03. Natsu Basho 2010

夏場所初日 – Day 1

I thought I’d start off the Day 1 sumo report with another survey I found in yesterday’s Asashi Shimbun.  Simple survey with one question; “Who’s your three favorite foreign-born rikishi?”  Indeed, it is another of those divisive “us, nipponjin; them gaijin” surveys that Japanese are so good at, but the results were somewhat interesting and worth sharing.  Try answering that question for yourself before reading the results below.

The survey is made up of responses from 4,043 subscribers to Asahi Shimbun online.

Q: Who’s your three favorite foreign-born rikishi?
A:
#1          Takamiyama      2,284 votes
#2          Kotooshu             1,246
#3          Baruto                 1,231
#4          Konishiki            1,172
#5          Musashimaru    1,145
#6          Hakuho               1,032
#7          Harumafuji         389
#8          Asashoryu           353
#9          Akebono               329
#10        Kyokushuzan     201

#11 Kyokutenho, #12 Hakuba, #13 Kokkai, #14 Asasekiryu, #15 Tochinoshin

First off, looking at numbers alone, the impact Takamiyama had made is quite remarkable in that he, a man who retired over 26 years ago can come up with nearly twice as many votes as the second place rikishi.  He was, however, the first foreign-born rikishi to yusho, set a string of remarkable records, and the only one to successfully run his own stable so his degree of popularity is well deserved in my opinion.

Secondly, it appears the esteeming rank of yokozuna doesn’t carry must weight in terms of popularity.  The most liked foreign-born yokozuna, Musashimaru, came in with votes from only a quarter of the respondents (less than four other rikishi).  And look at Asashoryu and Akebono’s numbers!

Lastly, as perhaps the fundamental purpose of the survey, this seems to showcase the love affair the Japanese are having with European rikishi.  If I’m being generous, Kotooshu is an average ozeki and Baruto is just a new ozeki, albeit showing potential to be great since the start of this year.  Neither has been around that long, but they’re already the second and third most-liked foreign-born rikishi.  Likely, active rikishi can have an uneven advantage in terms of popularity in comparison to rikishi of former generations, but it’s interesting to note how these European rikishi have risen in popularity, surpassing all Mongolians and all but the first Hawaiian on the list.

Oh, and one more thing.  Okay, I can handle that your run-of-the-mill Asashi online subscribers don’t vote for Asashoryu.  Whatever.  But Hakuba?  What the hell is he doing on that list!?

My on-the-bubble rikishi Aoiyama came off his makushita yusho and fell to Takanoyama of Czechia (on Keishikazawa’s bubble list), losing only the second time since entering sumo.  I’m still hoping for his kachikoshi as it might get him into juryo next basho.

Anyhow finally moving on to Day 1 action…

Two men on the brink of falling out of the division, Tochinonada took on Takamisakari. History was in Takamisakari’s favor 15-9, and it’s high time Mr. Magoo got his ass in gear, given he’s never been this low since Kyushu 2008.  Magoo took one step back at the tachiai while trying to work in his left hand to Tochinonada’s belt.  Magoo took another step back and Tochi, with his eyes closed just to make it an even match moved forward and down, losing his balance just enough for Magoo to pull him down.  Pretty mediocre bout from two mediocre rikishi.  After the bout Takamisakari had a bit of blood smudged on his face, but upon further review it was revealed to be either clown face paint or Aki Hoshino lipstick.  No matter what it was, everyone saw it except him.

The faltering Akitan is low enough now in the ranks, he should get a kachikoshi and then some this tournament (and not just from his wife).  Today, he took on sophomore makuuchi Tokusegawa.  The Akitan had a perfect tachiai charge, which when he’s on is really good, adding in a slight shove to the throat which all together knocked the larger Tokusegawa back and with both feet briefly in the air.  Coming back down, the Mongol skidded on the runway and the Moriyoshi boy used that chance to pull his opponent down to the clay.  Butterball looked good here, but tomorrow he’s got a semi-healthy Goeido.

I heard heartthrob Okinoumi has been training with Hakuho prior to this basho.  Great experience for this greenhorn!  He got well smacked by Mokonami in a false start, but was able to shake it off.  After a quick tachiai the two locked up with belt grips, Moko with two hands on his opponent’s belt while Okinoumi managed only his right.  Once realizing his grip advantage, Mokonami lift up his handsome devil of an opponent and send him out of the ring.

I had absolutely no intention of reporting on the Tosayutaka-Toyohibiki bout.  I don’t really care for either rikishi, though Tosayutaka looks like a gorilla and I do care for that.  It turned out, however, to be a great bout, and one which exemplifies the importance of flexibility in sumo.  After a bit of tsuppari at the tachiai from Tyhbk, King Kong finally worked in between the thrusts from his opponent and the two lock up migiyotsu.  With Tyhbk near the rice bales, he launches a right hand underarm throw on his primitive opponent.  Coco hung on and used that throw momentum to try out his own over-arm throw at the same time, resulting in both men having one foot planted, their heads below their asses, and a leg stretching beyond 180 degrees in the air.  It literally looked like two windmills aligned and turning.  Neither man let up, and they both tumbled after exhibiting flexibility only seen in Romanian porn.  The gyoji pointed the gumbai in Curious George’s favor and after a discussion among the judges, they determined indeed Tyhbk’s topknot graced the dohyo just moments before George’s did.  Truth be told, this was probably the best bout of the day, and nice work from both rikishi.  As a die-hard sumo fan, this is the kind of bouts I love to see.

In a Team Aomori battle, Wakanosato faced returning sekiwake Aminishiki.  Amisneaky is always fun to watch in sanyaku.  He does not really deserve to be any higher than sekiwake, but he’s well known to take down a yokozuna or ozeki from time to time.  From the tachiai, Amisneaky stretched his arms and was able to get his opponent upright and move forward taking Waka right out of the ring.  Head down, arms on the chest, there was nothing sneaky here as Ami picked up a win just doing what he always does in butsukari.  Tomorrow, Ami gets a shot at embarrassing his nemesis Ozeki Kotooshu.

Kisenosato looked to improve his 8-4 record with Kakuryu.  Strange tachiai as Kise only accepted blows from the Mongol, but once the lighter-weight opponent closed in Kise launched a gabburi, I thought Kotoshogiku was back on the dohyo.  Nice work by Kise to stop the Kak’s intensity at the tachai and move on with a win.

Ozeki Baruto has sure polished up his Japanese after all these ozeki promotion interviews, hasn’t he?  I mean he was shit and I loved making fun of his struggles in interviews, but now he’s had to say the same shit so many times I think he’s got it down pretty damn well.  I even heard that he whipped out some Engurishu in an interview; “I want to be the first European Yokozuna.”  Nice to hear he aims for that.  Today, he took on another European in Tochinoshin.  Bart threw out a real fast even-handed shove to Tochi’s face.  After a couple of thrusts to the chest, Bart went back to Tochi’s head and added an easy pull down.  This new Bart, who has a fast tachiai and Akebono-like tsuppari is twice as good as that old Bart who was always on the belt, looking for outside belt grips which just opened up his chest.  With sumo like this, he can easily beat everyone…except one.

Homasho vs. Kaio.  Ho’s out of his league, even against the Oldzeki.  At the tachiai, Ho jumped out of the way in what is close but not really a full henka.  After brief separation, Methuselah wrapped his wrinkly fingers around Ho’s shoulders and up to his head for a pull down to the clay.  With opponents like Homey, Methuselah will cruise through this basho.  Pretty pathetic from junior.

Kotomitsuiki has a long record with Miyabiyama, leading 24-16.  On Day One, the two heavyweights got just a couple of thrusts in at the tachiai before arms locked up and Mybym worked a hand to Micky-Dee’s throat moving the crap-zeki back.  Once Micky-Dee shook it off, Miyaflubby went for a quick pull down and embarrassed the crap-zeki once again.

Toyonoshima and Kotooshu stand at 7-8 in history, but they also stand 33 cm apart in height.  Despite this discrepancy, round midget rikishi such as Toyo seem to often get the best of Ohshu.  Knowing his weakness, Ohshu had done some degeiko with Takekaze and Yoshikaze from Oguruma-beya prior to this basho.  Well, it worked.  Ohshu kept his ass down at the tachiai, worked for a grip and after the midget attempted a few times to work out of Ohshu’s grip, the midget went for a pathetic beltless arm throw which Ohshu used to do his own over-arm throw and literally squashed the pre-caricatured rikishi under him.

Another rivalry to follow was Harumafuji vs. Kotoshogiku.  Haruma has indeed had more success the Geek (he’s ozeki, geek’s not).  Yet, Geek is one rikishi who’s had Haruma’s number for quite some time, and history proves it; 17-9 in Geek’s favor.  Haruma had a better tachiai, but chose to try a head lock on the Geek which went absolutely nowhere.  Geek simply led the ailing ozeki to the edge and out to improve his record.  Harumafuji is one of my favorite rikishi and I think what we’re seeing isn’t him anywhere near proper form, and I don’t mean just physically.  He has a knee injury, but he seems to lack the fighting spirit which drove the lightweight rikishi to the rank of ozeki, and a yusho in the first place.  I fear he’s caught a case the Ozeki Complacency, run rampant thanks to the likes of Chiyotaikai, Kaio, and Kotomitsuki.  Under normal circumstances, Kotoshogiku and Haruma tend to go on with a “I screwed your mother…on Mother’s Day, and she liked it” stare which seems to drag on and burn across the shikirisen before every bout.  We didn’t have any of that today.  I’m afraid Haruma’s just going for a kachikoshi this basho (like Kaio and Mitsuki), and not looking for any more, given that injury.  It’s really pitiful such a badass Ama which I for one came to admire has come to this.  There was a time he had an attitude which was matched only by Asashoryu.  We sure need to see more of that in sumo now especially since Asa is gone.

Hakuho initiated his fifteen course meal with a bit of Tochiozan.  Harite, shoves to the chest, and Ozan is out.  Hak added a dameoshi as homage to Asa I’m sure, and Ozan was on the ground.

Say, the yumitorishiki was done by a new guy!   Daly’s gotcha for Day Two!

Matagiyama

By Matagidan

Day two found the Kokugikan a bit more empty than day one. Fortunately there was a few matches of worth and a couple puzzling ones too. If that’s not enough for you, I may or may not have included some cheesy music references in here to shake things up too. Enough with the small talk though, eh. Let’s get right to the action.

Gagamaru v. Wakakoyu
Wakakoyu waited like Oshu at the tachi-ai and then bolted to catch the Georgian off guard. Big Maru may have been slower but he stayed balanced and kept moving with Koyu. Gagamaru must have Georgia on his mind, and by Georgia I mean the Makuchi Division. He wins by oshidashi and moves to 2-0 in Juryo.

Tamanoshima v. Hokutoriki
The tale of two rikishi potentially on their way out. Joker was in charge all the way however  pushing and dragging Tamanoshima ’round like a rag doll. Tama recovered slightly at the end of the bout and made a rush at Hokuto who easily dodged for a push out victory. Both men are at 1-1.

Yoshikaze v. Koryu
Spark plug false starts twice only to be beat off the block the third-time. Koryu wins this one easily with a oshidashi.

Takamisakari v. Shimotori
Lots of talk on the old inter-webs about Haramafuji’s knee and rightfully so, the guy is clearly hurting. If you look at the tachi-ai of this bout however it’s clear he’s not the only one. Takamisakari’s knee clearly buckled at the tachi-ai. His injury is now two basho’s old and not yet recovered. After the tachi-ai it was two solid outside grips for the Niigata’s favorite Frozen Chicken to win by yorikiri. Shimotori is 2-0. He could be heard singing “Staying Alive” in a karaoke bar not far from the Kokugikan after the day’s action was finished.

Tochinonada V. Takekaze
You could hear Akita’s one (as in singular) fan in the Kokugikan yesterday before this bout started. Ta-Ke-Ka-Ze!!!!
This one ends quickly however as Akita’s son goes in too low and the veteran Nada deflects him easily by pulling his right arm to the ground for the win.

Kimurayama v. Okinoumi
Kimurayama jumps to the side and gets under Pretty boy’s left arm to force Okunoumi off balance. Nothing regal about this bout. Can’t be too surprised though as Kimurayama has never gotten his 8 in the Makuchi division.

