01. Hatsu Basho 2010

初日 – Day 1

first day of action in “Hey Say Knee Jew Knee.”

Unfortunately, MOTO-in-a-YAMA-sandwich is down in the minors this basho due to a dismal performance last November, so we won’t be seeing any part of his physique past 4 o’clock.  Thus, we won’t be betting on either of his sorry asses.

Starting with Takamisakari vs Mokonami.  The “expressive one” came in with a great tachiai and quickly locked up both of the Moko’s elbows up high, and pushed the Mongol out and down for a yoritaoshi win.  Moko went down on his ass and wiggled there for a while as if he were making snow angels in the clay.  Meanwhile Tkmskr is squinting, trying to figure out if his opponent will stand up or if he’s gay and landed on a half buried railroad spike.  Aomori 1, Mongol 0.

Next of interest, Kakizoe vs Takekaze.  Kakizoe has an interesting preparation ritual.  He gulps about three gallons of Jolt cola just before his bout.  The rich wind of northern Akita knew this, and he too came out of the shoot with a fast tachiai, and immediately went for an arm-bar throw, all the while moving his feet BACKWARDS.  Local falls to the stimulated one with a push out loss.

Up to sanyaku, barley; Kisenosato vs Chiyotaikai.  Chiyo has announced; if he does not return to Ozeki next basho, he retires.  That means he needs to avoid six or more losses.  Can he do it?  Yes, I’ve seen how the J-gals love that mug, but getting back to sumo.  He CAN get his ten wins, but that too wouldn’t involve sumo either.  Rather, it’d involve the statement, “I’ll scratch your balls, you scratch my balls.”  Chiyo came out at the tachiai with his trademark thrusts, but he can’t beat Evans with those thrusts anymore.  Kisen blinked through the former ozeki with ease.

Baruto vs Hokutoriki.  For those still keeping count, Baruto needs a minimum of 12 wins this basho for promotion to ozeki.  It’s not entirely impossible and it’ll be fun to watch him this basho.  He started off with a great bout against the arrogant one, putting in textbook-sumo thrusts and taking Hktrk straight out of the ring, oshi-dashi style.  If he can do this to all sanyaku, and allow just a loss to a yokozuna or two, he’ll be ozeki next basho.

Miflubbyyama vs Old man Kaio.  Both men tend to be aggressive heavyweight oldtimers in the ring, Mr. Miyabi preferring bitch slapping while Kaio preferring throws (nage).  This time, they started with a very weak tachiai, both of them looking for a pull down (perhaps not wanting to get hurt on the first day?).  In the end, Mybym took Old man Kaio out with an oshidashi.  Kaio is looking for two wins this basho, thus surpassing the record for all time Makuuchi wins set by Wolfman Chiyonofuji twenty-some years gone.

Kotomitsuki vs Goeido.  My God, had anyone else noticed Kotomitsuki enjoyed a few too many mochi over the holidays?  He gets any bigger, they may have to change his shikona to Yamamitsukiyama.  Mitsuki came out with a great tachiai, something he was the best at, back in the day.  He had momentum and a great yotsu grip, but Goeido continued to work on a nage throughout the short bout and eventually prevailed.  One point for youth, zero for flabby.

Tochinoshin vs Harumafuji.  Two of my favorite rikishi in this bout.  Both came out with a great tachiai, but Haruma quickly locked up the Georgian’s arms and popped in a quick uchimuso.  The uchimuso has always intrigued me.  It’s an inside leg trip with the hand, but I’ve never understood how a quick smack by the hand can cause a giant to topple over.  .

Moving on, I thought I’d mention that in attempt to improve it’s public image, for this year’s first day of sumo, the Association elders thought it important to invite the Emperor and wife to some sumo.  The royal couple were at the basho for only an hour, but 50 minutes of that time was spent getting up the stairs to their seats and waving at the crowd.  If I recall correctly, the Emperor hasn’t been to watch sumo since Homer Simpson threw him into a pile of used mawashis.

Kotooshu vs Toyonoshima.  It’s the sumo freak show; the tallest rikishi vs the shortest.  But not only that, it’s the rikishi with the biggest balls (Toyo) vs the smallest (Koto).  Balls weren’t enough though, as the giant squatted down as if he was under a helicopter and ploughed through the well endowed midget.  With that win, the big man/little man team have a tied record against each other at seven wins each.

Yokozuna time.  Asashoryu vs Kotoshogiku.  Strangely, Asa’s tachiai was not really straightforward, and he tilted a bit to the right, but the two locked up in a rather even mawashi battle when Geeku decided to employ his pièce de résistance, the hug & chug (pardon my shitty french).  The ole’ hug & chug might work on most ladies in makuuchi, but not the yokozuna.  Asa got the grip he wanted, squatted down, and sent the chugger out of the ring with ease.

Hakuho vs Kakuryu.  Let’s sumo up Hakuho 2009; 86 wins, 4 losses.  The guy is unstoppable right now.  He’s athlete of the year 2009, no question, except maybe Tiger Woods.  That said, however, he finished 2009 with only three yusho.  This year, he wants five.  Today, he started off with a decent tachiai with Kakuryu, and the two slowdanced in the ring for way too long with tight makikae (equal inside-outside) mawashi grips.  In the end, Hak shoved Kak’s arms and chest up and out of the ring.  Easy stuff and one small step towards his five yusho goal.

