Kintamayama

Nagoya Basho 2021

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, Wakanopedia said:

I can understand aesthetic objections to Hakuho's performance. Everybody prefers to watch different styles. Sumo is great for that, like Shohozan and Kotoshogiku have totally different fighting styles. But if Shohozan became a yokozuna, should he have to change what made him one just to satisfy the aesthetic preferences of some? You do not get promoted to Yokozuna for aesthetically pleasing sumo, you get it for winning. Therefore (although naturally there are other factors) winning is the most important single thing about being a Yokozuna. Everything else is opinions. Opinions are obviously also very important.

It's not just an "it's okay / it's not okay" distinction though. There's a whole spectrum of what different people will consider acceptable or unacceptable, and what number of incidents. And while that's of course still just an opinion for every single one of those people, I can't help but feel that the number of people whose opinion about Hakuho's behaviour is "enough is enough" has steadily grown over the last few years, regardless of the fact that his results have remained as strong as ever (if with increasing amounts of missed tournaments thrown in). He doesn't have to care about that, of course, but he wouldn't be the first sportsman who comes to find out that his active-career behaviour had post-career ramifications.

Chiyonofuji, as adored as he was by the public, made plenty of enemies inside sumo, and while they couldn't do anything about it while he was top dog of the dohyo, they responded by turfing him out of any meaningful advancement up the Kyokai's corporate ladder after his retirement from active competition. I have no idea how Hakuho is seen inside the Kyokai; maybe everything fans may find disagreeable is a complete non-story among oyakata and other rikishi, and the occasional censuring he has received (e.g. for his leading that banzai chant at a yusho ceremony) is just stuff they felt obligated to do for public reasons and it had no lasting effects on his reputation. But I think it's a bit naive and myopic by some Hakuho fans to be playing the "he's just being hypercompetitive, man" card all the time, with no regard for whether the umpteenth yusho is actually worth the cost it may potentially carry down the line.

Then again, I suppose many fans who are all about the results may not actually care if Hakuho-as-oyakata ends up amounting to anything...

Edited by Asashosakari
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I feel privileged to have witnessed a couple things this basho:  1) The reemergence of the greatest to ever don a mawashi and 2) (IMHO) the greatest comeback in professional sports history.  

I would love to see Hakuho hang on for a few more basho in the hopes of witnessing the maturation of Yokozuna Terunofuji.  Also to see a few awesome yotsu battles between the two of them.  Unless Hakuho actually believes he can't beat Teru on the mawashi, I don't think we'll see the tactics he used here again.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Asashosakari said:

He doesn't have to care about that, of course, but he wouldn't be the first sportsman who comes to find out that his active-career behaviour had post-career ramifications.

It's worth pointing out that on top of whether Hakuho is making enemies amongst the oyakata a generation ahead of him who're calling the shots now, he's also roughed up quite a few active rikishi who are going to be his contemporaries as oyakata and can make things difficult for him if they still hold a grudge:

  • Kiyomigata, ex-Tochiozan: receiving end of that double nekodamashi
  • Endo, holder of Kitajin - famously on the receiving end of a pretty bad kachiage and got his own back in fine style
  • Shodai's definitely going to remember this basho's bout, and as an ozeki he's pretty likely to stay in the NSK
  • Asanoyama, if he gets to stay in the NSK after all, also got a pretty bad training session from Hakuho during the time of his promotion
  • And now Terunofuji, who's applying for Japanese citizenship, and almost certain to stay in the NSK as #73.

I'm sure the list goes on longer than that.

And all this is without factoring in the simultaneous presence of Kakuryu, who I'm sure is going to be much better liked by his contemporaries and is much more likely to make rijicho than Hakuho.

