Who’s in charge of music at NHK Sports? Fire that man! It’s more than obvious NHK is coming up with little features in attempt to round up more audience. It’s certainly true the bouts of yesteryear are a joy to watch. Good idea, but cut the Oscars Lifetime Achievement Award music.
Today featured Kotonishiki. Might not have heard of him, but he was a hell of a rikishi back in the day. Small in stature, he might have won only two yusho in his carrer, but least we forget that his Kyushu 1998 yusho came from Maegashira 12! Oh, and he finished 14-1. In this feature, nothing spelled out awkwardness more than Kotonishiki’s reenactment of his trademark tachiai with the NHK announcer. I’m glad to see NHK attempting to spice things up a bit with their broadcasts, but kill the soundtrack.
M11E Shotenro (6-3) vs. M13E Okinoumi (7-2): Shotenro started his tachiai with his arms outside of Don Juan’s, then wrapped in on the handsome devil. Oki slipped out of it with a back-step, and with Sho somewhat off balance Don Juan moved in close for a belt grip and pressed forward for a force-out win. Great start for Don Juan, who earns kachikoshi on Day 10.
M16E Sokokurai (5-4) vs. M11W Shimotori (1-8): Everybody’s heard about the bird? B-b-b-bird, bird, bird, b-bird’s hurt. Bird, bird, bird, the bird is hurt. B-b-b-bird, bird, bird, b-bird’s hurt. Bird, bird, bird, the bird is hurt. B-b-b-bird, bird, bird, b-bird’s hurt. Bird, bird, bird, the bird is hurt. Well, don’t you know about the bird? Well, everybody knows that the bird is hurt! The bird still won, but he’s hurt!
M13W Kotokasuga (4-5) vs. M10W Hakuba (5-4): the 33 year old Kotokasuga is having a decent basho for a juryo mainstay like himself. Henkaba shifted to the left at the tachiai, and Koto read it like an erotic-art photo book found at your local Japanese book store (makes for great gifts), and stood steady swinging at Henkaba who was on the run from the point the henka failed. Easy push-out win for Kotokasuga.
M9E Takamisakari (3-6) vs. M15W Toyohibiki (5-4): head-to-head has been even 4-4 between these two. Beeker hit hard from the tachiai, but Ringo took it like a brickwall at first. Upon closer contact between the two, Beeker pushed Ringo’s chest upwards and pressed forward, meeting the rice bales. Force-out win, and Ringo’s got a long way from kachikoshi this basho. JSA can add Sekitori-kun in all kinds of colors, but don’t let the Banzuke Committee drop Takamisakari out of Makuuchi or you’ll be in a financial hole which would make the eikaiwa industry look stable!
M16W Tochinonada (7-2) vs. M9W Wakanosato (7-2): head-to-head goes way back, like September 1998. The two are 18-14 in Waka’s favor. Waka was very fast at the tachiai, essentially winning the opening battle. Waka scored additional points by gaining his grip, but Tochi slipped to the left just a bit which was enough to pull off an arm-lock throw on Waka who had lost his balance from the speedy tachiai which hit his opponent slightly off target. Tochi gains his kachikoshi on Day 10.
M12W Mokonami (5-4) vs. M6W Gagamaru (4-5): shoves all around at the tachiai, but they separate and recoup for a while, then after a few more jabs Mokonami got a hand on Gaga’s belt, which he used attempting a throw, but Gaga wasn’t ready to go down just yet. From the bales Gaga rallied with some thrusts to ward off his opponent, but Moko slipped through a few misses and got a belt grip once again. Gaga reached to even things in a belt battle, but couldn’t, so he resorted to some hug-n-chug action. With the tight belt grip, Mokonami swung Gaga left and right trying to get the giant off balance. Meanwhile, Gaga pressed forward on Moko. Once Gaga got a left inside, the both paused for a breather. After a while, Moko shifted to the left and swung Gaga around towards the bales. Gaga stayed on his feet and kept the grip, but was in a more dangerous position near the edge. Another breather ensued. Withholding Gaga’s attempts at gaining the right hand grip, Moko took an opportunity to raise Gaga up and lead him back over the bales and out. Well earned force-out win by the Mongol. Good endurance from both men, and nice work from Moko in keeping his hips low and away from Gaga’s reach.
