Aki Day 11 Highlights

Welcome to the first day of act 3, where we sort everyone in to make/kachi-koshi group, and someone wins the Emperor’s Cup! The leader crew have yet to fade, and it may be the case that the only way to thin the pack is to have them fight each other. But in that leader group, it’s become a ritual of “what body part will Takakeisho grip while wincing in pain today”. For fans that like having the top division inhabited by named ranks and ultra-dominant rikishi, its a bit nerve wracking. But it may be the case that in the post Yokozuna era, the top division may (for a few tournaments) end up as Juryo Plus. We already see that with “any man can win” bashos , and rikishi at the bottom of the banzuke taking the cup.

Highlight Matches

Kaisei defeats Ishiura – Once Ishiura decided to go chest to chest with Kaisei, there was really only one way it was going to turn out. A great deal of respect for Ishiura’s optimism in that move, but physics is not interested in your hopes. Ishiura drops to 2-9.

Shohozan defeats Kotoshogiku – These two are hurt enough, that they are more or less going through the motions at this point. There was not a lot of energy from either Shohozan or Kotoshogiku. They are both injured veterans who are struggling to muddle through their last few basho. Shohozan improves to 3-8.

Ichinojo defeats Kotoeko – Ichinojo demonstrates the power he can bring to a match when he’s on his sumo. There was little that 116kg Kotoeko could do except try to pick a nice place to land.

Meisei defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi takes early control, but can’t keep it as Meisei backs him up to the tawara, and gives him a firm shove to the middle of his chest. At this point both men are just hoping to find a route to 8.

Tobizaru defeats Onosho – Some poor form from Tobizaru at the tachiai, his head is down and he’s on his toes as Onosho makes contact. This opened him wide up to a hitakikomi, but Onosho was looking to do straightforward power sumo today. But while Onosho was working to apply maximum force to Tobizaru’s face, Tobizaru got his right hand inside and under Onosho’s left arm, forcing Onosho to break off and defend. An Tobizaru attempt at a leg trip was and inspired choice, and it set up the combo where Onosho found his left arm pulling him forward and down. Never the master of his own balance, Onosho could not keep his feet. Onosho is knocked from the leader group, and Tobizaru improves to 9-2.

Enho defeats Shimanoumi – A welcome, small, but effective improvement in Enho’s sumo today. He was able to get in low, and keep Shimanoumi’s hands and arms busy. As is the case with some rikishi fighting Enho, they get so focused on hands and arms that they don’t really focus on moving forward or foot placement. In a moment, Shimanoumi remembers he should use his superior mass to win, and rushes ahead. Enho dodges and Shimanoumi rolls off the dohyo and into a shimpan, picking up the 3-8 spare.

Wakatakakage defeats Chiyotairyu – Wakatakakage deflects Chiyotairyu’s tachiai to the side, but maintains contact. Chiyotairyu responds by grabbing Wakatakakage’s face and pulling him forward. But he did not have nearly enough room on the dohyo to execute, and Chiyotairyu is driven out by Wakatakakage’s foward lunge. Wakatakakage maintains his spot in the leader group.

Tokushoryu defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu goes chest to chest with Tokushoryu at the tachiai. Love the optimism and enthusiasm out of Hoshoryu, but again physical reality asserts itself and the mechanics of 107kg vs 170kg make themselves apparent.

Kotoshoho defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama tries a slap down, loses his balance and staggers forward off the edge of the dohyo. They gave Kotoshoho a hikiotoshi kimarite, but at the moment Aoiyama lost, Kotoshoho was practicing good social distancing.

Hokutofuji defeats Ryuden – A direct hatakikomi at the tachiai saw Hokutofuji step to the side, and in the blink of an eye, Ryuden picks up his 8th loss.

Takanosho defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi launched a moment early, but he gained no real advantage. Takanosho got his hands inside and underneath Tamawashi pushing volley, and took control of the match. Tamawashi’s feet were not set to defend, and he was forced back, and unable to reset. Takanosho was able to keep the pressure on, and the match ended in the blink of an eye.

Terunofuji defeats Myogiryu – Not sure I am digging Terunofuji’s late pushes this tournament. I get that he is fired up, but lets try to keep it clean, kaiju. It is good to know that Terunofuji did not take the moment of his day 10 loss to lose his composure and enter a losing streak. Instead to overpowers Myogiryu and gets his 8th win for September.

