(Clancy Kelly reporting)
anything like me (and trust me, youre not, but as a rhetorical flourish, just go
with it), youre very disappointed about two things: First, that no temporary
amnesia drug exists to make sex with your partner occasionally more exciting
(lets call it "Forgetiton"), and second, Kisenosato is the Sergio Garcia of
sumo. I mean, look at this guy. Sunday he shows up for a bout that, if won, will
put him squarely in the Yokozuna promotion chat during Nagoya, with a visage so
red faced and flushed youd think a donkey with a urinary tract infection had
just peed in his eyes. He then proceeds to choke on a hunk of cheese (dick
cheese, in this case) rammed into his gob by a man who hasnt beaten him in a
year. Dude ought to pay someone with a PhD in the Heimlich Maneuver to follow
him everywhere he goes, just to be on the safe side.
Yes, I know, I am not the one with the full weight of a nations hopes and dreams
resting on his shoulders (tho I did once have the full weight of a womans lovely
naked breasts riding on my shoulders at the unofficial Best River Bank Barbecue
and Chicken Fights Picnic Ever, and unlike Kisenosato bore the burden well), so
just ease up on the lad, willya? Youre all such enablers!
So, after six days of having everyone somnambulate into his lame assed tachi-ai
and chuckle as their heads were handed to them (Harumafujis grinning Day 13 mug
still keeping me awake at night), the Ozeki was flustered a bit as Hakuho
whipped out the silliest and most gratuitous henka in recent memory on Day 14,
all with the purpose of giving Kisenosato a chance he would mosdef not have had
had Hakuho clashed with him proper. We all know how it went down as Kisenosato
was unable to take advantage of at least two clear delay tactics by Hakuho, who
finally decided to throw them both down hoping he might hit the clay before
Kisenosato, only to see that Kisenosato bent his knee like a big fat pussy and
Knowing he blew what he may well one day end up viewing as "My One Chance," he
came blinking into Day 15 about as focused as a subterranean mole rat on three
hours rest. He hit his fellow Ozeki with the explosiveness of a soap bubble,
getting not simply owned but chained, flogged and shipped off to the New World
to be separated from his mama. How does a man with so much at stake, a man who
had this tourney taken out everyone from W2 on up save the guy who will go down
as the greatest Yokozuna ever, give up moro-zashi easier than a catholic school
girl her first tit? Doesnt anyone tell him to keep his elbows in tightly when
wrestling guys like Kotoshogiku, who sniff out two-handed inside grips like Mike
sniffs out bear claws?
To say he had no plan is to ennoble it. He looked as lost as, well, Harumafuji
on Day 13. If it were Geeku needing the win to try and force a playoff, Id think
Kunta Kintenosato threw the match. But evidently the green light at Sadogatake
was AWN and the Naruto Ozeki was exposed for the bundle of nerves that he is. I
will give him one thing, though. He did not henka when it might not have been
all that difficult to do, assuming as he could have that Geeku would come in
legs and arms firing on full throttle.
Anything is possible in this wacky sport, but I dont see how they could start
any talk of a possible promotion to Yokozuna after this bout. Yokozunas simply
do NOT get beaten like red-headed stepchildren on their way to the rank from
Ozeki. Once there they can do as they please, like, again, HowDo on Day 13.
Speaking of doing as he pleases, with the yusho in the bag, Hakuho had but one
thing to think about, and that was whoopin his Mongol buddy Harumafujis ass.
Toward that end, he let the Yokozuna come firing in, absorbing the blast and
easily keeping up with Harumafujis immediate spin to the left. With the #2 man
in sumo firmly against the ropes, Hakuho showed classic form, dropping his hips
low enough to take most luau limbo titles and bringing both feet forward in tiny
but forceful increments to deny the slippery HowDo any hope whatsoever of
Yet another 15-0 for the king of swing, fling, and yorikiri-ing. We will never
know what he had in store for us had Kisenosato done what he ought have and
taken down Geeku. He might have allowed Harumafuji a better shot, and then had
he lost that match ruined Kisenosato in a playoff, or not. Point is, when it
comes to the Yokozuna, I dont think anyone tells them what to do. The oyakata
are free to make their opinions known, and a good Yokozuna will keep the big
picture in mind, but when its all said and done, they do as they see fit. We all
know Hakuho saw fit the past few years to dial it back to create a semblance of
the pack catching up, but these past two basho have shown us that when he REALLY
wants it, he takes it. Personally I think he is probably disgusted with the way
the JPese rikishi are unable to rise up and take things when they (their Mongol
overlords) are clearly being amenable. He gave Kisenosato the opening on Day 14
like all Kises foes had since Day 8, and he could not sign on the line that is
As for the other match of
"importance," Kotooshu put both hands down and then
pulled them back, but Kakuryu had already exploded out of his tachi-ai and hit
the kadoban Bulgarian. The gyoji actually stopped it, which I thought was shit.
At any rate, I thought now Kakuryu would be pissed and perhaps not feel sorry
for his fellow Ozeki. On the refire, tho, we discovered that the Ozeki Back
Scratching Club is alive and well. Kakuryu left his left arm out to dangle into
a weak armbar by Kootoshu, and did not even attempt to turn his hand into the
direction of the belt. His answer to escaping the armbar was to spin around,
resulting in Kotooshu getting behind him and riding him out in the good ol
manlove position. Utter crap sumo by Kakuryu, and one has to wonder...no, one
does not, cause there is no way this was straight up rasslin. Fine, someone or
someones want Kotooshu around as Ozeki a while longer. I can live with it. Hes a
horror show to watch, but I can live with it.
Well, not up to covering the rest of the bouts this time, drained as I am by all
the "drama." Im sure Mike will put the basho, and especially the final three
days, through the Large Hadron Collider that is his sumo brain and well get to
see all the funny heavy particles that are born. Till July, this is your
intrepid reporter PC Kelly wishing you, as always, would stay the hell off his
Day 14 Comments (Matt Walsh reporting)
Hakuho Wins! Does the Japanese Hope Have Any?
The bout we had been waiting for since Day 9, when the field was pared
down to two undefeated rikishi, finally arrived! Hakuho against
Kisenosato on Day 14. The winner would have the inside track on
the Emperor's Cup, the loser looking at an uphill battle and needing
help. SumoTalkers surely would not be surprised by the Japanese Hope
picking up Win number 14 here, especially with the way that his last
group of opponents have just walked into the Kid's loving arms at the
tachi-ai. In some minds, perhaps the question was only how it would go
In an interesting indicator of just how this might go down, Hakuho made
Kisenosato wait in the pre-tachi-ai squat a few extra seconds. The Kid
didn't like it, so he stood back up to reset. In retrospect, I see that
this was Hakuho marking his territory, letting the Kid know that he is
the man. A different outcome would have meant a different
interpretation. And unlike the past few opponents that Kise has faced,
Hakuho actually moved after hitting at the tachi-ai, bouncing to his
left. Kise must be reading Mike's reports, though, because he kept his
arms in tight and actually got moro-zashi! Unfortunately for him, he had
no grip and his right was pinned pretty well by the Yokozuna. So the Kid
pulled out his right arm and secured a strong outside grip with it. At
this stage, the two men were in tight, so they locked into hidari-yotsu,
all the while moving and fighting for position. Hak had only a single
fold of the mawashi with his outside grip; the Kid had no inside grip at
Kise quickly made the first offensive move, driving Hakuho back. The Kid
is obviously very strong to be able to attempt that from a more-or-less
neutral position. Hakuho threatened some throws to counter, and pretty
soon he had the Ozeki halfway off his feet as he used his power to swing
the bigger man back and forth. Watching it in real time, it looked very
close, like anything could happen and Hakuho could have been forced
out. But after a few replays of watching their feet, it's clear that
Hakuho gained near total control and wrenched the Ozeki off
balance. Having done that, there was no toying with this dangerous
opponent. Hak planted his right foot, threw with his left inside grip,
and followed through by using all his weight and falling on Kise. If
there was any doubt about Hakuho's arm hitting first, it was erased when
replays showed the Kid's knee hitting the clay prior to the fall.
And there you have it -- the final match lived up to the billing. Both
men were constantly moving and shifting their feet and body position
while also establishing arm position and mawashi grips. Both men showed
serious power. In the end, the threat of Kise's ability forced Hak to
make a somewhat risky and just-short-of-spectacular finish, rather than
a safe, dominating maneuver of the sort we see from him about 13-14
times each basho. This is the sumo we want to see at the top level, and
it's the kind of sumo that very few opponents can force Hakuho into. If
Kisenosato can become a regular threat, maybe we can hope to see it come
out more often.
Finally, this does leave us with the question of putting a native boy
back into the rafters. I'm not sure that it happens this time. One way
it could still happen is if Hakuho wanted to prevent Kise from going
15-0 and beating him once, even if he loses in the playoff. But it's a
risky strategy. Earlier in the week, I sensed some nerves coming from
the Ozeki. While I expect him to beat Kotoshogiku, I wouldn't guarantee
it right now coming down after a big loss and/or possibly feeling
nervous. If Hakuho had wanted to let Kise win it without losing on Day
14, he should have dropped another match or two along the way. I think
he takes the cup, ties Asashoryu, and makes us all wonder who's pulling
what strings over there after all.
Sanyaku: Kotooshu Can't Keep His Feet
Turning to the other news of the day, we'll start with
Kotooshu, who lost his last, best chance for a legitimate
kachi-koshi today against little tough guy Shohozan. If you're
not familiar with the koshikudake kimari-te, it means "inadvertent
collapse", which pretty well sums up the Bulgarian's run this
basho. From the tachi-ai, the two men got into a pushing match. Surely,
Oshu wanted to find an opening to get inside and a belt grip, but his
hands kept slipping off of Shohozan's hairy elbows. Perhaps getting a
bit desperate, like Clancy trying to convince some guy that's just a
very pale Japanese guy to get into a soapland,
the Ozeki reached over the E5's back for an outside left. And while,
Clancy, he actually succeeded, Shohozan shifted to his left in
a bit of dancing that Kotooshu was unprepared for. When he mixed up the
steps to this routine, his legs crossed and he tumbled with nary a push
or pull against him. Shohozan will gladly take the kachi-koshi, while
Oshu will surely get a little Ozeki-club help from Kakuryu tomorrow if
he can manage to not trip himself up.
Speaking of Kakuryu, Mike's favorite Ozeki took on the West
Yokozuna today in the musubi-no-ichiban. And what a letdown it
was following today's climactic showdown for the top spot. Kak appeared
to get the better of the tachi-ai, but he immediately slipped on the
dohyo. Haramafuji quickly took advantage with a slapdown attack,
spun to his left, got a left outer belt grip to go with the back of
Kak's head and converted for the easy win. It's too bad -- this should
be one of the better top-end matchups for a while and a good gauge of
Kakuryu's progress or lack thereof. But a simple slip is death against
HowDo -- hopefully next basho will go better.
Well, as I had been saying, Kotoshogiku is good for 10 wins when
he's healthy and on his game. Not much more -- 12 wins would require him
to score at least one clear upset win over a Yokozuna, a healthy Baruto,
or Myogiryu, and run the table on the rest -- but he's not destined to
creep over the line for 8 every basho either. He got his double digits
today against Toyonoshima, who drops to 7-7. Tugboat tried to get
inside at the tachi-ai, of course, but Geeku locked down on the W4's
inside left and managed to get inside position with his own left
arm. The Ozeki used active footwork to get inside and power
his aite back, thrusting up with that inside left arm to set up
the oshidashi finish. Tugboat is up against Takekaze for his KK
What is M10 Chiyotairyu doing up here? Kicking
Goeido's ass to get to double digit wins, apparently. Yes,
it was initially called for Goeido, and Chiyotairyu's
charge was reckless. But the youngster completely dominated the
tachi-ai. Right now, Goeido would win this match after a tachi-ai like
that half the time by evading, pulling a throw at the edge, or slapping
down (and not stepping out at the edge like he did today), but if this
Chiyo keeps moving forward in his sumo, he will grow to dominate guys
like Goeido in time.
Takarafuji was totally overwhelmed for the first week, as happens
to a lot of rikishi their first time at a rank like M3 and their first
taste of Ozeki and Yokozuna-caliber opponents. With a win today over
three-win Komusubi Okinoumi, though, he's won five of six to
prevent a total freefall. We'll look forward to a bit more confidence
from him the next time he gets up here, while Oki-Doki needs no further
comment after we've ragged on him all basho long. What? The match? You
want me to comment on the sumo? Well, it was a long yotsu battle (nearly
a full minute), and not particularly memorable and we won't learn
anything from watching it again carefully. So, let's just pretend we
talked about it, m'kay?
In a battle of two guys who are headed in opposite directions on the
banzuke (but will they pass each other?) Tochiozan took
on Takayasu. Oh Snap doesn't belong quite this high up at
Komusubi -- a look at his schedule so far and I have him as the favorite
against exactly one guy (Kitataiki) and only about five matches in which
he's up against roughly even competition, including today's
bout. Takayasu, meanwhile, is looking at a nice promotion, with nearly
everyone from Sekiwake through M4 dropping like flies.
So ... with this kind of setup, you'd expect Takayasu to have won today,
right? Not so fast, mon ami ... er ... ore no tomodachi.
When these guys lined up, Takayasu looked a bit too Yoshikaze-y (one
triple espresso too many), and I felt like he might lose to a slap down
by going in too fast. And indeed, as our two combatants started off
their pushing-thrusting battle, Takayasu showed more aggression with Oh
Snap was holding his own. Instead of a slap down, though, the
green-belted Takayasu's left arm seemed to slip off his opponent's
chest, creating an opening that the Komusubi quickly took advantage
of. A few thrusts combined with Takayasu's slipping feet at the edge
meant an oshi-taoshi win for Tochiohzan and a more respectable 6-8 record
with Okinoumi up tomorrow for a possible 7-8. Takayasu, who will not
surpass today's opponent on the Nagoya banzuke, has his KK already and
faces 7-7 Toyohibiki tomorrow.
Other Bouts of Note: Myogiryu Shows His PowerWe all know that Myogiryu is good and that he should be able to
beat Gagamaru, even when the big white beachball is on his game
like he is this go around. I'd expect him to lay a nice hit at the
tachi-ai and then shift to one side, looking for an opening to exploit
the poor balance of the Georgian. Let me be clear -- Lordy Gaga does
great considering that his body is shaped like this (with only two legs
instead of four):
-- but it's obvious that the path to victory is to make him dance. What
I didn't expect was for Yogi Bear to just plow straight into the bigger
man (56 kg bigger!) and drive him back like a truck. Damn! And it's not
like Gagamaru is all size and no strength -- when one of his thrusts
connects, it's pretty sure to drive anybody back a decent amount. That
didn't seem to matter today, though. Nice win for the E1, and both men
at 10-4 and sniffing at prizes.
Tokitenku also made it into double digits with a nicely planned
slap down win over Masunoyama, who remains one win from a
kachi-koshi. The vet's plan was to use his long arms to keep the
smaller-limbed Masu from getting effective thrusts in. This would make
he of little lungs and round body work, always a good tactic against
Masunoyama, while waiting for an opening. In this case, everything
happened fast, but the tactic still paid off. Masunoyama got spun around
by one early thrust and move by Toki-doki and came back into the fray
off balance. That was all the, um, can somebody give me another word for
veteran here? Anyway, Tokitenku won.
Kitataiki picked up his third win by being granted a match with
Mr. Natsu Cannon Fodder, Daikiho (now 2-12). The youngster has
risen fast, so expect him to be back and a lot closer to ready next time
Kyokutenho earned his KK against 5-9 Aoiyama. Classic good
stuff from the veteran (seriously, the thesaurus is very much not helpful
here. "old hand"? no -- that sounds like what happens when you go to a
"special" massage parlor and the only gal on duty is reapplying her
Polydent). He worked for the inside left after the tachi-ai, used
inside position to body the doughy Bulgarian up and off balance, and
then shifted gears while pulling with his righthand outer grip.
Takekaze scored his KK against Ikioi, who already has his
at 8-6. Typical, but well-executed, stuff from the windy one. Quick hit
at the tachi-ai, then pull down immediately.
And we round out the KK picker-uppers with Kaisei, who gets his
first winning basho in many moons with today's victory over
Azumaryu. The Brazilian has been exposed as slow, however, so I'm
not sure how this is a sign of much of anything. The weak competition
down here will allow him to survive in Maegashira, but I find it hard to
imagine him beating the wily veterans who know his weaknesses and rising
back up near the upper ranks. As for the Mongolian rookie, he didn't
spend enough time in Juryo to be ready and has not shown anything so
impressive in the days that I've bothered to watch him, but has gotten
six wins anyway. We can expect to see more of him.
And that's it folks! Day 15 and we still have a yusho race. Tomorrow,
we get to see if Clancy has to never mention funny bizness in a sumo
report again! (see the comments section to understand...)
(Mike Wesemann reporting)
at times there tends to be a misconception about Sumotalk that we are in the
business of making predictions. Now, every tournament in my pre-basho report, I
do make predictions on how I think every rikishi will finish record-wise, and I
do try and predict the yusho and Sansho rikishi, usually with very little
success, but I'm quite confident that you don't visit Sumotalk just to read my
predictions prior to the tournament. Furthermore, one of the reasons that I
rarely get my pre-basho predictions correct is because I always make my picks
assuming that the sumo will be fought straight up, and I also can't forecast
injuries, and so sometimes I'll get burned there as is the current case in my
prediction that Baruto would win the Ginosho.
