Aki Basho 2011: Senshuraku

David Shapiro (aka Woody Allen) quote of the day—“The Yokozuna winning every yusho is very undemocratic.”  But Dr. Shapiro, wouldn’t Hakuho sharing the wealth with others be more socialist?

Greetings sumo folks!

When this basho began just over two weeks ago, we had Harumafuji vying for yokozuna promotion, and Kakuryu, Kotoshogiku, and Kisenosato all vying for an ozeki promotion.  One of these four men has succeeded, and another is on track to do so in November.  The fact is both of these men are reviving the popularity of sumo, but not without the help of our generous, democratic Dai-yokozuna.

Starting with some fun ones in Juryo, my focus was on unknown J14W Hitenryu (4-10) vs J7W Takamisakari (6-8): Ringo wanted a left-hand outside grip, and was willing to go deep for it, but in doing so put a target on his chest for Hitenryu to drive right into.  It doesn’t matter, because 5-10 won’t keep Hitenryu from falling out of sekitorihood.  Ringo finished with 6-9, and will be around in Juryo, albeit a lower ranking.

Another fun one down-stairs…J6E Aoiyama (9-3-2) vs J13W Hokutokuni (10-4): Aoi was too high at the tachiai but was able to trust on Hokutokuni, then with a deep left-hand grip he crushed down on the opponent who was all twisted up, trying to avoid Aoi from going Ned Beatty on him.  Though Aoi was the one with a technique as they went down, the Jedi talked it over and concluded they needed a rematch on this one.  I was watching this on the stream so there wasn’t a slow-mo replay, but it seemed clear to me Aoi got this win.  Nevertheless, round two and again, Aoi was too high at the tachiai, and back pedaling to make bad worse, but Hokutokuni was blazing out of control and Aoi managed a pull-down to improve to 10-3-2.  This record will put him in good contention to join Makuuchi, if not be on top in Juryo in Kyushu.  Hokutokuni also finishes with a respectable 10-5.

A fun bout on Senshuraku is when both rikishi are 7-7.  We had one those bouts in J4E Bushuyama (7-7) vs J8E Sadanoumi (7-7): a soft tachiai with Sadan moving left, but Boobs moved in with morozashi and drove Sadan to the bales, and it took a fair but of humping, but finally got Sadan over and down, and the boy was so injured from the fall he had to leave the ring in a wheelchair.  How’s that for an injury on the last day of a tournament?  Boobs finishes at 8-7 and can move up from his 4th rank, while Sadanoumi, at 7-8, has a month and a half to recover from his new injury.

J3E Myogiryu (12-2) vs J12W Kotoyuki (9-5): Kotoyuki stalled like an old tractor with false tachiais.  Finally, it was Myogiryu’s turn to play tractor and he ploughed right through Kotoyuki.  Easy push out win for the back-to-back Juryo champion.  Myogiryu finishes Juryo at 13-2.  Sumo warlords…get that man in Makuuchi!

And up we go to the big leagues, but barley as quite a few Juryo boys were invited to the big show for Senshuraku.  In the first bout of the division, J3W Tenkaiho (7-7) took on M16W Kimurayama (7-7).  I normally wouldn’t give a fart for Kimurayama’s bouts but here we have two rikishi who have never met, both 7-7, one on the brink of promotion to Makuuchi, the other on the brink of demotion to Juryo.  Things started with a slow tachiai, but the Tenk charged well, then Kimmy took lead in this ballroom dance, forcing the Tenk back.  Once at the bales, the Tenk spun around out of danger and pushed Kimurayama out.  Kimmy finishes 7-8, and will be back to Juryo in November, while Tenkaiho (8-7) might have the chance to replace Kimmy in the big leagues.

J2W Tsurugidake (7-7) vs M15W Takanoyama (5-9): head-to-head, the Czech leads 6-1, but you wouldn’t know it by today’s sumo.  From the tachiai Taka tried out a harite, which was ridiculous coming from him.  Tsurugidake just buried the Czechman in the clay.  Tsurugi goes to 8-7 and has a shot for the big leagues in November.  Takanoyama finishes 5-10, and will be heading back to Juryo.  He’s got a lot of work to do before he shows his white ass in Makuuchi again.

