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

Senshuraku Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
Greetings. Inspector Wilkins, International Criminal Police Organization, and I have what appears to be some troubling news for you fans of Sumo Talk, is it. We here at Interpol Tokyo Branch received a call at 6:35 pm, Sunday May 24, from an as yet unidentified individual with a distinct Manchester accent, claiming that a ship, the S.S. Bluehost Blowhole, out to sea since the 10th of May, had quite unexpectedly disappeared. Upon dispatch of a helicopter to its last reported location, we found something rather peculiar. No ship, just a mile long slick (not of oil, but absinthe), assorted floating objects (mens underwear, made in Estonia and unsinkable; an "I Heart Kotooshu" ball cap; one shillelagh, and The Book of Mormon). Needless to say, we found not a single soul, innit.

Acting on a further tip received from the same individual later that evening, we conducted a raid on Sumo Talk headquarters in Park City, Utah, U.S.A. and discovered on a computer there what appears to be the Day 15 report for these so-called basho you all cherish. In hopes that you, the followers of this ragtag band of gonzo journalists, may be of some assistance on locating the six men listed as being the ships company, we are publishing this report, by a Mr. Clancy Kelly. Persons with information are urged to call your local Interpol office. Right.

"Ahoy! Its been a treacherous fortnight here on the high seas (tho not without jollies, as Mike had the good sense to take us out to international waters, mare liberum, where the coppers had difficulties keeping their eyes on us). The scuttlebutt is empty due to lack of rain and the fact that Mike drinks only water, the Kak henka on Day 8 caused Arbo and Martin to part brass rags, I myself have been worming cuntlines everyday, very difficult work, the Bombay Runners have nearly taken over Kenjis quarters, and the length of Marios Day 10 report infuriated Mike to such a degree that he vowed to teach the lad a lesson with the cat o nine tails (luckily I was able to convince Skipper to just use the boys pussy instead). 

Big news of course is the fact that Japanese sumo has become, for all intents and purposes, World Sumo (quick name the last JP to yusho--hint, hes retired). In fact, since the Hatsu or New Year basho of 2004, there have been exactly two JP yusho winners. Ill save you the fingering, thats thirty-three basho. Course, twenty-nine of those have been taken by two men, both Mongolian, and nineteen of those by one guy. So I guess Mongolian sumo would be more appropriate. Seriously, remember when they used to show the number of foreign rikishi in sumo during the telecasts? Havent seen one recently, but if they did, itd show that nearly half of Makuuchi is foreign born. Like immigrants anywhere, they identify with each other and stick together, though theyre not so stupid as to make it obvious. They blend in to their heya and learn Japanese ways, but when it comes time to kick ass on the dohyo, they run their true colors up. And Im not saying there is anything terribly wrong with that. Kaio, Mitsuki and Chiyotaikai all greased and got greased to reach 8-7 this time out, so if the Mongolians arrange an initiation for one of their own, so what?

Im talking about of course the playoff between Hakuho and Harumakifuji, you know, the Ozeki who "springs" and then "rolls"? Almost insulting to analyze, Hakuho didnt allow his countryman to get the left hand back belt at tachia-ai, as much as he allowed him to purchase real estate there. Kublai fumbled and bumbled looking for an inside left grip, like a waiter trying to find his pencil, while giving Appetizer the morozashi, pretty much free of charge. The Ozeki then bent low and spun the Yokozuna while shoving in on his thigh. As usual when Hak is not "really" being beat, he sort of skipped and half bent down, touched the clay with his hand and then quickly stood up. Shazam!

For those of you who care to know how the fix is done, you need look no further than Hakuhos right arm in this playoff and contrast it with his right arm in his bout with Yokozuna Asashoryu. In a bout he was trying to win, Hakuho kept the arm bent and tight to the body at tachi-ai, preventing Genghis from getting the inside left and keeping it there until he himself got the inside right (you know, that silly preferred grip thing) and back Asa out yorkikiri (Mikes pre-basho: "Chalk Asashoryu up for 12 wins"). Vs nee Ama, he opened that arm up like he was giving mom a hug before the start of the Naadam festivities.

We got to a playoff when hAruMAfuji took care of Ozeki Kotooshu. After being the Bulgar blasted back to the bales, No Show held fast and forced the action to the center, where HaruMAfuji got him in a right arm headlock. Now Kotooshu is a lot taller, so you can imagine that this left the Appetizers right side dangerously unguarded, and it did. But did Marteens boy try once to grab that tasty looking belt? Nah, better to lean to one side and wait for your foe to twist your neck while leaving your legs way behind you. It looked great, both guys crashing down, but it was either the laziest, dumbest sumo Id seen in sometime (and the Bulgarian is capable of that for sure, see Mikes pre-basho: "Watch for Kotooshu to drop a few head-scratchers as he finishes with 10 wins") or fishy. From out here on this tug, Id have to go with fishy. Remember, Kotooshu is prolly still paying back for that yusho he "took" last May.

(Hell, go back and take a look at Asa/Haru on Day 14. When the Ozeki starts his trip move, Asas leg goes up to the skies, on its own power. What was that?)

Bottom line is, I think they fight it out fair and square until the yusho race takes shape in the last few days, then, if things have taken a certain shape, they make contingencies based on potential outcomes. Not sure about the details, who knows what about when or how, but I do know the sumo gets mighty spicious!

After No Show went down they cut to Kisenosato in the green room, and his crestfallen mug made me sick to my stomach (or maybe it's the rocking of this boat, whats going on out there?) Kid knows it should have been him taking on Hakuho in that playoff, because this was his basho, and Henkamamafuji (he would, too, if she stood in his way for a title) was going down if he had manned up. I love those perfunctory quotes the Elders give about that Kise/Haru bout (see Daily Quotes on the front page). Not one of them has the guts to call a spade a spade and say "What the phuck is an undefeated Ozeki doing henkaing a Maegashira #4?" Course even Kisenosato says its his fault, giving all the clueless foreigners who think sumo is 100% legit something to hang their tiny hats on.

(Mark just came in to tell me theres an "ox eye thats been spotted two points abaft the port beam". Whos got time to worry about stuff like that?)

Ozeki Kotomitsuki defeated Ozeki Kaio for his KK, no need for a set-up here, as Mitsuki can beat Kaio anytime, but certainly Kaio was not firing all guns. (Mike pre-basho: "Ozeki Kotomitsuki is a lameduck Ozeki. Eight wins.) 

While I disagree (Kaio vs. Pup yesterday being my candidate), a few of my shipmates are calling the Chiyotaikai/Baruto match the worst yaocho acting ever. Theyre relative newcomers to the sport, so thats prolly overstating it, but it sure was funny, watching the Sekiwake stand up and lurch past The Wolfs Pup like Boris Karloff leaving the hospital on his own power against doctors advice. Problem is, the Estonian Biomass appears to be truly injured, so he can always say, I tried my best but it was just no good. Chiyotaikai stays alive for his 51st clash with Kaio in July. The only thing good about that is 51 is my favorite number. Mike nailed whats wrong with sumo on Day 13, so no point in going on about it here. (Also Mikes pre-basho: "If Chiyotaikai does manage eight wins, you know they weren't all legitimate. We'll be able to tell early on if kachi-koshi is in the cards, but if the Pup does get it, rest assured there'll be plenty of caish being exchanged under the table.")

It difficult to describe how hard the sanyaku sucked this basho, or for that matter how much the top Maegashira sucked, but if they were collectively a hooker on the corner, wed be visiting them Saturdays and Sundays and every other Tuesday. In the fourteen slots from Sekiwake down to M5, there were ten makekoshi. Only Komusubi Kakuryu, W2 Kyokutenho, and the M4s Kise and Aran got their majority wins (and The Chauffer and The Bouncer got theirs on Day 15). Which is why we had an M6, Kotoshogiku, as the last rank and filer to fight on senshuraku. Geeku gave Goeido some throat at tachi-ai but Goeido ran right through it and got two left hand inside, right hand outside. Oddly enough he was entirely unable to get the belt with his outside grip, and the Geeku was able to drive forward and get the Father running around and out and his tenth win. Poor sumo to cap off a horrific basho from the future Emperor. 

(Arbo just came in to my cabin again, evidently loaded to the gunwales, shouting, "Avast! Youve got to come and see this!" I like the cut of his jib, but if he disturbs my writing one more time, Ill use the togey on him. By Davy Jones I swear it.)

Kakuryus little garden party, begun on Day 8 vs Koto Oh Shit I Got Henkad, came to an abrupt end vs his Sekiwake partner in July, the dominating Kisenosato. 2-5 when he met the Ozeki, seven straight wins shot the Kak from a near certain flaccid demotion to an extremely rare rock hard promotion, as a shin-Komusubi no less (Mikes pre-basho: "Kakuryu should hover around the 7-8 win range"). Meanwhile Kid goes from E4 to Sekiwake? Hell turn a veteran twenty-three just before Nagoya, and its time for his Ozeki run to start. If he loses ever again to Kaio or Chiyotaikai in a straight up match Ill apply for Japanese citizenship.

The Curse of Matra lives on as Aran followed Martins Day 14 praise that he has basically exorcised henka from his sumo with, yes, a henka. Tochiohzan recovered but Aran got the belt, spun him around and bowsed him out for his 8th. Oh Snap finishes 6-9 (Mikes pre-basho: "In Yoda speak, survive the first week onslaught he won't. Tochiohzan makes it respectable in the end, but doesn't manage more than six in his debut.")

Im glad to report that Homasho was able to finally win one, vs. Yoshikaze. In a bout full of energy, Starbuck brought his giddy up slapping attack and seemed to have the fourteen time fuddled Homasho fuddled again, but Homeboy was able to staunch the bleeding by snatching a belt and spinning the little guy out like Fred doing Ginger.

(Its getting nutso up there. Hold on. Okay, Im back. The sea of full of white horses, Mike is swinging the lamp about some huge tentacle he claims to have just seen, Arbos supposed to be on the dog watch but is instead smoking something in the ratlines, and Kenji swears he saw a ship full of Jollies out there in the choppy water. Things are going to hell on a handrail.)

Just to show you that not all of sumo is fixed, Dejima came in having won 4 out of 5 and looking for his 8th win, while Tochinonada was on a six bout losing skid and had his MK, but it was Tochi who was giving nada to the former Ozeki, twisting him down hard, pity be damned. Dejima will remain in Makuuchi for one more basho, but if he doesnt win eight in Nagoya, he a goner.

The flabby breasted Hutts went berserk this basho, with Miyabi, Iwaki, and Bushu all going 9-6. Add to that fellow Hutt Toyohibiki and his 11-4 (Mikes pre-basho: expect a solid performance from Toyohibiki in Natsu. I like him to win at least nine"), which he got by getting around Yamamotoyama and shoving Ande out to his 8th loss, and you’ve got a Star Wars convention. (In case youre wondering, Yamamotoyama cannot be considered a Hutt because hes, paradoxically, too large.)

Kakizoe said no to demo by shoving hard at Kimurayama, setting him up for the pulldown. Sweet Zoe Jane goes 8-7 at M14, so hell be back in...wait, whats that noise? Huh? Oh shit, look at that...its, its, enormous, its oh dear God, I believe in you now, Im sorry, I will follow your...aaaaaaaaaaaaagh"

Wilkins here. Well, that's all we have. Seems as though they were under some sort of attack, though Under Inspector Neelson wonders why this Kelly fellow would bother to type "aaaaaaaaaaagh", figuring hed just say it. Petty Officer Hairston offered that perhaps he was dictating. Be that as it may, we are at a loss, and beseech you, the readers of Sumo Talk, to write in and offer up any thoughts you may have about what transpired and if possible the whereabouts of the crew of the Bluehost Blowhole. As you were.

Day 14 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
Alrighty, let's get right into it. Last and certainly least, Kakizoe was looking for kachi-koshi against 5-8 Juryo dweller Masatsukasa, whom he'd never beaten before. History has a way of repeating itself, and Kakizoe couldn't break the ice as Masatsukasa just absorbed his charge, dug in and kept a low stance throughout, evading to his left at one point and finishing the 7-7 Zoe by oshidashi.

I'm wrong in the above paragraph, Jokutoriki was even worse in his Juryo exchange bout with Wakakoyu, because his weak nodowa attack was brushed off with ease by the young one while stepping to his left and the Pretender forgot to take his legs with him when he turned after him. Hokutoriki falls to his well deserved 10th loss and I'll be so glad if he falls from Makuuchi. Wakakoyu sneaks to a quiet 8-6 and a likely promotion, should he defeat Big Shot tomorrow or should Kasugao lose.

The White Knight of the Broken Razor (short for Kokkai) managed to get his kachi-koshi today against veteran Shimotori, whom he had faced some 5 times before, but only before 2005 (!). The Georgian had the better tachi-ai, securing morozashi quickly, trying to force out Shimotori and when that failed throwing him to the dohyo by pushing under his armpit, despite a last minute kote/kakenage attempt. Shimotori is a lackluster 5-9.

Mongol Tokitenku must have lost more bouts on false starts than everyone else together. Once again, despite not being really ready, he DID put his fists down but just stood up, waiting for the bout to be called back. Well, the gyoji didn't do it, so Tenku-very-much was steamrolled right out, butsukari-geiko style, to his make-koshi by the massive Toyohibiki (10-4). Or so we thought. Ex-Asashio and (on paper) Asashoryu's master called a mono-ii, and I was sure they'd have them go at it again, but it turns out he thought Toyohibiki had stepped out before Tokitenku. The replay showed clearly that his hunch was wrong, so gunbai-dori to the Hutt, who is still in the hypothetical run for a prize.

In the next one, I thought the other Georgian in the division might have finally figured out Yamamotoyama, but boy was I wrong. The giant Hutt had the better of the tachi-ai, blasting Tochinoshin back a couple of steps and getting a solid right inside grip on the mawashi. Taken to the edge, No Shine dug in hard and held Yama off with a good push under the armpit, but the Hutt worked his way into a solid left uwate. OK, I thought to myself, with both guys having double grips Shin should be able to finish this off easily, right? Not exactly. Shin tried in vain a few lame trip attempts (you try tripping a redwood from that position and you'll probably have better luck), then methodically worked his huge adversary towards the straw, but right at the edge Yama leaned a bit to his side and spun the hapless Georgian right over the bales, keeping his kachi-koshi hopes alive. They called it shitatenage. Shin is already out of the woods, but he's still underperforming a bit for his current position on the banzuke. Tomorrow Yamamotoyama will try to obtain his 8th win against his fellow Hutt Toyohibiki and if I lived in Tokyo I'd keep an eye on the seismograph about the time they clash.

In the commenting booth on the Japanese side there was none other than Chiyonofuji, with a subtle smile on his face, as always, like he knows something we listeners don't. Murray Johnson was actually wondering whether they'll be talking about Chiyotaikai later or not, but judging by Kokonoe's easy going attitude, I'd say Cheatotaikai should have an easy road to 8 wins. However, before we can get further into that, I should mention Dejima's perfectly executed henka against Mongol Tamawashi. Serves the Mawashi right for trusting an old guy who can't pull his weight anymore and on the verge of make-koshi to give him a straight fight. Dejima should use the kensho money to buy himself a tutu, if there was any in the first place. Mawashi suffers loss #8.

Tokitenku should be taking notes from the next bout, because here Asasekiryu was way faster than Toyohibiki at the tachi-ai, but his opponent Takamisakari never gave up in spite of knowing it should have been called back. After being immediately taken to the edge, the Clown dug in deep and got a solid right paw on the inside which saved his hide despite Not-so-sexy's own double mawashi grip. That's sukui-nage and win #9 for Robo, while Asasekiryu falls to the same number of losses.

Kotoshogiku (9-5) had little trouble with hot (in more ways than you'd think) Bushuyama (8-6), getting both hands inside at the tachi-ai and humping him out in 2 seconds. Rejoice, nerds of the world, for today the Geek got Bush.

Big Shot finally got his first winning basho in the top division, at the expense of ailing veteran Tochinonada. Nada was hit hard at the tachi-ai by the hungry Mongol, but he still found a way to get his left inside on the mawashi and he even looked like he had the upper hand for a while, in spite of Shotenro getting hold of the uwate. After a brief pause in the center of the dohyo, Nada tried to mount a decisive charge, but Shotenro held his ground well with the help of a left nodowa, and then began harassing the bigger foe with some dashi-nage attempts that ultimately led to him slipping at the edge and falling victim to the thrust-down. Tochinonada is 4-10 after the loss, if anybody cares.

Wouldn't you know it, Kimurayama (who thankfully is well on his way to Juryo) henka'd again to his left, this time against equally hapless Yoshikaze (who thankfully isn't). Little Kaze didn't seem too affected by the move, but he didn't seem able to stop the ensuing pushing attack, either, and ended up on his back faster than a five dollar hoe in Pattaya. With the 10th loss, Yoshikaze can now safely return to the peace of the lower Maegashira ranks.

The Kid slapped the hell out of Iwakiyama (who was 3-0 against him coming in) at the tachi-ai, setting up an ideal hidari yotsu position and bellying him over the straw in no time. His current 12-2 record states clearly that Kisenosato had no business fighting this low this basho, and it'll be refreshing to see him back up in sanyaku. Iwakiyama (8-6) should pat himself on the back for getting kachi-koshi.

Miyabiyama wasn't fast enough in his charge to keep Ossetian Aran from getting a convenient little left grip on the front of his mawashi which proved too great an advantage, as Aran never backed down before yorikiri-ing the Sheriff to his 5th defeat, despite some desperate thrusting and pulling. One thing I like about Aran is his ability to keep it simple (he won against this guy and Iwakiyama on pure wits). Also, I can't help but notice the henka is all but gone from his repertoire (but with kachi-koshi on the line and meeting Tochiohzan tomorrow, I'll be looking for it to come back, if only for a short while).

The next bout is definitely the longest of the day, but bigger isn't necessarily better (just ask Yamamotoyama). Right from the tachi-ai M10 Futenoh flirted with a mae-mitsu, but Toyonoshima didn't allow him to go further, quickly getting his own left inside and getting the uwate on the other side. With only a shallow left inside of his own, Futenoh could only wait for an opening, which led to a long stalemate right in the center of the ring. The stubby Toyonoshima was, of course, the man with the initiative, mounting a charge that had Futenoh tip-toeing the tawara and subsequently unleashing a powerful sukui-nage, but Fruity just wouldn't give in, and he came back with a force out attempt of his own. Toyonoshima resisted at the edge and sneaked the other arm inside too, and this is where the bout was really decided. After another longish stalemate, Toyonoshima launched the final assault and pushed his worn out opponent over the tawara for his 4th win of the basho. Futenoh gets make-koshi and that should say something about his current level, considering his rank.

Unbelievable, but Homasho is still an 0fer even a week after my last report. The NSK thought they were showing him some love by feeding him Aminishiki (Homie was 4-1 head to head coming in), but that kind of backfired when Sneaky charged hard and stayed low throughout, bullying the poor guy over the bales in a couple of shoves. There doesn't seem to be anything physically wrong with Terao's protégé, it's probably just a case of age and limited technique showing their signs. Aminishiki is just plain bad at 5-9.

Veteran Kyokutenho successfully neutralized Tochiohzan by planting his right arm under his pit and getting the preferred left uwate. From there it was smooth sailing for Kublai's descendant, as he sunk Oh into make-koshi with a typical yori-kiri. Tenho is meeting his compatriot Tamawashi tomorrow, and I'm guessing Mawashi will be very compliant, with the Komusubi spot on the line and all. Oh should stick around the jo'i and one can only hope he learns how to win against these veterans.

Takekaze used his vastly superior sumo skill to make a laughing stock out of the listless ex-Suckywake Baruto, pushing, pulling and turning him around, just like a kitten does to its first mouse. Baruto vainly kept trying to get some inside position over the course of the farce, but he was so upright even Yamamotoyama was giggling. Dude, when you see a little guy like that going at ya low and pushing like there's no tomorrow, I only have one word for you: hataki-komi (ok, that's two words). Did you see Bart try EVEN ONCE to put his huge paw on Kaze's noggin? Had anyone else been in Baruto's shoes today, Kaze would have met the dohyo face first. This was Baruto's most severe defeat this basho and I must say I've lost all hope of him ever making serious progress technique-wise (I'm sorry, Mario, really sorry). Takekaze "improves" to 3-11 with the solid win, while Baruto will be deservingly falling out of the jo'i for the basho to come.

By far the biggest disappointment this basho has to be Goeido. I don't know if there's anything wrong with him physically, but he was overpowered way too easily by too many guys. With his make-koshi already official yesterday, I guess the pressure was off, so Goeido charged forward with confidence and got morozashi against the bigger and heavier Tamanoshima, bringing him to the edge. Instead of pressing forward, though, he opted for a very stupid pull, which almost cost him the bout, but luckily for him Peter was unable to capitalize and opted for an equally ill-advised attempt. Goeido pounced immediately and pushed the compromised Tamanoshima straight out, but he got lucky and he knows it. I think the poor showing this Natsu was a case of buckling under pressure, starting 4-1 with three Ozeki scalps is no mean feat and it must have gone to his head or something. Then he started getting the really tough guys and the wheels slowly came off. But worry not, he'll be right back in Nagoya (maybe still in sanyaku). And I'll stand by what I said, the kid has a bright future ahead of him, all he needs is a little more experience.

I'll have to agree with Murray Johnson (who, by the way, I think is the best commentator the English NHK has) on the next one, the less said about it, the better. But since the name of our great site is not, I'll just be blunt about it and say that Kaio vs. Chiyotaikai was a textbook example of what yaocho looks like. Kaio charged by simply standing up, Chiyotaikai came at him with quick but mostly useless tsuppari, Kaio stayed nice and upright and backed up methodically, Taikai kept moving forward and (who woulda thunk it?!) before you know it Kaio was falling over the tawara. Needless to say Kokonoe was all smiles in that booth of his, and Johnson and his colleague were trying hard to keep it subtle and only vaguely hint at the possibility of fixing (when they, we and everyone else knows it happened and it will happen for as long as it can). Needless to say that Kaio will roll over for Kotomitsuki tomorrow and Chiyotaikai will have it easy with Bart (I don't know, Chiyotaikai might actually win that one even legitimately judging by how hard Baruto sucked, but I don't think the Faux-zeki will be taking any chances).

Next up, future Ozeki Kakuryu (are you happy now, Mark?!) withstood Kotomitsuki's strong charge, got both arms inside, turned him around, pushed him away and when Mitsuki turned to him at the tawara, the huge, throbbing Kak (9-5) brutally pushed him down and out of the dohyo like last week's trash. It was complete humiliation and one more sign that the Old Ones should call it a career. I'm still bleeding from the razor sharp irony that struck on day 8, but I'll stand by what I said, Kakuryu's sumo was damn good this time around (except for that mother of all henkas he shafted Kotooshu with). The dude has really become scary strong (Mike wasn't kidding). If he beats Kisenosato tomorrow, it's another Gino-Sho for him and my respect. Well done. Oh, Kotomitsuki? He's only 7-7, but he has Kaio tomorrow. 'Nuff said.