That type of prognostication is all fun and good, but Sumotalk is not about
predicting things or conjuring up conspiracy theories; we are all about
clarifying to the readers exactly what happens atop the dohyo, and if we happen
to state that something was not straight up in a particular bout, many people
will infer such analysis as a prediction that the rikishi receiving the benefit
will take the yusho, be promoted, or whatever. I need to stress that that is
never the case--at least in my comments. I am simply stating what happened and
then speculating as to why I think it happened based on basho trends and media
With that in mind, let's get to the Day 12 action focusing on the leaders, who
were conveniently paired together in the day's final bout. First up was the
eagerly anticipated Ozeki Kisenosato - Yokozuna Harumafuji matchup...eagerly
anticipated because we wanted to see if Harumafuji would lose on purpose, not
whether or not Kisenosato could beat the Yokozuna straight up (he couldn't). The
Yokozuna welcomed the Ozeki with both arms extended to the outside ready to give
the charging Ozeki a big hug, and embrace him he did allowing Kisenosato to get
both arms deep to the inside, which is also known as moro-zashi. From here,
there was no direction for Harumafuji to go but back and Kisenosato complied
driving HowDo back and out in a few seconds with no resistance to speak of 'cept
for a weak pull attempt that was just for show. I mean, look at the pic at right
that depicts the moment the Ozeki won: the Yokozuna is completely hands-off,
laughing, and obviously searching for any sign of that maid sweeping the dohyo
as depicted in Kane's day 10 report.
There is just nothing to break down in this bout. Harumafuji allowed Kisenosato
to win, and he didn't even bother to put up a fight because you don't want the
Kid accidentally screwing it up on his own. The result is that Kisenosato moves
to 12-0, maintains at least a share of the lead depending on Hakuho's bout, and
fires up the domestic fans heading into the weekend. The Sumo Association knows
they have a barnburner on their hands now, and frankly, I can't wait to see how
it plays out because who doesn't love a good script?
Okay, maybe I shouldn't say script because I do not believe at anytime during
the previous two or three weeks that a council of elders was held where they
determined "let's let Kisenosato yusho." As I've stated previously, I believe
that bouts such as these occur because the stable masters can read the situation
at hand and give their rikishi the proper guidance. It is my strong opinion that
Aran's stable master spoke to the Russian prior to day 11 saying something to
the effect of, "hey, don't try and win today," and I believe that
Isegahama-oyakata gave his prodigy similar instructions the morning of day 12.
Now, I could very well be wrong in that speculation, but if I am, it was
Harumafuji reading the situation today and knowing what would be best for the
sport as a whole. Hakuho knows damn well how to manipulate the outcome of basho,
and whether or not that comes as advice from his stable master or whether or not
he determines it himself, the point is that rikishi strategically lose on
purpose to assist a greater cause. That's exactly what happened in this bout
today, and it doesn't mean that Kisenosato is necessarily going to yusho. It
only means that Harumafuji showed up today with zero intention of winning, and
his sumo was proof of that.
Before we move to the next bout featuring the other two leaders, let me just
comment on the headlines from two major newspapers in Japan, the Yomiuri Shimbun
and the Mainichi Shimbun. Yomiuri's headline was "NHK to restore sumo magazine
cancelled after the yaocho scandal." Previously, NHK would produce a bi-monthly
magazine in conjunction with the hon-basho that contained interviews, rikishi
profiles, key points of the basho, etc. Well, that magazine will now be
redistributed starting with the July issue (available June 19th) under the
title, "NHK G-Media Sumo Journal."
The other headline from Mainichi reads, "Kotoshogiku is the key to the yusho
race." The article itself talked nothing of the yusho race; rather, it focused
on how Kotoshogiku is in fine form and looking to win in double-digits this
basho. Then, the last line of the article states, "It appears as if Kotoshogiku
will become a key player in the yusho race." They actually use "key man" in
katakana, but I presume the headline was derived because the Geeku has yet to
face either Hakuho or Kisenosato, so don't be shocked if he's able to pull off
So why did these two headlines jump out at me from among the others? Well, if
they were going to reinstate that magazine, I could think of no better way to
reprint it with the leading story about a Japanese candidate for Yokozuna. And
remember, Kisenosato doesn't even have to yusho in order to be up for promotion
because the rule stipulates two consecutive yusho or two consecutive basho with
records worthy of the yusho. Regardless of what Kisenosato does here on out, his
performance already will surely be touted as worthy of the yusho, and he will at
least reach 13 wins as he has yet to fight the key man in Kotoshogiku.
And I'm not saying this is why those two headlines were published directly after
day 12. I'm just commenting that I found it extremely curious for the Yomiuri
Shimbun to hype the new magazine now instead of waiting until after the basho,
and if any of the Japanese fans read the Mainichi headline and article, well
then it wouldn't be surprising if Kotoshogiku were able to upset Hakuho because
the Geeku is fighting well. I must emphasize that I'm not predicting a day 13
win for Kotoshogiku over Hakuho, I'm just saying that I found the headline
curious, and if the upset were to take place, the fans have been sufficiently
Regardless of all that, with Kisenosato safely ushered to the 12 win plateau, it
was now a question of could Ozeki Kakuryu take down Yokozuna Hakuho. Uhh...no.
In the straight up tachi-ai, Hakuho secured the right inside and left outer grip
to boot, and Kakuryu knew there was no way to win from this position, so he went
for a maki-kae with the
arm. Before he could finish the move, Hakuho attempted a hurried belt throw with
the right that sent Kakuryu to the edge but not down, and after a second of
separation, Hakuho dove back in getting the right arm inside that set up the
powerful yori-kiri in the end. The way Hakuho makes it look so smooth as he
literally bodies his opponents off the dohyo is a thing of beauty to watch, and
today was no exception as the Yokozuna keeps pace with Kisenosato at 12-0. The
Kak falls to 10-2 and is out of it for all intents and purposes because I don't
see him trying to beat Kisenosato on senshuraku. While we're on the subject, I
think the most likely scenario this basho is for both Kotoshogiku and Kakuryu to
defer to Kisenosato meaning it all comes down to Hakuho. It always comes down to
In other bouts of interest, Ozeki Kotooshu got the easy right arm to the inside
of M4 Aoiyama and just kept his feet moving forward driving Aoiyama back and off
the dohyo. For good measure and as he is wont to do, Kotooshu overdid it and
ended up tackling Aoiyama into about the third row. Kotooshu moves to 7-5 and
only needs to pick up one the last three days to stave off demotion while
Aoiyama is on the brink at 5-7.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku faced M3 Aran meaning there'd be no defense on the part of the
Russian to penetrate through as exhibited in today's bout where the Geeku
secured moro-zashi from the tachi-ai and drove Aran back and across with little
argument. This was really an uncontested matchup and waste of time as
Kotoshogiku, the Keyman, improves to 9-3 while Aran suffers make-koshi at 4-8.
I'm not quite sure what the hell Sekiwake Goeido and M5 Shohozan were doing from
the tachi-ai, but I did detect a sloppy kote-nage attempt from Shohozan with the
right arm a second in that was so bad his knee hit the dirt before Goeido fell
flat on his face. The kimari-te was ruled tsuki-hiza, which can be loosely
translated as horrible sumo. Goeido is about the ugliest 6-6 you'd care to see
while Shohozan is, well, just plain ugly at 6-6.
Komusubi Okinoumi and M2 Kitataiki hooked up in the slow hidari-yotsu position
from the tachi-ai, and neither looked to make a huge effort to grab the right
outer first. The two stood chest to chest in this manner for about 20 seconds
before Okinoumi ended the funny bidness with a right kote-nage throw. We would
have appreciated more effort here as Okinoumi squeaks his way to 2-10 while
Kitataiki is even worse at 1-11.
Komusubi Tochiohzan's quest for kachi-koshi continued today in his hidari-yotsu
bout with M4 Toyonoshima. Once Tochiohzan got the left to the inside, there was
really nothing Tugboat could do, and as he tried to back outta the hold, Oh got
him with the right outer grip, and as is frequently the case with the good
rikishi, that outer grip is what sills the dill as we say in Utah. Oh improves
to 5-7 with the win and is still in the running for a Shukunsho if he can win
out. Toyonoshima is 6-6.
M1 Myogiryu used a nifty moro-te-zuki at the tachi-ai against M1 Aminishiki to
keep Shneaky upright and off balance. All Aminishiki could do was to go for a
meager pull attempt, but Myogiryu answered that with a shove to the gut that
sent his opponent down in a matter of seconds. Myogiryu improves to 9-3 while
Aminishiki is the inverse.
Since you can YouTube the bouts these days, let's liberally work our way down
and finish with bouts of interest. M14 Chiyootori really shoulda pasted M6
Takekaze, but he fell into Kaze's trap of using light pushes to set up the pull.
The two grappled for about 10 seconds before Takekaze ducked in for the deep
right grip that he used to force Chiyootori upright and over to the edge where
the push out was academic. Had Chiyootori used a committed thrust attack and
sound de-ashi, he could have crushed Takekaze (7-5). Chiyootori falls to 5-7,
and it's too bad because of the four rookies, I think he's got the most promise.
M10 Chiyotairyu moved a step closer to double-digits by crushing M9 Kyokutenho
back so hard from the tachi-ai that he pushed himself out of moro-zashi. As
Kyokutenho looked to cozy back in, Chiyotairyu used a right kote-nage to throw
the Chauffeur over to the edge where a final wham bam thank you ma'am moved
Tairyu to 9-3. Kyokutenho falls to 6-6 and is just getting creamed by the elite
Is M16 Azumaryu the the second coming of Hakuba? Today he used an ugly henka to
his left against M10 Toyohibiki who really should have recovered and won this
bout, but Toyohibiki just couldn't keep his wheels from spinning, and the
slippery Azumaryu pulled him down about three seconds in. Shame shame everyone
knows Azumaryu's name as both rikishi end the day 6-6.
And finally, I'm not sure how I missed this before, but I think I've discovered
M16 Daikiho's problem: the dude fights with his feet aligned, which is the
cardinal sin in sumo. His careless footwork was on display again today against
M15 Homarefuji whose sumo ain't much better, but he took full advantage of
Daikiho's awkward position alternating pushes and pulls before finally knocking
Daikiho off balance and onto his back in the corner of the dohyo with a potent
oshi-taoshi attack. The reason Daikiho can't force anyone back with an attack
and the reason he's being thrown around like a sack'a potatoes in every bout is
because he keeps his feet aligned. The proof is in the 1-11 pudding while
Homarefuji meekly reaches 4-8.
I cannot wait to see what happens the last three days this basho but probably
for different reasons than most fans. Same place same time tomorrow.
(Mike Wesemann reporting)
over seven years since a Japanese rikishi has taken the yusho, and the Sumo
Association has been pimping various domestic candidates the last two years
through the media only to leave the fans disappointed basho after basho. Then,
prior to this basho the Association all of sudden stopped the hype, and look
what is brewing with Kisenosato's personal best 10-0 start. Despite the position
the Japanese Ozeki finds himself in, I don't sense a whole lot of excitement
from the Japanese fans, and it has nothing to do with the lack of pre-basho
hype. First, it's been so long since Tochiazuma hoisted the cup in Hatsu 2006
that a lot of Japanese fans have given up. And second, there is no doubt in
anyone's mind that Hakuho and even Harumafuji are superior rikishi to
Kisenosato, and so the odds are slim that Kisenosato can actually pull it off.
Now, it wouldn't surprise me to see either of the Mongolian Yokozuna go
mukiryoku against Kisenosato, but you can't go seven years with such foreign
domination without even the staunchest of fans realizing that a little help from
his friends is necessary for the Kid to pull this off. I don't mean to pooh pooh
Kisenosato's run, but I just don't see the hysteria surrounding it, and I
believe that has to do with the reasons previously stated.
As long as we're on the subject, let's start the day's analysis with the Ozeki
Kisenosato - M3 Aran bout. Aran's tachi-ai was half-assed allowing Kisenosato to
score on some well-placed shoves, and even though the Russian survived the first
volley with his foot against the tawara forcing the action back to the center of
the ring, Kisenosato jabbed his way close again forcing Aran to retreat, and the
end result was Aran going for a stupid pull that caused him to back himself out
of the ring altogether. They ruled it tsuki-dashi, but this was just poor sumo
on the part of Aran, and I'm pretty sure that Aran's stablemaster told him this
morning, "kyou, kattcha dame yo!"
With the win, Kisenosato continues his best ever start extending his record to
11-0, and it's also the first time in nine years that a Japanese rikishi
has been perfect through 11 days. Continuing with the theme in my intro, you
just can't have the fans' hopes be beaten down for that long and then suddenly
expect them to turn on a dime and go crazy for the Kid. Now, if he can manage to
start out 12-0 heading in to the weekend undefeated, the momentum will being to
build, but beating Aran (4-7) like this means nothing.
All Hakuho needed to keep pace with Kisenosato was to best Ozeki Kotooshu, who
has frankly looked horrible after that 4-0 start. Kotooshu was so slow at the
tachi-ai that Yokozuna Hakuho got the easy right arm to the inside, and with the
Ozeki standing completely upright, Hakuho quickly pulled the trigger on the left
outer grip ending this one before it really began. There's really nothing more
to it than that. Kotooshu (6-5) gave up similarly to Aoiyama, and Hakuho didn't
even need a shower afterwards. With the win, Hakuho moves back into a tie with
Kisenosato, and this basho won't really get interesting until Hakuho loses.
One back of the leaders heading into the day was Ozeki Kakuryu who sparred with
M4 Aoiyama. Aoiyama used a moro-te tachi-ai to keep the Ozeki away from the belt
and the inside, but he had no de-ashi to speak of and allowed Kakuryu to easily
swipe his extended arms away, and with Aoiyama stumbling forward a bit, the Kak
easily dispatched him in hataki-komi style. The Kak barely broke a sweat as well
firmly holding onto second place at 10-1 while Aoiyama falls to 5-6.
With three leaders down and two to go, that leaves us with Yokozuna Harumafuji
and Ozeki Kotoshogiku, two rikishi coming into the day tied at 8-2. I won't even
try and drum up any excitement regarding this bout that saw Harumafuji
strike Kotoshogiku at the tachi-ai as he moved left in order to grab the quick
outer grip. I would equate this type of charge to a change-up in baseball: it
looks like the fastball--or full frontal charge--is coming, but the Yokozuna
avoid bumping chests resulting in Kotoshogiku stumbling forward a step. Before
the Geeku could square back up, the Yokozuna placed his right hand against the
Ozeki's thigh (fresh!) and just bowled him over with the outer belt throw
obtained from the tachi-ai. This wasn't a henka on the part of the Yokozuna, and
if Kotoshogiku had any game, he'da been able to square up and recover.
Regardless, the Geeku is knocked out of the yusho race he was never in to begin
with while Harumafuji still controls his own destiny at 9-2.
With all of the basho leaders accounted for, the yusho race now looks like this:
Perfect: Hakuho, Kisenosato
1 loss: Kakuryu
2 losses: Harumafuji
Sure, Kisenosato is tied for the lead, but I look at that leaderboard and all I
can see are three Mongolian sharks circling the Kid, and what are the odds that
he can pull off the trifecta? Doesn't even need to be explained.
In the sanyaku, Sekiwake Goeido used a nice kachi-age with the right arm that
knocked M4 Toyonoshima upright and set the table, but Goeido mounted his charge
without a firm grip of his opponent, and so as the two neared the tawara,
Toyonoshima spun right and used a well-placed shove into Goeido's side sending
him out of the ring for the comeback win. Why is it that whenever Goeido (5-6)
actually mounts a forward charge, he never has the sufficient yotsu position to
do so? Toyonoshima improves to 6-5 with the nice win.
Komusubi Tochiohzan got the shallow moro-zashi position against M2 Kitataiki who
ducked in low, but he eventually worked Kitataiki upright, got in deep with dual
insides, and gave the fat lady her cue scoring the emphatic force-out win in the
end. Oh's strung together two in a row now to eke to 4-7, and we've seen
Komusubi make huge runs in week two before. Kitataiki's anti-run continues at
Speaking of 1-10 records, that's where our next two combatants ended the day in
a bout that saw Komusubi Okinoumi gain moro-zashi from the tachi-ai against M2
Tochinoshin, but he was way too upright, so Tochinoshin just brought his gal in
close aided by a pesky left outer grip that would prove the difference in the
end. Okinoumi had Shin on the brink several times, but the gorgeous Georgian was
able to survive with counter belt throws at the edge, and once Okinoumi's power
was drained, Tochinoshin was eventually able to work Okinoumi to the edge and
dump him with that left outer grip. Okinoumi shoulda had this one early, but his
nonchalant attitude in the keiko-ba was certainly reflected in today's bout.
In other bouts of interest, M1 Myogiryu henka'd to his left throwing M5 Shohozan
off balance from the start, and while Shohozan did briefly recover, he was never
able to square back up providing the easy oshi-dashi target in the end. Myogiryu
clinches a ton in this bout including kachi-koshi at 8-3, a Shukunsho, and a
guaranteed return to the sanyaku, but it was all achieved today after unsavory
sumo. Shohozan falls to 6-5 after the lube job.
M1 Aminishiki gave a little hop at the tachi-ai against M6 Takekaze, but it left
him flat-footed and upright. Takekaze instinctively backed up making it appear
that Aminishiki was in charge, but after bracing his foot against the tawara and
slipping into moro-zashi, he drove Shneaky across the enter length of the dohyo
and sent him into the third row leading with a right arm pushing into
Aminishiki's teet for the shweet mune-dashi win. Takekaze quietly moves above
.500 at 6-5 while Aminishiki's make-koshi is official at 3-8.
M7 Fujiazuma was just plain bad today standing straight up at the tachi-ai and
allowing M5 Takayasu to bully him around the ring with tsuppari, but Takayasu
hasn't exactly bloomed in May and actually gave Fujiazuma the clear path to
moro-zashi at the edge, but Fujiazuma failed to read it and allowed Takayasu to
pull him down as he retreated along the straw. Bad sumo all around here as both
parties end the day 6-5.
M9 Ikioi looked to have a frontal grip of M6 Yoshikaze's mawashi at the
tachi-ai, but instead of pursuing forward-moving sumo, he quickly backed up and
attempted a pull with both hands. The reward was Yoshikaze pouncing and driving
him clear off the dohyo leaving these two fellas at 6-5 as well.
