06. Kyushu Basho 2010 November

Kyushu Basho 2010: Day 1

Orrin Connolly here with my first report for Sumo & Stogies. I’m originally from the island of Ai*urando. Feel free to exchange that asterisk for either an R or an S, whichever triggers your volcano or tickles your leprechaun, as here in Japan there is little known difference between the two. Recently I’ve started mixing them up myself, either way, I’m from somewhere in North-Western Europe.

Vague introductions aside, welcome to the Kyushu Basho 2010, the last of the 6 most interesting two-week blocks in the year.  For the next two weeks all of us here at Sumo & Stogies will be putting our work commitments aside, watching as much sumo as NHK allows, drinking various whiskeys, smoking the finest cigars, and if time remains we will even try to report what happens during the next 15 days. Let the adventure begin!

And an adventure it will be… well at least for one rikishi anyway – the Soaring White Phoenix otherwise known as Hakuhō Shō. Before today this mythical bird stood aggressively over his nest of 62 consecutive wins. And nothing short of a mythical strain of bird flu in the Miyagino beya looked possible of stopping him from setting any more new records. Surly the most difficult of task in front of him is not beating Futabayama’s somewhat erotic sounding record, but the record Hakuhō himself set this time 12 months ago; 86 wins in a calendar year. Well, if he can get through today he keeps his chances of making 87 wins in a year alive.

Let’s take a look at what happened today.

Wakakoyū vs Okinoumi
A few days ago Hokutōriki announced his absence (kyūjō) from the tournament. So Wakakoyū, the top guy in Jūryō, filled his place and took on the now lowest ranked rikishi in the Makuuchi division Okinoumi. After mutual pushing and thrusting things settled down and Waka found himself in a great position, having Oki left arm locked up, and was set to push him over the edge. But just in time Oki got a right hand grip with saved his fight. He was immediately able to try a counter throw. Both wrestlers went down at the same time. The gyōji gave it to Waka but after a mono-ii it his decision was reversed. It was unlucky for the Waka as he really should have won. Good last ditch stuff from Oki.

Shōtenrō vs Kasugaō
Shōtenrō defeated Kasugaō by yorikiri in a pretty standard fight. Nothing too special about this one, it’s surly not a fight that will ever make it to YouTube.

Kōryū vs Miyabiyama
Kōryū had his first fight with the ex-ōzeki, ex-gambling, Miyabiyama (out of interest, the last time he was an ōzeki was way back in Sept 2001). This was a very usual win for Miyabi. He repeatedly pushes in his opponent in the face for while, and then pulls on the back of their head. No doubt he is happy to win his first fight back in makuuchi.

Gōeidō vs Tochinonada
Our second returnee today took on the much older Tochinonada (36). Gōeidō came out of the tachi-ai like a greyhound out of a trap. He had No-nads on the defense the entire bout. But Gōeidō’s enthusiasm got the better of him, and although he managed to push Tochino across the dohyo twice, he was pushed off balance to his left and hit the ground before Tochino stepped out. Gōeidō still has plenty of learning to do.

Sōkokurai vs Bushūyama
The Chinese wrestler worked hard today, but he seemed to be always struggling. Bushy pulled a nice move at the end. He pulled Sōkokurai to the right which got him off balance and then quickly pushed him to the left which knocked Sōkokurai clean off his feet.

Takamisakari vs Tokitenkū
It’s funny how your opinion of people changes after you meet them. I had disliked Tokitenku for a long time, because he seemed to always henka. But in fairness about a year and a half ago he seemed to clean up his act, he also and dropped down the banzuke, but fair play to him for playing fair! I briefly met at the summer tour in Akita and was pleasantly surprised with how nice of a person he was.
Unfortunately for him having a nice personality doesn’t win fights. Today he pushed on Takamisakari’s strange head and then stepped back attempting a pull down. Taka was wise to it and reacted quickly and capitalized on the nice guys backward movement. At the edge Taka pushed and then tugged at Toki’s arm while stepping to the side and then watched his opponent drop to the ground.

Mōkonami vs Tosayutaka
Last August I had my photo taken with Mōkonami, when I checked it later I was surprised to find that he pulled this face. Fair play I guess, the wrestlers must be sick of people always asking for pictures with them.
Tosayutaka had Mōkonami on the bales today and looked set to win by yurikiri. But Mōkonami held on and used his good grip to twist Tosa around him as they fell, Ama style. It looked like a beautiful win. But a mono-ii was called, and the re-play clearly showed that Mongolians heel touched outside the ring as he was twisting Tosa around him. Very unlucky.

Gagamaru vs Toyonoshima
Last month I met Gagamaru at the Yokohama tour. He is one big, oddly shaped guy! Today he had his first ring experience with Toyonoshima. At the tachi-ai Gaga appeared to be about twice the size of his opponent! Though Gaga was obviously much stronger today, Toyo used speed and a nice leg hook to get the big guy off balance and into a position where he could dry hump him out of the ring.

Kyokutenhō vs Shimotori
A quite good yotsu-zumo match up between these two guys today. Lots of strength, twists and attempted grip breaks. In the end Shimotori got the win with the inevitable yorikiri.

Tamawashi vs Kimurayama
These guys thought long and hard before engaging at the tachi-ai today. When things got going both were content to use only pushing techniques. And without a hand getting to a belt, Tamawashi took the win via oshidashi.

Kotokasuga vs Tokusegawa
This was another first time pairing with these two guys. It was fast paced and really either guy could have won it. In the end Kotokasuga went static at the bales and the Toker held on to his solid grip and pushed his opponent out.

Yoshikaze vs Kokkai
Distance was kept between these guys as both opted for hands on attack. Kokkai wanted to push on Yoshikaze’s shoulders. But Yoshikaze is faster and after taking a few pushes he slapped on Kokkai’s hands and moved out of the way to send the Georgian to the dirt. We’ve seen Kokkai go down like this many times.

Wakanosato vs Takekaze
Takekaze henka-ed to his left today. Wakanosato reacted well, with position at least, but then tried to pull the short guy to the ground. Takekaze capitalized well, rushing forward, shouldering and pushing the older Wakanosato out.

Hakuba vs Kitataiki
Some people refer to Hakuba as Henkuba due to how often he henkas. I personally call him Henkuba because at the Akita sumo tour in August he henka-ed me when I tried to get a photo with him!
Today Kitataiki absorbed a right slap to the face well and followed and Henkuba “moved” around to his right. He tried to get a right outer grip but failed, then tried an arm throw and also failed. In the meantime Kita had secured his right grip that allowed him time to recover. And recover he did. He immediately launched his own attack and pushed Henkuba back across the dohyō, and while using a leg trip got him completely off balance, and turned around for an easy push out. Fight time: 5 seconds.

Homashō vs Kakuryū
You gotta hand it to Homashō, he bows like no other. But he also loses a lot, too. After a nice head-butt start to the match, Kakuryū tested out his chances at pulling Homashō down. That wasn’t working out so he decided to try for the belt. But the belt was a little illusive too so he just went forward with arm thrusts and easily pushed Homashō back and out.

Tochiōzan vs Asasekiryū
What was Asasekiryū thinking today? He tried an awful henka with a slap down that completely did not work out. Tochiōzan simply turned to meet him and gave one push to the side and the Mongolian was on the ground. Asasekiryū you should be ashamed.

Aminishiki vs Kaio
I mentioned earlier how your opinion of someone changes after you meet them. Well before I met Aminishiki, I didn’t think much of him. And having met him, I like him even less! But I’m also not a fan of Kaio (any more). I believe he has stolen legitimately set records from the likes of Chiyonofuji (most top division wins), and Takamiyama (most tournaments in top division). I look forward to his retirement. So with that in mind I guess I was hoping for Aminishiki to win. But he really didn’t look to well. His leg had more wrapping than an Egyptian mummy.
But today Ami contained Kaio’s right arm well, and got the old man moving backwards and out. I guess Ami was lucky that Kaio couldn’t force any weight onto his bad leg coz that thing looks like it would buckle quite easily. Aminishiki did hobble out of the arena today. I think he’ll struggle to get his 8 wins at M2.

Harumafuji vs Kotoshogiku
Kotoshōgiku incredibly has 20-9 wins over this ōzeki. And coming into todays fight with an injury surly wasn’t a good thing. Harry absorbed the initial charge quite well, but Kotoshōgiku had a good grip on his left arm, and used it immediately to thrown the injured-zeki onto his injured right shoulder.

Kisenosato vs Baruto
Before this fight I fully expected Baruto to win, Kisenosato hasn’t been on his game in quite some time, but I was completely surprised at how he approached this fight. At the tachi-ai Baruto tried to henka! Now, beside the fact that he shouldn’t need to henka guys like Kisenosato, Baruto is physically not able to henka! He’s too big and slow. Anyway, he henka-ed to his left to try get an easy grab of Kise’s right belt. It didn’t work, but he quickly changed plans and with good footwork regained himself. He got a right outer hand grip and kept Kise’s right hand neutralized with a high left grip which had Kise’s right arm up in the air. From there Bart easily ushered him out for his first win.
Learn your lesson Baruto.

Kotoōshū vs Aran
The build up for this fight consisted of the NHK cameras switching between Hakuhō and Tochinoshin. Hakkuō loked fine, Tochinoshin looked very nervous. When we heard the gyōji saying ‘jikan desu’ the cameras focused back on the ōzeki and komusubi. Aran went for a chest to chest with the tall European and gave away an easy outer left and inner right grip. Which was all Kotoōshū needed to easily force out Aran for a yorikiri win.

Hakuho vs Tochinoshin
I always feel Day 1 is the best chance to take down the yokozuna, but with Tochinoshin’s obvious nerves and Hakuhō being Hakuhō, we all knew what was going to happen. The only thing we didn’t know was which kamarite he would employ and how long he was going to take over his win.
At the tachi-ai Tochi went for a left hand grip, and got it. The Hak went for the same grip which Tochi knew was coming so he spun around to avoid. As both wrestlers spun around Hak took a solid right hand grip and then forced Tochi to submit the right side of his mawashi too. From there Hak used his undefendable uwatenage throw. Not a bad effort from Tochinoshin. And lasting 9 seconds against this yokozuna isn’t bad at all.

With that 63rd win in a row Hakuhō matches Yokozuna Tanikaze’s record. Tanikaze set his record back in 1786 when there were only 2 tournaments a year, and the amount of fights a rikishi had varied from tournament to tournament. None the less Tanikaze set a record that remained unbroken (and unmatched) for 157 years before Futabayama came along just before WWII and increased the record to 69.

Well that’s it for today ladies and gentlemen, I hope you enjoyed reading. I’m already looking forward to Day 8 when Hakuhō takes his 70th win and Day 9 when he dons the big bird golden mawashi that even though he looks slightly ridiculous in, he truly deserves! Hakuhō is currently at his peak, enjoy it my friends.

Creswell will Shō you how Hakuhō moves into the official 2nd place of all time tomorrow.

Day 2

Well, I must say I was very excited to report on today as there looked to be some good match ups.  However I am now excited to report today because, unlike recently, today actually was an exciting day of sumo at the Fukuoka Koksai Center.  On top of that it wasn’t a terrible crowd for a Monday.

Lets start from the beginning shall we.

Shotenro v. Shironoryu: Shironoryu read the Shotero henka, and reacted but just a little slowly.  The Juryo 1 was not quite able to recover and experience won the day.

Okinoumi v. Kasugao: As I, and Okinoumi, predicted, Kasugao went for a henka.  Oki got a right hand on the inside and tried a few times for the left.  After some waddling around he secured a single mawashi fold, then traded-up for a deep grip and was able to shake the Kimichi Queen off balance, then it was a gabburi yori win for handsome-sam.

Goeido v. Koryu: Immediate morozashi and yorikiri for the Japanese “hope”.  Koryu was pretty high the whole time and didn’t look as if he was actually trying.