Okay, gentlemen and others, so goes day one.  It was a good start to sumo 2010, let us see to it that Sumo & Stogies 2010 starts off just as well.  If we’re lucky, we’ll get a sumo report from Daly.

二日 – Day Two

Apologies for the lateness of this report. Monday marked a historic day in Sumo. As much as I give Kaio and Chiyotakikai a hard time for being old (they are), Kaio deserves props for his many accomplishments over the years. Yesterday he tied Chiyonofuji with his #807 win all-time in the Makuuchi division. Mr. 8-7 of 2009 yorikiried Goeido for the victory. It was a very well deserved win and now I just hope he get’s that record and retires!

First half of the day two: A lot of these bouts were either extremely quick or reminded me of a bad episode of dancing with the stars.

Japan’s former best hope, Tochiohzan faced off against the ever popular Takamisakari. It ended quickly with Tochiohzan getting out of the gate with a great tachiai. He forced the near blind ‘Misakari right out to the Dohyo. Now I love Takamisakari when he wins and when he loses because he is so bipolar with his expressions. Tochiohzan on the other hand took the cake yesterday with his winning expression which screamed depression.

Other than that match, one rikishi to watch in the lower Makuuchi, if you ask me, is Tamawashi. The Mongol is currently ranked M7, his best ranking yet. The kid has got game. Yesterday he faced off against Big Aomori Man, Bushuyama. It was again a quick one with Tamawashi getting under all four of the Bushman’s breasts for a oshidashi win.
Second part of Day 2

Akita’s only Makuuchi son faced off against Kyokitenho. Kyokitenho recently won a Tokitenku look-alike contest. Unfortunately looks were not enough for the veteran Mongol. Takekaze was a pulling yesterday. Just before Kyokitenho was able to push Takekaze out of the ring the Akita Native pulled Kyokitenho for a tsukiotoshi win.

The longest bout of the day was probably Estonian Seikiwake Baruto Vs. Japan’s Best Hope, Kisenosato. I especially recall the announcer bashing Kisenosato, which I found quite surprising. The Kid is tough and easily my favorite Japanese rikishi. Baruto came in fast as did Kisenosato, their tachiai wasn’t bad either. I thought Baruto had the match there several times but every time Kisenosato matched the Estonian’s intensity. In the end the Kid got the mawashi and oshidashied the big Estonian for an upset win.

Chiyotaikai faced off against Hokutoriki. Hokutoriki literally slapped (Chiyotaikaied, I dare say) the shit out of the former Ozeki. After Hokutoriki won he jumped out and seemed to hug Chiyotaikai so he didn’t fall off the Dohyo. It was awkward, I’d imagine much more so for the two rikishi. With loss number two, we are literally four losses away from having the old man leave sumo in shame. It could have been otherwise but Chiyotaikai has made his choices.

Ozeki Time
Kotooshu, the current front runner among the Ozeki faced Miyabiyama. The Ozeki made quick work of the former Ozeki with a lightning fast okuridashi.

Harumafuji also made quick work of Kotoshogiku. It was a rare win for Harumafuji, who usually struggles against the Kyushu native.

Matagiyama is right, Kotomitsuki is looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man . Kakuryu made quick work of the Ozeki by keeping the mallow man’s hands in the air. It was almost as if the Ozeki just didn’t care.
Yokozuna time

Hakuho cleaned the young Georgian’s clock with a yorikiri win. I don’t know what else to say here. Hakuho is looking damn near unbeatable. I see good things in Tochinoshin’s future but he’s got a long way to go before he’ll pose a threat to the Yokozuna. Hakuho continues his streak with his 26th consecutive wins.

Asashoryu’s match was also a quicky. He stood up Toyonoshima and never looked back. Yorikiri. Like many people, I hope someone challenges the two Yokozuna’s a bit more in 2010. Perhaps that conversation is for another day though.
Creswell’s got you tomorrow for Day 3.

三日 – Day 3

There was some sumo yesterday, some of it was good, some not so good.  All 3 guys who moved up from Juryo (Kitataiki, Koryu, and Hakuba) won yesterday and Toyohibiki remains undefeated after 3 days. Nothing really spectacular down there.  Robocop, in a fairly uncharacteristic move, shifted right after the tachiai and pushed a befuddled Kokkai out for an okuridashi.  Tokitenku looked like his central nervous system was overtaken by a 12 year old playing Mortal Kombat for the first time.  The mongolian desperately tried for a ketaguri from WAY too far away, and was easily read and pushed out by Tochiozan, who continues to supply us with the ample sideburns we yearn for.

Veteran Wakanosato easily took down Yoshikaze, who (if you remember) was fairly solid last basho with a 10-5 record, i guess that’s the difference between Maegashira 9 and Maegashira 5.  Local boy Takekaze swung down Stephen Segal look-a-like Aminishiki, both rikishi remain at 2-1.  Kisenosato continues to look strong this basho, he avoided the Geek’s dreaded burt reynolds, and pushed him out for an oshidashi.  Capturing his 3rd win (and Matagidan’s heart) is Kisenosato, while Kotoshogiku falls to 0-3.   Kakuryu v. Baruto ended fairly quickly with the little guy being yorikiri-ed by the gentle giant (technique prizes be damned!)

