Natsu Day 15 Highlights

Enho Gives Everything In His Day 15 Match With Shohozan
Image courtesy of friend of Tachiai, NicolaAnn08 on Twitter

Described by one friend as “Anti-climatic”, day 15 in general was a study in how many rikishi were hurt and fighting poorly vs a small core who managed to stay healthy. The schedulers threw in a good number of “Darwin Matches” where both rikishi were 7-7, and one walked away with winning record, the other with a losing record and demotion. The atmosphere in the Kokugikan was off, as vending machines were taken off line, there were hour long lines to be screened to enter, and there were protective guards everywhere. But some solid sumo did take place, and the final day of the Natsu Basho went off without a hitch.

As expected, US President Trump did appear with Prime Minster Abe, and both handed trophies to Asanoyama who looked happy, overwhelmed and just a little bit uncertain. President Trump was courteous, and at times appeared very happy (handing over the Presidents Cup) and bored (during some of the matches). If the President or any of his staff find themselves taken with the notion of sumo, I strongly recommend reading Tachiai, watching Jason and Kintamayama, and listening to Grand Sumo Breakdown during the next 2 months to be primed for what should be an epic battle in Nagoya.

We are all eagerly awaiting lksumo’s crystal ball post due up later today, but I can say that this basho was a death march for far too many rikishi. A few big names were missing, and the ones who hung in there were fighting well below their normal capabilities. I think this basho greatly underscored just how tough it is to keep a group of 40 or so rikishi healthy, fighting and fit.

Highlight Matches

Chiyoshoma defeats Ikioi – Chiyoshoma delivers a slap and a pull to drop Ikioi to 4-11. Is this the end of Ikioi as we know him? Clearly he is still too hurt to fight effectively. Its tough to see long time favorites go out banged up and down.

Shohozan defeats Enho – The first of the Darwin matches, Shohozan threw in all of his unsavory behavior including multiple matta (one with a full charge and slap) before the match could get underway for real. When the match did finally start, it was a wild brawl with Enho dodging and weaving at his best, but Shohozan was clearly in charge. The two went chest to chest, and Enho struggled to get leverage over the larger Shohozan, but “Big Guns” remained upright and stable, while Enho became increasingly tired. Eventually Enho’s attacks left him too low, and Shohozan helped him to take a face full of Natsu clay. Huge effort by Enho, and typical crummy attitude from Shohozan, but he did pick up his 8th win.

Onosho defeats Chiyomaru – Second Darwin match, Onosho’s propensity to put too much pressure in front of his ankles was no worry with Chiyomaru’s mass to push against, and Chiyomaru found himself without any room to work, or any chance to move to the side.

Kagayaki defeats Ishiura – Both men end the basho 5-10, with Ishiura likely headed to Juryo. Ishiura lost the last 5 consecutive matches, and is in dire need to regroup. The entire Pixie contingent looks to have faded through week 2, as Enho also lost his last 6 consecutive matches, after a strong start.

Tomokaze defeats Sadanoumi – Another Darwin match, Tomokaze lets Sadanoumi come to him, then employs superior strength and stability to overpower, lift and eject Sadanoumi. Tomokaze has yet to endure his first make-koshi of his professional career.

Meisei defeats Daishoho – Meisei has over-performed this basho, finishing with a 10-5 record, and a solid win over Daishoho. Meisei took a mae-mitsu grip early, and never gave an inch.

Shodai defeats Kotoeko – Shodai finishes with double digit wins, after finishing Osaka with double digit losses. I think his sumo looked better, and his opponents were in worse condition this tournament. I insist if this guy could improve his tachiai, he would be a force of sumo.

Tokushoryu defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze puts forth an effort to win on the final day, but the amount of force he can put into any move seems to be just a fraction of his normal. This comes after double digit wins in Osaka. His performance is either on or off the past 18 months, and I have to wonder if he’s starting to eye that kabu now.

Shimanoumi defeats Takarafuji – Two time Juryo yusho winner Shimanoumi came roaring back from a middling start to win his last 6 in a row, and end with at 10-5 record. That was a lot of Makuuchi jitters and ring rust to scrape off, but once he settled in he produced some solid sumo. He may find himself in a tougher crowd in Nagoya.

