Let’s face facts. This yusho was won by an ozeki who did not battle another healthy ozeki or yokozuna before his coronation on Day 14. His Day 14 bout was against a lethargic Ichinojo who’s spent the last two tournaments at M13. He will, no doubt, climb higher. But does anyone among my readers believe Ichinojo today is a serious sanyaku contender? And as for Kisenosato, over this fortnight he beat 5 men who ended the tournament with winning records (I’m not counting the walkover victory against Goeido). He fought nine maegashira.
In contrast, last tournament was won by Kakuryu with the same 14-1 record. His only loss was actually to Kisenosato. But he defeated two yokozuna & three ozeki, only fighting five rank-and-filers, the lowest ranked being Endo at M3. When he was awarded his yokozuna rope after his first yusho, he had lost the previous title in a play0ff with a 14-1 record. Kisenosato’s jun-yusho record against that field was 12 wins. Solid for an ozeki but is that really tsuna worthy?
I will likely be alone in asking the Yokozuna Deliberation Council to hold off and see if he can pick up another jun-yusho or yusho in the next tournament. He’s a solid ozeki. Why taint his legacy by elevating him too quickly, like Goeido and Kakuryu? The answer is obvious: as Bruce has pointed out, the first Japanese yokozuna will be a coup as the Sumo Kyokai hopes to continue to bring more fans into the sport after the dark days of yaocho.
But is this how they want it to be done? When many fans watch these matches and wonder openly about fishiness that may have kept Kotoshogiku in his rank longer than he should? When his very yusho last year, coincidentally fell 10 years from the last Japanese yusho? Within a year he loses his rank after chronic kadoban status with his kadoban twin, Goeido? My point is clear. Make Kisenosato earn his rope against a full, healthy crop of sanyaku competitors. What will the Kyokai do? Likely the same thing as the NFL post-9/11: please the local fans. Invent the tuck rule so the Patriots get to the Super Bowl over the Raiders. There’s been a lot more interest with ESPN being a two-hour drive from Foxboro, no?