I pit thee, World Sumo League!

Not for trying to make sumo accessible to a North American audience. For that I salute you, even if it means you make tacky concessions to the current day. You have taken dignified athletes carrying on a centuries-old tradition and given them nicknames like Wrequiem and Burn Chamber, but I can live with this. Barely.

No, I pit thee for screwing over Montreal. Montreal, city of over two million inhabitants. Major tourist destination for Quebecois, other Canadians, and Americans. Cosmopolitan city with plenty of sports fans.

You know, the city you just blew off on your summer “Megatour”.

Yesterday morning, I was looking forward to an enjoyable evening watching a sport I haven’t been able to see since I worked in Japan several years ago. I had bought tickets in advance (credit card online), and I go to the arena website to confirm the starting time.

There’s a press release on the site. “World Sumo League event cancelled.” Said release is dated June 1. Yesterday, June 5, was the first time I heard of this. Fishy, but whatever.

The release goes on to say, “because of unforeseen travel and scheduling conflicts involving several of our top international wrestlers, we find it necessary to cancel our scheduled engagement.”

Hmm. I go to check the league’s official site. There’s a listing of scheduled events, including the following:

Jun 03, 2006 Philadelphia PA US Wachovia Center Event Passed
Jun 09, 2006 East Rutherford NJ US Continental Airlines Presale Ended

So, what does this mean? Choose your favorite response from the following:

A) We didn’t sell enough tickets in Montreal, so screw you. Somehow, we managed in New Jersey and Philadelphia (huge sumo towns, those…) but Montreal just didn’t work.

B) We couldn’t get/didn’t bother to get visas for our wrestlers. Because crossing the border, is like, hard. Never mind the international hockey/soccer/gymnastics teams that travel to Montreal all the time for games and tournaments.

C) We told our wrestlers not to bother showing up for work, because, well, it’s just Montreal. But they had to show for Philly, and all their other dates, because those were important. You gotta have your priorities, right?

So damn you, management of the World Sumo League. May you rot in hell being sat on by massive sweaty wrestlers as annoying commentators shove rotten nigiri in your greedy gobs.

[Xnylder, emerging from a long dormant period to crawl to the pit…]

I bet you are pissed that the Expos left, aren’t you?

I’m a huge fan of sumo, and I, too, cringed when I saw the changes which had been made. It’s like Sumo Lite. Part of what made the game so fascinating to me was the culture. Strip that away, and all you’ve got is two fat guys bashing into each other.

Indeed, don’t get me started on baseball…Keeping the flea-bitten orange mascot around is just salt in the wound.

They more slap or splat into each other. Gracefully, and with great skill, mind you, but “bashing” reminds me of “bludgeoning”, and it’s hard to imagine being bludgeoned with, say, cookie dough.

Well, my point was that the Expos left because everyone who went to games was dressed up as an empty seat. Be honest with yourself, the only thing sports related that 90% (maybe more, maybe less just a WAG) of Montreal cares about is the Habs. And be thankful that they have Bob Gainey running the show. I’ll hazard a guess and say that maybe 10% of the available tickets were sold for the sumo event. It seems to me that there was a similar problem a few years ago with a swimming or diving meet - not enough tickets were sold.

A coworker went to this in Chicago recently. He mentioned that there is a plot to the show and that at one point, the wrestlers breakdance. I am not sure if that was the case or if he didn’t know what was going on, but hopefully that is enough to subdue your disappointment.

That’s one reason I’ve never like Asasuro (and I’m sure I’ve spelled his name wrong-- pronounced Assa-shoru.) He’s a “slapper.” He runs up to his opponent and starts slapping him around like a teenage girl. Not that it isn’t an effective strategy-- after all, he’s made it to (IIRC) Yokazuna rank with it, but it’s always struck me as a vaguely dishonorable strategy. Whereas other wrestlers rely on balance, strength and momentum, he just slaps his opponent until they recoil far enough to where he can shove them out of the ring. It starts feeling more like boxing than sumo at that point.

I forget the number of permitted moves in Sumo (actually pronounced Smo), but the wrestlers–and they’re certainly skilled wrestlers–will lose the match immediately if they use any unauthorized move. The slapping is a pretty serious permitted move, too, as (IIRC) one can slap the opponent’s throat. There are some wrestlers who are more skilled with certain moves than with other moves. And the choice of moves used initially depends on the opponent for that particular match. There’s really a lot of stuff to think about on the way across the circle.

I really enjoyed watching Sumo when I lived in Japan, and also enjoyed the matches that ESPN has broadcast. I’ve yet to see the World Sumo League, and perhaps, after reading this thread, I shouldn’t.