M7 Jokoryu whiffed on his hari-zashi tachi-ai, but it didn't matter as he was
fighting M16 Daikiho, so the two ended up in hidari-yotsu but not for long as
Jokoryu pulled the trigger on an outer grip that spun Daikiho around 180 degrees
whereupon Jokoryu just rammed a shoulder into the rookie's back sending him
flying into a heap into the corner of the dohyo. I don't think I've ever seen a
rikishi be bullied around in this fashion as Jokoryu limps to 3-8 while the
Daikon is a bitter 1-10.
Notice how M8 Tokitenku wasn't included in my list of leaders at the top of this
report? It was for good reason as Tokitenku shifted to his left slightly at the
tachi-ai against M12 Wakanosato as the two settled into migi-yotsu, but
Wakanosato snuggled in tight keeping Tokitenku upright, and there was nothing
Tenku could do as Wakanosato took him to school scoring the win in about eight
seconds. Croconosato improves to 5-6 while Tokitenku is officially booted off
the leaderboard at 8-3.
M10 Chiyotairyu used a wicked right paw to M14 Kaisei's face to lift him
straight up as he grabbed the quick left outer, but his right arm couldn't
recover fast enough to get to the inside, so while he dominated the tachi-ai, he
didn't set up a position that led to the swift kill. With the right arm to the
inside, Kaisei looked for moro-zashi, but his effort was half-assed as he
allowed Chiyotairyu to keep his left arm to the outside simply by holding
Kaisei's wrist. As the two giants stood in the middle of the ring for over a
minute, Chiyotairyu finally grabbed the right frontal mawashi and finished off
his bidness clinching kachi-koshi in the process at 8-3. Kaisei has cooled off
the last few days falling to 5-6.
M13 Masunoyama used a a right hand to the neck and a left paw at the armpit to
knock M10 Toyohibiki upright at the tachi-ai, and once he got the left arm
firmly to the inside, he used his girth to force Toyohibiki back and across
without argument. This may have been the best sumo I've ever seen from
Masunoyama, who evens up his record with the Hutt at 6-5.
M14 Chiyootori looked nervous at the tachi-ai agin M11 Gagamaru, and it showed
once the two charged with the rookie unable to budge YubabaMaru in their
migi-yotsu contest. With Chiyootori low and hips back, Gagamaru just grabbed
Chiyootori around the right arm and wrenched him down with a painful kote-nage
throw. Gaga's 8-3 now if you need him while Chiyootori falls below .500 at 5-6.
In a bout that included a helluva lotta tsuppari and zero de-ashi, J1 Tamawashi
and M15 Homarefuji's contest was reduced to a girl slapfest where Tamawashi was
able to turn the rookie around 180 degrees and push him out from behind. Looks
like we'll see The Mawashi back up here in July as he scores kachi-koshi at 8-3
while Homarefuji must clean out his locker on senshuraku officially suffering
make-koshi at 3-8.
And finally, M16 Azumaryu came forward fast at the tachi-ai, but then he
couldn't back up fast enough aided by a J2 Takanoiwa right hand to Azumaryu's
neck, and when the rookie went for a quick pull, Takanoiwa used perfect de-ashi
to get moro-zashi and polish Azumaryu off. Takanoiwa has exhibited the soundest
sumo this basho of anyone ranked M10 or below, and I'm so excited to watch this
guy in July that I've already added his shikona to my spell checker. Azumaryu
falls back to 5-6 after the ass kicking.
At the end of day 11, we now have four rikishi on the leaderboard, and all four
clash tomorrow as follows:
Hakuho vs. Kakuryu in the penultimate bout
Kisenosato vs. Harumafuji in the musubi-no-ichiban
I'm not sure why the Sumo Association is pairing them up this early, but be
reminded: the yusho race really doesn't start until Hakuho loses.
(Kane Roberts reporting)
All I could
say is "WOW" when I saw the fight card for Day 10 of the Natsu Basho 2013!
The Yokozuna, the Ozeki and the recently exorcised "evil one" all sporting
some sexy numbers!
Hakuho - 9-0
Kisenosato - 9-0
Kakuryu - 8-1
There were even some incredibly crappy records!
simultaneously witnessing a goodly portion of great sumo mixed with equal parts
decidedly unimpressive scores, and it signals a different dynamic is
afoot. It makes me dizzy just to think about the ups and downs these guys
exhibit (well except for Signor Ho), but maybe this is what happens when we're
not hindered by the marketing geniuses in management and the basho plays out the
way the gods intended it to play out.
And as if that ain't enough, a bunch of the lower ranked athletes are workin' it
hard throwin' down some fine efforts as well! So with some serious frikkin'
bouts on today's docket, I couldn't ask for anything more! Except maybe for the
Sumo Association getting some hot maids to sweep the trampled clay.
Now fire up the popcorn
machine, loosen up your top knot and lets get ready to RUMBLE - Day 10...!
Juryo visitor Tamaasuka dropped in to say wuddup to promising newcomer
Chiyootori. Chiyo has some physical power, some youth and some sumo
ability ...the sum of which could keep him around for a while. At the tachi-ai
he fumbles occasionally when he's not met with at least equal force and, as in
this match, his momentum (plus some mild hataki-komi by Tamaasuka) sent him to
his 5th loss. Tamaasuka is all smiles at 9-1 and Chiyootori is feeling the heat
My main man M12 Wakanosato (3-6) was lookin' fine as he sauntered around the
dohyo scopin' out the joint for sumo groupies under 800 years old. He was
feeling pretty good I would imagine because he was about to face "Toyohibiki
faced" M15 Homarefuji (2-6).
At jump street both men smacked chests and with their similar body density
Waka's famously low center of gravity payed off as he was able to fight off
Homarefuji's twist down attempts and grab some green belt. Sounds like a perfect
formula for yori-taoshi and yup he forced his opponent down and out earning him
a 4-6 record while "Toyohibiki faced" Homarefuji slid within an inch of
make-koshi at 3-7.
Shotenro has shown an energetic flash of desire to win here and there...enough
to get him a 5-4 record so far and he probably felt pretty confident he could
handle the Mongoru, Azumaryu. Turns out, Shotenro didn't notice Azu's
resemblance to the newly "squeaky clean" Tokitenku and he got worked over by one
of the fruitiest henkas in recent memory.
Azu hopped and patty caked to a 5-5 record while Shotenro wonders if he fought
Tokitenku's escaped evil spirit and settles for the same tally. By the way
Shotenro seemed sincerely appalled by Azu's henka.
Chiyotairyu and M13 Masunoyama are both relatively new to Makuuchi, they both
need kachi-koshi to maintain decent status, they both have proper fighting
spirit and they're both very round (although Masunoyama seems to have been
assembled by a famous ball company).
Chiyo opted for a tsuppari / hataki-komi combo while Masuno kept his head down
and went for some yotsu action. Then it was game on as both men alternately
pulled and shoved with each gaining belt grips only to be yanked across the
dohyo by their opponent and forced once again into defensive mode.
Finally, Chiyo drove Masunoyama back and out for the yori-kiri win but not
before Masu made one last attempt to pull his opponent down with a hail mary
twist (Was "mary" supposed to be capitalized? Did I spell capitalize correctly?)
. The mono-ii was called but the damage was done and Chiyo is sitting on a 7-3
pile of digits while Masu is lugging around a 5-5 tally. I was relieved
when they deemed Chiyotairyu the winner because dayum I worry when that kid
gasps for air.
Fading veteran M9 Kyokutenho (who's still showing some spunk...not that
kinda "spunk" Clancy!) squared off against faded rookie M16 Daikiho, and
although I'd love to see the youngster make his folks proud, I really
want the pleasant faced Mongoru-jin guy to do better than worse.
Right off the gun, Kyokutenho lifted the flailing Daikon root up from the soil,
walked him backwards and out and fell on top of him for good measure - All hail
the abise-taoshi victory! Kyoku is 5-5 while Daikon's cooked at 1-9.
As I stated in my last "Kotoba Matsuri," I dig M9 Ikioi's honest sumo
performances and I do hope he sticks around because we need that kinda thang
don't you agree? Today he met another youngster M15 Chiyonokuni, who's
enthusiasm and polite demeanor has made him sorta popular with the steaming
thong...uh I mean teeming throng.
I got the feeling that Chiyonokuni really wanted to win because he outdid
even the ever fidgety Yoshikaze with a frenetic barrage of frenetic barrages
that stymied Ikioi's efforts to do well...anything. Chiyono kept dancing back
and slapping and pulling while Ikioi pursued him trying to grab hold of the
impish rikishi and establish some semblance of order, but a mighty side slap
delivered to Iki's shoulder turned him around and then the Frenetic One shoved
him into shame. Chiyono is another even steven guy at 5-5 and Ikioi stares at a
"could be worse" 6-4.
M8 Tokitenku's heya, Tokitsukaze, must have been visited by Tangina because he
has expelled the Demon Tenku and GONE INTO THE LIGHT.
And so far...Tokitenku is looking at 8-2 and not one henka, kick, eye gouge or
ear chomp to speak of after 10 days. Not that I don't trust the guy but I'm
officially on Tokitenku Henka Watch from here on out! Uh, now that he's Mr. Nice
Guy dude's gotta work on his smile though. He picked up the freebie
against Kyokushuho who withdrew this morning.
Daido faced "Sadanofuji-faced" Sadanofuji. They met head on at the tachi-ai.
When big fat guys (even with their heaping helping of muscle underneath) lean
forward it don't take much for gravity to get them kissing turf and most
assuredly that was to be both their destinies. BUT...Daido was the first to
serve up some hiki-otoshi stew and Sadanofuji chomped on dirt first. Daido is
onaka ga ippai at 6-4 whilst Sadanofuji is kimochi warui at 2-8.
M11 Monsieur G. G. Maru has made a bit of a comeback when he climbed into the
sumo cage to meet the slippery M6 Cpt. T. K. Kaze. Gaga appearing ever so Yubaba
in his blue "for-the-love-of-god-somebody-please-wash-me" belt, had decided
somewhere along the line to throw down what he does best. Solid powerful
tachi-ai (Takekaze's infamous henka be damned!), head low, hands locked on his
opponent and then drive forward with leg power and aligned footwork. I dig it
when Yubabamaru shows that kinda stuff and so does he when it gets him the well
earned yori-kiri win! Mr. Maru 7-3, Cpt Kaze joins the 5-5 squad.
The strange tale of M2 Tochinoshin intrigues me. I don't think the guy's
overloaded with talent, but he's put in some good performances and it makes me
wonder who's allowing the guy to flounder so consistently. I understand it's
disheartening to hit what appears to be an insurmountable wall but does his
oyakata bear any of the responsibility for getting him at peak performance?
Toyonoshima, yet another 5-5-er, beat his ass into a 0-10 record.
Myogiryu is a legit star. He's good looking, displays dohyo savvy, he's not
intimidated by the upper echelon rikishi, he has some youth left in him and he's
got some straight up skills that serve him well in a variety of bout
Today, the man who was dubbed "Yogi Bear" by sumotalk's toastmaster general
Clancy Jessel, faced the uneven Okinoumi. Oki-homey seemed to be comatose
through much of this basho and then suddenly showed real fire against the
wounded Kotooshu, so I was wondering which Okinoumi would show up against the
Yogi was picture perfect driving off the line with a low tachi-ai and then
proceeded to stand Oki (who seems to have found his bottle of Sominex) upright
and out of bounds. Yogi was all like "I got plenty of Jennies be tryin' to hound
dog me Simone" and has his very own 7-3 score while Oki-homey is like "don't be
clownin' me homes" with a sorry 1-9.
Now take notice... we be walkin' into some big gun territory...
9-0 Ozeki Kisenosato looks "for real" this basho. He's all business so far and
on this day he was swinging that 9-ner like he owns the joint. Ozeki Kotooshu's
cream puff syndrome has been further exacerbated by injury so he's mos def
looking for some relatively quick and clean wins.
At the line of scrimmage the two Ozeki struck hard, but Kisenosato hopped and
committed a "no no" of leaving the ground with both feet. This allowed Kotooshu
to gain some momentum and shove the Kid back and throttle his neck for good
measure (in many ways Kotooshu is one of the dirtiest tricksters in sumo, often
giving an extra shove when his opponents are on the ground or catching air off
the dohyo). Kise pushed back, lowered his stance and worked Ooshu up and off the
dohyo. Good effort by both dudes. Kisenosato is a whopping 10-0 (maybe when the
sumo association lays off these guys they find their stride?), while Kotooshu is
ridin' the snake at 6-4.
7-2 Ozeki Kotoshogiku is also looking serious. He's been eating up his
competition like candy all basho and he was looking for a day 10 kachi-koshi and
I for one was rooting for the much maligned, rotund fellow.
Big kid M4 Aoiyama (5-4) had other plans as they both met with low hard
tachi-ai. Aoiyama's head was down and Kotosho-am-sweet was first to strike with
a hard slap down upside Blue Mountain's head, but the big kid kept his resolve
and maintained his balance. When they both strong armed their way to opposing
yotsu belt grips it was any man's game. Koto bumped and dug in and worked a
little harder and he treated us all to a "sweet as okashi" uwatenage win! 8-2
for the Shogiku and yet another 5-5 for Aoiyama.
8-1 Ozeki Kakuryu's only loss was to the aforementioned candy man, and it's
evident he's at least kicked open the kennel halfway (note: it seems like so far
it's been "hands off the banzuke" by the sumo assoc. and things seem quite right
in the sumo universe). When he stepped into the ring with everyone's favorite
caveman, 4-5 M3 Aran, Kak's only concern was walking into a well executed henka
or some such nonsense, but honest tachi-ai was served up by both men, and I for
one was relieved.
Kak immediately grabbed the double belt "death grip" and after some muscular
dance steps he got it done. Yori-kiri is the call and Kak is feelin' good at 9-1
while Fred is yabba dabba doo-ing his best, but most likely will seek comfort
with Betty and Wilma at 4-6.
Yokozuna Hakuho was 9-0 coming in and every soul on god's green earth knew he
was leaving with a 10-0 zensho. Ozeki "wanna be and probably was told he was
maybe gonna be" Goeido agreed to go through with the formalities and participate
in the Hakuho 10th win ceremony. There also was the distinct possibility that
Goeido hoped Master Ho would play nice like before but that ain't this basho.
Hak struck hard and fast and employed the リップ アーム オフ "rippu amu offu" technique
and it was all over in about 2 seconds.
Finally...Yokozuna Harumafuji has the eye of the tiger this basho. Something
woke up some kinda sumpin' inside of him because I believe we've witnessed Super
Haru the last few days.
He fears no one at this point and you may ask "who does he want to fight?" Well
I think just like Gary Oldman in The Professional he would say:
I mean the dude looks seriously ticked off about those early losses and a
quantum attitude shift has taken place. Let us hope he keeps it molten hot right
up to senshuraku!
Harumafuji eyeballed Shohozan briefly and then struck with his signature
explosive tachi-ai (and that cannot be taken lightly...it can't be easy to
charge with that much accuracy and juice...just look at the rest of the field).
The grumpy dude with the gold belt stumbled back and said "Hey that hurts!" He
shoved once and stepped away from Harumafuji and off sacred territory into the
loser's moat. Yokumafuji is a nuclear 8-2 while El Grumpo Maximo is a
And that does it for Day 10, which in truth feels like a smokin' pre-cursor for
Day 11. So although Sumo isn't the only sport I'm addicted to...I mean the
Bruins and Kings are kicking ass in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and here's the
current Snail Trail champion doing her thing...
...I have to say that I'm hyper excited to see the rest of this bitchin' basho!
And thanks again everyone for allowing me to spill the beans on Sumotalk.
Oh and for those that need it (and yes I mean you Mike)...here's some MMA ring
girls doing what every girl wants to do...Rock The F... On!
(Mike Wesemann reporting)
commented earlier in the basho that the 4-0 start by the Ozeki meant nothing to
me, and that I would start paying attention once the Ozeki consistently finished
basho with 12 wins. Now, we're still a long ways away from an Ozeki finishing
with such a stellar record, but I think I know where the optimism exhibited in
Clancy's day 8 comes from. The start of week two always brings out the NHK
leaderboard, and once you whittle away the crap (i.e. Ikioi, Toyohibiki, and
Tokitenku), based on rank alone you have as solid of a leaderboard that one
could hope for consisting of two Yokozuna and three Ozeki as follows:
Zero losses: Hakuho, Kisenosato, Kakuryu
Two losses: Harumafuji, Kotoshogiku
That's the way it oughta be every basho, and I realize that Kotoshogiku is a
shaky member of that group, but all it's going to take is a loss or two from
Hakuho "for one reason or another" (to quote Clancy), and we will have an
interesting yusho race on our hands. That's not to say that Hakuho is going to
drop a bout, but if Kisenosato can keep on winning, believe me...anything is
Now, that's my optimistic take on the basho's dee-No-ooh-ment as they say in
France, but my pessimistic view is best summed up by the most anticipated bout
of the day, the Ozeki duel between Kakuryu and Kotoshogiku. Kakuryu charged a
split second early and got the left arm to the inside from the tachi-ai, but
instead of burrowing in tight and keeping his head planted beneath the Geeku's
jaw, he actually positioned himself up higher than his fellow Ozeki so that
Kotoshogiku had the lower stance. And the Japanese Ozeki knew exactly what to do
with his opponent's hips up that high (koshi ga takai) as they say in sumo. The
force-out win occurred in two seconds flat, which was a surprising contradiction
after Kakuryu dominated the tachi-ai. Now I don't know if the Kak just made a
stupid, critical mistake or if he gave his opponent that position on purpose,
but one aspect that makes me uneasy about the prospects of the basho's
conclusion is that I just don't see guys performing at a high level other than
Today was a perfect example. What should have a been a decisive bout in terms of
the yusho race left me scratching my head and thinking what's going on here?
