The much hoped for grand brawl has formed, and the final two days of the basho are going to be fantastic. We know for sure that the yusho winner will have no more than a 12-3 record, and that puts 4 rikishi in contention with another 5 possible should all of the leaders take at least 1 loss over the next 2 matches. The yusho will not be decided until senshuraku, and it will quite possibly involve at least 2 rikishi in a playoff for the cup. In the last big story of Aki left open, Tochinoshin’s kachi-koshi hope stayed alive today with his defeat of Ryuden. If he can beat Myogiryu on day 14, his fate is decided in the final match of the basho. The Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan is most pleased. This one is coming down to the wire, and Team Tachiai is giddy with excitement.
It reflect on the fact that you have Tsurugisho, in his first Makuuchi tournament, a valid yusho contender going into the final weekend. You have Okinoumi, a long serving veteran who has been a stable mid-Maegshira for forever, with occasional flashes of awesome along the years. He’s likely toward the end of his career now, but he’s in the mix for the cup. The two leading tadpoles (and Sekiwake), Mitakeumi and Takakeisho, are the men to beat. Both have a yusho to their name already, and both are capable of performing under the pressure of the final weekend.
It’s a great time to be a sumo fan!
Takanosho defeats Azumaryu – One sided match that was all Takanosho with zero offense from Azumaryu. Good chance we may see Takanosho back in the top division for November.
Yutakayama defeats Enho – Yutakayama worked hard to generate a high-intensity battery of tsuppari that Enho could not penetrate. Enho employed multiple attack plans, but was completely shut down by Yutakayama’s wall of flying hands. I know some readers may have wondered why I have been a Yutakayama backer in the past few basho. I think that he is Asanoyama’s future foil, and a rival for Abi.
Onosho defeats Nishikigi – It took him the whole first week, but Onosho seems to be back in his groove, with 4 consecutive wins. Nishikigi opened strongly, getting Onosho backed to the tawara, but Onosho seems to like this kind of start to a match, and once again rallied strongly and drove Nishikigi out. With that red mawashi finally kicking in, a kachi-koshi is still very much possible for Onosho.
Shohozan defeats Meisei – Shohozan now kachi-koshi while kicking Meisei out of the leader group for a second consecutive day. For yet another day we had matta-madness, and frankly I think it’s quite overdone now. By the time the match finally was allowed to continue, both rikishi were hesitant at the first step. This kind of gyoji action has the potential to really ruin sumo. The match itself was the kind of brawl we would normally expect from Shohozan, and it was great to see him finally execute “his brand of sumo”.
Sadanoumi defeats Takagenji – Not sure how, but I feel sorry for Takagenji right now. Not that Sadanoumi did anything to cause this, other than give him a hearty denshamichi today. Just that his sumo is nowhere to be found right now, and I am going to guess it’s mostly his off-dohyo troubles. That’s ok, little Genji, we will save a spot for you to come back later.
Kotoyuki defeats Tochiozan – Kotoyuki has now won 4 of the last 5, and seems to be locked into his “fierce” mode. Tochiozan getting perilously close to being the subject of a day 15 Darwin match, which would make long term sumo fans uncomfortable. Just within the past year, there was talk about a resurgent Tochiozan possibly becoming a late-career San’yaku regular.
Ishiura defeats Terutsuyoshi – Well, I guess it was henka o’clock in Tokyo today. Weak ass sumo from Ishiura, taking a win from now 3-10 Terutsuyoshi. Nobody likes a heel, sir.
Tsurugisho defeats Takarafuji – With his win over Takarafuji, Tsurugisho is now at 10 wins in his first top division basho. Not unusual for shin-maku rikishi, but this time out, it’s enough to get him a lead spot in the yusho race. Takarafuji gave him a great fight, but as Tsurugisho is pushed back to the tawara, he suddenly “hulks out” and you see him flex and lift Takarafuji into a match winning sukuinage. Where has that been this basho?
