Welcome to the middle weekend! For this basho it is clearly a time when the doors will come flying off of this basho, as we once again are riding the bucking beast of the “Wacky Aki”. How crazy might it get? Lets look at some potentials
- Kakuryu is injured, pulls out and we are left with a “nokazuna Aki” – Well, given that Big K is not looking genki, he may in fact be hurt. This would open things up wide for yet another lower ranked yusho winner. Although I do like how Asanoyama is looking right now
- Tochinoshin is in no condition for real sumo – Every day he’s using evasive, seat of the pants sumo to try to get any win he can. If he had the health and body condition to deploy they sky crane, we would see it every day. I am very sad that his path to 8 is looking so hard.
- Takakeisho took an unexpected fall (note the Aki pun..) – While it was most likely an accidental tangle with a piece of errant footwear, the fall on day 6 might have been trouble for that knee. He needs 5 more to take Ozeki back, and we all want him to get there before Asanoyama starts his first try.
- Enho – I don’t care what anyone says, I think he could actually compete for the yusho. He has his own quantum universe that supports his sumo, and it seems to just be growing in strength. As soon as Okinoumi takes his first trip to the clay, the drunken barnyard brawl for the yusho is on (currently 8 rikishi at 5-1 or better).
- If Andy called it, I am going to give up all hope – Part of that 5-1 crowd is none other than Endo. Should the Great Sumo Cat be in such a mood, the post-yusho interview would probably be the most painful since “Satonoasha the Mute” won the 23rd contest between the Yayoi and Jomon champions around 429 AD.
Looking at the list above, I may need to visit Mitsuwa for more sake.
Please don’t let it be Endo… Please don’t let it be Endo… oh please oh please oh please
Chasers: Mitakeumi, Takakeisho, Endo, Myogiryu, Meisei, Enho, Ishiura
Hunt Group: Kakuryu, Goeido, Abi, Asanoyama, Tamawashi, Tsurugisho
9 Matches Remain
(Little voice in Bruce’s head) Hey, at least its not Shodai 6-0…
What We Are Watching Day 7
Chiyoshoma vs Azumaryu – Dear old Chiyoshoma comes to visit, and what a pleasant surprise! He comes with his winning record at Juryo 2. Might he be sizing up the chances for his return to the top division? Azumaryu hopes to change his fortunes in the first match of the top division.
Ishiura vs Yutakayama – I maintain high hopes for Yutakayamaa’s long-term performance, but it’s clear he’s struggling right now. Ishiura not only holds a 4-2 career advantage over him, but also seems to be fighting better than he has in about 2 years.
Takagenji vs Daishoho – Daishoho has yet to win a single match, and he’s neck-and-neck with Aoiyama for the first to make it to make-koshi. Takagenji needs to start racking more wins if he’s going to stay in the top division, regardless of what is going on in his messy personal life.
Shohozan vs Tochiozan – Battle of the hardened vets, both of them come in at 3-3, and lots of history rolled into a shockingly even 12-13 career record. Both of them look like they are feeling the years on the dohyo weighing them down thus September.
Tsurugisho vs Enho – I think this is an Enho bellwether match. He has never beaten Tsurugisho in 3 attempts, and Tsurugisho comes in with a solid 4-2 record. If Enho can prevail, I think we may see a break-out performance from the fire pixie, and I am sure the crowd will love it.
Kagayaki vs Meisei – Meisei has the momentum right now, so I have to say he’s favored in my book. Kagayaki has had some straightforward matches (he likes those) that have gone silly in the middle and ended in a loss. Sort of the benchmark for Aki thus far.
Sadanoumi vs Nishikigi – I am not sure why they double arm bar hold keeps working for Nishikigi, but it sure seems to be his “thing”. He has used it before against Sadanoumi, and I would expect we will see it Saturday too.
Toyonoshima vs Kotoyuki – Both of these rikishi have dug some fairly good sized holes for themselves in terms of score. I think for Toyonoshima it may end up being insurmountable, as a lot of his competition in the bottom half of the banzuke seems to be fighting well.
Onosho vs Takarafuji – This is an excellent test match for the recovering Onosho. Although he is still only maybe 80% of his pre-injury self, he seems to have gotten in touch with his sumo again. Both men come into the match 3-3, and with a nearly even career record.
Kotoshogiku vs Terutsuyoshi – First time match up between these two. Kotoshogiku seems to struggle with busy small rikishi, and I think that is exactly what he is going to get in Terutsuyoshi.
Okinoumi vs Myogiryu – Sole leader at 6-0 goes up against a worthy challenger in 5-1 Myogiryu. The two have a long history (11-10) and a win by Myogiryu today would blow the yusho race wide open. An Okinoumi win would knock one of chaser back.
Shimanoumi vs Kotoeko – Both men are 2-4 coming into today, and both need desperately to rally. Although Shimanoumi comes in with a 1-5 career disadvantage, I think he has been fighting better this September.
Ryuden vs Asanoyama – I seriously think Asanoyama is on the path to greatness, if he can stay healthy. He continue to surprise the upper ranks on any given day, and his strength and stamina are slowly improving. With many of the old guard getting toward the end of their careers, he is one to watch.
Hokutofuji vs Aoiyama – A match of overwhelming sadness, 1-5 Hokutofuji goes up against winless Aoiyama. I am not sure what took the meatballs out of the fellow’s chanko, but they seem to be running on broth only.
Abi vs Endo – Komusubi battle ahoy! I dread and fear Andy’s preposterous sounding pre-basho forecast of an Endo yusho, so I am counting on Abi-zumo to save the world from that outcome.
Chiyotairyu vs Takakeisho – This would have the potential to be a battle supreme, but Chiyotairyu is not moving well, and his big tachiai is considerably reduced. But that still leaves the problem of Chiyotairyu’s overwhelming mass. Time to see if Takakeisho re-injured that knee.
Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Even though Mitakeumi comes in with a 5-1 record, I think Shodai is going to pip the Sekiwake today. I grouse about Shodai more than I should, but against some opponents he is unpredictable and dangerous. I expect the Mitakeumi army to be out in force on Saturday to cheer on Nagano’s favorite rikishi.
Tochinoshin vs Daieisho – Fresh from his kinboshi against Kakuryu, Daieisho face the injured relic of Tochinoshin. Tochinoshin is trying to find some way, any way to get more wins in spite of what is clearly overwhelming pain in his knee.
Tamawashi vs Goeido – Goeido has been hit or miss for the past few days, and Tamawashi will not given him much of a chance to set up an attack. So that means Goeido moves early, fast and puts everything into an opening gambit. This is when Goeido is at his best.
Kakuryu vs Tomokaze – Tomokaze surprised Kakuryu in Nagoya, handing him his only loss of the basho. But Tomokaze is looking a lot less genki then he was in July, and seems to be focusing on just getting to 8 any way he can.