Kakuryu dominated Kotoshogiku at the tachi-ai today but then was dominated in
two seconds flat. I guess what I'm saying is that such unnatural consequences
bother me and put me on high alert. Regardless, Kotoshogiku kept himself in the
race with the win at 7-2 while Kakuryu suffers his first loss dropping him to
Of the rikishi not ranked Yokozuna, you'd have to say that Kisenosato has looked
the sharpest. I haven't seen the unnatural wins in his bouts that I've seen with
some of the others, and ever since the Association began hyping him and propping
him up, this is the first basho that he's actually started out 8-0. He looked to
grab the early right outer grip today against M4 Toyonoshima, but Toyonoshima
might have had moro-zashi (they never showed the reverse angle), and so the Kid
back out of it going for a left kote-nage resulting in a Wild, erratic start
that left the two settled into the hidari-yotsu position with Toyonoshima
keeping his arse way back away from the outer grip. The two jockeyed in this
manner for about 20 seconds before Kisenosato bumped Toyonoshima upright looking
for an opening, and the shift in momentum caused Toyonoshima to back out quickly
and retreat in an effort to counter, but he couldn't escape the reach of the
Ozeki and was an oshi-dashi target in the end taking another wicked shot to the
face as Kisenosato jumped out to a rare 9-0
It wasn't a great win and certainly not the caliber of sumo we've seen from
Harumafuji the last few days, but Kisenosato has looked solid and should
continue to do so against the competition at hand. I would be shocked if Hakuho
won this thing 15-0 and Kisenosato finished 14-1, so the Kid still has to
continue to do his part and good things will happen. Ne'ertheless, he's 9-0 and
firmly planted at the top of the leaderboard...something the Association and
Japanese media can market from here.
In the Yokozuna ranks, Hakuho looked for the right inside at the tachi-ai
against M4 Aoiyama, but Aoiyama kept both pits in tight denying the Yokozuna a
path to the inside, and so as Hakuho quickly backed out looking for a pull,
Aoiyama just fell forward in a second flat. This bout was a case of Aoiyama
coming in with no intention of competing because he assumed the standing fetal
position from the tachi-ai and just fell over with minimal contact. The win
moves Hakuho to 9-0, and he's the clear favorite to hoist the cup in the end,
and as I've said for years now, Hakuho will determine who takes the yusho.
Yokozuna Harumafuji and Sekiwake Goeido bumped heads with HOwDo getting the
right arm into Goeido's neck lifting him upright and grabbing the back of the
left belt. From there the uwate-dashi-nage was in order as the Yokozuna dragged
Goeido towards the edge and threw him over uwate-nage style...all in about
three seconds. As is the case with most bouts, they are determined at the
tachi-ai, so this was a matter of one of the best on the board in Harumafuji
exploiting a guy whose never had a strong initial charge...and it showed.
Harumafuji has overcome his early hiccups to stand now at 7-2, well within reach
of the yusho if Hakuho manages to drop one along the way.
Let's pause here and review the updated leaderboard:
9 wins: Hakuho, Kisenosato
8 wins: Kakuryu
7 wins: Harumafuji, Kotoshogiku
Once again, I love the leaderboard in terms of the ranks involved, but this is
really a three-horse race among Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Kisenosato. With
Kisenosato the highest ranked Ozeki, we'll basically have a three man round
robin the final three days of the tournament if Harumafuji and Kisenosato can
make it that far with no more than two losses.
With talk of the yusho race complete for today, let's move onto other bouts of
Ozeki Kotooshu used duel tsuki shoves at the tachi-ai to keep M2 Kitataiki
upright, but the Ozeki himself was standing tall signaling an ugly bout to come.
Kotooshu was actually waiting for a Kitataiki surge so he could go for a pull,
but Kitataiki's attempt was lame allowing the Ozeki to get away with his poor
strategy, and with this bout still having no sense of order, Kotooshu finally
ducked in low and used a left scoop throw to dump Kitataiki (1-8) and put us all
outta our misery. Kotooshu picks up a much needed sixth win but still has little
room for error.
Komusubi Tochiohzan sorta offered a right kachi-age at the tachi-ai, but he was
committed, so M1 Myogiryu was able to slip out right as he pulled causing the
hesitant Tochiohzan to stumble forward. From there, he was the easy shiri-dashi
target as Myogiryu moves to 6-3 and is in commanding to position to kachi-koshi,
win the Shukunsho, and regain a sanyaku berth for July.
Rounding out the sanyaku, Komusubi Okinoumi just turned his hip inward at the
tachi-ai giving M1 Aminishiki the clear path to the left inside, and when Ami
gained moro-zashi, Okinoumi tried to slip backwards looking for a pull. Bad move
as Aminishiki reaffirmed his position with the left outer and pinned Okinoumi
against the edge setting up the easy force-out win. No sneaking around needed
here as Aminishiki limps to 3-6 while Okinoumi's make-koshi becomes official at
Strike up the band and let's take a stroll down memory lane once again
commemorating sumo's 60 years on television. Today's bout was actually extremely
compelling because it was the 1975 bout between Kitanoumi and Takanohana that
the Shukan Gendai alleged was yaocho in one of their articles. I nearly dropped
my drawers in anticipation of this one as Kitanoumi shaded right grabbing the
cheap right outer grip from the start and using his left arm...to do absolutely
nothing. He sloppily gave up moro-zashi letting Takanohana deep to the inside;
yet he persisted to attack with that outer grip instead of a kote-nage attempt
or kime position. Anyway, Takanohana scored the fairly easy yori-kiri win
picking up his first ever yusho, and the crowd was going nuts. To me it wasn't
obvious yaocho, but Kitanoumi may as well have been fighting with his left arm
tied to his mawashi.
Speaking of sloppy sumo, in a bout featuring two rikishi who had a total of zero
wins coming into the day, M2 Tochinoshin was up way too high at the tachi-ai
giving M3 Takarafuji moro-zashi, and Takarafuji is tall enough to keep Shin's
hips up high, so he simply bullied NoShine over and back without argument.
M6 Takekaze's push attack was ugly, and M3 Aran's retreat and pull tactic was
ugly, so this bout would come down to whomever was better at being...well, ugly.
It was close, but Aran (4-5) pulled it out in the end slapping Takekaze (5-4)
down near the tawara.
One of my favorite rikishi to watch so far this basho has been none other than
M10 Toyohibiki, but M5 Shohozan was just the quicker rikishi today pulling
Hibiki's right arm at the tachi-ai and using quick if not effective tsuppari to
keep Toyohibiki away from any sort of position. The Hutt went for a desperation
pull at the edge as Shohozan leaned into him for the do-or-die kill, and
Toyohibiki just stepped out first before Shohozan crashed to the clay.
Toyohibiki was actually unsure of his whereabouts as he was pushed outta the
ring causing him to step backwards awkwardly and fall off the dohyo altogether.
Toyohibiki just lay there on his side unable to move for a long time, so Shohozan
did the victory crouch without him, and just as they dispatched some dude to
come draw a chalk line around his body, Toyohibiki finally picked himself up off
the floor and limped back to the dressing room.
M7 Jokoryu caught M5 Takayasu with a right paw completely taking away his
forward momentum, but Jokoryu wasn't good enough to finish him off at this
point, and he even allowed Takayasu to secure the hefty left outer grip in their
migi-yotsu contest. From this point, Takayasu just had to finish Joke-oryu off,
but as he drove him back to the edge, Jokoryu countered with a desperate left
tsuki-otoshi that actually worked sending Takayasu (4-5) to probably his worst
loss in the division. If you have aspirations of making the sanyaku one day, you
cannot lose to a 1-7 Jokoryu when you have the stifling outer grip and he has
Rookie M14 Chiyootori is proving to be the best of the newcomers as he stayed
low against M7 Fujiazuma, but the rookie offered nothing but a target for
Fujiazuma's tsuppari, and so the veteran Fuji pushed him around and about and
eventually out without Chiyootori implementing a single offensive maneuver. Uh,
that ain't gonna get it done in this division as Chiyootori falls to 5-4 while
Fujiazuma reaches the same mark.
M15 Chiyonokuni was way too high in his weak left kachi-age attempt at the
tachi-ai, and so M8 Tokitenku just kept him upright until Chiyonokuni (4-5)
leaned in too far, and at that point Tenku slapped him down to the dirt
improving to 7-2 in the process and keeping himself on NHK's leaderboard (not
M8 Sadanofuji used his might to pulverize M16 Daikiho this way and that before
felling him with an accidental shove near the edge of the dohyo. I mean, the
Sadamight whiffed on a kill shot and accidentally made contact with the rookie,
but that was good enough to send Daikiho (1-8) to the clay and draw the
tsuki-otoshi kimari-te. When you get your picture in the funnies and it depicts
Sadanofuji (2-7) kicking your ass, it's not good.
M12 Wakanosato and M9 Kyokutenho hooked up in migi-yotsu with Wakanosato able to
keep Kyokutenho upright by pinching inwards with the left arm disabling Tenho's
right to the inside. Tenho became frustrated and moved the arm to the outside in
sort of a reverse maki-kae at which point Wakanosato got moro-zashi and easily
finished the deal. This bout is worth noting because as slow as Wakanosato (3-6)
has become, it illustrates perfectly how Kyokutenho (4-5) has lost a step or
three over the past year.
M9 Ikioi got the right inner at the tachi-ai and rushed a force-out charge of
M13 Daido, but he was never truly squared up with his gal, and so at the edge
Daido went for a desperation pull with the left causing Ikioi to slip down
quickly and slam his right palm outside the dohyo just before Daido (5-4)
stepped out himself. The ref pointed in Ikioi's direction because he was that
dominant but then quickly reversed the call sensing that Ikioi's hand touched
down first. A mono-ii confirmed the gyoji's instincts were correct, and just
like that, Ikioi (6-3) is thankfully removed from the leader board.
M10 Chiyotairyu kept M12 Kyokushuho flailing at the tachi-ai with a well-placed
shove to the neck, and as Kyokushuho tried to lean back in, Chiyotairyu just
swiped from the face downward to the dickey do sending Kyokushuho to the clay in
seconds. Shuho tweaked his right knee as he fell and limped back down to the
hana-michi and has since withdrawn from the tournament with a decent 5-4 record.
Chiyotairyu is on fire of late at 6-3.
M14 Kaisei and M11 Gagamaru bounced off of each other at the tachi-ai and looked
to hook up in the migi-yotsu position, but neither dude wanted to get in too
deep. From this position, the rikishi who goes for the pull first loses, and it
was Kaisei, but credit Gagamaru (6-3) for his slightly lower tachi-ai that
allowed him to keep Kaisei (5-4) on the defensive.
As long as I've come this far, I may as well mop up the final two bouts. M13
Masunoyama struck high and quickly moved left using a quick tsuki-otoshi shove
at the side of M15 Homarefuji who went down like a house of cards. Bad tachi-ai
and bad footwork from both parties as Masunoyama moves to 5-4 while Homarefuji
as done well just to stand at 3-6.
And finally, M16 Azumaryu went for right outer grip at the tachi-ai but wasn't
moving forward leaving himself wide open. Still, his opponent was the visiting
J1 Tamawashi, who wasn't able to capitalize on the rookie's mistake, instead
offering such a lame charge that Ryu easily side-stepped on his way to the
pull-down win. This was just bad sumo all the way around as Azumaryu moves to
Finally, before I turn the reins over to Kane tomorrow, I'd be remiss if I
didn't reveal the answer to Clancy's multiple choice question he posed at the
end of his report. The obvious answer is C, and I oughta know since I was the
English teacher he was referring to.
(Clancy Kelly reporting)
One of my
favorite things about Japan (apart from the rice, slim gorgeous girls, freshly
caught raw fish, lack of crime, baths fit for Odin, fresh ramen, and New Year
week; politeness, sake, beautiful food presentation, love hotels, and on
time, fast, and clean trains; well maintained and well lit highways, heavenly
spray toilets that have eliminated the terror of the dingleberry, traditional
festivals, nurturing primary schools, and vending machines that always work;
wispy female body hair, friendly cops, tasty mom and pop restaurants, rugged
elderly, ancient temples, setsubun, non-existent open container laws, and free
tissues; bicycles as common transport, letting children learn through adversity,
tasty domestic beers, respect for the aged, snugly fitting condoms, cherry
blossoms, and a well washed, clean smelling populace; yakiniku, capsule hotels,
taxis driven by respectable older gentlemen, general absence of tattoos, school
children who say hello to strangers, dragonflies, and the widespread, "give it
the old college try" spirit of women in the bedroom) is...uh...I forget.
At any rate, I do also like sumo, and one of the things I like about this
tourney is the fact that we have three top rikishi at 7-0 as well as a dangerous
Yokozuna at 5-2 who ought to be looking to get back into the mix in the final
week. I remember someone saying after Day 7 that "the yusho is but a foregone
conclusion" (I think it was Kenji but Im too lazy to go back and check), but Id
more readily agree with the statement, "Hemorrhoids are lovely when you have
jury duty" than with that silliness.
However it has come about (and despite the occasional odd tactic, Ive yet to see
or feel much in the way of shenanigans in Tokyo—which is actually fairly
standard for most basho in the first ten days or so—I mean, as incestuous and
self-preserving as sumo can be, it aint pro rasslin), Im pumped for the run up
to the grand finale (or the "Day New Ma" as Kane puts it—is that anything like
having a harem of MILFs?) I, for one, feel Kisenosato and Kakuryu stand a
damnably good chance of hanging in there, and a brain fart of a bout is nothing
we have not seen Hakuho go through before, for one reason or another. Kublai is
still the favorite, natch, but the stage is most def set.
continued his winning ways today vs. Goeido, who lost the match when he lost the
tachi-ai. From the gun the ballsy Gonado ducked and brought his arms in looking
for the moro-zashi, but the Ozeki managed to deny the Sekiwakes right arm while
at the same time lifting up on his left to keep it off the belt. From that point
he was an easy walkout win for the undefeated Naruto lad.
GoAwaydo looked about as strong as litmus paper in this one, and perhaps the
analogy is apropos of what is in store for the once and future king, the former
Hagiwara (no relation to this beast). If the match is any indication, The
(soon-to-be 26 year-old) Kids opponents might try and take him straight on the
rest of the way instead of hit and run or pull, you know, the kinds of things he
is not particularly good at defending. The symmetry of his record thus far is
pleasant: Hes beaten both M2s, both M1s, both Komusubi, and both Sekiwake. 8-0.
Now hes got 3 Champions and 2 Grand Champions to pee on. Does he have the leg to
finally lift Lord Stanleys Cu...I mean, the Emperors Cup? We shall see.
Speaking of marking your territory, Kakuryu opened the gate to let in hungry
Okinoumi, a big dog who has had a first week more suited to a cur with mange.
After his Day 7 dismantling of Kotooshu for win 1, he came in with fangs bared
looking for another Ozeki. Kakuryu made sure there be no moro-zashi today as he
got a very strong and deep left hand belt right from giddyup to which he swiftly
added an outside right (but crucially only the outer strand of the Komusubis
mawashi). Though a bit high in his stance, Okinoumi is somewhat taller than
Kakuryu, and he used this advantage to press down on the Ozeki while he got his
own left belt.
After a brief pause, both giants leaning in on each other and me waiting to see
if Okinoumi was really going to contest this battle, he did in fact signal his
intention to win by pulling The Kak in for a light second and snagging a similar
outer strand only right belt. Kak immediately pressed him back but Okinoumi
turned him and the Mongolian had to hook his right leg around his dance partners
left to avoid being taken down.
The crowd was drooling at this point, with the men cheek to cheek and looking a
bit fagged. Kak made an exploratory push but it was rebuffed, and then Okinoumi
made his. This took Kak back to the edge but he turned the Komusubi
almost got him out, and Okinoumi immediately returning the favor and almost
spinning the Ozeki out.
By now officially stamped "Epic" (at least for this basho) they rested on each
other in the center of the ring for 23 seconds, until the gyoji called out, "The
fuck, guys?!!" (thanks for the translation, Mike). Kakuryu obeyed the command
and pressed his foe back, only to meet resistance and be forced to once again
return to the leg hooking wrestling skills he learned before he was a big Kak in
Japan and just a weewee livin on the Asian steppes. By now holding nothing but
stretched out single strands of mawashi (looked kinda like he was giving two
wedgies at once), Kak pressed Oki (who was def NOT "doki" at this point) back
once and then twice, until finally the Komusubi ran out of counter move power
and was pulled back to the center by the Ozeki, where he lost his belt grips and
was pulled/slapped down like a disorderly drunkard.
An incredibly honest and hard fought bout, of the sort that made me want to join
sumo in the first place (wait, Im just a shitbag commentator on a free
website—my mal). All I know is, theyve officially set the bar high now for the
final week, and if the bouts next weekend are not fought with the same
kind of never say diet attitude as this bout, there will be an uprising in Japan
the likes of which weve never seen as millions of JPese, angered over the way
sumo has been handled for the past fifteen years, take to the streets to
demand...and then I woke up and had to pee SO badly!
8-0 Hakuho took on Aran, and to his credit the W3 did not go gently into that
good night. Banging in low and hard
for a front belt, he managed to fend off a swift underarm swinging slap down
from the Yokozuna, and even recover to get a strong inside right belt. Hakuho,
with his own inside right belt, stayed low with excellent feet placement as he
leaned in on Aran cheek to cheek.
Then Freds nephew surprised me by shoving in and lifting up enough to get a good
outside left belt. Sweet move, but just one thing: It gave Hak "Call Me 24" Uho
the same. Knowing he has more belt skills than seven Arans put together, the
Yokozuna turned his foe so Arans back was parallel to the ropes, and then
dropped his hips and muscled him out for the win. Despite ending up on his
keister on the floor of the Kokugikan, Im betting Aran earned some major props
today from the Yokozuna. As for Kublai, hes got three major battles left with
HowDo, Kid, and Kak. Im betting at least two of them are as good as this one
Have you ever had great sex, and right after noticed how uninterested you were
in more sex? Thats kind of how I feel about writing the rest of this report!