Of course whether Hakuho cares in the end is another matter altogether. He might take an early exit as Kintamayama suggests. He might also feel like there was no point playing nice with the NSK if they're going to adopt that report and deny him that ichidai toshiyori he wanted for so long. If the NSK were minded to ignore the report before this basho, I don't think they'll ignore it as quickly if it means it's an excuse to get one over Hakuho. But all this just drives home the point that it's not ok that Hakuho acts the way he does in the ring, and yusho aren't everything in the sumo world.

Edited by Seiyashi
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Seiyashi said:

When we say dirty tactics it's not because it looks bad, it's because it feels unfair to use it.

[...]

I don't follow many other sports, but I suppose the closest equivalent I can think of is that archery clip where an archer chose to walk off the line after his opponent's equipment malfunctioned. Sure, it's not a rule that he needed to do so, but we felt that it was fairer had he done so. Hakuho's done the equivalent of choosing not to walk here, which is giving himself an advantage that arose not entirely as a result of his pure skill at sumo. The metaphor is imperfect, but you see what I'm getting at

"Feels unfair" is very different from "is unfair." If it is fair but only "feels unfair" that is another way of saying you don't think it looks right, which is what is meant by aesthetics. I don't use the word aesthetics in a dismissive way though, aesthetics are an integral part of sport generally and sumo especially.

But it was fair. Sumo is a full contact combat sport. His skill at sumo is why he won the match, period. Slaps and forearm strikes do not exist outside of the sumo skill set. Punching and biting and hairpulls and eyepokes, for example are not sumo skills. Slapping is. It's not dirty. Hakuho is better at it than Terunofuji is. Terunofuji does not use as many different or various sumo techniques with as much expertise as Hakuho. Hakuho used the best techniques for the match-up and Terunofuji did not have a good enough reply. He was beaten technically, physically, and mentally (shin-gi-tai), which is what sumo is all about. All other criticisms are aesthetic ones, which are valid. But no injustice was done here and nothing dirty happened ,and I don't think Terunofuji can say he was hard done by.

"And no - yokozuna is the one rank where there is ostensibly still some discretion to whether to grant it or not. "

True, but wins are more important than style for promotion. Somebody who wins four tournaments in a row as an ozeki with scruffy sumo is WAY more likely to become a yokozuna than, an 8-7/7-8 ozeki with beautiful technique and impeccable moral character, table manners, and penmanship. I acknowledge that there are other factors, but my point that winning is the single most important factor is definitely true.

 

Edited by Wakanopedia
grammar
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I am absolutely certain that part of the Hakuho-criticizing group has motives completely outside of his sumo. There are not too many people who can be called "great" nowadays and since the dawn of time greatness always gives birth to jealousy, envy, suspicion, defensiveness and you name the rest. The status of greatness which Hakuho earned himself can give people hundreds of reasons to hate him; probably the biggest one being the fact that he stamps his name so much over anyone else that creates a feel that people will not witness greatness in sumo ever again (knowing the bar that Hakuho set). I also grew to doubt the sincerity of people judging rikishis' qualities as, in my very own opinion, moods or trends seem to affect that judgement quite often from what I've seen.
I am sure the moment he announces his retirement most (MOST, certainly not all) people will forget his "ugly sumo", "antics" and all that arguments used to defy his greatness. 
I always watch the NHK live with the original Japanese commentary. I do not understand much, only the basic sumo words a non-speaker gets to remember; not only I replayed the superb bout over a dozen of times, but what I'll certainly never forget is when the commentary man said "forty-fifth yusho!". Replay it and let it sink in. Because I realize I may never hear this again. And, again, here is the real question - do we take pride and joy for witnessing the greatness of Hakuho (not only great in sumo but sports in general) or do we let the feeling of "I've seen everything, he'll never be matched, sumo is no fun anymore" take over us. 
See, greatness is complicated. What is undeniable is that we don't get to associate someone with "greatness" too often. Some take pride in witnessing Muhammad Ali's greatness, Usain Bolt's greatness, Ronaldo and Messi's greatness and many others. I take pride in witnessing Hakuho's greatness and I thank him for that.