Harumafuji had a decent showing with an oshidashi against Miyabiyama, and got the ozeki train moving.  Kotooshu continued with a bit of an awkward uwatenage on Goeido.  Then we come to the biggest match of the day (kind of.)  Kaio going for his 808th upper division win against Chiyobyebye.  the old man was in control the whole time (as are most against the now sekiwake.)  He used CYTK’s misplaced thrusting to turn him around and got a dramatic okurinage (a throw both rarely seen, and humiliating to be caught in.)  Kaio then made himself stoically erect in defiance of age to accept the crowd’s applause, then he stood up.  Kaio now sits alone at number 1 of all time with 808 top division wins.  3 more losses and Chiyotaikai will be done.  All good things must come to an end, and that’s where Kotomistuki comes in.  Hokutoriki manhandled the ozeki  for a quick okuridashi.  I couldn’t tell if Hokutoriki was on fire, or if Kotomitsuki got distracted by a spectator holding aloft a ham-steak.  KM remains the only winless ozeki.

Asashoryu took his time against Tochinoshin (who seemed a bit more taped up in the shoulder area after his battle with Hakuho yesterday.)  However, the mongolian was decisively in control.  Conversely Hakuho quickly made Toyonoshima his bitch with an amiuchi.  that’s 2 undefeated Yokozuna and 2 winless joi.

Some rikishi are looking fairly good this time out, but I’m still giving this basho to one of the Yokozuna.  Hakuho looks damn good right now, Asa too.  Kotooshu and Harumafuji are looking ok, but I just don’t see them taking a yusho right now.

Britton-Meyer will be on for day 4.

四日 – Day 4

Hello fellows,

Here is the news from Day 3.

Tournament Leaders (all undefeated)

Hakuho
Asashoryu
Kisenosato
Kakizoe
1. Takamisakari had a painful loss today as Shimotori pounced on his knee.  In any other sport it would have been a serious injury, and Takamisakari would have been rushed from the field in an ambulance.  Sumo, however, is sumo and Takamisakari struggled to his feet, bowed and walked out of the ring like the man he is.  The characteristic Takamisakari squint was combined with a grimace to form the spectacular expression known as the squimace.  Shimotori, thanks to his skin pillow of blubber, was unaffected by Takamisakari’s knee.

2. Kakizoe’s opponent was Wakanosato and Wakanosato lost. Kakizoe squeaked by with a kachikoshi last tournament, while ranked at Maegashira 5, but he is doing quite well in the current tournament.  He was bumped up one rank from last tournament and is fighting as Maegashira 4 this time around.  He is currently undefeated.

3. Kisenosato fought Kyokutenho today and won.  Kisenosato is currently the only other undefeated man besides Kakizoe outside the sanyaku this tournament.  His record is not quite so exciting as Kakizoe’s however because whereas Kakizoe moved up a rank and is doing well, Kisenosato dropped several ranks (last tournament he pulled a makekoshi at komusubi, and so dropped to Maegashira 3 for this tournament.

4. Harumafuji lost to Toyonoshima today.  Harumafuji was doing well until today, but couldn’t pull of the win today.

5. Kotooshu was also doing well until today, but he faced Kakuryu and lost.

6. Kaio put up a pretty decent fight today against Kotoshogiku, but at the end his back gave way and he stepped out of the ring to find his cane. He ended the day by saying that he is lonely now that Chiyotaikai is gone.  He either hinted or flat out said that he is seriously considering retirement at the end of the tournament.

7. Hakuho pulled out a cool lurch move called yoritaoshi (frontal crush out) that sent Goeido to the ground in an unfortunate position.  Imagine Goeido bent over a barrel with Hakuho standing behind him spanking him.  This is what he looked like as he lost.

8. Asashoryu had a damn good belt slap today.  He also won his match against Miyabiyama.

五日 – Day 5

Gentlemen,

Only a third of the Hatsu Basho is over, but yesterday Hakuho won the yusho.  It’s decided, and perhaps, privately at the Miyagino Stable last night, Hakuho drank from the cup, held up the dead fish, and with the kimono-clad wife and squirming kids they performed the “banzai.”  One yusho down; four more to reach his goal for this year.  But for the sake of Sumo & Stogies, let’s continue watching and continue analyzing as if we didn’t know this nugget of truth.

Let me be the first to tell you there are some real interesting, fun-to-watch rikishi doing well in Juryo.  Make a note of these names because chances are good we’ll be betting on them sometime soon:
1.    Gagamaru (臥牙丸).  The Georgian is currently 4-1, and is the second heaviest sekitori to Yamamotoyama, but he has a lot more in skill.  Currently 22 years old.
2.    Sōkokurai (蒼国来).  The kanji means “comes from the blue country.”  He’s a shin-juryo and the first Chinese sekitori, though he’s actually from Inner Mongolia and is ethnically Mongolian.  He’s slender, at just about the same height and weight as Harumafuji.  He, too, is currently at 4-1 (with a win over Yamamotoyama).
3.    Okinoumi (隠岐の海).  Hails from the tiny Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture (thus, his shikona).  He’s a fairly tall rikishi who’s good at fighting at the belt.  The 24 year old is currently at 5-0.
4.    If you ever catch juryo this basho and hear the old guy grunting at the tachiai, he’s Tosanoumi (土佐ノ海).  He’s not an up-and-comer, quite the contrary (he’ll be 38 next month).  Nevertheless, he always gives some straightforward sumo and is currently at 4-1.
5.    Yamamotoyama.  I’m sorry, but the big guy is washed up and I predict we’ll never see him back in the Big Show.  He’s currently 2-3 at juryo 9.  Everyone has learned how to take down Goliath, and all it takes it to avoid a head on attack.  Hopefully, some of the previously mentioned names will rise up to the Makuuchi soon and we can place some bets on their bouts.