Miyabiyama v. Tochinonada: I had called this one for the ex-ozeki, but after Tochi deflected Miyabi’s secondary attack, he went on the offensive and there was nada that flubbyama could do about it. (rimshot) Thats a win for Tochi.

Sokokurai v. Takamisakari: Sokokurai looked to get the best of the tachi ai and scored an nice migiyotsu, then got underneath Taka and picked up a clean yorikiri, off of a sloppy Misakari tachiai.  Hiro Morita quote of the day.  “Sokokurai read that all the way… well he didn’t read it… …  ….    …. but he was… ready… for Takamisakari’s technique.”  He says some insane stuff when he does the broadcasts alone.

Tokitenku v. Bushuyama: Toki opened up with a nice harite and tried to get an inside grip which was refused by G.W.  However, in Bushu’s urgency to break the grip he over extended a bit and Toki-doki took the hatakikomi chance.  Win for team Mongolia.

Gagamaru v. Tosayutaka: Gaga was just to big to be moved today, despite Tosa’s best efforts.  Oshidashi for the big Georgian.

Interesting Bout! Mokonami v. Toyonoshima: From the get go Toyonoshima was in control, he had Nami in an awkward sideways position, and tried 3 times for the uwatenage.  Props to Nami for hanging in.  Nami executed a throw at the bales, and Toyo smartly countered.  This bout lasted well over a minute and Toyo had controlled the entire bout, but a monoi was called and it was ruled as a torinaoshi.  Nami hit the dohyo pretty hard and stayed down for a bit holding his chest.  He looked winded and in pain, so it was no surprise when Toyo took it in the rematch hatakikomi style.  Nami looked pretty shaken and like he was nursing his chest.  Hopefully he’ll be alright.

Tamawashi v. Kyokutenho:  We all knew that if Kyokutenho got the belt it would be over, and thats exactly what happened.  Yorikiri.

Kimurayama v. Shimotori: A rare straight up bout from Kimurayama, for some reason Shimotori ditched his initial attempt at the belt and went in… for… oshizumo… why Birdy? Why?  The man from Niigata learned his lesson via oshidashi.

Kokkai v. Kotokasuga: Decent enough tachai from both both men, but Kok got Koto’s left arm, swung him around and oshidashi-ed his ass.

Wakanosato v. Tokusegawa: *We interrupt this report for a corny NHK graphic about Hakuho’s path to 69 wins*  Tokusegawa got a nice strong hidari uwate and showed nice movement and strength taking gramps to the store for a diaper change. 2-0 Toku.

Yoshikaze v. Hakuba: Someone forgot to tell Hakuba to take his socks off… and someone also forgot to tell him that everyone knows he’s going to henka.  Yoshi read the henka, kept moving, and pushed the pimple on the boil on the ass of makuuchi out.

Kitataiki v. Takekaze: Predictable push-push-pull attempt by Kaze, which Taiki was too well-balanced to fall for.  Kaze then started backing up and went for a kotenage, but Taiki rotated his arm nicely and Kaze’s grip slipped off an he fell over. Good looking 2-0 start for Taiki.

Homasho v. Tochiozan: Tochiozan was not as aggressive as he’s been recently, which allowed Homey the advantage.  Homey had a decent tachiai, kept low and kept Ozan of the belt.  Homey made a push, got his right arm under Ozan’s left pit, and it was over 1-1 for both men. Bang up job by our Cigar Store Indian

Asasekiryu v. Kakuryu: Both Mongolians got good grips, but Kakuryu got his at the tachiai and Sexy got his after he had already lost his balance.  Man, the Kak look particularly thick and eager this basho… glistening in the sun.

Aminishiki v. Kotooshu: A good barometer for how well Oshu will do in a basho is how well he does early on in the basho.  Too bad he had he nemesis Steven Seg… I mean Aminishiki on day 2.  Sneaky slipped slightly to the side at the tachiai and got the left hand in the pit and it was over folks.  Sorry Oshu, no yusho this time.

“Interesting” Bout! (note the air quotes)Kaio v. Kotoshogiku: I had this called for the Geeku, but damn… it didn’t even look plausible.  I don’t see how Kaio, using only 1 hand on placed on Geeku’s side after a sideways shift, could send a dude with that much bulk spinning like that.  Not so sure about this one.  But perhaps i shouldn’t be surprised. Win for old man Kyushu.

Interesting Bout! Tochinoshin v. Harumafuji: the gyoji was particularly harsh on Harumafuji for a false start in which there was what looked like a henka.  Harumafuji looked to be keeping pressure off his right shoulder.  At the real tachiai Ama scored a maemitsu with his left and tried to keep low.  Noshin managed to lock up Harry’s arms, then the Ozeki switched to a left hand uwate.  Noshin scored a right hand on the indside.  Harumafuji was doing his best to stay low and keep Noshin’s left hand away from the belt.  The Ozeki pulled a number of throw attempts all of which almost worked, but Noshin either countered, or was too solid to be moved.  After some tactical maneuvering Ama had Noshin on the bales, but at the last second the Georgian shifted to the side and executed a nice sukuinage.  Celebrations in Georgia tonite… all 3 Georgians victorious in fine form.

Interesting Bout! Baruto v. Aran:  At the tachiai Baruto jumped up a bit and Aran came in decently low.  Both parties brought some vicious tsuppari, trading advantage.  Then Aran deflected Baruto’s charge and got behind him, it looked for sure like an okuridashi.  But only Aran would hesitate here.  He stopped for a crucial second to contemplate, and Bart dug in.  The Estonian couldn’t be moved.  Aran went for a leg trip, but Bart wouldn’t budge… then it happened… Bart had snagged a last second lefthand grip on a part of Aran’s mawashi.  Showing some nice diversity, Baruto pulled a harimanage, sweeping Aran up backwards and slamming him to the ground.  Gumbai went to Bart.  Monoi called, replay showed Aran’s head hitting the deck a split second before Bart’s back.  good versitile stuff from Bart… What the fuck, Alan?

and now the match of the Day Hakuho v. Kisenosato:  Harite, Hakuho Migiyotsu, left hand outside, uwatenage.  That’s how this bout should have gone.

There was not really much of a staredown to be had here.  I was surprised the Kid looked pensive and a bit nervous, and Hakho looked steely and perfect.  Hakuho opened up with a harite that Kise knew was coming.  Kise countered with his own slap which sent Hakuho into a fury.  Kise used that split second to get inside, he followed it with some furious de-ashi which drove the yokozuna back and bit off balance.  Hakuho regained, but was on the defensive.  Kisenosato kept moving, kept his right hand secure on the mawashi and kept Hakuho off the belt.  Kise made a final drive for the bales and as Hakuho pulled Kise close with his right hand Kise slammed a well placed left palm into the Yokozuna’s chest sending into the second row and successfully snapping the winning streak.  Hakuho tied Tanikaze at 63, but will go no further.  Kinboshi for Kisenosato.  Hakuho obviously lost this bout.  Props to Kise for good strategy.  Well there we have it folks.  Technically there is a yusho race.  I think we’re all a bit stunned by this victory, we also all do not want to be Kisenosato next time he does keiko with Hakuho.

Chalmers tomorrow, to help me make sense of all of this… i think I’m gonna go have a drink… i am even really awake?  Chalmers, hold me in the dark, dark night.

Day 3

S.N Chalmers here with your Kyushu Basho Day 3 report and all eyes were on the Heart-Break Kid, Kisenosato.  The NSK live-feed camera never left Kisensato during their entrance to the Fukuoka Kokusai Center arena.  Two bring the noobs up to speed, yesterday marked the end to Yokozuna Hakuho’s run at the all-time consecutive-win record (at least for now), at the hands of M1 Kisenosato.  Could it be that Kisenosato is getting his act together after two consecutive makekoshi took him from his seat at Sekiwake to the upper ranks of Maegashira?  Whatever spurred his kinboshi, gold-star win over the strongest Yokozuna in the last hundred years, I for one hope to see it continue, for his sake.  I would bet a hundred Hong Kong dollars that the NSK shares my opinion on that, and would pay even less to hear what they have to say. 

I would have loved to see Hakuho reach 70 or more, and was sick after watching that match.  But everyone has their bad day, and it had been 63 days since Hakuho’s last.  We all know he can do it, and I think all who enjoyed watching his ascent to number two will all stay close to their televisions to follow him as he goes all the way to the top… and hopefully they get their friends in on the cheer.  Go Hakuho!

Without further ado, the report.  Starting at the top…

Toyozakura vs Kasugao:  Toyozakura, making his makuuchi appearance this tournament, faces team Korea.  Kasugao outmaneuvers Toyozakura for a Yorikiri force out, via Toyo’s face.

Koryu vs Okinoumi:  Okinoumi gets his left-hand-in and looks for the right, locks it up for a bit, then lets the inside hand go for a nice uwatenage and his third W in Fukuoka, which

Goeido vs Shotenro:  Goeido overzealously rushes in and leaves his legs behind.  Shotenro capitalizes for an easy hatakikomi slap down.  Goeido bites the dust for the second time this tournament, and Shotenro puts up his third W.

Sokokurai vs Miyabiyama:  Flubby tries for the pull down at the tachiai, but team China stays sharp and on his feet.  Fancy footwork on those little feet gets ‘ol tubby tired-out and the giant can’t keep his feet under him.  After some stumbling, team China works the giant out for his second W.

Tochinonada vs Tokitenku:  Missed this one… Toki for a yorikiri win puts him at 2-1.

Mokonami vs Bushuyama:  ‘Ol George W. showing some fight as he makes Mokonami earn this one.  In the end ol George W. loses his legs and gets yoriatoshied to the sand.  Mokonami with his second win and a sore elbow, cradling it after the match.

Takamisakari vs Tosayutaka:  Robocop continues the please the crowds before, during, and after the match with is little antics that make him the one-and-only.  Robocop gives Tosa the ol manhug, which would make any man quite uncomfortable, and takes Tosa to the ground… perhaps expecting a tickle fight.  Takamisakari air-cuts his air-birthday cake and triumphantly does his post-match stretches as he waits

Kyokutenho vs Toyonoshima:  Toyonoshima with a quick morozashi puts Kyokutenho on the ropes, but gets outsized in the end and is muscled up and out by double arm bar, kimedashi.  Kyokutenho with two wins.

Gagamaru vs Shimotori:  After a nice wrap-up, the bird able to outwit Lady Gaga for an uwatenage throw down to his second win.

Kotokasuga vs Tamawashi:  King Tama able to shove out the Fukuoka native, oshidashi to two wins.

Kokkai vs Kimurayama:  Kokkai seems to have won the hearts of some kids as they chant his name and give him some gambares.  If anything, the support made him fight even more like a bitch as he slaps and scratches his way out of the ring and into some old dudes lap.  “Kokkai, Gambatta,” as the kids get the final word.  Kimurayama oshidashi to two wins.

Yoshikaze vs Wakanosato:  Wakanosato, aka Santa Claus, is still generous with the wins as Yoshi manhandles him.  Yoshi gets grip and tosses Santa around before putting him in the sand, hatakikomi and three wins.

Hakuba vs Tokusegawa:  Never an honest tachiai out of Henkaba, makes him the most predictable of them all.  Tokusegawa catches Henka in the act and gets position to throw him out uwatenage, though the official report was yorikiri.  Toku with three.

Homasho vs Takekaze:  Cigar Shop vs. Home Team, nobody tries harder to get to the top and never get there than these two.  Cigar Shop takes a thousand slaps to the face before waking up and taking his first step forward.  Home Team caught off guard at the late start and easily pushed out, yorikiri puts Cigar Shop at 2-1.

Aran vs Kakuryu:  Alan gives the Fish a morozashi before changing his mind and going right hand in.  Alan tries to walk the Fish out, but can’t hold on as the Fish slips out and around for a yorikiri that puts the Kak at three wins.  Alan with a perfect zip, so far.

