Hump-day, Hump-day, Hump-day! Nakabi, Day 8, a day in the middle of a two week sandwich, and how did Virgil Valentine spend it? Sumo, a bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage, and a Bolivar Double Corona. While there was some ho-hum sumo overall, the smoke was fabulous and the bourbon was essential.
Day 7 was something else, eh? If you didn’t see/hear what NHK dragged in for Day 7, consider yourself fortunate. We rag on Hiro Morita cos he’s no Murray Johnson or Ross Mihara, but yesterday you had to feel sorry for the guy, suck in the NHK booth with a man who identifies himself as a “Demon” of some cult. Granted, the Demon does know sumo and is quite the wailing tenor, but listening to him as an *English commentator*…it was like adult eikaiwa students have taken over at NHK, but just the ones dressed like they were kicked out of KISS for being too flamboyant.
Today, they mellowed things down a bit with the man from Bawstin, David Shapiro, and Hiro Morita to take another beating.
Top dawgs in sumo are the makunouchi. Top division started off with Mongol Koryu (3-4) vs. Mongol Shotenro (6-1). After two false starts, the Mongols get things rolling with a thrust battle with such an impact at initial charge, both men’s necks bend back from the blast. Koryu’s blasts were quicker while Shotenro was more on the defensive. Koryu used this advantage to set up Shotenro for a pull down, hatakikomi style.
Former Team Aomori teammates as amateurs and the same age, Takamisakari (3-4) took on his contemporary, Bushuyama (1-6), who leads the head-to-head record 4-2. Head-to-head bouts from these guys tend to be good, as no one wants to be ‘the bad apple’ in the bunch. Tak first went for a left-hand inside grip which he missed, but Mr. Bush hit so low and hard at the tachai, upon contact he lost his balance and Tak used that chance to launch an underarm swing-down, defeating the well-endowed one. How about them apples?
Goeido (5-2) vs. Tokitenku (6-1): 5-1 in Goeido’s favor. On third try, the two had a rockin’ tachiai, with some strong shoves but Goeido worked himself in between the thrusts and it became a belt match up. Toki tried a leg trip which didn’t work as Go narrowed in on him. At the bales Toki flexed his calf muscles and hung on, then with enough pressure pitched Go on a perfect utchari (backwards pivot throw)…perfect except Toki let his foot slip well before Go went flying. The judges didn’t even need to talk this one over. Go wins with a yoritaoshi, but overall a not-bad bout for rank-and-filers (yes, I consider Goeido a rank-and-filer).
Georgian Gagamaru (2-5) vs. Korean Kasugao (1-6) Gaga stayed low and moved forward at the initial charge. With stronger opponents, they can use Gaga’s size to knock him off balance. Kasugao’s thrusts are power-puff panda-punches these days, so Gaga had no trouble thrusting Kasugao straight back and out of the ring, oshidashi.
Morita: “Isn’t it bigger is better in sumo?”
Shapiro: “Not really. It’s not like that.”
Morita: “Oh, okay.”
Kyokutenho (6-1) vs. Okinoumi (4-3) A good 11 years in age difference between these two, but you wouldn’t have known the senior from junior in their sumo today. Oki was in faster on the tachiai but served himself right into Kyoku’s hands. Kyoku lockes up a strong grip but as he takes a breather, Oki also solidified his grip. Even left-hand outside, right inside, chest to chest, Kyoku drives and picks up Oki to swing him out and over the bales. Tachiai: Kyoku wins. Technique: Kyoku wins. Strength: Kyoku wins. Bout: Kyoku wins. Okidoki was outclassed by the Ole-Timer in every regard.
Tochinonada (3-4) vs. Toyonoshima (6-1) The two went chest-first at the tachai, neither really vying for a grip, just pushing. Toyo realized this and stepped back gaining a right-hand outside grip and swinging Tochinonada outward with a okuridashi win (okuridashi = position a man should never be in). 7-1 for giver, 3-5 for the receiver.
Hakuba (1-6) vs. Kokkai (3-4) The hair on an ass mole jumped to the right at the initial charge, achieving the right-hand outside. Kokkai must have never seen a Hakuba bout…ever. Hakuba digs his hair-on-an-ass-mole head into Kokkai’s hairy chest and stayed to the Georgian’s side. Kok retaliates with a lame leg-sweep attempt which resulted in he losing his own balance and putting a hand down. The “W” to the hair on an ass mole.
Kimurayama (3-4) vs. Takekaze (3-4) Soft, gentle, tender lovin’ tachiai with Take gaining more ground than Kimmy. Take worked quickly with some thrusts and slaps from the sides while Kimmy attempted to hold him off with a nodowa (throat music in E♭). Shoving off the nodowa, Take spins Kim off balance a bit and leeches on for an easy and humbling okuridashi win (click here for a demonstration).
