4-5, and just like that, Endoh is now on par with Osunaarashi
and also the two Yokozuna whom Osunaarashi beat heading into the weekend. Pretty
nifty how it all works innit?
M8 Chiyotairyu and M6 Terunofuji treated us to a bout that lasted three minutes.
I guess "treat" isn't the best word to use as the two bounced off of each other
at the tachi-ai and then settled into the hidari-yotsu position where
Chiyotairyu wisely kept his can so far back that his torso was parallel to the
dohyo. Sensing I'd have a bitta time on my hands, I pulled out Physical Graffiti
and listened to that timeless Zeppelin classic, In My Time of Dying. When
that was through, I thought I saw Terunofuji go for a counter right kote-nage,
but I turned back to my record collection and next selected Wish You Were Here
and pondered a little bit to Pink Floyd's Shine On You Crazy Diamond, and
just as the song ended, I remembered that I was reporting on the sumos and
looked back up at the TV just in time to see Chiyotairyu commit on a charge
lifting Terunofuji upright, grabbing moro-zashi, and ending the contest nearly
as fast as it had begun. How in the hell did Chiyotairyu creep into a 7-2
record? Terunofuji falls to 5-4.
And finally, they featured M16 Wakanosato prior to the bouts (and why wouldn't
they?!), and dude's a pretty good painter. Leading the life of a Gangstuh can be
distressing, and so Don revealed that he unwinds by doing oil paintings. Pretty
sweet. It musta been good karma to feature him like that because he came out
against M10 Tokushoryu and survived a weak henka to Tokushoryu's left coming out
of the fray with the left inside position and right outer grip to boot. As
Tokushoryu tried to counter with a left inside belt throw, Wakanosato one-upped
him with a right outer that sent Tokushoryu down to the clay in about four
Kane saves me from myself tomorrow.
Day 8 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
not sure where Martin's day 7 report is, but the biggest talking point by far
from the day was the easy win by Sekiwake Goeido over M3 Osunaarashi. I wasn't
sure why the two Yokozuna just gave Osunaarashi wins on consecutive days
Thursday and Friday, but as I speculated in my day 6 report, a Goeido win over
Osunaarashi fresh off of his two kin-boshi would really make Goeido look good. I
wrote those comments under the assumption that the Goeido - Osunaarashi bout
would be fought straight up; it didn't hit me that Osunaarashi would actually
just lie down and let Goeido win.
His usual kachi-age tachi-ai was half-assed and his feet were completely
aligned. When Goeido moved a bit left at the tachi-ai, Osunaarashi didn't even
bother squaring back up but left his right arm up high allowing Goeido to get
the easy left on that side. With Osunaarashi just standing there straight up,
Goeido bulldozed him back and out in two seconds. The Ejyptian did go for a
token counter pull, but he didn't move laterally ensuring that the Goeido win
would be decisive. So, I guess the two for one was Osunaarashi's official
baptism into the jo'i, and how things really work at the top of the banzuke.
Now that we're moving into day 8, let's turn our focus to the leaderboard, which
holds about as much excitement of one of those shogi broadcasts on NHK. Heading
into the day were three rikishi at 7-0 in Hakuho, Kotoshogiku, and Takayasu.
Hakuho is a given, Kotoshogiku has clearly been propped up so far, and Takayasu
is putting forth a fine effort, but when was the last time anyone from the
Maegashira really threatened for the yusho? Sitting back at one loss is Yokozuna
Kakuryu and M16 Chiyomaru, so let's start with those five.
most compelling match of the day featured Yokozuna Hakuho and M3 Osunaarashi.
It's my opinion that the Ejyptian hasn't been involved in a straight-up match
for the three days now, so what would happen today against the best ever? The
two hooked up early in the migi-yotsu position where Hakuho gained the left
outer grip first, but curiously, the Yokozuna just stood there and ultimately
let Osunaarashi grab a left outer grip of his own. As the two dug in,
Osunaarashi made the first move going for a right scoop throw, but Hakuho just
laughed it off and dug back in. At about the one minute five second mark,
Osunaarashi went for two more right scoop throws that Hakuho easily survived and
then he finally threw Osunaarashi over and down with a good left belt throw.
Hakuho could have won this bout in under 10 seconds had he wanted, so it was
curious to watch him prolong this for over a minute. As I alluded to in my
intro, I think the three Yokozuna have buoyed Osunaarashi up because it makes
Goeido's win over him that much more impressive. I mean, can't you make the
argument that Goeido beat Osunaarashi in three seconds while it took Hakuho
1:25? It will come up as part of the discussion of promoting Goeido to Ozeki,
and so that's why I think we've seen the three Yokozuna go so easy on him. When
was the last time a Hakuho bout lasted over a minute? It had to have come
against Baruto, and while Osunaarashi has the potential to become a Baruto, he's
not even close to the former Ozeki right now, so to see this bout go so long
with about seven total seconds of action was a joke. Regardless, Hakuho moves to
8-0 with the win, but I'm sure there's a loss for him somewhere in week 2.
Osunaarashi is now level at 4-4 and his debut among the jo'i has been totally
tainted with at least five unsavory bouts.
Next up, M4 Tamawashi let Ozeki Kotoshogiku off the hook after catching him
squarely at the tachi-ai with his tsuppari attack and driving the Ozeki quickly
back to the straw. Kotoshogiku moved right but only to survive, not to counter,
and Tamwashi was onto him again, but for some reason he relented, turned his
back to the tawara facing the Ozeki, and then kept his arm up high waiting for
Kotoshogiku to get the deep left inside position. Once obtained, Tamawashi just
stood there and didn't even try to counter with a right kote-nage just allowing
himself to be pushed back and out by Kotoshogiku, who picks up kachi-koshi with
the gift moving to 8-0. Tamawashi falls to 2-6 and had his way with the Ozeki
until he decided to let up. Not only did he stand there and wait for Kotoshogiku
to assume the left inside position, but he didn't try and evade at the edge,
which is a clear sign of yaocho. Kotoshogiku has become Kaio in that former
Ozeki's late career, and I imagine they are keeping him around until Goeido gets
final leader, M11 Takayasu, had a rough go against M16 Chiyomaru who fired out
of his stance with the moro-te-zuki and bullied Takayasu this way and that.
Finally at the ring's edge, Takayasu managed to get his right arm to the inside
while Chiyomaru countered with the left outer, but Maru didn't have his opponent
braced squarely in front of him with the right arm, so Takayasu moved out left
and felled Chiyomaru over and down with a nice tsuki-otoshi counter move at the
edge of the ring. I guess it was a good win, but a leader doesn't get bullied
around like this by an M16. Still, Takayasu is having a good basho as he picks
up kachi-koshi at 8-0 while Chiyomaru falls a notch down the leaderboard to 6-2.
final bout of the day involving a leader was Yokozuna Kakuryu who was henka'd by
M2 Yoshikaze who moved to his left, but the Yokozuna survived easily, and when
Yoshikaze moved forward to attack, Kakuryu henka'd him so to speak moving to his
right and pulling Yoshikaze down with ease moving to 7-1 in the process.
Yoshikaze falls to 4-4 with the loss.
The biggest bout on the day outside of the leaders was the matchup between
Sekiwake Goeido vs. Ozeki Kisenosato. The strange thing was...this matchup would
guarantee that there wouldn't be any yaocho on the day involving the two!!
Goeido stayed low at the tachi-ai pushing up into Kisenosato's face and easily
gaining moro-zashi on the wide open Ozeki. From there, Goeido just drove his
legs forward and threw Kisenosato back and out with a nice right scoop throw.
Wasn't even close as both rikishi end the day at 6-2, and while Hakuho better
not fall all the way back even with Goeido, they key is to get the Sekiwake
promoted to Ozeki.
Before we move to the rank and file, it should be mentioned that Sekiwake
Tochiohzan withdrew from the basho citing a shoulder injury giving Harumafuji
the freebie as he parks at 6-2.
M6 Myogiryu looked for moro-zashi from the tachi-ai against M3 Kaisei, but he
couldn't quite work the left into position, so as the two settled into the
migi-yotsu fight, Kaisei used his long arm to gain the left outer grip, and just
like that, Myogiryu didn't have a pot to piss in as Kaisei easily dragged
Myogiryu over to the edge and forced him out in seconds. Myogiryu falls to 5-3
with the tough loss while Kaisei picks up his first win at 1-7.
M4 Takekaze had been one of the better rikishi this basho, but he just henka'd
to his right against M8 Toyohibiki dragging the Hutt down to the dirt a second
in picking up the quick and dirty win. Nothing good about sumo like this as
Takekaze moves to 6-2 while Toyohibiki falls to 4-4.
Chiyotairyu displayed a horrible tachi-ai with his palms extended and arms
outward, but M5 Endoh couldn't get in close slipping off of a frontal belt grip
attempt. With neither rikishi having established position from the charge, the
two began firing tsuppari in desperation, and that favors Chiyotairyu who is
used to this type of fight. It showed as he easily moved to his right and
dragged Endoh down in a lop-sided victory drawing more terrifying bleats from
the sheep in the crowd. Normally, Chiyotairyu would have been beaten with a
tachi-ai like this, but Endoh doesn't have the strength to take advantage.
Chiyotairyu quietly moves to 6-2 with the win, but Endoh is now just 3-5 and
could probably use a little bitta help...the kind of help he got from Takarafuji
yesterday who had Endoh on the ropes and then suddenly stopped letting Elvis
drive him out for the cheapie.
M6 Terunofuji and M10 Toyonoshima bounced off of each other at the tachi-ai, and
as Terunofuji looked for the inside position, Toyonoshima ended up in
moro-zashi. Still, Terunofuji pinched in hard from the outside totally
neutralizing Toyonoshima's moro-zashi and forced Tugboat out with ease via
kime-dashi. The reason I comment on this bout is to point out just how big of a
beast Terunofuji is. Sure, he's only 5-3 and suffered that knockout punch to
Osunaarashi, but this guy is a blob and along with Osunaarashi and a dude named
Ichinojo in Juryo, he is one of the leader of the next generation of wrasslers.
Toyonoshima is also 5-3.
