Sir Paul and Sumo

Admittedly, this isn’t news. It’s an annecdote from last year’s Fukuoka tournament. I was talking to my wife about this year’s basho and she mentioned how Paul McCartney is a big sumo fan and was a sponsor at last year’s tournament.

Since I learned how affordable it is, I’ve wanted to pay kensho-kin to have my name paraded around when one of my favorite wrestlers prepares to fight. If I am actually successful at starting my own business, I WILL DO IT. I was really surprised that it was so affordable. Apparently, each banner is about $600 which is about 10x cheaper than I thought it would be.

I thought I’d open this up for a poll. I started with the high profile and prize winners from this basho but left it open if anyone wants to suggest others. If I get some real traffic on here, I’ll publish the results. Not sure which wrestler I would sponsor, though. If Homasho makes it back, he’d definitely be on the list.

November Tournament: Day 15

Hakuho has tied Taiho. He defeated Kakuryu pretty quickly to win his 32nd yusho.

Number32

The Outstanding Performance prize was awarded to Takayasu, who finished with an excellent 10-5 record and, most notably, two gold stars by defeating Harumafuji and Hakuho. It was that victory that really added a lot of drama to the latter half of the tournament as Kakuryu took the lead.

Fighting Spirit prizes went to Kyokutenho and Tochinoshin for garnering 10 and 11 wins, respectively. Tochinoshin’s 11-4 record makes for a very impressive return to makuuchi off injury. Hopefully he’ll find himself back as komusubi next tournament.

Endo picked up his 10th win pretty quietly. I don’t think he got an award because he lost so many times the first week. Ikioi lost to Kaisei and will surely drop to a maegashira 3 or 4 in January. He’ll be back, though. His first week schedule was a pretty rough one.

I look forward to January when Hakuho will likely move ahead of Taiho and become the undisputed greatest ever. I’m also hoping Homasho will be healthy enough to return, probably to lower Juryo rank.

November Tournament: Day 14

The tournament will come down to Day 15 but Hakuho is virtually assured of winning his 32nd yusho. With his quick disposal of Harumafuji, Kakuryu is the only one in a position to play spoiler. However, Kakuryu will need to beat Hakuho twice to claim victory and deny Hakuho his place alongside the legendary Taiho.

If Kakuryu loses to Hakuho, he will be tied with Tochinoshin, who’s had a very impressive tournament, on 3 losses. Tochinoshin will surely be replaying his loss to Ichinojo in his mind, wondering what could have been. Surely he’ll get a special prize, and he might even get a jun-yusho and promotion to komusubi next tournament. If he stays healthy, he’ll have a great rivalry with Ichinojo.

As for Ichinojo, with his 8th win today against Kisenosato, he has secured himself an impressive winning record against the top wrestlers. What’s scarier is that some of those losses seemed to be a bit lethargic. If he’s 100% on, I think it’s pretty clear he can contend with the big boys and he’ll hopefully be contending for titles in the new year.

With the tournament pretty well decided, many of the wrestlers seemed to be just going through the motions and there wasn’t much drama in bouts today. Kotoshogiku and Goeido face demotion if they cannot improve next tournament. Kotoshogiku has faced demotion a few times and seems to always pull out the wins needed to stay Ozeki. Goeido hasn’t shown consistent strength at this level so perhaps it’s for the best that he develop a bit more at the sekiwake rank.

November Tournament: Day 13

Entering the final stretch, Hakuho takes the lead! The superzuna claimed sole posession of the lead by throwing Kotoshogiku after a decent belt battle. In the match before, the first yokozuna battle of the tournament, Harumafuji was able to secure a belt hold on Kakuryu, get a lower position and use that leverage to push Kakuryu out.

Kakuryu is alone chasing Hakuho now because Tochinoshin had lost to Ichinojo in a great belt battle. Though he may fall out of the hunt for this title, Ichinojo v. Tochinoshin could definitely become an epic rivalry. Tochinoshin is one of the few wrestlers with the size and strength to match Ichinojo, which he’s proven with two victories in their previous meetings. There were a few points in this match where it looked like Tochinoshin might actually be able to lift the Mongolian new comer out of the ring. I’m excited to see where their careers take them and how this rivalry grows.

Looking to tomorrow’s matches, key will be the next yokozuna matchup: Hakuho v. Harumafuji. Since May 2012, Hakuho/Harumafuji has been the key Day 15 yokozuna battle to close the tournament. This time their battle will be on Day 14 but Harumafuji has a chance to really shake up the weekend. He’s lost their last two matches but the last time he lost more than two in a row was back in 2011. Harumafuji actually leads their rivalry in the four years since with 10 wins to Hakuho’s 9. However, if we look at the more recent record, Hakuho leads 6-4 since Harumafuji was promoted to yokozuna. In the previous 12 months, they’re tied with two wins each. It’s certainly the match to watch tomorrow.

This tournament will likely come down to a Hakuho/Kakuryu battle on Day 15 but it will certainly be more interesting if they’ve level records. For that to happen, not only does Harumafuji need to win tomorrow but Kakuryu needs to win against Kotoshogiku which is definitely a challenge. The two have a very competitive rivalry but Kakuryu does have the edge with four wins in five matches this year.

Kisenosato and Tochinoshin can keep things interesting Sunday if they win tomorrow. Both will face challenging battles. It will be Kisenosato’s turn to battle Ichinojo and Tochinoshin faces Myogiryu, who has rather quietly garnered 9 wins.

Losses
1: Hakuho
2: Kakuryu
3: Harumafuji, Kisenosato, Tochinoshin

November Tournament: Day 12

The Hakuho/Kisenosato matchup was the biggest match of the day and had the most potential for shaking-up the standings if Kisenosato could get the win. However, Hakuho showed great skill in throwing Kisenosato to the dirt. He’s clearly hungry for that 32nd title. Kakuryu had just beaten Goeido in the match prior, assuring the ozeki of a losing record and demotion is looking more certain. Kakuryu looked inspired by Hakuho’s near-henka the day before and pulled off an even better dodge, sending the hapless ozeki face first into the dirt. Harumafuji also won, but with three losses he’s 2 back of the pace set by his compatriots.

Kotoshogiku improved to 6-6 with a win over an uninspired Ichinojo. Ikioi persevered through Oosunaarashi’s blistering attack to force a great belt bout. Ikioi ended up throwing the Egyptian but both men wrestled well. Tochinoshin stays in title contention with a 10-2 record as he impressively carried Sokokurai out of the ring. Endo was able to counter Kotoyuki’s size advantage with a winning belt throw that sent both wrestlers bouncing off the dohyo and into the first row of spectators.


1-loss: Hakuho, Kakuryu
2-losses: Tochinoshin