Abi defeats Tamawashi – Two false starts by Abi left him a bit slow at the tachiai, but he still landed his double arm shoulder attack, and used Tamawashi’s lateral move to send him arcing into the clay. Both men end Natsu 10-5, and Abi receives the Kanto-sho.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tochiozan – This bout was a mess, it featured a solid forward start from Chiyotairyu, followed by a lateral collapse that saw the big Kokenoe man hit the clay, but win because Tochiozan had already stopped out.

Daieisho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Both rikishi end Natsu make-koshi, with Terutsuyoshi following a cold start to the basho with a week 2 fade. There are a good number of rikishi at the bottom of the banzuke with really terrible records, and it may be another log-jam in the demotion queue that sees some incredible banzuke luck bestowed on the least terrible of the lot. Will that include Terutsuyoshi?

Endo defeats Yago – Endo catches Yago’s tachiai, lets him begin to push and then drops him to the clay. Simple, easy, effective.

Kotoshogiku defeats Okinoumi – A fairly traditional Kotoshogiku hug-n-chug win, but his hip pumping was less focused than normal, and it took quite a bit of time and effort to finish Okinoumi. Both men end the basho with losing records.

Hokutofuji defeats Nishikigi – Hokutofuji’s “Handshake Tachiai” pays off as Nishikigi puts all of his hopes into grabbing a piece of Hokutofuji’s mawashi, and comes up with air. Left without anything to hold on to, Nishikigi is quickly propelled out for an oshidashi loss.

Mitakeumi defeats Asanoyama – Many fans will declare this a bellwether match, as it shows that Asanoyama did not have the mettle to be the Natsu champion. They may have a point, but that’s not how honbasho works. Mitakeumi is able to enact his preferred sumo strategy, and try as he might, Asanoyama cannot get into the grip and foot placement we have seen him use to rack up 12 wins prior to today. Does this foreshadow Asanoyama’s upcoming opponents in Nagoya? Probably, yes.

Ryuden defeats Aoiyama – Ryuden finishes with double digits, and I have to say his sumo was dead on this tournament. Aoiyama was only a fraction of his normal strength by this stage of the tournament, and Ryuden masterfully absorbed everything Aoiyama delivered in terms of tsuppari.

Ichinojo defeats Myogiryu – When Ichinojo is “on” he turns his opponents into rag-dolls and tosses them around at his leisure. This happened today with Myogiryu, who looked like an play-thing in a giant’s toy box.

Takayasu defeats Tochinoshin – Both of these rikishi are fighting hurt, and are only at a fraction of their expected power and speed. Takayasu takes a big chance going chest to chest against Tochinoshin, but rather than set up the sky crane, Tochinoshin oddly decides to try and pull Takayasu, which was all the Ozeki needed to rush forward and take Tochinoshin to the clay. Yeah, Tochinoshin is clearly hurt, and that was crap sumo compared to his first week performance.

Kakuryu defeats Goeido – They made a good match of it, no shady moves, no cheap sumo here, the top two surviving rikishi finished the day with a solid yotsu match that saw the Yokozuna take his 11th win.

That’s it for our daily highlight coverage. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing the Natsu Basho with us!

32 thoughts on “Natsu Day 15 Highlights

  1. Trump is arguably the most Scottish president in the history of the United States. He is Scottish enough to have qualified to play for our national football team, had he been a player! He has significant business interests here and says he loves our country. In the same way the Irish embraced JFK, we Scots embrace Trump for all his flaws. As such it was good to see him today present the special trophy.

    • He fought his butt off but Shohozan is a terrible match up for him. He needs bigger opponents that he can out-speed and out-technique. Guys like Shohozan will almost always put him on the clay.

    • If I could, I would tell Enho that he acquitted himself quite well for his makuuchi debut, and probably learned many lessons he could learn no other way. He also almost certainly acquired hordes of new fans. Poor pixie!

      • Indeed. My sister and I got a huge kick out of watching him. We started calling him Flea for his rapid hopping around. I look forward to seeing more of him.

    • Enho has already proved a lot of people wrong, including me. I saw him as a “peaked in juryo” wrestler who might get a lucky promotion to makuuchi but would be horribly squished as a result. Well, he got there, he was thoroughly competitive, and he was a bit unlucky not to get KK. Dry your eyes mate.

  2. Shodai seems to me to be a guy who is afraid of head-to-head contact. Perhaps he had a bad concussion at some point in his career – effects from those can linger for a very long time, and are kind of scary. I can’t imagine he’s just physically unable to get lower at the tachiai. He’s high, but he also really pulls his head away at any point of contact.

