It was made official on Wednesday. Kisenosato, Kissy, The Kid, Blinky, The Blink, Stinky Blink. He’s now an ozeki. The ceremony was held in Fukuoka after the banzuke organization committee finished the Hatsu banzuke. He was joined by the new Stable master of Naruto-beya, former Takanotsuru and members of the stable (including Wakanosato and Takayasu), as well Minegawa-oyakata, several other stable masters, and Ichimon chairman Nishonoseki-oyakata. And, of course, was overseen by a portrait of his late stable master adorned with black ribbons. (The portrait, not the stable master.) He held some big slippery dead things, did some bowing, and broke from tradition in not preparing the traditional yojijukugo (four character idiomatic compound) presented by the honored promotee. Instead Kise offered simple gratitude and promise, simply saying something along the lines of “Hey, everyone, thanks a bunch. I’ll do my best not to fuck this up, and further ruin the rank of ozeki. So long and thanks for all the fish.”
There has been quite a bit of public debate about whether Kisenosato deserves this promotion or not. Maybe it’s been harder for Kise with his history of being “gachinko.” Maybe he has been out performing other current ozeki. Maybe he’s getting preferential treatment (racial, or political). Maybe it’s a gift because of the death of his stable master. It could be any of these things (or more). What we must keep in mind is that the “33 over 3 tournameets” is not a written rule. The qualifications are purposefully vague.
Spouting opinions and facts now are completely moot. Kise got the nod, and that’s that. The kyokai made their decision, and frankly I would have done the same in their shoes. The country has lost interest in sumo, the main reasons are because of lack of Japanese rikishi in the upper echelon, and endless scandal. The way I see it, promoting the Geek was a replacement for Kaio (bigger rikishi, from kyushu, with signature move, much like Kaio’s kotenage). However, the kyokai is not overly interested in Japanese career ozeki. They want a yokozuna, and they’re grooming their best, cleanest horse in the running. Some oyakata have already started talking about speculation of Kise making a run at the sideways rope.
My bet is that Kisenosato’s promotion is going to go one of two ways. 1.) He’ll win his first yusho in 2012, and make a run at Yokozuna in 2013. Or 2.) He will stagnate and basically be the Japanese Harumafuji. I don’t see him getting enough Makekoshi to be demoted, at least any time soon. I am hoping for number 1, as it’s the best outcome for everyone involved.
Whether this promotion is good or bad, we can are all hoping that it will light a fire underneath Kise’s ass, and get him to concentrate and work on consistency.