Remember me saying I'd be back today to comment on an uwatenage in the Kotooshu-Hakuho bout? I did get the kimarite right, but Kotooshu used a cheap, unmanly half-impact henka to make sure he got the strong left uwate, just like he did exactly one year ago. Hak tried to get some sort of left belt grip of his own, but Kotooshu clamped that arm with a right mae-mawashi, forced Hakuho back, and when the Mongol tried to dig in and launch the last ditch sukui-nage, Kotooshu (9-5) used Hakuho's body to support himself and then threw him onto the dohyo in spectacular fashion. Despite the cheap setup, the outcome was just what the doctor ordered for this dying basho, with Hakuho at one loss and Asashoryu and Ama at 12-1 coming in and facing off in the next bout.

On to the last bout of the day, then, with Yokozuna Asashoryu and Ozeki Harumafuji (finally making his debut) vying for a share of the lead. Ama moved a bit to his left at the tachi-ai, but the move didn't get him much, except a shallow uwate he lost in the next few seconds. A short stalemate followed in the center of the dohyo, and then Asashoryu, armed with a double migi-yotsu grip, launched the first real offensive move of the bout, attempting a bold lifting inner-thigh throw (or yaguranage for short), but Ama isn't as light as he used to be, nor is Asashoryu as strong, so the move didn't do much good except getting Ama the uwate he had lost before. It was now Ama's turn to press forward, but the Yokozuna held his ground well, forcing yet another stalemate. Let's pause this thread for a bit and get back to the day one Asashoryu – Kakuryu match. Remember the lift that almost gave Kakuryu his first victory over a Yokozuna in umpteen tries? Well, Asashoryu seems to have forgotten all about it. Back to our bout, Asashoryu tried to lift Ama again, but this time the Ozeki was ready for it and played it by the book, hooking the Yokozuna's left leg from the outside, pulling it in and throwing him onto his back. Like I was saying, show off against Kakuryu and you may get away with it, but do it against Ama and you're toast. Asa took his time getting up and needed assistance to walk out of the arena. I couldn't tell you what was hurt more, his ego or his lower back, but one thing's for certain, Asashoryu (12-2) will have a real hard time tomorrow against his younger Yokozuna counterpart. Ama soars to 13-1 and is in with a chance to take the Yusho.

Sotogake, uchigake, watashikomi, tsutaezori, nichonage, shumokuzori, sabaori, ashitori, kawazugake, ketaguri, kakenage, yaguranage (marvelous!). No, this isn't a hyperspace residue of Kadastik's report, it's a list of several not so often seen sumo kimarite you'll find shown in this video of Mongol wrestling (OK, the costumes are a bit silly [no offense, Mongol readers, the same can be and IS said about sumo apparel] but you get bonus points if you send me an email with the exact time and name of each kimarite in Mongolian, I'd really appreciate it). Anyway, my whole point is that Mongols grow up practicing this stuff for fun, so it should come as no surprise that Asashoryu, Ama, Hakuho and the rest of the bunch are bloody experts when it comes to leg trips. Yesterday's and today's musubi-no-ichiban were between Mongols and were appropriately decided in true Mongol fashion, by quick, surprising leg techniques. It would be fantastic to have a similar outcome to the Asashoryu-Hakuho clash tomorrow, but I'm not holding my breath.

As for tomorrow, there's a whole lot to look out for, like, for example, the possibility of a giant 4-way playoff, in the event of Kotooshu upsetting Ama (yes, it's sad, I know), Asashoryu upsetting Hakuho and Kisenosato upsetting Kakuryu (ok, I'm joking here). Still, considering Asashoryu's condition and Kotooshu's mental strength (actually, the lack thereof), I think a simple 2-way playoff is a lot more likely, but still exciting to look forward too.

Also, let's not forget the special prizes. This time it should be pretty straightforward:

Shukunsho: If the Yusho is by some strange miracle won by Kisenosato, it would have to be Kotoshogiku, but that's really far fetched.
Kantosho: Kisenosato (certain) and Toyohibiki with another win (in doubt about this one).
Ginosho: Kakuryu (fully deserved) and Kisenosato with another win.

Another interesting aspect is the distribution of the bouts involving 7-7 rikishi. There are NONE facing each other, and even more surprising, out of the 7 opponents, most of them don't have anything on the line (there is Toyohibiki at 10-4, but that's it). Can you spell Yaocho?

Clancy sure can, but tomorrow he'll be too busy studying the scolopendra behavioral pattern during mating season. Enjoy your sumo, everyone.

Day 13 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
I believe it was on day 1, but just prior to the Makuuchi bouts early on in the basho, NHK showed a flashback to the 1992 Natsu basho. For about five minutes they showed clips of various bouts from that basho which Akebono would end up winning from the Sekiwake rank (his first career yusho). As I watched those clips, it really took me back, and the biggest thing I noticed was the buzz in the arena during every bout. They showed several Maegashira bouts in the middle of the basho, and the place was absolutely going berserk even though it was a contest of no real significance. The reason I even bring that up is to contrast it with the stillness in the Kokugikan today. Today was a huge day for sumo, but you could have gotten a bigger response from the audience had you held the bouts at the Ryogoku Toshokan.

The swine flu scare prolly has something to do with it. It's just part of Japanese culture that makes them feel guilty if they look as if they're having a good time when someone else is suffering. But I think it has more to do with the domination of the Mongolians and the current crop of Ozeki. Back in the early nineties you had two names who were single-handedly selling out the venues: Takahanada and Wakahanada, two brothers sired by a popular former Ozeki, Takanohana. Of course those two brothers would go on to dominate the sport and battle the meddling Hawaiians for nearly a decade, and it was a flourishing time that hasn't been realized since even though you could argue the sumo is better now.

I get it that the Japanese can't get excited about the Mongolians dominating their sport, and that's fine since we furreners will enjoy sumo for them, but the Sumo Association is missing out hugely on the chance to put rising Japanese rikishi in the spotlight when their sports needs it the most. I'm talking of course about the current debacle known as the Ozeki ranks. Everyone knows that Kaio and Chiyotaikai cannot win 8 bouts on their own anymore, yet, a system is in place where the Ozeki will trade wins in order to ensure as much as possible that no one suffers make-koshi. By keeping the two old-timers around, they are denying other rikishi the chance to rise to the ranks. Ask yourself...who are the best rikishi below the Ozeki ranks? The answer is clearly Goeido and Kisenosato, two Japanese rikishi (although Kakuryu is scaring the hell out of a few Eastern Europeans), but as long as Kaio and Chiyotaikai are allowed to pollute the Ozeki ranks, the young'uns will be kept out, and the Japanese will have little to get excited about. It's time for Chiyotaikai and Kaio to retire, and the Sumo Association should give them as much encouragement as is necessary...behind the scenes of course. With those two gone, it not only frees up space for more deserving rikishi, but it prolly clears Kotomitsuki outta there quickly and allows the young guys to take their rightful place.

On that note, let's get right to the action starting of course at the top of the leaderboard and working our way down. Ozeki Harumafuji actually proved that it's possible to have the biggest bout of the basho not involve Hakuho and Asashoryu. With the Ozeki and Hakuho entering the day at 12-0, today's contest was for the yusho in my mind. Before we talk about the bout itself, let's examine the state of both rikishi.

Hakuho started slow in my opinion. Yes, he was winning from day 1, but I didn't think he was necessarily dominating his opponents. On day 3 when he faced Homasho, I remember commenting on how dangerous Hakuho's sumo was as the Yokozuna went for an early pulldown that nearly cost him. 10 days and zero wins later for Homasho, I think it's safe to say that a genki Homasho would have earned himself a kin-boshi in that one if he was at 100% because he certainly read the Yokozuna's move. That's all academic now, however, as Hakuho has settled down nicely in week two and showed no nerves whatsoever regarding his current win streak.

As for Harumafuji, I thoroughly enjoyed his sumo the first 10 days and thought he had his most legitimate chance to yusho up to this point in his career. But that all changed on day 11 with his henka of Kisenosato. That move told me that Harumafuji was not mentally tough enough to yusho. With all that was on the line in that bout, you just can't henka, especially if your rank is Ozeki. Yeah, I guess Harumafuji got the win in that one, but that was the turning point as we knew then that he didn't think he was capable of winning the yusho straight up.

So with that it mind, let's get right to the bout where neither rikishi gained the advantage at the tachi-ai although Harumafuji came away with the left outer grip. With such a size disadvantage, the smaller rikishi needs to fight from the inside, but having taken the early outside position, Harumafuji was forced to stand as far to the side of Hakuho as possible. In this position, Hakuho had little choice but to dig in and try to counter the offensive he knew was coming, and Harumafuji didn't wait too long to attack by dragging at Hakuho's belt in uwate-dashi-nage fashion and spinning him around and around in hopes of creating an opening. Hakuho dug in well, however, and proved to be too stable as Harumafuji attempted the tactic a coupla more times. After a minute of this nonsense with both rikishi regrouping in the center of the ring and Harumafuji still maintaining that outer grip at the side of the Yokozuna, Hakuho said enough is enough and executed the swiftest leg sweep (susoharai) you'll ever see where he used his right leg to sweep at the back of Harumafuji's left ankle spilling the Ozeki to the dohyo for the fantastic comeback win.

Not only does Hakuho take command of this basho alone at 13-0, but he also moves his career best winning streak to 33 surpassing the likes of Haguroyama and Kitanoumi, an achievement good enough for fifth place all time. Hakuho should skate right past Kotooshu tomorrow setting up what could be an epic bout against Asashoryu that would ironically have Hakuho going for his 35th straight win that would tie none other than Asashoryu himself for fourth place. Harumafuji at 12-1 showed me what he was made of back on day 10, so it wasn't a big surprise that 1) he lost, and 2) he didn't trust in his bread and butter tachi-ai, which is setting up his opponent with choke holds from the initial charge. No lower body attack from Harumafuji against Kisenosato and none against Hakuho today equals a jun-yusho performance at best for the Ozeki.

Before I declare Hakuho the yusho rikishi, we'd better move to the next bout that saw Yokozuna Asashoryu inviting Ozeki Kotooshu to dance. As the two rikishi approached the starting lines ready to go, they weren't in synch resulting in a false start. Kotooshu hopped out of his stance at the false start and looked so nervous to me I thought he'd pee himself right there. The two reloaded and got it right the second time with Asashoryu attempting his usual hari-te tachi-ai leading with the right slap to the face of Kotooshu as he looked for the left inside. But the Yokozuna's feet were not planted to the dohyo, and it allowed the Ozeki to push him away, which created separation between the two. With neither rikishi having executed a sound tachi-ai, the two were forced into the grapplin' position where the rikishi touched heads as they each looked for the advantage. Asashoryu stuck first swiping Kotooshu upright and to the side with his left arm, and as Kotooshu looked to settle back in, Asashoryu wrapped his left arm around Kotooshu's right from the outside and turned the Ozeki to the side allowing Asashoryu to secure the deep inside position. As the two circled around the ring, Kotooshu couldn't keep the Yokozuna away as Asashoryu dug into the morozashi grip and immediately lifted Kotooshu clear off his feet. Since the two were in the center of the dohyo, there was no way Asa could do anything but let the Ozeki come back down, and he lost morozashi in the process, but he was still deep on the inside leaving Kotooshu nothing but a feeble left arm keeping the Yokozuna from morozashi again. Without a moment's notice, Asashoryu executed one of his best moves in a long time planting his left leg forward while unleashing a wicked inner belt throw with the left hand that sent Kotooshu into a cartwheel across the dohyo. Wow! Spectacular throw from the Yokozuna, especially considering it came from the inside and was against such a large opponent.

With the win Asashoryu moves to 12-1 and sets up an epic matchup tomorrow against Harumafuji. Early on in the basho, it was obvious that I was high on Harumafuji and even favored him over Asashoryu, but after watching Harumafuji sidestep Kisenosato on day 10, it told me all I needed to know. Asashoryu is the favorite tomorrow, and as much as I'd like to hype the bout, I'm afraid it's only going to be for second place. I enjoy a good threesome as much as anyone, but there is no way Hakuho loses to Kotooshu tomorrow in straight up sumo, so barring a henka, the loser of tomorrow's Asashoryu - Harumafuji bout is out. Still, how often is it that we have three epic bouts in three days? This trio of Mongolians is giving us just that, and it's too bad that sumo fans can't get more excited about it.

In the Ozeki ranks, Kaio welcomed M4 Kisenosato, but this wasn't even a contest as Kisenosato bodied Kaio upright at the tachi-ai and used the left inside position to keep his opponent in close as he just muscled him back and out for the quick win. Kisenosato fished for the right outer grip the entire time, but obviously didn't need it as he was able to force Kaio back and out without argument. Like Harumafuji's dismantling of Kaio early in the week, Kisenosato opted to lead with the left inside daring Kaio to try his kote-nage counter move, but the Ozeki was too overwhelmed to attempt it. Kisenosato improves to 11-2 with the win and is out of the yusho race yes, but still in the running for Sekiwake next basho. Kaio drops to 8-5, and speaking of dropping(s), he's going to drop his bout against Chiyotaikai tomororw. Guaranteed.

The Chiyotaikai - Kotooshu bout was very interesting to me yesterday. It actually looked to me that Kotooshu was trying to lose the bout, but Chiyotaikai just crumpled to the dirt for the loss, so I was interested to see what would happen against Kotomitsuki today. Surely Kotomitsuki would give the Pup the win today, but after yesterday's sumo it is clear that Chiyotaikai can't even act anymore not to mention do sumo, so he did the wise thing and just jumped to his right opting to henka Kotomitsuki to the dirt for the half-second win instead of faking his way through it. At 6-7, the Pup is still alive especially since Kaio is gonna give him the win tomorrow meaning Chiyotaikai is a senshuraku win away from extending his career and our misery. Kotomitsuki falls to 7-6 with the loss, but surely someone will come through for him in the end.

In a matchup of our Sekiwake, Goeido charged low into Baruto's mid-section, but before he could plant his feet and plot the kill, Baruto used his left arm to lift Goeido upright and off his feet from the outside swinging Goeido around. With Goeido now standing on the tips of his toes, he had no lower body despite his morozashi position, so at the edge, Baruto was able to plant sufficiently and give Goeido one more swing from the outside pulling Goeido over and down across the straw with little effort. What a devastating basho for Goeido who makes his make-koshi official at 5-8. I don't think that he's injured, but something has sucked the life out of him after that 3-0 start against three Ozeki. Now you just hope he can win out and stay in the sanyaku. Japan needs this kid. As for Baruto, he improves to 4-9, but it's little consolation. What a disappointing basho for these Suckiwake.

In a compelling matchup from the sanyaku ranks, Komusubi Kakuryu kicked M6 Kotoshogiku's ass by striking low and keeping Kotoshogiku away from the belt. If the Geeku can't fight in close in the dry-hump position, he's mostly useless and Kakuryu showed why using a series of thrusts to knock the Geeku back and out of the ring with ease prompting Yoshida Announcer to proclaim/bemoan, "Is there that much of a difference between these two?" I guess there is. You have a guy in Kotoshogiku who is enjoying a great basho, yet Kakuryu simply dismantled him. Great stuff from the Kak who clinches kachi-koshi not to mention a promotion to Sekiwake for Nagoya. Kotoshogiku falls to the same 8-5 mark.

M2 Takekaze charged into Komusubi Tochiohzan standing him upright as he looked for the decent inside position, but Takekaze's sumo had no punch allowing Tochiohzan to just laugh in his face as he pulled him down to the dirt. Tochiohzan exhibited a terrible tachi-ai, and he was upright the whole time, yet he was still able to pull out the win due to Takekaze's listless sumo. Tochiohzan ain't dead yet at 6-7 while Takekaze is a putrid 2-11.

M1 Homasho charged way too high against M3 Toyonoshima allowing Toyonoshima to push him back towards the straw. Homasho dug in and forced the "action" back to the center of the ring where both rikishi hunkered down in the grapplin' position touching heads and flirting with both hands for some sort of position. I thought at this point morozashi was wide open for Toyonoshima, but he never made a move. He didn't need to I guess as Homasho did the work for him standing upright and gifting Toyonoshima the morozashi position. From there it was easy peasy as Toyonoshima just walked Homasho out to his 13th loss in as many days. Damnation. Shikoroyama-oyakata has got to shake himself and put a crowbar into his wallet and buy his man at least one win. Not even Chiyotaikai has ever looked this bad. Toyonoshima limps to 3-10.

In a meaningless affair, M2 Kyokutenho hurried his charge against M1 Aminishiki trying to body him back with nary a grip on Sneaky's belt, but Aminishiki dug in well and forced the action back to the center of the ring. Aminishiki is obviously not well, however, as Kyokutenho simply reloaded grabbing the easy right outer grip that he now used to finish Aminishiki off with yet another force-out charge. Tenho is alive at 6-7 and could wrest the Komusubi rank from Tochiohzan if he can beat him tomorrow. Aminishiki already has a fork in him at 4-9.

M3 Tamanoshima came with a weak charge against M5 Yoshikaze, which is curious considering Tamanoshima was sporting seven losses. Yoshikaze couldn't have cared less shoving Tamanoshima upright and securing the deep left inside position, which he used to keep Peter upright before securing morozashi and putting all of us out of our misery straightway. Tamanoshima suffers make-koshi in unspectacular fashion at 5-8. Yoshikaze has been even worse at 4-9.

In an interesting affair, M4 Aran seized the early left outer grip of M9 Yamamotoyama's belt and just hunkered down allowing Jabba to grab a left outer of his own over the top and at the back of Aran's belt. The two stayed in this position for about 20 seconds with Aran's face buried into Yamamotoyama's right breast, but apparently Aran couldn't take the smell anymore because he made his move wrenching upright on Yamamotoyama's belt with the left frontal grip as he charged forward a full step bulling YMY back with the right shoulder. The tactic moved Yamamotoyama back step by step until Aran had him back across the straw for the great win. In fact, I don't think Aran has displayed better technique than this his entire career, so props to his keeping himself alive at 6-7. Yamamotoyama has fallen to the same mark.

Something has clicked with M15 Bushuyama the last week rendering him dare I say it...unstoppable! Today against M5 Tochinonada, Bushuyama hit Tochinonada reasonably well, and as Tochinonada fought back wrassling for position, he suddenly realized the error of his ways and prostrated himself on the dohyo out of respect for the Dolly Yama. Since the Sumo Association has no kimari-te listed for an act of worship, they ruled it as a tsuki-hiza, but it was clear today that Tochinonada took the knee out of deference for his opponent. Yes, Tochinonada falls to 4-9 in the recordbooks, but he knows the angels in heaven are silent notes taking. Bushuyama (8-5) clinches kachi-koshi meaning more childish jokes for another basho!

M7 Asasekiryu started a step back from the starting lines against M14 Kakizoe, which was a terrible decision as it allowed Kakizoe to rush in and easily grab moro-zashi. Sexy likes to fight from a low stance, but Kakizoe ensured he wouldn't by keeping him so upright that he easily fended off Asasekiryu's feeble kote-nage attempts and forced him back and across the straw without argument. Sweet Zoe Jane is a step away at 7-6 while Not-so-sexy makes it official at 5-8.

M15 Shotenro knocked M8 Iwakiyama back a clear step at the tachi-ai using a kachi-age with the right arm. It knocked the Gorilla so upright that Shotenro was able to seize the moro-zashi position, which he used to immediately execute the force-out charge, but the move was rushed allowing Iwakiyama to put on the brakes at the edge, so when Shotenro went for a left scoop throw instead, Iwakiyama was able to reach a beefy right paw around the back of Shotenro's left thigh and force him to the dirt watashi-komi style for the shweet win. It's amazing that Iwakiyama with his size is so deft in the ring, but I'm telling you, rolling barrels down girders and ladders all day loosens you up like nothing else. Iwakiyama can celebrate at 8-5 while Shotenro needs that last push at 7-6.

M11 Miyabiyama kept the pesky M8 Tamawashi at bay at the tachi-ai with what else...the lumbering tsuppari. The Sheriff kept Tamawashi upright with a series of thrusts into The Mawashi's neck and upper torso, and as Tamawashi tried to persevere by leaning forward, Miyabiyama switched gears on a dime and pulled him forward and down for the dominating win not to mention 9-4 record. Tamawashi is on the brink at 6-7.

In a sloppy affair on M9 Tokitenku's part, he monkeyed around with a right nodowa against M12 Takamisakari at the tachi-ai allowing the Cop to slam into Tokitenku so hard he knocked him back a step. After creating separation, Tokitenku attempted a wild hari-te slap with the right hand, but Tokitenku extended himself so much in the process, Takamisakari pounced getting his right arm so deep on Tokidoki's left that he raised it straight up in the air and executed the easy force-out kill from there. Takamisakari moves to 8-5, which means...the kachi-koshi interview! The content of the interview focused on Takamisakari's obtaining kachi-koshi for his stable master, Azumazeki-oyakata who must retire after this basho due to age, but beyond that, go over to the forum and find the videos of the day and watch this sucker. Even if you don't understand Japanese, breathing hard through the nose into the mic and the goofy facial expressions translate into any language. This guy is a gem. Tokitenku falls to 6-7.

In a somewhat compelling bout, M10 Futenoh secured the front belt grip with the right hand on M14 Kokkai's mawashi and used it to pull the Georgian in tight giving Futenoh morozashi, but Kokkai clamped inwards from the outside in the kime position. From there, a stalemate ensued that allowed me to go back and review Mario's day 10 report, and just as I read the final sentence and looked back up at the TV, Kokkai made his move lifting up on Futenoh's arms breaking off his right inside position. Kokkai got his own left on the inside leaving the two now in the gappuri hidari yotsu position. Futenoh's better belt skills held true in this one as he survived an early Kokkai scoop throw attempt before driving him across the dohyo and out for the solid win. Futenoh stays alive at 6-7 while Kokkai falls to 7-6.

Juryo Wakakoyu charged with his hands way too high against M10 Shimotori, and the veteran Shimotori seized the day with the deep left inside position that he used to wrench Wakakoyu this way and that before grabbing the left outer grip as well, which was more than enough setting up the easy force out win. It's not much consolation as Shimotori is still 5-8 while Wakakoyu (7-6) prolly has to win out in order to reach the big leagues next basho.

M11 Toyohibiki opted not to tsuppari M12 Dejima from the tachi-ai and eventfully paid the price allowing Dejima to secure the lower position from the initial charge. By this time Toyohibiki remembered his tsuppari, but they were too lame causing Toyohibiki to go for a pull down. The move failed and Dejima maintained momentum so when Toyohibiki committed on the final push out kill, Dejima was able to pull him down near the straw. It was a dangerous tactic for Dejima, but he won this thing when Toyohibiki (9-4) gave him the momentum from the start. Dejima still maintains hope at 6-7.

M13 Hokutoriki has no shame whatsoever and is clutching for any object he can grab onto to keep him from sliding off the cliff towards Juryo. Today against M16 Kimurayama he went for the prostate haplessly jumping to his left for a pathetic tachi-ai henka that of course Kimurayama took hook line and sinker. The best part of the whole thing was the sheer silence during and after the bout. Nobody made a peep as both rikishi dwindle at 4-9. I'd love to see both of these guys outta here in Nagoya.