  3. Crazy speed displayed today by Enho and Shohozan. Are they really that fast, or was the camera sped up? In any case, a huge effort from Enho.

    • I think this is why Enho struggled in the second half: he doesn’t have his usual big advantage in speed over the likes of Meisei and Shohozan, and still gives away a huge edge in size.

  4. Bruce, I don’t think Pres. Trump was bored; he asked a steady stream of questions about the action. However, he apparently made the decision that it would be impolitic to react to wins and losses, so he sat on his hands at the end of bouts.

    One of my favorite moments of the day was hearing the “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd at the unveiling of the President’s Cup.

    By the way, last night I dreamt that Abi had signed to become a pass rush specialist with my beloved-but-futile Detroit Lions. I also dreamt that Tim Tebow abandoned his floundering minor league baseball career to work at becoming the next Tochinoshin.

  5. You know who was the best man on the dohyo over the last three days of the basho? It was Kaga-bloody-yaki,that’s who! Unfortunately it was only when he felt the trapdoor to juryo starting to wobble under his feet that he decided switch on beast mode. He’s such a frustrating wrestler to support, but if he can put it all together for a whole basho he can shock the world.

  6. Wow! I didn’t think I will become a Shohozan fan! He worked his ass of for that win. Kudos!
    Enho, don’t worry, you have a bright future, heal that wound keep eating that pasta and show them your stuff!

  7. ‘I strongly recommend reading Tachiai, watching Jason and Kintamayama, and listening to Grand Sumo Breakdown during the next 2 months to be primed for what should be an epic battle in Nagoya.’ Not forgetting new kid on the block NATTOSUMO who is racking up thousands of views on their digest with really nice graphics / visuals

    • Ah yes – I did neglect them. Not a fan of the information overload they throw on screen. But I do appreciate their efforts.

      • I found them absolutely essential while Kintamayama wasn’t posting—plus there was the nice bonus coverage of Hoshoryu.

  8. I thought it was great to see the dignitaries attending, too. Watching the live coverage, the crowd really seemed to value the presence of Prime Minister and President, especially at the presentations. I didn’t think the President was bored, I don’t think the President’s Cup is particularly “big, brash and gaudy” compared to the other trophies, and I don’t see how your scepticism about your government is relevant to sumo coverage. I follow sport for many reasons, but one of them is to escape politics.

    I enjoyed the basho overall (we were lucky enough to attend Day 4 and had a really fun day out, wearing our Tachiai t-shirts) and will be really interested to see what happens in Nagoya. Thanks to all the Tachiai team for your coverage!

  9. Cut Asanoyama some slack: he had his bout exactly as the dignitaries entered the venue, delaying it and breaking his routine. Add that to a night of fish-lifting and that’s the result. Mitakeumi also lost his senshuraku bout when he got the yusho – and he was a Sekiwake and his opponent was M9w Yutakayama.

  10. An exciting and eventful Basho. I feel that Tochinoshin may not keep Ozeki very long, since it’s clear he’s re-injured his knee. I like him, and wish him great success, but he may want to give some thought as to how and when to retire. On Trump- I am a US citizen and I will not sit here and mindlessly praise him as others have done (who clearly don’t have to live with his decisions). His presence was a nuisance and distraction from what should be a dignified event. I do give him props for not trying to grandstand, because that’s his usual M.O.

  11. Ryuden was awesome this basho. Aggresive, unrelentless and never giving up his matches. The most classic sumo rikishi without being a one-trick-pony variety (tadpoles), crazy-sumo like Abi or off-beat Asanoyama style sumo (Asa is the best of the young rikishis, but there is something off about his sumo that i cannot pinpoint).Ryuden is kind of a late starter, but seriously commited.

    • Heartily agree. He first caught my eye 3 or 4 bashos ago. There is a sort of integrity about his sumo that i prefer over some of the flashier and more popular newcomers.

  12. Aside from the Eagle on top, which I thought was perfectly tastefully sized, I thought the President’s cup looked like it was trying to continue in the aesthetic vein of the previous cups.

    My sister and I got a kick out of Asanoyama speeding to help PM Abe with his cup. The look on his face was great 😛 As for Pres. Trump, you could tell the man was jet lagged, but my sister and I are polar opposites politically and neither of us had any problem with the presentation. Did I understand correctly that this will be one of the regular prize cups now?

    I really hope Enho stays in the top division, but at the same point in time, I’m worried that everyone will have him all figured out by July.

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