Nagoya Day 4 Highlights

Both top men had tough matches today, and were well on the path to their first loss, when somehow each managed to find victory just inches from defeat. This is the hallmark of a champion, and it was unusual to see twice in one day’s matches. For Hakuho, this is just par for the course with him. For Terunofuji, this is fairly new. We had seen some of this in his early period as an Ozeki, but that was some world class rescue sumo from him today.

All around it was a great day for fans of technical sumo. A lot of high skill matches with rikishi showing us some of their better techniques. Readers may have guessed I love a day where I am compelled to step through the video frame by frame and watch the skill of these men as they fight it out on the dohyo, and today had that aplenty.

Highlight Matches

Ichiyamamoto defeats Tsurugisho – Ichiyamamoto attempts to set the match into a thrusting battle, but Tsurugisho locks in on the mawashi, and the struggle is on. Impressive use of the left hand outside by Ichiyamamoto, who was able to work to raise Tsurugisho, in spite of Tsurugisho’s excellent defensive foot placement. Ichiyamamoto abandoned his drive to get his right hand inside, switching to pushing against Tsurugisho’s chest while lifting with his left hand, and driving forward. Nice recovery today from Ichiyamamoto – showing a lot of promise. Both end 3-1.

Chiyonokuni defeats Daiamami – Daiamami had the inside position at the tachiai, but he could not convert it into an effective offense as Chiyonokuni shoved him back, then delivered a mighty blow to his head. From there Chiyonokuni repeatedly tests to see if Daiamami’s head is firmly attached, and drives him over the west end into a shimpan. Chiyonokuni improves to 3-1.

Tokushoryu defeats Chiyonoo – Tokushoryu has that January 2020 vibe going on, where you ask “Where has this sumo been?”. He uses his enormous belly to just broom Chiyonoo out of the ring in short order, improving to 3-1.

Ishiura defeats Chiyomaru – Ishiura’s sumo today was just the tonic I needed. He moved out of Chiyomaru’s fairly narrow attack zone early, got to the side and gave the round one no rest. Applying force from Chiyomaru’s right side, Ishiura just kept moving, and Chiyomaru just kept struggling. First win for Ishiura, improving to 1-3.

Kagayaki defeats Ura – Ura had a solid start, but quickly found himself trapped by Kagayaki’s arm lock. From there he was short of options, and tried to pull to at least release the arm lock. But Kagayaki was going nowhere, and ran Ura to the tawara and won with a hearty final shove into his oyakata as if to say, “Take this guy back, sir!”. Kagayaki improves to 3-1.

Kaisei defeats Tochinoshin – Today’s loss to Kaisei increases my worry about Tochinoshin. At least today he was able to offer some level of defense, but he was unable to move Kaisei, or generate any offense at all. Its rare to see Kaisei win by a throw, but that sukuinage was dead on and well delivered. Tochinoshin now at 0-4 while Kaisei improves to 2-2.

Tamawashi defeats Kotonowaka – I really liked this match, as it showed the kind of sumo that Kotonowaka can employ when he is in good condition. He was inside at the tachiai, and delivered a solid opening combo. But Tamawashi has at least a dozen ways to disrupt an early advantage, and reset the balance of control, focusing on Kotonowaka’s face. Kotonowaka was having none of that, and drive center-mass, pushing Tamawashi back. Tamawashi’s heels touch the bales, and you can see him shift gears. Out comes the big right hand blow to the side of the head, and Kotonowaka staggers, and Tamawashi pushes him out. Excellent sumo from both today, but Tamawashi improves to 4-0.

Hidenoumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi could not get any kind of grip on Hidenoumi, and was little more than practice ballast for Hidenoumi’s sumo today. Knowing what Terutsuyoshi is capable of, its tough to see him struggle like this. Hidenoumi improves to 2-2.

Shimanoumi defeats Aoiyama – Big Dan Aoiyama got his hands inside at the tachiai, engaged the V-Twin attack and had free fire against Shimanoumi’s face and neck for a while. But Aoiyama chose to try to pull Shimanoumi down, and found himself quickly run out of the ring. I am going to guess Aoiyama is suffering some kind of problem with that left knee, and will possibly have a tough basho ahead of him. Shimanoumi improves to 2-2.

Takarafuji defeats Myogiryu – Master class in defensive sumo taught by Takarafuji today. Myogiryu drove hard at the tachiai, but Takarafuji denied him any manner of hold, or even a working hand placement. Takarafuji angles his body, opens his stance, and he is going exactly nowhere now. He expertly read Myogiryu shifting his hips for a charge, and attacked, running Myogiryu out of the ring. Takarafuji improves to 2-2.