Mokonami v. Tosayutaka
Tosayutaka who? Why can I not remember this guy even after an exciting bout yesterday? Anyways That One Guy looked to be in control but Okonomiyaki recovered with a left-hand outside grip. Mongol wins by uwatenage and moves to 2-0.

Tokusegawa v. Goiedo
Nice tachi-ai from the sophomore Mongol. He then attempted a leg trip. When that failed he looked to be attempting a throw. Goeido is a veteran however at the edge of the ring and was able to grab the Tokusegawa’s neck and throw him down first for the win.

Aran v. Toyohibiki
Aran is looking hungry thus far this basho. Word is that he gained eight kilos since last basho. He overpowers Toyohibiki, get’s him to the rice bales and pushes him out.

Kakizoe v. Tamawashi
Two of my favorite mid-level rikishi here but not today. This is what went down. Kakizoe false starts (very common), the Gyoji calls him back. They reposition themselves for the tachi-ai. Tamawashi barely had one hand down and Kakizoe rushed in again and knocks Tamawashi out of the ring. I can’t really blame the rikishi here and instead wonder what was going on in the Gyoji’s mind. It just didn’t look good at all.

Kyokutenho v. Kokkai
Kokkai wins by force out. He got the upper hand and by the time Kyokutenho was trying to shift the balance of the bout it was too late. The Old Mongol’s arms were up way too high to make any throws happen. Georgian moves to 1-1.

Tokitenku v. Kitataiki
Kitataiki, will his knee injury hold him back or will he keep moving up the ranks? The answer is yet unknown, but this author has said it and will say it again: this guy has got attitude. The Mongol however had the upper hand in this one at first, but Kitataiki proved why he’s got potential in the upper ranks. The Tokyo native fought back and got a solid left hand outside grip and moved on to win by yoritaoshi.

Asasekiryu v. Hakuba
I’m not saying I was definitely the first to pen the nickname Henkaba, but something tells me I was. Crestwell what’s the judgement? Asasekiryu was sweet, sweet, righteous medicine in this one. While Henkuba is and always will be who we thought he was. ‘nough said. Relevant Natsu Basho Asa moves to 2-0.

Ugh, I am tired. Let’s take a short break here. While we are resting here’s an interesting factoid. This is the first time since 2004 that we have had all Japanese rikishi in the Sekiwake and Komusubi positions. Crazy huh?

Kotoshogiku v. Wakanosato
Easy. Kyushu native looks like a replay of the majority of his winning bouts. Chug and Tug moves to 2-0. He faces Baruto tomorrow, which will hopefully be more exciting than all of these matches combined.

Kakuryu v. Tochiohzan
Other komusubi wins too with a slap down. Kakuryu fans are asking the bartender for one more drink after that match. Make it strong because we don’t need to think. He broke our hearts, our grace is gone (not that we ever knew where it was). One more drink and we’ll move on. Seriously.

Harumafuji v. Tochinoshin
Oh my! Haruma starts this one off looking like he has some fire in his belly. The Ozeki was technically superior without a doubt. Great tachi-ai and continued to knock the bigger Noshin off balance. With that bum knee though, Ama didn’t have enough to finish the young Georgian off. Instead they reached the rice bales and proceeded to reenact one of the Apollo Space Shuttle take offs. Tochinoshin being the rocket boosters and Ama being the Rocket.  Tsuridashi, lift out win for the Tochinoshin.

Homasho v. Baruto
Homosho henkas causing Baruto to revert back to old Baruto. Luckily that meant a lift out win and not a disappointing loss to a inferior rikishi. Two Tsuridashi wins in a row for team Eastern Europe! Baruto can’t afford a loss to anyone save Hakuho (and even that loss will surely cost him the tournament!)

Miyabiyama v. Kaio
Jabba chases Father Time round the Dohyo. The two stumble past one another a few times. Kaio gets caught on the rice bales, but hangs on just long enough to watch the Hut slam back down to the dohyo reality. I’ll give Kaio credit that was some fancy footwork at the end. Is this what an Ozeki bout should look like though? You be the judge.

Kotomitsuki v. Kisenosato
My favorite bout of the day, though it was a quicky. The Ozeki slammed the Kid with a HUGE tachi-ai. Ibaraki’s next best thing after Natto recovered however by redirecting Mitsuki’s right arm. 2-0 start for the Kid. Ozeki goes the other way with 0-2. My current top two favorite Japanese rikishi fight on day 3: Kisenosato v. Kitataiki. Don’t miss that bout!

Kotooshu v. Aminishiki
Wild Thing! Aminishiki was his sneaky self as usual. Getting the Ozeki off balence and chashing him round the ring. Round round baby round round until Oshu noticed how low to the ground Sneaky had gotten. Hatakikomi for the Bulgarian.

Hakuho v. Toyonoshima
Yokozuna report for technical writers
Step 1. Get outside grip
Step 2. Wait
Step 3. Wiggle those hips to loosen Shima’s grip
Step 4. Throw Toyonoshima to the ground
Step 5. Take the money and run
All in a day’s work for technically perfect Hakuho.

Don’t stop believing Valentine, Hajinochikara or something close to that has got your back tomorrow!

By Hajinochikara

Shimotori beats Shotenro by yorikiri. The two had a nice tachiai, but Shimotori quickly drove Shotenro back after the first few seconds of the bout. Shotenro, a juryo rikishi, was probably happy to have a chance at the big league. You could tell this by the expressionlessness of his face and the perkiness of his nipples. Shimotori’s nipples perked after beating Shotenro and protecting is precarious position at Maegashira 15.

Wakakoyu beat Tamanoshima after a truly strange looking pushing thrusting attack that started and stopped three seperate times. I think Tamanoshima may have eventually gotten sick of having his shoulders slapped by Wakakoyu. The NHK commentator’s mentioned that Wakakoyu’s debut last year was forgettable, perhaps this is because he chooses one attack and keeps going with it regardless of whether it is working or not. Not a great win, but it is a win. The kimarite was hikotoshi.

Koryu is up from Juryo for a taste of Maegashira and today he got pretty good taste of what it feels like to lose in a serious way. Hokutoriki, after jumping the gun on the tachiai once, pushes Koryu out and wins by slightly suprising call of oshitaoshi. From the replay, it was clear that Koryu’s feet stepped out before his rear end hit the ground. That said, his rear end was gonna hit that ground and there was nothing Koryu could have done about it.

Yoshikaze has been one of my favorites since last year. I always like the underdog and Yoshikaze’s somewhat diminuative stature causes him to be a natural underdog. And the result? Yoshikaze does a nice job locking up Tochinonada’s arms and forcing him out. The kimarite is yorikiri. The win was marred only slightly by the fact that the last view of Yoshikaze we had was of him diving out of the ring after Tochinonada.

Takamisakari will turn 34 tomorrow. Today, he is going try his own brand of sumo against Takekaze. It will be a Tohoku showdown. Takekaze really gives to Takamisakari hard at the beginning of the bout, but Takamisakari wasn’t going to give up. Actually the strong bodily contact helped Takamisakari in that he didn’t have to actually see his opponent to find him.

Kimurayama faces Tokusegawa. It was anyone’s bout there for a few seconds, but then Tokusegawa threw Kimurayama out of the ring sideways.

Aran goes up against Mokonami and thoguh the two have only met twice before, they have an even record with one win for both against the other. Aran has power and Mokonami has speed. The question is, which is better power or speed. Aran is looking fit this basho. Now they are lining up for the tachiai… its getting exciting (no Matagiyama… I didn’t just make a common japanese grammar mistake while talking about something entirely unrelated to sumo). Mokonami hits the tachiai hard with his speed and Aran then overpowers Mokonami and shoves him out of the ring.

Okinoumi faces off against Goeido. Okinoumi has yet to get a win in this basho. The two have never met before so we are watching history being made in this bout. Hopefully it will be more interesting than the Industrial Revolution! And… and… and… oh! False start! and! Goeido wins by yorikiri. Verdict: Slightly more interesting than the Industrial Revolution.

Kakizoe goes against Tosayutaka today. Kakizoe gets a double hand inside grip (Matagiyama… supress your guffaw). Kakizoe then suddenly lifts up Tosayutaka and wins by tsuridashi. It was way more interesting than the Industrial Revolution. Kakizoe looked pretty cool as he put Tosayutaka down outside the ring and kept his feet.

Toyohibiki and Kyokutenho go at it, but Toyohibiki hits hard and Kyokutenho loses almost immediately. Kyokutenho did try to slap at Toyohibiki’s face, but to no avail. Oshidashi.

Tokitenku and Kokkai face off, with Tokitenku winning by yorikiri. Kokkai was too high to get any leverage.

Tamawashi and Hakuba haven’t met in the top division yet. After Hakuba henkaed yesterday, everyone is wondering if will do it again. It turns out that he moves slightly to the right. It was a clear intention to henka as his right foot comes off the ground and moves to the right before the left foot even twitches. It turns out that the half-henka pays off and the rivalry between Tamawashi and Hakuba starts off with Hakuba winning by yorikiri.

Asasekiryu and Wakanosato press nipples and Asasekiryu wins by chongake. This means a pulling heel hook, though in reality it looked more like Asasekiryu’s toes connected with Wakanosato’s heel and then pushed.

Kakuryu and Aminishiki did an awkward dance where they seemed to be trying to find eachother moreso than playing sumo. In the end Kakuryu fell over backwards and Aminishiki gave him a shove in order to keep from falling over himself.

Kisenosato and Kitataiki As we get into the heavy weight hitters here, I should note that I have just finished off the last of my winter whiskey bottles (Maker’s Mark), so it will soon be time to go to the store to by some more. A word about Kitataiki, interesting. He has been quietly defining the sumo that will become his signature style over the last few tournaments and he is just starting to come into his own. In this bout, though, Kitataiki didn’t quite have it. He locked up with Kisenosato nicely, but Kisenosato did some nice work with his knees and his pelvis and Kitataiki lost by yorikiri.

Tochinoshin and Kotooshu are preparing to go up against eachother right now. Kotooshu was my first favorite. In fact, if it hadn’t been for him, I do not know how I would have broken the ice with my future father-in-law. I met my future father-in-law just near the end of the natsu basho of 2008. That was the basho in which Kotooshu won the yusho. Today, however, he wasn’t showing the knd of sumo that will send him to a yusho victoy. Tochinoshin and Kotooshu slapped bodies like a couple of horny seals before locking up. Tochinoshin eventually picked Kotooshu up and carried him over the edge. I supposed that would make the Kotooshu the blushing seal bride.

Harumafuji and Homasho squared off today and Harumafuji displayed some great Harumafuji sumo. It almost seemed that his knee injury made him even better. On a more serious note, however, it sounds like Harumafuji’s injury could be somewhat serious. The NHK commentators were even speculating about the necessity of minor surgery to fix the problem.

Kotoshogiku and Baruto go head to head with both trying to thrust eachother down. Baruto’s power eventually paid off and Kotoshogiku got pushed out of the ring. Baruto continues his recent winning streak against Kotoshogiku. Baruto’s thumb injury over the winter has now blossomed into a more varied and competent sumo style for Baruto. Unlike Kotooshu, who seems either content with his status as Ozeki, or perhaps even a little frustrated by his high ranking, Baruto looks hungry. His face after the bout was that of a man who is still dissatisfied with the quality of his own sumo.

Tochiozan and Kaio get ready to test the theory that Kaio has gotten so old that he has started to age backwards. For the last three tournaments in a row, Kaio has been displaying more and more energetic sumo. Last year, Kaio was my least favorite rikishi, but over the last three bashos he has won over my heart. I am rooting for this guy all the way. That said, today’s bout was not the most interesting int he world. Watching Tochiozan was like watching a rikishi practice a belly flop onto clay.

Kotomitsuki and Toyonoshima have faced each other 15 times. Out of those 15 times, Kotomitsuki has won 11 times, but today might be Toyonoshima’s day. Right now, Kotomitsuki is suffering from floating bone chips in his elbow. Even the idea of that injury causes me to feel pain. Still, as Matagiyama often says, sumo players, of all athletes in the world, must be among the most willing to sacrifice their health and bodies to the sport. Kotomitsuki demonstrated his own willingness to do this as he shoved Toyonoshima from the ring.