Tochiozan vs Kitataiki:  Elvis makes short work of Kitataiki as he oshidashis to his second win, and earns another chilidog, “Thank you very much”.

Aminishiki vs Baruto:  Bart, with his fastest tachiai ever, catches The Sneak with two feet still down.  Bart gets a solid grip, puts The Sneak on the ropes, and lifts him what had to have been a meter off the ground before putting him where he was bound to get sooner or later.  Tsuridashi to 3 wins.

Kotooshu vs Asasekiryu:  Asasekiryu wearing blue instead of red today, meets the same fate, regardless.  Kotooshu keepshis cool as he walks his opponent out, yorikiri to two wins.

Tochinoshin vs Kaio:  Tochinshin visits the old-folks home, where Kaio is king and the fans all chant his name.  Old Man Kaio showing that experience wins over youth as he turns the Georgian at the tachiai and grabs the back of his mawashi.  From there it is an easy walk out, yorikiri to two wins this basho, and 1016 career victories.

Harumafuji vs Kisenosato:  Everybody is talking about Kisenosato here in Fukuoka.  I think I heard one lady cheer for Harumafuji.  I was trying to watch Kise and see how he’s changed in the past two days.  Patience.  Kise fights defensively and keeps Harumafuji off his belt and rocks his second Mongolian with a big-time tsukidashi shove-out to put Haruma in the stands.  Kise with two, and Haruma yet to get his first.

Hakuho vs Kotoshogiku:  I would hate to be the Geek as he fights Hakuho in the first match since the Yokozuna fell seven short of the all-time consecutive win record.  Hakuho, not taking his reminder that he is still human, fights like the lion he should have brawled like last night and takes it out on his first of many victims on his way back to the top.  Never taking a step backwards (his mistake yesterday), Hakuho fights aggressively and never gives an inch.  Lightning tachiai, doesn’t get a solid grip, but doesn’t need it, ends it with a beltless arm throw, kotenage.  Hakuho with his second win of the basho, and his first step toward 70 wins.  Go Hakuho!

Bertrum gonna give it to ya’ll tomorrow with your Day 4 report.  Chalmers, signing off!

Go Hakuho!

Day 4

A good day to all ye sumo watchin, stogie smokin whiskey drinking scallywags!

Thank you for the baton their Mister Chalmers: Bertrum here bringing to you day four of the basho! And what an exciting basho this is turning into, awed with the hopes and dreams of another win for the right and honourable Kisenosato yesterday, is he going to be able to make a hat-trick? keep reading and all shall be revealed! Particularly as Kisenosato is up against the less honourable (in ones opinion) Kaio… Will he challenge one of the grandads of sumo, or challenge his peer?

Nowe, my apologies I must give to ye all for not being able to watch the whole of the Makuuchi division, but you can pretty much tell where I managed to pick up the slack…

Koryu vs sadonofuji: Koryu takes it with a hatakikomi
Kasugao vs miyabiyama: Miyabiyama says good morning with a yorikiri
Okinoumi vs sokoku: Okonoumi is eating this basho like his okonomiyaki! Looking sharp with a 4-0 win
Shotenro vs Tochinonada: Apparently also likes okonomiyaki! 4-0 in.
Takamisikari vs Goeido: G took the T down!
mokoyami vs tokitenko: T victory

Bushuyama vs Tosayutaka: A really interesting bout, as it was the first time that the Tosa has beat Bushuyama in Makuuchi (in his life, could you believe) – With some swinging and a Yiroikiri, we all know who was being Tosoa’d about!

Kyokutenho vs Gagamaru: A pretty boring bout… Just seemed like one looooong hug, followed by a couple of farts by Kyokutenho, which managed to give him that extra push to knock Gaga over the rope.

Tamawashi vs Toyonoshima: A real exciting bout, both stood on 2-1 hitherto and both seemed to want this win. Fought sumo the way I like, all out on the attack. Unfortunate for Tamawashi though, Toyo managed to E-honda slap tama’s miwashi right out the ring. I don’t think Tama really knew what hit him since it seems like he wanted to continue even afterwards! A stare down from Toya though gave him the what for, hoot toot!

Kotokasuga vs Shimotori: A great test of strength as man goes against man – bear hug style! A sukuinage though achieved by kotokasuga by pushing on the off balance, sees Shimo thrown to the ground!

Kimurayama vs Tokusegawa: Another fuel inspired bout, and I have to feel sympathy here for Tokusegawa though, who slips on the sand… disappointing, and I hope he can reclaim some of his cred in tomorrow’s bouts.

kokkai vs wakanosato: Wakanosato was really in control of this bout, denying kokkai of a grip on the mawashi, but perhaps seemed a little too confident with his situation. A push from wakanosato sees a side step from kokkai, who follows along with wakanosato and manages to land on top of him!

Hakuba vs Takekaze: This is it, the big one! Man from akita needing to show his muscle and keep it real. A very quick bout and a push down tsukiotoshi from take, blew up a sandstorm as hakuba ate dirt!

Yoshikaze vs Tikataikai: Terrible bout on Yoshi’s front, he just went too low, and got pushed down. Very quick, and almost a move one would have expected by a noob… Keep dreaming Yoshikaze…

Tochiozan vs Aran: Rough basho for Aran who has definitely seen better days. Hands down for tochiozan. Good sumo all round and a straight up yorikiri win.

Tochinoshin vs kakuryu: Though it was a yorikiri win for tochinoshin, such a win sounds boring! At one point I thought it was all over with a kakuryu win by yorikiri, but slight breather and an advantage by Tochinoshin forces him out.

Haramafuji vs Asasekiryu: no contest, for obvious reasons.

Kotoshogiku vs Baruto: I think Baruto is the only guy who smiles before a bout. Not such an interesting bout, but a very confident and “well read” manoeuvre by Baruto to secure a 4-0 victory so far in this tourney.

Kotooshu vs Homasho: Very sloppy battle by Kotooshu, where was his heart? Think he needs to ask and answer some pretty big questions on why he is here in Japan, let alone this basho. Literally thrown head over heels by the end of the bout – Homasho, defeating the ozeki vanguard… Well deserved of course, but a disappointing show.

Kisenosato vs Kaio: this is it, the match people have been waiting to see… Perhaps the most obvious and disappointing match of todays bouts! A jiggle action from Kisenosato, very little effort and certainly an epileptic worm would have given a better fight. Kaio gently taps Kisenosato out of the ring with an okuridashi.

Hakuho vs Amanishiki: No contest, and not such an interesting bout – but, gets the job done for Hakuho. I’ve seen this kinda fight many a time before performed by Hakuho… it’s just a shame that it wasn’t performed a couple of days ago.

Well, there you have it! Overall, today has been a day where the wrestlers have both physically fought, but perhaps more interestingly, for a match of each other’s wits and mental strength as each wrestler has looked square into the eye of their opponent, to show them that they mean business and that their respective bout is theirs. That is at least, except for the instance of Kisenosato vs Kaio. I’ve seen some great Sumo in today’s bouts, and match of the day certainly goes to Tamawashi vs Toyonoshima. But where-as I have seen everything I love in the nature and honour that comes with the duty, I have also seen it’s dirty side with the pathetic and contrived display from Kisenosato and Kaio. I’m not happy folks

But with that, I will pass this ongoing conversation over to De Gama, who will bring to you good fellows day 5.

L. Bertrum

Day 5

So it’s that time again – that is having the baton passed to me – to give another mediocre overview of what has become a pretty great basho. Great in the sense that like many men who find themselves in a respectable position we get to have the pleasure of seeing The Man have his dreams crushed right before his very eyes and ours. I am given the honor of telling the tale of the aftermath. So join with me with your preferred drink for this enlightening journey.

Shotenro vs. Okinoumi: Previous to watching this bout I remembering hoping that it would be interesting seeming that the two were previously undefeated. However, not too entertaining. Shotenro used his strength to barge forward and push Okinoumi out of the ring.

Koryu vs. Kasugao: Kasugao pretty much had this one in the bag. He tried many things to get Koryu down but in the end he seemed to knock him slight off balance and pushed him out.

Goeido vs. Miyabiyama: Ha ha. In the beginning there were a bit of pushing between the two. Miyabi decides to thrust at a suppose was an opening but he leaned in to far. Goeido takes the advantage and moves to the left and pulls him down. Quite entertaining to watch..

Tochinonada vs. Bushuyama: Always a pleasure to watch the flab of the Bush in action. So starts with the two slamming into each other which leads into the classic hugging and grab-assry associated with this wonderful sport. During this there were many attempts by Bush to get a grip but Tochi was ever aware and blocked the attempt. I don’t know if I agree with his judgement…I mean if that hunk of a man was trying to give you a reach around… why fight it? Regardless of the decision this led Tochi to get into a position to claim the victory. But, did he get the prize? If there was only locker room coverage

Sokokurai vs. Tosayukata: I never really liked Sokokurai. However, what merit can you really place on a guy who gets a boner for the steed of a certain red-capped plumber on a windy day… but I digress. Tosa had the momentum and was aggressive. Soko couldn’t fend off the attack. Done

GaGaMaru vs. Tokitenku: Damn! I really thought Gaga had it in the first second! He pushed with Toki with his arm but Toki fended off the attack as if it was easy to turn the tide quickly. Toki puts the pressure on forces the Lady back to tumble out of the ring. Pretty impressive.

Takamisakari vs. Toyonoshima : Despite all the crowd pleasing the guy is known for, Takamisakari could not sustain the onslaught that was Toyonoshima. Toyo got inside to the mawashi and lifted him up. Done.

Mokonami vs. Shimotori: Both charge at each other and while trying to get grips appear to be hugging like they haven’t seen each other in a while. As Shimotori tries to get a better grip Moko pushes forward and forces Shimo back. This makes Shimo collapse at the edge of the ring.

Kyokutenho vs. Kimurayama: Kyokutenho read Kimura like a book and gains a point. Not much to say…

Kokkai vs. Tamawashi: It was a quick start and to me it looked like Tamawashi was faster. This knocked Kokkai a little allowing Tama to get an upperhand. Kokkai tried and failed to fix the situation. Win for Tama.

Yoshikaze vs. Kotokasuga: So despite being called a noob in a previous report… Bertrum. I think the little guy recently has been pulling his weight. And this bout is no different. Yoshi starts off charging and pushing forward. Then I would like to think that he notices that Koto has more or less the same idea. He then steps back and uses Koto’s own momentum to pull him down. Brothers Kaze 1- Rikishi 0

Tokusegawa vs. Takekaze: Back to Back Brothers Kaze. I’m sure Creswell can only imagine the school boy grin this guy has right now. Really… maybe akin to the smile Bertrum had when he saw me, de Gama, arrive at the Fall basho. Again I digress. T.Kaze starts with an upward thrust and quickly goes for his grip. Immediately tries lifting Tokusegawa up….and fails. Toku turns him a little and throws him to the floor. Win for Toku…now I have to go to the fridge to grab another beverage to walk off what could have been a glorious rush of blood to my lower regions but is just a semi-rush of blood. Brothers Kaze 1-Rikishi 1 Hopefully, tomorrow Yoshi can avenge the poor guy.

Hakuba vs. Wakanosato: I would like to say that I am not covering this bout as a protest to Henkaba. But, the real reason is that my feed was glitch through the match… Wakanosato wins. If you guys really want to read something… I’m sure it read like Hakuba henkas, Waka sees right through it, Waka takes him down. I could be wrong but I think its fair to assume. Or perhaps not, hearing the commentary afterwards, but lets just let it be, eh?

Aran vs. Tochinoshin: Strength battle performed by the foreigners. Both of them grab the mawashi. Aran proves he has a little more strength by lifting him out. Tochinoshin did put out a little fight at the edge of the ring but only bought him a second or two. Aran grabs his first win.

