Nagoya Day 14 Highlights

Once again, purple rain fell in Nagoya. In the final match of the day, Kotoshogiku managed, against all expectations, to overpower Yokozuna Hakuho. I had to watch it a few times to absorb what happened, but it was in fact glorious. As a result, the yusho race has Yokozuna Kakuryu in front by 1 win, with Hakuho needing to beat him twice on senshuraku to take the cup.

I have been an admirer of the “Kyushu Bulldozer” for a good long time, and it’s true he is fading out due to accumulated injuries, and can no longer fight like he once could. He came into the match with a 6-56 career defect against The Boss, but in true sumo hero fashion, he did not let that worry him much if at all. The crowd lost their mind, and the zabuton took to the skies in celebration.

Body Headline

Toyonoshima defeats Nishikigi – Toyonoshima started the tournament 5-1, then recovered to 6-2, winning the last 3 in a row. Toyonoshima refuses to give up. What else could you expect for a man who go hurt, fell to mid-Makushita, and has battled his way back against all odds to return to the top division. A win on the final day seal his return with a kachi-koshi.

Kagayaki defeats Onosho – (Thanks to Herouth) Wakanohana: “Onosho aims to go forward, but his feet don’t go with him”. I could not have described it any better. Kagayaki still has a chance for his 8th win, while Onosho is make-koshi and need of work.

Enho defeats Myogiryu – After two matta, Enho gets the tachiai right, and immediately tries for a left hand mae-mitzu grip, which he can’t maintain. Now Myogiryu has him in a headlock and is pressing him toward the clay. Taking the bait, Enho now has Myogiryu right where he wants him. With Myogiryu clinging tenaciously to his head, Enho has clean access to Myogiryu’s mawashi. A quick hip pump and Myogiryu is high, with his feet poorly positioned to resist the charge. The crowd loses it, I lose it, it looks like sumo twitter goes bonkers and the guy everyone wanted to get his 8th affirms his position in the top division. I love sumo some days.

Tomokaze defeats Kotoeko – I can hear the grumpy sumo fans calling from September or November, when Tomokaze has a bad tournament and is looking poorly, “See, he’s just a flash in the pan”. Well, future sumo-grumps and negative types, the promising young ones gain consistency. I expect that this is going to be local high performance mark for Tomokaze, but over the next few years, he has the potential to be a big deal.

Kotoyuki defeats Meisei – What the hell happened to the real Kotoyuki? The bumbling fellow who was never too good, who liked to land in the crowd and roll around? That guy is not on the dohyo today, or really any day this basho. Instead we get some kind of hard, focused sumo machine. Nice work Kotoyuki.

Shimanoumi defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama tried too many pulling moves this bout, and gave up position too many times. Shimanoumi has his kachi-koshi, and continues to move up the banzuke.

Endo defeats Takarafuji – Am I allowed to regain a touch of optimism about Endo? It’s been a fools game thus far, so perhaps not. With two brilliant sumo technicians on the dohyo, you knew it was going to be like a bad episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! with all kinds of of things happening that only the hard core fans would catch. I lost count of how many times the switched up grips, but Endo advances to 9 wins.

Asanoyama defeats Shodai – More sumo grumps were busting on Asanoyama for going make-koshi this tournament after taking the yusho last time. Folks got spoiled with Hakuho and Asashōryū dominating the daylights out of sumo for a long time. Consistency on these young guys is a work in progress, of course. The Asanoyama we enjoy today is a larval form of the Asanoyama we will see next year. He just needs to stay healthy. Oh and he handed Shodai his make-koshi. If you wanted an example of Shodai’s chaos sumo, this was a great match to review.

Abi defeats Ichinojo – Abi keeps his kachi-koshi hopes alive by getting Ichinojo into his “give up” mode quickly and not letting the boulder do much except react. That brace on his right arm (his main weapon) is a bit of a worry.

