What The Hell Was That?
Kyushu has mutated into a strange and quirky basho, which is quite entertaining for those who love to see the mighty take one in the pants. Day 5 dawned with news that the lone surviving Yokozuna, Kisenosato, was pulling out of the tournament. Fine, no wins, 4 losses, and we go to a Nokozuna format. Don’t get me started on how the NSK needs to sort out their aging kanban rikishi situation.
Then all of the Ozekis lost. No, really. Nishkiki dismantled Goeido, when his updated GoeiDOS crashed on tachiai, and Tochinoshin took special care to piss off Hokutofuji before the match. Enjoy your clay sandwiches, boys!
Both Sekiwake phoned it in yet again today, and are ripe for demotion and replacement. Both have held the rank too long, and seem to have looked at the steep wall to climb to try for Ozeki, and just shrugged.
For some long term fans, the weakness at the top of the banzuke became a foul stench on day 5, as the rot started to putrefy. Hopefully that can be cleaned up going into the middle weekend.
Daishomaru defeats Chiyomaru – Notable because Chiyomaru drops to 1-4, and is clearly in trouble. The round one has many followers and fans, and it will be sad for them should he drop to Juryo. He has been without any real offensive power so far in Kyushu.
Daiamami defeats Takanosho – These two went chest to chest early, and battled hard for a superior grip and balance. Every time Daiamami would gain advantage, Takanosho found a way to counter. They were evenly matched, and brought some solid sumo to the dohyo.
Endo defeats Meisei – I am delighted to report that Endo actually looked on form today, and showed strength, balance and endurance. Although he could not muster speed as well, it was just enough to best Meisei, who gave him a good fight. Japanese fans still love Endo, and they are going to need to pin hopes on someone for the rest of Kyushu.
Onosho defeats Okinoumi – Onosho kept the match short enough that he could maintain offensive power, though he finished Okinoumi just as he was running out of steam and the big man from Shimane was starting to apply pressure. Onosho improves to 4-1, and I anticipate that he will be looking for a mid-Maegashira posting at New Years.
Yutakayama defeats Takarafuji – Yutakayama finally gets his first win over hapless Takarafuji. I am not sure what problems Takarafuji is facing with his body, but Isegahama needs him back in winning form.
Ikioi defeats Sadanoumi – I did not expect Ikioi to rally and overcome Sadanoumi, but I am happy to see that he is not completely out of genki. Ikioi takes a lot of pride in his sumo, and even hurt and tired, we have seen him put a little more into each match.
Abi defeats Kotoshogiku – How can we convince Abi to try something else when the double arm thrust keeps producing results? Kotoshogiku looks rather disappointed at the final bow, maybe because he leaned into Abi’s attack and was too far forward to recover when Abi stepped to the side.
Chiyotairyu defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki could not maintain balance or stance in the face of Chiyotairyu’s overwhelming and powerful cannon-ball tachiai. A quick “Stand him up, knock him down”, and the match was done.
Takanoiwa defeats Yoshikaze – Fans can now take satisfaction that it’s officially a honbasho because Yoshikaze splattered blood on the dohyo. He and Takanoiwa exchanged blistering attacks from the tachiai, but Takanoiwa was able to get inside. On replay there was quite a bit of hand-hair interaction from the Mongolian, but hey – I guess it was not flagrant.
Shodai defeats Asanoyama – Watch this match on slow-motion video. Shodai’s tachiai is still too high, but I dig that he is hitting a near perfect angle at the initial merge. From that moment, Asanoyama is off balance and struggling to find his footing. Asanoyama never recovers and its Shodai for the win with an authoritative body slam to punctuate the end.
Takakeisho defeats Ichinojo – Let me reiterate the theme that both Sekiwake are on the way out this basho. Lackluster, lethargic and uninspired, they must vacate their spots to more worthy rikishi. Takakeisho once again demonstrates his “wave action” sumo, and it seems that for most opponents, they are unable to counter with much effect. Takakeisho 5-0 at the end of act 1.
Kaisei defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi, sir, it’s a shame that you need a pride-obliterating demotion to get your act together, but it seems you are hell bent to do just that. Why would you go chest to chest with Kaisei? It’s like hugging a pachyderm. You can feel like the king of the world for a few seconds, but you are still going exactly where that elephant wants to take you.
Nishikigi defeats Goeido – It was at this point I realized that I should have stayed up all night drinking sake and watching sumo. I might have possibly been drunk enough for this to make sense. Clearly Nishikigi is some master level hacker who put Goeido into the much feared and completely useless bouncy-castle mode. I wept tears of joy for Nishikigi, and could not stop laughing for a time. You know what would make this even funnier? If this ends up being the ONLY win that Nishikigi has at Kyushu.
Hokutofuji defeats Tochinoshin – Though NHK may not show this, Tochinoshin launched a brutal tachiai that was a matta, and did not seem the least bit apologetic. But I think that really cranked up Hokutofuji. Then Tochinoshin decided he was going to repeatedly try to pull Hokutofuji down, and wasted a lot of time pawing at his head. By the time that he realized that Hokutofuji was about to put him away, he desperately tried for a mawashi grab… But no dice. The look of satisfaction on Hokutofuji’s face is worthy of a large format, tastefully framed portrait.
Tochiozan defeats Takayasu – …But the madness that was day 5 was not yet complete! That Tochiozan guy who has been a mid-Maegashira guy for a long time? He cranked up some big sumo against the last undefeated member of the named ranks. Takayasu decided he was going to start with his ridiculous, superfluous and ultimately pointless shoulder-blast, but Tochiozan was ready for it. He used the poor arm position that move requires to pretzel up the Ozeki and punish him. A lot. I can’t say for sure, but I think at that point Takayasu started to lose his composure and retreat. Tochiozan ran him down and made him suffer again. The two went chest to chest, but Tochiozan has found a way to deny Takayasu’s grip. Takayasu’s sumo became increasingly frantic until Tochiozan could package him up and ship him face first into the east side tawara.