Glad to be back here. My year has flown by with more commitments than I was able to keep and I am afraid that sumo was one of the casualties there for a while. It didn’t help that my chosen rikishi – Homasho – fell by the wayside.
I had chosen Homasho because he seemed to be the pinnacle of honest sumo. I chose him as sumo came out a kind of dark chapter that had left me a bit disillusioned with the sport. Now, I have to admit that I haven’t been following along this past year, so perhaps there are some lurking problems that I don’t know about, but as I threw my sumo feed up onto my television and started watching I was surprised by the quality of the sumo I saw. Day 8 was exciting stuff and I sat wrapped up in it from beginning to end. Hell, I think its even time to go buy a stogie and a bottle of whiskey and watch this basho the way I used to watch sumo.
Soutairyu vs Takanoyama – Now when I was last commentating, the Sumo and Stogies fellows were going back and forth on Takanoyama. His sumo was too erratic for some, but downright erotic for others. Takanoyama’s win by okuridashi today was tightly controlled. Perhaps it was just today (with 6 losses it might just be today), but I liked his style down in Juryo.
Kagamiou vs. Oosunaarashi – Oosunaarashi is looking a bit like the Scorpian King out of the Mummy these days as he straightened up over his defeated foe, an impression quickly erased by his helping the other rikishi up with an authoritative pull to the back of the mawashi. He is looking very much at home in the ring these days, much more so than the last time I saw hime.
Kyokushoho vs. Tamaasuka – I remember last year that I started watching the lower Makuuchi ranks because the battles were more interesting down there. Its nice to see that the lower ranks have settled down into some very traditional, if a bit boring sumo. Kyoukushuuhou gets the top of Tamaasuka’s head in a reposition from a weak position too high and turns the tables, getting the win by hatakikomi.
Tamawashi vs Wakanosato – Tamawashi gets his hand under Wakanosato’s chin and thrusts up, Wakanosato gets his arm under Tamawashi’s and looks to the skies. Tamawashi’s hand slips upwards and Wakanosato gets a controlling grip with Tamawashi on the defensive, but Tamwashi brings his right arm down in a move reminiscent of Kaio’s crablike final years, and wins the bout by kotenage.
Sokokurai vs Jokoryu – Soko got a little bit of training in today to brush off some of the rustiness Valentine noted yesterday. He was well matched against the joker, with neither able to get a controlling grip for quite some time. The bout eventually ended in yoritaoshi with an expression out of a Noh play written all over the Joker’s face as he fell backwards into the dust.
Kaisei vs. Shoutenrou – I think this bout is a nice counterpoint to Yoshikaze’s bout later on and ultimately an argument for why rikishi such as Takanoyama and Harumafuji are so critical to the sport. With big lumbering hulks like Kaisei, tachiai skills miss out on a chance for development. The key here is to hit at the big boys at an angle, stand them up and then jiggle them to the side of the ring. Meanwhile, the big boys themselve rely on their bulk to keep themselves put, hoping for a chance to bring their blubber into play before they lose. That chance presented itself to Kaisei today (win by oshitaoshi), who sent Shoutenrou tumbling out of the ring like a hairless teddy bear. More on the argument introduced above in coming bouts.
Daidou vs. Tokushouryu – Just a note, all my commentary from here on out will be influenced heavily by the fact that I am listening to Dido https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-fWDrZSiZs sing White Flag on repeat as I watch – it adds a dramatic element to the bouts that I highly recommend. My screen pauses on Daidou in high hopes, his arms locked about Kokushouryu. A melancholy sets in as Tokushouryu pushes him back with his left hand. You can feel Daido’s palpabable resolve as his right foot plants back in a valiant effort to stave off the inevitable. The poignancy on the edge of the ring brings tears to my eyes as Daidou grasps Tokushouryu by the head and the mawashi in that last moment. And then Daidou is airborne, his world swirling before his eyes. He hits the floor like a sack of flour thinking of white flags and not putting his hands over his head. He struggles to his knees – he will go down with his ship – he WON’T put his hands up in surrender – no there will be no white flag above his door – he is in love.