Hakuho and Miyabiyama are our last bout of the day. Its hard to believe that Asa is absent for yet another tournament, but I guess sumo has indeed survived without the awesomeness that was Asashoryu. Hakuho seems to be pulling down the kencho advertisments. Now, these two rikishi have faced off 25 times, and Hakuho has won 21 of those bouts. Given that that is the case, I am going to go ahead and predict that Hakuho will win, both the bout and for that matter, probably the tournament. Go Miyabiyama! Restore some intrigue to this tournament! The two are facing off. Now, they are stepping away. Now, they are coming together again! Now, they are stepping away from each other again! There goes some salt! Oh, the tension! They have come together again. Now they have squated down! Now they have stood up again! And, yes, there they go! They squated down. The bout starts. Hakuho wins.

I’ll leave off here, but don’t worry yourselves at all. Tomorrow will be brought to you by the letters P and C. Mr. Patton Creswell, I leave it to you.

I got home late Wednesday night, so I had no choice but to watch the  English commentary.  It was gyoji day, where the commentators explained quite a bit about the guys that most people know as “those dudes in the hats and weird pajamas that point a fan at the winner.”  Some of this stuff was pretty interesting.  However, there were plenty of times where it got straight up ridiculous.  Doreen Simmons is a talker, and Ross had to interrupt her a few times because she was almost talking through the tachiai. Somehow she knows everyone, but she said the same thing over and over “he’s very dedicated, very professional, has such a presence, classy, etc.”  I was really hoping she’d break things up and say something like “Oh, I met this new Kimura Shonosuke at a degeiko session, he’s a punk-ass.”  But this was a moment never came.  Anyway, on to the bouts.

We started off with the first of a few pretty sloppy bouts, this one between Wakakoyu and Kotokasuga who was up from juryo for the day.  Wakakoyu (the best looking of the 4 makuuchi returnees this basho) won by hikiotoshi.  This was followed by the clash of the washups.  Tamanoshima and Tochinonada grappled for 2:12 without either being able to pull something off, finally with both parties having more than spent their loads, and what looked like ballroom dancing, Shima walked Nada out for a yorikiri.  I think both of these guys are just about done in this division  The next bout between Takamisakari and Koryu was number two on our sloppy list, there was lots of flailing around and Taka walked Koryu out without either rikishi ever getting a solid grip. A win for Robocop on his birthday… awww how cute.

This is the best I ever remember Shimotori looking.  He read Takekaze like a choose your own adventure book and pulled an oshidashi. Next on our list of sloppy nonsense…Yet again Kimurayama tried a henka, and yet again he couldn’t follow through leaving himself open to a hikiotoshi and a dameoshi at the hands of Jokutoriki (who didn’t really win this bout, he just kind of didn’t lose it).  Tokusegawa was slow at the tachiai and was subsequently blasted upward and pulled down by Yoshikaze. Mongol 1-3 Kaze 3-1.

I love watching Goeido(2-2) lose, and Mokonami(3-1) granted my wish today, Osaka’s great “hope” looked thoroughly unbalanced atop the dohyo, an easy hatakikomi.  Even Aran knew his slight henka to the right and quick slapdown of the always over-anxious Kakizoe looked bad.  However the Russian has looked strong this basho and the proof is in his 4-0 record.  Okinoumi has these two problems: 1. he’s slow at the tachiai and 2. he stands up to easily, so was it any surprise when he got stood up and pushed out by Toyohibiki? no… no it wasn’t.  the Clark Gable of sumo is winless and beeker is 2-2.

Kyokutenho used his overwhelming experience to coddle the over-enthusiastic Tosayutaka over the tawara.  Tamawashi showed a little diversity today by ditching the oshizumo early on and going for the mawashi, although he’s not that good on it, it was good enough for a yorikiri over Kokkai.  The mongol and the gorgeous Georgian are both 1-3.  Tokitenku didn’t even look ready at the tachiai and had barely moved when Asasekiryu got a good firm uwate, the following nage was a given.  Tenku is 2-2 and Asa II is 4-0.  Hakuba beat Wakanosato… guess how… (psssst it was a henka)

I was sure that Kotoshogiku was gonna steamroller Kakuryu out today, but the Kak looked good, and although the Geek put up a fight at the edge the easily spooked Mongolian took out the komosubi with a bit of his own burt reynolds for his first win of the tournament. 2-2 for the geek.  Kitataiki and Aminishiki are now both even with 2-2 after Taiki beat the sneak at his own game with a henka to the right and a quick oshidashi.  Kitataiki seems to be the only one of the 4 guys up from Juryo last basho that have a decent tachiai (although today was not a good example.)  So long as he can keep his knee in good shape I see him sticking around in the big show, albeit at a bit lower spot.

Kotomitsuki v. Tochinoshin showed some good sumo on the young Georgian’s part.  Noshin got an immediate lefthand outside and went for an unsuccessful uwatenage, survived the shitatenage attempt and then took hit-and-miss-ki out to lunch.  The 22 year old georgian has beaten 3 ozeki in a row, only losing to Baruto on day 1, this is much better than his last joi performance.  We’ll see him in sanyaku soon enough.  Aichi sinks to 1-3 and perhaps another kyujo.

Although Kotooshu has been looking rather passive recently he dealt a decisive harite/uwatenage combo to ex-ozeki Miyabiyama.  This is the kind of stuff we need to see from Oshu all the time.  Bulgarian 3-1, Yabiyama is vice versa.  One thing I love about Toyonoshima is that he’s a fighter, one thing I love about Harumafuji is his intensity and speed.  We saw the fight, but not the speed today.  Harry’s knee is hanging him up a bit.  Although Toyonoshima put up a bit of a fight at the tawara, the mongolian pulled it out of the bag with a uwatenage.

Baruto deflected Tochiozan‘s tachiai, but sweet-mama-sideburns still manged to got a good grip on the mawashi.  However, it was over once Bartholomew stopped his momentum. Bart 4-0 Burnside 1-3.  I was sure Kisenosato was gonna show Grampa Kaio what it was all about yesterday, but the kids feet didn’t even get past the shikirisen, as the old man slapped down the young pup.  Well see how the kid does tomorrow against Harumafuji.

Yokozuna time.  Homey was on the business end of a double harite that looked expensive and a quick oshidashi.  I like rooting for Homasho.  That poor guy’s “sad little boy left alone in the rain at his birthday party that no on attended” look can only be rivaled by the grimace seen when Takamisakari loses. Hakuho is perfect while cigar store indian is winless.

Open wide, I’ll be comin’ at you again for day 5

Report by Keishikazawa

Day 5 narrowed our leader board by two and saw some decent sumo, even from way down the ranks.

We’ll start with Koryu and juryo returnee Kasugao.  I’ve always hated Kasugao, he’s got a face that reminds me of a guy who can’t understand how to make instant oatmeal, and his sumo has been trash.  All too frequent henkas and hatakikomi/hikiotoshi.  He lost to Koryu today and I had some whisky to celebrate.  Next bout was between they guy who looks like he steals kids lunch money and the guy who resembles the kind of kid who often gets his lunch money stolen.  Hokutoriki oshidashied Takamisakari in halfway decent fashion.  The clown has gotta get his stuff together or else he’ll be heading back down to juryo.  Yoshikaze went in against Tamanoshima with his usual fast and furious attacks, got an inside grip and humped his way to yorikiri.  Y.kaze looked decent and Tama looked like he was still tired from yesterday.

Kimurayama has looked like trash this basho, Wakakoyu hasn’t looked that much better, but it was good enough to put Kimura on his ass.  Shimotori is having his best makuuchi start of his career.  For the past two bashos I’ve been thinking this guy’s gonna get bumped back down to juryo.  However he showed strength and experience by turning Tokusegawa‘s nage attempt into a yorikiri.  Tokusegawa stays at 1-4 and the bird moves up to 5-0.  Mokonami and Tochinonada flirted with oshizumo then quickly locked up with equal mawashi grips.  Nada tried some hip movement to loosen Mokonami’s grip, but Mokonami’s answer was a beautiful uwatenage.  Nami is looking good at 4-1, but I don’t see him keeping up that momentum.  Nada is at 1-4. Aran admitted that he was ashamed of his henka/slapdown from yesterday, but he made up for it by completely neutralizing T.Kaze‘s tachiai, then it was just a matter of deflecting the on-coming tsuppari and thrusting the Moriyoshi wonder to the clay.  Aran 5-0, Kaze 1-4. 

Okinoumi will not kachikoshi this basho, this cat needs to go back to juryo and work on his tachiai and his confidence.  He lost the same way he has all basho to now 2-3 Tosayutaka by yorikiri and remains winless.  After 3 false starts Kakizoe and Goeido finally got going,  Zoe dodged Goeido’s slaps and got morozashi, but at the tawara Goeido pulled a desperation kubinage.  What the hell Goeido?  Give it up with the kubinage already.  Goeido 3-2, Zoe 2-3.  Tamawashi and Toyohibiki came out of the gates with a decent tachiai and ample tsuppari, but as Beeker got Mawashi to the edge the mongol went for a pivot and tsukiotoshi which missed and threw him off balance.  Mark it an oshitaoshi for the Beekster who moves to 3-2 Mawashi falls to 1-4.  From the tachiai Tokitenku was using a stiff right arm to keep Kyokutenho from getting inside, but this gave him no opportunity at a mawashi grip, after repeated attempts Tenho finally folded the arm up got inside and that was all she wrote. Tenku 2-3 Tenho 3-2.

The rivalry between Asasekiryu and Kokkai was 6-4 in favor of Asa, but Kokkai broke with convention.  After some attempts at tsuppari the Georgian pulled Sexy close and after some setting up pulled a pretty nice uwatedashinage.  That knocked sexy off the leaderboard and brought Kokkai up to 2-3.  The next bout was a bit of a shocker.  Hakuba(4-1)went as straight on at the tachiai (at least as straight as is possible for his royal henka-ness), gave a bit of a harite to get inside, got a good hidari yotsu on Kitataiki(2-3) and finished off the yorikiri with a palm to the face.  He even got some applause this time.  Why can’t he just do that all the time?  Miyabiyama lifted Wakanosato up then brought him down, end of story. (2-3) and (0-5) respectively.

Tochiozan and Aminishiki had a decent tachiai, but some how Steven Segal got underneath Ozans chest and fell flat on his palms.  They both are at 2-3. Kaio tried to keep M2 Tochinoshin at bay but Noshin got his migiyotsu and started moving Kaio back, once you get Kaio on the run its over.  For Noshin thats 4 wins over ozeki and 4 trips to the interview room.  Yesterday’s treasured phrase was NHK: “you’ve beaten 4 ozeki, what do you think about that?”  Noshin: “isn’t it nice?”  The next bout between Kotomitsuki and Kakuryu stank, first Mitsuki MAJORLY jumped the tachiai, then after the initial collision Kakuryu put up minimal defense as Mitsuki got the lefthand outside grip.  As the old-zeki walked the young monglian “technician” to the bales Kak tried no lateral movement AT ALL.  It looked like he was trying to push on a dude with a 20kg weight advantage from a higher position head on. Boo Kakuryu… Boo.  Mitsuki 2-3(-$)  Kak 1-4 (+$).

Textbook sumo from Kotooshu yesterday.  Opened up with a right hand harite to get inside, got migiyotsu, kept low and walked Homasho straight out. Oshu has 4-1 and Homey has yet to get his first win.  Harumafuji v Kisenosato was looking to be my bout of the day.  These are my two favorite rikishi.  (worth noting is that this was Kisenosato’s 500th consecutive bout) At the tachiai both fought hard to get inside, Kisenosato getting a deep hidariyotsu and Harumafuji getting a shallower right hand outside.  The Kid’s mistake came when, with the tawara in sight, he abandoned the belt grip and tried to push on Ama’s weakened knee for the oshidashi.  The ozeki saw it coming, pivoted to his left, stiffened up his right leg, and then threw out a kubinage using his strong leg as leverage to heave the sekiwake down.  Both rikishi at 3-2.  Baruto opened up with a bit of a high tachiai and a right hand harite against Toyonoshima.   But Tamanoshima used his short stature to get inside for morozashi.  A few basho back Baruto might have been on the ropes if Toyonoshima got the morozashi, but Baruto is just too strong for that now he set up got a hand under Shima’s armpit and worked the M1 out of the ring.  5-0 for Bart 0-5 for T.Y.Shima.