And finally, Juryo Tosayutaka gave M13 Tochinoshin all he could handle surviving the early inside position with the right and actually unleashing a hefty scoop throw attempt with his own right arm, but as luck would have it (ask Mario), Tochinoshin caught Tosayutaka's mawashi in the nick of time with the left outer grip over the top and used that stance to muscle the shorter Tosayutaka back and out for the force-out win. Tochinoshin clinches kachi-koshi with the win while Tosayutaka at 8-5 still has his card punched for next basho.

So that's a wrap for day 13. As Clancy speculated on day 8, a three-way playoff among the three Mongolians can only come to fruition if Kotooshu beats Hakuho tomorrow (nearly impossible), Harumafuji beats Asashoryu tomorrow (Ama's the underdog), and Asashoryu upsets Hakuho on senshuraku. The fact that Asashoryu has yet to really blow anyone away from the tachi-ai this basho makes him the big underdog against the top dog, Hakuho...if all of that makes sense.

Regardless, the yusho cannot be decided tomorrow meaning we'll have some good drama the rest of the way. Martin shouts it from the rooftops tomorrow.

Day 12 Comments (Mark Arbo reporting)
Oh Mike of little faith. After reading your reports I knew exactly how I would be starting this one- Did you forget who Asashoryu Akinori is? You too Marty. Why was Asa counted of this basho before it even got going? He lost one early on. Even at his best he kind of had a habit of dropping day one. He has a long history of coming into honbashos rusty and picking up steam as he goes too. The dude ain't at the top of his game for true, but he ain't no chump neither. I wish I could have written all this a few days ago. This late in the basho, with his 2 countrymen still undefeated, of course his chances of winning aren't great. But it could have been different. Hak could have dropped one of those brain fart matches he had ... Kissy could have henkaed Ama... A lot would have to go Asa's way for him to pull something out now but it seems odd to have dismissed a 23 Yusho winner at the same time you dismiss Takamisakari. 

One thing that I think we can all agree on is that Hokutoriki sucks. In the cardinal match-up of the day 12 Makuuchi docket, Hokutoriki got a taste of where he will (hopefully) be next basho, when Mokonami came up from Juryo, just long enough to brush Riki's straight-arm to the side and give Riki his 9th loss. Great! Just what this sport needs, another Mongol stealing a job that rightfully belongs to an (inferior) JAPANESE rikishi like ... oh, I don't know ... Hokutoriki.

In the triennial match-up of the day 12 Makuuchi docket two J-rikishi who don't suck long, limp and wrinkly elephant ... trunks squared off. After one false start, Toyohibiki got off to one of his monstrous tachi-ai that sent Takamisakari back stepping and then, after a couple of easy shoves, off the dohyo. Takamisakari is cooling quicker than a legless penguin humping an ice flow but will have lots of chances to get his all important 8th. Big Red on the other hand is really settling nicely into this basho and will no doubt be chomping at the bit to start Nagoya.

Tokitenku (perhaps still "bushed" from his marathon yesterday) gave a half ass henka at the tachi-ai but Mr. Bush kept his head up and never blinked, reading the movie and steamrolling Tenku back and into the clay. Good win for the Mamo-Man.

Last night, as I checked today's dance card, a giggly shot of excitement shot through me like that one delicious time I tried morphine (speaking of which, if we have any Pharmacists or Medical Doctors in our readership, why don't you go ahead and give me a call ... seriously...) For today a man who can gain 10kg in 5 weeks and say it was "nothing unusual" took on an Incy Wincy M14. Spicy little Kakizoe did not disappoint. YMY started way south of the boarder (think 2007 Toyohibiki) which gave Kakizoe enough room to get up to a full sprint by the time he crashed into The Organism in an absolute kamikaze tachi-ai. Motorboating the whole way, Kakizoe got up under the Yamas and groped Ande out of the ring. Fantastic!

Iwakiyama has been fighting some quality sumo this basho. Today however M14 Kokkai was able to neutralize Mt Iwaki's attempts at any sort of belt grips while grabbing a deep outside right of his own. Wasting no time the Georgian unleashed a powerful uwatedashinage that crumbled the mountain.

Asasekiryu slid left at the tachi-ai to make sure he got a favourable mawashi grip on Tochinoshin. This began a fairly lengthy belt battle that The Secretary more or less controlled with his ill gotten hand positioning. Shin did his best to hang on but eventually he wore out and stepped over the straw rope.

Both coming in off of trouncing but again both lookin' to pick up an early-ish KK, Kotoshogiku and Shotenro traded belt grips in the centre of the dohyo. From there the lights dimmed and the music started as The Geek dry humped Shotenro, Jr. High Make Out Party Style. Shotenro felt confused and guilty, but The Geek had never felt so alive.

Miyabiyama and under ranked Kisenosato are two more guys who are showing some lively life this basho. On paper this looked like an easy one for Kissy but at the tachi-ai Miyabi quickly stood the youngster up and then yanked down sending Kisenosato across and almost out of the dohyo. But he recovered and retaliated with some tsuppari. Liking his tsuppari battles, Myabi looked to join in too but Kisenosato brushed Miyabi's slo-mo thrust aside, spun him around and showed him the door. Good footwork there Blinky.

Tamawashi was given a controversial "W" after pushing Toyonoshima out of the ring. It was controversial because, with hands touching the dohyo, it looked a whole lot like he actually lost. Where's the mono ii men? 

M2 Takekaze and M4 Aran have both looked a little out of their league this basho. Today Aran was able to stave off his impending MK for another day, using an outside left and inside right to push the little butter-ball onto the deck. 

Future Ozeki Kakuryu (Hahahaha) used all his power and speed ... in reverse, to step back and pull stumbling Aminishiki into the dirt and another losing record. Lesser of two evils wins here I guess?

If those dudes have looked out of their league, at M1 Homasho has looked out of his gourd. Today Tochiohzan made several attempts to back him out but Homey stubbornly hung on. Ohzan switched gears and went for a throw. Homey stayed on his feet but, off balance, he allowed Ohzan to slip into morozashi and subsequently back him out. What is this funk that Homasho is in? Injury? Voodoo? Pig Flu??  Tochiohzan controlled this one but so many rikishi have pulled out improbable comebacks against Homey this time around that I actually found myself wondering if he might be losing on purpose for some deep routed and no doubt perverse psychological reason.

Goeido has found some funk of his own in the past few days. Today he was needing to get his basho back on track but instead he got worked and out-worked by Kyokutenho. Both these guys have dates with the MakeKoshi hag.

As (stupid [NOTE: I am NOT saying that all fans are stupid ... I am saying that all CHIYOTAIKAI fans are stupid]) fans chanted "Chiyotaikai" with awkward grins on their faces, Kotooshu dove inside looking to skip the Soft Jazz Hands all together. Chiyo went for a quick pull but Shoe's footing was firm and he raised up and pushed down on the back of Chiyotaikai's neck and shoulders. Bent over with Kotooshu leaning on his back Chiyo did his best to stay upright but eventually his legs just gave out.

It was sad watching Chiyotaikai limp back to the changing room. Still, if I were a betting man (and I am) I would wager that the fix is in for all of the next 3 days and we are still going to be seeing a lot more of Chiyo. But you never know, you know? Perhaps it's just too hard to fix so many bouts all the time. Perhaps he is just tired off all this. Perhaps, knowing they can beat him for a big pay-day anyway, the other rikishi just don't want to play ball anymore. I'll say things are already worked out nicely with Mitsuki and Kaio ... but on Sunday with Bart who knows. "Et, tu, Baruto?"

When was the last time you heard the term "Zensho Ozeki"? Cause that's what we got here. Bart and Harumafuji have had some good matches in the past but Bart isn't anywhere near the shape he needs to be in and today he was bullied by Ama. Showing no respect for the Sekiwake, Ama came out with tsuppari, totally fearless. Sadly I think Ama could have won this one just with tsuppari but he decided to jump to the side and take an outside left that he used to swing Bart around and walk him out from behind. I kind of feel bad for Bart. You can tell that he is hurting. Ama on the other hand is looking great. Even in slow motion he was fast. I wish he had give Kissy a bite of that samich.

And then came the Kaio chants ... And then Hakuho had his way with the faux-Ozeki. In the same way Ama robbed us of a marquee mach up with that henka yesterday, Kaio robs us of a good match any time he is in spitting distance of a Yokozuna.

Kotomitsuki got his second Yokozuna in as many days. From the Tachi-ai both men took inside rights and then began the process of fishing for the an outside left. As I was explaining to the person beside me that he was going to go for a maki-kae, Asashoryu stood up (to create space) and shoved his left inside taking morozashi. This maneuver took no more than ¼ of a second but backing off meant that Mitsuki got some momentum and he started hurrying Asa backwards towards the straw. For an instance it looked like the Yokozuna might get yorikiried right off the dohyo. But remember- FAITH. Asa slammed on the breaks and spun Mitsuki out showing that he was never really in all that much trouble and that fears of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Ok, homework time ladies-

-If you insist on being such a geek why don't you do something productive with your skills and make some sort of sumo app for my cell phone.
-Buy some new shoes. Good leather shoes that are timeless and cool but unique enough to say, "I'm above your silly trends." I'm already rocking the Cherry Red, 3 eyelet Dr. Martens, so you might wanna look elsewhere.
-DO NOT MISS SUMO TOMORROW. Unfortunately in sumo, more often than not, the final weekend is more of a debriefing than a climax. This is one of the rare basho where a hole lot of crap is coming to a head just when it all should be.
a) Almost every fight tomorrow has someone going for a KK or trying to avoid an MK.
b) Kotooshu/Asashoryu. They have split their past few bouts but Asa needs this one.
c) Hakuho/Harumafuji. 12-0/12-0. Couldn't be bigger. Mongolian folk art will tell and retell the story of this basho (and so will Mike tomorrow).

See you in Nagoya. Take care.

Day 11 Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
Some interesting bouts today to say the least. Getting right to the action, how about Kakizoe (5-6) going up against Iwakiyama (7-4). What's so interesting about this match-up, you ask? How about that Kakizoe has yet to beat Iwakiyama in all 14 previous meetings. If you watched these two go at it, you could tell Kakizoe is frustrated with this fact. You can tell he poured everything into overcoming it. I actually thought it was the best bout of the day. Kaki applied pressure the whole way, keeping his head down and being aggressive while trying to cover his bases defensively too. But in the end it was not enough as Iwaki won via yori-kiri to make it 15 in a row. Kaki was very emotional afterward, unleashing an expletive at the end of the hana-michi after tossing his sagari to his attendant. That's why you gotta love sport, the sheer competitive nature of it. 

How about the first time clash of two crowd faves, Takamisakari and Yamamotoyama? Everyone wanted to see how Robocop handled the new behemoth on the block. Well, he went inside too deep with the right hand, giving Yama leverage with the left uwate. And even though Takami had both sides of Yama's belt and good shallow positioning on the other side, he couldn't overcome the sheer girth. It was an easy yori-kiri for Yamamotoyama (6-5). Takamisakari falls to 7-4. 

How about the mizu-iri bout featuring Aran and Tokitenku? In a 4+ minute marathon that had Aran as worker bee staying low and trying to keep an upperhand with belt positioning, in the end it was the patient Tenku who weathered a late and very exciting charge at the tawara to overturn the momentum and steal a victory. What made the tawara defense impressive was that Aran had both of Tenku's elbows locked inward in a "Kime" position, making the defense awkward and harder to pull off. 

How about Chiyotaikai laying an egg against Aminishiki? This may have been the most critical bout of the day, the difference between Chiyo being Ozeki next basho or not. He had dropped to 5-5 coming in, with 3 Ozeki still yet to go. It was absolutely necessary for Chiyo to win today against an opponent he was 17-3 against in his career. Instead, he went out too gingerly and got dropped with a hiki-otoshi- some of his own usual medicine. My prediction is that this bout marks the beginning of the end for Chiyo. In my eyes, it is almost impossible for him to overcome a 5-6 record in the final 4 days to maintain his rank. We may be seeing the final two basho of Chiyo's career right here (this one, and a futile attempt at 10-5 next basho to get back up to Ozeki). 

How about Harumafuji chalking up another W in a not-so-high-quality fashion against Kisenosato? This was the most anticipated bout of the day, bringing together an undefeated against a once-defeated. Haru moved to the right at the tachi-ai and employed an immediate tottari for the anti-climactic, 2-second win. He does, however, stay perfect at 11-0 while dropping Kise almost out of the yusho picture to 9-2. 

How about the clash of the two giant gaijin? Kotooshu and Baruto made the dohyo look small. Baruto showed like he wanted to make it a push match, but Kotooshu wasn't having it. Oshu stuck to his guns and eventually got the right outside grip to swing Baruto around for an uwate-dashinage, improving to 7-4 in the process. Baruto suffers his 8th loss against only 3 wins to guarantee majority losses for the first time in a while. 

How about Asashoryu's cake walk against Kaio? This was probably the most unanticipated bout of the day. A gimpy legged Kaio who had secured his 8th win already against Sho? Come on. Is it any wonder why Sho couldn't get fired up enough to go through his belt pounding ritual prior to the tachi-ai? It's because he didn't need to in order to waltz to a sleepwalking yori-kiri win. Sho is 10-1, Kai 8-3. 

And of course, how about Hakuho winning his 31st consecutive bout? Today's opponent, Kotomitsuki (7-4), did make Haku earn it however. Mitsuki had the better tachi-ai and initial positioning, getting to the left uwate first and not allowing the Yokozuna his own. But in a big move about 15 seconds in, Haku shook his hip to dislodge Mitsuki's grip. From here Hakuho slowly rebuilt his positioning like a meticulously executed project plan. Although he never got his preferred left uwate, through patience he waited for daylight and struck when Mitsuki went for the maki-kae for a yori-kiri win. Mitsuki was just too conservative in the early going when he had the upper hand. When you have the upper hand against Hakuho, you gotta go for it and he chose to wait. 

The leaderboard has Hakuho and Harumafuji on top at 11-0 with Asashoryu lurking one step behind at 10-1. An all Mongolian triad for the cup.

Mark tames the sharks tomorrow.

Day 10 Comments (Dr. Mario Kadastik reporting)
It's day ten in the Natsu basho, and it's day ten on the small small boat in the middle of nowhere with five other guys. There's only one sleeping bunker as Mike has the captains quarters for himself. There's no privy, you've got to do it all off the ship, and the sharks have found us peculiarly interesting. Clancy and Arbo almost came back without one of their three legs, they refused to say which, and Martin's refused to be closer than one foot to the railing. The food is still good for a month Mike says, but it's starting to get a tick bland eating only noodles with soy sauce and drinking tea (for boiling it is necessary as Mike says). The stash of liqueur that Clancy had in his bag when we grabbed him is proving to be a good pastime, but that will definitely not last a month. Thanks to Mike and Kenji not drinking the rest of us have it a tick more easy and now that we've prohibited Martin from drinking (once when he got too much he wanted to share the whisky with the sharks and that's a no-no) it's even more, yet it seems that the booze is going to run out around end of basho or within one or two days after that so it's hard. The only solace is the satellite feed that has naked Japanese chicks on while it's not showing sumo so we haven't planned a coup yet, but once the basho is over we can't promise anything, so we'd better get to the bouts.

Some things in the world are predictable. Not the financial market, at least not in the short term, but the fact that Sun rises in the East and sets in the West, that apples fall down from trees, not up. And that Kimurayama moves to his left at tachi-ai. So Mokonami just delivered his harite slightly to his right and hit the target full on. There was no big slapfest as Mokonami went for the belt. Kimurayama is about as big a belt fighter as I am so it didn't take long for Mokonami to go for a nifty uwatenage throw. Here's to hoping that's the last Kimurayama bout I'll comment this year. Mokonami on the other hand might very well be on my worklist next basho.

Bush ... the big fat oldster who's been about as slow as Harry's been fast. However the NSK seems to be handing him easy picks as they've been pairing him up on a regular basis now with Juryo fellas. And Tosayutaka for today seemed like a ripe cherry for picking. Their previous record was very very lopsided for Bush, but Tosayutaka is a fast fella and is doing pretty good at the top of Juryo while the first week for Bush was really really awful. So it was with mixed feelings that I watched the fellas crouch and the gyoji in his green and white point the gunbai towards the sky. The two collided and flew apart (that's familiar somehow ...). I will not get into the ugly details, but there was shoving and there was pulling and more shoving until at some point I couldn't believe my eyes, Bush was working his opponent with solid thrusts and he had something resembling footwork that worked also for him. In any case that short burst of sumo that I saw was enough as Bush shoved Tosayutaka over the tawara and almost to the lap of the gyoji. Now Bush winning in itself is weird, but he also made the situation more interesting in the division down below taking down the leader. 

Remember the movie "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" and the famous "White men can't jump" quote? Well keep it in mind for now. Kokkai met Dejima. And considering the form Dejima is in (ahem, NONE) it was pretty straightforward to assume that as soon as Kokkai stops the freight train in its tracks he'll gently escort the Egyptian back and out. Right? Well that's what was the working theory for the two. However Kokkai screwed up the show. They did charge, Kokkai did stop Dejima in his tracks and escorted him back to the tawara. However now I would ask you to remember the quote I had just mentioned and swap jump with walk. Kokkai was in a prime position to escort Deji back and out as the Egyptian was backpedaling and essentially did walk out, however Kokkai for no reason whatsoever just stopped walking and fell on his stomach. The NHK commentator called it the way it looked "like jumping out an airplane while skydiving". White men can't walk.

You know that last Monday I surprised you for showing up instead of Mike and giving you the daily recap. As you may have noticed Mike did come out of the trance and gave his report. However he did force us to use facemasks all the time and boy was mine tough to breathe in. So hence the size of my previous report. Some of you have inquired if I was feeling ill for such a short report, but it's just the facemask, you try writing a report on a boat that is slowly rocking while wearing a tight facemask and having to constantly listen to the prairie like chanting of Martin, which is made especially hilarious exactly because of the mask. "Orikiri, SSuribashi, Unantenane,...". Oh well. At least Clancy was wise to have booze in his shopping back while walking to the hotel so Mike grabbed him loaded, there's no other source of liqueur out here ... in the middle of nowhere ... and it's running out ... fast.

Anyway, back to the thing called o-zumo. Mr Flobby met the young Georgian. Now I used some predictive power before in the few bouts coming up to this one so why the hell not again. Miyabiyama is a mountain with windmills attached while Tochinoshin is a young fella who likes to touch other mens belts. So the outcome of this match would be determined by the form of it. If it's tsuppari, then it's very likely to be Mt Flobby, if it's a beltfight, then it's Shin's. So when the two charged and started to exchange shoves it seemed that it's for sure a win for Flobby as Shin can't usually take too many shoves. However shin showed marvelous courage keeping up with the oldsters pushes and pulls, never once losing his balance and slowly, but steadily worked himself closer until he managed to push a hand below one of Flobby's breasts and go for a comfy hug. So ... now it's a belt struggle and that means Shin's got the edge. Right? Even the NHK commentator said so. The two showed some ozumo with Flobby going for an inside throw, but Shin's got balance (if nothing much else). However one can notice that it's Flobby who's been attacking since the start and Shin's been on the defensive. So looking back it's not that surprising that Flobby won it in the end, but what is surprising in general is Flobby winning by shitatenage or underarm throw. Nice win by Miyabiyama who I didn't think could be capable of this. Tochinoshin still needs more experience, but he'll get that over time.

Now as you might have noticed the pattern of my predictions they aren't very reliable so far or they haven't been made reliable by the guys in Tokyo doing the actual fighting. However one thing's for sure and that's that something is seriously wrong with Hokutoriki as the Jokester's been struggling even though he's way lower than he usually is. So even with a matchup with Shimotori, which would normally favor him I sat on Shimotori's bench in this one. After a matta the guys did start with Hokutoriki coming out with a two hand nodowa to Shimotori's neck and made him backpedal. However Shimotori was able to evade to his left and go for a hug. From the mawashi battle it was fairly certain that Hokutoriki is the loser and Shimotori didn't disappoint even though it took him two attempts. The first one Hokutoriki fought off at the tawara by raising Shimotori off the ground. Hokutoriki is now 3-7 and at M13 is not in such a good shape to shave off a possible Juryo demotion. Not that he'd be missed.

Shotenro's been somewhat hyped. It is probably somewhat related to him being another Mongolian, but he's also got pretty ok balance and technique so the hype isn't quite unfounded. He has had his slipups this basho, but 6-3 after nine days isn't that bad at all. Tokitenku used to hate 2008 for the constant make-koshi he had, but he's been looking a tick better this year. The first attempt the two went for seemed to be ok for the two guys who're fighting, but as Shotenro missed with his fist and the men in black need to show in at least a few bouts that they're doing something then the bout was called back. The second attempt saw Shotenro running straight into Tenku and force his opponent straight up. Tokitenku countered by trying to remain in his position and pushing back with his legs, however in such a position he was fully relying on Shotenro to keep him up. And as Shotenro felt that he immediately utilized the moment by slightly moving to his left while at the same time pulling with his left hand on the back of Tenku and using his right arm to thrust tenku's head down. The result looked like a beltless underarm throw, however it was called as tsukiotoshi or thrustdown win. No matter, this was good reacting from Shotenro to the moment and balance of Tokitenku and a well deserved seventh win. He'll be shooting for an early kachi koshi tomorrow. Tokitenku is at the 0.500 mark and can go either way still.

Well my favorite small scale wrestler is up next. The guy who moves around the dohyo like a squirrel and is fast as hell namely Kakizoe. Today he was matched up with the mawashi. Kakizoe won the tachi-ai and was all over Tamawashi having him moving backwards, but his problem is that he gets overly happy and into his bout if he gets his opponent moving backwards and he forgets where he is putting his limbs. This time he accidentally gave Tamawashi his left arm into an armlock, which the desperate mawashi immediately capitalized on going for a kotenage throw. He did pull it off even though he followed Zoe to the clay. Nothing too pretty, but it's a win. Kakizoe needs to think what he's doing not only while still fighting for position, but also when he's leading and moving the opponent around. Everything's equal for these guys. Their scores as well as their wins and losses and ... 

It has been rumored that Futenoh met Simon in the dressing room today and Simon, being his good old self was already drunk. So he bantered Futenoh around until he managed to convince fruity for a round of sumo in some practice ring. Simon won. So I don't need to go into details about the bout with Asa's secretary, do I? Sexy went for belt, got it, mumbled around a bit and then threw Futenoh to the clay. Simon and sexy score one here. Fruity seems in some serious trouble currently, but he'll bounce next basho, he usually does. 

