Welcome to Senshuraku! Where some men in mawashi fight for their lives to either move up the banzuke or drop down! Before I get to all of that excitement, I’d like to talk about some notable results from other divisions and then about Kisenosato.
Notable results: Sumo & Stogies first Rikishi on the Rise Tatsu squeaked out his winning record with a 4-3! Takanoyama goes 9-6 in Juryo to the shock of many of his opponents. I think the unpredictable nature of his sumo is fantastic and it’s easy to see why people will continue to cheer for this underdog. Newcomer to Juryo Ikioi slows down but still easily wins the Yusho at 12-3. Kid has talent and should be in Makuuchi by Osaka. Finally Makushita 14, Sensho, the 28 year-old Mongolian wins a huge Makushita playoff to take the championship.
With 32 wins in the last three basho one would think that Kisenosato has not earned an Ozeki promotion, despite what the newspapers have said. Baruto had 33 wins and the association held off until the next basho where he won all but one of his bouts for a total of 35 wins over the course of three basho. Kotoshogiku got 33 wins.
Make no mistake here, I am thrilled for Kisenosato. In fact he’s been a favorite of mine for the last few years. His sumo is on the up and up, and he doesn’t take crap from anyone. What’s not to like?
It’s just thirty two wins and thirteen losses doesn’t scream Ozeki to me, but with the Sumo Association awarding (dare I say gifting him) a Gino-Sho (technique prize) I am afraid Kisenosato is being given a honor he has not yet earned (potentially in his own mind and the hearts of some fans too). If you look back at his bouts in week two I think the majority of our readers would agree Kisenosato’s technique hasn’t been award winning. I would rather see him take the promotion like Baruto did than slide in on the minimum. That is all. He’s still a favorite of mine however and I hope he does all that he can to bring some honor back to the rank of Ozeki. Enough of a rant from me, eh. Senshuraku brought a ton of excitement let’s get to it.
Tamawashi vs Bushuyama
Working man Bushuyama was brought up from Juryo to fill the void of all the injured Makuuchi riksihi. Tamawashi easily pushes the People’s Champion out of the dohyo at the word go. Both rikishi finish at 5-10.
Myogiryu vs Fujiazuma
Myogiryu has been without a doubt my favorite new comer to the Makuuchi division. Turns out the Gyro is a college grad from Nippon Sport Science University who hasn’t had a losing record when he’s been healthy 11 out of 15 bashos. It’s no wonder, the kid is fast and relentless in his forward moving attacks. Fujiazuma withstood three of Myogiryu’s forward moving assaults on the bales and then managed to get the advantage and push him out for the win. Gyro finishes at 10-5 and Fujiazuma finishes 7-8.
Aoiyama vs Wakakoyu
Kanto-Sho (fighting spirit) winners faced off today. Both rikishi have had a great basho so I was looking forward to this bout. Not much too it however. Veteran Wakakoyu pushes the young Bulgarian up and then pulls him down off the dohyo for the easy win.
Shohozan vs Takekaze
After a slow first five days Fukuoaka-ken native Shohozan really brought the intensity this basho. The new comer aggressively goes after Akita’s only Makuuchi son with numerous tsupari pushes to the face. Takekaze tried pushing back and a couple of slap down moves but nothing phased the Shohozan. Fukuoka’s newest Makuuchi son moved to 10-5.
Daido vs Yoshikaze
Both riksihi came into this bout at 7-7. Yoshi false starts. Yoshi uncharacteristically henkas the second tachi-ai nearly causing Dido to run off the dohyo. He catches himself however as Kaze #2 goes for a spearhead tackle. Daido hangs on long enough for Kaze to hit the ground. Daido get’s his eight. Yoshikaze wins this bout no questions asked if he just went straight up against the less experienced Daido. Weird, eh.
Tochinoshin vs Tsurugidake
If intensity could be bottled for athletic use, this bout would have been a gold mine. Both rikishi start da thing off with a barrage of tsupari that would even knock Creswell off the dohyo in .5 seconds. Both riksihi survive the barrage with each one going back and forth. Noshin wraps up Tsurugidake and struggles to finally finish him off with a yorikiri. Noshin gets two wins this basho after being banned from entering the keiko ring prior to the basho.
Aminishiki vs Goeido
Goeido needed his 8 today. He didn’t get it. Serves him right. Greatness doesn’t come from pulling sumo or last second throws from the bales. Sneaky wins his ninth today and appears to be recovering quite nicely after a last basho.
Okinoumi vs Gagamaru
This may have been the easiest win Okinoumi has ever had. Gaga looked to be in control and then suddenly Oki pulls a throw, but more or less, Lord Gaga just slowly walked out of the dohyo. Oki moves to numb 7-8.
Toyonoshima vs Kitataiki
M5 Kitataiki stays in Toyonoshima’s businass the entire bout winning by oshidashi. Taiki gets his eight.
Tochinowaka vs Kakuryu
Kakuryu gets ten today easily beating the promising Tochinowaka with a tsukidashi. Kakuryu continues to hang tough in the Sekiwake slot. He’s got Ozeki potential, but will he ever manage to beat Hakuho?
Kisenosato vs Kotoshogiku
With both rikishi at 10-4 this bout there was a lot of pride riding on this bout. For Kisenosato the win would basically seal the waterproof deal of his promotion to Ozeki (though he’s getting it anyway). For Kotoshogiku it offers him an opportunity to make a statement, “I am here to stay.” Kis false starts and I think it really threw him off. This bout was all Kotoshogiku from the tachi-ai. Geeku got him to the bales and The Kid tried to divert Shogiku to the left and then to the right. At that point Geeku’s weight had forced Kisenosato out of the dohyo as Kotoshogiku was falling as well. It looked pretty straightforward to me. Kotoshogiku won this bout, but due to Kisenosato’s promotion (I speculate) the judges called a mono-ii. After some debate the win was given to Kotoshogiku.
Kotooshu vs Harumafuji
Big O is back for at least two more bashos. Both Ozeki were at 8-6 going into this basho. They are still earning there pay check however so this one was just for pride. Haruma jumps out at the tachi-ai and really knocked Oshu back. Kotooshu pushes back sending Haruma flying back. Oshu then latched onto Ama and ran him out of the dohyo sending both Ozeki flying.
Hakuho vs Baruto
You know the drill. Hakuho drives in and attempts to force the inside grip. Baruto actually denies him it though and then proceeds to force the Yokozuna back with two tsupari. The Yokozuna drives low but Baruto reacts slamming his beefy arm into Hakuho’s back for the hatakikomi slap down upset! See what I did there?! I made it seem like nothing surprising was going to happen and then something actually surprising did happen. Haha. Oh the joys of Senshuraku! Baruto’s sumo hasn’t been outstanding, but at least he’s been getting ten or eleven wins each basho. Here’s to him bringing the noise next basho!
*Edit I just listened to Hakuho’s yusho speech and it was one of the best I’ve heard. He is nothing but classy and honorable. Here’s to excellent sumo in 2012!
Creswell cleans up the mess with our Kyushu wrap-up report.