Kotoshigiku went straight for maemitsu at the tachi against Hakuho, but the Khan was having none of that, a deep right hand outside over the back of the Geek sent him sprawling head first into a loss via uwatenage.  Hakuho stays practically perfect in every way and picks up his 22nd consecutive win, while the Geek moves to 2-3.

Leaderboard looks like this

5-0
Hakuho, Baruto, Aran*, Shimotori*
* = not bloody likely

Shima will be here tomorrow to hose you down with day 6 showdowns.

Starting with where my VCR picked up, Gagamaru was taking car of business down in Juryo with an easy win over Kotokasuga.  A nice solid tachiai for team Georgia and an easy walk out.
 
On to Makuuchi.
Chiyohakuho, taking a field trip to Makuuchi today, looking a bit jumpy against Koryu with a false start.  Koryu, Oshidashi. Chiyo, Shimotori’s lap.  Hokutoriki, forgetting that he is supposed to stay in the ring, takes an absent-minded step in the sand for his second loss of the tournament.  Tochinonada, Oshidashi (by default). 
 
Yoshikaze hoped to give Shimotori his first win, but falls flat on his face a less than a second after tachiai.  Shimotori gives the complimentary pat on the back to pick up his 6th of the tournament.
 
Takamisakari getting a late birthday present from Tamanoshima, but was made to work for it.  Misa almost falling to his bad habit of keeping his head back and away from his opponent, catches a break with a weak uwatenage by Tamanoshima, gets his feet back, and walks Shima out.  4 wins for Takamienai.
 
Team Akita catching a nice break playing patty cake with Wakakoyu, patty cakes Waka out and even gives him a hug for his second win.  Mokonami holding strong in the lower ranks against Kimurayama.  A decent match to watch, starting with slaps and ending with a belt throw, Shitetedashinage.  Number 5 for Mokonami.
 
Tosayukata graciously gives Aran his first loss by gaining a double inside grip in an otherwise stalemate tachiai.  Walks him out to Tosa at 3-3.  I was almost glad to see Kakizoe lose after a failed henka to Tokusegawa.  Uwatedashinage puts the Kak at 2-4.
 
Heart-throb, Okinoumi’s heart must be throbbin’ with his performance this tournament.  Overpowered by Kyokutenho’s uwatenage, after failing to execute his own.  Tenho up 4-2.  Team Japan, Goeido overpowers team Mongol, Tokitenku for a Yorikiri win.  Goeido looking more serious this tournament with his 4th win.
 
An interesting technique from Hakuba: a tottari arm bar throw for a win over Toyohibiki.  Hakuba claims it was the only thing he could grab and use, being outweighed 40 Kg.
 
Kitataiki takes care of Kokkai with a quick Yorikiri.  Haven’t seen Kokkai using his favorite Henka lately. Asasekiryu looking strong with a yoriatoshi win over Tamawashi.  Asa up 5-1, Tamawashi limps of the dohyo with 5 losses. 
 
Toyonoshima with a surprise win over Tochinoshin.  Noshin looked strong in the beginning, but looses his grip, giving Shima a double inside and lower position.  Noshin walked out for his second loss.
 
Kisenosato continuing to make headway toward a promotion with his 4th win, beting Elvis with a sukuinage win.  I swear this is the most serious i’ve ever seen ‘ol blinky.
 
The Sneak almost sneaks past the Estonian Giant, but fell short of NOT losing to our new Ozeki.  The Sneak able to stand Baruto up on his toes, but falls to the weight of a desperation slap down.  Baruto better get focused till his Kachikoshi before falling asleep in the ring.
 
Kaio gets Geeked by a barage of pelvic thrusts.  The Geek now at par.  Kotomitsuki takes candy form a baby… cigar shop indian.  Oshidashi
 
Kakuryu able to reach Kotooshu’s head in the clouds and upset the giant with a Hatakikomi bitch slap to Oshu’s pride.  Oshu dealt his second loss, still unable to get his act together.
 
Harumagimpy taking advantage of Flubby like Lopez on old Japanese men in snack bars.  HENKA for the mongol puts him at 4-2 and at the recieving end of NO applauses from the crowd.
 
No reason to mess up a perfect record,  Wakanosato picks up his 6th… loss.  Oh, that was to Hakuho who was nice enough to show Waka to his permanent spot on the outside of the ring.
 
VIIIIIIIIRG, Coming Soon! 
 
Shima

Feel a Day 7 report cumming on you? 
 
What good was it for me to hype up Aoiyama?  He sure has hit a career roadblock.  Prior to this basho, he was career 27-1.  Thus far in this basho, he:s 0-4.  What’s happened is that he’s hit the bottleneck at upper makushita.  If you ever can, catch sumo action at around 2:15 in the afternoon.  That’s where you’ll find the most competitive bouts.  Upper makushita is made up of older rikishi hanging on to their pride to be salary-earning sekitoris, and young up-and-comers trying to work out of the bottleneck, into the promise land of juryo.  Aoiyama will be back, I’m sure.
 
Gagamaru went on a Makuuchi reconnaissance mission today and took on Makuuchi gatekeeper Tochinonada.  Man was Gaga on today!  The bowling ball with legs escorted the old timer out the ring and picked up his sixth win on the way out.  Gaga will be singing in the big show by next basho, it seems, and I’m looking forward to seeing him up there.  Anyone else see Gaga on Family Guy?
 
Beauty and the Beast met in the ring today, in the form of Okinoumi vs. Takamasakari.  Don Juan had been winless in his sophomore basho, but today he was fast on the tachai and wrapped up Tkmskr’s arms, driving Johnny Appleseed straight out of the ring, never achieving a grip.  Easy yorikiri for Don Juan, who will get some beauty sleep with a 1-6.  Appleseed is 4-3.
 
Takekaze needs to pick things up or he seriously faces demotion to juryo.  Today, he took on a gimpy Goeido.  Butterball came in even lower than he normally does at the tachiai, making for a really good attack on Geraldo, who brought nothing but his defense.  Kaze pushed the Ozakan to the bales and tumbled down as he swatted the overrated one out of the dohyo.  Take-a-kaze sits at 3-4, still fighting for life in makuuchi while Go-weedo is 4-3.
 
Kakizoe vs. Hakuba.  What the hell happened to this guy?  I mean, Hakuba ain’t called “Henkaba” for nothing…or “Henkuba,” or “Asshole” for nothing!  The guy uses henkas like he’s bull fighting.  But is he reading our reports?  I mean, although he is still henka-ing, he has actually had some straight up tachais this basho…and won them.  Why won’t he do this every time?  Unfortunately, today he slipped back in the old pattern with a henka on Kakizoe (who’d never henka anyone, except on day 6).  Zoro is now at a freaking 6-1 and don’t look now, but he might be in contention for a sansho.  Oh, and people ask what’s wrong with sumo these days?
 
In a komusubi battle, Kotoshogiku took on Tochiozan.  Geek had a fine tachiai and was able to gain ground on Elvis but the sideburned-one was able to work out to shove the Geek down to the clay simply because he had lost his balance after the tachiai.  Geeks nice tachiai was followed up with just the loss of balance and his head down.  More of a Geek loss, than an Elvis win, but nevertheless both men at 3-4.
 
An injured Harumafuji is coming back nicely after a shitting opening on days one and two.  Today he took on compatriot Kakuryu.  Hop-along came out of the shoot with his trademark speed tachiai® which skidded the weaker and slower Kak backwards.  Kak tried swarming to the sides, but Ama stayed on the Cock…I mean Kak, and ended things with an easy oshidashi.  Nice work by Harm, but still not quite there with the old Ama days.  Harm is 5-2; Kak is 2-5. 
 
Miyaflubbyama and Baurto starting things off slow with a soft, touchy tachiai.  Bart cut off Flubby’s tsuppari by getting in real close and lifted out the former ozeki by lifting elbows and shoving out of the ring.  Coming down the hanamichi, Bart was laughing like he’d never touched boobies as big as Mybym’s.  Luck him.  Bart’s still sharing the leader board while Dolly is good for 2-5.
 
Toyonoshima vs. Kaio.  The pre-caricatured one beat Methuselah at the tachiai, restrain any attempts at arm-bar locks or slaps to the back of the head.  Well inside the old man’s chest, Little Shima quickly worked in a beltless arm throw.  Methuselah didn’t think this one through at all, and now sits at 4-3 while Toyo is 2-5.
 
Kotomitsuki vs. Aminishiki.  History will give this one to McDee’s, 18-8.  After locking up at the tachiai, Big Mac took a step back and Amisneaky didn’t see it coming as he went down with a hand on the back of his head.  Slap down win for the Ozeki who’s 3-4.  Aminishiki better whip out his bag of tricks, as he has only produced a 2-5.
 
Kisenosato vs Kotooshu.  The record goes in the Bulgarian’s favor, 18-7.  Both fellas entered sumo together, and Kissy followed Oshu into makuuchi just one basho later.  Some good history between these two.  Today, Oshu quickly gets a good belt grip while Kissy continues to try out his Kotoshogiku impersonation.  One Oshu gets Kissy to calm down for a second, the Bulgarian firmed up his right-hand outside grip and launched an over-arm throw near the bales.  Nice work by Oshu, using the technique he does best.  Kissy really need to take things up a notch if he wants me to continue arguing for him to be anything more.
 
Musubi-no-ichiban.  Golden Week training buddies Hakuho and Tochinoshin.  Two rikishi of rather similar sizes, but vastly different in skill.  The Yokozuna threw out a dominating harite at the tachiai, while Tochinoshin made a timid attempt at a henka by turning to the left.  The two separate for a second and lock up with the Georgia Peach getting a right-hand inside grip.  The Yokozuna had no grip, but patiently waited for one with his hands loose.  Hak worked out his killer left-hand outside and easily drove the Georgian off the dohyo.  Loss for Peachy, but he’s having a good basho with four wins over four lame ozeki.  The Yokozuna remains undefeated.
 
All wins thus far are Hakuho and Baruto.
The one loss club includes run of the mill schmucks Hauba, Mokonami, and Shimotori.
 
Creswell’s back tomorrow to dump it on you in fluid fashion.

Report by Keishikazawa
Here are your day 8 bout recaps
 
Wakakoyu v Tochinonada
 Tochinonada is done.  He had an embarrassing loss to not-looking-that-great-just-back-from-juryo Wakakoyu.  Tsuppari, push up, pull down, over.  Perhaps the vet’s hospital will let Nada continue to ride the elevator between Juryo and Makuuchi, but I doubt he’ll ever rise past Maegashira 10.
 
Hokutoriki v Takekaze
These guys went into day 8 with mirror records Joku at 4-3 and Mr. T. at 3-4.  The bout started with Joker doing his usual all out assault, but Take did a decent job of deflecting his onslaught.  Take circled, flirted with an outside left hand grip for a split second and at the right moment slapped down for the win.  not the prettiest sumo, but …
 
Tamanoshima v Kimurayama
go back and read the bout between Wakakoyu and Tochinonada, but substitute Nada for Shima, and Waka for Kimu.  It was pretty much the same bout with the same implications, but a bit longer and with a Kimura henka, for that extra aroma of open asshole and failure.  I would have much rather watched a upset, greasy man at the DMV wrestle to open a jar of pickles.
 
Koryu v Mokonami
I’ve been impressed with Mokonami this basho he’s showed some good, cool headed fighting and some textbook stuff that might earn him a… nope, wait… he fucked up.  That bout was probably the ugliest, leapfrog-like henka/hatakikomi combo I’ve seen, and what’s worse is Nami-chan couldn’t even pull it off.  He slipped, and his hands hit the clay before Koryu stepped out.  I’m surprised he didn’t get booed. Nami -6-2 Koryu 4-4
 
Aran v Shimotori
Aran and Shimotori have both looked strong this outing, these guys only had a 2 bout makuuchi record going into this match, and the Bird had won both of them.  It was a good tachiai with both guys getting a good migiyotsu.  After some pedaling around the dohyo Aran managed to walk the bird out evening their scores to 6-2 a piece.  I think Aran probably could have kept shimotori away had he let out a little harite or something to throw him off.  Still… not bad.
 