Kiribayama defeats Chiyoshoma – Kiribayama got the better of the tachiai, and managed a left hand inside grip in short order. This left Chiyoshoma’s right hand stalemated, and he switched to defense. With the two battling to improve their grip, Chiyoshoma lost traction while trying to move to his right, and Kiribayama swung him to the clay. Kiribayama improves to 3-1, but solid sumo from both today.

Okinoumi defeats Onosho – Onosho gets his body set at the tachiai, and goes into his favorite nodowa forward leaning mode against Okinoumi. Okinoumi is only on his heels for a moment, and comes roaring back with a tidy thrusting attack to push Onosho back and then out. Okinoumi improves to 3-1.

Hoshoryu defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu had the advantage at the tachiai, but in an easy to predict move, Chiyotairyu tried to pull Hoshoryu down the moment after his opening thrust connected. Hoshoryu was ready, and charged ahead to run Chiyotairyu out. Hoshoryu improves to 3-1.

Hokutofuji defeats Kotoeko – Hokutofuji continues his dominance over Kotoeko (who has never beaten Hokutofuji). Hokutofuji opened strong with a pair of combo attacks, catching Kotoeko full in the chest. The first combo disrupted Kotoeko’s stance, the second propelled him back and out for a quick win for Hokutofuji, as he improves to 3-1.

Ichinojo defeats Meisei – Meisei worked really hard for any advantage he could find against Ichinojo, and had a tough road the entire time. He was stalemated at the tachiai, but managed to get his hands inside. He then found himself unable to attack, and worked to switch his grip. But Ichinojo was on the attack, and the sheer mass difference began to bite. Ichinojo took control, and strode forward, taking Meisei out with little fuss. Ichinojo improves to 3-1.

Takayasu defeats Endo – Takayasu did a great job at the tachiai, shutting down Endo’s opening try for a frontal mawashi grip, and setting up a right arm ottzuke to completely shut Endo down. Realizing he was not getting a mawashi grip today, Endo shifted to oshi, and traded blows with Takayasu, finding no better fortunes there. A neck pull by Takayasu took him off balance, and the former Ozeki battered him until Endo’s hand touched the clay. Takayasu improves to 2-2.

Mitakeumi defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru had the better tachiai, getting his hands inside and pushing against Mitakeumi’s chest. But Tobizaru’s foot placement was poor, and Mitakeumi was able to hold ground. Realizing he was stalemated, Tobizaru tried a leg kick – pull combo that fueled Mitakeumi’s charge that took Tobizaru out of the ring. Mitakeumi improves to 3-1.

Wakatakakage defeats Shodai – Shodai was slow off the shikiri-sen, and high at the initial hit. Wakatakakage tried for a grip as he took control, but Shodai’s defenses were good enough to shut that down. So Wakatakakage attacked center mass and found the Ozeki easy enough to move, and proceeded to piston-arm Shodai around and send him stumbling out. Both end the day 2-2. Get it together, Shodai!

Terunofuji defeats Daieisho – Both men got their desired position in the tachiai – Daieisho’s hands high and inside, Terunofuji with his arm bar locking out Daieisho’s thrusting attack. Terunofuji’s grip could not keep Daieisho contained, and Daieisho was able to begin to attack, and had Terunofuji in real trouble. But it seems Terunofuji has gotten fairly good at improvising, first rescuing himself from near certain loss as Daieisho tried to run him out, and then to win when Daieisho failed to fall to his rescue move. It was sloppy, but it was a brilliant example of Terunofuji’s mental endurance and agility. He improves to 4-0.

Hakuho defeats Takanosho – Hakuho had a strong match, but a pull attempt against Takanosho went sour, and nearly cost to Yokozuna his first loss. Frankly, only Hakuho could have rescued himself from that situation, and rescue himself he did. I had to watch it several times to try to figure out how he managed that, and it comes down to a deft left hand thrust at just the right moment to send Takanosho down. Hakuho remains unbeaten at 4-0.

10 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 4 Highlights

  1. I was thinking that we might be in a situation where there are no ozekis in November. Teru gets promoted, Shodai can’t get his act together, and Taka doesn’t heal up. More than likely only the first happens and Shodai should be good for eight now or September. Taka is the wild card. I think depending on the severity of his injury, his oyakata will pull him from September and take the chance on 10 wins in November.