M12 Kyokutenho's losing to M14 Azumaryu in mere seconds after the two hooked up
in the immediate gappuri yotsu position is not a good sign. A second in,
Azumaryu shook off Kyokutenho's outer grip and then felled the veteran to the
clay with an easy belt throw moving to 4-4. Kyokutenho falls to 3-5, and at M12
has a little breathing room in order to stay in the division for the Aki basho
where he'll turn 40, but he's definitely looked his age of late.
I missed my chance to report on a Gangstuh-no-sato win on day 2, so no way I'm
going to make that same mistake today. Against M14 Kagamioh, the two hooked up
in hidari-yotsu where Kagamioh grabbed the early right outer, but Don dug in
tight, shook off the outer grip once, and then countered with a powerful left
scoop throw as Kagamioh (3-5) regained the outer grip and tried to apply
pressure. Good stuff from Wakanosato who moves to 2-6 with the win.
And finally, it spells bad news when M15 Gagamaru can't take care of visiting J1
Sadanofuji. The two hooked up in gappuri hidari-yotsu, but it was Sadanofuji who
stood firm, shook of Gagamaru's outer grip, and scored the force-out win with
easy. May as well swap these two for Aki as Gagamaru falls now to 4-4.
Week 2 means the sanyaku and higher will all be fighting each other, and there
will be plenty of drama...just not with the sumo.
Day 6 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
the past two days I've talked a lot about yaocho in sumo because...well, because
there's been a lot of it going on so much so that yaocho is thee story of the
basho up to this point. I don't like it going into the day when I'm thinking,
'okay, who's gonna throw what today?' but that's just the reality of the Nagoya
basho so far. Day 6 brought another doozy, and this one was the most obvious
that I think we've seen in some time--which is saying something, but the
peculiar thing is that it involved two foreign rikishi. That's not really
something we've seen at all, so I wonder what the reasoning is behind it.
As I stated yesterday, the why and how is just pure speculation on my part, and
so when I see two foreigners involved this early in the basho, I wonder if the
Sumo Association is just happy to generate headlines. If you can get a guy to do
something historic, the media will blast that out and it generates headlines
because you can't be out there posting, "Kotoshogiku is undefeated so far thanks
to brilliant sumo." I don't know why we're seeing so much yaocho early on in the
basho, but for me, finding out why is far more interesting than the yusho race.
On that note, let's touch on bouts of interest only today working our way up the
ranks. As much as it pains me to say it, there is no way that M16 Wakanosato can
beat M15 Gagamaru. Gagamaru is simply too fat for Don Sato to get any kind of
position, and it showed today as Wakanosato actually got moro-zashi after the
two bounced off of each other at the tachi-ai, but he couldn't sustain it
because his arms couldn't reach around and into Gagamaru's girth sufficiently to
apply any pressure. As a result, he released the moro-zashi and went for a right
outer grip, which he got, but Yubabamaru had one too and used it to easily
survive a counter left dashi-nage from Don and then use the uwate to finish the
Gangstuh off for the force out win. Gagamaru has somehow managed to right the
ship at 3-3 while Wakanosato falls to 1-5.
M16 Chiyomaru blasted M13 Okinoumi back from the tachi-ai with dual tsuppari,
but as he advanced towards his opponent, Okinoumi was able to turn the bout to
the belt. Chiyomaru's only hope now was to force the bout back to a push affair,
but he backed his way out of the yotsu clash giving the momentum to Okinoumi at
that point. While Chiyomaru was able to tsuppari again, the momentum was in the
favor of Okinoumi now, and he was a pest at forcing things chest to chest, so
Chiyomaru eventually kept pulling his way backwards allowing Okinoumi to lunge
into him and force the tip of his toe to touch out of the dohyo before Okinoumi
flew out. Chiyomaru drops to 5-1 and needed to be a bit more patient keeping
things at oshi-zumo. Okinoumi is 3-3.
I normally would pass over M12 Kyokutenho, but the way he countered against M13
Sokokurai in their hidari-yotsu affair was brilliant. Just as Sokokurai made a
move, Tenho slipped outside and maki-kae'd in the process not only turning
Sokokurai's back to the tawara, but he now had moro-zashi which led to the easy
force-out from there. Both dudes are 3-3.
M10 Tokushoryu's weakness is that he gives up the inside position way to easily.
Today he drove M14 Kagamioh back quickly from the start, but he allowed
moro-zashi in the process causing Kagamioh (3-3) to turn the tables on the
force-out win. Tokushoryu is now just 1-5.
M11 Takayasu moved to 6-0 in a sloppy affair against M14 Toyonoshima that was
too wild to break down. The point is that Takayasu was 1-6 head to head coming
in, so you know this run of his is for real when he can break precedent like
that and defeat Toyonoshima (4-2) at his own cat and mouse game.
M9 Takarafuji and M11 Sadanoumi hooked up in hidari-yotsu where Sadanoumi worked
his way into an outer grip with the right hand, but just as he went for a
soto-gake attempt, Takarafuji (3-3) countered with a left scoop throw that
completely turned the tables for the win. I think Sadanoumi (2-4) had this one
in the bag if he goes for yori-kiri instead of the soto-gake, a move he seemed
to go back to time and time again last basho.
M8 Toyohibiki is an absolute beast so why M8 Chiyotairyu decided to finally do
his power sumo against a tough opponent like the Hutt is beyond my
comprehension. Make not mistake, he kicked Toyohibiki's ass earning the
tsuki-dashi kimari-te, but the real question is why doesn't he try this every
day? He's 4-2 and should come with the same sumo the rest of the tournament.
Toyohibiki falls to 3-3.
The M5 Chiyootori - M7 Jokoryu bout is worth watching again, just so you can see
two guys who are both trying desperately to win. You watch sumo like this most
of the day, it's easy to tell when guys let up during the final 30 minutes.
For what it's worth, M7 Tochinowaka had the inside position at times with both
arms but didn't even try to grab the belt or go up high into M5 Endoh's pits.
Tochinowaka does have the nicknames SleepWaka and SloWaka for nothing, but he
had a chance to force this bout into yotsu-zumo but never did. Endoh picks up a
rare win moving to just 2-4 while Tochinowaka likely dines on Endoh's dime
tonight in Nagoya proper.
Who is that rikishi wearing the Takekaze mask this basho? The M4 didn't display
the best of sumo today focusing on pulls and slaps, but he never let M6 Myogiryu
get close in a wild slap affair that ended in about 8 seconds with a Takekaze
slapdown. He's 5-1 if you need him while Myogiryu is no slouch at 4-2.
As frequently as rikishi have been throwing bouts in Sekiwake Goeido's favor,
they can't do it forever, so for whatever reason, it was decided that M1 Ikioi
would go straight up. After all, Goeido led his fellow Osaka'n 5-0 coming in, so
it was a safe bet right? Uh, no. Goeido moved left in order to grab the cheap
outer, but Ikioi was onto him forcing him close to the edge, so Goeido tried to
evade the entire time with Ikioi giving chase, and after about five seconds,
Ikioi got him in the end fairly easily sending the Ozeki "hopeful" off the dohyo
altogether by tsuki-taoshi. Afterwards, the word I head most as the Japanese
announcers described Goeido's sumo was "nigeru," or "to run away." Ozeki
Shmozeki. Go figure, Ikioi picks up his first win against the supposedly red-hot
Goeido who falls to 4-2.
Looks like Sekiwake Tochiohzan has been snooping around in Aminishiki's chest of
drawers because he's got quite the bedroll around his left leg. Tochiohzan set
up his gal with some effective tsuppari and had Shohozan on the ropes, but he
couldn't pounce for that kill allowing Shohozan to completely turn the tables
and force the ailing Sekiwake back and across. Tochiohzan has been useless as
tits on a boar this basho as both rikishi end the day 2-4.
Remember how bad Komusubi Aoiyama destroyed Ozeki Kisenosato last basho? I think
everyone did, so Aoiyama was less tame in his tsuppari attack today. He still
threw some shoves, but there were no de-ashi, and about seven seconds in Aoiyama
just let his legs slip out from under him as he dove to the clay. Pure yaocho
here yet again in favor of Kisenosato who moves to 5-1 while Aoiyama falls to
Ozeki Kotoshogiku and Komusubi Aminishiki hooked up in hidari-yotsu, and as the
Geeku made a bit of progress moving forward, Aminishiki went for a maki-kae with
the right hand, and that was the moment the Geeku pounced scoring the easy
yori-kiri win from there. So was this one fake? I'll let you make that
determination, but I will point out that once Aminishiki got moro-zashi, he just
stayed in front of the Ozeki the entire time without making any attempt to move
to either side. I just didn't see any defense from Shneaky the entire way as
Kotoshogiku remains perfect at 6-0 while Aminishiki falls to 1-5.
M3 Osunaarashi pull off the kin-boshi upset a second day in a row...this time
against Yokozuna Harumafuji? Yes!!! Harumafuji went for that ever powerful
stance of do nothing with the left hand even though the belt was right there in
front of it, and then with the right hand he employed that oft-seen move of
grabbing your opponent's sagari. I mean, with the ease at which those strings
get pulled out of the mawashi during a bout, I don't know why guys don't do that
more. At any rate, Harumafuji plowed forward with nothing but a grip on those
sagari, and as Osunaarashi moved to his right, Harumafuji just Robben'ed to the
clay. The main NHK broadcast wisely only showed one reply from the safe angle,
but more replays exist as seen on our Facebook page or
at this link. It's really obvious when you
watch from all angles. In the pic at right, Harumafuji has taken a knee
and his elbow is touching the dohyo, and Osunaarashi's hands have yet to even
slap down on him.
I'm perplexed as to why they'd give Osunaarashi two wins over Yokozuna like
this, and as I speculated in my intro, it could be that they want to generate
headlines, but it could also be that Osunaarashi fights Goeido tomorrow, so how
great would it look to see Osunaarashi beat two Yokozuna only to fall to the
mighty Goeido the day after. Goeido's actually got the yotsu skills ot defeat
Osunaarashi if they turn him loose against the Sekiwake tomorrow, but if he
pulls and evades, he's in trouble.
In the day's final bout, Yokozuna Hakuho and M3 Kasei hooked up in the immediate
gappuri hidari yotsu position from the tachi-ai, but Kaisei couldn't budge the
Yokozuna while Hakuho just gathered his wits about him pinching in harder and
harder on Kaisei's inside position and then pulled the trigger on a lethal left
outer grip. Thinga beauty as Hakuho skates to 6-0 while Kaisei is 0-6.
