I’ve broken my one week post-basho vow of silence, and here is the Virgil Valentine Top Ten for this year’s stormy Spring Basho!!
1. YE Hakuho (13-2) (2)
2. SE Kakuryu (13-2) (5)
3. OW Harumafuji (11-4) (3)
4. OE Baruto (10-5) (1)
5. OE Kisenosato (9-6) (4)
6. OW Kotoshogiku (9-6) (8)
7. M1W Myogiryu (7-8) (unranked)
8. SW Aminishiki (7-8) (7)
9. M4E Toyonoshima (11-4) (unranked)
10. OW Kotooshu (8-7) (6)
The top six were actually quite easy this time. Hakuho was the best out there, as was showcased especially on senshuraku. Kakuryu has adequately proven he deserves to be Ozeki. What I like about the Kak more than anything is that he’s developed into an old-school wrestler, who’s never afraid to go chest to chest against the big guns, bonk heads at the tachiai, or fall square on his face to win with a shitatenage. Whatsmore, he’s still improving. While I won’t praise him for not resorting to the henka on occasion because he does, but since his sumo has improved so much in the last year I can’t recall off the top of my head a time he has done so. I’m holding out hope that he’s one rikishi who won’t succumb to ozekitis, and continue to product some exciting sumo in the coming years.
In third is Harumafuji who was able to stay somewhat above the fray. Next is Baruto who started off with a strong 9-1, with that one loss to Kakuryu in an excellent bout on Day 4. In the final five days, Bart finished 1-4. Once the second loss occurred against Kotooshu on Day 11, the Estonian simply succumb to the tsuna-tori promotion pressure. It was a learning experience. If he says focused, I can easily see Bart winning another yusho, and keep the jitters down enough to muster a legitimate run for a consecutive second yusho in a row. If it doesn’t happen within the next year, it probably never will.
Fifth goes to Kisenosato and not Kotoshogiku for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, remember the two Sadogatake Ozeki boys have a slightly easier schedule than others in sanyaku due to the fact they never have to face each other (granted, this basho also had two Isegahama boys in sanyaku; Harumafuji and Aminishiki). Secondly, Kissy took down Baruto, Kakuryu, and Hakuho. The Geek only got Bart among those three. The only thing the Geek’s got going for him is that he won the head-to-head against Kissy on Senshuraku, but the former two points easily outweigh this win.
In a distance seventh is Myogiryu, who while getting a 7-8 makekoshi, only lost once to a man ranked below him (Yoshikaze), and was able to take down two komusubi and one sekiwake (Gagamaru, Tochiozan, Aminishiki). Oh, and it’s only his third outing in Makuuchi.
Aminishiki comes in eighth with his return to sanyaku. His 7-8 means he won’t be sekiwake next basho, but his wins over the Geek and the Eurozeki, and losses to only two maegashira means he put up a good fight and earned a spot in the top ten with a challenging schedule for an injury-prone 33 year-old who hasn’t been in sanyaku for nearly two years.
Ninth goes to Toyonoshima who was somewhat at length from the meatgrinder at Maegashira 4, but found himself paired with an ozeki on four occasions. Big wins include Day 7 and Day 10 defeats over the Sadogatake ozekis, and wins over Goeido who finished 12-3 and Homasho who finished 11-4.
Finishing things out is the Eurozeki, Kotooshu who did take down two fellow Ozeki, but really showed he can’t compete with the smaller, quicker rikishi. Check this list of small, speedy rikishi who bested Oshu: Tochiozan on Day 3, Yoshikaze on Day 7, Toyonoshima on Day 10, Kakuryu on Day 14, and Harumafuji on Senshuraku. The only rikishi the Eurozeki bested who weighs less than him is Myogiryu. Poor showing by the Eurozeki, but honestly did we expect any better?
Good: SE Kakuryu (13-2): see reasons stated above. He’s what made this basho fun.
Bad: M13E Kitataiki (9-6), M14W Ikioi (5-10), M14E Takarafuji (6-9), and M11E Asasekiryu (5-10). Why are these four gentlemen bad? In fact, the one who has his kachikoshi should be the most ashamed. Why? Because these four men lost to Takanoyama in this basho. That’s just bad.
Ugly: JSA (for reinstating Kitanoumi as chairman): How the hell did this guy get voted in again, after resigning in disgrace? Let’s see…he instigated the xenophobic “one foreigner per stable” rule. Then, beyond all, he oversaw the JSAs cover-up operation with regards to the Tokitsukaze Stable death case. Finally, he shamefully resigned after one of his own rikishi tested positive in the marijuana scandal of 2008 (a rikishi he had previously backed a being “clean”). Shame on the JSA board of directors for the obvious, shame on the media for hardly even covering this ‘secret’ election, and shame on the public for showing no interest.
Meet the new boss.
Same as the old boss.
Back in the saddle in May my friends.