Okinoumi defeats Kagayaki – I love the move Okinoumi applied in this match. Kagayaki is too well positioned and too stable once he gets his feet set to push around much, or to slap down. So Okinoumi reaches inside with Kagayaki’s arms latched around his shoulder, and pulls him down, essentially imploding his stance. Although the kimaraite is listed hatakikomi, it’s the implosion pull that won the match. Really neat move. Okinoumi remains tied for the lead
Kotoeko defeats Daishoho – Kotoeko won this through sheer grim determination and gutting it out. Both men fought with fury at the tachiai, until the settled down to an endurance test in the middle of the dohyo, each holding a right hand inside grip. When Daishoho’s stamina started running low, Kotoeko was able to break his grip, which set up the yorikiri. Kotoeko saves himself from make-koshi.
Daieisho defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu is an absolute mess right now, and really is not putting up much offense or defense. He picks up his 11th loss while Daieisho dodges the make-koshi mud-ball once more.
Asanoyama defeats Tamawashi – Asanoyama showing some remarkable versatility today, he adapted well to Tamawashi’s oshi-zumo form and found a moment when the former Sekiwake was off balance and attacked. I will state that Asanoyama seems to have an impressive level of strength supporting his sumo.
Aoiyama defeats Shodai – Now I am really feeling sorry for Shodai, and that’s an odd state for me. Aoiyama attempt a push-pull, and it nearly blows up on him, but Shodai never squares his hips, and is pushed to the side for the loss.
Hokutofuji defeats Tomokaze – Tomokaze opens strong, and stalemates Hokutofuji with great effect. But his bad habit of pulling asserts itself, and he finds himself under renewed attack. Well, it worked so well the first time, why not try it again? Well Tomokaze is getting an ugly lesson in top echelon rikishi, as his second pull against Hokutofuji is his last. Give it up Tomokaze, bring your real sumo against these guys and you will do just fine. This cheap stuff is not for the big fights.
Endo defeats Kotoshogiku – I gained still more appreciation for Endo’s skill as a technician because of this match. Granted Kotoshogiku’s forward pressure is a fraction of what it should be if his body were not so damaged. But Endo absorbs his attacks, and patiently sets up his win. With a kachi-koshi at Komusubi, we see Endo stick in the san’yaku for the first time ever. It’s been a long time coming, but maybe it’s finally his time. Oh, there was also the terribly painful interview following his kachi-koshi.
Abi defeats Shimanoumi – As with any Abi match, its a wild storm of thrusting and pushing, but today it featured a twisting pull at the end. Abi completes the Komusubi kachi-koshi sweep, making the November san’yaku ranks the most hotly contested in sumo.
Mitakeumi defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu tries an hatakikomi as Mitakeumi is rushing forward to win, but Myogiryu touches out before Mitakeumi could land. A monoii results, but the gumbai is upheld and Mitakeumi retains his slot as co-leader for the cup. Mitakeumi tends to fade out in week 2, but he’s won 4 of the last 5, and with his 10th win, he is probably getting in position for another bid to become Ozeki shortly.
Tochinoshin defeats Ryuden – You know this hurt, you can see it especially in that step Tochinoshin takes just after he forces Ryuden out. Ryuden’s sumo was great this match, but Tochinoshin seems to have access to at least some of his amazing strength. Once the Ozeki got his left hand outside grip, you knew he was going to lift, even if that was the end of his knee and by extension his sumo career, he was going to do it. Bold move, and it worked. 2 more to go.Goeido defeats Takakeisho – Classic Goeido sumo. Takakeisho had no time to react or even adjust his stance. This is unusual for Takakeisho, who usually has the faster first move. The biggest issue for Takakeisho is Goeido got the drop on him at the tachiai, and by the time the Goeido locomotive crashes into him, he is still low in his crouch. I would guess that Takakeisho correctly worried Goeido might deploy a henka, and slow-rolled his tachiai. Instead he got a face full of Goeido, and a fast trip to the clay. I love this form of Goeido, and I wish he could do it every match. So fast, so overwhelming.