The sumo hasn't been great, but something has gotta be in store this basho
because some of the bouts are just whack. Martin spells me tomorrow.
Day 5 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
the jobansen or first five days complete, I'm kinda getting an uneasy
feeling about this basho. Slow starts from Goeido and Kisenosato have now been
answered with a series of obvious yaocho, and Kotoshogiku is being propped up as
well. Then when you have two Yokozuna fall in untimely fashion to rikishi they
shouldn't be losing to, I start thinking where are they going with all of this?
I do not believe that the Association has an agenda as to how they would like
things to play out prior to the tournaments. I think they actually did try that
during the first half of 2012 when you had Takanohana predicting the promotions
to Ozeki of Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku before either had come close to
fulfilling the conditions, and then it culminated with that disastrous Natsu
basho of the same year, but since then, I think the elders in the Association
are kind of doing things on the fly.
When I was first living in Japan and trying to absorb all things sumo, someone
gave me a book in Japanese that was kind of like the equivalent of Sumo for
Dummies. I remember reading in there that during the hon-basho, all of the
different committees meet daily at the venue in the morning. You have the
judging committee, the PR committee, the security committee, the bout
organization committee, the board of directors, etc. And I remember finding it
strange that the committees met every morning of the basho. I mean, what is
there to talk about every single day? I've sat through those kind of
meetings in Japan countless times. Everything's already determined before
you even sit down and whoever is in charge passes out the agenda and you just
read through with the higher-ups making the usual bland comments. They
already know whose going to be judging when and on what days and they already
know beforehand whose gonna be in the booth providing color and who will be in
the mukou-joumen chair, so the meetings every day are largely pointless unless
they are discussing other matters.
Regardless, I think currently that when
yaocho occurs on a given day it stems from these morning meetings and the small
talk that precedes them. I'm quite sure that Kitanoumi Rijicho does not come out
and order a particular oyakata to have his guy lose that day, and I'm also sure
they don't try and orchestrate a basho. I think was does happen is someone like
Kitanoumi will come into a meeting and say something like, "we could really use
more youth in the Ozeki rank" or "Does the media have other things to focus on
besides Endoh's losses?" It probably isn't a formal part of the meeting; rather,
just a comment or too out of the blue before they get to the official agenda. If
Isegahama, an official in the Association, is at the meeting, he doesn't need
any more instruction than that. Kitanoumi is not telling anyone to do anything,
but if an oyakata feels as if his rikishi losing a certain bout would benefit
the Association as a whole, I think he takes that discussion back to the stable
with the rikishi in question, and then it's up to the two of them to decide what
Now, that is all pure speculation. I have no idea how it really works and can
only guess as to the why and how. Regarding the what, however, today was another
clear example that certain rikishi are being buoyed up, so perhaps we must wait
for the end of the basho before we understand the why. It's just a bit troubling
to me, though, to see so much blatant yaocho so early in the tournament all
surrounding the same band of merry men.
Before we get to the suspicious, however, we must start at the beginning where
M16 Wakanosato attempted moro-zashi getting the right hand in early, but he just
wasn't able to establish the left inside ultimately allowing M14 Azumaryu to
maki-kae and turn the bout to migi-yotsu. Wakanosato dictated the pace inasmuch
as he maintained the left outer grip, but the instant he gave up the same left
outer to Azumaryu on the other side, the throw came a split second later.
Azumaryu moves to 3-2 with the win while Wakanosato falls to 1-4.
M15 Tokitenku was lazy in his tachi-ai giving M14 Kagamioh the immediate left
outer grip in their migi-yotsu affair, and by the time Tenku got a sniff of an
outer left of his own, Kagamioh had him completely upright and forced him out
with some gusto. This may have been the best fought bout by Kagamioh that I've
seen so far as both dudes end the day at 2-3.
M16 Chiyomaru's sumo today was beautiful against M13 Sokokurai as Maru stuck to
his bread and butter tsuppari and never panicked as the crafty Sokokurai looked
to get to the inside. It would never happen, though, as Chiyomaru trusted in his
de-ashi and scored the oshi-dashi win in about five seconds. Great sumo early on
for Maru who is 5-0 while Sokokurai settles for 3-2.
M13 Okinoumi used a lazy right kachi-age attempt at the tachi-ai failing to
raise M17 Arawashi up enough to grab the left outer belt, and so Arawashi
pounced on Okinoumi's extended left arm, moved out right, and threw Okinoumi
down with a nice kote-nage throw. A veteran like Okinoumi should never be done
in by a greenie like Arawashi as these two fellas also end the day at 2-3
How funny was it to watch M15 Gagamaru hold up at the tachi-ai today making sure
he didn't jump the gun? But the plan worked as M12 Kyokushuho dove right into a
deep outer left from Gagamaru accompanied by a right choke hold that kept
Kyokushuho at bay and allowed Gagamaru to fire up his de-ashi, and he took care
of bidness straightway forcing Kyokushuho back and out in mere seconds. If I can
go back to my explanation of yaocho yesterday and contrast that to what a real
bout looks like in defeat, just
watch on our Facebook page how Kyokushuho uses his hands in defeat and
compare that to the three rikishi who took dives yesterday. Kyokushuho grabs the
belt with the left hand in an effort to twist his foe at the edge and then he
abandons his right outer grip at the last instant to go for the counter
tsuki-otoshi with the right. It doesn't work, but still, he's giving it his all
even as he's being driven to certain death beyond the straw. To me, the
differences in effort and use of the hands is so obvious that it's easy to see
that Kyokushuho really wanted this bout. Regardless, these two combatants both
stand at 2-3.
M10 Tokushoryu finally picked up a win against M12 Kyokutenho today in a
hidari-yotsu affair where Tokushoryu grabbed the right outer while Tenho had
none. Tokushoryu used his girth nicely to pin Kyokutenho in so he could only
retreat back and not to the side, and he was rewarded with a swift force-out
win. This was Tokushoryu's first victory at 1-4 while Kyokutenho falls to 2-3.
Why are so many guys stuck at 2-3? It's because dudes like Chiyomaru and M11
Takayasu have gotten out to such quick starts. Takayasu lost the tachi-ai to M9
Kitataiki giving up the early left outer grip in their migi-yotsu affair, but a
few seconds later, he righted the ship by using his strength advantage to shake
the grip off, and when Kitataiki flirted with a maki-kae with the right arm, it
gave Takayasu the opening he needed to grab his own left outer. From there the
complexion of the bout completely changed as Takayasu constantly looked for more
folds in his outer grip, and even though Kitataiki shook him off once, he was
already in position to refocus on that outer grip and force out Kitataiki in the
end. You watch a display of sumo like this, and you see why Takayasu is 5-0. I'd
love to see this kind of technique from guys like Kisenosato and Goeido, and I
realize the competition is different, but a decade ago, this is the kind of sumo
Ozeki and Sekiwake actually exhibited against far tougher competition than what
Kisenosato and Goeido are facing the first week.
M8 Chiyotairyu must have scented blood in this one because he didn't even think
about retreat crashing into M11 Sadanoumi with an effective left kachi-age/right
choke hold combo, and the tachi-ai was so good, Tairyu was able to score the
quick hataki-komi win. I would have of course loved to have seen a tsuki-dashi,
but you take what is given I suppose. Loved me some Chiyotairyu today
regardless, but that love will be short lived (sigh) as he moves to 3-2 while
Sadanoumi is the inverse.
M7 Jokoryu stayed low at the tachi-ai and used good tsuppari to completely keep
M10 Toyonoshima away from the inside. Of course the result was the grapplin'
position near the edge, and that sort of stance favors the smaller rikishi as
Toyonoshima showed by suddenly darting to his right and pulling a surprised
Jokoryu forward and down. Pretty ugly sumo, but Toyonoshima needs to scrap
together whatever he can at this point of his career. He's now 4-1 if you need
him while Jokoryu falls to that pesky mark of 2-3.
M8 Toyohibiki used a great nodowa with the right and teet dashi with the left
hand to knock M7 Tochinowaka upright and back to the straw, and Slowaka was so
undone by Toyohibiki's tachi-ai that he couldn't move laterally and took a final
few shoves to the chest that knocked him back across the straw in seconds. The
key of course were Toyohibiki's de-ashi that fueled the entire shebang (see,
Kane's not the only one who can use such fancy words!) as Toyo the Hutt improves
to 3-2 while Tochinowaka is a paltry 1-4.
M6 Myogiryu failed in his attempt at a right kachi-age at the tachi-ai, and it
put him in a bad position from the start against M9 Takarafuji leaving the pair
in hidari-yotsu which favors Takarafuji if their chests are aligned. Myogiryu
made sure that didn't happen, however, keeping his arse way back and moving
laterally just enough to where he wouldn't give up the outer grip. After 15
seconds or so of grappling, Takarafuji was caught sleeping giving up the
maki-kae to Myogiryu's right arm, and the bout was done at that point.
Takarafuji maki-kae'd in return as he was being driving back, but Myogiryu now
had the lower stance and forced Takarafuji back and across for the nifty
comeback win. Myogiryu prolly shouldn't have won this one, but props to him for
finding a way as he shines at 4-1 while T-Fuj falls to 2-3.
I think guys are quickly figuring out that the way to defeat M5 Endoh is to keep
him away from the inside. Today, M5 Chiyootori was masterful in his approach
keeping his head low and striking hard totally keeping Endoh away from the
inside, and Endoh knew he was in trouble and quickly moved to his left, but
Chiyootori reacted on a dime and caught his evading opponent with a few thrusts
to the chest that sent Endoh back and across with some force. Chiyootori had to
have been ecstatic as he grabbed that fat stack of envelopes fulla caish. As for
Endoh, he cannot win a tachi-ai thus his 1-4 start.
M4 Takekaze exhibited another brilliant tachi-ai today striking low and in an
upwards motion into M6 Terunofuji's girth, and the veteran never let Terunofuji
get a sniff of the belt or the inside. The key was a left palm to the
youngster's shoulder followed by a second palm to the teet with that same left,
and Terunofuji didn't have a pot to piss in at this point. Fantastic display of
sumo from Takekaze who is at least a decade older than his last two opponents,
yet he's schooled them both improving to 4-1. Terunofuji falls to 3-2 for his
M1 Shohozan managed the right outer grip from the tachi-ai against M4 Tamawashi
in this hidari-yotsu contest, but the outer grip was just one fold of the belt,
so Shohozan didn't have sufficient leverage to finish off the deal. Not wanting
to give the longer Tamawashi a right outer of his own, Shohozan kept his can
back, which resulted in a long stalemate that lasted pritnear a minute. In the
end, Tamawashi attempted a left inside belt throw, but Shohozan slipped left
just enough to where he was able to drag Tamawashi over and down as Shohozan
tip-toed the tawara. Tamawashi briefly looked at the head judge hoping for a
mono-ii but to no avail as he falls to 2-3. Shohozan picks up his first winna
the shootin' match.