You know, sex is a thing that makes all living things push as hard as they can from extreme situations. It's a motivator that makes young people go to college and it can make an otherwise bad situation worth living for the future promise of it. Well one of my female dogs is having that time of the year and the male dog has been pushing his recovery hard (from serious infection that almost ate away all his hind leg muscles) so that he could jump the female dog when she's in heat. Boy has the dog made some progress and even though his hind legs aren't quite as strong he's grown some amazing backmuscles to still be able to do the thing with his hind legs in air... Those of you who are new to sumo might be wondering why I brought this up, well every time I see Kotoshogiku I get a mental picture of dogs screwing. And even though we saw his usual leghumping gabburi-yori technique again today, he was faced against the master of recoveries and he seemed to have forgotten that. The charge was good and heavy from Kotoshogiku and once he got his belly going he drove Robocop to the edge, however Robo's not called the master for nothing as he managed to shift his weight and make Kotoshogiku respond. That response was all Takamisakari needed as he twisted Kotoshogiku around himself. After the bout he himself seemed surprised that it actually worked, but it was good stuff. I always like it when someone brings Takamisakari to the edge as one can see wonders happening. Both are at 7-3 and this has to be Takamisakari's best start ever. He should have oyakata's retiring on him every basho.

When facing the mountain of mountains you have to either have tremendous speed that you can manage to run circles around him and pull a superman timeshift move or you have to have toughness and skill to counter the advantage of mass and win against YMY with pure yotsu skills. Yoshikaze has demonstrated the first option and Kisenosato and Shotenro the latter. However poor Tochinonada had neither and yet he still had to show up and do something. So he did the honourable thing ... better to die standing when one has to die. In sumo that means he just closed his eyes and ran into the mountain of flesh and fat. As could be expected this is not the way you win against him so YMY immediately moved Nada back and even though the latter managed to evade for a while around the ring the inevitable was known to both of them. YMY seems to have recovered nicely from his gout and is at 50%. Tochinonada is below that and needs some calmer waters for next basho.

The first half culminates with my favorite moonface meeting the decaffeinated Yoshikaze. One thing I don't get of Iwakiyama's opponents, that's the henkas. I hate henka in general, but it's funny to see someone pull one against Iwakiyama. This fella has an uncanny henka proofness to him. You might remember that it was him that caught Wakanoho's frogleap from mid-air after which the Russian promised to never do it again (he didn't for a whole 1.5 tournaments or so). This basho I think I've seen at least 2-3 fellas getting burned by trying something henkaish against him. Yoshikaze isn't that kind of fella lately so he went straight into Iwakikong and started his signature tsuppari fest as well as grabbing Iwakiyama's mawashi and trying to take him for a dance. Iwakiyama did have to work for his balance in this fast moving bout and those turns and almost lost it in the end, however Yoshikaze committed so much to this circulation, that when he tried the throw Iwakiyama and the latter countered by balancing on his foot and then essentially falling on him he didn't have the balance nor the position to counter it in any way. The fall seemed to hurt his knee somewhat, but he didn't need help walking away so he'll probably be back tomorrow. Iwakiyama improves to 6-4 and look him to continue his 15-0 lopsided history with Kakizoe with another win tomorrow.

During the tea break of the men in black we decided to have one for ourselves here on the boat too. Boy did that turn out to be a bad idea. Just when Mike was pouring the boiling hot tea into Martin's cup we were hit by an above average wave, which made Martin move his cup and Mike his hand with the teakettle. However not in the same direction. Let's just hope Martin had some sperm stored away somewhere for future use. The rest of us decided to lay our cups in row and walk three steps away before allowing Mike to continue the pouring process. Kenji refused to drink anything but white tea and Clancy and Arbo had their tea only with at least equal amount of cognac (god bless Clancy's foresight in grabbing that liqueur, can't repeat that enough). 

The second half kicked off with a highly anticipated match (by some). Kisenosato already got his kachi koshi and being 8-1 is on fire and theoretically even in the Yusho race. Toyohibiki is coming off a few basho to forget after his retina injury and surgery and is back in Makuuchi and is definitely showing off his plan to stay in it and not in the lower echelons. Anyway, if anyone thought the Kisenosato vs. Hibiki match would be mouthwateringly important, then all I have to say to them is that you've not been watching sumo long enough probably. Kisenosato is a guy who should already be and is definitely going to be sanyaku mainstay while Toyohibiki has only grazed the jo'i and that only by name (he did get his retina injury just before actually competing then). So it was to no big surprise to me when Kisenosato absorbed Toyohibiki's charge while grabbing Hibiki's right arm, stepping back a step and flinging Toyohibiki down. It wasn't pretty sumo from Kisenosato, but he didn't really break a sweat neither needed to. Toyohibiki is great at 7-3 and will be promoted way higher (might even get to within reach of jo'i if he continues winning), but don't forget who's who. Want a mouthwatering bout, watch tomorrow Kisenosato vs. Harumafuji, that's promising to be a good one.

A bout I'd rather skip, but can't as Mike's paying by the word is Tamanoshima vs. Aran. Neither has shown anything this basho that would stick to the memory once the basho is over so one can't really expect much. Aran did win the tachi-ai by a good left outer grip as well as a strong nodowa from his right, but he doesn't yet have the experience to capitalize. He tried to use his left hand grip to pivot Tamanoshima around while pulling on his head with his right, however the move took him close to the tawara and the experience from Tamanoshima came to play here as he balanced on the tawara and shoved Aran out. The Russian is learning, he still has plenty left to learn, but we'll be seeing him around for a longer time unless someone catches him with bong like Clancy did with Mark a number of bashos ago. Though it turned out to be something different in the end as far as I can remember after Martin had tasted the contents and Arbo confessed.

If someone knows what's wrong with Toyonoshima, then please tell me. It can't possibly be still that injury he got from Kaio. If it is, then please, someone kick Kaio out of the sport as such injuries, especially done on purpose serve no one. Kyokutenho though seems to have Toyo's number anyway. The two locked up from the get-go with both flirting with a left inside right outside grip, which Kyokutenho quickly used to drive Toyonoshima to the tawara. However Toyo isn't that easy to kill so the two struggled back towards the center of the ring where Toyo went for a desperation throw with his injured arm. Had he not had this injury he'd have won here, however due to the injury he's not got the power to fully execute the throw. Kyokutenho seemed flying with one leg in air and his body at the side, however he still managed to deliver a push, which sent Toyonoshima out. This bout essentially demonstrates what state Toyonoshima is in and the make-koshi he got from it gives him another basho to recuperate away from the wolves. Kyokutenho is not far from 50-50 and he'd rather not mind going 7-8 or 6-9 to be in regions with less harsh opposition. 

Takekaze has had only one win and that from a matchup of two guys sharing no wins between them. Kakuryu on the other hand has wiggled, henkaed and shown good sumo to reach about even in wins and losses. That's your usual Kakuryu and he may well manage to pull off enough wins to get his eight and piss off Martin even more. Though I doubt we'll be losing Martin as a commentator as he's only promised to stop doing this work if Kakuryu ever makes Ozeki. The match went pretty much as one would expect. It seemed interesting as long as the two decided to hand out blows, but the speed of it died down in seconds. It actually died down so low that I thought the feed had gone over to slow motion as the two traded blows that even my great-grandmother could evade. You know from looking at the bout that ensued you begin to ask how the hell has Kakuryu fished out four wins against guys ranked around him? The lethargic sumo was so slow that I'd guess even the NSK peephole viewers could full see every single maneuver of pulls and pushes, handshifts etc. In the end Takekaze decided to end the farce, turned around and walked out. Oh right Kakuryu was there too putting his hands in the right places to make it look like there was a contest going on. Maybe Kakuryu was teasing Takekaze here, I can't say, but such sumo is bad at its best. Takekaze is 1-9 while Kakuryu is at the 500 mark and could very well be advancing to Sekiwake (oh the horror of having to be on the same continent with Martin then). 

One thing I didn't expect today was Tochiohzan defeating Aminishiki. However neither has been good this basho, which is somewhat understandable for Tochiohzan being a shin Komusubi. Aminishiki did get the edge at tachi-ai and was driving Oh poo towards the tawara, but he did make the mistake of stepping too close to his opponent and raising himself too high in the process. Tochiohzan has to be given credit though as he immediately capitalized by switching gears and going for the morozashi grip, which he got. From there on it was an easy yorikiri win for the youngster. Aminishiki has three wins, of which one includes the sole loss of a Yokozuna, but he does tend to fall for the lower rankers (not that Tochiohzan is that at the moment, at least not name wise). 

The ranks get higher, the bouts get more interesting. That's at least the idea of the torikumi as you start early on in the day with Jonokuchi bouts and move your way up with the day ending with a fight by the highest rankers in the whole ozumo. However we've had a few interesting bouts in the lower parts of the Makuuchi torikumi today and the next bout doesn't seem to be likely to be of very high amusement. Homasho seems lost this high at least this time around. The last time he was around he did get a number of wins and was able to soften his fall, however being 0-9 coming in and facing the hot shin-Sekiwake Goeido isn't really a motivation booster. However no matter what happens you can expect a deep bow from Homasho and that guy just deserves respect already for purely that. Goeido immediately went for the kill the moment he met Homasho gaining a good right inside grip and moving Homasho back, however he was unable to get him backwards enough so he went for a pull attempt followed by an underarm throw attempt. Even if Homasho is not good at attacking, he's good in defense so he was able to shove off both attempts and after the shitatenage attempt even managed to wiggle outside of Goeido's grip. The two recharged and for a short time fought without a mawashi, just keeping heads together and seeking for ways to go at the other with hands. Once they did charge for a grip Homasho immediately went for a pushdown attempt by pushing on Goeido's head with his right hand while pulling with his left on the mawashi. However Goeido being low pushed hard on Homasho and to keep himself from falling grabbed Homeys right leg until Homey was out. The bout proved to be more interesting than I originally hoped yet Goeido did all the charging and wasn't really in danger at any point. Homasho needs to be not only defensive, but also offensive as this high up defense only will not grant you an opening that can be capitalized for a win. Homasho has double digit losses and will find himself in the mid to low Maegashira next basho while Goeido has all his options still ahead of him in the final five days. 

Even though both Yokozunas are fighting today and Asashoryu has the giant Baruto the NHK featured throughout the day the next matchup. The new graphics where they show all the things leading up to a clash of titans in short few second clips with raising anticipation tones in music (somewhat silly in my mind) had focused on Harry vs. Micky ever since the first bouts today. Shows you how poor the day is in providing a highlight bout or the expectations people have on Baruto upsetting the Yokozuna. However for this match the highlight has to come from the fact that Harry's meeting a fellow Ozeki for the first time this basho and hence has to prove what his 9-0 run is worth. However Kotomitsuki isn't the real test so far in my humble opinion. It'll be the Yokozunas and I wouldn't be surprised for an upset there so Harry is gunning for his first ever Yusho. As the two charged it was pretty clear that Harry went all out in that charge as he was across Mitsuki's line in a flash and something grip like to boot. However that was nothing lasting as Mitsuki shook it off and pushed the attack, which in turn proved his undoing as Harry maki-kaed and got the nice and warm morozashi grip. Kotomitsuki quickly did the only thing he could and went for the armlock on both sides. Harry knew that if he goes for the kill too fast Mitsuki might swing him around so he gathered himself and waited for the right moment. Once he went for the kill it was a determined kill and no attempt from Kotomitsuki managed to surface in the full two to three seconds that it took him to find himself out, which was somewhat due to him being off his feet for half of said time. Great stuff from Harry, who moves to double digits and is undefeated so far. Looking at his sumo, stamina and fighting spirit there is no doubt about it that he's gunning for the Yusho. Kotomitsuki has to fight for his KK another day, but he'll get it. All the ozeki will, as usual.

The matchup of Kaio vs. Kotooshu is always a tough one to call as I can never remember who owes whom what amount of favors. So is it Kaio's turn to win even though he's 7-2 or is it Kotooshu's for he has to grant one more to Chiyotaikai and has to get past the yokozunas and still get his eight. So my guess was on Kotooshu winning this one, but I guess they were pretty much even steven with the favors as the bouts seemed to be fully legit this time around. Kaio charged to Oshu's left, went for the belt with his left arm and kotenage with his right arm. As soon as Oshu felt the pull and the tightening of Kaio's armbar around his left hand he just ran out. If you ask me, then it seems that Kotooshu's mawashi turned brown the moment he gave up that armlock, but it could have been my feed... That running out though is usually the wiser thing to do. You'll get one loss, but come off with an ok hand instead of racking up losses like for example Toyonoshima is doing right now. If you ask me it's time to leave Kaio, but no one does so...

So now we have only the Yokozunas left to cover for today. And the first bout is better gotten away fast as there's got to be nothing pretty in it. Chiyotaikai meeting a Yokozuna will not get anyone hard anymore so it's just something that has to be done as he's ranked at Ozeki. Hakuho didn't move a muscle throughout the bout as he fended off the nodowa and fished for a grip. It didn't take him long to get the morozashi and escort the "Ozeki" back and out. I'm not gonna even go into the details as they don't really matter in this bout. Chiyotaikai seems to be getting his eight as he'll get three more wins from Kotooshu, Kaio and Kotomitsuki, however it'll be interesting to see as Kotooshu himself might be struggling if he manages to somehow lose tomorrow to Baruto.

And the musubi-no-ichiban, the final bout of day 10 and the most prestigious bout one can be part of if one's not a Yokozuna. Baruto is a giant, enormously strong and could easily lift out anyone (ok, maybe not YMY) so why hasn't the bout been advertised as a highlight at all? The reason is lackluster performance from Baruto, that's why. If Baruto would be in ok form and be say 5-4 coming in with three Ozeki scalps and a ferocious battle with Hakuho behind him they'd be featuring it like hell as Asashoryu isn't quite himself and it could come to an upset. However nothing of the kind is the real case as Baruto is 3-6 with some slow wins and some ugly losses behind him. He seems to be having knee issues again so it's very likely he'll come out of the basho with a new rank and not one above his current one. Then again winning against a Yokozuna from the Sekiwake rank will not give you a kinboshi, so maybe it would be good if Baruto fell to the M ranks of the Jo'I. Ok, enough theorizing and yabbering, let's get to the actual bout. Asashoryu hit Baruto hard, but slightly to his left. Neither really got a grip from this, but Asashoryu was all over Baruto swinging him around first one way and then the other. Baruto did try all he could and almost got morozashi as well as gave it up. He tried to lock up the Yokozuna, but that didn't help. What happened again was that he turned his ass to the Yokozuna and allowed himself to be pushed out. Baruto is physique and fighting style wise more suited to fight with Hakuho as it has the last three or so times always come down to a strong belt fight, which is not only good to view but also a theoretical chance for Baruto. With Asashoryu the problem is that he's way too slow in comparison and Asa can throw things at him from all different sides without getting much back from Bart. I don't see Baruto starting an Ozeki run any time soon until he can effectively win against the current crop of Ozeki every basho and can seriously contend for an upset against the Yokozunas. But these are things best talked off a few basho from now once Baruto has regrouped and attacks for Sanyaku again. 

After today there are two guys without any losses and two with only one loss. Harry and Kisenosato will meet tomorrow and that bout will determine quite a lot. If Harry takes it (the likely result), then he's got a shot at the Yusho while Kisenosato falls out of the race. If Harry loses, then he's one off the pace and has to correct the situation by upsetting the Yokozunas (or at least one of them hoping the other one is taken down on day 15). In any case it's definitely promising to be an interesting five days for us all watching sumo. I have no idea how many more interesting days it is going to be for us on this boat as Mike seems to be determined to weather out the whole swine flu thing on the boat and he's yet to define "weather out". Is it just Japan? Asia? The world? Will he have some form of food/booze delivery arranged for us? In any case if anyone out there has a helicopter/plane that can fly low and could deliver at least some additional booze, then we're about 20 miles off coast from Katsuura towards the South-East. You'll notice us easily enough, the boat has a huge sail with Sumotalk logo on it. We'd be eternally grateful, just have the necessary paperwork for Mike that you're not infected or we can't eat/drink the stuff. Talking of eating, Kenji will bake your noodle tomorrow.

Day 9 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
The yusho line should not fall below one loss this basho. That means that it's down to Yokozuna Hakuho and Ozeki Harumafuji. Yes, Asashoryu is still sitting on one loss, but I just don't see him sweeping the remainder of his bouts. Still, Asashoryu is an important player this basho as is Kotomitsuki as is Kotooshu. The Sadogatake-beya Ozeki have taken themselves out of the yusho race early as usual, but they are both fighting well and will certainly be pumped up in week two as the foes get tougher. Focus on the five aforementioned rikishi as we head down the stretch. Before we get too carried away, however, let's get to the bouts starting from the bottom up so you have to read my entire report.

M12 Dejima was too careless against M16 Kimurayama today. He read Kim's henka well, squared up his body, and had his opponent going back towards the straw, but he committed way too early on that final shove allowing Kimurayama to easy sidestep him at the edge and pull him down to the dirt in all his girth and glory. Both rikishi are 3-6.

In a compelling matchup on paper coming in, M14 Kokkai exhibited a horrible tachi-ai going for a right harite that was so slow, M11 Toyohibiki was in his grill in a flash pushing the Georgian towards the straw while escorting him down with a right kote-nage grip. The damage was over in two seconds as Kokkai (5-4) completely had his ass handed to him. Toyohibiki sails to 7-2 with the win.

M11 Miyabiyama threw M12 Takamisakari a curveball by keeping both arms in tight at the tachi-ai. Takamisakari had a gangly left arm close to an outer grip, but Miyabiyama had morozashi. The Sheriff wasted no time in raising Takamisakari upright before offering a mammoth shove into the Cop's chest sending him back and out with nary a fight. That KK interview will have to wait I guess as both rikishi stand at 6-3.

Not that anyone is watching closely enough to care, but I thought M10 Shimotori would do better than this. Today against M15 Shotenro, he used a nice swipe at Shotenro's paw just after the tachi-ai to knock the Mongolian to the side and off balance. Shotenro was in trouble and knew it because he resorted to the only tactic left in the book: run like hell and offer a few pull attempts in the process. Shotenro actually went for two pull downs, but Shimotori was unable to capitalize allowing Shotenro to turn the table at the edge by spinning Shimotori around 180 degrees, and instead of assuming the full manlove position to my disappointment, Shotenro just threw Shimotori down to the side after a failed trip attempt. Shotenro (6-3) was awarded the win, but this was terrible sumo. Sometimes you just get lucky though, and he'll take it. Shimotori is just 1-8 now.

M10 Futenoh is getting so lazy in his sumo these days that he actually allowed M15 Bushuyama the deep inside left position from the tachi-ai and Dolly didn't disappoint. Having the rack to soften the sting of Futenoh's stilettos, Bushuyama pulled Futenoh in close, grabbed the solid right outer grip, and then escorted him out as easy as you please. Both rikishi are 4-5.

M14 Kakizoe moved harmlessly to his left at the tachi-ai against M9 Tokitenku, who was obviously looking for some movement as he held up in his charge offering a left hari-te as he cautiously came out of his stance. The result was both rikishi hooked up in the grapplin position where Tokidoki pounced first pulling Kakizoe down to the clay for the easy but ugly win. Both rikishi are 5-4.

Trying to one-up Kakizoe's ugly tachi-ai henka, M13 Hokutoriki showed his desperation by moving to his right at the tachi-ai, but he totally whiffed on his dual pulldown attempt of the charging M8 Iwakiyama allowing the Kong to stop his forward momentum with an arm around Hokutoriki's neck. The Hutt slipped the right arm into the deep inside position, pulled Hokutoriki in close (sigh), and kept their chests aligned as Jokutoriki tried to squirm away. Iwakiyama's grasp was too tight, however, as he eventually walked Hokutoriki back across the straw for the shweet yori-kiri win. Iwakiyama moves to 5-4 with the win while Hokutoriki (3-6) is actually in danger of falling to Juryo! That would rule.

M5 Yoshikaze barreled into M9 Yamamotoyama's midsection admirably, but he was rebuffed straightway with a dual tsuppari effort from Yamamotoyama's two hams. The blow knocked Yoshikaze back to the straw, but Yamamotoyama committed the cardinal sin for a fat guy, which is to commit on that final charge a full meter away from your opponent. Yoshikaze had plenty of time to read the move and simply slipped to his left at the last moment causing Yamamotoyama to whiff himself right out of the dohyo. Oops. And that 4-5 record for Jabba now has got o taste below average as well. Cafe is 3-6.

As he is wont to do, M5 Tochinonada traded the right outside grip for the left inner against M6 Kotoshogiku who promptly complied, but the Geeku never allowed the Gentle Giant to settle in using those gaburi belly shoves to keep Tochinonada upright and on the move. The difference lately with Tochinonada is he's been unable to dig in stubbornly once obtaining that favored left inside position, and Kotoshogiku made him pay today dancing Tochinonada around the ring before pulling him over and down with a well-executed dashi-nage throw using that initial right outer grip. You have to be encouraged with Kotoshogiku's mini-resurgence this basho at 7-2 while Nada falls to 4-5.

M8 Tamawashi got off to a lightening quick charge against M4 Aran and had the Russian moving backwards due to some reckless tsuppari, but Tamawashi's overall attack was just that...reckless, allowing Aran to side-step the Mongolian at the tawara and slap him down for the cheap win. The difference here is that Tamawashi's feet were not grounded to the dohyo. As the rikishi practice this sumo basic called suri-ashi, the key is to keep the feet planted to the dohyo as you take long even strides into your opponent. Tamawashi was upright with his lower body completely out of synch, and the result was a win for Aran who did nothing but time a pulldown when the opportunity presented itself. Both rikshi are now 4-5.

M4 Kisenosato used a limp harite attempt against M7 Asasekiryu at the tachi-ai disallowing him to grab an outer grip straightway, but as the Secretary hunkered down with the left inside grip, Kisenosato made sure to wrench him upwards with his own left inside position on the other side. That was the key to this bout and eventually led to Kisenosato's getting the right outer grip. Once obtained, he went for the force out charge, but Sexy was able to grab his own right outer grip on a fold of the Kid's mawashi and keep himself in the bout. Now in the gappuri yotsu position (identical outer and inner grips on teh belt), both rikishi went back and forth breaking off each others' grips and looking for openings to throw, and in the process it looked as if Kisenosato would run out of gas, but he dug in and used his size advantage to finally throw Asasekiryu off balance from the center of the ring setting up the easy push-out win in the end. It wasn't great stuff from Kisenosato throughout, but he did well to dig in and pull this one out in the end. At 8-1, he is on NHK's obligatory leaderboard, but he is not a contender. Not so sexy is 3-6.

M3 Toyonoshima's failure this basho has been his complete inability to demand the inside position from the tachi-ai. Against a guy like M13 Tochinoshin who is long and wants that outside grip, Toyonoshima should get inside every time, but a half-assed tachi-ai allowed Shin to get his right arm on the inside of Toyonoshima and render his left arm useless by pushing up into the pit causing Toyonoshima's left elbow to protrude outward. On the other side, Toyonoshima had the right inside position, but he was forced to use that arm to fend off a Tochinoshin left outer grip, but the Georgian proved too powerful and demanded the grip after about ten seconds using it to escort Toyonoshima across and down for the yori-taoshi win not to mention a nifty 6-3 record. Toyonoshima is circling the drain at 2-7.