M16E Kokkai (9-5) is back doing relatively well after a two-basho sojourn in Juryo.  Today he faced wily M12E Aminishiki (9-5).  Both men like right-hand inside belt battles, but this time from the tachiai Brutus went with a bitch slap.  It didn’t faze Sneaky, who stayed low and was keeping Brutus’s hands off his belt.  With Brutus getting nowhere in his belt pursuit, Sneaky drove forward with an easy push out win.  Sneaky finishes 10-5 while Brutus finishes with 9-6.

Ain’t M10W Kyokutenho (10-4) something?  I love how this old school Mongol has been whippin’ boys who were in diapers back when he joined sumo, and it’s real, not ‘the Kaio way.’  Today, he took on M6W Wakakoyu (6-8), no spring chicken, but a good decade younger than the senior Mongol.  At the tachiai, Waka tried to keep Kyoku off his belt with a thrusting attack, but it eventually failed and Kyoku got a left inside, and with Waka squirming around to keep from the edge, Kyoku chose his victory downwards rather than outwards, and wins over-arm throw.  Kyokutenho finishes at a great 11-4 which should have earned him a fighting spirit prize.  Wakakoyu calls it 6-9 for Aki Basho.

M11W Gagamaru (10-4) vs M3W Tochiozan (7-7), with a head-to-head 2-0 in O’s favor.  Gaga remained low at the tachiai and let O come right into him.  Upon contact, Gentleman Gaga drove forward with a right-paw on the throat and a left-paw on the armpit, keeping O out of reach of his belt.  Easy out.  Great win for Gaga who finishes with a well-done 11-4, and his first Fighting Spirit Prize.  Tochiozan finishes with 7-8, makekoshi determined on final day.

It’s wampaku-zumo…or it’s M3E Takekaze (4-10) vs M9W Sagatsukasa (6-8), or it could just be an elementary schoolyard spat?  Sagats was lower from the tachiai and had Take moving backwards around the ring.  Controlling the bout and with Take in retreat, Sagats tried a beltless arm throw but his arm slipped amidst the blood, sweat, and tears, and Sagats was spun around.  With that, Take finished him off easy, push out win.  Take finishes with 5-10, Sagats with 6-9.

M8E Kaisei (3-11) vs M2W Yoshikaze (6-8): Kaisei leads with good thrusts at the tachiai, keeping Yoshi dead-center.  When opportunity knocks, he locked up Yoshi morozashi, and drove forward gaining a nice force-out win.  Very nice showing from Kaisei on the final day of a largely terrible basho for the Brazilian.  Kaisei is in a lot of pain and it showed after the bout was over, making faces like an old man easing into the onsen.  The Brazilian finishes with 4-11 while Yoshikaze finishes with 6-9.

M12W Asasekiryu (7-7) vs M1W Okinoumi (7-7): Sexy came too low at the tachai and nothing henka about it, but all Oki had to do was pull down because Sexy just leaned into Oki’s hands.  Oki finishes a nice 8-7 from M1, and might make it into sanyaku in November depending on what happens there with the current sanyaku.  Sexy falls to 7-8.

M1E Homasho (9-5) vs M7W Tochinowaka (9-5): Tochinowaka, with the better tachiai, drove forward on the cigar store Indian, but Homie remembered he can do offense now too, and drove Nowaka back with two-armed blows.  Cigar Store Homie then moved in morozashi to finish off Tochinowaka, force-out win.  Homasho is sanyaku bound with a swell 10-5, and Tochinowaka will move upwards, but remain in rank-and-filedum with 9-6.

M4E Tochinoshin (7-7) vs KW Aran (5-9): YAOCHO, it tis called.  Desperation on the final day.  A right-hand inside position is what’s preferred by both men, and at the tachiai they both got it right away.  Tochi (the Georgian) tries a fun lift of Aran (the Russian).  It wasn’t crowd-awing sort of lift, but did the job for a lift-out win.  Tochi gets his kachikoshi, 8-7, in an easy win against a friend with approximately equal strength and skill in a farce of a bout.  Aran falls to 5-10, but is 5-10 so different from 6-9 when falling out of sanyaku?  All this in front of the eyes of the current prime minister and bottom-feeder, Mr. Noda.

KE Toyonoshima (7-7) vs M11E Kitataiki (10-4): tachiai, and Kttk runs like an out-of-control wind-up toy, handing over his inside chest to little Toyo from first contact.  Toyo wins a ‘strange’ one with a frontal crush-out win.  Toyo is 8-7, Kitataiki is 10-5.  Interesting two 7-7 rikishi get suspicious wins in a row.

