It was clear from the first two days that former Ozeki Takayasu would struggle to regain his rank by taking 10 wins. And on day 9 that campaign came to a close as Takayasu lost his 6th match. This marks the second Tagonoura headliner to suffer career destruction thanks to a treatable injury sustained in competition. As a Takayasu fan, I am outraged that his oyakata was not more proactive in seeking medical intervention for his injured elbow as soon as the day the injury took place in July oF last year. Furthermore, he was clearly in no shape to compete in September, yet his oyakata let him start the basho, possibly sealing his fate.
The shocking lack of sports medicine applied in sumo is nothing short of criminal. I get that Americans have fairly unique views of medicine that don’t apply anywhere else on planet earth. But franchise athletes, like Ozeki Takayasu are assets that need to be protected in order to insure not only that the brutal sport of sumo does not ruin his body for the rest of his life, but to protect the future of sumo. Yes, this is a very American attitude. It comes in stark contrast to the apparent approach of the Kyokai that these people are disposable, and that this is part of the natural evolution of sumo. Ok, your sport, your country, you make the rules. But I would urge the Sumo Kyokai to re-examine that concept. It’s not likely to be correct.
Kaisei defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi runs into Issac Newton in discovering what happens when a 112 kg of rikishi attacks 190 kg worth of Kaisei. It did not take but a moment.
Ikioi defeats Kotoeko – Ikioi racks a much needed win on the back for completely moribund Kotoeko. Kotoeko attempted a hit and shift, but Ikioi captured him with ease and tossed him about like a bag of rice.
Kiribayama defeats Kotoshogiku – Kiribayama does effect a hit and shift on Kotoshogiku, and gets the former Ozeki’s right arm. Kiribayama spins and Kotoshogiku is out. Kotoshogiku looks quite disappointed at the end, as he falls for his 5th loss.
Tochiozan defeats Chiyomaru – Those that may have wondered about my proclamation on Tochiozan using “high efficiency” sumo, take a look at this match. The guy expends as little energy as possible, and that finishing move is a hallmark of that style. He simply gives Chiyomaru just enough force to start the process and patiently waits for nature to take its course.
Tokushoryu defeats Tsurugisho – “Cab Forward” Tokushoryu is kachi-koshi, and remains at the front of the yusho race. Second match in as many days where Tsurugisho’s opponent is remarkably gentle with him.
Kagayaki defeats Shimanoumi – Kagayaki’s school of sumo fundamentals keeps rolling, and he remains 1 off of the yusho pace. Damn amazing if you ask me, and I think he may be looking at double digits for Hatsu. He gets no press, and I think he likes it that way. A true craftsman.
Sadanoumi defeats Azumaryu – They lock up and dance around a bit, but the thing to watch is when Sadanoumi starts his advance. Watch is feet, and watch his speed. His feet barely leave the clay and he just seems to rocket forward. Amazing sumo skill, and this is why nobody wants to let a match with him go any more than a few seconds, as Sadanoumi will uncork this on you once you wear down just a bit.
Ryuden defeats Chiyotairyu – Ryuden with the “Armbreaker” kotenage that seems to take a toll on Chiyotairyu’s left arm. Every time someone pull this out, I get worried. It has shown itself to be a career ender.
Ishiura defeats Aoiyama – Ishiura henka, but to be honest, this is a very sound choice in this match. Aoiyama buys it cash up front, and finds the tawara early.
Yutakayama defeats Onosho – We previewed this as a big fight, and it did not disappoint. Onosho seems to finally be dialed into his sumo, but Yutakayama was not going to lose this one. Excellent defensive stability from both, but Yutakayama had all of the offense, pounded away at Onosho. They briefly went chest to chest so Yutakayama could hold Onosho still enough to force him out. I am quite happy with this match, as we need both of these rikishi to climb the banzuke and assume rank to serve as foils for Takakeisho and Asanoyama. I think that’s coming this year, and we could have some great, durable rivalries in this cohort.
Shohozan defeats Takanosho – Shohozan opened strong, but it was Takanosho who pressed the attack. In fact he pressed a bit too eagerly and fell into Shohozan’s hatakikomi.
Tochinoshin defeats Tamawashi – Hey, straight ahead sumo from Tochinoshin today. He was able to get his left hand outside grip, and produced some solid sumo. Very nice to see, and a much needed win for the former Ozeki.
Mitakeumi defeats Okinoumi – As is traditional in week 2, Mitakeumi looks very rough, but even when though he was over the dohyo, he got the job done today. Two attempts to pull down Okinoumi, and the second one took.
Hokutofuji defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu got the better of the tachiai, and advanced strongly. Hokutofuji was able to deflect him at the tawara with a well timed hand to the back of Myogiryu’s neck. Great recovery from Hokutofuji.
Abi defeats Endo – Endo really got overwhelmed today, which is how it typically works when he faces Abi. If he can’t get a hand on Abi’s belt, Endo goes for a fast ride to the clay, or into the first row (as he did today).
Takarafuji defeats Takayasu – Takarafuji went straight to the defend and extend tactic, and focused his force on Takayasu’s weakened left side. Textbook, methodical and ultimately effective. Not only is any hope for a return to Ozeki gone, there is a real threat of a deep make-koshi now for Takayasu. Its going to be a tough 2020 for him, I fear.
Asanoyama defeats Daieisho – Only the third time in 10 matches that Asanoyama has been able to win against Daieisho, and I think it really underscores improvements to Asanoyama’s sumo. Asanoyama lets Daieisho dictate a thrusting battle at the start of the match, and almost at once he is in trouble. But Asanoyama stayed in the fight, kept fairly calm and worked to get a hold. Once that left hand was inside, he was in control and seconds later took the match with a rolling uwatenage.
Enho defeats Goeido – Brilliant matta by Enho where he communicated an intention to henka left. At the actual tachiai he shifted right, and sent Goeido sailing on by like a Shinkansen headed to Osaka. Goeido is in real danger of make-koshi and being stripped of his Ozeki rank, too.
Shodai defeats Takakeisho – This is worth it just to see how happy Shodai gets after the match. He tries to keep himself stoic on the dohyo as he is handed a mountain of kensho to go with his kachi-koshi. But on the way back to the dressing room, he can’t help but let his joy come to the surface.