Do I really have to do through the discussion whether Harumafuji is worthy of tsunatori talk leading up into next basho? The situation is exactly as it was a year ago, except Haruma is a year older. Does anyone remember senshuraku in May? He went 7-7, and thanks to a textbook-yaocho win (okuridashi) over Hakuho he avoided katoban. Now, people want to talk tsunatori?
How can a guy who got a sketchy 8-7 in May go 15-0 in July mostly against the same opponents? The answer is not only the sweaty bodies in Nagoya. The fact is one of these records is puffed full of thrown bouts.
Where does Virgil Valentine stand? Harumafuji can be the next yokozuna. But if he ‘chooses’ to do so, he’ll have hell to pay to the JSA. As they see it, the next yokozuna must be named Kisenosato, Kotoshogiku, Goeido, Tochiozan, or Myogiryu.
Anyhow, let us move on to the Top Ten for the Nagoya Basho:
1. WO Harumafuji 15-0 (10)
2. EY Hakuho 14-1 (1)
3. EO Kisenosato 10-5 (2)
4. WO Kotoshogiku 10-5 (3)
5. EO Baruto 9-6 (4)
6. EK Myogiryu 8-7 (6)
7. WO Kakuryu 9-6 (7)
8. EM2 Aoiyama 8-7 (unranked)
9. EO Kotooshu 9-6 (9)
10. ES Goeido 7-7-1 (8)
I won’t say that final bout on senshuraku between Harumafuji and Hakuho was a clean bout, but I give Haruma the edge because of the speed, power, and determination in his first 14 days. Hakuho started the basho playing paddy-cake games until he realized no Japanese rikishi had a chance for the yusho, then he took things seriously.
For the rest of the ozeki, pretty straight-forward, really. Kissy and the Geek made par, with Kissy getting the edge for strength of schedule, winning the head-to-head, and being henka-ed by the yokozuna. Bart underperformed, beating only one fellow ozeki, Myogiryu continue to display kick-ass sumo, seemingly unaware he’s messin’ up the feng shui in sanyaku. The Kak underperformed, and I’ll elaborate here in a minute. Aoiyama went 1-6 in week one, all against the Yokozuna and ozeki, yet was able to hang tough and earn a well deserved kachikoshi. Kotooshu is still around, though I don’t know why, and Goeido had to pull out with injury on Day 14, but could have got his KK on one of the last two days.
The Good: WO Harumafuji (15-0)
When he’s ‘on,’ there is no one out there more exciting to watch. He’s old school, and doesn’t care to mess up that handsome mug. Wanna know what is good for sumo? It’s rikishi like Harumafuji (when they’re not falling for favors).
The Bad: Wasn’t “The Bad” as much as the “Too Bad.” Kyokutenho (2-13) and Tochiozan (4-11). A combined 6-24 between the champion and runner up from the Summer Basho last May. This unprecedented feat is thanks to the tampering with true talent and ability back in May. These two didn’t perform below realistic expectations; they just didn’t meet the inflated expectations set from the results back in May.
The Ugly: WO Kakuryu (9-6): okay, so while he did take down the Sadogatake boys in Days 13 and Senshuraku, what else can you say about his sumo? Oh, he did take down the May champion and runner up (damn, what a stretch that was). Nah, the dude hasn’t had two consecutive single-digit kachikoshis in a year and a half, but he did it his two basho after promotion to Ozeki. He was 13-2 back in March and just one dry hump away from a yusho, but can only put together 17 wins in May and July combined? I love the Kak, but you gotta bring it back!
Let’s call it a basho and time to move on. Next week is the local jungyo for us Tohokuites, and I’m planning to wear my favorite mawashi.
Have a great summer studs!