Takamisakari v Tosayutaka
Takamisakari picked up his 5th win after locking up with Tosa and pulling a pretty decent hikiotoshi today (much to the relief of the JSA.) but he’s not out of the woods yet.  He’s at M13 so I’d say he needs to get at least one more to stay up in Makuuchi.  Especially with Lady GaGa and Dido knocking on the Makuuchi curtain.
 
Yoshikaze v Goeido
As expected this was a really high energy bout. Yoshi immediately caught Goeido too low and got both hands on the back of the Osakan’s head, but 8-0 managed to avoid the slapdown.  The two rikishi then fought for position as furiously as two American men fighting over the last bucket of chili-cheese fries at a Chicago Bears game, but with only slightly less slapping and head butting.  Finally a deflected tsuppari allowed Yoshikaze to get a left hand inside and the Oguruma rikishi pulled off a pretty decent looking sukuinage, adding a bit of dynamic to Y.kaze’s sumo 6-2.  4-4 Goeido…for shame
 
Tamawashi v Okinoumi
It was good to see pretty-boy jump the gun the first try.  He needs that speed at the tachi-ai. Unfortunately Tamawashi got both arms under and inside of El Toro’s and that was all she wrote.  He really needs to step up these next few bouts.  I want him to do good, but he might need to head back to AAA for a spell.  Still only 1-7, Mawashi not much better at 2-6.
 
Kyokutenho v Tokusegawa
Good tachiai, Tokusegawa got his right hand inside, lost it in an uwate attempt then gained it back when it was obivous the veteran wasn’t gonna fall for it.  He went for a tsuridashi, no-go.  Then a sotogake, also a no-go.  The one socked wonder saw what he thought was an opportunity and went for a gaburi attack but, some good lateral motion on Tokuse’s part neutralized it.  Finally the (slightly) younger Mongolian finished it off by lunging inside like a feigned gaburi, but throwing the leg behind Kyoku’s knee using the the previously unsucessful sotogake. This seems like a good spot in the banzuke for Tokusegawa to be, and mature a bit.  Toku 4-4, Kyoku 5-3
 
Tokitenku v Kakizoe
Tenku stood up a bit high at the tachiai, not something smart to do with someone as small a Kakizoe, even more so when it is Kakizoe, as he loves that inside position.  However Tenku managed to keep the hyper little man from getting said position and it ended with a run around the dohyo and a Kakizoe tsukiotoshi.  both guys are still hanging on at 3-5.
 
Kokkai v Toyohibiki
Beeker didn’t allow the Georgian anywhere near anything and cooly backed him out with some nice tsuppari for an oshidashi. 4-4 and 2-6 for these two.
 
Tochinoshin v Hakuba
Now a Georgian worth talking about (and a Mongolian worth hitting with stones until he expires.)  Tochinoshin’s immediate migiyotsu completely neutralized Hakuba’s predicatble leftward henka at the tachiai.  Noshin seemed to be setting up for something then just thought to himself “nah, fuck it.”  And picked up the Mongol everyone loves to hate and walked him out of the ring kicking and screaming just like Matagidan when he loses to me at foot-darts.  Hakuba is 6-2, but Noshin is at a more respectable 5-3 (as 4 of those 5 come from Ozeki, and the other losses were to Hakuho, Baruto, and Toyonoshima)
 
Toyonoshima v Miyabiyama
I was sure this bout was going to go to Toyonoshima.  Just last basho he was at sekiwake, now he’s struggling to get just a few wins.  The little man went for maemitsu initially but was swatted away, and thats how this one played out, lots of swatting slapping, pull down attemps, and over-all impotent crap.  it eventually ended when the vet got the tiny guy out with a push to the chest over the tawara.  The veteran is 3-6, just one win higher than Toyo.
 
Kisenosato v Kotoshogiku
The rivalry here is highly in the Geek’s favor, but Kise has looked pretty decent this basho, so I didn’t know what to think going into this one.  Started with a pretty nasty false start by Kotoshigiku.  Once things got going in earnest (ya’ know what I mean, Vern?) there was a furious scramble for a grip, Kise getting morozashi, then humped a win out of the geek. Kid 5-3 Geek 3-5.
 
Kitataiki v Kotooshu
Oshu got a good hidari yotsu from the tachiai and that sealed the deal. This is the kind of quick vicious sumo we need to see from Oshu.  6-2 for the Ozeki, Taiki is hanging in there at 4-4
 
Harumafuji v Tochiozan
The energy I saw from Harumafuji today I what I’m used to from him.  Tochiozan did good work keeping Haruma from getting too close or from getting a belt grip.  Sideburns took some choice hits before Harry finally got the outside left and worked the komosubui to the bales, finishing it off with an almost unneeded chest/neck thrust.  After the bout Haruma even gave Mr. Burns a little pat on the back.  After exiting the ring Ama looked to be leaning against the guy holding the power water, perhaps his knee is getting worse…
 
Kakuryu v Baruto
We started with a bad sign… bart almost fell over when he squatted down for the last time before the tachiai… did not bode well.  We’ve all been saying how much baruto’s new tsuppari has been a great thing for him… yesterday not so much.  Kakuryu grabbed and locked up the gentle giant’s left elbow and spun him around and off balance enough to slingshot Bart into the 1st row.   I love it when we catch Baruto’s expressions on TV, and his eyerolling after he got down the hanamichi was a prefect example.  With the way Baruto has been fighting, Harumafuji’s leg injury, and the way other ozeki are looking I don’t see why this doesn’t mean Hakuho day 8 yusho.  There is a chance, Baruto could beat him once, but that would force a play-off and as they say:  lightning can’t beat Hakuho twice in the same basho.  Good clean stuff from Kakuryu though  I guess he found where someone hid his technique prizes.
 
Wakanosato v Kaio
GEEZER FIGHT!  Both men got some kind of grip early on, but none of them could really do anything with it, so it ended up going to the guy with more weight who built up the most momentum.  That happened to be Kaio.  here is the highlight reel. 
 
Kotomitsuki v Asasekiryu
Sexy has been doing well, not his best start to a basho (12-0 Osaka ’04), but good none the less, with Mitsuki yesterday he got a left hand inside early on in the game, but Mitsuki got the uwate and pivoted away neutralizing Sexy’s grip, smacking him repeatedly about the head, and turning it into an thunderous uwatenage from the Ozeki.  That evens them both up at 5-3.  let’s just hope there was enough in Mitsuki’s envelope today to buy his next 3 wins so he can avoid Kadoban again.  You know they say: once an Ozeki starts having to turn tricks in the shitakubeya so he can get his wins, it’s time to retire.    
 
Hakuho v Aminishiki
Amishiki is one of those nebulous guys who can beat anyone.  Given the right situation he can take down any of the big guys.  His records look like this: 13-9 against Kotooshu, 6-20 against Kotomitsuki, 3-8 against Baruto, he had a 6-17 record against Asashoryu, and 3-15 against Hakuho, he also had kinboshi against two older yokozunas: Takanohana and Musashimaru.  So i was kind of interested going into this bout.  Sneaky went in fast and tried to lock up Khan’s right arm to keep it off the mawashi, but Hakuho wouldn’t relent.  He went for a leg waza to break Sneaky out of his position, then once he was off guard got his favorite migiyotsu, and that was all she wrote folks.  More perfect sumo from Mr. perfect, who picks up his kachikoshi (and unless there is some earth shattering circumstance I’m not seeing here) his 14th Yusho as well.
 
The Island is not finished with us yet… he’ll be bringing you day 9
Shima here!  Bringing you Day 9 of the Natsu Basho
 
Seemed the theme of today was “Oldies but goodies”.  In between bouts were shown flashbacks of past sumo greats and incredible upsets…  Upsets having been inspired by Baruto’s humiliation yesterday, but the night is still young.
 
Shimotori coming out strong againts Tochinonada.  Giving Tochi the push around the ring and eventually throwing him to the sand, Uwatenage.  Shimo one shy of Kachi, and Tochi one shy of Make.
 
Yoshikaze tries to steal money from a blind man, but Takamisakari had his game face on.  Another win on the board with yet another slap down, hikiotoshi.  Baby huey trots with his head high, 6-3.
 
Takakaze starting to make a streak as he picks up his 4th win in a row by beating out Koryu, which only hurts my fantasy stable…  But I still support our homegrown, aspiring hero as he pulls down his opponent by the shoulder, katatsukashi, for a 5th win!
 
Tamanoshima continues to NOT entertain as he gives it up to Tokusegawa.  Lousy tachiai, bad position equals: you get walked out.  One more for the Mongol hoards, 5-4.
 
Aran, that handsom devil, continues to rock my stable with a win over Wakakoyu.  Cool and in control, Aran Oshidashis Waka out and comes within one of moving up in the ranks.
 
Hokutoriki using every trick up his dirty mawashi tries to Henka Tosayutaka at the tachiai, and fails like any scrub should.  Unfortuntely for Yuta…ka, Hoku still manages to pick pocket a win by applying the finishing pushout to steal his 5th.
 
As my stable continues to suffer as Mokonami loses to Kyokutenho in age and strength.  The mongol hoards will often feast on own young.  Kyoko pushes Moko out, without ever stepping back, and picks up number 6.
 
Kimurayama faces King Tama and shoots the man in the back as Tama was running away (as a result of Kim-ugly’s dirty Henka). 4-5 for Kimcheat.
 
My main man, Kakizoe, faces the hairiest man on earth, Kokkai.  I get itchy watching people rub up on him.  Kakimochi would have none of that as he avoides a belt fight with the Georgian, and avoids the freight train as it steams out of the ring on it’s own power.  Kak picks up number 4.
 
Okinoumi definately not on the bubble as he continues to faulter in this basho.  Foolishly giving his opponent, Tokitenku, a prefered migi-yotsu, he gets taken care of soon after.  Makekoshi for Okinoumi, 4th win for Toki.
 
Goeido and Hakuba trading throws.  Goedo comes close with a top-knot pull-down, but loses his grip on the hair and is in turn sukuinaged.  Hakuba continuing to fair well, one away form his kachi.
 
My personal favorite in this Basho, Tochinoshin went up against Miyabiyama today.  Miyabiyama effectively staying out of a belt fight he would defitately lose.  Cant keep up with the real E. Honda and gets the slap down for his second straight loss, 5-4.
 
The geek, with his patented pelvic-thrust-out makes short work of Toyonoshima. 4 for the geek.
 
Kisenosato went up against the Sneak.  Getting a little jumpy in the beginning calms down for a nice tachiai and a decent fight, but gets sloppy (or just tired), and the Sneaky sekiwake shoves the Blinky one to put the blink at 4 losses.
 
Ozeki Kotomitsuki services komusubi, Tochiozan, and hand him an eazy loss.  Koto hangs in there with his 6th win.
 
Kotooshu continuing to waver in his performance, gives it up to Asasekiryu.  Every so often, Oshu needs to be reminded to stay low.  Nice of Asa to give him just that.  Both at 6-3.
 
Harumafuji, up against Wakanosato, gently lays his opponent down on the bed of shame.  Though a quite anti-climactic okuritaotoshi, still gets the job done to put Haruma at 7 and give Waka his makekoshi.
 
Bart faces grandpa Kaio in an attempt to redeem himself after a humiliating performance yesterday
.  Once again NOT implementing his unbeatable double-handed tsupari, even gving Kaio his own favorite left-hand grip, realizes he is not a belt fighter and shakes the old man’s grip to push him out, oshidashi.  This clinches the shin-ozeki’s chance to be just Ozeki next basho with win #8.
 