In a battle of the beaten-downs, M1 Homasho was listless from the tachi-ai making no effort to keep M2 Takekaze upright and offering little resistance to Takekaze's feisty attack. Takekaze pushed Homasho this way and that before finally forcing him across the straw for the easy win. Takekaze's oshi attack was not potent, and as Homasho actually went back across the straw, he was upright and walked out half on his own accord. Is Homie injured? He's showing the drive of a 35 year-old dude, unmarried, living in mom's basement, and spending 12 hours a day on the internet; thus his 0-9 record. Takekaze sprints to 1-8.

In the sanyaku ranks, the Komusubi met up today signaling that their brutal first-week schedule has now come to an end. Coming off of his brilliant win over Kotooshu yesterday, Kakuryu rode the momentum using a sharp tsuppari attack from the tachi-ai to keep Tochiohzan upright as he drove him straight back for the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am win. I mean, what can you say? Kakuryu kicked Tochiohzan's ass moving his record to 4-5 meaning he is highly-favored to kachi-koshi now. And...if Baruto keeps sucking, it'll be Sekiwake Kakuryu come Natsu. Tochiohzan is a measly 2-7.

Speaking of the Suckiwake, Baruto took another page out of Homasho's book today against M1 Aminishiki failing to show any drive from the tachi-ai resulting in his giving up the inside position. Aminishiki latched onto Bart's belt with the right hand while using the left hand to push up into Bart's teat keeping him completely upright. The Estonian did press forward, but his hips were too upright, and he had no grip. Still, he used his mass to blanket Aminishiki giving him no place to run, but Sneaky managed to step just to his right as he pulled at Baruto's belt in shita-te-nage fashion dragging Baruto across the tawara and out. As he executed the move, Aminishiki had nowhere to go but out himself resulting in an extremely close finish where it looked to me that both rikishi stepped out at the same time. The gunbai went to Aminishiki, and surprisingly no mono-ii was called. The men in black musta had a nice chicken dinner waiting for them afterwards because they were of no mind to get off their lazy asses and review this one as they should have. I don't have a problem with Aminishiki being rewarded the win as he was the attacking rikishi, but I think once you hit the sanyaku ranks, you owe it to the Sekiwake to at least review the bout when it was this close. Oh well...Baruto doesn't exactly deserve the treatment this basho now at 3-6. Like Homasho, something has to be bothering him because his head in just not in the tournament. AminiSneaky moves to 3-6 with the win.

In the Ozeki ranks, Harumafuji completely exposed Kaio and the current fraud Kaio and Chiyotaikai are committing in the sport. Ramming his head directly into Kaio's upper torso, Harumafuji used the left inside position to force Kaio back and out so quickly, Kaio didn't even have time to counter with his coveted right kote-nage throw. And that tells you a lot right there...that Harumafuji led with the left on the inside basically daring Kaio to go for the kote-nage. It shows great confidence from Harumafuji, and it shows that Kaio's 7-1 start was greatly over-rated. I know there are those out there secretly hoping deep down that Kaio really was doing well and had a chance to remain in the yusho race, but take it from us. If we say a guy is still in the yusho race, he's in the yusho race. If we don't mention a guy in the yusho race (like Kisenosato), he ain't got a chance in hell to yusho. Dems just the facts. At 9-0, Harumafuji is getting better and better as the basho is progressing. He'll need it too with guys like Kotooshu and the two Yokozuna coming up. Kaio falls to 7-2 and needs just one more win before he doles out the freebies to his fellow Ozeki.

Ozeki Kotooshu was a bit slow at the tachi-ai, but can you blame him after yesterday's lube job at the hands of Kakuryu? M2 Kyokutenho actually stepped out left grabbing the early left outer grip, but Tenho's charge was so lazy that Kotooshu was able to pivot quickly and secure moro-zashi. From there the Chauffeur had no chance as Kotooshu dug in and forced Kyokutenho back and out without argument. Kotooshu improves to 6-3 with the win, but don't say "what if?" Kotooshu fan after yesterday's henka loss, Kotooshu took himself outta this basho early on. Kyokutenho is 3-6.

Rounding out the Ozeki ranks, Tamanoshima may as well have been a practice dummy out there as Kotomitsuki slammed straight into him at the tachi-ai, used his right arm on the inside for insurance, and subsequently secured the left outer driving Tamanoshima back and out in about three seconds. This was complete domination as Tamanoshima wasn't even able to evade one way or the other in an attempt to counter. Chalk it up as Peter being ranked way too high for his own good. Kotomitsuki is a quiet 7-2 while Tamanoshima is 2-7.

Enough of that nonsense though. Let's get to the Yokozuna ranks where Asashoryu welcomed Ozeki Chiyotaikai. I've been pointing out that Asashoryu's tachi-ai has been too high all basho, and the result has been a tendency to retreat as he's pulled down his opponents. Asa came in high again at today's charge allowing Chiyotaikai to actually stand him upright and push him back a full step with a nice right nodowa, but Asashoryu easily dug in and secured morozashi as the charging Chiyotaikai's lower body was nowhere to be found. Now that he had the Pup by the short hairs, Asashoryu lifted him clear off his feet and began walking him back across the dohyo, but he had too much real estate to cover, so he set the Ozeki down and then gracefully forced him back that last step for the uneventful win. Asashoryu moves to 8-1 with the win, but he's gonna have his hands full with Kotomitsuki, Kotooshu, Harumafuji, and Hakuho. I'd be surprised if he comes out of that 3-1. I expect 2-2. Chiyotaikai is a dangerous 5-4, but his fellow Ozeki have his back.

The day's final matchup between Yokozuna Hakuho and Sekiwake Goeido will one day soon be the featured bout of the basho, but the anticipation this basho has been greatly lessened by Goeido's willingness to defer to his senpai Ozeki, Kaio and Chiyotaikai. Still, the Sekiwake charged hard and with his head low, but the Yokozuna brilliantly used a kachi-age tachi-ai with the right arm to not only lift Goeido's head upright, but he also set up the firm inside right position in the process and for all intents and purposes, Goeido was done as the Sekiwake must fight at the front of the belt to beat an opponent like Hakuho. The Yokozuna next used his left arm to calmly grab the left outside grip on the other side and then executed his attack. Goeido dug in valiantly forcing the Yokozuna to put his right hand at the back of Goeido's head and pull down as he threw, but the fork was stuck in the Sekiwake from the tachi-ai, and Goeido's resistance only invited a more spectacular throw in the end. This was Hakuho's best sumo of the basho. You could tell he was well aware of his opponent's style coming in and did everything to neutralize it perfectly. Hakuho was an army with banners today, and this is the kind of win that can put Hakuho in that groove as he heads down the stretch. The only rikishi that now stands in Hakuho's way is Harumafuji, and how sweet is that matchup going to be? As for Goeido, he's just fine even though he has fallen now to 4-5. It all gets easier from here (as in Homasho tomorrow), and just the way the announcers and oyakata were talking about Goeido afterwards and the disappointment in their voices that the bout wasn't closer tells you that he is their only hope...and they know it.

Goeido must be satisfied with just a kachi-koshi this basho as he has played his way out of the basho, but there's plenty of excitement left. Mario hopes for some action tomorrow...I mean atop the dohyo.  God forbid he gets any on this boat.

Day 8 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
A famous exhortation, oft quoted, is "Know thyself". Personally I dont see how you can avoid it. In my case it might better be stated as "Try not to get sick of yourself". 

I certainly dont want to go off on some epistemological rant, but the modern world has sort of redefined what it means to be a person of knowledge. Now thanks to search engines such as Google and informative porn sites like Get It While Its Haute, anyone can have at their fingertips formerly esoteric information, such as number of elephants Hannibal used to harass the ancient Italians (37) or the best color to wear during sex with a sheep (tartan).

Some of us use this power for good, like my lovely wife and the recipes she finds on the www, and some for evil (I dare you to stop Arbos daiquiri slurping mug from entering your mind right now; dudes reports are like some kind of tour through Cyberland led by C. Lutwidge Dodgson after hes taken five hits of mescaline). But we all use it. How else do you think I knew Lewis Carrolls true middle name was Lutwidge?

Point? Just because were good with a mouse doesnt make us the cats pyjamas. We still have to put two and two together and make sense. Thats where Sumotalk comes in yall.

(Editors note: Clancy has given up using the apostrophe.

Bushuyama was "working 9 to 5" trying to use a belt grip to oust Hokutoriki, whose thrusting petered out quicker than the audiences rhythmic clapping at a kindergarten mini-concert. It took a good, long, boring time for Dolly to finally say, Parton me, and lift the former (insert swallow-your-chaw unbelievably highest rank achieved here) out. The Joker, bufud by Bushu!

Tochinoshin was able to avoid Kakizoes hopped up push me/pull me sumo long enough to get a grip on the belt and run Dr. Dolittle out to his third loss. No Shine was patient and solid today, but he still barely escaped from one of the smallest, least powerful rikishi out there. He needs to take page from those huge warehouse stores in America and learn how to move that bulk.

Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. continued his reeling from his heady 6-0 start by falling to Corporal Kokkai in a windmilling affair. Every time Takami got that right arm under the foes armpit position he likes, the Georgian would pull a quick as shit reverse beltless makikae, swinging his arm around and down in front of Gomer and shazam! getting an outside grip. The final one was a belt grip and he used it to ramrod the Private painfully out. Kokkai loves snagging that cash away from Takamisakari, but he also loves life, as evidenced by him waiting to help the goofy goober up. Had he ignored the fallen crowd favorite things would have gotten ugly indeed.

As it happens they got ugly anyway when Kimurayama, who thank Darwin will not (dis)grace the Makuuchi division in July, went toe to toe with Toyohibiki, who has been enjoying an expected resurgence this basho. Left at tachi-ai went The Chimera, and left throughout the match in a series of slap-and-slides until the Nikibi was finally able to pop his pus-filled puss.

Are you like me, and think having an "honorary degree" from Harvard or Vassar or wherever is the same thing as "not having a degree" from Harvard or Vasaar or wherever?

Futenro and Shotenoh swapped places today, with Fruity looking like the amateur on the belt and Big Shot looking like the yotsu man. The Mongolian used his leg to break a center stalemate by pivoting it between Fruitys legs and swinging him around, finishing it off with a solid belt grip. Futenoh is lame in more than a few ways, but he is not a pushover when he has his inside left belt grip. The fact that Big Shot could win employing a style of sumo he is not noted for is notable in itself, and testifies to the belief of many that he will be sticking in the division for a few years at least. He also bowed a thank you to some vocal fan as he walked back down the hanamichi, which I find refreshing.

The Moon in the Man went up against the Degyptian, and it looked to be all pyramid power as Dejima had the Hutt as on the ropes as one can be, both feet dangling off with his ample ass to the crowd. Yet Iwaki pulled off possibly the greatest comeback of his long career, getting things back to the middle and a belt grip to boot. Now it was Dejima crying for his mummy while trying to resist, but futility thy color is purple (legs), and he stepped out on those yammy gams a second before Iwonkeykong took a dive off the girders.

Sexy backed out Shimotori, who has been in Juryo for the last few years and barring a kick-ass second week will be again (still it was good to see him back for a basho); Geeku ignored the Day 7 pain in his anus courtesy of Tokitenku to belly out Miyabiyama for win number six; the aforementioned Tokidoki tried another side stepping tachi-ai but was ridden hard and put away wet by the Gentle Giant Tochinonada, who was having "nada" of it; and Tamawashi washed over Yoshikaze like so much effluvia, sparking a little Zeppelin in my minds ear: "Cryin wont help you, prayin wont do you no good, I said cryin wont help you, prayin wont do you no good, cause when the levee breaks, mama you got to move".

The top half started with a bout that promised to be crackerjack, and did not renege. The boyish man with the mountainous name, Yamamotoyama, took on E4 Kisenosato, who hasnt let that loss to Geeku on day six mess with his head at all (a good sign for future Ozekihood). Determined to show those who hit and run from Ande just how its done, The Kid weathered a tachi-ai that drove him back, then got in under the pits with both hands and shoved back all 258kg of pickitey pocketey flesh, almost looking like he was going to lift him out that way. Reality set in quickly, though, as Andes flesh slowly oozed down and around Kises hands, so Kid went for double inside belt and got it. At this point U2 clicked on: "Sunrise like a nosebleed, your head hurts and you cant breathe, you've been trying to throw your arms around the world." Showing great strength he lifted up on the Behwemoth and got him back to the edge, where a couple of well placed melon shoves ended the drama. Great, defining bout for Kisenosato. 

Ever golfed with a guy who isnt that good, so he looks for any lost ball with way too much passion, just so he can excel at something out there on the course?

In a battle of guys unlikely to KK, Kyokutenho and Aran got into a tight hug and spun each other round, and the roulette ball landed on the Chauffer. 

Takekaze and Aminishiki. Uh, yeah. Okay. Baruto and Homasho. Uh, yeah. Okay. Sorry, but four guys with a total of three wins out of twenty-eight possible just dont get me excited. Plus Im still annoyed at Baruto for taking the best chance he has ever had to beat Hakuho (the Yokozuna being sub-par this basho), choosing to sit there and wait until it was too late instead of press the action. He picks up Homeboy today who weighs more than Hakuho. White men cant trump.

Close your eyes and imagine a gently curving glade. Lush, green, grass under a mellow, warm sun. A breeze lilting about, the occasional sparrow cry. Im sitting on that grass next to a basket containing five chilled bottles of Flensburger Dunkel, with three of the spiciest dark haired, brown eyed women ever evolved, each in panties only, gently massaging my head, feet, and hands as they explain they simply must have me, all three at once, after I finish the beer and the curry (did I mention the plate of rogan gosh and side of garlic naan?) and they are adamant I use no prophylactic. Got it? This fantasy, were it to come true, would cause me to be only half as happy as I was when Kakuryu henkad Kotooshu.

Most of you know the history of how Martin came to loathe Kak., so youll agree with me that the biggest shocker of the basho so far was Never Back Down Boy offering the following yesterday: "Now, I'm not saying I'll start rooting for Kakuryu just after one half a basho of solid, no-nonsense sumo, but he's definitely on the right track. Who knows, maybe in time I'll even start to like some of his bouts..." 

Oh sweet timing, how rich is thy taste! Martin only got into sumo because KotoNoShow is from Bulgaria, and Martin is from Romania, and theyre neighboring countries, and theyre both white guys, and it seemed more interesting than the Romanian national sport, which evidently involves juggling voles into a net. Point is, No Show is Martins boy. And Martin finally swallows his pride and gives Kak his propers, and then happy, happy, happy, joy, joy, joy, the very next bout Kak delivers a golden calf of a henka, an end of the rainbow henka, an and the final number of tonights Megabucks jackpot is henka. I havent seen such a huge lifeless stiff fall that silly since the Iraqis toppled their statue of Saddam! Best part is, since No Show has taken himself out of the running by this point, Kaks kaka doesnt mess with the yusho race (unlike the dump hAruMAfuji took on Genghis last basho). And they called it a tsukiotoshi, which has got to be driving our lad nuts! Sigh, if only sumo could always be so sweet. 

(As an aside, I love an interview after a guy wins by henka. He looks like hed rather be cleaning portable toilets with his tongue than explaining his "strategy".) 

hAruMAfuji did a very interesting thing today. He jumped to his right at tachi-ai, but held out his left arm to ensure Pup wouldnt fall to his teats. My guess is that he wanted desperately to keep that unblemished record and knew the only way he might lose is if Chiyotaikai got lucky with a huge first blast that could send hAruMAfuji back and out, but was loathe to just let Pup crash to the dirt for the cheapest of cheap wins. I dont recall ever seeing the like before. At any rate, the two traded blows for a few tense moments, but once hAruMAfuji had the kadoban Ozeki immured in his arms, though I heard no flights of angels singing, it was goodnight sweet prince.

Did you see Kung Fu Panda? In the final fight, Tai Lung charges and Po bounces him off his fat tummy high into the heavens. Po would have been proud of Hit or Mitsuki today as he finished off the disappointing Toyonoshima with a great, big belly wave after working him to the edge via the belt. Hit is an official in the Obama administration at 6-2; Toyonoshima is an alderman under indictment at 2-6.

I think women who coyly refuse to give their age when asked are pathetic, self-loathing losers about as cute as a bums a-hole.

I know many of you hate it when we say a bout was not legitimate, but we hate it when you question our absolute authority. So dont do it. Seriously though, go back and watch Tochiohzans right arm do squat while he is pushing Kaio to the edge, which allowed the Ozeki to sidle to his left and win by "letdown", meaning he "let" Tochiohzan fall "down". At 2-5 Oh Snap was taking one for the team here. Once Kaio and Mitsuki get their KK, Pup will beat Kaio, Mitsuki, and probably Toyonoshima for that magic eightball. Id like to be wrong about Chiyotaikai, though, so heres to hoping.

Martin was spot on when he wrote on Day Seven that Hakuho would walk out Tamanoshima via yorikiri (in a private email to Mike he also predicted the sun would rise, dogs would wag their tails, and enigmatically, "a few people in Bucharest will come down with a cold"). Peter tried to be evasive in this one, but when you give Kublai the outside left belt right from the word Oomph, you stand about as much chance of getting away as a frog at a barbecue in Lyon! 

The final bout had an air of expectation about it with the veteran Yokozuna Asashoryu taking on the Future Dai-Yokozuna, Emperor of Japan, Grand Vizier of the Imperial Fleets of Earth and Ambassador to Clingon (sorry, Clancy here, Martin said he had to use the computer for a second and so I ran to the head) Goeido. Genghis made the same "mistake" he has been making most of the basho, hitting and then letting his foes momentum carry him forward. With Goeido stooped over it was fairly easy for Asa to ring his neck with his right forearm and take him to the clay. After the win the Yokozuna, as he is wont to do, immediately assisted the Sekiwake up by yanking roughly on his chin. Even when Asa tries to help it hurts.

I am not of the opinion that Asashoryu is out of this yusho race as some others have been outrageously asserting. I think theres a real possibility of a three way on Day 15, between Mark and the twin sisters he met recently at the gym, while they watch 14-1 HaruMAfuji watch 13-1 Asashoryu take on 14-0 Hakuho. Day 15 is shaping up to be a good one, thats for sure. Best part is, youll be there with me to experience it in all its IMAX grandeur.

As for tomorrow, Mike takes us out to the woodshed for a lesson in Respect!

Day 7 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
Most of the time, the NHK sumo broadcast commentators are OK (some are even good), but the particular pair I seem to keep getting on Saturdays has GOT to be the most god-awful in TV history. Listening to those guys instantly makes me think about Palin's pwonunciation in this scene. Remember the names: Clyde Newton and Hiro Morita.

On a more positive note, this Haru seems to be a solid one for most of the top guys, as everyone ranked Ozeki or above is at least 4-2 coming in (OK, Chiyotaikai doesn't count, he should really be 1-5 by now, but I promised to keep it positive). Future Yokozuna Goeido took three consecutive Ozeki scalps to begin his quest for his own Ozekihood. Also, the number of henkas was pretty low. What more could you want?

Soon-to-be-demoted Sekiwake Baruto was 2-4 coming into today's date with the top dog of his trade and, as expected, he came out of it with one more loss. Right from the tachi-ai, the Estonian made serious efforts to, first, deny Hakuho morozashi, and second, to deny him the uwate. It was all fine and dandy while it worked, and for a brief moment Baruto even looked like he had the upper hand, but the second Hakuho's long arm allowed him to grab the right outside, it was over. Baruto knew he didn't have much time left when he gave up that uwate, so he tried to mount a desperate charge, but Hakuho threw him to the ground and made it look easy. You don't need expert training to see the Mongolian Yokozuna is easily one of the best throwers of all time. With the uwatedashinage win, Hak stays perfect and is still the heavy favorite to take the Yusho. Mike was being generous to ex-Ama giving him 33% in yesterday's report, because simple math tells you it's more in the area of 5%, firstly because he has to take down Hak himself (he doesn't have a one in three chance even for that) , secondly, well, he has to beat all the other guys left, including Asashoryu, Kotooshu and whatever they might throw at him during the second week (Kotoshogiku and Kisenosato come to mind, and Ama's record against those guys is not favoring him).

As a fun fact, Hakuho and Bart's head to head is a lopsided 9-0. I was having a conversation with Clancy about what Bart could adopt as a plausible strategy to beat the Yokozuna, and all I could come up with was "Uh…". Maybe if he practices his tsuppari and tries to keep him completely away from any kind of yotsu position, he might survive long enough and get lucky with a pull, but I think it's pretty clear he doesn't stand a chance, even chest to chest.

In the previous bout, western Yokozuna Asashoryu grabbed the left uwate right from the tachi-ai and on the other right he grabbed Kyokutenho's wrist, denying him any grip on that side. He then began spinning around, trying to get to his bigger foe's side, which he eventually succeeded, and then he deployed the inevitable dashi-nage which got him behind Tenho for the finish. All those who reported before me were right when they said Asashoryu's sumo isn't 100% (hell, it's not even 60%), but his shabby opposition so far means he's 6-1 and still in the Yusho race, at least on paper. But don't get your hopes up, Asashoryu fans, this one was out of his hands even before the basho started. Kyokutenho is an uninteresting 2-5 and headed for the peace and quiet of the mid-Maegashira ranks.

Ex-Ama seems to have exorcized all his new-Ozeki demons, as suggested by his outstanding 6-0 record so far. He also seems to be developing his sumo further, because against lighter opponents he didn't just lunge forward recklessly, instead opting to charge cautiously and fish for the immediate uwate, as seen today against Kakuryu or a few days ago against Goeido. Kakuryu tried to wriggle his way into morozashi or some other advantageous grip, but Ama got the uwate and was all over him and soon turned him around and pushed him out. It wasn't as easy as it looked, but it was a solid win, worthy of any Ozeki. For reasons explained in the Hakuho paragraph, I'll repeat myself and say Ama only has an outside chance to take the Yusho, because, despite the little various flaws in Hakuho's sumo, he hardly broke a sweat finishing those guys off, while Ama had to work his ass off not to get into trouble. I just hope both men will bring their best form to their match on day 13, and my only regret is that I won't be the one reporting on that day.

Kakuryu is off to his usual 2-5 start in these harsh parts of the banzuke, but his sumo so far, while not impressive, was GOOD for a change. No more fishy stuff, he just went all out and even gave the two Yokozuna a run for their money, and the ass-kicking of Goeido yesterday was the icing on the cake. Still, it's pretty obvious the guy doesn't have the strength to win against the sharks on a regular basis, but that can be helped, all he needs is some more time in the gym (and a new batch of prime roids). Now, I'm not saying I'll start rooting for Kakuryu just after one half a basho of solid, no-nonsense sumo, but he's definitely on the right track. Who knows, maybe in time I'll even start to like some of his bouts (don't bet the farm on it, though).

In one of the day's yawners, revived Ozeki Kaio got 0fer Homasho good with a resounding harite, setting up the ideal right uwate and wasting about 2 seconds in escorting him out of the dohyo unceremoniously. Homie in turn bowed politely and picked up his 7th loss in as many days, while Kaio is a surprising but not so surprising 6-1, after you check his opposition and their current (below awful) state. Can you already tell who's gonna win the Kaio-Chiyotaikai match? No? Then what the hell are you still doing reading this? Go watch some figure skating or something.