Completely different sumo today from Komusubi Aoiyama who actually used his
hands this time to tsuppari fellow Komusubi Aminishiki upright at the tachi-ai
with a few chokeholds to the point where he was nothing but a tall target for
Aoiyama to just thrust back and off the dohyo altogether earning the tsuki-dashi
winning technique! Both Komusubi are a scant 1-4, but at least Aoiyama has been
playing his role to an extent ifyaknowhadduhmean.
In a clash between the two Sekiwake, Tochiohzan employed an awkward kachi-age
with the left as he turned his hips inward as if to say to Goeido, 'grab the
left outer bro,' but the hapless Goeido was completely lost, so when Oh next
tried a meek
slap, it actually resulted in Goeido's getting spun around 180 degrees.
Instinctively, Tochiohzan pounced and went for the right back belt grip, but
then for some inexplicable reason, he abandoned the attempt at the okuri-dashi
win, stood upright, and let Goeido turn back around and force Tochiohzan clear
across the ring and out. Afterwards, the two fellas in the booth were
speculating the cause of Tochiohzan's bone-headed loss mentioning his ailing
left shoulder or wondering if his feet were aligned. I mean, what else are they
gonna say about this one? I'm not even going to bother to post this one to
Facebook it was so damn obvious. I think this is the first time that I've seen a
guy get spun around 180 degrees like that...and still win the bout! I mean
sometimes, you get 30 second cat and mouse sumo where the two guys are running
all over the dohyo in a wild affair, but a straight up bout like this? If your
intelligence wasn't insulted by this bout, you should prolly try and obtain
M1 Ikioi moved to his right at the tachi-ai against Ozeki Kotoshogiku, but he
made no attempt whatsoever to try and pull the Ozeki down or cheaply grab his
belt. The Geeku was able to respond and turn 90 degrees grabbing the firm left
inside and pressing the action from there. Ikioi actually had the right outer
grip, which he could have used to apply pressure, but like his actions after the
tachi-ai, he just stood there always making sure to stay in front of Kotoshogiku
as the Ozeki pressed instead of moving laterally. Ikioi made it look somewhat
realistic, but it wasn't. Kotoshogiku moves to 5-0, and in the words of Kane
this morning, these guys are throwing the Ozeki a bridal shower this basho. As
for Ikioi, the sting of his 0-5 start will be rewarded in another way I'm sure.
Ikioi throwing his bout against Kotoshogiku, would M3 Kaisei now throw his
against Ozeki Kisenosato? Don't answer that. Kaisei completely won the tachi-ai
against Kisenosato and actually had moro-zashi with de-ashi to boot, but he
quickly pulled his right arm out letting Kisenosato back to the inside. With
Kisenosato unable to do anything, Kaisei next went for a lame maki-kae where he
actually stepped laterally over to the ring's edge as if to say, "c'mon already
ya dumbass!" And Kisenosato still couldn't make the Brasilian pay, and so Kaisei
finally for no reason turned around 180 degrees and let the Ozeki just drive him
back and out from there. This is getting so ridiculous I don't have the words to
express it. I think the crowd kinda senses it as well because the venue was just
dead after these so-called "wins" from the two Ozeki and Goeido.
Yoshikaze henka'd left again against Yokozuna Hakuho, but it was a harmless move
only resulting in separation between the two. With Hakuho waiting and
threatening those grizzly bear swipes, Yoshikaze looked for some sort of
opening, but Hakuho ended the funny bidness early spilling the Monster Drink
down in about five seconds. I cannot stress enough how ugly the sumo has been
the last 30 minutes each day during week 1 of this basho and the first week last
basho. But hey, if it works for the Japanese fans, it works for me I guess.
Hakuho improves to 5-0 while Yoshikaze falls to 3-2.
Wow, M3 Osunaarashi actually moved out left at the tachi-ai in order to grab the
cheap left outer against Yokozuna Kakuryu. The Kak responded well enough
grabbing a left outer of his own as the two spun around in the middle of the
ring, and as the dust settled, the two found themselves in the gappuri
hidari-yotsu position. Kakuryu doesn't want to get into a chest to chest contest
with this beast, and so he went for the quick maki-kae with the right arm, but
Osunaarashi moved out to his left and then countered with a right scoop throw
that actually knocked the Kak
180 degrees leaving him slumped over allowing Osunaarashi to only give the
Yokozuna a slight push to the arse sending him across the straw. Did Kakuryu
throw this one? I don't have any clear evidence, but I suspect he did. It just
doesn't happen where a young, raw guy like Osunaarashi who doesn't have the
greatest of sumo skills can topple a Yokozuna in his first try. My personal
feeling is that had Kakuryu wanted this one, he woulda found a way, but who
knows? Something interesting that Kane also pointed out to me this
morning...there were no zabutons thrown after the bout, which shows you just how
little the Japanese fans recognize Kakuryu as a Yokozuna. Excellent observation
as Kakuryu falls to 4-1 while Osunaarashi picks up his first kin-boshi moving to
3-2. I think you have to go back as far as Konishiki to find someone who toppled
a Yokozuna so early in his career (it took the Ejyptian just 15 basho in the
sport). When they asked Osunaarashi how he felt afterwards, he gave them
his favorite expression in Japanese which is "itsumo doori" which can be
translated as "business as usual," "just stickin' to my guns," or "same shat
different day". You decide.
In the day's final bout, Harumafuji focused squarely on M2 Homasho's neck with a
few tsuppari until Homasho quickly backed out of it creating separation. Homasho
stayed low with arms extended just daring Harumafuji to come in and pull him
down, but the Yokozuna was cautious feeling Homasho out with a few slaps here
and there forcing Homasho to at least try and move laterally. When he did,
Harumafuji pounced shoving Homasho down with some oomph, but unfortunately,
Homasho's right foot was jammed against the straw with his knee locked, and it
caused him to severely twist his knee as he awkwardly fell forward to the dirt.
Homasho couldn't get up afterwards and had to roll himself to the edge of the
dohyo where a yobi-dashi and oyakata acted as his crutches helping him back to
the hana-michi. What, did the fellas at Pawn Stars finally sell that antique
wheelchair because they didn't bring it out to whisk Homie away. Homasho is
clearly done this baho, and this type of injury to a dude his age could spell
retirement. Let's hope not, but you just have to admire that Homa Sho Am Sweet
went down swinging. See, there's a way to lose when you're actually trying, and
Homasho has exemplified that his entire career. Harumafuji moves to 4-1 with the
Back at it tomorrow same time same place and hopefully not the same sumo.
Day 4 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
on the day 2 comments, and the key points that I still remember for the day are
these. Kisenosato got beat by Aminishiki he resorted to a quick pull attempt. If
you'll remember, Aminishiki tried that exact stunt on day 1 against Hakuho, so
go back and look how Hakuho and Kisenosato handled the same attack from
Aminishiki. You'll clearly see who is the Yokozuna and who is the Sekiwake.
The next point had to do with Terunofuji. Dude struggled his debut basho, but he
is a beast and probably the strongest guy on the banzuke next to Hakuho. The
Thug may give Terunofuji a run for his money, but their styles are so different.
Terunofuji is this blob who wants to suck you inside and work you out by the
belt while Osunaarashi seems to avoid chest to chest sumo quite a bit opting to
just bounce his foes from the dohyo with open handed punches. Anyway, Terunofuji
has huge upside, and I could see him being a sanyaku mainstay within about 18
months. I know I've said the same things about Chiyotairyu and Endoh recently,
but what's the key difference between Terunofuji and those other two yayhoos?
One of 'em isn't Japanese.
The third point is that it should be no surprise to our readers that Endoh is
basically getting his ass kicked like this. The screams in the venue when Endoh
gets pulverized are hilarious, but you need to understand that the fans are
getting their information from the Japanese media, and there's total spin
involved. Hell, I was even victim to it a couple of basho ago, but it's clear
that Endoh can't pull his weight in the division. It's not due to skill
whatsoever; rather, he just doesn't have any size. It be like pounding a
railroad spike in with a framing hammer while the Mongolians all carry around 16
The final point after day two is that Kisenosato, Goeido, and Endoh were a
combined 2-4, and whenever that chit starts happening, it's time for many of
their opponents to go Arjen Robben and start diving as I will demonstrate today.
But before we get that far, let's quickly work our way in chronological order
staring with M17
Arawashi who turned his right shoulder inward too much looking for the right
inside position, so M14 Kagamioh shifted left, grabbed the outer, grip, and
escorted Arawashi over and out lickety split leaving both gentlemen at 1-3.
M16 Wakanosato and M13 Okinoumi immediately hooked up in hidari-yotsu from the
tachi-ai with chests aligned, but Okinoumi is too tall for Don to ever get a
sniff at an outer grip. His foe befuddled, Okinoumi pulled the trigger on a left
inside belt throw not even waiting for an outer grip during the ambush.
Wakanosato (1-3) has trouble with guys who have length due to his stubby limbs.
Okinoumi improves to 2-2.
M15 Gagamaru jumped the gun at the tachi-ai and then held up. But nobody called
a false start and so M13 Sokokurai slipped into moro-zashi and that was that as
Sokokurai scored the easy force out win. Gagamaru made sure to give the head
judge a look before he stepped off the dohyo as if to say WTF? On one hand I
agree, but on the other hand, nobody cares dude. You're not 1-3 because of the
officiating. Sokokurai is a cool 3-1.
M16 Chiyomaru used a good moro-te at the tachi-ai to completely deny M11
Sadanoumi the belt and as Sadanoumi strained forward, Maru slipped to the side
and just pulled his foe down with ease soaring to 4-0 in the process. In a match
like this, the hataki-komi is perfectly acceptable because it was set up with a
solid tachi-ai and sweet moro-te. Sadanoumi cools a bit to 2-2.
