Aki Day 3 Highlights

It was monoii Tuesday as the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan declared a Shimpan parade, and the elders of the sumo world dutifully complied. Too many of today’s upper division matches were fast, simple pushy/slappy/pull down affairs. Yep, there was a winner in each match, but the level of ABE (aggregate battle energy) was shockingly low today.

When I am so fortunate to be in Tokyo for a day like this, the proper way to confront it is with two of the largest beers that can be purchased from the glorious food vendors, one for each half of the top division matches. Just enjoy the environment, the fine beer, and take lots of photos.

Highlight Matches

Tochiozan defeats Takagenji – Both men went for the others shoulders and neck, slapping and thrusting, with little overall effect. It wasn’t until Tochiozan began thrusting against Takagenji’s exposed chest (he was busy working on Tochiozan’s head) that the senior rikishi landed on solid thrust to the chest which ended this match. Everyone looked sloppy in this match.

Azumaryu defeats Yutakayama – A pair of 2-0 records going into this, it was going a bit of a decider. Azumaryu got the better of the tachiai, and was able to keep his hips and shoulders square to his line of attack. Yutakayama, did not, and soon found himself off tempo, out of step and then off balance.

Ishiura defeats Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima started with a strong tachiai and huge forward pressure. Ishiura caught the larger man, braced against the pressure, then turned it aside. Solid strategy from Ishiura, and a well earned win.

Tsurugisho defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi was a bit too far forward at the tachiai, Tsurugisho read this well, and dropped him to the clay.

Kagayaki defeats Daishoho – As with the match before, Kagayaki caught Daishoho’s tachiai, and then dropped him when Daishoho’s body was too far forward.

Onosho defeats Shohozan – Onosho looking more like his pre-injury self, with a laser like focus on Shohozan’s center-mass, and relentless drive forward. Maybe that red mawashi is starting to work.

Enho defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki gets to lose in his favorite way, and ends up deep in the zabuton section where the plays a courtesy call to the fans. Enho stayed very low, leaving only parts of his neck and head for Kotoyuki to attack. Enho dodged a couple of solid attacks, and stayed mobile. Kotoyuki may have had a grip on Enho’s hair, but in the end it did not matter. Fire Pixie is 3-0 to start.

Meisei defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi is still struggling to find white stars, maybe it’s the all too familiar curse of the NHK Grand Sumo Preview interview. Today he fought Meisei well, but struggled to keep his footing, and his body positioned with his front to his opponent. Maybe some ring-rust still to go.

Takarafuji defeats Sadanoumi – A simple match that had Sadanoumi advancing and struggling to keep his feet long enough for Takarafuji to touch out, but the Gyoji and the Monoii gave the win to Takarafuji. *There were a LOT of Monoii today

Okinoumi defeats Kotoeko – Okinoumi has been showing a great deal of patience this year, and it was on display today. Kotoeko presented a series of attack gambits, and Okinoumi worked to deflect them all and stay close, waiting for Kotoeko to make a mistake.

Kotoshogiku defeats Myogiryu – A battle of strength at the tachiai that stood both men up. Myogiryu worked to turn the Kyushu Bulldozer, which nearly took him face first into the crowd. Instead, Kotoshogiku used the gap to land a solid left hand inside grip and set up shop. The hug-n-chug was activated and he lowered his blade for the win.

Ryuden defeats Shimanoumi – Ryuden got the better of the tachiai, but threw away that advantage with an pulling attempt, which let Shimanoumi get inside and underneath. To his credit, Ryuden took his time and found his left hand mawashi grip, and raised up Shimanoumi to march him out.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shodai – Shodai tried some of his escape tricks today, but the thundering buffalo that is Chiyotairyu kept up the pressure, and Shodai ran out of places to dodge into.

Tomokaze defeats Tamawashi – I was surprised that Tamawashi let himself get too far forward, and then pulled down by Tomokaze. That’s twice he’s done that to someone just in the first 3 days of this basho.

Abi defeats Daieisho – Standard Abi-zumo today. A blistering double-arm oshi attack that left Daieisho completely reactive, and unprepared for Abi’s slap down. Because they exited in flight together, we get yet another monoii.