Kakuryu, probably feeling good after a win over Bart yesterday, hoped to shock the crowds again against fellow mongol, Hakuho.  The slppery fish keeps Hakuho from getting a good hold, but forgets that Hakuho does not need
 
Hopefully this tournament picks up before the up coming road show!  Until next time,
 
Shima
Here we are at day 10, the yusho, realistically, is decided (Murray Johnson, I don’t care how much you insist that “by the numbers” Shimotori is still in the yusho race.)  The cast of characters at the top of the pile is a bit surprising… you’ll see what I mean.
First off let me say that I can’t wait until we get some good shin-nyumaku up in the top division, these escalator guys have been crap this basho.  Luckily we’ve got Gagamaru, Dido, Sokokurai (kind of), Kiyoseumi, and Matsutani (who is looking killer, although a bit too low ranked to make the jump to Makuuchi) ready to shred the lower ranks apart.
Enough bitching… ONWARDS TOWARDS MEDIOCRITY!  We started off with Takamisakari inching closer to KK with a yorikiri over Wakakoyu after Wakako’s thrusting attempt completely missed.  Senor Itchy Scratchy is 7-3, Wakako is 5-5.  Kimurayama came out of the gates against Koryu with a mini-henka, which fizzled, and then we had a minute and a half of impotent thrusting until both ran out of gas and Koryu made the first mistake…oshidashi. KMY 5-5, KR 4-6.  It really sucks that some of these guys might Kachikoshi.
Let’s move on to something better shall we?  Mokonami and Shimotori locked up with both men getting the right hand inside, Mokonami with a matching left hand uwate, Shimotori soon following suit.  This is not a preferred grip for Mokonami, but it is for Shimotori, advantage: Bird.  Once Birdy grabbed the uwate, Nami made an ineffective push to the bales, after which Tori seemed to be in control the rest of the bout, lots of movement on his part and a win by yorikiri.  Yesterday was the first time in 6 years that the Bird has had a visit to the interview room, good for him.
Another nice bout was Tokusegawa neutralizing Jokutoriki’s henka and snuffing out the douche-nozzle with a nice looking uwatenage to increase his winning streak to 5 leaving him at 6-4, Jokester is at 5-5.  I think if Tokusegawa can hang in between M10-M5 for a basho or two to gain some experience, we’ll see him in joi soon.  Coming off a good bout yesterday Yoshikaze brought everything he had (which meant lots of erratic movements in lots of directions) against Aran, who just wasn’t letting the Over-caffeinated Oguruma get the lower position.  Aran picked up his KK via oshitaoshi after a good show of patience (A 8-2 YK 6-4.)  Aran’s interview would make anyone feel good about their Japanese… heavy breathing and a few “sou desu ne”s seemed to be all he could muster.  Okinoumi finally picked up his second win over Tochinonada via uwatenage.  Last basho he was falling to all the geezers, this time he can only beat guys over 30.  Casanova is trying to do as much damage control as possible at 2-8, while Nada might as well be handing out favors on his way back to jyuro (or intai?) 2-8 as well.
Goeido finally did what he was supposed to in response to a soft tachiai from Tamanoshima.  Osaka-hype is 5-5, Tama holds on for one more day at 3-7, hoping things will go his way.  Takekaze brought a great tachiai against Kakizoe but Shima’s dream date snapped the local boy’s winning streak with a dodge or two and a pull down.  Both even at 5-5.Tamawashi opened with a vicious nodowa but Tosayutaka broke it out and drove the mongol back.  At the  bales it almost looked like Tamawashi had pulled a last second uchari pivot throw, but it was Yutaka by some belly fat. (first bout that should have required a mono-i but didn’t get it.)  Kitataiki ran Kyokutenho back and out for the oshidashi win, but a look at the replay will show that Taiki’s hand was down before the sock hit the ground.  But as Taiki is on my fantasy team, I’m not complaining.  Both parties at 6-4.  (second bout that should have required a mono-i but didn’t get it.)
Asasekiryu continues his good work this basho with a shitatenage on Toyohibiki at the edge.  Sexy at 7-4 and Beeker is at 4-6.  Kakuryu makes a late run for kachikoshi with an oshidashi.  Kak used his hands to get Kokkai up and then pushed him out.  Kak moves to 4-6 and Kok is left unfulfilled and with nothing but a makekoshi to cuddle with tonite.

Tokitenku tried his signature “ineffective ketaguri followed by an ill-planned push to the tawara” but since it was against Wakanosato it worked for a yorikiri 5-5 for Tenku.  Sad-cowboy-nosato moves to 1-9.  Tochinoshin got in trouble early when the Geek got morozashi , the Georgian will have to go to JSA provided counseling for the sexual assault he received today.  Both involved parties at 5-5.  Tochiozan dealt well with Miyabiyama who brought the same pushing and thrusting attack that worked so well on Noshin yesterday.  Oshidashi for the Komosubi, both at 4-6.
Toyonoshima and Aminishiki did not give the best tachiai, Toyo used the right arm to keep Sneaky from feeling around inside and his left hand belt grip to walk Sneaky out, they both avoid makekoshi today, evening out at 3-7.

Kaio proved that if you can survive Mitsuki’s tachiai, you’ve got it in the bag, all gramps did was redirect Miss-ki’s tachiai and walked him out.  Both old-zeki at 6-4.  Next Harumafuji came in hard against Hakuba and pushed him straight for the bales… and…but was… wait… did Hakuba really turn that around for a win over Harumafuji without a real henka?… crap he did… KK for Hakuba, and Harumafuji gets his KK put off for one more day (third bout that should have required a mono-i but didn’t get it… not because the call was questionable, but because Hakuba shouldn’t win against Harumafuji in straight on sumo… I think that might break some law of physics.)
Battle of the European giants went to Kotooshu who started off the bout with a left hand maemitsu, supplemented by a right hand uwate, the Bulgarian was able to catch the Estonian off balance and yorikiri’s to bring his score to 7-3.  Bart moves down to 8-2.  Kisenosato put up a good fight against Hakuho, both rikishi slapped the fuck out of each other, but Hakuho kept the kid off the belt and pushed him out.  It’s rare to see the Kid win with straight up tsuppari, but Hakuho can just beat anyone with any technique, he doesn’t need the belt, he doesn’t need the tsuppari.  Oshidashi victory for the Yokozuna.

This bout got me thinking… when we say that there are no promising yokozuna candidates I think that we need to get a bit more perspective.  I think the past two Yokozuna we’ve had have just been so good that we have created a whole new class of yokozuna.  Asashoryu just got his 25th yusho (3rd on the all time list) and would have gotten more, and Hakuho secured 14 in a few years and still has 5 more years until he reaches the average age of yokozuna  retirement.  I have no doubt that Asa was one of the best of all time, but what if Hakuho is not just one of the best but the best of all time.  Really if we could go back in time and match every Yokozuna at their prime, I bet… no, I’m sure Genghis and Kublai would be at the top of the pack.  Part of the prerequisites for being promoted to yokozuna is winning 2 yusho (or equivalent.)  I can only think of one guy who ever did that whole “or equivalent” thing.  When we have such a dominant guy like Hakuho on top, who is picking up a truck load of zensho yushos then how can anyone even come close?

Here is the leader win/loss board
10-0: Hakuho
8-2: Baruto*, Aran**, Hakuba***, Shimotori**
*- still has a chance if something ridiculous happens
**- just putting them here because they have the same score as Baruto
***- WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?
Valentine tomorrow, get ready for a kick in the dick,

“He had a good arm workout yesterday with Koryu…both men really getting at it.”—Ross Mihara quote of the day.Postscript I

Yes, today is the beginning of the end.  Hakuho’s domination in this basho was confirmed yesterday, and we have five days of addendums, afterthoughts, and epilogues.  As Creswell was saying yesterday, Hakuho really is a Dai-yokozuna and I for one look forward to seeing him break records, kick some ass, and every now and then throw in a dameoshi.  But for the sake of your Shinto gods, someone among those other 41 men in makuuchi, make it interesting and challenge that son of a bitch!! 

Starting waaaaaaaaay early, the boy from Odate, Sasakiyama-kun got his sixth win in jonidan today, meaning he’s in a yusho race that’s a hell of a lot more interesting than that in makuuchi.  He’s 13-0 in sumo thus far, and is clearing his own path to a second yusho.  Gentlemen of the Roadshow, let’s make a point to cheer this youngster along in the weekend!

Gagamaru (7-3) came back up to Makuuchi today to settle disputes with Hokutoriki (5-5).  The tachiai was pretty damn slow and I don’t think Gaga even knew it started when it did.  Hktrk went up with the hands for a shove while Gaga was still looking down.  Easy hand pull-down for the arrogant one.  The Georgia Bulldog is still learning the ropes for Makuuchi, and with one more win, he’s pretty much guaranteed to advance up.

Takekaze vs. Kimurayama.  In a bout even God doesn’t care for, according to Ross Mihara, Kmrym shifted a bit to the left at the tachiai which was just enough to throw Butterball off his game.  Team Akita thrust a bit when he regained his stature, but without the tachiai momentum his thrusts were too weak for his opponent to budge and Kimurayama was able to shove Butterball out.  Kimurayama is at 6-5 while that Akitan better get his ass in gear and win one or two more in order to stay in Makuuchi (he hasn’t been in Juryo since March 2005).

Super-senior Tamanoshima (3-7) vs. Sophomore Okinoumi (2-8).  Damned softmore just stood up at the tachiai as if he were elected class president.  That’s precisely the reason he’s lost eight bouts so far, but Oki is fortunate because first, he’s almost as handsome as me, and second, Tamanoshima is a super-senior who needs a real job and just let Don Juan get the inside position and send a yorikiri from the shikirisen all the way to the rice bales.

Birdie vs. Beeker; Shimotori (8-2), in the mathematical race for yusho took on Toyohibiki (4-6).  Birdie henka-ed ever so slightly to his left, but Beeker saw it coming from a mile away because that’s about how far behind the shikirisen he started.  Beeker pushed Birdie out for an easy win.

Kakizoe (5-5) vs. Takamisakari (7-3).  Zoe won the tachiai, but who really doesn’t against Tkmskr?  Zoe put Appleseed in a monosashi (a kind of arm lock), which didn’t finish him off immediately, but after Zoe let go Ringo was off balance enough for the pull down.  Mr. Kimarite Picker was having a field day today, because what looked like a run-of-the-mill hand pull-down was actually a rarely used neck chop-down (sokubiotoshi).  Prior to the illegalization of swords, the move would leave the opponent decapitated.  A neck chop-down hasn’t been used for years, but it was also used in Juryo today.

Aaron Alan Aran (8-2) is also in a jun-yusho race.  Today Rosuke (Japanese for “Russian bastard”) took on Mongol-turned-Japanese Kyokutenho (6-4).  It started off with a rare solid tachiai from the Ruskie who worked Kyoku back to the bales, but the Mongol-turned-Japo regrouped and had his energy spurt working Ruskie Business to the bales with his own good grip on the mawashi.  With Aran on the bales, he performed a Tetris-like pivot and though he failed at the utchari he was attempting, he at least managed a yorikiri win.

Kotoshogiku (5-5) vs. Kitataiki (6-4).  Both men charged well at the tachiai, but Geek added a hand slap which opened up Kttk’s right side for Geek to get a mawashi grip, but the Tokyoite also had a good grip which did him no good as Geek threw in a few hug-n-chugs before shifting backwards and thrusting his opponent down.  Geek picks up win number six and the hanamichi was a-glowing with from the sight of his pearly whites.

Ozeki-killer Tochinoshin (5-5) took on former Ozeki-killer Aminishiki (3-7).  Noshin, playing the role of Yoshikaze, was a hell of a lot more active at the tachai and looked downright sloppy, but amongst the movement Amisneaky worked in a good right hand outside grip which he latched onto.  In trying to break Sneaky’s grip, Noshin tried a number of things including arm bars and finally managed a left-hand outside grip leading to a push-down win.

Sekinowake Kisenosato (5-5) faced M1 Miyabiyama (4-6) in a bit of Ibaraki-bedlem.  From the tachai, Kissy got in real close to Flabby, thus cutting off his tsuppari, then working in an easy pull down for the win.