In one of his better days, erratic Ozeki Kotomitsuki produced a powerful, thudding tachi-ai, stopping Tochiohzan in his tracks, then he pulled a bit on Oh's noggin, taking him off balance and setting him up for the easy yori-kiri win. Oh is suffering from the usual Komusubi debut bad week, and his 2-5 record isn't as bad as it might seem, having already faced both Khans and 4 Ozeki. It can only get easier in week two, so look for him to start winning some more. Kotomitsuki should have no problem getting his own kachi-koshi, so look for him to be suspiciously overcommitted in his bout against the kadoban record holder later in week 2 and easily fall to a ‘'trademark' Chiyotaikai pulldown, Bah.

Speaking of Chiyotaikai, this basho his 'sumo' has been reminding me of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", because every time he's winning there's someone on the dohyo playing the part of the Wall. Today it was shin-Sekiwake Goeido's turn, and the young one actually made it look pretty good, but the nicely aligned feet and the wild flailing of the arms won't fool a careful observer. It just killed me when those halfwits Hiro Morita and Clyde Newton started gushing all over the 'amazing' win. Taikai worms his way to a dishonorable 5-2 and still has Kotooshu, Kaio and Kotomitsuki left to fight. I wouldn't be surprised to see him withdraw right after he wins his 8th. Overall, Goeido is continuing to show clear signs of improvement, and I'm continuing to tout him as the future Japanese Yokozuna.

Rounding up the Ozeki, Bulgarian Kotooshu was looking to break his ugly losing streak against one of his two personal nightmares, vertically challenged M3 Toyonoshima. To that end he charged with a vicious kachi-age that connected to perfection with Toyonoshima's chin, knocking him a full step back and setting him up for the easy oshidashi win. I only wish Kotooshu (5-2) were more like he was today (i.e. looking for blood), but you can't really expect that from a guy who grew up smelling flowers and baking cookies. Wimp. Toyonoshima (2-5) is a mess this basho, but that might have something to do with injury.

Speaking of bogeys, Aminishiki seems to have one of his own in M3 Tamanoshima, against whom he is 6-14. With another resounding kachi-age, Peter stood Sneaky upright and never allowed him an inch of lateral liberty to exert his sneakiness, pushing him out with little resistance. Both guys are abysmal at 2-5 and 1-6 respectively.

Under-ranked at M4, Kisenosato led with a perfect right harite that allowed him to gain an early inside position on the lighter and shorter Takekaze, who started retreating and looking for some lateral evasion. Kisenosato would not fall for any of that, though, and at the tawara he took Kaze critically off balance with a strong left nodowa. He then chased him carefully and shoved him out for his 6th win in 7 days. Kaze is still an 0fer, which is not surprising given his brutal week one schedule. The Kid should easily win in double digits with his current form, and, why not, cause a few upsets among the jo'i (I'm thinking Ama and Asashoryu mostly, but who knows, maybe he gets lucky against Hakuho). One can only hope.

It rarely happens that I mention Aran and intelligent sumo in the same question, but it's gonna happen today, because the hirsute Caucasian knew from the beginning he had to keep Iwakiyama away from any mawashi grip if he was to stand a chance. Right after the tachi-ai he fired some painful, thuggish thrusts and slaps to Moonie's already battered face, but that alone wouldn't be enough to get the battle hardened veteran off his feet. Iwakiyama managed to stop the onslaught and cause a short stalemate before taking Aran back and trying to get inside on him. Near the tawara Kong even head-butted the obstinate Russian and lunged forward for a grip, but Aran is as slippery as they come and he evaded to his left, almost working his way to Iwakiyama's back. After another stalemate, with Aran in the lower stance, the bout was decided on the Russian's quicker decisive pull, which had Iwakiyama on his ass. This was definitely not pretty sumo, but props to Aran for the way he approached the bout. Iwakiyama falls under the .500 mark, and Aran shares his 3-4 score.

After a bad 0-5 start, M5 Yoshikaze seems to be getting back on the right track, stringing his second win today, against grizzled former Yokozuna killer Tochinonada. The bout wasn't nearly as good as the last one, Yoshikaze charged harder at the tachi-ai while Nada was looking for his favorite left inside sashi. Yoshikaze, sensing he was not going to win it head on, just shifted to the side and pulled on Nada's left arm a bit, causing him to put both his hands down. The loss puts the Gentle Giant under the ½ mark, while the little Kaze still has a lot of work to do for kachi-koshi.

The dastardly Mongol Tokitenku blatantly henka'd Kotoshogiku to his second loss, and added insult to injury by kicking his leg from under him after he was already falling to change the name the kimarite to the more exotic sounding keta-guri. Prick.

In an entirely Mongol affair, Tamawashi's extra size and weight proved decisive in his win against Anything-but-Sexy. At the tachi-ai, the heavier Mawashi took Asasekiryu one step back with a well placed nodowa. After some stepping to the side, the more experienced rikishi was looking for a convenient double inside grip to the side of his foe, but Mawashi showed great reflexes by immediately reacting with an arm lock throw that sent Asasekiryu right out of the dohyo to his 5th loss. Tamawashi is a somewhat unexpected 3-4.

In another surprisingly one-sided bout, Mongol sophomore Shotenro charged viciously into the hugest Japanese wrestler ever, Yamamotoyama (hey, he's hard to miss, you know), got a solid right inside while locking the Hutt's own right and pushed him straight out. It can be explained as a combination of lack of speed and positioning from Yamamotoyama, and suicidal courage from the Mongol. Both guys are 4-3.

There are only two things certain in life, death and taxes. No, wait, there are actually three, the two above and Kimurayama sidestepping to his left in all his bouts. Futenoh read the move well today, but he didn't much else, all his attempts of forcing the bout to close quarters were met with stiff thrusts attempting to create separation. After a bit of cat-and-mouse games, Kimurayama timed a perfect evasion to his left (what else?), which took Fruity decisively off balance, making him easy push-out fodder. Kimurayama pounced with a couple of vicious nodowa, sending his compromised opponent flat on his back and below the .5 mark. It's Chimera's second victory in as many days, after a horrible 0-5 start.

If you ever want to see an exercise in futility, just watch Kokkai try to escape Miyabiyama in their bout. The Fatman was all over the Georgian from the very beginning, dealing generous amounts of tsuppari punishment to his unshaven face and neck and alternating that with slap-down attempts. It was so one-sided that at the end it looked like Kokkai dived down by himself just to stop the hurt. It's somewhat refreshing to see the Sheriff (5-2) kick ass this low. Kokkai is at an uneventful 4-3.

Another Hutt doing well won on size, as Kakizoe was quicker than Toyohibiki at the tachi-ai and managed to get both arms on the inside. Toyohibiki's own momentum, though, was enough for the big guy to twist the 40kg lighter foe to the clay in one beautiful, fluent swoop. The Hutt surfs to a fine 5-2 record, while Kakizoe cools down to the same number.

Georgian Tochinoshin lunged straight into hidari-yotsu in his bout against the Cop and drove him to the straw in no-time, but Takamisakari used a left-handed sukui-nage to work his way back and to the side of the Caucasian, and it's safe to say that in that particular position No-Shine would have been sure-fire tsuri-otoshi fodder for Asashoryu. But the Clown is more gentle than that (or maybe he just can't pull it off), so he only tripped Tochinoshin over his extended leg to stay at only one loss. Shin falls to 4-3.

Last and also least, former Ozeki Dejima lost a pushing battle with under-ranked (or so we thought) Hokutoriki, despite a meek sukui-nage at the edge. At 2-5, Dejima is being stared in the face by intai. Hokutoriki is sitting at 3-4, but not pretty.

Overall, this was a fairly interesting day for sumo, marred only by the Tokitenku henka and the Chiyotaikai yaocho. Among the stuff to look forward to tomorrow is the fight between Yokozuna Asashoryu and today's yaocho heel, and I say Goeido can certainly take the old Mongol demon. If Asashoryu makes those mistakes he made in his earlier bouts, you can be sure he'll be eating dohyo, but the question is, will he?

Kotooshu might have his hands full with my favorite Komusubi, but a 75% tachi-ai should henka-proof him and he should be ok as long as he doesn't give up morozashi. Ama will destroy Chiyotaikai, while Hakuho will routinely walk out old lady Tamanoshima for the boring yori-kiri win. Oh, I almost forgot, one particularly interesting fight to watch out for is Kisenosato vs. Yamamotoyama (normally, Kisenosato should win this in 100% of the cases, but the Hutt is so huge, you never know).

Clancy will be on duty tomorrow, so you better make sure you don't drop the soap in the shower. I'll be back on day 14, just in time to comment on another Hakuho uwatenage over a certain Bulgarian Ozeki. Adios.

Day 6 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
I'll tell you where the face of this basho changed. It happened on day four with the Harumafuji - Goeido bout. In that bout, you not only had two young guys with great potential, but you had the only two guys on the board right now outside of the Yokozuna rank who can actually yusho in the next few years. The bout was well-fought with the experience of the Ozeki winning out over the hesitance of upstart Goeido. The victory has propelled Harumafuji to a 6-0 start, and he has returned to the level we see nearly a year ago when he made his Ozeki run. Harumafuji is already your runner-up this basho, and I'd say his yusho hopes stand at 33%. As for Goeido, he managed to slip up again, but I find myself actually disappointed that he is 4-2. 4-2 as a new Sekiwake! Most guys would get a stiffie at the very thought, but the fact that Goeido is not having a great basho yet is still 4-2 means that the expectation is already there for this kid. Harumafuji and Goeido are integral parts to the future success of sumo, so to see them in the position they were in on day 4 and to see them fight so well was huge for sumo. Trust me on that one.

As we enter the chubansen, or middle block of bouts, we can already see the yusho race shaping up. Asashoryu and Goeido are out (for different reasons); Harumafuji is definitely in; and Hakuho is the favorite. On that note then, let's get right to the bouts starting in chronological order.

M16 Kimurayama henka'd today in that he actually went straight forward for once! The move musta caught M15 Bushuyama off guard because he was unable to get anything going rotating thrusts with lunges towards the inside that Kim rebuffed with ease as he danced around the ring. After about 8 seconds of action, Kimurayama thankfully snuck inside and pushed Dolly back and out to secure his first win. For a minute there during this bout, I actually caught myself pining for more coverage of that political press conference that interrupted the broadcast for awhile. Both fellers are 1-5.

By far the most intriguing matchup of the early bouts was the duelin' Georgians who both came in tied in head to head bouts at 1-1. M14 Kokkai exhibited the best tachi-ai I've seen from him in awhile knocking M13 Tochinoshin back a full step and then keeping him at bay with some nice thrusts. NoShine withstood the onslaught for a few seconds and actually forced the bout to hidari-yotsu, but Kokkai had the mo from the start, and he wasted no time bellying his countryman back and across the straw for the energized win. You always love to see two rikishi go at it with some sort of pride on the line. The great ones can fight like that everyday, and while these two are not great, they are still 4-2 at day's end.

I went to search for sumo pics yesterday for Mark's report (as if he needed any to spice that piece up...), and the first five I found were of M12 Takamisakari thanks to the Robocop's 5-0 start. The Japanese media has got to shake itself a bit here and ask itself what truly needs to be hyped. Anyway, M15 Shotenro made sure that the over-reaction to Takamisakari's fast start would last only one more day (they have to post pics of him lamenting you know) as Shotenro crushed him back from the start with a right nodowa fueled with the perfect de-ashi. Two seconds later--if that-- the Cop had been pushed out to his first loss after a ferocious thrusting attack from Shotenro who is even steven at 3-3. I commented earlier about rikishi fighting harder when some sort of pride is on the line. Add to that Takamisakari's kensho money. I've said it before, but I believe Takamisakari takes everyone's best shot more than any other non-jo'i rikishi because the lower-ranked guys see that they can score upwards of $1,500 - $2,000 (US) in kensho money. That could translate into about 15% of their monthly salary, so hell yeah they're gonna try and kick the Cop's ass. At any rate, Takamisakari falls to 5-1 with the loss, but that KK interview is still in the bag. 

In a compelling bout between two thrusters, M13 Hokutoriki dictated the pace of the bout throughout against M11 Toyohibiki, but even after chasing the Hutt around the ring for more than 10 seconds, Toyohibiki got the last laugh getting both arms somewhat inside and then quickly evading to his right as he pulled downwards causing Hokutoriki to stumble onto his face outside the tawara. At 2-4, can you believe someone actually predicted Hokutoriki to take the Kantosho? Toyohibiki is a swell 4-2.

M14 Kakizoe kept M10 Futenoh away from the belt with two hands pressing upwards into Futenoh's pits. At one point in the bout, Futenoh sorta managed the hidari yotsu position, but Sweet Zoe Jane wrapped his right arm around Futenoh's left from the outside and absolutely pinched it inward into oblivion. The oshi-dashi win from there was cake. Great stuff from Kakizoe who improves to 5-1 while Flounder is Futenoh's middle name at 3-3.

M11 Miyabiyama kept M9 Tokitenku at bay leaning into him with the left shoulder and keeping him honest with an intermittent right paw to the neck. With Tokitenku sufficiently neutralized, Miyabiyama mounted his charge just bodying the Mongolian back and across the straw for the nice win. Sheriff's still got it about half the time as he moves to 4-2. Tenku falls to 3-3.

M12 Dejima used his seldom-seen freight train charge to slam into M9 Yamamotoyama's girth, but the Hutt rebuffed him nicely with two inside thrusts as he stepped to his left. The move knocked Dejima slightly off balance, and as Yamamotoyama went in for the kill, Dejima backed up quickly and pulled Jabba to the dirt causing NHK to flash earthquake numbers for the Ryogoku area shortly after. Dejima improves to 3.3 while Yamarichteryama measures in at 4.2.

M10 Shimotori and M8 Iwakiyama hooked up in the quick hidari-yotsu stance from the tachi-ai with Shimotori enjoying the early right outer grip, but Iwakiyama has too much blubber to work around, and after a few seconds, Iwakiyama just sucked his opponent in closer and grabbed a right outer of his own. From there, it was no contest as Iwakiyama executed the decisive force-out win cruising to 3-3. Shimotori ain't so lucky at 1-5.

M8 Tamawashi lowered his head and charged straight into M5 Tochinonada driving him back towards the straw, but the Mongolian's feet were not planted firmly to the dohyo as he strode allowing the experienced Tochinonada to simply back up to his left and pull Tamawashi to the dirt largely using his own momentum against him. If Nada (3-3) had a nickel for every time he's burned a young'un like this he wouldn't need to fight so hard against Takamisakari. Tamawashi has cooled off at 2-4.

Capping off the first half of action, M4 Kisenosato's hands were too high at the tachi-ai allowing M6 Kotoshogiku to secure the lower stance as the two hooked up in the hidari-yotsu position. Kotoshogiku managed the right outer grip first while Kisenosato could only fish for it on the other side. The Kid would never get it, however, as Kotoshogiku wasted little time in mounting an all-out force-out charge that Kisenosato could not survive. Overall, Kisenosato's a better rikishi, but Kotoshogiku is a bad matchup for him. Both rikishi are 5-1 and having a whale of a basho.

M4 Aran used a weak hari-te attempt at the tachi-ai with the left hand that totally blew his momentum against M5 Yoshikaze. The Russian also shaded left after the attempted slap, but this only rendered him upright and an easy target for Yoshikaze to move in for the swift kill as Cafe picked up his first win with a nice oshi-dashi display. The only thing worse than seeing a man give suck to a baby chimpanzee (Mark, that was a man in that picture wasn't it?) is watching a Russian rikishi attempt a hari-te at the tachi-ai. Lose it fast Aran (2-4)...sorta like the way you're losing most of your bouts this basho. Yoshikaze is 1-5.

M3 Toyonoshima kept both arms in tight against M7 Asasekiryu who was lazy at the tachi-ai. The result was the early morozashi position that Toyonoshima used to easily dump Asasekiryu to the clay via sukuinage. Sure, the Secretary has got the legs, but his record sucks at 2-4. Toyonoshima shares the same mark.

Sekiwake Goeido just couldn't bring himself to commit at the tachi-ai against Komusubi Kakuryu in fear of being henka'd, so when the Kak came straight forwarded and unleashed a series of tsuppari into Goeido's neck, the Sekiwake had no choice but to evade around the perimeter of the ring. Kakuryu was too fast, however, and managed to shove Goeido off balance as he tiptoed through the tulips sending Goeido to a disappointing second loss. This was good stuff from Kakuryu, but his reputation for the henka had to have been the difference in this one. Simple physics dictates that Kakuryu does not come out of a tachi-ai against Goeido as he did today unless Goeido let up. Still, that's Goeido's problem, and it's just another mental task that he will have to take care of before he assumes the Ozeki rank. The Kak is a slippery 2-4.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai caught M3 Tamanoshima with a head butt at the tachi-ai that drew blood and stood Peter upright. The Pup never relented firing tsuppari after tsuppari into Tamanoshima's mid-section slowly backing him up and out. Didn't look to me as if Tamanoshima (1-5) really cared about digging in and countering but who knows. At 4-2, it looks as if Chiyotaikai will once again weasel his way to eight wins.

M1 Aminishiki took himself out of his bout against Ozeki Kotomitsuki with some ridiculous shenanigans at the tachi-ai that only resulted in a light charge. Ami shifted slightly to his left grabbing the outer grip, but the Ozeki shook it off like a dog after a bath securing the insurmountable right inside position. From there, Hit and Mitsuki proved all hit as he easily forced Aminishiki back and out. Aminishiki falls to just 1-5 which further illustrates how bad Asashoryu's loss to him was. Kotomitsuki improves to 4-2 with the win, which is important because he and Kaio are likely on the hook to deliver for Chiyotaikai.

And speaking of Ozeki Kaio, he shifted to his left against Sekiwake Baruto, and normally he'd do this to grab the right outer grip, but the Ozeki knows that if he gets into a straight up yotsu contest against Baruto he'll lose, so he was after only one thing...the kote-nage position. He got it and began to wrench causing Baruto to spin around to where his back was now facing the Ozeki. Kaio pushed him out from there, but Baruto is no dummy. Better to take the loss and keep your left arm intact rather than add an injured arm to his already gimpy knees. As for Kaio and his fetish with the kote-nage, a lot of people have a problem with it, but I don't. It's not illegal, so the rikishi need to deal with it. If I have a problem with anything it's Kaio's henka'ing to set it up. Nonetheless, the Ozeki is 5-1 while Bart is a dangerous 2-4.

Ozeki Harumafuji resurrected the ghost of Ama today against M2 Kyokutenho slamming into his countryman with a fierce right nodowa fueled with what else but the lower body. From there Kyokutenho was easy pickins as Harumafuji had him thrust out in about two seconds moving to 6-0. I wouldn't be surprised if Harumafuji's tachi-ai was due to the fact that he knew Kyokutenho wouldn't henka him. Regardless, the Ozeki has the momentum not to mention his eyes squarely set on the yusho. He looks the best of anyone so far. Kyokutenho will take his 2-4 mark.

Ozeki Kotooshu employed the usual Sadogatake-beya stall tactics at the tachi-ai against M1 Homasho, a rikishi who has actually beat the Ozeki a coupla times in his career. When the two finally charged, Kotooshu used a futile hari-zashi move with the right hand that was so slow even Konishiki was laughing. The result was a quick Homasho left outer grip, but the only way Homasho can beat the Ozeki is to keep him away from the belt. Kotooshu easily countered with the left outer grip on the other side, and from there it was curtains as Kotooshu methodically wrenched Homasho around to the edge before lifting him clear off is feet for the nifty tsuri-dashi win. At 4-2, Kotooshu is doing okay, but he continues to suffer these bone-headed losses that leave him with nothing but a 10-5 record to shoot for. Homasho is a disappointing 0-6. Yes, he's had the toughest schedule of anyone, but I was hoping for a slightly better showing.

In the Yokozuna ranks, Hakuho threw M2 Takekaze a curveball by stepping out left and grabbing the left outer grip at the back of the belt. It wasn't as if Takekaze had a chance anyway, but the Yokozuna calmly planted his left foot and then just bowled Takekaze over and down across the dirt for the easy one second win. Hakuho struts to 6-0 and is of course the favorite by a long shot, but he is vulnerable. How many times have we ever seen Hakuho step to the side to grab the cheap mawashi? It's little things like this tell me his concentration isn't at its peak. Course, it doesn't need to be as long as you can still hoist the cup at the end 'o the fortnight.

In the final bout of the day, Yokozuna Asashoryu used his patented hari-zashi tachi-ai slapping Komusubi Tochiohzan with the right while fishing for the inside position on the left. Asashoryu briefly flirted with morozashi, but opted to step outside and slap down at Tochiohzan's shoulder in a kata-sukashi move that sent Oh sprawling towards the edge where the Yokozuna finished him off from there. This was okay sumo from the Yokozuna, but he was yet again too upright at the tachi-ai, and that's why he opted for the shoulder pulldown move instead of demanding morozashi and defeating Tochiohzan with a force out. It's subtle, but it's right there in the open. Asashoryu is not prepared to fight this basho, and it's showing in the kimari-te he's using to pick up his wins. He cannot sustain this kind of sumo and continue to win in week two. The genki Ozeki will pick him apart. It doesn't mean that Asa (5-1) can't make the adjustment mid-basho, but he has yet to do it. Tochiohzan is an acceptable 2-4.

Martin breaks down the changes in Japan's Democratic Party tomorrow.

Day 5 Comments (Mark Arbo reporting)


Glad to see all of you back here to suck knowledge, entertainment and sadly, most likely, a little meaning off the Sumo Talk teat. I've got some double D's of insight finished off with perky crimson nipples of wisdom for you. So let's get going...

Both looking to break .500 Kokkai and Kitataiki each sniffed out an inside right. But Kokkai was too strong, pushing Kit Kat back and off the dohyo easily. For whatever reason Kit Kat held on to White Bread (perhaps his ring sense failed him and he hadn't figured out it was already over?) and the 2 of them were ejaculated all over the floor and unlucky onlookers.

Don't look now, but look who's climbin' the leader ladder. Like he does a time or two a year, Takamisakari is warding off a Juryo demotion with all the purpose and zeal of Mario warding off a hair cut (ever notice how the good Dr. looks like a flesh and blood Simpsons character ... it's uncanny) . Today he came out hard and got inside on Mr. Bush (Takami that is, not spindly Mario). Stood up straight the The Dolly made a series of "Look how much I'm struggling" type faces but failed to put up any actual resistance. I've always said that in Japan the appearance of working hard trumps the actual amount of work accomplished every time.

Both looking pretty good so far, Tochinoshin and Toyohibiki put on a great show today. First they started with a pushing contest where they each put a palm on the other guy's face and shoved till Shine couldn't take it any more and began to back-peddle while fishing for some mawashi. At the straw, grip in place, Shin spun around and the belt battle began. After a decent back and forth that saw both guys attempting a throw or two, the honkey was finally able to move Hibiki out: beating him for the first time. Hibiki lost this time around, but it was encouraging to see how his belt work has progressed. Keep up the good work there Cyclops. 