I haven’t said anything about Hakuho’s loss heard ‘round the world on Day 2, but it was a hell of a bout and perhaps the bout of the year (for me it doesn’t beat Asashoryu vs. Baruto in Hatsu). It wasn’t that Hakuho wasn’t focused. He fought very well. It was just that Kisenosato had his shit together like never before. Unfortunately, just over a week ago I chose to report this day, expecting it to be the day Hakuho would surpass Futabayama’s seven decade record of 69 consecutive wins. Really, in the end it doesn’t take all that much away. Hakuho is great, and he has the potential to surpass records set by Asashoryu, Chiyonofuji, Taiho, and even Futabayama. Hang with him. This one wasn’t his record to be held just yet, but he’s still untouchable 99% of the time, and still young. He is currently tied with Futabayama and Taiho for first place in most zensho (8), he is in the running right now for most consecutive yusho (7, by Asashoryu), and the real record to beat is 32 yusho by Taiho (he’s currently at 16). And he’s only 25 years old. Great things come with time.
If Kisenosato can pull that kimboshi shit off even half the time, he’d already be an ozeki. Today, he took on Asasekiryu (1-6). Kissy (5-2) is three wins away from an outstanding performance prize (a rikishi must have kachikoshi before earning a special prize). If he wins the prize, it’ll be only the second time since 2008 anyone has won it (Baruto won it in January of this year). Initial charge: Sexy came in lower and much quicker. The men locked up and both stayed low fighting off the grabs for grips of their opponents. After a pause, Kissy was able to life up Sexy and keep up a forward pressure taking Sexy to the bales, then reversing with a thrust down, tsukiotoshi.
Tochiozan (4-3) vs. Aminishiki (3-4) Wiley Coyote lead in fast and hard at the tachiai to a Tochiozan who had nothing going. First thrusts, then on the belt and leading Oh back a few steps, then switching back the thrusts, baffling his slow-witted junior and before Oh knew it out of the ring. This man is on a road to NOzeki, and certainly deserves it.
…okay, so I apologize for that zinger.
Kotoshogiku (2-5) vs. Kakuryu (4-3) Both move in close at the tachiai without thrusts, just chest to chest. This resulted in Geek gaining the edge by launching his gabburi® straight out. Force out win for the Geek, while the Kak has an even pair (huh, huh).
Homasho (5-2) vs. Old Man Kaio (6-1) Head-to-head is 6-1 in Kaio’s favor. One false start, five yards back. Tachiai: Kaio tries a weak slap down which gives the Cigar Store Indian a chance to move in. Kaio steps back near the bales to keep an arms-length, and naturally, Methuselah took the arms of Geronimo, and moved the junior back launching an armbar throw on way. After one armbar throw, Ho was still standing, so Kaio launched another the other way and Cigar Store was down. Was it a legit win? I don’t know. I don’t care. I’ve seen enough phony bouts from Kaio. I’d be among those supporting him if I didn’t fall for all the previous shenanigans before. “Oh, but he’s the Japanese hope?” Really? Isn’t that pathetic?
Kitataiki (3-4) vs. Baruto (6-1) Bart stood up too high at the initial charge, but it didn’t matter since Kita didn’t do anything with that possible advantage. Thrusting, Bart moved in closer, while Kita was just moved back but slipping to the side near the bales. With both men near the edge, Bart did a one-handed thrust of strength taking Kita out with his left and even added a dameoshi afterwards just for flavor.
Bulgarian Kotooshu (4-3) vs. Georgian Tochinoshin (3-4) Oshu leads head-to-head 4-2. From the tachiai, Oshu moved to the left but gained a left-hand outside, right-hand inside. Noshin tried to even it up with the same style grips, but Oshu dropped his hips to keep out of the Georgian’s reach. Oshu drove forward and once Noshin ended up feet on rice bales, Oshu reversed the direction and tossed Noshin down to the clay. A decent win from Oshu, but would have liked to see more of a challenge from Noshin here.
Hakuho (6-1) vs. Aran (2-5) Hak quick on initial charge with Aran hardly moving. Daiyokozuna raised Aran’s body, then went for the right-hand inside, left outside grip, shook his hips so Aran couldn’t secure a grip, the charged forward, winning yorikiri-style (force-out).
And there you have it. Only one week of sumo left in 2010. Hakuho vowed “this will be a very interesting tournament for fans.” Is the Yokozuna correct? Sterling Brown to launch us into the final week tomorrow.