Nagoya Day 9 Highlights

If you only occasionally catch video of sumo matches, today is the day to make a point of watching them. NHK video on demand, Kintamayama, Jason, Natto – hell, watch them all. It was a day of surprises and “did you see that” events. Well worth the time it will take to see it all.

One of the least enjoyable elements on day 9 is yet another Tagonoura top-ranking rikishi, with an injury to his left upper body, sent back to the dohyo to compete. To be clear I am not in Japan, or Japanese in any way—but I really have to wonder—is this a sumo cultural thing, or is sports medicine more or less nonexistent in Japan? Is Tagonoura Oyakata completely hands-off in managing the health of his men? I know that Chiganoura Oyakata gets it.

I hope Tagonoura realizes that Takayasu is an important “bridge” element between the current generation that is aging out of their top division roles they have held for so long, and the next generation who are forming up nicely. Someone has to rule the roost for a short while as the new crop get experienced enough to hold down the top ranks. Wreck Takayasu, and you lose that to his detriment and that of the sport’s future. Does he want to get 8 wins so he’s not part of an entry in sumo’s record books? Sure, but shut up Takayasu, and go see a doctor. Put his ass on the Shinkansen and get him to Tokyo to lower the temptation to get back on the dohyo.

With that rant of frustration complete, there are some bloody wonderful matches to talk about. Let’s get started!

Highlight Matches

Sadanoumi defeats Kaisei – This is not a highlight; Kaisei is also too hurt to compete. It’s over good sir, you are make-koshi. Get medical attention now.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan is really starting to fade out now; I think we are in a 2-4 basho period where a lot of these old mainstays are going to fade down to Juryo and quietly make their exits. Prepare for a rolling parade of intai ceremonies for some long-famous names of the sumo world. Terutsuyoshi’ sumo was dead solid today. He kept his attack on Tochiozan’s center-mass and just relentlessly drove forward.

Kotoyuki defeats Nishikigi – Kotoyuki’s tsuppari attack was especially effective today against Nishikigi, who has a tough time with a pushing fight due to his poor eyesight. Unable to grab a hold of Kotoyuki, Nishikigi was little more than practice ballast for the day.

Enho defeats Takagenji – Enho delivers the high intensity sumo again today. He was able to get enough exposed body on Takagenji to get to work, and finished it with a leg pick. The look of frustration on Takagenji’s face tells the story of his maddening inability to stand up to the Fire Pixie.

Kotoeko defeats Yago – I am going to assume Yago is headed back to Juryo after 4 tournaments in the top division. He’s clearly working through some manner of injury(s), and may need a period of recuperation to return to good form. Kotoeko’s relentless focus on center-mass left Yago unable to escape or respond.

Daishoho defeats Chiyomaru – Daishoho goes bowling, using Chiyomaru as the ball and the front row of the zabuton ranks as the pins. It’s a strike! Chiyomaru sometimes thinks his enormous belly is proof against a mawashi grip, but Daishoho fought for and obtained a grip that he employed with great effect.

Tomokaze defeats Kagayaki – Tomokaze met Kagayaki’s tachiai and raised Kagayaki up before immediately swinging his arms to bring him down with a lightning hatakikomi.

Myogiryu defeats Toyonoshima – I honestly thought Toyonoshima would bring more to this match, but Myogiryu rode him like a rented bicycle. This seems to be a good rank for Myogiryu, but it’s certain we will see him tested in the joi-jin in September.

Shimanoumi defeats Shohozan – Shohozan’s mobility-focused sumo takes a hit with the slick Nagoya dohyo robbing him of traction at the worst moment. It took a moment for Shimanoumi to realize that his opponent was starting to fall forward and shift his balance to assist Shohozan’s slide into defeat. Faster reactions Shimanoumi!

Chiyotairyu defeats Okinoumi – Hit and shift, followed by a push from behind. Simple, elegant and effective.

Kotoshogiku defeats Onosho – Once again, check out how poor the traction is on that dohyo. I think we are going to see more injuries as people slip and fall. Kotoshogiku takes full advantage of Onosho’s balance problems and drops him face first to the clay after a pushing match.

Daieisho defeats Takarafuji – Daieisho spent half the match circling away from Takarafuji, working to ensure that Takarafuji never put a hand on his mawashi. The tactic worked, leaving Takarafuji only really able to work defense, but with poor ring position.

Endo defeats Aoiyama – The part where Endo plants his face in Aoiyama’s pendulous man-boob for the win demands some kind of special prize for Endo. The only thing worse than watching it in real time was the slow-motion replays. At least they did not try to interview him about it following the win.