M11 Takayasu came with a good, hard tachi-ai that set up the early left belt
grip that was an outer, but near enough to the front to do sufficient damage.
M15 Tokitenku (2-2) tried to spin away, but Takayasu kept that grip and easily
forced the Mongolian over and out joining Chiyomaru at 4-0.
M10 Toyonoshima (3-1) easily slipped into moro-zashi thanks to a lazy tachi-ai
from M14 Azumaryu (2-2), and there was no way he could counter Toyonoshima's
M9 Takarafuji got the right inside and left outer grip against M12 Kyokutenho,
but he was so timid with his footwork (coming in 0-5 against Tenho will do that
to you) that the Chauffeur easily slipped left and dragged Takarafuji over and
down via a shoulder slap. I thought Takarafuji would end his streak today, but
no dice as both rikishi are 2-2.
M8 Chiyotairyu used that useless tachi-ai where his hands are mostly to the
outside with palms forward. Not having been throttled back at the start, M12
Kyokushuho just backed up and easily pulled Chiyotairyu down in a second. To me,
Chiyotairyu should never lose to Kyokushuho, so to see him go down like that so
quickly just takes that last ounce of air outta my balloon for him.
M10 Tokushoryu and M7 Tochinowaka started in hidari-yotsu where Tokushoryu had
the left outer grip, but Tochinowaka can be a bitch to force-out as was the case
today, and Tokushoryu just gave up too early after pressing the action and
getting Slowaka to the edge. The result was Tochinowaka grabbing a right outer
grip and showing Tokushoryu how it's down going gaburi stytle as he escorted his
gal all the way across the dohyo and out picking up his first win in the
process. Tokushoryu is still an o'fer.
M9 Kitataiki looked timid in his charge against M7 Jokoryu as the too hooked up
in hidari-yotsu from the tachi-ai, so Jokoryu moved out right and felled
Kitataiki with a right kote-nage throw quick and easy. I thought it was a good
adjustment by Jokoryu as both guys end the day at 2-2.
M8 Terunofuji blew a chance with a M8 Toyohibiki wide open at the tachi-ai, and
then it looked as if Teru's feet kind of slipped (ashi ga nagareru) and
the result was a left uppercut to the jaw from Toyohibiki that hit the sweet
spot causing Terunofuji to just collapse in a heap to the clay. Terunofuji was
likely knocked out momentarily, and that will happen when your foe connects on a
lucky punch. Dude suffers his first loss now standing at 3-1, but he's a
presence. Damn straight any of the oyakata would trade Endoh's body for
Terunofuji's if such a thing was possible. Toyohibiki ends the day at 2-2, and
he'll remember how sweet that punch felt for awhile.
M4 Tamawashi slipped left at the tachi-ai throwing M6 Myogiryu's charge off just
enough that he could never catch Tamawashi square in the chest with any
tsuppari. Myo did have Tamawashi backed up to the dohyo, but it was mostly with
high, ineffective shoves, and so once Tamawashi hit the edge, he finally burst
with a tsuppari attack of his own that knocked Myogiryu off balance sending him
back clear across the dohyo and out. This was Myogiryu's first lossa the
tournament, but when your opponent moves laterally at the tachi-ai, anything can
happen. Tamawashi ends the day 2-2 for his trouble.
things I haven't quite figured out are why Japanese fans clap in unison prior to
overhyped bouts and why soccer fans whistle when they don't like something they
see on the field (a pitch is what you do in baseball). Anyway, that must mean
that I'm about to comment on the M5 Endoh bout where M4 Takekaze displayed one
of the better tachi-ai you'll see from him hitting hard and upwards into Endoh
looking to get inside. Elvis was totally rebuffed, and before he could think of
plan B, Takekaze reversed gears and slapped Endoh down before the bout could
really get started.
I really don't think this was a bad loss for Endoh (1-3); he just got beat by
one of the best tachi-ai we've seen from Takekaze (3-1). It's also not helping
that 14 kensho get paraded around the ring before each of his bouts. Suppose you
made 10 grand a month, and the winner of your bout on the day would pocket
$4,200 just for winning. You think that'd inspire a few rikishi? I'm also going
to call a few yaocho here in second, so before you ask, 'why aren't they
throwing the bouts for Endoh then?' I'll give you the three answers. First, they
will...just wait. Second, the money is too tempting. And third, Japan is still a
heavy senpai-kohai thing, and Endoh hasn't even been around in the division for
a year, so to have a veteran guy like Takekaze pass up 4grr and change by taking
a dive? Sorry Charlie.
I love Kane's enthusiasm for sumo of late. I'll admit that I get quite cynical,
but as I've explained before, I expect all rikishi to go at it 100%, so I get
irritated when they don't. But on the subject of enthusiasm, Kane is spot on
regarding his excitement for M3 Osunaarashi who used a blistering right
kachi-age that set M5 Chiyootori upright enough that he plowed a left thrust
into the side of Otori sending him over and down with some oomph. In Chiyootori,
you have a guy already with Komusubi experience, and Osunaarashi just kicked his
ass. Great stuff today as the Ejyptian improves to 2-2 while Chiyootori's slide
continues at 1-3.
Okay, let's get to the first thrown bout of the day where Komusubi Aoiyama left
himself open at the tachi-ai easily letting Sekiwake Goeido to the inside with
the right, and although Aoiyama had the left outer grip, he quickly abounded it
for no reason and was half-assed in his charge totally allowing Goeido to
establish himself, grab his own left outer, and then step to his left dumping
Aoiyama over by uwate-nage. You could see that Aoiyama sensed when the throw was
coming and was already on his way down when Goeido pulled the trigger.
This basho NHK has introduced super slow motion, but they might want to be
careful about using it for a bout like this. I've actually posted a link on our
Facebook page to this bout (and a couple others) in slow motion where you can
clearly see yaocho taking place. I know people hate it when I declare yaocho,
but put yourself in my position. I have to break down a bout and list the key
moves and occurrences where one rikishi won it and the other lost it. I just
don't see how anyone could analyze these slow motion replays and not be alarmed
that Aoiyama gave up his outer grip for no reason, but more than that, if you
follow his setup side (the inside position) with the right hand, he does nothing
with it keeping it out of harms way and totally letting Goeido dictate the pace.
The reason Aoiyama had Goeido close to the edge is because the Father backed up
as he is wont to do. Anyway, check out the slow motion replay
here on our FB page.
Okay, where were we? Komusubi Aminishiki beat Sekiwake Tochiohzan last basho
with a cheap henka to his left, and he tried it again this basho! Oh was ready,
however, and caught Shneaky with a right thrust that totally set him off balance
allowing Tochiohzan to charge forward and push Aminishiki out before he could
really evade anything. Tochiohzan rebounds to 2-2 but hasn't looked great this
basho while Aminishiki's only win came against Kisenosato.
And speaking of Ozeki Kisenosato, M1 Ikioi charged forward at the tachi-ai
feigning a right kachi-age, but it was just for show as he quickly backed up
flailing his arms but not doing anything allowing Kisenosato to just shove him
back and out in a few seconds. Ikioi purposefully let the Ozeki have his way as
the replays showed (posted on our Facebook page with my comments), and when a
guy falls out of the ring unnaturally as Ikioi did today, it should raise a red
flag. This one is a bit trickier to detect, but total yaocho all the way as
Ikioi falls to 0-4 while Kisenosato moves to 3-1.
The most undeniable yaocho on the day featured M3 Kaisei and Ozeki Kotoshogiku
who clashed in migi-yotsu, but it was absolutely comical watching Kaisei bumble
around with his right hand refusing to grab the belt or lift up high into the
Ozeki. As the slow-mo replay shows, he first had his right in in a fist on the
inside; he next got fresh with his gal and put his hand on Kotoshogiku's they;
and then he began feeling up the side of Kotoshogiku's mawashi somehow
forgetting to grab the damn thing. All the while Kotoshogiku easily grabbed a
firm left outer grip, but he actually whiffed on his first attempt and had to
retool with a grip further back. Anyway, Kaisei was just waiting for the throw
in this one has the Ozeki ended the funny bidness with an uwate-nage where like
Aoiyama, Kaisei did half the work himself diving to the clay. Kotoshogiku is
4-0, and this is a clear sign that he will be handed his eight wins this basho.
Remember when Kaio was in a similar situation? As for Kaisei, he falls to 0-4,
but he has his reward...trust me.
This bout was the last of the three that I posted to our
Facebook page, and if you see something beyond
what I pointed out, feel free to comment. I think it's healthy to have
disagreement and debate, so point out what I'm missing in all of this.
Finishing things off with the three Yokozuna, M1 Shohozan's tsuppari against
Kakuryu had good intentions, but Kakuryu patiently stood his ground swiping away
at Shohozan's extended arms until he was off balance enough to where the
Yokozuna could pounce and slap his foe down. Nothing really to break down here
as Kakuryu moves to 4-0 while Shohozan is still winless.
M2 Yoshikaze slipped slightly left at the tachi-ai and sent Harumafuji to the
side with a swipe at the butt, but the Yokozuna didn't bother to re-establish
grabbing a left frontal grip but actually backing up instead of aligning chests
with his foe (I didn't bother posting this one on FB, but there were tons of red
flags for me in this one). Yoshikaze next attempted a right kote-nage that spun
Harumafuji around, but he was still on his feet and in perfect position to grab
a right outer grip, and he actually instinctively went for the belt and got it,
but let it go as quickly as it begun. So with the two in hidari-yotsu,
Harumafuji just allowed Yoshikaze to spin him around with an inside belt grab
and eventually slap the Yokozuna down by the shoulder. Make your own conclusions
here as the Monster drink ties up the Yokozuna at 3-1 with the win.
And finally, M2 Homasho moved right at the tachi-ai, but Hakuho was alert and
easily squared himself back up although the two rikishi were separated. Homasho
next darted to his left and grabbed the Yokozuna's belt from the outside, but
Hakuho easily got his right arm to the inside and used it to secure moro-zashi,
and there ain't nothin' Homasho could do from there as Hakuho scored the easy
and uneventful force-out win staying atop the leader board at 4-0. Homasho falls
to 1-3 and after watching this bout, I thought Harumafuji should have responded
in kind to Yoshikaze's henka left, but for whatever reason, he was mukiryoku.