Aminishiki vs. Kakuryu: Oh my! They both hit each other pretty well. Aminishiki stays low looking for a grip assumedly. Kakuryu goes high and pushes Ami down. Very short bout but really fun to watch.

Tochiozan vs. Kotoshogiku: Tochiozan made pie out of the Geek. He grabbed a quick hold and did the classic sumo thrusts. The Geek couldn’t stop this Japanese shinkansen. Next stop Out of the Ring. Classic Sumo.

Kitataiki vs. Kaio: Entertaining to watch, but was it a viable win is up for debate. At the start Kaio attempts push Kita down twice and failed. Then he goes in for a grip. All this work more or less allows Kaio to move Kita to the edge where they have the hugfest. Kita stands his ground and actually gains enough momentum to lead Kaio to the other side of the ring. However, this allows Kaio to grab the mawashi and throw Kita down and out. Old man wins.

Homasho vs. Baruto: I was hoping Baruto would keep his undefeated streak. But alas, he is now tied with Hakuho, Yoshi, and Kaio (What?!)…And I realize I am excluding some people. It was a pretty exciting fight, even though it seemed to me that Homasho was in control for most of the time. Homasho prepares himself no where near the white line and charges at Baruto. Being massive Baruto just stops him. However this give Homasho a decent grip and allowed him to get Baruto close to the edge of the ring. You got to hand it to Homasho who actually lift Baruto up a little. After this Baruto is really trying to turn to tides in his favor by using his strength to do something at least. But, Homasho give it his all and falls on top of Baruto for the win.

Kotooshu vs. Kisenosato: So can the Bane of Hakuho’s existence beat his Ozeki? Well, apparently. This can only be described as a back and forth dance throughout the ring. One guy gains an advantageous grip and rolls with it then the other guy breaks the attack and presses on. Eventually Kisenosato gets a good grip and pushes a semi-tired Oshu out.

Hakuho vs. Asasekiryu: Hakuho performs some powerful thrusts on Asa. Gets a grip, swings him around and does the classic short lifting thrust to get Asa out.
Win for Hakuho.

Well, that’s de Gama out. Lets eagerly wait for some Day 6 Coverage.

Day 6

Shitty day of attendance at the Fukuoka Kokusai center for a day with some pretty shitty bouts.  The leader board evened out again with 8 rikishi sharing the 5-1 spot.  At least I had Murray Johnson to keep me company, and a nice surprise in floor announcers with Sekinoto (former Iwakiyama) sealing things up.  In Juryo Sakaizawa is on top with 6-0 with Akiseyama, Kaisei, and and Wakakoyu trailing by just 1 win.  Shironoryu is stagnating at 1-5.  Good old Yamamotoyama is now kyujo.  Down to makuuchi.

Goeido v. Kasugao: Goeido got and immediate migiyotsu at the tachi-ai, which spelled yorikiri for the Osaka native. 4-2, 1-5 respectively.

Okinoumi v. Miyabiyama: Okinoumi came in a bit high and Miyabiyama started with a thrusting attack as usual, then went for the pull down, which sent Casanova tumbling toward the tawara.  Oki almost had himself turned around, but Miyabiyama was on his stuff today, so almost didn’t count.  Oshidashi. 4-2, 3-3

Koryu v. Sokokurai:  The man from Inner Mongolia tied up Koryu’s arms effectively shutting down the pushing attack.  Sokokurai pivoted, trying to get migiyotsu, but ended up with hidari yotsu whoich was good enough for a yorikiri. 3-3 for kokurai.

Tokitenku v. Shotenro:  Tenku opened with a harite and scored migiyotsu, while using the left hand to block Tenro from getting a grip and pushing out the only guy who had no losses.  Each rikishi at 5-1.

Tochinonada v. Tosayutaka: Nada henka-ed and tried for an armbar throw, but Yutaka managed to break it.  They both then tried for a slapping attack, which fizzled, and Yutaka finished things off with some lateral movemnet and a hidariyotsu. 3-3, 4-2.

Kyokutenho v. Mokonami:  Mokonami has not been looking as solid as usual.  He is known to be able to fight back quite well on the belt, and has decent stamina, but this basho he’s missing something.  Although the darker man got the best of the tachiai, the Sad-man got the better of the belt battle.  5-1, 2-4.

Toyonoshima v. Bushuyama:  Toyonoshima went in low on the tachiai hoping for morozashi (spelled it right Murray) or at least migiyotsu, but Dubbya knew well to keep his elbows in to deny that.  Shima read Bushu using his weigh for a push out and slipped to the side and hatakikomi-ed. 5-1, 1-5

Gagamaru v. Tamawashi:  Gagamaru looked to have this one in the bag.  He came out of the gates with lots of good deashi, and even some lateral toyomovement keeping the momentum going when Tamawashi pivoted, but Gaga lost his footing and Mawashi spun a bit at the bales, and after a monoi it was decided that Gaga’s hand went down first.  Gaga was NOT HAPPY, and neglected to get back up on the dohyo and bow.  The gyoji made sure this situation was rectified.  For a moment I thought Gaga was crying on the way out. 1-5, 4-2

Takamisakari v. Shimotori:  Shimotori tried for a maemitsu at the tachiai, but Robocop grabbed onto Birdy’s left arm like it was an apple tree and got the hikiotoshi. 3-3, 2-4

Yoshikaze v. Tokusegawa:  Yoshikaze was all over the place today.  Murray Johnson had it right when he said “there was everything in that bout except the kitchen sink”.  I saw attempted leg trips, head/neck push/pull downs, gabburi, throws, pushes, slaps, and thrusts.  Toku seemed to get a decent pushing attack started, but Yoshi slipped to the side then got behind and got the always-embarrassing okuridashi.  Yoshi is looking decent, Tokusegawa not so bad (disregarding todays bout). 5-1, 4-2

Wakanosato v. Kimurayama:  This was Wakanosato’s second encouter with a henka-fanatic in a row.  However, today there really was no henka.  Sato was tenacious in applying constant pressure while Kimura moved back.  Kimura tried to step to the side at the tawara, but Sato was on top of it.

Kotokasuga v. Hakuba:  Straight up tachiai this time from the asshole, followed by a slip to the side.  Hakuba tried for what looked like an ashitori, then some gabburi, a belt throw, maemitsu, and a pulling attempt, before finally getting to the side of Kotokasuga and winning via yorikiri.  1-5 each.  Kotokasuga should not have lost that.

Kokkai v. Takekaze:  Akita’s native son took the blow at the tachiai, then slipped to the side and got deep and outside on the belt, using the over enthusiastic Georgian’s momentum to carry him out. 2-4, 3-3

Geeku v. Aran:  Standard Geeku gabburi win.  But with a migi uwate instead of morozashi. 2-4, 1-5.

Tochinoshin v. Aminishiki:  Sneaky snuck in a henka at the tachiai.  The sneak nabbed a left uwate and spun the komosubi around and out for the W.  2-4, 3-3.

Kisenosato v. Tochiozan:  Kise started off with a left hand in the pit of the sekiwake and keppt Ozan from getting inside, while pushing with a right hand nodowa, then managed a right hand uwate which sealed the deal. 4-2 for both Japanese hopes.

Kitataiki v. Kotooshu:  Kitataiki got the left hand in on the tachiai, but couldn’t manage the grip given the length of Oshu’s mid-section.  Oshu had hidari yotsu, but after breaking Taiki’s attack Oshu was able to safely switch to migiyotsu and finishi things off. 3-3 each.

Kakuryu v. Kaio:  Kakuryu did the smart thing by trying to push Kaio up and back relying on Kaio’s weak lower back to help thigns along, but what he didn’t rely on was Kaio slipping to the side and spanking his little bottom blueer than his mawashi.  Uwatedashinage for the old man. 4-2, 5-1…somehow

Baruto v. Asasekiryu:  Baruto started with a harite and got his usual over the back migi uwate, while Asa II managed a left hand inside.  Bart was struggling for the left hand inside, but couldn’t get it.  So he moved back and pulled an uwatedashinage that put him on his butt, but got him the win.  5-1 and the share of the lead.

Homasho v. Hakuho:  Homasho came in a bit low and wasn’t keeping his eyes up.  And for that he got a nice smack in the head, a side step, a sniff of Hakuho’s left armpit and a slapdown.  Not the most elegant Hakuho sumo, but it was a win. 4-2, 5-1.

I must appologize for the lack of my normal stinging sarcasm and toilet humor, but I am currently without a computer and don’t have the luxury of time to prose these things up for you.  hopefully that will be remedied this weekend, and I’ll be back to my bitchy, judgmental, scatological self.

Tomorrow will be brought to you by the number 7 and the letter D.

Day 7

Today was to be an important day in the Kyushu Basho and that’s exactly why I signed up to write this report. It was a moment the sumo community had been waiting for and like many I was extremely disappointed to see it all crash and burn on Day Two. It was no surprise today however to see attendance up (sold out in fact) in Fukuoka. Historic potential tends to bring out the people. Yet, instead today we(the people, the sumo community) were left with eight men going into the day seven at 5-1, leaving this reporter to think that Kyushu is all but wrapped up for Hakuho. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Hakuho won’t make another mistake.

I am currently living outside of Japan and have to rely on rerun clips to write my reports. My internet connection has been awful today and as such I will be a bit briefer on the reporting side than I would like it to be. Because of the brevity, I want to add this little piece below: I am sure that I am not alone in this opinion.

I intend to send the following to NHK about today’s English commentary, since I had to listen to it in my new predicament. As a student of the Japanese language, I prefer to listen to the Japanese commentators, even though I’ve usually enjoyed many (not all) of the English broadcasts I’ve listened to as well.

“Demon Kogure/Kaka is a successful entertainer in Japan and he occasionally joins the English broadcasts for NHK’s coverage of sumo. Although he clearly has a great understanding of sumo, the problem is that Demon Kogure/Kaka’s grasp of the spoken English language (today at least) was not proficient for the target audience. His vocabulary was simply not nuanced enough. Describing Baruto’s sumo as “carefully sumo,”  does not describe Baruto’s sumo accurately. Thank you for your time and for considering my opinion.”

It would be a lot like me and Valentine being asked to sit down in the main Japanese announcer’s booth. Valentine being the proficient and humorous Hiro Morita type, and me, a Japanese language learner who would simply be insufficient in filling the air with comprehensible analysis. Valentine would have to do a lot of what Hiro Morita did today, “so what you are saying is… and oh, I see, I understand now.” People would be angry. Anyways it kind of goes along with what I mentioned in the last point-counterpoint discussion about ways to grow sumo’s popularity in the West. Put the coverage up on Youtube (or any video hosting service) and let people translate subtitles and maybe even create their own commentary.

Kisenosato vs. Kakuryu

After a lightening fast tachi-ai from both rikishi, the Kid broke through Kak’s defenses and got hold of his mawashi for a strong yorikiri win. Strong Kisenosato move to 5-2. Kakuryu to a respectable 4-3.

Baruto vs. Tochiozan

Not much to this bout. Baruto had a nice tachi-ai and got hold of Tochi’s mawashi faster than you can get meat and rice bowl from Yoshinoya! Yorikiri win for the Estonian, who moves to 6-1. I was curious to see if Tochiozan would make a run this basho but with additional losses to Homasho and Kisenosato, I’d say he does no better than 9-6 this time around. In conclusion: Strong Baruto and Big Body!

Kotooshu vs. Hakuba

It was like 20 questions before this match. Is Hakuba like Mainoumi? I don’t have enough background information. What do you guys think? I tend to think Hakuba’s game is up. Rikishi seem to have finally caught on. Today Big-O caught Henkaba to his left and got his right arm under the Mongolian’s arm. After that, the Bulgarian raised his right arm to basically knock Hakuba off balance and send him out of the ring for a yorikiri win. Hakuba just has one win while Kotoshu is recovering and moves back into the win column at 4-3.