Asanoyama defeats Ryuden – Asanoyama continues to shine, and prevails after almost losing traction on that dohyo and falling for a loss. He keeps Ryuden moving in reverse and keeps his hips surprisingly low. If he can stay healthy, I think he is going to be a big deal. His sumo looks better every tournament, and his confidence keeps going up. Perhaps a little statement from Asanoyama to the banzuke committee about which of the two should have been ranked Komusubi. -lksumo

Hokutofuji defeats Tamawashi – You may not have realized how satisfying it might be to see Tamawashi go flying off the dohyo, but I am thankful that Hokutofuji was thoughtful enough to take the time to create this masterpiece and present it to the fans.

Abi defeats Mitakeumi – I jumped up and shouted. We knew that Abi-zumo 2.0 has been under construction for at least a year, and when he finally pulled it out and fired it, it was as glorious as we all hoped. It started with the traditional double arm thrust to the upper body, but he immediately released pressure and landed a deep right-hand outside grip while his left took a hold of Mitakeumi’s neck. In a blink of an eye Abi executes a flowing uwatenage that had a bit of Harumafuji spiciness to it. I kept rewinding, and watching it again. Watch out sumo world, now that there are two attack modes, you may not quite know what’s coming.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – There has been no word on Takayasu’s condition since the bout on day 8. Many of us expected him to go kyujo, but for some daft reason, here he is on the dohyo, barely able to move that left arm. Shodai is no fool, and attack hard against the Ozeki’s damaged left side, and Takayasu could only respond. Shodai’s sumo is highly chaotic at times, and when you think you have him beat, you get the surprise that he was in fact setting you up. This happened to Takayasu. With Shodai at the bales, I am sure the Ozeki was ready to win, but instead he took a roll off the dohyo. I am equal parts outraged and sad. Takayasu is in no condition to compete, and he’s out of the yusho race as certain as I am writing this from Texas.

Ichinojo defeats Hakuho – But the Great Sumo Cat was not done with us today, dear readers. Member in good standing of the damaged elbow club, Hakuho, found out just how powerful Ichinojo can be. After Hakuho tossing a few humiliation elements into their past matches, the Boulder reduced the dai-Yokozuna to an ineffective, struggling mess. The zabuton fly as a well-earned kinboshi is minted in the Nagoya heat. Will this loss be enough for Hakuho to recognize the limitations his injury has imposed? Perhaps. He faces “arm breaker” Tamawashi day 10.

Kakuryu defeats Meisei – I give a lot of points to Meisei: he put in an enormous effort against Kakuryu. But Big-K is dialed in and contained his wildly shifting and twisting opponent. Kakuryu takes sole possession of the lead, and I would think he is genki enough right now to keep the lead.

29 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 9 Highlights

  1. Very nice throw by Abi today!

    And a nice throw by Shodai too, although it is painful watching Takayasu try to fight with that bandaged arm. He put up a pretty good fight despite his clear arm troubles.

    Glad for Ichinojo, but sad for the GOAT. It’s always mixed feelings when you like both contenders. Ichi brought the fight to Hakuho, and he did well. Hakuho really had no answer. At the edge, he got the mawashi, but couldn’t hold the grip. Or maybe he had second thoughts about, in his condition, trying to toss Ichinojo by the belt. A smaller man might have gone down when Hakuho twisted his opponent’s shoulders, but that just doesn’t work against a charging Ichinojo. No zensho for Hakuho.

    (Not taking anything away from Ichinojo, but Hakuho does not seem focused during the pre bout ritual per Jason’s Hakuho-Ichinojo video. And if you want to see a distracted Hakuho, check out the post bout footage in that same video. Hakuho is clearly worried about the rest of the basho!)

    And of course, we’re glad Ichinojo finally won a huge stack of ,, but wait. That’s a small wad of kensho behind the dai Yokozuna, the GOAT, is it not? Oh well. Better than a sharp stick in the eye! And better than Hokutofuji, who won his bout, but won no kensho.

    Very nice throw by Abi! I am glad to see him widen his arsenal.

    A nice throw by Shodai as well, but agree it is painful watching Takayasu wince as he struggles to fight with that bandage on his arm. Tak put up a pretty good fight and would have won if not for that weak arm, I believe. Get well, Takayasu.