Tochinoshin defeats Endo – Tochinoshin applied a double hand pull on the back of Endo’s head, and Endo had no way to recover. Not really awesome sumo, but I am guessing Tochinoshin is just working on survival at this point. If this is going to be Tochinoshin’s “brand of sumo”, from here on out, I say “no thanks”. Endo make-koshi for September.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – Has Shodai become that strong, or has Takayasu gotten that weak? He was frankly overpowered by Shodai today, and more or less beaten at his own style of sumo. Shodai seems to have perfect the skill of absorbing a large amount of attack energy and keeping himself upright, on balance and in the fight. I think it was world war I German Admiral Scheer who declared that the first job of a warship is to stay afloat. Shodai has adapted this axiom for sumo, and I think it’s paying off.

Daieisho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Daieisho shows that you can defeat someone by repeatedly striking them in the face, and delivers Terutsuyoshi’s 8th loss in a painful manner. There is that one left hand jab / thrust to the chin that Daieisho applies just as Terutsuyoshi falls out of the ring that is particularly brutal.

Mitakeumi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki really had nothing in terms of offense, and rapidly found himself unable to defend against Mitakeumi’s forward pressure. Mitakeumi does appear to have gotten his traditional week 2 fade out of the way early, and is back to some solid sumo. Double digits are still possible for him, if he can keep his sumo focused.

Takakeisho defeats Takarafuji – Takakeisho got an open route to Takarafuji’s chest immediately at the tachiai, and never slowed down the attack. Of course Takarafuji attempted to defend, but could not find a way to keep stable under the blows to his chest. Of course there was that “what is going on with his right arm” moment as Takakeisho went to stand up following the win.

Asanoyama defeats Okinoumi – Asanoyama went for right hand inside at the tachiai, and was able to sneak that hand inside Okinoumi’s defenses. A heartbeat later, the Ozeki rolled into the throw and got 150kg worth Okinoumi airborne. Is it just me, or was that reminiscent of Hakuho’s flying lessons?

15 thoughts on “Aki Day 11 Highlights

  1. You can become a fan of a rikishi for a multitude of subtle reasons; it might be his sumo, his shikona, his smile or his pre-fight rituals. And on the other hand, some rikishi just rub you the wrong way. For me, Teronufuji’s size and strength combined with his all too frequent dame-oshi and air of arrogance, stops me from ever cheering for him. 😏

    • If I didn’t like Terunofuji before, I absolutely don’t now after watching him perform dame-oshi after dame-oshi on all of his opponents in the lower ranks as he came back from injury.

    • I really thought I was alone in this. I mean, kudos for the recovery and all, and I acknowledge his skill and spirit. But as you say, he just rubs me the wrong way.

  2. Normality descended over the dohyo today. By and large, the rikishi won who were supposed to win. The walking wounded lost – Kotoshogiku’s was the saddest thing I’ve seen in a while- but they are supposed to lose. And Asanoyama’s win was yokozuna quality sumo.
    Will it last? One has to doubt it!

  3. Terunofuji has always been like this, a very hard to like rikishi, despite of his skill. I thought that all hardness he had been through might have had a humbling effect, but I dismissed such hopes after his pitful interview upon losing the makushita title to Chiyonokuni. It seems to me he feels entitled to things he has no yet achieved, and may never will.

  4. Echoing what others are saying here, IMO Terunofuji has always been the “heel” of Sumo. I feel like he has always “led the league” in late shoves.

    They are one of his signature moves along with the brutal and possibly injury inducing double arm bar lift out. He’s an impressive combatant, but also the only Rikishi in the whole thing who falls into the ‘love to hate (root against really)’ category for me.

  5. I think the “Juryo Plus” moniker is unfair to all of the rikishi in the top division, Bruce. It’s not their fault that the Old Guard is aging or injured at this point in their careers. I think overall we’ve been spoiled by the ever-presence of Hakuho and have gotten used to his dominance as “normal” for sumo. We’ve had two Yokozuna have their careers suddenly cut short for different reasons recently and everyone recognizes the other two are doing their best to hang around while dealing with the results of a long career in sumo. Deciding if someone is “good enough” is always a subjective decision. Saying things “should” happen falls in the same bucket. We already have young, promising rikishi hitting kachi-koshi and performing well. I’d rather celebrate their achievements and look to see how they grow and improve instead of insinuating that they aren’t “truly earning their rank” or something similar. For example, if Asanoyama wins the Cup, I will recognize his fusensho wins. However, I will also still recognize his achievement and look to see if he can replicate his win in the next basho. I’m not going to assume he is “less worthy” because of those wins. It’s not like Asanoyama put out contracts to “take out” two of his opponents to help him get wins.