Moving on to the sumo update, our first bout of interest was Takamisakari and Toyohibiki.  Great speed from both rikishi at the tachiai, but Tyhbi, who started from further back won the initial charge.  Their tachiai was so good, they literally bounced off each other like spinning tops, but with more speed Toyo slipped left at second-contact, then when he turned and got his senses, he gave Taka two head butts and worked him out of the ring.  Pretty much a one-sided bout as the quirky one stood around and took a beating like a meth mom.  The Hibeekster is at 4-1.

Anyone catch the Tokitenku/Kyokutenho bout?  These two have both been in Makuuchi for quite some time, but it’s always tough to tell them apart, especially when they’re both in the ring.  You’ve gotta make mental notes of moles, dimples, a single sock, to know who is who.  After yesterday, they have matching records at 2-3.

Tamawashi vs Takekaze.  Takekaze is a one-trick pony.  He stands his opponent up, then slaps or pulls his opponent down.  If he doesn’t achieve this in three seconds, he loses the bout.  I don’t have a problem with one-trick ponies in sumo.  Chiyotaikai was on in his day.  Miyabiyama is also one.  But if you’re going to be one, you’d better be damn good at that one trick.  Unfortunately, the Kita Akita City-native attempted to diversity his portfolio by taking his opponent’s mawashi in this bout.  The young Mongol easily worked the little man backwards, and with a final shove sent him into a spin not different from the way this bout turned out.  Take’s took close to joi to be at 2-3.  He faces double-digit losses at the end of this basho.

Struggling Kotoshogeek henka-ed left on Hokutoriki who gathered his senses at the rice bail, but before he could do anything Koto worked in a few hug-n-chugs and Hoku was out.

Did Chiyo’s retirement steal the thunder of Kaio’s record?  Perhaps, but it…oh, well.

Carry on wayward son, Ole’ Man Winter faced the Estonian.  At 2-2, Kaio has his record, but he’d better not relax too long because he needs to rack up a few more wins for kachikoshi before facing the yokozunas and the ozeki…well, don’t worry about the ozeki.  Bart needs the win more.  From the start of the bout, plenty of hugging and fondling on both sides, but Baruto was the only one with his feet moving forward; yorikiri win.  Bart is eight very difficult wins from Ozeki.  He’ll have to be perfect, aside from falling to both yokozunas.  Might I add, I love it when Bart goes into the NHK Interview room!  It makes us all feel better about our Japanese, and teaches us a coping technique…when you don’t understand a question, just unintelligibly mumble your answer, and there’ll be no follow up.

Kotomitsuki vs Toyonoshima.  At the tachiai, Kotomochi’s right arm (taped up arm) got caught in an arm-lock by Toyo, but he escaped that and began working up a throw, which was aborted, but still with the belt grip worked his opponent to the edge and forced him out.  Toyo is in trouble at 1-4, but not as much as the ozeki who also has just one victory.

Who is the #3 Mongol in sumo?  Might say Harumafuji, but Kakuryu has a mutton bone to pick about that.  As expected, both charged at the tachiai like they were shot out of a cannon.  Haruma won the tachiai, but Kak started to move his compatriot back.  Just near the tawada, Haruma worked up a convenient nage and both Mongols went down to the floor, the Kak first.  Haruma is performing some good, old-fashion ozeki-zumo at 4-1.

Kotooshu vs Tochinoshin.  Another twin fest!  I remember two years ago when Kotooshu got his yusho, Tochinoshin had just been promoted to Makuuchi.  He said in an interview that J-folks were always congratulating him for his recent yusho.  Maybe he should claim to be Kotooshu when he goes in to pick up his pay-check.  Anyhow, an even-Steven-Eastern European tachai resulted in both rikishi grappling for a grip.  The Georgian went for a nage, but when it failed he slipped and the Bulgarian capitalized on it with a shitatenage (oh, isn’t capitalism grand!).

Goeido vs Asashoryu.  Tachiai saw a nice harizashi from Asa, who then came in blasting his opponent with his left shoulder, resulting in the younger moving backward.  Go-Eigo slipped and spun to the left at the tawada, with Asa tumbling forward and out.  It was not a good win on the Osakan’s part, and it was not a bout Asa should have lost.  It was ugly, and both rikishi are better than that.  Go did not win…Asa lost.  After the bout, I saw Asa smack the floor with his fist (something I’m sure Ms. Frogface Uchidate will remark upon).  Asa knew it was his loss.  With this loss, Hakuho was handed his 13th yusho.

The musubi-no-ichiban…this time, and afterthought; Hakuho vs Miyablubberyama.  Straight away, Hak moved in close to cut off Mybym from his dear tsuppari weapon.  Hak tried three times for a nage, but then realized “I can beat any bastard with any move I please!” and took the mawashi with his left hand for an easy push out.

So at the end of Day 5, undefeated rikishi are Hakuho; Kisenosato is still awaiting his first loss.