Didn’t happen a third time.  S2E Kakuryu (8-6) vs M5E Miyabiyama (7-7): Miyabi goes right into some pulls, but it was no test for the Kak who stayed on his opponent and easily escorted his opponent out with a force-out win.  The Kak advances to 9-6 and keeps an Ozeki promotion alive (yes, it’s still mathematically possible with 14 wins in Fukuoka), while Miyabi falls to 7-8, but a decent showing from Miyabi this basho, all things considered.

Koreyori Sanyaku – it’s been a long time since all three bouts after this are relevant to the yusho race.  It is the way Senshuraku should be.

M5W Goeido (10-4) vs S1W Kisenosato (11-3): Kissy leads the head-to-head with a healthy 7-1.  This time, Kissy slipped ever so slightly to the left at the tachiai, getting a solid handle of Goeido’s upper back with his left-hand.  With Goeido leaning forward and somewhat off center of Kissy, he used arm strength and tossed Goeido down with a powerful, one armed push-down win.  Kissy finishes with 12-3, an Outstanding Performance prize, and with 11 wins or better in Kyushu, he’ll be an Ozeki by 2012.  Goeido falls to 10-5 and evidenced from this bout, not even in the same league as Kissy.

S1E Kotoshogiku (12-2) vs OW Baruto (9-5): head-to-head is a pair of tens.  Things started today with a harite by Bart and right-hand outside grip, but Geek tried out his hug-and-chug® on Bart in front of mom, dad, a photograph of grampa, and God, but it honestly did nothing to penetrate the Estonian iron curtain.  When the time was right, Bart executed an awesome over-arm throw which sent the Geek to the feet of the head judge.  Bart finishes an ozeki-expected 10-5; Geek finishes 12-3, but wins an Outstanding Performance prize, Technique prize, and a promotion to Ozeki.

And lastly the musubi-no-ichiban, YE Hakuho (12-2) vs OE Harumafuji (8-6).  Head-to-head is in Hak’s favor 21-10, dating back to March 2004, but really these two go back to mid-90s in junior bökh tournaments in Ulan Bator.  This is also the final bout for the 35th Kimura Shonosuke who appeared to be near tears through the entire pre-bout rituals.  At the tachiai Hakuko drove Haruma to the edge while Haru tried to break the Yokozuna’s balance.  Hak tried to drive Haru out but Haru dug in and made that plan too much trouble for Hakuho, so the Yokozuna resorted to an amazing over-arm throw which effectively turned Harumafuji into a human windmill.  Haru fully spun in the air around Hak’s arm, and landed squarely on his ass.  With that Hakuho goes 13-2 and picks up his 20th yusho.  A well earned one, and an achievement he shares with only five other men.  Haruma falls to a good-nuff 8-7, and were we really considering this guy a yokozuna contender?

And there ‘tis!  Yusho decided in final three bouts of Senshuraku, and mostly in the final bout.  Overall a good day of sumo to finish the Autumn Basho.

The basho is over, but not our analysis.  I’ll be back with you soon with the Top 10 rankings for Aki, and one Silly Ole Bastard named Briton-Meyer will top it off with the Post Basho Wrap-Up.  Until then my friends.

5 responses to “Aki Basho 2011: Senshuraku

  1. I think if Kotoshogiku could have avoided the false start he’d have had a better chance. Oh well, we still have a new ozeki, which bodes well for Kyushu.

  2. The last three bouts were indeed thrilling. After Bart beat Kotoshogiku I was so hoping that Harumafuji could overthrow the yokozuna and make it a three way playoff, but sadly that was not to be. I shared your suspicions about too-easy wins for 7-7 rikishi and thought that just maybe Hakuho would play the game and “lose” the bout to make an even more exciting finish. I realize that that’s probably too much to ask.

    As for Takanoyama, we will sadly miss his white ass and the rest of his sculpted physique in maku-uchi. Oh well. It goes about that he is hampered by his inability to put on weight, but when you compare him and Gagamaru, you wonder how much is enough and how much is too much. (Gaga was so cute in the interview when he was asked about his weight. I worry about him. He seems to struggle to draw breath even at rest.)

  3. 5 Ozekis by kyushu seems 1 too many, but i would be tickled pink to see kotooshu pass the ceremonial mawashi-torch to kisenosato. The bulgarian just hasn’t seemed relevant in a basho in the last two years, and Mr. angry face would make a great addition to the ozeki ranks, .

  4. The way Kotooshu is going, by the time Kisenosato makes Ozeki, Kotooshu might be making for home.

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