Kaio vs. Asasekiryu

Kaio is in what will likely (please say it is so) his last Kyushu basho. At “5-1″ going in today however, I just don’t know. Today he and Asa 2.0 were matched up well. With a long battle for position at the center on the dohyo. Kaio gets Asa off balance and wins by Yorikiri. Kaio, yusho candidate moves to 6-1.

Hakuho vs. Kitataiki

Hakuho manhandled Kitataiki today. The Yokozuna sending the M3 riksihi spinning out of the dohyo for a uwatedashinage. The Yokozuna looks focused as ever. Hakuho moves to 6-1 and Kitataiki goes to 3-4.

After day seven’s results there are fitting seven at 6-1: The Yokozuna, Two Ozeki, and Toyonoshima, Kyokutenho, Tokitenku, and Shotenro. Here’s to hoping the next eight days are as enjoyable and interesting as a glass of Bushmills Ten Year.

Buckle up and double down, Valentine’s turn to deal on Day Eight!

Day 8

Hump-day, Hump-day, Hump-day!  Nakabi, Day 8, a day in the middle of a two week sandwich, and how did Virgil Valentine spend it?  Sumo, a bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage, and a Bolivar Double Corona.  While there was some ho-hum sumo overall, the smoke was fabulous and the bourbon was essential.

Day 7 was something else, eh?  If you didn’t see/hear what NHK dragged in for Day 7, consider yourself fortunate.  We rag on Hiro Morita cos he’s no Murray Johnson or Ross Mihara, but yesterday you had to feel sorry for the guy, suck in the NHK booth with a man who identifies himself as a “Demon” of some cult.  Granted, the Demon does know sumo and is quite the wailing tenor, but listening to him as an *English commentator*…it was like adult eikaiwa students have taken over at NHK, but just the ones dressed like they were kicked out of KISS for being too flamboyant.

Today, they mellowed things down a bit with the man from Bawstin, David Shapiro, and Hiro Morita to take another beating.

Top dawgs in sumo are the makunouchi.  Top division started off with Mongol Koryu (3-4) vs. Mongol Shotenro (6-1).  After two false starts, the Mongols get things rolling with a thrust battle with such an impact at initial charge, both men’s necks bend back from the blast.  Koryu’s blasts were quicker while Shotenro was more on the defensive.  Koryu used this advantage to set up Shotenro for a pull down, hatakikomi style.

Former Team Aomori teammates as amateurs and the same age, Takamisakari (3-4) took on his contemporary, Bushuyama (1-6), who leads the head-to-head record 4-2.  Head-to-head bouts from these guys tend to be good, as no one wants to be ‘the bad apple’ in the bunch.  Tak first went for a left-hand inside grip which he missed, but Mr. Bush hit so low and hard at the tachai, upon contact he lost his balance and Tak used that chance to launch an underarm swing-down, defeating the well-endowed one.  How about them apples?

Goeido (5-2) vs. Tokitenku (6-1): 5-1 in Goeido’s favor.  On third try, the two had a rockin’ tachiai, with some strong shoves but Goeido worked himself in between the thrusts and it became a belt match up.  Toki tried a leg trip which didn’t work as Go narrowed in on him.  At the bales Toki flexed his calf muscles and hung on, then with enough pressure pitched Go on a perfect utchari (backwards pivot throw)…perfect except Toki let his foot slip well before Go went flying.  The judges didn’t even need to talk this one over.  Go wins with a yoritaoshi, but overall a not-bad bout for rank-and-filers (yes, I consider Goeido a rank-and-filer).

Georgian Gagamaru (2-5) vs. Korean Kasugao (1-6) Gaga stayed low and moved forward at the initial charge.  With stronger opponents, they can use Gaga’s size to knock him off balance.  Kasugao’s thrusts are power-puff panda-punches these days, so Gaga had no trouble thrusting Kasugao straight back and out of the ring, oshidashi.

Morita: “Isn’t it bigger is better in sumo?”

Shapiro: “Not really.  It’s not like that.” 

Morita: “Oh, okay.”

Kyokutenho (6-1) vs. Okinoumi (4-3) A good 11 years in age difference between these two, but you wouldn’t have known the senior from junior in their sumo today. Oki was in faster on the tachiai but served himself right into Kyoku’s hands.  Kyoku lockes up a strong grip but as he takes a breather, Oki also solidified his grip.  Even left-hand outside, right inside, chest to chest, Kyoku drives and picks up Oki to swing him out and over the bales.  Tachiai: Kyoku wins.  Technique: Kyoku wins.  Strength: Kyoku wins.  Bout: Kyoku wins.  Okidoki was outclassed by the Ole-Timer in every regard.

Tochinonada (3-4) vs. Toyonoshima (6-1) The two went chest-first at the tachai, neither really vying for a grip, just pushing.  Toyo realized this and stepped back gaining a right-hand outside grip and swinging Tochinonada outward with a okuridashi win (okuridashi = position a man should never be in).  7-1 for giver, 3-5 for the receiver.

Hakuba (1-6) vs. Kokkai (3-4) The hair on an ass mole jumped to the right at the initial charge, achieving the right-hand outside.  Kokkai must have never seen a Hakuba bout…ever.  Hakuba digs his hair-on-an-ass-mole head into Kokkai’s hairy chest and stayed to the Georgian’s side.  Kok retaliates with a lame leg-sweep attempt which resulted in he losing his own balance and putting a hand down.  The “W” to the hair on an ass mole.

Kimurayama (3-4) vs. Takekaze (3-4) Soft, gentle, tender lovin’ tachiai with Take gaining more ground than Kimmy.  Take worked quickly with some thrusts and slaps from the sides while Kimmy attempted to hold him off with a nodowa (throat music in E♭).  Shoving off the nodowa, Take spins Kim off balance a bit and leeches on for an easy and humbling okuridashi win (click here for a demonstration).

I haven’t said anything about Hakuho’s loss heard ‘round the world on Day 2, but it was a hell of a bout and perhaps the bout of the year (for me it doesn’t beat Asashoryu vs. Baruto in Hatsu).  It wasn’t that Hakuho wasn’t focused.  He fought very well.  It was just that Kisenosato had his shit together like never before.  Unfortunately, just over a week ago I chose to report this day, expecting it to be the day Hakuho would surpass Futabayama’s seven decade record of 69 consecutive wins.  Really, in the end it doesn’t take all that much away.  Hakuho is great, and he has the potential to surpass records set by Asashoryu, Chiyonofuji, Taiho, and even Futabayama.  Hang with him.  This one wasn’t his record to be held just yet, but he’s still untouchable 99% of the time, and still young.  He is currently tied with Futabayama and Taiho for first place in most zensho (8), he is in the running right now for most consecutive yusho (7, by Asashoryu), and the real record to beat is 32 yusho by Taiho (he’s currently at 16).  And he’s only 25 years old.  Great things come with time.

If Kisenosato can pull that kimboshi shit off even half the time, he’d already be an ozeki.  Today, he took on Asasekiryu (1-6).  Kissy (5-2) is three wins away from an outstanding performance prize (a rikishi must have kachikoshi before earning a special prize).  If he wins the prize, it’ll be only the second time since 2008 anyone has won it (Baruto won it in January of this year).  Initial charge: Sexy came in lower and much quicker.  The men locked up and both stayed low fighting off the grabs for grips of their opponents.  After a pause, Kissy was able to life up Sexy and keep up a forward pressure taking Sexy to the bales, then reversing with a thrust down, tsukiotoshi.

Tochiozan (4-3) vs. Aminishiki (3-4) Wiley Coyote lead in fast and hard at the tachiai to a Tochiozan who had nothing going.  First thrusts, then on the belt and leading Oh back a few steps, then switching back the thrusts, baffling his slow-witted junior and before Oh knew it out of the ring.  This man is on a road to NOzeki, and certainly deserves it.

…okay, so I apologize for that zinger.

Kotoshogiku (2-5) vs. Kakuryu (4-3) Both move in close at the tachiai without thrusts, just chest to chest.  This resulted in Geek gaining the edge by launching his gabburi® straight out.  Force out win for the Geek, while the Kak has an even pair (huh, huh).

Homasho (5-2) vs. Old Man Kaio (6-1) Head-to-head is 6-1 in Kaio’s favor.  One false start, five yards back.  Tachiai: Kaio tries a weak slap down which gives the Cigar Store Indian a chance to move in.  Kaio steps back near the bales to keep an arms-length, and naturally, Methuselah took the arms of Geronimo, and moved the junior back launching an armbar throw on way.  After one armbar throw, Ho was still standing, so Kaio launched another the other way and Cigar Store was down.  Was it a legit win?  I don’t know.  I don’t care.  I’ve seen enough phony bouts from Kaio.  I’d be among those supporting him if I didn’t fall for all the previous shenanigans before.  “Oh, but he’s the Japanese hope?”  Really?  Isn’t that pathetic?

Kitataiki (3-4) vs. Baruto (6-1) Bart stood up too high at the initial charge, but it didn’t matter since Kita didn’t do anything with that possible advantage.  Thrusting, Bart moved in closer, while Kita was just moved back but slipping to the side near the bales.  With both men near the edge, Bart did a one-handed thrust of strength taking Kita out with his left and even added a dameoshi afterwards just for flavor.

Bulgarian Kotooshu (4-3) vs. Georgian Tochinoshin (3-4) Oshu leads head-to-head 4-2.  From the tachiai, Oshu moved to the left but gained a left-hand outside, right-hand inside.  Noshin tried to even it up with the same style grips, but Oshu dropped his hips to keep out of the Georgian’s reach.  Oshu drove forward and once Noshin ended up feet on rice bales, Oshu reversed the direction and tossed Noshin down to the clay.  A decent win from Oshu, but would have liked to see more of a challenge from Noshin here.

Hakuho (6-1) vs. Aran (2-5) Hak quick on initial charge with Aran hardly moving.  Daiyokozuna raised Aran’s body, then went for the right-hand inside, left outside grip, shook his hips so Aran couldn’t secure a grip, the charged forward, winning yorikiri-style (force-out).

And there you have it.  Only one week of sumo left in 2010.  Hakuho vowed “this will be a very interesting tournament for fans.”  Is the Yokozuna correct?  Sterling Brown to launch us into the final week tomorrow.

Day 9

Sterling Brown here for the Day 9 report. This will be my first report for the website, and hope for many more in the future, but for today I hope this suits your standards.  Today I will be writing about 6 bouts: Kakuryu vs. Kitataiki, Kisenosato vs. Homasho, Kotooshu vs. Takekaze, Aran vs. Kaio, Tochinoshin vs. Baruto, and the main event, Hakuho vs. Yoshikaze.

Let me start off by saying some of these bouts were quite the sight to see, and with the recent 4-way tie for Yuushou, the only thing on my mind is, “What the hell is going on with Hakuho?”, but that will be talk about later on when I get to the man of the hour.

First off, Kisenosato vs. Homasho: This was over just as fast as it started with a quick win for the native born Homasho by uwatenage.

Kakuryu vs. Kitataiki: A great tachiai for Kitataiki and a bit of a struggle was made for Kakuryu but eventually Kakuryu was declared victor with a oshidashi making it his 5th win in the basho.

My favorite bout had to be the Kotooshu and our very own Takekaze: Takekaze had it from the start of the tachiai and was giving it to Kotooshu with everything he got but his best wasn’t enough and Kotooshu forced him out with uwatenage. Tomorrow Takekaze will be fighting Hakuho, I wish him all the best.

Aran vs. Kaio: Was it just me or did Kaio look a little on the sick side today? Whatever it was, it did not stop the kids in the crowd to cheer him on. Kaio’s match was one of the more excited matches I saw today and the power on both rikishi and after all was said and done, Kaio gave one final thrust and got his Kachikai win with a Yorikiri. If this keeps up for Aran, we might see the poor guy shipped back to Russia.

