1st 1/3: Haru Basho 2013

MatagiyamaGreetings with open arms and open legs to the ‘stormy’ Haru Basho in Osaka, a city known worldwide for not being Tokyo.

Steamrollering right into things, the first ternary of the Osaka Basho has resulted in the Dai-Yokozuna alone a-top the leaderboard with a 5-0 start.  Amisneaky had a hell of a inside position on Hakuho on Shonichi, driving the Dai-Yokozuna back, but Hakuho shook him off with a right-side arm-lock throw.  Day 2 was a textbook force-out of Takayasu, Day 3 was just as perfect against Tochinoshin, Day 4 Myogiryu gave some resistance, then Day 5 Tochiozan fell victim to an arm-bar throw.  While this move worked well for Hakuho and with little work, it was somewhat of a henka as the Yokozuna had to turn to the side to pull it off.  I don’t think Hakuho is performing up to the standard he set thereabout in 2010, and at this rate he’s bound to lose a couple of bouts this basho, but he’s still in a fine position to pick up the Emperor’s Cup in ten days.

Harumafuji’s losses on Day 3 and 4 were not the result of a change in his style.  Every bout, he’s charged right for the opponent’s mawashi, at times recklessly charged (or “steamrollered,” if you will).  The losses were a result of slips and loss of balance.  Though the recklessness can be blamed, that wrapped up left foot is obviously hindering more than helping.  He’s out of the Yusho race, but hopefully he can spoil the dreams for some others.

Ozekis are currently 11-9, and they haven’t even faced each other, or the yokozunas yet.  The only one performing well is the Kak.  He was beat on Day 3 by Myogiryu who displayed textbook deashi with a push-out win, but otherwise the Kak has been steady.

Baruto begins his battle back into the ozeki ranks with a 4-1 start this basho.  His only loss thus far is on Day 4 to a red-hot Kak who launch a little trippin’ action on Baruto’s bad leg.  Otherwise, the Estonian has showed some good deashi and technique with arm-throws.  He knocked off Kotooshu today, and I expect him to take down both the Geek and Kissy as well as about 11 wins this basho.

Kissy and Geek are both 3-2 Ozeki, but the bore me these days.  Goeido was/is the flavor of the month…they over-hyped pure-blooded Japanese rikishi, but even despite some help from his friends he has started with a 3-2, on per to repeat that awe-inspiring 8-7 he did in Fukuoka.  The guy is a nervous wreck and not near true ozeki material.  The Geek pounded him all over the dohyo today until he tossed Goeido down, over-arm style.  Someone man-handled like this is on no ozeki-run.

There’s some other guys at 4-1, but don’t get a stiffy for them just yet—it’s too premature.  Of interest, though, is Jokoryu, who has finally seemed to found his nitch in makuuchi.  He’s been fast, forward-moving (except Day 2), and flexible between belt-sumo and thrusts.  Not that he’s in any yusho race, but he’s finding his place in the division.

In makushita, newbie Endo has cruised to a 2-0 start from m10, the highest rank of a newbie ever.  A few more wins, and Endo will be the first man ever to become sekitori after just one basho.

Our friend Osunaarashi fell to 2-1 today with a loss to Fuugivashitto.  He started off with some nice tsuppari shoves, but when Fuugivashitto came in close and onto the belt, the Egyptian was done.  He needs to work on keeping the opponent off the belt in order to make his juryo debut.

Well, there you have it.  I steamrollered my way through the first five days, and this is looking like Hakuho’s basho for the taking.  We’ll have to see how much Baruto really wants to regain that Ozeki glory, how damning Kotooshu’s relapse will be, and if Goeido will simply shat his mawashi by the time he faces the yokozunas.

No telling who’s reporting tomorrow.  Best to close your eyes and open up.

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