  2. Question : is that extra shove from Terunofuji when the fight is over considered dame oshi? Or is that reserved for hits and bitch slaps? Just curious, not judging, I love the Kaiju’s “get off my dohyo” attitude. :-)

    • Yes, that’s definitely a dame oshi. Terunofuji is known for doing that regularly.

  3. Quality sumo again today by Ishiura. It’s nice to see him be consistent without any henkas.
    We might be seeing Tochinoshin for the last time. Sad to see, but not unexpected.
    Ura has gone to the well too many times with his current strategy. Everyone else is going to use today’s match as a textbook to beat him unless he changes things up.
    A nice win by Tamawashi today. He generally doesn’t do well when he’s defensive and “on his heels”, but he did everything right today to get the win.
    I think everyone has figured out Terutsuyoshi’s shenanigans. He’s losing quickly and without a lot of effort from his opponents.
    Aoiyama is too high during the tachiai consistently right now. I don’t know if that’s because his opponents know to get lower, he’s a step slower than he was last basho for some reason, or both.
    Even though he lost today, Cihyoshoma is having a nice rennaisance for his sumo. I thought he wouldn’t be back in the top division after going down last year, but he’s solidified his place and he’s a difficult opponent for everyone.
    Hoshoryu looks like he’s levelled up his sumo, especially mentally. Cool, calm and collected.
    Hokotofuji did something interesting in his match against Kotoeko today. He immediately flung his right hand forward to catch Kotoeko’s shoulder. That allowed him to get an underhand grip under Kotoeko’s shoulder with his left hand which was the main reason he won today. We’ll see if this was a one-time strategy or if he’ll start doing it more often because it’s effective.
    I suspect that Takayasu’s injury is slowing him down. That, in turn, will make him more effective in my opinion because he’s not flailing around as much. He used his defensive skills and was patient today to defeat Endo.
    Daiesho proved that Terunofuji is vulnerable today and boy oh boy did Terunofuji not like it one bit. Glaring from the edge of the dohyo until he knew Daeisho saw his face and trying to be intimidating showed all the cards in his hand.
    Hakuho’s reaction after his win today was interesting. He knows he’s not in top form anymore and you can tell he enjoys the competitive spirit on the dohyo. He knew he got a way with one today, but it’s still a win and that’s good enough for him.

  4. I have always understood assertions that Hakuho is the GOAT, but I have not been supportive of the idea. This basho, however, is causing me to revise my assessment. Much as with watching Tom Brady in the recent Superbowl or Ted Williams in his final season, Hakuho is doing things with his brain to make up for his obviously diminished physical skills and he is succeeding at a very, very high level in the process. Sure, the wins aren’t always pretty, and they are not always by tremendous margins, but they are wins. I am really enjoying learning how tremendous he still is even when he can no longer do what we used to take for granted and simply destroy quality OPPO with markedly superior physical attributes. I think the ability to prosper as physical skills erode is the mark of a truly ultra-great athlete. Is he the GOAT? I am still not quite there, but as he continues to pile up wins in Nagoya, I become more and more convinced. I hope he is there fighting on the final day and, as is starting to seem inevitable if he is there, battling for the title yet again.

    • I am sure it is Hakuho’s ambition in life to receive approval from you. That means to him more than the 44 yushos, 15 zen-yushos, winning record against every Yokozuna he has competed with in his career including Asashoryu, AND the big one of never having a losing record in a basho at the Makuuchi level in which he has competed on all 15 days (look it up and you will find every prior great – Chiyonofuji, Akebono, Takanohana, Asashoryu, etc. had at least one losing basho after reaching Makuuchi).

  5. Sumo wrestlers learn to fall slowly. I expect to see Tochinoshin to fall slowly through the ranks for the next year until he stops getting a salary.

  6. Hakuho, pulled a nice escape and once again demonstrated his exceptional skill (plus some luck). However, I’m hoping Hokutofuji can keep his upper body centered over his lower body long enough to put a stop to the Mr. Slappy routine Hakuho has delivered three of the four bouts so far this basho. Clearly he’s not at his best and clearly he knows it and is compensating for it intelligently. Kudos to him, but the sumo he has demonstrated this basho increases my desire to see him call it done before we see the sumo equivalent of the Ali-Holmes fight.

  7. Last night was brutal, in the same sense as bacon and potato chips, topped with cheese. Sumo, the Tour de France and the Stanley Cup all in one night. But since this is a sumo forum…fie on Teronofuji for the superfluous push, and kudos to Hakuho for the wry smile of self-awareness. I still hope that Ichinojo can have that one great basho, however unlikely it is this time.

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