Daieisho defeats Ryuden – Shin-Ikioi (Ryuden) has had a tough tournament. But Daieisho seems to not only made some solid improvements to his sumo, but his stamina is noteworthy. We are 2 weeks into a sumo tournament, and if anything the energy he is bringing to his matches has gone up. In defeating Ryuden, Daieisho is now kachi-koshi.

Kakuryu defeats Mitakeumi – If you can watch this frame by frame, you can see that Kakuryu is literally a half step faster at the tachiai. Mitakeumi goes for center mass to begin thrusting, Kakuryu keeps his hands low and works for a grip, while rotating his right shoulder to deflect Mitakeumi’s force away. Kakuryu’s gambit pays off, and after a single thrusting attack from Mitakeumi, he has a deep right hand grip, and control of the tadpole. Down go the Yokozuna’s hips, and forward for the win.

Kotoshogiku defeats Hakuho – At the tachiai, Kotoshogiku bunches his shoulders, and gets his arms inside as Hakuho attacks at the arm-pits. The both land grips as Kotoshogiku turns the Yokozuna to Kotoshogiku’s right. This puts Hakuho slightly off balance, but Kotoshogiku’s hips are square, his feet are bracketing Hakuho’s, and the Kyushu Bulldozer is in business. Kotoshogiku engages the gaburi-yori and wins. Damn that was beautiful.

19 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 14 Highlights

  1. Surely the Terutsuyoshi-Hokutofuji bout deserves a mention. A Terutsuyoshi win, we now know, would have had him going into Day 15 with real hopes of winding up in a three-way yusho play-off. At the tachiai, the shorter man sought to go low against Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji anticipated the ploy and would have none of it, quickly shoving Terutsuyoshi to the clay. Fine work by Hokutofuji which I hope doesn’t cost Terutsuyoshi a chance for an award.

    • The whole thing was worth a mention, but my professional life is consuming my sumo time for the moment.

  2. One thing: Hakuho did not land a grip. He found himself in a double outside once again. His left found mawashi, his right was flailing for purchase all over the place. And Kotoshogiku just did exactly what Ichinojo did – stuck to the Yokozuna’s skin, to prevent him from developing an alternative oshi attack. Hakuho 2017 would have solved this. Hakuho 2019… nope.

    About Shodai, Wakanohana had this to say: “You have to keep your back arched forward. If you keep it straight, you’re easy to push back. If you bend your back, you are a lot safer”.

    Kakuryu’s half-step-early is a well known fact. In fact, so well known that Tomokaze made good use of it yesterday. As the Yokozuna himself said: “He had this match well thought out”.

  3. This was fuuuun day!!! I’m so relieved that Enho got his kachi-koshi, especially after the squishy cringe-worthy way he had to win his bout with Aioyama and the excellent sumo he has been doing. Koto Power!!! A thing of beauty!

      • I am obviously losing it. (My son got married last week and I still don’t feel normal after the wedding.) You’re right! Endo was rewarded too so it’s all good.

  4. Before Kotoyuki entered into his slapstick comedy wrestler phase he was being tipped as a future ozeki back in 2016. There was always something a bit weird about him though, with his tendency to bark like a dog (or hoot like an owl) before he settled down for the tachi-ai. Apparently Hakuho told him to knock it off and when he complied he plummeted through the ranks. Maybe now the owl and the dog only howl inside the mind of Kotoyuki. Whatever, thank the great sumo cat for eccentrics in a conformist sport: long may they growl.

  5. Meanwhile, the Association schedulers for Day 15 want you to know that the timing of the Terutsuyoshi-Tomokaze bout — aorund 12:40am PT by my estimation — is a representation of their love of and appreciation for the international fandom tuning into the live NHK World broadcast. Not like those two aren’t the most exciting non-yokozuna story of the basho or anything. I’m sure no one will be interested in it. /s

  6. This sure is one exciting basho, how can I be at a total loss for words with so many words, both in English and Japanese – flowing through my head! 🤪

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