Matagidan fur Tag SECHS!!

六日 – Day 6

We are over a third of the way to Senshuraku. Championship season on the way. What’s more exciting however is that we are only a week away for the Ugo Basho, which will mark the 10th Sumo and Stogies Event (if my math is correct) All-Time. Since we often place an arbitrary importance on this number I thought it might be worth mentioning.

First off, crowd favorite RoboCop faced off against Aran. After Shimotori landed on Takamisakari’s leg two days ago, I was especially interested to see if he might finally recover. He didn’t. Not even close. Things are not looking good for the man from Aomori. Aran got under Misakari and made easy work of him with a yorikiri win.

Speaking of one trick ponies, Homasho got oshidashied by Shotenro who was the aggressor the entire match. Homasho is a pusher thruster, but he was way too defensive in this match and thus never gave himself a real good shot at winning the bout.Shotenro moves to 3-3.

The next match that I found interesting was Kokkai V. Aminishiki. Kokkai was sitting at 1-4 at the time and desperately needs some wins. From the tachiai that was clear. Kokkai was pushing and thrusting like it was his last chance. Aminishiki, who is sometimes called Sneaky looked scary man. He took everything that Kokkai could throw at him and barely moved back an inch. For a while it looked as though Aminishiki was just testing Kokkai’s strength. Finally the Aomori native got sick of fending off the Georgian’s thrusts and took Kokkai out of the ring with an oshidashi win. Sneaky is one of six rikishi to move to 5-1 while Kokkai drops inversely to 1-5. That being said his knee looked injured after the match. Something to look for today.

Remember Yoshikaze last Basho? Mr. 10-5. He even was tied for the lead at one point in Kyushu. Not so at Hatsu Basho. The Kyushu rikishi finds himself at 1-5 after Asasekiryu pulled a henka yesterday to move to 4-2.

Tamawashi, my current top, one to watch this basho made quick work of fellow Mongolian, the veteran, Kyokutenho. Tamawashi had a great tachiai and grabbed ‘tenho by the neck. After standing the older rikishi up he proceed to get both hands on his mawashi to win by yorikiri. So a mawashi win for none other than Tamawashi.

Next up was an Aomori Akita showdown. It’s not a good basho to have “kaze” in your shikona. Takekaze had a solid tachiai and looked to have stood Wakanosato up but got caught under his fat arm pits. At that point the Wakanosato took complete control. Dr. Takekaze attempted a few throws but didn’t quite have the necessary position to pull it off. Aomori fans everywhere were pleased with the oshidashi win.

Tochinoshin faced Speedy (Kakizoe). Kakizoe has been enjoying some sucess this basho while Tochinoshin has been getting his Georgian ass (shoulder) kicked by the big boys. Today however must have felt like a vacation for him though as he threw Kakizoe around like a rag doll. Don’t be surprised if Tochinoshin makes a run now that he’s done fighting Yokozuna he’s been training with before these past few Bashos. Tomorrow he fights Kaio. Like I said, things are looking a lot easier from here on out.

Next was Baruto V. Kotoshogiku. Baruto’s only loss was to Kisenosato, so he’s looking quite good thus far all things considered. Today was more of the same. His Tachiai was almost Hakuho like as he stood the Geek right up and sent him right out of the Dohyo, oshidashi style.

Next up was the bout of the day at first look. Kisenosato (5-0) and Kotooshu (4-1). Kisenosato was looking to make the Bulgarian pay dearly today but it wasn’t meant to be. The Kid must have blinked at the tachiai, because he played right into Kotooshu’s game of close mawashi sumo. The kid was able to hold Oshu off for a short while and even had a few Nage (throw) opportunities but in the end Kotooshu was not to be denied his yoritaoshi win.

Toyonoshima faced Ozeki Kaio. Before I get their though. I am I alone on this or is anyone pissed off that the annoucers are refering to Chiyotaikai as an Ozeki even though his ranking upon retirement was sekiwake? It’s driving me crazy. Everytime I hear it from Hiro Morita I am filled with an unquenchable rage. Kaio is in trouble. Records be damned, he needs some wins. He loses to Toyonoshima and things don’t look good for him tomorrow either. Kaio is 2-4

Kotomitsuki is hurting man. He lost yesterday too to Jaba the Miyabi. In his own words,
Kotomitsuki on suffering his fifth loss at the hands of Miyabiyama, “My leg buckled on me, and then I just panicked.”

Kotomitsuki on his condition, “I’m okay, but my sumo is terrible.”

Look for the big man to go on injury leave. Good news for us who want to see fresh faces in the Ozeki ranks.

Harumafuji is looking great this basho. The guy is nimble and he made Goeido look silly yesterday. It a match worth watching.

Hakuho made Hokutoriki look like a joke yesterday. The match was fast. Sumotalk’s quotes do the match justice. Hokutoriki said it best,  “I didn’t even have time to feel his greatness.”Seriously, I’ll be shocked if this Yokozuna doesn’t win the Hatsu Basho.

Asashoryu finished up Kakuryu easily too. You could tell he was playing it safe. The fluke yesterday might actually be the best possible thing that could have happened to the Yokozuna if you ask me. I think he’ll make it to Senshuraku and give Hakuho his best next week.

Thanks for reading and have a good one. Creswell will be rocking Day 7.

七日 – Day 7

We had some pretty good bouts on day 7, overall a good day of sumo.