Let's see what tomorrow brings.
Day 3 Comments (Kane Roberts reporting)
gonna compare sumo to other sporting events…the Stanley Cup Playoffs rocked my
world, I witnessed the epic Wimbledon final…I never once thought of the dynamics
of sumo. Fat guy sports are just so different don't you agree? Besides, Mike
bloodied up the joint as he wielded his granite Shillelagh (shalaylee) re soccer
I will say I just love the modernized NHK Sumo broadcast booth design…big
improvement over the old version.
And as my brain wanders and threatens to have me wax dyslexic, I've decided
instead to grab my oyatsu snack tray, crack open an ice cold anything, kick back
on my oversized L-shaped sofa and get me some fat guy action! Wind it up and hit
play doll face…it's Day 3 Nagoya Basho 2014!
This Nagoya basho deal is much ado about the "Thug" (Osunaarashi) and the "Gangstah"
(Wakanosato) - two guys that can't hide their love for the game. But let's get
our props wound up over Don Sato first since he's the veteran of the two and has
an abundance of qualities that every rikishi should seek.
Our favorite lovable and honest rikishi, Wakanosato, has burrowed his way up
from the dregs of Juryo back into the shimmering glow of the big show! No small
feat when you consider he just turned 38 and has been through some head rattling
bashos that were rich in sumo giants. Dude
gone up against (and beaten) guys like (many in their prime) Wakanohana (1 win -
1 loss), Asashoryu (7 wins - 12 losses), Chiyotaikai (5 wins - 27 losses),
Akebono (1 win - 1 loss), Dejima (12 wins - 6 losses), Hakuho (6 wins - 11
losses), Kaio (11 wins - 11 losses), Kotomitsuki (11 wins - 8 losses) etc and
always displayed straight up, hard nosed sumo.
Don Waka Sato entered the top Makuuchi division for the first time in May 1998 (dayum
that was a while ago). He was holding his own that year and even recorded his
first kin-boshi against Yokozuna Wakanohana, but the very next day he broke his
ankle in a match with Musōyama and had to miss the last day of the tournament
and all of the following tournament. He suffered a more serious injury in
November 1999, rupturing anterior cruciate ligaments and then sat out two
successive tournaments after having surgery and was demoted to the Jūryō
division . Being tough as nails, the Gangstah won consecutive Jūryō
championships upon his comeback, in July 2000, and was promoted back to
Makuuchi. He quickly made the titled sanyaku ranks, making Komusubi in November
2000 (recovering from 2-6 down to finish 9-6!). As a result he was promoted to
Sekiwake for the first time in January 2001.
Waka withdrew from the March 2009 tournament after breaking a metatarsal bone in
his right foot during his 11th day bout with Kotoshōgiku. He had surgery in
April which put him out of action for at least two months, meaning he had to sit
out the following tournament in May. He came back in July, winning his fourth
Jūryō championship with a 14-1 record! He reached Maegashira 1 in March 2010,
his highest rank in over four years. After that he comfortably maintained a
position in the mid-to-upper Maegashira ranks until he was injured in the
November 2011 tournament, resulting in yet another fall to Jūryō. However he
immediately returned to Makuuchi after scoring 11-4 in January 2012.
Some comebacks work, others well…
Although Wakanosato's career has been beset with a slew of injuries, he's thrown
down hard to fight his way back from adversity and perform admirably every time.
So here's to you Gangstah for showing monstrous nad and defining Fighting
Chiyomaru has a few things going for him when he's facing M16 Wakanosato. Never
mind youth and arm length, Maru is one of the young turks coming out of
Chiyotaikai's stable, and that doesn't bode well for the Gangstah when you
consider his record against the former Ozeki (5-27). So it was no surprise to
see Chiyo employ a purposeful and confident tsuppari attack against Don Sato
preventing the veteran from grabbing his favorite migi-yotsu grip and sending
him into the loss column lickety-split. Wakanosato resisted hard at the rope,
pushing back and twisting Chiyomaru's rotund physique, but the well coached
youngster was moving forward like a politician glossing over the truth. Sato 1-2
/ Maru 3-0 (win by oshi-dashi).
The talented M13 Okinoumi's career is inexplicably headed in the wrong
direction. Whatever the reasons are I often walk away from his bouts (usually to
grab a buffalo wing and an ice cold Yoohoo from the fridge) feeling like he
woulda coulda shoulda done better if he tried harder. His foe (who has his
number (1-5), M11 Takayasu, on the other hand always has his heart in the right
place, and at Nagoya he's showing his old self and may be on his way back from
Taka got the slight edge off the tachi-ai by hitting a bit harder than
Okeefenokee and immediately employed so hard mitts to the mug of his enemy.
Okinoumi survived the initial cargo and chugged forward pushing Takayasu to the
edge but after some aggressive grappling, the match settled into a yotsu
stalemate. After a minute of both men vying for two handed mawashi grips
Takayasu lower his center of gravity, achieved the full throttle yotsu and
yanked Okinoumi up and out of the ring. A good performance by both dudes and it
was Takayasu's edge in strength and desire that won the day. Okeefenokee 1-2 /
Takayasu 3-0 (yori-kiri).
M9 Kitataiki has more batter box moves than a pro ball player and a third base
coach combined. Dude is pulling on his knee wrap, stretching his arms, jerking
his mawashi like someone's gonna steal second. Sadly, M11 Sadanoumi had no moves
before during or after the bout. Kitataiki stood him up at the gate, locked his
arms under his pits and dose doed the Sad guy around and off the dosey dohyo.
Yori-kiri win for the K man (2-1), yori-kiri loss for Sadanoumi 2-1).
M10 Toyonoshima is all biz this basho as he immediately drove into M7
Tochinowaka's gut (which ain't all that hard to do), straightened the taller
dude up, and drove him into the dark in text book fashion. It's great to see the
older guys show mental strength and break out of bad habits by successfully
re-committing to classic sumo law.
Toyota is 2-1 (oshidashi) and Slowaka is 0-3.
Mike's Day 1 heads up on Mainoumi's praise of M6 Myogiryu's keiko performance
appears to have been prescient because Yogi's showing the skills that garnered
him a semi regular room at the Jo'i Hotel. On this night Yogi Mahesh Mahoney
faced M8 Chiyotairyu who's exclusive "in bout" employment of the retreating
hitaki-komi technique has got to be driving King Mike batty.
Both men pounced off the line hard, as Chia Pet teed off with a nice tsuppari
attack that drove is foe back a step or two. But Myogiryu stared him down and
started to push back and that was enough for Chiyotairyu to back pedal and
attempt yet another head pull down. Unfortunately for the Chia pet, Yogi's feet
here moving too fast and he kept his center of gravity high enough to shove his
way to an oshi-dashi win and a spit and polish 3-0 zenshou record. Chiyotairyu
learns nothing as he falls to 2-1.
minded Mongolian youngster, M6 Terunofuji, refuses to go down easy. He's rapidly
finding his sumo sea legs (sumo sea legs? What the heck…I'll let it slide) and
successfully employing his physical gifts to a greater degree with each basho.
On this day he faced another promising (albeit injured) youngster M8 Chiyootori
and right off the tachi-ai, Fuji chose yotsu-zumo. Chiyo also succeeded in
grabbing strong migi-yotsu, but Terunofuji used his height and strength to
throttle the big kid down, forcing Chiyo to shoot his foot past the rope for
balance. It looked as if the last thing Chiyootori wanted to do was use his
bandaged left arm to break his fall so let's hope he heals quickly). Terunofuji
yori-kiri's his way to a strong 3-0 basho start while Chiyootori stumbles to
So what's up with Elvis? Has he already entered his donut era? Is he still
finding his sumo bad self? Will he lose his signature pink wash cloth? Is the
red light on at Krispy Kreme?
the case may be, M5 Endo's story will be told under the intense glare of a
jacked up media spotlight and that's nothing to sneeze at. He's not only
supposed to win every match, Elvis has to be the next "fill in the blank" not
only to the fans but a slobbering Sumo Association as well. His semi epic battle
with Terunofuji the night before ended with a big ole "L" tattoo and if he wants
to keep hearing the adoring cheers when he steps onto the clay, he best take
care of the newly re-vitalized M4 Tamawashi in short order.
At the gun, Mama Please Wash Me throttled Endo with a vicious nodowa bending him
backwards, but Endo showed strong intent and fought his way to a migi-yotsu belt
grip. At this point Tamawashi backed up and attempted an aggressive blend of
hitaki-komi and kote-nage, swinging Endo around and towards the edge of
paradise. But Elvis showed great resolve and not only held on but gained a two
handed belt grip and chugged his opponent back and out for a sweet yori-kiri
victory. His fans clapped and cheered (as did I) and we all yelled "More of this
please!". Endo needs to get a tougher de-ashi from the git go but this was a
cool bout. Endo and Tamawashi both sit at 1-2.
drink finds himself in the big leagues, and I kinda like him up there if for no
other reason than he's fully awake for every bout.
M2 Yoshikaze spun the seemingly bewildered west Sekiwake Tochiohzan around and
dry humped him off the dohyo. Monster drink gets the okuri-dashi win (2-1) while
Tochiohzan slides to 1-2.
thug [thuhg] noun
1. a tough and violent man, a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.
When the lights went down and Osunaarashi's silhouette appeared as he strode
into the arena, the crowd chanted "Thug, Thug, Thug"…
Well maybe not but I'll bet that's the way he sees it when he walks towards the
M3 Osunaarashi can't wait to fight. Don't matter who they are, what their rank
or what kind of hype may be juicing up their reputations let's git 'er done.
He's a big dude, he's increasing his bully status by training with some serious
weights, he's got his sneer on…and like every true thug he's eager to mix it up.
You combine that with his unbridled love of everything sumo and at the very
least you got the potential for some hard nosed action every time he steps into
When the ruffian faced off with Ozeki Kisenosato for the first time ever you
could sense a. he was fearless and b. his unbridled eagerness to get it on and
whatever the result it for sure wasn't gonna be an elegant affair.
At the tachi-ai Osu got his baseball bat forearm (with a closed fist) up and
into Kise's mug stunning the erstwhile Ozeki and almost breaking his bloodied
honker. As he is wont to do, the Thug stood up straight and started taking quick
steps (his feet aligned) as he jostled for position. Doc Wesemann schooled us on
the importance of sound footwork and although Osu was
his own and shoving the Kid around, he didn't achieve good leverage as the Ozeki
starting toughing his way forward.