Toyohibiki vs. Kotoyuuki – Toyohibiki wins by hatatakikomi with his hands raised after Kotoyuuki goes down as if to say, “I didn’t do that!”
Aoiyama vs. Yoshikaze – Now, as promised a return to my argument started in Kaisei vs. Shoutenro, it seems that today Yoshikaze mistook himself as a rikishi 50 pounds heavier than he is. Much like Kaisei, Yoshikaze slowly presents his bosom to Aoiyama. Aoiyama, being big himself doesn’t hit Yoshikaze from the side, but lifts the smaller rikshi up with some upward flailing of his arms. Yoshikaze’s lack of bulk causes him to move backwards while getting slapped in the face. A quick look backwards as he steps out of the ring and the bout is lost, the win going to Aoiyama by yoshidashi. This is what sumo would look like if only the big rikishi were around. I would elaborate but I’ve forgotten the details of the argument I was going to make. Who knows – moving on.
Kitataiki vs. Okinoumi – Now, Okinoumi’s sumo displays the right amount of creative balance and bulk. Though I rooted against this rikishi whenever he fought Homasho, the two were much of a kind. Both nicely balanced rikishi. Always happy to see a rikishi like this do well. Okinoumi eventually picks up the win after thrashing around against Kitataiki. Both rikishi try at one point to pick the other up, and Okinoumi wins by yorikiri. Great bout!!
Ikioi vs. Takayasu – After some ado, Takayasu gets pushed back to the edge of the ring, things are looking dark for Taka, but he pushes back to avoid stepping out, and Ikioi in turn pulls Takayasu to a kotenage loss.
Myogiryu vs. Takekaze – Nice bout here. Takekaze on the defensive for the first part of the bout, but brings Myogiryu to a pause in the center of the ring. Myogiryu pushes Takekaze backwards towards the edge, but Takekaze recovers again. Not the M1 Takekaze I remember. Then the bout ends with Takekaze on the ground. There’s the guy I remember – still that was great bout for Takekaze.
Kakuryu vs Shohozan – Boom – slap, slap – boom, and a flying leap by Shohozan as he is shoved by the ass our of the ring from its far side. Kakuryu looking Mongolian-style cocky at the end. What an okuritaoshi that was! Nice to see a strong ozeki in this bout.
Goeido vs Kotoshogiku – Things are lively up that the top. I’m loving it. Great bout with the Geek winning by uwatenge.
Hakuho vs. Aminishiki – I went into this bout wondering how the yokozuna was looking. I know he’s on a streak, but he is getting older and I was wondering how the year had changed him. Classic stance at the line, both rikishi a bit far back. The rikishi wrap up at the tachiai, spinning and looking for advantage with Hakuho emerging with an arm lock on Aminishiki – a backstep almost carries Hakuho out of the ring, but the man arches his body inwards to the point that I was waiting for Elmo to appear in order to announce the bout had been brought to us by the letter C. No time for that, though, as Hakuho’s training as a classical ballet dancer in a prior incarnation emerges. A beautifully executed pirouette that I need to watch several times because of how cool it was, and then the 38th straight win for Hakuho comes true. Awesome.
Kotooshu vs. Tokitenku – Kotooshu doing well enough in the wins that I have to report on his bout. He flopped around the ring to victory today. Enough said.
Harumafuji vs. Chiyotairyu vs Harumafuji – Ok, that was a hard hit that Haruma just took. He is losing ground fast. He attempts a levitation over the edge of the ring, but can’t sustain it long enough to win and Chiyotairyu picks up a golden hat.
All in all a great day. I’m glad to be back. Good things come to those who wait, and that’s what’s coming to you tomorrow by the hand of Daly: Good Things.