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49 minutes ago, Asashosakari said:

It's not just an "it's okay / it's not okay" distinction though.

I didn't say it was. I said opinions are obviously very important, which you seem to agree with.

55 minutes ago, Asashosakari said:

 But I think it's a bit naive and myopic by some Hakuho fans to be playing the "he's just being hypercompetitive, man" card all the time, with no regard for whether the umpteenth yusho is actually worth the cost it may potentially carry down the line.

Then again, I suppose many fans who are all about the results may not actually care if Hakuho-as-oyakata ends up amounting to anything...

Only Hakuho can say for himself whether the results are worth the criticism to him. He seems to think they are, and, as long as he plays by the rules, objections thereafter are aesthetic in nature. Not invalid, but aesthetic. His success as an oyakata is yet to be seen, but Enho and Hokuseiho are already promising overtures. As far as backroom politics etc, Hakuho was always going to be at some disadvantage because he is foreign born. Maybe he feels having strong in-ring results (both personally and from his students) ought to do the talking for him?

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As much as I understand people's concerns and objections about Hakuho's sumo, I can't really bring myself to share them that strongly. And it's not because "the results speak for themselves" or anything like that. But as much as I'd prefer to see Hakuho's classic powerful straightforward belt sumo, I really don't mind beast mode bouts like this, or the absurd slapfest we saw against Shodai. In a way, those show better than anything just how utterly dominant he is. He can win in any style, against anyone. I appreciate seeing that, and I don't mind having such a unique yokozuna who, for all the criticism, just can't be defeated.

That said, I've always considered sumo a sport first and tradition second, so say about that what you will. That's not to say I believe in no-holds-barred brawls, but I do believe you can't really criticize a wrestler for using all the tools that are legally at their disposal.

In any case, it was an absolutely thrilling tournament and it's a rare treat to see two wrestlers go 14-0 into the final day. Terunofuji's going to be a fantastic yokozuna, and I hope he gets to have his revenge match and win it!

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19 minutes ago, Wakanopedia said:

"Feels unfair" is very different from "is unfair." If it is fair but only "feels unfair" that is another way of saying you don't think it looks right, which is what is meant by aesthetics. I don't use the word aesthetics in a dismissive way though, aesthetics are an integral part of sport generally and sumo especially.

But it was fair. Sumo is a full contact combat sport. His skill at sumo is why he won the match, period. Slaps and forearm strikes do not exist outside of the sumo skill set. Punching and biting and hairpulls and eyepokes, for example are not sumo skills. Slapping is. It's not dirty. Hakuho is better at it than Terunofuji is. Terunofuji does not use as many different or various sumo techniques with as much expertise as Hakuho. Hakuho used the best techniques for the match-up and Terunofuji did not have a good enough reply. He was beaten technically, physically, and mentally (shin-gi-tai), which is what sumo is all about. All other criticisms are aesthetic ones, which are valid. But no injustice was done here and nothing dirty happened ,and I don't think Terunofuji can say he was hard done by.

"And no - yokozuna is the one rank where there is ostensibly still some discretion to whether to grant it or not. "

True, but wins are more important than style for promotion. Somebody who wins four tournaments in a row as an ozeki with scruffy sumo is WAY more likely to become a yokozuna than, an 8-7/7-8 ozeki with beautiful technique and impeccable moral character, table manners, and penmanship. I acknowledge that there are other factors, but my point that winning is the single most important factor is definitely true.

 

In this basho banzuke, Teru and Haku are way superior over others so they beat them easily, but the two have almost equal strength thus each had to fight very hard to defeat the other and Haku won. 

It was predicted that if they fought belt by belt, Haku couldn't win. Otherwise Haku could win.

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What I can say? It was an ugly fight. Ugliness is somewhat subjective to each sport, but I think that after 10y I'm starting to understand "not yokozuna sumo". In football a goal is a goal, but a goal made using the shoulders or even arms to deslocate other players ou even a legal "cart behind" is uglier than one made with class and jinga.