Ross Mihara calls him “Henkuba;” Daly refers to him as “Henkaba.” The “Phony on his White Pony?”  Whatever you call him, Hakuba (8-2) has been a story for this basho.  Today, he got his second shot at an Ozeki, in the form of Kotomitsuki (6-4).  Hack-uba had a soommmmmeeeewhat straight tachai, just slightly moving to the left in order to more easily obtain an inside grip which he never did win.  MickyDees got a left-hand outside and used that to easily steer Junior Mint.  The Ozeki added a right hand on the chin and the Hack was down on his back.

Physically, two great rikishis: mentally, they together don’t have enough strength to fight in wheelchair sumo.  Kotooshu started off with a decent tachai, but Tochiozan was the one who followed up with forward movement and shoved the lame-duck Ozeki to the tawara for an easy yorikiri….but wait…….the gyoji pointed the gumbai in Oshu’s favor!  What the hell was he thinking?  After a brief discussion by the judges and seeing the slow-mo replay…oh wait, all of Oshu’s bouts are in slow-mo?  Nevertheless, it was obvious Ozan’s foot was planted outside the ring just a slice of a moment before Oshu stepped out.  Shitty finish by Ozan.  Shitty sumo by Oshu altogether.  Oshu lost by technique, but in fact got the win.  This bout was so lame.

Harumafuji (7-3) looking to finalize his kachikoshi, but he had Baruto (8-2) to contend with today.  Head-to-head, these two have been 7-7, which might make for a good bout and help us forget the pain of seeing the previous bout.  Just prior to tachiai, I loved how Haruma shot off two snot-rockets just to let his opponent know what was coming.  Showing the snot-rockets didn’t phase him, Bart put in a good thrust at the tachiai which if he would be doing at every tachai, he’d be 11-0 at this point.  From this point, a strange bout ensued.  They thrust, and separated; they thrust, and separated; they thrust, and separated. Unbeknownst to Bart, all this time Haruma was just looking for the perfect moment to launch his premeditated strategery (new word, thanks to a former president).  When that moment came, Haruma got inside with a right-outside grip and his left hand on Bart’s leg to pick up and support an underarm throw.  Great shit by Haruma, and definitely the bout of the day.

So, here we have Hakuho (11-0), and the only man within two wins from the yokozuna is Ruskie Business?  Today, the Yokozuna looked to stretch a 27 bout winning streak against a man who entered sumo along with some of the ring side judges, Old Man Kaio.  Coincidently, Kaio was the last to defeat Hakuho in regulation in January, so that should hype you up for the bout, right?  Both men meet at the chests from the tachai, but from here they both bring in the second line; reaching for grips.  Neither can achieve a grip, so Hak turns to thrusts, easily working Methuselah back but with the tawara behind him, the Oldzeki plants a monosashi in defense and reestablishes himself away from the edge.  We’ve got both men with monosashi doing a kind of slow dance around the dohyo (Methuselah trying to get a breather; Hak counting his portraits on the back walls).  Once Hak got the portraits counted, he pushed Old School upright then quickly down again turning to the side for the belt-less arm throw which resulted in a sight only seen in prison or on the farm.

              So, here is how it stands; if on Thursday Aran loses to Asasekiryu (possible) and Hakuho defeats Baruto (factual), Hakuho can secure his yusho on Friday, probably against Kotomitsuki.  BUT…if Hakuho falls to three ozeki like he’s never done before, we just might have an exciting finish on Senshuraku!

In sum…

Sasakiyama is tied with two others at 6-0 in Jonidan.

Lay down, bend over, or stick one leg up in the air cos Shima’s got a little surprise for you tomorrow.

Now for all of your day 12 excitement!
 
Homegrown Takekaze trying to hold on to his spot in Makuuchi against Tamanoshima, who has already lost his.  Nice Tachiai, double inside grip, and a 50 mississippi count secured Team Moriyoshi’s 6th win and two away from the first kachikoshi in 4 tournaments.
 
Takamisakari looking particularly pumped today with his barks as he faced Kimurayama.  A good tachiai and getting Kimura’s body up high, Misa was able to push the M12 out for the his first Kachicoshi in 3 basho, a comment that looked as if it were going to push him to tears.  Why reporters bring that kind of crap up is beyond me.
 
Yoshikaze and Mokonami both looking for their kachi today, and Yoshikaze just needing it more.  Yoshikaze able to get around a barage of tsupari to slap down Mokonami and clinch his kachi, also the first in 3.
 
Koryu looking to not Makekoshi as he faced the Heart-throb kid, Okinoumi, who already had earned his Make early on.  Unfortunately no handouts from the Shimane prom king as he hands Koryu his Make, kotenage style.  the match looked almost as slow in replay as it did live.
 
Tosayutaka nice enough to put Wakakoyu within one of Kachikoshi.  Waka with a lightning fast pull down in between a flurry of slaps to the face brings Tosa to the sand. Waka at 7-5.
 
Tochinonada bringing nada to the table as he falls to Goeido.  Goeido pulling nada down, uwetedashinage for number 6.
 
Hokutoriki falls to Toyohibiki to put both at 6-6.  Biki able to methodically slap his way to a winning streak of two.
 
Shimotori going up against team old-school Mongol, Kyokutenho.  Shimo makes Tenho work extra hard for a 7th win today, as he already has his Kachikoshi.  Yorikiri for team Mongol.
 
Tokitenku represents the real Mongolia in a battle with countryman, Tokusegawa.  Toki proving that age comes before beauty, both of which he has an abundance of, yorikiris Toku to the trenches, 6-6 for the Toki.
 
Aran hoping to stay up there with the winningest group foolishly gives a morozashi to Asasekiryu, who capatalizes and carries the Russian out.  Kachikoshi for morning red.
 
Spark plug Kakizoe about to slap Kakuryu silly till the beauty queen couldn’t see straight.  Zoey applied the final slapdown to put him within one of his Kach.
 
Tamawashi and Wakanosato enjoy pssing the gyoji off with a couple false starts, but then putting up a good fight for a sukuinage win in the Wak’s favor, not that either men needed the win…
 
Kokkai looking to spread the Makekoshi blues and give one to Miyabiyama.  Flubby able to tsupari and slap down the angry Georgian for his 5th win.
 
Toyonoshima looking to take on the king of sideburns, Tochiozan.  Sideburns never looks back and walks Shima out for an easy win 5-7.
 
Tochinoshin taking on the lookin-healthy Kisenosato.  Blinky not hear to entertain makes it quick and painful, putting Tochinoshin into Kaio’s lap, Oshidashi.  7 for the blink!
 
The Geek looking to upset the Sneak, almost gets geek-style pelvic thrusted out.  Adjusts and turns for a Kotenage, 7 wins for the Geek.
 
Ozeki Harumafuji takes on Oldzeki Old Man Kaio.  The old man didn’t stand a chance at the Terrible Tsupari Tornado technique.  Haruma at 9-3, Old man at 6-6.
 
M4 Kitataiki continues to do well in the highest Maegashira seat he has ever held, today against Ozeki Kotomitsuki.  Mitsuki unable to remember how to tachiai gets plowed in the chest and forced out in a hurry.  Oshidashi puts Kitataiki within one.
 
Hakuba bringing his A-game as he takes another win from his second Ozeki this tournament, Kotooshu.  Going straight for a Virgil Valentine arm yank, biting Oshu’s arm, then head butting Oshu in the crotch earns Hakuba the upset and his 9th win.  Kotooshu falling to 8-4.
 
The match of the day, and perhaps Barts last chance to prove he is the next reason to buy tickets for the next basho, has Hakuho against the shin-ozeki.  Baruto looking quite nervous out of the tunnel, in a rush to get it on.  Bart finally decides to use his double tsupari, but far too late in the tournament.  Bart finding that pushing Hakuho is worse than trying to push down a brick wall, since this wall is moving.  Hakuho never has to lay a hand on Bart has the Estonian Giant effectively pushes himself out.  Bart falls to 8-4.  Hak remains flawless and in a position to clinch the yusho as early as tomorrow.
 
For that, you will have to wait for Mr. Jones.
 
Shima, signing off.

Day 13 missing

By Matagidan
Natsu Basho Day 14Well with the Yusho wrapped up it seems like Makuchi would be a pretty disappointing finish. None the less, die hards like us must continue on. Before we jump into the bouts that were of interest to me today. Let’s take a moment to cheer for everyone’s favorite working man, Bushuyama who has moved into the lead in a very tight Juryo tournament at 10-4. Five men are following him into the Senshuraku match. Here’s to hoping we have a big playoff to spice up the final day of the Natsu Basho. Bushuyama, we here at Sumo & Stogies are cheering for you! Best of luck Juryo Rikishi!

Mongols Tokusegawa and Mokonami faced off today. Like many, I have been extremely impressed by Tokusegawa’s turn around in the second week of this tournament. I think with his size and techniques, we will be seeing him in the Makuchi division for quite a while longer. Today’s match was a beautiful example of two rikishi working very hard to get the position they wanted to set themselves up for the win. The bout went for well over a minute and ended with Mokonami turning Tokusegawa to the bales for the win. Great effort on the part of both rikishi. Mokonami joins Tokusegawa with his eight as well. This author hopes both men can continue to find this kind of success next basho.

Second place Aran has already tied his all-time best with tens wins this basho in the Makuchi level. Today he faced off against the poster boy from Shimane. What was exciting to see in this bout was the excellent technique from the Russia. Great tachi-ai knocking Okinoumi back with a great pushing attack and he transitioned perfectly to the Mawashi for the Yorikuri win. Aran is now 11-3.

Battle of 7-6ers here: Goeido vs. Hokutoriki. At first I was pretty dissapointed by this match as it looked as though Goeido had picked up a cheap win. The replay however proved me thoroughly wrong. The tachi-ai found both rikishi cracking skulls followed by Goeido having the sense to grab the Jokers hand for a quick pull down win. There have been times where I have been less impressed with Goeido but let’s give him credit here. The guy has landed a winning record even after a tough knee injury last basho in Osaka. I hope to see a bit more from him in Nagoya if he can completely recover. I have no comment for the Hokutoriki right now.

Ross Mihara said all that needed to be said about the Toyohibiki vs. Takamisakari match today, “Like a tight muscle shirt on Hiro Morita, Toyohibiki is all over Takamisakari today.” Takamisakari continues his poor streak in the final five days after securing his 8 a few days earlier. Yoyohibiki get’s his 8 today.

If Kyokutenho looked like a wall today then Takekaze was certainly the egg. Akita’s only Makuchi son was unable to move back the veteran Mongol at the tachi-ai and it was all over from there as the bigger rikishi threw Kaze down onto the Dohyo.

Was it just me or did I hear people at the Kokugikan yelling Henkuba before the Kisenosato vs. Hakuba match?! The Kid has fallen for some pretty simple tricks this basho (Kaio and Baruto matches to name two) and I was really worried he might be caught off guard today too. Luckily someone reminded Ibaraki’s Son that he was in fact facing the Henka king. As usually Hakuba attempted to jump to the side to grab either an arm or Mawashi of Kisenosato. Thankfully though Kisenosato had the sense of mind to block that attack and send the smaller Mongolian right out of the Dohyo. Kisenosato get’s his eight but should be disappointed if he doesn’t at least get nine.

Kaio now has 999 wins. Aminishiki looked awful today. His mind was somewhere else while Kaio picked up his 8. Dissappointing sumo, I don’t want to say much more about it.

Hakuho has now decided to go with a golden mawashi. Let me agree with Crestwall that we are dealing with a Dai Yokuzuna who is potentially historic in some many ways. He faced his toughest challenge of this basho to date against Kotooshu. Kotooshu got the upperhand right from the start in this match getting his left hand grip. Hakuho quickly broke the grip however as the two fought hard working for the better position. After an failed throw attempt by Hakuho it looked to be Big O’s match to win but the Yokozuna was not to be denied. He wins by a force out and extends his winning streak to 14 this tournament. Great sumo by both rikishi. Wishing to see Big O do more of that in Nagoya in July.

The Bear Hunter Man has got your back one more time tomorrow. Go Bushuyama go!