Kitataiki v Aran ended with Aran showing some bad dohyokan and taking a huge step back and out and, Hakuba pulled a henka-uwatedashinage on Shotenro.  Both men continue to surprise with 6-1 records.  Next up was Takamisakari and Tokitenku.  The mongolian has been looking particularly sloppy and desperaste this basho.  After a decent tachiai, Takamisakari gained the advantage and after Tokitenho tried 3 or 4 desperation moves including 2 attempted leg waza, Robocop backed the unfortunate-looking Maegashira 8 out of the ring.  Again the blind-one looked more excited than someone with his rank and record should.

Bushuyama continues to disapoint this basho.  He had a pretty decent tachiai against Asasekiryu, but got stood up and escorted out by the mongolian.  Aminishiki benefited from Miyabiyama’s general sluggishness today and turned what could have been a disastrous tachiai into a yorikiri win.  Segal is looking pretty good and can look forward to his kachi-koshi.  Toyonoshima got the better of the tachiai against Kyokutenho, and took the veteran to the tawada with a motozashi, then pulled a kubinage that would have gotten a 9.4 for synchronized dance as both rikishi flopped to the clay in dramatic fashion.

komosubi Kakuryu used the Geeku’s massive momentum to escort him back down the hanamichi with a smooch and an ass-slap to bid him farewell.  The kak is at 3-4 and the geek 2-5.  It looked like Kisenosato was hoping for some good yotsu-zumo againt Harumafuji, but all he got was the business end of Ama’s hidari-yotsu and a rather quick uwatenage.  The kid has shown some good sumo this basho and remains at a respectable 5-2, and the Ozeki is finally resembling an ozeki again at 6-1.  Kakizoe jumped around spasticlly as usual, and actually had Kotooshu on the ropes, but Oshu recovered and watched coffee-zoe step out.  Tochinoshin’s injured right arm and Kaio’s near-henka brought an end to what might have been an interesting match.  Georgian 2-5, Kaio 3-4.  Kotomitsuki has looked piss-poor this basho, especially after Takekaze absorbed every hit the ozeki(?) could throw at him.  Yorikiri for Akita, and most likely Kyujyo for Aichi.  There is speculation that Kaio might kyujyo out if he gets another loss as well, but we’ll save those speculations for another day…namely tomorrow.

Asashoryu was really fired up today.  After a near slip on the clay, he mercilessly blasted Hokutoriki back and out, and like icing on the cake, the mongol gave the Maegashira 3 a generous serving of superfluous slap-in-the-face on the way down, an act which garnered some asinine comments from the men in the booth.   Big match of the day… Baruto vs Hakuho.  It appears that the esteemed Matagiyama spoke too soon (maybe.)  The Estonian seemed to be in trouble once Hakuho got his favorite lefthand outside grip, but the gentle giant shook it off and scored his first win against the Yokozuna with a sukuinage.  It was quite a sight seeing the elated Estonian in the interview room, with a shit-eating grin plastered on his face, not even close to understanding what the hell the NHK guy was asking him.  This levels the playing field, and gives high hopes for an interesting senshuraku.  at 6-1 are Hakuho, Asa, Harumafuji, Kotooshu, Baruto, and Aminishiki.

九日 – Day 9

I was rather disappointed that my day to report the sumo bouts of interest turned into a rather dull one.  But despite this, the prospects for Baruto to reach ozeki are heating up.  Unfortunately for the Estonian, he might have handed Hakuho a rare loss on Saturday, but I stand by my word that when Asa lost on Day 5, Hakuho left the Kokugikan waving to the crowds in a convertible.  Currently, Hakuho, Asashoryu, and Baruto are 8-1.  When you have the same record as Hakuho mid-basho, you are chasing him.

The 4pm broadcast opened yesterday with a slick-suited yakuza in the NHK commentary booth.  Apparently, this member of the Japanese mafia has been involved in fixing sporting matches for years now.

Getting right into the thick of things, we had Takamisakari vs. Tochinonada.  Rainman moved into Tochi’s right with a quick grip on the mawashi and escorted his ailing opponent to the edge, then chose an uwatenage rather than push the old timer over the rice bales.  Easy win for Takamisakari.  Tochi falls to 2-7 and is on an escalator to juryo next basho…or is that 36 years old and on an escalator to retirement?  He’ll have to choose between the two.

Toyonoshima vs. Kakuryu.  The Kak stood up and soaked in Toyo’s weak tachiai in order to bring the grip to him.  Once he had a hold of the belt it was easy work moving the little round Toyo back and out.  Simple win for the Mongol who’s 4-5 and trying to hang onto sanyaku.

Kotoshogiku vs. Tochinoshin.  Geek worked right into Tchinshn’s chest and immediately commenced with the hug-n-chug, taking the Georgian out of the ring in a lopsided bout.  Geek is 4-5, also trying to hang onto sanyaku.

Hokutoriki vs. Kaio.  From the tachiai it started off as a thrusting bout from both rikishi, but Old Man Winter eventually locked up Hoku’s arms and pushed his kohai’s kohai’s kohai out of the ring.  Kaio proves he still has a heartbeat at 5-4.

