Welcome to the final day of the Autumn Basho, as I saw it. I’ve always reported to you from the land of snow and rice, but since my glorious return to the ole’ country last month, I shall now report to you from the land of hurricanes and the Stand-Your-Ground Law. Nothing says “stand your ground,” like sumo!
It is no secret by now that Hakuho won the yusho long ago. It’s another feather in his cap and a step closer to being the undisputed greatest yokozuna ever. He’s at 27 yusho and needs 33 to top Taiho. Theoretically, we could be right here a year from now talking about Hakuho’s 33rd yusho, but I’m certain he’ll drop a few in the meantime just to give others the chance. But will he do it? Here’s an interesting comparison:
Taiho got his 27th yusho when he was 28 years 4 months old
Chiyonofuji got his 27th yusho when he was 30 years 9 months old
Hakuho is 28 years 6 months old
Taiho continued to win his 28th, 29th, and 30th within the following four basho, so if Hakuho wants to catch up with the Great One, he’ll need to go four for four in the next four basho.
Something unusual about Hakuho’s yokozuna career when compared to other greats such as Taiho, Chiyonofuji, Asashoryu, and Kitanoumi is that Hakuho has not yet sat out of a tournament for injury as yokozuna (he did once as ozeki). I believe this is the key to Hakuho setting the record. If he can continue to avoid major injury for at least another two years, he has got it. I can tell you all from experience your body just ain’t the same when you turn 30 (nothing to do with the libido, though). Hakuho’s quality of sumo is so good there no worry about others overtaking him in the next few years, but his health is the key. Not to mention if the JSA “allow” him to do it.
Moving on to the bouts of interest on senshuraku, we start with Jonidan
63 Aokishin (7-0) vs. 33 Horikiri (7-0): we had a fun little playoff for Johnny Dan (jonidan). Horikiri pummeled Aokishin for an easy win to the power-puff yusho.
Another whistle-wetter was Juryo playoff between J11W Terunofuji (12-3) and J8W Kagamio (12-3). These two fought in regulation today with Terunofuji beating his opponent in power and flexibility with a sweet over-arm throw and resulting in this playoff. Second go-round, and Kagamio came in low winning a much better grip from the tachiai, but again Terunofuji used his strength and lifted his opponents center of gravity enough to get the force-out win. Terunofuji, another Mongol Invader, gains the yusho.
J4E Osunaarashi (10-4) vs. J5E Chiyootori (9-5): explosive tachiai by Osuna, but Chiyootori kept the Egyptian in front of him and moved forward smothering his tsuppari. Osunaarashi falls to 10-5 while Chiyootori rises to the same record. Both men have a shot at Makuuchi next basho, but with the slightly higher rank the Egyptian would be brought up first.
With makuuchi already sewn up, we focus on the men with 7-7 records.
M11E Takekaze (9-5) vs. M12W Sadanofuji (7-7) (4-0): Take stepped back at the tachiai as Elephant-man drove forward. In attempt to be sly, Takekaze slipped to the left and stepped even farther back, ‘inadvertedly’ stepping out. Suspicious 7-7 win #1 today as Sadanofuji gets his kachikoshi. Takekaze finishes with a comfortable 9-6.
3-11 Wakanosato finished off the basho and his career with a yorikiri over 3-11 Aran. While never one of the favorites, Wakanosato will be missed. Like Iwakiyama and Takamisakari, Wakanosato comes from that working-class Aomori, old-school sumo. These guys never laid a hand down to protect their faces hitting the clay. While I can’t say there was never a henka among them, if there was it was a rare occurrence. While there are still some Aomori rikishi in sekitorihood (Aminishiki, Takarafuji), I think the end of Wakanosato’s career marks an unfortunate end of this era of sumo. I might be writing the obituary before the man is deceased. Wakanosato has not yet announced his retirement, but just in case he does there it is.
Moving on, M6E Kitataiki (6-8) vs .M14E Masunoyama (7-7) (2-0): Kitataiki was only on the defensive as Masunoyama kept in close and even tried an outside leg-trip before finishing off his opponent with a push-out win. Suspicious 7-7 win #2, and we’re 2 for 2.
M5E Tokitenku (5-9) vs. M12E Tenkaiho (7-7) (0-2): Toki got a good left outside grip while Ten for a right inside. After plenty of grappling in the center, the two evened things out with Toki getting a right inside and Ten a left outside. In this position, Tenkaiho drove forward and gained his force-out win and his kachikoshi. Suspicious 7-7 win #3, and we’re 3 for 3.
M2E Okinoumi (7-7) vs. M5W Aminishiki (9-5) (3-4): Sneaky falls out with a ‘leg injury.’ Okinoumi gets the forfeit win and his kachikoshi. Suspicious 7-7 win #4, and we’re 4 for 4.
M1E Shohozan (7-7) vs. M7W Toyonoshima (8-6) (2-3): Shoho henkas and this bout was out of control. Toyo stayed alive from the henka, but even after the remeet, it’s a cat and mouse game. Next, Toyo stepped to the side and Shoho is running out of control. Shoho catches himself and they play paddycake a bit more. Shoho gets in a nodowa which drives Toyo pretty much all the way across the ring. Shoho let loose of the nodowa and Toyo loses his balance and crashes down. They call it a thrust-down win and Shohozan gets his kachikoshi, and his second fighting spirit prize! Suspicious 7-7 win #5, and we’re 5 for 5.
KE Tochiozan (7-7) vs. M6W Kyokutenho (8-6) (6-12): a rematch of the May 2012 yusho playoff. Kyoku just went down pretty easily, which is rare because he’ll usually walk out before hitting the clay. Tochiozan wins his kachikoshi, and we have the 6th 7-7 rikishi in a row win his bout. We’re 6 for 6.
M4W Kaisei (7-7) vs. SW Goeido (10-4) (1-4): it’s hard to believe Kaisei could win this one. He didn’t Goeido stayed low, kept a strong belt grip and won with a force out. Kaisei gets his makekoshi as were 6 for 7. Goeido ends the basho with his second outstanding performance prize.
OE Kisenosato (10-4) vs. OW Kakuryu (9-5) (22-9): Kissy drove forward very well on the Kak who had nothing much to retaliate with. Once the Kak was going out of the ring, Kissy lost his balance and went down as well. Gyoji gave it to Kissy, but the men in black needed a chat on this one. It was close, but the decisioin stands that Kisenosato gets the win, and rightly so. He was the aggressor and in this instance it’s best to go with the aggressor as the winner. Kisenosato had a decent basho going 11-4 and its fair to say he’s currently the second best rikishi on the banzuke, though a distance second at that. Kakuryu needs to reevaluate things with his poor 9-6 showing.
YE Hakuho (13-1) vs. YW Harumafuji (10-4) (26-15): this meaningless musubi-no-ichiban was spirited by Harumafuji, but Hakuho let him fall when he lost control. They call it an arm-lock throw and Hakuho finishes with a 14-1 and the yusho. Harumafuji falls to a dismal 10-5 and honestly needs to keep up about 12 wins every basho.
There she blows…but getting back to the sumo. Final day is over. Six of seven 7-7 dudes got their kachikoshis and everyone went home with warm fuzzy feelings, but no one more than Bertrum, who went home with de Gama. Oh how warm, and fuzzy, and spicy!
I shall enjoy my Sunday afternoon with an Ashton smoke and some Eagle Rare with it. You should too!