After the first slap the fight grow cold to me and I heartly desired for a Terunofuji win. 

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1 hour ago, Asashosakari said:

It's not just an "it's okay / it's not okay" distinction though. There's a whole spectrum of what different people will consider acceptable or unacceptable, and what number of incidents. And while that's of course still just an opinion for every single one of those people, I can't help but feel that the number of people whose opinion about Hakuho's behaviour is "enough is enough" has steadily grown over the last few years, regardless of the fact that his results have remained as strong as ever (if with increasing amounts of missed tournaments thrown in). He doesn't have to care about that, of course, but he wouldn't be the first sportsman who comes to find out that his active-career behaviour had post-career ramifications.

Chiyonofuji, as adored as he was by the public, made plenty of enemies inside sumo, and while they couldn't do anything about it while he was top dog of the dohyo, they responded by turfing him out of any meaningful advancement up the Kyokai's corporate ladder after his retirement from active competition. I have no idea how Hakuho is seen inside the Kyokai; maybe everything fans may find disagreeable is a complete non-story among oyakata and other rikishi, and the occasional censuring he has received (e.g. for his leading that banzai chant at a yusho ceremony) is just stuff they felt obligated to do for public reasons and it had no lasting effects on his reputation. But I think it's a bit naive and myopic by some Hakuho fans to be playing the "he's just being hypercompetitive, man" card all the time, with no regard for whether the umpteenth yusho is actually worth the cost it may potentially carry down the line.

Then again, I suppose many fans who are all about the results may not actually care if Hakuho-as-oyakata ends up amounting to anything...

Hakuho murdering a judge on day 8 was a shot across the bow of all oyakata who would oppose him imo. 

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Posted (edited)

What's the chance of Teru getting The Rope? I hope it was a done deal - a Y and J (being a Y contender until the end) as Ozeki and Y, J, D before that.

Edited by bettega

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1 hour ago, Chankomafuji said:

There are not too many people who can be called "great" nowadays and since the dawn of time greatness always gives birth to jealousy, envy, suspicion, defensiveness and you name the rest.

Terunofuji is better than sumo than I’ll ever be at anything and I love him, so that can’t be it.

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9 hours ago, Asashosakari said:

For a long while I was always happy to defend Hakuho against what I saw as mostly overblown criticism of minor incidents that started creeping into sumo fandom since circa 2015, and for sure I never expected back then that I would reach this point, but: I'm honestly looking forward to sumo without his antics now. I despised the whole "but he keeps winning, WTF else do you want" attitude brought by a vocal minority of fans during the Asashoryu days (most of whom promptly and thankfully stopped watching sumo after he was gone), and it's no better this time around.

Why do we need to be so judgmental of professional athletes at the highest level. They are human just like the rest of us. The big difference is that they are always under the microscope, and we see them at their worst. Hakuho has been in Sumo for 16 years. I think it's unrealistic to expect him to go on for 16 years without ever slipping up. And these minor incidents are usually just examples of hyperactive self-appointed morality judges playing holier than thou. Seriously, a split-second fist pump? Is that really something we need to get worked up about? The man just finished a Zenshou, in a basho nobody though he'd win. All after getting calls for retirement at that. And as far as his antics on day 14 vs. Shodai, he did absolutely positively *nothing* out of line in any way shape or form. Everything he did was legal sumo, within the rules, and not in any way dishonorable. What? You'd prefer he pulled a henka? We can speculate all we want but at the end of the day Hakuho and Hakuho alone knows why he did that. It worked. He won the match. That's all that matters.

The only single incident I can think of where he acted disrespectfully was a few years ago when he lost a match that he thought was a matta and would not return to the dohyo for a couple minutes. That's one incident in 16 years. That is exemplary! Very few people on this earth have that level of self-control. He should be applauded.