Tochinoshin vs. Baruto: Another great battle, this time the great feats of strength and endurance were tested by Tochinoshin and Baruto, with the Baruto reaching with all that he can, he was finally able to grab Tochishin’s mawashi and from there an easy win with a Yorikiri, also giving him his Kachikai for the basho.

The final bout: Hakuho vs. Yoshikaze: (did anyone else notice the English reporter was constantly calling him Takekaze during the replay?) After his suprising loss to Kisenosato, this bout felt like it could have belonged to anyone. With the great tachiai from both wrestlers, Yoshikaze found and opening and went for it and nearly made Hakuho 7-2 but Hakuho was able to recover just in time and when Yoshikaze went for him again he slipped, making it one a very lucky win for the Yokozuna today.

Final thoughts:

I am excited to see what will happen with Hakuho for the remainder of the basho I definetly see him not obtaining Yuushou this basho, but if he does, you best believe that it will be the utmost luck.

Day 10

A good day to all you fellows out there, Bertrum here giving you the day ten report. Enough talk, let’s get on with it!

Sokokurai vs Kasugao: Not such an interesting win by Kasugao with kotenage – Pretty much the way he always likes to win a bout.

Takamisakari vs Okinoumi: Love to see that growl that Taka does at the start of the bout, especially early on in day! My heart goes for Taka, he seemed well up for it! Even with a false start from perhaps being a little too eager. Though he pressed hard in the first half, Okinoumi was really just waiting for the Taka to take a breather. With that pause, Okinoumi released his strength and won by Yorikiri, but you can’t hate the guy for it either. It’s just the better man won.

Koryu vs. Bushuyama: This bout also wasn’t particularly interesting. Seemed like the Bushu just walked forward slapping and managed to push Koryu out of the ring, with very little fight from Koryu.

Mokunami vs. Shotenro: An interesting bout by Mokunami, was definitely in his favour from the start, and manages to knock Shotenro off balance and win with a shitatehinari.
Gagamaryu vs. Miyabiyama: A quick lunge from ladygaga, saw him gagging the dirt as Miyagiyama sidestepped and helped him go down by hikiotoshi
Kyokutenho vs. goeido: Goeido pounces on Kyoku and gets a good grab of the mawashi earlyon. This enabled him to have the advantage to push kyoku to the end of the ring, he tried to swing him out as a last ditch attempt, but it was no use as in doing so kyoku stepped out.

Tamawashi vs. Tokitenku: Not such an interesting win, but I was paying particular attention to the firm boob grab Tamawashi did before he thrrsts Tokitenki out – just to show him who’s the bitch in this relationship!
Kotokasuga vs Tochinonada: A hard shoulder barge hit Tochnonada unawares, struggling to recover, the match was all kotokosuga’s with an oshidashi
Kokkai vs Tosayutaka: A well even bout that could have gone either way. Both men charging, grunting – could almost smell the sweat through the screen! But a slip by the both saw them go down by kotenage… Unfortunate for kokkai, he was underneath!

Toyonoshima vs Tokusegawa: Toyo got it by Shitatenage

Shmotori vs Wakanosato: Shimotori by hikiotoshi.
My apologies for the last two bouts. As the battle rages on in this two week basho between East and West, it seems North and South also decided to have a kick-off and a go at each other. Although, this match is happening over in Korea, and not where I like to see a battle. Perhaps these two war torn nations need to settle things once and for all, Democracy vs Communism: North vs South – in the Dohyo! Let’s continue:
Hakuba vs Kimurayama: A nasty and somewhat dirty attack from Kimurayama. Went straight for the throat! Hakuba however recovers, though seemingly strggles to deal with the sheer weight advantage of Kimura. He manages to dig in low however, and impressively gains his yorikiri! He’s happy.
Aminishiki vs Kitataiki: Think I saw this bout earlier on with Koryu vs. Bushuyama! Not such an interesting bout, read the above report to get the picture. Aminishiki takes it.

Homasho vs. Kotoshogiku: A big push, and Kotoshogiku takes it, oishidashi. Not so an interesting.
Aran vs Kisenosato: Must have been a grudge match here, as Aran seemed to be better suited to the boxing ring! Kisenosato however, just grabs himkeeping Aran on the back foot and takes him out, tsukidashi.

Asasekiryu vs Tochinoshin: A low rugby tackle went a bit too low for Tochinoshin! Very quick bout, as Asasekiryu stamps his hanko down on him!
Kakuryu vs Baruto: Nice work by Baruto! He’s certainly looking good this basho! A grab on the mawashi, and a strong twist throw sends Kakryu kacking his kecks! Baruto 9-1 – Think he’s got a semi chub-chub going on after that one!
Kotooshu vs Yoshikaze: Or should I say, Bertrum vs de Gama? Though needless to say, when the crunch came, kotooshu performed and dominated! All I have to say to de Gama is “go and put the kettle on”.
Tochiozan vs Kaio: Do I need to even watch this bout? I think we all know what’s going to happen. Petty attack from tochiozan, and a slight thank you tap by the old man to send him out. (watches the bout) Kind of what I just said. Except, Tochiozan gives a respective “otsukaresama” bow, and Kaio taps him down.

Hakuho vs Takekaze: I would love to be rooting for the fellow Akitian… However, I don’t think it’s going to happen. Give Take his dues man, he gave him his all and big respect goes to him for that. Though, Hakuho knows what he’s doing. 9-1
And that’s it my friends! Mr Valentine to bring you tomorrow! This should be interesting.

Stay tuned
L. Bertrum

Day 11

“Stop it!  Stop playing games!  Come out from behind that cigar smoke of yours!”

It has come to my attention that there is a rift among the Sumo & Stogies commentators regarding a man of smoke and mirrors…Kaio.  Let me say for the record that if the acting in his bouts was better, I might fall for it and support the Ole Grey Mare to hang in there for one more Fukuoka Derby.  But when “future Japanese hopefuls” like Kotoshogiku and Tochiozan fall with just taps on the back, it should leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth…good thing I always have a shot glass and a bottle of bourbon nearby to rid that bitter taste—today was one day I really needed it, and that’s before the sumo even started!

Week Two, Day 11, and time to start separating the boys from the Yokozuna.

Toyonoshima (9-1) took on Okinoumi (6-4) in the opening dance between the two.  At the tachiai the two met more on Oki’s side of the ring, but Toyo eventually circles to the right without a grip.  With Okinoumi shoving Toyo back to the bales, Oki bent a bit too low and Toyo put a hand on his right arm and elbow to throw down the handsome devil for his tenth win, maintaining a share of the lead, and pretty much gift-wrapping his technique and/or fighting spirit prize(s).

…and then if anything, I enjoyed seeing the hair on an ass mole lose twice today.  Personally, that alone made up for a terrible day!

Takekaze (4-6) vs. Kaio (9-1) Takekaze moseyed a bit to the right from the initial charge with some earnest slaps and a pull down attempt which caused Kaio to lose balance but in some strange turn of events Take continued pushing Kaio who appeared to be galloping away.  As Take pushed at the horses ass, the Akitan *slipped* and fell behind Kaio, causing Kaio to fall on top of him, slap-stick style.  I’m not sure which is worse, to admit it was acting (which was horrible), or admit that it was real (which would be equally horrible).  Pitiful stuff from both men, but we all know Kaio has a lot of balls to scratch after this basho.

Yoshikaze (5-5) vs. Baruto (9-1) Surprisingly, a soft tachiai from Yoshikaze, with Yoshi just wrapping up into Bart’s arms.  Bart locked up Yoshi’s left arm and without any belt grip just walked him to the bales.  Easy win for the Estonian, who faces a dumpy Tamanoshima tomorrow.

Hakuho (9-1) vs. Kakuryu (5-5).  Head-to-head, Hakuho has a slight 15-0 lead.  One sided tachiai with Hakuho locking up to Kakuryu who was moving in slo-mo and any defensive techniques weren’t even attempted.  Hakuho just moved forward and yorikiri-ed the junior Mongol out of the ring.

So, after Day 11, the one-loss club of men remains unchanged…and then there were four.

Never thought a Virgil Valentine report could be so concise? Come back mañana to see how largo es de Gama!

Day 12

So it’s getting close to the end of the basho much to everyone’s dismay. So far it has been quite an exciting one indeed. Hopefully today we will see ranks narrow down and a winner type figure emerge from the dust of the ring. Likely, maybe. Probably not.

Anyways, today for lack of time I will only discuss bouts from people who I like or deem important. Sorry in advance.

Yoshikaze vs. Kyokutenho: For the most part in the last week Yoshi has been getting a raw deal. Fighting higher ranked opponents and sometimes doing relatively well. This time around he is facing a lower rank, and lets see how he fares. The feed was not too clear but it seems that Kyoku henkas a little bit to the side, but it doesn’t affect Yosh too much. Kyoku pushes him to the edge. Yoshi has the mawashi and goes around him pushing Kyoku down for the win.

Shimotori vs. Takekaze: Lets see if the other Brother Kaze can recover from his flop versus Kaio yesterday. I don’t care what anyone thinks Kaio definitely should have lost that one. Regardless, the bout starts with a false start. Over anxious, perhaps. Anways, they meet in the middle for a split sec and Shimo moves to the side. Shimo place an arm on Take’s shoulder/neck areaand seems to try to prevent any solid grip for Take. Take then just basically smacks him in the side of the head. Really loud sound mind you. However Shimo takes advantage to place his hand under his shoulders. This did little good because Take counteracted forcing them to return to the middle of the ring. Once here Take just thrusts/pushes forward until the guy is out. Both wins for the Brothers Kaze.

Hakuba vs. Kaio: What I love about this bout is that I neither respect nor like either of the players here. However for everyone’s sake I am determined to cover at least all the contenders for first, regardless of their so called claim. So anyways, everyone knows what Henkaba is going to do. Kaio is not that old to realize, and Kaio read it perfectly. Henkaba tries to escape once caught half henka but Kaio keeps the pressure on and forces him out. Pretty easy win or pay off….either way a win no less

Toyonoshima vs. Baruto: This is probably the bout I was looking forward to the most; the bout where two contenders end up duking it out. Obviously, one tends to root for the smiley giant, but you never know what can happen. (Just ask Hakuho and/or Kisenosato) I’m rooting on old Bart to snag the basho, so you can see where my bias lies. They rush at each other and hug like two Nagano (or was it Nagoya) bears fearing Creswell’s mighty punch. Right at the beginning you could tell Baruto his a bit too high. He tries to move his arm into a position where he can do something but Toyo is relentlessly pushing Baruto’s chest slowly backwards. Baruto gets a grip and recovers some ground. Since Baruto is a bit higher than Toyo, Bart tries to turn him to the ground. However, Toyo just goes a bit lower. They remain intertwined in the middle of the ring for quite a bit. Baruto makes a power play and pushes strongly to the point where he loses footing and knees the ground. Consider me disappointed.

Hakuho vs. Tochiozan: A quick match for Hakuho. Dare I say sloppy at least for what is expected of Haks. Tochiozan fires himself at the Yokozuna forcing him back. This was allowed to happen because of the harite given by Hakuho. So, as he was being pushed backwards Hakuho grabs Tochi’s arm and throws him to the floor.

So to wrap it up, Hakuho, Kaio, and Toyonoshima are still contending to win with 11-1.

Sorry, Baruto..

Day 13

Good day, its nice to finally be plugged into the technological world once again.  Here comes sumo day 13.  Baruto had paid for his win yesterday, but fucked it up.  So we now have 3 rikishi in the yusho race (but not really).   While the Jonokuchi yusho goes to Hakkaku Beya’s Hokutokuni, and the Jonidan yusho going to Kitanoumi Beya’s Fujita.