    Tobizaru and Wakatakakage continue to impress me and I’m interested to see how they not only finish this basho, but also how they do for Kyushu in November. I wouldn’t have expected either of them to do as well as they have, yet here they are. I am definitely curious to see how they perform against the upper end of the division.

    I hope we see more of today’s version of Ichinojo! Onward, Boulder! Onward!

    Takanosho continues to quietly show up, do his sumo, and win. One more win means at least a Komusubi slot for him!

    Watching the Shodai/Takayasu match again, I think Shodai took a page out of Takarafuji’s sumo book for this match. He weathers Takayu’s sumo until he finds the right opportunity to attack. This is also a change to Shodai’s sumo from his previous performances. He used to just react to what his opponent was doing. Now, he looks to attack while defending and doesn’t automatically back up when his opponent moves forward.

    It looked to me like Takakeisho dislocated his elbow based on how he was checking how his arm flexed. I will admit that I’m being an armchair doctor for this one, though.

    • I actually like seeing the old guard battle it out even in their diminished physical state. Kotoshogiku, Kaisei etc may not have much left in the tank but it’s nice to see them still get kachi-koshi from time to time. If there wasn’t an old guard to overcome, how else would the younger rikishi be able to prove themselves? Although I’m worried this basho may be the last we see of Kotoshogiku, so let’s enjoy seeing him fight as long as we can. I agree that Juryo-plus isn’t the best way to describe lower ranked wrestlers in the top division. I think we tend to forget that any wrestler in the paid ranks is really good and there isn’t too much of a difference between a genki Juryo wrestler and lower to mid Makushita wrestler. After all, Juryo rikishi probably win about 50% of their call up bouts and new promotees often end up with kachi-koshi in their first top division basho.

      • I mean little difference between a genki Juryo wrestler and lower to mid Makunouchi wrestler…(written before coffee)

  6. My guess concerning Takakeisho was that his pectoral muscle was spasming. We’ve seen him have that experience before. Apparently in his post-bout interview he said it was nothing to worry about.

    If you haven’t yet done so, make time to check out Chiyonokuni’s Day 11 win in Juryo. It shows the amazing resourcefulness, speed, and strength that we’ve seen him display throughout this basho. The top division needs him back!

  7. The Ichinojo v. Kotoeko match unfolded just the way it should if a physicist with no knowledge of sumo was asked to model the outcome just based on first principles and their respective sizes. Kotoeko should simply be bounced backwards twice and straight out of the ring from the advancing mass that is 150lbs greater than his own! It really should happen like this more often for Ichi…

    I for one am feeling pretty optimistic about the future of the top division given how exciting all the new “young ‘uns” are looking – Tobizaru, Kotoshoho & Wakatakage all look like the truth to me. As did Kiribayama before his injury. (I realize Tobizaru is not so young, but he is new to Makuuchi.) Now if Ura and Tomokaze can just regain top flight status….

    • Refering to Tobizaru as young gun is a bit of a stretch, given that he is 28 already. More a late bloomer. He has been meandering around in Juryo forever without leaving much of a mark. Spending 2.5years in Juryo straight however displays some sort of consistency. Unlike Wakatakagake however, who really impressed me this basho, I think Tobizaru will be a one hit wonder. Doesn’t mean he has to go down quickly again, but probably more following the footsteps of Shimanoumi, who kinda made a splash in his first Makuuchi tournament, but is now hovering around the bottom half of Makuuchi.
      Ura is 28 already. He looks good to be back in Juryo next basho (certainly if he doesn’t mess up his last bout), but also kinda fragile. He is still very quick, but not nearly as acrobatic as before. I would already be positively surprised, if he makes it back to Makuuchi.
      Tomokaze is only turning 26 in december, but he will also be at the bottom of Sandanme in November, which means that if he returns next basho and makes a more or less flawless march upwards, he will probably be near his 27th birthday when returning to Makuuchi. I guess thats not too late, but all will depend on how well this knee actually healed.

      • Never trust sumodb on weights. Hoshoryu is also not 107kg but 131. For up-to-date sekitori weights always refer to the NSK’s official page. Sumodb has stopped updating weights for rikishi, except their weights at their shin-deshi checkup.


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