A murder took place on the dohyo today, and the perps name was Harumafuji.
Hitting Toyonoshima like a train carrying Jon Voight, he rammed the helpless,
hapless, any kind of slapless W4 back and
followed with a left hand that ran
from his clavicle to his throat before stopping on his chin and nearly taking
his head off. Tugboat gave one last "toot toot" as he resisted for a millisecond
on one leg and then was SLAMMERED to the dirt and bounced to the gym floor.
Might as well call this kimari-te "shotgun blast." Its been at least four or
five years since Ive seen such a dismantling (coincidentally about as long as
its been since Martin wrote a real intro instead of making excuses about not
being able to write a real intro).
Weak, injured, washed up Ozeki Kotooshu, tired of gettin no satisfaction after
his losin streak the past three days, henkad Tochiohzan and yet still had
to crash out with the Komusubi in order to get the win. Sadly, itll be a case of
baby baby come back, maybe next week as it seems the Bulgarian will hang around
looking for KK. Cant see where hes going to get them, though, with all
his fellow Ozeki and both Yokozunas in the hunt for the yusho. 3 more wins or
else hes a Sekiwake with Baruto. Its going to take major "magic" for him
to do it, yep, plenty of ATM action.
Kotoshogiku got the train HowDo would later use to commit fratricide on
Toyonoshima warmed up by using it to plow Tochinoshin back and off the dohyo
with little fanfare but much less bloodletting. At 6-2 Geeku could and ought to
play a spoiler role in the final week, but Id not put money on him upsetting
either Yokozuna or Kakuryu. Best bet would be screwing Kisenosatos dream.
Sorry to disappoint cause while Id love to cover each bout as I did on Day 1 and
likely will again on Day 15, Im a biddy man these days, teaching a new gig at a
nursing college (seriously) and have to actually write a quiz for tomorrows
class. The first multiple choice question reads something like this: "Your
English teacher comes in to the doctors office with a rash on his upper, inner
thigh. He strips and you bend over but cannot get a good look at it. Do you: a)
Ask him to lie on his side?; b) Alert the doctor?; c) Call another young,
tightly clothed female nurse to help you lift his inordinately thick and lengthy
penis out of the way? Mike provides the answer and more on Day 9.
Day 7 Comments (Martin Matra reporting)
Mike has trouble finding stuff to put into his intros, I know I'm in trouble in
that respect. One thing I'd like to mention, though, is that the new tune they
put on the NSK live feed is very poorly chosen given the context of sumo. They
probably have it there to attract the younger audiences, but… if those guys
aren't watching in the first place, really, what's the point? Anyway, let's get
right into it.
Hakuho routinely took care of business in his match, slapping Takarafuji at the
tachi-ai and working his way to his side, then pushing him to the edge from
behind, where oshi-dashi was a simple formality. 7-0 and par for the course for
week 1 for the Mongolian, whereas Takarafuji is an expected 0-7.
The other top Mongol charged straight and very low into Aoiyama, immediately
getting the left uwate, and took decisive action, dragging his opponent down by
dashi-nage. Really, there isn't much more to it. Ex-Ama is a couple of losses
behind, at 5-2. The Bulgarian shares the same mark.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku was aiming for moro-zashi from the beginning (when isn't he?),
but all he could muster was a shallow left inside. However, against Tochiohzan
it was all he needed to win by straight yori-kiri and improve to 5-2. Oh mirrors
Soon-to-be-Sekiwake Kotooshu cooled his fast start to a freeze when his charge
was easily stopped by Okinoumi, who got into moro-zashi and wasted no time
securing the yori-kiri win. The Bulgarian falls to 4-3 and is not the favorite
to get his 8. Incidentally, Okinoumi wins his first.
In one of the stranger bouts of the day, Baruto looked to be in control when he
got the right uwate and denied Kisenosato any grip of his own, but the Estonian
shot himself in the foot when he tried to sort of throw the Kid behind his back
and crumbled under the Ozeki's momentum. Baruto sinks below the .500 mark with
the loss, whereas Kisenosato stays on the hypothetical leaderboard alongside
Hakuho and Kakuryu.
Speaking of the Kak, today he stood proud and stiff at the tachi-ai, getting a
deep right inside and a decent left grip on the front of Tochinoshin's mawashi
and quickly escorting the Private to his 7th loss in as many tournament days. I
remember someone saying Kakuryu's start was shaky (I think it was Mike, but I'm
too lazy to go back and check), but, by comparison… it's as good as it gets,
except, of course, Hakuho. I'm not saying he's going to be a legitimate threat
for the yusho, but he definitely has the chance to go 12-3 or 13-2 or something.
As for No Shine… double digit losses are definitely in the cards.
Aminishiki tried some sneakiness, moving to his left ever so slightly at the
tachi-ai and testing the waters for a pulldown, but Goeido was on to him like
flies to stink and pushed him back and out without relenting. The Father
improves to 5-2 with the win. Aminishiki only has one to his credit.
It was sweet to see Aran get headbutted after committing a false start – his
timing for the henka was off – and even sweeter to see him give up moro-zashi
after a completely useless tachi-ai when they reloaded and get flattened over
the tawara. Myogiryu improves to 5-2 with the win, while Aran slumps to 3-4.
Toyonoshima survived a lame-ass henka attempt from Kitataiki by not fully
committing to his charge. Without any sort of momentum, Kitataiki was a sitting
duck for moro-zashi, which the Tugboat duly got and used to take care of
business, improving to 4-3 in the process. Kitataiki slumps to 1-6.
Shohozan henka'd Yoshikaze, although the fault doesn't all lie with the Tan Man,
as Yoshikaze went at it full-bore, head down, come what may. Cheetos gets his
5th win with the lube job, while Yoshikaze is 3-4.
In one of the better bouts of the day, Takayasu came out on top against
Sadanofuji after a complex affair which involved a tsuppari exchange, mawashi
grips and being forced to the edge. After all of these came and went, Takayasu
took a moment and finally deployed the twisting throw, felling Sadanofuji (1-6)
like the log he is. Takayasu limps to 3-4.
Shotenro beat Takekaze in the weirdest of ways, as Takekaze's timing for his
pulling attempt was so off that he took himself out of the dohyo… literally. 5-2
for Big Shot, 4-3 for the fat Kaze.
Speaking of fatties, Fujiazuma won the battle of the Hutts, surviving everything
plus the kitchen sink Masunoyama could send his way and eventually finishing the
job by yori-kiri. Masunoyama slows down to the tune of 4-3, while Fatty-azuma
recovers a bit at 3-4.
Joke-oryu jumped to his right in order to get the cheap uwate, but Chiyotairyu
read the move well and stayed with him long enough for both to leave the dohyo
together. The punchline? There was no mono-ii, much to Jokoryu's surprise, and
Chiyotairyu (4-3) was declared the winner. Jokoryu stays winless.
Tokitenku's timing was yet again off at the tachi-ai, so his charge was about as
effective at stopping Kaisei's momentum as a curtain in front of a 120mm shell.
The inevitable result was oshi-taoshi, which propels Kaisei to 5-2. Tokitenku
(ironic that he has the kanji for ‘time' in his shikona, eh?) shares the same
Chiyonokuni knew he was toast if Kyokutenho got any sort of grip on his belt, so
he did his best to keep the old guy away. Tenho managed to advance, nonetheless,
but he couldn't quite get the job done at the edge without the mawashi, and
Chiyonokuni was able to slip both arms deep on the inside and twist his larger
foe right down. Both guys are lackluster at 3 wins apiece.
Chiyootori, this basho's Makuuchi rookie, is something of a promising young
talent, only 20 years old and hailing from Kokonoe-beya, with a physique
resembling Chiyotaikai, less muscular, but with better mawashi technique. Which
isn't saying he prefers yotsu-zumo, as could be seen today when he kept Ikioi at
bay with a paw to the face. It wasn't going to last forever, though, and Ikioi
eventually got in close, grabbing the right uwate. However, his larger foe's
momentum and shallow inside left were enough to get the job done, and Chiyootori
improves to 5-2 with the yori-taoshi win. Ikioi falls to the same score.
There isn't much else worth mentioning, as it is. The yusho is but a foregone
conclusion, with Hakuho firmly in the driving seat, but maybe Kisenosato will
receive some help down the line in order to maybe start a (faux) push towards
Yokozuna. Of course, he still has to win 4 or 5 of the remaining bouts on his
own. We shall see.
Clancy is up on day 8, as usual. See you next basho.
(Mike Wesemann reporting)
marks the beginning of the chuban-sen or middle five days, and it's
usually by this time that we have a good sense as to the direction the basho is
headed. The fast start by the Ozeki ended nearly as soon as it began with that
group playing .500 ball since their ballyhooed 4-0 start, and as Matt emphasized
yesterday, Harumafuji's second loss really pares the yusho contenders down
to...well, one rikishi. It was an interesting pre-basho in that the Sumo
Association really wasn't hyping anything or anyone, so I'm still interested to
see where this is all going and what their modus operandi is for the short term.
So as to not force the intro any further, let's get right to the bouts starting
with M14 Kaisei who fished for the left frontal grip at the tachi-ai while
getting the right arm to the inside. M13 Daido actually grabbed the early left
outer, but it was Kaisei charging forward, not Daido, and so Kaisei was able to
use that right inside position to pin Daido into the corner of the dohyo and
send him out clear off the dohyo. The outer grip doesn't do one a damn bitta
good while retreating as Daido learned today falling to 3-3. Don't look now, but
Kaisei is 4-2 after that slow start...as if he's really accomplishing something
here by beating up on the dregs.
M12 Wakanosato got the early left inside against M13 Masunoyama, but Masu simply
has too much girth for Wakanosato to truly get inside, and so Masunoyama
inadvertently kept Croconosato at bay with his teets while unleashing a quick
left kote-nage throw that worked like a charm. Wakanosato is winless against
Masunoyama and falls to 1-5 in Natsu, while Double-D-yama improves to 4-2.
M12 Kyokushuho came in firing tsuppari up high, and so all M15 Homarefuji had to
do was connect with a coupla paws to the body, and when he did just that,
Kyokushuho was knocked back to the edge of the ring and off balance. As he tried
to recover and come back forward, Homarefuji sent him to the side of the ring
and out with a few more well-placed hams into his smaller opponent. Homarefuji
has figgered something out as he improves to 2-4 while Kyokushuho cools off a
bit at 4-2.
Oh brother, M16 Daikiho has become so desperate now that he's resorted to the
tachi-ai henka. The problem is it was so bad he couldn't even fool M11 Gagamaru
who barely survived at the edge with the shallow left to the inside and the
right arm wrapped around Daikiho's left. When Daikiho was unable to capitalize
despite the deep left and right outer grip, Yubaba just twisted his hapless
opponent down with that beefy right arm. Gagamaru is skating at 4-2 while
Daikiho may be nothing more than a bloated Takanoyama.
Ever heard the term monkey see monkey do? M16 Azumaryu also henka'd to his right
in desperation against M10 Chiyotairyu, but Tairyu would have none of that
nonsense beating Azumaryu around the ring and out with a series of potent shoves
fueled by shweet de-ashi. Both rikishi end the day at 3-3 but are heading in
M10 Toyohibiki instigated a cautious tsuppari charge against M15 Chiyonokuni not
knowing if his opponent would sneak out to the right or left, and when it became
clear that he wouldn't evade, Toyohibiki gained more confidence in his legs and
moved forward for the straight up oshi-dashi win. Nothing more to see here as
Toyohibiki improves to 4-2 while Chiyonokuni in the inverse.
Rounding out the Kokonoe threesome, M14 Chiyootori's tachi-ai was so good
against M9 Kyokutenho he actually had moro-zashi there for the taking, but since
he's not a yotsu guy, he focused on the left inside and solid de-ashi.
Kyokutenho's reaction was to shift into reverse and go for a cheap pull, but
Chiyootori's de-ashi just kept plowing forward, and they were so effective he
actually got moro-zashi for good and used it to drive Kyokutenho back and off
the cliff Thelma and Louise style. The rookie moves to 4-2 in the process while
Kyokutenho idles at 3-3.
M11 Shotenro and M8 Tokitenku charged into the immediate gappuri migi-yotsu
position with a Tokitenku hari-te mixed in for good measure. An oshi guy like
Shotenro simply can't get sucked into the yotsu trap, and it showed today as
Tokitenku pulled his gal in extra close and executed the yori-kiri to perfection
leading with the left outer grip. It's interesting to note here that when an
oshi guy gets get an outer grip, he usually uses it for defensive purposes as
Shotenro did today, and that renders the grip rather useless. Shotenro is still
4-2 while Tokitenku is soaring at 5-1.
M6 Yoshikaze moved left at the tachi-ai in an effort to evade M8 Sadanofuji's
lumbering tsuppari attack, and it almost cost him as Sada connected with a left
choke hold, but with no clear de-ashi involved, Yoshikaze ducked out of the
attack, ducked away from a few more tsuppari for good measure, and then timed an
evasive maneuver to the left pulling on Sadanofuji's extended arm to send him to
the clay. Yoshikaze improves to 3-3 while Sadanofuji falls to 1-5.
M5 Shohozan caught M7 Jokoryu with a wicked moro-te-zuki that had Jokoryu
staring into the rafters. It was all Jokoryu could do to close his eyes and lean
back into his opponent, but a few more neck shoves and body shots followed up by
a quick pull slew the beast in short order. Shohozan moves to 4-2 with the
effort while Joke-oryu falls to 0-6.
M6 Takekaze had moro-zashi wide open at the tachi-ai, but as he usually does, he
was looking more to shift back and to the side. As he realized the potential of
his position, he did finally moved forward into M5 Takayasu, but he didn't have
that momentum usually gained from the start, and so Takayasu deftly moved to his
right and felled Takekaze with a nifty kote-nage throw. Good to see the
struggling Takayasu win as he improves to just 2-4 while Takekaze falls to 4-2.
M4 Aoiyama was more than hesitant in his tsuppari attack against M9 Ikioi likely
in anticipation of shenanigans, and so with Aoiyama standing straight up with
arms extended only to ward off his opponent, Ikioi simply moved to his right and
pulled Aoiyama forward and down by the arms. Twas a curious tachi-ai from
Aoiyama who suffers his first loss at 5-1 while Ikioi enjoys the same record.
M4 Toyonoshima fished for the left inside against M7 Fujiazuma, but Fuji just
shoved him outta the hold and back towards the tawara with some oomph. With
Toyonoshima in serious trouble, he evaded and tiptoed the tawara as he pulled
Fujiazuma forward, but his big toe touched out just as Fuji was pulled to the
ground. A redo was correctly called for that saw Toyonoshima go toe to toe with
Fujiazuma in a tsuppari affair, and Toyonoshima was able to move just enough to
keep Fujiazuma off balance and slip into moro-zashi where he used a left scoop
throw to make it official. When Toyonoshima struggles against Fujiazuma (2-4),
it helps to explain his 3-3 start.
M2 Kitataiki schooled M3 Takarafuji from the tachi-ai gaining the left inside
position and the right outer grip, and while Takarafuji made it look close with
a counter left belt throw at the edge that actually cut off Kitataiki's grip,
Kitataiki stayed in control thanks to his superior position from the start, so
he sent a forearm chivvy into his foe nudging him that last step across the
straw. Kitataiki picks up his first win while Takarafuji has drawn nothing but
blanks, and I apologize for not posting a picture of this bout. I musta
scoured the wires for an hour but just couldn't find anything.
I'm actually putting myself to sleep with this report, so we couldn't ask for a
better time for NHK to strike up the merry band and take us back down memory
lane in celebration of sumo's 60 years on television. Today we were first
treated to a Chiyonofuji yusho, which was followed up by grainy shots of the
Sumida River and Ryogoku Kokugikan from the outside, and then grainy shots of
the venue from the inside. I had to chortle because these are the same exact
shots we see every broadcast, so who wants to see grainy footage from the 50's
when we can see live footage inside the venue now, especially when there's a
gaggle of uniformed Japanese high school girls sitting in the rafters? The
producer in the truck called for the shot of the girls probably half a dozen
times during the broadcast, which tells you where his mind was at...and everyone
Getting back to the action, Sekiwake Baruto was too slow at the tachi-ai
allowing Komusubi Tochiohzan to bulldoze his way to the inside with moro-zashi
and immediately drive the Estonian back to the tawara. Baruto tried to move
right and counter with a kote-nage using the right arm, but Tochiohzan was too
tall and in too tight as he easily forced Baruto back across the straw for the
overpowering win. It's one thing for Kakuryu and Kotooshu to use finesse sumo to
outsmart the former Ozeki, but when Tochiohzan just kicks his ass, it's a little
bit eye opening. Baruto falls to 3-3, and to his credit, he has had a tough
schedule the first six days while Tochiohzan is in decent position still at 2-4.
If a Komusubi can end the first seven days with two wins, he's doing well; if he
can finish the first week with three wins, he'd doing great. And in Tochiohzan's
case, he's got a win over a Yokozuna, so a Shukunsho is in the cards as well.
Ozeki Kisenosato struck M2 Tochinoshin hard with both hands pushing in at Shin's
torso, and with sufficient de-ashi in tow, Tochinoshin's reaction was to back
pedal and look for a cheap pull. Wouldn't happen today as the Ozeki was
completely offensive-minded shoving Tochinoshin off the mound requiring little
effort. Kisenosato will take easy wins like this any day till Tuesday as he
moves to 6-0 and is the remaining factor in terms of breathing life into the
basho. Tochinoshin is an uneventful 0-6.