Takekaze vs. Harumafuji.  The tachiai started with a harizashi (bitch slap) by Haru, which gave him the chance to move in and lock up the Akitan’s arms, moving him to the edge.  The Little Man from Moriyoshi temporarily averted disaster by moving side to side, but the Mongol eventually finished him with a yorikiri.  Harumafuji is at 7-2 while Takekaze is at 4-5.

It had to get better somewhere, doesn’t it?  Lots of lopsided bouts thus far on Day 9.

In the bout of the day, Baruto faced Ozeki Kotooshu.  Upon tachiai, Bart soon worked in a left hand outside on the mawashi and a right hand holding up the shoulder of Koto-Oh-Poo.  The two Europeans went around the ring once due to Bart’s pushes with Koto-Oh-Shit squirming, but the Estonian eventually found a corner for the Bulgarian and capitalized on it (another cheer for capitalism!).  Koto falls to 7-2 and out of yusho contention, while Bart is at 8-1 and four wins away from ozeki promotion.  Again, with another victory over an ozeki/yokozuna, Bart got another chance to fine-tune his Japanese abilities in the NHK booth.  When praised for man-handling a yokozuna and two (legitimate) ozeki this basho, Bart replied “I’m just human.”  The room erupted with laughter.  I couldn’t have said it better.

Kisenosato vs. Asashoryu.  The pre-bout rituals were extremely well synchronized with these two…thrice, they stared down the other as if they knew the bout would be quick and they wanted to use up the spare time.  At the tachai, Asa threw out a very hard left-hand harite (bitch slap) which took Kisenosato out for a split-second, which was long enough for the Legend to come in at his side and display an underarm throw.  Asa is at 8-1 while Kisenosato is at a respectable 5-4.

In the musubi-no-ichiban (final bout), Hakuho came out of the shoot at the tachai at a much quicker speed than he usually does, just so he’d be on pace with Kakizoe.  The Yokozuna came in real close to cut off the little man from thrusts, then easily sent him to the edge.  Yokozuna is at 8-1.

So, for Day 10 you’ll have another dose of me instead.  As for Day 8, we’re still waiting for Britton-Meyer to get that to us…as I understand it, he incurred some injuries from our snow-sumo training last weekend and was able to train his neighbor’s dog to lick his wounds.  Unfortunately for us, Britton-Meyer is convinced his penis is injured.

十日 – Day 10

Gentlemen,
Day 10 was a day we knew would come in this basho, but never did want to see.  For three rikishi, this was shaping up to be a memorable basho, but like a bowel movement, yesterday all three were shit in the ring.  Only seven bouts to comment on for Day 10, but certainly the rockiest day in the tournament thus far.

Takamisakari vs. Shotenro.  Sho hit hard at the tachiai and clearly won, but in performing the final push-out at the tawada, the Mongol stepped out of the ring before Takami, who was completely defenseless.  After the gyoji directed the gumbai in Takami’s favor, the Apple Farmer stood frozen, mouth open and eyes wide, as if he were watching his favorite Aki Hoshino DVD.  Ringo-taro stays even at 5-5.

Goeido vs. Kakuryu.  Goeido henka-ed at the tachiai and it was over there.  Tasteless, and not worthy of a man labeled at “the Japanese hope to become yokozuna.”  If he keeps this up, he’ll never be worthy of yokozuna, nevermind ozeki.  Kak did keep his eyes up at the tachiai, but he was leaning too far down to adjust when the henka came.  Goeido is 5-5 and Kak 4-6 leading into the final third of the tournament.

Baruto vs. Toyonoshima.  We have a 28 centimeters height differential between these two (about 1’, for those who bleed red, white, and blue).  Bart has been 7-0 against the little round man, and in this basho he’s looked great with defeats against two ozeki and one 大-yokozuna.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s report, when the NHK interviewer praised Bart that he’d been handling the pressure very well, the Estonian replied, “I’m just human.”  Today, he showed that like in a bad porno, he can screw himself in the ring, and that he can lose embarrassingly to a little man by displaying shitty sumo.  At the tachiai, Bart went straight for the old trick, both hands outside, tsuridashi attempt.  Toyo used this to his advantage by pushing upward on Bart’s chest thus forcing the giant back and off balance.  Bart falls to 8-2, and the news only gets worse because tomorrow he faces Asashoryu.  The Estonian is in some trouble now as he needs to win four of the next five bouts to get remote consideration for ozeki promotion.  Can he take down a second 大-yokozuna tomorrow?  Chances are if he finishes out with wins the last five days, he’s got only a 50/50 shot.

Kotooshu vs. Yoshikaze.  The Bulgarian ozeki did his usual slow pre-tachai routine where his opponent, with both fists squarely on the ground, drifts off asleep before Oh-shoot finally comes up with the courage to place both his fists down.  Finally, with a tachiai both rikishi gave each other a harmless shove, then Yoshi initiated a tsuppari which the tall ozeki couldn’t handle for shit.  Perhaps Old-shoe couldn’t focus because his marriage to a JAL stewardess is next month, and he’s concerned about her job security.  More shitty bouts like this and he should worry about his own job security.  The weak Bulgarian falls to 7-3 while Yoshi-chan plays it even at 5-5.