The more experienced Kisenosato drove to gain yotsu and began the hard work of
moving the powerful youngster over the line. As a last ditch attempt the thug
lifted Kisenosato onto one leg in an enthusiastic uwate-nage throw but Kise kept
his center and shoved Osunaarashi off the dohyo.
The result: a winners rose and a bloody nose for the Ozeki (2-1) and a 1-2
record for Osunaarashi who seemed happy just to be there (check out his demeanor
walking away). I get the feeling he's gonna bring the same attitude to the other
sumo elite and that's something I'm looking forward to…long live the thug!
Although he gets worked rather soundly in the upper ranks, M1 Shohozan has the
rep for bringing it as well, and you get the sense every athlete that faces him
knows it. He doesn't possess a truckload of physical attributes, but his
aggressive tsuppari attack is in our collective faces every basho. Yokozuna Haru
"Slappy" Mafuji has an impressive variety of fighting styles in his database so
as expected right from the start he blocked much of Shoho's fisticuffs and
slapped back at Shoho with equal aplomb. The two men separated briefly and Haru
kept his man at bay until he executed a strong hataki-komi. 3-0 for the Yokozuna
and 0-3 for Shohozan.
looked across the tape at Supreme Yokozuna, Count Hakuho's welcoming gaze, and
repeated the mantra "I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid!". The younger man ponied up
at the gate and drove into the dai-yokozuna hard and fought like he had a shot
at some kinda kin-boshi, and there's no denying his strength and desire were in
Captain Interview out everythinged Itchy Koo Park for the muscular uwate-nage,
but at least the kid made his master break a sweat. Hak is a shocking 3-0 (not)
as the Icky one is takin' a beatin' just like an egg at 0-3.
Finally Yokozuna Kakuryu got down to the type of sumo most people associate with
his vaunted status. M3 Kaisei (who often seems as confused as Larry Fine after
the tachi-ai) is 0-5 against Kak and 0-6 was just around the corner as the
Yokozuna got double belt status on first contact and then proceed to duck walk
Baby Huey over the hemp you don't wanna smoke. Mongolian Yokozuna sweep is
complete as the K man saunters to 3-0 and Kaisei says hello to 0-3.
This was a good night for yours truly…saw the Gangstah, the thug threw down
hard, Myogiryu was full on, that Terunofuji kid was impressive again…of course
there ARE other ways to spend your time:
Day 1 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
the last two weeks in Japan, I thought that I'd be able to provide ample
pre-basho coverage including a pre-basho report, but there's just too much to do
here and too much to eat to really chase down sumo news. And I say "chase down"
because I did watch news broadcasts and follow the current headlines in Japan
assuming that I'd see some nuggets on sumo, but it just wasn't there unless I
went directly to the wires to find it.
Regardless, I don't have much new to say prior to the Nagoya basho that I didn't
beat like a dead horse back in May, but I would like to comment briefly on the
World Cup. As an American, the sporting event I look forward to the most each
year is the NFL playoffs, but I do acknowledge that the World Cup is the world's
premier sporting event, and I rank my anticipation of this event above anything
else including the NFL. From start to finish, I am riveted to the World Cup as
is the rest of the globe, and I'm sad to see it end between Day 1 and Day 2, but
I can't help but draw some similarities to the two sports as I watch World Cup
First, the incessant diving that occurs in an effort to draw a free kick reminds
me somewhat of the tachi-ai henka. In sumo, the tachi-ai henka is used as an
unfair advantage against one's opponent to gain the upperhand without putting in
sufficient work at the tachi-ai. In soccer the dive is used of course to warrant
a free kick, and the acting gets really good once the athletes are inside of the
penalty box. Whether a rikishi wins using a tachi-ai henka or whether a free
kick is rewarded to due an obvious dive, it leaves a similar taste in my mouth.
One of my favorite teams to follow in the World Cup was the Nederlands, but that
win over Mexico just didn't seem right. Arjen Floppen...er...uh...Robben is the
current Yokozuna of diving, but the art is practiced by everyone and stains many
matches in my opinion. I'm curious to know how people around the world where
soccer is the #1 sport (i.e. non-Americans) feel about the athletes diving. In
my opinion, it's part of the game and there's not much that can be done about
it, but it just doesn't feel right...like a tachi-ai henka.
While we're on the subject of diving in soccer, why is okay for soccer athletes
to dive but it isn't okay for sumo wrestlers to dive? I'm of course asking this
question to the crowd who thinks that all sumo bouts are fought straight up, but
I find it interesting that a sports fan can accept diving in one sport but not
the other. Oh, and does yaocho exist in soccer as well? It seems as if a World
Cup can't come and go without allegations of match-fixing in this league or that
(this time around match-fixing allegations involved Cameroon). I don't even need to go into
the details of how easy it would be to lose a soccer match or play for a draw,
so why couldn't a sumo wrestler to the same thing if he thought it would be
beneficial to lose? You blow a defensive assignment on purpose; you give up
moro-zashi intentionally. What's the difference?
I will always consider yaocho to be an integral part of sumo until they change
these two rules:
- Rikishi from the same stable may not fight each other during a hon-basho
- Biological brothers may not fight each other during a hon-basho.
The exception to that rule of course is if two stablemates/brothers happen to
meet in a playoff for the yusho, but other than that, the rules stand. My
question is...why do those two rules even exist? Answer that question first
before completely discounting the role that yaocho plays in sumo when necessary.
And sticking with the whole soccer theme, why are the final matches of group
play between the four teams in a particular group played simultaneously?
Answer that question and then tell me that match-fixing does not exist in
I see many similarities in the two sports, and I'm curious how non-American
fans react to yaocho in either sport. As far as Japan goes, one of the best
dives early on came in the very first match where Fred (a favorite Brasilian
name of mine if there ever was one) feigned being pulled down in the box against
Croatia earning a penalty kick late into the second half that completely changed the complexion of the
match for the host country. Coincidentally, the referee who called for the
penalty kick was Japanese, and so I was extremely interested to see how the
Japanese press would cover the controversial call. NHK of course showed the
play, but there wasn't a single mention of any controversy. Rather, the
sportscaster said, "And Nishimura referee firmly stands behind his call" as NHK
showed all of the Croatian players surrounding the ref and complaining about the
obvious dive while Nishimura stood there defiantly. And just like that, any sort of controversy was
actually spun to
the viewers as if Nishimura actually did a fine job of referring the match.
Nothing was further from the truth, however, as he blew the call that resulted
in a penalty kick and then missed a Neymar elbow in the first half that could
have warranted a red card.
The only reason I'm talking about this is to illustrate how the Japanese media
will spin coverage of an event to fit an agenda...in this case standing up for a
native referee on the world's largest stage who obviously had an off night.
Instead of even mentioning a possible mistake, suggesting that any controversy
was involved, or mentioning that the innernet was abuzz with complaints after
the game, they turn the ref into a hero by showing how he emphatically
stands up to his calls...as wrong as they may have been. This discussion is
absolutely applicable to sumo and the way that guys like Endoh are hyped to the
extent that his bouts have nearly twice as many kensho involved as the next guy
even though he hasn't accomplished anything. Then there's Goeido and Kisenosato
and the constant hype surrounding their pushes to Ozeki and Yokozuna respectively
even though they're about as worthy of those ranks as I am of working as a
geisha in the Ginza district of Tokyo.
I know this is a really long intro, but in lieu of a pre-basho report, I thought
it'd be pertinent to illustrate some of my thoughts regarding sumo and how it
compares to the beautiful game. Then when you see how the Japanese media covers
both events, it just adds that next dimension that hopefully explains why I make
the comments in my reports that I do, and why I'm always pointing out the latest
spin in the media.
Enough of that for now, though; let's get to the day's bouts going in chronological
order starting with M17 Arawashi who managed a left frontal belt grip from the
tachi-ai, but he couldn't burrow inside with it due to M16 Chiyomaru's tsuppari
from the start-ai that kept Arawashi well away from a position that would allow
him to attack. Arawashi was persistent with the grip until Chiyomaru went for a
pull that freed his opponent from the mae-mawashi, and while that's not a great
move to use, if you're a superior rikishi to your foe as is the case with
Chiyomaru, you can get away with it, which is exactly what Chiyomaru did as he
picks up a shaky first win.
Talking to Kane right before the bouts, I knew we'd both be fired up for M16
Wakanosato's return to the division, but our hopes were dashed when he got into
a gappuri migi-yotsu clash with M15 Tokitenku with little momentum. Wakanosato
briefly attempted moro-zashi with the left hand, but Tokitenku's long left arm
foiled that plan and left the younger and taller Mongolian in a stalemate with the
older, stubbier, Gangstuh-no-sato. From that point, Tokitenku easily worked his
right leg to the inside of Wakanosato's left tripping him up for the uchi-gake
win. You can bet that Gangstuh will brush himself off and be ready tomorrow.
After a false start that was M14 Azumaryu's fault, he decided to jump to his
right against M15 Gagamaru and henka his way into the cheap right outer grip. As
Gagamaru tried to square back up, his left arm flew to the outside giving
Azumaryu the deep right inside and clear path to the ill-gotten force-out win.
Azumaryu actually looked to get the right arm to the inside that first attempt
when he jumped the gun, so after playing his hand prematurely there, I guess he
thought his only hope after that was a henka. We all lose here.
I could swear that M14 Kagamioh and M13 Sokokurai fought an hour ago during the
Juryo bouts, but I guess all of this yaki-niku is gettin' to me brain. The bout
may as well have been fought in Juryo as Kagamioh went for a tachi-ai henka that
was so lame he only moved to his right about half a meter. Sokokurai may be
dull, but he's not that dull to miss out on an opportunity like this as he
pivoted his way into moro-zashi and showed Kagamioh the door in about two
M12 Kyokushuho found himself in the excuse-me moro-zashi position after leading
with the right arm and aiming for the outer grip with the left against M13
Okinoumi, but for some reason, Okinoumi just gave up his right inside position
for nothing gifting Kyokushuho moro-zashi. While it wasn't planned, Shuho knew
exactly what to do when he got both hands inside scoring the easy force-out win
in a matter of seconds. I watch sumo like this from Okinoumi, and I guess I
shouldn't be surprised that he has fallen this far so fast.