I wonder why you are thankful that fans who have a different opinion than you do would stop watching Sumo. I for one think it would be wonderful if there were more Sumo fans around the world. And remember, just because someone doesn't come to the forum often does not mean that they have stopped watching Sumo.

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Jesinofuji said:

The only single incident I can think of where he acted disrespectfully was a few years ago when he lost a match that he thought was a matta and would not return to the dohyo for a couple minutes. That's one incident in 16 years. That is exemplary! Very few people on this earth have that level of self-control. He should be applauded.

He's not human - he's a Yokozuna. He isn't just a "professional athlete" and sumo isn't only a "sport".

The elbows and slaps in the tachiai are also disrespectful (and that bazai! chant).

 

Edited by bettega

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5 minutes ago, Jesinofuji said:

Why do we need to be so judgmental of professional athletes at the highest level. [snip]

I'm not really in need of a rehash of your Asashoryu excuse pamphlets of yore with new names put in, thank you.

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53 minutes ago, bettega said:

What's the chance of Teru getting The Rope? I hope it was a done deal - a Y and J (being a Y contender until the end) as Ozeki and Y, J, D before that.

My understanding is that it's a done deal. I've forgotten wh did the anlaysis but it's above here somewhere. A 13-2 jun-yusho gave him a pretty good chance. Fourteen wins pretty much clinches it.

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The bit I find the most curious is that nearly everybody - if not all - people who've got recognisable SF usernames and avatars is on the "Hakuho's antics = bad" side of the barricade, while usernames & avatars that I barely ever see here (if at all) are on the "Hakuho's antics = perfectly OK" bench.

It's almost as if general fans of the ozumo world feel one way, and on the other side, the dedicated fanboys of an individual popped out of the bushes to make themselves heard.

But then again, this is how it works in most sports, honestly. The difference here is that ozumo isn't a sport per se and shouldn't be viewed the same way. One could look at Hakuho's antics being the equivalent of a footballer/soccer player diving for fouls or a stockcar driving slightly nudging somebody else out because "oops didn't see you there" - you're determined at the being the best, no matter how many grey areas you need to exploit or how many rules you need to bend, and how many gentlemen agreements you disregard... but the cultural repercussions are at least ten fold and shouldn't be overlooked nearly as much.

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Hakuho in the old days had really nice sumo. The dominance was a joy to watch. Its clear that's never coming back so hopefully he just retires here.

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13 minutes ago, Koorifuu said:

The bit I find the most curious is that nearly everybody - if not all - people who've got recognisable SF usernames and avatars is on the "Hakuho's antics = bad" side of the barricade, while usernames & avatars that I barely ever see here (if at all) are on the "Hakuho's antics = perfectly OK" bench.

Although he's taking a lot of heat from some very knowledgeable people and some long-time fans of sumo, I'm not so sure this statement is true. Could be, but I'm dubious. I think a lot of serious fans put forth positions in between your two diametrically opposed positions. Someone will probably do an analysis...

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3 minutes ago, Koorifuu said:

The bit I find the most curious is that nearly everybody - if not all - people who've got recognisable SF usernames and avatars is on the "Hakuho's antics = bad" side of the barricade, while usernames & avatars that I barely ever see here (if at all) are on the "Hakuho's antics = perfectly OK" bench.

It's almost as if general fans of the ozumo world feel one way, and on the other side, the dedicated fanboys of an individual popped out of the bushes to make themselves heard.

This occurrence is nowhere near curious - there are plenty of examples in life where hate (even if "hate" is certainly not the most appropriate term in our Hakuho example) is vocal and support (even if majority) is silent. 
Now the way you name both sides as the "general fans of ozumo" with the "recognizable SF usernames and avatars" and the "dedicated fanboys of an individual" with the usernames & avatars you barely ever see implies quite hard lines of understandings. 
And perhaps the beyond-YDC level of zealotry of the group that you so precisely named "general fans of ozumo" (and I too absolutely believe that many of those see themselves as such) is exactly what keeps others who, again as you perfectly name it, "popped out of the bushes to make themselves heard" to bother and comment. 
Thanks for your post!