Aminishiki's tactic of standing straight up at the tachi-ai isn't exactly
working wonders, but Ozeki Kotooshu wasn't charging hard and couldn't
capitalize. The result was the two rikishi offering cautious shoves as they
looked for an opening, and Aminishiki actually won this battle sneaking his way
into moro-zashi. It was a shallow grip, however, and allowed Kotooshu to pinch
inwards with both arms from the outside and kime-dashi Aminishiki over to the
edge and seemingly out, but a surprise counter utchari sent the Ozeki crashing
out as Aminishiki himself fell to the dirt. A redo was correctly called for, and
this usually favors the fitter rikishi, who I assumed was Kotooshu, but
Aminishiki snuck to his right at the tachi-ai and grabbed the Ozeki's extended
arm twisting him around and setting up moro-zashi. This time it was deep
allowing Aminishiki to just bulldoze Kotooshu back with such force that
Shneaky's foot actually stepped out first before the Ozeki landed. No mono-ii
was need here, though, because by the time Aminishiki's foot touched the sand,
Kotooshu (4-2) was flying in the air beyond the dohyo proper.
Kane and I were talking offline yesterday and discussing some suspicions
regarding the collective Ozeki 4-0 start, and then when I see Kotooshu fight
twice against an obviously hobbled and winless opponent and fail to put him away
in two tries, it makes me wonder if Kane and I were seeing things for a reason.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku committed a false start against M1 Myogiryu by failing to
touch his left fist down, and he knew it too, so he paused as he came up out of
his stance allowing Myogiryu to pounce into the moro-zashi position. When it was
clear the bout wouldn't be called back, it was too late as Myogiryu was in so
deep and had the Geeku so upright, it was all academic as Myogiryu drove the
Ozeki back and out in two seconds flat. Myogiryu moves to 3-3 and has a coupla
shukun victories under his belt while Kotoshogiku falls to 4-2.
ugly affair, Ozeki Kakuryu and Sekiwake Goeido just bounced off of each other at
the tachi-ai resulting in Goeido standing there flat footed while Kakuryu fired
shoves here and there into his neck and head. Goeido persisted in getting to the
inside, but Kakuryu really never let him come close evading around the ring as
he jabbed and then pulling Goeido down near the edge as he tried another
fruitless charge to get to the inside. I would love to see a straight up yotsu
bout between these two fellas, but that has yet to come to fruition as Kakuryu
moves to about as shaky a 6-0 as you'll ever see while Goeido falls to 4-2.
Yokozuna Hakuho looked to get the right inside from the tachi-ai and left outer
against Komusubi Okinoumi, who looked to quickly abandon the yotsu contest and
pull Hakuho's right arm from the outside. Hakuho adjusted in stride and with the
two now turning in the center of the ring, the Yokozuna just pulled Okinoumi to
the dirt with little effort. For a second there, it looked to me like Okinoumi
assumed the standing fetal position at the tachi-ai, and that's largely been his
attitude the entire tourney as he drops to 0-6. Hakuho is just toying with these
guys at 6-0.
day's final bout, M3 Aran actually henka'd Yokozuna Harumafuji jumping to his
right, but as he did a few days ago against Tochinoshin, Harumafuji sufficiently
read the move and grasped Aran's legs as he landed on the dohyo. Aran was in
prime position for the easy slapdown win a this point, but the henka took away
any momentum to execute the move, and so the Yokozuna, who was visibly pissed at
this point, ducked inside hard and sent the Russian flying off of the dohyo.
This lack of respect for the Yokozuna rank is a bit troubling to me, and it's a
reason why foreign rikishi aren't as well accepted in Japan. It's just
ridiculous for these two Eastern Eurapes to diss the Yokozuna rank. Thankfully,
Harumafuji recovered and won the bout improving to 4-2, but it's too little too
late in terms of the yusho race. Aran falls to 3-3 and is hopefully reprimanded
by his stable master for his stunt today.
Martin speaks tomorrow.
Day 5 Comments (Matt Walsh reporting)
Haramafuji Loses Again
The major storyline in terms of the shape of the basho so far is Harumafuji's second loss in five days. HowDo has established that on any given Day 1, he is the main threat to take the Emperor's Cup away
from Hakuho for that basho. Unfortunately, he has not established a
consistency that he will still be a threat by Day 12. And it looks
likely to me that he never will establish it.
Unlike many of the top sumos, the West Yokozuna is not a big or even
average size rikishi. As such, he relies on technique, speed, and timing
to an even greater degree than most. And boy does he have those three
things -- in spades. He's surely one of the fastest guys on the dohyo,
and that doesn't seem to come and go, due in large measure to the fact
that he's been relatively healthy so far. But the high precision needed
to make his technique and timing so effective are prone to lapses.
When HowDo's got it going on, he seems nearly unstoppable. Only Hakuho
measures up, and even he probably wouldn't with five fewer centimeters
and 20 fewer kilograms backing up his skills. If Ex-Ama's a little bit
off, though, and you're suddenly not sure if he's even Ozeki material
(though compared with the current crop there wouldn't be any
question). He's just another guy out there, and a little one to boot.
He's like a team full of three point shooters in the NBA. When he's on fire,
he's going to score 150 points and crush his opponents. But when he's
cold, he's going to get punished.
For example, in today's match against previously
winless Tochiohzan, he came in a bit tentative (although facing
two henkas in three days might do that to you) but got into a solid
hidari-yotsu position. His left inside grip wasn't so great, though, and
when he went to adjust, Oh Snap shifted a bit and created an opportunity
to get moro-zashi. With the double inside settled, the Komusubi quickly
attacked, and then could shift gears and dump HowDo via kata-sukashi
("swinging shoulder takedown"). For Tochiohzan, it's a nice
should help boost his confidence going into the latter part of the
basho. But for the Yokozuna, it's a sign that he's gone cold.
If you play Fantasy Sumo (as I do), and you pick Harumafuji (which I
did), it's like pushing half your poker chips in on a flush draw. If you
hit it, it's a big payday. But there's a good chance you lose half your
chips. Having watched Harumafuji so far, I'm ready to dump my hand for
Other Top Dudes
Hakuho dominated winless Tochinoshin to get to 5-0. No
Shine isn't the kind of rikishi who can give Hak trouble, as he
generally just walks into a mawashi fight and doesn't go for moro-zashi,
as was the case today.
Kisenosato also got to 5-0 by beating Aminishiki. I'm
doing this mostly based on YouTube videos today, and no Kise-Shneaky
vid, but Shneaky has not looked good this basho.
Kotoshogiku dropped his first (yes, the streak ended) match
against Goeido. Another missing video! Sorry, dearie.
Kotooshu was the first Ozeki to lose (chronologically, not in this
report), getting picked off today by
Myogiryu. Yogi Bear came fast and hard at the tachi-ai, and if there's
two things that the Bulgarian isn't in to, it's fast and hard. Oshu was
so not into it that he stepped back a few times and out of the ring and
all the way off the dohyo before the gyoji reminded him to get back up
and bow before leaving. Myogi is on track for another solid basho,
having picked up the (henka-aided but well-executed) kin-boshi and now an
Ozeki scalp. Yet, it honestly feels like he's underperforming with his
losses to Geeku and Kise. A bit more consistency and experience will see
this guy butting Baruto and Goeido out of the way for a real Oz run.
And speaking of our other Sekiwake ... Baruto wrapped up
Okinoumi's head and spun him down for the kote-nage to get to
3-2. Not a great run so far for Big Bart, but at least he's looking
healthier for the first time in a while. Oki-Doki will need a serious
game upgrade if he's going to stay in the upper ranks.
So that's it for today, as I'm hoping to get this report to Mike before
the ghosts start coming from my kid's closet again...
(Mike Wesemann reporting)
I cited a
lack of storylines heading into this basho, and over the first couple of days,
nothing was really formulating, but by the end of day 3, the media finally has
something to get a stiffie over. For the first time in 6 years, four Ozeki on
the board all started out 3-0. It doesn't sound like much of a feat to ask four
Ozeki to take care of Maegashira scrubs early on, and so when I see a statistic
like that, I don't think: gee, how neat to witness something for the first time
in six years! Rather, the first thing that comes to my mind is "what in the hell
have the Ozeki been doing the last six years?" But wait...it gets even better!
If all four Ozeki manage to win on day 4, then it will have been the first time
in 23 years that such a feat was accomplished.
I get why the media is plastering this headline all over because there's nothing
else out there to latch onto, but the fans aren't getting any more excited just
because the Ozeki are doing well, and the reason is the Ozeki have been so
disappointing over the last few years that there's just no attachment to the rank
anymore. On paper, the Sumo Association can't stand not to have a Japanese
rikishi occupy a prestigious rank, and so Kotoshogiku and Kisenosato were
prematurely knighted as Ozeki just after Kaio's retirement, but the fans haven't
been coming back in droves thanks to the two domestic Ozeki. There's just not the
same amount of respect out there for the Ozeki rank anymore, so the media may as
well be pimping the headline, "Aoiyama, Takekaze, and Tokitenku all start out
4-0!" because no one is going to decide to buy a ticket just to see if the Ozeki
can keep up their current streak. Sumo will start becoming popular again when
the Ozeki are able to consistently win 12 bouts per basho, not when they manage
to all start off 3-0. Regardless, the four Ozeki back then--Konishiki, Kirishima,
Hokutenyu, and Asahifuji--all started out the 1990 Natsu basho at 7-0, so the
storyline will fade after today regardless of how the four Ozeki perform on day
Since you're all dying to find out the Ozeki results for today, I will
shamelessly tease that to the very end and start from the bottom up as usual.
M15 Chiyonokuni henka'd slightly left but Kaisei reacted well keeping his right
arm in close as the two hooked up in gappuri migi-yotsu, a position which does
not favor Kuni. He knew it too and went for the quick outer belt throw dragging
Kaisei along the edge, and it looked to work except for Chiyonokuni's big toe
that touched just outside of the dohyo before the giant was felled. That's what
you get, though, when you try and steal candy from the Baby with that tachi-ai
henka. Both rikishi end the day at 2-2.
M16 Daikiho struck well at the tachi-ai, but m13 Daido did his best impression
ever of a brick wall easily halting the rookie's charge. As Daikiho lamely
offered his right arm to the inside, Daido grabbed it in the kote-nage position,
backed up, and just dragged Daikiho down to the do'h!yo. Sad start for Daikiho
who falls to 0-4, and boy am I glad I didn't pick him for my Fantasy Sumo
stable. Daido improves to 2-2.
M16 Azumaryu won the first two days just by standing there and letting his
opponents beat themselves. Well, he employed that same strategy today standing
up at the tachi-ai as m12 Kyokushuho rushed into the migi-yotsu position that
included the left outer grip. A second later, Azumaryu found himself on his
back, the result of a nifty left outer belt throw from Kyokushuho, who is
shining now at 3-1 while Azumaryu sloths his way to 2-2.
It looked like the last thing M14 Chiyootori wanted to do was charge against M11
Shotenro as the rookie stalled and bounced around before charging, but when he
did go, it was straight-forward and hard enough that Shotenro's planned
hataki-komi was befuddled from the get-go. Chiyootori nearly lost his balance,
but then I nearly got to first base on my first date. The result was I came home
with no bragging rights just like Shotenro was pushed back and out as soon as
Chiyootori gathered his wits. The rookie is 3-1 if you need him while Shotenro
suffers a mild case of the blubes at 3-1 himself.
M15 Homarefuji stayed tucked in tight at the tachi-ai in an effort to deny M11
Gagamaru the inside position, but there was just too much pasty flab in his path
keeping him out of moro-zashi. Gaga the Hutt eventually worked his left arm
sufficiently to the inside allowing him to force the rookie back and out before
offering the slow, guttural laugh, "ho, ho, ho,...Solo." Gagamaru is 3-1 while
Homarefuji is still an o'fer.
I've talked about how weak M9 Kyokutenho has suddenly become, and that still
holds true, but the reason I bring it up here is to illustrate just how light
M13 Masunoyama is. Masunoyama offered a few tsuppari from the tachi-ai, but he
was standing straight upright and so Tenho accelerated right into him using a
left nodowa to fuel the oshi-dashi attack that had Masunoyama impounded about
two seconds in. Kyokutenho is even steven at 2-2 while Masunoyama is cooled off
a bit at 3-1.
M9 Ikioi quickly secured moro-zashi against M12 Wakanosato at the tachi-ai, and
that was all she wrote as Ikioi quickly drove Wakanosato back so fast the
veteran's false teeth nearly flew out. Ikioi's in his comfort zone down here as
he speeds to 3-1 while Wakanosato is on the brink at 1-3.
M10 Chiyotairyu was hesitant at the tachi-ai knowing M8 Tokitenku's tactics all
too well and the reward was a vicious hari-te from the left hand of Tenku that
stopped Tairyu in his tracks and allowed Tokitenku to hook up in hidari-yotsu
sumo outta the gate. Chiyotairyu is totally out of his element here, and despite
his efforts to finagle an outer grip, it was Tokitenku who denied his date's
passes and grabbed the left outer of his own, which was the determining factor
in his yori-kiri victory. I'm not a fan of Tokitenku (4-0) at all, but that was
one of the sweetest hari-te I've ever seen. Chiyotairyu is prolly still seeing
stars at 1-3.
M10 Toyohibiki used a rushed charge with his hands to the face against M7
Jokoryu, and normally a rikishi up this high makes me nervous, but Jokoryu isn't
experienced enough yet to take advantage. the result was the easy oshi-dashi win
for the Hutt that for some reason left the Kokugikan as silent as a
library...after closing time. Toyohibiki moves to 2-2 while Jokoryu is already
looking at his day planner to see when he fights Daikiho and Homarefuji.
M6 Takekaze employed an ugly henka to his left, and a guy with little game like
M8 Sadanofuji will fall for that move hook line and sinker. So let it be
written, so let it be done as Takekaze oils his way to 4-0 while Sadanofuji is
M5 Shohozan welcomed M7 Fujiazuma with two hands to the face, but his lower body
wasn't into it allowing Fujiazuma to press forward and charge. Through the grace
of the gods, Shohozan was able to grab the front of Fuji's shime-komi and desert
to the side slinging Fujiazuma outta the ring an instant before he stepped out
himself. Wasn't pretty, but Shohozan will take it as he evens himself with
Fujiazuma at 2-2.
M4 Aoiyama greeted M5 Takayasu with a beefy right paw to the neck followed by an
equally robust ham with the left, and as Takayasu tried to keep his momentum by
leaning forward in order to stave off the attack, Aoiyama switched gears and
slapped him down...all in less than two seconds. Aoiyama soars at 4-0 while
Takayasu is a lame 1-3.
M4 Toyonoshima charged upright into M6 Yoshikaze and looked for absolutely no
offensive position resulting in Yoshikaze just slipping to the side and pulling
Toyonoshima down by the shoulder about a second in. Not sure what Toyonoshima's
intentions were here, but the result was a bad loss that left both rikishi at
I'd be remiss if I didn't pause at this point and comment on NHK's
commemoration this basho of sumo's 60 years on television. Each day they've
produced about a 30 second clip of a classic bout followed by the most random
scenes you could imagine from the last 60 years. Today's featured bout was
Kashiwado putting an end to Taiho's 45 bout winning streak, but after that things
really got fun as they showed the door to the NHK video room, three old
television sets on a wooden table, and then two rikishi and an oyakata sitting
on a couch all with lively elevator music from the 50's in the background that
really makes one feel gay and lively. Hellifiknow what's going on with these
little productions, but I hear Goeido's riveted each day.
Back to the sumo, M1 Aminishiki's feet were completely aligned at the tachi-ai
against M3 Aran disallowing any sort of attack from Shneaky. It took the Russian
a second to figure it out, but he finally moved forward drawing a weak pull
attempt form Aminishiki, but the last thing he wants to do is evade with that
bedroll wrapped around his leg, and Aran showed why easily slapping the hapless
Aminishiki to the clay in a few seconds. Aran improves to 2-2 while Aminishiki
falls to 0-4.
Sekiwake Goeido secured the left arm to the inside of the listless Komusubi,
Okinoumi, and just forced him back and across in a few seconds. Is it too much
to ask Okinoumi to give even a shred of effort? I mean, look at that pic at
right. Okinoumi is on the brink, and he's just staring across to the other
side of the arena. Granted, if one of Kane's hotties was in attendance,
I'd understand, but I've seen close-ups of the crowd, and one's hard pressed to
find someone below the age 60. Needless to say Okinoumi's 0-4 while
the Father improves to 3-1.
Okay, the moment you've all been waiting for: the Ozeki bouts!! I called my
Otolaryngologist when I heard the NHK Announcer say just prior to the Ozeki
Kotoshogiku - M3 Takarafuji matchup, "Takarafuji no chousen wo ukemasu," or in
other words, "Here comes the challenge from Takarafuji." Apparently I do have
too much wax in my ears because Ozeki Kotoshogiku bellied into Takarafuji hard
getting the right to the inside, which he used to immediately force Takarafuji
back and out.
No challenge to speak of here as the Geeku glides to 4-0 while Takarafuji gets
his hair done at the same salon as Okinoumi.
M1 Myogiryu wasn't using any de-ashi at the tachi-ai against Ozeki Kakuryu
allowing the Ozeki to survive the average tsuppari attack and then duck away to
the side turning the tables and grabbing the right frontal grip and left outside
position. From here, the yori-kiri was swift as Kakuryu (4-0) finally rights the
ship when facing the pesky Myogiryu (1-3). That's two down and two to go if
you're scoring at home...and if anyone at this point was cognizant that all four
Ozeki still had a chance to start out 4-0, I can guarantee that you weren't
scoring at home.
Komusubi Tochiohzan just blasted Ozeki Kisenosato off of the starting lines
causing tens of fans inside the Kokugikan to shudder at the thought the streak
ending here, but even as Tochiohzan dictated the pace from the tachi-ai,
Kisenosato dug in thanks to his left arm to the inside forcing the action back
to center of the ring. Tochiohzan (0-4) had a persistent right outer grip
keeping this drawn out bout a stalemate for a long while, but the Kid finally
got him with a left scoop throw in the end setting up the ultimate climax with
the next bout.