One of our Heisei-born rikishi in M11 Takayasu was up against M12 Kyokutenho who
is almost on the wrong side of forty, and the difference in age showed as
Takayasu got the easy left arm to the inside from the tachi-ai while Kyokutenho
was largely flat-footed and upright. I never did get a glimpse live or from the
replays whether or not Takayasu's right arm was to the inside or out, but it
didn't matter as his legs did the work driving the Chauffeur back and out with
M10 Toyonoshima looked for moro-zashi from the tachi-ai against M11 Sadanoumi,
but his effort was half-assed despite getting both arms into position. With no
legs driving the charge, Sadanoumi had the wherewithal to grab a firm left outer
grip and then back up near the edge pulling Toyonoshima sideways and down via a
dashi-nage move. More than great sumo from Sadanoumi, this was a result of
Toyonoshima presenting no de-ashi.
M10 Tokushoryu and M9 Kitataiki were involved in an ugly pullfest where
Tokushoryu struck first from the tachi-ai trying to bait Kitataiki into a
belly flop to the dirt. Kitataiki held his ground, however, but instead of just
riding his forward momentum to victory, he decided to counter with a pull
himself, and it nearly cost him. Tokushoryu just didn't have the forward
momentum, though, and so Kitataiki was able to barely escape to the side with a
left outer belt grip and drag Tokushoryu to his demise in an ugly bout that
low-lighted the first half bouts which have already contained a bunch of ugly
M8 Toyohibiki looked to take charge against M9 Takarafuji with his dual tsuppari
attack, but Takarafuji connected on an upward swipe of Ibiki's right arm that
threw him off balance, and as he tried to recover still lumbering forward,
Takarafuji retreated and swiped upwards at Toyohibiki's left arm throwing him
even more off balance resulting in Takarafuji's ability to push the off-balance
Hutt down to the dirt.
M8 Chiyotairyu struck M7 Jokoryu hard with both hands at the tachi-ai winning
the initial charge, but much to my chagrin, he then backed up going for the
cheap pulldown win. The move worked and was set up by Chiyotairyu's winning the
initial charge, but I can't figure out why he wouldn't just continue his forward
momentum with his powerful tsuppari attack to win via tsuki-dashi. Until that
question is answered, Chiyotairyu will continue to succeed only in the
M6 Myogiryu got his push for a return to the sanyaku off to a good start by
staying low and driving both hands into Tochinowaka sending him upright. T-Wok
attempted to mawari-komu to his right, but Myogiryu was onto him like stink to
bait shoving Tochinowaka back and out in mere seconds. Afterwards, Mainoumi
couldn't rave enough about Myogiryu and how well he looked at practice
pre-basho. Hakuho spent some time at the Sakaigawa-beya for de-geiko, and
Mainoumi must have seen something there in Myogiryu that he really liked. If
Mainoumi knows his stuff (and he does), Myogiryu should have a great basho.
Hopefully it mirrors his first bout which was flawless.
Next up was M5 Endoh who would surely dispatch of M6 Terunofuji. Or not. After
taking charge at the tachi-ai getting the left to the inside, Endoh couldn't
drive his larger foe back opting to duck low in an effort to keep Terunofuji
away from a right outer grip. Endoh looked to be in the better position, but
Terunofuji had a stubborn left inside grip that kept him in play despite his
upright stance. Endoh briefly flirted with a leg trip after about 12 seconds,
but he wasn't going anywhere with it, and it actually gave Terunofuji just the
momentum he needed to reach over and grab an equalizing right outer grip. Once
obtained, there wasn't anything Endoh could do from this point as Terunofuji
turned his shallow left inside position into the deep left inside that he used
to knock Endoh completely upright setting up the counter force-out near the edge
where Terunofuji displayed beautiful patience and sweet counter sumo to put a
chill into the Endoh fever (pronounced "fee-bah" here in Japan).
This had to have been an oh-snap moment for the fans because Endoh seemingly had
the insurmountable position from the start against a largely unknown. I go back
to the talk in my intro about the Nishimura referee who didn't have a good
first match. To the Japanese fans, Nishimura did a great job when it wasn't
actually the case. In the case of Endoh, he's being spun as this big hope and
great tactician when it obviously isn't the case, and so the fans see a loss like
this and can't understand how it happened. Hopefully this bout didn't surprise
anyone who reads ST. A couple more of these and expect the
match-fixin' to begin as much as it pains me to say that.
M4 Takekaze looked to take charge against M5 Chiyootori from the tachi-ai, but
his tsuppari were too weak and his position too upright suggesting he would have
taken the first pull opportunity that came. Chiyootori was patient and allowed
himself to be worked back because he knew his foe wasn't presenting a
threatening position at all. Near the edge, Takekaze played his hand trying a
surprise move to the side in an effort to pull his foe out of the ring, but
Chiyootori caught Takekaze with a left arm to the gut that sent the lame
Takekaze back for good.
In a sure sign of respect for his opponent, M4 Tamawashi henka'd to his left
against M3 Osunaarashi, and Tamawashi's lack of confidence showed here as
Osunaarashi connected on some vicious face slaps that resulted in Tamawashi's
just crashing down to the dirt. Osunaarashi didn't really mean to go for a pull
in this one and was just standing his ground, but his shots to the face were so
potent that Tamawashi just stumbled forward lost from the beginning. I
hope the Ejyptian is not intimidated by the onslaught that is sure to come.
Sekiwake Tochiohzan moved to his left at a tachi-ai that saw M3 Kaisei just
plop to the dirt in a half second. Thing is...it wasn't that potent of a henka
from the Sekiwake, and the quick finish was more a result of Kaisei just falling
forward. While I never like to see a rikishi henka...especially from the elite
ranks, Kaisei's gotta react better than he did today. Sheesh.
M2 Yoshikaze was a split second early at the tachi-ai, but Sekiwake Goeido went
anyway standing completely upright and offering the lamest pull attempt that
you could hope to see. After the disastrous tachi-ai, there was no way the
Sekiwake could recover as the two spun around the ring a bit looking for pulls
with Yoshikaze scoring the winning hataki-komi after having taken complete
control at the tachi-ai. This was awful sumo, and once again, I have to wonder
what is going through the minds of the Japanese fans when they see guys like
Endoh and Goeido go down in such fashion.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku committed a false start against M2 Homasho and tripped over
his feet so badly that he plunged right into Homa Sho Am sweet knocking him
clear off the dohyo. After an appropriate apology, Homasho moved to his right at
the tachi-ai and used a tsuki-otoshi attempt into the back of the Ozeki's left
shoulder, but it looked as if Homasho abandoned his forward momentum resulting
in Kotoshogiku's getting the left arm to the inside. Once obtained, the Ozeki
attempted a balls to the wall force-out that seemed to knock Homasho back onto
his arse across the straw, but a mono-ii was surprisingly called where it was
even more surprisingly ruled that Kotoshogiku's arm and Homasho's heel touched
out at the same time. I thought Kotoshogiku was the clear winner, but that's why
I'm playing hunt and peck at a typewriter instead of sitting ringside in a sweet
In the do-over, Homasho moved to his right yet again and then backed up to the
tawara bracing his feet against the straw, and so the Ozeki just swiped his paw
at the back of Homie's head knocking him to the dirt with ease. Homasho
displayed curious sumo in both bouts, but the end result is that Kotoshogiku
picks up an important first win in his quest for eight.
Ozeki Kisenosato stood his ground well as M1 Shohozan charged early at the
tachi-ai, but his moro-te shoves had little effect in moving the Ozeki back.
Kisenosato picked his spots well connecting on a face slap and then a shoulder
shove that sent Shohozan back on his heels, and with the M1's momentum
completely halted, Kisenosato made his move connecting on a couple more wicked
slaps to the face and torso of Shohozan sending him forcefully back across the
straw and giving the fans a needed reward after Endoh and Goeido both laid eggs.
This was a good, forward-moving win for Kisenosato, and while I liked to see him
win moving forward, it was also an example of how he often finds himself upright
and no offensive position at the tachi-ai. His size and ring experience kept him
in this one, so let's see how the basho plays out. Regardless, I thought it was
a great start for Kisenosato especially compared to what we usually see from him
In the Yokozuna ranks, Kakuryu led off the festivities striking M1 Ikioi hard,
but as we've seen of late from the Yokozuna, he wasn't hellbent on using de-ashi
which kept Ikioi in the bout. Ikioi could only offer a series of pulls in
response, and so the Yokozuna methodically moved him back, but in the process
Ikioi sprung to life after connecting on a counter pull that moved Kakuryu near
the edge with Ikioi having moro-zashi in the process. I say moro-zashi because
both arms were to the inside, but Ikioi didn't gain the position of his own
volition, and so before he could even react and capitalize on the dual insides,
Kakuryu quickly moved to the side and pulled Ikioi beyond the straw for good.
This bout was par for the course regarding both rikishi.
Komusubi Aoiyama actually connected on a nice kachi-age with the right arm at
the tachi-ai, but his response to that was to immediately back up and go for a
feeble pull. Harumafuji's been in enough brawls in his day that he easily
recovered from the initial charge and drove his retreating opponent back and
across offering a dame-oshi at the end for good measure causing Aoiyama to hop
down to the arena floor. While Aoiyama's tachi-ai was good, he didn't back it up
with anything else, and against a Yokozuna, you'll get your ass kicked every
time with this bout being exhibit A.
In the day's final bout, Yokozuna Hakuho looked to get to the inside with the
right arm as he is wont to do, and Aminishiki's response was to bail to the left
and go for a desperate pull. The pull actually worked in getting Hakuho to the
ground, but not before Aminishiki was clearly sent back across the straw and
down to the mat below the dohyo by a few Hakuho shoves. It was business as usual
in Hakuho's quest for 30 career yusho, and before I sign off, I should mention
that the Japanese media has give Hakuho his due props as he's on the cusp of
entering territory only shared by two other rikishi in the history of the sport.
Overall, it was a pretty boring day 1 with little excitement, and I'd have to
say the best sumo exhibited on the day came from Terunofuji who overcame a quick
Endoh tachi-ai and a helluva lotta hype to pick up a sweet wad of envelopes
filled with caish. Good on the lad as I make my return late tomorrow after a
flight back to Merica.
Ha! Made you look! I lied. Get ready for
yet another dose of Mike.