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Frankly, I it doesn´t make any sense to me why Hakuho fought today like he did. I also don´t know why some predicted Hakuho cannot win a belt battle. I know, I am repeating myself here, but if there is one thing in sumo that comes close to a law of nature, it is when Hakuho gets his left uwate grip, it´s over. You are going to get forced out, thrown, or yanked down.  What happened today ? The deciding moment was when Hakuho got his grip. He could have done that without those shenanigans, right from the tachiai. Terunofuji isn´t exactly a master in the battle for the belt, chances were he would have given up Hakuho´s favoured grip.

That´s why I expected Hakuho to win today. Why he chose to employ a "kachiage"* and engegaged in meaningless exchanges of harite (and at one point almost losing his balance), only he knows...

 

*ca. 20 years ago I was told the purpose of a kachiage is to move your opponent into a more upright position by striking the upper chest or occasionally the chin, and not to deliver an elbow blow that could have brought a donkey to its knees to someone´s blind side

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54 minutes ago, bettega said:

He's not human - he's a Yokozuna. He isn't just a "professional athlete" and sumo isn't only a "sport".

The elbows and slaps in the tachiai are also disrespectful (and that bazai! chant).

 

Slaps are Sumo. Tsuppari. So are elbows. Kachiage.

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Posted (edited)

One last comment from me on this topic (replies aside). For me, it’s not about what Hakuho did. I don’t particularly care if he uses kachiage, harite, nekodemashi, henka or some new trick that doesn’t have a name yet. If they’re within the rules, fine. Any rikishi is entitled to do things differently from time to time. I even enjoy it when someone tries to reinvent things. No, the only question of interest to me re: Hakuho is why. Is there anyone here who thinks Hakuho is still just trying to build his sumo repertoire at the ripe age of 36? Of course he isn’t. He’s fighting the way he’s fighting because he’s aware of the limits of his body. Those kachiage and harite should be seen for what they are: not clever, cunning sumo from a guy redefining the sport, but as the last resort of a man at the end. We all know it. Call a spade a spade. And since time moves in only direction, the spade will remain a spade. Hakuho is not going to suddenly wind back the clock 10 years and rediscover the sumo of his youth, so I ask myself, is his new brand of makeshift sumo what we want to see from the greatest of all time? We may be able to forgive – if that’s the right word – one basho like that from him after almost a year on the sidelines, but I wonder how many of his supporters will take the same view if he’s still fighting like that a year from now? Imagine if you can that he enters the next six basho and we get six basho of Hakuho flying by the seat of his pants, surviving on his wits alone, resorting to the unpredictable just to get by. Will you still be as charitable or will you belatedly recognize it for what it is – desperation? I’ve loved watching Hakuho all these years. I don’t love seeing him fight the inevitable. I know it must be hard for a man in his position to quit, but all of us have to turn and face the music at some point. The orchestra is playing for Hakuho.

Side note: Hakuho isn’t the only one who needs to let go. Fans do too. There comes a time when we have to say goodbye to our favourites, and we could do that with a little hinkaku of our own.

Edited by Eikokurai
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51 minutes ago, Asashosakari said:

I'm not really in need of a rehash of your Asashoryu excuse pamphlets of yore with new names put in, thank you.

I wasn't talking about Asashoryu. I am not here to talk about Asashoryu. I don't know why you are bringing him up. He was great, but not the GOAT. I admit that now.

Hakuho is the GOAT. And he is far from the most disruptive rikishi out there. He is both a model rikishi and a model citizen. 

 

We all just bore witness to one of the most exciting bashos in a long time. I don't see any need to rekindle old flames.

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1 minute ago, Jesinofuji said:

We all just bore witness to one of the most exciting bashos in a long time.

The final match was exciting, but the above is certainly debatable. 

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