Takakeisho defeats Asanoyama – I ran this match several different ways in my mind. Most of the outcomes flowed from Asanoyama landing that left hand at the tachiai, and putting Takakeisho in a nearly unbreakable tadpole hold. In fact you can see that Asanoyama puts all of his opening energy into that left, but it misses its mark high, and leaves him off balance. Takakeisho’s sumo sense is good enough that he helps Asanoyama continue his poor choice to its logical and necessary conclusion. While I was hoping for a battle here of clashing styles, I am happy that Takakeisho gets to rack his 3rd win of the basho.

Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo’s gambit to go for an immediate pull down at the tachiai was easy to predict, and it looks like Mitakeumi was prepared for that half hop back to re-center his weight. The failed pull left the Boulder high and an easy mark for Mitakeumi to blast ahead for the win.

Tochinoshin defeats Hokutofuji – Multiple false starts, Tochinoshin was a mess of nervous energy, and betrayed an intention to henka in one false start. But the match got off the 3rd time and Hokutofuji’s “handshake tachiai” failed to find its mark. Tochinoshin drove his right hand inside and found a grip. Moments later his lethal left found its outside grip, and fans got a thrill as Tochinoshin powered up the skycrane and went to work. Are you glad he finally got a win? I think I am too.

Endo defeats Goeido – Goeido had the better tachiai. but master technician Endo shifted right, breaking the Ozeki’s force-line and blunting Goeido’s right hand grip. Knowing his right was worthless now, Goeido pulled a spin using his left hand mawashi grip, but Endo kept his feet and used the Ozeki’s motion to improve his hold, finding a double-inside grip in time. Great technical sumo from these two.

Kakuryu defeats Aoiyama – Kakuryu’s reactive sumo pays out again. He catches Aoiyama’s tachiai, which is not quite on-balance, and then just helps the man-mountain continue his motion down to the clay. Win #3 for the lone surviving Yokozuna.

15 thoughts on “Aki Day 3 Highlights

  1. Enho took Kotoyuki’s tachiai straight to his face and neck. His chin almost touched his shoulder. OUCH!

    Watching the replay, it looked like Asanoyama realized he missed his grab, had an “OH CRAP!” moment where he paused, and that gave Takakeisho the opening he needed for the pull down win. I’m assuming that Asanoyama will learn from his mistake and he’ll still do well this basho. I also agree that it’s good to see Takakeisho at 3-0 at this point. Battling through adversity usually wins points with the higher-ups in sumo.

    I honestly don’t mind monoii when they happen. It’s an attempt to make sure the correct decision is made and I feel like the judges were told that unless there’s something obvious that is wrong or confusing, they can confer for a minute and then agree with the Gyoji.

    Overall, I’m still pretty impressed with the rikishi in this basho even if today was a “low wattage” day. The Takarafuji fall and the Tochinoshin/Hokotofuji match happened and no one sustained any big injuries, so that’s something to be thankful for too. BTW, in case you didn’t notice, as soon as they hit the floor, Tochinosin started talking to Hokotofuji to make sure he was okay. It’s very subtle and easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, but I’m really glad to see that happen.

  2. Not the greatest day of sumo I’ve seen with a lot of sloppiness, slapdowns and quick, inconclusive matches involving one man hurtling forward and trusting to luck that he doesn’t put an elbow down before the other guy steps out. I can’t be doing with that kind of sumo.

    However… Enho is just thrilling: the crowd reacted as though he’d beaten Hakuho, Asashoryu and Harumafuji in one fell swoop. Tochinoshin wading through a mire of agony to see off Hokutofuji. He may be on the way to retirement very soon but he isn’t going to go quietly; and he has the energy of two bears… and “cojones de acero”. Finally, Endo is finally looking like the wrestler we thought he might be. He beat Goeido because he’s better than Goeido and always has been. “Wonderboy” might be evolving into “Savoy Special”.

  3. Happy with the calls I made in the preview post, most things went according to how I thought they would.

    Two really glaring exceptions though: I really did not think Tamawashi would let himself get done in the same manner that Abi did by Tomokaze – and I also did not really think that Tomokaze would try the same thing twice. I also didn’t think Tochinoshin would win that match, and I don’t think he would have if it went off the first time. But good for him for finding a way.

