Is it safe to say sumo hit rock bottom? Can we say this, or am I being a bit rash? Because every time we say this they seem to somehow outdo themselves. But really, I’m struggling to think what is more damning to a sport than the revelation of a massive bout-fixing scandal. How about the revelation that a dozen sekitori rikishi are actually women?
Today brings the first televised sumo since January. I for one want to look forward to reemerge of ‘decent sumo,’ and I’m just hoping finally they’ve hit rock bottom, because from there, it’s no way but up.
A few bouts of note in Juryo, were a whoppin’ seven rikishi dawn the silk sekitori mawashis for the first time.
EJ6 Sadanoumi vs. WJ6 Kaonishiki: Akitan Kaonishiki can finally stop licking Takamisakari’s boots and focus on his sumo…and his sideburns. Kao had some good thrusts upstairs, but was squirming backwards, letting Sadanoumi gain on him. With a twist to the right, the 32 year old Akitan pulled a hand pull-down, bringing his opponent down in a bout way too soft even for Juryo.
EJ5 Hochiyama vs. WJ5 Takanoyama: Takanoyama has been Kisenosato’s bitch for years now, but he’s unshackled and taking on Hochiyama whose 41 kilos heavier than the Czech. Right to belt with left, but Hochiyama shook it off, thus throwing the Bohemian off balance, went for morozashi, and Hochi pushed forward for a force out win.
EJ4 Kokkai vs. WJ4 Aoiyama: A Georgian on the decline and a Bulgarian on the rise. The two conch heads at the tachiai, then Kokkai easily shook off the careless junior with a slap-down win.
And in the big show…
EM14 Takamisakari vs. WM14 Tochinonada: A lot of history, 17-10 in Ringo’s favor. Ringo came in with a right-hand outside, left-hand in, which set up nicely for an over-arm throw to the left. Easy win for the Apple farmer.
EM7 Tokitenku vs. WM7 Gagamaru: Gaga had a strong forward thrust onto Toki10, keeping his balance, but just teetering. At one point Gaga grasped Toki10’s leg as he drove forward. This actually worked against him as the tall Mongol just had to force his leg down and continue backward in large strides, throwing Gaga off balance. Toki shook Gaga off with what was called an over-arm throw, but was more just typical sloppy sumo by the Georgian.
EM6 Tamawashi vs. WM6 Aran: Henka by Aran.
EM5 Kaisei vs. WM5 Wakanosato: Waka was faster and drove a bit forward at the tachiai, but the Brazilian got a steady left-hand outside, and after a bit of patty cake, slipped inside the right-hand for a grip and drove forward, force-out win for Kaisei.
EM4 Okinoumi vs. WM4 Takekaze: Don Juan fighting two “kaze’s” today; tonsillitis, and the Akitan. Some good bitch-slapping by the two with Take waiting for an opportunity for a slap-down and Don Juan standing steady, but finally finishing the little devil off with a beltless arm-throw. Okinoumi wins.
WM3 Aminishiki vs. WS2 Kakuryu: Amisneaky leads head-to-head 11-4, but the Kak is coming off an excellent 12-3 performance in May. Today, Kak stepped back from the tachiai, but was able to gain a right-hand outside, left-hand inside and drive an ailing Amisneaky out, force-out win.
EM3 Wakakoyu vs. WS1 Kisenosato: it’s been eight and a half years since these two locked up. Today, Waka kept Kissy off at the tachiai with a full-armed thrust, but it didn’t last as Kissy slapped it off and easily thrust Waka out of the ring, push-out style.
ES1 Kotoshogiku vs. WM2 Toyonoshima: head-to-head 19-7 in Geek’s favor. Geek’s also being buffed up for an Ozeki-run by turning in 11 and 10 wins in January and May respectively. But, did I see this one right? Bang at tachiai, and when the dust settled, Toyo had advanced a yard on the Geek. They both pushed up upon each other looking for a grip, and Toyonoshima initiated the hug-n-chug® on the Geek! Geek is now consulting with his lawyers while Toyonoshima enjoys his first win of the tournament.
EM2 Kyokutenho vs. WO Kotooshu: Kadoban after a dismal performance in May, Koto walked into Kyoku’s grip, but Kyoku was just too weak to do anything with this spoon-fed opportunity. Flailing around for a while, Kyoku lost his grip and Koto easily drove the elder Mongol out. I can’t see Oshu coming out with enough wins to shake the kadoban label this basho if he chooses to continue handing his belt over to opponents at the tachiai. Today was fortunate, but it won’t be that easy later days.
EO Kaio vs. WM1 Yoshikaze: two-to-oh in Kaio’s favor, but kinda tough to win bouts without yaocho, eh? No grips at tachiai, but Yoshi kept in constant movement easily throwing Kaio off balance, and Yoshi came in behind Methuselah and won with a rear push-out. Oh, and Kaio was fighting today to tie some sort of record or something? Most yaocho wins, or something like this? Nice work by Yoshikaze.
EM1 Tosayutaka vs. WO Harumafuji: Good tachiai by Haruma, straight into Tosa, getting the right-hand inside, left-hand out, and push to the edge where the Gorilla bent like a Berg cock and while attempting an utchari (backward pivot-throw) on the Ozeki, Tosa’s right heel graced the snake-eye sand just a split second before Haruma tumbled out of the ring. Nice bout and win by Harumafuji.
EO Baruto vs. EK Goeido: Goeido, who has been known to shake a win from the Estonian Tree from time to time, attacked in low at the tachiai, but on Bart who really has a choice but to go in low, right? Bart was up too high as always, but got a good belt grip and picked up Goeido tsuridashi style, and walked him out. A lift-out win for Bart. They’re candy for the fans, but Bart best work on other techniques besides these crane lifts. The good rikishi never fall for it.
EY Hakuho vs. WK Tochinoshin: The Yokozuna is 8-0 on the Georgian. Shin went looking for a grip at the tachiai rather than thrusts, but Haku didn’t even need a grip because once making contact, he drove into Tochinoshin and continued to press forward on his opponent over the rice bales. It looked like a butsukari-geiko practice for the yokozuna, as the Georgian (and everyone else) is leagues below the Yokozuna.
Overall, a not-bad day of sumo. Mrs. Valentine was watching next to me and commented “nice to see some hard work from the rikishi today.” Aside from that Aran henka and Kotooshu’s crap win, I’d have to agree with the missus.
Sumo reports come daily, but Daly comes tomorrow. Be sure you don’t miss it!