After watching Kotooshu, Harumafuji decided he’d be lonely if he’s the only ozeki not embarrassing himself.  So, today he attacked at the tachiai and moved ol’ man Kaio to the tawada, but NOT out.  The fossil spun around and swaggered around the dohyo getting his balance.  Once Haruma noticed the ole man wobbling around, he went after Kaio, lost his balance as he shoved and went down to the ground just as the old man stepped out.  The gyoji chose Kaio the winner, and although it appeared he stepped out just as Haruma fell, all five judges chose to sit on their hands (and sniff farts) and no discussion was needed (discussion is never needed when there’s a close call and the gyoji judges the Japanese rikishi won).  Haruma stands at 7-3 while Kaio improves to 6-4.

Hakuho vs. Kotoshogiku.  Haku was fast and before Geek could get to a…–Geek’s out!  大-yokozuna wins and is 9-1.

In the tale of the snake vs. the alligator, local Takekaze said his last rites before facing Asashoryu.  Before the tachiai, the Akitan actually had both fists down before the yokozuna.  No one ever does this to Asa, so he stood up, pissed off, hoping for a re-start.  Second time, Take submissively obeys and Asa’s fists are down first.  In the bout, Take submissively obeys again as Asa starts him out with a harizashi, left hand outside grip, then moved the little rice boy out.  Three steps: 1) harizashi, 2) get the grip you want, 3) escort out of ring ( no dame-oshi this time).  Asa is at 9-1 while the Akitan sits at 4-6.

Day 11 will be brought to you by the letters P-A-T

十一日 – Day 11

Ok here’s yesterday’s sumo bouts. sorry about the relative lateness of this, I had ski-kyoshitsu today and chose to spend the day snowboarding.

Tochinonada and Shimotori eeked out wins and Tosayutaka and Toyohibiki secured their kachi-koshi.  Kokkai continues to look crappy this basho, and helps Iwakiyama, who started off pretty weak, but has rallied to get 7-4… one step closer to kachikoshi.  Aran is starting to show a lot better foot work, and his kachikoshi today against Wakanosato is proof.  Bushuyama however has taken over the russian’s spot in the gutter he fell victim to Mokonami’s shitatenage 1-9 for Musashigawa’s boy.

After a false start Aminishiki and Kisenosato slammed into each other, it looked like Aminishiki was in control, but Kisenosato turned it around and pulled a kotenage.  While Aminishiki’s arm certainly touched the clay first, the playback certainly looked like Kisenosato’s right arm broke the plane of the dohyo first, but Nishiki already had his 8 wins, and the Kid didn’t.  Not the best matches today from Kakuryu and Goeido, but they both got wins. 5-6 and 6-5 respectively.  Time for the Ozeki.

Harumafuji had a quick oshidashi win over jokutoriki, who has just been getting molested this basho.  In the case of Kotooshu vs. Kaio, the old man was thrown to the ground by the hairy oaf from eastern europe.  If oshu wants to start winning more yusho he needs to be doing this to the lower ranked guys who constantly ruin his chances.

There was lots of hype going into the match between Baruto and Asashoryu, but that was all silenced when Asa lifted the estonian clear off the dohyo with a beautifully executed shitatenage.  Yokozuna all the way.  Hakuho.  The dude KOed Takekaze with nothing but a harite and a elbow hit, the man from Moriyoshi went down before the bout began.  It was called oshitaoshi, but it should have been called bitchslap-taoshi.

十二日 – Day 12

Day 12 was the defining day of this tournament.

Kotooshu went ahead and demonstrated that he is not levelheaded enough
to be yokozuna as Takekaze made a fool of the big man in the ring.  It
was probably just a misunderstanding at the tachiai.  Kotooshu thought
that Takekaze was having a seizure, but really it was just the
Moriyoshi native speaking in Akita-ben.  What was Takekaze saying in
Akita-ben at the tachiai?  It went along the lines of, “My god, that
man’s buttocks are the size of Dixie Burgers.”

Baruto got a win over Goeido, but it left something to be desired in
terms of finesse.  When the big man looked like he was about to lose,
he simply stood up to his full hieght and lifted his opponent out.

Asashoryu fought Kaio and Kaio displayed the old man pride he has been
putting out for the whole tournament.  He knew he was outmatched, but
he fought Asashoryu honorably, and the yokozuna won with a fine
display of yorikiri.

Hakuho lost to Haruma.  The question arises, was it yaocho?  It
certainly looked even more like yaocho than when Asa lost to Haruma
last basho.  Of course, given Asa’s record after his bout with Haruma,
that loss might have been real.  This time, though, I doubt Hakuho
will lose tomorrow.  Granted that throughout the tournament, Hakuho
has made more mistakes than I would have expected of him, but
yesterday’s bout was straight out of the Akita Kokusai Sumo
Touranament.  Actually, watching Hakuho and Haruma fight was
particularly painful for this guy!  Memories of my own bout against
Matagidan haunted me as I watched Hakuho run past Haruma and out of
the ring.

If it was a yaocho, though, why?!  It doesn’t seem like it benefits
Haruma any and so there must some other reason.  Here is my theory:

Last year, Asashoryu was really gunning for the yusho and he was one
ahead of Hakuho, if memory serves.  He lost the first bout, which tied
him up with Hakuho and sent the tournament into overtime.  Then, in
the tie breaker, Asashoryu won.  I think that now is pay back time.

Asashoryu will lose the regular match to Hakuho, and they will have a
play off, which I predict Hakuho will win.  This will allow Asa to
hand over the Yusho without losing too much face.  Admittedly this
theory is a bit half-baked.

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