Kakizoe also kept a good thing going when he, after a good tachi-ai, took a double inside on Shimotori and wasted no time in throwing him to the brown clay. So still just one loss for Zo and one win for Shimotori.

At this point they focused in on 11 geisha in the audience. They were the young Maiko type so they were still quite comely. That reminds me of a great story, but now's not really the time or place. You can use your grubby little imaginations... It will do you good to get stimulated by something other than a new Star Trek movie ... loser.

Mt. Iwaki didn't give up even after he gave up morozashi. He was rewarded with a nice little uwatedashinage win over Tochinonada. Both these guys have a couple of wins.

The Secretary had his way with M4 Aran today. Witty is one of those rikishi who usually pulls out a convincing win that makes you think he's under ranked or a thorough working that makes you think he's in over his head. I guess if you could average those out he is probably ranked right about where he should be. 

Sharing top spot on the leader board with The Clown, Ama and Hak is M4 Kisenosato. Today he drew Yoshikaze who has been every bit as bad as Kissy has been good. Today Y-Kaze flirted with a gal named morozashi but Blinky wasn't going to let a little thing like no real hand positioning get in his way and he just powered the smaller pugilist back and out

Toyonoshima is another guy who is having a basho he would probably rather forget. Today Kotoshogiku's hump jump was in full effect and he backed The Tug Boat out post haste. The Geek is looking as strong has he has looked in a long long time.

Like he did against Asa, Aminishiki had a popping tachi-ai against Goeido today (fear of henka's helps A LOT). Unable to mount anything, Goeido went for a desperation hikiotoshi and both crashed to the ground. A mono ii was called and the replay clearly showed that Nishiki hit the ground first, but for whatever reason the (blind and/or biased) judges ruled that they should go it again.

So that's what they did - This time Goeido put a little more effort into his Tachi-ai. He did give up morozashi but instead of digging in and letting the fight come to him (suicide for this position), Goeido reacted almost instantaneously pulling Nishiki into a headlock and bulldogging him out like a rodeo cowboy. Kept his cool. A+ comeback

As if to put an exclamation mark, Goeido's comeback (and my defensive sumo wisdom) Bart also allowed himself to give up morozashi where he did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. KotoM worked him out at his chubby pleasure. Hey round eye, where is the logic in not swinging for the fences in that situation!?!? 

Kaio won today. Or at least Kyokutenho lost. I have no idea how Tenho can find ways to lose to to Kaio over and over again...but he does.  I have already said everything I have to say about Kaio, so if you want any further insight please look up some of my (excellent) older reports.

Takekaze is looking every bit as bad as his stable mate. Today HaruAma came out with some tsuppari and then took a front belt grip and a low stance that he used to easily back T-Kaze out. The Oguruma wet-dream is quickly turning into a sticky, cold, damp spot.

Looking to ring Shoe's wedding bells, Tochiohzan also grabbed him some morozashi (I have never seen a day of sumo with this many inside grips) Ohzan pushed the Ozeki back and then beautifully switched gears pulling him down to the clay. Hey Cracker! You suck!

In an ugly ugly ugly fight Chiyotaikai came at Homasho with tsuppari that was as limp as ____________ (please insert your own joke about your least fave SumoTalk writer ... unless your least fave writer is me. If that's the case, just go ahead and put Martin's name in there). Homie stood his ground, so Chiyo (of course) went for a pull down. That didn't work so Taikai went back to the Soft Jazz Hands. Then Homie when for a pull of his own that resulted in Chiyo attempting an almost successful kotenage (I can't believe I just typed that sentence). From there they briefly separated and again crashed into each other in kind of a second tachi-ai. Backing up and out Taikai spun Homie to the ground. A mono-ii was called but it was apparent that Chiyo had in fact won with another kotenage. 

I couldn't help but notice that Chiyotaikai's sharp and terminal downward turn started almost the day the NSK said they would be starting steroid testing. I don't have any inside dirt or anything like that, it's just an observation. Chiyo is an aggressive, self proclaimed bad-boy who flat out refused his first drug test. Since the rule change I can count Chiyo's decisive wins on my penis. He's slower. He's dropping weight fast. And he's stinking up the place. Good riddance to bad Ozeki.

Mike was right to call out Yokozuna Asashoryu. There is no shame in falling a step behind (it's already happened to Mike himself, as well as Kenji and Clancy) but not giving a rats ass about it is less than what we had expected from this (usually) proud champion. Mike's little talk seems to have sunk in because today Asa quickly took (Let's all say it together) MOROZASHI and backed the helpless and hapless M3 out onto the deck.

Last it was Hak's turn to do his thing. Kakuryu ain't gunna be no Yokozuna but give this guy some respect. He really isn't bad and is still steadily improving. Today Kak came in hard, low and controlled from the tachi-ai. Being the first to claim belt grips, Kak backed Hakuho up. But the Yokozuna kept his cool and used all his size, speed and strength to spin his smaller sempai around and down to the dohyo with a beltless arm throw. Hak was in a little less trouble here than you think, but at the same time he is making the smallest mistakes. Mistakes that guys like Ama and Goeido are very deft at capitalizing on. So while Hakuho is still in the drivers seat, he can't plan the after party just yet. 

And that is very good for us fans. Asa's brain fart robbed us of a bit of early drama, but Hak ain't infallible (this time around) so this is still a long way from over. Sit back and enjoy what may well be a hairy second week.

Ok, let me give you some homework so you can get the Hell out of here.
-Frank Sinatra. You need to listen to a lot more of him. What's that? No, you don't already like him. Knowing a couple songs and realizing that you should get more into him is not what I'm talking about you half-wit poser.
-Tomorrow doesn't look all that promising but tune in anyway: those days often turn out to be the best. At the least there is Kisenosato/Kotoshogiku to look forward to.
-Stop playing video games. You are a grown up now. Step away from the toy guitar. Have you no pride, man? There are places to experience, mysteries to solve, and trusting girls waiting to be exploited and you play with toys!? Sad.
-Read Mike's report.

Day 4 Comments (Kenji Heilman reporting)
Generally speaking, those who are supposed to be winning are winning thus far. Add in a shin-Sekiwake on a tear, and Natsu Basho is shaping up to be a pretty good one. Only one upset took place in the top tier today, so this trend continues at least through day 4.

Kaio (3-1) defeated Tamanoshima (1-3) via Hikkake, a rarely seen technique. Although this particular technique is rare, it is not surprising that Kaio employed it given it involves applying awkward pressure to the opponent's elbow. Kaio is more commonly seen tweaking someone's elbow via the Kotenage. In the Hikkake, the momentum is the same (step to the side with a throwing motion) but this one involves grabbing the wrist with one hand and pushing the elbow out away from the body with the other. Ouch, I know. Kaio has always been good with elbow tactics. 

The bout of the day was Harumafuji vs. Goeido. Haru is back to his old self, showcasing an aggressive tachi-ai with a good upward angle and continuously applying pressure. This has gotten him off a strong 3-0 start, as has shin-Sekiwake Goeido who came into today defeating three straight Ozeki. The streak that continued was Harumafuji's, as his Uwate-nage brought Goeido back down to earth. Haru stays perfect at 4-0 while Goeido falls to 3-1. 

Kotooshu (3-1) attacked Aminishiki (1-3) with a vengeance, starting with a skull crushing head butt at the tachi-ai followed by close contact that didn't allow Ami space to work from the side and get cute. The resulting Oshi-dashi got Oshu back on the winning track with Ami after having been beaten in their last two meetings. 

In the only "upset" of the day, Kakuryu (1-3) defeated 13-time Kadoban Ozeki Chiyotaikai (2-2). Chiyo started ablaze as usual with his rapid fire tsuppari, but one slight misfire allowed Kakuryu to get underneath and close any space gap. Which of course meant game over quickly for the predictable Ozeki. This was just what the doctor ordered for Kakuryu, who had not been able to showcase his strengths in the previous 3 days. 

Kotomitsuki (2-2) defeated Homasho (0-4) via Yori-kiri in an uneventful bout. Mitsuki looks hot and cold, almost like he's still getting his bearings this basho. Homasho has looked respectable in losing until today, where he turned in a lackluster effort for the first time. 

Yokozuna Hakuho (4-4), strong as ever, had the upper hand throughout in defeating Kyokutenho (2-2). In a matter of fact way, he quickly garnered the hidari-yotsu and unleashed an Uwate-nage to make quick work of the veteran Tenho. 

Asashoryu (3-1) came back sufficiently from an embarrassing defeat yesterday, defeating the struggling Takekaze (0-4). Sho set the tone by doling out a hari-te and throwing the opposite elbow at the tachiai, which led to an easy Oshi-dashi. The fire is there, but the technique is not this basho. His tachi-ai stance is way too high, which has gotten him in trouble twice already. This needs to be rectified quickly because he won't be able to manage wins with high tachi-ai's in the second half of the basho.

Mark sobers up tomorrow.

Day 3 Comments (Mike Wesemann reporting)
Greetings from the SS Blowhard, which is exactly what this basho is beginning to do. I was concerned in my pre-basho report because we hadn't received enough keiko reports, and it looks now as if the reason is that the rikishi weren't providing anything noteworthy to report on. Start with the Yokozuna and work your way down the banzuke; most of the rikishi do not look prepared for this tournament. I've also noticed a seemingly greater number of empty seats at the Kokugikan, which is rare for the Tokyo basho. Due to Japan's Golden Week holiday that ended this year on May 6th, and due to the lack of coverage prior to the basho, sumo does not seem to be high on anyone's radar. That can all change in a hurry, though, if a Japanese rikishi can rise up in week two. And there is a viable candidate there now. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's start with the action in chronological order.

There's not a better way to blow your momentum than to go for a quick pull down against a Juryo guy, but that's exactly what M15 Shotenro did shortly after the tachi-ai, and Masatsukasa--a guy with Makuuchi experience--escorted his opponent back and out faster than security at the Playboy Mansion throwing out a dude dressed like Mr. Spock. Shotenro is a deserved 1-2 after today's act.

You know things are going bad when you actually have to henka during your normal tachi-ai henka...if that makes sense. What I mean by that is M16 Kimurayama actually moved to his right today against M14 Kokkai, but Kim has lost total confidence in himself allowing the Georgian to easily read the move and time about five thrusts into Kimurayama's mid-section pushing him out of the dohyo without argument. Kokkai moves to 2-1 with the win while the normally fast-starting Kimurayama is 0-3. Ouch.

After a flukish 0-2 start, M13 Hokutoriki took complete charge in his bout against M13 Tochinoshin today using a quick jump at the tachi-ai and a moro-te (both hands to the throat) to drive NoShine back to the straw. Tochinoshin dug in momentarily attempting to stave off the Jokester's choke holds, but Hokutoriki (1-2) simply reversed momentum by slapping Tochinoshin forward into the center of the ring. Tochinoshin was caught napping today as he falls to 2-1.

M14 Kakizoe looked to move a bit to his left at the tachi-ai against M12 Takamisakari, but his "charge" was so delayed that the RoboCop was already on top of him. Zoe panicked and went for a kamikaze jump into Takamisakari's midsection, but the composed Sakari absorbed the blow with ease and simply backed up slapping Kakizoe down to the dirt. Takamisakari at 3-0 is a good thing for sumo even if it's for the wrong reasons. Sweet Zoe Jane suffers his first loss at 2-1.

M11 Toyohibiki's pilgrimage ended in disappointment as he mysteriously forgot he's a tsuppari guy against M15 Bushuyama opting to press both hands against Dolly's torso from the tachi-ai. Course, if I was going up against a sweet rack like that, I'd prolly try and feel it up too. The problem was that while Toyohibiki was getting his jollies, Bushuyama easily managed a left arm on the inside, shifted to the side, and easily slapped the Hutt down to the dirt and to his first loss. Conversely, the Dolly Yama picks up his first win.

M12 Dejima kept both arms in tight at the tachi-ai fishing for morozashi against M10 Shimotori. He didn't get it straight way, but he was driving with the lower body knocking Shimotori upright to the point he could shift gears on a dime swiping Shimotori off balance. When Shimotori recovered, Dejima was on top of him like stink to Yamamotoyama's crevices as he easily forced Shimotori back and out with the morozashi stance. Both fellows are 1-2.

And speaking of M9 Yamamotoyama, he managed to latch a grubby right paw on the front of Miyabiyama's belt at the tachi-ai that he never relinquished. Not wanting to get into a belt contest, Miyabiyama tried to spin his opponent round and round in an attempt to create an opening, but Yamamotoyama stayed in front of his opponent sufficiently until he was able to muscle him back across the straw with his beefy arm. Jabbamotojabba is 2-1 now if you need him. The Sheriff falls to 1-2.

M8 Iwakiyama came out today against M10 Futenoh with a decent tsuppari attack from the tachi-ai that actually had Futenoh driven back straightway, but when you use a technique you're not used to, the trouble is finishing your opponent off. Iwakiyama panicked at the edge allowing Futenoh to lunge into the morozashi position and push Iwakiyama clear across to the other side of the dohyo. In the process, Iwakiyama managed a maki-kae with the left arm, but twas too late. Futenoh had the momentum as he forced Iwakiyama near the rope, staved off a few valiant kote-nage counter throws from the Kong, and then buried his pointy teats into Iwakiyama's mid-section poking him back and out for our first yori-kiri win of the day. Futenoh and his stilettos are 1-2. Iwakiyama shares the same mark.

M6 Chiyohakuho was brought back to reality a bit after a reckless charge where Chuck went in high against M9 Tokitenku and attempted no tsuppari. The result was the easy morozashi position for Tokitenku who danced his opponent back and out for the uneventful force-out win. Both rikishi are 2-1.

M8 Tamawashi blasted into M6 Kotoshogiku at the tachi-ai raising him upright and knocking him off balance. Fueled by the lower body, The Mawashi used a coupla more shoves to drive the Geeku back and out without argument. Was Kotoshogiku resting on his laurels after an easy 2-0 start? Likely. Boys, we had ourselves an ass-kicking today as Tamawashi moves to 2-1. The Geeku shares the same record.

In a reckless affair brought about mainly by M5 Yoshikaze's refusal to attempt sound sumo, he and M7 Asasekiryu engaged in what looked like a girl fight where both opponents slap haphazardly until they both get a fist full of each others hair forcing a stalemate leaving no other option than to call each other "bitch" in the middle of the ring. Asasekiryu realized first the dilemma that both opponents had their long hair tied up, so he calmly attempted a two-handed shove into Yoshikaze's chest that sent him back across the straw with ease. Sexy picks up his first win as Yoshikaze's run of overachieving is winding down at 0-3.

In the most compelling matchup of the day so far, M4 Kisenosato led with a wicked nodowa while M4 Aran dilly dallied with a weak henka to his left. The Kid read the move easily and charged straight into the Russian driving him to the side of the ring and back in less than three seconds. Great stuff from Kisenosato who puts Aran's quick start into a bit more perspective. Don't get me wrong...I want to see Aran do well, and I enjoy watching him fight in the division, but you gotta love a rikishi with experience kicking his ass after Aran exhibited such a lame tachi-ai. The Kid is strutting at 3-0 while Aran falls to 2-1.

M3 Toyonoshima looked for morozashi from the tachi-ai, but M5 Tochinonada kept his left arm in too tight ultimately denying the grip. The two flirted for several seconds in the center of the ring as Toyonoshima tried to get that inside grip on the right while Tochinonada refused his advances. After five seconds or so of this nonsense, Toyonoshima relented leaving the two in the hidari-yotsu position where Tochinonada pounced first driving Toyonoshima back. The smaller rikishi dug in well and forced the "action" back to the center of the ring, but he never did look comfortable throughout, so no surprise that Tochinonada was able to push him over by the side for the eventual win. Nada picks up his first win of the basho while Toyonoshima's win column still says nada. Speaking of Toyonoshima, dude's gotta shake off the rust. I wonder if he's hampered by injury.

Sekiwake Baruto, who has looked a bit injured to me so far, just sucked Komusubi Kakuryu into his mass gaining a solid right outer grip from the tachi-ai. The Kak actually had both arms on the inside, but Baruto pinched inward with the left arm disallowing Kakuryu the true moro-zashi stance. Wouldn't have mattered anyway as Baruto forced Kakuryu to the side and used his left arm to push him across the tawara like a rag doll. Bart needed that one as he limps to 1-2 while the Kak is 0-3 causing Martin to spill his own...never mind...too easy.

In the Ozeki ranks, Harumafuji went for M3 Tamanoshima's neck although he didn't seem completely committed to the tachi-ai. No matter as the move raised Peter upright to the extent that the Ozeki was able to pounce to the inside gaining morozashi which he used to escort Tamanoshima back and out in a flash. Harumafuji is not only 3-0, but he's quietly amassed the record with decent sumo, not the fluke wins we're used to seeing early on. Tamanoshima falls to 1-2.

Ozeki Kotooshu did well to remain a bit passive at the tachi-ai and watch M2 Takekaze closely as he charged to counter any trickery. Takekaze bounced off of the Ozeki once and then moved to his side trying to catch the Bulgarian off balance, but Kotooshu pivoted perfectly, kept his body square with Takekaze's throughout, and timed a perfect oshi charge that sent Takekaze back and across with ease. Kotooshu moves to 2-1 with the win, and the jury is still out on his mindset. Takekaze is useless at 0-3.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai came out slapping furiously from the tachi-ai, but his shoves were so weak I think even I could have stood in there. Komusubi Tochiohzan patiently waited for the Pup to get frustrated and go for the pull down, and the moment Chiyotaikai raised his arms to the level of his eyes, the phantom Tochiohzan pounced and forced the Ozeki back to his first loss. It's great to see Tochiohzan get his first win in this manner while it's great to see Chiyotaikai saddled with a loss. I guess Oh doesn't need the cash as he stands now at 1-2 while the Pup's condition is exposed a bit at 2-1. As for Chiyotaikai's performance so far this basho, Kyokutenho--the rikishi who never met a crisp ichi-man bill he never liked--just stood there and let Chiyotaikai do him right and proper, and Takekaze literally rolled over. I hinted at this in my pre-basho report, and my shipmates (this basho) have backed me up the first two days, but Chiyotaikai cannot win eight legitimate sumo bouts at this level anymore. Everybody knows it (including the Japanese public), so it's best to just move on and not give the tabloids further ammunition.

Ozeki Kotomitsuki managed morozashi from the tachi-ai against M2 Kyokutenho, but Mitsuki was too upright so as he drove Tenho back, Kyokutenho had more than enough room to pivot to his side at the edge and pull Kotomitsuki down. The referee actually pointed the gunbai in Kotomitsuki's favor, but this one wasn't even close, so thankfully the men in black called a mono-ii and righted the circumstances. Nice win for Kyokutenho (2-1) as Kotomitsuki (1-2) was far too reckless in this one. I'm not sure what the referee was looking at during today's bout, but I sure as hell know it wasn't the action in the ring.

After two very unorthodox wins to kick off the basho, Sekiwake Goeido settled down today against Ozeki Kaio and for a lack of a better expression kicked his ass. Goeido caught the Ozeki on the chin with a head butt as he simultaneously worked his right arm on the inside, and when Kaio pivoted to the side in an attempt to escape, Goeido was on the move and easily forced his senpai back and out for the solid win. The Pale Horse is acomin' as Goeido moves to 3-0 while Kaio regroups at 2-1.

In the Yokozuna ranks, we have seen a pattern so far this basho with Asashoryu where he is settling for the pull down win. It's come fairly easy the first two days, and he was obviously looking for the cheapy again today against M1 Aminishiki because Asashoryu led with a moro-te charge before immediately bringing both hands up to the top of Sneaky's dome. Problem was, Aminishiki was charging straight into the Yokozuna, and he easily kept his balance bodying the compromised Yokozuna back and out for the easy yori-kiri win not to mention a kin-boshi in the process. When I say "easy" and "kinboshi" in the same sentence, the Yokozuna at fault should be ashamed. What the hell, Asashoryu?

I'll tell you what. The Yokozuna is unprepared. I talked about it in my pre-basho report how I was disappointed with the lack of effort shown by both Yokozuna in the keiko ring, and we're definitely seeing the manifestation of that with Asashoryu (and Hakuho...just wait until the next bout). I cannot remember an Asashoryu loss that was as embarrassing as this. I suppose I will always defend Asashoryu from obvious bias and character attacks, but it is impossible to defend his sumo. The Yokozuna obviously thinks that taking the yusho in January gives him license to suck for a few more basho because he's been sub par since the end of the Hatsu basho. I guess we do need the critics to ride his ass because nothing else is firing him up. With the loss, count Asashoryu out of the yusho race already at 2-1. You think about it...after that bout against Kakuryu, Asa should be 1-2. Anyway, Aminishiki (1-2) should enjoy the kin-bosh because I doubt they'd award him a Shukunsho if he reaches eight wins.

In the day's final bout, youda thunk Yokozuna Hakuho would have learned a lesson after watching Asashoryu because against Homasho, he went for an immediate pulldown from the tachi-ai. The move was lackluster to say the least, and it was wide open for Homasho, but Homie musta wet his pants in excitement because he was half a second late in his recovery and counter charge allowing Hakuho to keep his wits about him, move to the side, and slap Homasho down before he could square up with the compromised Yokozuna. Hakuho knew he had gotten away with one today, and it's too bad Homasho couldn't deliver, especially with Terao sitting in the booth for NHK. I won't go on quite the same rant against Hakuho as I did against Asa, but Hakuho's sumo was nearly as bad. Why would the current crop of Yokozuna think they need to resort to early pulldowns to win their bouts? The answer is something I've always preached from this deck before: when you resort to the early pulldown you do so to compensate for something else, such as a lack of confidence. Both Yokozuna are compensating for their laziness prior to the basho, and it's unacceptable.

On that light note...Kenji's up tomorrow if I can convince him to let go of his deep sea rod for awhile.

Day 2 Comments (Dr. Mario Kadastik reporting)
Well I bet ya didn't expect me to be reporting here on day 2? Did ya? Anyway, the master is out meditating the beginning of the basho, and he got into such a deep trance that we collectively decided we'll give him one more day to either come out of it or start to stink (though it might be difficult to make out amongst all the fish rotting around here). My bet's on deep trance still as I'm seeing some eye movement and he's still got a pulse (albeit a beat per minute's quite a trance). Alright, mumbling aside let's see what the second day of the basho brings. 

The day kicks off with Shotenro meeting Kimurayama. Shotenro is a feisty Mongolian with pretty good technique and Kimurayama is simply lost in this division. The two collided fair enough, but Kimurayama was so bad, that even the slim pulldown attempt he tried he missed by a mile. Shotenro didn't waste time and just escorted Kimu out to his second loss. Shotenro is 1-1 now and we'll see how he goes. 

Next up is Bush, who's just come up from Juryo again to get a taste of the top division dogs. However I doubt he'll remain here and the torikumi makers seem to agree pairing him up with Mokonami from Juryo. Mokonami came out with some heavy nodowa, which raised Bush straight up. Bush managed to struggle out of the choke hold, but the damage was already done. Mokonami got right hand out, left in and used it to escort Bush out and down. Mokonami is 2-0 and might very well be replacing Bush next basho who's 0-2. 