  2. Takayasu looked dominating from his right side, but had absolutely nothing from the left. When he did try to grab the mawashi with his left in order to envelope Shodai to stop his balance shifting, he immediately let go. To me, the only real rationale for continuing is trying to get one win for kachi koshi (against a weak second week line-up) because he thinks the injury is so bad that he’ll need 4 months for recovery (i.e kyujo in September). He needs an opponent he can henka for a free win, like Tochi did last basho.

    I was surprised that Hakuko didn’t set out to be more mobile right from the tachiai against Ichinojo, rather than meeting him head on, but I guess Hakuho usually likes to test himself against an opponent’s strength, even when injured. If he falls 2 behind Special K tomorrow, I assume he’ll go kyujo.

    Shame for Mitakeumi that he got served by Abi. I thought he was quietly moving into position to challenge Kakuryu for the yusho as all the other big guns dropped out.

  3. Sincere question: What in the world was Hakuho thinking? With his injured arms, he needed to outquick Ichinojo. Instead, at the tachiai he put himself in a position in which he was unable to maneuver. For someone with his vast experience, this just seems a totally unforced error.

  4. Kotoshogiku used that slippery dohyo very cleverly today. I remarked on that on Twitter as well. He let Onosho push him to the edge, only producing enough traction to prevent Onosho from gaining dangerous momentum. Once Kotoshogiku’s feet were on the tawara, it meant he had good solid contact with rough, tough straw – and Onosho was still on slippery clay. From there it was just finding the right moment where Onosho was improperly tilted.

    “At least they did not try to interview him about it following the win.”

    Would you like a gift wrap for the Internet you just won?

    I took a good hard look at Takayasu’s supporter. It was covering a brace, not just supporting the arm through the power of stretchy textile. Something in that elbow is either broken or torn, if he is wearing a mechanical brace.

    I suspect Ichinojo is getting some tactical advice this basho which he didn’t receive in the past. If it’s from his oyakata or some hired help – I don’t know, but he seems to adjust his tactic to his opponent. That day when he executed some very surprising harite, he said in an interview “they tired me, as I’m not used to doing that”. I somehow can’t believe he can come up with original plans on his own all of a sudden. Today’s was excellent. The only way Hakuho could defeat him was by that wild tsuki-oshi he has been using most of the basho. To do that, he would have needed to create some distance between them. Instead, he was enveloped in an Ichinojo that stuck to his chest like the smell of cheap perfume. The Yokozuna can’t do yotsu right now, whereas Ichinojo can.

    • Wouldn’t it be delicious if that advice were coming from dear old Harumafuji? Damn I miss that guy sometimes.

      • I doubt Harumafuji would give anybody advice on how to beat Hakuho. Besides, he had very little respect for Ichinojo in his day. But if we’re speculating, how about Takanoiwa? Though not as experienced as Harumafuji, at least he used to be a good friend of Ichinojo’s, and I’m sure enjoyed today’s match very very much.

  5. It’s really amazing that Hakuho was undefeated until today. His ability to stop his own forward momentum has been limited for a while now, and he’s basically been fighting this basho without functional elbows. His lack of breakpads means that moving forward with tsuki-oshi very aggressively risks a slap/pull down and his elbow problems make it difficult to execute either yori or nage. So what’s left? All he can do is try to bait his opponents into coming at him and then use angles to destroy their balance. It’s a testimony to his undiminished speed and unmatched sumo reflexes that he’s been so successful with this strategy until now.

  6. agree fully with your assessment of my Yago, something amiss, demotion for recoup written in the stars i think. Tomokaze electric! was thrilled to see the Oguruma Beya Oenkai there to cheer them on! Shodai didn’t disappoint (fair dinkum some oyakata’s and rikishi need their heads knocked together – we all know it’s the Bear and his oyakata to whom i refer…) but Makuuchi bout of the day for me – and i’m sure you all heard me screaming from Australia, even threw my own zabuton!!! Icecream all round!!!!!! what a thrilling win for our Ichinojo!!!! still smiling!!!!

  7. Awesome writing, Bruce. We had the best time watching NHK sumo highlights show today while reading your capsules as commentary. May become a daily ritual!

  8. I’m struck by what seems ironic to me, but likely not to anyone else: This is the third time Ichinojo has beaten Hakuho, but this is the only time that beating Hakuho gets him a salary bump. It’s almost as though Ichinojo is getting a bonus for having a bad tournament in May.

  9. Ichinojo didn’t look very happy about winning – almost worried (“uh oh, he’s going to be mad at me now”).

    Whoa, Abi!

    What was that push Takarafuji gave with his foot to Daieisho’s thigh, like he kicked him in the thigh? I don’t remember ever seeing that before.

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