Down to Makuuchi.

Kasugao v. Tochinonada: Nada shifted to the side after the tachiai, got the left hand inside, and put pressure on Kimchi’s bad knee and pushed him out for the win.  I for one will be glad to see team Korea take a break from makuuchi.

Okinoumi v. Tokitenku: There was a mata here, and Okinoumi’s double nodowa strategy was revealed.  Like a moron he went for it again at the actual tachiai.  Tokitenku got morozashi, and Okinoumi got an armlock on Toki, but wasn’t clamping down hard enough and Tokidoki pulled a tsuridashi out of it.  I have to say Okinoumi hasn’t looked terrible, but he needs one more to keep it in the big show.

Miyabiyama v. Tosayutaka: Tosayutaka took more slaps than Connelly in a karaoke booth featuring all-you-can-drink.   After a missed hatakikomi attempt, there were more slaps, and after the ex-ozeki missed a slap down of his own Tosa got inside and turned a tenuous hold into a win at the bales.

Gagamaru v. Sokokurai:  The one thing Koku should not have done was try to move Gaga back, unfortunately thats what he did… from what I saw today I’d say Sokokurai’s pushing attack can’t budge a push-pop.  That snaps his 10 basho winning streak.

Kyokutenho v. Koryu:  I would have called this for Kyoku any day of the week (including this one), but Koryu managed to get the older Mongolian up and away from the mawashi, then managed morozashi and the yorikiri win.

Shotenro v. Shimotori:  The Bird flew to the side at the tachiai and got a left uwate, then as Shotenro got morozashi, the Bird let loose some furious deashi with a double uwate that Tenro just had no answer for.

Bushuyama v. Kimurayama:  If you want a bout with a sloppy tachiai, impotent pushing, bad movement and a finish no one cares about, this one’s for you.

Kotokasuga v. Mokonami:  Moko was pumped, but was deflected with push, push X2 + pull.  Hatakikomi for Koto.

Goeido v. Tokusegawa:  Both got the migiyotsu from the get go.  Goeido used the left hand to smack the inside of Toku’s right knee, cause him to lose balance and shift, then used his better footing to drive out Toku.  Hey, Goeido… ah… nevermind, I’ll save my trash talking for next basho when he goes 5-10.

Kokkai v. Takamisakari:  not sure if Kokkai was playing “mother may I” at the tachi ai, but that forward hop was bizarre.  In any event, he was over extended and Taka read it somehow.

Tamawashi v. Takekaze:  Mawashi was not having any of Akita’s push,push, pull nonsense no matter how many times he tried it.

Homasho v. Wakanosato:  Homasho kept on the defensive after a harite from Waka.  Homey had good lateral movement, and good dohyo-kan, while keeping Waka off the belt.  However, he was driven up, and kidney punched to the clay by the older man.

Asasekiryu v. Kotoshogiku:  The Geek started off low with hidari yotsu and took his time getting set up for B-B-B-B-BBBB-Burt Reynolds!

Kisenosato v. Aminishiki:  Big tachiai, the kid pivoted to his left and thrust down the sneaky with little to no trouble.  9 for the kid, 6 for the Sneak.

Kitataiki v. Tochinoshin:  Tochinoshin henka, got his favorite migiyotsu, and took out Taiki.  Men, don’t let your friends do bad sumo.

Aran v. Hakuba:  Tsuridashi by Aran, but Tokitenku’s was more entertaining.

Toyonoshima v. Kakuryu:  Right from the tachiai, Toyo was in low with his shoulder slipped his right hand in Kak’s pit and shut down his mawashi game.  The little guy used his lower frame and some good deashi to keep his share of the lead.  (remember I called his junyusho in the comments a few days back?)

Tochiozan v. Yoshikaze:  The sumo gods have abandonned Tochiozan.  He got moved all over the dohyo, for the first 3/4 of this bout, then brought it back with his right uwate and deashi for an unimpressive yorikiri.

Kotooshu v. Baruto:  I was interested to see how Bart was looking after going down heavily on his good knee and limped out yesterday against Toyonoshima.  Definitive uwatenage.  So I guess the answer was… not much.  I wouldn’t say Kotooshu put ANYTHING into that bout.

Hakuho v. Kaio:  There was no way Kaio was going to win, not this one.  His tachiais have been soft, defensive, and even sideways all basho.  He’s been doing what he has to to win.  Although Hakuho has had a few sloppy bouts this basho, they were only sloppy for Hakuho.  Hakuho had the opposite of his favorite grip and still managed the win with ease.

Now it’s down to two.  Tomorrow things could be decided, or delayed for one more day, or things could get really complicated. If Kaio beats Toyonoshima, and Baruto beats Hakuho (neither are likely), then we are back to a 4 way tie for senshuraku.  Chalmers has you tomorrow, as all the rest of us will be drunk at our bi-monthly gathering.

Day 14

Chalmers here with your Day 14 Sumo & Stogies Report.

Toyozakura vs. Miyabiyama.  Miflubbyyama makes short work of Toyo with a push off tachiai followed by the E. Honda hundred hand slap.  Toyo, backpeddling, tries to lean into it only to fall victim to a Tsukiotoshi.  The Flub gets his Kachikoshi!

Sokokurai vs. Tochinonada.  Nothing to look forward to for either wrestler.  Nada quickly overpowers Team China at the tachiai and slaps down for the win, hatakikomi for his 6th win.

Takamisakari vs. Shotenro.  Someone forgot to remind Takamienai that he needed this win.  Robocop stands tall at the tachiai, looking for trouble (and his opponent), takes the tachiai in the chest and there is only one way to move after that: out.  Shotenro with a oshidashi win for his 9th.

Toyohibiki vs. Bushuyama.  George W. takes the tachiai in the face from the Juryo visitor.  Bush struggles for a grip as he is worked back to the bails.  George W. manages to pull of a nice uwatenage, but not before his own knee touched the sand.  Toyo with a yoriatoshi win for his 11th of the tournament and gunning for jun-yusho down in Juryo.

Mokonami vs. Goeido.  The “great Japanese hope of the future” has a good, low tachiai and bitch-slaps the hell out of Moko before getting a good man-hug and sukuinage for his 11th win.  Moko will have to wait till tomorrow for his Kachikoshi.

Okinoumi vs. Tosayutaka.  Okinoumi looking for his katchi today, will have to wait as he takes a high tachiai and and pays for it.  Tosa gets under, and lifts for a textbook uwatenage, over and out.  Tosa with his 9th.

Koryu vs. Shimotori.  Koryu keeps his eye on the prize, solid tachiai and quick to push the Bird back to the bails and out.  Koryu with his first kachikoshi in Makuuchi, oshidashi.

Kotokasuga vs. Gagamaru.  Lady Gaga looking for his kachikoshi against the fukuoka native.  Lady Gaga gets saved by the fat as he gives up a morozashi to Kotokasuga.  Kasuga can’t capitalize and gets walked out while giving free man-hugs.  Lady Gaga with a kimedashi and his kachikoshi.

Kasugao vs. Kimurayama.  Team Korea fights like a bitch with the jumping henka that made me have to double check I wasn’t watching Hakuba.  Kimurayama, making sure he gets a nice demotion, waits for the jumpy Korean to come back to Earth and gets shoved out, oshidashi.  Team Korea with a whopping 4 wins.

Tokitenku vs. Kitataiki.  Toki, feeling charitable after his kachikoshi yesterday, doesn’t bother fighting back as Kitataiki gives the elbow squeeze, kimedashi to 4 wins!

Aminishiki vs. Wakanosato.  The Sneak looking for an easy win and a chance at kachikoshi.  A high tachiai from both, Waka tries a hatakikomi, but can’t pull it off before his feet are in the sand.  The Sneak barely pulls off an oshidashi win for his 7th.

Kokkai vs. Asasekiryu.  Kokkai with a lousy tachiai, gives Asa a solid grip.  Kokkai is not much of a belt fighter and gets manhandled.  Asa with an uwatenage win, but only for his 6th.  Kokkai will have to wait till tomorrow for his 300th makuuchi win.  But will he get it?

Kisenosato vs. Tamawashi.  Kise doing well this tournament, looking for double digits.  After the longest staring contest (which Kise-the-Blink most definitely lost), Kise plays defensive till he can get his left hand in, and gives the ‘ol tug-n-chug to inch Tama over the bails and in the sand.  Kise with number 10.

Kyokutenho vs. Kotoshogiku.  The Geek, with his kachikoshi two days ago, feels charitable and gives the Mongolian a sloppy belt fight.  Recklessly, the Geek charges forward and right into a textbook uwatenage, giving Tenho his kachikoshi.

Aran vs. Homasho.  Cigar Shop out for blood today on his way to his kachikoshi, hopefully tomorrow.  Cigar Shop takes his time at the Tachiai, giving Alan a head start, calculates his hits and makes every one count.  Pushes his way to 7 wins, oshidashi.

Yoshikaze vs. Tochinoshin.  Team Georgia coming out strong… too strong.  Pushes Yoshi way back on the Tachiai and runs after him, only to get the petty slap-down, hikiotoshi puts Yoshi at 7 wins.

Tochiozan vs. Takekaze.  Home Team with nothing to win, backpeddles from the start and ends up on his head as Elvis bullies him out.  Sideburns with his 6th, and not enough to prevent demotion out of his sekiwake seat.  Hopefully not too far down…

Hakuba vs. Kakuryu.  Henkaba attempts a new technique today, “tachiai”, and pays for it as the Kak graciously accepts and pushes Henka out, oshidashi.  The Kak at 7 wins.

Toyonoshima vs. Kaio.  Toyo looking good this tournament and is the only contender for the yusho with Hakuho.  Old Man Kaio gives the senior citizen tachai and gives Toyo a morozashi.  Toyo takes advantage and does a beltless throwdown, katatsukashi puts him at 13 wins and on the heels of Hakuho.

Kotooshu vs. Tokusegawa.  Tokusegawa hoping for his kachikoshi against the ozeki.  Kotooshu with a worthless tachiai, stands up and gives Toku the morozashi.  Tokusegawa takes the step back and sukuinage tosses Oshu off the dohyo.  Toku with his kachikoshi.

Hakuho vs. Baruto.  Bart with his usual “where the hell am I” look as he lines up with the Hak.  Hakuho gets in quick, locks up with the right hand in, and Bart doesn’t stand a chance.  A few chugs and Hakuho puts Bart in his place.  Hakuho with his 13th.

The Hak and Toyonoshima, neck-and-neck for the yusho.  Sir Valentine will tell you how that all works out tomorrow.


“It’s quite a scene when Kaio mounts the dohyo.”
…Hiro Morita quote of the day.

Oh, yes, Hiro.  I’m sure it is.

A rare sold-out crowd gathered at the Kokusai Center in Fukuoka on Senshuraku, and enjoyed probably the best day of sumo since Asashoryu left the sport.

Special Prizes have been announced.
Fighting Spirit: Toyonoshima
Technique: Toyonoshima
Outstanding Performance: Kisenosato (only the second one awarded since 2008)

All well deserved.  Some might make a case that Goeido also deserved some hardware, but I’m personally glad they snuffed him on this.  He finished the basho with double-digit wins, but there was some piss-poor losses in there (like that loss to Tochinonada on Shonichi).  Secondly, like Toyonoshima and other Japanese rikishi, he’s only in the lower maegashira ranks because he was penalized for gambling in July.  He wouldn’t deserve a prize until he pulls off some great double-digit wins from joi, but I don’t see that happening for a while.