Ah, Kokkai vs. warm shit (Kakizoe in Estonian). Kokkai this low should be ripping his opposition apart, something he clearly did yesterday against Bush. However today Kokkai had his shitty sumo mawashi on. The two started well enough with some serious slapping going on, but when Kokkai went for a pulldown he fully committed to it and as Kakizoe isn't that easy to pull down Kokkai paid the price. He did manage to move around almost all of the dohyo and did get Kak down as he himself fell, but the gumbai was pointed to Zoe and no ref raised their hands. The freeze frame later on showed that it could have been Kokkai's as it wasn't clear that he had stepped out yet when Zoe's hand fell. But it was shitty sumo so he deserved it. 

The king of recoveries meets the nodowa guy. Who do you think I'd root for here? Well the bout itself was over almost the moment it started. Namely the nodowa man Hokutoriki just missed with his nodowa. And having both his hands up and nowhere near Takamisakari made it an easy kill for the cop. Robocop is undefeated at 2-0 while Hokutoriki continues his slide at 0-2. Let's see if he slides all the way to J. 

One of the white guys Tochinoshin has been way too unstable the last few basho to give a reasonable estimate on what he'll do. This low he should be rocking, but we've seen him in a similar state just recently where he did not rock. Dejima on the other hand is always a gamble as he's way too old already and has mostly the one trick of doing the freight train. As the two tried to get in sync we had our first matta today, not quite as bad as Kakizoe yesterday, but Tochinoshin did come out blazing so you knew he'll come out strong. At the re-start Dejima came out with his average train attempt, but was met by a wall called Tochinoshin. The two locked up until Shin got his left hand outside grip that he so likes. A moment to compose himself, adjust the balance and then Shin did a train run himself sending Dejima back and out. Well Shin's been good the last two days (nice recovery yesterday), so maybe this basho he will rock the low Makuuchi. Dejima needs to get easier opponents or he'll be losing the Makuuchi rank soon. 

Futenoh vs. Miyabiyama. The history is very lopsided for this matchup as they've usually met while Futenoh was higher in Makuuchi after a usual stellar low M basho (he's usually a bumpy fruity getting DD in low M-s to suck then in high M). However this time they meet in low Maegashira and to be honest Miyabiyama yesterday looked awful. Could it be that the flobby monster is totally out of gas? Is it the end of his career? Well the two charged and Miyabiyama came out with his full tsuppari arsenal, but you could see that he's old. There was no lower body backing these blows, which was also visible from the fact that even though it went on for a full minute Miyabiyama essentially didn't move Futenoh back with his shoves, only stood him upright. At some point he did tire and Futenoh managed to lock up with Miya only to get another minute of struggling from both guys. In the end it seemed that Fruity ran out of gas a moment earlier than flobby and allowed himself to be thrown to the clay. It was an ugly match, neither guy really dominated and I'd have to say I'm seriously disappointed in Miyabiyama, I expected the sheriff to be a lot more powerful and have no trouble winning the first week, but the first two days have shown something totally different. 

And we have Toyohibiki back from his retina surgery and the consecutive bad bashos after that. And man is he back. The initial matta already showed that he's coming out blazing and even though Shimotori knew it now he was still absorbed and just thrown back within seconds. That was some impressive stuff from Hibiki. I'll predict double digits for the "next Japanese Yokozuna" as some like to call him. Shimotori's bad and I'd say he'll struggle to KK. 

Next up is moonface Iwakiyama, who's a nice old veteran who's still got plenty of experience and stamina to kick a lot of guy's arses. But today he faced Tokitenku, who ain't a pushover or a newcomer at all. Tokitenku wanted to try a nifty henka, but failed. Iwaki turned around, but Tenku already had a very good grip on the Kong. As both are good at the belt it promised to be good (though Iwaki was compromised from the initial sneakyness). The belt battle did ensue with initially Iwakiyama pushing Tokitenku back, who then responded with getting it back to the center of the ring and going for a legtrip. Iwakiyama is too veteran to fall for that itself, but it compromised his balance enough to allow Tokitenku to struggle him back and out. The initial charge did do some damage, but Iwaki recovered enough that in the end it didn't really matter as the belt fight was an honest one. 

The fleshmountain met The Mawashi, who surprisingly went straight up with the mountain. This is usually a very very bad idea if you are 100kg lighter than the double mountain. However what's more surprising is that he was able to move YMY back and finally shake his grip enough to get him over the tawara. YMY did try a few tsuri attempts, but his grip wasn't good enough for it today. Impressive stuff from Tamawashi as both guys move to 1-1. 

Kotoshogiku was good yesterday and Asasekiryu was bad, so my expectation was that Giku will take this one. I wasn't to be disappointed. The two locked up from the get-go, but it was Giku who got the better grip. The two struggled for a short while, but once the belly humping engines of Giku were started it was curtains for sexy. Kotoshogiku is doing what he's supposed to do at this level, namely rip through his opponents. Asasekiryu however has been more off than on lately no matter how high or low he is. 

Yesterday Yohak was impressive, he came out like the might of God himself had gotten into him. So today Yoshikaze's only hope was to have his decaf swapped for double espresso in the morning. At the tachi-ai it seemed like the coffemakers had heard about kaze's need, but it soon came out that God's more powerful than even double espresso as kaze was slapped around the dohyo to his final demise. Chiyohakuho moves to 2-0 while Yoshikaze's the exact opposite. They'll both bounce still... 

While the gyoji were on a tea break the rest of the civilized world had to watch the sucker called prime minister of Japan talk about something horribly important as they didn't show the last two bouts I just described on NHK and continued well into the second half of the action as well. He'd better be reporting about the end of the world, a new nuclear disaster or something other of similar magnitude or I don't see why they had to cut the sumo feed off... 

Anyway, getting back to sumo we find ourselves with Kisenosato, the bright Japanese kid who's not allowed to go for de-geiko facing oldy Tochinonada. Kisenosato has been unlucky in falling as far as he did from the Sekiwake spot, but it should give him plenty of easy action throughout the first week and probably also part of the second as he'll only meet the Sadogatake guys unless he's shooting too high in the scores. The charge saw both guys locking up and even though Tochinonada seemed to gain morozashi from the start it did him little good as Kisenosato just pulled his arms tight against his body not allowing nada any use of his grip. Slowly, but steadily he then mandhandled Nada back and out. 

The next matchup seemed promising. Aran was good yesterday and he did fight straight up and won. Toyonoshima managed to stay alive in the bout with Kisenosato way longer than anyone would have expected and he did show he's in ok form (it's ok to lose to Kisenosato for him). However today's bout was an ugly one. When Toyo charged he turned his side to Aran, which the latter quickly used to turn Toyo around. He pirouetted and managed to get his face again to Aran and managed to continue the fight, but throughout the slapping, pulling and pushing that followed it was Aran who dictated the pace of the bout. It took him a few moments, but he did prevail in the end sending Toyo out. This was ugly stuff from Toyo, he essentially gave away the win at the get-go when he charged in such an awkward way. 

Baruto was horrible yesterday. He shouldn't have lost against Tama as he did, but I'd put that to his usual bad start on day 1 (which we had already forgotten considering how he won against Miyaflobby last basho on day 1). Today he faced Kyokutenho, with whom he's had both good and bad experiences. Tenho started with a henka to his left, grabbing Bart's mawashi from the left, but Bart managed to get his right hand inside to counter it. This didn't help too much though as he was way too upright and Tenho had a way better position in general. The two struggled in the middle of the dohyo for a better grip until Tenho managed to give a thrust towards Baruto that felled the giant as Baruto's legs weren't aligned well. Bad stuff here as Tenho won the bout from the henka he pulled, Baruto was just too compromised afterwards to mount an effective attack. Will he be able to stave off make-koshi after such a horrible start? I don't know, but he better get his head in order as he's still got the main players coming... 

The only Ozeki to lose yesterday met Tamanoshima who felled the other European long guy. Kotooshu slammed into Tamanoshima hard and was met in kind. He then shifted hands around to get some kind of grip, giving up his left arm to Tamanoshima, who tried to use the grip to throw Kotooshu, but didn't manage and was instead escorted out by Kotooshu. Good attempt from Tamanoshima, but Kotooshu had way too good a balance today to lose to that throw attempt. 

The kadoban Ozeki had another guy who he should win named Takekaze. He did come out blazing totally disrupting Kaze's attack and forcing him to try a low stance attack, which the Ozeki immediately pushed to the clay. Good win for Chiyotaikai, I'd think that he'll be getting majority of wins from week one and will get plenty of back scratching from week two to get his KK. Oh well. Takekaze is having the regular week one meat grinder. 

Goeido was good yesterday to quickly shift his gears and pull off the upset against Kotooshu. To that end he was fed today the other Sadogatake Ozeki Kotomitsuki. Kotomitsuki came hard at the tachi-ai and early as he usually is. The coming was so hard, that Goeido was immediately moved backwards and he never changed direction during the bout. Even though he was moving backwards, Goeido was able to evade faster than Kotomitsuki was able to attack and the whole dance ended with Kotomitsuki losing his footing in a push attempt where he missed Goeido. Not a pretty win, but a good recovery from Goeido. This was a bout lost by Mitsu as he committed too much into the pushes until it failed him. Goeido is 2-0 after meeting two Ozeki, not bad at all. 

Kakuryu had a possible taste of an upset yesterday, but he screwed up his chance. Today he met the old bear Kaio, with whom they had a 2-2 previous record. After the faceoff Kakuryu was so nervous that he jumped the start straight into Kaio's hug as a matta. The second attempt went straight for Kaio as he came out fast, locked his arms around Kakuryu's and escorted him out. To be honest I think Kakuryu was way too afraid for his hand as it was locked up and I think rightly so. Kaio would have used the kaionage if Kakuryu would have struggled. A win for Kaio, nothing too unexpected, but it's a tick bad that he wins also purely on the fear from his opponents to lose their arms. That's not quite right. 

Harry aka Harumafuji was all guns yesterday and Tochiohzan was lackluster against Hakuho. Who'd you bet to win this one on? Well you would have gotten that bet. The two locked at the get-go with Harry charging hard. Tochiohzan had one moment for hope, when near the tawara he suddenly slipped to his left and pulled on Harry. Ama went forward and almost fell on his knee, but he showed surprising balance in that recovery. From there on it was Harry with a good grip and the better balance that decided the bout even though it took another 20s of struggling. Tochiohzan had his chance, he should have continued the attack when Ama was close to the ground and gripless. He'll learn. Harry's looking good after two days with 2-0, which is so far his best Ozeki start ever. 

Well all that's left now are the two bouts featuring the Yokozunas. Will we see an upset today? The first match with Hak and Amin didn't get one. Aminishiki never got a grip during the fighting and even though Hakuho faired no better, he wasn't bothered as he kept Amin away from himself and slowly moved him back towards the tawara and out. It seems Aminishiki only wins against Hakuho when he henkas, and not even every time then. 

Asashoryu faced Homasho a third time this time around. Considering that Asashoryu is a very good offender and Homasho is mostly reactionary, taking the initial charge and then working his way into the bout, then I didn't really see a way Homasho could win this bout unless Asashoryu again tried to show off like he did yesterday against Kakuryu with that Tsuriotoshi attempt that failed. As the match started Asa immediately charged and pushed, then as soon as Homasho was a tick upright he went for a pull attempt, that failing he immediately countered with pushes, then again a pull, again pushes and again a pull. The third time he tried it worked as Homasho was just overwhelmed by the fluctuations in the bout. Being fully reactionary just doesn't give you the advantage that you need against a guy like Asashoryu. 

So that's all with regard to the sumo bouts. Let's all pray that Mike's in a trance that lasts only one additional day and that he'll be up and about tomorrow to make some good commenting on the bouts and not that he's just dead with us all waiting. Anyway, you'll know that tomorrow. Oh ... and you don't want to see Martin in a white jumpsuit, worrying about swine flu ... just don't, take my word for it ...

Day 1 Comments (Clancy Kelly reporting)
Salutations to you, hoary crowd of sumo psychopaths. I want to announce here and now I have officially stopped using apostrophes in my writing (, so please dont fret. Im still with it. And if you see one, it was prolly slipped in by my grammar checker, who is Nipponese and I cant figure out how to customize him. 

Seeing as this is the summer basho I was looking forward to our customary two-week occupancy of the entire top floor of the Imperial Hotel Tokyo, but it wasn’t meant to be. As I stepped off the shinkansen I was whisked away by three masked men of indeterminate ethnicity (though one smelled vaguely of muschi poiana) and led to a large van whose door slid silently open and into which I was bundled. 

"Hey buddy!" I looked up and saw a man who, despite his cotton surgical mask, had to be Mixmaster Mikenstein, at the wheel and waiting for the Go signal from his henchman, who it turned out were none other than Mark, Martin, and Mario. Before I could comment on this freaky turn of events, Mike hit the gas and we shot off into traffic. 

"Take these, and do like me, boys!" I turned to see Kenji, ten days growth on his face (but clean shaven) holding out long, flexiplastic swabs. We all took one and watched in fascination as Kenji proceeded to shove one so far up his left nostril that when he opened his mouth wide, we could see the tip poking out in front of his uvula. 

"What the fu..." I began, but froze as Mike slapped a button and a two-foot high man appeared in the middle of the van, dressed in a suit and looking very serious. His voice boomed out: "It began in Mexico, when a chicken shit on a pig, and..." 

The masks, the van, the swabs, the holograph, had I stumbled into a PKD novella? No, it just turns out that despite his pre-basho report sarcasm, Mike is cancer serious about this swine flu thing, and after we were tested in the van, we were taken aboard a yacht, the Bluehost Blowhole, given new, sterilized white jumpsuits to don, and sailed out to international waters, where it was announced we will remain for the entire fortnight, eating fish, lamb, and pork from sea pigs raised in man-made lagoons in Okinawa and watching all the bouts on satellite feed. Great, seasickness AND Hokutoriki bouts. Just our luck.

Kokkai, facing demotion to Juryo, steamrolled Bushuyama flat. Well, not flat, we could never use that term to describe the Dolly Yama, but let’s just say dude will need to regrope, I mean regroup tomorrow.

The next white man in danger of losing his Makuuchi paycheck, Tochinoshin, took on a guy I am starting to dig big time, Shotenro. The Mongolian came right at the Georgian and had him retreating fast, but No Shine twisted at the edge and Big Shots forward mo' did him in. Beginner mistake. Velocity is a vector quantity, dude.

I consider myself adept at the verbal arts, but I have no words (at least words that Mike will let me use) to describe how much I despise that gumby looking, bald, whiny bag of cowgas which calls itself Hanaregoma oyakata. As fate would have it my favorite wrestler, Sweet Zoe Jane, was taking on my least favorite wrestler since Roho went up in smoke, the aforementioned Hokutoriki, and Zoe decided to matta the living shit out of the Jokester, who takes more time to get into his crouch than most women take to orgasm. Five matta, possibly a modern day record. Hage-no-drama oyakata was apoplectic. Then to teach the Jokester a lesson, Kakizoe henkad beautifully to his left. You might hear me say this once a jidai, but I loved everything about this bout, including the henka.

Dejima had his charge stalled by Takamisakari, and nine times out of ten that spells doom for the Degyptian. With his left hand outside and that famous Mr. Bean balance, the E12 made sure there would be no statistically unlikely outcome today.

The only guy I like watching less than Kaio these days is Miyabiyama. Not that theyre the two worst, just that they have fallen so far from their former lofty heights (The Pup has fallen, too, but I enjoy watching him get his ass kicked). Like the Ozeki, he used to employ his enormous bulk to put a licking on people theyd not soon forget. But also like the Ozeki, his time is long past, and these days he runs from young guys like Toyohibiki. The Nikibi, using a style similar to Flobby in his heyday, came with an unrelenting tsuppari that had the former Ozeki on the run and looking more desperate than Mario when someone playfully hides his protractor. 

After an even tachi-ai, Shimotori backed away and pulled down expertly on Fruitys right arm, getting him off balance for the pushout win.

The inconsistent Tokitenku took on Yamamotoyama and the Mongolian went straight into the valley, but bounced off with little to show for it. Tokidoki shifted here and there, but Ande managed to keep his balance while dishing out haphazard backhands and forehands like he was warding off demons. Toki even tried a flailing (and nasty, considering that Ande is heavily taped on that leg) kick to the W9s right leg. Finally he played Miss Daisy and was driven out by the lil feller.

Like his countryman Shotenro, Tamawashi also had his foe going back and out, and was also in too much of a hurry, leaving his head bobbing which Iwonkeykong took advantage of by slapping the W8 to the side and down.

Chiyohakuho used some excellent wiping maneuvers at tachi-ai to get in on Asasekiryu and then to the belt, taking Asas kohai back and out in a not-so-sexy manner. Chuck really ground this one out.

Yoshikaze came out firing, but it seems he lacked the confidence to take Kotoshogiku all the way back and out because he quickly abandoned what looked to be effective pushing to back up and pull and hope for the Geeku to fall to his teats. Geeku did not fall, and Café did not win. 

Aran got Tochinonada high (no, not another cannabis scandal) after both men grabbed inside lefts, and when Tochis grip slipped, Aran executed a sweet end around, backing up and racing to Tochis right to grab the outside belt and push him out from behind. Nothing but straight up sumo from a young guy we all want to see do well while maintaining his sumo dignity.

Theres been lots of talk about Kisenosato not going out to visit other beya and how his stablemaster supposedly didn’t allow him to go out for de-geiko, but when you think about it, it makes sense. The Kid is young, always has been, and as we have seen has a fiery and somewhat petulant attitude. Naruto oyakata is a seasoned guy, 59th Yokozuna, and he knows full well the temptations that await a rikishi who is constantly venturing out to other heya. Theres pot, getting your ass kicked, and driving without a license, to name a scant few. Furthermore he had a fine, strong rikishi in his own heya to learn from, The Barometer, so that may have played into it. Fact is his tendency to not go out was probably an attempt to shield him. As he ages, Im sure well see him out more often. Hell, maybe well even bump into him at Disneyland! 

Today he got a pitbull right hand grip on the outside of Toyonoshimas belt and never let it go, first to avoid being flipped down and out at the edge, and then to keep up with Toyo who was racing across the ring, and amazingly not even when he got the Tokitsukaze beya man turned around and ready for what might have deceptively seemed like an easy push out from behind. Props to The Kid for having the smarts to not assume Toyo would be easy picking once he got turned around, because the former Sekiwake has an incredible ability to spin and win. He held fast to the belt and only when he had his foe backed to the edge and just about out did he let go and push with two hands to the chest and face. Kisenosato also used excellent wide-stance legwork, and if he can combine that with the belt and avoid being shaken off, he could win eleven. Not ten, eleven.

Your guess is as good as mine (well, no it isnt really but I say it so we feel good about each other) as to why Baruto lets Tamanoshima of all people get low and inside left, outside right belt and demolish him. Day one and he cant get it up for Peter? Does it have something to do with the tape on his leg? Vomit inducing weakness from the Estonian today. Mario has more to answer for than just those particles he keeps smashing all over the place.

Those who think Kyokutenho fought straight up today raise their hands! Okay, now sit down, you naïve sumbitches. The Chauffer should have been wearing one of those clay colored mawashi they wear in training sessions, because that’s what this bout was. He stood up, offered a wall to push against for the beleaguered Ozeki Chiyotaikai, then made a bogus, for-show grab at the mawashi (remember, Chauffer is one of the best mawashi men around, and has two of the longest arms in sumo) before being rammed out by a diabetic, hollow cheeked, thirty-three year old flu recovering Ozeki coming off horrible pre-basho keiko and who in Osaka set the all-time record for futility at the rank. This could be either a one off from an old friend, or the indication that the Pupster still has enough favors to call in for eight wins.

Following that sham of an Ozeki bout we got Mitsuki pulling down Takekaze almost from the word go. Sure, you take what is given but what about Ozeki pride? Giving the fans some love? Being a man? Course, some people like pulling down sumo. And some people like eating their own scabs.

Kaio saw Mitsuki win like a Brownie trooper so figured what the hell, why dont I do the same. Pulldown win in less than one second. Aminishiki has enough bad karma built up to lose this way for seven straight basho, but be that as it may, it bites hard cheese to have to watch it on Day One.

At least we were assured coming into the hAruMAfuji bout that we wouldnt see any pulldown attempts, because the sun will rise and set for many moons before Homasho gets beaten that way. hAruMAfuji shot out like a crossbow at tachi-ai, which he can do because everyone knows Homasho doesn’t henka. The Ozeki kept hitting hard at the chest and throat, but Homeboy resisted with that left leg forward, right leg back stance he is known for. After five seconds of this the Mongolian was able to grab a single arm, which he wrenched and twisted to swing Homasho around and out. It was either lose the bout or lose the use of that arm. An armbar used for a moment to segue to another move is one thing, but used for several seconds as the winning tactic is just dangerous, and so we list another bout under "Ozeki Sumo Id Rather Not See".

So it was up to the Great One, the White European Superman, UberOzeki and Mightiest of the Mighty (sorry, Clancy here, Martin said he had to use the computer for a second and so I ran to the head). Kotooshu was up next vs. Father Goeido Sarducci, who hit hard and low while circling to the left, and it was all the big Bulgar could do to keep up with the shin-Sekiwake as they torqued about the ring for less than two seconds before the Ozeki hit the dirt. Nothing dirty here in case you read on subsequent days that it was. Goeido did move his feet to the left, but he was clasped tightly with Kotooshu the entire time. The Ozeki over commits, something Hakuho would never do, but maybe that’s because the Yokozuna doesnt need to.

Asa led off with a resounding harite slap to Kakuryu, but this is one Kak who doesnt mind being slapped (come to think of it, does ANY kak mind being slapped?) He came in close to the Yokozuna and after a bit of tussle Genghis got the outside right belt, inside left belt. Instant death, you say? Well, we all thought so, and when Asa lifted his Kak and dangled it in the air, I cringed. I could see the climax was going to be pornographically horrific, like Miyabiyama getting slammed down in the bad old days. 

Now Asa likes to finish this move off by dumping the guy, and not by diving on top of him, and in this case the strategy backfired as Kak came down not only on his feet but in perfect position to ram forward. This caught Asa going backward and the Yokozuna had to spin around so he was facing out of the ring. It seemed to me that Kakuryu paused here and waited, and it makes me wonder what kind of senpai/kohai dynamic is at work with these two. Im not saying the fix was in by any means, but surely Asa gets the same kind of respect from most of the Mongolians that Kaio and Chiyotaikai get from the younger Japanese rikishi. Asa used the window of opportunity to lift his leg up between the Kaks legs and win by kotenage. Go ahead and look at it again, when Kak has Asa at the edge turned around, he leans forward, his legs stop chugging, and he just waits. Spicious!

In the final bout, Pete Sampras, I mean Hakuho, resisted a decent initial charge by Tochiohzan, then shook himself into a two-handed belt grip that spelled one thing for the shin-Komusubi. Can you guess what that one thing was? Yorikiri win. Dull as he is, Hakuho is a winner! 

Mario will be here tomorrow to correct any bad reads I may have made. See you on nakabi.












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