m38E Egyptian Osunaarashi took down m36W Aozora with some kick-ass tsuppari, and finished this basho with a decent 5-2. This won’t be enough for a sekitori paycheck next basho, but he will be another step closer, moving into the joi of Makushita. If you haven’t watched this guy yet, you should. He’s heading places.
Well, J12E Takamisakari (4-10) stepped up on the raised ring one last time today. He grunted, flexed, and squinted with a bit more umph, taking his time as he and everyone else knew this would be the end. He took on Connolley’s girlfriend’s boyfriend, J3E Wakakoyu (6-8). Wakakoyu had better thrusts at the tachiai and briefly had Ringo moving back, but the Aomorian stayed in close withstanding the thrust attack. Reaching his right under Waka’s armpit Ringo took a step back and launched an under-arm swing down. The crowd went wild and you could see it in his face that this was a sweet ending for the boy from Aomori who rides the short bus to school.
Aside from the superficial reasons he is loved by the Japanese public, Takamisakari did have one element of his sumo which he truly reined; that was his control on the bales. I’d be willing to bet most of Takamisakari’s career wins involved someone driving him back, then Takamisakari would pivot around right the perfect moment so that his opponent was out of the ring. He was never much with strength, speed, or skill, but his ability to sense the rice bales coming up behind him, and to turn the tables in a bout right at the bales is a skill very few other rikishi can demonstrate. If I was to guess the highlight in his career, it would be Nagoya 2003 when he got not only one, but two kimboshi against two yokozuna (Musashimaru and Asashoryu). He finished the tournament with an Outstanding Performance Prize, and two tournaments later made his highest rank at East Komusubi.
Takamisakari and Bushuyama are only nine days apart in age. They were sumo competitors since junior high school in Aomori. They both retired today.
Takamisakari and Bushuyama also competed with M11E Wakanosato (4-10) in their Aomori junior high school sumo tournaments. Today Waka took on M14E Shotenro (7-7). Shotenro pushed head-first, then thrust Wakanosato out. Push out win and the first 7-7 turns into an 8-7. Wakanosato may be sitting on a folding chair in the hanamichi with his classmates real soon. 7-7’s are at 1-0.
M10E Kitataiki (8-6) vs. M10W Okinoumi (7-7): head-to-head is 5-3 in Kitataiki’s favor, but today Oki gained a quick double inside-grip, and drove forward to an 8-7. Both men tickled happy with kachikoshis. 7-7’s at 2-0.
M4E Gagamaru (6-8) vs. M12W Tamawashi (7-7): head-to-head was 4-1 in Gaga’s favor, but the Mongol stuck his hands on Gaga’s boobies and easily drove forward on a man who outweighs him by 41kg. Senshuraku magic continues, as the 7-7’s are at 3-0.
M8W Chiyotairyu (9-5) vs. M1W Myogiryu (7-7): Chiyotairyu hit hard with a two-handed thrust at the tachiai. With Myogi upright, Chiyo reversed direction and a pull-down finished off Myogiryu, who was promised an Outstanding Performance Prize if he’d win this one (at 8-7!?). Makekoshi for Myogiryu and Chiyotairyu gets second straight double-digit kachikoshi in Makuuchi. 7-7’s are 3-1.
M1E Aminishiki (8-6) vs. M6W Aoiyama (7-7) (0-1): Amisneaky backtracked and circled around trying some pulls and eventually won with an arm-grabbing force-out win. Aoiyama pounded the dohyo in frustration as he got up. Aminishiki strengthens his case for promotion to sanyaku while Aoiyama gets his makekoshi. 7-7’s are 3-2.
KE Tochiozan (7-7) vs. Fighting Spirit Award winner M7E Takayasu (12-2): head-to-head is 5-1 in O’s favor. Today O hit hard at the tachiai, but perhaps it was more the fact Taka was damn slow. With a few thrusts, O finished Takayasu off with a slap-down win. Tochiozan gets his kachikoshi and Takayasu falls to 12-3, but still gets to take home some hardware. 7-7’s are 4-2.
M5W Ikioi (8-6) vs. SW Baruto (7-7): Bart goes straight to a left-hand outside and had the stronger position, but Ikioi used his right-hand inside to attempt an under-arm throw near the bales. The two went down together and the gumbai went to Ikioi. A monoii ensued. The replay clearly showed Bart put a hand down before Ikioi hit the clay, but the boys in black decided to give Bart another chance on the grounds that Ikioi was off balance. Bart was gifted this one. Torinaoshi, Bart again with left-hand outside Ikioi breaks the grip, but Bart gets a right-hand outside, kept in tight and drove forward. Force-out win for Baruto who wins his kachikoshi. Ikioi also finishes with a 8-7. Oh, and the 7-7’s are 5-2.
SE Goeido (7-7) vs. M6E Tochinoshin (9-5): These two lock up quickly in migiyotsu, though Goeido gained more ground from the tachiai. The Georgian was depending on picking up his opponent and pivoting, but Goeido stayed in too tight for that to succeed. With Noshin on the bales the two tumble down. Noshin’s utchari failed and Goeido gets the win and a kachikoshi. Tochinoshin finishes at 9-6, and the Senshuraku 7-7’s are 6-2.
I don’t even have to watch this one and I know the 7-7 rikishi will win. OW Kotoshogiku (7-7) vs. OW Kakuryu (8-6) (12-11). The Kak allowed the Geek to take him to the edge, but fought him off a couple of times, eventually caving in. Even Dave Schapiro called it “a generous bout on Kakuryu’s part.” The Senshuraku 7-7’s finish with a steller 7-2, but thank Buddha they got the yaocho out of sumo!
OE Kisenosato (10-4) vs. OE Kotooshu (9-5): head-to-head is 27-12 in the Eurozeki’s favor. Today, Kissie was faster at the tachiai, but the Eurozeki got a good right-hand inside and drove forward, then launched a over-arm throw. If ony Kotooshu would show this much desire, strength and skill every day, he’d have more than just one yusho. Kisenosato falls to 10-5 while Kotooshu improves to 10-5.
YE Hakuho (12-2) vs. YW Harumafuji (14-0): head-to-head is 24-13 in Hakuho’s favor, though it’s also 4-2 in the last year in Haruma’s favor, if you trust most of these were straight-up bouts. Haruma quickly gained a double inside grip and Hakuho was on the defensive. Haruma chose to release his right and try a leg trip, but quickly gave up on that plan and simply drove forward winning with a force-out win. I’m trying to figure out where was Hakuho through this entire bout. Why did he allow Haruma the double-inside at the start, and why did he not go for Haruma’s wide-open belt when Haruma let go of his right-hand grip? Hakuho had no hand reaching in at the tachiai, and was rather yanking on Haruma’s arm after the initial impact. If I’m honest, Hakuho either wasn’t there mentally or the bout was fixed. Harumafuji finishes with a zensho-yusho and Hakuho falls to 12-3.
In any case, despite that last musubi-no-ichiban, hell of a bout for Haruma who has established his legitimacy as a Yokozuna. I do want to see him succeed as he brings a lot of speed, skill, and ballsy stuff to sumo, but he and Hakuho have got to quit that funny bidness.
That’s it for Hatsu. We’ll see you all in March for the Spring Basho in Osaka!