One bout in Makuuchi got under way before tie-breaking events.  Juryu Yusho leader Toyohibiki (11-3) came up to the big leagues for a visit with Don Juan Okinoumi (7-7).  Beeker was actually another of those knocked down to Juryo due to gambling.  Unlike the others, he seemed to like it so much he stayed around another basho.  Head-to-head was 3-0 in Beeker’s favor, and he knew that because from the tachiai he was all over Okidoki, driving the handsome devil back and complementing it all with some fierce shoves, but then came a key mistake.  Beeker switched from thrusts to trying a pull down.  This allowed the hansamu suutsu rikishi to regain his stature and stop retreating.  Beeker continued to charge with a moRozashi, but now Okily-Dokily was able to turn the tables from the edge by executing an under-arm throw.  Beeker went down, and he was obviously pissed that rather than win the Juryo Yusho outright, now he had to take part in a four-some…that is, four rikishi tied at 11-4 in the lead for Juryo.

But before the Juryo fab-four, there were other ties to be settled, which made for a more enjoyable Senshuraku.

First was two guys tied for the Sandanme championship.  The bout was over real quick, NHK neglected to provide replays, and I never did catch the two gentlemen’s names, so we’ll just move on…

Next was an orgy-affair in Makushita.  No one in the division achieved 7-0, but six men ended at 6-1.  The six drew straws; each would have a bout, three losers go home, and three winners take part in one of those take-turns-till-someone-wins-twice things.

First pair was E11 Minami and E58 Myogiryu.  The smaller and more strangely named Myogiryu forced out the large and southerly named Minami.

Second pair was E41 Chiyonokuni and W32 Tochitsubasa.  The two lined up for simultaneous over-arm/under-arm throw attempts, then after separating they abandoned the line dance for bitch slaps.  With that getting nowhere, one dude worked in under the other’s slaps and stage 3: belt battle commenced.  Tight on the belt, Tochitsubasa pulled an awesome underarm throw.  Great bout by these two unknowns.

Third pair was E37 Kumagai and E21 Naoe.  There was somewhat of a hesitant henka at the tachiai, but they eventually connect and Naoe thrusted his opponent out with an easy win.

Round 2: In accordance with another drawing, E58 Myogiryu took on E21 Naoe.  Nice bonk of the heads at the tachiai, and with straightforward deashi leading Naoe out, Myogiryu sticks around for another bout with the man-in-waiting.

E58 Myogiryu and W32 Tochitsubasa: Tochitsubasa had an interesting tachiai like he was trying to avoid punches in a bar fight by ducking down.  Really, he was trying to get an inside position.  Myogiryu saw through it and drove the rascal back, yorikiri.  And with that, ranked at East 58, 24 year old Hyogo-native Myogiryu, who has sekitori experience and had took nearly one year off to shake an injury won the Makushita Yusho.  Best of luck to this guy in the future.

Next up, the Juryo playoff.  For men draw four straws. 

First semi final: W4 Toyohibiki and newby E11 Takayasu.  Beeker easily drove him out with a push-out win.  Takayasu goes home, but hell of an opening basho as a Sekitori.

Second semi final: E10 Tochinowaka and E6 Kaisei.  Brazilian Kaisei went in straight for a low left-hand inside grip and used that to guide Tochinowaka out of the ring.

Final bout: W4 Toyohibiki and E6 Kaisei.  Beeker came in with the stronger tachiai, but again, Kaisei unleashed that same low left-hand inside grip, and again, drove his opponent out with it.  A better rikishi than Tochinowaka, Beeker was able to resist somewhat, but Kaisei’s grip was just too advantageous.  At the bales, Kaisei finished off his opponent by leaning his whole body into Beeker thus crushing him out of the ring.  Brazilian Kaisei will more likely than not be in Makuuchi in January.  He’ll struggle if that left-hand inside weapon is all he’s got, but I for one will enjoy seeing him develop into a Makuuchi rikishi, though I am disappointed this new foreign up-and-comer speaks decent Japanese.

Fiiiiiiinaaaaaaaalllllllly back to Makuuchi, but just the bouts of interest.

Mokonami (7-7) vs. Takamisakari (7-7); an unusually fast tachiai from Ringo, who continued moving forward with both hands on the tan Mongol’s mawashi and lead him straight to the bales and “downward you go, Sunshine.”  Decisive yet uncharacteristic win for Takamisakari. 

Gagamaru (8-6) vs. Shotenro (9-5), (or as David Swenson was calling him, “Shotender”); steady and strong…that’s the way Gaga should do it every time.  Met Shotender in the middle, pressed forward with solid deashi, and pushed Shotender straight out, oshidashi win for the Georgian peach.

Yoshikaze (7-7) vs Asasekiryu (6-8) A bit soft tachiai from Yoshi, probably trying to avoid a henka.  Sexy locked up Yoshi’s arms, but he loosened Sexy’s grip and worked to get the Mongol standing upward.  Sexy spiced things up with a leg trip attempt.  With the aggressor on one leg, Yoshi used the opportunity to move in closer behind the Mongol and threw on of his own leg trips, a twisting backwards knee trip.  Yoshi out wits his opponent, gets the win, and a kachikoshi moving him into joi in January, and finally there’ll be a bit of gap between him and stablemate Takekaze on the bandzuke in January.

Aminishiki (7-7) vs Homasho (7-7).  I was glad they set these two up with matching records and a kachikoshi on the line.  From the tachiai, Cigar Store was able to push through Ami and move him back, but near the rice bales he slipped down as his deashi gradually got quicker and more careless.  Amisneaky didn’t do a thing, but gets credited with a pull down, and is rewarded with a kachikoshi and moving into the joi meat-grinder in January (Amisneaky in joi = will definitely knock off a few lame ozeki).

One bout everyone had been waiting for, Kisenosato (10-4) and Toyonoshima (13-1).  With a win, Toyonoshima was guaranteed the Yusho or a chance to fight the Yokozuna for it in a playoff.  Head-to-head was 14-5 in Kisenosato’s favor.  At the tachiai, Toyo got a left-hand in on the belt, but he had to let it go and back off in order to avoid Kise from getting in on his own mawashi.  Moving backward, he reached the rice bales where he pivoted and launched what looked like a beltless arm through, but was called a push down.  Great bout from the two hardware recipients, and among the best bouts of the basho.  With this, Toyo remained in the running for the Yusho.

Simply because I love to see him get pounded, one rikishi I’ve enjoyed watching this basho is the hair on an ass mole, known by some (like his mother) as Hakuba (4-10).  Today he took on a Virgil Valentine personal friend, Tochinoshin (5-9).  The head-to-head has been 6-1 in Noshin’s favor.  Today, the hair on an ass mole went to the left at the tachiai.  Noshin read this like a popup book and got his grip, but Henkaba kept a marry-go-rounding, trying to avoid Noshin’s advance on his ass.  Firming up on his belt grip, Noshin walked the hair on an ass mole right out of the ring to top off an embarrassing 4-11.  Noshin finishes a respectable 6-9 from komusubi, but he’ll be back.

Another Sumo & Stogies Associate, Aran (4-10) took on local pride Takekaze (5-9).  Take was much quicker from the tachiai and Aran was actually moving backward on his own, vying for an easy grip.  In doing so, Take pulled him down with an easy pull-down win.  Piss-poor basho by the Russian, while the Akitan maintained some degree of respect going 6-9, yet being within the blades of the meat-grinder this basho.

Latest Japanese disappointment®, Tochiozan (6-8) took on scrappy Kakuryu (7-7).  A slow henka-weary tachiai from both, but O was able to work the Kak backwards with some good thrusts.  Kak lunged to clear the gap between the two, but O knocked the Mongol down, thrust-down win.  Both rikishi will fall from Sekiwake from now, but they both finished with respectable pairs of 7s and 8s.

The ole war horse Kaio (11-3) finished this basho against Baruto.  Bart charged very quickly from the tachiai while Methuselah semi-henkaed, and wrapped up Bart’s left arm and tossed him with an arm-bar throw.  As if Bart and the sheeple in the Kokusai Center never saw it coming, Kaio with a cheap win where everyone feesl little warm fuzzy feelings.  Let’s just hope that in order to have a better 2011 for sumo, Kaio hangs up the mawashi.  I bet he could find a career in pro-wrestling.  I’m sick of the farce, and I don’t want to see him there any longer.

And so to the musubi-no-ichiban.  Dai-Yokozuna Hakuho (13-1) takes on lame-duck Ozeki Kotooshu (8-6).  The head-to-head is 24-7 in Hakuho’s favor.  The Dai-Yokozuna needed this win to meet Toyonoshima in a playoff for the championship.  At the tachiai, the Bulgarian was crap and he continued to be crap until he exited from the hanamichi.  Hak secured the left outside grip, dropped his hips, swung one leg up and a textbook over-arm throw.  Oshu moved like a brain-dead corps, and I’m beginning to question whether he is or not.  The guy’s pure lack of fighting spirit makes him a pathetic rikishi, and the fact he’s an Ozeki with a complete absence of the desire to win is one of biggest problems with sumo.  I’m tough on the guy because I know he can do better.  He has in the past (latter 2005, May 2008), and he’s got the strength to do so.  Lower the Ozeki salary, or require them to win double digit victories each basho (9-6 = kadoban).  Something needs to be done to deal with this complacency in rikishi like Kotooshu.  I’m bored with this guy.

So, we have the playoff of two rikishi at 14-1.  The Dai-Yokozuna and rank-and-filer Toyonoshima.  After a good ten minutes of grooming and primping, the two rikishi returned to the dohyo.

The Dai-Yokozuna in the east, Toyonoshima in the west.  Yokozuna was veeery slow with the pre-tachiai rituals, focused and sending off that icy stare just as well as he ever has.  Toyonoshima, on the other hand, spent little time with the rituals, and rarely even gazed at his opponent. 

So it began; a good tachiai with Hakuho going in fast looking to do some slapping, but when the Yokozuna missed at a slap, Toyonoshima leeched onto Hakuho’s right arm and for a brief moment it appeared he was in the driver’s seat pinning the Dai-Yokozuna with this arm hold.  Hakuho used his loose left to reach for an over-arm grip on Toyonoshima’s belt which by pulling on the belt, enabled him to shake out of the arm hold, and twist Toyonoshiima around into the Burt Reynolds pose.  From there it was over as Hakuho threw him down, okurinage.

Great end to a dreadful year in sumo.  Truth be told, I know everyone in the Kokusai Center who wasn’t Mongolian wanted Toyonoshima to win, but I for one was glad he didn’t.  Toyonoshima did no wrong this basho.  He did what he was supposed to do.  He fought straight-up sumo, said the right things, and was a joy to watch.  I have nothing against the guy, but as I previously mentioned, he is only Maegashira 9 because of the baseball betting scandal.  He was in Juryo last basho.  The guy’s schedule was power-puff up until about Day 12 when he faced Baruto.  He got some great wins and was on a roll, but could he have achieved that if he was ranked in joi, where he really belongs?

In the end, the best man won, again, and it took a struggle, but he earned it, and that’s what this sumo fan likes to see.  Hakuho is on a five-basho consecutive-yusho streak, and with a win in January and in March, he’ll match Asashoryu’s record of consecutive yusho.  In 2010, he tied the best calendar year win-loss record which he already holds, of 86-4 for the year (tied with 2009).  He just did it twice in a row.  He’s got 17 yusho, and at the age of 25 years and nine months, only Taiho and Takanohana had more yusho under their belts at this age.  Lastly, just in case, Hakuho is currently second to Taiho in Makuuchi career win-loss percentage (Taiho was 83.8%, Hakuho is currently just above 80%).

Let’s hope Toyonoshima and Kisenosato keep it up in 2011, Kaio retires, Kotooshu’s wife declares a no-yusho, no-sex ultimatum, Harumafuji recovers and rediscovers his inner Ama, Baruto gets pissed off, Aran, Tochinoshin,and Kakuryu spend their holidays doing extra keiko, Tochiozan grows some balls, Aminishiki plots out some new trickery, Hakuba falls to Makushita, and Hakuho just keeps on keeping on.  That’ll make for a hell of a year in sumo.  Until then, my friends.

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