    Endo vs Goeido was a really interesting match. My gut feeling ultimately was right. Endo is a good enough tactician, probably one of the better tacticians in the division, but he doesn’t really have any one overwhelming ability. So with Goeido it’s kind of like, you have to stay in the match and not get hustled out by the initial fast offense, and if you do that then you will get your chance and your moment – and he took it.

  4. Lovely to see Kotoshogiku once more successfully work his ‘brand of sumo’, as they say.

    I feel like I have watched Mitakeumi defeat Ichinojo in that exact same manner a bunch of times previously.

    Takakeisho’s victory lasted at most about 4 seconds – a tachiai and then immediately a slap down. But still he was puffing and blowing away afterwards like he’d just run the 400m hurdles! He looks to be fighting himself back into good form. But whenever I see him breathing and sweating like that I can’t help but think that the future holds some serious health problems for him…. Hopefully I am wrong…

  5. The top four men in Juryo all have Makuuchi experience and are off to 2-1 starts. If they continue to do well, we could have quite a promotion race—and anyone not doing well in lower Makuuchi had better not count on getting bailed out by banzuke luck.

  6. I said before Azumaryu and Yutakayama were hungry. Yutakayama ended up being pushed out with his own momentum, so maybe he was a little too hungry in retrospect.

    Tsurugisho and Kagayaki had similar wins, but Tsurugisho definitely looked better in victory. Kagayaki doesn’t seem genki at all.

    Enho pulled off an incredible victory yet again. I still think I’m leaning towards Takakeisho vs Daieisho being the best match of the basho so far, but with all the fierce bouts already I’m expecting that to change soon.

    Takarafuji wins in a classic Takarafuji fashion. Sadanoumi is just too slow to stop the snowball effect sumo he does.

    That Takakeisho vs Asanoyama match, was, well, not what I expected. I was disappointed, but I’m sure Takakeisho was happy for the easy victory at least. A return to Ozeki isn’t looking so unlikely at this point.

    Finally, my man Daniel had a big oof. Whenever he fights Kakuryu it makes me sad. Hopefully I can forget about it using my basho-induced sleep deprivation.

    • He’s a bit off this Basho, that’s for sure. I hope he isn’t injured and he’s just got the beginning basho jitters. I love watching him face smash his way to victory.

  7. Some may look at Ichinojo like he’s in his “I’d rather eat some Ice cream” form but truly he’s bringing some fire, he’s just coated in rust. I appreciate the energy he’s bringing to his Tachiai. Hopefully he gets his stride going within the next couple of days.

    Anyone else notice how JACKED Ishura is? I feel like he’s even more muscular than the last visit he had to the top division.

    Tochinoshin wins, yet it still looked incredibly painful, the way he’s using his right leg is off.

    Enho….it’s just madness. The kid is a banshee in a mawashi. His flexibility and mobility is unrivaled, and he’s got impressive strength for his size as well. He is incredible fun to watch and makes some of these more boring matches today bearable.

    • Ishiura seems to do a lot of promo stuff for gym equipment & nutrition on insta. He should really be a pro rugby player with that build.

  8. Terunofuji is currently fighting in makushita with basically no knees at all so why not give Tochinoshin a fighting chance? He atleast has one (presumably) healthy knee. I don’t think we’ll see him fighting at Ozeki that much longer but perhaps he can delay the inevitable for a little while.

  9. Time for me to eat crow: I didn’t think there was any chance Tochinoshin could prevail over Hokutofuji in a battle of endurance, but this was ‘Turn back the clock Tuesday’ for the Georgian. Tochi dialed up the way-back machine to remind us of just why he is an ozeki (for now).

    The Chiyotairyu-Shodai bout went exactly according to script: Taking advantage of Shodai’s customarily weak tachiai, Sumo Elvis rocked him with one of his trademark blasts, then kept up the pressure until Shodai found himself on the wrong side of the tawara. I wish I’d have bet the farm on that outcome, although I then would have blown it all on Hokutofuji. Good thing I’m not a betting man.

    Loved it when Enho grabbed hold of Kotoyuki and went dancing down the bales. That man is a genius!

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