M7E Takekaze (4-5) vs. M4W Tokusegawa (5-4): false start by the Akitan. Apologies said, and re-do. Both came in hard at the tachiai, but Tokusegawa turned his head away on impact, and Take capitalized on this with a thrust-down win. The Akitan evens things out with a pair of 5s.
KE Tochiozan (2-7) vs. M1W Aminishiki (4-5): head-to-head is 7-4 in Tochi’s favor, though Amy got the last win in November. Amy was a bit too high at an otherwise even tachiai. Tochi pressed on Amy’s throat and chest and stayed balanced and square on his opponent as he thrust Amy out of the ring. Push-out win for O, who still doesn’t look that pretty at 3-7, despite the sideburns.
M2E Tochinoshin (1-8) vs. KW Kakuryu (4-5): Noshin thought he’d do a pull down right from the tachiai on the Kak, but the Kak shoved right through it. Once he gave up that attempt, Noshin worked in some long-arm shoves to get some elbow room between him and his opponent. The Kak backtracked while Noshin clumsily followed to the rice bales. Once they reloaded, Tochi tried chin thrusts and belt reaches while the Kak was looking for a pull down. Tochi’s work moved the Kak to the edge again, but with a left foot pivot on the rice bale and a right hand pull-down on Noshin’s head, the Kak’s excellent foot work and well-timed pull down got him the win. Pair of 5s for the Kak who’s got a respectable record at Komusubi.
OE Kaio (6-3) vs. SE Kisenosato (6-3): Kissy leads 14-11 in head-to-head, but Kaio has 4 of the last 5. Kissy dug in low and moved forward with a hazuoshi, but “supplies-supplies,” Methuselah pulled down Kissy for the win. Honest win? It’s really hard to see where Kissy went wrong. He wasn’t leaning forward too far, he has perfect position and momentum, but why analyze it? Why waste our time on Kaio.
M5E Goeido (6-3) vs. OW Harumafuji (6-3): both low at the tachiai, but Ama…I mean Haruma simply out powered Goeido, lifting his chest up and straight out for a frontal push-down win. Haruma is one win away from shaking off the kadoban monkey.
OE Kotooshu (8-1) vs. M4E Homasho (4-5): Kotooshu leads 8-3 in the head-to-head. Koto was too high from the start, letting Homie start his tachiai head-to-chest. Homie locked up hazuoshi and drove the ozeki straight back. Poor showing by Oshu, and precisely the kind of bout which proves why Oshu will never be Yokozuna, and hardly deserves the title “Ozeki.” Pitiful, but Oshu is still 8-2 while the Cigar Store Indian evens things out with a pair of 5s.
M3E Aran (3-6) vs. OW Baruto (8-1): as close as Aran and I are, I don’t mean to offend but he really should have been sent further south on the banzuke after that horrible 4-11 at Komusubi last basho. A 4-11, and he only falls three spots? The guy need some space to regroup, and this basho isn’t a regrouping basho for the Russian. Head-to-head is 3-1 in Bart’s favor. One false start by Aran, then tachiai: Bart was very quick and high. They wrap up with Aran on Bart’s belt, and Bart fooling around with Aran’s neck. Aran tightens his grip on Bart’s belt, lowers his hips, moves forward, and then…oh shit! Aran tsuridashi (lift-out) on Baruto. That’s right, on 188kg Baruto! Hell of a power sumo bout there and nice work by the Russia to not only win, but embarrass the Estonian. If only Aran could put that strength to use in every bout.