Ozeki Kotooshu and Sekiwake Baruto hooked up quickly in the hidari-yotsu
position with Kotooshu maintaining a razor thin outer grip with his right hand
on one fold of the Estonian's mawashi. The Bulgarian was unable to really
attack, however, opting to keep his arse as far away from Baruto's right paw as
possible, but he wisely never settled in one place methodically moving this way
and that forcing Baruto to follow suit and react to his opponent instead of
establishing an attack of his own. After about 20 seconds of wrangling, Kotooshu
pounced into the moro-zashi position, and from there the yori-kiri was swift
making it official: the four Ozeki have all started a basho 4-0 for the first
time in 23 years! At this point, it was all I could do to wipe my brow and take
a long drag on a cigarette.
Baruto falls to 2-2 with the loss, and the obvious highlights of the basho so
far have been watching Kakuryu and Kotooshu charge straight into him and
dismantle the Sekiwake in the end with brilliant sumo.
Moving up to the Yokozuna ranks, Hakuho attained the methodic right inside
position against M2 Kitataiki and then used a left tsuki-otoshi three seconds in
to send Kitataiki to an expected 0-4 start. It goes without saying that Hakuho
is cruising at 4-0 while Kitataiki is hapless at 0-4.
And finally, M2 Tochinoshin actually henka'd to his left against Harumafuji, but
the Yokozuna saw it coming and literally caught Tochinoshin before he landed
from his jump and dumped him quickly with a left inside throw with his hand at
the back of Shin's belt. What is it with dudes thinking it's okay to henka
Harumafuji? Fortunately, a kin-boshi wasn't in order today as Harumafuji keeps
pace with the pack at 3-1 while Tochinoshin falls to 0-4.
As I emphasized in my introduction, this collective 4-0 start by the Ozeki means
nothing to me. Having two or three of them finish the basho with 12 wins or
better does, and so hunker down and get ready for Matt tomorrow.
(Kane Roberts reporting)
loving this basho because of the keen sense of order the association has knocked
together for us all. It's ALL about balance - kinda like Johnny Depp's
character, Sands, in Robert Rodriguez's - Once Upon A Time In Mexico, who killed
the worst men and best men to establish a sense of order. I get that there's not
a truckload of surprises yet, but this basho is playing out like a well
conceived script, and I for one am looking forward to the dénouement (2 bit,
french word alert).
This basho has been, so far, like sitting in a comfortable chair with a bag of
kettle corn just waiting to grab the tastiest kernel. And as a general rule I've
decided not to take for granted what some of these rikishi have achieved...its a
tough road to get where they are, and I'm mos def digging it when they throw
down the nad sumo skills baby! Also, as an added treat, the hyper ambitious
Baruto hanging around the Sekiwake crew makes for some supremely interesting
bouts early on!
So lets fire up the T Rex, bang the gong and get down to the Natsu Basho 2013
most somnambulatory of all the rikishi (Kaisei) called upon his somnambulant
sumo style as he somnambulated his way to victory atop the dohyo. He and
newcomer Homarefuji met at the tachi-ai and made obligatory grabs for the belt
and then engaged in an upper body strength battle.
Homarefuji (who is hoping they spell Harumafuji's name wrong and he gets to use
the Yokozuna bathroom) was all like "WTF" as he tried "this and that" to move
his sloth-like opponent and on occasion he did turn him to the side, but
Baby Huey just hung on to him like a sticky sack of cannonballs.
Once Homarefuji began to tire, Kaisei quickly bitch slapped the drowsy man down
to the clay. Kaisei earns the win with a nifty hataki-komi and zombies his way
to up to a 1-3 record while the 0-3 Homarefuji better get a wake up call sooner
Extremely round-headed Masunoyama seems loaded for bear this basho and his
energy was once again enthusiastically displayed as he shot his load at Daikiho,
a similarly arranged stack of spherically shape flesh balls. Both youngsters
struck high at the tachi-ai and ballstack number two proceeded to back up and
try to pull Masunoyama (ballstack number one) somewhere (not sure where exactly)
and then well...anyway Masunoyama was victorious. He rockets to 3-0 while the
other dude rolls down hill to an alarming 0-3. Love Masunoyama for the same
reasons other people do, plus who doesn't love a ballstack.
Daido faced "Tokitenku faced" Azumaryu, and I was digging on their honest
tachi-ai. Both dudes grabbed each others belt in back - Daido obtained the
hidari-yotsu and Azu had his own migi-yotsu. They both fell to the clay at the
same time and a justified re-match was called. Round two found the two men with
the same side mawashi grips, and I suddenly felt I like I was watching
Hoobastank open for Linkin Park (you know like - hurry up will ya). Finally, Azu
fell down to a 2-1and Daido was credited with the uwate-nage win and
OK so yeah, kinda boring...uhhh so here:
Now back to
the action at hand...the hyper Chiyonokuni really pumped himself up and
earnestly tossed the salt for purification and good luck. But alas he may have
chosen the wrong crystals of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound
belonging to the larger class of ionic salts.
Kyokushuho displayed half decent tsuppari while Chiyonokuni demonstrated for the
kids in the audience some seriously lameass footwork. Chiyo leapfrogged his way
to a loss and Kyokushuho oshi-dashi'ed himself a cool 2-1 record.
Wakanosato, he of the short limbs and "spot on" sumo attitude, fought a strong
newcomer in Chiyootori and the whole affair just felt nothing but good.
When the Croc gets in his crouch and stares at his opponent, I just know that
when he do it he gonna do it straight on up. Sure enough the veteran's hari-te
shook Chiyootori's mug and both men grabbed onto some big belt real estate.
Chiyo tried to muscle the "old man" but Croc belly bumped his younger opponent
towards the edge of the ring and then executed one of the finest (and quickest)
uwate-nage finishes I've seen in a long while. I stood up and cheered as Mr.
Sato gets his first win and the hopeful Chiyootori (2-1) learns a lesson.
previously attractive Gagamaru, who also has to have been WTF'ing like a mofo as
of late, has seemed a tad less cocky this basho and has gotten back down to
basics (nothing like dropping to M11 to get you looking at the manual again).
Gotta say it's paying off because he faced another "no F...ing around" wrestler
in Toyohibiki, and they both met each other straight on. Once again I found
myself in Mikeville as Toyohibiki's crime was clearly a case of bad footwork.
Yubaba worked Toy Factory back with steady forward moving legs while his
opponent's dogs were either lined up or off the dohyo. Toyohibiki, being the
mensch that he is, resisted at the edge but to no avail as Yubabamaru crashed
down on top of him for the victory. Gagayubabamaru is at 2-1 while Toyohibiki
stumbles to 1-2.
As soon as M10 "man about town" Chiyotairyu heeds Mike's about not
backing up for the cheesy pull down, I believe we'll all see a very promising
rikishi make some serious noise in this beloved sport. Yeah he should have taken
it to Shotenro and as always he started off doing just that, but he fell
into an all too familiar pattern of retreating while attempting a combo
tsuppari/pull down mess and that just ain't gonna cut it. Chia Pet is 1-2 and
Shotenro earns a sweet 3-0.
I like this Ikioi kid 'cause no matter what's thrown at him he relentlessly
seeks the advantage. Sadanofuji is a big guy with a vigorous tsuppari and let's
face it...he's harder to lug around than say - Takanoyama, but Ikioi worked his
way past the rain of slaps and face smears to grab the belt. He powered
Sadanofuji into the moat and I for one dug
action. The yori-kiri win earns Ikioi a promising 2-1 while Sadanofuji is a
M8 bad guy Tokitenku so far is shenanigan free. Now ain't that an odd dynamic to
witness? I mean the dude's tactics have made all of us (and especially his
opponents) expect some kinda rotten sumpin' sumpin' and then he goes and fights
clean as a whistle for 3 days straight. On this night, he also showed off some
text book skills against his fading country mate, nice guy Kyokutenho (1-2), by
quickly grabbing a two handed belt grip off the tachi-ai and a yori-kiri win.
Mr. Clean gleans himself a perfectly shiny record of 3-0.
breasted Aoiyama and flash in the pan Shohozan were embroiled in a sloppy
tsuppari slap fest, the big blue mountain dude choosing to slap and blithely
dance backwards while the eternally sulking Shohozan slapped and danced forward.
Dancing backwards is evidently the superior tact as Aoiyama eventually Watusied
upside his opponent's head sending the gold mawashi'ed Shoho to the dirt. Credit
the bigger blue guy for moving his giant frame so well. Tsuki-otoshi was the
call as Aoiyama two steps to a perfect 3-0 and Shohozan joins the "Gold Mawashi
Was A Mistake Club" at 1-2.
I always enjoy when W-M3 Aran (1-2) accesses his natural gifts and fights a
confident powerful brand of sumo. Mike and Clancy pointed out long ago that the
Russian wrestler is capable of having a real impact on the sport if he'd rely
more on his strong upper body and ability to drive low and hard at the tachi-ai.
Against Tochinoshin (0-3) he almost did that. Collectively, their tachi-ai was
hella weak (Harumafuji's T&A being an example of a sweet tachi-aii) but Aran got
his head down , hugged his opponent for a classic two handed grip and forced the
yori-kiri win. Tochinoshin makes all of us that saw his potential years back
feel like crap and falls to 0-3 while Fred Flintstone's nephew steps up to a 1-2
Sekiwake Goeido always seems focused and a bit lost at the same time. Like he's
full throttle "game on" but also wondering why Kisenosato rocketed past
him...and even when he wins he looks a tad befuddled or he's like "OK I think
now I hold that little wooden water thing for the next guy".
He and Komusubi Tochiohzan rammed opposing shoulders and Goeido found himself
flailing around with no belt in his mitts and his right arm straight in the air.
Unfortunately Tochiohzan was unable (or completely unwilling...uhhhh) to reach
for the belt that was gift wrapped and addressed to him. Goeido bear hugged
Tochiohzan's shoulders and spun him down for the kubi-nage victory. He then
turned around and wondered "WTF just happened, did I just win?" Personally, I
think he misses Asashoryu.
I am convinced that day in and day out, Kakuryu is whoever he wants to be.
Though lacking a bit in size he possesses a formidable sumo intellect and an
innate sense of what's necessary to win. And when he jumps off the line with a
well conceived plan holstered he has a damn good shot of racking the O no matter
who he's slapping shoulders with (yeah Hakuho requires a 5 step plan).
Tonight the Kak stood face to face with the much bigger and highly motivated
Baruto. I believe Kak sensed that the Estonian is still walking the mile to
feeling confident on the dohyo and yes - Kak had a plan.
on night 3 of this Natsu Basho the Kak stated very clearly "I am the man that
executes the low tachi-aii...I am he who shall grab the belt and shove and twist
until i get a two handed belt grip favored by the Hell's Angels...I will lift
when my opponent attempts to lift me and I will not line up my feet...and yes_I
will slay the Baruto dragon with solid sumo technique because on this night -
that is who I am." "PS I will also hook Baruto's leg with mine at the edge
of the dohyo and risk seriously jacking the dude well beyond immediate repair.
Ozeki Kisenosato and the handsome Komusubi Okinoumi had a slightly odd affair.
Having attended Wesemann Univ I've become sensitive to hands that kinda play
around with the mawashi instead of clawing and grasping for it and holding onto
it like your life depends on it.
NIHONjin Rikishi met at the line of scrimmage and Kise immediately began to
slide the somewhat comatose Okinoumi back towards the rope. By the time Kise had
won by yori-kiri, Okinoumi had caressed and tickled Kise's belt, relaxed his
body at the edge and obligingly stepped back into the "OMG I Lost" zone. I
yelled "Do over!" but to no avail. So I figured maybe I was being set up for an
exciting Day 3 finish. The victorious Kid is 3-0 while the loser Okinoumi
willingly crashes to 0-3. (kisebar.jpg) "We like each other. I swear we really
Still recovering from a serious injury, Ozeki Kotooshu was handed one of the
stars of the last basho M3 Takarafuji. Fuji is feeling the heat of standing with
the big trees and was winless going in so he needed to up his game if he wanted
to get some respect y'all. At the gun, Osh stayed low and kept Takarafuji away
from body and belt and then pulled his eager opponent to the ground for the ever
popular hataki-komi win. I like when Kotooshu sticks to a plan and digs in hard
and I believe the "kadoban" pressure he's under is forcing him to do just that!
Kotooshu is sporting a fancy 3-0 record and going out, Takarafuji is 0-3.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku seems more focused...more energetic and agile at least for the
first few days of this basho and since I'm sitting here on Day 3 I choose to
ponder the possibility that it's a welcome indicator he'll show some stuff in
Tokyo. Against the Sneaky One he wasted no time in using his hefty frame to rock
Aminishiki at the line and then proceed to stay low and relentlessly drive
forward. Aminishiki was worked back and out of the winner's dinner in quick
order as once again the resultant records are a mirror reflection - Koto is 3-0
while Amin is 0-3 (a comforting sense of order right there).
Yokozeki Harumafuji is coming off a not so pretty loss to Myogiryu and most
likely feels the need to establish some semblance of dominance here on out (I'm
thinking "Semblance of Dominance" would be a half decent band name).
is that, although Hakuho's devastating stature strike's a fearful note across
the banzuke, such is not the case with Mr. H. Fuji Esq. At least a gaggle of
Rikishi think they got a shot at beating him and after some recent "un-Yokozuna"
losses he's gotta be a little off his game.
Walking into Day 3 Harumafuji knows he needs some clean wins that demonstrate
strong sumo skills! Kitataiki didn't receive the memo and went at the tentative
yok hard. Harumafuji was never in severe danger but he was fighting on his heels
for no good reason. Kitataiki slid Hara back to the rope and threw the kitchen
sink at him to get the kin-boshi hat but instead suddenly found himself on the
receiving end of a loss by slightly wild uwate-nage. Harumafuji (2-1) knows he
can do better while Kitataiki (0-3) knows he can't.
Hakuho has been showing a variety of techniques over the last few basho. He
knows he can successfully practice solid sumo technique with thunderous power
and efficiency but of late (maybe to create a little excitement / maybe to
entertain himself / maybe to just slap around whoever he feels like) he's met
some rikishi on their own terms and just kicked their asses into the expensive
He met the talented and dashing upstart Myogiryu with an aggressive chest and
shoulder shoving attack that just indicated to me that he wanted to BRAWL a
little. Myogiryu grappled momentarily and then danced to his left and basically
waited to get worked into a loss. It really seemed like the longer Myogiryu hung
around the worse it was gonna get.
I'd also like to add that Hakuho, though Mongolian, appears to have has grown
into a powerful symbol for Japan's national sport. His stately demeanor and
tremendous presence on the dohyo transcend the stunning numbers he's racking up
and this bears testament not only to his skills but his respect for the sport.
No one straps on the keshõ mawashi better than he and yeah it must be a trip to
face his gaze and physicality just before a match.
So yeah, damn straight I'm
looking for this to be a cool basho for a variety of reasons not the least being
I need a cool basho and f... I'm gonna see one!
Oh and if this whole affair was well, you know...boring...uhhh here ya
(Mike Wesemann reporting)
I know I
sounded a bit bleak about the prospects of the Natsu basho in my pre-basho
report, and the sumo the first two days hasn't necessarily changed my view, but
the Sumo Association did make one move today that really made me perk up and get
excited: they put Furiwake-oyakata (the former Takamisakari) in the mukou-jomen
chair for today's broadcast. Clad in a pink tie and his Harry Carey glasses, the
oyakata offered comments and insight that were so bizarre and out of the
ordinary from what the usual guys talk about that at one point early on, Funaoka
Announcer who called the action today laughed out loud at one of Takamisakari's
answers. He was able to keep his composure as the broadcast got rolling, and
it's a good thing because the cameras focused on Furiwake a lot...as they should have
because I am exhibit #1 of someone who found myself eager to get through each
bout just so I could hear Takamisakari's comments afterwards.
At one point during the broadcast, they showed a clip as the majority of fans
began entering the Kokugikan of Takamisakari standing at the front door and
giving everyone a high five as they entered the venue. I assume he probably gave
a thousand fans at least a high five, but the NHK producer chose to show a clip
just as three hotties were coming through the door. NHK ain't stupid, and I like
how they're making Takamisakari a focus of the basho early on. Ideally, you want
the sumo to carry the load, but when it's as bland as it's been the first two
days, it's nice to have Furiwake-oyakata in your bullpen in a pinch.
As long as we're talking about bizarre figures in sumo, let's begin today's
comments with rookie M16 Daikiho. Whenever a new guy is promoted to the
division, they'll of course focus on him with interviews and little vignettes
to help us get to know the guy better, and I've noticed with Daikiho that he's
trying to create this personality about him almost as if he's auditioning for
Japanese variety TV shows. For example, they had all of the rookies introduce
themselves outside of Ryogoku Kokugikan and say their name, their stable, where
they're from, their brand of sumo, etc. and after Daikiho said all this, he
raised his arm with a fist and gave a little shout...something that goes against
protocol for a sumo rikishi's behavior, but it was an obvious attempt to start
creating a name for himself as a unique character.
Then, prior to his bout
today against M15 Chiyonokuni he went spoonman from that Soundgarden video
slapping his body all over and creating a ruckus before he grabbed his last
handful of salt. Dude's already starting to annoy me, and I've only watched him
for two days now. It's one thing to act like that and win, but it's a different story
when you act like a fool and then get your ass kicked on the dohyo. Today he
struck well against Chiyonokuni but couldn't back up fast enough from there,
and once the bout turned to a pull-fest, it favored the more experienced
Chiyonokuni who was just too nimble for Daikiho to land a solid punch. Thanks to
his retreating opponent, Chiyonokuni (2-0) scored the easy oshi-dashi win in the
end while the winless Daikiho has got to focus less on his quirks and more on sound sumo.
In a bout featuring two more rookies, M15 Homarefuji showed a decent tsuppari
attack, but his lower half is about as potent as dude in his 90's.