By MagatidanToday Bushuyama held onto his own destiny. A win and he would be the Juryo champ, a loss and he would be forced to be a part of a five man playoff. The people’s champ was not to be denied however throwing Sadonofuji to the middle of the dohyo for his second Juryo championship. Whether this will be enough to get Working Man back to the top division (he’s currently ranks Juryo 5 West) is yet to be known for sure. The only sure thing is that there will be three Georgian’s in Makuchi Sumo starting in July. Standard Kokkai, Tochinoshin, and now Sumo & Stogies emerging favorite Gagamaru. I am hoping to see Sokokurai the following basho too, as the guy hasn’t had a losing basho in over a year I think!

7-7 Senshuraku (final day) bouts give me chill because of the unreal winning percentages that appear suddenly for the rikishi who just happens to need one more win to get his eight wins. Hiro Morita and others tend to say that this is because the 7-7 rikishi really wants their kachi-koshi, but having been a competitor my whole life, I know that motivation shouldn’t be enough to sway the numbers game as much as it does in sumo: a sport where everyone is supposed to be a competitor. With that Senshuraku brought us a little of  everything today from honorable wins, to embarrassing henkas, to questionable matches that make this author shake his head. Let’s get to it.

The man from Moriyoshi, Takekaze (7-7) faced off against 8-6 Mokonami. Whether is was planned or not Mokonami never had good positioning this entire bout. As the Mongolian tried to drive Takekaze from this awkward position Kaze simply used his solid inside grip to throw Okonomiyaki for his eight.

7-7 rikishi are 1-0 at this point.

Aran having already won a fighting spirit prize at 11-3 faced Hokutoriki at 7-7. The Russian was on a roll and could care less about letting up. He completely owns the Joker in this bout. At 12-3 you can expect to see Aran make a big jump back up the Banzuke in Nagoya. Here’s to hoping he can do a little better than he managed in Osaka! Joker might have one more basho in the top division (or not) but he’ll have to show a lot more strength in his tsupari, pushing attack if he wants to stay around for much longer.

Speaking of pushing and thrusting rikishi. The other two, of them left standing faced off today. Wakakoyu a 9-5 and Toyohibiki at 8-6. Nice showing by both old school pusher thrusters.  Biki got the better start on the tachi-ai and was on his way to pushing the Tokyo boy back. Koyu pulled off some nice footwork however slipping to the left to regain the advantage. Wakakoyu finished the match charging Biki right out of the ring for his 10th win of the basho.

7-7 are 1-1

Kakizoe is a hard rikishi not to love. He’s not that big but he gives it his all no matter where he ends up on the banzuke. Not only that he always seems to be right on the verge or either getting his eight wins or falling just a bit short. Today at 7-7 he faced his kohai (junior in college) Yoshikaze who was at 8-6. Yoshikaze pulled a henka here and folowed up with an arm bar to spin Kakizoe around. From there it was quite easy for Yoshikaze to finish the bout for the win.

7-7 are 1-2

7-7 Kimurayama vs. 5-9 Wakanosato
Henkarific Kimurayama has never lasted in the top division and the reason is because his tachi-ai is rarely straight up. Henka’s get you into trouble once people stop being idiots and Makuchi veterans like Wakanosato know this all too well. Aomori’s unsung hero moves on to win this one by pull down. Later Kimurayama, better luck next time, if there ever is a next time.

7-7 are at 1-3

Which brings me to my favorite 7-7 rikishi Kitataiki and Georgian Tochinoshin! Save a disappointing henka attempt these guys have been rock solid. I am very hopeful to see more of them in the higher ranks in years to come. They both have the tools and the confidence to become great. The match had a prize on the line to which made it all the more exciting.
Tachi-ai found Kitataiki with the better grip and position but after a do-si-do ’round the dohyo Noshin was able to get his preferred grip. What happened next was pretty incredible. Kitataiki is by no means a small guy but the Georgian literally picked him up from the center of the ring and walked him right out for the win and his fighting spirit prize. I hope to see both of these guys challenging the Ozeki again next basho. Great bout.

7-7 are 2-4

Komosubi Tochiozan faced off against wily Tokitenku. Wily he was indeed with a great nodowa at the tachi-ai followed by a fierce set of tsupari and finished by pull down. Tokitenku win’s his 8 again for the second consecutive basho while Tochiozan will have to regroup and bring it again next basho.

7-7 end up with a 3-5 record today, and two of them were bound to happen by mathematical certainty. Nice to see this basho, though I would argue a lot of the real players in the game had gotten their 8 before today.

Kotoshogiku doesn’t have to fight Kotomitsuki or Kotooshu since they are apart of the same heya. This is very advantageous. Today however supported my belief that this guy is not ready to make any kind of “Ozeki run” yet. He faced Hakuba who like Giku is also 9-6. How Shogiku didn’t see this Henkaba move before the tachi-ai is beyond my ability to comprehend. Are you surprised? How much longer are Makuchi guys going to fall for this? Anyways a henka leads to Hakuba winning at the word go, but even with ten wins he got no special prize, save sumo & stogies’ crew disapproval rating prize of 85%.

Next, one over achieving and one underachieving (falling for henkas). Today new Asa numero uno jumps literally at the tachi-ai to wrap up Kisenosato and shove him right out of the dohyo. Another upset win for Asasekiryu brings him to 9 wins this basho. Kisenosato’s got to be pretty disappointed as he had at least three matches that could have gone better if he would have been able to understand his opponents’ tactics. He’ll keep his Sekiwake position and also will try to regroup next basho.

Kotomitsuki faced Baruto. Powerful tachi-ai via Kotomitsuki allowed him to get a solid grip and position himself to deny Baruto a grip. The bout ended with Baruto losing the battle as Kotomitsuki threw the Estonian to the ground. Yakuza allegations against Kotomitsuki make me wonder if we’ll see him next basho or if he’ll retire and no one will speak of the gambling issues in the news at the moment ever again.

Next match was for Kaio’s 1000 win and he faced Kotooshu. It was loud  in the Kokugikan as the fans were cheering and holding up signs for Kaio. I’ll be completely honest here, I was right with them cheering, until I saw the actual match that occured. Kaio wrapped up Big O right off the start and from there it never appeared that Oshu was trying to actually reach for the Oldzeki’s mawashi or push back. Now I could be wrong about this but either way I would have liked to have seen a better match. Kaio positions his body to pull off a nice throw to beat the Bulgarian who may or may not have been trying. Kaio becomes only the second man in history to reach 1000 victories. It was an amazing accomplishment and I’ll end my thoughts with that.

Hakuho vs. Harumafuji
Golden Mawashi vs. Harry
The Perfect One vs. Tough riksihi
Anyway name you give this match it was a pretty decent way to end a really lackluster basho! Tons of tsupari action and Hakuho even brought the hari-te out too before they wrapped up. Once the Yokozuna got the grip he was able to force Ama to the bales. From there he simply threw the lighter Mongolian out of the ring. Hakuho now has 32 straight wins and two straight perfect basho. I hope his streak continues here but also hope for more than just 9-6 and 10-5 performances for the Ozeki. This Dai Yokozuna is going places in the history books and don’t forget it! We are watching a Yokozuna the likes of which we might not see again for many years. Enjoy it for what it is and hope everyone else finds a way to make Nagoya Basho more interesting than Sekitori-Kun!

That’s it for this basho. Sumo & Stogies hopes to keep bringing you reviews, debates, and more during the off time between bashos here. Keep us on your radar, and thanks for reading.
Daly

Natsu Post-Basho Wrap-up

Here they are, the official S&S sansho winners

Most improved Rikishi – Hakuho

Best bout – Tosayutaka v Toyohibiki

Keppare-sho* – Tokusegawa

(Booby prize – Miyabiyama)

*As all of us here at S&S currently call Akita prefecture home, we decided to use the local dialect’s word instead of the standard Japanese “ganbare”

by Keishikazawa

Well now.  Natsu basho is over.  While I wouldn’t say it was the most exciting, as the yusho was pretty much determined from the word go (or from the word Hakuho), it wasn’t THAT boring.  I mean, it’s still sumo.

Down in Jo no Kuchi, Ryoonami took a zensho yusho.  As did Saishin in Jonidan with a mono-i win over S&S hometown boy Sasakiyama.  Sandanme, also zensho yusho by Takunishiki, and yet another zensho yusho in Makushita by fellow Tohokuan Maeta.  However there were a lot of good performances in upper Makushita.  Notably 6-1 results from Tochinowaka, Nakanokuni, and Masunoyama, and 5-2 showings from Takanoyama, Hochiyama, Sadanoumi, and Shironoryu.  Disapointing was Bulgarian Aoiyama’s showing of 2-5.

There was a possibility of a playoff on Senshuraku in Juryo between Gagamaru, Tamaasuka, Bushuyama, Dido, and Kiyoseumi.  But Bushuyama put the kabash on that with an uwatenage on Sadanofuji in regulation to pick up 11 wins.  The other 3 rikishi still did quite well with 10 wins a piece.  Worth noting is freshaman Sekitori Matsutani’s impressive 9-6 showing.  He showed some pretty damn agressive sumo this basho and I excpet to see some good stuff come from him in Nagoya.  Gagamaru will be headed up to makuuchi for sure, but as for who else, that’s up to the NSK.  G.W. Bushuyama has a chance, but his past couple outings in makuuchi have not been very impressive, even at lower rankings.

Apart from Hakuho’s zensho yusho on day 13 makuuchi was a bit of a surprise this go around.

Hakuho = perfect sumo… lets move on.  The Yokozuna has been talking a bit of trash recently.  Some of his comments toward the other rikishi and, as Valentine pointed out, during his Yusho interview were a bit arrogant.  We here at S&S approve of this smack talking and hope it continues.

The ozeki were all a bit out of sorts.  Harumafuji, with a knee injury suffered just before the basho at soken geiko, didn’t quite perform to the top of his game, but still brought some energy to the dohyo, although it did mean a few embarassing loses.  Kotooshu looked pretty crappy against his lower ranked opponents, and soft pedaled Kaio into a comfortable 1000th win for the geezer.  That bout actually put the bulgarian ozeki in the hospital, good job Oshu.

Baruto was a pretty big disappointment as well.  High tachiais, sloppy footwork, and a totally un-called for henka on Kisenosato added up to a less than impressive basho from the shin-ozeki.  The old-zekis managed to not go Kadoban.  I can’t really recall a good Kaio bout from this past basho, but I can recall a few where he looked really old and Kotomitsuki seems to not be able to get anything accomplished past the tachi-ai.

Lower sanyaku was a mix mash.  Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku picked up KK’s, Tochiozan fell one short, but displayed some good stuff, and Ami-shneaky didn’t look too good this outing.  Kisenosato, as always, made a few bonehead mistakes and squeaked by with 8, with Kotoshogiku humped his way to a “slightly easier because I only have to fight 3 Ozeki” 9-6.

Good stuff from Aran, Mokonami, Yoshikaze, and Shimotori.  However, the stand outs to me were Tokusegawa, Tochinoshin, and Kitataiki.  These guys displayed some good sumo, and lots of potential… especially Kitataiki.  First time at a rank in the joi, and he pulls a 7-8 with only one minor henka.  Tokusegawa had some great matches (most notably an endurance match with Mokonami.)  Tochinoshin back up in joi takes out 4 ozeki on consecutive days and pulls a Kanto-sho out of the bag.

There were also some disappointing performances.  Goeido, while ranked at West 9 should be pulling in 10 wins at least given his rep and hype, the quality of the 9 he got was not befitting someone with his “hopeful” status.  Okinoumi is having the same problems he had last basho, but this time people caught on.  He needs to be more agressive and speed up his tachiai.  Kakuryu yet again disapoints with only 6 wins, despite his ability.  Kokkai just looked like crap this go around, and the up from juryo quartet of Koryu, Tochinonada, Kimurayama, and Wakakoyu showed little to no dimension in their game (despite Wakakoyu getting 10-5.)  Lastly Hakuba got 10 wins.  This is not a good thing.  It is a disapointing fact that 10 makuuchi guys fell for a henka from the king of henkas.

Two of the rank-and-filers I was looking forward to seeing this basho went out on kyujo.  Iwakiyama for some sort of cerebral infraction, and Homasho for a neck injury.  (I can’t help but like Homasho ever since I heard that during the hatsubasho he told the media he thought the west-side shitakubeya was cursed.)

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