M16 Azumaryu really didn't do anything other than hold his ground at the
tachi-ai and then move laterally a bit allowing Homarefuji to shove himself into
a belly flop for the second day in a row. When this kind of sumo happens
repeatedly, you have to examine the rikishi's footwork, and as we say around
these parts, Homarefuji ain't got none. It's shown in his 0-2 start while
Azumaryu has been defensive in notching his two wins.
Our final rookie, M14 Chiyootori, struck with a left kachi-age against M13 Daido
but then couldn't move fast enough forcing his opponent to chase him rather than
go for an all-out thrust attack. As much as I disliked the choice, the strategy
worked as "Daido" and "quickness" have never been typed in the same sentence
allowing Chiyootori to pull and knead the Dough off balance in a few seconds.
Like Azumaryu, Chiyootori's sumo hasn't been straight-forward from the gate, but
credit him for picking up two wins in as many days. Daido falls to 0-2.
I know that Daikiho is sorta campaigning to become Takamisakari's replacement as
the class clown, but M13 Masunoyama has kind of assumed that role already by
default judging by the reaction from the crowd. Today against M14 Kaisei, he
henka'd to his left and quickly dispatched his foe with a shove to Kaisei's
side. Yes this was a henka, but Kaisei was going down before Masunoyama could
even offer a token shove, which means Kaisei is fighting only with his upper
body resulting in these unsightly losses. This one was ugly all the way around
as Masunoyama moves to 2-0 to the delight of the fans while Kaisei still looks
horrible at 0-2.
M11 Shotenro struck hard into M12 Kyokushuho inviting a quick pull attempt, but
Shotenro had all the momentum and went for the do-or-die shove near the edge.
Kyokushuho (1-1) evaded left and tried to keep his feet, but Shotenro's been in
a million bouts like this one and dispatched the youngster via oshi-dashi in the
end. He's 2-0 if ya need him.
M11 Gagamaru kept a right paw square into M12 Wakanosato's throat keeping Croconosato
far away from the belt, and the perfect tachi-ai set up the left hand at
Wakanosato's side pushing the veteran back and out in about two seconds.
Gagamaru's domination of Wakanosato continued today as he picked up his first
win. Wakanosato's in trouble at 0-2.
M10 Toyohibiki caught M12 Kyokutenho with a left nodowa raising him up and
preparing him for the quick force-out despite Kyokutenho's feeble right inside
grip. When caught at the tachi-ai like this, Kyokutenho can no longer evade nor
counter at the edge, so this is a good example of what I was talking about in
my pre-basho report when I forecast his demise before the end of the year. Both rikishi end the
day at 1-1.
M10 Chiyotairyu blasted M9 Ikioi back from the tachi-ai with two hands to the
chest, but he just couldn't trust himself to finish off the job and continue
moving forward. As a result, he let Ikioi back into the bout by committing one
of those phantom swipes down Ikioi's torso, but all that netted was Chiyotairyu
slipping off balance, so after a few more seconds of cat and mouse sumo,
Chiyotairyu just flopped to the dohyo as a result of poor balance. Both
combatants are 1-1.
M7 Fujiazuma and M8 Sadanofuji butt heads at the tachi-ai drawing blood from
Fujiazuma's forehead, but it didn't stop the chubbier Fuji from turning
Sadanofuji's upright stance into a big target pummeling him across the dohyo and
back. You gotta love it when a rikishi gets bloodied and wins the bout as
Fujiazuma did improving to 2-0. Sadanofuji falls to 0-2.
In thee worst tachi-ai two days in, M7 Jokoryu and M8 Tokitenku just stood up at
the "charge" anticipating the other guy's shenanigans...well, it actually was mostly
a case of Jokoryu suspecting something from Tenku. When no funny bidness
occurred, the two just assumed the gappuri migi-yotsu position that saw
Tokitenku use his superior yotsu skills to force Jokoryu back and across without
argument. This is a perfect example of how Tokitenku (2-0) is in a lot of his
opponents' heads even if it is the for the wrong reason. Jokoryu falls to 0-2.
M5 Shohozan was too hesitant before the tachi-ai taking himself out of rhythm
from the start, so when he finally lunged into M6 Takekaze for real, his feet didn't
come along for the ride, so with him leaning forward stiff as a board at a 45
degree angle, Takekaze just slapped his sorry arse to the dirt. Not exactly the
way you want to make another run at the sanyaku as Shohozan falls to 1-1 while
Takekaze is a quiet 2-0.
In a wild push/pull affair, M6 Yoshikaze looked to strike and evade, but M5
Takayasu eventually caught him with the left to the inside and right outer to
boot scoring the solid force-out win in the end. Takayasu evens things up at 1-1
while Yoshikaze is a bleak 0-2.
M4 Toyonoshima easily secured moro-zashi against M3 Takarafuji and forced his
gal back despite an early hiccup as he went for a one-handed pull when
Takarafuji attempted to retreat. Didn't matter, though, as Takarafuji isn't even
looking to win this basho, and so Tugboat bodied back up with his foe and forced
him across with ease. Toyonoshima picks up his first bunny while Takarafuji
(0-2) will be lucky to win 2 the entire fortnight.
In another slow motion tachi-ai, M3 Aran just looked to the side and stood up
straight allowing M4 Aoiyama to initiate a beefy tsuppari attack for which Aran
had no answer. The Russian was flat footed and nonchalant as Aoiyama drove him
back and across the straw without argument. What is this...like the 10th bout in
a row that was so lopsided and boring that I actually began to YouTube old
episodes of Japanese shogi matches to keep myself awake. Aoiyama moves to
2-0 while Aran is a listless 0-2.
In the sanyaku ranks, M2 Tochinoshin drove straight into a hidari-yotsu contest
with Sekiwake Baruto, and the Estonian easily reached around Tochinoshin's side
to grab the right outer grip. From here it was a two second wait for Baruto to
gather his wits before going for the uwate-nage kill that was as spectacular as
you please. Another sleeper as Baruto moves to 2-0 while TochiNoShine is just
that at 0-2.
Once I saw Kitataiki step atop the dohyo, I knew our luck would change...or not.
Against Ozeki Kisenosato, the two charged into the quick hidari-yotsu contest
that saw the Kid drive Kitataiki back methodically while fishing for the right
outer grip. His fingers finally caught hold on a single front flap of the belt
prolonging the yori-kiri at the tawara as Kitataiki arched his back and dug in,
but he had nowhere else to go and eventually stepped out. Kisenosato breezes to
2-0 while Kitataiki is 0-2.
Sekiwake Goeido charged in low getting the right arm inside against Ozeki
Kotooshu, but with the Bulgarian upright, Goeido made no effort to parlay his
charge into moro-zashi opting instead to back out and go for a stupid pull.
Kotooshu was on the move and forced the bout back into migi-yotsu, and once
again, Goeido made an epic mistake trying to get the outer left crocodile arms
and all. Kotooshu had to have been laughing at this point as he strangled Goeido
over to the edge and dumped him off the dohyo via yori-kiri picking up a much
needed second win in his quest for eight. Goeido falls to 1-1 and thankfully
there's no hype surrounding him today. He coulda had moro-zashi twice and failed
to read the situation instead keeping his arm to the outside.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku briefly had moro-zashi at the tachi-ai against Komusubi
Okinoumi but wisely opted to attack leading with the left arm which was in
deeper. He quickly moved his right arm from the shallow inside position to the
solid outer grip and easily dispatched Okinoumi from there. Uneventful as
Kotoshogiku moves to 2-0 while any feelings of wanting to root for the 0-2
Okinoumi are quickly dissipating.
Komusubi Tochiohzan won the tachi-ai against Ozeki Kakuryu with his size
standing his ground as the Kak fired tsuppari into his neck, but Oh failed to
grab moro-zashi when it was there instead opting for cat and mouse sumo where
both rikishi offer shoves and then evade. Tochiohzan maintained the advantage
thanks to his tachi-ai, but when he had Kakuryu on the ropes and on the run,
Tochiohzan just couldn't keep up in his footwork allowing the Ozeki to escape
along the edge while Oh ran out
of room stepping out in the process. This was a
tough luck bout as the Komusubi falls to 0-2 while Kakuryu is an ugly 2-0.
Yokozuna Hakuho looked for the right inner at the tachi-ai against M1
Aminishiki, but Shneaky ducked low and stayed in tight denying anything to the
inside, so the Yokozuna easily readjusted and just shoved Aminishiki over with a
right paw to Aminishiki's left shoulder. Easy peasy Japanesey as Hakuho improves
to 2-0 while Aminishiki falls to 0-2.
We've come this far without a single entertaining bout, and even though a
Yokozuna would go down in the day's final contest, it was still as uneventful as
they come. M1 Myogiryu moved to his left against Harumafuji throwing the
Yokozuna off balance a bit, and as the Yok tried to recover, his arms were too
wide to the outside allowing mYogi Bear to connect with a fierce right shove to
the neck knocking HowDo further upright. As Myogiryu drove forward, Harumafuji
tried to slap him away but was quickly running out of room, and when Myogiryu
went for the do-or-die shove, Harumafuji's foot touched out before he could pull
Myogiryu outta the dohyo. The response from the fans was
despite the kin-boshi effort, but whenever a henka is used to defeat a Yokozuna,
it takes away the excitement and significance of the bout. Both rikishi
end the day at 1-1.
I hope today's report isn't perceived as negative, but by far the biggest clash
on the broadcast was the outfit worn by the chick sitting behind
Takamisakari. I mean, I love my flower jeans as much as the next girl, but I'm
so sure...wearing them with a polka dot blouse? Puh-lease!
Speaking of dudes and glam, Kane rocks your world tomorrow.
(Clancy Kelly reporting)
When we read
the opening line of Mikes pre-basho, where he told us he had "scrutinized" the
headlines and found zip vis a vis talking points, we knew we were, well, "scrud."
Weve always been bored to tears by the May basho, frankly. January is exciting
cause its the new year, and March cause its Osaka. But May takes us back to
Tokyo (an overrated venue for sure) right after the Golden Week when weve
drank/eaten/shagged ourselves stupid for four or five days. It is just not that
easy to get excited by it.
So with few talking points in the media, we figured its bound to be a ho hum
tourney. Day One seemed to bear this suspicion out as there was nary a single
upset in the second half of action. So I here I sit, with a broken heart, trying
to write, but I can only (insert rude mouth noise). Still, Im game if you are.
Started out with two rookies, (or "wookies" in babytalk) Daikiho vs. Azumaryu
(or "Whats the matter with you?" in Italian). The Mongolian is big and tough
looking, and he went in with a rather upright stance and locked down on his foes
left arm, in a very Kyokutenho manner. The smaller Daikiho spun them around
looking for the kill, but Azzamaddyu maintained balance and control, lifting up
to get the moro-zashi double inside and driving Daikiho out and down. Some judge
sitting ringside wanted to make a name for himself and called a conference, but
it was much ado about nothing and the E16 was awarded his first ever Makuuchi
win. Id say that calls for a drink! (Course, I would say that
after how much I drank in Golden Week. Example? I was drinking beer and sake
all day at a friends house about an hours bike ride from home. Next thing I can
recall I woke up in my own bed the next morning. My bike was out front, and I
had no injuries and my clothing no blood stains. Id call that "a win," but only
by a hair.)
Another newcomer in Homarefuji went up against Chiyonokuni, who played it like
his senpai Chiyotaikai did in his waning years, getting hammered back at
tachi-ai and resorting to desperate slap and pull down for the win as he leapt
out. This wasnt even a case of Homarefuji leaving his feet behind him as he
charged. He just succumbed to a perfectly placed shoulder/neck pulldown. Had
Chiyonokuni miscalculated just a tiny bit Homarefuji would be staring at his
first win in the top division rather than a big ol bagel.
The final rookie was next as Chiyootori got handed the mighty Kaisei. The
Brasilian won the tachi-ai, but the much smaller Chiyootori managed to swing
around and get a belt, which he used to come close and lift up. Kaisei still had
a very good outside right belt and inside left pit, but as he made to wing the
rookie to the dirt, the rookie used a beltless left arm throw to fling the E14
down. This bout is worth you running to YouTube to see. Incredible strength and
balance by the newbie as Kaisei strikes out.
I think Masunoyama did a kind of "hop-skip thrust arms down" guts pose after
absolutely slaughtering Daido, but quickly realized hed better cover it up so
started huffing and puffing like hed just finished building a pyramid on his own
and kept it up all the way through the presentation of the few envelopes. His
act gives everyone the chance to claim it wasnt a guts pose (which is a strict
no-no in sumo), just his natural energy flowing. Thats not to say he didnt
work hard for a few seconds, just pounding his foe at tachi-ai in the throat,
hitting him once again, expertly timing Daidos rebuttal with a good slap on his
forearms, and then one last shove that sent him hard to the clay, but not so
hard as to warrant looking like Martin after copulating with the Queen of
England (have no idea where that line came from). On a side note, mightnt
Musoyama become the fans new Takamisakari? Hes quirky and wears his emotions on
Wakanosato, ageless, timeless took on young and hungry Kyokushuho, who was up in
these parts early last year for a short visit but then fell all the way to
Makushita (evidently due to injury). Showing the kind of power that led him to a
jun-yusho in Juryo in Jan and then the Juryo yusho in March, today he forced
Wakanosato back at first, but the veteran leaned in on his foe as he is wont to
do. Kyokushuho danced them backward and went for the belt throw from the lower
back grip, but the Croc somehow hopped his way out of it, balancing on the straw
long enough for the Mongolian to lose his grip. As the E12 was twirling on one
foot Kyokushuho spun himself around and immediately came back at the former
Sekiwake, smashing him out and to the floor of the building.
Shotenro and Gagamaru went man to man, with both guys pushing attacked nicely
centered and solid, but in the end the Georgian was slowly but surely driven out
by the Mongolian after he gained the moro-zashi.
Chiyotairyu began with a strong slapping attack but quickly shifted gears and
let Toyohibiki come to him as he backed up. As they neared the edge it looked
like The Hutt would prevail, but with his back to the straw, the third Chiyo of
the day used his left hand on the back of the belt and flipped the living crap
out of the W10, crashing to his knees himself in the process. Wild win.
Yet another stupendous flip (which does not mean great sumo, btw; nor,
necessarily, poor sumo) as Kyokutenho used a strong left back belt grip to sling
down Ikioi after an energetic belt battle. But should we really be surprised
when the Chauffer shows someone the door? Arfarf.
A very similar belt battle ensued next twixt Tokitenku and Sadanofuji. Tokitenku
was able to resist a determined press by his foe, with the high point being
driven back and having his heel hover about seven sand grains above the outside
clay before he forced it back to center and got Sadanofuji turned around and
drove him out.
Takekaze brought his Eh game with him as he slid to the side at tachi-ai and his
foe, the hapless Jokoryu, hollered, "Eh?!" Up the long ladder and down the short
rope for THIS kind of sumo.
The sides of the dohyo had changed, but not much else as Fujiazuma whooped on
Yoshikaze on Day for the second basho in a row. At least this time Starbuck was
able to remain on his feet and on the dohyo as he was shoved out, unlike in
Osaka when he landed off the dohyo on his ass, hard! Lil Fuji has got the power.
In front of gold Hat Man gold belted Shohozan repeatedly gave Takayasu all ten
of his golden fingers until the Dub5 was crashing to his gluts on the (ouch)
edge of the dohyo. Calling the fall "inglorious" would be ennobling, but propers
to Takayasu for making his foe finish the job instead of just stepping out like
some do. There must be a general order for this day to all the rasslers—fight
till you win or die!!
Toyonoshima lent his chest to Aoiyama, and the pirate prince pounded on pecs
till he powered his puny peer to perdition. Seriously, though, the final hit to
Tugboats chest made it look like the W4 got his with an uppercut as he went out
in the Matrix style.
Baruto and Aran hooked up into a belt battle, but with two very good grips, the
former/future? Ozeki methodically eased his opponent out for the win.
Goeido moved nicely at tachi-ai, getting up and under Takarafuji, who had no
answer and was quickly removed from the equation in style. Also Takarafuji
showed us all what his nads are truly worth by putting his hand down to brace
his fall. We shall not forget.
Kotooshu won. Sorry about being so blunt and short, but I kind of just wanted to
see how it felt to type those words. In todays bout, he got Tochinoshin turned
around damnably easily and from there it was a hop, skip, and belly bump to win
#1. Must be watching Geeku in practice.
Speaking of the Big Bopper, he had about as much trouble with Kitataiki today as
Mike had with his first front clasping brassiere, which is to say None, dude!!
Another dunce of a MIB decided that what everyone had seen, namely Kisenosato
escaping from a moro-zashi and using Myogiryus arm to swing him out and down
into the expensive seats, was not that clear and called a lengthy conference
only to be told to STFD! Not sure how Myogi bears this loss. Ugly, to lose after
getting in so nicely and having your enemy back to the edge.
Cheap win for a Yokozuna as Harumafuji was already pivoting as he hit and
grabbed the back of Okinoumis belt, which led to simply using his momentum to
escort the Komusubi out. But seeing as how Harumafuji is one of the all-time
zensho winnings Yokos, whos to say whats what, eh?
Tochiohzan escaped a Hakuho onslaught at the edge by deftly lifting up on the
Yokozunas arm and managing to get pushing on him near the center. Of course
Hakuho was intent on winning, so he lowered his hips and resisted, and when Oh
Snap went for the final push, Hakuho, with his feet on the bales, got a deep
belt moro-zashi and Tochi knew he was dead, basically giving up and moving back
as Kublai turned him to the side and placed him outside the ring. In case youd
like to know what would have happened had Tochiohzan pressed in when Hakuho had
the double grip on his belt? He would have been lifted off his feet and possibly
maimed as the Yokozuna spun and crushed him down on the edge of the dohyo or
floor. And really, who wants to see THAT? (Answer: Me!)
Ill be back on Day 8. Tomorrow sees Sumotalks Yoda explain why the sumo watch
you should, myes.
And btw, Im not a heavy drinker. I weigh only 80!